Today is Mother’s Day, my wife’s thirty-second birthday, and a week and a day since the eighth birthday of my fourth son. Let me tell you about the last of those three.
Of course, we had friends and family over in the evening to celebrate.
There were gifts and games also.
We ordered Pizza Hut and my wife Lauren made a cake.
Daniel wants to be a police officer when he grows up, so the theme of the day was law enforcement.
Lauren and I bought him a big LEGO police station to build.
His grandparents sent him an officer’s costume complete with hat, badge, nightstick, handcuffs, and revolver.
The cake was topped with a LEGO patrol car chasing a burglar – part of the police station set he had opened earlier in the day.
My favorite part of the day, however, was when just our immediate family was sitting down for a meal before our guests arrived. That is when we carried on what have developed into important birthday traditions in our household.
What’s In A Name?
While Lauren dished up the ravioli and salad Daniel had requested for lunch, I explained to the children where Daniel’s name had come from.
I told the kids about Daniel in the Old Testament, and how he could interpret dreams. And I told them about how he and the other three Hebrew youths in Babylonian captivity – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – remained faithful to Yahweh their God despite pressures and temptations to compromise.
God blessed and protected Daniel and his three companions in their obedience. He saved them from the fiery furnace for refusing to bow to the golden statue of the king, and He shut the mouths of the lions Daniel was thrown to when Daniel violated an entrapping edict forbidding prayer to anyone but the king.
And both Daniel and Joseph in the Old Testament were persecuted.
One was sold into slavery by his own brothers, then thrown into prison on false accusations after successfully resisting his master’s wife’s come-hither invitations to lie with her.
The other was carried away into captivity in a foreign land, raised to serve the kingdom that had conquered his home.
Both men were plotted against by jealous others seeking their downfall.
Yet neither Daniel nor Joseph demonstrated any apparent bitterness or hardness of heart toward God or man. Instead they remained faithful to God, and were virtuous and steadfast in their treatment of those around them.
And not only did they persevere, but God richly blessed the faithfulness of these two men to the point that both became the most trusted servants to the most powerful men in the world in their days, second in power and authority only to kings and pharaohs.
My hope for my fourth son when we named him was that he would be similarly faithful and blessed.
The Day He Was Born
Next after I finished telling the children about Daniel’s name, my wife told the story of the day he was born.
Daniel had been late. He was 10-days past his due date. Lauren was feeling like this pregnancy would never end. It had been and still remains the most difficult pregnancy she has endured thus far.
Up until the day Daniel was born, Lauren had woke up crying every morning that she was still pregnant. She was just ready for it to be over.
The night before Daniel was born, Lauren drank a mixture of castor oil and root beer, having read this was a traditional means of getting labor started.
She has had zero interest in drinking root beer ever since.
Yet the result of this concoction was that Lauren went into labor the morning Daniel was born.
A dear friend from church had come over with her daughters to watch the older three boys while I assisted Lauren with delivery upstairs in our bedroom and then bathroom.
This was our first and only time attempting an unassisted home birth on purpose, though Solomon our third ended up being our accidental first unassisted home birth.
We had opted to not find out the gender ahead of time with Daniel. Lauren still remembers my calling down the stairs after she delivered him.
“It’s a boy!”
We had only just found out, and so only then did we know which of the names we had picked out would be used moving forward.
If we had had a girl, we were going to name her Kellyn Aliana. Instead, we had our third son and named him Daniel Joseph.
Our Favorite Thing About Him
After telling the story of Daniel’s birth, we went around the table. And from youngest to oldest, we each told Daniel our favorite thing about him.
Enoch – 3-years old – had a hard time at first. We told him we’d come back to him after giving him some time to think. Eventually he said he likes it when Daniel rubs his back.
Evelyn – 5-years old – said her favorite thing about Daniel is that he’s always there for her.
Solomon – 9-years old – needed time to think also, but eventually answered that he likes when they ride bikes.
Eli – 10-years old – said his favorite thing is that Daniel is funny and likes to be around people. He is eager to be around friends and family.
Josiah – 11-years old – said his favorite thing about Daniel is that he never fails to make somebody laugh and be happy.
Lauren and I also took our turns.
Her favorite is his sweet freckle face and the way he keeps us all laughing.
Mine was that Daniel has never met a stranger. He makes conversation easily with people he’s never met, and seems to have a knack for setting them at ease and making them feel welcome and comfortable.
To our great surprise, the birthday boy – who is always so cheerful and jovial – teared up at all our compliments. This in turn caused the eyes of his mother and a couple of brothers to moisten too.
Consistently Pro Life
One of the dumbest Pro Choice talking points I have heard must be that Pro Life persons only care about the day someone is born. After that, they are supposedly indifferent.
If that is true anywhere, it is not in my house.
My wife and I have a large family because we wanted to embrace and embody what we believe the Bible says is the right attitude and mindset toward children.
Is that always easy? No indeed. But the most significant and consequential choices in life are seldom easy, and what is good and right need not be free of difficulty to be worth doing.
In our home, we have chosen a hard thing in having a large family. And the world around us often provides a running commentary.
“Are they all yours?”
“Looks like you have your hands full!”
“Haven’t you figured out how that happens yet?”
To counteract the effect of comments like these being routinely made by strangers in front of our children – sometimes good-naturedly, other times presumptuously – as well as the broader societal norms which usually go unspoken but can safely be assumed, we have developed what I suppose you might call Pro-Life birthday traditions.
Who are you, and what do we call you? How did you get here? What are the best things about you?
Answering these questions is pivotal to answering the bigger question of where we are going together – as individuals, as families, and as a society.