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.