Saturday April 27, 2019

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

We all woke up this morning excited to celebrate Anjali’s birthday with friends at the Adventure Park here in Brasov. This place was awesome. There were so many different courses for our various levels. They had a small kids course for the little ones, which was perfect–it was challenging enough to be fun for them, it even had zip lines at the end of each course! All of the kids and even the adults had a great time. Between my ankle and still not feeling 100%, I decided to stay on the ground and enjoy watching the happy faces of everyone else. Anjali was so excited to be here for her birthday and being able to do a course that was for those 12 years and up. Jeff spent time with the kids and then within about an hour or so everyone seemed to go their separate ways using the buddy system, which is when Jeff opted to try one of the black courses. I got some great pictures of everyone having fun and enjoying being outside, even with the thunder and darkening skies.

Lucia enjoying the younger kids’ courses Lewis, obviously having a blast! Can you find Lucia? Jeff making his way through one of the beginner courses. Jason having fun and working hard, or maybe just having fun! Lucia and Elena doing what they do best, being silly and having fun! The birthday girl in her element! Jeff working hard on the black course and surveying what lies before him David and Coen enjoying the buddy system. Jeff was pretty wiped after climbing the wobbly ladder, but he is not even close to being done. Where’s Jeff?

After a quick lunch of hot dogs at the park, we all scurried out into the rain. Our family walked to the closest taxi stand to make our way to the shopping mall. Anjali and I made quick work of our needed shopping items and then a stop in the grocery store before catching a cab home and ordering pizza. All in all, it was a very successful and fun day, but I was wiped.

I am so grateful that God has healed me enough to enjoy this time with my family and celebrate the birth of our eldest child. I could have easily seen myself still in bed, sick and unable to be here, but He provided again. I may not have gotten to do the courses with them, but I absolutely enjoyed my time with friends and family, and this was definitely a gift from God.

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Friday April 26, 2019

Psalm 20:4 May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.

Happy Birthday to my sweet Anjali! 12 years ago you blessed us and made us a family. I am so grateful that God chose me as your mom, you challenge me every day and I love watching you grow into the young lady you are becoming. One of the most important things I want you to know is that as long as you trust in God, He will always provide for you, and just like in this Psalm, “May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.”

Unfortunately I woke up this morning and felt so incredibly awful. I have never felt so exhausted, absolutely unable to get out of bed. I had a really hard time sleeping last night because my body and my joints hurt so bad. This has to be one of the weirdest illnesses I have ever had. I was in bed until about 3 pm when I woke up after my fever broke and finally felt somewhat normal again.

I felt so bad that I was so sick all day and unable to celebrate Anjali’s birthday, but she was such a good sport. She understood and was so helpful by getting me water, an ice pack, etc. I managed enough energy to take Anjali out to dinner, but Jeff was the real hero today. While I was miserable in bed, he did the shift at the hospital, went to the grocery store, iced the cake, and then managed the kids while I tossed and turned in bed all day long. Thankfully, God relieved my symptoms enough to enjoy a wonderful dinner celebration with the family.

Sunday December 30, 2018

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

I woke up this morning plagued by a nasty cold, which would normally not effect me much, but combine with my asthma it really was giving me a lot of trouble, so in bed I stayed. I had a really hard time breathing all day today, but I did manage to make it down for meals, though nothing else, not even church. I hate missing church, but there was no way I was going to be able to make it through the service without coughing and disrupting the service.

As Jeff was leaving for church he mentioned that he wanted to take some time to be with God today and that he would be doing that later today. Then when he got back from worship he said that in church today they talked about how it is important to spend time with God every day and it was as though God was speaking directly to him. So almost immediately after church he headed out to the jungle with the Bible and some snacks. He spent a good portion of the afternoon out there, just reading and praying and enjoying God’s gift of this place. He also took some really amazing pictures.

I spent my day with God between my patio and my bed sleeping. Despite being sick, I have been feeling very close to God recently and have especially felt his presence over the last 2 days as He has modified our plans for our last 5 months abroad and we were willing to happily follow.

As I spent a good portion of the afternoon praying and connecting with God, I also spent some of the afternoon fighting and arguing with Anjali. She and I have been struggling. She is trying to spread her wings of independence and therefore is having difficulty respecting the boundaries and rules that I set. I am also running on fumes trying to constantly find new ways to regain her respect (though I don’t know how I lost it in the first place). Things have gotten to the point that even when I ask her to help me with something or ask her to do a chore I am getting a sassy and disrespectful response, and today was no different. I just can’t win and today I felt like a total failure as a parent because she continues to be rude and disrespectful, even to the point of being verbally abusive at times. I started asking myself where I went wrong. I am constantly trying to search for the reasons why she is acting this way to no avail. A big part of me believes that this is just a normal stage in our relationship, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I know this time in her life is quite difficult and confusing (she is 11 1/2 and the hormones have started to peak through the sand), which is why I am trying really hard to find ways to support and encourage her, but when I do this she seems to get even more upset with me. I know this will pass, as most things do, I just pray that I can find a way to express to her that she is loved more than she could ever imagine and that all I do (especially the discipline) is done because I love her and only want the best for her. I also will continue to ask God for guidance, wisdom, and patience as I walk this path. I know He is with me and that He will guid me through this, I just need to trust in His way.

Wednesday December 12, 2018

Numbers 23:19 God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. Has he promised, and will he not do it? Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

We had a very nice day today, though it was a bit colder than it has been. Rocky has been a lot to handle–he barks all day long. Jeff has been trying to walk him during the day, but he really just never stops and it is very trying to hear him bark nonstop. The kids had school today while Jeff hung up Christmas lights with Lachlan and Uncle John. They have a lot more to do, but what they got done looks great! I was teaching the kids all day today, which made for a long day. I really love teaching Lucia because she is engaged and desires to learn. But to be honest, David is pretty hit or miss, some times he is fun to teach and other time he fights us on everything. Unfortunately, more often than not, Anjali does not want us to teach her, so it is usually a battle with her. We did, however, get a bit of recognition from her today that she is behind and that she is very overwhelmed with how to get caught back up with everything. She is fully capable of not only getting caught up, but actually being ahead of schedule with her academics, she just needs to apply herself, which she is not currently doing. I really believe that she is looking at the forest and not seeing the trees, meaning she is seeing the big picture of how much she has to do and not able to see that if she takes each lesson one at a time, she would be done before she knows it. Hopefully she will learn this soon–we are trying to show her and tell her, but we don’t know anything and she knows everything. Ughhhh, pre-teens! As with everything, it will pass soon enough and we will be on to another challenge.

I just had to include this picture of Lucia waiting for breakfast to start. She has the perfect expression on her face and pretty much shows how the kids are feeling about getting up at 6:45 every day!

A really crappy thing happened though, I ended up catching whatever Anjali had yesterday. Shortly after our afternoon tea time I started to get real cold, so I headed up to our room and climbed into our bed to sleep. I proceeded to get colder and colder, so I was in there for the night, except for dinner. I don’t know if I have ever been so cold, and it wasn’t even that cold outside. I was definitely ill.

As Jeff and I were walking over to dinner we heard singing and music happening from over by Uncle Rick’s room where we eat dinner. When we got closer we found some carolers singing Hindi Christmas music. The kids were singing along and dancing. It was so neat to experience, I just wish I wasn’t feeling so crummy.

I shared some videos are my Instagram page @sarassimplelife if you want to experience a bit of this for yourself.

Saturday November 10, 2018

Galatians 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Oh, how I love this scripture passage; it speaks to me. We may live in different parts of the world with a different language, we may have different customs and beliefs, or have different color skin, hair, and eyes, but we are all brothers and sisters in humanity. That is how I understand this scripture; we are all connected together as brothers and sisters in this world. I see this first hand in Thailand. The Thai people have done everything in their power to embrace us as their brothers and sisters, even though we look and talk very different. We are so thankful to be in a place that does not isolate us or push us away because we are different. Our world could be so peaceful if we could just set the judgments aside and begin to see each other as family; to listen fully and to act with humility.

When we forget to listen to what others believe and just hear them speak, waiting to reply, we are unable to understand what they are saying. When we truly listen with our hearts and value the opinions of others, we open ourselves up to acceptance and love. When we love those who differ from us, whether by looks, beliefs, or whatever, we can then can live together peacefully as brothers and sisters. We are all together in this world and truly I don’t see that we are that different. If we just take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture, we will see how similar we really are to one another. We are all seeking the same things, love and acceptance; “loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty” (Mother Theresa). Instead of arguing about which way to fix this “terrible poverty” why not take the first step and make the first ripple.

My prayer for our world is to find a way to embrace our differences so we can learn from one another and to embody humility so we can understand that we may not have the answers (even though we think we do), but realize that someone else may actually have a better idea. With humility we can value another’s opinions and together we can evaluate what the best choice actually is without our need to be right hindering us. Right now we all are so focused on being right and maybe we are. Maybe we are all right, just in different ways. Maybe the solutions to the problems of our world lie in the solutions of everyone, not just one side or another; maybe there is no right and wrong, just different approaches. I guess the moral here is that maybe the answer to our worlds problems is learning to become a humble and silent listener; listening with the intent to understand, not to reply and being open to the possibility that we may be wrong.

Monday October 15, 2018

Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Today we got up and we were going to take the bus to Nan. It was a holiday today so there was no school. David’s hives continue to get better and while they are still there, there have faded quite a bit. I am holding out hope that the antibiotics seem to be working. As for me, I don’t feel too bad, but my stomach is just not tolerating any food, but in Thai culture it is very rude to not eat when food has been prepared for you, so I am powering through and loving all the food even though it is destroying my stomach!

We wanted to travel to Nan with the hope of finding some new IPods for the kids (their music players have become obsolete and we can’t download any music on them), but we had no luck. Instead we were able to eat some pizza (which the kids loved just being able to have just plain old cheese pizza) and picked up some items to make Wat and his mom a Mexican dinner.

Now we were not able to get some of the necessary items to make an authentic Mexican dinner, but we are going to do the best we can with what we have, especially since Wat specifically asked for a Mexican dinner. So we gathered some chicken, onions, seasonings, cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded cheese. Some things that we were not able to find included tortillas, green chilies, jalapeños, pinto or black beans, tortilla chips, bell peppers. We decided that we would attempt to make some homemade tortillas out of the rice flour that he had at his house and hope for the best.

However, by the time we got home from Nan it was too late to start dinner. Timing was not on our side, so we opted to make dinner tomorrow night. Tonight was just a quick dinner of homemade chicken nuggets and French Fries that Nana (the housekeeper) made for the kids. It was amazing and a nice treat for the kids.

I apologize for the lack of pictures…we just haven’t done anything worthwhile of pictures in the last few days, as we have just been trying to recover.

Sunday October 14, 2018

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Today is day 2 of David’s antibiotics treatment and I am so relieved that it seems to be working. His hives are still present, but they are not appearing as swollen or red or hot to the touch. I am hopeful that this is a sign of recovery for him.

As for the girls, we seem to be fighting with them (because they are fighting with each other) every night and every morning. It is getting truly exhausting. What is even harder is that there have been a couple of times that when they finally decide to get along and have fun it is when they are supposed to be going to bed. They need to get the rest and they are keeping their brother awake who really needs the rest because he has been so sick.

We had another day of just being around the house and basically trapped in our room because that is the only place there is air conditioning. We worked on preparations for this week of teaching the kids at the schools and our kids at home.

We did have a visit from Jung Jung (Wat’s cousin) who came to say hello and ended up playing with Anjali and Lucia for quite some time. It is really fun to watch them play with Jung Jung as if they had known her forever—they are so comfortable and at peace. It makes my heart so happy that my children are so open and welcoming, and are just as welcoming as people have been with us.

We also found out that we will not be teaching the monks any more this month, but we will begin teaching with them again in November on Thursday and Fridays, and 2 Saturdays before we leave.

Saturday October 13, 2018

1 Peter 2:19-23 “For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

I am writing this late into the evening, but I need to remember to have David read this scripture tomorrow. This poor kid had been so uncomfortable for the last two weeks and has complained very little. He really has endured these hives with strength and grace. We know these are not life-threatening, just irritating and uncomfortable.

Today David woke up still covered in hives, so we are almost positive that these are not related to any food allergen. So the only thing that Jeff and I can deduce is that he is having a reaction to an infection (be it viral or bacterial). David also was complaining this morning that his throat hurt really bad and that it was painful/difficult to swallow. So after doing a little research we found out that the medication we brought along for Traveler’s Diarrhea is also used for a variety of bacterial infections, including Strept Throat. Now I will say that the doctor at both clinics said that this was not an infection because he didn’t have the fever to accompany the hives; however, my kids are weird, and very rarely have a fever to indicate that they are ill. Jeff and I made a decision o give David the medication that we had with us to see if that made any difference for him. We shall see….

Today was also day of remembrance here in Thailand; two years ago today King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand passed away, and today the country honored him. There were ceremonies in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and other cities. Thai people wore yellow as a way to remember him. I learned that in Thai culture, the days of the week are associated with a specific color and King Bhumibol was born on a Monday, which happens to be associated with the color yellow, so today, most people that we saw were dressed in yellow. I learned today about King Bhumibol and how revered he was and still is amongst Thai people. It was wonderful to experience and learn about such an important part of Thai culture that never would have been possible if we were not here. Our host family has been so gracious in trying to share and explain the happenings of today.

Wat is out-of-town for the weekend, and while we missed him, it proved to be a great opportunity to allow everyone time to rest and heal.

Friday October 12, 2018

Matthew 10:8 “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.”

Today we woke up to find that David was having difficulty walking because he now has hives on the bottoms of his feet and on his hands. His feet and hands are incredibly swollen, so we headed straight for the clinic again this morning. Jeff took Lucia to school with him and Anjali stayed home because she seems to have been affected by the same stomach problem that Jeff and Lucia has yesterday, and to add on to everything, so do I. I almost wanted to laugh, but there was no time for that.

I took David to the doctor, only to be told that he was having an allergic reaction to something and that we needed to figure out what it was. Neither Jeff or I are convinced that this is an allergic reaction, but we figured we would rule out a food allergy. David ate nothing today except a Nutella sandwich and Annie’s Mac and Cheese (our wonderful friends at church sent a box of goodies and who knew this would come in so handy!) We read up on food allergy hives that they only last for up to 6-8 hours after the food is consumed, so if he ate nothing but food that we knew he wasn’t allergic to and if he still had hives in the morning, we would know that they were not caused by food.

On the plus side, Jeff and Lucia seem to be doing better. So after taking David to the clinic and getting he and Anjali set up with some homework for the day, I headed off to the temple to teach the second half of the day. Teaching today was fairly uneventful, but still the same—a few monks seem interested in learning the language, but others are falling asleep and don’t seem to care. I have resolved to teaching those that want to learn and if some want to sleep during the lesson, so be it. The ones that actually want to learn are doing well and seem to enjoy the lessons.

On our way home from the temple, Jeff, Lucia, and I stopped off at the pharmacy and picked up some ice packs for David’s feet and hands, as well as some more of the oil we’ve been using to help with the hives and Aloe Vera gel to help sooth some of the tenderness. At this point I want to do anything I can to help ease some of his discomfort. Once I got every set, Jeff insisted that I go and lay down to rest, since I was no affected (though not as severe as Jeff) by the same stomach problem he and Lucia had (and Anjali currently has). This is just getting overwhelming.

The only pictures I have from today are the ones that our friend Katie sent of Anjali’s hamster, Gumdrop. So here you go…

Tuesday August 28, 2018

Luke 17:3-4 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent’, you must forgive him.

We all headed out early this morning for school and work today. I am still not feeling great, but I am at least functional. Today Helena came back to visit, along with her parents. It was great to meet them and for Lucia to play with Helena. As usual, they had a lot of fun.

Today I also started painting the wooden figures that I cut out for Birgit. She needs Abraham, Lot, Sarah, and then other adults and children. This will take a while, but i at least have them all sketched out and the kids are excited that they get to help. Once they are done I will add pictures of the final product!

We also had another evening with René after the kids went to bed. We sat outside in the garden, had some beer and wine, and fixed all the world’s problems! I did retire early to get some more rest, but Jeff and René stayed up for a bit longer.