Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous upcoming New Year!
Photo credit by Leo Laredo Photography
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
Hi y’all! Hola Amigos!
The mountains were calling and we went!
We recently returned from a glorious two-week getaway in God’s Country in good ole’ Colorado, with a couple of wonderful friends of ours!
And as promised, here are a few photos taken from my !phone (sorry…! Haha!)
Found this perfect quote to a perfect scenery:
“Heaven is a little bit closer in the mountains.”
Introducing our traveling buddies, Ed & Sandy Brockhausen.
Now having the pleasure to hang around with this couple is anything but a trip in itself!
They are delightful, animated and know how to have fun, fun, fun!
Hubby and I.
And this is the Brockhausen’s little hideaway up in the mountains; took a while to drive up there.
Yes, these are wild turkeys! Some neighbors feed them; not sure if they’re pets or fatten up for consumption.
But no hunting allowed in these parts.
See the beautiful Spanish Peaks in the background?
Wouldn’t you know it? It started snowing the day after we arrived and my hubby was the first one out exploring!
And then he got me to join him cuz he needed some warmth!
Frolicking in the snow 🙂
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Meet Bailey & Dakota. They love going out in the snow – they’re in their element and they’ve worked up an appetite.
Another breath taking view from the deck.
Let me take you on a little tour inside …
Upstairs loft/TV room
A view from the loft looking down on this gorgeous kitchen.
Notice the beautiful hand crafted cabinetry.
Looking down at the Southwestern décor, colorful den.
Check out the antler lighting.
So cozy, comfy and inviting.
Enjoying some warmth near the fireplace.
Yes, the perfect kitchen!
Look at all the details. Their builder was truly a craftsman.
Home away from home.
The master suite.
The guest room where we slept – not bad, eh?
The next day, it had stopped snowing, so we hopped in the buggy and cruised.
A wee bit chilly riding in the wind!
My mountain man – such a natural in the outdoors.
A couple of days later, the four of us took a road trip into town.
We saw lots of wild life and deer are everywhere!
I’ve known this precious friend–who is like a sister to me–for a loooong time! She be way crazier than me, y’all!
Taking this majestic view all in.
A little disconcerting with some of the wiggly road signs!
Oh, Lord! This reminded me of a scene in the movie, “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”… LOL
A quick view of Stonewall.
Girls just wanna shop until we drop!
Red River, NM – elevation 10,350’. Between my tender back and needing to breathe in all this altitude, I needed to rest!
I guess I be more of a city gal. LOL
Good morning all! Are you hungry? Best biscuit and gravy I’ve ever eaten made by Sandy’s hands!
Horsing around in Trinidad, CO.
We met and made new friends, Mike & Debra Messemer.
Debra’s creation: One-Pot Cheesy Italian Pasta & Chicken was delish!
She’s also a great baker and makes a variety of homemade preserves.
Our last night in Colorado.
Well, I hope you enjoy the journey of my vacation to a little piece of heaven.
Y’all come back now, ya hear?
Just two years ago today, I received a phone call from my daughter that made my heart drop. She said “Pops” had fallen off a 20′ ladder that left him with 13 busted ribs, 4 cracked vertebrae, and both lungs partially collapsed. I sped to the job site just as the ambulance arrived to rush him to the hospital. Once there, they immediately inserted a tube in his lungs to inflate them so he could breathe. He remained several days in ICU, battling for his life after getting an infection, along with a bout of pneumonia. But God! After a couple of weeks (that felt like the longest two weeks ever) he came home to finish mending!
If you have a moment, you can read about this story here
People, let go of the petty stuff and love your spouse!
Everyday is a gift (from God), that’s why they call it the present.
My Mountain Man!
Checkin’ in with my family, friends, & fans! I’m vacationing in Weston, CO with my husband and a couple of friends. More pictures to come! 🙂
What do you have going on this week?
I remember first holding you, so tiny in my arms.
Next thing I knew, you turned two, angelic, and quite a charm.
Your silhouette dancing in my dreams before my eyes –
Remembering your joy with my simple lullabies.
I imagine your eyes, your voice, your laughter,
Spending time together, nothing else mattered.
Thinking about you often before crawling in bed at night,
I loved you so much, never wanting you out of my sight.
I wish you could tell me what’s on your mind today?
What are the things you’re longing to say?
Would you have married a wonderful husband?
Live in a castle and have many children?
Oh, if only, if only, I could see you now,
I would run to you, hold you tight and twirl you around!
Oh, sister, there will always be a hole in my heart,
But I guess I knew that from the start.
If I still had you now to talk, share secrets, laugh and cry
I would not be here now thinking: Why did you have to die?
As we approach the anniversary of my baby sister’s life and death, what I have shared is very dear and personal to my heart. As my eyes mist with tears, I still feel my heart burn heavy from missing her! But please understand that I do NOT “blame” God for my sister’s death! Our God is Sovereign and I believe that He allows certain things to happen to us for His greater plan and purpose. (Isa. 57: 1). After all, His ways are higher than our ways.
Now, I’m not by any means a theologian, a preacher, or a Bible teacher. I’m just a layman, a simple woman of faith, with a finite mind trying to serve an Infinite God. I know that it rains on the just and unjust (Matt. 5:45); bad things do happen to good people.
If I am to be honest, I don’t always understand the mind of God. Howbeit, I purpose in my heart to trust Him! And if I am to be truthful, yes, my heart does have a few unanswered questions. On occasions, in my journey of life I have meltdowns, wallow in self-pity, and find myself clouded by doubts and fears. However, because of His steadfast love and His unfathomable mercy for me, I thank God that I don’t remain in that state of mind!
You see, I am a work in progress.
In memory of my sister who prematurely passed away 50 years ago by a hit-and-run driver. (To learn more of her story, click here.) She would have been ten years older than my first-born! I had to say goodbye to her when I was nine, just a month after she turned two years old. I remember so much pain and suffering as a child back then. In retrospect, I believe God may have spared her from something worse. I look forward to the Blessed Hope that one day we will embrace one another once again. She will not return to me, but I will go to her one day. And we will NEVER have to be apart.
Sometimes an event occurs and time stands still.
I know I shall never forget …
I had worked two years for a reputable high-end floor and textile cleaning company. I started out as a receptionist, and then promoted to inside sales. I sported around in a Jeep Grand Cherokee and I’d been married for seven wonderful years. Mark had become a devoted Christian, and we attended church as a close-knit family. In April, we purchased our home southwest of Houston in Fort Bend County. Five months later, while driving to work, my tranquil life was interrupted by distress and unexpected terror.
On September 11th, around 7:50 in the morning, I heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. As soon as I arrived at the office, I flicked on the TV to see the live broadcast of a massive hole in one tower caused by the plane’s impact. Co-workers gathered around and we couldn’t peel our eyes away from the screen. Black smoke billowed out the building, soon engulfed by flames.
We heard what we didn’t want to hear and continued to see unbelievable images that will forever be etched in our minds. My heart plummeted as I saw a second plane hit the other tower. Buildings collapsed minutes later and we all gasped in horror knowing that hundreds—thousands—lost their lives.
That night, President Bush spoke powerful words: “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.”
Freedom isn’t free, I thought, and freedom is worth any cost.
I thought about the word “freedom.” For the first time, within my own life I truly felt free.
Free from my own past … Free from the clutches of loneliness. Free from wondering where the next meal was coming from. Free from being a prisoner in my own mind, a failing marriage, a broken home.
But I also knew that in a split second, a life could be gone. I experienced that harsh truth the day I lost my baby sister by a hit-and-run driver. I lived through that stark reality from nearly drowning twice as a youngster. I re-lived that nightmare every time my former husband abused me, and again, on the day he shot at me.
An excerpt of “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace” – Chapter 43
We ALL have a story. We each have our own memories.
What is your memory on that fateful day?
Hello faithful followers and fellow bloggers!
I just celebrated another birthday. As I mature, although not always pain-free, I am thankful to God for my health and for surrounding me with great friends and loved ones. My family continues to grow as my son recently married and I embrace my new daughter-in-love. I know in God’s perfect timing, a new little addition will be added…ah yeah!
Mostly, I am thankful to the Lord for restoring unto me the years the locust had eaten. For those of you who don’t know my story, I was once a neglected and lonely little girl. Life didn’t become easier for me as a teenager and when I thought I had met my Prince Charming, I imagined he would whisk me away into a happily ever after. He hadn’t sown all his wild oats. He was an abusive man twice my age. Before I knew it, I felt trapped and was a 22-year old with 4 children, the oldest then only 5 years old!
So yeah, I endured some hardships but I learned a lot of lessons along the way. I am stronger today because of them. No matter what life has dealt, I have always strived to become better instead of bitter. I believe we can turn stumbling blocks of defeat and difficulties, into stepping-stones of purpose and peace. I came across a quote that said: “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.” Let that sink in. Some of us remain miserable all our lives. I don’t want to be that person, do you?
Take one day at a time. No grit, no grace. If you have a pulse, you have a purpose! Hold onto faith and keep on smiling. Have a grateful heart. Be thankful for the little things. Believe the best is yet to come. You ain’t seen nothing yet!