Ready or Not, Here He Comes

Tracey, my wife, laid in the bathtub with hot water covering the enlarged belly that contained our second child. She had a look of peace on her face even though she had just completed another contraction. I was kneeling next to the tub. Checking for the baby, I felt his head crown. Panic ran through my body; my pulse increased. I gave my wife a fake, reassuring smile and said, “The baby is coming.”

She replied, with a voice meant to calm me, “I know.” I literally ran out of the bathroom, knowing I had little time before the next contraction. Now that Tracey could not see me, I allowed the fear to surface. The first thing I did was call the midwife (yes, we were having a home birth). She informed me that her car had broken down and she was not going to make it. Next, I ran to the front door, looked up and down the street for anyone who might be out at three o’clock in the morning, and said in a panicked voice to myself, “God, I will take anyone to help. Let someone be there.” No one was outside; God was merciful to my neighbors.

Finally, against my wife’s wishes, I called 911 and told them we were about to have a baby. I took a deep breath, put that fake smile back on my face, and went back into the bathroom.

I breathed through the next couple of contractions with Tracey, and I realized the baby was coming now. Despite her being very comfortable with having the baby under water, I was not, so I insisted that she get out of the tub.

She said, “OK, but you will need to help me.”

I got behind her, put my arms under her arms, and pulled her over the tub wall. As her second leg cleared the wall, with me still behind her, she went into a squatting position, and our son Joey literally slid out onto the floor. While few people believe us, my wife’s first words after the birth were, “That was easy.” She continued to squat on the floor, picked up her baby, and began to nurse Joey. She glowed and smiled, and I could see the presence of God on her face. (By the way, the paramedics arrived after the baby came. My wife graciously let them check the baby, and then we sent them on their way.)

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It took years to admit that my fear and panic existed because I was not receptive to God’s grace. I was very committed to my opinion that childbirth was scary. Conversely, my wife’s peace and tranquility in the midst of birth was only possible because she was living in His grace. Thisis one of our early experiences of letting our child rearing (in this case, birthing) develop our awareness of how God’s grace works and transcends all fleshly thinking.

This book is designed to emphasize the importance of contemplation, so you can be open to receiving God’s grace and seeing how it works in your life. It is not meant to be a “Raising Your Children for Dummies” instruction guide. For this reason, the chapter titles are in the form of questions, so you will always be reminded that the questions are more important than the answers.

The chapters begin with a focusing concept, or principle, for you to think about, and at the end of the chapter, I give you questions to consider about how you might think about the principle presented in the chapter. Between the principle and questions, I will share family stories (either about my six children or the 120 people who have lived with us over the years) that will vividly describe where I or others fell short and how grace was made available to give me or others the eyes to see and ears to hear the principles to adopt. I trust you will find the stories entertaining; but please remember when reading them to look to see how God has used my children and others to help me be more like Christ.

It is considered normal, customary, and predictable that your children rebel against you when their hormones start raging. Many parents feel hopelessly out of touch with the young people in their houses. Yet God has a different plan, a different goal, and a remarkable context within which to raise your children. He does not desire you to be out of touch with them; He wants you to be one with them, as He is one with Christ

I am inviting you to consider that by reading this book, you will have the opportunity to alter your perspective on your parental role and to discover that your job may be “Helping Your Children Raise You.” What if your children are the building blocks God uses to build your faith as you try to build their faith? Is it possible that your desire for a closer relationship with your children is the same desire we all have to move toward a closer relationship with Christ? Altering how you raise your children could be the key to more fully knowing Christ. While your children may benefit from you adopting some of the principles the book attempts to illuminate, the primary benefit that I hope for you is what Christ prayed for us all: that we become one as He and the Father are one (John 10:30).

I originally started writing this book as a way to pass the principles I have learned down to my children and their children. The best way I could think to pass on these principles was to capture some of our family stories and pass down my struggles and my victories through the telling of them. I hope these stories stimulate your thinking and pique your curiosity about how your relationship with your children is a mirror of your relationship with your Heavenly Father.

Proverbs 10:19 says, “In many words there is much transgression.” I have written over twenty thousand words, so obviously I will be wrong about some things. Therefore, I encourage you to consider the concepts and principles and whether you want to embrace them, reject them, modify them, dwell on them, or ignore them. If you are willing to consider which principles will work for your family, even if you ultimately reject them, the purpose of my book will have been accomplished: you will be considering what principles will work for your family.

While similar principles and concepts have been taught and written about by many other men, more scholarly and holy than me, God uses many different methods to communicate to us. Maybe my storytelling is the method that will speak to your heart.

May God richly bless all the relationships in your home.