Monthly Archives: June 2012

Just warning you — this is a long post!

I had somewhat promised an account of how things went after surgery, and I’ve put it off long enough.  And I do not plan to be extremely graphic, here, but it won’t be the kind of thing that you will want your kids to read.

I told about the terrible pain that I experienced in the hospital right after surgery.  And I told about how it seemed that the prayers had turned things around for me so suddenly.  That was more of a miracle than I realized at the time.  But I will tell more of that later.  They did keep me an extra night, but things seemed to be progressing pretty much the way they were supposed to.  I came home, and settled into the “doing nothing” routine fairly well and everything seemed fine until the Wednesday night after I got home.  I was still having some pain, but almost no bleeding.  I had gone into the computer room and used the desk computer for the first time since my surgery a week before.  I felt like sitting on that chair wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world,but that was pretty much the story of my life in those days post surgery, but when I stood up, there was a sudden rush of blood, and I realized there was something drastically wrong.  I could tell that the blood was “old blood” and that I wasn’t hemorrhaging, but it was, nevertheless, disconcerting.  Deborah insisted that I needed to call the doctor.  When I tried, there was no answer, but there was an answering machine, since it WAS still office hours.  When no one called me back, I became a little worried.  I called again, and this time, I got the answering service.  It was almost 4:50 and the helpful gal at the other end told me that my doctor was taking call at five and advised me to give her the message, and she would wait until five to call.  That was such a pleasant surprise an encouraging help to me.

When I told Dr. Killeen what had happened, he said that I should just keep an eye on how things were going and he would see me in the morning.

So, I headed into his office in the morning and the news that he told me was mostly good.

“Things like this happen sometimes,” he said.  “I am really, really pleased with most of the surgery.  Support is good, and things are healing.  The bleeding indicates that things are healing, so as long as there is some bleeding, you can be assured that things are still healing.”

So I came on home and settled back into waiting.  And waiting.  And being careful.  And taking sitz baths three times a day.  And nothing changed, and I continued to have a considerable amount of pain.  The thing was, I was really hoping to attend the graduation of our daughter in law on the Saturday that was two weeks post surgery.  From what I had read, it didn’t sound like that was an unreasonable expectation, but as the days passed, and there was no change in my condition, I began to lose hope.  Jessica was receiving her Master’s degree from Eastern University in Philadelphia, and I was so proud and happy for her, but I finally decided that I shouldn’t attempt to be at the graduation.

It was almost more than I could bear that morning, watching my husband and Middle Daughter going off to Philadelphia, but by the time the day was over, I was more than happy that I had stayed home.  They had to walk a very long way from parking to the graduation.  Also, it was a very warm day and the grad was held outside.  I know I would have been miserable and besides, by the time that day was over, I hit the lowest point emotionally that I had experienced for a very long time.  I was so lonely, for one thing, with my family gone, and it seemed like the pain was just staying so constant, the bleeding wasn’t getting any better, and by the time they finally made it back, I had pretty much convinced myself that I would never heal without more surgery, and that Life, as I had enjoyed it heretofore, was changed forever.  I also decided that I was going to call again on Monday morning and see if maybe the doctor would see me again.  Maybe if I went in, there would be something he could do to ward off the further surgery that I was sure that I was going to need.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Monday morning dawned, and I called the office.  The receptionist put me through to the nurse, and the nurse pulled my chart.  She came back on, listened to my tale of woe, and all the symptoms that I was sure was going to convince her that I really was in dire need of some kind of rescuing, and then she said, “Mrs. Yutzy.  These symptoms are to be expected with the complications of your surgery.”


“Your chart says that you have a hematoma, and it just takes time for these things to heal.”

“So you mean to tell me that I can expect this sort of thing for a while yet and it is normal???”

It seemed to me from her answer that there was no “normal” for this sort of thing.  So of course, I got off the phone and googled it.  That might have been the wrongest thing to do!  That really blew my mind.  Apparently, hematomas are not all that rare following a traumatic birth — especially one where forceps are used, or the birth is precipitous.  I also was more than a little comforted by the fact that the horrible pain from the first night post op finally had an explanation.   One point that recurred over and over in the discussions about vaginal hematomas was the horrible pain!  I also realized that my recovery time was, in fact, something that was not predictable.  Women talked of months of recovery.  It sounded daunting to me.

I was exceedingly despondent!  “I’m going to be,” I said one evening to my long suffering husband, “just like that woman in the Bible that had an issue of blood 12 years!”  He laughed, but I wasn’t exactly joking.  I had begun to think in terms of this never getting better.  (I know, I know.  More ridiculous drama.  But honestly!  I didn’t see how this was ever going to turn out okay!)

I began to think about what that woman did with her infirmity, (Luke 8:43-48) and was comforted by the fact that what she did was to quietly seek out Jesus.  She didn’t stand up somewhere and make a public spectacle of it, she just took her private sadness, and touched the hem of His garment, and she was healed.  I thought about how, in that society, it was an even more taboo subject than it is in our day, and how lonely she must have felt through all those long years — especially in the Jewish society that isolated women who were menstruating.  I thought about how long she suffered, and about the money she spent, and how turning to Jesus was pretty much a last resort, and yet, she had faith that Jesus could heal her.  I wonder how long it took her to make up her mind to even try Jesus for this.  She must have wondered how to ask Him for healing for such a delicate issue, and how incredibly joyful she must have felt when she came to such an unobtrusive solution.  And then, how embarrassed and frightened she must have been when he said, “Who touched me?” even though she knew she had been healed!  The joy must have given her courage, even as the tenderness of his words, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.” reassured and comforted her.

And so, I decided that I could come to Jesus and ask Him for healing.  One morning when all the house was quiet, and I was alone, I chose some praise and worship songs that spoke to my heart and the direction that I truly wanted my heart to go, and I came before the Lord with my fear as well as my desire to hear His voice and to ask Him for wisdom and courage and peace  — and healing, if that was His will.

I started with one of my personal favorites, “Blessed be your Name”

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

. . . 

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name . . .
~Matt Redmond 

I wept and prayed and sat, surrounded by praise as I sought to make the words my own.  And I told God that I really needed help in my attitude.  “I really didn’t want to have this surgery,” I told Him.  “I was so afraid that things would go wrong and I would be worse off than before.  I don’t like this pain, this bleeding, all the ‘don’t lift this, don’t do that’ business.  If it had been up to me, I wouldn’t have gotten it done, but I was trying to please my husband and the doctor pretty much promised me that it would be simple and almost painless, and that it could, in fact, be fixed!  Ever since the beginning, it hasn’t gone the way it should have.  Please, help me!”

And then, the words to “Praise You in this Storm” began to filter through my tears.  

And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away . . . 

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth . . .

~Casting Crowns 

I gradually felt the familiar peace of acceptance and even anticipation of what God had for me.  I did not have any confidence that this was going to turn out okay, but I did realize that I wasn’t alone.  I kept thinking about the verse from Psalm 139:14:

I will praise thee;  for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

I thought a lot about these bodies that we’ve been given and how they usually heal.  I really wanted to claim that verse for complete healing, but I kept remembering, too, the fact that this body of mine has been ticking away since 1953, and that I can’t expect that it will run (or even heal!) like a much later model. I came to realize that the bottom line here was my sense of mortality, and the fact that the time was going to come when whatever was wrong with me couldn’t be fixed.  And that someday, it wasn’t just going to be something inconvenient, it would be something terminal.  This caused me some reflective moments, to say the least.

Life goes on, they say.  And it does.  I needed to go to Lewes one Monday morning to take Nettie in for a counseling appointment.  My doctor has office hours in Lewes on Monday mornings, so I decided that I would stop over there and just see if he could reassure me a bit.  He had told me to feel free to call at any time with any question.  Nurse Daughter asked if I wanted her to go along.  Did I?  Absolutely!  So we got into the office and  discovered that Dr. Killeen was out for the day and Dr. B. was covering for him.  Yikes!  I’m not a big fan of gyn doctors to begin with, but when Dr. B. offered, and Deborah insisted, I decided to have an office visit.

Dr. B. is a very kind doctor.  He was encouraging and honest.  “You’ve hit a bump in the road,” he said.  “The important thing is this:  The surgery is very well done and has healed very, very well.  You have great support, and tissue is healthy.  The thing that isn’t so nice is that the stitches have come out where the hematoma was, and that has to heal on its own.  As long as that is healing, you will have pain, and you will have bleeding.  You WILL heal, but it will just take a little longer.”

We discussed, then, about lifting and doing the things I wanted to do, and when I said that I wanted to shovel and work in the garden, that I wanted to do my usual household things, he looked thoughtful and then he said, “You can do all of those things in time — by the time Summer actually is here, I think you will be well enough to do anything you like.  For now, you can do most of your household things that you want to do, take care of your ladies and such, but just wait on the heavier work until later.”

He was a bit concerned about the situation, though, and thought that I should come back in a week to be evaluated.  When I went to make the appointment, the front desk said that I had an appointment in just a little over two weeks, did I just want to keep that?  I suddenly thought, “This is going to take another six to nine weeks.  I might just as well keep that appointment, and then see from there when he wants to see me back . . .” so I said, “Just leave it the way it is.  I will come in when I was previously scheduled.”  And I went home to wait again.

And then the strangest things started to happen.  I woke up two days later feeling vastly, inexplicably improved.  It was phenomenal!  I just felt so much better.  A few days after that, the bleeding diminished, then diminished some more.  About a week later, it stopped altogether.  I kept feeling better and better and better.  Energy levels were a bit unpredictable, and some days I felt like some large, inert lump of humanity, but, for the most part, I felt like a functioning, happy part of the human race.

I began to think about the upcoming appointment, and tried to steel myself for the news that I was almost certain was coming.  I figured that I would need at least an extra three weeks of recovery, but I honestly felt like that would be better than what I had originally anticipated.  So, one day before the six weeks (from the date of surgery) were actually up, I found myself in the doctor’s office, awaiting for the verdict.

“Mrs. Yutzy,” beamed Dr. Killeen, “you are healed.  Totally recovered.  Everything looks great.  No restrictions!”

I must have looked as startled as I felt, because he went on to recount how everything had turned out so much better than expected, how he was so pleased, and how he expected no complications.  I sat there on the exam table, and felt this incredible wellspring of gratitude that bubbled up inside of me.

“Dr. Killeen,” I began,  “I just want to thank you for what you’ve done for me –“

“Now you hush,” he said, taking both my hands in his, and leaning over to give me a peck on the cheek.  “You run along and I hope to not see you again for a year!”

Well, when I went to tell my Heavenly Father “Thank you!” He didn’t tell me to “Hush” neither did He tell me to run along.  I had a lot to tell him, and I had so much to be thankful for and about.  I knew that my recovery was nothing short of a miracle and I felt relieved, humbled, ecstatic, and just so very, very grateful.

Nine weeks ago today I had that surgery, and I rejoice every day in the health that I’ve been granted.  This week I had a follow up appointment for my knees and when the results from those X-rays were in, there was another beaming Physician’s Assistant.  “Perfect!” Exclaimed Jennifer, as she looked over the films.  “Your knees look great!  I don’t see a single thing wrong with them!  They are exactly how we like to see them!”  That was music to my ears, of course, but there was another thing that really, really pleased me about that visit.

For years, whenever I had to get up on an X-ray table, I had a pretty serious problem with incontinence.  Embarrassing, I know, but for some reason, whenever I had to scoot around on a hard surface, it was pretty important that I didn’t forget some sort of protection.  But this week, there was no problem whatsoever.  I was delighted with the good report from my knees, but I was even happier with the proof that my most recent surgery was truly a sucess.

Lord Jesus, I give grateful, humble praise!

And that is all I’m writing about this.  I hope to not mention this subject again.



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Mimosa Trees and the fragrance of HOPE

I’m cleaning the kitchen tonight after a long, long day.
Scraping things together for the trash can, I come across this:

It is a pile of Mimosa Blossoms.
The tree is full at the edge of the yard.
Since I was a very small child, the Mimosa tree was something special to me.
I love the delicate fragrance of the blossoms. 
The ferny-like construction of its leaves 
The way it refuses to bud and blossom until you think it is really “done for” this year for sure . . .
And then, when most of the other trees are done blooming, it bursts into leaf
and almost overnight, it puts out these tufted, airy blooms that you can smell on the night air.

Tonight, in some of the happiest times of this day, on a golf cart loaded down with six kids,
I drove under the Mimosa tree and instructed the kids to smell.
They were awestruck.
And then they got the bright idea to pick.
There is only a gazillion flowers out there, and lots on the ground.
And so, they picked away.
The ones that ended up on my kitchen counter were for “Ms. Mary Ann.”

They lay there through supper,
through report card accounting,
through a quick trip to Dollar General for Diapers for the little guy,
through the time it took to take them home and come back again.
When we got back, Lem and Jess were already here.   
Home for the weekend for a funeral in Jessica’s family.
Things got later and later, and finally, I was finishing up the kitchen,
And found the wilted heap of flowers.
It was too late for them.
And even if I had put them in the water first thing,
they wouldn’t have lasted past the morning.

Tonight the kids tried so hard to be good.
So many things got in the way, but still they tried.
I looked at the pitiful heap of flowers and
thought about their intentions in picking them for me. 

And I wondered again about their lives and where this will all turn out.
Sometimes it seems like they are already on a wilted heap.
That there’s not enough time or nourishment or resources to save them.
Sometimes it just seems like it is too late. 

But sometimes, in the hopelessness,
and in the brokenness, 
I catch a fragrance in the night air.
Sometimes it a snatch of a Sunday School song.
Sometimes it’s the peek through my half closed eyes
and I see them holding hands around the table,
Singing the supper time grace.
Sometimes it’s a picture, carefully colored, brought for the refrigerator,
Sometimes it is grubby hands, picking delicate Mimosa blossoms
“For you, Ms. Mary Ann!”

“Lord Jesus, tonight, when it is easy for me to count the things I’d like so much to be different —
Help me to stop and breathe in the smell of Hope.
Help me not to give up.
There is so much at stake.  
Not only for them —
But for us all. “


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Daniel found a little Blue Jay, hopping around in my potted plants.  He caught it and brought it in to show me:




He wasn’t very happy!

I wish I could have gotten a picture of his mama.
She was brazenly upset.
Even after Daniel gave her baby a gentle heave into the maple tree
and he was perfectly safe, she scolded and scolded.

I love the little things around Shady Acres at this time of year!



The first “real” cucumber on Charis’ Cucumber patch.
She couldn’t wait to see it, so her Mama brought her down,
Grandpa helped her picked it,

And . . .

She couldn’t wait to eat it!

Like I said, I love the little things! 






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Spending the night at Grandpa and Grammy’s House . . .

“I’m spending the night at Grandpa and Grammy’s house.”
I went shopping with “The Girls” this afternoon.
We had a good time!  I never slept a wink!
And we picked up pizza for supper on the way home.
That was good.
After supper, Grandpa was working in his garden.
Grammy was worried about her marigolds,
so she started a hose, thinking it wasn’t going very fast. 

She was wrong.


Grandpa was trimming up his tomato plants,
getting them ready for the fencing that
he uses to keep them up and off the ground.
Grammy had to go into the house for a minute.
I promised to be good.

Grandpa was there.  He didn’t stop me. 

I think that means that this is okay.  
At least I played and played, and he didn’t stop me.
I did hear him laughing over there in the tomato row. 

Grammy took this picture of my silly grin.
I had just thrown a big handful of mud on her
(and I found out pretty quick that wasn’t allowed).

Right after this picture,
Grammy put me in Grandpa’s outside shower,
took off my clothes, and washed me off.  

She also rinsed out the clothing so that the mud wouldn’t stain.
We came inside, and Grammy got my bath water, and I got completely clean, dry and powdered.
I fell asleep while Auntie Rach was reading to me.  
So now I am getting a good rest on the floor beside Grandpa and Grammy’s bed.
Tomorrow, I am going to church with them, and that makes me happy, too!
Grammy is too tired to think straight tonight.  Maybe she needs someone to read her a story and tell her to go to bed!


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How does the Garden Grow

Last year, Certain Man was so busy working on
Middle Daughter’s library and balcony
that the garden got away from him like it has NEVER done before.  
This year, he is back to his usual form,
and the garden is by far the best it has ever been!

Tomatoes, carrots, yellow squash,
green beans, potatoes, peppers and cabbage.
Oh, and that’s the faithful gardener there,
looking for potato bugs, and thinning his carrots.


Pole limas, onions, ground cherries–
 and where you cannot see,
 there is asparagus and butternut squash and rhubarb.


This is the solitary cucumber plant that resides
in Certain Man’s Garden.
Evidence, again, of a grandpa’s love for his grandbaby.
Our Charis-girlie loves the garden,
eating baby carrots, dirt and all,
helping to dump compost into the holes that are ready for plants,
 and pulling up radishes just for the delight of it.  
This particular little girlie LOVES cucumbers.
Daniel HATES them.
They give him heartburn and he avoids them like the plague.  
But he planted a cucumber for Charis
so that she can have the joy of picking her very own cucumbers
and eating them straight out of the patch.  
And he heard that you can train them to climb a lattice,
so he is giving that a try.
 It’s doing great!  
If I think of it, I will show you a picture when it has cucumbers on it. 



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Oh, This Selfish Heart!

Sometimes life is just plain complicated.

And disappointing.

And difficult.

And the people in it are that way, too.

But I don’t have to look at it that way.

This is one of those days when I would really like to cry for how things turned out.  And I am so tempted to BLAME.

(Which doesn’t help anything, really.)

My extended family gets together for breakfast on occasion.  Like once a month.  And it’s always on Saturday morning, and I have gotten there — well, maybe three times over the last few years.  I always love it, and I’m always glad that I went when I go, but Saturday mornings are complicated for me.  It is the morning that both my ladies get their “bone pill” for osteoporosis.  And it has to be given with time lapses and careful attention to other meds.  One of my ladies has two more pills that have to be taken with a time lapse before she can eat anything, so that means that I have about an hour and a half when I need to be present and cognitive on a Saturday morning.  Every other Saturday morning is bed changing day, and with the extra protective pads and pillows, that takes extra time.  Saturday morning also is the only morning that I can sleep a little bit later since there are no buses and work schedules for Daniel and Church to get to, etc.  So usually, I think about the family meeting over there in Harrington and sigh a little wistfully, and then go about my business here and try not to think about it any more.

But today, Uncle Paul and my cousin, Dan, from Virginia came up to go to breakfast.  Some of my other cousins were coming, too, and that made me really want to go.  Daniel and I had toyed with the idea of having everyone from the family that could make it come here last night for a cookout, but it just seemed like it wouldn’t work.  Our church was helping someone move, plus our children were all in Delaware.  Raph and Gina had come in on Thursday evening to spend some time with us and with old friends.  Lem and Jess were home for Jessica’s brother’s wedding, and Rachel is home for the summer.  I didn’t know all the plans for the kids, but I did know that Daniel had promised weeks ago to help Jimmy and Emma move, and so that pretty much precluded inviting the family here.  Also, as I may detail in another post, things haven’t gone as predicted with my post surgical recovery, so I cannot predict what my energy level will be at a given time.  I decided that I would not invite anyone here for the evening, but would try to get to Harrington for the breakfast.

Last night, when Daniel and I were setting alarm clocks for this morning, I said, “I wonder if I might not want to sleep more than go to breakfast in the morning . . .”  but set it anyhow.  We had decided that we weren’t going to plan for an “immediate family” brunch this morning because of the uncertainty of various family member’s plans, and I was pretty sure that I could go to Harrington and get home before the people who were here would be ready for breakfast.

This morning, when I was getting awake, I looked at the clock and thought that I would have plenty of time to go.  And so I stripped the sheets off my bed, and carried them down and began the morning.  Daniel was sleeping in his chair, and Deborah hadn’t put in her appearance.  Rachel was still in Pennsylvania, since the weather had convinced her that she should just stay put for the night.  She thought she would be home around 9:30.  I had no idea when Raph and Gina had gotten in, but I had stopped and knocked on their door and told them that family brunch was off, and they should sleep as long as they wanted to.  I would fix something when everyone got awake.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that unless someone helped me, I wasn’t going to get done in time to go to the breakfast.  I flew through getting sheets off the beds, into the washer, ladies medicated, gave Cecilia her shower and got her dressed and got the beds made up.  I got Cecilia her breakfast and took care of the various morning chores. I looked across the room at my sleeping husband and wished that Deborah would get up and help me.  I wished that Daniel would get awake and maybe go and call her to come help.  I wished that he would ask if there was something he could do so that I could go.  And I felt sorry for myself as the minutes ticked away and nothing happened.

When 8:15 came and went, I gave up the hope of going.  I knew in my heart that all I had to do was ask, but sometimes, selfishly, pridefully, I want the things that I want to do to be important enough to my family that they offer.    I know, I KNOW!  They are only human.  And I had said that business to Daniel about wanting to sleep.  Plus, I knew that he wanted to go out to the festival at Greenwood Mennonite School as soon as he could get away.  (There were oyster fritter sandwiches and homemade ice cream to be had!)  Deborah had cleaned the kitchen for me the night before, and she wanted to go to the festival, too.  Rachel was coming home,  but she was bringing some friends, and they wanted to go to the festival and then to the beach, for the afternoon.  

And so, I went over it and over it my heart and tried to not be cross and resentful.  I kept telling myself that it really was my own fault.  All I would have had to do was set my alarm a half an hour earlier, planned my time a little bit better, and it would have been clear sailing.  I thought I was handling it really well until, along about 9:15.  Daniel, now awake, asked me what was happening, wasn’t I going to my family breakfast?  That made me suddenly sad to the bottom of my selfish heart, and I wanted to cry and cry.  I kept telling myself that I could respond with grace – that wallowing around in tears wasn’t going to help, but it felt unhelpful and unbelievable to me.  So I didn’t answer, just busied myself with the things at hand and asked God to open my eyes to the blessings of the moment.  Oh, I shed some tears, but I also realized that most of this was my own fault.

I could have planned better.  Nothing beats setting an alarm clock so there is “plenty of time” instead of “just enough.”  I could have asked for help the night before.  Rachel told me that she would have been home earlier if she had known I needed help.  I could have asked for help this morning.  Deborah would have come down and finished the ladies if I had gone upstairs and asked her.  And Daniel would have helped, too, in any way possible, if I had just mentioned it.  It was that old, “Sometimes, I want the things that I want to do to be important enough to my family that they offer” business.  But they can’t know what I really want if I don’t tell them.

And then it’s imperative to look at the blessings that being home brought me.  Raph and Gina didn’t sleep in.  Gina wasn’t feeling well, and they got up and came down far earlier than anticipated.  Because she was feeling so wretched, it gave me a chance to care for her in a way that I am usually unable to. Rachel and her friends came in and I really like to be here when one of our kids comes home — especially if it is the middle of the day.  Then we decided to make some baked oatmeal for those that were here, and suddenly it grew to include extra precious people – one of which I hadn’t seen in years.  I looked around the breakfast table and saw some of my family that is pretty much ALWAYS here, some of my family that is often here, some of my family who is almost never here, and friends who are almost like family and some friends who I see so seldom it was like a precious gift, and decided that the trade-off was worth it.

I’ve been thinking about that old praise song that starts:
“I’m trading my sorrows 
and I’m trading my shame,
and I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord.

I’m trading my sickness,
I’m trading my pain,
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord.”

I’ve never particularly liked the song because the Chorus is an unending repetition of “Yes, Lord, Yes Lord, Yes, yes, Lord . . . ” until it seems tiring to an old traditionalist like me.  But it occurs to me that to trade my sorrow, pain, resentment, blame and anything that destroys the joy of the Lord, the answer lies in a never ending litany of “Yes, Lord.”

Yes, Lord.  Yes!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



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