What does a rainy cold day, a story about dirt, and the gathering of family and friends all have in common? Come with me and I'll tell you:
Mid May we have a new baby coming to our family. He is growing right now in the tummy of our daughter, Hannah Jane.
So we decided to have a party for Hannah to welcome her to motherhood.
Lots of planning was set into motion. Who should we invite? What shall we serve? What about flowers and invitations? Where can we get that many white plates and, oh, white serving bowls would be lovely. Finally the guest list got written up, flowers were ordered, the food planning took place, and invitations sent.
Finally the long-awaited day presented itself. Guests arrived during a downpour with boots, coats and umbrellas, along with huge smiles and hugs for the new mom-to-be. It was great fun to greet each woman at the door with a welcoming smile and a hug! "Thank you for coming to celebrate with us! We are so thankful you are here." Our dear Lucy met each guest at the door, eager to take her gift to the gathering place on the staircase landing.
(Isn't she just about the sweetest four-year-old you've ever seen? Well, maybe I'm a bit biased.)
The house was ready and our guests completed the fabulous setting.
While introducing ourselves, we found that the crowd held a variety of people who have known Hannah throughout her life. There were co-workers with Kids on Course and the Zach Johnson Foundation, friends from a monthly dinner group, girls in her small group and professional/ photography friends. There were women who had been at the shower we threw for Hannah when we first welcomed her into our family twenty-six years ago. One friend remembers when Hannah walked into her Sunday School class for the first time. Another remembered Hannah as her daughter's best friend when they were very young. A neighbor remembered when Hannah and her daughter played at her house for hours at a time. Several participated in a group that met monthly to pray for their children. Hannah was one of those prayed-for children . And, of course, there were friends of mine there to celebrate my joy in Hannah. It was quite the group, around forty-five wonderful guests.
I prayed to open our time together and encouraged everyone to get something to eat and enjoy time to mingle.
It has become tradition for me to sometimes be asked to put together a devotion for the guest-of-honor of a bridal or baby shower.
I felt honored to address Hannah in this company of good friends and started out talking about dirt. At a baby shower? I reminded her that she IS having a boy and so she must become familiar with dirt because boys and dirt seem to go together. After talking a bit planting trees and flowers in dirt and remembering that good dirt is essential to getting a healthy plants, I read about some nutritious dirt in the Bible.
I pray that out of his glorious riches, God may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Dirt? What is the dirt in these verses?
This verse tells us we need to be loved to know love...our roots need to go down deep in the love Christ has so that we can begin to grasp His amazing love. And this is not just any kind of love, it is the love of God. His love is the place from which all other love springs and who can comprehend how wide and long and high and deep is that love?
I shared with the group a poem Hannah wrote out for me about love when she was in high school:
I carry your heart
I carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i do you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide"
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
The ability to love is one of the precious gifts God, out of his magnificent love, has given us. Hannah comes from a rich legacy of love and I encouraged her to remember that out of the great story of love that surrounds her, the rooting she received, that good soil of love in which she was welcomed and in which she grew, she has what it takes to welcome her new son and to love him well.
I finished up by reading aloud, Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
We encouraged our guests to write down ways they have found to love well and to offer a bit of advice to this new mother.
Time for dessert! (Vanilla Dream Cake recipe in next post)
All wonderful baby showers end with the opening of gifts, conversation and lots of laughter. This shower was no exception.
I love you Hannah, my dear. I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart). I couldn't be more thankful to be your mom. Welcome to motherhood.