Sunday May 5, 2019

John 2:23-25 When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

Today we split up as a family, Jeff took the younger two kids down to the school for Junii, which is another celebration of Easter here in Romania, complete with a horse parade, while Anjali and I headed to church. Here is a snippet of the parade:

We all met up together at the house for lunch and then a quiet evening at home with the hope of having Mexican food and margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but those plans fell through. The kids had something easy for dinner, while Jeff and I had a quick ravioli toss after the kids went to bed.

I was able to do get the process of obtaining my license all figured out and should be able to submit everything on Monday. I even started the readings that I will need to. I am so happy to be doing this because the types of jobs that I will now be qualified will be much more prolific. We also started looking at apartments in the same area where we were before and have at least narrowed our search down to a few.

The peace and calmness I have experience today is so wonderful. God knew that I needed this direction and because He knows me better than I do, knew just how to present it to us so we would understand. What is so funny is that this path has been here all along, we just were not following it.

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Monday April 29, 2019

Deuteronomy 32:2 May my teaching drop like the rain, my speech condense like the dew; like gentle rain on grass, like showers on new growth.

This week was Jeff’s week at the hospital on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while I stayed home to teach the children and will work on Tuesday and Thursday. There is not much to report. The kids worked a fair amount today and should be done with their main curriculum this week, leaving only a few things to finish up next week in Social Studies and Science. After school the kids went outside and played most of the afternoon with their friends, while I took advantage of applying for several different jobs. I now have over 10 applications out there. I know God has a plan for what is to come in the future for our family, but I would really appreciate a bit of insight into his path. I know it will come with time, but I will admit that I am getting a bit impatient!

We sat down to dinner this evening and even after 10 years I still can’t figure out why David takes so long to eat his food. Tonight he took just over an hour to eat and because he was not just the last one to eat, but was actually still eating (and talking) after I had cleaned the kitchen and Jeff had taken out the garbage, David was left to take his plate with the food remains outside to the garbage and do it alone. He did not like this one bit because he tends to get scared about being outside by himself, but this was an opportunity for me to show him why taking this long to eat was not working.

I was hoping that he would learn the lesson and then just move on, but I was wrong. Maybe because it was 8:30 at night, or maybe he just bypassed the lesson because he was so upset that I made him throw his food out in the garbage can outside, in the dark, but whatever the reason it backfired on me. Instead of him coming in saying, “I don’t want to do that again”, he came inside almost in tears and then proceeded to not go to bed and flop around on the floor until the wee hours of the night.

As I reflect back on this evening and this scripture I am pretty sure that my teachings today did not go this way. I am not sure David experienced new growth. I guess time will tell, but I feel like tonight just eroded away some of his self-confidence (or maybe that is him playing me, again). I pray that God will guide my discipline and guidance for my children so that the lessons I attempt to teach them will actually stick! I think one of the hardest things as a parent, at least for me, is to not know whether your actions really make a difference in your children’s behaviors. It is like a delayed reaction because even if the lesson did spark new growth in your child, you are not likely to see the new growth for some time; it is definitely not an instant gratification and requires a lot of patience.

Sunday April 28, 2019

Isaiah 30:21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Happy Orthodox Easter! This is so weird to be celebrating Christ’s resurrection again, but we are embracing it. I guess in reality we need to be celebrating this event every single day, because every day is a celebration of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Jeff took the family to church this morning, but I was still feeling pretty tired after the last 2 days. I stayed in bed and rested, which gave me an opportunity to do some more job searches. I am excited to have found several possibilities, but am worried that I will continue to run into the problem that I haven’t worked for the last 12 years, so my job experience is quite out-dated. I know that I have a great work ethic and I will do my very best in any position that I acquire, but I need someone to take a chance on me and give me the opportunity to prove my abilities.

This scripture is a wonderful reminder of God’s plan for me, as long as I am willing to listen to that voice behind me saying “This is the way; walk in it”. So I have made a decision to apply for all jobs that fall in line with my experience and passions, and trust in the Lord to show me the way; He will guide me. This does make me a bit nervous because some of these jobs are not in Madison and some not even in the States. But I have faith that God will place us where we need to be.

Yesterday at the grocery store we picked up some Romanian seasoned pork to grill. I am not sure what “Romanian seasoned pork” actually is, but I do know it tastes wonderful. We had a great meal together as a family and finished the evening with a game of Exploding Kittens.

Thursday April 25, 2019

Deuteronomy 33:12 Of Benjamin he said: The beloved of the Lord rests in safety—the High God surrounds him all day long—the beloved rests between his shoulders.

Today was an interesting day. I went up to the support center to help with donation sorting and ended up clearing out and organizing the office in order to stack and put more boxes of donations. Since I love organizing things I had a lot of fun, plus Katie’s company is always a bonus! I was able to finish that up in about an hour and then headed to the store to get everything else I needed for Anjali’s birthday cake. I can’t believe she is going to be 12 years old tomorrow, where does the time go.

I came home just before Jeff had to leave for his afternoon shift at the hospital. The kids were pretty much done with school so I started to make Anjali’s birthday cake for tomorrow, Red Velvet per her request. Unfortunately, I misjudged the quantity of some ingredients and was short on sugar and oil. Fortunately our neighbor downstairs helped with the sugar and I used butter to substitute for the oil. Even with the mishaps and missing ingredients, I was able to make 3 cakes to layer with cream cheese frosting.

When I finished making her cakes it really hit me how incredibly tired I was, actually complete exhaustion is a better description of how I felt. But I managed to muster enough energy to get dinner prepared and ready so we could eat once Jeff got home. I really couldn’t explain why I was so tired, but as I was getting ready for bed I realized that my lymph nodes were swollen behind my ears, I was getting sick. Jeff agreed to take my shift in the morning because if I wasn’t feeling well now, the hospital was not where I should be tomorrow. I needed to be healthy so we could celebrate Anjali’s birthday!

Tuesday April 16, 2019

Ecclesiastes 2:22-25 What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.

There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

I started today with a hike, after getting the video all set up and ready to go, but as I started my descent down Thunderbird Mountain my ankle decided to completely give out on me when I landed on an unstable rock. I spent a few minutes breathing through the pain of my sprained ankle, but quickly realized that there was too much happening today to sit and wallow in pain. So I continued down the mountain, this time walking, and much to my surprise the pain started to dull and before I knew it was running again. Unfortunately it swelled and bruised pretty quickly, but there was no way this was going to keep me from the day ahead. I have sprained my ankles so many times that I have somehow become accustomed to the pain and discomfort associated with it. I guess this scripture hit the nail on the head in respect to our lives being full of pain, however, this is definitely not vanity–this is the result of years and years of soccer and sprained ankles!

So I powered through the hike. I got home and finished up burning copies of the video for family and then got ready for the service. Once we got to the church I was blessed to see people that I have not seen in years (some more years than I can count) and it was so wonderful to be embraced and loved by people who have supported and followed our journey. It was a wonderful service and a time of shared memories and reflections on the amazing woman who has left this world, leaving us all missing her. I learned so much from my grandmother and cherished every visit I got with her. When we told her about our plans for this year, she was quick to respond that if God was calling us, we needed to follow. I know that she worried and prayed for us, but her faith in God was steady and unwavering. She has always been an example of the saying, “walking by faith” and I loved the conversations we had about God and faith. She never told us we were crazy, but rather assured us that God would always be with us. I learned so much from her and I am so sad that she is gone. I am going to miss her so much; I already do.

It does surprise me though how much comfort you receive by sharing stories and memories, especially those that make you laugh. I am not sure what it is about laughing, but it seems to weaken the hold grief and sadness has on my heart. My grandmother had a beautiful laugh and when she laughed, everyone around her did too. Our world lost a wonderful woman, but she left a legacy with everyone she met and it brought me so much joy to hear about all the people she touched in so many different ways.

After the service we spent the afternoon with family at my parent’s house, but everyone was gone by about 6, which meant that I got to spend this last bit of time I had with my parents and brothers and I loved it. I tried to go to bed early (11 pm), but still couldn’t fall asleep until 2 am. I can just feel how tired I am going to be tomorrow when the alarm goes off at 4:20 am, but all of the exhaustion and jet lag is worth being here with family to celebrate the life of a woman who made such an impact on my life. But I am also so very excited to go home to my family in Romania. I have missed them so very much, and while they are managing without me, there is no place that I’d rather be right now.

A weird snippet of the day: the day started sunny and a beautiful 70 F, but by the time we got to the cemetery at 3:00 pm the winds had picked up and the clouds started to darken. But the sky did not let go until after everyone had left my parents house, which was so amazing to have rain while I was in Arizona. The smell you get from a desert rain is indescribable and the double rainbow left behind was my grandmother’s way of sharing her love with us from heaven.

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Monday April 15, 2019

Revelations 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

I seriously cannot believe that this is the scripture for today. Jeff gave me this recent list of scripture in February/March, when my grandmother was alive and fighting to get healthy. And now, the day before her funeral service this scripture shows up, one that was selected over a month or two ago. I swear these are not planned and I think that is what makes them so powerful. More times than I can count, these scriptures have brought so much clarity and peace to difficult times. Here I am, the day before my grandmother’s memorial, and this is the scripture; God will wipe every tear and death will be no more. I can’t even begin to describe how much comfort and peace this brought me. I am so thankful for His grace and His wisdom to put these words in front of me today. It is amazing how much comfort printed words can bring after a loss of someone so special to you. I was needing the reminder that my grandmother was not dead, but rather alive with her father in heaven; not in pain, but living the life He intended for her. She is with her loved ones that went before her and while we are left here to mourn and grieve, there is definitely a sense of peace in knowing that the pain and discomfort she felt here on earth is no more. Furthermore, I am reminded that God will wipe the tears from my eyes and comfort me during this time of mourning.

Today my mom highlighted my hair, which I haven’t had done in over 3-4 years. I love having the little bits of color in my hair and what’s even better was spending all that time with her. I loved every minute of this time. After hair we did some more shopping and then headed home where we realized that the slideshow remembrance video of grandma was not done very well by the mortuary, so I started from the beginning and made a new one. I spent quite a bit of time working on this and then headed to the airport to pick up my brother. I thought for sure I would be tired by the time we got home at 12:00, but that was not the case, so I worked on finishing up the video. I think I finally fell asleep at 2 am, but hopefully I will actually get some good sleep tonight.

Wednesday April 10, 2019

Psalm 91 Assurance of God’s Protection

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
    who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
    the Most High your dwelling place,
no evil shall befall you,
    no scourge come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

Those who love me, I will deliver;
    I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
    I will be with them in trouble,
    I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
    and show them my salvation.

God’s promise to us is real and He will never forsake us. I can’t help but look at this scripture and think of the children in the hospital who are needing so much love and attention; more than I or Jeff can give. This scripture is a reminder that God is always with us and He will protect us forever, and I know that He will do all these things for the beautiful angels here in the Brasov Children’s Hospital. There are a few children that have been in the hospital for some time with no one coming to see them except us. I know that God has put us here for a reason and I truly think that Jeff and I would adopt all of them, if we could, just to be sure that they receive the love and care they deserve. But I also know that God will continue to look after them and provide them the care and love they need. As I read this scripture I am so thankful that we were listening for God’s call and that we were willing to follow when He put the path of Romania in front of us. I still am shocked that I found this opportunity, but I can see that this was His plan for us and we are now acting as His hands to love these children. God is protecting them, comforting them in times of trouble, and showing them love and He is doing His work through us. I am so thankful that He has chosen us to do this because these children deserve every morsel of love I have to give.

I am also amazed with my children and their eagerness to know and hear about these kids in the hospital. Even though they cannot be at the hospital with us, I feel like they know these children and love them just the same. Both Jeff and I talk about them like they are part of our family and our children don’t seemed threatened or jealous in any way, but rather have welcomed them into our family and our hearts.

Today was a pretty good day of school work, not the best, but definitely not the worst. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I know that the schoolwork is coming to an end, hopefully sooner than later. I can totally understand the frustration teachers have towards the end of the year and I am acting like a student because I just want it done! But I am also reflecting on what homeschooling has meant for our children. I have seen them all excel in school much more than they ever have. Shoot, Lucia finished her Kindergarten curriculum in October and will be done with First Grade Language Arts/Math and Second Grade Science/Social Studies by the end of April. It is amazing. She has become a proficient reader and the math doesn’t even seem to challenge her any more. I am not sure what we are going to do when she is ready to start public school again. As for Anjali and David, I have been able to see them excel and really learn where their passions are for learning. This is a wonderful insight to have because we now can stoke those interests and help them to grow even more. I am very interested to see how they all adjust back to public school.

Anjali has been trying so hard with her relationship with David and Lucia. Today, while David and Lucia were outside playing, she came in early to make them a bit of a snack. She took some grilled tortillas we had and made some Nutella roll-ups topped with bananas. She put a lot of effort into this snack and created a beautiful treat for her brother and sister, who were very excited and absolutely loved the treat. It is times like this that I can see the benefits of this trip, our kids are starting to look beyond themselves and starting to go out of their way to do things that will make others happy. They are starting to learn that when they contribute to someone’s joy, they in turn experience it too.

Thursday March 28, 2019

Romans 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Today was a difficult day. We got a phone call from my mom early this morning to let us know that my grandmother passed away yesterday. While I knew this was a possibility it is still very difficult to be so far from family when things like this happen. My grandmother was a wonderful person and always made me laugh. She was strong, funny, caring, and giving (just to name a few), and as I read this verse I feel very close to her because this is who she was. She cared for everyone the best she could and would do anything for you. She always made you feel welcome and for me, she was always there to encourage me and to pray for me. She will be very missed, not just by me and my family, but by all those who had the blessing of knowing her.

I was trying to get myself motivated this morning for the hospital shift, but it was just not happening. Jeff gently mentioned that spending the day as a family would be good for all of us. Thankfully we had another volunteer helping Calah this morning, so when I called she assured me that they would be fine without me. We all showered up and went for a walk through Brasov, up to the cable car and then took a short hike to the Brasov sign overlooking the city. It was so peaceful up on top of the hill, above the noise of the city and among God’s creation. The kids wanted to walk to the summit, but I decided to stay back and enjoy some time with God. I found a nice rock where I was able to have a wonderful conversation with God, thanking Him for the time I had with my grandmother. I know she is enjoying heaven and happy to be reunited again with her loved ones who went before her.

Here are some pictures of our day today:

From the top of Tampa Mountain

Lucia took a great picture of Jeff from the summit of Tampa Mountain.

Jeff and I were talking during our walk about how many things we have up in the air right now. It is like we just took our lives, threw up a bunch of possibilities for the future and now we are waiting to see how everything falls. While I was sitting atop Tampa Mountain I asked God for just a little glimpse into our future, just for one of our items to come back down where it belongs. I have written about patience and how difficult it is for me to wait for God’s timing, and I guess with everything going on I just needed a little something, the dust from just one of our many possibilities to settle. As I watched my family walk back down from the summit I was so grateful that Jeff suggested this. I really needed to be with my family today.

We walked through town and found a quiet little restaurant for lunch and I was a bit shocked that God came through so quickly with an answer to my prayer. The answer doesn’t matter as much as God’s quick response to what I needed. He is always there for me when I need Him and is even there when I don’t. He is the perfect example of what it means to care for others and take care of those we love. I felt His love and comfort today when I needed it the most and for that I am very thankful.

Sunday March 24, 2019

Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.

What a fitting reading for today because it goes right along with the sermon at church this morning which was that we need to lift up our prayers to God who waits for us with arms open affirming that He will never leave or forsake us. Towards the end of the sermon the pastor was very clear in his profession that “God’s timing is always perfect” and that we need to be patient for Him. God will always be there for us and though we may not see His actions when we want, He will respond, which is why we need to be steadfast in prayer and not grow weary (aka: we need to be patient). This part of the sermon was so impactful for me because I know that God was speaking to me through our pastor. He obviously knows that I am needing a constant reminder of this and that is what He is doing. I think I have seen “God’s timing is always perfect” at least 5 times in the last couple of days. God knows me better than I do because I am definitely needing this constant reminder to wait for God to reveal His plan for after our time in Kenya is finished. I know this in my heart, but it is so difficult for me to wrap my head around it. I want the answers and the path now so I can plan and know what is in store for us, but this is not the right time. I guess I need to follow Paul’s instruction and lift these things to God and ask Him for more patience.

As for the day today, I was able to find some daily affirmations to do with the kids and as we left church we recited them together. I don’t think they enjoy or appreciate these as much as I do, but I really don’t care. These affirmations are also a prayer to God. Here is the affirmation we read today:

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If I can get my kids to see the benefits to saying this every day it would eventually be a wonderful start to their day. I think these are all the things that God wants us to accomplish each and every day, and when we actively remind ourselves it will eventually become second-nature and we won’t even need to think about it. I found this verse to be a wonderful reminder:

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Friday March 22, 2019

Isaiah 62:1-4 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.

Tonight my silent prayer at dinner was for God to show me my path and to give me the patience to see it on His time. I know this seems like a weird prayer, but I know that the path for my family after these last two volunteer projects is still unknown, I just have to be patient enough to see it when He is ready for me too. It took reading this passage a couple times once the kids were in bed to really understand what Isaiah is actually doing, but it seems clear (at least to me) that Isaiah is talking with God and telling Him that he will not be silenced or stopped until God upholds His promises to the exiled Jews. Now I am definitely not exiled nor have I never felt abandoned by God, so maybe that’s why this scripture is so difficult for me to understand, but nonetheless I can understand Isaiah’s frustration. Our impatience makes waiting for God’s timing really difficult. We want the answers or the solution to our questions/problems/etc. now not later; we don’t want to wait. I can tell you that this is probably one of the most difficult things for me to do, be patient and wait until God is ready to show me. It’s been so freeing to give my life to God and let Him lead me down the path designed for me; however, waiting for Him to reveal it, that is a different story. That is a whole new kind of patience, especially for someone like me who wants to have everything planned out ahead of time. I think that is why the second part of my prayer is probably more important than the first and how I can relate to Isaiah. I need God to give me the patience to wait for His time because He will show me my path and He will lead me where He wants/needs me to be, I just have to wait (and wait) for Him to do it.

I have seen firsthand the benefit of waiting for His time. Our time here in Romania is a perfect example. We were supposed to be in Kenya right now, but God had different plans and because we were patient, we witnessed His divine plan work out in ways beyond my imagination. David asked me today at dinner what my favorite part about our time here in Romania has been and it took me only a minute to respond. I shared with him a conversation I had earlier today with Katie (a long-term volunteer) in which she shared with us how grateful she was that we were able to change our plans to come here earlier. She told me that because they are so short-staffed right now it would have been extremely difficult to have shifts at the hospital with the babies if we were not here. So my favorite part of our time here in Romania was learning that God’s timing is perfect and I just need to learn patience. God will provide because He has made this promise to ALL of His children. We not only have to trust that He will honor His commitment to us, but we also need to have patience because only His timing is perfect and only He can put us right where we need to be. And we needed to be here in Romania, right now.

I worked at the hospital today and we only had 5 babies with no parent, which is wonderful. But the hospital was still full, it was full of parents staying with their children, which meant more Baby Bundles to be delivered. For those that missed the previous post about the Baby Bundles, these are bags of clothes, bibs, jackets, shoes, etc that are given to parents that stay with their children. FFR gives these Baby Bundles out every Friday and we volunteers (even our kids) work together to put the bags together. Again, God’s timing is perfect. Katie needed help delivering all these Baby Bundles because there were so many and since we only had 5 children we were done with our shift early, so we joined Katie with the deliveries. Here are a few pictures!

Delivering Baby Bundles with Katie and Steffi

These were the bundles for 1 floor.

I will leave you with this prayer…

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your plan for me. Please give me the courage and strength to follow it, the patience to wait for you to show it to me, and the wisdom to know when it comes. Lord your timing is always perfect, never early and never late. Knowing that you hold my future is definitely worth the wait.

Amen.