I held Stone in my arms and marveled at all his tiny-ness with awe and love. Stone was just born to our good friends Bill and Kate. Stone, just like all the other children in my life, is going to be a big person some day – full of dreams for the future and a drive to achieve. But even when Stone is big, I’ll always remember him as small. I’ll always remember holding those tiny hands and staring at the precious features of him as a newborn.

One summer during college I did an internship at Elmbrook, my home church in Milwaukee, WI. Elmbrook is a mega-church by everyone’s definition and I remember how strong my desire was to do well there, to impress and to achieve. I wanted to show everyone what a professional I had become. So I strode in to the office each morning, head high and heels on, in my most professional clothes, with my Blackberry in hand, eager to please. Head up? Check. Shoulders back? Check. Lipstick on? Check. Laptop loaded? Check.

But having grown up in that church it was inevitable that right in the middle of my making an oh-so-grown-up-impression, someone from the staff would say, “Oh, I remember when Susie was a camper at Camp TimberLee” -or- “I remember when you and your brother were Hippos in the church musical.” Then everyone in the room was thinking of my little girl self rather then my very professional adult self that I was working so hard to present. Author Shauna Neiquist shares of a similar experience in her writing.

I get it now. As much as I’ll embrace Stone at every age, I will also always hold dear my mental picture of him as a 21 incher, just 9 little pounds of baby love.

The pastors and leaders at Elmbrook affectionately remembered me as a child, when my spiritual roots were first growing in their loving, nourishing soil. There, I was safe to try and fail and learn and grow. When I returned to Elmbrook as an adult, the leaders remembered me, believed in me, and trusted me with responsibilities and authority. They gave me a chance to lead.

I love you sweet baby Stone, and I love your future grown up self too. May you never cease growing in God’s love. Whether you become a Platt Park intern some day or an accountant or a software developer or a doctor like your Daddy or a photographer like your Mama, I will be cheering you on each step of the way.