Butterflies and Blessings

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I still remember the moment and the feeling like it happened yesterday.  I had been driving all day from my home in NC to my "home away from home" Steubenville. It was a sunny and very hot June day and the excited butterflies were fighting the nervous knots in my stomach the entire drive. I was going up for a conference and to visit friends, well, one friend in particular, that I didn't just want to be friends with.  Since our sophomore Spring semester had ended, we had talked on the phone a few times. Dan would call about once a week, and oh how I looked forward to those phone calls. And then there I was, driving up to see him, little did I know it would be my last "first date" ever. I remember driving up to his house on Pennsylvania Ave, he had just gotten off work from his landscaping job. He was very dirty and sweaty, with his hat on backwards...and he looked good.  The butterflies and knots were still at war and I was so happy to see him.

I was thinking about this memory today because I have that feeling once again. Dan has been gone for the last 12 days, leading a pilgrimage to Poland.  I was reflecting on how amazing it is that our first date was 8 years ago. What a blessed 8 years we have had together and those butterflies from excitement have not gone away, but have multiplied. 

 You might be wondering why he was in Poland... Dan felt a calling or a desire to start a pilgrimage that can be offered in our area to go to Poland and walk in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and to also have a deeper understanding of God's Mercy. We both were able to go at different times when we were in college and we both loved the trip and the beautiful country. So he pursued this idea and with the help of a wonderful priest from our archdiocese (who is from Poland), they took 10 lucky pilgrims for this first pilgrimage.  I felt united in my husband's sacrifices, because I knew that even though he enjoyed being there, his heart ached for us to be there with him. I definitely felt the graces that were coming from the trip and I loved hearing the wonderful stories while he was there. 

So 12 days with 3 kids 5 and under and a husband in another country...what does a mommy do??

Have lots of coffee and chocolate, pray tons, clean the entire house and organize as much as possible like a maniac (its amazing how time flies by when you do this) and depend on family and friends. Over the past week and a half I have realized even more how blessed we are in our little community. While Dan was having adventures, we were too, thanks to my friends letting me invite ourselves over to their houses and pools! :)

And yes there were many trying moments, like when Joshua wouldn't go to sleep until 11:47 pm and then Kolbe woke up at 3:13am and then we were up at 5...or the rain storms driving home from one of our adventures and we had to pull of the road and miss Dan's daily phone call...and so on.  But with God's grace, and a few tears, and a few too many bowls of ice cream, and band-aids and homemade casts for bug bites, and maybe a couple of more tears with more ice cream, we have made it through and now he is home!! Thanks again to all of those who helped us and prayed for us! We are very grateful.

I picked him up from the airport last night at 10:30 (thanks Catie for staying at the house!) and the kids were beyond excited to wake up and tackle him this morning.

My husband is now back to work, the kids are enjoying their little presents, and I am sipping my second cup of coffee. Life is good and quite calm...for the moment...but I will take it! 

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