“I was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see.” –Amazing Grace by John Newton (1725-1807)
I am a stubborn child, strong willed and strong minded. I have learned to depend on myself and thus I learned how weak I am. In His goodness and mercy and gentleness God has guided me to this place and now I share it with you.
I have been struggling with my health, as you know. Finally, I was forced to my knees in prayer when my body protested and I was too exhausted to even leave my bed. At times my anxiety was so much that I had to stop eating with the family and take meals in my room. Humiliated I had to call several friends and ask for help with childcare during the day while my husband worked. With seven children to care for, rest and a stress-free environment was nearly impossible. My husband was maxed out as well. We had a vacation planned to Mexico for our twentieth wedding anniversary, but we knew that even that would not be enough to get us through. In tears I left the house and called a friend. After sharing my worries with her through sobs and sniffles, she suggested I go on a sabbatical, or to a place where all my needs would be met and I could just heal. I immediately thought of the Sisters.
The Sisters are The Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist in Independence, Missouri. I have visited the Sisters on a number of occasions over the last twenty years. My father has worked for them since I was in college and I have taken groups of girls on Vocation Awareness trips where we stay, work, eat and pray alongside the Sisters for several days at a time. After one phone call my stay was arranged and a few clicks on the computer locked in my flights.
Then fear set in. How could I leave my children and my husband for eleven days? What would people think? Who could I get to watch them? What will happen if I get homesick? All these questions presented themselves, but I still had a great sense of peace that this was what I needed to do if I was going to ever be healthy again. I took one step at a time and trusted that God would provide if this was truly his will and provide He did. Friends stepped up to offer childcare, my neighbors offered to prepare meals while I was away, and my family was very supportive and encouraging.
A last-minute change in plans came about as we packed the kids to go to three different places during our Mexico vacation. My nephew and his wife were in town from Nebraska visiting with their three young children. We didn’t see them on Thanksgiving because we were visiting with different family members that day, but Patrick and I were able to squeeze in a quick visit at Chik Fil A to see their beautiful faces and give them the update on my health. An hour later I received a text asking if they could take some of the kids home with them for three weeks until they returned for Christmas. Angela (8) and Daniel (5) were disappointed to miss the visit with their friend, but jumped at the chance to go to Nebraska—especially if it included the possibility of snow. We repacked their bags and sent them off to Nebraska minutes before heading to the airport ourselves. We were actually going to make the trip! Six days alone in Mexico was a dream come true and we intended to make the most of our time together without children—complete with uninterrupted thoughts and sentences–and with sleep, and food that we don’t have to prepare, and sleep, and no work to accomplish, no deadlines to meet, and did I mention sleep?