As some of you already know, Lisa is approximately five months pregnant with a healthy baby boy named Jace (at least all signs indicate the baby is healthy). Jace will be named as the fourth generation of James Louie Cartee's. In other words, he will have the same name as me, my father, and my grandfather. This idea is meant to honor the men of our family in the generations before his arrival.
I discovered that Lisa was pregnant in early November when I noticed she was not eating Annabelle’s Halloween candy. If you know my wife well, hence before this pregnancy, she cannot resist certain candies and sweets, specifically with her dark chocolate cravings. I immediately asked, "Are you pregnant?" She looked at me with large sulky eyes and said, "Yyyyeeessss!" While she experienced tears of joy, there was a slight panic in her voice as well, hence the reality of this news and the arrival of another tiny human to greet us.
We are both excited and a little nervous about these new stages of life as our family grows. Since I have become a father, I have learned so much about myself and fatherhood because of these tiny humans – Annabelle and Jace.
The following spiritual lessons come to mind when I think about Jace’s arrival….
1.) Be okay when the unexpected arrives. I was not anticipating having another child in the middle of the most stressful year of my Ph.D. program, however, God has different plans for my family. I must learn to be okay with myself when these unexpected life events transpire. As the popular saying goes, “Do not sweat the trivial things!” Let go and place your faith in God.
2.) Do not let fear get the best of you. If any internal force unsettles your inner peace, it is often fear. No matter what you do, try your best to not let fear bring you down. For me, I try to remember this Bible verse when I am feeling on edge in this context.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
3.) Embrace the moments as they are in front of you. I am a purposeful person, meaning the future often consumes my attention, rather than just being present. Children help remind you what matters right now. It is the small moments that pass quicker than a racecar at the Talladega Superspeedway. Like the previous lesson, I come back to Scripture to practice centeredness in my own spirit. You cannot get those past cherished moments back when they have already happened. This Bible verse reminds me how precious life is when the days pass by so quickly.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
James 4:14 (NIV)
4.) Practice gratefulness before gloom. While this principle may explain itself, you can always be thankful for one more thing in your life. In other words, abundant blessings pour upon us as individuals in more ways than we know. We should not take these many privileges for granted. Gratefulness will overshadow gloomy thoughts if you simply say “thank you” enough times for all the good in your own life. Grateful, positive thoughts bring forth more grateful, positive thoughts.
These lessons have often been my focus throughout this season of my life. I must remember to be okay with the unexpected, not let fear get the best of me, to embrace the present moment, and to practice gratefulness before a gloomy attitude. Perhaps you should follow these same observations if you find yourself on shaky ground when surprised by life-altering changes.
For your enjoyment, please see some of the latest ultrasound pictures where Jace swims in the spotlight and portraits where I try to hear and feel Jace’s movements in Lisa’s belly.
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