Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love everything about it, especially celebrating Jesus's birth. This year the miracle of God coming to earth as a helpless baby is so fresh to me. I've been reading and re-reading the stories in Luke chapter 1 and 2 about Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Mary and Joseph finding out they were going to be parents and experiencing pregnancy together. I've read with fresh vision their birth stories, naming their sons, and how their friends rejoiced over both boys' birth.
I remember so clearly my first pregnancy. The overwhelming joy that washed over us when we found out we were going to be parents. Savoring every aspect of pregnancy and life within my womb. It was all so new. So miraculous.
I REALLY wanted a daughter. During my first pregnancy, I silently worried if I would be disappointed if the baby I carried was a boy. I never said it out loud - not even to Curt - but it nagged in the back of my mind. "I really want a daughter. What would I do with a boy? Please Jesus - help me to not be disappointed if it's a boy."
Then labor came. Fast, furious, and WAY too early. We were too naive' to know just how dangerous it was to be birthing a baby six weeks early. A team of doctors and nurses filled the delivery room and peppered us with questions. Shocked that we chose to not know the baby's gender, they cautioned that we should hope it wasn't a boy. "Premature girls do much better than premature boys. You can always hope it's a girl." Even the doctors were rooting for a girl.
We prayed and I labored. Then that beautiful, miraculous moment came - when the life within me breathed air for the first time. The doctor held up a tiny little baby. He screamed and peed all over her as she joyfully declared, "It's a boy."
I held my first-born son and wept. And wept. And wept. How could I ever have thought I would be disappointed with this Super Preemie? He was perfect.
The year of Grant's first Christmas I cried a lot. I looked at my handsome boy in his button down shirts, cardigan sweaters, and lavender scented hair and bawled my eyes out at the thought of Jesus' crude birth.
How did a teenage Mary give birth without medical intervention? In a dirty barn? Was she scared? How did she deal with labor pains? Who would turn away a woman in labor? How did they clean Jesus up after he was born? Did they have clothes for him or clean blankets? How much did he weigh and how long was he? What time was he born? Did he have a little cone head and squished in face from labor or was he actually cute when he was born? Did he sleep through the night? Did Mary have postpartum depression?
This Christmas I'm emotional and pondering again. My Super Preemie is now a Man Child. Eating us out of house and home, growing out of everything he owns, and honing his God-given talents and skills. Crazy fun, impulsive, loud and sometimes obnoxious, he's our only son. The lone boy in a sea of sisters. Who would have thought?
The end of Luke chapter two tell the only Kid Story about Jesus. Jesus was twelve years old - like my boy. He went on a road trip with his family and friends to Jerusalem. But when they loaded up the caravan to go home, Jesus missed his ride. Mary and Joseph were so busy packing up and taking care of Jesus' little brothers and sisters that they somehow missed the fact that he wasn't with them or their friends.
When Mary and Joseph realized Jesus was missing they made a mad dash back to Jerusalem to search for their boy. THREE DAYS they searched before they found him. I can't begin to imagine the depth of their panic. Their fear. Their Man Child was alone in a big city. When they finally found him they let him have it then took him home. I'm sure Mary hovered over him the entire journey home.
Last week we lost Grant briefly. For all of five minutes. He wasn't where we thought he was going to be. It was dark. And cold. And we freaked out. When we found him, we laid into him about communicating when the plans changed. "Dig that phone out of your pocket and let us know where you are for crying out loud!" And then we hovered. Hugged and kissed and hugged and thanked God that he was safe. And warned him to never scare us like that again. Then made him hug us some more. Our Man Child. Home safe and sound.
I wonder what went through Mary's mind when Jesus was missing. Is he safe? Is he cold? Hungry? Alive or dead? I bet she prepared some pretty good "don't you ever scare me like that again" speeches. I wonder if she even gave him any of those lectures? Or if she just held her muscly Man Child tightly in her arms, buried her face in his dirty hair, and breathed in the smell of teenage boy.
The Kid Story in Luke ends by saying Jesus went home with his parents and was obedient to them. "And he grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."
Our Man Child is definitely growing in stature. It seems like every day he looks a little less like a boy and a little more like a man. We almost see eye to eye now and I've started borrowing his flannel shirts. Growing in stature...
But he's also growing in wisdom. Last night he told us that his science teacher is teaching evolution. Our boy doesn't like it because he worships the Mighty Creator. He's wrestling with how to answer the questions on his homework and on his tests. If he writes what the teacher expects he feels like he's lying. He wants a platform to speak the truth in a respectful way. Growing in wisdom...
Luke says Mary "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." As a mother of a Man Child like Mary, I'm collecting treasures too.