Friday, October 29, 2010

Our son

 He is AMAZING and a bundle of God's Joy.  Who poops a lot.  And cries every 1.5 hours at night.  For that reason, we're going to have to get some sleep tonight instead of posting.  Please don not misunderstand - he is an amazing part of our lives and we wouldn't have our family any other way.  It's just that an extra hour of sleep is kind of valuable right now :).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The rest of T-6 training

So several months ago (five, to be exact), I promised to post more news of my T-6 experience (the trainer airplane used in the second phase of Pilot Training).  Unfortunately, I haven't gotten the chance to write on this blog since.  So, because there are much more important things in our lives to post about, I'll give the shortened version:

As mentioned in the previous blog, I passed the crucial ride that could have sent me to a progress check (a possible second-to-last ride before failing out of the program).  Life was great and I was given the opportunity to take the T-6 up in the air alone to practice my landings.  THAT was exhilarating!  I felt like a 16 year old kid who, after barely passing a driver's test, is given the keys to his dad's over-powered Corvette to take it for a spin - alone.  All went well, Glory to God!

Then the waves that the Lord had told me about began to swell.  I had six rides to prepare for my first check-ride (kind of like mid-terms), and things started to go sour.  I hooked rides four, five, and six.  This meant I would fly a Progress Check in lieu of a Check ride (only difference is that if I failed that ride I would have one more ride to prove that I "had what it took" to continue progressing in the program at the pace they wanted me to before they washed me out).  This situation was far worse than my previous predicament.  Additionally, things just didn't seem to "click".  The delay in time for my eyes to communicate with my brain plus the time it took for my brain to command my hands caused all sorts of problems for me.  Interestingly enough, though, the Lord gave me a certain peace about everything.  He gave me the grace to trust in Him.  As it turns out, everything clicked during my Progress Check, and I received quite a high score for the ride overall.  Glory to God!

From there things rapidly improved.  I finished advanced aerobatics without any issues and glided through instruments (which turned out to be my favorite part of the T-6 program).  Cross-country was incredible (we flew to Barksdale, Louisiana for a night and then to Alliance Ft. Worth, TX).  The last two weeks of T-6s was the most intense and rewarding, though.  It was during that time they taught us to fly in formation.  In a span of two weeks we were taught how to fly 10 feet from one another, taught how to fly advanced aerobatics in formation, and were given the opportunity to take a T-6 up alone in formation with another student.  At the end of those two weeks we were given the equivalent of our final exam.  Glory to God I passed, though I didn't get the most incredible score.

During the T-6 program, Kamaya and I put a lot of prayer into our "track preference".  We had the options of T-38s (a fighter trainer), T-1s (a transport/refueling trainer), T-44s (a turboprop trainer in Corpus Cristi, Texas) and UH-1s (a helicopter trainer in Ft Rucker, Alabama).  The way things work in UPT is each student lists his or her first, second, and third choice on a piece of paper before everyone finishes their last exam.  After everyone's scores are in, the instructors "rack and stack" the class and give the highest performers what they requested based on what's available.  After long deliberation, they line everyone up in  the auditorium and announce which of the four aircraft each student will be tracking to.  We originally thought that we had wanted T-44s (that would mean A we would move to Corpus Cristi, a beautiful area and B that I would be guaranteed a C-130 out of pilot training, which is what I would like to fly after pilot training).  However, after much prayer, we felt the Lord calling us to stay here in Del Rio and put T-1s as our primary preference.  Glory to God for His infinite wisdom.  We obeyed, put T-1s first on our list of preferences, and were given T-1s.  Looking back now, if we had put T-44s, we would have been in the middle of a move just as our son was born.  Additionally, the T-1 program has been super flexible with us and has been very supportive of my taking time off to spend with my family.  God truly knows what He is doing.

And that is the shortened version of what happened in Phase II of pilot training.  If your curious as to the type of stuff we did in the formation block of training, the YouTube video titled "Trooper Rage" is pretty accurate.  We do not endorse the music.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

God must smile on pregnant mothers

God must smile on pregnant mothers.

I realized today, while eating dinner with my husband, that even in the smallest of moments, God was giving me the Grace to care for, love and have patience for my son. I thought it would be a good time for me to share some of these funny and thought provoking moments with others so they can share in my laughter and in God's.

I am prepared for my son's spit-up, puke, drool, and only the Lord knows what else all over my shirt. How do I know? Every time I eat a meal, sip a drink, or think about a yummy dinner to prepare, I find that there are suspicious, newly created stains on my shirt that could only have come from yours truly.

As I look down to find that I cannot see my toes, getting down to lower regions of shelves, beds, and books becomes difficult/if not impossible, I see that God is giving me hope and excitement for the future: playing on the ground with my beautiful baby boy and seeing the world in a brand new way. Sometimes I have difficulty appreciating what is before me, so when it goes missing for a while and then is re-introduced to me, I come to look at it all from a new angle- this time, it will be from and through the little, curious eyes of my son.

I have found that frequent bathroom trips have to be planned into my days, a minimum of every 2 hours (which usually turns out to be every hour or hour and a half if I'm lucky). These planned trips are practice for the breaks that my son and I will need to make sure he is comfortable. My recent memory of the discomfort I've felt for not having access to a bathroom helps me to offer my son the right amount of patience and love for his needs.

As my pregnancy has progressed, my body has changed in ways previously unimaginable to me. Prior to being pregnant, I looked at mothers with child with loving and adoring eyes, simply in awe of their beautiful shape and the gift that they were carrying. While it is truly a gift, it is also a challenge to overcome the startling body changes and the fear/shame that I face when looking at the numbers on the scale. I find that I have to fight what the culture has engrained in my head: thin is beautiful, pregnancy is a nusance, youth is meant for what i want and not caring for/changing my life for someone else. Through the gift of my son, God has given me the Grace and peace to sacrifice what the world has promised me and offered me the opportunity to live and grow for someone else. As my body changes, I am giving of myself for my child, for my husband, for our family, and for God.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Passed Ride

Glory to God!  I passed the ride today.  I will include more details at a later time.  God is good!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waves and Trials

As the second phase of UPT started, I knew that more of my time would be spent studying and preparing for flights and that life would get more challenging.  And such has been the case.  Glory to God for challenging phases of life!

This past Thursday I hooked (failed) a flight.  I took it as a really hard blow because my previous flight with the same IP (Instructor Pilot) had gone quite well.  My mind never seemed to catch up to the aircraft during the entire flight, and my performance on most of the maneuvers was less that impressive.  On top of that, the failure meant that I was put on hold for the rest of training until I could fly again with that IP, which wouldn't be until the following Tuesday because of the flying schedule.  That meant I would have a few more written tests hanging over my head waiting for me if I passed the flight the next Tuesday.  Needless to say, I was quite down-hearted, especially because three hooked flight in a row means I am sent to an evaluation flight (which could eliminate me from Pilot Training altogether).

My first reaction was a feeling of hopelessness.  I didn't feel like there was anything I could do about fixing the things that went wrong - I was just wasn't on my "A-game".  When I came home, I shared the events of the day  with Kamaya, who was very encouraging and reminded me of the Lord's Faithfulness.  With her encouragement, I went into the prayer room and spent some time before the Lord in prayer.  During my conversation with the Lord, I felt Him telling me, "This is the smallest of waves, and you run to me like the Apostles did on the boat, in despair asking if I care if they parish?  Of course I care for you!  And Love you.  Know that these waves that you are feeling are yet small in comparison  to the waves that are to come.  Have Faith in me.   Know that I will not let you sink.  I Love you."  These words had a comforting, yet uneasing affect on me.  I stopped worrying as much about my hooked ride, but was a little concerned about bigger waves.

The weekend passed, and much studying was done.  Monday came and went, throughout which even more studying was done.  I thought for sure I'd be able to rock this next flight and steer clear of a potential pilot training elimination ride.  I began to rely a little too much on myself...and unfortunately the ride did not go as I expected.  In fact, it went worse than the first.  My initial reaction: I felt a slight anger with God and began to wonder if the time I spent in prayer that morning and the night before could have been better used studying for the flight.  To exacerbate my already upset mood, I was prevented from getting lunch because of the inspection that was going on.  My friends reassured me that everything would be alright, though, and I just pressed on with studying for the next exam that was coming up, as well as studying for the next day's flight (which, if hooked, would result in me doing an elimination ride).  It was difficult to concentrate, though, with the previous ride's events looming over my head, threatening to repeat themselves one more time to end my short-lived career as a pilot.

When I got home I studied some more - Kamaya was at a nurses' meeting at the hospital.  When she came home, however, she reminded me of what the Lord had told me the previous week.  She reminded me that the Lord would be faithful to us no matter what, and that He only allows things to happen in our lives if they are for our good.  She reminded me that the enemy is constantly wanting to separate us from God in whatever way he can - whether it's causing us to give up on the path the Lord has laid before us, or whether it's causing us to lean upon our own intelligence and skills, throwing aside God's role in our lives.  That's when I realized how I had fallen for the enemy's trap earlier that day when I had questioned the value of spending time with God.  I ask the Lord's forgiveness, put aside my study materials for the night (it was already quite late), said prayers with Kamaya, and went to bed, resting in the Lord's grace, peace, and hope.  Glory to God for His goodness.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Engagement Season Resources

Our Experiences with Engagement Programs in the Catholic Church

During our engagements season, we were required by the Catholic Church to participate in/complete several different programs.  Each program helped us grow in our Faith and in our relationship with one another in different ways.  We are posting our experiences here for those who would like to know what to expect from each program.

Marriage Prep Course

The marriage prep course we took was recommended to us by our really good friend and mentor from the Academy.  It was an online course run by Chritian and Christine Meert in Colorado Springs.  The course really helped us explore the roots of marriage and helped us build a solid foundation of the theology behind marriage.  After setting that foundation, the course explored the practical aspects of marriage in light of the Church’s teaching.  It covered topics ranging from the institution of marriage as a Sacrament to the sacredness of sex in marriage; from why artificial contraception is against the Church’s teaching to proper financial management tips.  During each of the nine courses, we were given an assigned reading, after which we were required to answer anywhere from 15-40 questions.  Each question stimulated discussions that helped continue to build the foundation on which our relationship is founded.  We were also assigned a “tutor couple” who went over our responses to the discussion questions online.  They were very quick to give us feedback on our responses, providing us with a new perspective from which to see many of the Church’s teachings.  We HIGHLY recommend this course for anyone preparing for the Sacrament of Matrimony, especially those who are not in the same state for most of their engagement.

The FOCCUS Questionnaire

The FOCCUS engagement questionnaire was a multiple choice worksheet administered to each of us by our deacon at Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  It’s a tool that the Church uses to ensure that couples getting married have already talked about all the potential obstacles they may have to overcome during their marriage.  It has over 200 statements such as “I am concerned about my partner’s spending habits,” to which a response of “I agree”, “I don’t know”, or “I disagree” is selected.  The questionnaire provided us with quite a few hearty laughs, as confusion in the answer sheet led Kamaya to believe that I was concerned about her “drinking problem,” among other things.  Her face was priceless as she sat puzzled at the other end of the table, racking her brain as to the last time she had drunk more than a single drink. All confusion and hearty laughs aside, it offered us the opportunity to look at our relationship from our partner’s point of view.

Engaged Encounter

Engaged Encounter is a weekend retreat that is offered by parishes all across the United States.  Two couples lead the retreat – they read from a personalized pre-prepared script about their experiences with the topic being covered.  After finishing the reading/talk, each couple is given time to write their own thoughts individually (men and women are separated for this part).  After about 15 minutes, the couple meets up in a dorm room and discusses what they have written.  We found the format of the talks to be a little impersonal at first, but realized that it helps provide uniformity and makes leading the retreat more accessible to the average, experienced Catholic couple living according to the teachings of the Church.  The couples that were on the retreat with us came from all walks of life, and it was awesome being able to hang out with them and share stories.  An advantage to the retreat is that it is not dependent upon the other couples taking the retreat with you.  Each couple gets out of the retreat exactly how much they put into it.  We found that even though some of the discussion questions might not apply, other questions could be taken to a deeper, more intimate level that could spur very fruitful discussions as a couple.

NFP Training

Complete training in the Art of Natural Family planning is given through four, two hour classes over the course of four months.  The four month time span allows the couples to start/get practice charting so that they are ready to live NFP by the time the wedding comes around.  Unfortunately, Maic was only able to attend one of the courses because of our distance during the engagement season.  This being said, however, he diligently went over the readings and helped look at the charts and analyze them as we were going through the training.  This helped us maintain the mindset that living NFP is BOTH of our responsibility, not just one person’s.