In just five days it will be the 36th anniversary of a big event in our family’s life. Actually, the events began the day before. I was working part time to supplement our family’s income from the two rural congregations we were serving. My job was as the morning DJ on the local small market radio station. I would go into the station at about 5:30 in the morning, fire up the transmitter and get the station on the air at 6 am. I’d read the news and market reports and play a few records. My shift ended when the owner came in to host a call-in program at 9 am. I’d usually listen to the program before we all went out for coffee at a local cafe and be home to start my work as a pastor by 10 am. On October 13, 1983, when I came home I discovered big news for our family. The story had begun years before, and there are a lot more details, but what happened that day was that the adoption agency with whom we had been working called to ask us if we would consider adopting an infant girl. We had been on a special needs adoption list and were expecting to be considering children who were a bit older. The next question after the one about considering an infant adoption was, “Could you pick her up in Grand Forks before noon tomorrow?” Grand Forks was a 425 mile one-way trip from our home.

The answer, of course, was, “Yes!” I called my boss at the Radio Station, who also was a leader in one of the churches we were serving. Susan called a friend who was expecting to borrow a few baby supplies, we got our two-year-old son ready for a car trip, filled up the fuel tank and hit the road. 425 miles took longer in the days of the 55 mph speed limit, but we made it to a motel in Grand Forks that night.

The next day we picked up our daughter, made a quick trip to a store to buy some more supplies and drove 275 miles to Bismarck, where my boss at the radio station had arranged a motel room for the night.

What is not conveyed when I tell that story in writing is the emotional intensity of the experience. I’m a fairly practical person, but when I think of the moment when the social worker handed the baby to me, I am absolutely convinced that love at first sight is a powerful reality. I was so excited by the events of that day that I didn’t sleep much at all in the motel. Whenever I recall that time, a few tears sneak into the corners of my eyes.

Yesterday, we celebrated that anniversary a few days early when I went to the airport and picked up that same daughter, this time arriving with her almost three-month-old son from Japan where they live. All day long as I was working I kept looking at my watch and wanting the day to speed up until 6:30 which was the time the plane landed. Her flights were on time and the baby traveled well and there they were, walking down the hallway in the airport. A few minutes later we had retrieved their suitcase and loaded all into the car for the trip home.

I kept waking up during the night with my excitement.

Sometimes, when I was awake, I was aware that our grandson was also awake. He is not a fussy child, but there are little baby noises that I could hear as his mother changed and fed him. He, of course, has no knowledge of time zones and feels no distress at being awake in the middle of the night. His mom will be pretty tired for the next few days as they adjust to the effects of long-distance travel. That seems OK with me, she has been responsible for me being awake in the middle of the night quite a bit over the 36 years that she has been in our lives. Maybe being awake in the middle of the night strengthens the bond between parent and child.

There is a great deal of emotional intensity in this season of our lives as well. We are still processing the emotions of the sudden onset of a life-threatening heard condition for my wife. Then, on top of that, has been the amazing display of support from our family. Our son took a week off from work and came to us on the first day of the crisis. My sister and Susan’s sisters have all come and given us time and support. And our daughter has come at considerable expense and disruption of their family’s routine. Her husband’s support of the trip is amazingly generous and we are overwhelmed with gratitude for all that people have done to support us.

Our teacher and mentor Ross Snyder once wrote that one of the blessings of marriage is that of building a home “where friends from around the world gather for the interplay of mind upon mind, living toward world humanity.” That phrase has been deeply meaningful to us from the beginning of our marriage. We have always wanted to build a home where people gather. Our home has served us well in that capacity in the past two weeks. We’ve hosted six different family members. The bedrooms in our house have been nearly filled with guests. Our table has been full with folks sitting at each place. Like the psalmist’s declaration our cup overflows.

I’m getting good at snaking my car out from between all of the other cars in the driveway. We had been thinking seriously about our family home that is too large for an empty-nest couple. This week the nest isn’t empty. And there is that baby to cuddle and our daughter to enjoy.

And, once again, I have a job and employers who understand how important family is to us. Like the hymn says, “Joy’s a flowing like a river!”

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!