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.

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