3 reasons why I try to expose my kids to lots of different kinds of books

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Tuesday night, the UPS guy arrived at the door with our latest Amazon order. I secreted away the box as quickly as I could in order to avoid too many “What is it Dads”. (I was only partially successful.) I opened the box, and pulled the two books out. Perfect, I thought, we’re going to have fun reading these.

“Hey, Abigail,” I called into the living room. “Want to see what we got today?”

“YES!”

I presented her with two new comic books: Tales of the Batman: Len Wein and The Mighty Thor by Walter Simonson vol. 1. Abigail went supersonic with delight.

This is one of the things I love about being a dad. I love being able to share the things I loved as a child and youth with them (like comics, which I still enjoy). But more than that, I love being able to expose them to as many different kinds of books as possible (as does Emily). There are a few reasons for this:

1. We want them to find books they like to read. As you can imagine, we place a high value on reading in our home. With certain exceptions—we tend to avoid books that glorify witchcraft and death, and books series where every instalment has literally the exact same plot, for example—we really don’t care what they read as long as it’s close to age-appropriate. So we’ve got superhero comics, we’ve got fantasy novels, we’ve got historical fiction, and classic works all readily available. And because they have a lot of different kinds of books available to them, they tend to read pretty widely, even if some days Abigail simply reads and rereads Bone during resting time.

2. We want to help our kids as they learn to read and develop their vocabulary. Hannah, our middle kid, refuses to let us help her as she reads (unless it’s her idea). In fact, she gets pretty ticked if we notice she’s doing it at all! One of the great things about having comics in the house, though, is we’ve seen Hannah sounding out the onomatopoeias in her quest to master reading. The variety of books also helps the kids develop their vocabularies as they’re exposed to words they may not be otherwise.

3. We want to help our kids understand the world around them. The same night we introduced Abigail to Walter Simonson’s Thor, we also wound up having a discussion about something she read in her book about Princess Isabel of Spain. In that book, a Catholic priest informed the young princess that it was inappropriate for her to learn about math and science because she was a girl. (Abigail was quick to point this out as being wrong, in case you’re wondering.) This allowed us to explain about how God created men and women, the equal value and dignity we all have by virtue of being made in his image, and even talk about how sin causes conflict between us. That’s kind of a big deal, and the type of thing you don’t really get from Walter the Farting Dog (although nothing’s wrong with Walter the Farting Dog… except his horrible flatulence).

That, in a nutshell, is why we try to expose our kids to as many different kinds of books as possible. And it’s pretty exciting to see how they’re developing as little people as a result.

3 personal reflections on #TGC15

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This week, around six thousand Christian men and women came together in Orlando, Florida, for The Gospel Coalition’s 2015 National Conference, the theme of which was the new heavens and the new earth. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a few reflections on the teaching we all received, but I first want share a few of personal reflections from the event. As you may know, for many of us, these conferences are as much about relationships as about the material (if not more so). Here are three highlights:

Connecting with friends, old and new. When most people think a conference full of introverts, they usually don’t think relationship stuff would be high on the list of priorities. Yet, one of the best things about TGC and other conferences is catching up with friends, and making some new ones. Yesterday, I finally reconnected with Julian (a pastor who lives in Toronto), spent time with Noel (also a pastor in the Toronto area), Andrew and Gary (both of whom minister north of my community). I also enjoyed a great lunch with Kevin Halloran (loved hearing more about the ministry where God has placed him), and talking with Chris and Alyssa (and cuddle up with their baby girl, Geneva Mae).

And then there was Disney. Yes, Wednesday night I, along with my friend Matt and a couple of his colleagues, when to Downtown Disney (couldn’t do the theme park this time) to enjoy dinner and try to pick up something for our kids. But the magic we were to experience on the outskirts of the magic kingdom was black with what was perhaps the most comically bad service any of us had ever experienced in a restaurant. It did, however, lead to many hilarious (for us) comments, some of which I will now share with you, with very little context:

Matt: “First John was full of lies and second John was full of inconsistencies.”

Second John: “I’ve got the perfect surprise to end your night.”
Me: “You’re going to murder us?”

After we received our “surprise”:

Every staff person in the restaurant, ever: “Oh, wow! Doesn’t that look amazing? Isn’t it good? We had 13 people in our group during training and we couldn’t even make a dent out of it.”
Me: “Well, it’s… big.”

The only thing that could make us feel better was getting our picture taken Cinderella:

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(Or, at least a statue of her.)

Celebrating their successes. My friend Matt’s 12 week study of Hebrews releases in June. Dan’s got a new book coming out with Baker. And then there’s Derek, a great guy I met two years ago at TGC and had not yet published his first article on the site. Now he’s taking the TGC-friendly blogosphere by storm. This has been wonderful to see, as Derek is a really sharp guy and a gifted communicator. (And if you don’t follow him, you really should.)

Cultivating new opportunities. This week, I also had the chance to talk with friends and acquaintances from the publishing world, which I always love. Out of that, I have a couple of proposals I’m putting together to shop around that, if one or both are accepted, would be a lot of fun to write. I’ll keep you posted on how those go (and your prayers are much appreciated).

There’s a lot that happened over the course of the last three days, and I’m sure I’ll remember something else that was absolutely amazing tomorrow, but these are probably the three biggest moments of the conference from a personal perspective for me.

Were you at TGC this year? What was a particular highlight for you?

So what’s up with getting an education?

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Some time ago, I shared how I’ve been considering getting a formal education. This hasn’t been an easy road to consider since:

  • I’m in my mid-thirties and therefore can’t do full-time school; and
  • it costs a lot of money to do this (money which, at the moment at least, I do not have a lot of).

So… what have I been doing since I last shared about this and asked you all to pray with me?

In mid-August, I applied to a Master’s of Arts in Theological Studies program at a very reputable seminary. The program allows me the flexibility I need to maintain a healthy-ish schedule while getting a quality education. As of this week, the only thing that remains is for them to receive a copy of my transcript from the college I attended here in London. Once they have that, they will be able to make a decision on whether or not to accept me as a student. If so, I’ll potentially be starting school as early as January, 2015, which is kind of exciting.

There are other questions beyond acceptance that remain as I start planning for the possibility of becoming a student again:

  • How will I manage my time effectively?
  • What impact will this have on my blogging schedule?
  • How am I going to pay for my tuition?

There are a few options we’re considering, but I wanted to share a conviction that’s arisen about school: this is not something to which I’m willing to add another cent in debt. As you can imagine, this brings up more challenges. So I’m considering a few ideas that I’ll tell you more about should my application be accepted.

While there’s clearly not a lot to report, probably the best thing in the entire process to this point was taking the first step on the application—taking action on something I’d been hesitating on for a good long while. Whether I am accepted or rejected, I will at least know an answer. It won’t be another one of those “What if” things. And that is liberating.

So we’ll see what happens. I look forward to sharing more soon—and you wouldn’t mind praying for my acceptance, I’d certainly appreciate it.


Photo credit: kern.justin via photopin cc

2 kids’ albums that are actually really good!

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As y’all know, my wife and I are the parents of three little kids—Abigail (7), Hannah (4), and Hudson (2). Our house is always hopping with this crew, especially when there’s music on (or in their heads). I took the girls to The Muppets Most Wanted recently, and while we were in the car, Hannah and Abigail immediately started singing a heartfelt rendition of every girl’s current favorite song, “Let it Go.”

Just imagine that for a minute.

Alright, back to the task at hand. Because these kids really enjoy music, I get to expose them to a lot of different material. The challenge has been finding good kids’ albums! Many, as you can imagine, are vile, poorly produced, dreck. Some are okay. Few are exceptional.

But the exceptional few are ones I’d like to talk about a bit today. Here’s a look at two kids’ albums that are actually really good!

1. Coal Train Railroad, self-titled. I was pointed toward these folks by one of my followers on Twitter and I’m so glad they did. Coal Train Railroad is a jazz group for kids from Nashville, and their stuff is exceptional, both what’s been released on their self-titled debut and the follow-up, Coal Train Railroad Swings!

Our kids really like to bop to these albums, and Hudson typically asks for “Train!” when we get in the car, so there’s that.

Learn more or buy it at: Amazon | iTunes

2. The Verve Pipe, Are We There Yet? Honestly, I never thought I’d put “The Verve Pipe” and “great” in the same sentence, but there you go. These guys had a couple of big songs in the mid-late 90s but they fell off my radar a long time ago. Then I learned they had made a couple of albums for kids, the latest being Are We There Yet? This album has a lot of fun songs, including one called “When Grandma Says No,” which describes the all-too-true reality of Grandma’s no’s true meaning: maybe.

And all the parents said, “amen.”

Learn more or buy it at: Amazon | iTunes

So those are a couple of really good kids’ albums we’ve picked up recently. If you’re a parent, definitely check them out, and if you have recommendations, share them in the comments!

Can you pray for us?

We’re having some interesting discussions in the Armstrong house. As always, we’re talking about big important future things. One of the big topics we’ve had come up recently is education.

Our oldest daughter, Abigail, is in public school. She’s smart as a whip, and a really good student. Overall she’s had a pretty good experience in school; a few issues with other kids, but nothing too major. We’ve had a number of concerns, some minor, some major, and very few have been able to be resolved.

Our middle girl, Hannah, is nearly ready to start school, too. In fact, Emily’s been very proactive in starting her education already. She knows her ABCs, her numbers one through ten, and has even started to read and write. In fact, here’s a look at one of her recent spelling efforts:

Hudson isn’t even two, so school’s not quite on his radar yet. He’s happy just jumping, running around and playing with cars.

But as we’ve been talking, the idea of homeschooling has come up. We’d previously said we’d only do it if we had a deal-breaker situation come up, like the school started demanding our kids affirm things we fundamentally disagree with. But lately as we’ve talked, we’ve been wondering about what would offer the best quality education for the kids.

And we’re really not sure what to do. What I don’t want to do is say to Emily, “So, we’re going to do this now,” if she’s not sold on the idea. In fact, I’ve been waiting for her to make a call on what she thinks is the right thing to do. She’s started talking to the kids about the idea. Hannah likes it (even though just a few months ago, she was super-psyched about putting on her back pack and going to school like Abigail); Abigail’s opinion changes from day to day. Some times she’s keen on it, other times she’s not sure. There’s a lot of uncertainty around it right now, which is fine.

I’d rather take the time to make a wise decision than to rush in without counting the cost, y’know?

But if you could pray for us on this, I’d really appreciate it. From everything we’ve read, and from all the people we’ve talked to so far, it seems like a really good option, one that could help our wee ones not only get a leg up in terms of quality, but allow us to enjoy their company a little while longer. (It’s terrifying to believe Abigail’s going to be seven this year! She was barely two when I started this blog!)

Finally, I’d love to get your take on this: where do you land on education? If you’re a parent, would you homeschool? Were you yourself homeschooled? I’d love to hear your experiences and any wisdom you might have to offer on this.

Our stories reveal our hearts

My daughter Hannah is super-cute and creative… and more than a little mischievous. She also loves her big sister Abigail, but the two struggle to get a long a lot of the time. Some times they play wonderfully together, and other times it seems like everything one is doing is an attempt to irritate the other.

Yesterday morning was particularly bad. Right from their first waking moments, Abigail in particular was being a bit of a bossypants, and if I had to guess, it hurt Hannah’s feelings quite a bit. At least, if the story she wrote is any indication:

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Hannah’s story, as told to her mom.

Here’s the story in an easier-to-read format:

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom and the prince wanted to marry princess Hannah and he wanted to defeat Queen Abigail because she was evil. The evil Abigail had eaten the nice Abigail. The prince took…One of the guards gave him a sword and he killed the evil Abigail and the nice Abigail was freed. Princess Hannah got her nice Abigail sister back and she got married because everything was fine.

They went on a ride after they got married. It was the horse merry-go-round. Then Abigail and Hannah went home and played with their toys in their room until their mom and dad came home and gave hugs and kisses and lunch to their children and then did TV. Then they had resting time together. And then they went on another ride and lived happily ever after.

The end.

Hannah’s story reminds me of something incredibly important for writers: our stories reveal our hearts. No matter how much we try, we can’t help but put ourselves on the page.

Also, when it comes to plotting, Hannah has scope creep, big time.

A quick survey of the year that was

2013

Yeah, I know 2013 isn’t technically over yet, but with less than a week to go on the clock, it seems fitting to take a look back at the year that was (well, mostly).

If I had to sum up the last year, I’d call it the most pregnant of pauses. 

Some very cool things did happen, to be sure. I made a great deal of progress on my systematic theology certificate (I’ve got a couple more books to go then I’ll be done!). We took our first-ever family vacation to Nashville. Only a few days after we returned, I hopped a plane and spent the better part of two weeks flying all around Canada with a very talented young filmmaker, serving as a writer and producer for on a promotional film for my employer. Here’s the result:

On the writing front, I’ve had lots of great opportunities to write some really cool material, some of which hasn’t seen the light of day just yet, but will soon (I hope). Emily and I started working on a few ideas for a children’s book (for the challenge, mostly). This may see the light of day in the next year.

I also finally—finally!—completed a proposal for a new book and sent it off for review with a “big publisher.” We’ll see what comes of it—who knows? There could be some good news to share in the next few months. If not, well… let’s wait and see.

There’s a whole lot more that I could tell you about, but it all comes back to the same thing:

Waiting.

This seems to be the big thing that the Lord is wanting us to learn right now. To wait. To wait on His timing, and on His plans, trusting they’re better than anything we could devise for ourselves.

Who knows? 2014 could have a lot of big things come to fruition.

Or, the pause could continue. Only time will tell.

There’s an itch worth scratching—but…

Comic courtesy of malandchad.com

May 27th is my wife’s and my seventh wedding anniversary (we celebrated 13 years as a couple in January). This is kind of a big deal, not only because it means we’re now among those who’ve been married the longest in our homeland of Canada (maybe), but it means we’ve beat the fabled seven-year-itch.

What is this condition, you ask?

The seven-year-itch is the mid-life crisis in a marriage when all of a sudden you find yourself riding a motorcycle to get groceries (or so I’ve heard). Fortunately for me, neither of us have any interest in riding motorbikes to No Frills or anywhere else for that matter.

What’s been really helpful for me to remember during our marriage so far is that marriage takes a lot of work. Honestly, I understand why some people throw in the towel. When you’re both completely stressed about money and not talking about it, when you’re feeling the weight of a job you hate and it’s taking its toll on your family… it’s understandable why some people can’t make their marriage work.

I understand how some men and women can fall into the trap of the emotional affair by getting just a bit too close to someone who isn’t their spouse. People get itchy; they get “bored.” They want something new and different.

And yet…

I’m pretty sure it’s not an itch worth scratching.

I’m no great expert, but it seems to be if we’re finding our spouses dull, it might be that we’re not paying enough attention. Currently I’m in a season where I’m only going to see my wife in person for the next two days and then I’ll be seeing her only via FaceTime chats for the better part of two weeks.

I’m not looking forward to that. Why? Because Emily is interesting. She tells me interesting stories about her day, and expresses herself pretty frankly most of the time, and sometimes she cries and I really don’t know what to do (which means I totally respect this guy). Being away from her really, really stinks.

I could go on and wind up with a post that makes no sense whatsoever. But the point is this: There are some itches you should scratch—but the itch that makes you want to quit your marriage isn’t one of them.

My awkward relationship with grief

Photo by Matthias Wuertemberger

Yesterday I received a call from my sister. My grandmother had died.

We talked for a bit before she had to continue on with making phone calls. We hung up. I went back to work.

Monday kind of played out the way it always does.

When I told a couple of colleagues of mine the news and listened as they expressed their sorrow over it, I didn’t quite know how to respond.

This isn’t something new to me.

In the last year, both of my grandmothers have died. My maternal grandfather died around ten years ago (there was no memorial service). My paternal grandfather died about 14 years ago.

Every time my reaction has been pretty much… okay.

No tears, no five stages of grieving… just “okay.” And life continues to go on.

What’s been awkward for me has always been trying to navigate the (unintentional) external pressure that exists to feel bad whenever a family member dies. And it’s not that I don’t have feelings (my wife can attest to this), but I’ve never really felt like I’ve needed to do that when any grandparent has died.

It might be because we weren’t terribly close. The last time I saw my maternal grandmother was five years ago. The time before that was (I think) sometime when I was either in high school or just before I started college (so we’re talking 15 plus years).

It’s how my family always has been. I’m not saying it’s the best thing, just what is.

But here’s the thing I am grieved by—as far as I know, all of my grandparents have died apart from Christ. To the best of my (admittedly limited) knowledge, there wasn’t a consistent Christian influence within their lives.

And I’m not too sure what to do with that. 

Witnessing to my family isn’t easy—not just the ones I’ve not seen in over a decade, but the ones I actually do have relationship with.

My mother, father, sister and niece (not to mention my in-laws and sister-in-law).

But whenever there’s a death in the family, it makes it harder. Primarily in the sense that there’s just not a good time to bring up the conversation—”So grandma dying made me really start thinking about what going to happen when you die” isn’t likely to open doors to a healthy conversation, y’know?

But Scripture reminding us to mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:15 NIV); we can be with those who are grieving, we can grieve with them (whether or not that includes shedding a single tear)… we can be “there,” present and available.

And maybe that’s all I really need to worry about for the moment.

What God’s teaching me through epilepsy

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Photo by Miranda Knox

It’s been about two months since I wrote about being diagnosed with epilepsy. And so I’ve had two months to grieve, accept, do some research, grieve some more, then accept, then do more research, then start to kind of hate the Internet for proving me with so much information to drive myself crazy with. Then I do some more research.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned, both about epilepsy and about myself:

Doctors who study epilepsy find seizures and brain surgery very interesting, and have full confidence in their own abilities. One of the websites I visited gave a description of temporal lobe surgery, and ended it with “but don’t worry, your hair will grow back.”

Yeah, because I was super worried about my hair.

There are some things to be thankful for. The type of epilepsy I have is a kind that doesn’t cause me to lose consciousness (or my bladder). Others are not so fortunate. So I’m able to care for my kids, and I don’t have to worry about peeing myself in public. I call this a win.

A positive side effect of my medication (yes, a positive side effect! How often does that happen?) has been an improved mood. The medication I have been prescribed is also used to treat bi-polar disorder; anxiety and depression had been an issue for me in the past, and I have perceived a real improvement in my ability to talk myself through negative feelings. Spending less time on the big comfy couch of sadness located in my mind is a good thing.

But what have I learned about myself? I have had the opportunity to see how prideful and self conscious I can be. For the first few weeks I really didn’t want to leave the house at all. Not because I could have a seizure; because people would see me have a seizure, and that was way worse.

When I have a very large seizure I wretch like a cat with a hair ball, which sounds exactly as pleasant as the sound you are imagining in your head right now. It feels like the auditory equivalent of soiling myself, especially when I’m able to get up and I look around and see that people are doing their best to “act natural”. But life must go on. My daughter still needs to go to school and I still need to run errands, and maybe even go on dates with my husband. So out into the world I will continue to go, and God will have to soften me from the inside out on this point.

Another thing I’ve discovered about myself now that I have an identified illness is I want to play the “epilepsy card” when both Aaron and I have had a bad day:

“Oh, something crummy happened at work today? Well, I have epilepsy. I win.”

Clearly this would be an unhelpful strategy in my marriage, but the temptation is there. I assume I’m not the first person with an illness or a disability to want to make much of myself when things aren’t going my way (at least, I hope not!).

Lastly, I have seen how small my faith can be. Due to a mistake in the pharmacy, I ran out of my medication 5 weeks early. As soon as I realized that I did not have enough pills, I was sick with worry. What if I call the pharmacy and they don’t believe me? What if they think I’m irresponsible? What if they think I’m lying? What if I can’t get the pills in time and my brain starts sizzling left and right and I end up in a coma because I didn’t count out how many pills I had a few days ago? What if I die for this ridiculously mundane reason?!?

I don’t think a person in a spaceship with only one portion of freeze-dried space food would be more worried.

Of course, it worked out alright. The pharmacist understood the error and Aaron picked up the rest of my medication. All is well, and I need not have worried.

But this is a process. I’m still learning to do all those things that seem so easy when you don’t have to do them:

  • Be humble.
  • Value others more highly than yourself.
  • Believe that God has everything in control.

I am grateful knowing that He will gradually cause my character to become more Christlike. I would already be in a sorry state indeed if I was doing this on my own.

Broken, yet intricately woven

brain scan

Photo by Miranda Knox

I was diagnosed with epilepsy on Friday.

My first thought was, “This is very inconvenient.”

I asked the doctor how it happened, but there is no apparent cause. It just is.

I didn’t do anything to cause epilepsy, nor is anyone else responsible for it. I find this frustrating, not because I want to lay blame, but because I’m the kind of person who wants to know why things happen.

As I sat waiting, first for the medical intern, then for the doctor, and later while waiting for blood work, I was reading and rereading Psalm 139:

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:15-16)

I was intricately woven. All the days of my life have been planned. Every moment.

While this brings comfort, it also hurts. It is a strange mix of pain and awe to know that an infinitely wise God has crafted my brain just so.

To have seizures.

To be broken.

It is a difficult truth that God had planned that day. I was told that I have epilepsy. I will have to be on medication indefinitely. I may someday need brain surgery.

My husband was watching our children, so there was no one to share the news with. It would be three hours before I could meet up with my family.

Yet, I will say that I did not feel alone:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10)

My Lord Jesus walked with me in those hours. As He does now. He loves me and knows my grief. He will use my brokenness to point others to Himself.

I have epilepsy. To God be the glory.

Vacation Fun

This week I’m near Hastings, Ontario, enjoying a very rustic cabin, some fun riding around in my dad’s fishing boat, reading, and, of course spending some time with the family. Here’s a few highlights of our time away so far:

One of my three catches #fishing

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

The second catch of the day (the last one was a bass).

Abigail's first fish (w/her Granddad)

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

 Abigail smiling with glee as she looks at her very first fish; her granddad looks just as thrilled.

Chilling in the tent

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

What does Hudson like to do best at this point? Chill in the tent. Mission accomplished.

Hannah loves sparklers

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

And then there’s Hannah, our child with no fear. While we missed out getting some photos of our tubing ride, we did get a nice shot of her looking gleefully at a sparkler (held by her aunt Becky). If only I’d got a picture of her digging into a s’more…

That’s all from vacation-land for now.

Have you taken some time off this summer? What’s been a highlight?

A Personal/Professional Update and a Prayer Request

The last little while has been a bit of a whirlwind around the Armstrong house. We’re beginning to settle into life with a new baby (Hudson’s already outgrown newborn size clothes and diapers—awesome!). I’m starting to work out plans for getting the word out about my next book, Contend (the release date has been pushed back to August 1, incidentally). We’re going through some interesting changes in my day job… and there have been a couple of other changes that have happened along the way.

The first is one that I kind of subtly inserted into my review of Who Am I? last week—recently I took on an extremely part-time role with Cruciform Press, helping out primarily in social media and marketing. I’m very excited and grateful to be trying out this new opportunity and am praying that the work I do will be helpful and fruitful.

The other thing that’s changed is something to do with conference season. The last few weeks have seen a number of folks asking, “Who is going to T4G”? Well, up until about three weeks ago, I’d have said, “Not me.” Things have changed a bit, however, and I’m happy to say that I will also be there in a couple of weeks. I’m extremely excited about this for a number of reasons:

  1. I get to catch up with some friends while I’m in the area (some of whom don’t live that far away from me)
  2. Spending time with the Cruciform team
  3. The conference material is undoubtedly going to be terrific
  4. It’s another place I’ve never been (although I love being home, it’s a lot of fun to experience new places)
  5. Band of Bloggers! Yes, I will indeed be there and am looking forward to meeting some of you who might be as well

As you can imagine, with all this going on, there are a lot of balls up in the air. So, if you’re so inclined, I’d greatly appreciate your prayers in managing my time well so that I’m not squandering it needlessly and compromising my ability to do all that I’ve been charged to do well and to God’s glory.

Meet Hudson

As regular readers may recall, we’ve had a lot of baby drama going on lately. A number of false starts with labor, a threatened pre-term birth and a lot of general discomfort for Emily (my wife). Well, last night, after we’d finished celebrating our oldest daughter’s fifth birthday, labor began in earnest. We headed to the hospital at 6:30 pm and 5 hours later, at 11:36 pm, we got to meet our son, Hudson James Armstrong:

Introducing our baby boy, Hudson James Armstrong!

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

Hudson clocked in at 7 lbs, 12 oz and 21 inches long. The doctor also made a point of mentioning that he’s got pretty big feet. :)

As you can see, Emily and the baby are doing well:

And in case you had any doubt, Emily's sense of humor is still intact

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

Okay, we took a legit one, too:

A proud-and exhausted-mom & son moment

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 Why Hudson? One of the things we’ve tried to do with our children is give them names with some historical or spiritual significance. With Hudson, we chose to name him after a man that we greatly respect, James Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission (now OMF International). Mr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, authors of Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, describe him as follows:

He was a man of affairs, the father of a family, and one who bore large responsibilities. In tensely practical, he lived a life of constant change among all sorts and conditions of men. He was no giant in strength, no Atlas to bear the world upon his shoulders. . . . He [was] a hard worker and an efficient medical man; he was able to care for a baby, cook a dinner, keep accounts, and comfort the sick and sorrowing…

Above all, he put to the test the promises of God, and proved it possible to live a consistent spiritual life on the highest plane. He overcame difficulties such as few men have ever had to encounter, and left a work which long after his death is still growing in extent and usefulness. Inland China opened to the Gospel largely as an outcome of this life, tens of thousands of souls won to Christ in previously un reached provinces, twelve hundred missionaries depending upon God for the supply of all their needs without promise of salary, a mission which has never made an appeal for financial help, yet has never been in debt, that never asks man or woman to join its ranks, yet has sent to China recently two hundred new workers given in answer to prayer—such is the challenge that calls us to emulate Hudson Taylor’s faith and devotion.

That’s our hope for our little man—that he would grow up to be a man who, like Taylor, would “put to the test the promises of God” and be a man whose faith in Christ would worth of emulation. I can’t think of a better way to live.