That Sunday evening in 1986, like every Sunday in the Fall, I was at the youth group meeting at the church until about 8:30pm or so. One of the things that many folks don’t realize is that a pastor in even a middle-sized church gives away many of the evenings of the week, as well as work at least 5 or 6 full days. Now that I am retired, I sometimes look back and think about how much family time I did miss – when I was the senior pastor of a large downtown church, it was almost that I kissed the family goodbye on Tuesday morning, and didn’t see them until Friday afternoon. But that’s another story…
On this particular Sunday, however, I didn’t miss the big event. Like I said, I got home a little bit before 9pm – Cheri and her sister had been watching the Emmys on TV, and after the sister left, Cheri commented that she wasn’t feeling very good. That was nothing new, since for the past month, she had been uncomfortable, as a big baby was filling up her tiny 5’ frame.
For the weeks before, I did carve out an evening a week so we could dutifully go to Lamaze classes, where Cheri learned how to breathe, as though that were a new concept, and I learned how to “coach,” which meant I sat there, and according to the medical oath, I “did no harm.” One of the exercises, just for fun while we were attending the class, was being handed a little card, on which we were to write our predictions about the baby that would be born – things like gender, date, hour and minute, poundage and length. Remember that – we will come back to it later…
Anyway, Cheri’s discomfort gave way to her first contraction at about 11pm. Do you recall that I had been working since 6am that morning? Anyway, as we were instructed, I timed the length of the contraction and how often they came. There was a problem, however – it seemed that when Cheri first started having the labor pains, there was no break in the action. She just went from contraction to contraction. Being the not-quite-first-time father, I called the hospital to see if I should bring her in. The nurse on the other end of the phone, I must say, could have been a bit more sympathetic! She just sort of laughed, and with a lovely condescending voice, she told me that I probably could bring Cheri to the hospital, but more than likely, it was just a little blip on the screen, and they would send her back home.
By the way, if you are talking to a first time daddy – don’t talk that way… I gathered Cheri up, got her into the car, and drove the 20 blocks to the hospital. They brought the wheelchair, I parked the car, and by the time I came back, they had already determined that, indeed, “the time had come that she be delivered of a child…” I wanted to sort of punch the phone nurse in the nose.
Up to labor, and then once again, the medical folks told us that, although Cheri was in labor, it was going to take a long time, since it was her first child and blah, blah, blah. Let me say right here that past experiences are only that: they are a cumulated gathering of events that may or may not have anything to do with the here and now!
I’ll spare you the rest, but I can report that Cheri got to the hospital at about 11:30. At 3:21, just about four hours later, we met Aaron for the first time. It was four pretty intense hours, but it all went like textbook – except for the fact that it was REALLY quick. The little card that I had filled out at Lamaze was in the bag with all the other very important items that I guess you have to take with you when you are having a baby. After things settled down, I looked at the card. I was a bit stunned to read what I had written a couple of weeks before. Aaron, a boy, was born indeed on his due date, September 22. What was eerie was that I had written he would be born at 3:21am. To the minute. Even stranger, I predicted he would be born 6 pounds 14 ounces, and be 21” long. Every one of those stats were exactly what happened. I’m not boasting – just bragging a bit, which is my right.
For 35 times since that night in 1986, we have celebrated and feasted and continued to rejoice that God would bless the two of us with what became the three of us. And of course, a couple of years later, we made the perfect family with Adam coming into the world.
I could fill an entire book, as I am sure you could with your kids, of the escapades and adventures and wonderful experiences that we have been pleased to enjoy about Aaron. He has surprised us thousands of times, from teaching himself to read at two years old, to going off to college 1200 miles away, to even earning his PhD. and writing a number of books. To say we were and are proud of him would be to say too little. His imagination and his focus on whatever he is working on in many ways changes the world around him, and our world too.
So today, as “35” on the life odometer rolls around, we boys are going to enjoy one of our favorite noon restaurants, and then find whatever we will eat when Cheri’s around – every birthday consists of great food, a cake that always has the candles, one for every year, and some wonderful presents to commemorate the fact that this human being lives and makes a mark on the world.
So, thanks for indulging me in a time of remembering – I hope it spurred you to recall those moments on your own life’s journey. To remember is to gather up the past once again into the present, and as we hold that all in our hands, and our minds, we then thank the God of the Universe for this blessing, and for what’s ahead, as we live intentionally in the midst of God’s world. Blessings to you today.
Word for the day: inveigle. Pronounced in-VAY-gull. It’s a verb with a strange history. The word actually means, “to win over by one’s wiles, or to entice.” Sometimes it carries the context of deceiving, and they use the word “wangle” in order to get what one wants over another.
It comes out of the French, and of course our Romance language of Latin, of aboculous, “to blind someone’s judgment.” Breaking it down further, you have ab, “off or away from,” and oculus, “eye.” It doesn’t look like it comes from that root, but of course the French messes it up quite well, with aveugler. Children are experts at inveigling their parents, and I guess from time to time, we all engage in that activity.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.