-How My Trip Came About-
I have to say that the reason my trip to Italy came about is because I seriously have the most considerate husband on the planet. Months ago, Joe informed me that he had a couple of big work trips come up that would take him out of the country again. (One trip to India, one to Australia). We engaged in a familiar conversation, which once again had me working hard to hide my jealousy and swallow any sign of resentment. I mean, it’s his job after all. I am incredibly thankful for all his hard work, and that he has a great job to support our family. It’s also pretty amazing that he gets opportunities to travel the world once and a while. However, when the really big trips come up I have to fight against having the “I wish I could do that” look in my eyes.
This last time around, I think I took the news quite well! I had a hard time when he left for his first big trip (to Tokyo), primarily because Lucy was still so little. But now that we are in a good family groove, the news was a lot easier to take. We left our conversation about the matter on a good note, so it was big surprise when he came to me the next morning telling me that he thought I should go to Italy. I was quite shocked.
What?! Where did that come from? Me? Got to Italy? What about the kids? What about your work? What about the cost, and the time away, and the fact that I have never traveled alone to another country by myself?? What about the fact that these kids need me! What ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
But he was dead serious. He explained how he thought it was important for me to go because it has been a dream of mine since before we were dating. He told me that now is a good time, before our family begins growing again (God willing). He told me that I needed to have this for myself, and assured me that everything would be fine and taken care of on the home front.
I couldn’t believe it.
Since he caught me so off guard, it took me a good couple of months and a lot of prayer to actually decide to go. I had so much anxiety and fear of leaving my babies behind. I also felt incredibly guilty about doing something so amazing without my family. I thought the decision to go would make me selfish and a bad mom. How could I leave my babies? How could I leave all this behind for my husband to take care of on his own?
After A LOT of prayer and deliberation with people, especially other moms I respect and admire, I felt closer to saying yes to the whole idea. But I needed God’s help. I prayed that he would help me make the decision because it was too much for me to make on my own.
And he did!
The day after I prayed that prayer, I spoke with one of the women in need of a roomate for the pilgrimage. She was also trying to decide if she should go, and her decision hung on whether or not she could find a roommate. The only thing, she told me, was that she needed to know by the next morning, because if she couldn’t find one she planned to go on a cruise with her friends. She had to know the next day because that was the deadline for the cruise her friends were going on.
Her deadline made the decision for me. We both decided, I’ll go if you’ll go.
-When I Leave-
In just over a Week! I really can’t believe it is that soon.
-Who I Am Going With-
Dr. Ted Sri! Funny story, not long after I booked my trip with him I was sorting through a few old files from college for a talk I was giving my RCIA class. As I was sorting, this sheet fell onto my lap:
I completely forgot that when I was in one of Sri’s classes he handed out these flyers to all his students. I remember wanting to go on this pilgrimage so badly back in 2009. I remember praying to God that if he could just make this happen somehow, how eternally grateful I would be. It turned out it just wasn’t a possibility at that time. In the end I was okay with that, but the thought that I would someday get to go never left my heart.
I forgot about that pilgrimage, but God didn’t.
It’s amazing how he answers prayers in their due time…
-Where I Am Going-
Saint Peter’s Basilica
Santo Spiritu Church
Many tombs of the martyrs
The Church of the 12 Apostles with the tomb of the Apostles Philip and James the Less
The tombs of St. Ignatius and St. Catherine of Siena
To see Pope Francis
The Catacombs of St. Calixtus
The First Century Roman Coliseum
The Vatican Museums
*So much more.
-How I Am Feeling-
I am feeling a lot of things.
+Pretty anxious about leaving my babies. (Pray for me?) I’ve never been away from these beautiful faces more than 3 days since both of them were born. The idea of it has me in knots and up late at night. Overall, I know they will be well taken care of and loved while I am away, but I am more afraid of the pain that will come with being so far away from them. Praise God for Facetime.
+Sad that my husband can’t go with me.
+Nervous for what it means to navigate my free time in a foreign country. My roommate (whom I’ve never met before) doesn’t know it yet but I am going to cling to her and never leave her side…ha
+Fearful of being in the air for 7 hours. As the years have passed, I’ve gotten more and more afraid of flying. I find a lot of comfort in the divine mercy chaplet whenever I take off and land, and especially when we hit a lot of turbulence…but the idea of flying for so long in the air really scares me. Pray for me?
+EXCITED. JOYFUL. READY! I can’t believe this day is almost here…it won’t entirely hit me until I am in the air, but I am so excited for this pilgrimage! When we had our group meeting conference call a week ago, I found myself in tears! The whole experience is something I look very much forward too, and though I am nervous about leaving, I also can’t wait to take off! I’m excited for the experience, the friends I’ll make, and for the opportunity to pray at so many holy locations!
-What I Am Doing to Prepare-
Honestly, right now? Pretty much just making lists. Lots and lots of list. But the packing and prepping will begin asap. I plan on starting my meal prep grocery shopping tomorrow. I want to make sure that my family has some good meals while I’m gone and that Joe doesn’t have to worry about it after he gets off of work.
-Purchases I’ve Made-
+Superga Shoes. I’ve been wanting these forever, so it was a good excuse to get them. Am I right? They say it’s good to have really comfortable walking shoes and I prefer not to be in my nike’s all day. Hopefully these will do the job.
+Straightner/Curling Iron. This is a dual voltage iron. I’ve heard that using a power converter can still fry your electronics, so hopefully this will work well. It doesn’t heat up as fast as my usual straightener, but it accomplishes the job well enough. (Especially for the price.) It is super compact and perfect for traveling!
+This umbrella, because I hear it often suddenly rains in Rome.
+A scarf for Church visits, just in case I need it.
+This book was assigned reading by Sri, to help prepare our minds for all that we will be encountering on our pilgrimage.
-Things I Am Most Excited For-
+Being so close to Pope Francis
+Visiting the tomb/relics of Saint John Paul II
+Visiting the tomb of Saint Monica
+My trip to Assisi
-My Hopes For the Trip-
+That everyone stays safe and healthy.
+That my babies are happy and adjust well to me being gone for 8 days.
+That my husband and my other awesome helpers have an easy time with the kids while I’m gone.
+That this trip becomes a source of prayer and hope that I can carry back to my home and especially to my family.
Though I am extremely nervous to leave, I am so glad I decided to go. Since God answered my prayer so immediately and so clearly, it changed from feeling like an opportunity, to that of a calling. Our faith—our beautiful, rich, Catholic faith–is steeped in tradition, and I am so thankful that God is calling me to travel on this spiritual pilgrimage to Rome to experience that tradition on a whole new level.
A pilgrimage is very different than a vacation because it is a journey made with the purpose of honoring God. As I gather all the prayers of my family and friends, the reality of honoring God with my trip becomes all the more clear. I get to take their prayers along with me and offer them up at all the holy places in Rome. When I visit the tombs of so many holy men and women who fully lived the faith, I get to ask them to pray for my loved ones. In that way I get to experience the community of faith (both here and in heaven) in a way that is so new to me, yet so familiar because that is what our faith is built upon; it is a tangible, sacramental faith built upon a rich history and tradition that leads us to Christ himself.
Though I am scared and nervous to leave, I have high hopes that God will bless me on this journey, strengthen my Catholic faith, and bless those prayers that I bring along with me.
Please pray for me and I’d love to pray for you! If you have any intentions you’d like me to take with me, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can pray for you in Rome!