Today’s post needs no commentary. It may be my favorite post of all the years of posting. It’s written by my sister (in the flesh), Sami Nicholas, in anticipation of her first grandchild. It was penned by the bedside of our dying father on the day that his weak heart heard our new baby’s healthy one. At that time, we had high hopes that our father would be able to hold this new life in his arms. That was not to be. But he was already holding this child in his heart. Since this writing, the remnant of that generation of our family has rolled on into eternity.
I do not need to analyze this letter for you. I just want to emphasize that it’s full of truth for generations rolling on. Although intended for a tiny unborn baby, I’ve never seen truth-in-love written more poignantly for mothers and grandmothers.
November 14, 2017
Dear Pumpkin Seed,
Yesterday, I heard your heart. What an absolute joy it was to know that life-giving blood was moving through your little body. At the same time that I was relieved and thankful that your heart seems healthy and strong, I sat by the hospital bed of your oldest relative whose heart is not beating quite so strongly. Pie-daddy had already talked about you during the day….about how your Pa and Mama were going to give us a baby. He wondered about whether you would be a boy or girl. When I received the sound of your beating heart, he listened attentively. He already likes you.
As I sat there, amazed at the beauty and strength of your heartbeat, I watched the technicians looking at the ultrasound of Pie-daddy’s less-than-perfect one. Yet, I knew that the heart that matters eternally in each of you was healthy and strong. One had endured a lot of tests and changes. The other was clean, innocent, and new. But if God grants our prayers, yours will grow and develop. As you build that eternal heart, there are many ways in which I hope it will become like his.
I hope that your heart always honors and craves God’s Word. I have watched year-upon-year, your Pie-daddy sitting in his chair or on the patio reading his Bible everyday, a part of the routine. I hope your Mama and Daddy will make God’s Word a part of your daily routine as soon as those little eyes open. I hope they share Bible songs and Bible stories. Then, when you get big enough to read, I hope you read and study truths from God everyday. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11). I hope you are always hiding.
I hope that your heart will always desire to do the right thing, even if it means changing. There have been many times when I’ve watched Pie-daddy, upon realizing that something he had said or done was not the best Christian course, back up and apologize or change his mind. Sometimes it took a few hours or days, but he wanted to be pliable to God’s will. I hope you always have such a heart. Right now, you have a perfect heart, but as you get older, you, like all of us will slip and stumble. It’s impossible to be perfect, but I pray that you will have a penitent heart that wants to do right and fix wrongs. “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). May you always live so He will look.
I hope that your heart always wants to gather with God’s people at every opportunity. Sunday morning, your Pie-daddy had been wrestling with pneumonia, shortness of breath, and general weakness, but the sounds of him getting up at 5:30 to get ready for worship awakened me. You see, he makes that a priority. Even when it takes him 4 hours to prepare to go, he allows the time and begins the process, because he believes that worship “provokes us to good works” and we are “not to forsake” that gathering (Hebrews 10:24,25).
I also hope that your heart genuinely loves other people. Often, Pie-daddy will get tears in his eyes as he talks about another brother or sister in Christ who has shared time with him. He will sniffle as he mentions the struggles someone is going through. His door is always open, and always has been, to visitors. He cares about children. I remember when I was a child and he was struggling to buy groceries and pay the bills with six people in one household, Pie-daddy would, without fail, for years and years, make a small monthly contribution to a children’s home far away. This was in addition to what he normally gave to the church. He cared about little children and wanted them to have what they needed. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). I hope you have a weight-bearing heart.
I hope you have a heart that hates evil. Pie-daddy can get mad. He gets mad every time we pass the liquor store just a couple of miles from his house. He comments on the fact that the man who owns it is sinful. He gets mad at the immorality and language on television. He won’t have that playing in his house. He gets mad at husbands who are not faithful to their wives and refuse to change. He understands that, despite the fact that we love everyone, we must acknowledge that there are bad guys out there. He knows that evil is evil. He believes God when he says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Have a heart that gets mad.
One last thing…I hope you have a heart that loves your family. Pie-daddy is stellar when it comes to this. I can look across any room of my house and see little projects he made for us…wagons, rocky horses, marble mazes, stilts. When he was 87, he had a basketball court poured, and he got on his hands and knees and painted the lines for the court, so his grandchildren would have a place to play. All of his children and grandchildren have nicknames, their assigned special title from him. If he is able, I know he will have a nickname for you. He would do anything to help his family, and he doesn’t mind telling others how special his family is to him. He doesn’t endorse us if we do wrong, but he encourages us in everything we do that is right. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). Have the heart that passes on a godly inheritance.
I have a lot of dreams for you, little Pumpkin Seed. I want you to be happy. I want you to be blessed. I want you to go to heaven. I know the key to all of this is a healthy heart. May it always keep beating.
Love you immeasurably,
Doodle (or whatever you decide to call me)
(Photo is my dad on his last birthday in October. His gift from the Abel Nicholases was the news of the “pumpkin seed.”)