This is the story of a baby named Gabey. I share it with you now because it all began in the midst of the lights and the carols and the high hope of a Christmas two years ago. The characters in this story include a busy, self-employed father; an equally busy, working-from-home mother; and 3 sons, then ages 16, 12, and 7.
Over the years the father and mother had debated about having one more child, but the time never seemed right. Almost unknowingly, the mother had come to accept the fact that their family was complete and was even enjoying the stage she found herself in, having a career with all the children in school.
And then. The day the stick turned pink, the earth shifted on its axis. Great consternation fell upon the parents. The timing of this news could not have been worse. The father was working day and night to renovate an office, which was taking every spare penny.
Furthermore, while they had health insurance, it did not include maternity coverage. They remembered all too well the 10-1/2 weeks of bed rest and home health care costing tens of thousands of dollars with the last child. And they were sore afraid.
The next morning, the fearful mother, reeling in shock, turned to the ancient story of another young woman who had faced an apparently ill-timed and unexpected pregnancy. Her news, however, was delivered by an angel. “How can this be?” she asked.
The angel replied, “Nothing is impossible with God.” The brave young girl of long ago responded, “Be it unto me according to your word.” And the little mother’s heart was comforted.
There was great rejoicing when the tidings were delivered to the three sons at breakfast that day. For the second son, it was a very special answer to prayer. You see, over the years he had prayed fervently for God to send a baby and had expressed great outrage when he realized that he was alone in his prayer vigil. On that day, he knew for sure that there is a God who hears and answers the prayers of children.
Another fear that gripped the mother’s heart was the possibility of having a handicapped child at her age of 38. One day, fearing preterm labor, she went in for an ultrasound. She cried when she saw the little heart beating, this little heart they hadn’t planned on.
When the technician told her that the baby looked perfectly healthy, her heart leapt for joy. Then, when she was told she was carrying a son, she wept again; first, because she knew she would never have a daughter and secondly, because she knew that God Himself had chosen and this – a fourth son – was His best gift.
At 35 weeks’ gestation, the baby was delivered with his three brothers sleeping nearby in a waiting room at the hospital. He was beautiful with a head full of dark hair, and his proud parents and big brothers fell instantly in love with him. However, three hours after he was born, his tearful family said goodbye to him as he was whisked away to the NICU in South Bend. Thanks to many prayers and the skilled care of the staff, the baby’s happy family welcomed him home with grateful hearts after 11 days.
The reason I know this story so well is because I was the fearful mother. Grant is the father and Jordan, Jamison, and Kieran are the very proud big brothers of Gabriel Coen, which means “God is my strength” and “brave.” We, Gabey’s family, believe that God’s hand is upon him as Gabriel was born with a knot in his cord, so God’s timing, though “early,” was perfect.
He is now a healthy, blue-eyed, darling toddler who adores his brothers and rides to the office every Friday in Daddy’s big, red truck to find Mama when she’s done writing at the coffee shop. He is a miracle and a blessing in size three Pampers.
Last Christmas, Gabriel got to play Baby Jesus in the church Christmas program. For two nights, his mother prayed fervently that he would be very Christ-like. For two nights, this baby boy amazed the packed auditorium with an utter calmness of spirit. For two nights, he drew many hearts to the very heart of a God who came 2000 years ago in the shape of a baby and walked among us. The good news – and the very best gift of Christmas – is that He walks among us still.
From our family to yours, a very Merry Christmas!