“I dream about having a loud house in a quiet place. I dream about visiting big cities, taking artsy pictures, and writing fancy stories about them. I dream about making memories together. Wrestling with my sons and having tea with my daughters.
I can dream. Oh, I can dream”
On April 19, 2011, four days after my 20th birthday, a younger and unmarried version of myself wrote the above words. Since then, I have had tea with my daughters. Yet I have not wrestled with any sons, because I have until recent days had none (the operative phrase being until recent days).
It is on that note that Camilla and I are thrilled to announce that we do, indeed, have a son (!) and we will meet him in November this year. We have enjoyed girls, but this time we are doing a new thing. Here is a bit of the story behind his name Jack William Bering Smith.
The name Jack is a tribute. Family holds a place of high importance in our hearts, therefore the idea of naming him after a predecessor occurred fairly early in the name-selecting process. The name Jack appealed to me because my grandfather on my mother’s side, Harvey Jackson Beeton (or Pawpaw, pictured below), went by the name Jack. He was a godly Navy man of vibrant faith, who was faithfully married to my grandmother Nancy (or Nanny, also pictured) for their nearly forty-five years together (I proposed to Camilla with Nanny's wedding ring, which still graces Camilla’s hand). After thirty years in the service, Jack retired, went to Bible college, and planted a church, preaching the good news of Christ until his final days on this earth. He was one of those rare men who in his life served his country with loyalty, loved his wife and three children tirelessly, and sought to glorify God. He was not a perfect man, but perfection is not what makes a man godly. The godly man is humble, and he was indeed that.
Baby Jack's middle name William is also a tribute. My dad's name is William Smith Jr. and his father is William Smith Sr. At the funeral reception for my grandma Gloria (not pictured), I sang for my grandpa a song by the Gaither Vocal band called, “A Few Good Men.” It goes:
"What this dying world could use is a willing man of God,
who dares to go against the grain and works without applause;
A man who’ll raise the shield of Faith, protecting what is pure;
whose love is tough and gentle; a man whose word is sure.
Men full of compassion, who laugh and love and cry;
men who’ll face eternity, and aren’t afraid to die;
Men who’ll fight for freedom and honor once again;
he just needs a Few Good Men."
It is without naivety and with great intent that I can say: these words characterize both of my grandfathers and my father. My grandpa Bill (pictured on the right) served his country in the U.S. Marines for two decades, retired, raised with Gloria my dad and Aunt Carol, and selflessly cared for my grandma through the deserts of dementia, embodying a deep Christ-like love to her in her final days. When he grew up, my dad served in the United States Navy, met my mother Elizabeth, a struggling single mom, married her, has loved her, cared for her, and provided for her an anchor of consistency and faithfulness that few women have known, and that all women should know—a kind of self-sacrificing affection Christ had for his bride, the Church (Eph. 5:25). Dad raised three sons with mom, and took my sister Holly as his own daughter. He did not want glory or honor. He worked without applause. Growing up as his son, Dad’s love was sometimes tough, but mostly gentle. His word — always sure. I not once doubted that he would be there or that he cared deeply for me and my siblings. He laughed, loved, and cried (once or twice). William Smith Jr. and William Smith Sr. were and are two good men.
These three men: Pawpaw (Jack), Grandpa (William Sr.) and dad (William Jr.) have blood that flows in my veins, and my son's, Jack William. With the Beeton and Smith blood comes a legacy of honor for their country, reverence and selfless service for their wives, day-in and day-out love for their children, and personal commitment to living daily under the Bible and before God's face.
Such a heritage is what I humbly (and with trembling knees) aspire to in my own love for my wife Camilla, service of my children Magnolia, Anemone, and Jack, and daily devotion to my Savior Jesus who has redeemed me. I pray my brothers David and Daniel will also take up the mantle, and embody the legacy of our forefathers for their own children (Daniel and his wife Tabatha's son Gavin will be born 5 months before Jack). And I hope one day Jack too will tread the honorable path of the Smith and Beeton men who went before him, loving his family through sacrifice, providing leadership for them with joy, always and ever pointing them to Christ, and following Jesus himself with an unbending loyalty.
We can't wait to meet you Jack.
And I can't wait to wrestle.