Holding babies

The first memory I have of holding a newborn baby was in the nursery at First Baptist Church in Brownfield, Texas. I don’t recall holding any babies before that. I guess I might’ve held my brother when he was born but I don’t remember it if I did, and there are no photos to document the occasion. I was twelve years old when he was born and probably not especially drawn to baby care. I suppose I wasn’t that trustworthy, either. But in 1980 the church nursery workers in Brownfield invited us to visit the baby room for a handful of Sundays before Byron was born, and it was a great gift. By the time we had our own baby I wasn’t so nervous or scared of breaking him, and I knew a couple of tips for calming a screamer. I even had some time logged into the rocking chair. That program was a big help.

Nowadays Cyndi and I teach in an adult Bible study class at our church that’s made up of young couples recently married. And they are having babies right and left. I’ve had the opportunity to hold a couple of those babies, but not as many as I want. I usually have to wait in line for my turn.

So, of course, the reason I’m writing about this is because I just had a brief turn holding the newest newborn in our family, Madeleine Atchley Noss (to be known as Madden), born to our daughter Katie and her husband Drew, Wednesday morning about 9:15 AM. Holding her was pretty easy. Madden only weighs six pounds or so, and she slept the entire time, so I didn’t have to use any secret skills to keep her happy.

Knowing she was coming has set me to thinking about my new role in life as a grandfather. To help me understand this role I dug out a copy of my Grandmother’s book (she and I wrote it together), and I reread the forward I wrote for it:

“I am a follower of Christ today, in part, because my grandparents walked with God 60 years ago. When God blessed them and gave them direction, he was blessing me and directing my life as well. When God sent generous people into their paths to provide a college education or meals for a young minister’s family, he was providing for me and my family so that we could know the Lord when our turn came. Like the Israelites in the Old Testament, my family can be defined as the family that God has rescued and blessed.

My friend, Charlie Dodd, once said that his heroes in life are teenagers and adults who go about their life quietly living for God, doing the right things, day by day. That describes my grandparents. They were people trying to do the right thing and follow God day by day. And because they did, I can enjoy a walk with God today. Maybe I would’ve found Jesus on my own had I not been raised by this powerful family, but I’m glad I didn’t have to do it that way. I had a long and wide line of people showing me the way. I count myself fortunate to have had four grandparents (Roy & Pauline Haynes, and Cy & Dulcie Simpson), to parents (Deane & Lenelle Simpson), and many aunts and uncles and cousins who follow God every day. Not only that, but when Cyndi and I got married, I gained another entire family who do the same.

I cannot take inventory of my own spiritual life today without realizing the debt I owe my parents and grandparents. My family tree consists of row after row of people walking with God and preparing my path, and it gives me confidence when raising our own children. Cyndi and I are not in this alone, we have a long history behind us.”

I thought about all of that this week knowing my turn to move up a branch on the family tree was imminent. I’ve been looking forward to it, looking forward to the obligation and responsibility. It’s time to step up.

Whenever any of us has a role as leader or teacher we have an obligation to those in our circle of influence to walk with God and publically live out the life he’s given us. But since those relationships are voluntary, those in our circle can walk away at any time. The pressure to live up to our obligations is less.

But family is different. Babies are stuck with the family they fall in to. It is up to us to rise to the occasion, just like my parents and grandparents did, and live lives of honor and grace and gratitude. Holding Madden this afternoon was another call to action for me. I am looking forward to my turn.



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


To learn more about Berry’s newest book, “Running With God:” http://www.runningwithgodonline.com/

Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson … Contact Berry directly: berry@stonefoot.org

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