Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Breaking the Fast With Style

Exactly at the same moment that I parked my car after the "breaking the nine day grocery fast" Wal-mart trip, a UPS truck pulls in behind me with this special emergency food package from Little Jo Ann. What perfect timing! God basically split the difference. Abigail had to learn how to go nine days without grocery shopping and Little Jo Ann got to share her beautiful hospitality the moment the Benjamin family fast was over.

In a totally random "coincidence", the UPS guy stops his truck for a chat after delivering my package. (I've seen this guy often over the past year and he's never once stopped to talk). "How do you do it with five kids?" he said.

I gave the usual "Oh, I've got my hands full alright" speech and then for some reason I added "and all five of them were c-sections"--which I never, ever mention.

Turns out the UPS guy has four! His wife has all c-sections also. He's got one set of twins, so he was amazed that we were up to five without any twins. I just laughed and said that with 1 1/2 year old twins, they were already broken in so they might as well keep going!

Couldn't believe I got a little pro-life witnessing at the delivery of Little Jo Ann's package.  A perfect "extra" touch for the hidden mother of seven!

A very special box came today.....

Posted by Picasa

Thank you Little Jo Ann!

We also received $5 from an anonymous donor with neat handwriting from Virginia. Thank you! I used that to buy extra eggs and milk this week.

If anyone else sent packages, never fear. I'm telling you, God held up the post office just so we could get through this "Foolishly Spent the Grocery Money Now What" prayer experiment. 
Posted by Picasa

Our Lady of the Rosary Battle circa Oct 7, 1571

Posted by Picasa

The Rosary Wearing Catholics

Posted by Picasa

The Turks

Posted by Picasa

"A Life From A Prom Queen to Cloistered Nun

Really enjoyed reading this vocation story of a Passionist Sister.

"For me there was no turning back! I had found that “Perfect Catholic Gentleman”: Jesus Christ."

- Sister John Mary, CP

Monday, July 30, 2012

Call Me Maybe - 2012 USA Olympic Swimming Team

Catholic Olympians

A full list of everyone who is praying the Hail Mary in Olympic Village this week

Pray for Me--In the Middle of Vacation Bible School

Knock me over with a feather, but I finished my first day of Vacation Bible School--called "Rosary Camp." This would be the first EVER Vacation Bible School my parish has ever had since the church started 27 years ago. Of course, I forgot my camera this morning! Yet the mental image of two tables of 24 kids quietly piecing together their rosaries will be in my heart forever.

I did Lectio Divina with them and they were great! We prayed in the Chapel. We acted out all crazy manner of the Annunciation. I even learned that Startrek does "Hail" for Greetings just as St. Gabriel started out the "Hail Mary!"

Tomorrow, I'm creating a giant sword Battle of the Christians vs the Turks. I'm a bit ambitious as a Sunday School teacher --the other Moms politely think I'm nuts--but I just think you can't just talk about how powerful the rosary is in a lecture, you've got to let the kids experience the drama for themselves. (Plus, I'd stand on my head to keep a 10 year old boy interested in our Faith.) Here's hoping no one gets a sword point in their eye tomorrow!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Baby Abigail

Posted by Picasa

My dream Friday afternoon


A colicky baby and her toddler sister both fast asleep on my bed. (Why do they fall asleep half off the bed like that? Don't you love the dirty soles on her feet? So summer!)
Posted by Picasa
Posted by Picasa

Ladies Who Lunch

In the middle of this crazy food depravation week, my girls and I were invited to lunch at the American Girls Cafe. My sister lives overseas now and rarely gets to see my girls. This was our first meeting with her in almost a year. I was stunned this morning to see the power of hospitality in full force. Everything in the American Girl cafe is carefull designed to foster peaceful conversations--its a lesson fit for the UN.

The food is super fun. (I was also stunned at how cheap it was too. $7 for a kids meal and $16 for an adult. Considering the high price of everything AG, I expected it to be the price of a French Bistro). The waitresses are extra kind. The special doll high chair and cups are delightful. There were even little conversation cards at the table such as "What is your favorite movie snack?"

Once more, I was reminded at how the extra effort of hospitality can reestablish a soothing atmosphere of peace and goodwill. My girls and I are eventually going to be little UN ambassadors in the world serving pink lemonaid cupcakes and fruit kabobs!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Need for Recreation

Here is what I'm doing tonight for the first time since 1996, taking a fencing lesson! My husband is actually coming home from work early so that can drive to another town to start fencing. I can't think of a more romantic gesture for a Mom in the middle of a colic battle with our youngest child. He is amazing!

The budget is tight in the Benjamin household and I am an extreme couch potato. Sports has never really been my "thing." However, fencing is not a post-baby gym workout for me. Fencing is one of the coolest activities ever invented.

Here's what I learning this month--Recreation is vital to a spiritual warrior. My bff St. Teresa of Avila made it mandatory for her Carmelite convents--and remember these are the girls who wore horse blankets for habits! Fluff wasn't exactly on their daily schedule.

Here's what I've finally started to discover in my fifth year of nursing colicky babies. Recreation is not "blowing off steam" after a hard day of mothering. Recreation isn't date night. Recreation isn't "Me Time". Recreation isn't selfish.

Not really sure what a holy "recreation time" looks like, other than a small but important part of my week where I get to shrug off the demands of my vocation and do something that I enjoyed purely for fun as a young girl. My husband has found fishing recently.  He comes back from his fishing trips with an extra sparkle in his eye. I hope I get the same lift from my Fencing Class tonight! But I know if it isn't Fencing, my recreation time will be something else.

God doesn't want me to have fun in every moment (gotta to get those spiritual muscles in shape somehow) but He does want me to have a reliable bit of spiritually healthy fun in some moments.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Encouragement for Mothers of Over-Active Boys

(The true story of how Michael Phelps' Olympic talent was first recognized at age 12)

"A few months after Bob had been coaching me, he issued orders for a pretty difficult practice, especially for someone my age. When it was over, all the other kids were dragging. They got their towels and clothes slowly. I got out but still had a ton of energy, so much that I kept running to the side of the pool, filling up my cap with water and dumping the water on the kids' heads.  Bob ran over to tell me to knock it off. He told me that if I was still this frisky he could for sure make practice a lot harder.

I said, and Bob has never forgotten this, I will never get tired."

 ( No Limits: The Will to Succeed, by Michael Phelps, pg 105)

I read this passage and as mother my mouth dropped open. My one and only son is often the one causing trouble at events, and I've always cringed with embarrassment. I can't imagine seeing what this loving and astute coach saw--a young boy who never gets tired, a young boy with the potential to become the most winning Gold Medalist in Olympic history.

God bless the energetic boys in our homes and in our parishes!

For Jon

For it was not in my bow that I trusted *
nor yet was I saved by my sword:
it was you who saved us from our foes, *
it was you who put our foes to shame.
All day long our boast was in God *
and we praised your name without ceasing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Notes to Myself as a Young Stay-at-Home Mother

(Eight years ago, I left my career to stay home with my babies. I thought I was taking a six month leave of absence. Instead, I never went back to work. I read about someone on Facebook teetering on the same decision this morning. This is the note I wish I could have written to my younger self.)

Dear New Stay-at-home Mom,

Do not be afraid! God has work for you to do, and there is a lot of it. You will never be bored here. You will never be taken for granted. You will have more influence as a woman with a prayerful heart, than you will ever have in a court room.

Servants of God have the right to their Daily Bread. You will be stunned at how little is necessary to comfortably raise a family. You husband will surprise you with how much he can do to keep a roof over your head and gas in your car. The Lord, your God, will make student loans disappear. He will give outlandish grace to support you in NICU waiting rooms and on rough home-schooling days.

This tug in your heart, its a battle field promotion. There is a deep spiritual war against the sacrament of marriage. All around you can see signs of marriages failing or never taking place at all. When you give up your "career dreams", when you give up your "need to earn your keep", or "make a difference in the world"--you now have two free hands open for battle.

The Assailant is awful. He's crafty. He has taken down many, many women around you. (Be not mistaken. The battle is not "working women vs stay-at-home moms" or feminists vs traditionalists. Their is only one battle that matters--the one inside your own heart.)

God has a plan for your life. There is a specific mission for which you were born. There are acts of love and hope that only you can fulfill.

Tell God yes! "Do whatever He tells you to do." Follow close to the footsteps of a foolish woman in Galilee, who throw out everything the world offered her in order to become the Mother of God. You are in good company.


Another Catholic Mom

Fruits From Same Garden

Last month I was at an ordination for a priest who has a younger sister in Religious Life. I was amazed at the "coincidence" but Sister Theotokias told me that this is actually a more common occurrence than I thought. She reminded me that 2 sets of the original 12 disciples were brothers. There is even a name for it "Fruits from the same garden."

People think that when multiple siblings enter the priesthood or religious life it has to do with the parents, or a younger sibling "coping" the older one. (I think the Little Flower ran into this belief). But our vocations are very mysterious and individual gifts. Often God "clusters" vocations to religious life and the priesthood in the same family for His own Holy Reasons.

I was happy, but not so surprised when Father Gary put this story on Facebook --three brothers from Wisconsin all joined the priesthood. Go Cheeseheads!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Great Olympic Role Model

The youngest member of the US Olympic Team, swimmer Katie Ledecky, is a fifteen year old Catholic from the Archdiocese of Washington D.C.! Katie says that her Faith is a central part of her athletic success. In our paper the Catholic Standard she says "I always pray right before a race. The prayer I say is the Hail Mary." .... "I also love going to Mass every week. It's a great chance to reflect and connect with God. (My faith) has been a big part of my life since I was born." (Catholic Standard, pg 6)."

Katie will swim the 800 meter Freestyle --I think on August 2.

Swimming is the hardest Olympic event for an American to qualify to attend. Only the top two times at the Olympic Trials earn a spot on the team. The Americans have the deepest talent pool, next to the Aussies, in the world. It's truly incredible that a 15 year old from Maryland earned a spot on the Olympic Team.

The power of one Hail Mary!

Go Katie!!!

The Lady With A Child With Only One Shoe

My husband heard a great "kid story" from a lady at church on Sunday. This faithful woman raised 7 kids in the Bronx in the 1970s. Her kids were so close together, that two ended up in the same grade! At one point when everyone was very young, she was losing her mind. She had a son who was always losing something. He could never get out the door on time for the school bus.

She told Jon "I yelled at God! I really did! I told him "You gave me these children. Now YOU raise them!"

The next day, the son lost his shoe. He couldn't find it anywhere.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Mom stayed calm. She told the other six kids "Give me your shoe! Your brother can't find his shoe. He's got to go to school with only one shoe, and so do you!"

The other kids freaked out. "Mom we can't go to school with only one shoe!" The lady stayed calm. She said "What can I do? Your brother only has one shoe and he can't go alone like that". She started collecting one shoe from each child. The kids frantically started started looking around. Sure enough, they found the missing shoe, put it one the boy and everyone made it to the school bus on time.

The next day, the son could only find one textbook. The Mom said "Okay, everyone can only go to school with one textbook today."

The older kids started screaming "Mom, We have Sister Mary So and So. She's really strict. We can't go to class without our books today."

The Mom nodded her head. "I know she's tough. It's going to be really hard for you." She kept collecting textbooks from the siblings.

Same thing. The siblings mount a frantic search, the missing textbooks are found. All the kids make it to the bus with their books intact for the morning.

During parent/teacher conferences several weeks later, the Sister in charge of teaching the "lost boy" wanted to know the circumstances behind the dramatic change. The Mom was so embarrassed. She said "You'll never believe me Sister." The Sister heard the whole thing with a twinkle in her eye and  said "that's how He works!"

Give Us Lord Our Daily Bread

I'm so happy to post about this topic--trusting God with the grocery list!

When I was a new stay-at-home mother, I read all sorts of blog posts that cheerfully boasted I could easily feed a family of 17 for $6 a day. They made me cry! I couldn't do this "food genie" thing to make us eat yummy, healthy dinners on that tiny of a grocery budget. It wasn't until YEARS later that I started seeing all these hidden "tricks" to "Feed your family on $20 a week." First, people had "on hand" all kinds of expensive spices. Because of my frequent moves across 5 states in 2 years, I always had a barren spice rack. Second, people had gardens --while I lived in a 3rd floor city apartment. Third, people clipped coupons and shopped at 17 different stores--while I had city bus pass and 3 kids under age 5. 

Fourth-- people like ground their own corn meal and stuff. Now I like to cook, and I learned how to cook far more things from scratch as a stay-at-home Mom--but there was also this thing I was busy doing as a Catholic wife---having Mr. Benjamin's babies. And babies are hard! It's hard to be pregnant. It's hard to breastfeed. It's hard to soothe colicky newborns. So while I became a huge fan of not buying highly processed food--I also became a realist about food prep time. Baking my own saltine crackers sounds like a fascinating money saving idea for another season of my life, one in which I am a) not in the first trimester and b) have at least one child over the age of 12! 

This week we have a grocery shopping challenge $30 to spend on groceries. This is not a self-imposed coupon saving game. I have $40.61 in my checking account until August 1. My husband and I decided that we can spend $30 on groceries. (Thanks honey, for letting me post our financial info online).

Now, you'll remember that three weeks ago, my family was caught in those awful thunderstorms. My house lost power for 11 days. Every single thing from frozen pork chops to mustard to bread yeast got thrown out afterwards.  So that means that we are starting this challenge with 1 gallon of milk, a cabbage, and half a ketchup bottle. 

There is also practically nothing in the cupboards--because it was emergency eating in the Benjamin house. Also, lets face it, poor Carmelites don't stock up well during a normal summer week.

My garden--did I tell you about my garden? I was so excited to have one this year after 5 years of living in the City, that I carefully planted Tomatoes, Basil and Carrots. I loved my garden. I fell under massive weeds a few times, since I was distracted by Baby Abigail's colic--but each time I patiently saved it. I did a lot of praying in that garden! Then a gigantic tree feel in the back of my house during the thunder storm--and God saved my garden. I went back there and the Basil plants were saved by a mere 2 inches! Hurrah!

Then a neighbor came to chop up our tree for the power company and buried my garden in 6 feet of debris. Yeah. I carried every single one of those messy tree limbs on my garden to the front of my property so the Street Crew could cart it away. It was a good lesson in NOT getting discouraged when Satan appears to junk the fruits of your spiritual life. All the same, when I discovered that we only had $30 in grocery money this week I told God "You know, I could have been buying only cream and supplying my family with yummy tomato basil soup this week--but SOMEBODY killed all my tomato plants this summer."

Yeah. It's never smooth sailing in the spiritual life.

My task as a wife is to use $30 to feed 6 people for 9 days.

I'm really excited to write about this because I think deep down this is what everyone else is afraid of doing. Isn't that one of the reason no one has five kids? What happens when you screw up the money and you run out of cash before the end of the month?

Don't even feel bad about me being poor. I probably have a small grocery budget anyway because I live the life of the Holy Family--but truly an outsider would say I made a "money mistake" last Saturday. My kids are on the Swim Team. On Saturday, we spent 8 hours at a Divisional Swim Meet in another City. My Wal-mart bill on Friday was $77.26. 
That bill included Friday dinner, 
treats for the Swim Meet, 
$20 cash of the meet concession stand, 
and (just so we're totally honest here) $21.00 for a bat man toy for my seven year old son who fell off his  starting block at Friday morning's practice and was completely traumatized by the blood, the pain, and three large coaches spending a very long time bandaging his knee.

Then we spent $20 at Sweet Frog to celebrate the end of the Swimming Season.

So I could have had $127.26 to spend on groceries this week--which is a more normal number for us, but instead I'm down to $30.

My husband is trying to get me off my obsession with making "money mistakes". I seriously spend so much of my life second guessing my purchasing decisions as a Mother. I constantly feel like I "screwed up" or let my family down. My husband has laid down a rule that I'm not allowed to do that anymore. I'm not allowed to feel bad that I bought my son a toy, or that we tried to feed six starving people on $50 during a long swim meet, or that we had a delightful time at Sweet Frog. My husbands new mantra is "we're going to live our life. We're going to do our best to make good decisions in the moment. We're going to trust God to do the rest."

So far, so good. I didn't get a panic attack last night. I didn't pick a fight with my husband. (These are big goals for me). Instead, we went to Wal-mart and calmly spent $25 for food for five nights. Last night we had Spaghetti. This morning we had eggs and toast. Tonight I making meatloaf and baked potatoes. 

Thank you God for our Daily Bread.

Barren Cupboard

Posted by Picasa

Tess looking at empty fridge

Posted by Picasa

Empty Fridge

Posted by Picasa

Proof I'm a real Carmelite

My favorite holy card on my fridge--St. Teresa of Avila reaching to the Infant Jesus. (This image smacks me in the head because I'm usually NOT in a good mood when I open the fridge to feed one of my starving children. I see this card and then I remember sheepishly "Oh yeah, kid X is the infant Jesus in my life...)
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why I Bring My Young Children To Mass

This is the new stain glass window that is next to the pew that my family regularily sits in at church. Tess, my 18 month old daughter, looked at this beautiful Nativty scene and said "Baby no kuku" (Kuku is our family's nickame for a pacifier.) Of all of the hardships of Jesus' birth, I'd never thought of him being stuck without a pacifier! But to my toddler, this is just an inconceivable hardship. She gets it in a second, that the baby Jesus had it hard on earth and she generously wants to share her own kuku. This same discussion has happened a few times so far. I'm determined to go buy some nice pacifiers someday and donate them to babies in need--all in honor of my soft-hearted Tess.
Posted by Picasa

New Stain Glass Windows at My Parish Church

Posted by Picasa

Hospitality On The Go

Our church's social hall is close due to remolding this summer. So we had a free lemonaid / pink lemonaide cupcake stand in the church parking lot! It went great! I'm really hopeful that we can repeat the experience at soccer games and swim meets.

We joke that hospitality is a dying art. It's so hard to get busy people to accept our dinner invitations, so Jon decided to simply bring the party to where the families are located. Hospitality on the go!
Posted by Picasa

This is my future baker and current "cupcake princess." Mimi was bummed we didn't use the cool Target moneybox last weekend, but I explained that we don't charge "for family.' We don't charge Hannah and Alex when we make cupcakes for them. We don't charge our church family for cupcakes either. "Free to Jesus" is always a good motto!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

View of the back wall of my new parish church in Hedgesville, West Virginia
Posted by Picasa

How Jesus Romances My Heart

For the past year, I celebrated Mass in a former restaurant. It was depressing for girl with an artistic eye who used to think nothing of driving to the National Basilica in downtown Washington D.C. My new mission church had tile floors and metal chairs. Unconfined by a solid pew, by toddler used to screeeeeeech the chairs against the floor as she hopped from one lap to another.

Then the new church came.

With beautiful stain glass windows from an old church in New York City--and what we were told was a painting of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. I pictured the building committee buying something sweet and familiar and about 2 feet wide. My parish is very poor and very small.

Imagine the dramatic intake I breath, I had when I saw the new painting for the first time! It was over 8 feet tall! It wasn't dear old St. Francis and St. Clare.

Instead, it was Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

The most amazing painting I've seen online or in person in my years as a Carmelite. I knew it was a very special love-note passed from God's hand to mine.

My Personal Carmelite Love Note!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Missed Retreat

I felt so strangely peaceful and happy today. I mean it was other worldly. The colicky baby spent the entire day sleeping. Life was so calm, I went out and weeded the rose garden that I inherited with our new house. I assembled a giant rosary for VBS out of pool cues. Jon and I found time to do our full morning prayer session. Then he ironed out a passage in Mark for me that was hopelessly wrinkled in my head.

Only at 8:00 at night did I remember, "Oh, it's Carmel retreat weekend." All of my dear friends are at Mount Saint Mary's praying--probably specifically for me!

Thanks guys! I surfed the fumes of your deep prayer session and fell deeper in love with God today. (It was nice to know that even though I didn't make it to the retreat, His rest found me. God is good!)

Monday is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. If you haven't gathered yet....


Mary is the greatest! Her brown Carmelite mantle is the outfit I most love to see her wear. Leave me your prayer requests for Monday, please.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Power got restored to the Benjamin house after 11 days! Hurrah! Internet and phone will be out until at least July 20th. Lots to write about but curiously, 2 year olds and newborns do not like to hang out patiently at coffee houses with free wi-fi connections! Hope to write again soon!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Signing off

Checking out of a hotel today... and losing my internet wi-fi connection. The phone and the electric wires to my house might take 2 to 3 weeks to repair. Catch you up on the flip side!

Still praying tons! Leave a pray request in the comment box and I'll find it on one of my trips to the  library.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

'Derecho' Storm Ravaged Washington Area - ABC News

'Derecho' Storm Ravaged Washington Area - ABC News

Caught Up In Epic Storm

Friday night, my husband graciously gave me the emergency diaper run saying "you've been with Miss Chilipepper all day! Leave her with me and take a break from her for five minutes!" So I'm in Wal-Mart at 10 PM when suddenly they announce that a tornado has been spotted.

My cellphone had a dead battery. So I sat down on the floor in the boys clothes section, took out my rosary, and started to pray. A young man next to me said "I  bet you never expected to be stuck in a tornado at 10 o'clock at night when you woke up this morning... right?"

I looked at the rosary in my hands. I looked at him. I had all of these thoughts in my head. I didn't even know where to start... Something like "Well, actually I'm a follower of Jesus....and today is the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul....and even on more a usual day when I get up in the morning, I never know what is going to happen to me by 10 o'clock at night, only that its going to be an adventure... so actually the surprise of a tornado doesn't throw me all that much...."

I couldn't explain any of this in a coherent way, so I just smiled.

There were two women who kept pointing me out while I was praying the rosary. They kept mentioning to other people "we should be siting down, like her!" I don't think it was that I was sitting cross-legged on the floor that surprised them. I think it was that I was praying, and had some measure of supernatural peace. I'm not even a big prayer of the rosary. I just happened to have my trusty plastic beads in my purse and I thought "what else am I going to do during a tornado warning"? That interaction was a real reminder how rare it is to see someone pray the rosary in public, and how needed it is in the world.

My prayer to Mom was "You know I'm the only one in my family who takes these warnings seriously and gets everyone into the basement. My poor husband probably doesn't even realize what is going on. Since I'm away from my family right now YOU have to move this tornado away from Martinsburg!"

After 30 minutes they let us out of Wal-Mart. The drive home was actually the most scary part-worse than the tornado drill. The rain was intense. There were trees down all over the road. There were flash flood, which you couldn't see because the street lights were out. I parked my car at a gas station a block from my house. I had one free hand so I grabbed the box of size 6 diapers which could fit both my little girls. I giant tree fell across the street, so even the side walk was blocked. Out of nowhere a guy came off a porch with a flashlight to help me navigate his yard. I walked home the extra block in the freezing rain.

Never was there a home-coming more sweet!

After the storm ended we looked outside, a tree had crashed in our backyard!

In the morning, the sight was even more amazing. My husband had sat in our first floor bedroom with our five kids during the storm. The tree had missed this room by three feet. In a St. Boneface move, the tree should have fallen on our house. Instead, the tree "somehow" fell at perfect 90 degree angle missing our home completely. This massive tree fell perfectly between my house and my garden in my tiny 12 foot backyard. When I saw that the tree had cleared by precious basil plants by exactly 2 inches, I said "Man, She's good!"

Even my secular neighbors said "I don't understand how that tree didn't fall on your house. The crack shows that it should have fallen this way, and even now the tree trunk is leaning towards your house!"

That would be the power of the rosary!

I'm writing from a hotel room in Martinsburg. Life with 5 kids, a dog and a cat during now 90 hours without power during a heat wave has been a bit of penance. Thank heavens we are a family who goes camping. We had lanterns in our basement and kids who were used to playing UNO by candlelight.  On Sunday, I almost cried during Mass. The Church had finally gotten power back on and we have a new priest who is a 3rd Order Carmelite. Then we went Bob Evans and I had my first cup of hot coffee in 48 hours. Later, we went to a movie for air-conditioning. God bless my local Target. We hung out for over 4 hours with other "refugee" families at the eating area on Monday.

Enough power finally got restored in Martinsburg, that we were able to finally get a hotel room last night. I'm in a King Suite, but it's like a frat part this morning. It's crushed Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew can instead of Bud Light cans, but tired bodies are asleep every which way on the floor this morning. Everyone is so happy to be sleeping in cool comfort at last. Electricity is not a right, but boy is it a delicious luxury!

For anyone who knows me in real life, I'll have spotty communication for another one to two weeks The tree ripped out all of our phone and power cords and did damage to whatever machines connect them to the house. It will be a major project to get everything reconnected again.

Yet we're all cheerful! Its hard not to be when you see what powerful protection the Lord rains down on his beloved.  May you feel his love in your hearts as you wrestle with all the aftermath of the storms.