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A good one

“Keep telling me a good one.” That’s my daily prayer.

That’s all I need to keep stepping, to keep seeing what comes next.

I frame my life as a story God is telling me – a story we’re somehow telling each other.

God’s told me a good one so far. The plot has bounced up and down wildly. I’ve been entertained. I’ve been taken to places I couldn’t imagine. The sun rises, a page turns, and I move onto new chapters, new settings, new characters.

For the past 13 years, I have been waiting to meet a new character. His coming was foreshadowed and foretold so much I thought he’d have been introduced already, but “The Great Writer” tells better stories than that.

He tells stories where the expected can still be unexpected. He tells stories with surprises.

Our second son, our latest blessing, our newest character, Chapel James Stults, came into the world a few weeks ago.    

It seemed like a storybook ending to our fertility struggles was going to happen. My wife was scheduled to be induced Sept. 24 – my birthday. The child I had waited for, prayed for, prepared for, was going to be the best present I ever got.

The night before, Sept. 23, Amanda’s water broke. Surprise!

Four hours shy of my 38th birthday, I sat in the operating room, holding my wife’s hand. The medical team, which had been casually chatting with Amanda since the start of her C-section, suddenly became quiet.

My wife mouthed to me, “Something is wrong.” I locked eyes with her.

The doctor shouted, “He’s going to need resuscitation.”

Time froze, and then – Chapel cried out for the whole world to hear.

There is no rarer substance on earth than the one I shed the moment I heard my boy for the first time. Astatine is kudzu compared to the grateful tears of a desperate believer.

One day I will get to tell my boy that story. The story of his birth. About leaving his brother in the barber’s chair so we could race to the hospital. About how calm his momma was when things went wrong – how his O2 sat was 50, how they cleared his lungs and gave him oxygen.

I’ll say to him “Chapel Boy, me and your brother stood at that nursery window and watched you throw your body toward the sky, trying to breathe. We watched you gasping for life.”

I’ll tell him how worried I was until the doctor who came to check on his lungs was wearing a Johnny Cash T-shirt – my sign that everything would be OK.

During the past 13 years of tests, tears and tragic trips home from the hospital, I’ve thought God was telling the story of how hard my wife and I were fighting to have a baby. It turns out this whole time, he was telling a better story.

God’s been telling the story of how hard Chapel James fought to be alive; the story of how bad our baby wanted to be here with us.

Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville. He can be reached at wcstults@yahoo.com.

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