As I write this it is almost midnight, June 24th. Two years ago at this time, I was in the final stages of labor, after more than a day of working to get that baby out of me.
This morning, after his bath time, I watched him running through the house naked, that same body that tore out of me has now lost its chunky baby butt in favor of the skinny boy butt. Those fat thighs gained three inches in the past month, I swear. The kid’s a giant (Hohorst genes). And I feel continually shocked that the fuzzy memory I have of participating in August’s introduction to the world actually took place two years ago.
“What’s tomorrow, August?” Chris asked tonight when he got home.
“AUGUST TWO!” our little boy shouted.
He’s pumped for the first birthday he’s aware of. Last year, our boy turned one while he and I were at Young Life camp for the month of June. I spent the month running from costume to costume, working as part of the entertainment for the groups of kids that came in each week. August was in the care of my mom while Chris worked in Philadelphia, driving up for visits on the weekend. He couldn’t be there for August’s birthday. On the actual day we found a chance to pull all the staff and their families together for a round of “Happy Birthday” and some cupcakes. The miniature party was interrupted by one of the most beautiful rainbows I’ve ever seen, stretched out over the lake, shimmering. (The cynic in me says: Seriously? A rainbow? Are you seriously going to point it out as a gift from God? Yes, I don’t care what you say, my skeptical brain dweller, I saw a rainbow and it was beautiful. And it was a promise for my boy.)
That night I prayed for August in the midst of watching a lot of high school kids silently sort through the story they had heard that week: that they were loved unconditionally, that God wanted to rescue them from the brokenness in their lives. It was easy to pray for my baby as I watched them, knowing what I’ve seen in the lives of young people: the pressure, the feeling of worthlessness, the destructive choices. I prayed for who he would be, that he’d love well, that he’d be the kind of friend everyone searches for, that he would know his value is far deeper than what can be assigned by any person or accomplishment. I prayed he would know that the lavish, difficult, inconceivable love of Jesus Christ is real and is his to take.
Chris put August to bed tonight as I cleaned dishes and finished baking the cake for tomorrow’s party. But, after getting cozy in his covers, I was called in. A song was requested. I have my typical brain-stored-mix-tape of songs for the lullaby moments I’ve shared with August in these two years of babyhood. Most fall out of my mouth without thought. I decided long ago that I wanted August to know the sweet Invitation hymns of my Baptist childhood, so those are what I focus on. My favorites are “All to Jesus, I Surrender” and “Just As I Am.” Tonight, though, in the dark, with my near-two-year old snuggled under the cover of his blanky, I sang the first song that came to my mouth: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
As he eased off to sleepyland. I felt as though its words were incense rising from my chest on behalf of the boy I praised God for.
And then, its last verse:
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
I’m sure by now you’re tired of my motherly ramblings. And mostly what I say here is that I need more “strength for today.” But, I don’t say enough about the “bright hope” I carry in my gut, that shining orb I hold on behalf of a life God somehow saw fit to place inside me.
So, while I chase August through the zoo tomorrow (his request) and prep for the picnic party tomorrow evening, I pray to hold his future in me with the glow of such a remarkable hope.
Happy birthday, August Henry.