A birthday letter to my firstborn

Dear Bean,

When I awoke this morning and remembered that today was your birthday, scenes from the past floated across the screen of my mind. Although it lasted just a few minutes, what I saw this morning has dramatically changed my perspective on our lives.

 I believe that your mother and I learned of your conception on Sunday afternoon, June 1, 1986. I conclude that because I recorded the event in my “Family History-1986” file under the month of June.

I deduce that exact date because I have an entry in my prayer records on June 2nd where the Lord promised, “I will teach you to be a father.” That would not have meant much to me unless I had recently learned that I was going to become one!

While I usually have to take a moment to remember what I did last weekend, I remember the moment that we learned of your existence quite well.

It was around 3:30-4:00 in the afternoon. Mom, being now several weeks past her normal cycle, stepped into the small master bath to take her first pregnancy test.

I was laying on our brass bed in the master bedroom at our house in Mar Vista, CA wearing straight legged blue jeans, a red short-sleeved pullover shirt with a white collar, a brown belt and my favorite brown shoes.

When she said, “It ‘s positive…I’m pregnant,” it felt like a bomb exploded above me, releasing an avalanche of responsibility down on me.

In an instant, everything changed.

My mind raced…

“…She’s not going to be able to work!

“…That means that I have to graduate quickly!

“…But how am I going to do that? I still have 60 more credit hours to complete!”

“…This wasn’t supposed to happen!…at least not this soon!”

Just a few months earlier in January on a nationwide satellite prayer meeting, the leader of our international ministry had forcefully encouraged all of the new young couples who were called to the ministry to wait at least two years before having children!

I didn’t want to call our pastor because, like many other young couples in our church at that time, we had decided to use natural family planning as our method of birth control. However, unlike the other couples, my wife was already pregnant before our third month anniversary!

I suppose that is what I get for expecting your mother to follow directions…

And lastly, I knew that neither of our parents would be thrilled with the news because I had just gone back to UCLA after a 2 1/2 year break and was within a week of completing my first quarter!

I knew of nowhere else to go so I turned to the Scriptures:

Psa 127:3 Behold, children are an heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is his reward.

I was overwhelmed…

 “That has to be true…

“God cannot lie…

“Children are a blessing…

“That has to be true!…

“Children are a blessing…”

And so I spent the rest of the evening confessing the Word hoping that some small bit of faith would enter my heart while your mother and I went and played tennis for the very first time.

Looking back now after this morning, it is easy to see that it truly was the goodness of God to give you to us so early in our marriage.

First, God used your arrival to speed my life up…

I immediately decided to attend both sessions of summer school. I went from being a 26 1/2 year old student with 5 quarters of school remaining to completing those 60 units and graduating in one year!

For the next six months, I continued working my 24 hour per week part-time job.

Then, despite the heavy academic load and work schedule, I became fruitful enough in campus ministry that the ministry’s international leader (the same one on the satellite broadcast back in January) told our pastor that I should quit my part-time job, raise financial support and become the director of UCLA’s campus ministry.

We did so well at raising support that I became the West Coast Regional Director for our ministry’s Partnership Development program. In fact, I had to fly back from helping teach at a national training event in Texas and drive directly to campus in order to attend my graduation ceremony!

Second, I have come to believe that God sent you and your brother and sisters to save our marriage.

Although your mother and I were both highly regarded followers of Christ, neither one of us were ready to be a husband or a wife. Our forays into sin had left both of our souls wounded, gnarled and twisted.

God, in His wisdom, saw that and mercifully sent you to us to occupy us with the new responsibility of being parents.

At that time in our life, those roles fit us better. I was better at being a father than a husband and she was better at being a mother than a wife.

Those years bought your mother and I enough time to heal and mature sufficiently so that we could prosper as husband and wife.

He was also merciful in giving us an easy first child…

I don’t mean that in the way you might think. I mean that we didn’t need very much discernment with you. It was easy for us to tell when you were ‘being bad’ and how we should handle it. God used you to gently start developing our philosophy of parenting and family.

Although we will likely never know with certainty, it is quite possible that you were conceived on your mother’s birthday.

I don’t say that because of any vivid memories of that evening!

I say that because, if my math is correct, you were born 289 days or 41+ weeks later and both Mom and I vaguely recall that you were a little late.

Also, now that I understand how “natural family planning” was supposed to work, I would bet good money that our charts would verify that your mother was a very fertile field right around that time!

And lastly, your mother took the pregnancy test about 7-8 weeks after her previous cycle.

If it is true, you were God’s birthday present to her that year. I had the pleasant task of being the delivery man!

I have told you many times that you were an ideal firstborn child for us. Tonight I tell you that you were a well-timed child and I am so glad that God interrupted our plans and sent you and your brother and sisters when He did.

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Dad

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