Part of what made the summer "fuller" was having Derek and Julie home from Uganda awaiting the birth of their first child.  Camped out in our home in Bedford, MA, they kept us appraised of progress, or lack thereof, regularly.  Julie’s due date of July 25 fell on Thursday of Family Camp 5.

I was deeply touched that they invited me to be part of the coaching team for her labor and delivery, but I must admit I could not imagine how I would possibly be able to be there "on time."  I knew it would take a miracle to get the timing right.  No one thought it was a good idea for me to leave camp early and hang around waiting for the baby to come, and as we all know, a baby comes according to God's appointed schedule, not ours.  We honestly didn't know how to plan, but we all knew that the complicating factor of being on an island with an infrequent boat schedule would make it difficult to fulfill our desires.

I had begun praying in earnest during camp 5 that God would give me an unmistakable impression when it was time to go.  Friday the 26th arrived, and I sensed that it was the day.  Julie called after her morning appointment and said, "Status quo.  Dilated to 1 cm still, and 80% effaced.  The doctor had me make an appointment for a non-stress test for next Tuesday and an appointment for next Friday."  

In spite of that lackluster report, I couldn't shake the sense that it was time to go.  Our dear friends Doug and Julie Macrae were attending camp that week and discussing with them my sense that the time had come to go, they offered to fly back with me that night.  They rearranged their tickets and got my ticket, securing the last 3 seats on a Jet Blue flight out of Long Beach at 10:30 p.m., arriving 6:30 a.m. Sat. at Logan.   Dear CBS friends Paul and Vauna Armstrong picked us up at the boat, fed us at In-N-Out Burger, and dropped us off at Long Beach airport.

At the airport, 10 p.m., getting ready to board, I got a call from Julie.  "My water broke. I'm going in to labor."  

It was a moment from heaven, to be honest.  I felt a bit like Moses must've felt when he received instruction from God, and God said something like, "You'll know I sent you when you get there."  I felt so personally loved and cared for by God that He would've made this so, so clear.

So off we flew, arriving on time, and a call to Julie confirmed that she was in labor but far from delivery.  Macraes dropped me at our home and soon after, Derek, Julie and I checked in to Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where at 11 p.m., after a long, hard day of "labor," baby Nathan Scott Johnson entered this world.

Here we go . . . about 2/3rds the way through her 24-hour labor,
they're still all smiles.  That would change . . .

I have never been a part of anything more miraculous than experiencing his birth, except our own three births.  And I obviously experienced those in a completely different way!  Julie was a champ, laboring stoically and without medication.  It was such an honor to be a part of this most amazing process.

Within moments of Nathan's birth, the smiles are back and the miracle of birth is embraced.

All cleaned up and ready to go, I hold this healthy, alert, wide-eyed little bundle for his mom to see.  Precious moments.

Out of labor and delivery and into their private room, the happy family looks amazingly refreshed, which belies the intensity of the previous hours.

An hour after Nathan's arrival, I drove to Logan airport to pick up Lisa, Kari, and Brandon, who had flown in to celebrate their baby sister's first child.  They also had booked tickets in faith, taking advantage of the few days Lisa could take off from her new job (more on that later.)  When they booked their flights, they knew there was a possibility that he wouldn't arrive while they were there but Lisa had no other space of time she could make the trip.  They were so elated to know she was in labor while they were flying out, and were amazed that they were granted entrance to the hospital at 1 a.m. to welcome little Nathan.  Sweet, sweet moments.

Auntie Kari, Auntie LeeLee, and cousin Brandon rejoice over two-hour-old Nathan.

Brandon is temporarily speechless as he examines his little cousin.

A brief photo shoot before the girls fly back to California.  Nathan is 3.5 days old.

Paul generously and faithfully soldiered on, running Family Camp 6, while the rest of us celebrated this precious new life.  Reports from family campers affirmed that he did a great job without me, though he would have you believe otherwise.  His plate was especially full as he not only ran camp 6, but he wrapped up the family 2013 CBS camp season and prepared to launch two weeks of H.I.M. family camps in New Hampshire . . . which started 24 hours after CBS ended.  And 3000 miles stood between the two camps and most of the staff.  Craziness.

Back to Nathan: Derek and Julie welcomed many visitors, including Derek's parents and sister, during Nathan's first days.  They came home from the hospital on Monday, the 29th, and began adjusting to their new normal.  Nathan arrived at 7 lbs 7 oz and 20.75" and has spent his first two weeks of life doing normal newborn things: nursing, sleeping, and getting changed.  He's also done many things that few newborns do, like accompanying his dad to get the oil changed in the car, going to the market to get a few groceries, and going to family camp.  Why not??  Derek and Julie have taken to parenting like a duck to water and besides experiencing normal sleep deprivation, they're deliriously happy and deeply grateful.

Nathan attends his first family camp at Berea.

So are we.  These two weeks have been full of mercies and blessings too numerous to recount, but this we know:

The miracle of birth has turned our world upside down in the best possible sense.