26 10 2018

48 Hours of Heartbreak

You wouldn’t believe it if I told you. I hardly believe it and I lived it. It was supposed to be my triumphant return to traveling. It was lined up to be a weekend to remember. I will remember it alright, but not for the reasons that I had imagined. What should have been an exciting tale of adventure ended up a real horror story.  

It is the second time this year that Hallmark provided me with an opportunity of a lifetime. It is the second time this year that I completely struck out. I have had the privilege to interview many Hallmark Stars on my daily “Rudy On The Radio” Show. In July, Hallmark put me in their lineup but I never even got up to bat. I was invited as a member of the media to come to Hollywood to represent the Hallmark Movie and Mystery Channel Classic Series, “Signed Sealed Delivered.” I should have met its Postables Stars Kristin Booth and Crystal Lowe. I could have hung out with Series Creator and Writer Martha Williamson. Martha’s other claim to fame was a Series entitled “Touch By An Angel.” I had a pass with my name on it at the Universal Studio Front Gate. I ended up staying home because I was the only Pastor left standing at The Lighthouse Church that week. Jeff was on a Missions Trip. Charlie was out all Summer because of foot surgery. Adam had just handed in his resignation with plans to move to Arizona. I felt an obligation to not abandon my post as Senior Pastor and so Tinseltown came and went.

This past weekend I was invited to again represent the media at the Hallmark Channel’s “When Calls The Heart” Family Reunion being held in Hope Valley itself, better known on the map as Vancouver, British Colombia. “When Calls The Heart” is a series reminiscent of “Little House On The Prairie.” As a matter of fact, its Executive Producer is Michael Landon, Jr. so the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Its stars include Lori Loughlin of “Full House” fame, Jack Wagner of “General Hospital lore, and Philadelphia’s own Erin Krakow. This time I was determined to make it. In spite of my battles with anxiety and navigating through daily OCD issues, I was packed and ready to go last Wednesday. This time I was determined to leave the paralyzed past behind me. Let’s just say that instead of coming up roses, the lemons were in full supply.

As my Wife Terri drove me to the Philadelphia Airport, it felt like my stomach was hosting a three-ring circus. My courageous confidence had sprung a leak and I did not want to leave the van when Terri pulled up curbside to American Airlines. She literally threw me out of the vehicle. It got no better when I went in. As we all know, nothing is included in the price of an airline ticket and I soon was told that my luggage was overweight and I threw out several of my shirts and pants right at the ticket counter. Still I pressed on. I was no sooner on the plane when I knew something was terribly wrong. The rumblings on my insides spelled immediate trouble and although the Flight Attendant ordered me to stay in my seat, I bolted by her to the airplane lavatory where I tossed my cookies and every other ingredient that swimming inside my churning seas. I exited with the knowledge that everyone else on the plane knew what was happening in there. Still I planted myself back in my seat and 5 and a half hours later, we landed in Los Angeles. I forgot to mention that I was sitting next to a woman wearing headphones who moaned and groaned and cursed her way through the entire journey. I thought it couldn’t get any worse. It did!

My connecting flight included an hour and a half wait on the runway while someone who illegally got on the plane using a phony passport was properly dealt with. The Pilot informed us that once the case was settled, we would have to refuel because we had used most of it just sitting there. It was after Midnight when we landed in Vancouver, British Columbia but at least I made it and hoped that after a good night’s sleep, things would look better in the morning.

The Rental Car place did not have the vehicle that I had asked for. They said that I was being upgraded at a slight increase of cost and I would love the Volvo waiting for me. I didn’t even know how to start the thing and had to return to the Budget Counter just to ask them how to get it going. I used my GPS on my smartphone to find my way to the Hotel that I had to make a last-minute reservation at. The reason I did so was because there was a mix up at the Hilton that I should have been arriving to. When I pulled into the other place of Lodging, it couldn’t have been a seedier setting even if I could have imagined a worst-case scenario. Don’t worry, I didn’t stay there as the place was locked up tight. The only people awake were those in the all-night Liquor Store which stood adjacent to the property. I called my wife and asked Terri to help me as I continued to drive through most of Vancouver looking for a place to stay. I think Mary and Joseph had a better shot as everywhere I checked, I heard those immortal words, “No Room!”

It was after 4AM when Terri finally booked me something online and it was after 5AM when I finally got into bed but sleep was out of my reach. If only I could have slept all day, it might have been different but checkout time was 11AM and I had a lunch date with the Cooper Gals of the UP Network’s Show “Date My Dad!” Zenia Marshall, Lilah Fitzgerald and Audrey Smallman and their Mom’s were to meet me at Noon. I was singing the oldies as I got into my Volvo to make my way to Vancouver Metrotown. Suddenly, my internet on my phone refused to work and so I tried to pioneer it but I am directionally challenged when I do know where I am going. This is where it hit me that I should not have been travelling alone because I was so preoccupied with everything that I drove right through a red light and saw two cars coming right at me and I actually closed my eyes anticipating the crash. It never came and when I somehow found myself still alive on the other side of that intersection, I decided right then and there to turn around and head home!

Taking whatever flight I could in order to get back to Philly, I ended up in the middle seat and felt hemmed in like a lion in a cage. Needless to say, my anxiety had been doused with an entire can of lighter fluid. I went from Cape May County to Philly to LA to Vancouver, BC to LA to Philly to Cape May in less than 48 hours. No sleep. No contacts. No victory. Lots of embarrassment, frustration and a familiar sense of defeat. It was not how Hallmark would have scripted it. It was not the way I wanted it to go. I wanted to come home the conquering hero. I ended up just being thankful I got home.

I tried, I really did. I wanted to have tons of exciting stories to tell about meeting the beloved Hallmark Stars I get to interview quite regularly on LIFT FM. I wanted to be able to say that the anxiety and OCD were laid waste in the dust. All I can say is that I’m home and I will wait on the Lord as He continues to reveal His purpose and plan for me. There will be critics who call me a failure or look at me with a sense of sorrow but all I know is I’m still here and I won’t give up or give in until God determines that I’m done! I also won’t judge anyone who lives as a fighter against the daily dark demons that want to disqualify us from drinking in the true delights of life. Look up and look out Family, for those who walk by faith, the best is still yet to come no matter what the last 48 hours of horror hold! I may be beyond exhausted, but I’m not done or dead yet!




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