Our baby Alicia is 10 months old today. 10 months! That's over 3/4 of a year. Amazing. And for the past six months, we've been enjoying, celebrating, at times enduring the life we saw by faith during those first few trying months in the hospital.
I think more than anything this experience with Alicia has deepened Linda and my faith, and shown us what it truly means to live a life of faith. I think the best description I've ever heard of faith is seeing something in the future as if it had already happened. In other words, having a memory of something that has yet to happen. And that truly was what Linda and I experienced during the first third of Alicia's young life.
During our residency in the hospital, though the prognosis was often otherwise, Linda and I would see glimpses in our minds of the day when we would hold Alicia, hear her cry, see her smile, play with her. Things that we now do on a daily basis. This is no credit to us. I know that we were purely thriving on God's grace and the prayers of all you saints.
Prior to becoming a father, I would often hear people tell me that once you become a parent, you get truly a deeper grasp of the Heavenly Father's love for us. And I think I've always accepted this to be true cognitively, but it's not until these last 10 months, that I've truly begun to understand in my heart just how true this statement is.
A few examples. I don't know whether it's because we've got a kid in the house and they tend to carry germs more easily, but I've had several minor colds in the past few months. Prior to Alicia I'd get sick maybe at most once a year, now in the past 10 months, I think I've caught about 3 colds. During the previous cold, Alicia had also been sick. And that was misery for her and for us too. Because of her sore throat, it hurt for her to eat. And so though she was hungry, she would turn her head away, cry and flail her arms in an attempt to keep the bottle away from her. Poor girl. Thankfully, with some medicine she was feeling better within a few days, just in time for a couple of her teeth to start popping in. Causing a whole new round of hunger coupled with refusal to eat. But I digress.
Over the past few days, my throat has started to feel funny again, but so far, it seems that I'm the only one infected. Praise the Lord. The other day, while I was washing dishes, I started thinking how grateful I was that I was the only one who seemed to be uncomfortable. In fact, I thought, if it came down to it, I would take on any cold, any sickness, if it meant that my baby girl could be healthy and enjoy her life. Then the though occurred to me, this, on a much small scale, must be how God felt when he sent Jesus to this Earth to die for us. He would rather suffer, than have us suffer. He would pay any price so we could have life, and have life to the full. Amazing.
One other example. Babies are constantly changing. When Alicia was first born, her looks were still developing so it wasn't really clear whether she looked more like me or Linda. We pieced together that she definitely has Linda's eyes and my nose, but the rest of it wasn't so clear. Well, over the past few months, Alicia has truly been morphing into a mini-me. Which could perhaps be chalked up to this father's overgrown imagination if it weren't for the fact that nearly every person Alicia meets comments on the fact.
And if I'll be honest, every time I hear someone say, "She looks just her father." My heart swells. She is mine. She bears my image. And once again, I can't help but think about our Heavenly Father, and why he made it a point to tell us that we were also made in his image.
One day, I was holding Alicia in my arms and just staring down at her and saw a cuter, more feminine version of my face staring back at me. I saw a reflection of myself in this little girl, and my love for her just expanded. Not because of some narcissistic love for myself, but because I realized this is truly my daughter.
And I can't help but wonder if that's how God feels when he looks at us. He sees a reflection of himself in us, a mark that we are truly his children, created to belong to him, as a part of him. Also, I can't help but think how the Father's heart must swell each time one of his children is recognized as his. Each time someone acknowledges that one his children bears his image and is just like him. It's no wonder that he is constantly working to transform us so that we can be more and more Christ-like each and every day, so that we can be his ambassadors in this dark world. So we can be Christians - little Christs for those who have never seen or don't know God.
I have just only begun this journey of fatherhood, and while definitely trying at times, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Alicia is truly a treasure, and I think I will never stop taking pleasure in showing her off to the world. =) She's our little sunbeam. She carries a bit of both Linda and I in her, and I cannot wait to see the kind of woman she develops into. But in the meantime, I will cherish each moment I have with her. I will cradle her as often as I can, and relish in the moments when she nestles with total abandon in my chest. I know these days will pass by in a blur. Soon she will be too big, and too "grown up" to nestle. But you know what, no matter how grown she gets, she will forever be my princess. My precious girl.
Happy 10 months, baby girl. Daddy loves you.