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Clark, 13

Clark, 13 1978 2560 Nicole

Clark Howard JeeSung Snyder turns 13 today.

My baby, the youngest of four, is now “officially” a teenager. Just in the past couple of months his gaze all too quickly approaching the level of mine slipped right by and can now, ever so slightly, cast down on me. I stand tall in this newly appointed position of shortest person in my family.

Clark. Set aside for us. We, set aside for him. Together ordained for one another. Family.

I always tell Clark how I am who I am now because he is in my life, is our family. I am profoundly grateful for his birth mom who gave him life and possessed strength and courage to nurture, carry him in her belly. And the foster mom who protected him until we could bring him home at six months. I know he wonders about his identity and what his heritage ought to mean for him – all the while not wanting to appear so different. At the same time, we have always seen just how much he is absolutely . . . us. When I say, “oh, my goodness, you are SO Oliver when you do that!”—it really is true!

While we now know that RNA can be altered by ones environment—the physical and emotional surroundings form us. And, over time, this change impacts DNA. We knew from the beginning when his foster mom told us how unlike her other foster babies Clark was, describing those characteristic, the very aspects that characterize our first three kids! Of course, he is the only one with those gorgeous deep, brown, almond-shaped eyes and perfect bronze-golden skin. He is still very much South Korean. And, the rest of our family sports uneven, white-ish skin and blue-to-green eyes, very European, melting-pot American. But, now Howie, Samantha, Greer and Lysander are a little bit Korean, and Clark is a little bit mutt, and all of us are every bit Snyder Family—distinct because we have been transformed by one another—as a family, in Love.

This has obvious implications for our spiritual heritage. When we dwell in the presence of Jesus, it will affect our very DNA. We are transformed by the day-in and day-out of being with this Someone. And, for a community who are being transformed into the likeness of Christ and doing so together, still more does this change occur. Each still Korean or American or Oliver or Snyder—yet, every bit family, fully receiving the riches of God’s glorious inheritance, given by the one from whom every family in heaven and earth takes its name. This is truly rich!

Below is the poem I wrote when we first learned of Clark’s birth and received his hospital picture. It was a time for me that was profoundly spiritual—and, in some ways physical—as I considered our hearts being knit together even before meeting:


Cell’s divide and multiply—miracle of life;

Knit and formed, the womb does hide.

Our spirits link, thrice, love complete

Long before our eyes do meet.


Issued from me, astonishment, awe—

This person like me, though not.

Entrusted me, most exquisite gift

To nurture, love, Av, make me fit.


Still, again, mystery-miracle occurs

Deep, hidden, my spirit relentlessly stirs

Our hearts unite, love inexplicable;

Vast world, for now, leaves you invisible.


This union, unseen, most interior;

Still more, irresistible and proper.

Love, though not seeing, mine

Indeed, while separated in this time.


Incomprehensible, birthright, heir:

Joseph’s heritage ours to share.

Our inheritance, pleasing, assured;

Adopted child, mine and Yours


Happy birthday, my dear son! And may you always remember that while you can now look down on me, I am still your mother, young man!

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About the author


Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (CO, MI).

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