Not fully awake, Annie had the eerie feeling of being watched in the semi-darkness of her room. She opened one eye and jumped, startled by the two big brown ones just inches from her.
Luke’s smile widened when Annie’s eyes popped open. “It’s light out, Mama.”
“Lukey, it’s not time to get up yet.” Annie, half blind without her contacts, squinted at the extra large numbers on her bedside clock and moaned, “Luke, its only 5:15. We have at least two more hours before we need to get up. Go lay back down in your bed.”
“Can I just crawl in with you? My bed’s hard. Yours is cushy-soft.” Luke kneaded the mattress like bread dough to emphasize his argument.
On the other side of the bed they heard a long groaning sound.
“Uh-oh, now you woke up the grumpy bear,” Annie whispered.
Luke giggled and ran around the bed to his daddy’s side. Just as he neared the pillow, Jason growled and grabbed his little man. “I like eating boys for breakfast.” Jason made gobbley noises on Luke’s tummy until he squealed.
“Jason, shhh,” Annie warned him, “you’ll wake up Noah.”
“I’d rather have oatmeal than a skinny little boy anyway.” Jason poked at Luke’s ribs, “Want some hot cereal, Lukey?”
Luke skipped out of the room, “I want cold cereal with ‘nannas in it.”
Jason kissed Annie on the cheek and encouraged her to rest until Noah woke up.
Unable to sleep, she rolled over and stared at the ceiling. Memories of when Luke became theirs drifted through her mind. After several years of trying to get pregnant and two miscarriages, Jason and Annie decided to apply for foster care. Luke was their first and only foster child. They fell in love with him and immediately began the adoption process.
Just as Luke turned one and the legalities finalized, Annie discovered she had become pregnant. God had blessed them indeed.
While Annie pulled weeds in the garden, Luke and Noah played in the sandbox nearby with big dump trucks and tractors, happily making all the appropriate boy noises. The phone rang and Annie welcomed the opportunity to stretch.
“Okay, Gram, I’ll talk to Jason. We’ll be there, don’t worry.” Annie hung up the phone and put her face in her hands. “Dear God, give us wisdom.”
When Jason came home, Luke jumped into his arms. “Good news, Daddy, we’re going to Grammy’s house for dinner.”
Jason quickly glanced at Annie and saw what he dreaded to see, a worried look on her face. A sudden dinner invite to Grams, meant bad news to Jason. The family knew that Annie’s sister had become involved in an abusive relationship…again. Her three kids were caught in the cross-fires.
“What happened?” Jason implored.
“My sister dumped the kids off at Grams. Gram will keep Sissy, Aunt Jan will take Matt, and we’ll bring Joshie home.” Annie waited for this to sink in. “We don’t want the kids to be in and out of foster homes. We’ll all seek legal custody.”
“All done, boys,” Jason announced as Annie closed the book. “We’ve read every book from beginning to end three times. It’s time for bed.”
Jason lifted Luke onto his shoulders, tucked Noah and Joshie under his arms like footballs, and charged down the hallway.
“Touchdown!” Jason dumped the boys onto Luke’s bed.
“Touchdown dance, oh yeah.” Luke began his version of the celebration and Noah imitated his big brother while Joshie giggled and drooled.
With the boys all tucked in, Jason and Annie snuggled down in the living room. “You know, Annie, before I came home I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know what but fear welled up in me. I thought something happened to you or the boys. After Luke announced that we were going to Gram’s house, a bitter-sweet relief washed over me.”
Annie snuggled in closer and hot tears dripped from her chin onto Jason’s chest. “For years my arms were empty, my lap void of children to read to. I longed to be a mother and God knew my heart’s desire. Tonight,” Annie paused and shifted her position so she could look into Jason’s eyes, “our home is full of love for a family that God hand-picked for us. How much more blessed can we be?”
Jason kissed her forehead and wiped away the tears. “You’re a good mama. It’s the boys that are the blessed ones, for sure.”
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