This past Sunday, we formally dedicated Callen to the Lord. Of course, we'd done so many time in our personal thoughts and prayers as we sought guidance and asked for blessings for him. But Sunday our church community joined us in committing to do our best to show him Jesus, to give him unconditional love and to entrust him into God's hands day after day.
For a bit of background, in our church we treat dedication as more of a commitment on the part of the parents and church family to love and guide the child in the way of the Lord, rather than as a guarantee of the child's right-standing with God. We believe when the child is older, they still must choose for themselves whether to follow the Lord.
Our church invites parents to write a letter to their child expressing how the child is a gift and how they hope to guide the child. Our letter is as imperfect as we are parents, but also as full of love. Here is it (with some parenthetical notes).
You are our pumpkin bear, our chicken wiggle, our little man. (Josh asked that I read that first line. It might have, maybe, possibly had something to do with the fact that I critiqued his pronunciation of "pumpkin" during the letter composition: "Honey, it's more like punkin..." Knowing I would never make it through the whole thing without crying, I let him take it after that.) We are crazy about how God knit you together, though we know we will spend a lifetime getting to know all the wonders he has put inside you. We love your big hugs and little pats on the shoulder. You make us laugh with your silly ways, and we love watching you as you learn how to do it on purpose. You take joy in the small things and help us see light on dark days. And the way you and Gavin play is just awe-inspiring.
We are so, so grateful that God has chosen to make us your parents. Woohoo! (Somehow, the woohoo was not read aloud...hmmm...) We for sure hit the jackpot with you and Gavin. And we are so humbled. You and your brother make us want to be our best selves, and though we are frail, we know that the Lord is faithful to do more than we ask or seek as we continue to rely on Him.
Today we, with our family and our church community, pause in this sacred space and commit to do all we can to help you know and take stock in the love of a God who spared nothing, not even His own Son, to make a way for you to be His forever. How we hope that at each step, you say “yes” to what God has for you. Yes to grace, yes to joy, yes to love, yes to the adventure of faith. How we pray that the clumsy, imperfect way we walk this walk somehow still helps you see life with Jesus as the truest north, the greatest reality and worth anything you have to give up to pursue it whole-heartedly.
We pray that as you get to know your creator and as you live in community with your church family, you are inspired: (I added a few lines below after we read the letter in church because I kept struggling with how to say what I wanted to say until I was cutting up pineapple in a quiet house the next day. Doesn't that happen to everyone?)
To be kind – taking the time to make the world a better place in simple ways
To wonder – taking in the countless ways God weaves beauty into our lives
To be compassionate – seeing others as God does and acting out of a loving heart
To join God in his ongoing rescue of the oppressed – shining light in dark places
To keep your heart open – listening to others, giving help and being ready to receive help
Callen, you are already such a valued member of our community. We take joy in knowing that God will continue to use you to teach us. We look forward to learning from what we hope you are bold enough to share, and brave enough to ask. We pray that you and your brother love and lead, being always ready to humbly point people to Jesus.
As we share a few of the hopes and dreams we have for you today, we want you to know that we will love you no matter what you do. We hope you will always see our love as a safe place to come home to, and yet the love we have for you cannot compare to the love God has for you.
You are a treasure. We love you, son.
Daddy and Mommy