"I can't believe it, Mom," Sam says. "I'm going to be twelve."
I just smile. I can't believe it either. We're at the pool, our second home now, and Sam is waiting for his club to practice. He's leaning forward. Turned to the side. He's bare chested, arms twining with new swim muscles. His goggles are strapped over his forehead making his still-blond hair (I'm wondering when it will twinge green) stand up in wild tufts.
My son. Sweet Sam. His name means God has heard. And he's my reminder of grace.
We'd stood outside in the wee hours on the morning he was born. Lonny, Logan, Grant and me. I was scheduled for a C-section, and when we'd gone to the van, sleepy-eyed but ready, we were in awe of the sky. Pitch dark but sprinkled with stars. It was cold. Crisp. We joined mittened hands right in the front yard and prayed for our babe, whispering thanksgiving and praise into the quiet night.
But my heart hadn't always been like that. Just before Sam was conceived, it was shaded angry and dark.
Lonny and I had tried for several years to have a child. Logan was ten. Grant was six. The years were marked with pleading and prayer. Little boys in PJ's, kneeling by their bed, asking for a brother. Our friends gathering around us to pray. Then, when we'd almost lost hope, we became pregnant. But we miscarried the baby on a Indian summer day when the sun pressed gold through the trees and my body pushed away what my heart held dear. At the time, many of my friends were pregnant. I went to shower after shower. Delivered meal after meal. At Christmas, I'd sat in a pew during our church pageant and broke inside while a friend, dressed as Mary, walked down the aisle carrying her babe.
I wanted to have a thankful, beautiful heart. I wanted to be that woman. But I wasn't. My heart was jagged and rough and hard.
One day I cried out loud to God. I wanted to be honest like David. I let my feelings run free. I'd promised I'd raise my family to know Him. Why wouldn't he just give? Couldn't He see the tears? I yelled until my throat burned. I didn't know that tucked under my heart was the babe I'd longed for.
God, in His goodness, had met my anger
It was nothing I deserved. He didn't wait for me to be cleaned up. All better. Solid and clean and worthy. He met me in my dark place. He brought an abundance of blessing and grace and compassion to a place that had gone hard and dusty and dry. And my son was born just before Christmas. Our hospital room was filled with soft music. Someone brought a tiny tree. Others brought poinsettias and cookies and came to share our joy. And when I moved my fingers over his tiny heartbeat, when I held him close and breathed this fresh, new life, I knew I holding goodness and grace.
Sam and I chat for a few moments, then it's time for him to go. He walks to the edge of the pool, all long-legged and pre-teen lanky. He stands at the edge and dives in. Clean and easy. He glides and breaks the water. Pushes up. Sees me watching and smiles. It's a wide, goggled grin.
And my heart hurts hard for my grace gift.
The year God's goodness washed over my sin. When the light of His love reached my dark place.
I wave to my boy and marvel.
Isn't that just like Christmas?