When our oldest daughter arrived in this world, very early in the morning, in early spring, it changed my life. I was scared. Scared for my wife’s health as she was rushed off to emergency surgery. Scared for myself as I spent three hours holding my first child in my arms, afraid to move a muscle. I was also thrilled, excited, over-the-top with the idea of being a father. I wanted to be the best father I could be. Or, perhaps better stated at the time was that I didn’t want to be to my daughter like my father was to me; absent. Consequently, over my daughter’s first year of life, I missed her first words, her first steps, and all of those other firsts, because I was caught up with my new career, literally working twelve hour days if not more, and sometimes six plus days a week.
Then my son arrived and I felt blessed. I had a son and I had a daughter. It was amazing. Now we were back in that valley city, my career was getting more enjoyable, we had purchased our first home, I was making a bit more money, so things were not as stressed as they once were. However, my wife and I were struggling in our relationship because of the miscarriage that we had, and my broken past catching up to me.
Communication was just a word and we were only beginning to realize that we both came from two completely different family styles in how conflicts were dealt with. This also was the time that our Baptist pastor turned independent, unceremoniously, and was now an active part of our lives, telling us how to be and how to exist and what to believe – all through regular weekly doses, on top of additional interactions through my involvement with the activities out at the large ranch – an hour out of the valley.
Under a year after my son was born we had our third child, a daughter. My wife’s pregnancy was difficult with her and my daughter had some medical concerns for the first few months of her life. My wife and I were enjoying our enlarging family and I was enjoying my fifteen minutes of fame in this valley city – winning awards and being invited to teach and lead workshops all around. I was truly enjoying all of my community involvement, along with a successful restaurant and saw no end to where this might lead.
Until my life was threatened.
Then, everything changed.
I quit all of my community involvement. I withdrew from the public spotlight, tail between my legs, not sure what had gone wrong in order to have it feel as badly as it did. My name quit showing up in the local newspaper and eventually I faded away from conversation in the local coffee shops. That spotlight which was on me and my family was fading. Through the fading of the popularity and the accolades there was one voice that remained, and now began to grow in its strength and volume; the voice of the Baptist pastor. He was now balancing his changing ministry opportunities on the island with what he was doing back home in the valley and we remained a constant source of ministry for him.
I was still broken and he wanted to fix me.
When my wife was pregnant with our fourth child the pregnancy was a very hard and difficult one. We were concerned because of increased bleeding that had been happening with each pregnancy, and with the health concerns that came up with our third child there was anxiety now mixed into the regular excitement. When our daughter was born, she was born a month premature and weighed a mere five pounds. She literally fit in the palm of my hand and her entire hand couldn’t wrap around my thumb. Surprisingly, apart from remaining in the hospital for a couple of weeks due to being premature, she had no other medical conditions. And, like the other pregnancies, my wife recovered very well from the surgeries and life went on, just with one more child added to the mix.
It had been five years since we had gotten married. Five years, three cities, six homes, four children, and one miscarriage. Five years, three promotions, the death of my brother, the estrangement from my parents, the community and corporate awards and recognition, and my life being threatened. Five years, four churches, and one pastor who was now fully entrenched in our lives and our marriage.
A lot can happen in five years. It is enough to cause anyone’s head to spin.
Our sixth year anniversary was days away and my wife had news for me.
We were pregnant.