Our daughter came into the world this week.
As a husband, I couldn’t be more proud of my wife. As a father, I couldn’t be more grateful for the two precious gifts we call our children.
As I first entered the elevator I smelled it. You know, the hospital smell that keeps people from going there in the first place. A sense that conjures up memories of accidents, illnesses, or simply growing old. Three paths that somehow lead us closer to the inevitability of our death. Maybe it's not death that scares us, but being alone, perhaps forgotten. No matter, hospitals are scary, smelly places.
Except when I got off the elevator and stepped onto the third floor. It was like the first time I came out of the train station in Venice, greeted by a city alive with flowing streets of water, and life. Okay, so maybe the third floor of our local hospital isn't Venice, but it's the only level of the hospital people want to visit—labor and delivery.
People coming and going. Many smiles. Many laughs. Many stories of new life. But a different smell. As I sit here writing from the third floor, it's not hospital I smell, it's the pleasant and sweet aroma of a newborn baby as she lay on my chest.
A gift, indeed.
I write with an incredibly grateful heart about the birth of our daughter. My wife carried and delivered her amazingly well. She has a much higher pain tolerance than I do. She complains much less often. And I've never been pregnant.
But today, right now, with our daughter on my chest, our son sleeping soundly at home with Ba-pa and Mimi, and my wife in the bed next to me, I am pregnant with gratitude. For in no other moment have I seen the grace of God than on the third floor of our hospital.
Kennedy, named after very dear friends who struggled to give birth naturally, but who now have a beautiful adopted little girl, is a living, breathing miracle we had no control over. Her birth, her health, her delivery into the beautiful streets of this city we call the Straub family, is nothing but God's grace.
I do not pretend to know why we're so blessed right now, when others struggle to have children, or lose them before or upon arrival. We have very close friends who have experienced it all.
I do know this, regardless of the circumstances, God's grace is sufficient. His character unwavering. And his plans much bigger than ours.
A gift, indeed.
On behalf of my wife Christi, I want to thank each of you for your prayers.
And on behalf of the families who struggle emotionally and physically to bear children, remember the vigor of the third floor. The sweet smell of newborn baby. And the life you dreamed of with your children.
For one day soon, they'll be gone.
I hear many parents complain today, "Life just gets in the way." That's flat out wrong. Life never gets in the way of anything.
Instead of being scared of hospitals, what we should really be scared of is our schedules, our misplaced priorities, and the fears that hold us back from breathing life into our kids.
It's not life that gets in the way, it's our inability to remember what a gift life really is—and that it's by God's grace we're here to begin with.
So if there's anything in your schedule not bringing the life out of you and your kids, talk to your spouse about how to make changes to it now.
Remember your third floor experience.
Tonight, thank God for your kids. Hold their hand a little tighter. Squeeze them a little longer. Pray with them, and over them. And take control of creating memories that bring your children to life.
Our children, their lives, are a gift. Let's return our gratitude by stewarding those gifts well—and showing them how to live.
Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is an advocate for families and parenting in the 21st century. He loves coming alongside families to provide encouragement, support and practical counsel. Josh loves combining scientific research with biblical wisdom to provide the best-of-all-worlds perspective on raising stellar kids, having an awesome marriage and enjoying life while doing it. You can read more of the boring professional stuff about Josh and his books here, if you’re interested. Together with his favorite writing partner and wife, Christi, Josh has fun parenting their son Landon and daughter Kennedy. For more encouragement and ideas on marriage and parenting in the 21st century you can join Josh and a growing tribe of awesome families at www.joshuastraub.com and follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.