We recently connected with Johanna through Instagram, she and her family were planning their trip to World Meeting of Families, we wanted to hear more about their experience at the event. We had no idea how we would touch Johanna’s life. More importantly we had no idea how much she would touch ours…

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I cannot put into words how much My Saint My Hero has touched my life. What started out as an IG hashtag, made me look at my life now in comparison to my life this time last year. By sharing my story with you, by typing what only God and my heart knew, I have been healed. I am so grateful for the ladies that hand weave the bracelets and back them with prayers for us all, because those prayers met my own and now I wear a reminder of God’s love and saving grace on my wrist. I’m not clear on what purpose my backstory will serve, but I am glad I wrote it.
May God continue to Bless all of you in your wonderful business of changing lives.

 

Where to begin?

It’s painful to travel back to the end of the summer of 2014, but there we were: My children, Wyatt (9), Josey (7), and Bash (1) helping my husband and I unpack after arriving at yet another pipeline destination. This time, it was Colorado, and after a tough time financially, we were thrilled about the possibility of the job lasting ’til Christmas. I found myself thanking God for what seemed to be the millionth time. I thanked Him for holding me so close when, not even a week before, everything was falling apart.

We settled in, found the Church we’d call “home,” enrolled our oldest babies in school, and took a deep breath. That night, while in bed, I scrolled through Pinterest when a sweet picture of Pope Francis caught my eye. I read the caption and couldn’t believe it: “Papal Visit to US Confirmed.”
“BABE! CAN WE GO!?!” I shouted to my husband and jumped to his side of the bed.
He was too fascinated by one of those shark shows on TV to respond.
“BABE! The pope is coming to the US! Can we go? I haven’t even clicked on the link yet, so I don’t know why he’s coming, or how long he’ll be here, but maybe we’ll get a glimpse of him in his Popemobile!”
“That’s cool, see what you can find out…”

I stayed up half the night researching the visit, and for the next few weeks, Pope Francis was all our family could talk about. From setting up a “Pope Jar” to savemoney for our trip, to more in-depth studies about our faith.

We were happy — until my husband didn’t come home from work one night.
We’d been through it before, a supposed night of “helping out a friend” and “fishing” and anything but being home where he belonged.

I remember his coworkers coming to our house, calling jails, hospitals, hotels, OnStar… hoping he wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere.

I also remember the promise he made me before we headed to that job, “I’m okay. I will never pull a stunt like this again. Please.”

Well, if this camel’s back was cracked before, it was officially broken now. I was frantic. I was in the worst pain I had ever been in my life, but I couldn’t break down. I had to be strong for my children (who were under the impression that Dad was taking care of some grown up business) and leave.

We packed that afternoon and drove back to Arkansas first thing in the morning. I prayed and cried the whole way home. God heard me.

The two weeks following our arrival were an emotional blur of Eucharistic adoration, daily Mass, talks with my priest, and a divorce attorney (last straw, remember?).

Meanwhile, my husband was attempting to make amends. He had finally made his way back to Arkansas, was staying with family, and most importantly, found a live-in ministry well known for helping addicts.
They accepted him and he began his six month journey back to Christ and away from drugs.

With the encouragement of my priest, I started visiting him every other Sunday after his first month there. Two months later, we started attending the ministry’s marriage classes, and three months after that, things were better than ever: He was a new man and he was coming home. By God’s saving grace he was transformed into someone I’d only caught a glimpse of, on a good day. I was also renewed, our marriage was restored, and our family was whole again. Maybe even for the first time.

Fast forward six months to today, September 20, 2015…
I’m typing this with a grateful heart as Wyatt (just turned 11), Josey (8), and Bash (2) finish packing for our trip to Philly to see His Holiness! With our “Pope Jar” not quite full, but with more than we could ever need, we are ready to begin our pilgrimage and share the amazing experience with our fellow Christians. It’s hard not to notice how God has really opened the floodgates of heaven for us. He has poured out blessings upon blessings. Among them, my husband taking his role as spiritual leader very seriously, the location of this job (about a six hour drive to Philly), my best friend surprising us with additional lodging for a longer trip, tickets to Saturday’s Festival of Families gifted to us by a member of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and countless prayers and blessings sent to us from family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ!

The list truly goes on and on, but I’m especially thankful to My Saint My Hero for not only sending us such beautiful blessing bracelets made in prayer, but along with them a message of love from God. It was His will that you reach out to us, touch our hearts with your story, and help me reflect on mine. I look forward to meeting those of you attending the World Meeting of Families!
God Bless,

Johanna

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Bash, Josey, and Wyatt Duncan (left to right) packing for the trip.

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