Day 34 – December 28th, 2008

Good evening Catie’s prayer crusaders,

Today, Catie received her “First” Holy Communion for the second time. Even though she received the Eucharist on Christmas and again on the 26th, today was an opportunity for her to wear the beautiful gown, headpiece with vail, satin gloves, and adorable ballet slippers and receive again. This time, she received at our home parish of St. Joseph’s in Mechanicsburg. Fr. Snyder did a terrific job of acknowledging Catie and led the congregation in a long and loud round of applause. Today was the feast of the Holy Family, and provided a wonderful liturgical backdrop to this special event for Catie. After mass, it was picture time, and a number of Catie’s classmates who will be receiving their First Holy Communion this spring joined her for a group photo. Then it was family shots and more family shots and then people took individual shots with Catie. The church was packed with family, friends, classmates, and supporters. Sr. Michael Ann, the principal at St. Joseph’s School presented Catie with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and she held them as she smiled and greeted as many people as she could.

We brought her back to the car and headed home. Once there, over 100 people joined us for a wonderful party. Christine has thrown some terrific bashes in the past, but this one was our best yet. Catie was given a place of honor in a comfortable chair and for hours she smiled, ate, and received visitors. Six hours after she arrived home, she was lying down in the same chair and still holding court. It was a thoroughly beautiful day overflowing with God’s abundant blessings. Catie was energetic, filled with the Holy Spirit, and despite some chest congestion that seems to be restricting her ability to take a deep breath, all those that sat and spoke with her were able to hear what she had to say. Christine’s planning and organization allowed the event to appear seamless and the endless supply of food was constantly within reach for all. Based on the outcome, it is hard to imagine that a few hours prior to the First Communion, it had almost been cancelled.

When we last updated you, we were in South Carolina enjoying Christmas and planning to head home on Saturday. We left Grammy and Poppy’s house at noon and arrived at the Charleston airport right on time, (thank you John and Lynn for the use of the car!) We breezed through security and headed to the gate for the first leg of our journey home, a flight from Charleston to Charlotte, NC. The two earlier flights to Charlotte were showing delays based on fog in the Charlotte area, and we moved our reservation up to the first flight out. Sitting at the end of the runway as the flight crew played with the engines, we knew that things were not normal, and those thoughts were confirmed as we headed back to the gate and were asked to deplane because of a mechanical issue. We were wisked across the tarmac to another waiting flight heading to Charlotte, and I herded the fab 5 while Christine carried Catie, settled in our seats, and hoped and prayed that the luggage that contained Catie’s First Communion gown, and her line flushing supplies would some how find its way to us when we needed it. We arrived in Charlotte by 4:15, grabbed a bite to eat and headed to the gate for the 5:55 flight to Harrisburg which was first delayed, and then cancelled. We deplaned again and were told that we would have to go back through security to the main ticket counter to rebook on another flight. M.E. and I went back out to the ticket counter and as we attempted to get seats on the 8:45 flight, Christine called to say that she had already booked us on that flight from the gate area. M.E. and I went back through security and rejoined the rest of the family which included Catie, sleeping peacefully in Christine’s arms, and the rest of the kids who were starting to unravel after the long day’s adventures.

When the 8:45 flight was cancelled and the next flight to Harrisburg was not set to depart until the next morning, we faced a decision, cancel the First Communion and fly back in the morning, or try to rent a car and drive back. Looking into Catie’s eyes as she asked me to not cancel her Communion or her party, the choice was made, (I have no idea where we would have slept anyway!). On to logistics. The simple theory of supply and demand was taking hold of the Charlotte airport’s car rental capabilities. Needed: one eight passenger vehicle on a one-way rental to Harrisburg, PA. No. No. No. No. I looked at Christine and asked her if she was awake enough to drive. At that point, the Holy Spirit intervened and introduced us to Susan who was also on the cancelled flight and heading home to Harrisburg. She expressed an interest in coming along for the adventure! Off the 9 of us went to the rental counters looking now for two cars. We found them, however the one catch was that they were round trip rentals meaning that at some point Christine and I will have to return them to Charlotte and then fly home. We’ll deal with that later. At 9:15, we headed out of the rental car agency and started for home with 500 miles to go. The fog that had socked in the airports was a constant companion, but adrenaline and caffeine held the fatigue at bay. With a few stops for Catie’s midnight cravings and a refill of Coke or Pepsi, we pulled in to the driveway at home at 4:50am, knowing that we had 6 hours before we were scheduled to leave for the church, and a party for 100 to set-up for. With the children all nestled all snug in their beds, Christine and I slept for 2 hours, prepared the house, ironed the dresses from the luggage which Christine had found amidst the hundreds that were piled everywhere, and then got everyone up and into their clothes for mass. Finding the luggage was a wonderful blessing because it allowed Christine to flush Catie’s lines in the airport as we were arranging for the cars. She has become such a pro!

We arrived just in time for mass, and were shocked at the crowd and the fact that no parking spaces were left. We dropped the 6 kids, including Communion Catie in her wheelchair, off at the front door, and then began to look for two parking spaces which we found 2 blocks away. Christine and I ran back to church and found Catie, Max, Maggie, and M.E. waiting for us in the front pew, while Molly and Mia had found our dear friends the Fontaines and were sitting with them. We settled into the touching familiarity of the mass and when we realized that today was the Feast of the Holy Family and saw the smile on precious Catie’s face, Christine and I looked at each other and knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that the adventure, as crazy as it was, had been worth it. Isn’t that the message that God gives us all of the time? Trust Me. Don’t worry. Put your faith in Me and I will take care of you. I have plans for your benefit. God can’t catch us if we choose not to jump. The first reading at mass was about Sarah and Abram and the faith they put in God. He promised countless decedents to a childless couple that were somewhat past their child bearing ages. The feast day itself talks about the faith of Mary and Joseph who accepted God’s will for them despite some pretty crazy conditions and circumstances. Two messages come shining through. Put your faith in God, and keep it there because the fulfillment of God’s plan may take time. Faith is not a sprint, but a marathon. There will be challenges to that faith over time, but God’s book is filled with stories of the ones who took the leap of faith and then remained faithful over time, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Mary, Paul. The ones who lost their faith along the way and didn’t stay in for the long haul didn’t make it into the book. I will rest now as my head keeps hitting the keyboard while I type.

May the blessings of a loving Father surround you with the knowledge that you are beloved and adored,

Praying for a miracle,

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

PS – Sleepier than I thought. Woke up with my head on the keyboard. God’s angels continue to surround us. Maureen from Avis has arranged for us to leave the cars in the Harrisburg airport!! As much as I was looking forward to holding Christine’s hand on the flight back from Charlotte, I will have to arrange a date with her somewhere more local !!

God bless you all !

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