Unless Baby Boy Plating decides to make his debut early, my last day of work before maternity leave will be this Sunday, February 17th. I am so excited to be spending 12 weeks at home with baby – recovering, bonding, bouncing, burping, learning about each other and from each other, and being generally exhausted(!). The exhaustion will be totally worth it, of course. I cannot wait to see not only my own bond form with Baby Boy but to see Chris and Hattie’s bond with him, too. After the miscarriages, I wasn’t sure that I would have the ability to carry a baby of my own, so I have been very grateful for this time watching my belly grow. I’d like to give a shout-out to the Personnel Committee who recently researched and approved a new Family Leave Policy for our church staff which will allow for 6 weeks of my 12 weeks off to be paid time. I saw this as confirmation that this is a church that values not only women but the whole family unit. After returning from leave in mid-May, I’ll continue working my 20 hours a week schedule focusing on pastoral counseling, spiritual care visits to homebound and hospitalized, and general pastoral care. I look forward to catching up with you upon my return! In the meantime, Kyle Matthews and Ryland Brown (along with our other ministers) will keep the pastoral care of our church functioning beautifully. Thank you, First Baptist Family, for the ways you have cared for me through the heartbreaks and celebrations of growing a family. I look forward to having Jim dedicate this child to a life in the church, being nurtured, taught, rocked, soothed and reminded of his worth by this faith family. What a blessing it has been to see Hattie have this care, too!