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One year ago our baby was born. A miracle, clearly. We can make the best of plans – water birth, healthy diet, more exercise, lots of pregnancy tea. Still it is out of our control. I needed that lesson, I still need that lesson.

Every time I really stop to look at that little face I remember those 20 minutes. My blood pressure dropping, my very calm midwife panicked, no heartbeat in my belly, my husband’s prayers. I couldn’t tell you how that baby was born on our bed that day. I vaguely remember it happening, but I know I didn’t do it. After 19 hours he was suddenly there with me, almost 9 pounds of him in my shaking arms.

Every day I see it. Where I see his smile there could be nothing. And yet here he is, teaching me daily what it means to give thanks. I ask “What did I do to deserve these little boys?” The answer has never been more clear.

Nothing. It is only grace, mercy.

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One year and one week ago a very pregnant me waddled to the phone. “Little brother has fallen off a roof. Brain injury. Critical condition. Broken this, broken that. He shouldn’t be alive.” Should any of us?

He now runs, works, returns to school. Nothing more than scars are a reminder of that day. How is this possible?

It is only grace, mercy.

Saturday, in a cold small room, we waited to find out the condition of my beloved’s heart. A heart that took mine four years ago. Could it really be broken already? Thoughts of me and the boys with no papa flooded my mind. Prayer is all that calms me. After all, I am reminded, the real problem with the heart is not one that will show up on their EKG.

The doctor returns with the news: “His heart is strong.” He’s still here with us. Why?

Grace, mercy.

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I think of how these situations could have ended differently. The baby and/or I could not have made it. My brother could be paralyzed, mentally handicapped or completely gone. Our little family of four could have become a family of three with no papa over a mid-August weekend. Just like that. God would have been just as gracious and merciful. Our life is but a vapor.

After the events of the weekend I wondered: is our generation that much more distanced from eternal truths because we are distanced from death? At the age of 26 I have yet to see a close loved one pass into eternity, yet those who lived just 100 years before me may have seen 1 out of 4 or 5 children die before adulthood.

What would have been normal then would today be tragic.

Have we “progressed” to the point of forgetting our own fate?