That is what my older brother, father of two, told me hours after our second daughter Kayleigh (pronounced KAY-lee… Kay is my mother’s name and Leigh is my wife Bethany’s middle name) was born on March 3, 2014.
I chuckled. But I wasn’t chuckling when on our first night home from the hospital, Sophia woke up at 2am with a stomach bug. We had just gotten Kayleigh to sleep when Sophia called to us from the other room. Shortly thereafter, we had two screaming children. It was pretty classic.
And I wasn’t laughing a few days later when the stomach bug hit me. For 36 hours, I was in no condition to take care of my newborn, her big sister, or my still-recovering wife. This was not how I pictured the first week home with our new baby.
In John 13, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Being a parent has given me a new glimpse into the heart of God. He really wants us to love one another because we are all his kids. And I think He wants us parents to love our kids more.
Luke 1, in regards to John the Baptist, says “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children…” (Luke 1:17 NIV)
When we think of John the Baptist, we probably think first of repentance. Or locusts and wild honey. Or someone who came to 'pave the way' for Jesus. But the angel Gabriel said that one of the reasons why God sent John the Baptist was to turn the hearts of parents to their children. That is certainly an overlooked part of his ministry!
It can be tough for some parents to feel connected to their newborn. You put so much work in and don’t get much in return – no “thank you’s”, no fun games, no smiles even for the first few weeks. Just a lot of human waste and loud noises. Parents of newborns must love without receiving love in return. Perhaps this helps us imagine what it must be like for God in his grace to accept us unconditionally.
Sophia was born on Easter morning in 2011. While we twice expected Kayleigh to be born on a Sunday, she wound up waiting until Monday March 3. I wouldn’t call it a disappointment that she was not born on a Sunday, but with three generations of ministers in her family line (Bethany’s dad and grandfather were both ministers) I thought it would be sort of cool if both our daughters were born on Sundays. Turns out though that the day we left the hospital – Wednesday March 5 – was Ash Wednesday. There was a priest in the lobby administering ashes to employees and patients in the hospital who could not get out to a service. So before we left, he made the sign of the cross on our foreheads and said a blessing over Kayleigh who then went outdoors for the first time in her life. It was a sacred moment for us together with our daughter and the God who formed her. I find that turning my face to God helps me turn my heart toward my children.
Special thanks to everyone who ministered to us in the last couple weeks through your meals, prayers, texts, posts and cards. At the hospital we encountered so many selfless nurses who took good care of us. They reminded me of the servants of this church who work so hard – often in the background – providing for people’s needs through companionship, cooking a meal, or cleaning up after an event.
May we love another, serve another, and allow God to turn our hearts to our children and to Him.
[Also of note: March 3, 1973 was the day that Bethany’s dad proposed to her mom. Had that not happened there would be no Kayleigh Fitelson!]