A Birthday Gift from Thirty-One Years Ago

One of the many changes I’ve felt as a father is an increased admiration for my parents. I loved and respected them before, but now that I have Philip, I appreciate all of their work and sacrifice in raising us. They weren’t perfect, but who is? They definitely trusted God, and they taught us to trust Him as well.

Watching my wife take care of our son, I imagine my own mom who by the time she was 27 had three boys to manage with only two arms and two legs. I don’t know how she survived, much less thrived, during those years.

Last Friday, on our birthday, (Carla and I share the same birthday), my mom sent me a letter that I never saw before. It was a poem she wrote on March 10, 1983, when I was three days old, thirty-one years ago. Reading it now, I’m amazed at how prophetic some of it was.

Furious Red

There he lay,
Our furious red,
Tiny chin and rounded head.
Eyes he kept
So tightly closed,
Rosebud lips
And―what a nose!
A pixie thing held
Up above,
(the warning signs
of a future snob : > )
He had in him
A royal air,
Despite his obvious lack of hair!
A captive audience
He held fast,
His Pa and I
From first to last 
Visiting hour we stayed.
Side by side
Each silently,
Absorbing this sleeping babe we see…
The tiny fingers that peeked through
Your Tweety bird blanket of faded blue,
Those crumpled ears,
That rumpled neck
Your fragile toes,
All parts, we checked!
And as we stood there
Watching you,
Through each of us
Coursed hope anew—
A prayer to God,
Full of grateful joy.
For this wonderful miracle
of our baby boy.

As I read it, I wondered at how could a parent see so much in their child that would speak into the future. (Right down to the “obvious lack of hair!”)

Also amazing is how much of it can be said about Philip. (From my Mom's Instagram. Click the pic for the source.)
Also interesting is how much of it can be said about Philip. (From my Mom’s Instagram. Click the pic for the source.)

What was more amazing though was the fact that my mom was going through so many challenges at the time, as many people who know her are aware. There were financial pressures, relational stresses, and even more significantly, she and my dad were both not following Jesus. If they didn’t meet him in 1984, the story would be totally different.

But because they believed in Jesus and trusted in Him as Lord and Saviour the outcome was abundantly better than most people would have expected at their start.

And this is true for so many others. I marvel at single parents who trust God and raise their children gracefully. Or men and women who despite their background, are changed by Jesus and able to lead their families today.

I’m not sure if this blog makes sense like my other ones. I just wanted to share that poem coz it made me think of a few things – the power of parents to speak into their child’s future, the gratitude that is produced when we realize what our parents have done for us, and, most importantly, the grace of God that makes broken things beautiful.

Regardless of our background or present situation, there’s something to be grateful for and there’s something we can hope for because Jesus is a God of grace.

Love you, Mom!
Love you, Mom!
Join the discussion

More blog posts

Our National Purpose

I’m posting something I wrote for one of our discussion forums in Asbury Seminary. (I’m in seminary, by the way.) I just wanted to...

Connect with Joe