“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
He is the one for me. He is the man who has stuck by my side since day one as my loving confidant, helpmate and best friend. He is the man who loves me, cherishes me, and tells me that I am beautiful. He loves me on my best days and he loves me on my worse days. He knows my past and has never belittled me nor made me feel inadequate. He is faithful, a man true to his word. I can count on his constant love and remain secure in his arms. He praises me in my accomplishments and encourages me in my failures. When I’m happy, his warm laughter melts my heart. When I’m sad or fearful, his gentle touch wipes away my tears.
I love you my husband. And I am proud to be your wife. I am truly grateful to the Lord for joining us together to share the remainder of our days. As we celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, may our constant love nourish and sustain each other until the end of time.
You can read about him in Chapter 42 of my book: “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace”
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me – the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God!
Photo credit by Leo Laredo Photography
This is for you Grandson, Ryan.
Mimi can hardly believe how much of a young man you have grown to be. We are all so very proud of all your accomplishments, and look forward with great anticipation to what is yet to come.
Where has the time gone? I shall never forget when you were around six years of age, and attended a holiday outing with me and Papa. I invited you to go for a spin on the dance floor. You were a bit shy then and did not want to. I smiled at your sweet face and simply said that as I become older, I may not be able to move around as much and we will never have that dance … You delighted Mimi’s heart by not hesitating and pulled me to the dance floor! While others looked on, taking photos of us slow dancing that night, I beamed with pride.
Play it forward 10 years to the present – you are quite the matured teenager, way too cool, so much so that you amaze me with your whit. Matter of fact, it was just recently that you were standing by listening to your mom, auntie and I chit-chatting the way we normally do. As you observed how animated we are (after all we are Latina women), you exclaimed how the three of us are so “extra” when we talk. We laughed at that remark. We realized that maybe we are … but you know what? I have an extra remarkable grandson whom I love with all my heart!
May you continue in your journey to being more remarkable than today.
Happy Birthday Ryan.
Dear Lord, on this day that we celebrate Ryan’s birth, I pray for blessings and joy over him.
You knew everything about him before his birth and You have a plan of prosperity and hope for his life!
Let him feel confident and ready for the year ahead knowing that You have an order to his steps and a purpose for his life.
Help him to find joy in every circumstance in life, knowing that You work all things out for good.
I thank You, God, for Ryan, for loving him with unconditional love, and for the promises You have spoken over his life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous upcoming New Year!
Photo credit by Leo Laredo Photography
I kissed her sweet, velvety cheeks. When her tiny hand wrapped around my finger, she instantly wrapped around my heart. Having just witnessed the birth of my first granddaughter, I was simply ecstatic. Grace Elizabeth, a little thing with a mop of chestnut hair and raven eyes, reminded me of the sister I lost so long ago.
Not long after, our joy was short-lived. Apprehension and a staggering wave of fear suddenly replaced excitement and joy.
Her doctor ordered x-rays, ultrasounds, RSV, EKG, blood work and an echocardiogram. “She has three holes in her heart,” he announced. His foreign words invaded my head: “congenital heart defect . . . coarctation of the aorta . . . a ventricular septal defect . . . an arterial septal defect . . . a bicuspid aortic valve . . .”
But three words snatched my breath away: “Open-heart surgery.”
Surrounded by family, we waited. Watched. And prayed.
That night, my daughter Angela and I shared a couch that opened to a bed in Grace’s room. Dreams and visions overlapped, as I drifted in and out of a fitful slumber. Nurses routinely coming in to check on Grace’s vital signs, administered meds and prepared her feeding tube around the clock, interrupted sleep.
But tonight was different.
3 a.m., a nurse instructed all residents to remain in their rooms behind closed doors. We couldn’t help but peek out of the window blinds. And we watched in horror as the mother of the infant in Room 1704 ran inside, hand over her mouth. Soon her wails carried across the hallway from inside. Other relatives arrived and held tightly unto one another weeping, lamenting, and grieving.
Hot tears flowed down our faces. I gazed upon Angela—my baby girl who always wanted a baby girl—and grieved along with her. Though she carried unspoken heaviness, she always remained strong for her household. But this was too much for any mother.
My eyes traveled and fixated upon our sick Grace. The doctors had said that Grace needed to gain weight, but she only grew weaker and tired more easily. Instead of eating, she slept during her feedings. I now watched her shallow, rapid breathing and listened to the heart monitor. Beep. A precious life. Beep. Hopelessness loomed. Beep. Fear gripped my heart. I said another prayer.
Beep, Beep, Beep. The rhythm of Grace’s heart monitor echoed louder in my head.
Come morning, more alarming reports:
“Murmur is louder.”
“Heart’s beating fast; enlarged, working too hard.”
We waited for the day; we waited for the hour, but when the time finally came for her procedure, tomorrow seemed much too soon!
In the morning, we huddled around Grace behind a curtained room. Her daddy’s strong arms around her mommy. Her papa’s firm grip holding me up. Words failed to express our love for this precious twenty-nine day old child. We covered her with our tears, our kisses, and our prayers.
“Please Lord, bring her back to me,” my daughter whispered and cried out.
In a moment’s time, they whisked her away to prep her and lay her on the operating table, surrounded by nine surgeons. We felt helpless but believed God while we prayed that He would return Grace to us alive . . . whole . . . and healthy.
After four hours in surgery, the cardiologist reported, “Grace’s heart is very sick,” and added, “We didn’t know how sick until actually seeing it.”
The pendulum swung. We sat and paced. Paced and sat.
A flood of questions crammed my mind: How do you silence the sobs that overtake you? How can you calm the waters and keep the dam from bursting from within the depths of your being? How do you say good-bye when someone has captured your very heart and soul?
Nine hours later we were told, “Her heart failed when taken off bypass.”
My gut tightened. “Please, Lord.”
We gathered in a quiet room to pray. I studied the faces of each family member. The women prayed openly as they cried out to God. The men, unable to trust their voices, did not open their mouths for fear of losing control.
After three hours, the doctor’s assistant entered and announced, “She’s made it, but she’s not out of the woods yet.”
We hugged one another. Tears of relief flow freely.
“The next forty-eight hours will be critical,” she cautioned. “You can briefly see her soon.”
Emotions raw, I lacked the courage to see Grace lying still, motionless, and heavily sedated. “I want to see my granddaughter when her beautiful eyes are open,” I said.
Angela understood. “Mom, go home and rest,” she urged. “I’ll keep you posted.”
* Day One Post-Surgery, my daughter’s report via email:
Baby Grace remains heavily sedated, and has countless tubes and wires attached to her small frame. Mom, the list is endless: a breathing tube, pacemaker, rectal thermometer, catheter, and so much more. Arms and inner thighs are bruised due to multiple attempts to locate the main artery. The sides of her head are shaven. Her face is bloated from fluids. One lung has collapsed. Mom, I’m so scared!
* Day Two Post-Surgery, another email:
No movement, still heavily sedated. I held Baby Grace’s little hand and said, “Mommy’s here.” Grace moved her head for me and I whispered in her ear, “Mommy loves you so much.” When her eyes opened for me, my heart skipped a beat!
* Day Three Post-Surgery:
Mom, Grace is better and responding to my touch! Her swelling has gone down. They re- installed her feeding tube today and are giving 5cc of my breast milk per hour. She is eating now and will gain weight again.
* Day Five:
My first day to see Grace since her surgery. Overflows of emotions bombarded every nerve in my being. Hope crashed into fear. Joy into anxiety.
I must keep it together. My legs turned to putty. My daughter took me by the hand, “It’s okay, Mom,” and led me into Grace’s room . . .
I see her! I reached down, caressed her face and gently placed my hand over her chest. The incision was the length of my index finger.
And then her eyes! Those familiar eyes sparkled and looked at me as if to say, “See Mimi. I’m here. I’ve made it.”
Twelve Years Later:
This precious flower continues to blossom and bloom wherever she is planted. Grace is our little miracle and she knows it! She has brought much joy to our lives and we are grateful to God for answered prayers!
Just when I thought I was too old to fall in love again ~ this precious one first called me “Mimi” at 8 months old!
Painting By Karin Best Pink Rose Poem ~ Author Unknown
Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most
important and by far the most life changing
~ Zig Ziglar
We are Four Generations ~ few in numbers, but fierce in heart, a force to be reckoned with.
My precious grandchildren keep me young at heart!
Three of my dear children – I loved them since the first day I laid eyes on them.
She is the perfect one for him – two hearts, one soul.
He is my quiet strength, the perfect one for me.
I am a blessed woman. I will never forget when I prayed
for the things I have now.
So my family and I watched this raw and poignant documentary (see movie trailer above) about gospel singer and song writer, Russ Taff. Such a moving and candid story about a six GRAMMY® awards and nine Gospel Music Association Dove awards talented singer, hailed by Billboard Magazine as “the single most electrifying voice in Christian music.” YET, when one would consider him at the top of the world, he struggled deep with depression, emotional pain and despair in many ways.
NEWS FLASH: No one is perfect except the Lord God Almighty! I have NOT arrived, and neither have you! As a Christian, we ALL have a cross to bear, working out our salvation with fear and trembling, fighting the good fight of faith. You may be at the top of your game, but I bet you have a struggle, a needling if you will, in your decaying flesh you wish you could overcome – yesterday! Well don’t stop praying and believing. We work out our salvation by going to the very source of our salvation—the Word of God—wherein we renew our hearts and minds … daily.
In viewing this movie, I appreciated Russ Taff’s honesty and he never tried to gloss it over. He spoke about his religious, strict upbringing (talk about legalism), his own personal shame and debilitation guilt in struggling with an addiction he tried to bury and hide. He loathed himself. So, if we struggle with our earthly parents, will it not be difficult to see our Heavenly Father as loving and forgiving of our own flaws? And if we loath ourselves, then how can we comprehend and accept God’s perfect love for us?
When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Some of us are gonna have to open our eyes by faith here!
At the end of this movie, I took away a lot of golden nuggets.
But one interesting term (I had just never heard before): Covert Incest – it is also known as emotional incest, a type of abuse in which a parent looks to their child for the emotional support that would be normally provided by another adult. Wow! I know now what I wished I had known regarding my own childhood so long ago. Such a revelation for me!
I highly recommend this inspirational film – do not miss it!
Thank you, Russ, for your candid testimony about your life as a Christian. And thank you for coming to Texas and visiting our church, The Freedom Center, in 2012. I also thank you and your precious wife, Tori, for not giving up on God and on each other. I love you guys!
The best comment was from Tori herself, “Russ is a grateful recovering alcoholic, saved by grace!”
My all-time favorite song by Russ Taff:
© M.A. Pérez, 2018, All Rights Reserved