Day 21

Blessings to all!

This morning begins our family’s first full week of being together. We have settled into some normalcy. We have all laughed, cried and yelled. We are a loving family and from time to time you will have a bit of emotion. Kevin is not much of a yeller – and thankfully over the past 12 years of our marriage my yelling has decreased. Now that I have reclaimed the house I am comfortable and looking forward. Looking forward to decorating and preparing for Christmas.

Yesterday I went into the photos from last year – we were still using film. I pulled all of the ones taken at Christmas time. Each year I enlarge my favorite shot of the kids and frame it for the mantle. It is Christmas through the years and makes a nice backdrop for the stockings hung by the chimney with care. I found myself staring at pictures of Catie. Her hair was so long and beautiful. Her eyes shined and sparkled with delight and sometimes with a bit of mischief. She smiled a little less as she was missing teeth. Nevertheless, she looks radiant. Then I look at M.E. she was only 18 months old. Life can change so quickly. Everyone says it. Everyone knows it. Very few of us live it – treasure your moments – love your children – cherish your spouse – praise your GOD!

Now it is almost noon. I find myself just where I was on Friday. Sitting in the hall at St. Joe’s, listening to the sounds of children. That is my music. I am here to make myself available to Catie – should she grow tired and need to go home or need to go to the bathroom. And as it turned out Catie did not get tired. She stayed in school until the end of the day and then joined her brownie troop for their Christmas party. Many parents noted that Catie looked tired. I have seen the other children at St. Jude’s – Catie is the energizer bunny in comparison.

Many children, teachers and parents stop Catie as she rolls through the halls of St. Joe’s to hug her. Many stop me too. I don’t know all of your names. For those of you who only know that we live in a wonderfully supportive community please realize how amazing Central PA is – we had only lived here for 9 months when Catie first became ill. This wonderful community is a community of true Christians in that they are not helping life long friends. Many of the folks here in Mechanicsburg and in the school and parish family of St. Joseph’s are reaching out to a foreigner in a foreign land. Each day many of you introduce yourselves to me. Thank you.

This morning the phone rang very early and when I answered it the caller asked if I was Mrs. O’Brien. The caller went on to tell me that her daughter attends St. Joe’s and that she was following Catie’s story and that she would like to offer a donation for the trip to Lourdes. I was surprised and simply said thank you. The phone call ended and I felt as though I should have said more. This generous woman, just like the community we live in is filled with people who have a story. I thank each of you for sharing Catie’s Story with others. I thank you for sharing your story with us. I thank you for sharing your concerns and prayer requests with us. Tonight we would like you to pray for dear friends of ours and their daughter who will be undergoing surgery on Wednesday. May God be with their daughter, the family, the doctors and medical staff to restore the health of this child.

Some days seem so endless with all that needs to be done. I know that you are tired and that everyday has its own issues and concerns. I know that you know that God is there with you whether you feel His presence or not. I know that every moment of your life, every experience good or bad that you have had has in some bizarre way been preparing you to deal with exactly what you are dealing with today. I find that it is in my most exhausted states and moments that I find God most clearly. When I am raw and empty that God and His love for me makes the most sense. It is the nights when I crawl into bed and need sleep and can’t seem to find it that I begin to pray and realize that the 3 hours I did sleep were the most restful – because I finally surrendered and handed my life over to God. God, who created me and knows how many hairs are on my head, can restore me and renew me. God can do this for you too.

My prayer for each of you is that you surrender to God and allow God to restore you.

God Bless and good night from Mechanicsburg,

Christine, Kevin, Maggie, Max, Catie, Mia, Molly and M.E.

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