It all started three weeks ago on the morning of August 7. As my oldest son left on the school bus for his first day of second grade and my twins went for Kindergarten testing, a backhoe sunk its teeth deep in the earth to remove a red mountain.
Husband and I had only broken the news a few nights before to our three children—in a few short days, they would receive an unexpected early Christmas present from their Oma and Opa—an in-ground pool.
Earlier one summer morning, husband had come home with the secret news. His eyes danced as I sank down to the mattress, bracing myself for whatever usually not so good surprise he had to tell me.
Would I be ok with his parents gifting so generously to our family?
I burst into tears. Just the night before, husband and I had held each other close with hearts heavy. Counseling our newest “adopted” daughter was requiring both of us to unpack those painful demons and trace the scars of old wounds that hadn’t been mentioned in a decade or more.
That God was choosing this exact morning to prompt my in-laws’ hearts to share this news was so much an act of redemption of all the struggles we had been through to reach this point in our marriage. It was as if in that moment, God was showing us the fruits of our commitment to Him and to each other.
As if He hadn’t already restored so much of what He had stripped away years ago when husband lost his career and when we lost two babies, now God was restoring more of our dreams, those we had boxed up and shoved to the darkest corner of the attic.
Even before we had children, husband and I had built castles in the sky, envisioning our farm to be a safe place in an unsafe world, a haven where our children could bring their friends and where our friends would feel safe bringing their children. Overnight, that unspoken dream from so long ago was becoming a reality.
Day one ended with the machines digging eight feet into the ground, deep enough to hit water where we didn’t know there was any. The children were absolutely giddy as they ran up and down the mound of dirt just a few feet away from polymer walls that outlined the future.
Day two began with men laying concrete around the footings as well as along the bottom of the pool and ended with two hoses pumping 23,000 gallons atop a blue mosaic liner.
By Saturday afternoon, we had a “pool party” where all four proud grandparents gathered ‘round to watch their three grandchildren in a gleeful water ballet.
Three weeks later, my trio of landlubbers has transformed into strong, fearless swimmers who fling themselves with abandon into the deep end, swim its thirty-six foot length, and tread water with ease…all while screaming, shrieking, yelling, and grinning, of course.
Oma and Opa are the happiest I've ever seen them, driving down most afternoons to sit with me, watch the show of grandchildren, and even this morning taking their first swim together in over thirty-five years.
"I love watching those kids swim," Opa said, grinning like a kid, himself.
I listen to the laughter of two little boys trying to perfect simultaneous jumps into the water. My daughter’s face remains in a permanent grin as she mermaid-dips beneath the surface and swims with eyes wide open for the ladder.
This is what blessing feels like. This is what restoration feels like.
Had my husband not lost his career, we would have been able to install the pool ourselves with our own hard-earned money. Sure, it would have been a great accomplishment, and we would have enjoyed it immensely, but that pool would have been the product of the work of our own hands, not a product of grace and love, of such unmerited, bountiful blessing.
Since the pool now fixed in my backyard is wholly the product of a blessing from my in-laws, I cannot look at it with pride but with humility and awe, much as Job must have in Scripture when God restored more to him than he lost.
The biggest blessing, though, is just how many more people have been blessed in the process than ever would have been had there been no need for a blessing—Opa and Oma have been blessed in their giving to my children, our two adopted college girls in their witnessing and enjoying such overwhelming love, my parents in their knowing how much has been both lost and restored, and even my brother overseas in his being able to experience all the children’s joy each week through Skype and email.
The thing about a blessing is how wide it spreads, how deep it reaches.
Even now, I can still hear the music of young and old laughter in my ears.