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TRUST JESUS TODAY
Six Months Later
“Sam!”…. “Sam!” Maddie yelled, hoping her husband would answer her call for help. She was trying to retrieve a bowl on the top shelf of their eight foot cherry wood kitchen cabinets, but she couldn’t quite reach, even with the stepladder. Their friends were coming over tonight and they had an evening of games planned. She was excited for them to arrive, and had enjoyed preparing for what promised to be a fun night. Although lately, it didn’t matter if they were having company or if it was just her and Sam; she was a cleaning and organizing machine. She must be nesting; that’s what they called it when a mother to be relished in the preparation for the new life inside her. Granted, she was only almost five months pregnant; regardless, she felt she was in that stage, definitely. Maddie grunted in frustration. She had all but finished their dinner and only needed this one item to make it perfect; deciding to stretch and give it one more shot, Maddie stood on her tippy toes, but soon felt herself wobbling. She heard Sam’s footsteps approaching the kitchen, and although she couldn’t see him she knew he sped up when he saw her predicament.
“Pup, what are you trying to do? You’re going to break your neck!” And suddenly, like he always had, Sam rescued her. His strong, tan arms helped her from the ladder, as he took one step up and without effort brought the serving bowl down and gently placed it on the counter. Maddie rolled her eyes at the use of her nickname. Sam had started calling her pup in honor of the Georgia Bulldog mascot. He said she had the determination and stubbornness of a bullpup. He only used it when he was trying to make a point; he made it.
Sam enveloped her in a hug and pulled back, bending his six foot two inch frame to meet her five foot two inch height. His baby blue eyes pleaded with hers. He took her chin in his hand, and scolded her with a fatherly tone. “You have no business doing stuff like that, especially in your condition. That’s why I’m here.”
Maddie pulled back from Sam and smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry, hon. I didn’t want to bother you. I know you’re busy.”
Sam shook his head, and kissed the top of her head. “I am never too busy for you and our baby. You are my top priority, Pup.”
Maddie blinked back hormonal tears. She instinctively rubbed her stomach. “I know Sam. I’ll be more careful.” Sam smiled and embarrassed, shook his head while concentrating on one of the large taupe Italian tiles that made up the expansive floor of their kitchen. “I don’t want to mother hen you to death. I just couldn’t handle it if anything ever happened to either one of you…” He put a protective hand on her belly. He kissed her on the forehead and went back to working in the office.
Maddie resumed cooking dinner, knowing how much Sam meant those last words. Sam had rearranged his office hours, making sure he was home when Maddie was there—just in case she needed anything. Maddie didn’t mind; she adored Sam and cherished their time together. A smile crossed her lips as she chopped vegetables for the salad. She had always prided herself on independence. At thirty three years old, she was a partner in a successful law firm. She was known for her ability to pack a punch during an argument, she never took no for an answer, and she always liked to win. (AKA Pup!) But standing here in front of her gentle giant of a husband, she felt like a five year old child, and actually just wanted to rest in his embrace.
Maddie thought about the special day they had shared. Both of them, tired from the week before, had gotten up late. After a little discussion and a couple of phone calls, they had declared the day a cave day, which meant pajamas, cuddling, listening to music, and watching movies all day. It was a cool, windy day in late December and they enjoyed being wrapped up in fleece on the swing watching the trees sway back and forth. Spending a day like this with Sam could get Maddie through the next month of legal briefs and meetings. The two of them were a perfect compliment for each other. Most people who knew them intimately commented on their amazing compatibility and always inquired when they were adding to their perfect equation of happiness. At first, they both wanted to wait before trying to conceive a child. They wanted to be financially sound and enjoy being married. After eight years of marriage, they decided to try and conceive, but the process took longer than both of them would have liked. Finally, after over a year of trying, they were both glowing with anticipation.
Maddie sighed contentedly. She loved her life. Augusta was the perfect place to raise a family. Both Sam and Maddie loved the balance between the big city and small town Augusta offered. Sam, an accomplished architect, recognized Augusta’s potential for growth. After they relocated from Atlanta, Sam formed his own contracting firm and began building idyllic neighborhoods for young families moving into the community. The houses were lovely, landscaping impeccable, and pricing affordable. Maddie respected Sam for his vision. He had amazing strength and saw things in the world so differently. The lawyer in Maddie saw situations, people, nature, and even the idea of God as a pragmatist. In contrast, Sam saw the world through rose colored glasses, but could then recreate that magical beauty for others. He had certainly done a good job of creating an aesthetic dwelling for the two of them. Sam had built them a stately brick home on three acres of land in Columbia County. It was definitely large—too large for them, but the five bedrooms and five bathrooms were justified by the children they were going to fill it with one day. Sam had been brilliant with the layout of the house; the eat-in kitchen and den faced a wall of floor to ceiling glass windows, looking off into the woods. There was a formal living and dining area, used when they entertained clients formally. Both of them had an office downstairs, wherein the future daddy in Sam designed a playroom that divided the two offices, so even when they were working, the children would be near. All of the bedrooms were upstairs. The décor was tasteful, but not overdone in dark woods and rich colors. In short, their home was perfect for them. It was a refuge from trouble; as long as she and Sam could come back together here, Maddie knew her world would right itself, no matter what was going on.
However, despite their picture perfect lives, the two of them had experienced the pain of loss; Maddie didn’t want to be a source of fear for Sam. The loss of Jack still plagued them both at times. Ever since Maddie met Sam, he talked of his older brother. Jack was a trader on Wall Street in New York. Jack was debonair, smart, and ambitious. Sam adored Jack; Maddie loved him too. When Sam had first introduced Maddie to Jack, she immediately saw why his little brother loved him so much. Jack was full of life and energy. He had a knack for being one of the most sincere people regardless of his audience. His excellent listening skills and willingness to sacrifice anything for the good of all endeared him to everyone he knew. The whole family desperately missed him when he decided to move to New York to pursue a career in finance. Maddie and Sam had only been married a few years when September 11th, 2001 changed their lives forever. Jack was in the North tower of the World Trade Center. His body wasn’t recovered, and he was never heard from again. The blow almost killed Sam, but his love for Maddie had been what brought him through, or that’s what he said. For weeks he didn’t say much, could barely even move; Maddie would never forget the feeling of despair that haunted her every time she looked at him. But then one day she woke up to find him coming out of the shower, and it was like the old Sam was back again. He still got sad when he thought of Jack, but he was definitely a willing participant in the life they were creating together.
Shortly thereafter, another blow of sorrow hit them. Ellie Owens, Maddie’s mother, had always been an eternal optimist, providing Maddie and her older sister, Bonnie, with a positive outlook on the world. Maddie adored her mother and saw her as a pillar of strength; Ellie had raised Maddie and Bonnie from toddlers virtually by herself, after Maddie’s father died prematurely of a stroke. After receiving a daunting diagnosis of melanoma two years ago, Ellie remained strong and claimed her faith in God would bring her through, no matter what. But Ellie lost the battle with cancer only six months after her diagnosis. Truth be told, Maddie never really grieved her mother’s death. The week of funeral arrangements and last will and testaments brought on a sense of melancholy and sadness. There were even tears, but overall, she just kept on with her normal routine, working and loving Sam. Eventually, it was easier to get through each day. Secretly, Maddie prided herself on her inner strength. If they could get through the loss of Jack and her mom, she and Sam could conquer anything that came their way.
Sam left the door to his office open and tried to concentrate on his work. Nevertheless, his rapid heartbeat and shaking hands were interfering with the measurements on the blue prints in front of him. He shook his head and wanted to kick himself for being so emotional over his very capable wife trying to reach a bowl in the kitchen. He knew he shouldn’t overreact; it was just that, well, he loved her so much. And, he loved this baby, more than he ever imagined or could ever express. When hadn’t Maddie been in his life? He would never forget the first time he saw her; actually he heard her before he ever laid eyes on her. Sam and a friend were at a UGA football game. Georgia was playing Tennessee and the crowd had gotten really quiet during an important play. They were sitting in the student section caught up in the suspense, when the most amazing sound came drifting from above him. It was laughter, Maddie’s laughter. He knew then, before he even looked up, that meeting the woman behind the laughter would change the course of his life—and it did.
Sam glanced up and focused on the picture of him and Maddie on his desk. It was taken at St. Augustine Beach three years before. They were both caught in a moment of laughter. Sam smiled. He and Maddie always laughed together. If his memory served, she had just snatched something from him—his hat maybe—and thrown it ahead of them. He set out on a run to retrieve it; she was racing him. Her dark, mahogany hued hair was tied at the nape of her neck in a bandana. Her petite frame was wrapped in a white sun dress, which was billowing in the wind. The sun had kissed her face and shoulders and her adorable freckles, that she vehemently hated, had come out to play. She was one stride ahead of him and he was reaching for her, just barely missing her, when a friend of theirs had snapped the picture. He noticed the expression on his face—pure adoration. He thought about their time at the beach this previous year, especially the last night. After an exhausting twelve months of trying to conceive a child, the much needed vacation was welcomed. For the first time in a long time, they were both completely relaxed. The last night they opted for a walk on the beach; they walked and played, eventually racing back to their condo and falling on the bed laughing hysterically at nothing in particular. He would never forget how Maddie kissed him that night. The unspoken agreement of that evening was that they weren’t going to worry about getting pregnant anymore, they were just going to enjoy one another. Months later, he had the privilege of being the first to look at her face when the pregnancy test showed they were expecting.
Sam often wondered what this little person would look like. He and Maddie were such a contrast in appearance. His large linebacker silhouette, sandy blonde hair, and blue eyes were in direct contrast with Maddie’s dark hair, eyes, and porcelain doll like appearance. They were opposite in many other ways too, but he loved Maddie’s zest for life and most of all her strength—his little pup. His smile faded, overwhelmed with conflicting emotions. Sam once felt like the world held nothing that the two of them couldn’t conquer. But since Jack’s death, he knew there were evil forces bent on the destruction of happiness. He would lay down his life for his wife and his unborn child; but, deep down, he knew he couldn’t protect them from all things. The emotion that he was grappling with had a name and he knew it—Fear.
Mary smiled as the familiar pair of arms circled around her waist.
“What’ya looking at, Beautiful?”
Her face warmed at Bryce’s words. He had come over to help her study for a test, but unfortunately all they got accomplished was some heavy duty cuddling and kissing. Mary had gotten up off the couch to put some space between them, walking into the kitchen to retrieve some much needed refreshments. She couldn’t help but look at him. He was so darn cute, she was hard pressed to keep it together. She looked for anything that held a distraction. An unopened envelope in the mail basket caught her eye. It was addressed to her. Curiously she opened it and smiled at the caricature of a baby.
She read the contents, enjoying Bryce’s embrace at the same time. “It’s an invitation to Maddie’s baby shower.” Mary closed the invitation, turned around and melted into his arms. Bryce had only met her parents’ friends a couple of times, but he knew how much they cared for each other. “I’m so excited for them. It must be amazing to be married to someone you love so much, and then create a life with that person.”
“Mmmmm.” Bryce couldn’t keep his hands out of her hair or his lips off her face.
After several heated seconds, Mary instinctively put space between them and at an arm’s distance, took a deep breath and shook her head. “You know we’re getting pretty close to stepping over the line, right?”
Bryce looked down at the counter sheepishly and then back up at her with an irresistible smile. “I know.”
He put his hands out towards hers and she took them. “Mary, you know I love you. And one day when we’re finished with college, I know you and I will be married. And one day…” He picked the invitation off the counter and held it up to her. “…one day your name will be on this invitation, but instead of Mary Bryant it will read Mary Jones.” He enveloped her in his arms and kissed her on top of the head. She sighed, drinking in the scent of him. “We both are Christians, we know what is right, but sometimes I wonder what harm it would do to get a head start on tomorrow.” Mary didn’t say anything, but his words resonated in every part of her.
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