Living on a Prayer... kind of.

Hello readers! I know its been a bit, but I've been going craaazy with ministry happenings. Steubenville South, World Youth Day Formation, and Teen ACTS have been keeping me pretty occupied, not to mention our impending Epic Jr. High Day Camp.I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of reads and comments I received after my last post. I am truly blessed by the people I have in my life.
To my faithful subscribers (and mostly family), Nicole, Annette, Nanners, Erica, John and Cody, thanks for reading. And to the rest of you who encouraged others to read (Larry!), I am so flummoxed. I didn't think I'd get over 200 hits (and they weren't even all from my mom)! Again: overwhelmed. Mostly with gratitude, but also by disbelief. And definitely a shout out to my readers in the UK and Germany. Danke!
Anyway, the most relevant place I left off at was my mom and I driving towards Houston. To spare you from all of the listless miles of looking out the window at just dirt, let me just sum it up as such: it's boring. From the 10 & 15 interchange until (at least) San Antonio... its mind-numbingly boring. With the exceptions of Phoenix, Tucson and El Paso.
In between: nothing. Except dirt. And maybe some roadkill.

Despite all of the nothingness of our drive, mom and I still had a wonderful time (with a few exceptions). We stopped in Tucson for my last taste of wonderful In-n-Out goodness.

My eyes were a bit moist when we drove out of the parking lot. After Tucson is New Mexico, and the only good thing about New Mexico is that its only a four hour drive to get out of it. The Land of Enchantment is not very enchanting. At least along the I-10. My mom and I stopped at a motel so we could sleep for a few hours. BAD IDEA! I was afraid to sleep in the bed, and disgusted when I made the mistake of opening a drawer. I felt like I needed to be decontaminated afterward. It should have clued us in that they had hourly rates (I didn't know that was code for sleezy). Since this is my only experience with New Mexico, I have to say: it sucks. Sorry New Mexicans.

Entering Texas was pivotal. Like entering a new land. And then the novelty wore off. Very quickly, because we entered El Paso. And the most exciting thing about El Paso is that its scary. And the McDonald's. I love McDonald breakfasts. And the price of fuel drops considerably. We fueled up in El Paso, and then continued on. The rest of Texas... boooooring. Because of this, I'll spare you the drive with the exception of one key moment.

I fell asleep somewhere between Van Horn and Fort Stockton and woke up between Fort Stockton and Ozona. What woke me was the peculiar sensation of sweat dripping down my forehead. I leaned over to turn the air conditioner on, and my mom discreetly turned it off. I thought this strange. After all, it was August. And we were in the middle of Texas. It was hot. The resulting conversation went like this:

“Mom, its hot.”
“I have something to tell you...”
“Uhhh... what?”
“Well, I forgot that we filled up in El Paso and that we didn't get any fuel in Van Horn.”
“I didn't stop for gas in Fort Stockton.”
“We're pretty close to empty and the next city is Ozona. In 50 miles.”
"Riiiiight. Huh. Okie."

So, I understood the concept of no air conditioner. And began praying. The sweat continued to drip down my forehead and down my back, and the anxiety of being stuck on the side of the road in the middle of God's-nowhere, Texas, made my stomach begin to constrict and churn and I began to worry that Houston was the place that we would never make it to.

We drove over the hills and through the valleys approaching Ozona. Then up ahead, in the distance, we saw it. A white building with a roof and a sign that rose into the sky. A gas station. We were saved! We'd have the air conditioning back on in no time! Sure, they would most likely gouge us with their “last-chance” gas prices, but we would pay! Better than having a tow truck charge $500 for coming to fuel us up. So we got off the freeway, and drove towards our beacon of hope. Only to find: it was closed. The windows were painted white and it had been stripped of its gas pumps. We were doomed. With heavy and anxiety-ridden hearts, we returned to the freeway, apprehensive about the fuel and time we'd wasted trying to get to the worst gas station in the world.

Thirty minutes later, mom and I were hardly speaking, as if speaking would deplete our fuel resources further. We were sitting on the edge of our seats, at least as far as our seat belts would allow. I was scanning the horizon for a sign of Ozona, even though I knew it was still a good twenty miles off. My stomach continued to flip and flop. My mom broke our vigilant silence.

“Kate, you know what this is, don't you?”
“Uhh... its the beginning of a really bad horror movie?”
Mom laughed, “No, this is God asking you, 'Do you trust me?'”
I chuckled, “I think I kind of already proved that, didn't I?”
“Yes, but now He's asking for you to give up the little bit of control you have left. He's going to provide. Just trust Him.”
I smirked, “Oh, I do trust Him. Just not my car's fuel efficiency.”

We fell back into our silence. Every time we reached the summit of one of Texas' many rolling hills, I prayed that we'd be able to see Ozona. No dice. If God was indeed testing my trust, He was bringing me to my limit. Here I was, forsaking my family, abandoning my friends, and moving to Texas for Him, and we were about to run out of gas. How is that for fair? I began to get annoyed, and I had an interesting dialogue with Him.

“Really God? Really?”
“Yup. Do you trust me.”
“Seriously??? How much more do You want me to trust You? I think I've made it pretty clear...”
“Stop whining. Just trust me.”

I didn't respond. I moped. And stewed. And kept an eye on the horizon and on my car's gas gauge. The thing about my car's gas gauge is that the idiot light comes on when there are about 20 miles left in the tank. It wasn't turning on yet. Yet.

Fifteen minutes later, my mom uttered that phrase feared by anyone every in charge of anything or trying to accomplish something new and challenging.


The orange-ish hue of my gas light began to glow. And Ozona was still nowhere in sight. We hadn't seen a sign for the town in twenty minutes, and we had no idea how much further it would be. And that sick, twisted, sadistic little light kept glowing. Occasionally, it would fade and I would exhale a breath that I wasn't aware I'd been holding. But it would be a short lived relief, because it would only turn back on seconds later, and glowing more fiercely than before.

Ten minutes later, a sign of hope appeared. A billboard ad for Sonic. Five miles away. And a sign for a McDonald's. And then a sign for Dairy Queen. Three more miles rolled by, and the orange light kept glowing without reprieve. I felt the sweat dripping down my neck and rolling down my back, and I kept glancing at my mom, and she kept her faithful eyes on the road, scanning for an offramp.

We went over a hill, and then we saw it. A small town, gleaming in the Texas summer sunlight. And a gas station. An actual, honest-to-goodness, in-business gas station. We pulled off the freeway, and practically rolled into the Chevron. It wasn't until I was opening my door, feeling a breeze of cool wind wash over me that I heard God say, “I told you to trust Me.” I hate it when God says “I told you so.” Mostly because I feel embarrassed that I just didn't listen.

We only stayed in Ozona to fill up, use the facilities, grab something to drink, and then kept going. We had a good three hours before making it to San Antonio, and from there another three hours until Houston.

After the gas debacle, my conversations with mom became more eased. We started talking about everything. Things that I'd never discussed with her before. Her hopes for me, her fears that she hadn't taught me enough. I told her a lot of stuff too. Stuff that I'd kept from her about my relationship with the stupid boy; how I hoped that I made her and my dad proud. Inevitably, I ended up crying again. We kept talking all the way through San Antonio. About our family, our prayers for them.

At 3pm we prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy together. I knew in that moment how blessed I was to have my mom so firm in the faith, to have inherited her faith and make it my own. I believe that for any believer, that is their own prayer for their children: for them to grow up in faith and let it transform them, and make it their own. At least that's my prayer for my children (if I ever have any).

Through San Antonio we raced, not paying attention to the many billboard ads about the Alamo or Riverwalk. That would be a trip for another time. We stopped in Seguin at a Chili's. Mom took me out to dinner. Our last meal before she'd leave me, and I would officially be on my own. I don't remember much about eating that night, but I remember it went by too quickly. We filled up again, and randomly, one of the station attendants noticed my license plate.

“California, huh? Where bout?”
“Oh, about fifty miles east of LA. Riverside.”
“Small world. I lived on La Sierra. Over by the high school. Then I moved to the apartments by Castle Park.”

I don't remember his name, but that station attendant remains in my memory about how small a big world can be. Because (for those of you unfamiliar with Riverside) this random stranger lived ten miles away from me. And here he was in a random city, going to school to be a nurse.

After Seguin, we were stuck in traffic. A big rig had been essentially decapitated and it took us two hours to go four miles. It was almost 10pm by the time we were out of it, and by midnight, we could see the lights from Katy on the horizon. An hour later, we were thrown into a cleaner motel room close to Intercontinental Airport. My mom's flight left at 6am. Exhausted by the trip, and worn out by the traffic, we both collapsed on to the bed. We requested a wake up call at 4am, so we could get a bite to eat, and then mom would catch her flight.

I don't remember falling asleep, but I do recall hearing the phone ring. I was disoriented. There was no clock, and I heard the shower running. It must have been 4:30, because there was still no light outside. I felt around for my glasses, and tried to focus on a coherent thought. I needed to find out exactly what time it was but my phone... I must have left it in the car. The time changed automatically on it. Fumbling for my keys which I had dropped haphazardly on the floor, I got to my car and saw the sunlight breaking nightsky. If it was 430, it was too early for that. I got my phone, and it said 5:30. Surely that was wrong. It had to be a mistake. We'd requested a wake-up call an hour before. I called the front desk. It was 5:30. Its amazing how quickly a mind can snap into focus when adrenaline starts coursing through your veins.

I yelled for my mom and told her what time it was. The water turned off immediately. I threw on my clothes, brushed my teeth and mom whipped through the room with her wet hair and started throwing all of our belongings into her travel bag. We were out of the door in five minutes. A few days later, I would have to drive back to the motel to get my baby blanket and atm card. Apparently I was too quick about packing.

We didn't have a chance to say good-bye really. I was already crying when we were circling IAH, and when we got to her terminal, I was close to sobbing. Her flight left in fifteen minutes. My mom flung her door open and I went around to get her bag for her. She hugged me tight, took her bag, said a quick prayer over me, kissed my cheek, and then ran for the ticket counter.

I got back in my car, and with the close of my door, I realized. Suddenly... finally... I was a grown-up.

That doesn't mean I didn't bawl my eyes out as I drove to the 59. I definitely hiccuped and sniffled as I merged onto I-45. I wiped furiously at my eyes as I came into Clear Lake. And when I saw the Starbucks by St. Paul the Apostle, my eyes were still watery. I composed myself in the Starbucks bathroom, put on some make-up, changed into more appropriate “first day of work” clothing, and ordered a Venti no-water-chai (I deserved it- it had been a rough morning).

I snuck into the church quietly and inconspicuously. I stole into one of the bathrooms and straightened my hair. I don't know why, but whenever I find myself in a new and radically different place, I start doing my hair. Perhaps it gives me a sense of control. I don't know. Laura came into the bathroom. I told her the story about my mom's flight out of Houston, and how I still hadn't been able to get fully ready yet.

At 830am, on August 16, I became an official member of St. Paul's staff. And went right to work. Jr. High Day Camp. With twenty boisterous and wonderful Jr. Higher's. It had taken 36 hours to drive, but I had arrived where God called me. We had a lot of activities that first day, and I don't remember a single one of them except that we went to the movies and saw “Despicable Me”. Afterwards, I went to the home of Steven and Phyllis Wheelis. They were kind enough to let me use their spare bedroom until I got on my feet and could afford an apartment.

I would have cried myself to sleep that night but I was too tired. Instead, I slept for twelve hours. There was lightening and thunder but I didn't hear any of it. Their dogs started barking but I stayed asleep. I could finally rest.

So that's it. I was in Texas finally. It had been a journey. But I was here. And here I've been. Almost a year later, and a lot of lessons have been learned. But those are stories for later. Right now, I'm running late for music practice, and I still have to straighten my hair.

For those of you curious, my mom missed her flight, but was placed on another one thirty minutes later. The first thing I did when I came home for Thanksgiving was run and hug her, to make up for our crappy good-bye. I still miss her though.


White Horse

Before I go on with the story of how I came to be a strange Mexican-Irish girl in a strange Houston, Texas town, I need to divulge something. And I'm certain that many of you, dear readers, have been expecting it. And it would be an insult to all of you, loving friends, who had to deal with me during my healing process. This is it. Here we go. And please, I beg of you: remember that I am human, and not perfect, as much as I joke around about being perfect. I am broken and fragile. And very stupid. Some of you may jump to harsh judgments, but I contest that everyone has done something stupid in their life at some point. Maybe it was unhealthy relationship, maybe it was getting a horrible Madonna-like perm in the 80's, or naming your children after snack foods. We all make mistakes. Read on.

At one foolish time, in my very foolish life, I considered myself to be in love. Wait. Scratch that. I was in love. And that is something that I need to learn not to be ashamed of. It doesn't matter with whom I was in love with. But what does matter is that he said he loved me too. I imagined and longed for a life with this guy, and sacrificed a lot of myself for him. I pretended to love things that he loved, speak the way that would make him take notice of me. Like that 1960's song suggested, “You've got to show him that you care just for him, do the things he likes to do, wear your hair just for him...” Well, I did. And in the process I lost myself and who I really am. I became obsessed with hearing his voice, and being near him. I craved his approval, and yearned for the satisfaction that he loved me, and only me. We spent Christmases, birthdays, family outings together; his mother even told me she considered me her daughter-in-law already. And I was so.... happy.

But it was a lie. It wasn't that he did all the lying (although for someone who supposedly “can't lie” he did a LOT of it). I lied too. To myself mostly. But also to him. I lied when I compromised myself and my morals to make him happy, or when I would try to be someone whom I wasn't, just so he could admire me a bit more. I believed that if I could convince him that I was exactly who he was looking for, that would be it. And it'd be completely worth it. Its funny how things don't work out. And sometimes its wonderful.

I convinced myself of his steady and constant affection and love for years. Yet he was not steady. He was anything but constant. He ran hot and cold on me more than the plumbing in my cheap apartment. And I started catching him in lies. And hearing about how he was paying a lot of attention to someone else. I ignored it (again, please, I know... stupid, stupid girl). The idea of him being with another girl was so terrifying to me that I swallowed my fear, acted like an ostrich (which tastes delicious, btw), and stuck my head in the sand. I confronted him a few times. Every time I did, somehow, inexplicably, I would end up thinking I was crazy. Or he would remind me that we weren't married. Whatever the case may be, I was stressed, depressed, repressed, regressed, and obsessed (which are all red flags and marks of spiritual warfare). I stopped caring about myself; mistreated my body, went on binges, and became an all-around unpleasant person to be around. I did this to myself. I take full responsibility for that. When I get to heaven someday and Jesus looks into the eyes of my soul, I'm going to have to look at Him and say, “Yes, that was me.” And my biggest fear is that He'll cry. Not just for me, but for the loved ones I mistreated and took advantage of while coping with being taken advantage of.

The pinnacle and “no-turning-back-now”moment came one evening at the beach. Have you ever had moments when your heart is aching so much you'd swear it was being squeezed by a vice-grip? Or that being swallowed by a whale or eaten by a shark would be bliss in comparison to the bleak and utter melancholy and black abyss that engulfed you? I have.

We were at the beach at a youth event, and he was in the water. I was playing my guitar, avoiding the company of the other stupid girl he'd been allegedly spending time with. I heard his phone ring, and being the A-type-proned-personality person that I am, I picked it up. The number was unfamiliar so I let it go to voicemail. And then I got a nagging feeling in the back of my skull. He'd been so protective of his phone for the past six-months. And I'd (again, ostrich) ignored it, owing it to the fact that he was a pretty private person. But I couldn't help it. He had a password protected phone, but he's about as creative with coming up with passwords as I am with drawing people (I do stick-figures). I cracked the code in ten seconds. And there, on his phone, were hundreds of pictures of her. Smiling, laughing, sleeping... SLEEPING?! Yup. And there they were in Time Square, cozied up together. The phrase “made me nauseous” would be so applicable if it weren't so cliched. But those pictures literally made me nauseous. And me, being the non-confrontational person that I am, cornered the jerk and threw his phone at him. Not really. I wish I had. But I pulled him aside, told him what I'd found, and tearfully asked, “Why?”

One thing I'll never forgive myself for is how weak I became and how much power I let him exert over me. Where did sparky and spunky Katie go? Who the hell was this person in her flip-flops? Get this girl a backbone!

Long story short, I ended it that night. That horrible, toxic.... thing. The mockery and joke of a relationship. It ended. I ended it with the help of two of my dear friends, who sat on the beach with me that night and let me cry until there was nothing left. At their urging and my mom's approval, I started counseling the next day (my pride would like to conceal that factoid about me, but I am convinced that everyone needs counseling at some point or other. It helped me a lot).

Its been a long haul, and God has done some amazing work in me. He took me, all banged up, bruised, and broken, and put me back together. I've got scarred tissue. Battle wounds. And I'm wiser for it. My honest-to-goodness (ride-or-die) friends were revealed in this process, as they never failed to be there for me. To everyone who helped me through this time, or prayed me through it, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

One year and one month after that horrible beach day, I slammed the trunk shut and drove up and out of the driveway of my mom and dad's house. We stopped for gas on 6th Street, and then pulled onto the 15 freeway. I sang along to Taylor Swift's “White Horse” as I bid farewell to the place I'd known almost since birth. And my mom clapped and cheered for me as the song ended and we merged onto the 10 freeway, the freeway that would take me all the way to Houston.

I don't want any confusion about my ultimate reason for moving; God called me here. I have a job to do. It's my vocation. So let it be known by anyone doubting, or mistrusting my motive: I was not running away... I was moving on.

Looking back, I don't completely regret the series of unfortunate events that took place: they've shown me the grace of our Heavenly Father, and revealed to me just how deep His mercy is and how wonderful it is to be truly healed. I learned that people who I love can and will disappoint; but I have to love anyway. And that God can and will work a miracle in whatever crap-pile of a situation I find myself in. Thanks for reading... and thanks for being charitable with your thoughts. Whew.... that was.... well, I'm glad that's done.

White Horse – Taylor Swift

Say you're sorry, that face of an angel
comes out just when you need it to.
As I paced back and forth all this time,
because I honestly believed in you.
Holding on the days drag on, stupid girl,
I should've known, I should've known...

I'm not a princess, this ain't a fairy tale
I'm not the one you'll sweep off her feet,
lead her up the stairwell,
this ain't Hollywood, this is a small town.
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down.
Now its too late for you and your white horse
to come around.

Baby I was naïve, got lost in your eyes
and never really had a chance.
My mistake, I didn't know how to be in love.
You had to fight to have the upper hand.
I had so many dreams about you and me;
happy endings. Now I know...

I'm not a princess, this ain't a fairy tale
I'm not the one you'll sweep off her feet,
lead her up the stairwell, this ain't Hollywood,
this is a small town.
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down.
Now its too late for you and your white horse
to come around.

And there you are on your knees, begging for forgiveness,
begging for me. Just like I always wanted. But I'm so sorry...

Because I'm not your princess, this ain't a fairytale,
I'm gonna find someone someday
who might actually treat me well.
This is a big world, that was a small town
there in my rear-view mirror disappearing now.
And it's too late for you and your white horse,
yeah it's too late for you and your white horse.
To stop me now. Try and stop me now.
It's too late to stop me now.


Packing and The Car-tastrophe

Thanks to everyone who's reading! Cody & John.... I appreciate your following me (in the non-stalker way).

So I get the job. And I was SO thrilled. And terrified. At the same time. Getting the job in Houston was a much different feeling than being invited to team NET. With NET, at least I knew that I'd be going home eventually. Moving was more like getting a tattoo. Its permanent. And the process sucks. Because it hurts.

When I was a little girl, the idea of moving always seemed like such a fun idea. Because it was going somewhere new and exciting!

I was misinformed.

The first thing that I did was tell my boss that I had received the job offer. And I'd taken it. And Don asked me when my last day would need to be. I told him Monday. That way, I'd have four days left to pack up my life. I finished my shift on Saturday, managing to snag a few boxes from the dock, and shoved them into my car. It still hadn't dawned on me that these boxes were going to contain a few precious items that I'd be able to transport cross-country. Mostly shoes. Actually, almost all shoes. And books. I have a lot of books. About religion. And Twilight. But we'll pretend I didn't just type that.

Sunday was an interesting day. Fr. Declan had asked me to speak a bit on Cursillo, and try to encourage our congregation to go. I had told him the news, and asked him if it would be appropriate to announce my leaving. He said it would be. So when I got up to speak about the joy of Cursillo with the rest of my fellow Cursillistas, I felt confident. After all, God had called me on my Cursillo weekend, and it was a great story, right? Well, I felt that way until I got up to speak. And then.... and then. I scanned over the congregation; my family. I'd known them almost my entire life. They were more familiar to me than most of my extended relatives.
I don't remember everything I said, but I do recall one moment when I was speaking about how God calls us to do great things, sometimes scary things. And those things are hard. But, as Tom Hanks says in "A League of Their Own," the "hard is what makes it great." And I started tearing up. And my announcement poured out of me in a shaky voice. "I've been offered, and I've accepted the position as a youth minister at St. Paul the Apostle in Houston, Texas. And even though my heart us breaking right now, I know that Christ is with me. Because you are all in me, and I'm carrying you with me in my heart."
I never understood what St. Paul meant until then. I was being poured out as a libation. And the clarity that that scripture afforded me was shockingly hilarious. I almost began laughing in between my words. And that clarity gave me strength. I looked again at the faces I knew so well, at the Pearson family, at the Smiths, at Adam, Lucia, and Ricky. And Larry and Eric. And Emily. I knew my days with them were numbered. But God's presence was soothing and calming. I was becoming stronger.

Monday, I had my last day of work. And coincidentally, it was a staff meeting day. My fellow managers had gotten together and bought a locket for me. Its a heart with a cross in the middle and absolutely gorgeous. On the back is inscribed, "Burlington, 2010." The kind words written on the card and the tears that I cried will be forever written on my heart. Its amazing how much a group of people you've only known seven months can influence you.

I took my car to my cousin Jim's house. For those of you not familiar with cousin Jim (which is almost all), he's a master mechanic, and probably the BEST mechanic in all of Southern California. No lie. He's awesome. I was all prepared to drive out to Texas in my beat-up Suzuki, but Dad was adamant that Jim look the car over. And its a good thing he did. As a girl with almost no interest in auto-mechanics, I like to imagine that car fairies make my car run. Yes, I know about fuel, and the importance of oil-changes (wow, did I learn that the hard way with my first car), but I really have an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality with my car. So when I pop the hood and there's a (gasp) engine underneath (instead of small rodents or woodland creatures that make the car go), my mind glazes over, and I start thinking about other things, like how awesome vending machines are, or if I have change for when the ice cream man comes around because darn it, I really want one of those Ninja Turtle Popsicles with the blue gumballs in its eyes (and did you know the first vending machine was created by Hero in the first century? It dispensed Holy Water. GO CATHOLICS!).

Instead of boring you with all of the details of getting my car suped-up to make the 1386-mile drive, I'll just summarize for you. Suzuki's only take Suzuki parts. And I needed a new air-intake system, resonator, timing belt, and brakes. So, basically it was really expensive. But because of my awesome cousin, it was about 70% cheaper than taking it to a shop. 90% cheaper than taking it to the dealer.

My Uncle Pete came down for a visit whilst I was packing. He lives about 10 hours north of my family in Northern California. Now, here's my thing for all non-Californian's. If you are going to visit Cali, DO NOT go to Southern California. Its gross. And brown. As my sister and I were discussing about a week ago, Southern California has beautiful places but it is NOT beautiful. Northern California, however. B-E-A-UTIFUL. Especially Sequoia National Park. Promise me.... go and visit. Just google "Redwoods". Its AMAZING! Trees big enough to drive cars through. I digress.

Uncle Pete is my Godfather. And he's awesome. Just like his son, Jim. And he gave me something amazing. And I mean that in its truest sense. When I found out I needed new wheels, everywhere I called, people were telling me the wheels were $120. Each. Finally, I called one place, America's Tires (PLUG!), and they had these cool wheels for a slightly better deal. I spoke to a salesguy and told him my plight. Blah, blah, blah, I'm moving to Texas and I'm poor.... and he knocked the price down to an even better deal. And when Uncle Pete and I went to pick them up, he wouldn't let me pay for them. I know he wouldn't want anyone to know it because he's an amazingly humble man. But I owe him a lot. He's my father in faith, and he helped me get to where I am. He literally got me to Texas. And it was the Spirit within him that made him as generous as he is.

So I had new wheels. And tires. And everything was going great. I was packing up, folding a lot of clothes, giving away a lot of stuff. Lucia even helped me clean out some stuff that I hadn't gone through since high school. It was a daunting task. Now I know why people like to stay in one place. Because the process of uprooting requires too much energy. And shredding old bills is shockingly boring. And loud, so you can't even enjoy watching movies whilst doing it. And Chasey could only be bribed so much to shred stuff for me. Oreo's only go so far.

The days passed. Mom had decided that she would drive out to Texas with me, and then fly back. I was so relieved someone was going with me. And I was happy it was Mom. She and I needed some time together. Especially since I was out of my "I'm a teenager and know everything" and "I'm a young adult and I can do everything" phases. On that note, being friends with my parents is one of the joys of my adult life. I'm so glad I like them. Although Dad, if you read this... seriously... if you're mean to my Mom, you're going to the home.

Thursday arrived. And people came over. I was still packing my life into boxes and vacuum bags. Those things are amazing. I got my car back in all of its fixed-ness. Mom and I were scheduled to leave Friday evening. My friends had planned a good-bye party at Rodrigo's, and people came from their jobs with presents to send me off. I cried again.

My sisters Erica and Jess were driving back to the house with me, and we stopped at Circle K. I don't know why. But it was there in that parking lot that my engine, on my newly fixed car, died. It just... died. And I panicked. And called my dad, who came to our rescue, and took me to an auto-part store. They hook it up to their machine and we find that it is not the battery. Its the alternator. It was 5:00 when they told us this. And I was supposed to leave at 6:00. The auto parts stores were closing. And Jim races over to our house, and we start calling every place known to man that might carry this exclusive Suzuki part. And everyone tells us the same thing. "We can get the part in two-weeks." After the sixth phone call and a fruitless haphazard race to a closing store, I started crying again. All I wanted to do was get out of California. Why wouldn't it let me leave?

There was no possible way Jim would get the part that evening. Our best bet was calling the manufacturer and seeing if they knew where we could get one fast, but they were already closed. So instead of leaving that night, I went to bed in my now packed room, asking God for peace, and for a working alternator.

The next morning, bright and early at 7:00, I go to a parts store that might have had one in stock. No luck. I called the manufacturer as soon as they opened. And they put me on hold for fifteen minutes. And when they took me off hold, they told me they had one (1) alternator for my car. And it was thirty minutes away. Naturally, I took off like a shot. Within an hour I had an alternator and my cousin was installing it. As soon as he slammed the hood shut, I was FINALLY throwing my stuff in the backseat and trunk while he tightened the lug nuts on my new wheels. And then he stopped:

"Uh, Katie?"
"We might have a problem."
"There's a screw in your tire."

That's right. There was a screw in my tire. Having cried far too much that week, I did the only thing I could think of: I started laughing. Hysterically laughing. Nature was just tweaking my nose! And using my car against me! So I had to unpack my car and take it back to the tire sales place.

Luckily, the dude who'd sold me my tires was really nice about it. He patched it up within ten minutes. And I was back home by 1pm. By 1:30 my car was repacked, and my room was the cleanest it had been in years. In a moment of calm, I sat on my bed and stared at the place that I was giving up. It was safe, and familiar. And (except for the spiders), had been my haven for 27-years. The adrenaline from all of my running around left me in an instant, and before I could realize what it was that had happened, I was lying facedown on my bed having an acute anxiety attack. My sister was talking with her boyfriend in the living room, and I called her into my bedroom. As she sat there on my bed with me, rubbing my back, smoothing my hair, and "shh-ing" my irrational sobbing conjectures like, "What if they don't like me?" I realized that moments like preparing to swan-dive off a diving board, or huge leaps of faith were rare. And exquisite.

For the umpteenth time that week, I dried my tears, and my mom announced that she had finished packing, and it was time to go. I hugged my sister, her boyfriend, and one of my favorite people in the world, Ricky Valenzuela (I call him my favorite Mexican), shoved my mom's suitcase into my almost overflowing car, got into the driver's seat, turned the key in the ignition (half-expecting the engine to fall out), drove up the driveway and away from my home. It was finally happening. I was growing up, and leaving California.


You Want me to what? (Pt ii)

Last time, on Katie's blog:

Me: "God, give me joy."
God: "Katie, find a job in Texas."
Me: "No."
God: "Yes."
Me: "Ok."

And that's where we're at now. Me finding a job in Texas (well, I mean... if you don't know how that story turned out, you really should ask yourself if you know me at all).

I'd gotten assurances of my mission at this retreat. That retreat is called "Cursillo." If you've never been on this weekend, I would strongly encourage you to go. And even if you've been on an ACTS retreat, go to Cursillo anyway. Much meatier... much deeper. They have them all over the place. Its great. And if you're a fellow Cursillista, then "De Colores!"

Ok, Cursillo plug: done.

Now... I told God I trusted Him, right? So my telephone interview with this search committee (which, I'd never had my name on a search committee before, so the thought of being sought after by human beings was just... I dunno... daunting), was to fall on the Tuesday after my Cursillo weekend at 5:30pm. I had work that night. A closing shift. There was no way I'd be able to take that phone call. I told God: "Make this happen."

And then God snapped His mighty fingers. And I got the stomach flue at 3:30am Tuesday morning. I need to be more clear with God when I ask Him to do stuff.

I called in sick to work on Tuesday morning. And I slept until 4:00pm. My daddy bought me a whole variety of Gatorade (which, btw, I love the fruit punch kind best). And I was able to make the telephone interview at 5:30pm. And I felt disgusting the entire time. You know what one of the worst things in the world is? Trying to be your usual, upbeat, and cheery self while trying not to puke your guts up at the same time. It was nerve-wracking! I felt like I was boring them all to tears. And when I hung up the phone after the hour long conversation I had, I threw down the Blackberry, and cried. And then I threw up. And went back to bed. At least I think that's what happened. Its all a feverish haze now.

Wednesday morning came. I had the day off (Praise GOD!), and I slept in... still trying to get rid of that biting "Eating=death" feeling. And I got a phone call. From Laura. The search committee >gasp< liked me! I was beside myself... and then she told me one of the most amazing things I'd ever heard. She'd told the committee that I was planning on driving to Houston for my audition thing with the teens. They were shocked, and so one of them (whom shall remain nameless, but will always remain in my heart as an amazingly wonderful person), offered to buy me a plane ticket. Seriously. Yeah... I was shocked. I couldn't speak for, well... a long time for a Katie. So, it was set. The next week, I would fly to Houston, give a bible study, and then fly home and wait for a response.

But first I had to tell my boss at Burlington. Don. I couldn't ask for two or three days off and then quit right afterward. Especially after he'd taken a chance on me for being a dept. manager. I had to tell him that I was being considered for this job. And if I took it, I'd have to be moving asap. So... I decided, as I strode into work on that Thursday. I'd tell him. He'd totally understand, right? I was terrified that he'd fire me right on the spot.

That day I learned I need to have more faith in people.

I sat in front of him in his office, sputtering, trying to get my words out.
"Umm.. Don, I need to tell you something."
"Ok, what?"
"Uhh... well, you know I love working here with everyone (not a lie), and its just that I've got this thing, and uh, you know how much I appreciate your patience with me, and uh..."
"Katie, just spit it out!"
"I'mafrontrunnerforayouthministryjobinHouston!" >nervous laugh<
>Katie starting to hyperventilate<
"That is so cool!"

Don thought it was cool! I couldn't believe it! My jaw could have seriously hit the floor in that moment. He asked me when I would be going to do the bible study, how soon I'd have to leave if I got the job, everything. And for that, I will always be grateful. And then... Don prayed with me! It was by far the coolest thing that I'd ever done at work before (in all my retail jobs).

The week passed by extremely quickly. I told the rest of my family that I was praying about taking a job in Houston, and that I'd be going for an interview. They had varying reactions. Brian was his usual, "Oh. Ok." Erica was her usual "Thatissoexciting!" And Bobby was his usual, "Are you crazy?" Which I chalk up to him just wanting me to stay in California. I'm sticking to that story. I told most of my friends, and they were sad but excited for me. And I told Aunt (who's not really my aunt) Emily. Who cried. We'd just fixed our strained relationship, and "you freakin' want to move to Texas?"

The entire car ride to the airport was... tense. The entire way as Becka drove me, I was in between nervous fits of giggles and hyperventilating. And as we rolled by the freeway sign for LAX, I started panicking. And crying. My conversation with Erica went like this:

"Am I crazy? I think I'm crazy. I can't do this? I must be out of my mind! And I forgot my favorite black cardigan..."
"Lady, it's going to be ok. This is exciting! You're going to do a great job!"
"....>sniff< Ok."

And then I got on the plane. It was time for the bible study. I had a great one set on prayer. I'd done it a few times for my parish's youth alpha group. And it always worked. So it'd be great, right? WRONG. I'm praying the rosary somewhere between Phoenix and Houston, and all of the sudden, the voice that sounds like Becka pops in my head.

"Katie, do Matthew 28!"
"Quiet God, I'm praying."
"Katie, do Matthew 28!"
"Seriously? I'm just going to do... I just... FINE!"

You'd think I would have learned not to argue with Him anymore. I'm glad He allows a learning curve. I rewrote the entire bible study on the commissioning of the disciples. And, funnily enough (I'm sure Jesus got a huge LOL out of this), its the moment when Jesus tells the disciples to go out to all the nations and preach the good news. Yeah... I'd say that's pretty applicable. It took me most of Arizona, New Mexico and the western part of Texas to write. But I finished. And looking back on it, I really didn't do any of the work. The verses that were pulled into it seemed to flow from my pen of their own volition. I give complete credit to the Holy Spirit for that bible study. I was just the one who read it to the teens later on that evening. I met a lot of great people that night. The teens were so... on fire. It was refreshing. They sang with me for praise and worship. Even though I'm sure they didn't know a couple of the songs. They even had a dance for "Blessed be Your Name." Coolest church ever.

And before I knew it... I was home. The interview with the pastoral administrators and priest zoomed by. I met a whole gad of people at Laura's house. I don't remember most of it. I don't remember the flight home. I do, however, remember praying a very familiar prayer.

"God, Your will be done. Please let this be Your will!"

It was the same prayer from when I drove home from Modesto on my interview weekend with NET.

Two days went by. I went back to work. And then, in the middle of folding some polo-shirts down, I got a phone call. From Laura.

"Hi Katie, its Laura."
"Sooo.... we'd like to officially offer you the job as-"
>muffled scream< (I was hiding in the fitting room of the men's department trying not to be seen)
"Youth minister. How soon can you move to Houston?"

And there it was. I had been unanimously voted in by the search committee, the teens said they would deal with me, and the priest pretty much said, "Ok."

It was a good day. I immediately rushed on to a break. I called one of my best friends, Yvonne, right away. She'd been on Cursillo with me and was the first non-family to find out what I was praying about. We'd agreed that if I got the job, she'd come to World Youth Day with me (I get to go as part of my job... I know, right?!?!). And that if I got the job, I wouldn't call her to tell her that. I'd just call her to tell her to get a passport.


I don't think I'd ever heard her exclaim something that loud. Especially on the phone.

I called my mom and dad. Mom sounded resigned. Like she'd been praying for God's will, but that it'd be for Him to keep me in town. Dad was excited for me. He has this thing where he goes, "oh-kay!" Typing it doesn't do his "oh-kay" justice. Its funny. I love it.

So I got the job (again, if you couldn't tell that from the beginning, then do you really know me?).

I'd left everything up to God, and He made it happen. I didn't know how or why I had ever come to deserve something so amazing. My dream job. In one of my favorite cities in the world. With the best Boss every (Jesus). I still sit in awe sometimes and just think, "Hmm. Good job God."

I don't know if I'll ever make it up to Him.

Next time, on Katie's blog: Leaving California.

Cousin Jim: "You need a new resonator, tires, wheels, a tune up, an oil change, and a car wash."


You want me to what?

It's been a while since I posted anything on this blog. Almost two years, in fact. Two years never feel like a long time. Its been four years since I finished NET (National Evangelization Team). It feels like a few months have gone by. Somehow, I have no idea why (it must be some trick of Einstein's Theory of Relativity), the two years since I posted my last... ummm.... posts...seem longer ago than four years. I don't know why.

I have an idea of why this is. So let me explain. Wait. There is too much. Let me sum up. Just kidding. The explanation is funnier than the sum. I don't know how that works.

I was in school when I initially wrote the blog. Again. I was a student at the prestigious Cal-State-San Ber-ghetto. Okay, okay. It's actually an o.k. school but what with all the budget cuts from our movie-star-governator, it had turned into a very angry and run down campus. Budget cuts=less money=Katie get's kicked out of school. I have no hard feelings. Really. I mean it. Even though I was only a few units away from getting a Masters. But I'm not upset. Seriously.

So I get kicked out of school, right? But its ok! Because I have my amazing Religious Studies degree to fall back on. And my extensive retail experience. So after a brief stint of working at a tax office (I love those ladies), I was able to procure gainful employment at a fine and luxurious establishment called "Burlington Coat Factory". Which, let's face it: is the K-Mart or Big-Lots of retail. But it was a job. And I liked it. For a while. Of course, then the men's dress shirts began piling up, the big & tall section was a constant thorn in my side, and my department was filled with drama (I still have no idea why). Even with the amazing people I worked with, all I wanted to do was run away. And I hate running. As a matter of principle, I only run when chased.

So I prayed. Sadly, my prayer life had depleted considerably from what it once was. It came down to praying at Mass, Bible Study, and before meals. So I wasn't expecting much. And I prayed the most risky prayer I had ever prayed before. In my life.

I told God: "God, give me joy. I don't care how. Just give me joy."

Did you know, that when you tell God that, He takes it seriously? Yeah. I didn't realize just how seriously. Slowly, the city "Houston" became a splinter in my brain. I'd been there once for a week whilst on NET, and it stuck with me. And I couldn't understand why, why it kept popping up. In idle conversations, or day dreams. Like when I'd be folding, and then refolding dress shirts. It felt like there was someone next to me, whispering incessantly, "Houston.... pssst... Katie... HOUSTON!" The voice sounded startlingly like my little sister.

So, in order to shut the whisper up, I started looking for jobs in Houston. Just to see. I didn't connect the unprecedented desire to get a job in Houston with my prayer. It didn't make sense. I looked at yahoo jobs, googled temp-agencies, tried to find out how long it would take to be a teacher. But nothing felt right. I even looked at retail gigs. Nothing. I couldn't see anything that would compel me to shift my world. And then I looked at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. And something happened. My center of gravity shifted. I saw a job opening for a youth minister at this church, St. Paul's. I distinctly remember laughing, because I worked at a St. Paul the Apostle in Chino Hills. "How funny would it be," I naively thought, "if I got a job at this one too? Like a Part II... or part deux." And I'd always wanted to be a youth minister. For 12 years, that was my dream job. But somehow that dream got lost in the shuffle. Like paperwork at the DMV.

So I cavalierly submitted a resume. A real one. Not the shoddy email kind, but the real, linen type of paper kind. I literally went to Target (wow, fancy), to get special paper. Just for this resume. I wasn't even expecting a reply. I was expecting for this fancy paper to be chucked into the garbage bin. But two weeks after I sent it, after my rampant A.D.D. kicked in and I had forgotten that I even sent in a resume, I got an email. From some lady named Laura. And it said something to the effect of: "Hey, your resume is awesome, and I don't know if you noticed, but you live in California." I wrote back saying, "Its ok. I can move." And Laura was like, "Are you sure?" And I was like, "Uh... yeah. I'm sure." But I wasn't sure. The rational voice in the back of my mind (which, oddly enough, sounds like my brother Bobby) was yelling, "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?" And honestly, I didn't know. But I knew it was something I had to do. I wasn't sure if I was going to get the job. I wasn't sure if I got an offer if I would even take it. I was a big ball of unsure-ness. That much I was sure about. Not to mention, they required an in-person interview with the teens (more like an audition), and I'd have to pay for it myself. So I decided if I made it to that round, I would drive. It would be fun! Yeah.... a 24-hour drive... fun!

I told my parents I was thinking about moving out of state. That I was talking to this lady and she was offering me a full-time job as a youth minister. With benefits. Which I'd never had before. I was expecting my parents to try and talk me out of it. I was expecting my dad to hit the roof or tell me I was crazy. Instead, he said "Kate, you know whatever you want to do, we will support you." Even typing out that statement now is making me a bit teary-eyed. I love my daddy.

Anyway. I wasn't sure. And then I doubted my unsuredness. And then I went on a retreat. And on this retreat, every little gift, every little moment of prayer was God asking me: "Katie, do you trust me?" And would tell Him, "Yes, of course I trust You!" And He would ask me again, "Katie, do you trust me?" and I would tell him, "YES! I trust You!"

Did you know when you tell God that you trust Him, He takes that seriously? I do now. I left that retreat feeling absolutely sure, but scared to pieces, that this job was exactly what God wanted for me. So I marched forward with the interview process. With a quasi-firm surety, staunch, and unassuming. But I knew that I needed to trust in God. After all, I had told Him I did. So I needed to stick to it.

Part ii coming tomorrow! Yogurt for dinner.


Not even a week in...

I have faith in only a few things. I have faith in God, in my family, and in a few of my friends. I don't have faith in many institutions, except the Church, because I know that human-lead organizations will only disappoint; I've learned that putting faith in any one person aside from God will leave us empty, desiring more, and sorely disillusioned.

That's why, when I learned that our new president would be Barrack Obama, I didn't mind all that much. I was excited even; and I didn't even vote for the guy. Yet my excitement was misplaced, because in only the first three days of office, he's managed to turn something completly upside down; something truly close to my heart.

I don't know when standing against abortion became such an issue with me. I suppose I've always been against it, just as I'm against all types of anti-life issues; genocide, war, euthanasia, capital punishment. I remember hearing about the abortion procedure for the first time when I was thirteen and utterly appalled that a human being would rip a baby, too young to even cry, from the uterus; all for the convenience or "well-being" of the mother. The images that I saw scarred me; it began my disillusionment of the human race.

And now our dear President, who's been in office for less than a week is giving the tax dollars, that I give of (most of the time without complaint) to abortion clinics abroad. I am so disappointed, and heart-broken that the one person who is in charge of our nation's collective fate, cares so little for the little ones.

People claim that its women's rights issue: but what about human rights? Oh, sure, a "fetus" has no rights, but who decided that? We did. Everytime we let something like this go, without saying anything, without standing up and saying a child, no matter how old, in the womb or out, has rights; a right to breathe on his or her own, a right to have a first day of kindergarten, and a right to have a loving mother and father who want it. Millions of requests for adoptions go unanswered every year. But every year, over 800,000 legal abortions take place, just in the United States. Since the passing of Roe V. Wade in '73, over 45 million legal abortions have taken place.

People get upset about 11 million people (6 million jews, 5 million others) dying in concentration camps in WWII, but what about America's own babies?

In an anthropology class at CSUF, one of my texts said you can learn a lot about a culture based on how they treat their dead. Aborted babies are labeled "Biohazard" and tossed into trash recepticles. Some are even abandoned in vacant fields. And we go about our daily lives, not stopping to even think about how fundamentally wrong that is.

So congratulations Mr. President. Not even a week in, and you've disappointed millions of registered voters. Including me.


An interesting twist

Its a windy day in Southern California. It has been windy for almost four days. But just as much as I despise the wind, and the fire warnings that accompany it, today I'm grateful. I walked outside today and instead of seeing the perpetual rusty haze of the California sky, I saw blue.

It was a bright, crayola sky blue color. The mountains in the distance held a bit of stubborn snow at their peaks and contrasted in a pituresque way that made me feel like I live inside of a postcard.

The hills in front of my house, alive with the bright green grass that will soon fade into yellow makes our town look a bit like Ireland. The emerald crests of the hillsides float in the wind, and watching it is mesmerizing, like watching the silent ripples gliding across a pond.

I don't know how I came to live in such an amazing place, or why God decided that I should be able to witness something like this, as if I deserve to see such beauty in such a simple way. Yet I know that it's a day like today when I want to put all of my plans on hold and just be. A passage from the bible says, "Be still and know that I am God." I've always struggled with that, especially being endowed with ADD tendencies. Yet today with the unadulterated blue sky and the green sprawling hills and white-capped mountains in the background, it was all too easy to be still.

So I encourage you, dear reader, wherever you are, whatever you may be doing, take some time. Look at the sky, and whatever God has blessed you to be surrounded by, and just be. It doesn't matter if you're stuck in a city where the grass is man-made, or in the desert where there is no grass. Just take a minute. Look up. And remember to forget for a second your busy schedule. You'll see what I mean.