The last few weeks, Michael and I have been preparing for a trip. Like all trips, even the most fun, there is some element of stress in preparations. Do we have all the right toiletries? Make sure to bring all the medicine as well as the thermometer in case anyone gets sick. And toys … don’t forget those or we are really screwed in a car filled with whining and “are we there yets?”

The preparation for this trip has been no less exciting but a lot more stressful. Michael and I are both headed to Ethiopia.

Emotions are running high as we prepare to board a plane to a third-world country while Ellie remains behind with my parents. Signing documents giving our family permission to make medical decisions for Ellie, sending our travel plans out to everyone in case they need to locate us, and ultimately worrying about all the things that could go wrong during the next week have plagued us with anxiety. We will be separated by an ocean in areas with poor internet connection, political unrest, in a region of Ethiopia I have yet to travel.

In all of this worrying, I have gone back to a sermon I heard a month ago given by Jena Lee Nardella, author of One Thousand Wells. She spoke to the congregation about her passion for Global Outreach in Africa over the last 10 years. While she worked and traveled in areas of great poverty and turmoil, she still struggled each and every time to get on the plane and go.

You see, Jena, like all of us, fear the unknown, the uncertainty of life. Many times fear stifles us so much that we don’t experience the beauty of this world or allow ourselves to meet our fullest potential because staying in our place of comfort is so much easier.

I have found myself this week in just that place … wanting to retreat from this trip to stay in my place of comfort. It’s so natural when we all get overwhelmed by the unknown.

Jena went on to say that we “should spend our life not save it.” We spend our lives by doing the hard things, the stuff that makes us anxious, unsure, and uncomfortable. When we don’t take that new job because the old one is ‘ok’ even though we could be more fulfilled. Not trying to learn a new skill because we are worried we will fail, or not following what God wants us to do because it’s a difficult path. In all these situations, we are choosing to save our lives not spend them. Life is meant to be spent, to be experienced, so we can grow and become the people we are meant to be. And in any growing stage, there are bound to be a few aches and pains along the way.

So, as we board this flight together, I pray for safety, strength, and peace knowing that what we are doing is neither comfortable or easy. But hopefully in doing so, we are spending our lives in order to bring a little of Charlie’s Heart Foundation to Ethiopia.