I’ve known I would live in Edinburgh since May of 2000.

Yep. It took me 11 years to get here.

I left Scotland on May 28, 2000, went back to the US, led a small group, graduated college, taught 5th grade, coached soccer and volleyball, worked at a campus ministry, taught 4th grade, volunteered in a youth group, bought a house, sold a house, wrote a book, and moved to Nashville [not in that order and with a few other things sprinkled in between].

I tell you that to say that courage doesn’t come in a day. It took time between when the dream was placed in my heart and when God made it my reality. It took time and steps and smaller choices.

For example.

The summer after 10th grade, I felt the Lord ask me to change high schools. At the time, it was the hugest sacrifice in the WORLD. I had to leave my friends and go alone to a new high school.

The summer after 12th grade, I moved 80 miles away from home. It was terribly hard. I had to leave my hometown and my family.

The summer of 2008, I moved 200 miles away from home. As you know, it was the best heartbreak of my life. I left my family, my friends, my hometown.

God has given me stair-step opportunities to be brave – moving schools, moving cities in Georgia, moving out of Georgia. So then, when it was time to move out of America, I knew I could do it.

I have seen, over and over and over again, that I can trust God and go in His direction, even when it seems crazy and looks crazy and hurts like crazy.

And now I’m here. Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s a beautiful place to be.

But a lot of days, it is really hard.

I mean, I love it. I really do. I love this city and the people and the church and my friends and the coins and the bus routes. But don’t mistake the fun stories and the amazing ministry opportunities to mean that it has been easy.

I miss home. A lot. I miss my parents and my sisters and my friends. I cry every time I miss a wedding. I’ve gotten frustrated that I can’t watch the Georgia Bulldog games. And I get surprisingly furious in the grocery store when I can’t find an ingredient [exposing issues? Me thinks yes].

But.

In the moments like today – when I’m sitting across the Starbucks table from an American student and talking about faith and courage and living in a foreign country and God- I know it is all worth it.

I wouldn’t dare tell you this season overseas has been easy. It has been fun and exciting and rewarding, but “easy” it is not.

Nevertheless, I am grateful. I am so glad that my courage boundaries were blown to bits. I’m glad for the hard days, where I’ve wanted to scream with frustration or cry or check for a flight home. Those days exposed my fears. And when I see my fears, I’m reminded that I’m brave. Because I see them, I hear them, I acknowledge them, but I don’t listen to or obey them [most of the time].

Edinburgh has taught me that living courageously doesn’t always feel good, but it always feels right.

. . . . .

Krystal at SweetAftonStudio is wanting you to live courageously too. So one lucky reader out there will win one of the 8×10 letterpress prints- your choice of color!

[these are smaller versions… but YOU get an 8×10!]

For the rest of us almost-winners, Krystal is offering 10% off your purchase at SweetAftonStudio – just use the code ANNIEBLOGS2011… and that’s good until October 31! I adore her stuff… I think you will too.

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment [with a working email address] and answer this question:

If you could move to any city in the world, where would you go?

You have until I wake up Friday morning [around 8am Scotland time, 3am EDT, 2am CDT, midnight PDT] to enter.

Now, let the parade of cities begin…. 🙂