9/11 – Elizabeth Comes Home


September 11th 2009 was a bitter sweet day for George and me. We had spent 116 days in the NICU of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and cultivated some special relationships with nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors and other hospital staff. These people were there for us during our darkest NICU days, and there were many… Not only were they healthcare professionals, but they were teachers, counselors and friends. The care and love extended to our little family never went unnoticed and will never be forgotten.

As the world mourned for the many victims lost on 9/11 we grew excited with anticipation knowing our daughter was coming home on that very day. By then she weighed a little over 4 lbs. Just to give you an idea, that’s about the same as a 6 apples. She was tiny! Our baby came home with many extras: oxygen tanks, tubing, a compressor, monitor, nebulizers, medications and a list of appointment dates to see a slew of doctors.

The car was loaded with all necessary items including our little baby. I sat in the back seat with Elizabeth while George chauffeured the Queen home. She slept the whole way but I couldn’t keep my eyes off her for fear she would stop breathing. Her lungs were still small and delicate due to chronic lung disease. We watched closely all night for signs of respiratory distress, kept her medication and feeding schedule just like it was done in the hospital. Goodness, her bedroom looked like a mini hospital so it was very hard to relax and grasp that we were finally home.

As always, George and I worked as a team taking turns throughout the night allowing one to sleep while the other administered meds, fed and gave breathing treatments. We had 116 days to plan how we would handle the situation and by the grace of God Elizabeth’s homecoming was a success.

9/11 brings back painful and joyful memories. Every year it serves as a marker of a season that changed my life forever.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.


The Tecate Road

school busYears ago I was a missionary in Tecate, Mexico and worked at a school for children with various disabilities. In the morning a yellow school bus would wobble down the rocky dirt road of my humble neighborhood to pick me up. Inside the bus I could hear my name being called out by one of the few children who was verbal. As I climbed into the bus the seats were occupied by beautiful children with special needs. Some were in wheel chairs strapped to the ground and the rest in seats. Everyone seemed to love the bus ride and going to school.

I never intended to work at this school. When I first came to Tecate I was working in the children’s ministry and leading worship during in-home bible studies. The opportunity arose when my visa expired. Back then it was necessary for missionaries to renew their visas every three months so we paid a visit to Dr. Limon, a high ranking government official who was also a Christian. We went to him for advice and direction on the renewal of our visas. He was an easy going man with a love for Coke and potato chips and believed in the work we were doing in Tecate. He gave us each various ideas on how to keep our visas and encouraged me to volunteer at a public special needs school. I was thrilled at the thought but had no idea how to get involved. He provided transportation and a place for me in the school. The teachers were kind and gentle to the children and seemed to really love their jobs in spite of the minimal resources they had to work with. They all patiently thought me how to assist them with teaching activities, crafts and even some basic physical therapy techniques. I was amazed at how smart the children were and so capable of learning.

As I look back, I’m amazed on how beautifully God orchestrates everything in our lives. Little did I know that my experience at this school was preparing me for my future! It’s been fifteen years and I now have a daughter of my own with Autism and other medical challenges. I feel so blessed to have walked down that Tecate road.

We’re All Step-Parents

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Today I had an “aha” moment. My co-worker Steve updated me on the status of his daughter and their dealings with her epileptic seizures. A couple years ago he began to carry this painful cross. As he continues to tell me how Jorden will have about two seizures per week the pain in his heart was evident. His faith keeps him and his family strong thru these scary moments but none the less, scary…..

In 2009 my daughter, Elizabeth was born at just 26 weeks gestation and that’s when my scary journey began. She was what they call in the medical field a Micro-Preemie, weighing only 1lb 8oz. Month after month I watched her fight for her life as she struggled to breathe due to her underdeveloped lungs. Connected to many lines that monitored her vitals and provided nutrition, she grimaced from the discomfort she apparently felt. I visited the NICU every day and patiently waited for the green light for her to come home. The baby room was ready but little did I know that it would soon turn into a mini-hospital room filled with oxygen tanks, a feeding pump, a suction machine and many other medical supplies.

I struggled with ownership, although I knew she was my daughter, most of the time it felt like she belonged to the doctors, nurses and hospital. They told me when to hold her, change her diaper and anything else in connection with her cares. This was not the mothering role I pictured myself to be in.

Today as I remembered how difficult those 17 months in the hospital were; I also remembered that my daughter belongs to the Lord. I am in a sense a Step-Mom. Her precious life has been entrusted to me, to help her develop into the person our Father wants her to be, to raise her in the ways of the Lord and to show her how to walk humbly before our God. Let us not take this responsibility lightly, but see our children as a calling placed on our lives.