Life Lately


It’s the last day of September. We’ve lived in Helsinki for 5 months. Our home now has a rhythm that has taken months to form, and the hard days of moving are becoming part of our story rather than part of our everyday reality.

I couldn't be more grateful.

We have a library close to us that we visit regularly, we have over 20 books checked out-in true Sprague fashion, and God is placing people in our lives ever so slowly. 

When I sit and examine all that lies ahead of us: family visiting, the winter everyone dreads, the third trimester and welcoming our  newborn baby, figuring out the parenting two kiddos stage, getting to go back to the states after a solid year of not returning, my heart isn't quite sure what to do with it all.

But, just as moving here presented all sorts of fears and struggle, it's also producing joys. And I'm learning that it's not so much the circumstances themselves that are producing the joys and struggles, but the one we keep banking on week after week. 

There's a weird grey place in theology that I find myself often. On one hand, when bad things happen, no one wants to attribute that to the God they serve. Especially if they believe that God to be good. 
On the other, the idea that God isn't all powerful and couldn't help the fact that bad things happen, kind of makes that God not so helpful after all.

It's a place I find myself often. When we struggle through our days-when the cup he has me drink is bitter and painful-how do I keep praising? Choosing Joy?  When we find ourselves drinking sweet delicious drink from that cup and the joy comes seeping, how do I balance myself in light of the fact that the darker days still come. We're still in a fallen place.

I think God was smart in creating a culture of remembrance in the Jewish people. I'm learning that in order to have Joy, we have to be thankful, but unless we remember, we can't remember what to be thankful for. We also need to remember to keep ourselves from prosperity gospel. Biblically, life was pretty dark-and yet they still chose Jesus. Figuring out why is an important life effort. 

So, I've gotten to practice. Week after week I've gotten to remember the times that God has shown up and relieved, or saved, or just walked with me through things. I remember my dark days, and how scary that place is, and I remember the redeeming days where he turns that very darkness into light. 
I also remember the fact that there's still stuff i'm waiting for the light to turn on in. There's still dark.

But Even dark is light to Him.

So, we've been in Helsinki for almost half a year and we've changed and grown and seen things spring up in us we never saw before. A lot of stuff got weeded out. I've had to wrestle down my pride and face my inabilities. We've also gotten to be brave and strong in the face of uncomfortable.

We've had to change. We're different people than we were 5 months ago. 

We know how to make a whole lot more from scratch, and I daily grate my own cheese. 

I would pay a ridiculous amount just to have a bathtub again, but I'm pretty pleased with the daily greetings we get to have with people via public transport.

Kindness is not shortchanged here. It's a dark country in climate, but not in people.

The donuts here are better than the States. (of course we would know that.)

and I'm really finding myself treasuring pieces of this chapter of our life.  Like when Eowyn yells "KIITOS!" or moves about in her awesome plastic play suit. The way Ben and I have become better friends, the way change and struggle make for great stories and adventure.

I'm discovering the rest that Jesus offers. Now he and I have gone through a few more fire hoops and I'm getting to see that elements of all kinds are subject to him.

This is a weird post of heavy thoughts and small talk and I'm not quite sure how to make peace with it in a cohesive way. So I'll just say that all the little fluff things are teaching me daily the practice of remembering how we made it through the not so fluffy things; How there's room for ache and dark even when believing in the God of Light and Joy. And these 5 months are teaching me that just as much as this experience has been multi-faceted and has me sorting through all sorts of thoughts, the one that placed us here knew what was coming. And that gives me peace.

Happy Fall. 

Sunflower Fields :: Espoo, Finland


A friend of mine gave me a heads up of a sunflower field out in a suburb nearby. She thought I might like it, and she was right.  It's a self serve sunflower field, where one can get 4 flowers for a euro. Getting excited about the opportunity to get some flowers and be outdoors, this morning we ventured out hoping to find the place.

While I'm a big fan of the sea-side living that we've got going on, there's something about big fields and high birch trees. Eowyn and I take to it like nothing else, and Ben always comments how he can tell we're in our element.

It's these sorts of mornings that are leaving their mark on my heart. It's a slow but steady process of falling in love with the places we're living in.

Hope your weekends are off to a great start.

Sixteen, Eighteen, Twenty :: Baby Bump


As soon as I posted this, the baby went quiet. No more kicks for like...7 days. A good week without feeling the little gal or guy made my heart ache. Luckily a few days before week eighteen they showed up again! Can I just say how wild it is to think of all the inner workings going on right now? I look at Eowyn and all she can do and my mind aches with thinking of all the work God does in forming this little one. I'm thankful. Man, has my love grown for my Jesus with each baby he lets me experience. They are "fearfully and wonderfully made."

This second trimester has been so sweet, and so very fast! It's plowing along quite nicely, and as they always say-second trimester is kind of gloryland for pregnant folks. I'm a big fan of being able to eat normal foods and still sleep relatively well. Plus Ben loves me a million times over and let me buy a pregnancy pillow from the states (the shipping cost was almost as much as the pillow itself. Plus 24 % Vat. Bleh. Never the less, Ben loves me.) I didn't have one last pregnancy, but I'm grateful for it now. I love it.  So does Eowyn.

The major ache in the bones is kind of a bummer, one that I don't remember having last time around. I also didn't have a toddler or walk several miles daily last time around, so when my legs are on fire I think it has more to do with the fact that with E I was sitting in a nice systematic theology class sippin' my sweet drinks and noshin' on some snacks while using my brain. Now I have to keep sharing with a toddler and getting outside on adventures. Different muscles are being used. Again thankful for that pillow.

We have an appointment tomorrow! It's a standard one, but I'm pretty sure we'll set up our ultrasound appointment then. Yahoo! I haven't decided how we'll share the good ol' gender reveal news. Perhaps we won't and just keep it a secret? My mom wouldn't be okay with that. Ha! She worked hard to get Eowyn's name out before her arrival, but we prevailed! This time, it's different though. I think having a miscarriage is both weird in that it makes me hold my breath and think thoughts like "don't celebrate quite yet." and on the flip side it makes me want to celebrate all the sooner. This life is alive and well RIGHT NOW, and he or she already has a gender, which means it already has a name!  And it already has a personality! We just get to find out which it'll be.

I'm really excited. I think a boy would be fun because of the whole 'gender jackpot' that'll be and we would be able to get a taste of what raising each was like,  but I have a special love for the girl name we have picked out and um,  two little sisters? Oh, it would be the sweetest. I think Eowyn + Baby will = a heart explosion either way, so the party will be just as large regardless of it's underthings.

Soon enough, we'll see.

It's fun being on this side of the halfway mark of pregnancy. My body is more sore this time around and I anticipate that the coming months will bring a bit of a struggle with all the necessary walking we get to do, but perhaps that'll help walk the baby out when the time comes! We're praising Jesus for our boy, and treasuring the 5 or so months we get to spend with Eowyn before baby #2 arrives.

The planner in me is beginning to rev her engines. Getting the books, planning the meals. It's a far way off, but weeks pass by in a blur. While the planning is taking place, I also remember how quickly we prepared for E in those last few weeks before she came, and how God did a magical thing of moving us along when we were really in no rush. He knew and when she came, we were ready.

Excited to prepare for his arrival. Excited for this family of four.

It's a....


A healthy, whole little boy will be coming our way come early 2015. My heart was so filled as the ultrasound doctor (they have actual obstetricians do the ultrasounds here,) kept repeating time and time again, "normal." Normal heart, normal belly, normal brain, bigger head (just like Eowyn) and freakishly long legs (just like Ben.) We got to see our little guy swallowing, and kicking around and his profile looks just like eowyn's did. Which makes my eyes get all dreamy remembering our sweet little baby eowyn. All that to say, we're celebrated big time. The anticipated weight is around 8 lbs come arrival.

When I asked the doctor how sure he was about our little one being a boy, he laughed and said that if he was wrong, he'd like to see the baby. Finns have one of my favorite humors. He joked that we must be the kind of people who like to open our christmas presents early (when we told him we wanted to know.) It does kind of feel that way. A bit like christmas came early.

We have happy hearts all around as we get excited about our little guy. 
What a happy day!

Oh, and most of you were right! Well done with gender prediction. Apparently the boy feelies were strong. I'm impressed.

20 week ultrasound

Last night I looked over at Ben and told him the feelings I had been sorting through. I originally told him that by this time, 20 whole weeks, past loss would be so far removed that I didn't think it would affect things anymore. I was hopeful, but wrong.

Today we get to have our 20 week ultrasound. A fellow mom is going to watch Eowyn so we can go and actually be present fully for our little second born. Ben will actually get to hear what is said rather than wrangling a toddler who gets quite worried when mama climbs up on that ultrasound chair.

And while I'm super stoked to find out the gender, and we've talked a fair amount for what we hope for, there's one reality that keeps aching my heart.

With Eowyn, I called this the 'gender ultrasound,' now I see it much differently. I'm hyper aware of all the ways things can go wrong. Hearts, brains, livers, it's all so fragile and kind of magical the way God crafts it all together. Yet, he also sometimes lets things form in such a way that babies don't survive the same, if at all.

Ben is the kind of man who would rather not prepare for battle when there's no war to fight. His wife, on the other hand, would rather always have the armor on, just incase a bullet comes flying.

I'm not sure which is better.

So, all that to say, I'm really excited for this ultrasound. I'm excited to have made it this far. To get to see our baby again, probably for the last time till delivery. I'm excited to see it moving about and to hear how it's growing. I'm excited to go to a baby store and buy a sweet outfit together, for planning a gender reveal announcement for sometime this month. Just all of it. It's exciting.

But my heart rate will rise. It always has ever since that first time I was in the ER in July. My stomach will feel a bit fluttery/sick, even though we've made it so far. And, while I'll be full of anticipation, I know that just like every other time, right before the ultrasound starts, I'll hold my breath and think that perhaps I don't want to know what happens next.

I love this kid. Deep crazy love. Finding out that our little is a girl or a boy will be so fun, but seeing a healthy and whole baby is more of a gift than I can attempt to explain.  A potty shot is just icing on the baby cake.

Cheers to a God who continues to make beautiful things, and who holds our hands as we get to slowly unveil his creations. Cheers to a God who created creatures who can be mournful and joyful simultaneously, hopeful and on guard, and celebratory and prepared to fight for joy.

So, on that note, Ben is thinking it's a boy since our ultrasound tech at 12 weeks alluded to that. I have no idea, but kind of am dreaming of how sweet a little sister would be. So, looks like we'll be pretty pumped either way. Neither one of us takes much convincing to get excited about either. I think after you lose a baby, just getting to have another makes things like gender a special detail rather than a dream maker/breaker. My dreams are of Eowyn as a big sister because OH MY GOODNESS she's going to love it.

So....any guesses? Who ever guesses right gets a free trip to Finland! (just kidding) but you will win a prestigious position in our home as a prophet on baby details.

Ten on Ten :: September 2014


//This morning we got to join a dear friend of ours for a walk to a beautiful park nearby. Whenever Eowyn puts her little hands in her hoodie I fawn over it. She knows it too, so I think she sometimes does it just for the reaction. //  // Our patio is a revolving piece of art. It's always fun to see the daily contributions of little sketches that form. Sometimes I think of erasing it all and giving it a clean slate.  But I kind of like it this way. //  //  18.5 weeks! //  //  A beautiful dock that we spotted on our walk. The fog that settles on this city makes things even more beautiful. //  // Sickness has been making it rounds through all of our relationships and has finally left our home. Just in time for a deep clean. Luckily at the same spot I get my lemonade, they also have method cleaning products! Now I can clean my house and actually read the instructions. :) // // A shower has been taken! How do I have a two year old and I still struggle so much with basic self-care?! I'm challenging myself to figure it out before 20 more weeks have past and we have a new little one to adjust to. // /Our Town// //Date night with this guy. // // Esplanade Park (and no seagull on top of his head!) // // Creepin. ;)

I love these posts for a number of reasons. One is to show just how much life has changed from the other ten on ten posts. Mostly, it makes very normal days seem kind of magical.

Linking up with one of my favorite bloggers out there Rebekah Gough



I often want to write about our time here in Finland, but whenever I sit down to do so, I don't know where to begin.

There's a million things I want to remember. If I'm honest, there's at least half a million I hope to forget. This season has been a wild mix of adventure of struggle.

These past few weekends, however, I've felt the haze of the overseas life clear a bit, and it's given me moments of feeling 'normal.' I find us doing some of the same things every saturday, I see Eowyn and I start building up a routine, and I'm finding the energy to let those creative bits that keep us breathing spring up again. I can't overstate how large of a feat this is.

I don't think I could have ever prepared for the unanticipated struggles of this, but I think we're reaching that point where our 'resourceful muscles' have now gotten quite a bit of exercise, and after 3-going-on-4 months of flexing them daily, we're able to lift more than we anticipated.

We live in an area of town that used to be an old shipyard. Now it's becoming more residential, and we have a flat right next to the water. Here, cruise ships drop off tourists and we see them arriving from all over the world. It's fun to hop on the tram (when it's not wildly busy) and play a game of "where are they from" based on the languages. Russian, German, Estonian, Spanish. It's wild. And it's such a good perspective at just how small I am.

It's also fun to be helpful to said tourists. I remember the first time I was able to give directions, I felt pretty amazing. I know this place! Now to be fair, Helsinki is wildly compact and incredibly navigatable. You really only need to know three or so tram lines to get to all the major monuments, and yet, it felt pretty awesome to have a better grasp of our city than a tourist (since so often I feel more like them, and less like I live here.)

But it's all coming slow. We're finding our favorite haunts. We're sllloowwwlllyy building friendships (why is it so hard as we get older?) and we're finding ways to entertain our ever curious girl. My heart feels less heavy as the days go, and the tears are nearly infrequent. Ben's a smart man and fills this place with flowers and good conversation. Our place definitely feels like home. 

Now we just need to fill it with our out-of-town loves! Even that is coming soon! Family is sprinkling through from Nov-February, and I can't tell you how much my heart has set its eyes on those dates. It seems like once late fall comes, we'll be in good company through July! While there's obviously month long inbetweens, getting to see people every couple of months vs. the 7 month stretch we'll be at once family arrives feels like a real treat. If you've ever wanted to see Europe, Helsinki is a great place to start! Plus, free housing and some pretty awesome hosts (we'll even feed you.)  You all are most certainly welcome. 

We're currently surviving our first cold sickness. It hit Eowyn, then me, and most recently Ben. So, we've now figured out pharmacies, and the like. We've got our first ER visit under our belt from Eowyn's head-pavement collision, and we've done basic dr. visits. 

I even found myself a crockpot, so life is pretty much normal now (and all my minnesota friends say 'amen.') It's all these little every-day things that feel like such accomplishments, and yet cause the greatest headaches. I dont think I understood how precious 'normal' life is until nothing about it is normal. Even reaching the point where the cashier at our little corner grocery store recognized me felt like such a feat. I no longer have to pardon myself in english when the questions come, now she looks up, smiles and says "hello!" I could kiss her.

Today we went to a kid's 'Jungle fitness' thing-an american equivalent would be like a gymboree, or a kid-music class out in the burbs of Helsinki, and I've got to tell you, I've never seen Eowyn so excited. She follows instructions like a champ and kept laughing, mouth-wide-open. It's 10 Euro each visit, and I can definitely see us going every week. She crashed on the way home-a true sign it was a good time. Seriously, this place gave us a glimmer of hope for the impending winter. It's a short bus ride and after a small hike up and down stairs (with a stroller, oy vey!) it's easy to access. It's fun how much physical activity we get without even trying.

It's just as hard to know where to end these posts as it is to begin them. So I'll make a list of the few things I'm learning these past few weeks:

1. Asking is ALWAYS better than choosing timidity and not getting anywhere. People universally will help if they can.
2.Toddlers are travelers too. Making time for their adventure makes for a better time all together.
3.Consistently showing up has always proved to have the best results. 
4. Things are always harder than expected, and simultaneously not as bad as anticipated.
5. Life is never without struggle. The choice on which end of contended we'll be on is largely up to us and less to do with when our circumstances change. 
6. As with every other struggle in life, people will speak on things they do not know. There has got to be grace and a deliberate looking for the heart. Overseas living, unless experienced, just can't be explained. Still try anyways and still hear anyways.
6. As travelers always say, the people make a place.
7. There's a lot of opportunity to relate, if willing to step out of the usual connecting points.
8. Figuring out the must-haves is just as important as realizing how much you can live without.
9. Getting to adventure with one person through all life is kind of amazing.
10. Seeing family values and priorities take shape from myriads of experiences is pretty awesome too.
11. Saying 'yes' to invitations is one of the best ways to experience things, even if that means rearranging schedules a bit.

I hope some of you readers can come and sit on our balcony with us and check out the occasional night when the moon looks like this and the cafe below is booming with random local artists. I don't necessarily hope you experience the cruise ships dumping the waste from their boats and the whole island smelling like a sewage tank for a good 30 minutes. But the moon-the moon can be really beautiful.

There's the romantic and the not-so-much everywhere you go, I guess.

Happiest of Mondays.

Sailing in Helsinki


Ben's company hosted a family event this weekend on a beautiful sailboat made in the 40's. We got to eat a delicious meal below deck, and enjoyed the fresh air and perfect sunshine for three hours. Eowyn made her rounds, as always; making friends and giving out leg hugs and we enjoyed the company along with her.

It's stuff like this that make me fall in love with this city. The water is kind of magical, and being out on it (with several other sailboats) was a great way to spend a weekend evening.  Also, nothing beats the beauty of Ben's wind-blown hair.

That last picture of E makes me think of a friend of mine that always called her daughter her 'old soul'.  Something about my own little girl, sometimes she looks and acts not just older than her years, but like a little old soul. Maybe the water brings the introspection and calm so often associated with seasoned hearts, It did in Eowyn. She was pretty chill until we had cheesecake!  Luckily the boat reached land just in time for us to get home before her sugar crash :)

It was a great night.



m“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,1
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present,nwe do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him owho for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, pcrowned with glory and honor qbecause of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might rtaste death sfor everyone.
Hebrews 2
We've never been more in the know with news and world happenings than now. Now that we've left the states, now that we share borders with and are so close to so many hurting, it makes me realize how small of a scope we used to live through. 
I've never been in such a place where my belief in him is such an influencing factor, both in my heart and relationships.
We've never prayed so often.
I've never felt so clingy, so ready for good ol' revelation party. 

At present, I don't see everything subject to him, but I do see him.
And while so many of us have felt death creep in and invade, and right now there are mommas losing their eowyns, and my heart breaks and I don't get why heaven can't just come already,  those verses stand there. 
 'everything is subject to him.' 
he tasted death for everyone. 
and just like him, we'll be crowned in glory.
He's mindful, he cares.
He cares.