Category Archives: Grace Walk

Truly Amazing Grace


Have you noticed how easy it can be to appear to ‘have it all together’ on Facebook? 🙂 I know my family can attest to the fact that I surely do not walk through life with smiles, scriptures & inspirational quotes and affirmations rolling off my tongue! That’s one reason I appreciate the Apostle Paul so much, especially in The Message translation! Second Corinthians 12:9-11 puts it all into perspective for me and confirms that it’s God’s Grace, undeserved favor given freely due to Christ’s Redemption, that deserves all the Attention & Glory not me for even 1 second!

Paul writes,”Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

Sometimes I feel helpless, embarrassed and depressed. But then I read God’s Living Word and I realize I really can ‘count it all joy’ because God the Father, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit have this! When Jesus walked on the earth, wholly man and wholly God, He said, ” Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 11:33 Then I read in Revelations, also written by the Apostle John, about the new heaven, the new earth and the new Jerusalem where I read “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[p] 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelations 21:3-4. Over and over in Revelations Jesus said, “Look! I am coming soon!” Revelation 22:7,12 so my hope and expectations are renewed! This fallen world is difficult, but it isn’t over yet because we are promised an amazing future! But you should never lose sight of this fact, dear friends, that time is not the same with the Lord as it is with us—to him a day may be a thousand years, and a thousand years only a day. It is not that he is dilatory about keeping his own promise as some men seem to think; the fact is that he is very patient towards you. He has no wish that any man should be destroyed. He wishes that all men should come to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 (J.B.Phillips) We trust You with the timing, Lord, but, Maranatha, Come Lord, Jesus!


Re-direction not Rejection!


It’s so amazing and such an epiphany to discover this in hindsight! It’s the experiences that broke my heart and made me cry a river of tears in deep grieving that have become the testimony of God’s Amazing Grace & Unfailing Love!

Rich in Health & Family


Family, Time, Health
Those words sparked a fire in my spirit! In spite of my limited mobility, I consider myself healthy! I feel great 99% of the time! Sure MS slows me down and frustrates me, but, most of my ‘handicaps’ are caused by other people’s opinions and attitudes not mine! I have MS, MS does not have me! I crave inspiration and always have! It’s a gift that what inspires and uplifts me does so for others too! I’m so grateful that Facebook connects me with a wealth of friends and inspiration and ideas to share and an avenue on which to express them! Now I’ve decided to let them overflow onto my blog!

My main problem was employers that discontinued my teaching contract as soon as they found out I was diagnosed with MS or I probably would still be teaching school today.I found a lawyer that agreed to represent me in a mediation with the school district. They offered me $2500. Maybe I should have taken it but I believed I had been fired unjustly. The EEOC, due to the ADA, agreed I was fired in prejudice of my MS. However, the lawyer who didn’t charge me anything for the mediation, would not agree to represent me unless I could give her $5000. I was never able to find a lawyer who would represent me on a contingency and I couldn’t afford one otherwise so I had no other choice but to let it go.

However, God has a strategically ordered plan for my life and the last 13 years since I was in the classroom have been filled with priceless experiences. For example, I became a stay at home mom with my youngest, my daughter, from 8th grade through high school. As a result I was able to take her to and from school each day. On 9/11/01 I took her to school and arrived back home to see the 2nd plane hit the tower. On that emotional day I was able to pick her up in the aftermath and be there when my son drove home from high school that day and speak to my oldest son from college. Just one of the many reasons I know God planned for me, a single mom, to be home full time and even though we had to make it on a fraction of my previous income, He, El Shaddai, the All Sufficient One. made sure we always had what we needed. He is in control and what the enemy “intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Genesis 50:20

The Power of a Blessing



This is a powerful example of why and how Jesus taught that you will reap what you sow. Galatians 6:7

When I taught with some very rude co-workers my students asked me why I was nice to them when they were so mean to me. I told them because my behavior reflects what kind of person I am and if I didn’t like the way they treated me why would I treat ‘them’ that way.That group of kids I had that year (4th & 5th grade combo class) had experienced a lot of bad treatment both at school and at home. When those same teachers would yell undeservedly at my students I would hug them and tell them that I know how that made them feel and if they saw that happen to a friend that a hug can help. Upon retrospect I realized that’s why God put me in that situation that year and why He gave me those words to say to them.

My Amazing Power Chair


After frequent falls and the ensuing drama and stress it caused my kids to get me up again, I finally called The Scooter Store to start the process to get a power chair so I could get around safely in the house at least. They were wonderful in helping me set up the various appointments necessary to meet the requirements of my insurance company and coming out to make sure the chair was perfectly fitted to me and our home. After 2 months of appointments and waiting for the order to be processed my amazing power chair was delivered Wednesday, Jan. 11th. However, in spite of all the measuring etc that they did, I put a hole in my bedroom door trying to get through the doorway, first thing. : ( So I just got back in bed feeling discouraged. We thought the door would have to be widened and we knew my bedroom would need to be rearranged. So, that first day I had to learn how to manage feeling excited, embarrassed, thankful, and impatient all at the same time! But then, later, Todd McCown, my son’s wonderful buddy, spoke encouraging words to me and knowing he will help John I began to feel victory was in sight…if I would just be patient until they had time to accomplish all this!

The first sign of victory came the next day, after my son, John and his girlfriend, Sakeena, examined the door further. and she realized if we moved things so the door could be opened flat out of the way, the power chair could go through it easily! I still couldn’t move the power chair around inside my room but, at least if I left it in the hall, I could use it to get around the house which was a wonderful first step!

Over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday weekend I was involved in the amazing work John, Sakeena, & Todd did: removing furniture no longer needed, re-arranging the room, putting together a 9-cube shelf, sorting through all my stuff, making changes on my adjustable bed, adjusting a few things on the power chair my tech savvy son thought of, cleaning & cleaning some more! Now I can revolve a complete circle in my power chair in my room, as demonstrated by my daughter Ann Marie, who helped putting pictures & stuff in place!

Work has been ongoing. Sakeena got all the miscellaneous things that had overflowed all over the house during the re-arranging process, back in place. John got some new doors to replace mine and his bedroom doors. His buddy, Jason, helped him adjust the door frame in order to install a new door on my room. It makes me so happy to know John has such great friends. I’m such a Blessed Mother! John, especially, goes above and beyond what a son could do for a Mom! I feel so loved ♥

In May, 2010, the last thing my Daddy said to us as we were leaving his room the last time we saw him before he died was, “Y’all take care of your Mama.” Always blessed me that even though he was dying, he was trying to take care of me. They surely have! ♥

My kids, especially John since I live with him, need lots of prayer having the stress and responsibility of a disabled mother before they even have their own kids. I just pray they will have lots of blessing as God promises because they honor me in BIG ways. ♥

Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 NLT “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise. Ephesians 6:2 NLT

Memories on 9/11 ~ Where Was God?



Memorial of 9/11 - 10 year Anniversary

I had just dropped off my daughter, Ann Marie, age 12, at Tejeda Middle School. I came home and sat down to watch the Today show. Matt Lauer & Katie Couric were reporting that a plane had hit the North tower and were pondering ‘live’ as so many did that it was probably a small plane and an accident. I, like so many, was riveted to the screen. As we watched the smoke and flames in horror and shock we saw the 2nd plane fly into the South tower! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as the events unfolded and became more and more horrifying. The only time I left the living room watching all that was happening was to attend my water aerobics class at Healthlink. Usually we had music on as the physical therapist guided us through the class but that day she had the television on at the head of the pool as we went through our exercises in the pool silently except for her brief instructions. We were stunned. I remember how glad I was to pick up Ann Marie from school that afternoon and how relieved I was when John and Chris arrived home from school. Everyone held their families tightly that day and were grateful to God to have them safe at home.

Prayer was the mainstay of the day. I remember how the newscasters, like the whole world, held on to the hope that more survivors would be found. There was hope that some had been able to escape into underground tunnels to the subway. Every moment we listened was tied to this hope. There was no facebook, but, emails carried a chain of prayers across the information superhighway.

Many moving Stories began coming out. I remember a story about a father who worked in the Pentagon, but, he had taken the day off that day so he escaped the tragedy of the plane crash that destroyed his very office. However, the tragic detail was that his son was among a group of school children who were traveling to Los Angeles for a special field trip and were in the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

Another story i heard was about a retired policeman. His wife and children were so glad he was no longer in the daily danger of his profession that had caused his family stress for many years. After retirement he had felt compelled to become an airline attendant. He told his wife he felt he would be able to reach out and tell others about Jesus Christ and Salvation in that capacity. Ironically, he ended up being on one of the hijacked planes and had called his wife to tell her he had been praying with scared passengers that day. Amazing stories seemed to come out about the faithful in Christ every day.

There were many who expressed anger at God in the tragedy. However, I know the God of the Universe grieved for the pain and sorrow of all those affected by this, by His Very Nature! This email that has been circulated over and over during the last decade truly reflects this.:

How many of us have heard that question, “Where was your God when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked?” Well, I know where my God was the morning of September 11, 2001, and He was very busy.

He was trying to discourage anyone from taking these flights. Those four flights held over 1000 passengers and there were only 266 aboard. On one of the flights he was giving strength to passengers to try to overtake the hijackers.

He was on four commercial flights giving terrified passengers the ability to stay calm. Not one of the family members who were called by a loved one on one of the hijacked planes said that passengers were screaming in the background.

On one of the flights he was giving strength to passengers to try to overtake the hijackers.

He was busy trying to create obstacles for employees at the World Trade Center. After all, only around 20,000 were at the towers when the first jet hit. Since the buildings held over 50,000 workers, this was a miracle in itself. How many of the people who were employed at the World Trade Center told the media that they were late for work or they had traffic delays.

He was holding up two 110 story buildings so that two-thirds of the workers could get out. I was so amazed that the top of the towers didn’t topple when the jets impacted. And when they did fall, they fell inward. God didn’t allow them to topple over, as many more lives would have been lost.

And when the buildings went down, my God picked up almost 6,000 of his children and carried them home with him. Reassuring his frightened children that the worst was over and the best was yet to come.

He sat down and cried that 19 of his children could have so much hate in their hearts. That they didn’t choose him, and now they are lost forever.

He sent his children that are best trained for this disaster and had them save the few that were still alive, but unable to help themselves. And then sent many others to help in any way they were needed.

He still isn’t finished though, He held the loved ones that were left behind in His arms. He comforts them daily. His other children are given the strength to reach out to them and help them in any way they can.

And I believe He will continue to help us in what is to come. He will give the people in charge of this great nation the strength and the wisdom to do the right thing. He would never leave us in our time of need.

So, when anyone asks, “Where was your God on September 11th?”, you can say “Everywhere!” And yes, although this is without a doubt the worst thing I have seen in my life, I see God’s miracles in every bit of it.”

Another Touching email still circulating that reflects God’s Character in 9/11…


You say you will never forget where you were when
you heard the news On September 11, 2001.
Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room
with a man who called his wife to say ‘Good-Bye.’
I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the
peace to say, ‘Honey, I am not going to make it, but it
is OK… I am ready to go.’

I was with his wife when he called as she fed
breakfast to their children. I held her up as she
tried to understand his words and as she realized
he wasn’t coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a
woman cried out to Me for help.
‘I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!’ I said.
‘Of course I will show you the way home – only believe in Me now.’

I was at the base of the building with the Priest
ministering to the injured and devastated souls.
I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven.
He heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat,
with every prayer. I was with the crew as they
were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the
believers there, comforting and assuring them that their
faith has saved them.

I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan .
I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.
Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew
every name – though not all knew Me.
Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor.

Some sought Me with their last breath.
Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the
smoke and flames; ‘Come to Me… this way… take
my hand.’ Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.
But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day.
You may not know why, but I do. However, if you were
there in that explosive moment in time,
would you have reached for Me?

Sept.. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey
for you. But someday your journey will end.
And I will be there for you as well.
Seek Me now while I may be found.
Then, at any moment, you know you are ‘ready to go.’

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.


“Some More Thoughts I read online…

As you might know, the head of one company survived 9/11 because he took his son to kindergarten.
Another fellow is alive because it was his turn to bring donuts.
Another lady was late because her alarm clock didn’t go off on time.
One was late as a result of being stuck on the NJ Turnpike because of an auto accident.
One more survivor missed his bus.
One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change.
One’s car wouldn’t start.
One went back to answer the telephone.
One had a child that dawdled and didn’t get ready as soon as he should have.
One couldn’t get a taxi.
The one that, struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning,
went to work by his usual way but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot.
So he stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid. That is why he is alive today.
Now when I am stuck in traffic, miss an elevator, turn back to answer a ringing telephone…
all the little things that annoy me….
I think to myself, this is exactly where God wants me to be at this very moment.
Next time your morning seems to be going wrong, the children are slow getting dressed, you can’t seem to find the car keys, you hit every traffic light, don’t get mad or frustrated; God is at work watching over you.
May God continue to bless you with all those annoying little things and may you remember their possible purpose.”

To Have Succeded


To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first time I saw this verse was the day I graduated from high school. It was on a graduation card from a special friend accompanied by a bottle of Chantilly perfume. It moved me so much and that night I kissed him for the first time! As the years have gone by, the verse has come to mean so much more to me. It’s become my philosophy of life! Amazing how many of the things mentioned in the verse have happened in my life.

I have been going through a crisis of confidence sitting in my room experiencing the increasing limitations of Multiple Sclerosis. I keep telling myself that I have MS, MS does not have me! I know that God has a unique and special plan for my life. I know He called me to teach. I know He called me to be the mother of my three wonderful kids. However, MS has robbed me of my teaching job and now my kids are left taking care of me! This blog is my place to share what the Lord is teaching me, the one place I can record what is happening so my children and the people I love in my life will have it in writing if I don’t have an opportunity to communicate these things.

I came across my favorite part of the verse yesterday, the part that moved me so much the first time I saw it 37 years ago, and posted it on Facebook. ‘To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.’ It moved many people then which is what it’s all about. I want to inspire, enlighten, encourage and uplift. Coming across Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words last night revived me. Thank You, Jesus for sending words and people to me just when I need them.

No matter what happens, this is what I want my life to be all about.

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Prayers Continue to Be Answered


I had an epiphany today. First a friend posted a comment saying, ” awe, I’m praying for ya. I know it must be hard for you.”. Then another friend commented that I was addicted to facebook. I’ve been having a bit of a ‘pity party’ lately, but, instead of making me feel worse, these comments snapped me out of it! I realized that, naw, I’m not addicted to facebook, and by God’s Grace I’m not to be pitied! My circumstances keep me somewhat isolated, yet, as a ‘people person’, the world wide web (ie. Facebook, email, CBC Online church services and lifegroups & blogs) has allowed me to develop & maintain relationships with many amazing people and continue to grow and learn as a person and a child of God. As in the prayer of Jabez, God has expanded my boundaries! ‘Jabez called out to the God of Israel, “If only you would greatly bless me and expand my territory! May your hand be with me! Keep me from harm so I might not endure pain!” God answered his prayer.’ I Chronicles 4:10 NET Bible 

God’s All Sufficient Power


I received an email this week about a young woman having problems with her food stamp card to pay for her groceries. When a man in the line behind her made a rude comment about the food stamps she fled in tears. When the man was told that at 21 she was raising her soldier brother’s kids when he was killed he made a generous purchase of food to be delivered to the young woman’s home. It brought back a memory of a season in my own life.

Lifechanging Fall 1985 ~ Broken, Restored, Loved ~


My Mom ~ Mary Ann Hamilton

Chapter 1

Preceding the events of that fall, in October, 1983, my mother was hospitalized with severe abdominal pain. The doctor decided it was caused by her gall bladder and scheduled her for surgery to have it removed. However, after he got her open the gall bladder was fine, but, he saw what he believed was cancer on the liver and pancreas. He took a biopsy on the liver and closed. He told us he believed it was pancreatic cancer that had spread and she probably only had a few months to live! We were stunned but spread the word and prayers from all of our family and friends began in earnest! An oncologist examined the biopsy results and told us it was breast cancer! My mother had had a mammogram the year before and a doctor’s manual exam 2 months before! The oncologist examined her and found a tiny tumor by her nipple and performed a lumpectomy. We already knew it had spread to her liver, but, now they ran a comprehensive scan. The great news, an answer to prayer, was that nothing was ever found on her pancreas, but, it had spread to her lungs & bones. However, the doctor told us she had a 90% of beating it. Chemotherapy began and in time successfully arrested it and she had been doing great! In May, 1984 my parents and my dad’s sister & her husband, my Aunt Daisy & Uncle Bill, took a wonderful vacation to Hawaii. At Christmas that year her hair had grown back and they had a special catered Christmas party.

Unfortunately, by the end of January, 1985 it had spread to her brain. However, radiation arrested the growth of that tumor. Sadly, her symptoms persisted and it was discovered it had spread to the meninges of her brain. This was the one area that didn’t respond to treatment. During the last 4 months of her life, she had been confused and increasingly agitated and her eyes looked so tortured. This was especially hard for me as when I looked in the mirror, I would see ‘her’ eyes. I had begun praying and speaking Philippians 4:7 to her that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard (her) heart and (her) mind in Christ Jesus.”

I was blessed that the last time I spent time with her, I could see she ‘was’ at peace because her eyes, ‘the windows of your soul’, were crystal clear and peaceful. She was sitting by the window of her hospital room looking out at a sunny day and Viney, the special nurse’s aide who cared for her for the last 6 months of her life, was feeding her ice cream. I took over feeding her and told her that her eyes looked so beautiful. Viney said she thought my eyes looked like hers and my mom nodded in agreement. That was an incredible comfort. The next day she went to sleep and continued sleeping for the next 3 days.

On Saturday morning, November 9, 1985, my dad called to tell me he had decided to take a break and ride down to Stockdale to see my Grandparents. My husband, Carl, left to do some programming for a friend’s office and I got a burst of energy to clean my house. Viney called and told me she was trying to reach my Dad. Although she didn’t work on Saturdays, she felt compelled to check on my Mom and from experience she knew her breathing indicated she did not have long to live and she knew my Dad would want to be there. I called my Grandparents and found out that my Dad had a sense he needed to get back to the hospital and had already headed back to town. About 20 minutes later, Daddy called to tell me that my Mom had passed away. My Dad told me he had stopped to help a family putting their elderly mother in the car to take her home. By the time he got upstairs and walked into her room, she was looking up as if she was seeing a bright light and then she passed away.

Friends and family gathered at my parent’s house. The special friends who come to comfort and care for you at such a time are worth their weight in gold and they mean everything to you. One cousin immediately asked me if I was mad at God for not answering my prayers and healing my mother. I said, “He did heal her! She’s not sick anymore!” I’m so thankful God gave me those words at that moment. What a comfort it was to be surrounded by the loving company of close friends. It felt so comfortable, as if my mom was just in another room visiting with friends. It was especially nice to be free of the worry and anguish we had endured when we were so constantly aware of her suffering.

Our son, John, was only 3 years old and I was 26 weeks pregnant at the time. Everyone kept commenting on how big I was and speculating that maybe I was going to have twins. Even a family friend, Julie Pfeiffer, who had given birth to twins told me people were always telling her they wondered if they were having twins. But, she said they really didn’t know how big you get with twins! However, she said I ‘was’ big for only 6½ months!

We decided to have the funeral Monday afternoon, on Veteran’s Day when people would likely be able to come. I was scheduled for my monthly OB visit that morning. I decided to keep the appointment since the funeral was not until 1:00 pm that afternoon, so I could touch base with the doctor. When the doctor examined me, he told me that I had grown 10 centimeters in a month instead of the usual 4 centimeters! He told me that he didn’t think I was having twins but that the baby had probably just had a growth spurt. However, he said we needed to do a sonogram to see what was going on. At that time sonograms were not routine and I had never had one before. He told me that we didn’t need to do it this week as he knew I had a lot going on. But, we were anxious to know what was going on, so an appointment was set up for Thursday.

We had a lovely service for my Mother that afternoon at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church with Reverend John Platte. It was a blessing to have someone speaking who knew Mom. He had christened my son, John, and performed my brother’s wedding ceremony. He had visited our homes and had warmly welcomed her & Daddy in church when she asked him to bring her when she was able to come. He had also visited her so faithfully after she was hospitalized. We went through the rest of the week wondering if perhaps the Lord was going to ease our grief by blessing us with twins.

Chapter 2

Three Days later, we had the sonogram in Dr. Paine’s office and the first thing we learned was that we were not having twins. However, the doctor told us that the baby had a growth on his/her tailbone and he wanted me to have a high-resolution sonogram with a specialist at the hospital to get more information. He said he was concerned about the baby’s ability to move his/her legs but emphasized this was not cancer.

An hour later we went to the hospital next door for this sonogram. It was uncomfortable because it was a lengthy process and the specialist pressed down firmly, all over my abdomen, in order to get the best views of the baby. The Specialist told us the baby was a girl and told us her brain and heart looked perfect and the organs in her abdomen appeared to be functioning well in utero. She didn’t give us much more information and told us Dr. Paine would be calling me after he received the report on the sonogram. As we were leaving the lab I made the comment, “She didn’t say anything about the baby’s lungs.”

My Dad was already back at work and anxiously waiting to hear from us, so, we drove over to his office to tell him what we had learned. We were dreading to tell him something was wrong, just days after we had buried my mother. In the office with all his salesmen, we just told them it wasn’t twins but a baby girl which he was thrilled to hear, since we already had a little son. Then we took him to lunch and after we ate we told him what the doctor had told us. We tried to stay positive, especially after all the family had been through, and stressed it was not cancer. We told him we would hear more from the doctor later that evening. I was feeling sick, from all the pressure on my uterus during the sonogram, and came home to rest and wait to hear from the doctor. My emotions and body were exhausted.

The doctor called me that evening and told me they were familiar with this type of large benign tumor that was almost as large as the baby. He said the tumor was a teratoma which has every type of tissue as a baby. He said it was attached at the tailbone and he had every reason to be optimistic that it could be safely removed after the baby was born. He said I also had excessive amniotic fluid and this combined with the tumor made me full term ‘size’ at 27 weeks and, as a result, I would have to be watched very closely for premature labor and would have to have a c-section delivery. All our other family and friends were anxiously waiting to hear if we were having twins. We didn’t want to talk about everything, at this point, as I still had 13 weeks to go, so we decided to just tell everyone that it was a baby girl. I knew I could not hold it together calling all these people and Carl kindly made all the calls, so I could rest. It was a hard day for both of us.

Saturday morning I got in the shower to get ready to go pick up the sympathy notes so I could begin thanking people for all the flowers, food and remembrances. However, when I was showering, the mucous plug came out! I panicked because when John was born, my water broke 45 minutes after this happened! I rushed to tell Carl and call the doctor. Dr. Paine was not on call but the ‘high-risk’ doctor in the practice was and he told me to come to the hospital immediately. Then the phone rang and it was my Dad and I didn’t want to worry him, at this point, so I told him we were ‘taking it easy’! We called my brother, John, and his wife, Tami, and asked them if they could meet us at the hospital so they could take care of 3 year old, John Warren.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was placed in labor & delivery and the doctor put me on terbutaline to stop my labor. I had not started dilating, but, I was having contractions. Late that night, I started having severe chest pains. Sunday this continued and it was determined I had gone into pneumonia. We decided to call my Dad and tell him what was happening. He came to the hospital and said the most memorable thing.

He said, “It’s as if your Mom is our guardian angel and when she got up to heaven she could see what was happening and she went straight to ‘the Head Man’ and said, “We’ve got to do something and we’ve got to do something now!!!”

On Monday morning, November 18, 1985, when Dr. Paine was back on duty, he told me my system couldn’t handle the terbutaline and he would have to take me off of it and check me at the end of the day. He said he was not ‘writing this baby off’, but sometimes ‘nature knows best’. A Neo-natal nurse came in and told me that a 27-week baby had a 90% chance of survival, so not to give up hope. At the end of the day, I was dilated 3 cm, so, Dr. Paine scheduled an emergency c-section.
I told Dr. Paine I wanted to be awake and he said an epidural was better anyway because of the pneumonia. He performed the c-section. A Neonatalogist was present. I could hear the Neo-natal doctor saying he couldn’t get the tube down. They told me they were taking the baby for an x-ray. The x-ray showed that the baby had no lungs. Her esophagus came down and ended which is why the doctor couldn’t get the tube down to ventilate her. There was nothing they could do for her.

They asked us if we wanted her to be baptized and in faith and a desire to validate her presence on the earth we said yes. We had always planned to name a girl, Ann Marie, so Carl asked me if I wanted to name her ‘Ann Marie.’ I said, “No, there was no way I could lose Mary Ann (my mother) and Ann Marie ten days apart! I told Carl that my mother told me once that she had wanted to name me Catherine, so, “Let’s name her Catherine.”

She ‘lived’ or at least her tiny heart kept beating for 2 hours due to the oxygenation of her blood from my placenta. They tried to take me to see her but I was still in the recovery room after the c-section. They tried to roll me over to see her but the gurney wouldn’t fit through the door to the Neo-natal nursery. I was only able to look at her from 15 feet across the room from her little NICU Isolette. But the sweet nurses dressed her in a little gown and took a Polaroid picture of her for me to cherish, along with her birth certificate with her tiny footprints.

The next day I slept all day and I have no memory of that day. Carl slept in a chair in my room and he woke up to see me sitting up and he ‘heard’ ‘my half’ of a conversation with my mother! It scared him, but, I believe the Lord allowed her to come and comfort me somewhere between time and eternity. I was very sick and I often wonder if I experienced a small taste of heaven during that time as I healed. Valium was one of the drugs they gave me to slow down labor and I’ve heard it can cause retrograde amnesia. Makes me wonder what happened that I just don’t remember.

Since I was recovering from surgery, pneumonia and the complications of the pregnancy we decided to have a memorial service for Baby Catherine in the Methodist Hospital chapel and Carl, his parents and my Dad had a small graveside service with a tiny white coffin at Mission Park South Cemetery where my mother and both of my uncles were buried. We placed an engraved Bronze heart as the grave marker in Babyland right next to the San Antonio River on the southside.

Ironically, this was just downstream from where I had lived as a child. Our property near San Jose Mission on Symphony Lane backed up to the river (really more of a creek than a river at that point) and we fished in it and rode horses on it when I was in 1st – 3rd grades. It was a happy time for me then and it has always given me great peace that she’s buried there next to that peaceful stream of my childhood, not far from my mother’s grave.

In another evidence of God’s ‘Amazing Grace’, after I got home from the hospital, I learned that my sweet neighbor and friend, Paula, who lived 4 doors away on my street, although, I knew she was a nurse, was in fact a Neo-Natal nurse who worked in the same Neo-natal Intensive Care Nursery with the nurses who cared for Catherine! She wasn’t on duty that night, but, was able to share information and reassurance directly from the same nurses. When I cried because I didn’t get to hold her, she told me that ‘(I) held Catherine in my womb closer than anyone could and she was perfectly healthy and safe while she was there.’ My Mother had ordered some things for Christmas before she passed and evidently she had an intuition that my baby was a girl as one gift that arrived after she passed, was a china baby doll! Apparently, She anticipated a granddaughter and now Catherine is in heaven with her!

‘Footprints Experience’

I remember how unexplainedly joyful I felt in the first few weeks after I got home from the hospital. It was Paula, who took me to a Bible Study the day after I got home from the hospital and I was eager to testify how I felt the Lord had saved my life and how I had never felt more loved by Him! I knew it was the Joy of the Lord, but, I remember reading the poem ‘Footprints’ with new eyes and realizing immediately that was why I felt joyful! Jesus was carrying me ‘through’ this. It’s not that I didn’t grieve the losses of my Mother and my Baby, Catherine, intensely at times, but the Father is so faithful and in the hardest times I learned more about His Grace than any other time.

After I got home I read endlessly about prenatal development and I discovered that a baby’s lungs develop at 11 weeks. I read that if something interrupts the development at a certain point that it doesn’t go back and make up for it later. I remembered having the flu and a fever at that point in my pregnancy and was convinced that is what must have happened. When I went to the doctor for a follow-up I told Dr. Paine about this and he explained something to me. He told me that lungs need ‘space’ and ‘nutrition’ to develop and the tumor interfered in both ways. I remembered my comment that they had not said anything about the baby’s lungs after the sonogram. Was that something in my intuition that sensed there was something wrong with her lungs? I asked the doctor why they didn’t know from the sonogram. He told me that in utero the lungs are fluid filled so they are not visible.

I asked the doctor if my severe chest pains were caused by the pneumonia and he told me I was suffering from severe cardiac insufficiency caused by the stress of the pregnancy and with the terbutaline, my body was working overtime trying to stop the labor that really needed to proceed. Clearly, my life was threatened by what was taking place. Then he shared something with me that showed me just how much the Lord was protecting me and guiding the circumstances.

He told me that every obstetrician fears delivering ‘half’ a baby. He said, if we had not learned of the tumor and the necessity of the c-section, I would have gone into labor, as I did, and as labor progressed the baby would have gotten stuck in the birth canal. Unable to see what was wrong, they would have watched the baby die in the birth canal. The doctor would have been forced to cut the cervix in order to save my life ‘if’ he had even been able to save me! It made me realize that it was the Lord that prompted me to keep my appointment the morning of the funeral. It would have been all too easy to decide to re-schedule my appointment in the middle of the overwhelming grief of losing my Mom! Whatsmore, it was God’s perfect plan that I proceed with the sonogram only 2 days before I went into labor. The doctor had even suggested we could wait to do the sonogram till the next week! However, in God’s economy, it was necessary for it to happen exactly as it did. He made sure the doctors knew exactly what they needed to know exactly when they needed to know!

As time has passed I see God’s protection and plan even more clearly. If it hadn’t happened just that way, as sad as it was, I never would have been able to have more children if I had even survived at all! But 13 months later I gave birth to Christopher Damon and 4 years later I gave birth to Ann Marie.

Dr. Paine changed his practice too. When I was pregnant with my firstborn, John, I never had a sonogram as they weren’t common. However, after my situation he began routinely scheduling a sonogram for all his patients at 12 weeks of pregnancy. I’m grateful to God that Dr. Paine was present for all 4 of my deliveries!

I learned I can trust God even in the middle of tragedy and heartache because He can see further down the road and He truly does have our well-being and blessing in mind!

Dr. Mark Paine, with John, Chris & Ann Marie