Saturday, June 29, 2013


My oldest "child" turned 36 yesterday. Rebecca Suzanne was born on June 28, 1977. She is now married and has three children of her own, one of whom is almost a teenager. I am stunned by the passage of time.

Suzy and I had been married just two months when we got pregnant with Rebecca. We were both 22 years old. I was working as a salesman for Greenville Office Supply Co., traveling around the upstate of South Carolina in my one new suit selling pencils, paper, file folders, and other office necessities to businesses and industries. And I wasn't very successful. Six months later I asked my boss for a transfer to another part of the company - the print shop. He only too gladly complied. I was costing the company too much money and making very little. When Rebecca was born I was running the company's printing presses, setting type, and laying out artwork. That was my line of work for the next five years before I went off to seminary.

I had been getting more and more excited as Suzy's delivery date approached. These were the days before routine ultrasounds, so we didn't know whether we were having a boy or a girl. I secretly prayed for a daughter. I grew up with just one brother, and hoped for the experience of having a girl in my family.  I am glad God answered my prayer.

When we got to Greenville General Hospital, we were met by the nurse who, it just so happened, had been our Lamaze instructor. That was comforting for this young, naive couple who had no real idea what was about to happen. I donned my scrubs, mentally reviewed everything I knew I was supposed to do, and repeated to myself, "I will not faint, I will not faint...." Suzy's labor was short. She delivered naturally, without medication (what a trooper). When Rebecca came out, she was beautiful. Of course, the whole birth experience is just too profound to describe. It shattered all my categories. Emotions were all over the place. Suzy and I cried. "It's a girl!" someone said. I was very, very happy.

But soon we discovered that Rebecca was not a happy baby. When the infants were rolled out of the nursery at feeding time, there was always one baby crying her lungs out. Yep, that was Rebecca. It was an ear-piercing cry. And it seemed she rarely stopped crying for the next several months. We soon found out that Rebecca had colic.

Colic is a strange syndrome whose cause is unknown. Fewer than 5% of infants with colic have an underlying physical problem. Wikipedia says, "An infant with colic may negatively affect family stability and result in short term anxiety or depression in the mother. It may also contribute to exhaustion and stress in the parents." I can identify with all those statements. Suzy and I didn't know what to do. Were we doing something wrong? Why couldn't Rebecca fall asleep? Why did she always seem to be in such pain? How long will this last? Those questions swirled around us those first few months of Rebecca's life and made them difficult.

But in time, the crying stopped and we started to enjoy being new parents of this delightful little girl. Rebecca grew locks of curly, golden hair, inherited we think from my dad's side of the family. She also had a small spot of white hair, a trait that would show up in our next child, David. As a little girl she would sing all around the house, and I loved playing games with her, tossing her up in the air in all kinds of dangerous ways, telling her stories, and doing all the things dads do with their daughters. I cherish the growing-up years of my firstborn.

Rebecca has always been a leader. Decisive. Strong. Brave. Confident. Yet she can cry watching family films. A great organizer. Someone who adjusts to new situations and circumstances with optimism and determination. A rebounder. An overcomer. An encourager. Superb in cooking, singing, reading, and planning events. An excellent parent and a faithful friend to people she's met through the years. A lover of Jesus and His church. A maker of fun and hope. These are a few of Rebecca's qualities and talents.

Happy birthday, Rebecca Suzanne. I love you.   

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