Jacob: December 6, 2010

Dear Baby,

Today your grandpa turns 55 years old. Two weeks ago today I gave my departure notice at the coffee shop. A week from today your dad will be finished with college classes. A month from tomorrow your Aunt Kilby will marry your Uncle Paul. Four months from today is the day you are supposed to make your appearance.

I have a terrible bug today – sore throat and congestion and headache and chills. Add to that the pain from you growing in the last couple days and I haven’t been getting much sleep. So I am resting at home today. Every day comes closer to when you arrive and I grow more and more excited about having you in my life. I must say, carrying you around inside of me is a strange experience and nothing like what I thought it would be. I would much rather have you unattached and visible. You seem surreal and slightly creepy snuggled up in my belly, kicking me all the time.

Our secret is out. Everyone seems happy for us but I know some find it weird that we’ve chosen to have kids while we’re so young. I feel so comfortable and happy and safe at a place like Good Shepherd, where people understand our convictions and priorities and allegiances. I try to avoid being seen at St. Olaf much anymore because I don’t know what they think and I’d rather just keep things to myself. I struggle, wondering whether this is a godly way of handling my discomfort.

The last two weeks there has been an infant baptism at Good Shepherd, and both families joined the church at the same time as their child was baptized. I cry every time I see Josh baptize a baby. He reads the vows for the parents, he performs the baptism, and then he carries that baby down into the middle of the congregation and slowly paces the length of the sanctuary and back as he talks to the baby and to the congregation: “This is your new family. They are here to love you and to teach you. They are so happy to have you.” “This child is the newest member of our family. It is your duty to see to it that he grows up thinking that the church is the greatest place on earth. Show him its glory and beauty so he will love it his whole life.” We take vows to do all we can to nurture those children as they grow among us.

I imagine your baptism and the congregation’s eager vow they will make for your sake. But then I think how soon we will enter into a new chapter of life in a new place and they won’t be your family. You’ll think of them as I do of that church in Colorado my parents spoke of – and Pastor Fite who baptized me and your Uncle David. Daddy and I don’t know what’s down the road for us, but we want you to grow up loving, admiring, and depending on the beautiful church of Christ. I want you to think that it is the greatest place on earth.

We’ve purchased several books about raising godly children that we’re going to read together over the next couple months. We’ve just begun the lifelong process of conversations about how to raise children that love and wonder at the law and the gospel. There are so many things to talk about – How old will you be before we start calling on you to wash dishes? Just old enough to stand at the sink like it was for me growing up, or will we keep doing them for the next decade or so to show you what it means to work cheerfully and enjoy working together and do the job right? How will we create structure in your life so you learn the habits of a good student and good worker, and still give you an atmosphere of fun and joy and childish adventure? It’s becoming clear to me that the way I will be a good mom is by learning discipline myself so that I can create a place of discipline for you to fit into. One of the things I have to work on these days is discipline of my emotions and attitude. I complain a lot and I never want you to learn that from me or to be burdened by my complaining. I want to treat you with respect and graciousness so you learn that from me and so you grow up in a cheerful, happy, worship-filled place.

It’s a tall order when I look at who I am. I know I will have to draw every day on God’s Word and presence for the ability to love you well. That means I have to start with the discipline of seeking Him each day, something that I know will grow difficult as the pressures of motherhood increase. I want to be careful not to neglect that one duty, because if I do I know my own weakness and sinfulness and selfishness will have a place to flourish and you will learn these things from me. Instead I want you to tell your children that their grandmother was a sweet-spirited, gracious-speaking woman who loved God’s Word and sought Him every day, no matter how busy it was.

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