“God makes babies, because God loves stories.” – Elie Wiesel
So yesterday afternoon at 1:14, Leslie gave birth to our 3rd baby. She’s a girl, named Hannah Grace, despite my coworkers‘ suggestion to name her Hannahkuh. Actually, at the time she wasn’t named Hannah, we decided to wait until we actually met the new little girl before naming her.
We didn’t want to give her a name, and then have her come out looking like a Barbara. However, we now think that might be a mistake. Mainly because we forgot that all babies come out looking like Winston Churchill.
I also forgot how crazy being in the labor and delivery room is. It is very much like being in a war zone. The nurses heard all the crying and moaning and were concerned for a while, but eventually I pulled myself together (Leslie barely broke a sweat). Each time we go through this I’m reminded how incredibly tough she is. I don’t even handle paper cuts well…so I’m very glad that my role is just to do jazz hands and have the nurses sedate me.
G.K. Chesterton once said that he learned more about God from watching children than from all the books in his library. And each time I hold a new born baby I get a glimpse into what he meant by that. Especially when you get to have a baby on Christmas Day. the sheer vulnerability of this little 6lb bundle of skin, makes the Christmas story seem all the more impossible.
She’s so fragile and wonderful, and so dependent. She depends on others just to stay alive, and for every Christmas after this one, I’ll have a better reminder of how far the trip was for the Word to become flesh.
But this Christmas birth was especially powerful for Leslie and I, because it was exactly a year ago at this time that we were in the same Hospital for very different reasons. Last year we had a later term miscarriage that was difficult, and as we were holding our new little girl today it dawned on us that we wouldn’t have her, if we wouldn’t have gone through that.
Last year one of my good ministry friends told me about something a delivery doctor at his church had said.
She had told him that the more she found out about the reproduction systems, and the biology of the human body, she was not surprised by the occasional tragedies, she was shocked that they didn’t happen so much more. Because millions of things have to line up just right for a human baby to enter the world without major problems. It is, in her words, a miracle.That’s exactly how we feel today.
And while we know that Hannah Grace will grow up to be her own person, with her own personality, Leslie and I want to say this to her.
Hannah, I want you to know how much your family already loves you. You’ve got grandparents and aunts and uncles that are on pins and needles to meet you. You’ve got a big brother and sister who have prayed for you for the last 9 months, and will for the next 90. But I also want you to know about your mommy. She’s got the biggest heart in the world, and you’ve already stolen it. She’s tough and smart and funny, and if you turn out anything like her, you’re going to be just fine.
I promise to try and be the best dad I can be. I can’t wait for daddy/daughter dates, and weekend trips with you, or teaching you how to fend off boys until your 30. We promise to dream for you until you’re old enough to dream for your self, but this is the main dream for your life that we want you to know about:
Hannah, we think names matter a lot, they come filled with stories. And we gave you this name because of another Hannah in the BIble. She knew what it was like to have a broken-heart, and she also knew what it was like for God to heal a broken-heart. She was sometimes misunderstood by religious people, but never by God. And when she hit rock bottom, she learned that God could met her there.
And your middle name, Grace, that’s important too.
Baby girl, your mom and I don’t know how God runs the universe, we’d like to think that God is both sovereign and unresponsible for the suffering of the world. But we do believe that he is with us when we hurt, and that when people hit rock bottom, God never abandons them but says something like, “Let’s start there.” Last year, when we lost your baby sister Mary, we were pretty sad, but without that experience we would never have had you.
What’s interesting in the Bible is that when Mary finds out that she was going to give birth to the Messiah, she sings a song called “the Magnificat.” Its’ this really gutsy, powerful song about God bringing down the high and mighty and raising up the lowly. But Mary didn’t just make up that song on the spot…she borrowed most of it from a woman who had lived a thousand years before her. A woman named Hannah.
While your mom and I will always miss Mary, we are so grateful for you, because we sense that in some mysterious way God is keeping her song alive through you. You’re going to find out in life that we humans are pretty entitled creatures. We don’t like hurting and we don’t like loss. We tend to ask questions like “Why me?” But the world is a broken place, and each of us must bear in the pain of the world. Last years loss made us realize all over again that you are a gift. We aren’t entitled to you. You are God’s Grace to our life, and you came at exactly the right time. You are our Christmas Miracle.
Even though you might want to celebrate your birthday sometime in June.