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Dad–update 2

June 19, 2008

10 years ago, i vividly remember asking a group of people to pray for our (then) newborn son, Land. Lane was a preemie and was having extremely difficult times. he had a stroke when he was born that would affect almost every area of his life in the days to come. i remember asking people to pray for him to do something most of us do regularly and without much thought–go to the bathroom. the problem with Lane was his bowels. he had a couple of major bowel perforations that caused him major problems, and we didn’t know then if his bowels would EVER work. i remember the first time he “soiled” a diaper…i was about to speak one evening to our church–calvary baptist church in lenoir city, tennessee. i remember getting a page (yeah, that was a LONG time ago) and calling the hospital almost immediately. the nurse on the other end screamed, “HE DID IT! HE POOPED!” she even saved the diaper for us to see when we got to the hospital later that night. i got up and announced to the church how proud i was of our son because he had accomplished this task.

now what in the world does that story have to do with my dad you might ask. since my dad’s accident he has been having to go through the most horrible “humility” therapy of anyone i know. i know this is a personal line i am crossing, and apologize profusely, but you must understand i don’t think prayers get gross to God. i think He smiles when we rejoice and see His hand–even in something like Lane’s situation 10 years ago or in what my Dad is going through even now.

my dad has never been what i would consider a physically imposing man, but someone who could and still does work me under the table. i remember as a child thinking he was the smartest human ever because he would work all day, read the ENTIRE newspaper–not just the comics, eat dinner, work around the house, fix the cars, keep the yard perfectly maintained, and still have time to throw baseball or football. i looked at him in the hospital bed this weekend and remembered all those things and saw the exact same man lying there in front of me. he might not be able to move his legs but i really don’t think he needs to. i think he MUST be who God created him to be. i saw a side of my dad this weekend that i loved. i saw the gentle side, the caring side, the thankful side, and the side that says he will NEVER give up (yeah, he’s multi-faceted!).

i saw my mom try to be strong for him. she’s the world’s WORST actor, so it was tough for her, but still, she did her best. then i heard her say, “God is good and we’re just going to have to trust him in this.” my response was very pastoral, “you know, you’re going to have to EAT those words in the days to come.” She agreed and understood, for what might be the first time, that her sarcastic and cynical son wasn’t completely a heretic. i know how those words taste, and i’m darn proud that my parents got to see me eat them. i know they taste like lane’s earlier described accomplishment, but i know that they are made bearable ONLY when they are seasoned with God’s measure of grace and mercy that He chooses to give us.

i also got to see my wife like i have never before seen her. (it’s funny, my eyes have been dry the entire time i have been typing this and as i think about my dad in the hospital paralyzed, my mom’s world being drastically changed by something she didn’t ask for, but even THINKING about how amazing my wife was to me and IS to me makes them swell with these water droplets lesser humans might call tears!). when i got the call from mom on Friday, missy was the one to tell me to call mom back. i was at a breakfast meeting and just couldn’t get to the phone at that time (i was pouring out all my own junk to one of my best friends in the world over a country boy breakfast at cracker barrel and thought i would just get back to mom later). when i got to missy, my first thought was to assess the situation and then if it was really bad go to knoxville to see them. i NEVER dreamed that this would turn out the way it did. i realized later that i never called anyone, and i started getting text messages from my friends. how did they know? why were they praying for my dad when i hadn’t called? MISSY DID. she started using her spiritual gifts of the cell phone, text messaging, and email for my benefit. within hours thousands of people around the globe were praying for dad. my wife went from best friend to even bester friend. she knew exactly what to do when i didn’t have a clue. she knew to call the couple i was supposed to do the wedding for and explain to them what had happened. she knew to have brent perform the wedding instead of me. she knew we needed to leave immediately. she knew mom needed me and dad would never ask, but secretly swelled with excitement to know we were coming. she’s put up with so much over the past 15 years, i have to smile knowing that she’s mine!!

Dad has been moved from UT Hospital (Knoxville’s area Trauma hospital) to the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Clinic for therapy. he was moved last night and it was a fairly comfortable experience. i think it wore him out, but at least he slept last night. sleep has been something that has been more drug-induced than actual sleep. He woke up this morning and got to eat a little (the bathroom thing is still a potential disaster) and has already begun therapy.

He has had so friends contact them and offer to help, he has been truly overwhelmed. i’ll try to keep the commentary down in he future, but thought it might be a good change of pace.

please continue to pray for his shoulder, ribs, lung, pelvis, back, legs, and his whole body. he’s busted up really bad, but even in being physically broken, pray that he will seize the opportunity to let his LIFE SPEAK to others around him over the coming days.

–mike >

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