ln the Pink

Back in the fall of 1982, I was 9 months pregnant and very anxious to meet our 5th child. Also excited were his or her siblings: Nelson, Lars, Linnea, and Klaus, 3 boys and 1 girl. Logic told us another girl would be nice.

3 boys, 1 girl, so farIf you had chatted with our one daughter back then, at 5 years old she’d have let you know that baby #5 was definitely going to be a girl. The thought of a 4th brother was, well, unthinkable.

I prepped her for that possibility, though, by saying, “God is the one who chooses boy or girl, so we’re going to be happy with whoever he sends to us.” But that didn’t dissuade Linnea from continuing to think pink.

The day Hans was born, Nate and I were thrilled with a boy-partner for his brother Klaus, who was just 16 months older. But we knew we’d have to choose our words carefully when we announced the news of yet another brother to our little girl.

As expected, she didn’t take it well. “Did you do that on purpose, Mommy?” she asked, looking sideways at me with her pudgy hand on her hip.


3 boys, 1 girl...In recent weeks, the tables have turned, and our 5th-born (Hans) has been anticipating his own 5th-born. With 3 sons and 1 daughter, it was déjà vu as he and Katy found themselves preparing little Evelyn, also 5 years old, for the possibility of a 4th brother.

One thing Katy did was set up a mother-daughter “date” during which she cleverly told Evelyn a story: “Once there was a family with 3 boys and 1 little girl. The mummy was going to have another baby, and the little girl really wanted a sister…”

The conclusion of her story was, “The new baby turned out to be a little boy, and they named him Hans – and guess what. He grew up to be your daddy!”

Katy described to Evelyn how different life would be for them if Hans had been a girl. Katy wouldn’t have him as her husband, and Evelyn wouldn’t have him as the daddy she loves. Evelyn understood, but that didn’t stop her from continuing to think pink.


Hans, Katy, and ElizabethToday, just after lunch, the long-awaited phone call came. Baby #5 had arrived safe and sound in England…. a sister for Evelyn!

Elizabeth Anne Nyman, born at home, weighed in at 7 pounds 4 ounces. And I am grateful for the conversation I got to have with both parents today while the thrill of the birth experience was still fresh in their voices. God has done his wondrous work yet again, creating a brand new, unique person with a soul that will live forever.


Elizabeth means my God is bountiful.  Anne means graced with God’s favor.


Elizabeth AnneDear Lord, please cause Elizabeth Anne to “come to know your ways. Teach her your paths. Lead her in your truth and teach her, for you are the God of her salvation.” (Psalm 25:4-5) We are overwhelmed by your goodness, Father, and the gift of this precious child! With all our hearts we thank you.  Amen                  

Take it all in.

Most women find themselves in possession of unnumbered spray bottles ranging from perfume spritzers to cleaning products. I counted 6 under my kitchen sink alone.

We view these chemical sprays as tools to help us get specific jobs done, and the contents of most are toxic. That’s why we don’t let young children play with them, despite their pleading.

FocusedBut a spray bottle filled with clean water? That’s ok. Thanks to the dollar store, Emerald has 6 of them and plays with them almost daily. She lines them up and says, “Train!” Or she’ll sit on the floor, setting them around her in a circle and say, “Ewa is clustering.” [Sidenote: we taught her that word after noticing how she often gathers toys into small groups.]

She’ll tip her bottles sideways and say, “Ni-night.” Or she’ll bounce them up and down: “Bottles jumping!” She plays with them in the bathtub and loves squirting the basement floor, especially if she’s been drawing with chalk beforehand.

ImplosionYesterday that’s what she was doing when she suddenly came running. “It’s broken! MeeMee! It’s broken!”

And sure enough, her red bottle was smashed and dented. I wondered how a weakling toddler could inflict such significant damage on a rigid plastic bottle. But then I unscrewed the nozzle and watched as the bottle miraculously straightened out in an instant. It was a perfect illustration of an “implosion.”

To implode means to burst inward, and the eventual result is complete collapse. One dictionary says, “to collapse inward in a violent manner.” Apparently as Emerald had been spraying her bottle, it hadn’t been able to “take in” as much as it had “put out,” and the outside pressure had overwhelmed the inside.

Such an implosion is actually an effective visual for what can happen to us spiritually. All of us have experienced times when trouble seems to come in multiples. No single problem crushes us, but in a “cluster” (to use Emerald’s word) they can cause rapid inward collapse.

How can we avoid “getting dented” when outside pressures become intense? The only way is to breathe in spiritual oxygen in greater volume than we breathe it out. This necessitates being vigilant about what’s going on inside of us and takes a firm resolve to give more attention to that than to what’s happening around us.

It’s helpful to ask, “Am I taking in the strengthening truths of Scripture? Am I asking God to prepare me for whatever’s ahead? Have I routed out self-centeredness and sin to make room for Christ’s righteousness?” If we’re willing to follow the instructions he gives, we’ll be able to stand firm.

FixedAs for Emerald’s red bottle, after I loosened the nozzle, it functioned perfectly. And if we’ll just as readily let God fix what’s wrong inside of us, implosion and collapse will never happen.

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” (Isaiah 40:29)

Getting Ready

The yardOur son Hans and his family live in north England in a beautiful town that’s surrounded by rolling green hills. The moist, temperate climate is ideal for growing things, and each year Hans takes pleasure in making his own yard as beautiful as those of his gardening clients. He involves his children in the process and is teaching them how to nurture and nourish many different plantings.

IMG_0279As these youngsters help, they’re also getting Hans’ perspective on God’s integral part in all growing things. They’re learning the laws of sowing and reaping and are being taught that preparing, tending, and waiting are all part of a good harvest.

These Nymans have been preparing their yard for the growth of summer, but that’s not the only thing they’re getting ready for. Any day now their mummy, Katy, will labor to bring a new little somebody into this world. He or she will bring their brood to 5 children in 6 years.

Katy has prepared for the new baby by unpacking all the tiny clothes and other equipment, by cooking and freezing scores of meals ahead, and by mentally gearing up for the needs of a newborn.

Hans and Katy...Hans has been preparing, too, by rearranging bedrooms, painting the nursery, organizing for time off work, and giving Katy as much rest-time as possible.

Any project, plan, or possession that’s valuable is worth preparing for, and that’s especially true of new babies! Yet  as we go through life, all of our best laid plans can never be a sure thing.

The only planner who can be sure he has thoroughly covered all the bases and knows the exact outcome is God. We may have 20/20 vision looking back, but he’s got it looking forward, too. While we may only be able to guess at how things will go, he can be sure.

That’s why it’s a good idea for us to submit every decision to his guidance. The odds of disappointment go way down, and the probability of success skyrockets. Although God definitely wants us to have a part in preparation, counting the cost ahead of time if we can, the final result is up to him.

Gardener and assistantsKaty and Hans have been doing an excellent job preparing for their new baby, but exactly who he or she really is, is God’s special surprise. And the children have been helping Hans prepare the family garden, but even there, the growth is all up to God.

And so we’re left to walk that fine line between under- and- over- preparing, often not quite sure what it’s supposed to look like. Thankfully the Lord is eager to work with us either way, as long as we leave room for his perfect plans to fill in between our imperfect ones. That way, the end-result is bound to be good.

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:20)