Dear SharperIron Friends,
The anticipated birth of our first child got top billing last year, and now we are praising God for making that anticipation a reality. Felicity Jane Osborne was born June 14, 2006, and life has not been the same since. As the manna that came down daily in the wilderness, so is God’s grace to us at each new stage of life: it arrives when needed, and not before or after. Not that Felicity is a particularly trying child—far from it—she’s quite sociable more often than not. But she adds a lot of work and subtracts a quantity of sleep and with her mere presence tells us without words: “You are responsible.” By the grace of God, OK. We’ll do it. And it is indescribable joy. John Piper would remind us, and biblically, too, that the joy set before us is a good motivation for doing a good thing. The flash of a smile when Mike arrives home from work or the drifting off to sleep in Becky’s arms is joy.
Felicity’s was not the only birth this year: several second cousins were born, too. Brenden (June 12); Derek (August 7); Jorja (September 13); Emma (adopted December 12); and one on the way next spring. Our extended family is amply supporting the photography industry. At church, others are expecting. Now we are sufficiently conversant in the baby culture.
Mike’s sister Robin was engaged to Jon Murphy on July 31, and they have set the wedding date for 09-08-07. Having graduated from UMass Lowell in nursing and beheaded that Goliath known as her Boards, Robin is now working for the Lawrence General Hospital (Lawrence, MA) not far from home. (Becky and I have about three places we call “home”—our own, and our parents’ homes.) Becky’s brother Daniel graduated from Bob Jones University (studying information systems) and returned in the fall for a grad degree in business and a graduate assistantship at the planetarium.
We are glad that Felicity has traveled well so far. Two weeks after her birth, we brought her from Omaha to Wisconsin for the biannual Anderson family reunion around the hunting cabin on Sand Lake. We declined the tent option this year, staying in a hotel in Rhinelander instead. The Anderson clan is large, and we were able to eat most of our meals without having to hold a baby: everyone wants to baby-sit. The very next weekend was the Avery family reunion (Becky’s mom’s side), the 140th anniversary of the farm outside Humboldt, NE. Less of a drive, but the same scenario for Felicity. The Osbornes visited in July and finally got to see their granddaughter/niece. We celebrated Felicity’s one-month birthday with a trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo, an excellent place to visit.
Then came the solemn phone call one morning: Becky’s Grandma Anderson had died in her sleep, peacefully, but more or less unexpectedly. The folks at Good Shepherd Baptist Church graciously and generously covered expenses for the Andersons’ trip to Wisconsin—including flights for Daniel and Joanna from their first week of classes at BJU. Grandma Anderson raised seven children, who in turn raised twenty-four grandchildren, etc. Mike, as one of the “outlaws,” has observed a uniformly godly heritage in her posterity, which speaks more about who she was than she, a quiet lady, would ever say.
We took to the friendly skies in October and visited Massachusetts. Mike’s family opened up their home for a whole lot of people—relatives, church friends, neighbor friends—to come catch up with us and to meet Felicity. Consider Proverbs 17:6, “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers” (ESV). The joy of having a child is heightened when you share that child with family. We also went apple picking and toured the Concord battlefield on an autumn day of light gray mist broken up by the brilliant New England foliage.
Becky left her job at Ameritrade (now TD Ameritrade) to become a full-time mother. Her weeks of staying at home are punctuated by frenetic Wednesdays, on which she commandeers the one family car, runs to her parents’ house, juggles laundry and errands using her parents’ house as a base of operations, and then picks up Mike for prayer meeting. She also goes out to an assisted living center chapel service most Thursdays, and of course Felicity is happy to make an appearance. (She does love the attention.) Mike continues to work for American Title, which built a sharp new building and moved into it in September.
We are still very much involved with Good Shepherd Baptist Church. Becky teaches Sunday school for the pre-primaries, and Mike just began an adult series on apologetics. And we generally try to be there and part of the community and among the co-laborers; there are some wonderful people with whom to be yoked. Mike has also done some pulpit supply at other area churches. Our Christmas program this year is “He Became the Son of Man, That We Might Become the Sons of God.” If justification declares a sinner “not guilty” because Christ’s righteousness is charged to that sinner’s account, it’s a wonder. “Guilty” to “not guilty.” But adoption is God taking a rebel and making him a son and “writing him into his will,” so to speak, making him joint-heir with Christ. If mankind are “sons of God” in the general sense of being special creatures, only the redeemed are “sons of God” in the particular sense, and in that case, they are sons because of a personal union with the Son of God, “begotten before all worlds.” Astounding.
Becky continues to exhaust the Omaha Public Library’s mystery shelves. Mike has embarked on a children’s literature project, reading the Newbery Medal books (as they are available on tape). The most outstanding so far (not counting The Westing Game, which was his favorite growing up) is Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The characters are flesh-and-blood, rather complex in their personality, and the author uses these very real characters to advance her plot. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, it is about great, tumultuous events all seen through the eyes of a child. The books in this series are like To Kill a Mockingbird meets The Grapes of Wrath. Felicity also devours books, in her own special way (we wipe them off afterwards).
Grace and peace to you all, and Merry Christmas,
Mike, Becky, and Felicity Osborne