"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Meet Angel - Part V (The last and final chapter!)

(I apologize this is so long. I had no idea when I started this story how much time it would consume and I really did not want to extend it any longer, so I finished it in this last post.)
I hadn't realized I had fallen asleep holding Maria's hand until the neonatologist walked in with his team. I gently stirred her to awaken her and she opened her eyes. She immediately realized that the nightmare she was having was real. Along with the doctors, a Spanish speaking nurse had entered the room carrying a clipboard filled with papers.

We listened attentively to what he had to say, which was all translated to Maria through the nurse. He introduced himself and asked Maria if she wanted the baby's father present. She said, "No, the baby's father has taken no responsibility." He then said, "Your baby is in critical condition. His lungs are very underdeveloped and he appears to have hydrocephalus, water in the brain." We both sat there motionless and unable to speak. He continued, "A shunt may be needed to be placed in order to drain the fluid and he must remain under extreme observation in the NICU. Unfortunately, we don't have the type of care he needs here at this hospital. He needs to be transferred immediately to the Children's Hospital if he has any chance of surviving".

Maria looked at me as I had turned to look at her. She then asked the doctor, "When will he be transferred?" The doctor replied, "A neonatal team is on their way right now." She then asked if she would be transferred with the baby, the doctor said that unfortunately, she would have to remain at that hospital while the baby was at the Children's Hospital about 30 minutes south of where we were. She started to cry. I held her hand and told her that she needed to take care of herself so that she could care for her baby. I tried reassuring her that he would be under great care there and as soon as she was discharged, I would take her daily to see her baby.

The nurse then approached with a mountain of papers for her to sign, including birth certificate information. Maria was still under sedation and not thinking clearly, so I asked if that information could wait until the following day to be filled out. They agreed. They had her sign the baby's release papers and authorization for treatment.

Up until that time, no one had seen the baby. About 15 minutes later, the neonatal team from the Children's Hospital entered the room. They also introduced themselves and asked if we had any further questions. They placed special "bands" on both Maria and myself that would allow us access to the NICU at the Children's Hospital when she was ready to see him. In addition, they had given her the number to the nurses station in case she wanted to call for any reason. Maria asked if she could see her baby before they took him. They said yes, they would bring him to her room on the way out. It wasn't long after the team left the room that an incubator was being wheeled in. He was tiny, but seemed so perfect. He measured 15 inches and weighed 2.25 pounds. We said a quick prayer and Maria kissed her hand and placed in on the incubator. Seconds later, he was quickly being wheeled down the hall and out of our sight.

Everything was happening so fast. Part of me wanted to take off after the ambulance and be with the baby, but I knew that there was nothing I could for him. So, it was an obvious decision that I needed to stay with Maria. She was in pain from the c-section and her heart was breaking over all that had transpired. She really didn't speak much after they left and I just said, "You have to keep trusting God." She smiled and closed her eyes. I sat down on the small recliner in the cold room and tried to catch at least 2 hours of sleep. It was a futile effort.

The next morning the doctor came in. They removed her catheter and told her she should try and get out of bed. About an hour later, her breakfast had arrived. I tried making her comfortable and sitting her up to eat. She ate almost nothing. I then called the hospital to check on the baby. None of the nurses on staff spoke Spanish, so I had to do all the speaking and translating. The baby was doing well under the circumstances, but they told us that the next 72 hours would be crucial. They still had not put a shunt on him. They did suggest that, if possible, she pump breast milk and it be taken to the baby.

After breakfast, I asked if she would be OK for me to leave. I still had Amanda at home to care for and Scott had been late to work that morning to take her to school. She said she'd be fine. I called the nurse in and told them I was leaving for a few hours, to please call me if anything came up.

I drove home, showered and headed to the Children's Hospital. Upon arriving, I was allowed into the NICU to see the baby, whom still did not have a name. Something Maria hadn't even brought up yet. But then again, I'm sure delivering at 28 weeks under those conditions was the furthest thing from her mind. She had been in no rush to name the baby.

He was beautiful and tiny. He still remained in the incubator, but I was in awe at how perfectly formed he was at 28 weeks. His fingernails were perfect as was every little part of his tiny body. His eyes were covered for protection against the UV lights needed to prevent jaundice and he was on a respirator. My heart ached with each breath he took, as I watched his tiny chest struggling for air. I prayed over him and left to find the nurse.

The nurses were wonderful at the hospital. I explained Maria's situation and asked if it was possible to borrow a breast pump for her to start storing milk for the baby. They immediately returned with an electric breast pump and a box full of plastic baggies for her to deposit and freeze the milk in. I thanked them and headed back again to the other side of town to Maria's hospital.

Upon arrival there, I told her I had seen the baby and her eyes lit up. She seemed to be feeling better and the nurses had helped her up to go to the bathroom and for a short walk. I then opened the bag with the breast pump and told her that she needed to start feeding her baby. She said, "Already?" I said, "Yep! We need to fatten up that little guy." Our first attempt at extracting breast milk was pretty comedic, but after she got the hang of it, she was able to fill about a quarter of a baggie, which was all the baby needed for a feeding. I remained with her until the afternoon when it was time for me to pick up Amanda from school. I left with my breast milk-filled baggies in a bucket filled with ice.

I picked up Amanda, went home took out something for dinner, waited for Scott to come home and then left to Children's Hospital to drop off the baby's milk. I did a quick detour into the gift shop, grabbed a little bear for him and wrapped a rosary around the bear. I then went upstairs to see the baby. They had removed his eye patches and he was no longer in the incubator. His temperature was normalizing. We had moved a small baby step forward!

I then left the Children's Hospital and drove back to Maria's hospital to check on her. She was doing well and had pumped a few more bags that the nurse had put in the freezer there. While sitting by her watching TV, the nurse from the previous night came in again with the birth certificate information. I said to Maria, "You need to name this baby. Do you have any ideas yet?" She said, "I already know his name. It's Angel Gabriel." My eyes watered. My thoughts immediately went back to the baby that my 11 year old daughter had been praying for during the Spiritual Adoption Program. Remember she had chosen the name "Angel"? Maria had no way of knowing that. I knew then that God had used Amanda to pray for baby Angel every night, even before he was conceived.

I told Maria that I thought the name was beautiful. She said, "I've been thinking about the name and it has so many special meanings for me. The Angel Gabriel was sent to let Mary know that she would be carrying the Baby Jesus. I could just imagine how scared she was. Well, that's how I felt when I found out I was pregnant. I know now that the Lord sent this baby to me as a messenger, just like he sent Angel Gabriel. I also love the name because of The Gabriel Project and how much it has helped me." I was so moved that God had completely transformed this young girl. She then said, "But one of the reasons I chose Angel was because you were my Angel throughout all of this." Of course, by then I was bawling. Angel Gabriel was a perfect name for a perfect baby boy.

My routine of staying at the hospital till midnight and traveling back and forth from hospital to hospital continued for a few more days until Maria was finally discharged. I had taken her home the morning of her discharge and told her to rest and I would be back to pick her up to go visit the baby. In the meantime, I was looking to see if I could find some arrangement for her to stay at the hospital, but there was nothing available at the Ronald McDonald house by the hospital.

As I was driving home, I received a phone call. It was the NICU. The doctors had tried reaching Maria at the hospital and had found out she was discharged. They needed her at the hospital right way. Angel was going downhill fast. I told them we'd be there within an hour.

I turned the car around and headed back to her house, which I had only left maybe 10 minutes earlier. When I arrived, Lucy had settled her in bed because she was having pain. I told Maria about the phone call and pretty much told her that it really sounded bleak and that she must go to the hospital.
I helped her into the car and off we went. When we arrived at the hospital, I asked someone at registration if I could borrow a wheelchair. Then I ran out to the parking lot with the wheelchair and wheeled Maria up to the NICU. Angel was back in the incubator and was really struggling to breathe.

The nurse came to get us and told us the doctors wanted to speak to us in the conference room. I knew it wasn't going to be good. We sat around the table. I was again the translator. The doctor looked at me and very point blank said, "We're doing the best we can. His breathing is very erratic, which is making his heart work extra hard. We don't know how much longer he could fight like this." I asked what was his suggestion. He said, "You are Catholic, right?" I nodded. He looked at me and said, "Call a priest."

I took in a very deep breath. I could feel Maria's eyes boring into me, waiting for me to tell her what was happening. I thought, "Lord. How do you expect me to say this?" I turned to Maria and said in Spanish, "The baby's very sick. The doctors are doing all they can, but they don't know how much longer the baby could fight. Maybe we should call a priest to have him baptized." I looked down and could still feel her eyes on me. She then said, "Is my baby going to die?" I looked up and said, "Maria, Jesus is the only one that knows the answer to that. You can't give up hope. Let's get him baptized and let's pray." I noticed her stirring in her chair and almost grimacing with pain. I knew it was both from her heartache and from her incision.

The nurses called the priest from the local Catholic church and within 2 hours he was by our side. Before he arrived, Maria asked me, "Would you honor my son by being his Godmother?" I was once again moved to tears. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be going through this rollercoaster when I moved into this town just 10 months prior.

The priest baptized the baby and the nurses allowed Maria to hold him for the first time. After about 3 hours there, I could tell Maria really needed to rest. I told her she had to go back home. I was only 15 minutes from the hospital and if God forbid something happened, I could be there right away or go back and pick her up. I double checked that the nurses had my phone number and Lucy's since Maria no longer had a phone. I had them reassure her that if the baby got worse, they would call.

The following morning, we were back by his side. We both noticed that he had a little bit of pus oozing out of his right eye. I mentioned it to the nurse and she said she'd noticed it, too. She would let the doctor know. That evening, an opthamologist came by to see the baby and prescribed some antibiotic.

Two days went by and Angel was slowly improving. We were storming the Heavens with prayers and believing that God would heal him. The fluid in his brain had not increased, but had not decreased. His temperature was again normalizing. But his eye continued to secrete mucous. I called the opthamologist that afternoon with Maria by my side. He said he would order additional testing.

The following morning before I had left my house to begin my now common routine of driving 60 miles a day and going to the hospital, the phone rang. It was the NICU again. They wanted to know if Maria was going to the hospital on that day. I said yes that I was picking her up in about an hour or two and we would be there around noon. The nurse said, "You may want to come a little earlier. The opthamologist is here and wants to speak to her." So, again I rushed and headed out the door. I called Lucy from the car and told her to get Maria up and tell her that I was on my way. When I arrived, Maria was waiting. We hopped in the car and drove back to the hospital.

Upon arrival, the now familiar nurses we knew by name told us to wait and she would get the doctor for us. Within minutes, he was standing before us as we followed him into the dreaded conference room. We sat around the table and the doctor explained to us that Angel had developed a dangerous fungal eye infection. The infection was quickly spreading and that the hospital was not equipped with the care he needed. I immediately thought, "Wasn't it just over a week ago that we had heard those same words?" I was angry and couldn't help thinking, "What the hec good were these hospitals for if they couldn't ever provide the help needed." I turned to the doctor and said, "So, now what? You're moving him somewhere else?" He could tell I was very agitated and in a calm manner said, "One of the country's best eye institutes is The Bascom-Palmer Institute in Miami. If anywhere his eye could be saved and the infection can be stopped from spreading it would be there." I thought to myself, "Miami? That's over 2 hours away." Again, I took a deep breath and turned to Maria. I explained what the doctor had said and my questions to him, along with his response. She remained quiet. I'm sure at that moment her mind was as bogged with thoughts as mine was. Where would she stay? She was only 2 weeks post-op. How would she get there? What about my family? What will she do for money? So many questions and not one answer. The only thing we knew for sure was that the doctor was standing before us waiting for the OK to call the hospital in Miami to send a helicopter to fly the baby there. There was no option. Angel was heading to Miami, and so were we. We went into the NICU and said our goodbyes.

On the way back to Maria's, I called TGP and told the director, whom had no clue up to this point about anything, what had occurred. I told her I needed help. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. She told me she would arrange for Maria to stay at the Ronald McDonald house at the hospital. They provide housing and meals and TGP would pay the $11. per night that they required. She could stay there for up to 60 days. Maria had not yet received a release from her obstetrician to drive, therefore I would be driving her to Miami, checking her in and coming back to the west coast.

After packing everything up that she would need, we headed to Miami. We arrived at the hospital just after 9 p.m. The doctors had checked the baby and run all the tests they needed, but would not be able to meet with us until the following day. That night I spent at the Ronald McDonald house with Maria.

By 6:30 a.m., we were in the NICU again. The doctors made rounds around 8 a.m. and we wanted to make sure we didn't miss them. When we arrived, the nurse told us we would be seeing all of the doctors at once in a meeting that was being scheduled for late morning. Some tests results were still not in and they hoped to have them all in by then.

Almost all of the staff at the hospital spoke Spanish, which was a huge relief to both Maria and myself. One less thing to worry about when she's on her own, which I knew would be soon.

It took forever for our 11:30 appointment to arrive. As the group of doctors that included a neonatologist, a pediatrician, a neurosurgeon and an opthamologist gathered around the table we nervously waited to hear the news. It came fast and hard. "We're not able to save Angel's eye due to the extent of the infection. We need to perform surgery as soon as possible to remove it, cleanse the area behind it and administer antibiotics both topically and through his IV. If it spreads to the brain, it could be deadly." We both sat there stunned. He asked if we had any other questions. Maria gathered the strength to ask if there was no other solution. His answer was simple. "No, I'm sorry. If there were, trust me, we'd be doing it."

Next was the neonatologist. The baby's lungs were still very underdeveloped and they would be continuing the Surfactant treatment he was receiving to try and prevent his lungs from collapsing.

The neurosurgeon then pulled up his clipboard, reviewed some notes and said, "We must implant a shunt as soon as possible now. The fluid in his brain is not draining and it is beginning to put pressure on the brain." Again, silence from both of us. I couldn't even fathom what Maria was thinking.

Fast forward two days, both procedures had been performed. Angel's right eye was removed and a shunt was put in place. I returned to the west coast and Maria settled into the routine of living for the next 2 months at the Ronald McDonald house during the evenings and caring for her new baby at the hospital during the day.

I would travel to Miami about every 2 or 3 weeks or whenever a serious procedure had to be done to Angel. With some research and the help of some friends from my old hometown, we found Maria a great place to live within walking distance from the hospital. She also now belongs to a church community and has found genuine friendships with other Mothers of babies she met at the Ronald McDonald house during her two month stay there.

Angel slowly began thriving. Although he still continues to have some issues like a blocked shunt (which he just experienced two months ago) once in a while and some developmental and speech delays which he receives therapy for, he's a healthy and energetic four year old little boy.

Last week on one of my visits to Miami, I went to visit Maria and my precious Godchild, Angel. I was amazed at how big he was. He is in his last year of preschool and will be heading to kindergarten this fall.

Maria and I often talk about how God put us each exactly where he wanted us that very moment and how being obedient to what His call was has blessed us both immensely. We will forever have a friendship that was no doubt formed by God.

As to Maria's thought about her struggles with Angel's start in life, she continues to believe that Angel has "saved" her and that she would not know what path her life would have taken had he not come into her life. Those words are frequently followed by, "I don't want to know. I just thank God daily he's here." She truly treasures the gift God gave her. Angel's dad has completely remained out of the picture since her pregnancy, although they have spoken once or twice and he does know about how Angel's coming into the world came to be.

One thing before I end this, I just have to say that God has used Maria in a BIG way. If you have not had a chance to read the story of how God brought our baby, AJ, into our lives, please do so. Maria was "the friend" we visited who was watching a baby that led us to say yes to A.J.

And for God's glory, the most remarkable part is that the same baby Maria was watching that day we visited, was a baby that was going to be aborted. Maria asked God to use her to allow this baby a chance at life. She told the mother she would take the baby. Today that baby lives with Maria and Angel and calls her Mama. The birthmother has given her full power of attorney and since has left the country. Maria is now a legalized resident in the U.S. and is taking English classes and caring for her family on her own.

Now, the moment you've been waiting for. Are you ready for some "Angel"cuteness? MEET ANGEL!

Angel's preschool graduation picture last year.

(In case you're wondering, this tough little guy refuses to wear his eye prosthesis. :)

Maria, Angel and myself (taken last week).

Admiring my adorable Godchild.

Total Angel Cuteness!

(The quality of this picture is terrible. It was taken with Scott's Blackberry.)

* No part of this story or blog or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author and/or those involved.

Meet Angel - Part IV

After much pondering and prayer, I decided that I had to keep my promise to Maria. I attended the weekend classes to become an "Angel" for The Gabriel Project, in addition to completing the Spiritual Adoption Program at church. Becoming an "Angel" came with a slew of responsibilities, from gathering baby items that Maria would need, to making doctors appointments to finding housing for her. Between those two things, my time was fully occupied, so I called Martha's successor and told her that I had to take a hiatus from my duties as a prayer partner at the abortion clinic. She understood and I felt extremely relieved that I had one less obligation to be accountable for.

First on my agenda was making sure that Maria got to a doctor. She seemed weak and frail and I knew she was in dire need of prenatal vitamins. I set up a meeting with the director of The Gabriel Project to find out how to proceed. I was told that I could set up appointments for her and accompany her, if she so desired. In addition, they would pay a monthly allowance towards housing for her, but only if she was considering placing the baby for adoption. Adoption was a topic I had not even brought up with her. I needed to get this girl to a doctor first. She was very thin and there were no visible signs of her pregnancy. We still had no idea how far along she was.

Finally, three weeks after our first encounter, we were sitting in a clinic awaiting the doctor to see her. By then it was April 2004. She was 8 weeks pregnant and was due mid December. The doctor was a bit concerned because both mother and baby were underweight. He prescribed prenatal vitamins, iron tablets and told her she must have 3 meals a day.

I made it a point to call her almost daily to check in on her and to see if there was anything she needed. As time passed and her pregnancy started showing, she brought up the issue of her roommates finding out she was pregnant. She didn't want to become the "talk-of-the-town" and desperately wanted to leave there. I told her I would start looking for a place for her to live. Soon I was back on the phone with TGP (The Gabriel Project) to find out what needed to be done for housing. It was then that I was informed that Maria had to come in to their office to discuss adoption plans, followed by another appointment with a local adoption agency. Something in my heart told me this wasn't going to work.

I phoned Maria the next day and explained the situation. I told her that she didn't have to commit to placing the baby for adoption, but she had to agree to the fact that she was considering it if she wanted housing assistance. Up until that point, she had no idea that Scott and I were adopting. We were very close to receiving our own referral but I didn't mention it to her since I didn't want my situation to influence her decision whatsoever. I digress.

Maria agreed to the meeting with TGP and we set out to look for a place to live. After seeing many places that would:

a) accept the funding directly from TGP

b) be within the budget that she was being given, which was not much

c) was a half-way decent place where a young single woman can be safe (A couple of places we went to were pretty darn scary. One particular place we were shuffling beer cans with our feet as we walked down the graffiti-filled hallways.)

We found a small, clean efficiency being rented by a single mom about 30 minutes north of me. The landlady had 3 children, including a 2 year old daughter with Down Syndrome. Maria loved the place. The landlady was a young Christian woman who was overjoyed to have another young woman as a tenant and she assured me she would take good care of Maria and her baby. Everything was falling into place.

In late May, Scott and I received our referral for a beautiful little guy who was 9 months old and waiting for us in the Republic of Belarus. I was beside myself with excitement. Maria had a doctor's appointment the week after my referral arrived. I took pictures with me to share with her. As I was driving to pick her up, I decided I would use the opportunity to speak to her about going to the local adoption agency and finding out about the process of placing her baby for adoption.

She got in the car and I said, "I have a surprise for you. She smiled and asked if I was pregnant. We both laughed out loud and I said, "No. But close." I then told her about having been in the process to adopt and that we had just received our referral. While at a traffic light, I pulled out my wallet and showed her our little guy's picture. She oooohed and ahhhed as I had expected and congratulated me. I told her how badly we wanted a baby and how long we've been waiting for this little guy. I then proceeded to tell her that although I didn't know him, I loved him. It was something inexplicable. She quietly listened. My heart told me that she knew what was coming.

As I drove, I silently prayed. I asked God for His will to be done as to whatever decision she makes. I continued speaking to her about the arrangement she had made with TGP and the housing. I reiterated that she did not have to place her baby for adoption, but she did have to go to an agency and at least inquire about the process. She remained quiet. The mood in the car became somber and we she rode quietly for the rest of the drive to the doctor's office. She hadn't given me an answer about going to the agency.

When we arrived at the doctor's office we were told that she had been scheduled for an ultrasound that day, in addition to the regular doctor's visit. We were both excited and her brightened mood was now evident. We would get our first glance at the baby she was carrying.

After about an hour of waiting she was called in. We were taken to the ultrasound room and she laid back on the table. Before long, we were watching the small miracle God had created slowly moving in her womb. We both had tears running down our cheeks. We also found out it was a boy and that she was 14 weeks pregnant. The baby was still a tad smaller than he should be, but looked healthy otherwise. Maria also was still a bit underweight, but was slowly gaining.

We left the doctor's office carrying the ultrasound pictures and in a much more festive mood than when we had arrived. Shortly after we got in the car, she turned to me and said, "Ohilda, I'm keeping my baby." It was no surprise. I knew she would. I could see the maternal look in her eyes when she spoke about him. I also knew that she had been praying and that God indeed was filling her with strength in knowing that He would take care of her, and her baby.

I called TGP director the next day and told her that Maria had decided to keep her baby. She sounded perturbed and immediately said that if Maria had already decided than they could no longer pay for housing. That was a huge blow. Maria had lost her job in the fields shortly after our meeting, and finding work while pregnant and sick was almost impossible. I was told to encourage her to give the baby up for adoption. I told the director that I would speak to her again and see if I could change her mind. I knew I wouldn't and I admit I didn't even try. I prayed about it and in my heart, I knew she loved this baby and God would provide, one way or another. We would let it ride as long as we could. In the meantime, I had already spoken to Scott and hinted on the possibility of a "worse-case scenario", could Maria come live with us until the baby was born. I needed a Plan B. God, as always, had other plans.

June, July and August went by pretty much uneventful. I saw Maria on a weekly basis and spoke to her every other day or so. On my visits to her, I often chatted with the landlady who had taken Maria under her wing and would make sure she had home cooked meals every night and that she attended church with her every week. She cared for her like a mother hen.

On September 16, two days after Maria's regular doctor visit, I was dressing to attend my brother-in-laws birthday dinner. I heard my cell phone ring, but figured whoever it was would leave a message. Sure enough, a minute later, the message ring was going off. Immediately following that, my house phone rang. Again, I put it off figuring I'd check the caller ID and call the person back after I got dressed. A minute later, my cell phone rang again. This time, I knew something was wrong. I ran to the phone and picked it up. It was Lucy, the landlady. She was hysterical and I couldn't make out what she was saying. Finally, I said, "Is Maria alright?" She said, "No! There's blood everywhere, the baby's coming and I've called 911. Something is terribly wrong! You have to get here, now!" I immediately said, "I'm on my way!" I ran to the room, grabbed my purse, my shoes and yelled out to Scott who was also getting dressed for the party, "I have to go! Something has gone terribly wrong! Maria's having the baby. I don't know the details." I hopped into my car and headed to her house. What was normally a 30-35 minute drive, I made somehow in 15 minutes. My mind was swimming. The baby was only 28 weeks.

As I was pulling up to the house, the fire rescue squad truck was out front. I run out of my car and through the pathway on the side of the house that leads to Maria's room. The door was open. I walk inside the small room and see puddles of blood all over the floor. Maria is laying on the bed screaming in pain while paramedics are frantically coming in and out of the room. Her sheets are covered in blood. I look for Lucy and find her standing in the corner of the room, trembling. I asked, "What happened?" She told me she was not sure. She had been at her house making dinner when she heard Maria screaming. She said she ran into the room as Maria was coming out of the bathroom and blood was just running down her legs. Just then, the paramedics asked who her nearest relative is, I said, "She doesn't have any. I'm her friend." He then said, "We need to take them to the hospital right now. The baby's not going to make it and she's in bad shape." No sooner had they said that, they plopped her on a gurney and were running out the door with her.

I thanked Lucy for calling me and ran to my car in order to follow the rescue truck. I felt like there was a magnet attached to the rescue truck that was somehow pulling my car. I stayed right behind him the entire drive to the hospital.

While driving, in between tears, I cried and prayed. I asked God to please save her baby and to please save her. I remember just saying over and over, "Lord, please don't let them die! Lord, please don't let them die!"

The rescue truck headed into the emergency room while I parked my car and ran after it. She had already been wheeled up to the maternity floor. I immediately went up to the nurses station and they told me that they had taken her in to do an emergency c-section. I asked if they knew why or what exactly had happened. The nurses had no idea. They asked again who her immediate family was, I repeated that she had none in the U.S. I didn't even know how or who her family in was outside of the country or how they could be contacted. I asked them to please come get me as soon as they had any information. I turned and went into the waiting room. I pulled out my rosary and prayed harder than I've ever prayed. I called Scott and told him all that had happened. I told him I would not be home that night, followed by something that I probably didn't even have to say, I asked him to please and pray hard.

Almost 2 hours later, a nurse came to the waiting room to get me. It was about 11 p.m. by then. She told me that Maria was out of surgery and had asked for me. I asked if I could see her, they said, "Of course." I quickly followed the nurse to the room. I looked at Maria and immediately tears ran down her scared face. She asked, "Where's the baby? No one here speaks Spanish." I was so distraught that it didn't even dawn on me to ask about the baby when the nurse came to get me. I turned to a different nurse who was fiddling with her IV and asked about the baby, she said he was in the NICU and the the neonatologist would be in soon to speak to Maria. I asked if he was going to make it. She told me she didn't have any details. That's all she knew.

About a half hour later, the obstetrician on call appeared in the room. He said he was not sure and wouldn't know exactly until the placenta is examined, but he was pretty sure that she had a placental abruption. This meant that there had been a separation of the placenta from the uterine lining. He said that she had hemorraged severely and was given 3 pints of blood during her c-section. She would have to be in the hospital for at least a week. I stood there frozen for a moment and then realized that Maria was waiting for me to translate. I did. I then turned around and asked about the baby. The doctor explained that when the placenta detaches from the uterus, the baby's life support system is cut. There might have been an interruption of oxygen to the baby. He also reminded us that he was only 28 weeks and althought premies do survive at that age, his lungs were not fully developed and there could be other complications . I then asked about the baby's weight. He said he did not know. He ended the conversation by telling us the neonatologist would be in soon. Once again, I turned to Maria and translated in detail. I couldn't make out if she was really understanding everything that was happening.
She had been given pain medication in recovery and was now asleep. I sat by her side and prayed.

It was almost 3 a.m. when the neonatologist came into the room, accompanied by two other doctors.

* No part of this story or blog or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author and/or those involved.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Meet Angel - Part III

We both sat quietly in the car as my prayer partner watched and prayed from the sidewalk. I reached over and held her still shaking hands. I asked her name. She smiled and said, "Maria" (changed to protect her privacy). I then asked her if she wanted to share why she had decided to go to the clinic. She told me she had been in the country for only a few months and was working as a migrant worker. She was here with no family and really did not know anyone that she could count on. She went on to explain that her mother had recently been diagnosed with bone cancer and she had no other choice but to "cross the border" into the U.S. to try and make money to send home to her.

I then asked her about the baby's father. She told me he was also a migrant worker who she had met just after arriving in the States. Shortly afterwards, they began a relationship. He walked away from her when she told him she thought she was pregnant. He denied being the baby's father and told her their relationship was over.

By then, she was pouring her heart out. Tears flowed from her eyes as we sat in the non-air conditioned car in 85 degree weather. I could tell by her demeanor that she was a quiet, sweet girl who had obviously been raised with good morals and had now found herself in a position where she felt lost without knowing which way to turn.

She explained to me how she was sharing a one bedroom efficiency with two other girls that worked in the fields with her. She said that she had been experiencing a lot of morning sickness lately and the girls were asking if she was sick. They had no idea she had been dating anyone. She told me she was ashamed, alone and scared. I remember as if it was yesterday, looking into her tear-filled eyes as she said, "I believe in God. I know what I'm doing is wrong. But, I can't have this baby. I can barely take care of myself."

I could feel the pain in her voice as she spoke those words. I knew that she saw no other solution to the giant she felt overpowering her. I lifted her head and looked into her eyes as I told her that her baby was God's creation. He knew even before the world began that this child would be formed in her womb someday. She had to trust Him with all her heart and if she did, He would get her through this. I again emphatically promised her that I would walk through the journey with her, every step of the way, but it was going to be her decision whether or not she was going to allow this baby a chance to live. Again, she nodded. I handed her some leaflets with phone numbers to local Christian doctors that would provide services pro-bono. Then I scribbled my name and number on a piece of paper and told her I would find out what we could do so that she could find a place to live on her own, since she feared being judged by her roommates and didn't want to live under those conditions. I also told her to call the baby's father once more and try to speak to him about the situation. I reassured her that I was only a phone call away in case she needed anyone to talk to, regardless of what time of day or night it was.

I looked at my watch and realized that we had been sitting in the car for over an hour. My prayer partner had left and I was starving, not to mention sweating in the Florida heat. I offered to take her to lunch. She smiled and thanked me. She told me she was only eating one meal a day because she had been saving money for the abortion. We went to lunch and she headed back home to a migrant community surrounded by fields, which was about an hour away from where I lived.

The month prior to meeting Maria, in early February, I had begun at church a "Spiritual Adoption" program in order to try and keep the Respect Life Ministry alive there. We were asking parishioners to spiritually adopt a baby that might be in danger of being aborted. If they felt the Spirit leading them, they could name this baby and pray for the Lord to allow him or her to be carried full term. Only God would know which baby they were praying for. Our entire family, including our 11 year old Amanda, participated in the program and we each named "our baby". Amanda had chosen the name "Angel" for her baby.

Back to Maria. The minute I got home from lunch that day, I called Scott and told him about what God had done that morning. I asked him to please pray for Maria that she would dedicate this baby to God and allow him a chance at life. I then immersed myself into the task of finding out who and where I could get help for Maria and her baby.

My first phone call after telling Scott, was to Martha. I excitedly told her the entire story from beginning to end. I was taken back when she said that I "shouldn't have gone into parking lot" proceeded by being told that under no circumstances should I have given her my phone number. "Yikes!" I thought. "Did I blow that one, or what?"

But, my heart insisted that I had done the right thing. Had I not gone in there, she might not be carrying that baby right now. Not because of what I did, but because of how God used me. I know that the Lord wanted me cross that line and speak to her. I also know that she was alone and scared. She had no one. I had undoubtedly promised her not once, but twice that I'd be there for her every step of the way. I wasn't going to go back on my word. Maybe I was wrong in not having followed the rules, but my heart was telling me that I was being obedient to what God wanted me to do.

Feeling a bit worn down, I waited until the next day to start making more phone calls. One of my leaflets had a phone number for an organization called The Gabriel Project. I called and left a message. The next evening I received a return call. The woman on the other end explained what they did and how they offered emotional, material and spiritual help to mothers and babies with untimely pregnancies. It sounded perfect! I didn't want to give them Maria's number until I had spoken to her, so I told the woman that Maria would be calling them.

After hanging up, I thanked the Lord for opening doors and for allowing me to find the resources she needed for her baby and herself. I was so excited to tell her about the fact that they would assist with housing and so on! I immediately dialed her number. She answered, sounding a bit sleepy. I told her who it was and that I had great news. She stopped me mid-sentence and said, "Thank you. I really appreciate everything you've done. But, I've been thinking about this and I just don't see how I could go through with it."

I was flabbergasted! What? Lord, you had worked everything out! How could this be? Not only couldn't I believe what I was hearing, but I couldn't find the words to respond. She then continued by telling me she was feeling really sick to her stomach and that she had not eaten and that this was more than she could handle. I pleaded with her to please pray about it, to please reconsider and that I would call her back in a just little while. I didn't know what else to do.

I immediately got down on my knees and through tears begged God to give me the wisdom and the words I needed to relay to Maria. I just knew that He didn't want this baby, His baby, to die. I repeatedly asked Him to please remove her fears and to allow her to trust Him.

After praying for quite a while, I called her again. No answer. Throughout the rest of the day, I continued to pray. All I could think about was how much I would be willing to take this baby myself, if the she would just allow him or her to survive. That evening, I called twice more. Again, no answer. Other than that phone number, I had no way of reaching her.
I hardly slept that night and each time I awoke, I prayed for the baby and for Maria. Finally, the sun rose and I anxiously watched the clock tick. I had decided to call her after I dropped Amanda off at school.

Finally, the time arrived. I dialed her number and waited nervously for her to pick up. After the third ring, she answered. I then said in as cheery a voice as I could muster, "Good morning, Maria. It's Ohilda!" She said, "Good morning" I asked how she was feeling and she told me a bit better. She said she hadn't been to work in two days because she was so sick and she was worried about her job. We talked about how important it was for her to eat healthy and remain hydrated. I also told her about The Gabriel Project. I relayed to her what they did and how they could help her. She sounded a bit apprehensive and asked if I worked with them. I told her I had no ties with them whatsoever but that the lady I had spoken to informed me that they would assist her with housing, doctor appointments and whatever else she needed. I went on to tell her that she would be assigned an "Angel" when she called.

There was silence on the other end of the phone. For a moment, I thought we had been disconnected. Then, responding to my "Hello?" and reminding me a of a small child, she softly said, "But I thought you promised you were going to be with me throughout the entire time if I kept the baby." My heart sank. I thought about the words that the woman from The Gabriel Project had said, "An Angel will be assigned to assist her when she calls. Thank you for the referral. We'll take good care of her."
It was then that I thought that my job as being the "communicator" wasn't as easy as I had envisioned . How do you distance yourself from these girls without being a Jack of All Trades? How do you separate yourself from the emotions? How do you transition from being the prayer warrior at the abortion clinic to moving them onto the next person to help them? I knew without a doubt that she would be in good hands, but I had promised her and I couldn't go back on that promise. (I'm laughing now to myself as I type this. Thinking back, I must have felt a bit like Horton the elephant in Horton Hears A Who! "An elephant's faithful 100%")

I told her I would call The Gabriel Project and see what I could do, but that although I wouldn't be her "Angel", we would still stay in contact throughout the pregnancy. I then asked her if she had eaten today, since it was nearing 11 a.m., she responded by telling me she'd had some milk earlier. I told her to get dressed and I'd take her some lunch. She gave me her address. I hopped in the car, went to the grocery store and arrived at her doorstep an hour and a half with fruits, veggies, and lots of goodies to feed that growing baby. Her face lit up. Shortly afterwards, we sat in the small, overcrowded room where she lived, eating sandwiches and drinking cold glasses of milk.

That evening I called The Gabriel Project and told the same woman what had transpired. I told them that Maria was a bit insecure about calling them directly and asked if I could be a liaison until she felt more comfortable. I was told that the only way I could do that was by becoming an "Angel" myself. I would have to take the 2-day course (which God had conveniently arranged to be held two weeks later) and be commissioned.

After hanging up, I was feeling overwhelmed with everything going on. I know I had asked the Lord to keep me busy doing His work, but I was feeling like I was biting off more than I could chew. Between the church ministry, the sidewalk counseling and now being asked to be an "Angel" for an organization that only a week before I had not even heard of, I didn't know if I could handle it all. I didn't know if I wanted to.

Was this really what God wanted from me? Was Satan trying again to deter me? Was Maria now convinced she would allow her baby a chance at life? I was spending a lot of time on my knees.

I am humbled and blessed by your comments and I must admit that I am thrilled that you have not used this "mini-series post" in place of your A*mbien. I'm typing between naps (the kids, not mine...heh) and hubby & kiddy time. I want to be as accurate as possible, while typing as fast as my little finger's will go. I'm almost there! So, hang on just a little longer! There's only one, possibly two, more parts to the end of the story (and I may even throw in a picture or two)!
* No part of this story or blog or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author and/or those involved.

Meet Angel - Part II

Three weeks had transpired since I first met with Martha. On my assigned days, which was twice a week, I would diligently arrive and stand on the sidewalk at the entrance of the abortion clinic, praying and watching God's miracles unfold. I admit, on many days I left there beaten down as I'd watch pregnant Mothers walking in and keeping their appointments. I can't describe the feeling of loss I felt for everyone involved, as they left the parking lot with empty wombs. If I could only make them feel what I was feeling inside. The gifts that were given to them by God, tossed away. Especially when I was so anxious myself to receive the referral of my own child, who waited in an orphanage halfway around the world, in what seemed like a never-ending process. I digress.

By now it was March. I arrived timely before the abortionist's first appointment and sat in my car praying. As I always did before walking up to the clinic, I asked God to use me to do His Will, for His glory. This prayer was then followed by asking Him to change the doctor's heart, who although we had never spoken, I had come to know as a prideful, Catholic man with two beautiful daughters in our local Catholic high school.

That morning, I noticed a different prayer partner arrived. A lady I had met only once before. She quickly approached me as I walked up the sidewalk and introduced herself. I did the same and we proceeded to pray. After our first prayer she looked up and said, "This is my first time doing this. I was told that you would be the "communicator" today and I would be the prayer warrior. I stood there thinking, "Huh? Nobody told me." As quickly as I thought it, the words slipped out, "I've always been the prayer partner. Although I've watched the other ladies speak to the Moms, I've never done it myself." In addition, I was worried a bit because I was new to the area and although I had a list of Christian doctors willing to offer free services and other places where they could get help, I was a bit insecure about what I was doing.

As it turned out, about a half hour after being there, we noticed that the doctor had not yet arrived. The procedure was to call the office asking about wanting to make an appointment for that day and then we'd get the scoop. Sure enough, when we called we were told that he had an emergency and his appointments had been cancelled, so there was no one available to "see me". Praise God! We loved those days because it meant that babies got another chance at life, even if it was just for one more day! We'd prayed harder than ever on those nights. Maybe those Moms that were scheduled and cancelled would see it as a "sign" and have a change of heart. That was Tuesday.

The following morning my phone rang. It was Martha. She was heading back to the missionary field in a couple of weeks and wanted to speak to me. She said that the prayer partner I had been scheduled with was one of two Spanish speaking counselors in the county. I was the other. Due to the increase of abortions by the Hispanic community in the surrounding areas, she had to move her to a clinic in another county. I would now permanently have to be the prayer partner that speaks to the Moms since I was bilingual. I agreed and knew that if God wanted me in that position, He'd give me the tools and the words I needed to do His job.

I was scheduled for the following day. There was very little activity, but I did speak to two women who were going in together, each one was pregnant. After a short talk, they followed through on their plans. I was saddened because of the babies, but mostly because I felt I had let God down.

The following Tuesday, I arrived early again and went through the same routine in my car before walking up to the entrance. I met my prayer partner and our morning had begun. Shortly afterwards, the abortionists pulls into the driveway, giving us his usual glare as he drove by.

Being that appointments had been cancelled on Tuesday, this particular day was pretty busy. Most of the time the girls will stop to speak to us instead of us approaching them. I remember speaking to one particular girl that morning. She was in her mid 20's and told me she figured she was about 8 weeks pregnant. The father was a "friend". We spoke about the options, etc. and with a determined look on her face she said to me, "I have to go through with this! Last year I paid for a vacation that I have been saving for, for about 3 years. I'm not cancelling it, and I'm certainly not going pregnant." With that, she drove into the parking lot and went into the clinic. An hour and a half later, she left. I think in all the time I had been doing this, that one moment will be one that I'll never forget. A life thrown away. A baby killed for someone's vacation enjoyment. To this day, I cannot understand that. But, it's not my place to understand. God is our judge and He knows our hearts. By then, I knew I was being obedient to His will and I didn't have the guilt of having let God down. I knew guilt doesn't come from the Lord. I also knew the enemy was working overtime to get me to give up my new "job".

The doctor's appointments were always scheduled in the morning, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. He was listed as an OB/GYN although he didn't do obstetrics (unless you want to call killing a baby an obstetrician). His afternoon appointments were gynecology visits only.

The clock was nearing 11:00 a.m. and I figured we were pretty much done that day. A few minutes later, I noticed an older red Camaro drive up and down the street. The young Hispanic girl inside appeared to be lost. Something inside me told me that she was looking for the clinic. I prayed hard that she'd keep going and miss her appointment, if in fact that was the reason she was there.

Once more, she circled the building and began to enter the driveway. She lowered her head just a tad as she quickly drove past me. I waited to see if my hunch was correct. Was she walking into the clinic? She remained in the car for what must have seemed forever, for both of us.

My heart began to race. "Oh, Lord! Please let her drive away!" I said to myself. We both remained in our positions. I knew that our "rules" as sidewalk counselors clearly stated that we could not enter the parking lot, since it was private property. I asked God to help me make a decision, should I break the rules and approach her or should I not risk what I was there to do and stay on the sidewalk. I waited. She waited.

I had noticed when she drove past me that she had a cross hanging from her rear view mirror. I remained in my spot asking the Lord to give me a sign. To tell me what to do. Nothing. After a minute or two, she raised her head up and looked at me. It was obvious what we were doing there. I took that as my cue and to my prayer partners disbelief, I literally crossed the line and walked into the parking lot towards her car.

As I approached the driver's side window, she rolled it down. In Spanish, I said, "Hello." She smiled. I noticed she had tears on her face. I then asked her if I could go around and sit in the passenger seat. She nodded and leaned over to open the door for me.

When I entered the car, I told her my name. She was quiet and obviously nervous. I asked her if she was carrying a baby and she again without words just nodded. The silence between us was deafening, but I knew God was there. I could feel His presence so strongly. I quietly prayed to myself that He use me to deliver the words that He wanted this young, scared girl to hear.

I told her that I didn't know her circumstances. I didn't even know her name, but I did know that it was no coincidence that we had met that morning. I remember saying to her, "There are other options for you and for the baby." I then said, "I promise you that you will not be alone on this walk!" Still no words. But instead, with her head still hanging down listening to my words, a single tear ran down her face which she wiped away with a trembling hand.

Meet Angel - Part III

* No part of this story or blog or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author and/or those involved.

Thursday, January 22, 2009



I was further heartbroken to read this afternoon that on his 2nd day in office,

"the administration (Obama) issued a reversal of a ban on federal funding for non-governmental organizations working outside the U.S. that offer abortions or abortion counseling.

Obama signed the executive order on the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in all 50 states."

Is that a punch in the gut or what? (And I'm not even going to discuss his closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay filled with terrorists who may now never be held accountable for the atrocities they've caused!)

May God have mercy on his soul when he stands before the King with his blood-stained hands!


The reversal that Obama signed today is NOT the FOCA bill! Obama does have the power to sign the FOCA bill as early as inauguration day, if it had been passed in Congress. But, it has not.

The bill is now being presented on the floor of Congress, and then it must win by 2/3 majority in order to make it to the President's desk for signing. Both are expected to happen within the next week or two!

This is why it is so important right now to PRAY, sign the petition on the sidebar and write to your Congressman!

(Thanks Leslie, for bringing this up!)

Please take a moment to read in more detail about the bill he reversed today. You can visit a post that Susan from A Touch of East wrote back in December. It's an eye opener for those not enlightened to where billions of dollars of our federal money goes.

36 = 49,551,703

(For those of you checking back for Part II of Angel's Story, I'll be posting it this evening. I just could not let such a sad and tragic day as today go by without mention.)

Today marks 36 years and 49,551,703* babies dying since the landmark decision of Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

As our country prepares to head into a minimum of four years with the most extreme, liberal pro-choice president in the history of our nation, we mourn those deaths. We pray for the women whose lives were forever changed, many radically, leaving them barren both physically and emotionally due to abortions. How much more suffering will it take before we realize and admit what is happening?

FACTS - July 2008 :


• Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.

• Forty percent of pregnancies among white women, 69% among blacks and 54% among Hispanics are unintended.

• In 2005, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million in 2000. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions occurred.

• Each year, about two percent of women aged 15-44 have an abortion; 47% of them have had at least one previous abortion.

• Slightly more than one in every 5 pregnancies end in abortion.


• Fifty percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25: Women aged 20–24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 17%.

• Thirty-seven percent of abortions occur to black women, 34% to non-Hispanic white women, 22% to Hispanic women and 8% to women of other races.

• Forty-three percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic.

• Women who have never married obtain two-thirds of all abortions.

• About 60% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.

• The abortion rate among women living below the federal poverty level ($9,570 for a single woman with no children) is more than four times that of women above 300% of the poverty level (44 vs. 10 abortions per 1,000 women). This is partly because the rate of unintended pregnancies among poor women (below 100% of poverty) is nearly four times that of women above 200% of poverty* (112 vs. 29 per 1,000 women

The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

• The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from one death for every one million abortions at or before eight weeks to one per 29,000 at 16–20 weeks—and one per 11,000 at 21 or more weeks. - (Please keep in mind that FOCA will allow minors to have abortions performed without parental consent!!)

• Teens are more likely than older women to delay having an abortion until after 15 weeks of pregnancy, when the medical risks associated with abortion are significantly higher


Definition according to Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary:

Function: noun: a surgical abortion that is typically performed during the third trimester or later part of the second trimester of pregnancy when the fetus is viable and in which the uterine cervix is dilated and death of the fetus is induced after it has passed partway through the birth canal.


• With forceps, the doctor turns the baby around in the womb to be positioned feet first. The baby’s legs are pulled out into the birth canal. The baby is alive at this point.

• The abortionist delivers the baby’s entire body, except for the head, which remains inside the birth canal.

• The abortionist stabs the scissors into the base of the baby’s skull. The scissors are spread to enlarge the opening. The suction catheter is then inserted and the brains are sucked out, causing the skull to collapse. The head slides out easily. (Again, this will be legal once FOCA is passed!!)

*statistics from Allan Guttmacher Research Institute and the National Right to Life.

Lord Jesus,

Creator and Father of life. We thank you and honor you for being in our lives, Lord. For giving us everything we have. Heavenly Father, you have created every human person, and have opened the way for each to have eternal life.

We live in the shadow of death as tens of millions of your children have been killed. Lord, have mercy upon us. Heal our land and accept our offering of prayer and penance. Allow us to stop the selfishness within our hearts and remove the veil from our eyes so that we may see life for what it really is, a gift from the most Holy, You.

Heal the scarred hearts of the millions of women that have been deceived into aborting their babies. You are a sovereign and merciful Father and you know our hearts. Lord, let each and every one of those women use those tragedies as a testimony to the evil and deceit of the enemy, but more importantly as a testimony of Your love and forgiveness. Allow them to help others who may possibly be going down that same path. Lord Jesus, we pray that you illuminate each conscience for us to be able to see the ways that we are not living in Your Will.

Grant our new President, our leaders and the people of this great country that you've blessed us with, the grace to change and the wisdom to see the sacredness of human life. Let us always put you first and foremost.

In Your Holy Name We Pray,


"If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Meet Angel - Part I

Before you start reading, grab yourself a coffee and a snack. This post will be in several parts. But I urge you to take the time to read it. It's one of those stories that make you say, "Man! How can you not believe in God?"

After 4.5 years, I've decided to chronicle in detail one of God's biggest miracles in my life.
With his beautiful Mama's permission, I am honored to share this sweet little man's story. A story that could only have been orchestrated to perfection by God. A story that has strengthened my faith and blessed me beyond measure.

Angel's Story

In September 2003, soon after my sister gave birth to a beautiful stillborn sweetie, I felt that the Lord was wanting us to move from Miami to Florida's west coast, where she lived. Miami was home to me. It was the place where I had grown up and where all of my friends and family lived. Scott and I both prayed about it and asked God that if it indeed was His will, then to open doors wide for us. Within 2 months, Scott had been offered a job transfer and our house sold for above list price. We made the move in December 2003.

Within a few months of being in our new town, my sister (the only family we now had here) packed up and moved with her family to another town about an hour north of us. To say that I was upset was an understatement. I had left both my two older sons behind and was now alone, caught in an adoption process with an Eastern European country that was going nowhere fast. I was angry at my sister. I felt depressed, alone and infuriated at myself for believing that God wanted me here, away from everyone and everything I loved. We had put everything we had into this move and there was no turning back.

Since at the time, the only young child in my life was Amanda, (she was 9 years old and at school) I spent my days alone. I longed for my family and my old life.

In January 2004, I began attending daily mass and became a member of the the Respect Life Ministry at our church. This ministry, although it had good intentions, was pretty much non-existent, except for it's name. No activities were ever planned. No one ever met and the few times I tried to organize something, it would be pretty much myself handling every aspect of it. Yet, my passion for the unborn continued. I prayed hard. I asked God that if it was truly Him that wanted me here, to please lead me to how He wanted me to serve because thus far, I thought the entire move was a total mistake. This went on for a couple of months.

One day, while in conversation with someone at my daughter's school, the talked somehow turned to abortions. I mentioned that I was a "member" of the RL ministry at our church, but that it was really just a name. The woman wrote down a number and said, "Call this girl. I think it's what you're looking for."

Not real sure of who or why I was calling, I followed up the next day. The girl told me her name was Martha and that she was a missionary living in the area for a few months while helping her sister out with her kids. We agreed to meet the next day.

I drove out to this large farm house. As I pulled into the long, gravel driveway, I saw five or six children playing. I parked, walked up the steps and knocked on the door. A young, red-headed pretty girl came to the door. I introduced myself and stepped inside.

As our talk continued, she explained to me that she's been doing pro-life missionary work with Human Life International since she was 16 years old, traveling to Africa, Asia and all over North and South America. She herself had no children. But her sister, a devout Catholic, homeschooling Mom, had 9 children ranging in ages 6 months to 11 years old.

While she spoke, I felt a surge of peace falling over me. This was the reason we had moved. This was where the Lord wanted me. Not at my church ministry. Not for my sister. He needed me to be His hands and feet here.

After about two hours, I left Martha's house armed with books, pamphlets, rosaries and soaked in the Holy Spirit. I was prepared now to continue what I had begun in Miami, sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics.

A little background. I had been sidewalk counseling about two years prior to moving to the west coast. I was always a prayer partner during my work there and really did not interact much with the pregnant Moms. I felt secure in my role as a prayer partner and always let someone else do the communication role as the girls walked into the clinics. My heart leaped with joy and thanksgiving during the times when they changed their minds and would walk right back out after stepping into the clinic. But even more so, when they'd speak to my prayer partner while I fervently asked God for a change in their hearts, and they wouldn't go in at all. I knew each and every time, God was at work big time!

I arrived home that evening and submerged myself in prayer and the bible. I felt a huge load had been removed from my shoulders as now I knew I had a purpose for being here. I could almost peek into His plan. I had no young children to care for, I had no distractions. It was only the Lord, myself, and the "job" He had assigned for me.

Two days later, I stood in front of the only abortion clinic remaining in Fort Myers, ardently praying with my rosary and prayer book in hand, while my prayer partner interacted with the women carrying God's precious treasures in their wombs.

Little did I know that less than a month later, the "job" would turn into an experience that would change my life forever.

(Meet Angel - Part II)

*Please keep in mind while reading that every step of this journey was put together by our Lord, for His glory. I take no credit for any of it. I was only the vehicle He used for His purpose.

** No part of this story or blog or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author and/or those involved.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Difficult Defining Moment in History

Against what I thought I'd be doing today, I sat through about 2 hours of the Presidential Inauguration this morning. I admit it was so very bitter-sweet. Part of me was filled with pride in looking back through the 200+ years of this country's existence and seeing what a remarkable journey it has taken.

I was moved to see that Obama took his oath with his hand above the very same bible that Abraham Lincoln swore upon when he became the 16th President of the United States on March 4, 1861. I admit though, that the portion of the inauguration ceremony that moved me the most, was Rick Warren's invocation. I loved ending it with the Lord's prayer.

But amidst the $170 million affair, the hoopla of our first African-American President, and the controversial issues that have been pounding our living rooms for the past year during the most expensive campaign in this nation's history, it remains a very sad day. A day when all I can think about is what a bleak future we are headed into with Obama as president.

My only consolation (and truly the only one I need) is that God remains on the throne. Half of the nation is holding onto the promises made by a man who has shown the world how our country can move from segregation a mere 40 years ago, to a country whose highest position is held by a black man today. Yes, we should be proud. But, we should also remember that it is God that has allowed these things to happen. It is the prayer of His people and the wisdom that He has given so many to fight against the unjust that led Obama to that platform this morning.

It is now more than ever that we are called to pray. As God's people we must continue to remain on our knees. We must continue to fight the battle against the weakest of our nation. We must continue to be the voice for those that cannot be heard, the unborn. May God forgive and have mercy on us for the infanticide of His babies. The infanticide that we are allowing in our very own backyard. As much as I am against everything this new president believes in, I must continue to pray for God to fill Barack Obama's heart with wisdom, integrity and honor.

I was asked recently if I will ever support Barack Obama. My answer? NO! I absolutely cannot. Morally, I cannot. But, most importantly as a believer and servant of my one true leader, Jesus Christ, as a Christian, as a Catholic, and as a mother, I cannot and will not support this man! But, that said, I can and I will pray for him, for our nation and for the unborn fervently.

One of my favorite scriptures is on my sidebar.

Proverbs 24:12

...once our eyes are opened we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.

I try to live by these words. God has opened our eyes to what this man (who now is deemed a legacy by mainstream media, celebrities and those who are desperate for a "Savior" but instead have been handed a false prophet) has planned for His unborn. God has made us aware that wealth and the economy, not life, is first and foremost in this man's agenda for this country. It is our duty, our obligation, to pray for this man and for us to reject evil in every sense of the word. Supporting him is enabling him. Obama supports abortion. Abortion is evil. Abortion is murder. Period. You don't have to be the abortionist to have an innocent child's blood on your hands. I am not a judge, nor will I ever judge anyone who does such a thing because I know there is a God in Heaven who knows our hearts, but I will not support a man who claims to be a Christian yet cannot live by those words because it is more important to further his political career and to fit in what today's liberal society claims is oppression of women's rights.

I shudder to think of the kind of world my children and grandchildren will be living in. Will same-sex marriages be as common as traditional families? Will abortions be performed without hesitation or thought? Will God be eliminated from every aspect of our nation's government, although our country was formed by our founding Father's as "one nation UNDER GOD"?

During his speech he threw in a few jabs towards President Bush's leadership the past eight years, which I felt was very unfair. Contrary to popular vote, I continue to commend and thank our previous President for his undaunting efforts in keeping our borders safe and our soil free of terrorist attacks. Mostly, I thank him for standing up for his beliefs in protecting the sanctity of life, regardless of circumstance. I truly believe the reason he is so disliked is because he did not give in to political rhetoric. He stood by his principles. He did not cave into what so many others do in order to further their careers, something that has been so evident in Obama's short political career. Thank you, President Bush.

President Obama, your words today, "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear..." ring very true. My hope is not in you though. My hope is in the real Savior. My hope is in the one that died on the cross so that I could have hope.

I choose to end this post with positive thoughts and believing that there is still good in this world. Below are President Bush's words as he declared January 18 to be "National Sanctity of Human Life Day."

By Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 15, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) --

President Bush today declared Sunday a national pro-life day to foster respect for human life and his declaration may be the last one with pro-abortion incoming president Barack Obama taking over the White House next week. Bush has declared an annual pro-life day every year during his tenure.

In one of his final actions as president, Bush declared January 18 to be "National Sanctity of Human Life Day."

"All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection," the presidential proclamation read.

"On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world," the president added. "We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us."

"On this day and throughout the year, we aspire to build a society in which every child is welcome in life and protected in law," the president continued, using the now-famous wording given to him by recently-deceased Father Richard John Neuhaus.

The declaration includes a good explanation to Obama for what he should do as president when it comes to respecting human life both before and after birth.

"The most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the innocent," he explained. "We also encourage more of our fellow Americans to join our just and noble cause."

Bush also continued a steadfast defense of the pro-life actions he's taken as president.

"My Administration has been committed to building a culture of life by vigorously promoting adoption and parental notification laws, opposing federal funding for abortions overseas, encouraging teen abstinence, and funding crisis pregnancy programs," the proclamation continues. "In 2002, I was honored to sign into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which extends legal protection to children who survive an abortion attempt. I signed legislation in 2003 to ban the cruel practice of partial-birth abortion, and that law represents our commitment to building a culture of life in America," the president continued."Also, I was proud to sign the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, which allows authorities to charge a person who causes death or injury to a child in the womb with a separate offense in addition to any charges relating to the mother," he added.

Bush also talked about promoting the value of human life when it comes to new science and research."America is a caring Nation, and our values should guide us as we harness the gifts of science," he said. "In our zeal for new treatments and cures, we must never abandon our fundamental morals. We can achieve the great breakthroughs we all seek with reverence for the gift of life."

The president closed the declaration with an optimistic tone.

"History tells us that with a cause rooted in our deepest principles and appealing to the best instincts of our citizens, we will prevail," he said.The president urged all Americans to "recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being."

Monday, January 19, 2009

No, it was Not Me!

....that went to Miami this weekend to celebrate my paternal grandmother's 90th birthday and drank tequila, danced and partied like she did not have children. (Well, actually I did remember I have children, but I didn't have to take care of them since I put them to bed halfway through the party and figured since we were staying at their house and not driving, why not have a good time?!!)

It was also not me that got all teary eyed as we sang Happy Birthday to my grandmother to the point that I had to walk away and could not take pictures of her blowing out the candles. It was not because I was so happy, but because I was flooded with memories of my maternal grandmother (who was like my mother) that filled my heart and mind. It was surely not me that was overwhelmed with bittersweet feelings thinking that on her 90th birthday, we sang Happy Birthday to her around her bedside at midnight and by late morning we were choosing the clothes she'd wear at her funeral.

It certainly was not me that felt so much grief (mixed in with a lot of some tequila) thinking that it was unfair that she could not be dancing and singing with us on her 90th birthday the way that my paternal grandmother, who I am not very close to at all, was doing. But, (even with alcohol God's spirit is always nudging me) then it was me that thought what a blessing it was that I did have another grandmother that was healthy and celebrating such a huge milestone. It was me that thought that God is giving me an opportunity to form a bond with this little, frail old lady and I should be honored to do so, since many people don't get that opportunity.


It was definitely not me that totally put off sweet husband's celebration of MLK Day (click HERE for further explanation if you're not sure what I'm speaking about) and is now waiting until the kids wake up from their nap so I can run out get a card and find something to give him. There is no way that it was me that gave him his big gift during Christmas and now have no clue what to get him. In the meantime, the clock is ticking down and he will soon be home from work to celebrate "his" MLK Day.


During playgroup this morning, it was not me that completely ignored AJ when he tugged on my jeans as we were leaving and saying our goodbyes to his friends, to tell me he had a "big ca-ca" in his diaper . I would not have been a very good Mama if I had ignored his pleas only because I knew the bathroom was filled with people and AJs poopie-diaper smelled so bad and I could tell was so full that I would have been totally embarassed to change him in there.

Again, it was not me that strapped him in the carseat and took off while figuring I'd change him when we got home, which was only a 10 minute ride. Instead, it was without a doubt not me that had to pull over after going only about a block because Kai and Anna Grace were apparently gasping for "clean air" while sitting in the backseat with AJ. It certainly could not have been me that told them to "hold their breaths" until I could pull over. Finally, it was certainly not me that did eventually change him but did so while holding my own breath and listening to him say, "Mama...ca-ca stinky!" over and over. It definitely was not me that was seen holding the stinky diaper out the van window while driving to the gas station about 100 yards away to throw it in the garbage can there.


It certainly was not me that was so joyfully overwhelmed by the response (on THIS post) from her wonderful peeps filled with such awesome suggestions in how to decorate the kids' room that I now have no clue what theme, if any, I will be using. It was not me that printed out the comments page and am going over each and every one of the ideas while seriously considering about incorporating a few of them together (i.e.; Cinderella riding inside Lightning McQueen as she drives through a forest filled with critters, frogs, ladybugs and dragonflies and arrives at a ball where she is greeted by Dora, Diego, Mickey, Minnie and the clan from Peter Pan!) to make a smashingly, uniquely decorated room for them. A room that would probably not have ever been put together like that had it not been for my rockin' readers! (THANK YOU!!)


Lastly, it was not me that had a terrible craving for chocolate milk (Ovaltine to be exact) this morning. I did not go to the fridge, pull out the gallon and began to pour myself an over-sized Big Gulp cup of milk, only to see the three munchkins watching me. I then did not realize and shudder at the thought that there was only enough milk left for either my huge, over-sized Big Gulp cup or 3 small glasses for them. It truly was not me that quickly reasoned that they had just had a big bowl of oatmeal and I had not had anything yet for breakfast. Not to mention the fact that I was salivating as I was secretly trying to fulfill my craving. Furthermore, upon their asking for chocolate milk (which happened within seconds of them eyeing my delicious treat) I had already prepared my excuse of why they could not have any. It was not because I was selfish and would have knocked them all over and run from the room with my over-sized Big Gulp cup if they tried to have some, it was because I knew that their little tummies were full and even the slightest of sips would have probably made them sick. Therefore, I think that makes me a really good Mama! ::wink::

For more Not Me, Mondays! blog carnival fun click HERE and visit MckMama's site!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin