Friday April 19, 2019

2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

I finally got a decent night’s sleep despite going to bed quite late (or early depending on your frame of reference). Jeff headed out at 9:15 and I got up shortly thereafter. The kids were kind enough to let me sleep this morning and we just skipped school. Today was a big day for FFR, their yearly shipment of donations arrived from Germany. The donations arrived by semi, but the truck was too big to come into town, so several cars/vans/trucks were arranged to meet the truck outside the city limits, unload and reload to take to various locations in Brasov for storage. Jeff was part of the crew unloading the semi while the kids and I headed up to the support center for unloading. In total we unloaded approximately 250 boxes and stacked them 10 high in the center. My kids were wonderful helpers and I am so proud of their efforts and hard work today. We left the center at about 3:00 in the afternoon and headed home for a quiet evening.

Here are some pictures of today’s workload:

Tomorrow Jeff will run in the Braşov Half-Marathon where he will run Tampa Mountain a total of 3 times, so we had an early night for everyone. He is really excited for this run because he has been raising money for Mission:University, a new mission of The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission in Banbasa, India to send 10 young adults to university. We both are so grateful for the donations and prayers we received during this fundraiser. We will be able to share a total amount raised next week!

I still don’t feel normal yet, but it will happen soon I am sure. The jet lag this go ’round is nothing like my time in Phoenix. I was tired there, but unable to sleep. Now that I am home I am able to catch up and get some rest. It may take a day or so to finally feel rested, but I can see that I’m getting there.

It is so weird being here during this Easter holiday and Holy Week because here in Romania they observe the Orthodox calendar, in which Easter and Holy Week is next week. For us, today is Good Friday and we didn’t attend services or really get to experience any of Holy Week, which was difficult for me though I am hopeful that we will get to celebrate it next week.

Honestly it didn’t feel like Good Friday at all, until Jeff showed me this picture he took on his walk home from the store. I won’t share what I see here, but rather let you decide what you see. I promise no editing has been done to this photo.

Thursday April 18, 2019

Job 5:11 he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I really don’t know where yesterday ended and today began, so I will spare you the details from my travels. Suffice it to say, after 27 hours of traveling I finally made it back to my family in Brasov, Romania. The kids were so excited to see me, but no more than I was to see them. Jeff was still finishing up his shift at the hospital and made a quick run to the store for a few things before getting home. We all enjoyed a nice club sandwich dinner and the kids were quick to catch me up on their happenings this week. I was so pleased to hear that they were helpful and well-behaved, on top of doing their schoolwork. It was a successful week for them here and I am so grateful for their support during my travels back to Arizona to celebrate my grandmother’s life.

After we put the kids to bed, Jeff and I headed out to a fundraising concert for FFR at the Irish Pub just off the square. It was a great time to catch with our fellow volunteers and to enjoy a relaxing night of good music and drinks. Plus I really enjoyed spending time with my wonderful husband. Being away for these few days left such a void in my life and I am so glad to be here with him (and my children) because the void is gone; I feel whole again. We had so much fun having a date night, even indulging in Irish Car Bombs (a shot of Baileys and Irish Whiskey dropped into glass of Guinness).

We enjoyed a nice walk home and talked about the future. We have no idea where we are going, but we both don’t want this year to end. We have felt so alive this year, like we were truly living with a purpose, and we don’t want to go back to the life we previously had. But with all that being said, we just don’t know where to go from here or what kind of jobs to even apply. I am sure God will lead us somewhere, He has had a hand in this journey from the beginning and I know that He is not going to abandon us now.

Wednesday April 17, 2019

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

After a quick 2 hours of sleep, I was up and ready to begin this long journey back to my family in Romania. To be completely honest, I am not sure where today ended and tomorrow begins. I took my first flight from Phoenix to Detroit and after a short layover I was off to Amsterdam. There really was not much to report about today, since it was just traveling, but I was able to finally get some sleep. I am not sure why, but as soon as the planes took off I actually felt tired and was able to sleep. After landing in Amsterdam I headed off for Romania and then took a shuttle to make the 3 hour drive to Brasov. I left my parent’s house in Arizona at 5 am (3:00 pm in Romania) on Wednesday and finally arrived at my apartment in Brasov at 6:00 pm on Thursday. So after 27 hours of travel all I can say is, I am glad to be home. I don’t have any pictures so I will share with you a sunset picture from Phoenix.

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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 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 the I got to spend time 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.

Sunday April 14, 2019

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

I enjoyed a really nice day with my mom and dad, but the jet lag is just cruel. I woke up this morning after about 4 hours of sleep and headed for a hike with my mom. I really miss the mountains and the hikes here in Arizona, it is a great way to start your day.

We then spent part of the afternoon running some errands to gather some things requested by kids to bring back for them (ie: sour candy, mac and cheese, and books). This evening we met with Jesse, Tessa, and Annecy for some really good Mexican food where I had a margarita and some spicy food to go along with the fabulous company of family.

I am so glad I was able to make the journey back to my family for my grandmother’s service; it would have been extremely difficult to not be here. I really am trying to take full advantage of my family and the very short time I have with them before heading back to Romania. Being with my parents and siblings has brought me so much peace as we celebrate the life of my grandmother. It was a beautiful time of stories and reflection that I am so grateful to be a part. 

I read this scripture and am reminded that God has provided me with this opportunity to be with my family and to celebrate the life of my grandmother, a woman who was an example of the kind of faith in God that I want to have. But God is also reminding me to enjoy every moment I have with my family. They have supported us so much during this journey and even from across the world, we feel their love. It is not hard to follow the advice of Paul to keep on doing the things that bring us joy and peace because I know God is with me, guiding me through this journey of grief and loss.

I was also able to talk with my kids and my wonderful husband, who is holding down the fort in Romania. I miss them so much it hurts. We have been together non-stop over the last 9 months and not being with them leaves a empty void in my heart. Thankfully Jeff said the kids are doing well and stepping up to help dad as he works through being a single parent to 3 in a foreign country.

Saturday April 13, 2019

Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

So my car arrived right on time, 1:30 am for the 3 hours drive to Bucharest Airport. After 3 plane changes and layovers, I arrived in Phoenix at 3:30 pm local time (which will be 1:30 am my time). By the time I finished this 24 hours of traveling, I was completely wiped, but truly I don’t feel as bad as I probably should. I had wonderful flights, with only a few minor irritations, that have to be expected. I am really excited to see my family, I have really missed them over the last year. I am looking forward to some quality time. I unfortunately will not be able to see many friends during this trip, which is a bummer, but it will be good to spend some quality time with my family as we celebrate the life of my wonderful grandmother.