Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jonah's Baptism

I found out I was pregnant for the first time ever during a trip to Vienna, Austria thirteen years ago. John and I had been married and Christians for five years, and we were visiting the family that hosted me as an exchange student when I was just sixteen. I was overjoyed and very nauseous, which made for an interesting trip. John took the lead in praying daily for the baby to "have a heart for Jesus" and continued until he was born. Sometimes we overlooked praying for health or prosperity, but we always prayed that he would love God.

Something told me I was carrying a boy, though we never officially found out. At that point, neither of us could read a sonogram any more than we could read Chinese, so we stayed blissfully ignorant and kept praying for him--or her--to love God. The majority of my pregnancy was spent in training for the mission field in Abilene, Texas where we were enrolled in church planting and Portuguese classes. I spent a great deal of that time asleep in the library while John and the rest of the team faithfully prepared. We watched the infamous destruction of the World Trade Center on the classroom television just one month before my due date, and I wondered what kind of world we were bringing our child into. During the eighth month we had an accident which totalled our car but left us unscathed. Tests showed a healthy baby.

Finally, the due date for the first grandchild on my side of the family was just around the corner. I was induced a bit early for edema--and hugeness in general. The labor was relatively long and unfruitful for the majority of the day and there were positions which caused the baby to lose oxygen, so they elevated my feet and kept me in one position. It was the closest thing to torture I have ever experienced, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I spent Jonah's first couple of weeks of life in a bout of postpartum depression. Jonah cried and cried and cried. I cried and cried and cried. I loved him and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. God's creation is funny like that.

We moved to Brazil when Jonah was eight months old and he continued expressing his dissatisfaction on a daily basis. We weren't sure how much of it was normal baby stuff and kept trying to figure out what we were doing wrong, with little success. Eventually one of the girls on our mission team, who happened to be a speech pathologist, recommended that we have him evaluated during an upcoming furlough. We did and ended up staying in the States for the next three years, in and out of treatment and therapy. We never got an official diagnosis, (although there was a lot of talk about autism) but we watched God effectively heal our son. He began to really talk at about five and even read quite well shortly after that. He became very affectionate and funny. He was a pleasure to be around. I didn't love him any more than before, and I realized how amazing God is to make it possible to love a child deeply, regardless of behavior.

It's been a long and difficult journey with equally larger amounts of pain and reward than anything else I've ever put my heart into. Jonah turned twelve last October and has grown and matured in ways that have far surpassed our expectations, one of which is his ability to understand spiritual concepts. He tends to discern the precepts behind Bible stories that many adults I know cannot find. We take that to be our answer to those many prayers we prayed while God was still forming him in the womb.

Last week, during a trip to visit our church family in Tennessee, Jonah decided to be baptized into Christ. It wasn't the first time he asked to be, but it was the first time we felt he was ready. He and Andy used to play "baptism" in the bathtub together, and we wanted to be absolutely sure it wasn't still a game for him. I trust the Holy Spirit to begin to reveal to him things we can't teach him on our own. I'm not sure I have ever felt prouder of anyone or anything, and again I marvel at God's grace.

Congratulations, My Beautiful Boy! I am so hopeful for your future and look forward to an eternity with you. Dad and I have only helped you reach the starting line. We are especially thankful to these wonderful families who have been an integral part of your life, witnessed your baptism in Nashville, and have pledged to help you finish the race strong.

Thanks, also, to those of you who have been there along the way in one of the ten--if I haven't lost count--places he has lived. We're planning a local celebration to honor this very special milestone in our family's journey. It's been an action-packed twelve years and we want to pause in thanks to God and ask for many more.

56 comments:

  1. Praise God. Give him a hug from us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Eddison. I plan on giving him many hugs and would be happy to name one after you. Your family remains one our greatest inspirations on our faith walk.

      Delete
  2. How wonderful! So happy for you all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lori. I like you more than anyone else I know and have never actually met. (-;

      Delete
  3. Parabéns pela linda escolha e decisão! Deus abençoe vocês!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obrigada, Gabrieli. Falei muito com Jonah sobre nosso tempo em Porto Alegre com você e Lucas. Vocês abençoaram nossas vidas muito. Temos saudades da sua família linda.

      Delete
  4. Beautiful! Loved reading this! And the angels are rejoicing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leslie, you were so instrumental in Jonah coming into the world. Thank you for being there the day he was born, rubbing my feet and legs, and encouraging me. Your family was such a huge part of our lives during the roughest patch when he was little. I love you, and want to come visit you before we move away from here (not that we have plans, but you know how that goes).

      Delete
  5. So wonderful! How I hate I missed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ya, we hated that you were sick that day, but I did get to see your beautiful kiddos. Although, I introduced myself to your daughter because I didn't recognize her. She's gotten so big!

      Delete
  6. It was wonderful to catch up on the phone, at least. So glad you guys came to TN.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Deb. We really hated that we didn't get to see you, but we will plan a special meeting next time. Bless you in your journey with your mom. I think of you often during mine.

      Delete
  7. Yeah Jonah. We are proud to call you brother!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mike. We like the way that sounds.

      Delete
  8. It was wonderful to be able to see it and wonderful to see the familyLove to all of you. BTW, could you send me the pictures, please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we will send you pictures. Thanks for celebrating with us. It was a special day and we were so happy to spend it with you.

      Delete
  9. Very good Jonah!!! So proud of your decision! Yay Mom and dad too!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Beautifully written! Congratulations to the whole family!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting on the writing. That makes me feel good. I'm looking forward to seeing you--and your babies.

      Delete
  11. Replies
    1. Thank you, Carlos. It's good to hear from you. I hope your family is doing well.

      Delete
  12. So happy for Jonah and all of you! What a great day!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tessa! The lady in the story who got the ball rolling for us to get the testing that turned our ship around. Thank you for your honesty and attention. We love you! I don't know that you would recognize our kid today.

      Delete
  13. So proud of Jonah. He is going to be a force to be reckoned with for the Kingdom. I be this is one of the best days of your life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is! I agree with you about his being a force. He is pretty strong willed. It could have gone either way. (-;

      Delete
  14. Congratulations, Jonah! So proud of you!! Looking forward to seeing you at Georgia's this weekend, Sam!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm looking forward to seeing you too! I miss you.

      Delete
  15. que maravilha. eu nem posso acreditar que o nosso bebê já está batizado. glória a Deus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marisa, minha amiga, que saudades! Estou tentando te ligar mas sem sucesso. Vou continuando. Jonah também gostaria falar com a spice girl mais linda do mundo.

      Delete
  16. Loved reading this! Praise God!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. It was sooo good to see you and meet your wonderful husband. I will always remember that we had dinner with you the night Jonah was baptized.

      Delete
  17. Congratulations, Jonah! We are so proud of you and love you very much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. We love you and can't wait to see you on your soil.

      Delete
  18. Congratulations Jonah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Tami. I still have pictures of little Jonah and Andy wearing the superhero clothes you sent them in Natal.

      Delete
  19. Parabéns JONAS pela sua decisão e que DEUS continue te abençoando a sua vida.abraços

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obrigada, Lauro. Amamos sua família e gostaríamos visitar vocês de novo um dia. Por enquanto, um grande abraço!

      Delete
  20. We celebrate with Jonah! And, we are so glad we were able to see you all. Those boys are just about the kindest, nicest, and most genuine guys that could be. They befriended little Silas, who has talked about them since. We wouldn't mind if you ever decided to move back. :-) We'll play legos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Erin, Thank you so much for the kind words. I am very encouraged. We loved your kids and were honored to visit with you so soon after your baby was born. I can't wait to return and spend more time with you. I don't know about moving back, but we would certainly love to stay at The Rickelton very soon.

      Delete
  21. Welcome to the family Jonah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Chris. We miss you guys and would like to see you next time we are in Tennessee.

      Delete
  22. So happy for Jonah and for you guys. You are great parents and role models to all your boys. Jonah has seen real Christianity in you both, warts and all, and I know that has impacted him more than anything else. We love you guys a whole bunch and love how your family is Jesus to the world! Kevin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kevin (especially for the "warts" comment). Your family is about the best example of parenting there is, and we have been watching. We love you. Keep praying for God to move us there. It may be working.

      Delete
  23. In more ways than you know, you and your family have blessed me beyond belief! I'm glad I got to know you when Jonah was just a little one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Scott. You have no idea how encouraging that is! We would like to visit with you next time we're in town for a bit longer. You are, in our minds, the angel who taught us how to handle our out-of-control child. We love you.

      Delete
  24. Loved being with all of you again, even for the short time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lonnie. We were so blessed to see you and Art. We love you and appreciate so much your involvement in our lives and the great Christian example you have been to us.

      Delete
  25. Oh, I didn't know about it!! Congratulations for Jonah!! I'm really prod of him!! God bless you all! Kisses!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Carolina. We have many fond memories of you and Diogo and have missed you very much.

      Delete
  26. So sorry I missed it. I was out of town. Jonah is a wonderful young "man" with great parents!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patsy, we were very thankful you could be at the dinner (even though we arrived so late.) It was great to see you. We love you.

      Delete