During the first trimester's three months of nausea, there was one phrase that met Ben's ears everytime he walked through the door.

"I'm sorry."

Insert various attachments: 'Sorry the house isn't clean,' 'sorry there isn't dinner,' 'sorry socks aren't matched,' 'sorry Eowyn watched too much t.v.'

At one point, I got tired of apologizing and asked Ben for permission to stop. It weighs too heavy to be apologizing for puking in a toilet and not having energy to play with raw meat.

He laughed a breathy laugh and thanked me. He made it clear that he was quite okay with the silencing of the apologetics. It turned out it was tiring him too.

Now that we're feeling nice and well, going out of our home into the great wild world of Finland has brought out new insecurities in  my heart. And I'm right back to feeling the need to apologize constantly. I'm a newbie, english-speaker with a toddler. Attention is drawn and it's obvious we have needs that most people who live here simply don't have. I don't know the way of the land and I often feel like we're in the way. For instance, I visited a park recently and realized we weren't supposed to be there. Preschools get access to them during certain hours and the passive aggressive hints at the signs made me wary, but still clueless as to what the problems were. Thank God for google Translate.  Lesson learned. I'll check all four gates before entering.

Countless times we've gotten documents ready, showed up at a place to file something only to find out we weren't prepared with the right documents in hand, so back into the process we go.

I get my stroller stuck a lot too.

After 4 months of stumbling through our way around here, my heart has defaulted into a "we're probably wrong." state.

In fact, I almost apologized when we (finally) made  it to the library to get a library card this week. I felt like I was inconveniencing the librarian- the librarian sitting in an empty children's library gluing new paper check-out pieces into books- he didn't mind the interruption. It took less than 5 minutes, but it took an unnecessary amount of bravery for me to ask.

After so many months of feeling unsure and in the way, it starts wearing down on a soul. Just like I reached a point when I couldn't be guilty anymore for the nausea and for my weakness brought out by pregnancy, I can't feel guilty any more for being what we are : not from here.

In this season, we're foreigners in a pretty awesome country. That country has unspoken efficient systems that we have no clue about. This means we stumble and trip and sometimes get in the way while most live and breath the system this country has run under for decades. We're learning how to live all over again (and translating every text, every website, every sign.) It's hard.

But regardless of the challenges, something needed to change in me. The thing that woke my heart to this need was the way my parenting has changed since coming here. If this woman is insecure, it's only a matter of time that she starts scrambling for control. When there's a little person in her life, well, it's easy to start eagle-eyeing that little person. Our days get a whole lot longer when there's two toddlers in the house.

Does our kid sing solfege a the top of her lungs while walking down the street and in the trams and in the stores? Yep, she does. There's an insecure part of me that makes me want to shush her, to keep her quiet. Lord knows we already have enough attention during the day. She's also embraced screaming nice and loud any time we don't let her walk anymore. That's pretty cute too.

We both struggle to get from one place to another and  our record is 8/10 times we get rained on. We're unprepared and prone to heavy unaccomplished sighs (and screams.) But, we're trying.

I keep reminding myself that we'll be leaving in a handful of years and no one will remember us other than the people we lived life with. I can't let a stranger's potential discomfort of my presence change the way I parent my kid. I can't let rain and tantrums decide if our days are ruined or saved. I can't keep apologizing for real life and for getting out of the house for fresh air-even if that means we go to the wrong park sometimes.

Now hear me, we're big believers in training our children well. We are working to be sensitive of our child's volume and we're working hard on emotions, but it's wrong of me to try and train her based on my insecurities in the moment. My goals and direction of my parenting needs to be guided by Jesus rather than the wary glance of the random guy in the tram. It's weird to even say that, but I too often default to letting our circumstances decide how I react. I apologize to the stranger, rather than to the daughter who I just incorrectly got on to.

So, I'm working to silence the unnecessary apologetics and use them when it matters and with that step comes bolder steps of a heart growing brave and a life of not saying sorry for things that aren't sinful. Grace is seeping in once again.

Perhaps it'll make my apologies that much more meaningful when I don't use the same words for dirty floors as I do for harsh words. Perhaps me not apologizing will keep my ever-watchful child from thinking our presence in a place is what's wrong. It breaks my heart to think she could get those vibes, but I know she has-because I know my heart has felt that way. We're working on it.

So, we're here. I think my whole family is sighing in relief that the momma of the house is chilling out and being okay with her foreign toddler-mom status; That my girl can get muddy even though she's underdressed compared to all the other kids and that it's okay if we stick out. Not to mention the great old quote: "People think about us far less than we think they're thinking about us."

I'm getting to a point where I'm okay to be reminded every day that we're not from here. Once I stop trying to fake it, I'm learning how many lessons the Big guy has snuck into this. We're tangibly living the reality that "we're not of this world." I'm beginning to embrace what my husband has prayed over me: that I remember that my identity is in Christ and that this identity screams bigger than the 'foreigner mom' name tag I carry throughout my days.

So, cheers to unapologetic living, for a God who gives us secure identities (if we're willing to take them) and for trying even when the failure rate feels to be at about 92%.

At least we made it to the park.

Also, my kid is an excellent singer. The acoustics on the trams are top notch.

I think we might make it.

A Rainy August Morning


A play date was planned for this morning, but with the rainy weather and kids not acting themselves, it got postponed. So, with a relatively clean place, some muffins made, and an open schedule, I decided to grab my camera and get a few pictures of life right now. Too often our days go by and when I look back, it all blurs together.

So, here's a rainy day in August. Bubbles, tea parties, jam sessions and silliness were had. Pretty sure every day Ben and I comment to each other "our kid is so cool." While two is hard in its' own right, it's also really quite delightful.

Also, I'll forever love her cowlick bang-always in her eye. It fits her crooked tooth and silly demeanor quite well.

Hope your Tuesday proves to be joy-filled.

4 Things :: 4 Years of Marriage


We're several steps into our 5th year of marriage. Recently, I remembered that I had yet to write this post. It's mostly a post just for me; I like looking to see what changes from year to year specifically regarding our marriage. I'm just a reflection kind of gal. So, 'better late than never' this post is getting published.

Now, if you have read previous posts, you'd realize I tend to write 10+ things. Perhaps it's because I've grown less talkative as my toddler drains all my words from my soul (ha!), or perhaps  I just realize I really don't have quite the clue that I thought I did. I figure I'd keep it simple and to the point this time around. Also, I like to think I'd be far more interested in a list of 30 things I've learned once I've already been married for 30 years rather than reading 10 things every year. So, four things it is.

This is stuff I'm learning, not stuff we've necessarily accomplished. As my friend Anna has written in her blog, these are lessons, not 'lesson's learned.' We've gotten to taste and become familiar with these four things in the past years, for that I'm grateful.

1. Grief is one of the great agents in revealing a couple. 

I've written about it plenty on this blog, but this past year was filled with grief and struggle. The grief we have faced changed us, or as John Green writes in The Fault in our Stars, it 'revealed us.' I think it does both. Ben has commented how there were times when he was really scared for me-the state of my heart was uncertain several times this year. I was scared for me, and I was scared for us. We fought through a lot of grief and a lot of reshaping of who we were on the other side of it. We look different in our hearts than we did before. We're softer versions. We're quicker to close our mouths and move our feet towards. I know grief can destroy a marriage. I'm grateful it solidified us.

While I would rather marriages not have to face grief, I'm quite certain every marriage does. Some sooner, some later. Grief is often associated with death of  a person, but I'm learning it sometimes is death of internal things. Dreams not realized, a diagnosis given, a door shut, through these things we grieve. My hope is that as we face grief again (and it's most certain we will) that I'll have the forethought to know that even in this, there's a strength and joy that can be found, especially as we journey through it together. Even if it is just celebrating the day that there are more chuckles than tears.

2. Change and waiting for change is really hard.

It's both the most constraining and freeing feeling in the world when one can't control their circumstances. For the bulk of last year we waited for news of Finland. Then when we got word back in February, we packed up shop and moved over here. Here we're facing the giant change we prayed constantly for. I think Ben is doing better with transitioning than I am, but we're working through it. I see us morph into something new even in this.

While sometimes I just want to get to the other side, I'm learning that walking through is often the best way out. Also, It's really easy to get the change we want, realize it's not the savior I was hoping for, and begin shaping the next thing I really want. Jesus is the only Satisfying savior. Us moving back stateside to the land of target and Costco and all my beloved friendships isn't going to save my heart from the deep loneliness it aches of. Sorting through all this stuff has been the longer struggle of this season. It's a humbling thing when prayers are answered that got us here, and now I'm praying to get us through. We haven't figured it out yet, but that's where we were in this 4th/5th year of marriage.

and thats okay.

3. Grace is the greatest of motivators, and in the same breath the best way to let things be.

If there's anything that the past several years has taught me, it's that Grace trumps all. Grace isn't lazy and it certainly isn't silent. I think because it's so powerful, it's also greatly misunderstood. Now I don't pretend to have a grasp, (or even a more-than-less understanding of the concept,) but I do understand the way it's showed up in our marriage.  I've experienced Grace and have learned that one characteristic of it is the way it is a great change agent-and always for the better. When I want to point my finger, it's the very thing that reminds me of the way Ben has full rights to point his. On the flip side, it's the very thing that motivates Ben, who is a natural pleaser, to speak the hard truth to me when he sees me going to a place he knows I don't want to go.

It's also the thing that allows him to commend me on bravery for telling truth, even when that truth is about sin against him. It's strength in the most softest of ways and I am humbled and awed every time I see it in our marriage.  If everything leaves us, I hope that grace stays.

4. Surviving circumstances while still loving, respecting and enjoying each other is one of life's great feats. That alone is worth celebrating.

We've reached the dreaded threshold where the marriages of some of our friends are now ending. Every year we find out a few more friends are parting ways. It's heartbreaking. It's humbling. We realize how hard marriage is and after walking along side friends who face that heartbreak, I'm not one to pride myself on how awesome we are at marriage. I know that we're just a few steps away from that same heartbreak. Every one is. As our Pastor stateside says, "I'm just three steps away from his situation." Be it bad circumstances, or poor decisions, I'm far too aware of how quickly I sin against Ben, and how often we find ourselves in situations that strain us. Life gives a lot of opportunities to destroy a couple, surviving though gives us reason to celebrate.

So, in times when it all feels like it's falling apart, which in the past few years, we've had a handful of those moments, I remember that thriving in a marriage often takes one-step-in-front-of-the-other surviving circumstances together. After setting down my pride and admitting I really don't know how to really make it through,  the grace has been found to put the helmet on, pat my man on the behind and pray hard through the storm that's starting.

I think I'm learning that there are quite simply hard seasons. There are less than stellar seasons and there are really great ones. We're in a hard one. The other day I was lamenting of the fatigue and struggle that I'm going through with all this stuff (Pregnancy, toddler hood, new country, lack of community, language barriers). I desperately revealed how scared I am of not making it out of this any time soon. When Ben commented (after a whole lot of other good words) 'it's just a season, babe" I challenged it with telling him it may be a very, very long one, like, years. His response of  "well, even if it's for 2-3, it's still just a season," calmed my heart. He's willing to see this through.

That man has come home every night and helped me work through my tears and hormones and long monologues of toddler woes and isolation. For him to declare it 'only a season' proves that grace is strong and mighty. And that God is gracious to this woman, especially in hard times.

I'm grateful to get to be paired with him.

All that to say, making it through life with another person is hard work. I'm glad to be able to celebrate the years of ease and the years of struggle. When I'm sitting across the table from that green-gray eyed man with his warm laugh and quick wit, it makes my heart praise God that grace found it's way into this house and has carried us through grief, through adventure and change, and through the long struggle of waiting. It's carrying us through  even now.


The best is yet to come.

Cheers to getting to live in our 5th year of marriage, Ben Sprague. We, like, have a bachelors degree now (or at the very least, we're in our second senior year!)

I'm excited for the way we look at each other after we've weathered through a lifetime. Our story is turning out to be a rather ridiculous, albeit adventurous one.

12 & 13 & 14 Weeks :: Baby Bump


I thought a lot about doing something a wee bit different for this pregnancy, but I find that the commonality between this baby and Eowyn is a super sweet thing to experience. I love looking on E's pictures as she grows-all of which are in our family yearbooks. I look forward to adding these to this year's yearbook.  

At 5.5 weeks to the day I had my first face to face meet-and-greet with our european toilet. I've become more familiar than I'd please, but luckily the whole incredible-sickness turned into feeling green, to just feeling like I had one too many french fries over the past 6 weeks. These past few days have been considerably better, which has left me praising Jesus.

I've written all sorts of posts about 'pregnancy after miscarriage,' some of which I'm sure I'll post. I will say that I've never been so aware of the miracle that takes place-and how much of pregnancy is so outside of our hands. Like, how a kidney begins to function or the spine forms is so beyond me. I know we have considerable knowledge, but not it all. I'm glad my understanding is not what our babies health is relying on.  this reality has grown my faith and I continue to return to this verse in Colossians:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

He's holding all things together.

We obviously are beyond excited at this baby's life and thank all of you for the ways you've celebrated us. 

Also, the whole baby showing up sooner than the first time around is proving very much true. I don't mind one bit.

Hey there, second trimester. I've been looking forward to meeting you.

If you're super impressed with the way I look smaller in week fourteen than I do in thirteen, I attribute that to the burrito I ate at thirteen weeks, and God's-gift to womankind: Spanx providing their gifts this week. I love those beautiful shorts. No thigh chaff and all that smoothing business. Praise the Lord.

Second trimester is starting out kindly. While I'm still exhausted, and now enjoying major headaches after I wake up-there's no sick feelings! I'll take it.

Fallkulla Farm and The Natural History Museum :: Helsinki Adventures


About a week ago, a new friend invited me to join her and a few other moms to go to the Fallkulla Farm up in a close suburb of Helsinki. I was late, and the directions were super confusing, but when we finally arrived it proved to be worth it. Eowyn's squeals were plenty of payment for the 40 minute circling around looking for the place. Plus, she got to play with her dear friend. Win. Win.

This past weekend, we decided to keep the animal party going and hit up the Natural History Museum. We lucked out in that the admissions were cheaper for the summer. Eowyn said "WOOOOWW" about 142 times.  There were Elephants, Bears, Giraffes, Monkeys, and even a little display of all sorts of different animal droppings. You can find it by listening to the trail of little kid giggles. (harty har.)

It's a lot to take in, but it made it well worth the admission fee. Pretty sure since we've had a kid, every adventure has been more exciting. Experiencing things a second time with littles just makes things magical all over.

This week we're potty training our girl! I'll be honest and say that this whole season has been a kind of 'just go with it' season. I read a bit on how potty training should go, but I think it's been a blessing to not have a plan on how Eowyn SHOULD act. She was accident free by day two and other than a day of struggling with getting used to undies, she's kind of rocking this. I'm a little paranoid of going out of the house without diapers. Mostly because everything is a good 20+ minute walk, and finding a bathroom often means making sure we have a Euro to get in, but we'll take on that challenge when we're ready. I will say that here in Finland there are kid potties in practically every establishment, which is awesome and thoughtful. We'll take on that challenge in the upcoming weeks. I'll just say, as far as two year old's go, she's pretty awesome.

Have an awesome weekend!

The Messy Side of Facebook Ache :: Another Pregnancy Announcement.


We enter the second trimester, like, today (if you divide 40 weeks by 3, you get 13.33 weeks.) This is pretty awesome news. We made our big "hoorah baby" announcement on facebook this weekend (you may have seen it on here as well,) and I have to tell you guys, you celebrate us well.

Thank you.

I need to stop and tell you something, though. Now that the confetti has landed, and the party is being packed away, I need to tell you how hard it's been with the whole 'facebook' aspect of this pregnancy. Put aside all the weird emotions of a pregnancy after miscarriage (all the fears and anxieties) and lets just talk about how grief/struggle makes you oh-so-aware of one big fat reality: Facebook can kind of suck with stuff like this.

I have friends who are struggling with infertility and miscarriage, and I have friends who are aching to just get married, let alone have a few kids. Sometimes it's not even wanting something THAT big, it's just wanting something celebratory to post about. Sometimes we want a beautiful picture to post of a really delightful weekend.

After going through ache, it's made me very aware of the facebook posts that hurt. I'm learning that the celebration posts can sometimes be the hardest to stomach. I know this because I've been the one posting the great big happy "celebrate with us" posts and I've been on the end of feeling like everybody has a party going on and I'm still here waiting for my turn. I've fought jealousy, the disappointing ache, and I've struggled to celebrate others genuinely. Facebook creates a giant wall between us and our comrades and this only accentuates the ache and loneliness. Facebook doesn't give me the experience I get when I'm spending time with a dear friend who, while sipping smoothies, tells me about their growing baby. Facebook gifts me the super cute picture of glitter and effortless joy that I see while I'm alone and slumped on the couch just hoping for some entertainment before bed. Laundry and poor-posture are typically involved.

Not too long ago, a dear friend of mine changed my heart regarding facebook sharing.  When I asked her why she didn't put up her wedding pictures that were AMAZING, she commented "I just know how many of my friends ache and struggle when they sign on facebook and see all the weddings and babies. I don't want to contribute to that." I was like: 'Wha!?!' Girl give me an opportunity to post pictures where I look delicious and I'll be posting those all over the place.

But her heartbeat is different than mine and her kind heart has changed my thoughts. There are two waves of thinking we can take here. One is to get frustrated that our friends don't just put their issues down and celebrate us. Or,  like my dear friend did, we can choose grace. We can realize that when sharing with community, part of that sharing is being sensitive to the community we keep. She was sensitive and decided whatever gains she may have gotten from facebook posting, it wasn't worth the ache she knew so many friends would experience from it. That's love. That's grace. That's how we get a beautiful community even on social media.

So, now that I've said all that. Here's my heart:

When friends announce pregnancies in February, my heart aches. I think it very well ache may forever.Why? Because a year ago we lost a february baby. The month of hearts holds a lot of heartache for me, and when I see the announcements my heart gets sad and happy, simultaneously. What's weird is the way I've been surprised when I remember we'll get to have a baby of our own come February. It's surreal and I struggle with the two being so close with due dates (two days apart.) I think God was all up in that business, but I'm still sorting through Him redeeming it all. I still struggle with believing that this is even a reality for us.

We delighted to announce our little baby on the world wide web because we know so many of you delighted to celebrate us. Boy did you celebrate. We announced it on facebook because we can't tell you over coffee when an ocean separates us. We announced it to ask for prayer for a continuing healthy and whole baby. We announced this growing little to perhaps give hope to some of you (because when I know the history of a mama, my heart soars when I see a broken heart beginning to mend!) When God is doing the thing a friend has hoped for, it's an easy way to get excited and celebrate. I tear up and I get happy near every time. In seasons when I've been aching for my own turn, it gives me hope thats it's coming.

I'm grateful for the way you all have celebrated us, but I want those with aching hearts to know that I get it, and I don't want you to feel weird about it. And I haven't forgotten you. I see you. I know some of you hurt deeply. I know that you 'like' the picture and post the congrats and are genuinely happy for us. But I know the battle that you're fighting through and I'm sorry if after seeing our announcement you did an internal tally of yet another person who is celebrating some big change, while you're still waiting for yours. I've felt and still do feel achy stuff and it causes me to have to sort through all these things every time. It's easy to try and talk ourselves out of it with "we have so much! I'm so blessed!" and I think that's all very true. Sometimes, though we just need to go to Jesus and be honest and admit "Wow, this really hurts. Will it ever be my turn?"

Sometimes the pep-talk doesn't work and it kind of sucks that we aren't getting to be the ones to share our celebration.

Yeah, that's about all I wanted to say. Mostly I just wanted to tell you that if you're in that boat, you don't have to feign celebratory words. I give many of you props, because I know the weirdness of ache and celebration living in the same room. I'm humbled by the strength it took you to let celebration take the floor. I've gotten the opportunity to try (in weakness) to do that and sometimes have succeeded. Sometimes I haven't, though.  I know how hard it is. Yet, I keep seeing so many of you do it for us and others and it encourages me. Thanks for that. Thanks for being real with your somber yet genuine happiness. I'll take that over feigned smiles and closet cries any day.

Thanks for walking through life with us and reading long rants. You make getting to exist in this community beautiful.

As always, thanks for reading


A New Hope :: Happy, Happy News!


We shared this photo via facebook this weekend. Thank you for celebrating us so well. We're so excited.