There are a lot of things you don’t know you’ll get with motherhood.

I mean, you have a basic idea of the sleepless nights, the beauty of cooing babies, the joy of the first steps taken and the first understandable “mama” from the lips of your own child.

But no one prepares you for letting a child go away for a long time.

And certainly no one prepares you for when they get home.

No one tells you how it will feel when you can’t seem to stop your pounding heart and you can’t catch your breath, and then they’re there, their suitcase flying out in front of them, in your arms:

So if no one has told you yet, I’ll tell you right now, it’s the best thing in the world.

Yes, Grace arrived home from her mission in Texas on Wednesday.

And we have been soaking her up ever since.

But let’s back up for a second to the preparation:

Because you have to DO something with that excitement, you know?

Dave and I had a little inside joke about mission welcoming posters so he had to capture this, ha!

And Elle had the idea to print up a whole slew of mission pictures so Grace could tell us all about them when she got home:

My parents arrived Wednesday morning to join in all the hoopla, including my crazy ideas to bring some “Texas” in:

(They helped me paint that silly but fun thing.)

Then we all headed, with our racing hearts and cousins and aunts and uncles and friends, to the airport to stand and get all antsy to see that girl walk out.

We waited for what seemed like forever and a day, and then, there she came in a full sprint:

And it was just the best.

Little known fact: you must have a Texas cowboy hat when you arrive home from Texas:)

And Lucy was adamant that she get that thing right on her head:

Gotta show this hug from both angles:

Look at Lucy’s delighted face up there.

Oh and the Dad hug. Love love love.

Do you think those sisters are excited?

There was a big fiasco with volleyball and Claire had to run out of there quick as lightening to make that engagement, but we got a picture first, all four of those sisters reunited at last…

(Max & Abby weren’t coming until that night.)

Then reunions with everyone else:

Both sets of the best grandparents in the whole wide world:

Some of the best friend mentors:

Some of the aunts and uncles (love that Bob & Gin happened to be in town for the big day):

How lucky is this girl to have so much love and support from all these people?

And how lucky were we that this awesome senior girl came and took a vide for us that we will treasure forever:

(Check her out on Instagram…she and my brother Josh took most of these pictures, THANK YOU GUYS!!!)

We went straight to her “mission release” with the stake president.

It was the most beautiful meeting where she got to share her testimony with all of us and we got to tell her some things she loved about the mission. And the stake president gave some wonderful advice:

So grateful for that man and all he does to help so many.

Then it was on to HOME!

Bo, after so long, still remembered Grace and could NOT handle the excitement:

Our sweet neighbors gave that girl so much love:

Our traditional family-favorite place for dinner:

(joined by our volleyball girl:)

Then late-night hearing more and more.

(Claire was obviously very mesmerized…ha! Such a long day for all of us and shortly after that picture up there Grace was sleeping with her head propped on those suitcases.)

The next day my Dad accompanied Grace and I for a special temple morning before he and my mom had to leave:

Max and Abby arrived:

They had seen Grace in December (when they went to Texas back HERE), so it wasn’t quite as dramatic of a reunion, but still so happy! We missed Abby and Lucy (and Carson, but Carson wasn’t even in town) in this picture:

(Lu was still at school and Abby was busy with something else.)

Then Claire left for her volleyball tournament with Dave and we got this configuration home (along with the sister missionaries for dinner):

And THEN these others and I joined to go meet Claire and Dave for the tournament, minus Elle who had to leave us at the airport to head back to Florida:

And THAT is how our reunion with our missionary went down.

Some day we’ll get the WHOLE crew together at the very same time, but for now, we’ll take what we can get.

And be grateful with all our whole hearts that we got our Texas missionary girl back.

And that she got to have all those amazing experiences in between.

Nope, no one prepared me for all this parenting hoopla.

But I am forever grateful that I get to be right here, in the thick of it all.

I still cannot believe she’s here, at my side.

It is the best.

Other posts you may like:

Max’s mission return

(Complete with a video of his airport arrival the end of that post or HERE)

Mission relics

(still waiting to see Grace’s mission relics!)

A visit back to Max’s mission

(can’t wait to go back to Texas with Grace!)

Ok, and let’s just put this video here at the end one more time, because it just makes me happy:

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  1. In the raunion video i got maybe a bit unexpectedly emotional. It was the amounth of adults (i know grace and elle are adults but adultier adults) that were there, all the aunts and uncles. But especially the non relative people over there. The way these people hugged her so full of care and love. I could never in a million years think of that many people who would care about me this much.

    1. Oh I so appreciate this comment because it makes me appreciate all those wonderful adults more than ever. She is so lucky to be surrounded by such a wonderful “village.” They really do care about her so much. I am sending you love today hopefully as part of YOUR village, even though we don’t know each other in person. Isn’t it interesting (and awesome!) that we can form villages even online? Grateful for all the kindness shared online. And grateful for yours today as you have added to my village.

  2. I have to wait THREE MORE MONTHS…this video has me dying for this moment too…welcome home to your sweet girl!

  3. The picture where your arms are wide open in anticipation and Grace running right toward your embrace—what a powerful visual of motherhood. Welcome home to your daughter!! (she sure looks just like you!!) <3

  4. Your blog is one of the ways I found the church (long story) and I want to say I’m so thankful for your storytelling and for missionaries like your daughter.

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