When we drove to Waco to sign adoption papers, Brett and I hadn’t landed on a name. I had really good options for our almost-son. I induced an identity crisis just trying out names on him as I rocked and fed him in the NICU. Brett, the perpetual name-pusher held on to the name Owen. Honestly, the name wasn’t my favorite.
It’s also a name that’s rising in popularity—and no matter how much I like a name, that’s a deal breaker for me. It’s why I have one kid named after a transliteration of a Greek word and another kid named after a food product.
But despite my personal objections, I knew Owen was this kid’s name.
It’s the Irish form of Eugene, literally meaning good (eu) beginnings (genesis). Well-born. Good beginning.
We told Ellia about the name. “Well,” she replied, “that doesn’t fit him. Baby brother’s had a terrible beginning!”
It was an “Emperor’s new clothes” moment, where Ellia said what I was thinking. He had undoubtedly experienced a rough start.
Because we’d just entered the picture, I worked hard to find out whatever I could about his first 30 days in the world. They were not very kind days. He didn’t cry. He was listless, eerily quiet and didn’t move much. He was going through withdrawal from in utero drug exposure. His liver had been invaded by a 3-inch mass. He endured MRI’s, scans, EKG’s, 3 blood transfusions, chemo, and a 6-hour biopsy he wasn’t expected to survive.
His nickname was Miracle Baby. He's a fighter.
Ellia’s gut reaction was right. It doesn’t sound good. But neither do the beginnings of most of the stories we love. In any good story, the beginning holds a big question mark: what does it mean that this child is born with nothing? What does it mean that we’ve now lost everything? What does it mean that I lost my job or can’t get pregnant or finally got caught in my own lies?
I’ve learned that new beginnings aren’t finite or predictable. The truth is, there’s no limit to them—they can keep happening day after day after day after day. We can try to outrun them and we’ll still be thrown to the ground by grace.
New beginnings win. It’s because of the God who makes things new. The God who walks across impossibility. The God who gives fresh starts and undeserved chances and mercy every single day, whether you want it or not.
Owen has been struggling since the day he was born. And he’s still very sick.
At his recent appointment with the pediatric surgeon and the intervention radiologist, we received difficult news. Tumors were found in Owen’s mass.
We have more questions than answers. Owen is meeting with an oncologist this week. No matter what his diagnosis, he has a steep path ahead.
But, right now, he’s just a newborn—struggling to get on the Gibson sleep schedule, being entertained by his adoring big sisters, and teaching me that boys can pee straight in your face if you’re not careful.
Owen is a new beginning for me. He’s a new beginning for our family. His obstacles aren’t setting him up to win.
God is the redeemer. The Creator who creates. The God who breathes life and splashes grace across a barren earth.
Of course, new beginnings are terrifying. What if it’s not as good as I hope? What if it doesn’t end well? Where’s the box where I request the pain-free, all-inclusive vacation life?
No matter how fiercely brokenness shatters life, God draws the pieces back together. It may look different or discolored, but full life is possible in the midst of anything.
Pieces of full life are everywhere—in Owen's birth mom who loved him so much that she let us love him, too. Full life sneaks in through my sleeping son, when I pick up the girls from VBS, tonight as I teach, tomorrow in my coffee, and daily as I receive the breath from God I need in order to say yes to loving this world.
Eu Genesis—Good beginnings—always possible. Tapping you on the shoulder each day—walking right in front of you and available to you for the taking.
Plans are good. New beginnings are better.
Stop fighting the questions. Rest on a God who somehow remains stable through the out of control. With this God, the past can be overtaken by hope, and dead-ends can’t win against redemption.