"With Arms Wide Open"

Thirty-eight years ago when Audrey told me the news that she was pregnant, she did it by giving me a Precious Moments figurine. It showed a young couple, and the words: "For unto us a child is born.” I was a little slow getting the message, but finally I understood that it wasn't talking about Jesus, that we were the people having a child born to us.

When I was in the hospital a few weeks ago, John Mark and Daniela flew over from Texas to be with me. The night I came home my son presented me with a belated Father's Day present—a book written by one of his friends. And they had another present for Audrey to unwrap. It was a Precious Moments figurine of a couple holding what looked to us like a small chalk board. It was very nice, of course, but we didn't get the message. Finally, Daniela told us to look very closely at what was in their hands.

It was a tiny sonogram. They are expecting a child in late February.

All that time praying, wishing and hoping—and we didn't get it.

We cried, hugged, Audrey did a little screaming. We then Facetimed with Daniela's family in São Paulo and witnessed duplicate reactions a world away. Their first grandchild, too. We are all of us over the moon with joy at the news!

We've known now for several weeks but were sworn to secrecy. It was their announcement to make, not ours. But I told John Mark that I would be five seconds behind him with sharing the news with you.

She is a little girl. For years we have spoken of a little Maria. That will not be her actual name, of course. John Mark says that every third girl in Brazil is named Maria. But that has been a placeholder for us. Whenever we have seen a beautiful child with curly hair we have remarked: "Look! There goes Maria." And we've dreamed a bit about the day she might actually arrive. I don't think we ever imagined them having a boy. That would have been fine with us—but I've got a girl!

We lived in Orlando all during the 1980's. John Mark was born there. Naturally we went often to Disney World. I got my fill of the crowds and the long waits, and It's a Small World After All. We moved back to Virginia in 1989 and, although we have vacationed in Florida every year since, I have never been back to the theme parks there.

Well, I tell Audrey, "When little Maria comes, I'll take her to Disney World any time she wants to go!”
Yes- I'm going to be a very foolish grandfather.

One good thing about my coming retirement is that I will have lots of time to spend with her. And, for you—that you won't have to listen to references to the most perfect little girl in Every. Single. Sermon.



Peter D Roff - September 14th, 2021 at 9:37am

I for one would welcome hearing about the second most perfect little girl in every sermon ... because ... you know ... Miriam. But congratulations to your both. What a lovely way to start the next phase of your life.

Susie Phillips - September 14th, 2021 at 10:54am

Congratulations Pastor Don! She is a precious little blessing from heaven and an answer to prayers! Hold tight to these precious memories! All our love - The Phillips Family - Susie, Charlie and Emma

Elizabeth Apperson - September 14th, 2021 at 6:54pm

Such exciting news!!! Congratulations!

Buzzy Lloyd - September 15th, 2021 at 9:09am

Pastor Don,

We are so happy for you and Audrey! Little ‘Maria’ will be a real joy for both of you as well as her parents. Don’t forget to SPOIL her!

Elizabeth - September 15th, 2021 at 2:39pm

This entry kept me smiling the whole time I was reading it!

Mark Kern - September 20th, 2021 at 8:59pm

I have three daughters. Now I have four grandsons. It is nice to experience the opposite gender as grandchildren.




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