Fruitful vs. Successful:: Week Three


Just shy of three weeks in! When so much change happens, it's near impossible to write it all down. So much so that when it comes to this portion of a blog post, I don't really even know where to begin. Funny stories? Struggles? Success stories?

Well.. I'll share this one bit, because it seems to be the thing I keep being reminded of.

I googled helsinki moms back when I was stateside, looking for blogs by natives. I went to images, since I had previously already searched the links, and saw a super cute family with three littles. I clicked on the picture, and it lead to a church-planting website, then to that cute families blog. I read their blog and felt a pretty deep reassurance that this was a God-thing. I messaged them, and then waited. A week or so later I got a reply (they were vacationing in between) and the email they sent was incredible. We kept corresponding, and this past week went to their house church. Ben and I both kept tearing up during it, just because it felt so good to be with others who love Jesus. We love them already.

During the sermon portion, Kev, (the pastor) was making a clear distinction between fruitfulness and success. It's the first time I've heard it and it sort of blew my mind. He told a story of a fellow church planter that had a growing, thriving church plant. Then the wife of the church planter fell seriously ill and the church started to struggle. This pastor commented to Kev and a few others that he felt like this church was no longer successful. The church was struggling.

Another pastor chimed in with encouragement. He told them you have to stop looking at 'success' and start measuring your life in terms of fruitfulness. Biblically, that is what God focuses on. That's what we're to pursue. The church had gathered as a people and were forming a deep abiding community. It was bearing much fruit, even with diminishing size and what have you. They were fruitful.

Our last two pregnancies weren't successful, but they were fruitful.
Our marriage has days of complete lack of success, but out of it, fruit is born.
When the days with Eowyn seem to be like herding cats and she's more naughty than the day previous, there's fruitfulness in my heart. I see it.

All that to say, we've have days full of success, and days not-so much, but I'm learning to use a different gauge that's bringing out more joy. God's doing a number on us all.

It's a public holiday here: Ascension day! Jesus rises to heaven today! 

Have a happy thursday. He is risen indeed.

Now off to buy some floss and orange juice.

Setting Up Camp :: Two weeks in Helsinki


Today will be two weeks from the last day we were in Minnesota. It seems so much longer than that.
Things are slowly starting to take shape. My guess is that by week three, we'll start really feeling settled. My hope is by the end of next week we will legitimately rest in an evening-without having a major to-do. While it's unlikely we'll have a whole week of that, one day is what I'm shooting for.

Getting groceries for more than just the next day was a big step in that direction. We're sleeping in our own bed, and we had our first Finnish stranger stop for a chat (and said they hope to see us around.)  I'm getting less shy to ask questions (Ben was never shy in the first place,) and we know probably a good 10+ words. Slow and steady.

The expected reality of everything being different proves true, except for one thing: Jesus. It has actually been incredibly encouraging meeting friends who are believers. The reality that they trust in the same guy I do, far before we ever met, has really blown my mind at the unifying nature of christianity. I think living overseas has heightened the reality that with most things-cultures, hobbies, etc. there's a strong force of assimilation on individuals joining said hobby, culture etc. to really fit in. There's a million different ways I'm reminding daily that I'm not from here. And while following Christ most definitely has its own set of beliefs we have to hold to (Lord, Savior, Guide),  our experience has opened my eyes to how much Jesus actually does translate across cultures, and how easy it is to fit right in with other believers. Now, I'm well aware of the awful job americans have often done at attaching a million exclusivities to being a Christ-follower, so perhaps reading that, you'd care to disagree. But sitting at that coffee shop with our morphing-into-friends, talking over how God has worked in our lives even when we don't eat the same foods, have the same hobbies, or even share the same language fully and yet still feel a deep down connection. Well, that's one big win for Jesus.

Ikea has been our life lately. During nap times I've been hunkering down and building anything that's a one person job. Ben get's home after 5, then we spend time with our girl. Once she's asleep in the evening, it's furniture assembly again. We have yet to buy lights, lucky for us it stays bright outside past 10 o'clock here. In some ways, the setting dusk has forced us into bed by 11, which is a blessing.

 I've discovered that coffee shops have chai  lattes (And all God's people say amen!) So, I've been walking around a mile or so to a local coffee shop, to pick up a cup, then walk back (carefully, cobblestones make cups leak easily) and stick it in the fridge till naptime. (I do this probably twice a week, it's kind of expensive.) Once Eowyn goes down, I warm up that pretty over the stove and enjoy. If you follow me on instagram, you saw I bought tea bags this week, hopeful to have a more affordable, and less time-consuming solution. Yeah. No go. The finnish people are devourers of black licorice, so, of course the 'sweet chai' is flavored with such   Finns have it in sauce form, for their ice cream too, which is easy to mistake for chocolate sauce. Not that we know or anything...

Eowyn's awesome. As usual. She's definitely starting to enter the toddler crazy stage, and delights in telling us no, and lagging at listening. She kind of gets like, mini-tarzan if we keep her up late which is funny. She's a silly tarzan, not an angry one. Luckily, staying at home with her with not a whole lot of major to-do's allows time to really focus on having those slow conversations about how to work through emotions and disobedience. Walking everywhere makes listening to "stop" "wait" etc. all the more imperative. Luckily, I've stolen my good friend's "red light, green light" game she used on her toddler (I saw her do it, she didn't necessarily recommend it, but its awesome) and eowyn's getting the hang of it. I'll make listening mama a game any day if she actually does it. So far so good. No dangling over tram tracks or anything. In some ways I'm grateful for all the time that it's just her and I, but just like it is was before, it gets lonely. We're working on that, though. Moving to a new place is hard. Whenever I hear english, I become a little stalker and figure out where they come from! haha. Just kidding. But the researcher in me is definitely starting to find those expat mom-groups. Pray for friends.

Hey! It's Friday! This weekend we get to check out a house-church, and on saturday its " Siivouspäivä " Cleaning day! It's basically a city-wide rummage sale. Pray we find some awesome toys for Eowyn and a few decorative treasures. You can see by the pictures, she's getting bored (but very creative) with her mr. potato head and various other small things we've brought over. Good thing there's pots, pans, and dirt.

Happy weekend.

Finland So Far!


It hasn't even been a week, yet I feel like we've absorbed enough to last us a very long time.

A few of you are either joining us soon, or have just asked how things have been going and how to pray for us, so I figured I'd give you an update. Below is a long post, praising Jesus, asking for prayer and sharing some cool stuff that's here.

"Yay God"

  • Our flight, as mentioned previously, went incredibly well. Eowyn slept and so did we, so that 15 hour transit journey seemed like half of what it actually was. Plus all our luggage got there, plus we didn't have to pay extra for the weight we brought. Overall, it went great. Customs was a breeze. The finnish people from the start, have been incredibly helpful.
  • Our hotel is beautiful and the cleaning crew is weirdly fast (like, I put a 'do not disturb' sign on our door  for a whole day while E and I are playing indoors, We go outside for a 15 minute mini walk and when we come back our sheets no longer have cracker crumbs in them.)I feel like kissing the gal every time I see her. She's amazing.
  • We got our apartment keys super fast! They were unsure if we would be able to get them right away due not being residents yet, but it worked itself out. We ate dinner on our floor last night and all my prayers were answered. The market down the street is plenty big, (nothing compared to a U.S. grocery store, but the less options are actually kind of nice.) And plenty of light in our place. Also, Finland totally beats the U.S. for great usage of space. They are geniuses with storage and weatherproofing. Seriously, I kept praising the Finnish real estate guy (as if he had done it himself.) Our place has a sauna, which we were told will become our favorite room in the house. We shall see. Overall is really quite nice. In a week or two Ben and Britts B&B will be open for visits!  
  • The bus/transit/metro system here is so efficient and thus user friendly. We went to the main metro station, bought month passes from a kioski (like a little store-almost like gas station counters), and have been able to travel anywhere in the helsinki area with a wave of our little green card. We known how to get back and forth from Ben's work to home via metro and tram. (We have yet to venture on the buses, mostly because we haven't had the need.) And there are even little stroller buttons on the tram to keep the door open longer. Trams are kind of romantic looking too.  
  • We got a car seat for when we do use a car. They're super expensive here, but Eowyn was acting like it was a leather lazy boy when we brought it back to our apartment. They have baby stores here (they're a quarter of the size, but all the essentials are there. Again, I like the limited decision making.)
  • Ben is getting along great at work (no surprise, really) and he enjoys it. He has a great team already, and I think he enjoys having the routine. Plus there are neighbors that live in our building and work with Fast (Ben's company) who have two kids (the wife and kids will come later), so Ben already has started half-joking with them about swapping babysitting for date nights. In-house-babysitters would be pretty awesome. I'm excited for her to arrive, even if its just to have another mom here.
  • The recycling system here is noteworthy. I love it. They are very conscious of waste and our apartment has its own compost.
  • We've never gone starving despite weird store hours on weekends. And jet lag is working itself out slowly.
  • Eowyn is starting to adjust well and loves the water and all the walking. She cheers when the metro train comes in. I think she likes all the people, and several women and men have talked to her and I (often in finnish) She, as we suspected, will make friends just fine.
"Please Jesus"
  • Residence Permits. We have to wait to get an appointment with the police station, and the company seems calm about it, but I'd like to get it squared away so Ben's not working here illegally or anything ;) Really though. I look forward to submitting them and start the process going.
  • Ikea Furniture. Replacing stuff is a hassle. Especially when you start from ground up. My brain hurts when trying to decide what to buy that will be most user-friendly for day-to-day and for when guests come. (Our sleeper couch will get to be christened by our first guest in June!) Prayer for wisdom. I know it seems trivial, but I would prefer to not purchase a table that doesn't fit, or too little things that are just not accommodating to life in community. Plus, we live on the fifth floor so lugging furniture in an elevator that fits me, eowyn plus stroller and ben (barely,) will be...interesting. Luckily we'll be paying for delivery-but then I feel bad for making the delivery guys go up so many flights of stairs. :P
  • Banking/dental filing
    • We have to wait till residence permits kick in to get a bank account here. In our lack of knowledge, and in an attempt to do what you do during a normal move, we changed our address with our bank and everywhere else. Unfortunately we were notified that they are closing our bank account since it moved internationally. Ben sent an email and we're incredibly hopeful we get it worked out (it's a pretty awesome bank), but with the time change, it can be high anxiety waiting for morning to come and try to get ahold of them. Luckily we're getting phones this week, so hopefully that will take care of it. So, those that are coming here-don't change your address with your bank-or rather change it to your mom's house.
    •  Also, Eowyn had her tooth fall out many moons ago. A few days before we left, we were notified of improper insurance filing and given a hefty bill. So we've been playing a tennis match with the emergency dentist trying to get it all squared away. It really isn't that large of an ordeal, but its annoying to try and volley back and forth with an 8 hour time difference.
  • Marriage/Parenting: 
    • It's pretty awesome to be adventurers together. It's awesome to be parents together and it's awesome to be getting things done together (like laundry and sim cards, and grocery shopping, and figuring out the metro and filing out tons of paperwork). Yet, it all leaves little time to look at each other's faces without passing out from need to sleep or finding ourselves talking about yet another to-do. Pray we are successful in finding each other in the midst of the giant crazy mess this all is. 
    • Also, our parenting. Eowyn has been AMAZING with just coming along for the ride, She's been all smiles and calm. Then a few nights ago, all that overstimulation came rushing out of her little self. She was crying and hysterical laughing for like 4 hours straight, 11PM-3 AM. It sort of woke me up (ha pun,) to the reality that she is definitely being affected by this. Pray for wisdom that we break when needed, and look at her and play with her plenty so she can find stability and rest in all this uncertainty.
  • New Friends! We get to meet some soon-to-be-friends this week. I contacted them through a church planting website and am super excited with how cool their whole family seems to be. Pray we find the place we're meeting, and are able to really start building christian community. Also, that we could be a blessing to their family as well. More Fast employees will be coming soon tpo, prayers that we have a good time and build awesome relationships with them. 
We miss you guys back home dearly.
Fun Finds and Cool Things:
  1. There's a giant market area close to where Ben works (Hakeniemi Hall). It smells like fish, but has several floral markets, and veggie carts. I like it quite a bit.
  2. Speaking of smells, they hose things down a lot, and it smells just like the carwash smell. All the elevators  in the metro smell like fruit loops.
  3. The coffee is SUPER strong here, but smaller (8oz or so vs 12oz), and they don't have chai (ahem, shipment please!) but they do have a starbucks in the city center and they carry it there. So, I just will need to get my fix by walking the 15 minutes.
  4. The weather here is almost like Colorado. Cloudy/rainy then sunny/warm in the same day.
  5. Everything is easy to get to so far. If it's difficult, they provide for it (like an IKEA bus.)
  6. There are babies everywhere. I feel right at home as far as being a mom. We walk outside and see a good 10-15 strollers. Moms and dads alike are pushing strollers. I can't tell if they all work, or if some stay at home, but there is an even mix of genders, which is cool. People love their kids a lot (and are affectionate, towards them.) I like the culture being so friendly towards families.
  7. Angry Birds (a Finn invented it!) can be found everywhere. It even has its own drink line. 
  8. They have literally hundreds of different kinds of yogurts. (but only a few different cheeses-no cheddar here,) Both imported and not. It's kind of a lottery game trying to find one that has the right consistency. I once bought a yogurt that looked like cloudy water, and another that was so putty-like it wouldn't stick to my spoon. It immediately reformed, the surface tension on it was bizarre. Luckily Eowyn isn't a discriminator of texture yet and it tasted fairly normal. I just keep trying to find the right one. They put less sugar in things, so I'm definitely getting to taste bitter.
  9. It's true that people don't smile in passing. But I think its more out of practicality. Everyone would be looking like this if they smiled every time they made eye contact. People are walking all the time, and the city is filled with faces out and about. I feel pretty boss-like strutting along sans smile, but I kind of like it in some ways (especially in morning when I'm tired.) Once I stopped smiling, people started talking to me in finnish. I still smile at anyone that smiles at Eowyn, which a lot of people do because...she works in the currency of giggles and people obviously love her. Then they start talking to me in finnish and I say.."anteeksi?" Even without my smile, people figure out I'm american pretty quick. 
  10. We went to a pizza place that was labelled as 'americana.' They even had a 'minnesota pizza' that (we didn't order) had onions, pesto, cheese, meat, olives, and a bunch of other weird stuff on it. We just got pepperoni and ham and pineapple. Also, if you order 'half and half' they literally bring out two plates one with half pepperoni (or whatever you ordered), the other half with the other order.
  11. Everyone speaks English well, even using terms like "Sure" "cool" etc. They sometimes pause, especially explaining instructions-but they aren't shy about it and are accommodating. I've only met one gal that said she didn't speak english, and she just grabbed a different server.
  12. Toilets, light switches, plugs, road signs, door knobs, all are different.
  13. Cobblestone streets everywhere.
  14. There's a lot of graffiti and smoking. So, just like everywhere else, it isn't a perfect city.
  15. People are incredibly prompt. There is no casually late. (Which I LOVE...until we're late because we don't understand the metro.)
  16. It really is a beautiful city and the people are lovely.
Thanks to all of you who have journeyed with us so far. Tonight we wash our laundry at a laundromat and go to another kioski to get sim cards! Hooray! Wish us success.

As always, thanks for reading.

If you want to follow along throughout our days, follow me on instagram! Username: brittanysprague

Helsinki :: Day One


We made it!

After our long travel excursions (Eowyn was a champ!) we have arrived in beautiful Helsinki.

We checked into our hotel with our 8 bags and 5 carry-ons and have settled in. We'll be living out of our suitcases for the next couple of weeks, but luckily everything fits in our hotel room. We woke up at noon today-after our 3 am snack feast- and ventured out to the city! We found Ben's work, then ventured on the hunt to get a month transit pass for the two of us. We succeeded and started getting excited. The deeper into the city we travel the more interesting this place gets.

With time to kill, we continued on to visit a few of the main spots: Stockmann (closed for mothers day-but we expected that) and the capitol area. At stockmann a group of asian tourists got exceptionally excited to see Eowyn (and what I assume was her blond hair.)  She got many pictures with the other baby in their group (I think they thought she was native.) We also heard a british couple (I assume) speaking english. It made me pretty excited.

We stopped at a park for Eowyn to play and shortly before we found a small pizza joint. We had the place to ourselves and they had hawaiin pizza! We've been offered an english menu both times we've stumbled over the finnish one, which has been incredibly helpful. Eowyn was given some sort of candy (it's like a tootsie roll...but isn't) when we left, and overall the people we've met are very kind. We are very fond of that little pizza place.

So far all of our attempts at life have been overall pretty successful.

We struggled with our first grocery store experience (it was one of the only places open in the evening, and was very small-I kept getting stuck with our stroller) but ended it with buying chocolate and bbq chips. Eowyn makes friends with the older people with ease (the middle age/teens are not smilers as we predicted, but some of the more mother and father types and grandparent age,  have been very friendly towards us.) We're figuring out finnish words and making our way.

Day one has seemed pretty successful.

We're tired, so I'm sorry if this entire post is a run on sentence. But we've definitely been impressed with our introduction to Finland. If I had to sum up the experience, I'd say that the finnish people are like those mitten warmers. The longer you engage with them, the warmer they get. Sales people are friendly for practical sake, and the more questions we ask people the warmer they seem to become.

The toilet, light switches and plug ins are different and the floors are heated in the bathroom (woah.) As well as the time is military time. (It's 19:00 right now) We can't read any signs yet, as they use different symbols, but our visa card works in the chip reader thing, and we've been able to find food plenty despite it being a holiday (So, mom we didn't go hungry!) Eowyn has loved the seagulls and puppies and we've loved the slower pace. People don't seem to hustle, they all seem to either be running for a bus, or else on a leisurely stroll. Perhaps thats just because its sunday, but we like it.

Tomorrow we're going to venture to get our passport photos for our residence permits, and try to find our apartment building. We'll be taking our first tram ride! Exciting.

We're just trying to wrap our brains around the idea that this is like....where we live.

Thank you for all the prayers, God is certainly answering them. We've had plenty of peace, even despite the exhaustion. Ben and I are still friends after this journey! Haha, Really though, I think this is the best we've ever travelled together.

Until next time,
Moi Moi!  (Bye!)

Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

1. Quality Music:

I know this is just about every Hillsong lovers theme song right now, but seriously people. 

This has been my jam these past few weeks. My Rocky music. I'm making a playlist through grooveshark as my AMAZING pandora station keeps showing me new tunes. ( I know some of you elitists roll your eyes to pandora, and my husband always pokes fun at me when I 'like' a song. He then proceeds to go into a (funny, and ridiculous) rant of the 'far too delicate balance of pandora's mixing equation") but my 'Gungor' radio station, however it is mixed-is near perfection. This song in particular is so so so good. 

Speaking of good music: Shane & Shane, Gungor, Ellie Holcomb, JJ Heller are a few amazing introductory music choices for anybody that isn't super familiar with the christian music scene (and likes my kind of music). I'm sure there's several even more obscure musicians, but I like these souls quite a bit.

If you're more into the harder stuff, I'll have to ask Ben to list his faves. Our music tastes are a venn diagram with my side being 'coffee-shop esque' music and his being 'screaming nonsense' (I jest.) We meet in the middle with alternative-esque music (relient K forever! The Afters, Anberlin etc. ) 

2. Moving Companies:

Two guys show up on Tuesday, we show them around. We were dismissed. We returned (throughout the day because we were paranoid) and stood amazed at how AMAZING they had done at packing all our remaining stuff up.

Ben even described moving day as a "pleasurable experience." At one point one of the men asked if we were believers (because they saw so many bible verses and what have you all over our stuff) to which we affirmed. He and Ben then proceeded to have a "it's great to love Jesus" chat  thus affirming to me that these two were indeed celestial beings. 

Really though, we're big fans.

3. Guava Family Pack N Play.

We found an awesome pack n play at a garage sale many moons ago, and were plenty happy with it. Then came the need to not have a 25 pound bed for our kid whilst travelling. The more travel blogs I've read, the more they recommend either becoming savvy at finding good hotels, or find a lightweight bedding solution to take with. We bought this beauty as one of the more affordable (some were upwards of 400) options and we have been super pleased with it. The Lotus case  turns into a backpack and truly is light. She's been sleeping in it for near a week and it has this little zipper side that makes it into a sort of fort with a blanket. Plus it's like 8 pounds. It's weird how I get excited about stuff like this, but it IS pretty awesome that we don't have to worry too much when we travel on our adventures. No more ensuring we get a cot/crib for our girl.  

4.  Suitcase Organizers. 
Now that we're talking about products. Suitcase organizers are awesome. We got three for our travel clothes and they've made this whole week calmer. All three of our bags fit into our carry-on, so we just pull out Ben's, mine and Eowyn's and we never have to dig through each others stuff. Perfecto! 

I may be writing a whole post on travel gear that have proved useful. We haven't bought much, but our purchases so far have indeed made things more enjoyable.

5. Ben and Jesus
Cheesy? Probably. But I really have to hand it to Ben for how he's been responding through all this. We've done a practice run of moving (when we went to Colorado for a mere 6 weeks) so we already know what comes out of us as pressure is applied. If you're wondering, I become a weird mix of calm and collected, then mopey/manic. Sounds enchanting, I know.

Ben has spoken a lot of kindness to me, even when he has full reason to have a tally of my incorrect and unkind responses to things. Plus, he's taking care of so many of the (very stressful) details. I give the guy incredible props. This second time around he's been an even better friend, a phenomenal partner in the cleaning and organizing, and overall just pretty awesome to be around.. If ever there was a good  man, it's him. 

I keep saying the same thing it seems, but this whole past year I've continued to stumble upon the same truth. Each of these seasons, past and present and future, can all be boiled down to discovering another characteristic of the God our family believes in. I'm learning how in control He is and how good he's turning out to be.

I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the road I bought into the belief that while God does give good things (this took me a while to sink my teeth into as well), he never makes things easy. Sure, he's always good, but I believed that his 'good' always meant hard. These past several months have had hard things, sure, but there's been a lot of 'easy' days. Like...'wow how did that go so well?' Easy days. 

It's humbled me. I'm learning so much of how incorrect my understanding of gospel really is.  

Mostly, I'm learning God is a legitimately a good gift giver. Sometimes that means he gives gifts that are hard to work through. Other times, those gifts look like  movers that do everything right (despite the horror stories,) cleaning days without a grumbling heart, a toddler that actually sleeps straight through the night after a few days of struggle, peace in seasons of easy and in crazy. The pleasant days smack dab in the middle of a million to-dos.

If ever there was a good God, it's Him.


Ben's last day in Minnesota is today! We'll be cleaning up our apartment in the morning (Part II, because part one included me alone with Eowyn and her thinking IKEA screwdrivers are fun to put into light sockets. I now understand why so many have offered to babysit. She's still alive and unfried, but the day ended early.) and then visiting with a dear friend, plus running last minute errands. Friday brings visits with my momma and dad, and a trip to the airport to load our 8 suitcases, 5 carry ons, and three spragues onto a plane. 

This will most likely be my last post till we're over there. Thankful to all of you for your prayers, kind words, and hugs that last long. Of course, you doing that makes me cry, but I'm thankful for it regardless. 

I don't think a million thanks will ever really sum up the way we feel towards you.

6 Days :: Perspective


In less than one week we'll be dropping off our rental car, checking in, and boarding a flight to a whole other slice of the world. We'll get to live there for more days than I've yet to calculate.

Transplanting completely forces my brain into a different reality. I can so easily get stressed over the details, and then something weird in my brain happens and I get some perspective. It's perhaps the first time I've consistently had a good dose of it and it's totally grace.

If the salvation army doesn't get our couch on time? It's just a couch.
If we don't eat through these groceries I was so sure we would? There's others that will eat them.
If I forget something to pack? I'll make do, or find a replacement.
If Eowyn screams the entire flight and every body hates us? We'll probably never see them again.
When our marriage struggles through this change and it's all just so hard? We've had hard seasons-we're better for it. 

Of all the things that take my time and brain space, there are very few that really matter. These relationships are really the only things that do and nearly all the rest work themselves out in the end.

Different people have had different responses towards us regarding our trip. Some panic the minute we tell them we're moving; Complete strangers making sure to fill us in on all the things we're missing here. "You'll have to buy groceries like every day? God, I'd hate that." "You realize you'll have like, no sun in the winter?" "I bet your parents are pretty upset that you're taking their grandbaby away from them." "Do you know ANYBODY there?"

It's like being pregnant again-unsolicited advice about all the things you've already read plenty on and already cried over. Wanting to have more information than others, to pull out the mighty "We'll be just fine cuz we're prepared" card yet realizing, even so, you have no idea what you're getting into.

We know this is going to be hard, but we have no idea how hard.

Then there are others (thank you, Jesus) that get excited for us. They reassure us that it'll all be just fine. We'll be healthier for shopping daily, we'll build a tighter community with it being dark, praise the Lord for Skype and airplanes! They look us in the eye and congratulate us as if we're the bravest in the world. Sometimes it feels like we are. Other times, we're the most afraid.

Well at least I am.

The scariest stuff is always the stuff worth doing. Fear is a terrible reason to not. "Fear isn't a good motivator"

I remember the 13 year old girl who wrote in her journal with her green gel pens a very serious prayer of living overseas. Drawing the world, and hearts all over, I would pray it to be so but would make sure I stressed how I didn't want to go by myself. I wanted to have someone to share it with. Here I am with two to share it with and I keep thinking how Jesus knew even back then.

It's that very truth that encourages me. He listened, already knowing the excitement and heartbreak the the following days would hold for His girl. He knows still.

In 6 days, all our belongings halved, then minus 6-7 bags will be sitting in a storage shed. The loves of my whole life and I will board a seat in the sky and fly off to a place with small refrigerators and older buildings than our country has been alive for.

We'll have to face the reality of leaving friends who have seen our hearts bleed, laughed at stupid (accidentally inappropriate) youtube videos (It's funny how you forget that horrible part of a video just in time to show it to your entire small group. Face Palm.) let us eat that last piece of chocolate and played that new board game with us (whether they wanted to or not) ... It hurts to leave.

I want to be replaced in so many ways, yet obviously not. I want to be the one to experience my people. I want to be the one to meet those babies in the hospital. I want to be the one to take pictures at the birthday parties and to scold my kid for pushing over their kid. I want to pour over dating profiles with my single girl friends in flesh and in laughter and then talk about the hard stuff that comes with figuring out what they heck they're doing in the whole dating scene. I want to talk about details. I want to be a few minutes drive,  the a late night call. Not the 'skype in a few days, have to wait till morning to text.' I feel jealous of moments that haven't even happened yet, because someone else will (Lord willing) take our place and celebrate these people we love so deep even more fully.  I want that-pray for that-and it hurts.

We are excited. Overwhelmingly so. We're a little (a lot) scared/sad/struggling too. It's the unknown, you know? But we know a guy who knows the 'unknown.' He knows what its like to give it all up. Saying goodbye feels like giving it all up.

Seeing our friends and family this weekend is so special. It's a fresh surge of love reminding us how good God is. I prayed for these people. I asked God for specific types of friends and one by one He delivered. This community has shown me what it feels like when Jesus moves towards us and makes us his own. He's behind all of it, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm holdin on to that.

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Isa 26:3

As always, thanks for reading.