So much!

I have a variety of reasons for moving here. I like the area. I’m near Mom and Dad, who aren’t Spring Chickens and I feel better about being close enough to help out. #3, The Fine Wife, and Grandpunkin are 10 minutes away (especially now that #3 had that accident and I can help out with him, give The Fine Wife some time to herself), it’s a great place to live, etc.

As I settle in, the reality of all that mentioned above is coming to fruition and I can see exactly how things are playing out. And I like it. Every bit of it. The house is comfortable and small enough to clean in a morning. Grandpunkin can come over and by George I think that’s my favorite part of all of it.

A long time ago, as the #s 1, 2, and 3 then 4 outgrew their toys, Himself and I made decisions about what to keep For The Grandchildren. When I moved here, I took stock of all those toys and smiled, especially as I remembered The Boys playing with them. All those Thomas the Tank Engine toys, the ones that we bought because they so loved the VHS tapes of the show (that allowed me to indulge in the occasional act of personal hygiene in the form of a 5 minute shower), yeah those….Grandpunkin loves them! AND Amazon Prime HAS THOSE SAME ORIGINAL SHOWS!

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The map’s a little worn but still functional

 

When the boys were very young, we lived out in the country and due to a work thing, Himself deposited a very large (like 3 dumptruck loads) pile of dirt in the yard. Initially I thought he was nuts, but the boys were attracted to that pile like flies to molasses, and the immediate acquisition of Tonka trucks meant they were kept happy and occupied for the remaining 3 years we lived there. Better than any expensive fancy playground that pile was. Well, Full Circle just like the Thomas toys. We’ve acquired a big pile of gravel and sand to be spread out for the foundation of the shop building, and Grandpunkin was attracted to it like a fly/molasses situation. Add some Tonka trucks and simple instructions to rearrange the pile, and that 3 year old boy was kept occupied for several hours while the grownups chatted and drank iced tea. The Fella was informed that, once the pile was spread for it’s intended purpose, another one will need to happen because…look at this:

Chris dirt pile

See that groove across the top? That’s where he pushes the dumptruck to move a load to the back side.

So yeah, things are working out around here. The house is still messy and not yet completely settled in, but it’s getting there. But people come over and have iced tea and a bite to eat. Grandpunkin comes running from the car to say hey and immediately settles in to play, and…yes. I love it.

All the animals have settled in. Fears that Mom and Dad’s enormous German Shepherd would think the cats were tasty snacks disappeared right after one of the cats booped her on the nose and she grunted and layed down. The dogs (3 dachshunds) acted just like they always do: locating the nearest food bowl and well padded crate, and being content with that. With one exception…it took them all about 10 minutes to realize mom and Dad’s house was just over there, and since they’ve been here before and know where their pet door is, they occasionally make themselves at home there and take over Coco’s (that’s their dachshund) bed, much to Coco’s irritation and the rest of our’s amusement. Mom knows when I’m on my way over, because Rusty (my dog) runs ahead and lets himself in so he can greet me at the door (from the inside). One of the cats disappeared for 2 weeks, returning just yesterday. I was fairly convinced she’d become supper for the very large red-tailed hawk that is regularly seen doing a fly-over, but yesterday she turned up, skinny and vociferously declaring the sad state of hunting in the acreage behind the house. Some canned food, an egg with cream later, she’s happily esconced on my lap. Hopefully she’ll decide this is The Place to Be, because she’s a sweet thing and an excellent typing companion.

The best part of all this…Mom can come over for an afternoon for a cup of tea and some companionship while Dad is doing something in town. #3 and Family can come over and watch the football game, Grandpunkin can rearrange some dirt,  and it all feels just like I’d hoped it would. Now, once the house is in order, I can get to working on some stuff to sell. When we get the shop built (soon, I hope), The Fella can start making stuff as well. The list is long, and stuff continues to be added to it. Apparently that’s life, and…

Life is Good.

 

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So, how’s #3?

I know, it’s been a bit since I’ve updated. Between moving here to The New House and all the sundry 1,274 trips to Lowe’s involved, I have had very little time for thinking. Also, no internet until yesterday. Anyway…

#3 is doing amazingly well. Like…the neurologist said “If I hadn’t seen you before and known you were you and these were your brain scans, I would have thought the scans got swapped with someone else’s. Your brain looks like a perfectly normal one. No signs of injury.” And…the orthopedist said “I can’t believe you walked in here like that. We weren’t sure you’d ever walk unassisted.” #3 literally walked into the office without his cane. Now he only uses it when he’s particularly tired.

That’s not to say he’s 100% back to how he was before the accident. He’s not. There’s still a lot to heal up and recover with his brain function. He is still in a lot of pain from his injuries. Likely he will never physically be as he was before but given that God has worked such incredible miracles so far, I will not say that #3 will never be as he was before. It is abundantly clear that ain’t no one gonna tell God what He can or can’t do.  #3 has improved so dramatically that I am confident the areas where he’s having cognitive deficits will clear up. He is having some trouble with reading comprehension, and retaining what he’s read. That said, he’s never liked to read so I can’t really say what’s going on there. My opinion is that reading would do him some good, but then eating lima beans would probably do me some good and I won’t do it.

He is a lot more philosophical than he ever was. We talk regularly and he often waxes thoughtful and profound on what’s happening in his mind. He credits God with saving him, because he knows if it had been up to all the doctors, he wouldn’t be here. “I know they tried to save me but I also know without God, they couldn’t have. I’d be dead but God wanted me alive.” We talk about that often, how God has a plan and it’s up to us to trust Him. He thanked me for telling people about him so they can pray for him. “Mom, I’m proof God hears prayers. Please don’t stop.”

So all of you who have been praying for him, please don’t stop.

It’s been 3 months since his accident. We were told by neurologists that he might never wake up and if he did, most likely he’d be bedridden and “minimally functional” (translation: He might open his eyes and look around, but that’s about it. ) Orthopedists told us it was unlikely he’d ever walk again, and if he did,  it would be with great difficulty and he’d use a walker.

People who don’t know #3, and who think they know more than the rest of us (and God) have told us that they don’t really believe he was that badly hurt. Someone has gone so far as to say we exaggerated his injuries. We have not. There was no need to do that, as his injuries spoke loudly all by themselves. My hope is that they and everyone else will see God’s glory through this event.

And, while I never doubted God’s ability to heal #3, I was so fearful that He wouldn’t. God has used this circumstance in my life to, once again, draw me closer. He is using it in #3’s life, and the lives of The Fine Wife and Grandpunkin, and everyone else in this sphere. I don’t know exactly HOW, but if I’ve learned anything over the last 30 years, it’s that God knows exactly what He’s doing, and it’s enough to lean on that.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
  Proverbs 3:5-6

I love that God chose to heal #3. I love that so many people are praying for him, and ask about him, and want to know how to help. God has been very good to my family and I will always be grateful for that.

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Absolutely!

Yesterday would have been my and Himself’s 32nd anniversary. It was #3’s 27th birthday, and also his and The Fine Wife’s 4th anniversary.  July 26th was a pretty eventful day in our family. When I wished #3 happy birthday, he was kind of unimpressed by it…probably because he’d just come from an entire day of physical therapy and was exhausted. He was, as is typical these days, amazed that The Fine Wife married him and had their baby. “We MADE HIM!” he said of Grandpunkin. “HE CAME FROM US! HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!” (oh boy, does this mean I have to have The Talk with him again?)

As expected, Himself was on my mind a lot yesterday. Life frustrated him, and I am happy for him that now he’s in Heaven, and since there’s an eternity of time there, he can relax and spend time perfecting the things he didn’t have time to work on here. He loved woodworking, making things, and was good at it, but due to work, didn’t have time to do it the way he wanted. So now I imagine him there, with all the time there is, carefully teaching himself (or maybe he’s working with other woodworkers who’ve gone before him) fancy joinery techniques with all the wood he couldn’t bring himself to spend the money on…birdseye maple and curly walnut and the like. It gives me great emotional satisfaction to know he’s no longer frustrated. I have a tremendous amount of peace from that.

#3 is learning life all over again. He has 2 things he says now. “It’s real.” and “Absolutely!” When someone is honest with him, or shows him kindness and patience, or love, that person is Real. “Mom, the physical therapist is Real.” He has some trouble with words still, but is getting there. It’s worse when he’s tired, but almost non-existent when he’s fresh and rested.  He told me he went to a club, and there were a lot of people there and they did a lot of singing and someone got up and talked a bunch about God. He talked with someone afterwards about God for a little bit. “Mom, God is real. He does a lot of things for me I didn’t even know about. He’s Real.”  The doctors are Real, as are his physical therapists and Dr. B…the veterinarian he worked for several years ago. He also says “Absolutely!” when I say things like “it’s going to be tough for a bit but you’re strong and smart and can do this.” or “Your wife loves you very much” or “Grandpunkin is your son!”   He gets frustrated sometimes…ok…a lot. Who wouldn’t? He wants to be working. We all tell him his job right now is to get better. Absolutely! He hates what his body is doing right now. A month ago his body didn’t work at all, look how far he’s come! Absolutely!  At this rate, he’ll be able to go back to work sooner than anyone ever expected! (especially since The People Who Know Things said he’d never get out of bed or be able to talk) Absolutely!  His brothers are Real…they keep in touch with him, come visit when they can, harass him in that way only brothers can. “Mom, my brother came to visit. He’s Real. They are all Real. I talk to them on the phone.” Well, you’re their brother and they love you. Absolutely!

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He’s talked about Himself a little bit. He doesn’t remember him dying but he knows he did. He still has the memories of him prior to January 2015. I am thankful he didn’t lose any of those.

July 26 used to be one of my favorite days. Now it’s more bittersweet than anything. My sorrow at losing Himself has smoothed out and been replaced with joy for him (which was always there, but sad for myself, I guess). Especially now The Fella is in the picture. Himself hasn’t been replaced…that’s the thing about losing a spouse like this. When someone new comes along, the past hasn’t been replaced, but instead the heart is expanded to allow for the new person. Widowhood is like that. Love doesn’t end when the person dies, but the heart grows and allows for the next person, the next chapter to come along and be written. #3’s story is much different from what he’d planned. So is mine. So is The Fella’s, and those of my other sons. What’s that saying…”If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans” If I’ve learned anything over the last 3-1/2 years, it’s that there’s nothing wrong with having plans, but be flexible because they will change.

Now? Well, now the trajectory of our lives made a sudden turn that was hidden on the back side of a hill and around a bend. Now, The Fella and I are embarking on a new journey together. #3 and his people are in a completely different dynamic and the work they do has changed entirely.  #’s 1,2, and 4 are changing directions. Thankfully, God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t. And we can rest in that. Absolutely.

 

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That’s Life

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

God never promised us a peaceful and comfortable life. He promised that He’d be with us in the hard times, and that His ultimate plan for us is a good one…by His definition of good, not ours.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

In fact, His promises to be with us in the hard times are all through Scripture. Old and New Testaments, all over the place. The Word is slam full of them. You’d almost think one of the purposes of The Bible is to reinforce the promise that He’s with us all the time, good times and bad, when we’re in the midst or prosperity or persecution.

I’ve been thinking back over the last few years. I say few, let’s make that, say, 15 years. They haven’t been easy. Himself worked so much  I often felt like a single mother with 3 teenaged sons, and I didn’t do a very good job of it. It was as hard on the boys as it was on me. Probably harder. There are things that happened about which I have to try hard not to be bitter.  There was hope on the horizon that his work would settle down and become more…I don’t know…humane. Reasonable. Before that happened, however, he had that heart attack and died. That…sucked.

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I was left to deal with our sons (I almost said “the boys” but they aren’t boys anymore) and didn’t do a very good job of it. I’ve never been a boy so I don’t know how they think. I did what I thought was right but often it wasn’t because I was operating on feelings instead of logic. Now they are grown men and I have let them go…sort of. I have to allow them to do their own things and make their own ways, just as I am doing new and different things I never thought I’d be doing.  That’s really hard. My impulse is to make everything easy and cushy for them but no one grows during the easy times, and I want them grown and independent.

I met The Fella, and we’re making plans for a brand new life together. New House, New Plans, New Ideas, all things I’d actually kind of dreamed about and thought “wouldn’t it be fun if” and “wouldn’t it be a great idea to” but I’d kind of settled into the notion that I’d get my community college associate’s degree (which I did, Magna Cum Laude, y’all) (not to brag…ok totally to brag.), find a job as someone’s administrative assistant working Mon-Fri 8-5, and do that for the next 15 years.  Did I WANT to do that? No, not really. What I WANT to do is grow things, make things, sell things, travel, cook meals for people, and take a day off when I want to or maybe decide on a Thursday to go to the beach on Friday. I worked 5am-10pm 7 days a week for 28 years, with maybe a weekend off once or twice a year. I’d take Thursdays “off” by not scheduling any sort of appointments that day, not doing laundry or cleaning, and fixing something lazy for supper. (but…you took vacations with your family!  Right…vacations are more like double the work when you’re the mom.) But now, I want to do things that aren’t so….scheduled. Good thing is, The Fella thinks the same way I do.

Every now and then, he and I look at each other and are amazed that we each found someone who’s desires and wishful thinking for the future matches our own. The only thing that is different is the way each of us makes chili. He’s also a bit more fastidious than I am. His skills (metalworking, gardening, fixing things that don’t work right) are ones that overlap mine to a degree that working together is a pleasure. His desires for travel and making use of time are almost exactly the same as mine, and his ability to motivate my lazy self is  unparalled.  He is almost as fond of my sons as I am. We are both completely convinced that our meeting wasn’t accidental and even though we are both dealing with stuff that is difficult in our own lives, having each other to lean on, and both of us keenly aware of God’s hand in our lives and how He does His work in sometimes peculiar ways, means we have this sort of lifeboat to rest in while the waves toss us around.

Life isn’t easy. No one ever said it would be. Sometimes it really stinks, hurts, and overwhelms. Some people go through more than others, and no one can really answer why that is. I don’t know why I’ve been put in a country where I can freely talk about God, and Jesus Christ without any fear of persecution. I don’t know why my children are going through such difficulties (and they all are, each of their own types, not just #3), why Himself died, and why God saw fit to drop The Fella in my lap. There are myriad “I don’t know whys” and likely I’ll never, on this Earth, know the answers to them all. But I do know that Life isn’t promised to be clean and tidy. What is promised is that we are never alone in it, no matter how much it feels like we are.

A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. …Psalm 23:1-6

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Get to work!

#3 continues to improve. At this point, it has slowed down to more of a “filling in the details” sort of thing. He had those dramatic leaps, from comatose to talking in a month, and now he’s changing and improving in more subtle ways.

For instance, he feels like he’s 17, and says his memory stops at January 6, 2015. He doesn’t remember his father dying, or the birth of his son, or his house burning down. He knows those things happened, but simply doesn’t remember them. It hit me pretty hard, that he had to learn all over again about the death of his father. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, let alone my son.  He is daily amazed that he’s married to The Fine Wife, and the number of healed wounds on his body increases by 1 or 2 every day. When he first realized what they were, he said he had 27 of them. Actually I think he has 12 or 13, but 27 is the number I always used to mean “a lot”…as in “How many bags of groceries do you have to carry in?” “27!” or “how many children do you have?” “At least 27, possibly more.” So I think he was saying 27 because he knew there were a lot. However, that was about a week ago. Yesterday he had 31 and today he has 37.

He is bothered by the missing 3-1/2 years. Who wouldn’t be? He doesn’t remember what sort of work he did, or how he did it. He said he needs to go back to work and I told him right now his job is to do the physical and speech therapies to get into a position where he could go back to work. I told him of the man I’d met who had been in a similar situation as him, and it took him 2 years to recover but now you’d never know he was ever in an accident. “2 years. That’s a long time.” he said. It is a long time, but he was really badly hurt. “Mom, I think I died. I have a traumatic brain injury and my brain is having a hard time now. I can’t find the words.” “#3, a month ago you weren’t talking at all. 2 weeks ago you had words but none of them made sense. Now you can have a conversation and only miss a word now and then.”

A lot happened. People all of the world have been praying for him. He knows he is a miracle. He knows God has a plan for him, but right now he has to focus on getting his body working well, and getting his mind back on track. He may never recover those lost 3-1/2 years, or they might come back in bits and pieces, or he might wake up one morning and remember everything. No one can answer that. I hope he gets it back, so he can remember the birth of his son and all the things he and his family have done. I hope he can get back the skills and knowledge he had, and be able to return to work, or maybe school, or something. But for now, I am resting in the place where he’s at now. He’s talking, and walking (with help), in physical therapy to get his left arm and leg working like it should. That’s his job now.

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The Brothers

The Brothers (#s 1,2 and 4) have been affected by #3’s accident as much as I have. Now, they’ve all 3 had work and such, so haven’t been able to be with him as much as they’d said they wanted to, and it has been upsetting and discombobulating to have their hyperactive and bossy brother in such a state. Since they each live in a different town from each other and from me, they also haven’t had the constant emotional support that is kind of necessary in this sort of situation…except they sort of have. Thanks to modern electronics and the internet, they can communicate back and forth. Thanks for modern transportation, they can get together regularly (when work schedules allow). It is heartwarming to now that they are looking out for each other. I have kind of stepped back, trying to keep from being Mommy, but also calling and texting regularly (refer to the “live in different towns”) to see how they’re doing. They seem to be ok…though life can be difficult when you’re still working out the details of it.

I have always marveled at how different they are from each other. Personality, likes and dislikes, how they handle things…all 4 of them do things differently from each other, and yet, (especially now that they’re grown men) they care for and about each other in that way every parent hopes to see with their children.  There were times when they were growing up that they didn’t get along, all those personality differences…but now, even with that, they obviously care deeply for each other, and seek to help each other in the ways their particular personalities allow.

Knowing that we raised these young men who love each other, are compassionate toward others, generous in their own particular ways, talented, all those good things, makes me proud to be their Mom. I know I’m not perfect, there’s things I wish I’d done differently when they were younger (what parent doesn’t have regrets?). When I see them looking out for each other, helping each other with whatever it is they need, that makes me smile. I struggle sometimes (ok…more than that…) with wanting to swoop in and fix whatever they’re dealing with. When I know one of them is dealing with something difficult, wanting to fix it is the first impulse. However, fixing everything so their life is easy also denies them the opportunity for growing, for figuring out how to solve the problem on their own, and that doesn’t actually help them. Sure is hard, sometimes, though. However, seeing the personal sense of accomplishment, and the pride they have when they solve the problem on their own, is worth it.

I’ve written almost exclusively about #3 in the past month. He’s been the biggest source of drama. But #1, 2, and 4 are still here, still doing their lives, and just as affected as I have been. They worry as much as I do, but still have to work, study, pay bills, and all that. I have thought about each of them while this has gone on, and fretted about something as dramatic happening to one of them. Could I handle it? (probably….though it wouldn’t be pretty). I pray for God’s protection over each one of them every day.

I am very proud of each of them. Not because of anything I did, but because of how they are now. How they handle a crisis, how they look after each other, how they manage to figure out what is best for themselves. They’re grown men now and their lives are their own. My job raising them is done (has been for a long time). Being able to see them as compassionate men who care for the well-being of others, that means the world to me.

 

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Miracle Man

It would be really easy to say something like “he probably wasn’t hurt all that bad” and “You’re such a drama queen” when looking from the outside in, on this whole #3 drama, because his recovery has been so fast. But when a neurologist says things like “likely won’t wake up” and “if he wakes up he’ll probably be minimally functional” and the orthopedic surgeons and facial surgeon have this sort of “well, we did the best we could, thanks for letting us practice on him” demeanor, and internet research (it was brief and panic inducing) said 90% of people like him never wake up…one can’t help but see what has happened as miraculous.

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

The Fine Wife and #3 came home Thursday. I’d see him the previous Saturday, and he was having trouble balancing when sitting up, was frustrated and angry and seemed like he was near his breaking point. I saw him this Saturday, one week later, and he was chilled out in his recliner, box of Cheezits and bottle of Muscle Milk (strawberry flavored, his favorite) on the table. He looked at me and said “Hi Mom”, looked at The Fella and stuck his hand out for a handshake. He speech was soft and quiet, as his tracheostomy hasn’t quite closed up, and occasionally garbled because he’s still having to find his words. However, he had purpose in his gaze and was very intentional with his movements. He was able to tell The Fine Wife when he needed help with something. He played with The Grandpunkin. He copied my hand squeezes when I counted them out and asked him to….patiently with a “Yes, Mom, I know you need the encouragement but really. I’m fine.” attitude.

One of his friends showed up, and he and The Fella picked #3 up and put him in his wheelchair. He wheeled himself around the house, only needing a little help getting it over the threshold to the front porch. Sitting on the porch, watching the traffic go by, he said “I really love this.” The Fella said “I thought you didn’t like living on this road” and he answered “No, this is great. I love this.”

He kept trying to give the 6 goats in the backyard to The Fella. “These are all yours. All of them.” he said. He tried to give a bunch of parts he’d ordered before the accident to his friend. The friend said he’d take them, but just to get them out of the way for a while, then he’d give them back later.

He’s also decided he liked Petey, the little chihuahua he once despised with an all-consuming hatred.  He had talked about how much he wanted to commit assorted acts of violence against Petey (but never did), and I’d seen how Petey would squint at #3 whenever he came in the room. This time? Petey was all up in his lap, loving on him, and he was petting him, talking about what a good dog he was, and how much he loved him. I asked him about the change of mind, and he said “He’s a good dog. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Deuteronomy 10:21

He’s still confused about some things. He told me he was 17 or 18 years old. I said “No, you’re 26 and that’s your wife and child.” He was kind of astonished by that.  The Fine Wife said he had to hear something several times to retain it, but he was retaining stuff now.  He said a few things that were just garbled consonents and vowels…not really words, but he also said enough words that were completely appropriate, I think his brain is still getting unscrambled from getting his bell rung so hard. (So hard, in fact, the doctors didn’t think he’d recover. Remember that? I’ll never forget it.) Considering what happened…I am still completely astonished, yet at the same time, not at all…because God’s so much more powerful and capable than any neurologist.

“But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him.  He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. Job 5:8-9

His left hand…2 weeks ago was completely nonfunctional. A week ago he was able to hold things in it, but that was it.  Saturday, he was able to grip my hand with it only a little less than with the right hand. He still has a bit less control over it than with his right hand, but he’s getting there. He can wheel himself in a wheelchair. He can move both legs (but not put any weight on them yet). Drink from a glass, feed himself, play with his child, read (yes…he can read. He knows words well, just has trouble saying them), do math…The Fine Wife says having him do math actually calms him down when he starts getting fractious. I want to get him some brain teaser type books to help work his mind. He uses his whiteboard a lot, when his words just aren’t working right, because writing works when speaking doesn’t.

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?  Jeremiah 32:27

His will to heal and relearn and simply not give up…is inspiring. He knows where it all comes from. Right now he doesn’t talk about God, that I am aware of, and he can’t go to church yet. I know pretty soon he will be able to. I also know The Fine Wife, his in-laws, grandparents, The Fella and I will make sure he understands what sort of miracle he really is.

 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. Acts 3:16

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