Exploring the Unknown

A Few Things I’ve Learned Living Abroad

At 22 years old I embarked into the unknown, traveling to Europe on a whispered promise from God.  In the beginning, I wondered if I had made a mistake. Should take the next flight back to my family? After all, this wasn’t a two-week trip, but a two-year commitment to get comfortable in another culture.

I could have never guessed that two years would turn into 12 years of living in three different countries (Austria, South Africa, the Netherlands). Through those years, I came alive to a real adventure with God. Sure, it included stamped passports, discovering new places, and moving out of my comfort zone, but adventure became a lifestyle of exploring the grandeur of God’s heart, standing in wonder of his wild love, and finding my home in him.

Since coming back to America 10 months ago, now with my husband and three little ones in tow, I’ve stored away some simple lessons I learned while living abroad:

Embrace Wind-Blown Hair 

The first thing we did when we arrived in the Netherlands was purchase a few used bikes. Biking was the easiest way to get around town. In fact, we didn’t own a car until the last six months we were there. I also never did my hair because it got whipped around behind me as I pedaled my way to the grocery store, the park or a café to meet a friend. What started as an annoyance, became my little secret to stay a mentally sane and joyful mama to three little ones. The fresh air and wind-blown hair became a gift I received every day. Freedom welled up within me as I let go of control in small ways and let the Holy Spirit do his work in my heart. I was reminded that my obsession with perfection deters me from really living, and letting the wind mess up my hair is an easy first step toward adventure.

Try this: Be intentional about getting into the wild outdoors with your kids, feel the wind in your hair, and learn to strip off the façade of flawless when you’re around other people; your freedom is contagious.

To read the next three lessons, join me on the MOPS International blog where I’m honored to be sharing today!

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Comments (1)

  1. I am a German mom who now lives in Michigan for almost 2 years. This isn’t our first stay abroad. The past 15 years I spent in Romania, mostly in China, where I met my husband and where my first child was born and now in the US. Living abroad has always been a number one priority to me and I loved sinking into these very different and fascinating cultures. I learned the languages of all the countries I lived in and being able to communicate with the people around me made my experiences even more special! I can absolutely relate to your descriptions and experiences and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Thank you also for the great tips you gave us as moms of little ones!

    Best wishes from Christin
    Viele Grüße von Christin