Till Next Time

I haven't wanted to write this post. Or rather, I've struggled to write it. Probably for a few reasons. First off, who wants to wrap up allowing your mind to take you back to re-think/experience such a wonderful, family-filled beach vacation? Second, I hate saying good-bye to my grandma. Ever since I moved, our visits are always so brief. She holds a very special place in my heart. Lastly, I'm going to share about our brief visit we had with Sister Kathleen (Special K, as close friends refer to her as). I've been wanting to see her for quite some time. The last time I saw her was a few weeks before moving away from College Station - a good three months after GeekMan and I were first married. I've been wanting to see her for a number of reasons, but mainly because she has been in and out of the hospital since January for a broken ankle and hip.

Despite my struggle to write this post, today, I will finish it and I'll probably spend most of it sharing about our time with Special K. So, sit down, relax, and bear with me as I hash out this post that may will be lengthy.

~~~

Sunday morning, we woke up fairly early and loaded up the van, again. We said our good-bye's to my parents, my brother, and Erin and rushed over to my grandma's house. I say rush because any morning that you wake up knowing you have to drive 10-12 hours with two kiddos under two makes you feel like you are in a constant state of frantic rush that makes your head spin (or at least it makes mine feel that way).

We arrived at my grandma's and hugged, chatted, and loved. She offered food as she always does (It's one of the ways she loves us grand-kids. She feed us. Good stuff!) and I tried my best to be present rather than worry about the drive ahead. The boys were sweet. But, time was not. It refused to slow down and I could feel it nudging at me to get started on our long drive ahead that consisted of one planned stop to see Special K.

There's never enough time. But, we can't help but be thankful for the path our Lord shares with us (as Special K reminded me of). So, even though it was rushed, I couldn't be more thankful for the time we had with my grandma, aunts, and cousin. Saying till next time to my grandma is always the hardest. Like I said, we have a special something. It's hard to describe, but I know it, and she knows it, and it is good.

All the family hugged, kissed, and said till next time. Then it was back on the road.

~~~

The boys did pretty awesome the first stretch. We almost made it to Houston without stopping! Mind you, once Linus realized that this miracle was about to happen he decided he had to do something about it. Trust me when I say, he did something about it. We made a good two stops within an hour before arriving at this beautiful destination:
This convent feels like home to me. I spent a good hour, every Friday, for about two and half years here. Special K provided my husband and I a retreat here weeks before our wedding day. The retreat was perfect and beautiful and such a gift! I've been to Mass here. I've prayed here. I've cried here. I've shared here. I've laughed and experienced such joy here. I've met Our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration here. I spent so much time with Christ here. So many beautiful moments that my heart will be forever grateful for. 

While I'm grateful for all things I just mentioned, Bigfoot was pretty grateful for the lions at the entrance. Pretty sure that was the first thing he talked to Special K about when we arrived to her room.

Everything that exists is a gift from God. When the soul wraps itself around the things and the people of this world, looking for a satisfaction or fulfillment that only God can give, it produces a distortion in itself and in others as well. 
The process of unwinding this possessive, self-centered, clinging and disordered seeking of things and persons is sometimes called detachment. The goal of the process of detachment is not to stop loving the things and the people of this world, but to love them even more truly in God, under the reign of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Wisdom 13:3, 4, 7b-9).
-The Fullfillment of All Desire, 205 by Ralph Martin
Family and friends, meet Special K (Sister Kathleen). She is beautiful and amazing. She is so in love with our Savior. She is honest and real about her journey with our Lord. Honest and real with a spirit that is always trusting and loving and filled with Joy and Gratitude for Him, even when times are trying.

When I mentioned that we were going to try and stop by to see her, she responded with, "Yes! Our Lord is good and loving and will make a path for us if He wills it. If He wills it, it will happen and we'll be grateful, but if not, then we shall also be thankful for He has plans for us."

Sweet Sister, in her heart, wanted so much for this visit to happen. I could hear it in her voice when I first told her. The Joy that she had could knock you over! Not only because she loves our little family, but she has had some trying months. Bring in and out of the hospital is so difficult, and even moreso when all your family is in Ireland. Hospital stays can feel lonely and try the best of us, even with loved ones near. But, she put all that aside, and quickly responded to me with a beautiful detachment that allowed Our Lord to bless her no matter the outcome.

To say that I am so happy that Our Lord set it in our hearts to come see her (even if it was only for 45-minutes), is no where near accurate. My heart felt a peace and joy that only He can understand. He did bless us and we were all so thankful. Below are some of the sweet moments I captured. Enjoy!
Here, Sweet Linus and Sister are just taking each other in. It was precious to see him explore her face and to hear the constant joy in her voice to be holding such a beautiful gift from God. 
Then came Bigfoot. He called her "Sithter" and talked to her about the lions.
Sister was so captivated by Bigfoot. She had such excitement when he told her "God bwess you" after she told him the very same thing. She told him how Jesus loved him very much and he responded with, "Jethus, yethh.". I wish I had been video recording to capture her excitement upon hearing those words come from my little toddler's mouth!

His words gave a joy to her heart that was so evident in her voice and face it made me teary.
Bigfoot, our affectionate child, gave her a little toddler kiss. She then reached over for a little token. She looked at me and said, "This is all I have for him, is it okay?". How could we turn her down? Bigfoot was so excited, as was she, that she gave him this little token. In and out of his pocket it went throughout the rest of our visit
Now, every time he sees it, he proclaims, "Sithter!"
Sister and I embraced and loved all the precious moments we were given. Like with my grandmother, Sister and I have something special. She knows it. I know it. We were kindred from the start. I love her very much and am so thankful to Our Lord's Divine Providence that placed all the right people in our lives to allow us to share the time we did, growing and learning how to love and know Him more. I learned so much from the time I spent with her.

When describing her to others, I always liken it to being in the presence of Christ 
(If you ask my husband, he'd say the same.). There is Joy. Peace. Goodness. Love. There is a handmaid, embracing her fiat daily. I miss her already just writing this. And, by missing her, I know what I really miss is the very Savior who brought our paths together - for all things point back to He who is Love (another Special K tidbit). The Savior who shared his beautiful servant with me so that I could know Him more. The same Savior who shared a beautiful family of grandparents, parents, brothers, and sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins, friends of old and new, with little me, so that I could know His Goodness so intimately.

Return, O my soul, to your rest;for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
Psalm 116:7

Getting back to our visit, time began to nudge me again and make my head spin. Always too fast when you want it to be slow and always to slow when you want it to be fast! Calling us to get back on the road. Understandably though, since we had quite a bit of road still to cover. And, I had a feeling Linus was not going to be happy about any of it (He was satisfied with the bout of awesomeness he gave us the first hours of our drive).
So, we said till next time, again. Our drive the rest of the way was filled with stops thanks to both of our monkeys, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. I was still honeymooning over a wonderful trip.

Since being back, I've pulled out my copy of Fullfillment of All Desires by Ralph Martin. My old roommie, Nic  (Miss you, friend!), gave me this copy. This is the book that Sister asked me to get during our first meeting for spiritual direction. I remember Sister being so thrilled that Nic had already blessed me with a copy! This book has been a go-to since then. The excerpt below could not be more fitting for the very person that walked through a good part of this book with me:
Certainly there are within the Church of God spiritual persons who serve him faithfully and with confidence, speaking with him as a man speaks with his friend, and whos consciences bear witness to his glory. But who these are is known only to God, and if you desire to be among them, then hear what sort of people you should be. I say this, not as one who knows it by experience, but as one who desires to do so. Show me a soul which loves nothing but God and what is to be loved for God's sake, to whom to live is Christ, and of whom this has been true for a long time now; who in work and leisure alike endeavors to keep God before his eyes, and walks humbly with the Lord his God, who desires that his will may be one with the will of God, and who has been given the grace to do these things. -St. Bernard from Fulfillment of all Desires, 206 by Ralph Martin
Thank you Lord for the gifts you blessed us with throughout our little vacation. Thank you for bringing one of your spiritual persons that St. Bernard speaks of into our lives. We are grateful. Grateful for everything. 

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