Introducing, Our Son, Rowdy

crickets calling wing to wing 
someday baby you will sing
tanya goodman - someday baby
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(ALL picture credit to our "life" photographer, Lydia Jane.  
I can't wait to be able to do the same for you someday, friend, so you'll know how much of a blessing aaaaalll these pictures are to us.)
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On June 14, just minutes after ten o'clock in the evening, Caleb and I met and held and looked at our son in person - and he looked at us back.   He was flawless - rosy pink, pudgy, smooth and snuggly.  Our string bean weighed seven pounds, twelve ounces and was almost twenty-two inches long.  My mom says he's the strongest baby she's ever seen.  His hands and feet are huge.  We love his long spindly fingers and knobby knees.  Heck, we love everything about him.
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The little "tornado" hair swirl on the back of his head.
The fact that when he was born he didn't have a double chin,
but the night after we came home from the hospital he did.
The weird cross-eyed kissy-lip face he makes when he seems confused.
The sole "WAH." he'll blurt out when he's tired but wants attention. Not a string of fussing - just dozing in and out of awakeness with a random "WAH!" It's hilarious.
The way his little knuckles leave marks in our skin when we hold him still for an hour.
The power kicks and almost-roll-overs (seriously!) and dreamy smiles every time he sleeps.
The eye-contact and how he knows my voice.
The voice daddy makes only for Rowdy.
The way time runs together in finger-paint-ease; hours float together and somehow it's been a week?  Already?
The way everyone - everyone - responds to his presence.  Our families, our friends, strangers at Chick-fil-a and Target, the doctor and nurses.  Everywhere we go people smile and chat and come out of their shells.  He brings out kindness and love.
The idea that God loves us as naturally, easily, eagerly and tenderly as we love Rowdy.  And then some.  We're the King's babies and I love getting to experience the parent-side of this love.  It makes me tear up when I think about God - He really, really does love me.  Wow.
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spirited and enthusiastic; full of liveliness, vigor, or courage 

At our almost-10-week appointment, we were able to watch Rowdy on the sonogram screen for a few minutes.  He was the size of a green grape, and we obviously didn't know he was a "he" yet.  His head was still larger than the rest of his body.  We heard his heart pumping away, steady like a Native American drum beat.  His arms, about as long as two grains of rice, were up along his face, with his fists resting next to the place his ears would be.  Initially he was completely still, but as the technician moved the wand and "prodded" him, he stirred.  His big head slowly rocked side to side and his arms batted across the screen.  When the tech didn't stop, he began furiously kicking his legs and swimming "away."  His arms pumped harder and he spun himself over so we could see his back.  I cried, Caleb cheered him on and the tech laughed: "Wow!  What a lively little guy you have!"  He was so human and animated and... tiny!... and ours.

At our 20-week appointment, when we found out Rowdy was a dude, he started out asleep and laying perfectly still.  But after a few minutes he began to karate-jab the doppler.  One HARD kick/punch, right in the center of the wand.  Once it was hard enough to cause the tech's hand to lift up into the air!  He didn't "kick kick kick kick."  No, it was a single, aimed, full-force kick followed by another minutes later.  I cried again.  As the tech continued, he took matters into his own hands and rolled over, made himself into a "tent" with his butt pointed up, and was on lock-down so we could't "get in" and see.  He wouldNOT budge.  I know he was awake.  I know it.  Feisty muffin.

The single-punch "get off of me!" moves only continued into the pregnancy.  The midwives always commented on how especially strong and vigorous he was.   So when we came across the name "Rowdy" and read what it meant, it just seemed to fit our boy.  We had a different name we were 99% sure we were using (and we even called him it before he was born!) and we had two other "contenders."  But once we had him in our arms, the other names just weren't "him."  They weren't our spirited, animated, determined, enthusiastic, sandy, rowdy Rowdy.

Baby, we are praying that you will indeed be a spirited person, truly full of courage.  Brimming with life!  Life is a super great gift, and we want you to enjoy it and the One who gave it with all your heart.  There is so much good to be savored, even when the hard is raging.  

"God gives life and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them... 
and be to happy in our toil β€”this is a gift of God...
God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart."
ecclesiastes 5:18/20
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passionate champion; victorious 

"You belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory..."

Caleb and I both look back on our walks with God and our lives in Him and agree that we didn't understand the entirety of the gospel for far too long.  I used to think "the cross" was "the gospel."  When asked I could easily say "Jesus died for my sins!" (using the five fingers on my hand for each word).  The Gospel was the story of God dying for His people and thereby saving them from the wrath they deserved - all because of Love.  

What we failed to cherish in our hearts, minds and souls was that this was only a part of the gospel.  It's a beautiful, intense, necessary, moving, real part of the gospel of grace.  But it isn't the whole story.  It's not all of the good news.  The rest of the good news is that now that we are saved, we get, we are entitled to, we are heirs of the greatest gifts.  The rest of the story is that Jesus didn't just die, but He rose.  He rose from hell and beat death.  Death lost.  He won.  If the gospel was "the story of the cross" we would miss out on the benefits of the empty grave and the filled throne.  Because He not only lived, and not only died, and not only lived again, but He returned Home, with eternal scars in His palms, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, and entered the Holy Places with our adoption papers, ready to intercede on our behalf forever.  We aren't waiting to find out what the final score will be, we are waiting for the awards ceremony.  We know who won.  We know what the prize is.  We're now celebrating the victory of the grace, unshackled and unashamed, never to be bound by sin or death or fears or flesh or Satan or Hell or powers or hate or evil again. We're celebrating now.  "You have already won.  You belong... now."

"Are you also confused? Is our champion helpless to save us? 
You are right here among us, Lord, and we are known as your people!” 

"...keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
 Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. 
Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. "

"Christ is risen from the dead 
Trampling over death by death 
Come awake, come awake!"

We happily gave our son the middle name "Neil" in honor of his great-grandfather's brother, Neil Morris and his son Neil Morris Jr., his grandfather, Terry Neil Morris, and his father, Caleb Neil Morris.  No matter what the name meant, we would have wanted to carry this tradition on for the fourth generation.  But wow.  What a perfect definition.   The error in thinking of the gospel "only" as the cross displayed itself in manic obsession with personal obedience, fear and shame when we made mistakes, disappointment with ourselves over and over as we failed time and again, harsh and stony judgement of those who lived in ways we disapproved of, robotic adherence to the rules, and hunger for the praise and approval of the Christian people we respected.   We "so quickly deserted the one who called us to live in the grace of Christ and turned to a different gospelβ€” which is really no gospel at all."

Baby, we are praying and planning and so looking forward to raising you in the triumphant, sweet news we hold so dear.  We can't wait to tell you the stories of the generations that have gone before you - your family tree is incredible.  How you even exist is incredible.  We can't wait to tell you all the lessons we have learned from our parents and grandparents.  We want to live out life with you as as happy, free, rejoicing people, and we want you to join our singing.  That's our greatest prayer, Rowdy Boy.

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Rowdy, being yours has been really nothing but wonderful.  Wonder upon wonder.  And just when we think we couldn't love you more, you do something (like hiccup) and our hearts somehow have room for just a little more love.  We're so happy you're here.

"Oh well I look at you and say
'It's the happiest that I've ever been'
And I'll say I no longer feel I have to be James Dean
And she'll say 'Yah well I feel all pretty happy, too'
And I'm always pretty happy when I'm just kicking back with you."
Five Years Time - Noah and The Whale