The Days Before We Flew

This is a big picture post… my first post since the big move overseas.

And so much has happened. So much of life has changed in just a small span of time.

I will be sharing more as I can.

And, honestly I don’t really have the words yet.

but they will come.

posts will be written about this journey.

But for now…

Here are a few words and many pictures to lead you through the days before we flew.

Hopefully in these pictures you will see the joy and the pain that accompanied our last month.


The last few times of driving my van and carting my girls around to the store or the library or the post office.

The little baggies of things that we won’t use again for a long time… emptying our purses and wallets of store cards, unused gift cards, coupons and other things we can no longer use.


Taking “passport” pictures for beloved stuffed animals that were privileged enough to fly on the plane with us.


Squishing other toys and stuffed animals and jeans in every nook and cranny of every single bin and bag.

Filling space bag after space bag. Weighing each thing 10 times.

Last meals with cousins on Grandma’s deck


Final runs through west Michigan… letting go of the intense stress we weren’t always aware we were carrying.


And insane faces of “please… I can not sort any more stuff or fill out anymore paperwork or say goodbye to anything else!”


Many bowls of ice cream. with second helpings.


Ranger Rick’s final performance and bug cooking for strangers


A birthday trip to a deer park with Grandpa


And of course petting pigs… who doesn’t need to pet a pig?


Realizing that the Senegal colors adorn this ice cream sign… and stopping to take a picture


Getting one final pedicure… pretending that all the work will do itself without me for an hour


And trying to save money while also trying to eat at our favorite places one last time


Lots of hugs for each other… because this process is taking everything we have and more… while kids take blurry pictures with my phone


and the baggage piles up. and up. and up. with runs to the store for more yellow duct tape.


Fitting in birthday parties for Abby and Jeremy and Elizabeth and Grandpa.


And shopping for birthday cards just for them.


Getting Euros for Abby’s birthday


And stealing precious time one afternoon in the hammock to contemplate what is to come…


Then packing… praying it all will fit… that it all will weigh the right amount. it all will ship safely and arrive intact.


Smiling… forcing ourselves to feel a bravery we can’t explain on the biggest day of our lives so far. A long flight over the ocean happening in just hours.


Taking a selfie as we arrive in Chicago while thinking, “What on earth are we doing? #ohdearbetsy”


Eating our last lunch with our parents…


Trying desperately not to think of the days, holidays, birthdays, moments we will miss… the time we won’t have and the valuable relationships we are parting with very soon for a very long time…

It broke our hearts. Nothing has felt like that moment of walking away from our parents and sisters and families.


But walk away we did… into the complete unknown, hearts breaking, tears streaming down our faces, watching our girls struggle with something much bigger than anything they’ve ever faced before… a transition unlike anything we have experienced in the past.

We walked away in obedience to a call.

We walked away knowing that good things are ahead even if we can’t see them or feel them in this moment.

We walked away because God has a plan and He has asked us to be a part of it.


We flew an ocean away from home. together.

for one purpose.

To see this hurting world know that God loves them immensely.


And those were the days before we flew.


  1. We’re twelve months out from our leave date, and I already have so many emotions! It’s a strange mix of confidence in what we’re called to do mixed with terror at actually walking away from that airport lobby. I DREAD that day and am excited for that day all at the same time. Our kids will be 6 and 4 when we leave, and we’ve been prepping them as best we can for the transition to Europe from the Southeastern US. Thank you for being honest in this post, even though tears stream down my face just now. {Hugs} -Allison

  2. Wow…tears in my eyes…reading it…beautifully written! Thank you! I am in the same boat with my family soon.Called by God.

  3. Very inspiring……love reading about your adventures, ups and downs….God is FAITHFUL…..and we are praying for you and your family….

  4. Oh Jenilee, I was in tears reading this post! You and Jeremy and your girls are brave, obedient people. I admire you. May God bless you greatly as you do His Kingdom work!

    1. at that moment, obedience really was all that made me walk away… answering the call gave me the strength to keep going forward. And God was in every minute! So thankful for His presence… and for the family of God walking with us!

  5. What an emotionally raw post. Though the words might not be there for you right now you’ve managed to convey the turmoil of emotions that you’ve all gone through getting to this point. Obediently, bravely (even if you didn’t feel brave) and amazingly stepping out to follow the path that God set before you. You could have said this is too much and turned away at any point but instead you push closer and kept going. We are praying for you and you all cross my mind several times during the day. I know that God is in all those emotions, that He will bring just the right words. Love and prayers to you friend! <3

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