December 25, 2021
Y’all this…Grace and Eli are having a baby! I. Can’t. Even.
Honestly I’ve enjoyed every single phase of Grace growing up. I haven’t enjoyed everything she has gone through or put us through, but I never wanted to rush life to hurry through to the next mile marker, nor have I wished to slow down time to dawdle any longer than we needed. The whole passage from beginning to now has been filled with blessings and burdens we have shared as a family. My pregnancy with Grace was uneventful, and she was an easy baby. She grew and became a big sister, and carried on as though she was on auto pilot without any complications , or so it seemed.
Of course she went through years of struggles with mental health issues. Paul and I fumbled through helping her, but she did the hard work herself. She is finished with school and enjoying her work. And now we have Eli…he slid into the family last February, and we can’t imagine life without him.
Grace has been changing a lot lately, or maybe I’ve just been noticing her changes more. I’ve tried to put my finger on what is so different, and maybe time has just allowed this momma to view her daughter eye to eye, woman to woman. One of the gifts God gives women is our ability to give birth to relationships. Sure, childbirth hurts. The Bible tells me so, and it’s part of the incredible cost for original sin. Taken literally, those labor pains bring forth a child that embodies relationships with everyone that child meets. When understood figuratively, women feel the pains of labor in our longings for closeness and bonding through our partnerships, marriages, children, families, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and experiences.
So what is different about Grace now that she is grown? Is she just older? She has always been an old soul. When she was little, I’d relate to her by remembering what it was like when I was little. I’d think of losing my first tooth, the first day in a new school where I didn’t know anyone, the first time a boy liked me, getting my first bra, learning to drive, going to college. All those events I remember from when I was a kid growing up, but I’m not that kid anymore. Now Grace is not a kid anymore. She’s a woman, and has been for awhile. It shouldn’t have snuck up on me the way it has. But I see her carrying on with her grown up life, loving Eli, planning a future, being excited about what is happening in her world. It finally hit me. I’m watching Grace navigate the beginning of this womanhood that I’m smack dab in the middle of myself.
I always wonder how Mary related to Jesus, knowing what she knew, while not understanding the deep mystery of what her pregnancy would mean. Early this morning before the kids were awake, before I knew Grace was pregnant, I thought of Mary and the word “quickening” came to mind. The fluttering of life in the womb. The faint, subtle expression of life. It starts as a happy tickle of butterflies but eventually grows into a heel kicking the mom’s bladder at midnight. The quickening becomes somersaults when it’s time for this baby to come. Grace is far from feeling the quickening right now. But as I watch My Gorgeous, as we all watch Grace (because I know you’ve all been watching and praying for Grace, and I thank you deeply for that), this is our quickening. We’ve been alerted to this flutter of life growing inside her as she and Eli share this happy news and ask for our love and support.
I know several young mothers-to-be who are feeling excited and overwhelmed and ready and unprepared all at the same time. Let’s keep them in our prayers while they grow these little miracles. And let’s remember all the ways God has blessed womanhood through our unique ability to grow relationships in and out of the womb.
It’s Christmas Day. We celebrate the birth of Jesus who was born perfect, spotless, holy, the embodiment of the righteousness of God, the propitiation for our sins. And if ever a woman understood the beauty and glory of what was happening inside her as she grew a baby, it was Mary as she carried Jesus and proclaimed The Magnificat Canticle (Luke 46-55):
“And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.’”