I've read back over the things I wrote so I would know what you know. That was difficult and yet also encouraging because I saw the comments where you shared your prayers and I saw the request I made for prayers. God has been faithful in every way. Sometimes we pray things because we know we should but we forget what we prayed or think they are just "typical" and don't really expect a real answer. I see answers to every prayer that I read. Our God doesn't forget or think they are "normal". He absolutely hears and answers. Thank you so much for all of your kindness and respecting our privacy as we walked through this. I can think of no greater treasure in life than friends and family like all of you.
There is no way I can hash through all the details of this past year, it would take too long and I don't know that I have the emotional energy to do it but I will attempt to give you a summary of all things Puppy related since the last update in December.
Chris moved out of his home officially and we were able to find a golden retriever pup that matched our desires exactly. She was so perfectly matched that she was 8 weeks on Christmas! The people who were selling her lived very close and it turns out their daughter was even in Eli's class. They have family who lives a couple doors down so it worked out for them to actually bring us the pup. This made it so we could totally surprise the kids with no worries of a pup making noise before it was revealed and no guessing while we drove to pick one up.
When she delivered the pup it was in a Santa hat with jingle bells on her collar. We had finished with gifts and were all hanging out playing board games when she arrived. No one expected it and she just made Christmas perfect. No one wanted to call her puppy so we got on a name right away. It still wasn't easy but we finally all agreed on Asa Marie. Her name means healer of bitterness. She has been just that. She distracted the boys from fear and they learned to play freely in their yard again. She made us laugh and filled the void that Puppy left. She loves kids and listens very well. Because of the Invisible Fence she is free to run and play outside with no fear or worry on our part. She is doing exactly as her name would suggest.
The boys have wrestled through a lot of things, as have all of us, but God has faithfully been bringing healing. When Chris moved out that helped a lot because they didn't have to see him every day and be reminded. Even though he was physically gone there was always the concern that he could come back and sometimes did. This made it so we were always on the alert. This past weekend new neighbors have started moving in. There are no words to describe the relief that we all sighed knowing he has no business being anywhere near us anymore.
Legally, we have been through pre trials, and cancellations and even a taste of a trial where Marty had to testify and be cross examined as well as Chris for a protection order. That was one of the most difficult parts of this ordeal. I can't count the number of hours we have spent preparing and putting information together for lawyers. First there was the protection order with one lawyer and then the misdemeanors with another. Then the County Prosecutor told Chris to plead guilty to the misdemeanors or face felony charges. Chris refused so it changed courts again and required that Marty testify before a grand jury to determine if there was a strong enough case for a trial. It was moving from what he did to Puppy to what he did to the boys. This meant they would have to testify. After seeing the battering Marty took during the cross examination that scared me. Paul Dobson (County Prosecutor) brought a lot of peace though and assured me that if Chris's lawyer were to attack the boys like he did Marty he would be sealing the case in our favor and he wouldn't do that. All of us prayed a lot. The boys were scared but willing.
Monday, we met with Paul Dobson at the courthouse and he took them in the courtroom. They sat in the witness chair and spoke in the microphone. He pointed out where Chris would be sitting and they talked to the lady who would be writing the transcripts. She showed them her machine and curious little boys lit up. Finally, Paul Dobson took us to the judges chambers and introduced them to him. He was very kind and put them at ease. Marty and I reviewed with Mr. Dobson and his office staff, who were also very kind. Later after Josh got off work he went and did the same thing. Jared had discussed the case with him when he came out to our house on Saturday. Going through the pain was awful but Paul Dobson and his staff were incredible in helping us to go through this process and I know they genuinely cared about each one of us. (No, he didn't ask me to write this.)
Tuesday, Marty took the boys over to officially talk with the judge. This is standard procedure for anyone under 10 years old. They have to be deemed competent, meaning they know right from wrong, fact from fiction, truth from a lie. Marty could not go in but both lawyers could, only to observe. The judge immediately declared them competent and Paul Dobson said they did a great job. Marty was on the way home when he got a call from Mr. Dobson. Chris was willing to plead guilty and spend some time in jail. There would be no trial. Paul would get back with us soon.
We were a bit stunned. No, a lot stunned. We had been offering options all along but Chris stubbornly refused to admit he had done any wrong. Not to mention there was so much build up and stress preparing that it just felt wrong to suddenly be over without a trial. Why couldn't he have done this a long time ago and saved us all months of stress. We kind of wandered through the next days feeling a bit lost because we had set aside everything to be at the trial. The sentence seemed way too little, yet we had said we didn't want to see him rot in prison for years and years. We were relieved that his wife wouldn't have to testify because she has to live with him, so there was no way to know what she would be faced with at home afterward or if she would be brave enough to tell the truth. It was good to know the boys wouldn't have to relive it again and see Chris, risking the return of nightmares or fear. At least this way there was no chance of an appeal dragging it out even longer. It was just done.
The next day an article was in the paper. It said the penalty was different than what we had been told but we've experienced the media enough to know not to trust it. It didn't even have Noah and Eli's ages right and I really didn't like the way it ended because even though he was guilty it felt as if it ended by saying we had been the problem. I officially don't like the media. For the record we were in the process of getting a fence and Chris had called Puppy over to his yard multiple times making him believe it was a safe place. But I won't go into all that now, it's over.
Paul Dobson stopped by yesterday to apologize that everything had ended so abruptly but no one expected Chris to plead guilty. He said Chris is currently in jail serving 10 of the 180 days he was sentenced. He will then be on probation for a year and should he break that probation in any way he will immediately serve the remaining 170 days. He will never be allowed around any of us nor can he contact us in any manner. He lives in Tennessee now and we can move on with our lives.
That is what we will do. We will close this chapter with thanksgiving for a gracious God and court system that took care of things. We can know that God has answered our prayers and done what is best for all of us, even Chris. We will continue to pray for his salvation. We will remember Puppy with happy memories but Asa is our puppy now and we love her, also. She is kept safe in her yard with an Invisible Fence that was a gift to "start a happy ending" and it did.
Thanks to all of you. I look forward to starting to blog again on my regular page putting this one behind me.