Monday, May 20, 2013

Special Honor

I got a special honor last week. My son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Lindsey, brought The Amazing Cooper over for us to watch while they went to a movie, did some shopping, and ran some errands. Of course, we were more than ready to provide this service for them. In reality, I’ve been looking forward to it for several days, as have my wife and daughter. They arrived around 10:00 and dropped off Cooper, who was sound asleep, but beautiful nonetheless.

Did I mention that we also have a foster baby with us right now? She’s just 9 days younger than Cooper is, although she’s much smaller because she was about a month premature. She’s healthy and beautiful, but tiny compared to Cooper. We call her Harper, mainly because that’s what the nurses in NICU called her.

So we had a baby filled day, and all three of us got lots of time with the little ones. Cooper slept the entire day, but that didn’t stop us from holding him and talking to him, changing him and feeding him. Yes, he eats in his sleep, apparently. I feel we may owe Brian and Lindsey an apology, because we were unable to keep Cooper awake, which will likely result in a sleepless night for them. Brian has already written about this here.

However, my special honor came in the afternoon. Shan had to go work with one of her home-bound students, and Rachel had to go to her job, leaving me with two beautiful, newborn babies. The fact that so many obviously bright people trust me with two infants at one time is astounding to me, and fills me with great joy. The fact that one of those infants is my first grandchild fills me with great pride. He’s such a perfect little guy, and I have such great dreams for him.

I’d like to say it was a bit of a trial and I came through with flying colors in spite of the difficulty, but that would be lying. They both slept through most of the time, and I never had both of them awake at the same time. Harper did manage to projectile vomit on me, but that’s nothing for an old baby wrangler like me. No, most of the time I just spent looking at them, talking to them, singing to them.

But God had something for me, as he often does when I take the time to listen. I was sitting there looking at Harper, and I marveled at how much love I felt for her. Now I’m absolutely overwhelmed with love for Cooper. I mean, he’s my first grandchild. He’s perfect in every way. I haven’t been able to wipe this silly grin off my face since he was born three weeks ago. But when I looked at Harper, I realized I love her just as much.

There’s no doubt that Cooper occupies a special place in my heart, and that place will continue to grow. He’s blood of my blood. But even after fostering 17 children, I still love every one of them, and that love is no less than my love for Cooper.
I have known for a long time that I could love all of my children with an equal love. And I know I have always loved all of our foster babies. But to realize that it was the same love that I had for Cooper floored me. It says something about love to me that I’ve heard, but hadn’t really felt, if you know what I mean. Love is not diminished by love for others. It is not something that corresponds to an equation, or a physical law. Love is infinite. It gave me just a bit more insight into God’s love for us. He loves each of us just as he loves his firstborn. In fact, he has adopted us as sons and daughters,  brothers and sisters of Jesus. He doesn’t love us as some conglomeration of people, as a race, as humanity. He loves us as individuals with the same love, just as I love Harper and Cooper, but on a much grander, glorious, unselfish scale.

He loves each of us with a special honor.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Welcome, Cooper

                                                                                                                                                                                April 26, 2013

Dear Cooper,

Welcome to the world, little guy. We’re all so happy you’re here: your mother and father, me, your Nana, your other grandparents, your uncles and aunts, and many, many friends. We’ve been waiting for you for the last nine months. And now you’re here and you’re surrounded by people who love you just because of who you are.

You don’t know me yet, but you will. I’m the one who will take you on walks, read Go, Dogs, Go! to you, pretend with you, build castles with you, tell you stories, pray with you, sing songs for you, and so much more. I’m your grandfather. Your dad thinks you’ll call me Pops, and that’s fine by me. I really don’t care what you call me as long as I get to spend time with you and watch you grow, and change, and learn.

There is so much to learn, and I’m going to be right there with you, teaching you as much as I can. I’ll teach you to cast a lure, fire a gun (safely), tell a dove from a meadowlark, hammer a nail, and measure a board. Together with your mother and father, I’ll teach you who Jesus is, how to read a story, what to watch out for, and what laughter is all about. And you’ll teach me. You’ll teach me what it is to have a grandson, what you like, what your own talents are, and how to see the world through a child’s eyes. I’m so looking forward to that.

I’m also looking forward to seeing your eyes light up, and hearing your screams of joy. I look forward to the delight on your face when you first learn to read, and ride a bike, and throw a ball, and . . . you name it. There are many firsts ahead of you, and I’ll be here to share them with you.

I’ll tell you right now: I’m the backup team. You are your parents’ child, not mine. So what they say goes. But I know them. I know they’ll teach you well, and I know they’ll want me to spend as much time with you as possible, because they know already how much I love you. 

And I’ll be there for you. At ball games and music recitals, at graduations and birthday parties, at church and at home and at my home and wherever you are. I’ll be there. Because you’re my grandson and that’s what grandfathers do. We’ve had lots of years to learn how to do it well.

Cooper, I’ve been praying for you since well before you were born. I’ve prayed that God will keep you safe and healthy, but more importantly, I’ve prayed that God will make you strong, and determined, and dangerous. You see, boys and men are supposed to be dangerous. Dangerous to  the devil. Dangerous to those who want to hurt others. Dangerous to those who steal and destroy. I want you to be physically strong, but it’s even more important to be spiritually strong. In that you’ll need to depend on God and lean on the Spirit. I have no doubt that you will. And determination? That will see you through all the problems that life will throw at you. Life will do that. None of us gets through life without problems. But problems are made to be solved. Problems are obstacles, and climbing obstacles makes us stronger.

But don’t worry about that now. In fact, don’t worry about that ever. Just let us love you, and hold you, and feed you, and love you some more. Because that’s what we were made to do, and what you were made for. Just by being here you fill us with joy. And you will for your whole life.

All the love in the world,