John Phillips and his wife, Mufti, had waited a long time to become grandparents. When it finally happened, they were doubly blessed.
“We learned we were going to become grandparents at the end
of last year, as I was about to retire,” Phillips says.
Phillips and Mufti, who had three kids together, were overjoyed at the prospect of a grandchild. But another surprise was just around the corner.
“Not too long after getting that news, we learned we were going to have another grandchild,” Phillips says, smiling at the memory.
The exciting turn of events sent Phillips down a path of reflection on the birth of his children. A Christian since a young age (“born and bred,” he says), the experience was a strongly spiritual one for him. As he contemplated the arrival of his grandchildren, he began reading Scripture associated in one way or another with childbirth.
“Some of it was familiar, some of it was not,” he says. “I had never associated some of what I was reading with childbirth.”
The next thing Phillips knew, he was writing a book that used Scripture as a foundation for his musings about childbirth.
It wasn’t the first book Phillips had written. During his four decades as an attorney, he’d written extensively about employment law and human resources practices. He was as passionate about his faith as he was knowledgeable about the law, though, and had always wanted to write a spiritually-themed work.
“Suddenly, I was writing the book I’d always known I would write, only I didn’t know it would be this one,” he says.
Titled “A Time to be Born: Meditations on the Birth of a Child,” the book contains 12 meditations, each inspired by a single passage in the Bible. Meditation One uses Genesis 3:16, which refers to the pain of childbirth, as its foundation. “Why all this suffering? Why the pain of childbirth as the sanction for Eve’s sin? The answer could be that when we are suffering or in pain, we are most apt to call upon God,” Phillips writes.
Phillips opens his ninth meditation with Jeremiah 1:5, which reads, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart.” He then encourages expectant mothers to tell their children God has plans for them.
Each chapter contains an illustration by Chattanooga-based artist Emily Kate Boyd. From bolts of lightning representing the pain of childbirth to an expectant mother speaking to the baby in her womb, the drawings “dare readers to live with kindness and compassion, and to nurture children without condition,” as written in Boyd’s biography in the back of the book.
Boyd’s most poignant illustration might be that of Hawthorne Brown Thomas and Henry Alexander Phillips – Phillips’ two grandsons. Phillips dedicates the book to them, the babies who made him a grandfather and inspired him to write.
Phillips hopes his words will inspire those who read them. “If you use Scripture as a guide throughout the childbirth experience, it will become a spiritual journey for you, like it did me, and it will help you through everything that happens,” he says.
Copies of “A Time to be Born: Meditations on the Birth of a Child” are available on Amazon.com and through Phillip’s website, www.john-b-phillips.com.