I should probably confess my bias at the outset: I love kids.

As a kid, I loved babies. In middle school, I told my mother that I couldn't wait to be a dad. My sisters and I vowed with no small amount of chutzpah over against Providence that we would each produce four children. (This, in part, was a way to address the certainty that the Almighty had unjustly dealt us only one first cousin. Our children would not suffer the same fate.)

My plan was to get married in my early 20s, then to start having babies by 25, which, I thought, was a perfect age to bring little people into the world. As it turned out, I married just shy of 36 and by God's grace I saw my first baby at 39.

While I wait for God to give us more children, I take pleasure in the children God has already given me and my sisters' children, four of Christine's, two of Stephanie's, whom I have thoroughly enjoyed 15 years now. I also enjoy pretty much anybody else's kids, which is why I had the time of my life during my first stint of service in our church nursery.

As I mentioned to some friends afterward, while half the 1 and 2-year-olds regarded my beard warily, the other half used plastic farm and kitchen utensils to comb it. I'm not exactly sure why that made me so happy, but it did; it was kids being kids and my beard being put to good use.

All morning long, I repeated, "It's ok, it's ok" (to soothe frayed little people nerves); "Please be gentle" (to encourage less semi-savage behavior as some of the more enthusiastic kids made a grab for another child's toy); and "Excellent tea!" (as we celebrated our never-ending tea party).

One of my favorite parts was leading the children ...

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