Friday, December 19, 2008

The Dedication of Daniel Joel de Jong

This afternoon, our newborn son Daniel Joel was dedicated in a private ceremony at our home church in front of friends and family. It was a rare opportunity to have photos with all four biological parents--coming from Arizona, Minnesota and The Netherlands. It was a wonderful day and since this was a semi-private event, we were able to personalize it. Please find below the complete text of the dedication letter we wrote and read during the dedication.

Dedication Letter for Daniel Joel de Jong

December 19, 2008

Sweet Daniel Joel,

Before you were conceived,
we wanted you

Before you were born,
we loved you
Before you were here an hour,
we would die for you

This is the miracle of love

Maureen Hawkins’ adapted words are our own as we bask in the honor of being your daddy and mommy. For much of our lives it seems, the best things have been worth the wait. Your daddy and mommy waited more than 30 years to find each other, and we know that God has created us just for, and only for, each other. We lost two babies before you came home to us, and once we knew you were coming, it was a long nine months filled with complications and challenges. Once you were delivered to this side of life, we found no guarantees of an easy road, and today we are especially grateful to still be a family of three. We may not always feel it or express it—especially when you are older and testing your expanding boundaries, rights and responsibilities—but you, sweet son, were definitely worth the wait. It is an honor to be married to each other, and it is a privilege to parent you. Of all the babies, in all the countries, in all the world…God gave us you.

There’s something spiritual that happens when two people marry. They are no longer two separate individuals, but one new unit, a “we,” a third personality: who the two of us are together as a couple. Given this holiday season, we especially like the way Jen’s friend Fred Stoeker puts it: Envision the groom as a solid red candy cane, and the bride as a solid white candy cane. The colors of both the husband and wife, though distinct, now intertwine and are expressed together. Daniel, we love the flavor of us.

Sixteen months ago, we stood in front of friends and family to make our vows on what would have been your Gramma Chi and Grampa Elmer’s 40th wedding anniversary. We wanted to redeem the day of July 29, and we believe we did. Today is December 19, one day past your Oma and Opa’s 39th wedding anniversary. We think these dates are significant. Daniel, we believe that marriage is not a covenant between a man and woman, but between a couple together and God. God will not break His covenant and neither will we. You will always have your Daddy and Mommy. Daddy knows that the best way to love you is to love your Mommy. And Mommy knows that the best way to love you is to love your Daddy. Our vows are to love each other from better to worse, to better again. So many people miss out on that last part. Though we haven’t been married long, we have endured enough trials to know that our love, with God’s protective hand, will survive the test of time. And our love for you will be constant as well. No matter what happens, through good times and bad times, whether near or far away, you will always be our son, we will always be your parents and you will always be loved.

Parenting is a privilege we have prayed for. At this dedication ceremony, we are dedicating ourselves to earn the privilege given us. Though we dedicate you to God, the truth is that you already belong to God, you have always been His. We are the ones to whom something has been given. God has given you to us, not as a possession – we do not own you – but as a gift and trust to nurture, guide, and encourage. So today we are here to acknowledge what you are, a gift from God, and to covenant with God, and with you, to be the parents that He asks us to be and that you deserve.

We dedicate ourselves, as your mother and father, to introduce you to our heavenly Father. Our hope is that you will grow to be a man who knows God and loves God. Our prayer is that you will see Christ in us and through us as we model His life, His love, His life and His reconciliation. We will pray for you and with you – teaching you that God hears you and cares about what you have to say. We pray for the day when our faith in Jesus Christ becomes your own.

As the future patriarch of our family, we took great care in naming you after two godly men you can look to as examples of how to lead your own family someday.

Dan Kennedy is part of Jen’s “heart family.” In Dan we see a strong man leading a strong woman, drawing out her strengths and lending his own strengths to make a more complete whole. We see a loving daddy who embraces his role as mentor and teacher to his growing family. We see a man who loves God and is willing to sacrifice his own wants for the needs of his family. We see a man who is intelligent and creative, mature and fun-loving and who, in general, greatly enriches the life of all who know him.

Joel Vriend is part of Niels’ “heart family. In many ways, the Vriend family is to Niels what the Kennedys are to Jen: an adopted family of the heart. In Joel we see friendliness, his gift for hospitality, his love for the Lord and his earthly family along with his fun-loving nature that make him a man to be admired. Next year he and his wife Carolyn will join Mommy and Daddy in parenthood and we will look forward to walking this privileged road together. In Joel we also see a man who is willing to sacrifice his own wants for the needs of his friends and family, who is intelligent and creative, mature and joie d’vivre and whom in general, greatly enriches the life of all who know him. Daniel, in the future we hope that others will say the same about you.

In addition to your namesakes, we have a few hopes for how you’ll live your life. We’ve made them easy for you to remember—when you’re a little older, of course—by using your name as a guide:

D is for DARE. Dare to do the right thing. Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.

A is for ALWAYS. Always seek the best in others.

N is for NEVER. Never define anyone by their worst moment.

I is for INITIATE. Initiate peace, whenever possible, as far as it is up to you

E is for EMBRACE. Embrace the uniqueness of who God created you to be: a child of God, a Dutch American, the future patriarch of the de Jong family

L is for LOVE. Love God, love others, love yourself.

The trust God has placed in us when He gave you to us is a responsibility we do not take lightly. We ask the friends and family gathered here today to be witnesses to our dedication to God, and our dedication to you. We do not imagine that we will be the perfect parents; neither do we assume that you will be the perfect child. So while we will strive to be your greatest advocates and fans, we know we will make mistakes and we will let you down. And while you will be the source of our deepest joy, you may also be the source of our greatest heartaches. Despite our shortcomings, we know that the God who, from oceans apart, brought us together, will hold us together as we see together, to love him and to love you.

We’ll close our dedication with a verse we have picked for you: 2 Chronicles 16:8--For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

It is our prayer that our Father will find you—and us—to be completely His.

We love you more than we knew we could,

Daddy and Mommy

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