Arrow of God

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“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.” Unknown

A few weeks ago this quote came across Facebook in the form of a meme. It really jumped out at me, because after hitting the low in December 2013, I had really made strides of improvement. I thought I was over the hump in my health journey and things were going quite well. One year after my retreat, I was back to home schooling, managing the home and venturing out teaching classes on Essential Oils. January 2015 brought new struggles, however–and call it what you will (physical ailment or spiritual warfare)—each time I planned a class, a break, or down time I became ill and my wings were clipped once again. I dug deeper, prayed harder for more strength, more grace to carry my cross; but, I just couldn’t seem to get on top of it all. I thought I needed to do more or be more.

After several weeks of fighting this battle of my perceived weakness, I cried out in prayer, “Lord, make me stronger. Help me to carry this cross and offer up the suffering.” He answered. Not the way I was expecting though. On the way home from church that Sunday my left temple began to throb. By the time I crawled into bed I had a massive migraine that left me weaker than I began the day. As I lay crying and wishing the pain to stop, I quipped to my friend, “I just wish Jesus wouldn’t hug me so tightly. Dude, take the crown off first.” We laughed, but it brought some sense of peace knowing that I could unite my meager sufferings with His.

The migraine would last for five days. It was stressed induced, nothing major, nothing that couldn’t be healed.  But, it set me back. Back in bed. Back to severe adrenal fatigue. Back to no energy and relying on others to care for me. I am that arrow and God was pulling me back, so that He could make me fly even farther than I dreamed. He hasn’t released me yet. I sit taut, focusing, aiming, waiting for His perfect timing to hit the mark. I have had to look inward at my sinfulness and pride. I am learning to hand the control back over to Him and walk in complete faith. I am healing old wounds through humility, compassion, mercy and encouragement.

Humility in the form of panic attacks so crippling I couldn’t leave my room for weeks. I had to reach out—yet again—to ask for help in caring for my children. Yet, once I humbled myself, I was blessed with a pouring out of love and care that words of gratitude cannot suffice. My husband made changes of his own and has stretched and grown. He’s been so supportive and open to change. This is truly what sacramental marriage is all about. What an awesome opportunity God has given me to see how much I am loved.

Compassion. One cannot go through suffering without becoming more attune to others’ sufferings. Each person I contacted had an equal or even greater burden of suffering. By sharing my story, they opened their hearts and released their own burdens to me. We weep together and it makes the journey more bearable.

Merciful. How can I condemn another for sinfulness, when I am a sinner? I understand the addict better, because after five days of continuous and excrutiating pain, I can imagine wanting to do something, anything to make it stop. Without support, I could have fallen into the temptation just as easily. After being judged wrongly, I have mercy for those who cause injury to me. “Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.” I recognize that others’ reactions are a reflection of their own woundedness and not of me. And I pray for them as well.

Encouragement. Charity. Love. These are the tools to remedy ill and sin. I read recently in some spiritual readings that there are three ways for wisdom to abound: 1. Confess your sins 2. Give thanks and praise to God 3. Use edifying speech. I had to look up the definition of edifying. It means to encourage one another to do good and avoid evil. I think this is pretty sound advice. Simple, yet life changing.

So, as we continue the Lenten journey, I ask you to pray for me and for my family. I encourage you to seek the Sacrament of Confession and pour out your burdens to Christ, the Healer. This is not an easy time, but it is still a time to praise and thank the Lord for His blessings and His lessons. So, I ask you to join me in praising God for all His blessings—wanted and unwanted. And lastly, I will continue to lift you in prayer as well. May His grace and peace be with you every step of life’s journey.

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First Things First

Years ago I read the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Steven Covey.  I took away lots of great insight and advice from the book, but one analogy has stood out the strongest over all these years.  In short its message was “Put first things, first.”  I have tried to continually put it into practice and to pass this important lesson along to my kids.  Then, the opportunity presented itself for a tangible lesson and teaching opportunity.  And because of that teaching opportunity, I also gained material for a blog post.  So, win–win, right?

My kids have lots of toys and I try to organize them in a way that we can maintain a clean home, have space to play, and have access to games and toys without complete chaos in the wake.  One of the recent favorite toys to pull out and play with for hours and hours are the Playmobile sets, known as Mo-mobile sets in our home because that is how Daniel heard it called and it stuck.  image The problem with mo-mobile is there are lots, and I mean LOTS, of tiny pieces.  The best way to keep up with it all is to have one large storage bin for all three sets.  Everything is in one place and we don’t go insane trying to match up parts to specific sets.  (DISCLAIMER:  this does not include Samuel’s set.  All the pieces are in their precise designated location, kept in the original box in the top of his closet, off limits to all siblings.)  But, for the not-so-OCD-Mach children, the remaining sets are fit very well in one large bin–IF you put them in the bin in the proper order.  And here is where the teachable moment fits in.

My children, including Samuel, want to get the toys picked up with the least amount of effort.  Good.  Efficiency is good.  They will toss the pieces into the bin in no particular order, and finding that the lid will not fit on the bin, begin to push and cram the pieces hoping to get the desired results.  It never works.   Stephen Covey tells us in 7 Habits that we have to put the “big” stuff in first.  We have to put important things like prayer, marriage and parenting into life before we can add in the activities, the parties, or even work at times.  If we put the big things in first, all the little stuff will fit in much more easily.  The other night it was Joshua who was assigned to clean up the mo-mobiles.  In his rush he tossed the items into the bin, but couldn’t get the lid on.  With frustration and irritation in my voice, I said, “You’ve got to put the big stuff in first, Bud.”  He tried to scoop the small items to one side and slip in the largest house.  He even figured out how some pieces nested together to save space, but still the lid would not shut.  So, I got down on the floor and showed him how to do it.  image image image I removed the large pieces and set them to the side.  Then, I dumped all the pieces out onto the lid with only a few spilling onto the carpet.  I replaced the large pieces and lifting the lid, I carefully dumped all the little pieces into the bin.  In less than one minute they were all neatly in the bin, lid on, and slid into their home on the shelf.  His eyes were wide with amazement.  Not only did everything fit, it was easier and faster to do it that way.

The analogy was not lost on me and I hope it rooted deeply into Joshua’s heart as well.  It sometimes seems for me that time for prayer, relaxation, or any activity apart from hearth and home will not fit into my busy day.  I try stuffing it all in, but like toys that get lost or broken in the process, I too can become lost and broken.  I get in a hurry to get it all done and in the end nothing gets done well, if at all.  I put it off because the thought of fitting it all in is just overwhelming, but then I realize that I just need to focus on the big things first and take them one at a time.  When I finally set all the little things in my life to one side, I can see more clearly where the big things can fit in.  If I start my day with prayer, work on my relationship with my husband and kids, and focus on my main job of teaching; somehow I have a little time here to read a blog or two, a little time there to play a game, and another spot of time to work on growing my business (new venture, I’ll post details soon).  It all fits and it is easier and less stressful to boot.

Now, I just need to remember to put it into practice daily.  Old habits die hard.

NFP Awareness Week

NFP is an acronym well-known in many Catholic circles, but not recognized by all Catholics and certainly not understood in the secular society. NFP stands for Natural Family Planning and it is NOT your mother’s rhythm method. Last night I asked my husband if he was aware that this was NFP Awareness week. He quipped, “I am well aware!” I can only laugh because with my poor health, practicing NFP has been both a blessing and a cross. Isn’t that true of love? It brings us great pleasure and abundant blessings, but can be unbearably painful as well. Christ is love and he calls us to love completely too. This is why the Catholic Church puts forth NFP for married couples and denounces all forms of contraception, because she calls us to utter and complete love knowing the true cost is a laying down of our lives.

 

I didn’t understand this in my youth. Oh, I argued against the Church’s teaching on pre-marital sex and contraception. I mean, if you love somebody . . . Ah, the ignorance of youth. Early in my marriage I was called to a deeper understanding. After experiencing depression and the reality of my new marriage: mainly being the second wife and realizing that my husband had had relations with another woman, had a child with another woman, that another woman had lived in the home in which I was residing and that she would continue to be a part of our lives for the duration of their daughter’s life. I wondered who I was and what I brought to this marriage. I wondered if I could ever have a greater bond with my husband than he had with his first wife. This was my first taste of the truth that sex bonds and that the Church’s teaching on marriage and divorce had great significance. Accepting this truth opened my heart to the teaching on contraception. As I sat crying, I asked Mary to guide me. I asked God what I was supposed to do.   The answer came almost instantaneously: I was to be the best step mother I could be and I needed to obey the Church in all things. My heart was forever changed. Patrick supported me without question and I delved into learning NFP from a book that I had checked out at the library. I had never heard NFP mentioned at church. I had no knowledge of the teachers and support groups that existed in our diocese. We gave my body three months to clear the carcinogens and then it took three more months to conceive Lauren Elizabeth. Every child born since that time was not necessarily expected, as we can never be so presumptuous of God’s gifts, but each child was known to be a possibility. We were open to that possibility, we were aware of that possibility, but we did not necessarily always count on that possibility becoming a reality. In other words, there were times that bringing a new life into our family didn’t seem to be optimal from our point of view; but, we still engaged in activities that made new life possible. This is what makes NFP so radically different from contraception. God gives total control of that decision to us in the very moment that life can be created. It is still dependent on His will, but we choose how we live out our wills in that moment.

 

This is not something that is easily explained in line at the grocery store when, after finding out how many children we have, we are asked, “Are you going to have any more?” There is not time for a theological discussion and I could never answer “no” even when my body is screaming at me from being overwhelmed and overburdened. I have finally come up with a charitable reply and have exercised it once with good results. To the receptionist at a doctor’s office I calmly sighed and said, “I’m not sure what you are asking. Are you asking if my husband and I will continue to have marital relations? Because if you are, the answer is a definite, Yes!” At this point, the conversation will get awkwardly quiet. This is because the statement makes the person realize that they have just asked a deeply private and intimate question. The intention is not to make the person feel embarrassed or awkward, but to make them think more deeply about their question. We should be thinking more deeply about life and stop taking the creation and extermination of human life so glibly. I broke the silence with explaining that we are open to life and use NFP to plan and space our births, but ultimately it is up to God to decide if we will be blessed with another child. Sometimes the conversation can go much deeper if the person is open to learning more about NFP.  These are great opportunities to evangelize.

 

Even greater than the opportunity to participate in the planning of life, NFP has extraordinary health benefits. The doctors, through encouragement of Pope Paul VI and his encyclical letter, Humane Vitae (a must read!) have researched and discovered so many new and amazing things about the female reproductive system. Now, they are able to treat infertility with a 50-80% success rate (vs 10-60% for IVF), as well as treat heavy bleeding, PMS, endometriosis, ovarian cysts and a host of other hormone related ailments. In other words, NFP is allowing for natural healing at the underlying causes of these issues vs. prescribing chemical contraception, performing invasive surgeries, or performing unethical procedures like IVF (In Vitro Fertilizaion).

 

Through the use of NFP I have come to know my body intimately and have been empowered to trust myself and my intuitions. My husband and I have an amazing marriage. His sacrifice and mine in practicing NFP continually call us to communicate about intimate matters that we humans tend to avoid. It is a way for us to lay down our lives for one another and lift each other up during the difficulties. It is not always easy, but it is always rewarding. The best gift married couples can give one another is the gift of themselves and NFP allows that to happen without our selfish wills obscuring our view.

 

For more information on NFP, visit the Creighton University site for NaPro Technology.   For couples, engaged or married, I highly recommend Simcha Fisher’s book, A Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning. This is the most down to earth, realistic discussion on NFP ever penned. Also, this site has great articles that delve into the various subjects surrounding the use of contraception and NFP.

 

Happy NFP Awareness Week! Now you know 😉

A Dozen Roses

Twenty-two years ago today I was at work in the Dillard’s buying office.  I shared a cubicle with Juniors’ buyer, Robin and I assisted her in placing orders for dresses, knits and swimwear.  The other buyers with their assistants (my colleagues) were all around us–dozens of rows of cubicles with six-foot walls.   When I looked up I saw a floral delivery man carrying a dozen long-stemmed red roses and my curiosity got the best of me.  Who was the lucky lady?  The delivery man stopped at the cubicle across the aisle and Jenna motioned in our direction.  I turned to Robin wondering what had earned her such honors.  Shockingly the roses were for me.  The card was from Patrick.  We had had our first date the night before.  Everyone wanted to know who Patrick was, when Jenna exclaimed with horror, “The guy with the kid?!”  I laughed at Jenna’s obvious appal at the thought that I would even consider dating someone with a kid.  Jenna and I were both fresh out of college and all of twenty-one years old.  I calmly replied, “It’s just a date, Jenna.  It’s not like I’m going to marry the guy.”  But, in my heart I knew that I had met the man I was going to marry and here he was sending me flowers.  Roses.  At work.

Patrick is seven years my senior, so at 21 he was so much more mature than I; but, I was mature beyond my years as well.  In April of that same year, 1992, I had made the most difficult decision in my life to that point.  I called off my wedding which was only six weeks away.  I won’t go into all the details here, but I see now that it was by God’s grace and my parents’ support that I was able to avoid making that disastrous mistake.  I was mature enough to realize that my love for this man was not deep enough to overcome the obstacles that we faced.  Even though my head understood these things, it did not make the heart break any easier.  In May I graduated and moved back to Texas.  In June I started my job with Dillard’s during the day and occupied my evenings by going out on dates or with friends.  I have always hated being alone.

My brother invited me to play adult volleyball at church.  This was a huge coming-of-age moment in my life.  He had been playing every Wednesday since I was 14 and I would sit in the gym watching them play after my religious education classes ended.  I was not able to join in until I was 18 and by then I had moved off to college.  So, when Wednesday came you better believe I was ready to play!  I noticed Patrick that first Wednesday.  We always played opposite each other.  My team almost always lost.  When my brother introduced us, he reminded me that Patrick used to come to the pool parties at our home when they were in college.  It was at that moment I realized the age difference and immediately told myself that he would never be interested in someone as young as I was.  So, when Patrick stopped me after Mass and asked for my phone number I completely missed the opportunity thinking he was just being polite.  On July 14, however, everything changed.  Volleyball was moved to a sand court while the gym was being cleaned.  Patrick and I played on the same team for the first time and we had some opportunity to visit on our rotations out.  After the games were over, I visited with Patrick and a mutual friend and this is when Rachael’s name was first mentioned.  Before long it was just the two of us left talking and I spoke my thoughts aloud as I realized that I had forgotten to ask Larry to borrow a softball glove for my game on Friday.  Patrick quickly offered to loan me his glove and just as quickly worked in a date proposal for Thursday evening when he could get the glove to me.  I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so he joined me at Jack in the Box before we went our separate ways.

On Thursday evening, July 15, 1992, Patrick picked me up promptly for our first date.   We went to TGIFridays.  It was a terrific dinner with our conversations covering all the forbidden topics: religion, politics, parenting, and divorce.  In addition to seeing eye-to-eye on all major topics of discussion, I had also met someone who was willing to listen as I discussed my recent heartbreak.  Because of his divorce, Patrick could relate to my frustrations and struggles.  We returned to my apartment and I nervously fumbled through my mail thinking that he couldn’t possibly be interested in me.  He politely said he needed to get going, so I walked him out to his truck and thanked him for dinner.  And then he asked if he could have a hug.  The story can be told two ways here.  He claims that I kissed him, but I know that it was he that kissed me first.  In any case, he drove off and I went back into my apartment to call my girlfriend in Missouri to tell her the news:  I just met the man I was going to marry!

The dozen roses confirmed it for me.  It would be another two weeks before Patrick spoke the words, “I love you” to me for the first time.  That Christmas he asked me to be his wife.  I would bet that Jenna would still be jaw-dropped and wide-eyed today to know that I did in fact marry that “guy with a kid” and then went on to become parents to ten more.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Amazing Grace (Part 3)

“’Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home.” –Amazing Grace by John Newton (1725-1807)

Patrick got me to the airport without a minute to spare due to the icy roads. If he wasn’t so versed on the roads of the DFW metroplex (he is my personal GPS) I would have never made it. The highways were bumper-to-bumper with cars all over the place, so he went though the city streets and got me there under an hour. My flight to Kansas City left right on time without a single empty seat thanks to Icemageddon. After he dropped me off, Patrick continued to Dallas to pick up the boys. I landed in Kansas City before he and the boys had made it back to our house.

Sr. Connie met me at the airport and we walked out to the car in bone-chilling cold Kansas City. Even with three layers, this Texas girl cannot tolerate cold weather. I went along for the ride with Sr. Connie to run a few errands and pick up Sr. Gracelea from her work at the Bishop’s residence. I arrived at the Convent to warm, smiling faces and great big welcoming hugs. We had arrived just in time for Mass followed by dinner.

My cozy room at the Sisters.

My cozy room at the Sisters.

My days at the convent were peace-filled and stress-free. Since it was Advent, it was only the Sisters and me; and my job was to rest and recover. I was able to stay in the main building and simply walk down the hallway to the chapel where Jesus was waiting for me to meet him in Adoration. My daily routine was simple: eat breakfast, spend an hour in Adoration, rest, read, eat lunch, visit with the Sisters or one of the workers, rest, read, pray, Mass, and Skype with my husband and kids before an early bedtime. A few times I was able to get out for a walk, but most days—especially the first few—I just needed rest. By the end of the retreat I had accomplished two goals: I was somewhat rested and I had been able to completely wean myself off hydrocortisone, which meant my body was starting to make it on its own again. I knew that I wouldn’t be fully healed and that the hard part was yet to come. My husband and I and our family of ten would have to make major changes in our home life to keep the momentum going.

Adoration in the morning and Skyping with my husband each evening were bookends of my days at the convent. I tried to give my will over to God each morning and allow him to direct my path and inspire my thoughts. Through prayer, scripture and spiritual reading I gained much insight on my life. My husband and I could talk about what I learned about myself each day and how our daily life and marriage intertwined with that new-found knowledge. I soon realized that most of what I was learning, I had really known all along. For instance, in times of complete exhaustion I would dream—not literally since sleeping was elusive–of leaving the house to go out into our Travel Trailer or to a Hotel just to sleep. I would quickly brush the thought from my mind thinking that I was a terrible mother to want to run away. During the retreat I realized that I was not wanting to run away, I was just wanting and needing to sleep! My mind and body were constantly telling me what I needed, but I kept ignoring the messages because of preconceived notions about myself.

After Day 6, I met with a priest to help clear my thoughts and put them in perspective. I was actually surprised by what he told me. He said that I wasn’t loving myself. He said that over the years of marriage and family I had given myself away and loved others to the exclusion of myself. I had to let this sink in. Our world sends a constant message of “everything is about you,” and “please yourself,” “do what makes you feel good”, etc. In an effort to keep from falling into this selfish trap, I had gone to the other extreme and that wasn’t any better in the long run. By not loving myself and meeting my basic needs, I was actually taking away from the potential wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend that I was made to be. I was expecting way more from myself than I would ever even consider asking of another person. I wasn’t even allowing myself a day off or breaks for rest or to use the bathroom. And I know I am not alone in this trap. I think many mothers make the same mistakes. We don’t listen to ourselves and our bodies and the messages they are sometimes screaming at us. My biggest lesson is to learn how to trust myself with the knowledge of myself and to make the proper changes.

When I left the Convent to return home I learned a lesson that all business men and women who fly out of Kansas City already know. Don’t take the last flight out on a Friday night. My plane was coming from DFW and had trouble part way through the flight with the landing gear. It was safer for them to return to Dallas than to try to land in Kansas City. My fellow travelers kept me posted on the flight delays and latest information as they received email updates. Our flight that was supposed to leave at 8pm did not take off until 12:30 am. This was not a good thing for a person with Adrenal Fatigue to whom sleep is critical and who has a Christmas celebration with her in-laws in less than twelve hours. I had to take the flight out that night because a storm was coming through and they were calling for flight cancellations across the Midwest and northeast. My nephew, his family and our other two children had left Nebraska early in the evening just missing the storms as they drove through the night to reach Ft. Worth by morning. My flight touched down at 2:30 am and I texted my husbanded. His response back was not edifying. To my text: on the runway, his reply was: in KC or DFW? Due to the lack of updates he was not aware that my flight had actually taken off. I would have to wait another 40 minutes for him to drive through torrential downpours to pick me up. We crawled into bed at 4:30 am and my incredible, self-sacrificing, loving husband got up at 6am to meet and pick up the kids when they arrived in Fort Worth. By 7am the house was stirring and we sent the kids ahead of us to Grandma’s house to begin Christmas with the promise that we would follow within the next couple of hours.

Our oldest daughter called from the road. They were stranded on the side of the Interstate with a flat tire and a flat spare. Lauren stopped on her way through and picked up one of the grandkids, but the other four were still in the car and the tow truck driver could not tow the car with anyone inside. No other vehicles of ours or her mom’s (she’s my daughter by marriage) would fit five more people. The tow driver was merciful and took Johnny (my son-in-law) to get a new tire and then came back to change the tire and to give the battery a jump when the car wouldn’t start. All of this in the pouring rain. I felt like I had left the safety of the Convent and the devil had been unleashed on my family! Fear not, it all went well from that point on. We made it to Grandma’s and had a wonderful celebration with our whole family present. The sun came out and my cortisol held up long enough to make it through the day until I grabbed a full night’s sleep.

Since arriving home, we are making those major changes in small ways, one day at a time. My family seems happier already just to have me home and, in time, God willing, I will have recovered my energy to be able to run and play and frolic with them again. For now I am thankful to be able to be at the table and in the living room enjoying their company and my new perspective (mostly from the couch) which has allowed me to appreciate them as the incredible individuals that they are instead of busily rushing from one task to the next. We have hired outside help with the kids from 9am – 2pm during the week and this has proved to be the most beneficial decision we could have made. But, that’s a whole blog post in itself. God’s grace suffices and I am thankful for the whole of this journey: the ups and the downs. I have learned so much about life, about myself, but I am most thankful because I have experienced the loving mercy of God.

Amazing Grace (Part 2)

“Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved.” –Amazing Grace by John Newton (1725-1807)

Patrick and I had an afternoon flight to Mexico with a one-hour drive from the airport to our hotel. Even surrounded by hundreds of travelers, we felt like we were in our own little world—just the two of us. I can honestly say that after twenty years of marriage, Patrick is still my best friend. With this latest challenge, he has become my staunch protector as well: guarding me from the smallest stressors and making sure my needs come before his own.

We arrived at the hotel around 7pm and asked for an upgrade to our basic room. For $300 we could get an oceanfront suite, instead of the smaller room at the back of the property. It was next to a construction site, but all work stopped by 9pm, so it never proved to be an issue. This same upgrade when we booked would have cost us $2000, so this was awesome. When we handed them our Discover card, our concierge shook his head. They only took Mastercard, Visa or American Express. Oops! We only brought our Discover card because 1. We paid for the trip with it and so assumed that they would take it at the hotel and 2. Discover said they would not charge international fees if we used it during said trip. No problem. Mastercard promised to overnight new cards. Problem solved.

It was an incredible trip despite my low energy level. We had excellent weather and outstanding food. They even made special orders to accommodate my food allergies. It was noted in the computer upon check in, so all the restaurants had the information when we signed in. On our anniversary meal, the restaurant manager even came to the table when he saw that I was served regular bread instead of gluten-free. He was very concerned, but I assured him that I was just treating myself for our special celebration.

Our anniversary dinner

Our anniversary dinner

While we were enjoying warm weather and the beach, DFW was hit with the ice storm of the century, blanketing the ground with 6-8 inches of ice and shutting down businesses for over three days. We were scheduled to fly out on Friday and the storm hit on Thursday evening. Our flight was canceled at 11:00 am and we had to check out of our room by noon. Patrick called and got our flight rescheduled for Saturday and then we went to see about staying an extra night. Our room was already booked, but they offered us our original room—for $575!! For one night. We said, “Thanks, but, no thanks.” and proceeded to check out—only our credit card had never made it. It had been in Cancun for two days and we were 40 miles South in Playa del Carmen. I guess “overnight” in international lingo is “cinco dias.” Our concierge could see via internet tracking that the card was in Cancun and since we were stuck, he said we could just keep our bracelets until the credit card arrived without being charged for an extra day. This, my friends, is God’s grace at work. Otherwise, we would have gotten a slip of paper for one more meal and would have to search for food and a hotel. For now, we were just homeless, but still had access to unlimited food and drinks!

Patrick headed into town solo to hunt down a room with a comfortable bed and I stayed in the lobby with my ipad and wifi access. I wish I would have enjoyed that day more, but my body wouldn’t let me. This is how Adrenal Fatigue works: The stress over not knowing what would happen immediately triggers my cortisol to kick in. My body quickly uses up what little cortisol I have and then supplies adrenaline to fill the gap. Now my mind and heart race and I absolutely cannot make a decision if my life depended on it. Every. Little. Thing. is a huge obstacle to overcome. Patrick understands this, so he makes the calls and goes into hunting and gathering mode. I have a phone that works in Mexico. Republic Wireless. $10 per month with unlimited texting, phone calls and wi-fi data. Our resort has wi-fi, so I have a working phone. My husband has a name brand phone with a company that gouges for their service and forces its customers to buy an outrageous data plan. He did not have service in Mexico. In fact, we are still waiting for the bill for that 15 minutes when “airplane mode” turned off on its own and several texts messages came through at that high international rate. But, I digress. So, my hubby is out hunting a room and I am sitting in the lobby for three hours with no way of contacting him when panic sets in. “I can’t call him because he doesn’t have a working phone. What if he is hurt or kidnapped and can’t reach me? If I leave the lobby to enjoy the beach, he might not find me; so, I better just sit in the lobby and worry instead of enjoying this million dollar view that God has blessed me with. I could tell the concierge that I am going to the beach, or to a restaurant and he could tell Patrick, but, what if he takes my bracelet and then I can’t eat. Ever again.” And so went my crazy thoughts until I had worked myself up so much that I had to call a friend to talk me off the edge of a full-flegded panic attack. Then Patrick walked in. We had a room with a comfortable bed for $60 and—wait for it—it was right across the street from the Catholic Church which was having Mass at 8pm! We had time for dinner, to get to our new hotel and go to Mass! And, the credit card just arrived via FedEx, so we were able to get a meal voucher to eat before we head out. God is good I tell you, He is so good; and yet, I continue to doubt. When will I ever learn?

The view I should have continued to enjoy for our extra day in Mexico

The view I should have continued to enjoy for our extra day in Mexico

Anyway, we made it to the airport just fine. We had a few hours delay, but our flight made it out of DFW, so we were certain it would make it back with us on board. Several hours at the airport were made comfortable by a long, drawn-out lunch at Bubba Gumps complete with padded booth seating and the non-stop video of “Forrest Gump” on every screen. Our dear friend and neighbor braved the ice and drove over an hour to pick us up—a trip that would normally take twenty minutes. His incredible wife had dinner for us when we arrived home and we had the house to ourselves for another night together. Okay, if this wasn’t all awesome enough, my friend and Nutritional Therapist, Diane came over while we were gone and wrapped all of my Christmas presents! Yes, I had them all purchased by Thanksgiving because the grace of God had whispered in my soul that I needed to get it done and put it all in an Excel spreadsheet—something I had never done before. When I crashed, I simply printed out the list and Diane knew not only who the gifts belonged to, but how to sort them for each celebration: The Allen’s, The Mach’s, our Family celebration and St. Nick’s Feast Day. So, when we walked in the door on December 7, we discovered that the ice had not stopped St. Nick from fulfilling his duty.

Happy St. Nick Day!

Happy St. Nick Day!

Sunday came and Mass was canceled for most of our diocese. Patrick and I were supposed to go to collect the kids. Allison and the babies were south of us and Joshua and Samuel were an hour to the east. My nerves would not tolerate a trip out in the ice, so Patrick chose to get the babies and Allison, and I would have to wait to see the boys until I returned from the Sisters. Angela and Daniel were still in Nebraska and would come home on the 20th. He made it safely to Burleson and back with a third of our children and I busily unpacked and repacked for my next trip. Would the ice storm cause a delay or cancellation for that flight? Only time would tell.