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“Adopting Two Boys, Ages 3 & 4 While Single in His Twenties” Holland Webb | Vault

How many people choose adoption, while single in their twenties? I would imagine, not many. And to have the boys be age 3 and age 4. That is a true baptism into parenting. This isn’t a calling for everyone, but it was a calling for Holland Webb. You will hear how the loss of his own Father at an early age affected him, and how this whole adoption and parenting experience has affected his heart and faith. His life mission and his road to personal redemption are remarkable and relatable. He has co-authored the book ‘Adventures in Fatherhood”, with Carlton Hughes .

Proverbs 31:8- “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

Topic Shared:

Growing up without a Father

Filling holes from our childhood

Single parenting

How Americans are perceived in the Philippines

Working for non-profit companies

International Disability and Development Consortium. 

Cohosting a podcast

Challenging our assumptions


Adoption as a single man

Biracial families

Fulfilling in others what we lack

Caring for parents with dementia

Holland’s Website:

The Afterword Podcast: 

Book: Adventures in Fatherhood: 


For more everyday extraordinary faith stories:


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Meg Glesener: Wonderful news. Letters from Home has recently joined the CRISTA family in Seattle, Washington, and we are now part of the Purposely Podcast network and channel. Thank you for celebrating with me all of you current listeners. And a special welcome to all of you knew listeners, to give you a great sample of the stories you can expect or may not have had a chance to hear yet.

We are doing a From the Vault series of some everyday extraordinary faith stories from the past. Here is Holland Webb’s story titled, Adopting Two Boys, Ages Three and Four, while Single In His Twenties. 

Holland Webb: And the stories that we often tell around adoption are stories of hope. They’re stories of love, they’re stories of wholeness, and that’s great, but that’s incomplete.

They’re also stories that begin in [00:01:00] brokenness, no matter how well you phrase it. No matter how well intentioned you are, no matter if you can do all the right things. And the fact is, this person still lost their parents. 

And now for the next episode of Letters From Home, sending encouragement to your doorstep by capturing the heartbeat of God’s people.

One story at a time.

Meg Glesener: Hi, it’s Meg , your host. Today’s guest had a childhood that left him with a gaping hole, and so began a mission to redeem what he lost, but not just for himself. He wanted to redeem that for someone else. His journey spans many countries and cultures, and includes adopting two little boys as a young single man in his twenties.

Who does that? And he touches on so many great topics like how Americans are perceived abroad, working for non-profits, biracial adoption, ghost [00:02:00] writing, having a parent with dementia. You’ll hear his love for books and leave with some great quotes and recommendations. Here is the redemption faith story of the witty and every day extraordinary Holland Webb. 

Holland, I am so grateful to have you on this show today, just meeting you, and the short time we did at that podcasting conference in February, and who knew the world was gonna be turned upside down. But I have to say, you were one of the highlights for me when I, we had that dinner where we just happened to sit and visit, and I got to hear your heart and your story.

I still remember parts of it, and now I’ve read your book and you’re such a blessing. So thanks for being on today

Holland Webb: . Thank you for having me, Meg. 

Meg Glesener: Let’s get right into your story. One of the things that I remember about your story was what you were sharing about your upbringing and with your parents.[00:03:00] 

Holland Webb: Sure. My parents married, my mother was 30, my father was 64, so there was already a big age gap there, and my mother told me later that they didn’t want to have any children. Him, because he was so much older than she and she, because she’s just not that kind of person. In fact, after she got pregnant with me unexpectedly, the man that she worked with, as they, she was a social worker and the man she worked with said, that child is not gonna survive six months.

There’s not a maternal bone in your body, . And he told me that actually it was thought later, , he’s the one who said, I didn’t think you’d survive. We took bets in our office, how long this baby was gonna live in her care. But I, I did live . 

Meg Glesener: You lived!

Holland Webb: Right. But I was she didn’t inadvertently do anything to end my life there too early.

But it was, I think it just came along. They didn’t expect to have children. They didn’t wanna have children. They were planning not to have children. And lo and behold, I showed [00:04:00] up. And about a year after I was born, my father passed away. So then it became just me and my mother.

And that was a real turning point for her. She had been a Christian because people in Southern Appalachian, small Appalachian communities were Christians. You went to the Methodist Church or the Church of Christ or the Baptist Church and if you didn’t, then you know you ought to, right? So her family went to the Methodist church and she was interested in that and committed to that.

And it had been meaningful, but it had not been meaningful as it was when she was faced with having a baby she didn’t know how to take care of, and her much, much older husband had suddenly passed away. And I can’t imagine, I can imagine what made him want to marry her. I can’t really imagine what made her want to marry someone so much older.

And I think for her it had to be almost the loss of a husband and a father at the same time. But at that time, for her it was a real turning point. And it was into a deeper form of faith, and she would find the hymns that she had [00:05:00] grown up with and go through those and she would find scriptures that she had learned in the church and go through those and it became a more meaningful thing for her.

So when I grew up in a deeply Christian environment because she plunged right in, to the whole community of faith that she found so welcoming and so nurturing and energizing around that time. So when you talk about growing up, born again, I think there was a book Growing Up, born Again some years ago .

When I grew up, born again, we were, we went to church all the time, and I went to a Christian school and, I read Christian books and it was a very religious childhood. Not a bad childhood at all. I know there are a lot of folks who look back at that time of their lives who had similar sort of upbringings and they have all this negativity that they want to shower on that.

You can certainly point out some of the faults and failures and I’d be more than happy to give an internal critique. But there are many people who grow up much worse situations and much worse environments than that. It [00:06:00] has its shortcomings, but boy, it sure has its benefits too, 

Meg Glesener: For sure. I’m curious where was your dad as far as the faith picture and how did the church receive the age difference? My, I don’t know if I told you, but my stepdad is actually four or five years younger than I am. And my mom passed away last year and she was 73. And that adds a total dimension.

When you try and bring your wife to church and she’s older than your . How did that, how did, how was that welcomed in your mom’s and how’d that affect her faith? 

Holland Webb: I don’t know She’s a well first I would say he was Church of Christ, and I think the kind of church that he went to was more focused on knowing the Bible and doing right than it was on having a transformative experience with the Holy Spirit.

So it was a little bit of a different understanding of what it meant to be a Christian, but I don’t know if they even went to church together. She may have gone [00:07:00] to one and he to another, or they may have just gone very rarely to the same congregation. I don’t think it was for them a spiritual connection as much as it, it was a formation of a relationship around other things.

The community, I don’t think was as receptive, but at large. But if my mother could do something to be, she’s contrarian sort of person. Whatever is the prevailing idea, she takes the opposite idea. Whatever is, she’s formed in opposition to whatever is going on. That’s in a way how she’s always understood her role is to break away from whatever’s going on. And if prevailing cultural ideas around her shifts to the way that she’s been going, she’ll turn around and come back the opposite way. She’s not as much committed to the idea as she is committed to the idea of being in opposition to the what’s going on around her.

So I don’t think she cared. I think the community probably [00:08:00] did, and now people have such diverse family structures, but as you were pointing out, I’ve known somebody else who had that same experience where their stepdad was like about their age. And that is one thing we still haven’t seen to accept culturally is women who are much older than their husbands.

And I’m not quite sure why that is. We still seem to have a pushback against that. 

Meg Glesener: I actually have an episode where I did attribute to my mom. And he shares their love story at the end, and it’s pretty beautiful. But they had a counseling session when they were engaged and they told my mom, are you ready?

And it was her fourth marriage, but are you ready to go through puberty again? And they told him, are you ready to be a caregiver? And he said, and I said, yes. And I meant it. And at the end she was saying, when she was really sick, this isn’t what you signed up for. And he said, no, this is what I signed up for.

Holland Webb: Oh, wow.

Meg Glesener: It’s a beautiful [00:09:00] love story and yes, it is not the usual thing for sure. And I’m sure your mom being that kind of contrarian, I’m sure that was a fun rollercoaster, a ride for you, as a young boy. Were you an only child? 

Holland Webb: I was, yes. They weren’t married long enough to have more than me.

So I was an only child. My mother had, for most of my childhood, she had the same best friend who also had an only child. Amanda and I claim one another, but at the same time, we don’t have to claim one another. , 

Meg Glesener: How did your mom adjust after losing your dad? 

Holland Webb: I don’t think she did, honestly.

I think when I was about seven, we moved away from the small town that she had grown up in and that he had spent virtually all of his life in. And we moved to midsize city in the Midwest, Springfield, Missouri. That was a big change for me. Meg, the funny thing that I think about now is this would’ve been right, like [00:10:00] 1984, and of course I’d gone from this really small town, and when you took pictures, you remember the cameras and there was film in the camera and you had to take all the pictures on the roll before you could take the roll out the camera.

Even though all you wanted was one or two pictures they had taken, have it developed. Okay in this town that I was born in, you took your film to the drugstore. And the lady there, put it in a little package and sealed it up and sent it off. And you waited, I don’t know, 10 days, two weeks, something like that, before you got your pictures back and then you showed up at the drugstore and picked them up.

We went to, when we first moved to Springfield, there was a little kiosk in the parking lot of a shopping center. It was a Kodak kiosk, and it said 24 hour photo. And I thought, that’s impossible. I was seven. So I just learned, I knew 24 hours was a day, and I thought, that’s 

Meg Glesener: mind blown

Holland Webb: absolutely impossible. And I said something to my mother about it finally, and she said at the mall on the other end of town, there’s a one hour photo. And I thought she was just making that up. , [00:11:00] there was no way pictures could be developed in an hour. It took two weeks. But to me, that was, that’s just symbolic or illustrative of what a change that was for me and what a, a growth experience it was for me, but I think it was for her too, because it allowed her to leave behind the life that she’d had and open up a new one.

And that was that kind of became a habit, but, she was able to open up a new life for herself, and therefore she was able to open up a new life for me. And I’m not saying the place we were from was a bad place. It was just a place that was too much of what had always been. And it didn’t allow her to open up and have a new life.

So she went somewhere else and developed that that was about, or 11, she became a missionary. We went first to the UK for several months. She participated in a training program. We lived in London. That was a real experience. So really when I was seven, I was living in a town where you took two weeks to get your [00:12:00] pictures developed.

And when I, right when I was 11, I was living in London, which, is what one of the largest cities in the world. But that was a real mind blowing kind of experience. I remember meeting people from all over the world. People were coming and, I’m from Mozambique and I’m like, where’s that?

And India and of course, people from around Europe and the UK. But that was a fun time. It was another sort of growing experience for me and a challenging spiritual experience because up to that point, most of the Christians that I knew were very much alike. And then I started meeting people from other countries and who worshiped differently and who thought differently and who, whose backgrounds were different from mine and who had no idea what these American cultural icons of Christianity were and who had their own cultural understandings of what it meant to be a Christian.

That was expanding. And then we went from the UK, we went to the Philippines and stayed there four years. It was, Manila is at least as large as London and having that big experience was still [00:13:00] there. But of course, Manila’s characterized much more by poverty. And we lived in what I guess you would call a working class Filipino neighborhood, right outside at that time, right outside our window, we lived at the top of the hill and there was an artesian, that had been, you could pump it.

And that was where the men in the community took showers. And then at the bottom of,

Meg Glesener: oh, 

Holland Webb: that was where the women took showers. But there was more of a, like a wall you could see back in there a little bit, but not really. But the men didn’t care that much, so they would just strip down to shorts or underwear and take a shower right there outside their window.

And that was a chance for,

that was a chance for me to see for real over time what it meant to not be an American. to be at something else. Many people who are my age were, we were the beginning of people taking mission trips and things like that, and there’s a lot of good that came of that. But in [00:14:00] one or two weeks, you can’t get the experience that you get over time.

Metali Perkins, who’s a novelist, says if you’re gonna write a story set in another country, you better stay there long enough to hold some babies. You better figure out what that culture’s like and it takes time to do that. For me, taking class at the school that I went to as an international school, but we had classes in Filipino history, we had classes in Tagalog, the language of Manila, and those things began to give me a picture of what it meant not to be an American.

What it meant when your history is characterized by someone else coming in and dominating you for 550 years, instead of you being the dominant power. You know what it means that your language and your culture is subordinate to other peoples, and your country is thought of as the maids and the house boys and the drivers and the janitors for the wealthy people of the world because that’s what Filipinos are known for doing as opposed to, how Americans are perceived internationally.

Meg Glesener: What was the impression that you got [00:15:00] about Americans while being schooled there? What did you step back and see? What moment did you have? 

Holland Webb: There was an old man who lived across the street from us and he had grown up way out in the mountains somewhere. I don’t remember where he was from. But he absolutely loved Americans because during World War II, when he was a young teen, people were starving to death.

The Japanese Imperial Army absolutely was the history of their occupation of the Philippines during World War II is a lesson in savagery and that would rival anything Hitler did in Europe. It’s just that we are more interested in Europe because they’re like us than we are in seeing what the Japanese Imperial Army did in Asia, and particularly in the Philippines.

Meg Glesener: Interesting.

Holland Webb: People were just starving in the Barrios, and when the Americans began to make headway back into the Philippines and began to reconquer, we were, the Philippines was an American colony prior to the Japanese occupation. When we began making that back in, he said the American, this man told us the American planes would fly over and they [00:16:00] would drop bags of rice into the barrios.

And he said that’s how we survived. And I will always be grateful to your country for that. But younger people in the late eighties and early nineties in the Philippines had a different perspective. They saw us as a colonial power, which we were for 50 years. And then as ha being a sort of meddlesome big brother for the next 50. Post World War II, we didn’t real, we technically left the Philippines, but we never really left them alone.

We had two large military bases there and somehow we were always involved in what was going on. And there was a, among the students of the time, there was a real pushback against that. We don’t want you here anymore. Get out and let us run our own country for a while. Which happened about the end of the time that we were there.

 The US pulled out of both Clark and Subic bases and and pulled out a lot of Filipino domestic politics and let them figure it out. But hearing those two generations speak so differently of the same [00:17:00] country was interesting and it I think it was, it offers you an opportunity to see how you wish they could have talked to one another about this, right?

They would’ve understood better why the older people felt the way they did, and the younger, the older people might have understood a little better why those students felt the way that they did. How Americans are perceived in the Philippines now, I don’t really know. I still talk to several people there.

I still have a little bit of business work with some guys there, but I’ve never asked, I’ve never, I’ve never inquired what they, they think because I’m not sure what kind, if I’ll get a true answer or if I’ll get the answer that the person thinks, I want to hear.

Meg Glesener: Where you were there. Is, that where your personal faith journey began? 

Holland Webb: I think my personal faith journey always was there. I’m, I know no one is born a Christian, but in some ways it feels like I was because 

Meg Glesener: Yeah. 

Holland Webb: It’s so much a part of who we were, it, it certainly matured in some ways, but I think coming back from the Philippines for me was maybe more of a maturative experience.

You’re [00:18:00] forcing me to reflect on things, Meg, why aren’t you doing this? Why don’t you have a podcast about, something that’s less personal? . Anyway, coming back forced me into, when you’re have to reintegrate into your own culture and you leave that place. I think for anyone who lives abroad, you’re always, you’re part of but never really part of.

You’re able to, you’re able to retain a certain separateness and a certain feeling of being a little bit special. And then you come back and you discovered that you’re actually not special. You’re just one of another 250 million people who live here. 

Meg Glesener: How old were you when you came back or how? 

Holland Webb: I was 16 when we came back.

This was nine 93. Yeah, this was 93 16. 

Meg Glesener: You finished out high school in the States.

Holland Webb: I took the GED in the states. Does that count? ? 

Meg Glesener: Hey, that counts in my book. I think a lot of people are gonna be doing that. I’m surprised how many of my Christian mom friends are not having a plan for school [00:19:00] and what they’re gonna do.

And I have a feeling there will be a whole generation as well as they’re not counting the SAT anymore and that sort of a thing. Clearly GED or whatever, education doesn’t reflect intelligence, right? Sometimes it just reflects opportunity or discipline. 

Holland Webb: Yeah.

Meg Glesener: But so you, soon you got your GED, yippee!

Holland Webb: I did. And it counted for everything. It’s never been a problem. But I got a Christian ministry major and it was my intention to go into that, right? I thought I, and I mean I grew up in that everybody I knew was in some kind of Christian ministry. Everybody was a pastor or a missionary or a Christian school teacher or a teacher at a Christian college or something like that.

Or they spent a lot of time devoting their volunteer life to that. And that’s how I knew them. I didn’t know them as a teacher, a truck driver or a lawyer. I knew them as a women’s ministries director or a Sunday school teacher or a church board member. So I expected to just go into that in some way.

And, I [00:20:00] graduated at from college at 21 with this degree in Christian ministry and there aren’t a whole lot of 21 year olds who have a whole lot to offer in Christian ministry. I did not. Now some do, especially if you’re good with kids or you’re good with music or whatever. But I can’t sing. I didn’t like children, just, I, no.

Meg Glesener: You weren’t leading, parenting workshops or couples retreats or anything?

Holland Webb: No, definitely not. . So my solution to this was I’ll go to graduate school. Because if you’re good at school the unfortunate thing I have discovered and is I was good enough at school that I felt like I’ll just keep doing this because I’m being rewarded for it. Got a master’s in international public policy thinking I can help advance the kingdom of God through the, and then the life of politics and international relations and thought I would work for the State Department. That didn’t quite work out. But I ended up in a [00:21:00] Christian international development organization where I worked for several years and that sort of married those two degrees and it gave me a sense of purpose and value.

And was while I was there that I adopted Jeffrey and John Paul.

Meg Glesener: I definitely am excited about really getting into that. Were you disheartened at all working in that Christian realm. I know my daughter, our oldest daughter, really had a heart for working with homeless, and she served in a church all through college that just reached homeless people and that sort of thing.

But then she started doing internships for non-profits and she was just horribly disappointed about how much of what they did was the actual, what they were actually doing to reach people was a real small level, but they’re tooting their own horns about the few things that were happening and the fundraising felt like the heart of it. And I just wondered what your experience was with that. 

Holland Webb: Wow. I could answer that at so many different levels. My personal experience was [00:22:00] pretty good in that our organization was set up in a way that we really did help other people succeed. The issues that we addressed were real issues. It was an international disability and development organization, so we provided things like cataract surgeries, prosthetics,

Meg Glesener: Oh great.

Holland Webb: Microeconomic loans to people with disabilities in the world’s in low and middle income countries. 

Meg Glesener: I definitely wanna link that. Maybe we can link that in the show notes. So if people wanna help out with that sounds like an actual amazing ministry. 

Holland Webb: I think it was a very real issue. It was an issue not everybody’s discussing. It’s not a sexy issue, but people with disabilities, if they’re grouped together, would be the world’s largest minority. And disability is an increasing issue in developing countries because we’ve done a pretty good job with maternal child health, which means that a lot of children who would’ve died and a lot of mothers who would’ve died in the seventies and eighties and nineties are [00:23:00] living, but they are not thriving. And so we’re seeing an increase in disability on the front end. We’re also seeing it on the back end because we’re doing a better job of providing nutrition for people. And so they’re living longer, right? And older people get disabilities, right?

They get cataracts, they get, they fall, they, have other things that come up that are disabling conditions for them, deafness. And as people live longer, we see more and more of that on the back end of life as well. So it’s a really important issue. It’s not a sexy issue. It gets overlooked a lot.

And we were doing very practical things to address it. So in terms of the mission, I think we did really well. And we did well in that we didn’t, did we waste money? Yes, but not intentionally. I think what, for me became an issue was that, you can work in ministry and you can work in service to other people and you can start to develop ideas about yourself, right?

I’m a great person because I do all these things to help other people. I’m probably a [00:24:00] lot more moral than our donors because they just give money. But I’m here all the time and I know things they don’t know. I use the right language about disability and development that, that other people don’t use.

I, and you can develop a sense that you are morally superior to other people because of what you do. And I think it’s something that pastors face. I think it’s something that a lot of people who spend their lives helping others can reward themselves with this feeling of moral superiority of spiritual, a sense of spiritual elevation and not really think about the fact that, yes, I may be here all the time, but I’m paid to help people.

And our donors are paying to help people, right? They may not know the right language to use about disability, but they just send us a nice check that they could have used for themselves. They are giving, and I’m helping, but I’m being paid to do it. And it’s hard to keep that in mind. And it, I think too people you know will say to you, oh, isn’t it wonderful that you do this work?

You must have such a great heart until [00:25:00] you believe it. , you believe what other people tell you.

Meg Glesener: Pride is so insidious and such a, slayer in the church. And I think it’s just one of those gross sins that we can get so comfortable with, we don’t even notice. So it’s encouraging to me that being in that field you are aware that whoa. Hold the phone here. . 

Holland Webb: Yeah. 

Meg Glesener: So I know that you’re a parent because you told me about that and when we were visiting, and I have your book, Adventures in Fatherhood, which is an incredible book, and I would love to dive into how that came to be. 

Holland Webb: Sure. I always wanted to adopt children. I don’t particularly know why. I didn’t sit down and have a reason behind that, but I knew that because I grew up without a father. My father died when I was a year old, and my mother never so much as went on a date with anyone after [00:26:00] that. As a young, child, I just assumed that there would be a point that would come that I wouldn’t miss that, or that I wouldn’t wish that hadn’t happened.

I figured I became an adult, right? You suddenly get handed all these wonderful tools with which to handle life, and you’re just you’re magical. You know how to do stuff. Then I became an adult and I don’t know, I missed whenever the, whenever those things were being handed out, whenever that toolbox for life was getting handed out, I missed that.

I began to realize more and more what you miss when you miss half your parents, right? However you grieve that person you miss a great deal. And I think in one of his books, I think it’s called Father Fiction, Donald Miller talks about growing up without a father. And he says, he uses this metaphor. He says, when he was, he would go to the library and the librarian would open up a book about a dragon, and she would read the story and he would look at the pictures of the dragon carrying the boy on his back.

And he would think, wouldn’t it be fantastic to own a dragon and be able to run your hands along that scaly back and fly on it wherever you wanted to go? And he said I could imagine [00:27:00] owning a dragon easier than I could imagine what life was like with a father. And I think that’s what my experience was as well as a younger kid.

But the more you age into adult life, the more you realize, no, I was missing something. And what I was missing has affected me and it’s affected me negatively. And it’s given it’s meant that I’m missing whole pieces of what I should have to function as an adult. So I wanted to be able to give that to someone else and I said something about wanting to adopt children, and that got me started. 

Meg Glesener: Were you married? 

Holland Webb: Was I married? No, I wasn’t married. I’ve never been married. But if you have single women in your listening audience, 

Meg Glesener: Yes, he’s a great guy. . 

Holland Webb: You can contact me on Twitter.

Meg Glesener: We’ll be giving out his information later. ? 

Holland Webb: No, I wasn’t married. I wasn’t married. I just plunged in and tried this and, I guess I was too young and too [00:28:00] naive to know that I really did not know what I was doing. I’d never even seen anyone do this. I just did it.

Meg Glesener: I was a mom at, I became pregnant at 22 hashtag Same here, Holland, no manual. Three years later I had three kids to and under. So I think we’re all pretty ill-equipped. My, my kids are just graduating from college at 22 and wow I was a mom already yeah. Totally ill-equipped. And you were a single man in your late twenties when you adopted the boys.

Holland Webb: I was, and they were three and four. I think I was 27. 

Meg Glesener: What was the whole process for adoption, especially being a single man? That must have been a few more hoops to jump through as well as, Hey, there’s no options. You’re the sole provider for these fellas. . 

Holland Webb: International adoption, which is what I looked at first because I’ve, I had lived abroad.

I’d traveled abroad, I’d studied international relations. I worked for an international development organization. [00:29:00] I thought that would be the way to go. It wasn’t hardly any countries will allow single men to adopt a few more, will allow single women. And then of course, over time there have become all kinds of issues raised around international adoption, by the way.

And it’s fallen outta favor and it’s fallen out of, not very many people are doing it anymore. And in fact, I think it was a year or two ago that one of the largest Christian organizations that placed his children actually stopped all their international adoptions because they said for the same price that they can bring one child from Kenya to the US for an adoption, they can place 50 children in Kenya with Kenyan families.

And that this was not a good use of resources. So if anybody has adopted internationally, I’m not criticizing that approach. I’m just saying it’s an approach that was overly complex and so it, it’s declined because it’s too hard to do, it’s too expensive and too complicated.

So I started looking at domestic adoption, which all I’d ever really heard of was people adopting babies. And what do you hear about all these terrible stories, right? Of people who [00:30:00] spend years and years trying to adopt, or people who try an open adoption and the birth mother changes her mind at the last minute.

Or someone comes back five years later and there’s been some snafu in the legal issues and, they lose their child. Virtually none of these stories ever actually happen in real life. A few of them may, but most of them don’t. They’re just scare stories. But that was all I had heard.

A lady at our church was working in adoptions. She had adopted two biracial children herself, and she went from that into helping place black and biracial infants with families because children of color are harder to place in adoption in adoptive families, or at least they were at the time. And so I watched what she was doing and I thought I bet I could do that, but I wouldn’t be picked by a birth mother because if birth mother has a choice, she’s gonna pick, two parents.

So then that led me to foster care to the department of Social Services. And I applied, and I’m sure it raised a few eyebrows, when you’re working with the state, they can’t discriminate against you on the basis [00:31:00] of anything apparently. And whenever they called me about, I don’t know, it was a long process, but it wasn’t a difficult process.

It was just a long process. Whatever they call me about, Jeffrey and John Paul, I said, are there no married couples that are willing to take these two little boys? They’re three and four, and you didn’t name off anything that was wrong with them other than that they’re three and four. There’s no, no condition that would make them hard to place.

And the social worker said there are no married couples willing to accept two black boys. We’ve had some married couples who had said they would take one, but not who would take two and it’s you or a, if you say no, our next choice is a single mom. I said, okay if it’s a single mom or a single dad, it’s a horse of peace, right?

I’ll do this. And my mother had said she would help until I got married. So actually she helped until they were grown because that’s what happened. They just, but yeah, they showed up at my house and I was a little surprised. , I didn’t know very much about children. 

Meg Glesener: [00:32:00] Ta-da, baptism into parenting!

Holland Webb: This one’s four and this one’s three. Here, you go bye. 

Meg Glesener: And the good thing is they don’t really know that you don’t know. 

Holland Webb: That’s right. You can pull the wool over their eyes for a long time, can’t you? I think they know now. I think they’ve got a clue now they’re 20 and 19. Now. I should, if anyone’s thinking that this happened like yesterday, now they’re 20 and 19.

So this was 16, a little over 16 years ago. And I know a lot’s changed in adoption since then and there are lots of people now. It’s not that uncommon, at least around here, to see transracial families. You don’t see very many African American adults with white children. But you do see a fair number of white adults with African American and biracial children.

And I know that’s that there are also, as I said there, there’s sticky issues that surround international adoption. There are sticky issues that surround transracial adoption as well. But anytime you start engaging in adoption, you are engaging in a second best, right? The best would be if every you [00:33:00] had kids could stay married and raise them.

But they don’t. And they can’t. So anytime you, you are participating in brokenness. Anytime you participate in adoption, no matter what your role is, you’re participating in a broken system and in a broken and fractured relationship. And I think the stories that we tell about adoption, I’m very interested, in how the way we tell stories affects our perception of issues and how the words that we use affect our perception of issues.

And because I think our language and our stories shape what we believe to be true more than the facts do. And the stories that we often tell around adoption are stories of hope. They’re stories of love. There’s stories of wholeness, and that’s great, but that’s incomplete. They are also stories of that begin in brokenness.

And there’s no way that, there’s no matter how well you phrase it, no matter how well intentioned do you are, no matter if you can do all the right things. And the fact is, this person still lost their parents. [00:34:00] However they lost them through what, whatever the circumstances were, they, it still happened.

Somebody still lost their children. That still happened, whatever, even if they, even if that was entirely their choice from the beginning and that was what they wanted to do, it still happened to them. And it still had to be a very difficult and choice that shapes your life from then on.

Meg Glesener: How did you make it through those early years with the boys and what did you learn? 

Holland Webb: Oh, I learned that I could bite my tongue, , everything that came into my mind did not have to come out of my mouth. I, I was,

I was pretty easy as children go, I think, if my mother wanted me to do something, I did 85% of it. I didn’t cause trouble. I had my own issues, but they mostly affected me. They didn’t affect the people [00:35:00] around me. And so adults tended to think that I was well behaved and I got a lot of accolades for that as a child.

I didn’t get that. Jeffrey and John Paul they have other struggles being, overly well behaved as children isn’t one of them . And I really did not understand that many people experience a lot of many people push back very hard against the world. And that’s just part of growing up for them.

And to me, they would do something or say something. I would just be horror stricken, not realizing that maybe that was normal. It was hard for me to judge what was normal behavior, what was normal behavior for them in their situation, and then what was really out there and needed to be I needed to be concerned about, and I think I, that some things happened that I probably were signals that something needed to be addressed and I just missed them. And other things that I was really concerned about addressing that probably were just normal behavior for kids because I just didn’t know.

Meg Glesener: Did [00:36:00] your church come alongside at all, or did you have any kind of a community that helped fill in some of the gaps that you felt like you were lacking? 

Holland Webb: The church that I went to at the time was very invested in adoption and our children’s pastor was particularly interested in helping kids who were adopted or who, who’s because we had so many in the church.

So she was a really big help. Pastor Brenda was a really big help in making sure that there were a lot of other people to do something, say something, be around for the boys when they were growing up . I really will always appreciate her for that because she understood and saw., Now when they were I think eight and nine, we moved to Guatemala and spent three years in Guatemala.

Meg Glesener: Oh.

Holland Webb: Yeah. And there we had a great community as well because I taught in a school. 

Meg Glesener: Did your mom go with?

Holland Webb: She did, because we had her and then we had the other teachers at the school who were a big help and the parents of kids.

Meg Glesener: Great. 

Holland Webb: The kids were all, except Jeffrey and John Paul and five or 10 others.

[00:37:00] The rest of the school was Guatemalan, but the other parents and, other kids and older, everybody just filled in and was supportive and present. So yes, the church and then later that particular school were great help. I was gonna say, A few years ago, I’m not sure when my mother began to live with dementia because it’s such a, an insidious thing.

We’re talking about how pride is insidious, so was dementia. Somebody asked me a few months ago, how long has your mother had dementia? And I said there’s been something wrong with her mind for about 75 years. But how long there’s been it’s been something you can identify. I don’t really know.

But for a little over a year, she’s been completely disabled by it. She had a particular incident and because of the kind of dementia that she has, which tends to move in steps rather than gradually, she had a particular incident last summer that divorced her from reality. So in the last year, my oldest son has been in Alaska as part of the [00:38:00] US Army and my younger son and I and our two dogs have been here taking care of my mother.

The dogs are a big help. One of the dogs has Lou Gehrig’s, so he’s not a help at all. He has to be carried most places now, but the other one will at least be as helpful as a dog can. But we do that and that was not something I ever expected to do, believe me, or ever wanted to do or really knew anything about, you learn.

Meg Glesener: Yeah. Yeah. Look, you’ve had a long journey with your mama. 

Holland Webb: Yeah, indeed. But the counseling is helping.

Meg Glesener: I feel like every stage of life, your parents or lack thereof or lack of, how if they are alive, so much is a part of who we are and how we process life through every decade. 

Holland Webb: So you’re like loving them and furious at them at the same time.

Meg Glesener: Yes. Disappointed and still hoping hope, holding out hope that they might be something different, but then their health gets to a point where you realize, you know what? That’s it. , that’s [00:39:00] it is what it is. And I’m gonna either decide I’m gonna love them for who they are mentally, physically, whatever.

Even before dementia, your mom, at some point you had to realize, she is who she is and this is the mom I have, and I’m just gonna enjoy what’s there and be thankful and then health starts declining. That adds a whole extra element of love.

Holland Webb: Yeah. I’m really glad you said that because there are times I think what, there’s just these other few things I really wish I could have thrown at you.

 Not objects, but, disappointment or frustrations or things that I really, and to realize, okay, that’s, you’re done. That’s over. Whatever you wish had been different, it’s over. You can’t deal with that. You just have to address what’s there and do the best you can with what you got.

And hope that when I am an old person, Jeffrey and John Paul will feel the same way. Whatever frustrations and disappointments we have with you, you’ll just have to let them go and and keep you around anyway. 

Meg Glesener: And [00:40:00] it’s a journey. And I know we’ll get into when we get to our PS a little more about your sons, but is there a verse that it’s, that’s meant a lot to you in your life that you really hold onto?

Holland Webb: When I was in college and I was angst ridden about what I was going to do in life because, I thought that I was gonna be some, somehow what I was going to do was gonna be so significant that I had to really be worried about it. , I don’t know if other people feel that way or not, but I thought, I felt I thought I was so significant that I was gonna, I needed to worry about what I was gonna do.

But when I was praying about that a verse I found a verse of scripture, Proverbs 31:8-9. And anytime you bring up Proverbs 31, people think of the Proverbs 31 woman, a wife of noble character who can find, and then the author goes into all these wonderful things that the woman he’s married to does, she’s a businessperson.

She’s runs her house, she takes care of her children and her servants and everybody arises and calls her blessed. But before that, you have the sayings that King Lemuel’s mother taught him, which is the first nine verses of Proverbs [00:41:00] 31. The last two are, speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Speak up and judge fairly defend the rights of the poor needy. And I think that could, maybe there are people who say, we don’t speak up for others, we speak up with others. But I think that’s just a more nuanced understanding of what King Lemuel’s mother was saying to him in those two verses. You are a person of relative power.

You’re a person of relative privilege, you’re a person of relative wealth. Use that to benefit people who are, who face a wall, who face a ceiling who can’t advocate for themselves, who can’t do for themselves what you can do. And, give them that voice, give them that hand. Give them whatever it is that you can lend them to help them step across that, help them break down that barrier and so that they have access to God and access to the kingdom of God and access to the life of the kingdom of God with nothing standing in the way.

Meg Glesener: Amen. Well said. Before we seal up the envelope on this letter of encouragement, [00:42:00] we have prepared little treat for you that we like to call the PS so you can see more of the heart and personality of our guest. 

Here is your PS. 

Meg Glesener: Are you ready for some bonus questions?

Holland Webb: I suppose so. 

Meg Glesener: I have to start with one question. One of the most remarkable things about you when I met you was a really beautiful pair of yellow shoes. Do we still have those? 

Holland Webb: Yes, but I can’t wear them anymore. They got messed up. 

Meg Glesener: Oh no. The dogs? 

Holland Webb: Dogs.

Meg Glesener: At least you have the shoes. Or did you, maybe we can turn ’em into a quilt. I don’t know. Just thinking 

Holland Webb: I’ve never made a quilt in my life,

Meg Glesener: But you said that you wanted to, something. There was a strong desire in your heart to see what was lacking and to be able to provide that for someone else. Do you feel that you’ve given that to your boys and really to your mother as well? 

Holland Webb: Do I feel that I’ve given that to my boys? [00:43:00] Yes and no. I was probably better than nothing.

I don’t know that I was good, but I was better than nothing. I wish that I knew then what I know now because I would’ve given them so much more. I would’ve understood children and understood children in their particular situation a lot better. If I adopt any more children, , I’ll be 70 years old when they’re grown.

But if I did, I would know a little more about what I was doing. 

Meg Glesener: What do you wish you would’ve known that you think would’ve helped you so much? Cause there’s people out here who are like, Hey, tell me I wanna know , I need help. 

Holland Webb: I would come up with two things really quick.

Number one, I wish I would have known my own shortcomings better so I could have addressed them quicker. If I’d understood what was wrong with me and fixed me , I would’ve helped them. But I was too quick to want to go fix them [00:44:00] first and leave me unaddressed. But in fact, fixing me would’ve helped them.

It’s the old, put your mask on first. 

Meg Glesener: And I think what can happen is parenting happens so fast. I think a lot of times it’s not even conscious. A conscious choice to say I’m not taking care of myself. But it’s something I’ve realized over time too. You’re focusing, you’re responsible for all these people, for them not hurting themselves, for them having some character for, teaching them about the Lord.

And so your mind and your heart’s focused on all this. And you don’t realize sometimes that, oh, I need to look at myself more. And I agree. It’s something that I’m still learning as a grandma. I’m still learning these things. 

Holland Webb: Oh, wow. The other thing I would do, I think differently is I would realize that I think I said this before, but just whatever comes in my head doesn’t have to roll off my tongue. You say things to kids that you would never [00:45:00] say to adults just because you can and they can’t respond back to you. I don’t know if anyone else has done that, but I have. I would watch what I said much more closely. I started to do that after a while.

After a while I realized the things that I’m saying are having a lot greater impact than I intend for them to, and I have control over my mouth. Boys were in their early teens, which is a great time to just, spit out a response cuz they say stuff, right? And then your natural inclination is, I’m gonna say it back.

But that was when I began to realize that if 1 Corinthians 13, which describes what love is, love is patient love is kind and it’s not rude or self-seeking and doesn’t insist on its own way. And it hopes all things and believes all things and bears all things. Then it can bear hearing something and not offering a sarcastic response right that minute.

If it keeps no record of wrongs, then it’s not gonna bring up something from the past. When [00:46:00] you’re, when, no matter how much you want to, no matter how much you feel that this would fix this situation, it’s not going to , it’s just going to make. It’s just gonna make it worse. All that we’ll do is make you feel better right that minute.

Meg Glesener: For me too. That’s just one of those things to wrap your head around giving each of your kids a fresh start every day. The Lord said that we forgive 490 times a day. And that is so true with children. You’ve got maybe the button pusher or the kid who’s always spilling and breaking everything and you just wanna cry or yell.

And I was at mentor Mom for a few years and I asked at the table, who here struggles with yelling? If you and everybody raised their hand? It’s something we struggle with and you can’t take those words back. And when you start to see as they get older, and I don’t know what it was for me, but there’s a certain weird piece in your mind that they’re not a person when they’re little.

And I, that sounds like an awful thing to say, but I think there’s something [00:47:00] you. Yeah, they’re little kids and, but when you start to see it on their faces and it affects the relationship and then you just are on your face before God weeping and saying, Lord, how could I say that? , or yell.

And then you go to your kid and you say, will you please forgive me? And of course, even maybe the button pusher or the one who really tests those limits looks you in the face and says, you’re forgiven dad. , you’re forgiven, mom. Has that been part of your experience as well? 

Holland Webb: I think it has. I should probably send this recording to Jeffrey and say, listen to this, and then get back to me on that.

what do you think? What do you think? What do you think about what makes, 

Meg Glesener: Yeah, I wanna go afterward from the boys. On that note, if you had limitless time and talents, what ministry would you like to participate in or start? 

Holland Webb: Gosh, if I had limitless time and talents , I’d probably lie [00:48:00] around the house all the time.

No I would, I think it’s on that same note, what we were just talking about. I would want to work with a ministry that recruits trains and places male mentors, not with kids, but with younger dads who don’t have a sense of what they’re doing. We are, we have big brothers, big sisters. We have programs that place men with fatherless boys for mentoring, and that’s absolutely fantastic and there’s lots of data behind that.

It appears to be one of the few interventions that really does make a difference. It works. But I would like to see now a lot of the boys who grew up without fathers and who’ve become dads, to have somebody who’s already done this, be able to come and say, here’s what I’ve learned. I’ll listen to you.[00:49:00] 

I’ll offer what advice I can, I’ll offer what suggestions I can, and I’ll sit here and listen to you and help you and be there for you and pray for you as you do this. Because I realize you don’t even have a pattern. You’re doing this without, you’re putting together, you’ve been given a puzzle and there’s no picture of what it’s supposed to look like.

It’s just a bunch of colorful pieces on the table in front of you, and you have 18 years to put together a 75,000 piece puzzle. Good luck. At least we could hold up something and help folks. 

Meg Glesener: What was your favorite book? Favorite book as a child? 

Holland Webb: The first book I ever read was Charlotte’s Webb, and I remember crying at the end of that book forever.

It was at least an hour. And my mother took me to the library and she said, there are other books in the library, just as good as this one. Okay, there aren’t, but there are other books in the library, almost as good as that one . But I also, as I got, I loved to read when I was a kid.

Loved reading. That’s what I wanted to do all the time. And I read a lot of historical [00:50:00] fiction and I really liked books in World War II and I liked books that were set in international with international settings, particularly biographies. I didn’t read a whole lot of books as a kid that I didn’t like.

Meg Glesener: What are there two books that have impacted you this year? 

Holland Webb: Since the pandemic began, a friend of mine in Colorado and I have been reading. Christian living books and then we talk about them every week over Zoom. 

Meg Glesener: Oh, cool. 

Holland Webb: Yes, he’s an English teacher, so he writes down questions and we have our own little, book group, but it’s good because it’s just the two of us so we can share a lot more intimately than you can with 10 people around that, I’m not about to say that in front of all these people, but we’ve been doing that and we read, the first book we read was Boundaries, which is a classic, but I hadn’t read it and neither had he.

And then we read one called Dangerous Prayers, and now we’re reading Wild at Heart by John Eldridge, which has been transformational. And for me, my friend had already read it and in fact about 10 years ago, he tried to get me to read it and I said, no, I’m never reading that book. I already know what it’s about and the, no I don’t like it.

And . [00:51:00] And he said, it’s nothing like what you just described to me. When I told him what I knew, what the book was about and why I wouldn’t like it, he said, it’s nothing like that. And I said, no, I’m sure it’s like that and I’m not gonna read it. So after we started this little project where we meet every week after we did the first book, he said, okay, now we’re doing Wild at Heart cuz I get to pick next.

Said, okay, fine. I’ll read Wild At Heart. And I’ve just loved it. I have loved it. I have loved Wild At Heart. It’s really been a tremendously helpful book to me. 

Meg Glesener: I was gonna say, you’re picking Charlotte’s Web next, right? , 

Holland Webb: No. 

Meg Glesener: Or pride and Prejudice. Okay. 

Holland Webb: Oh, you say that, that’s funny. One of his favorite books is Pride and Prejudice with Zombies.

Meg Glesener: Really? With zombies. 

Holland Webb: With Zombies. Have you not read Pride and with Zombies? No. It’s a, yeah, you could even buy, I was at Jane Austin’s birthplace, and it’s in the Gift Shop. You can buy Pride and Prejudice with Zombies. 

Meg Glesener: Wow. That’s next level. Next level. Holland . So you have a wonderful [00:52:00] co-host, Amy, who’s a teacher on your podcast, The Afterward. And one question that I’d like to ask is, what is, what does she bring to this show and what do you bring? What’s unique about each of your contribution? 

Holland Webb: You know what I wanna say, right? I wanna say she doesn’t bring anything to the show and I just bring it all, but she might listen to this, so I better not say 

Meg Glesener: Mic Drop

Holland Webb: When we first started, our idea was I’m a full-time writer and she’s a full-time reading teacher. She said, we’ve got writing and we’ve got reading. So we knew we weren’t gonna talk about how to write, and we knew we weren’t gonna talk about how to teach reading because they’re already a bazillion podcast on how to write, and I couldn’t teach reading if I were paid to.

So I wasn’t gonna be able to contribute anything to that would’ve had to be our podcast. So we started looking at if there are trends in the world and what are the stories in the words that shape how we think about those things? So if we take it artificial intelligence, what are the stories we tell about that?

What are the words we use when we talk about artificial intelligence? How does that shape what people [00:53:00] believe to be true about artificial intelligence? And is what we believe to be true actually true? Or is it just the story that we tell ourselves? So Amy’s a teacher and she brings that understanding that what one person is communicating, another person may not be receiving.

What one person is learning, another person may not be teaching. There’s a gap between teacher and learner. We often don’t even know it’s there. She’s been in the classroom a long time and one of the things she, I know she will bring up a lot is teacher talk. There’s too much teacher talk. We need to be listening more to what’s being said so we understand what people do, what people know, what they don’t know, and what they think they know that they don’t know, and then we can help them.

Otherwise, we’re just talking at them. We’re not really, we’re not really helping. So I think that perspective shapes her perspective as a teacher, shapes the way we construct our interviews because we wanna know what it is we think we know and what we really know. When we did an episode on telling stories, using your genealogy, learning and telling your family story, one of [00:54:00] our guests said, there’s a fine line between legend and reality.

She said, everybody will tell you they’re related to somebody famous. They’re descended from royalty. And she said, all I’m just going to help you with your genealogy right here. You are not descended from royalty,

Meg Glesener: And what about you? What is something you bring? 

Holland Webb: I come at it from the other perspective because I’m creating something for people to learn from, right? Creating articles that hopefully people will read and learn new information from. So it’s easy to start out and say, oh, I already know about this subject, or, I already know how this works.

And find out that prevailing wisdom or isn’t right. There’s not data behind it. When you start to write an article about it, you can discover actually the data says something else, or the data’s not there. 

Meg Glesener: So Holland, I know I listen to your podcast on Apple. Where’s the best place people can reach you and to find your book, Adventures and Fatherhood, which I highly recommend if you want a different [00:55:00] perspective from a writer.

It’s beautiful. I love your book. 

Holland Webb: Thanks, Meg. The podcast [email protected], and then you can find us on Apple, Stitcher and all the other podcast watering holes on the internet. But the afterward is where we are. You can also go to my website, holland, and a lot of our episodes are, almost all of our episodes are on on my website as well, holland

The book Adventures in Fatherhood is a 60 day devotional for dads that I wrote with a friend, Carlton Hughes. His sons are just a little bit older than mine, and so we wrote from the perspective of two guys who just finished this journey and what would we say to people coming along behind us. Carlton is a professor of communication at Southeastern Kentucky Technical and Community College.

And so he’s not a specialist in, parenting or counseling psychology or anything, and I’m certainly not, but so we, it’s not a how to book, it’s nothing like that. It’s just 60 days of our thoughts on what it means to be a father and what we’ve [00:56:00] learned using scriptures and our own experiences and just sharing our stories in little snippets, so you can read it as a 60 day devotional, one a day with a versus scripture and a prayer at the end. Or you can just sit down and read it straight through. We’ve known people who’ve done it different ways, but you can find that on Amazon and in most bookstores and secular bookstores and Christian bookstores, it’s Adventures in Fatherhood by Carlton Hughes and Holland Webb 60 Day Devotional for dads.

Meg Glesener: And there’s so much in there for all parents to take away, especially the humor. It’s , just being able to laugh at yourself as a parent and appreciate some of the moments that would make you cry or pull your hair out. You’ve said so well, , can you give us one story from there? 

Holland Webb: When Jeffrey was about eight, John Paul was about seven, there we had a swing set in the backyard and John Paul came running into the house. He was a little bit hard to understand, but he said to my mother, grandmother, get the scissors and come quick. She didn’t know what he was talking [00:57:00] about. She got the scissors and followed him and he took her outside and threw the back gate.

And there on the swing set, Jeffrey was standing on tiptoe on the swing. So you know, the swing was bent under his weight, , and he had a string around his neck and it was pulled so tight that he has slipped a finger between the string and his neck so he could breathe. And so my mother went over with the scissors and, cut him down.

And I got home from work that night. And she tells me about this and I said, why did you hang yourself from the top of the swing set? And he said, I was pretending I was British. And I said, what? He said, I was being hung for high treason against the crown. I had my musket here. He had gotten this musket when we went to the the Alamo in San Antonio, this toy musket.

Cause I had my musket and I was being hung. Only that I really was hung and I couldn’t get down. I remember thinking, okay, we’ve got to stop watching these BBC . British [00:58:00] Broadcasting Company, historical doc historical shows. We were watching Horatio Hornblower at the time, which I’m sure is where he got the idea.

You wonder how anybody survives to adulthood because I think everybody’s tried something like that. The verse that I used from that was the one out of the book of James, I think it’s James, I wanna say chapter five verse one, but I’m not positive. It says if anyone needs wisdom, ask of God, who gives liberally without condemnation, kids do crazy things.

Right? And kids do all kinds of things. You’re not expecting and much more serious things, right? Kids do all kinds of things that you don’t really expect that they get involved in stuff. They make choices that you had didn’t see coming and whether no matter what. If you are a follower of Jesus, you can go to God and say, I have no idea what to do.

I never had anybody show me what to do. I don’t have the foggiest idea how to handle this, but I trust that you do and I trust that you have wisdom and that you will give me what the wisdom that I need right [00:59:00] now to do the thing I need to do right now. I may not understand the whole situation, but I can act wisely with the next words that I say.

I can act wisely with whatever choice I make here and now. So it’s an opportunity. So that’s the kind of thing we talk about in the book.

Meg Glesener: That’s great. Yeah it’s funny when you become a parent yourself, all of a sudden the things you didn’t realize you should be thankful for. Wow, I’ve got, I’ve got all my fingers and toes and I actually know how to read. You have no idea what a process that is. Just the fact that you grew up and you have your limbs and can read how much sweat and how much your parents, especially like for me, my mom being a single mom for so many years, wow. I didn’t realize how much I needed to thank my mom for or be grateful.

What do you love about each of your sons? 

Holland Webb: When I was 17, 18, 19, I would certainly not have joined the Army or jumped out of an airplane or done anything like [01:00:00] that. So I really admire the fact that Jeffrey went off and did that. I wouldn’t have had the nerve to do it. I would’ve been afraid of what other people would think.

I would’ve been afraid I couldn’t do it. I’ve been afraid I would have killed myself jumping out of a plane, then I’m a klutz so I probably would have, but he had the courage to do it and he had, I don’t know if it’s courage or fool hardiness, but one or the other to jump out of the plane. But not just that, but to go out and try something that was big and hard and challenging and scary and to go do it anyway.

John Paul has always marched to his own drumbeat. And that’s something, I said at the beginning of our conversation, Meg that my mother was a contrarian. I think John Paul, if one can inherit from one’s adoptive grandmother he inherited that streak. He doesn’t feel compelled to do things because other people think you should do them, or society thinks it’s conventional or whatever.

He lives the way he wants to and there’s a lot that’s admirable in that.

Meg Glesener: Sometimes those kids are a little bit harder to parent, but when as you see them grow up, they have such a drive and big ideas. And [01:01:00] I am loving watching that unfold in our kids as they’re soaring into adulthood. What quirk does each of your sons have that you tease them about?

Holland Webb: Jeffrey has a voice that’s when he was a little kid his Sunday school teacher said to me, he sounds like James Earl Jones. And he did. He had this massive voice and he still has it, but he also modifies it to sound cool. So that, 

Meg Glesener: so he should be a podcaster, but yeah, 

Holland Webb: he really should. Yeah, he really should be a podcaster.

He used to have a YouTube channel that had a massive number of subscribers, and all they did was play video games. People watched him play video games. I don’t understand thrill, but anyway, I think it’s, I think it’s that too cool for school voice that he has. John Paul does not like to be teased, so I don’t do that anymore.

But when he was little and was more amenable to it, I would I borrowed this from a character in Charles Dickens, but I would say that he had a sister, Jean Pauline, and she was perfect. So whatever was going on, I would say if your [01:02:00] sister, Jean Pauline were here, she wouldn’t have done whatever it is he’d done, or she would’ve solved this, and we wouldn’t have any, all these problems or whatever was going on.

Just to tease. He didn’t care for that. He got tired of hearing about Jean Pauline, especially since she didn’t even exist. But I got that from one of the characters in David Copperfield, but I thought it was clever and I did it for a while until he made me quit 

Meg Glesener: A quirk they tease you about, 

Holland Webb: Jeffrey sent me this thing the other day, one of, what did they call those little gifs or whatever, G I F what, how do you pronounce that? GIF for Jiff? 

Meg Glesener: Hey, it’s a millennial boom situation, how you pronounce it. Sorry, 

Holland Webb: that thing. And one of them said, dads, when the kid leaves the bathroom light on all night and had a picture of a man saying, I will never recover financially from this, I said, okay, I will own that.

I will own that . But the other one had a picture of a referee with this sharp expression on his face, and it said above it, dad’s when talking to waiters and restaurants. And I was, I said, [01:03:00] I do not do that. He said, yes, you do. I don’t know, you have to ask the waiters if the restaurants that I patronize whether I do that or not, but 

Meg Glesener: nice. I like that, Hey, the relationship’s decent when the kids are sending you memes. We just have to celebrate that. 

Is that a meme, not a Giff or jiff or whatever? 

I don’t know. Is it not for you to sound like total dorkle heads here, but is the gif I think it’s the one where it’s live and active, and it’s a cartoon and a meme is with a word 

over it. 

Holland Webb: I think you’re right. Yeah, I think you’re right. Yeah. Okay. Then these were memes. 

Meg Glesener: If you’re part of their meme game, you are in Holland, you’re in man . The kids are like, mom, you shouldn’t do a bit moji that, you know? But now it’s just so generally accepted that even in my fifties I, yeah, I’ve got a bit moji and I try to use the words they teach me and they’re like, mom, that’s not where you use that [01:04:00] word.

Then why are you teaching me? I don’t know. Holland, what flaw keeps you on your knees in prayer, and what does that struggle look like, and how have you found God help you with it? 

Holland Webb: There are a lot of flaws that keep me on my Jesus prayer, 

Meg Glesener: a lot of flaws.

Holland Webb: Something I, I’ve talked about recently, and I alluded to this early on when we were talking, my mother would make a big change in her life every time something she could get rid of her entire life and go just open up a new one every few years. And I adopted that way of doing things. I would, every few years, I, we just, we sold up in 2009. We sold everything pretty much and went to Guatemala for three years. We came back, we started another we, and now I’m in a position where I would like to do that again, but I have her and I can’t.

I’ve got to learn how to make the life I have good, rather than just go pick up another one. 

Meg Glesener: And that can be really difficult is [01:05:00] staying put. And I think that’s why people, why there’s the whole midlife crisis thing is the thing. Cuz you get to a point where or one of our favorite shows, As Good As It Gets, if we didn’t have the Lord, sometimes you could look at the mundane is this it?

Is this all I is this all we got from life? But the Lord brings joy to that day. So what character or person in the Bible do you most admire or relate to? 

Holland Webb: I have two favorite characters. They’re both in the Old Testament. One is Esther and one is Joseph. And. I don’t know if I relate to them, but I admire them because you can see their stories are long enough that you can see how their character matures and in, I believe it’s Million Miles and a Thousand Years, Donald Miller says the point of a story is not the end. The point of the story is how the character changes in the struggle in the middle. And it’s easy to jump from a beginning to an end when you only see a short [01:06:00] segment of a character’s life, this sort of a snapshot. But with both Joseph and Esther, you see this much longer period of time in which they are changed, right?

Joseph starts out as this brash guy, telling his father that he’s going to bow down to him and wearing his robe and lording it over his brothers. And by the end of the story, he’s a very different person. But he doesn’t just become a very different person, because he prayed and became a different person.

He becomes a different person because his brothers throw him in a pit and sell him to a caravan of slave traders. And he, and he’s falsely accused. He does something good, but he’s accused anyway, and he’s punished for it anyway. And in the struggle of his life, the struggle. Ryan Holiday wrote a book called The Obstacle is the Way, and I think that’s what in his life.

And Esther’s story is a little bit more abbreviated, but you see that there too, right at the beginning. She’s very passive. Women’s ministry leaders like to hold her up as like this great woman who went out and, accomplished like she’s some sort of warrior queen, maybe by the end. But at the beginning she just does whatever [01:07:00] her uncle says.

He says, you’re beautiful. So go participate in this contest to be the next queen of Persia. So she does it, but she does whatever the leader of the harem tells her to do. And finally, she has to take agency on her own, right? She has to take risk; she has to show courage. She has to gather up and do something independent of what everybody else tells her to do.

Yes, she’s still getting the information. Yes, she’s still getting direction from her uncle, but she’s acting right. The locus of control moves into her lap and you see her take responsibility and her uncle says, you need to do this. But he doesn’t tell her how. She figures out how, she’s the one who has the courage.

She’s the one who goes in and does what has to be done. And I like the fact that you actually see them change and you almost see a magic line that eventually they cross where they stop being people that you don’t really wanna be around. And they start becoming people who can change the world around them.

Meg Glesener: Wow. What a great answer .

Holland Webb: Thank you, 

Meg Glesener: . That’s really encouraging. What does [01:08:00] being a child of God mean to you? And what quality of the Lord are you most grateful for? 

Holland Webb: We had this whole conversation about fatherhood and book Adventures in Fatherhood, and then you, I, the way you phrase this question is, child of God, not what is being a follower of Jesus or being a, some, being a Christian, but being a child of God.

What does that mean to you? And I think it means for me, there’s somebody who’s right there and you can look at that and say, you can look at him and say, I’ve got a question. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t think I can. And you can get advice, you can get help. You can get a kick in the butt. You can get whatever it is that God is gonna give you that will help you grow.

Meg Glesener: I trust you, love Holland’s story as much as I do. Just hearing his vulnerability and his realness that he’s not been a perfect parent, that adoption is not easy. It’s hard on everyone. And yet something beautiful came out of it, right? I love his heart for just saying [01:09:00] Maybe I should be the one, and I’m just praying for us all as we listen.

Maybe there’s something that we need to step out in and trust God for. Maybe today is that day that we step out and redeem something for someone else that was lost for us. Patreon is a platform for creatives and their supporters on Patreon. We like to share some extras with our letters from home members.

If you Google Patreon and look up Meg Glesener you’ll see three signup options and bonus material and swag we only offer there. I have added a 10 minute bonus clip of really funny banter between Holland and me. Plus you will hear the answer to the question that Holland asked. Every one of his episode guests on his podcast, The Afterward, he gives us the answer to the question, what is a metaphor that helps us [01:10:00] understand the Great Holland Web?

And I thought I would just surprise him with that. His answer is amazing. Also, you will hear how I keep myself from becoming a hoarder and I get a little sassy, as well as cry, plot, twist, right? and all of the contributions from Patreon only go toward making every episode even better. For our listeners.

Narrator: Links from our guests will be in the show notes. For more everyday extraordinary faith stories, go to our website,, and click subscribe or follow on whatever platform you’re listening to. 

2 Corinthians 3:3. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.

Until next time, go in peace.

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