Sunday May 12, 2019

Isaiah 35:10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.

We had all intentions of going to church this morning, but with our late evening last night and I can only imagine the kids’ late night (they were in bed but still awake when we left), no one was up in time. So I took the opportunity to enjoy my coffee and some breakfast without worrying that we didn’t make it to church. I definitely didn’t want fight today to make an effort at getting everyone ready in time.

After a very lazy morning, Jeff and I headed to the store for the necessary items for Subji (a traditional Indian dish), Chipatis, and Chutney. It was a wonderful walk with my husband and then we got to enjoy a nice meal at the mall before heading into the grocery store. I know that on Mother’s Day I am supposed to be enjoying my children, but it was really nice not to listen to the barrage of requests or bickering/fighting amongst them. I am sure that one day in the future I will miss those things, but for right now I will enjoy the break!

Unfortunately the store didn’t have the necessary ingredients for our subji dinner, so we improvised with tradition Romanian meat to grill (Mici and pork chops). Jeff made a wonderful dinner, complete with mashed potatoes and veggies. The kids were happy when we got home and we all enjoyed a pleasant evening before Jeff headed off to play Ultimate Frisbee.

While the day was extremely relaxing, I also didn’t have any opportunity to dwell on anything, and it was wonderful. I felt so at peace with the unknown. I am sure it will change tomorrow, but I take joy in knowing that today He gave me a whole day of peace and rest. I am so grateful for Jeff’s regular reminder to be patient in God’s timing because His timing is always right. I need that reminder regularly, especially as we are facing our future of unknowns. I have faith that things will fall where God wants them to, I am just impatient.

Saturday May 11, 2019

Deuteronomy 12:10 “When you cross over the Jordan and live in the land that the Lord your God is allotting to you, and when he gives you rest from your enemies all around so that you live in safety

God blessed us with a beautiful day today and allowed us to enjoy Brasov by seeing some of the historical sights, though we were a man down. Anjali asked to stay home and enjoy some alone time and peace and quiet while the rest of headed out on the town. We made our way to the White and Black Tower, which were part of the original fortress of the city. While we couldn’t go inside the buildings, the views were stunning and it was so refreshing to be doing some light hiking and being out in nature.

Time almost seemed to stand still for me. This was such a peaceful afternoon and I think it was because this was the first day in a while that we haven’t had rain so we actually got to enjoy being outside. While I don’t feel like I have any enemies per se, I think God gave me rest from myself today. None of my regular worries or concerns even crossed my mind, and I was able to spend my afternoon in the moment. It was wonderful.

I seem to be my own worst enemy because I tend to dwell and focus on a certain thing, unable to see beyond the immediate problem. I’ll give you an example…I have committed to acquiring my license to practice Social Work at a Masters Level. This of course requires taking a board exam, to which I have no materials with me to study because they are all boxed up in Madison. I of course got very worried and couldn’t keep my mind focused on the moment. My focus on my lack of resources to prepare for this exam even prevented me from completing my yoga practice today because I was so focused on my lack of resources, I began searching the internet for things to help with this “problem”, instead of completing my practice. Thankfully, Jeff reminds me to be in the moment and to not let these things overwhelm me. I do try, and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.

After a nice afternoon outside and then a disrupted yoga practice, Jeff and I put the kids to bed and headed out for our anniversary celebration. As usual, we had a wonderful time. It felt like we were on a date, which we were, and it was great. We had a pre-dinner drink, dinner, and then headed to the local piano bar for some live jazz music. It ended up being a late night, but absolutely worth it. We enjoyed a fabulous anniversary celebration in Braşov , Romania. (I never imagined that sentence would ever come out of my mouth–honestly, I didn’t even know that Braşov existed until we were called on this mission.)

I am so thankful that God has called us on this mission and He has put us here in Braşov. We took the day to enjoy the land that God has allotted to us and I am glad that God gave me some reprieve from myself (my own worst enemy).

Friday May 10, 2019

Job 11:18 “You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.”

“What is Yin Yoga?”  These are the opening words to a powerful and meditative yoga practice lead by Travis Eliot in his Ultimate Yogi program.  Yin, as it turns out, is equal measures of tension, release, persistence, patience, and ultimately…bliss.  The program takes you on a roughly 60 minute course of stretching in which each yoga pose is held for three to five (and one time seven) minutes.  If you have ever stretched your muscles you know that holding a good, deep stretch for even several seconds can be difficult, mind numbing, sore, and not very exciting.  But when each pose puts you in a position that is very much outside of your normal bodily position and then you are asked to hold it, breath deeply, and even consider stretching further your mind is truly tested but your body is all the better for it.

What does Yin Yoga have to do with this blog?  Those are the words that I asked myself when I first offered to type today’s entry for Sara.  But as has happened so often in my yoga practices over the last several years the answer came to me, and quite clearly.  Over the last several weeks I have been truly saddened by the thought that our time abroad is nearly over.  I am enjoying being “in the now” every day I am at the hospital with the kids but as soon as I come home I am reminded that we are, every second, closer to the end.  But as I completed my hour long stretch I came to the final pose of rest, savasana.  It is in this time that you lay completely still, focused on your breathing and feeling your resting body held by the solidity of the Earth.  Today, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace.

God filled my mind with the images of all of the amazing moments I have experienced in the last year.  I was reminded of faces, places, scares, and joys.  I am a big fan of running and have always found time in every stay to run.  In this time of rest some of my most vivid recollections were on the runs that I took and the sights that I saw.  God knew how to touch my heart and how to fill hy head.  I took peace in knowing that I had done what I was called to do and that God had given me so many gifts for doing it.  I need not worry about it all ending because the call, for now, is done.  I am so very grateful for what I have been given and what I was able to do.  I hope that in God’s eyes I did enough and carried out His call in a way that is pleasing.

I hope that He will call me again for whatever purpose He has.  Just like Yin Yoga, I just held a deep and powerful year-long stretch and I know that one day I will hold my real and final savasana, but until that time I am ready for the next pose.

Thursday May 9, 2019

Psalm 48:14 “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”

“When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Today, Lucia, my littlest child, reminded me of the truth, to be a child to truly appreciate the kingdom of God.  Earlier this week Sara and I watched a film called Courageous.  It was written and directed by a group that has done several Christian themed films, all of which are tremendous.  In this particular movie the emphasis is on fatherhood and how to be a father that would be pleasing to God.  Ever since watching this film I have tried very hard  to recognize times that I can be a better father starting first and foremost with saying yes to my kids when they want to do something with me.  Today, it was Luci’s turn.

Luci has been on repeat lately asking to help with dinner preparations.  At six years old she is not terribly helpful in too many ways but what she lacks in skills, size, usefulness, knowledge, and safety she makes up for, and in spades, with enthusiasm.  And so it was that when I remarked to the kids that I had to go grocery shopping for dinner that Luci was all on board about going.  First she grabbed her pink backpack which she had seen mom use on more than one occasion because of its ability to handle a sizable amount of goods.  Then she proceeded to stuff it full with her water bottle, blanket, stuffed animal, and pez dispenser.  I reminded her gently that we would need some of that space for groceries so she reluctantly put the blanket and “neigh neigh” back.  She announced to all who would listen that she and I were heading out and off we went.

If you have ever gone anywhere with a 6 year old you will know what befell me over the next fifteen minutes.  She was a tornado of movement and a nonstop blur of speech.  The topics ranged beyond my recollection and certainly my ability to keep pace.  But in it all she was simply thrilled.  On such a mediocre journey as grocery shopping you would have thought that she was on her way to the moon.  Skipping, laughing, jumping, and smiling the whole way.  Luci reminded me to take the joy in every moment we have, no matter how “mundane” it may seem.  As we neared the halfway point it dawned on me how much I could learn from her exuberance and so we discussed plans for Mother’s Day dinner.  She was simply thrilled that she was included in the plans and, although her culinary knowledge is lacking, her suggestions were nevertheless enjoyable to hear.

As I reflect now on this time I realize that I must seem a bit like Luci to me as I am to God.  Sadly there are too many times that instead of skipping and laughing I am hanging my head in despair or grief.  But in all times I imagine I am like Luci offering suggestions for ingredients for Indian food (marshmallows and ice cream as it turns out are not traditional sub-jee items).  Here I was thinking I know the answers, the ingredients for a good life, when in reality God knows them far better than I.  I foolishly say my peace but in the end God guides me and we have a fantastic meal together and all the while I am happier.  I just feel blessed to be going on the journey with Him, just like Luci just loved saying she was part of the adventure.

I am happy to be included on the walk, happy that He listens to my crazy ideas about how ice cream will really finish the sauce nicely, and happy that He lets me enjoy the meal when He is finished.  It is hard to humbly admit that my 6 year-old gets it better than I do, but I am sure glad she was there to remind me today.

 

 

Monday May 6, 2019

Psalm 119:169 Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word.

I had the hospital shift today and there were 5 of us for 2 children on one floor and 3 children on the other. So we divided ourselves up amongst the two floors. It was a very quiet shift, but still very rewarding, as it usually is. I mean really, snuggling babies is such a wonderful way to spend a morning.

Today was also the first day of my 108 day yoga challenge. I started this particular yoga program (The Ultimate Yogi) several years ago and have continued my practice through the years, though not as consistent as I would have liked. I was so excited to hear that there was a challenge that starts today and so I joined up on Facebook. This is a way to keep me accountable in making sure I get my yoga and meditation in every day. I am ready for the challenge. I started my day today with the ab workout and then did the flow practice when I got home from the hospital.

After that was done Jeff and I headed out to mail a package to our family back in India on the mission. We sponsor a child there and his birthday is next week. I really wish we could have sent this off sooner to ensure it gets there by his birthday, but it just didn’t happen. I really enjoyed this walk with Jeff, just the two of us. I feel that we have had a shift in our relationship, we now have more time to just be together without the children. Our kids have gotten to the age that we are able to leave them alone for an hour or two, which affords us the chance to just be together and have adult conversations without the input from little ones. I am cherishing these moments because it almost feels like we are dating again. I guess I am just realizing that we are entering a new chapter in our relationship and in our family. I know there will be a time when I miss my children being around, but for the moment I am enjoying the times that they aren’t!

I still haven’t heard anything on any of the various jobs I have applied to, which is a bit discouraging, but I guess this is where today’s scripture comes into play. Without even knowing it, this has been my prayer for a while now, asking God to give me “understanding according to His word”. He has a plan, I just don’t know what it is yet. But after this weekend and the conversations that Jeff and I have had (alone!) we have decided that it would be beneficial for me to acquire my license to practice social work in Wisconsin. So I was able to get my application submitted and the process started today. I am hopeful that within the next 3 months or so I will be a licensed social worker, which will open up many more job opportunities to me.

Thursday May 2, 2019

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Today we were scheduled for two shifts at the hospital, morning and afternoon. Jeff did the morning shift today and I took the afternoon so he and Anjali could go play Ultimate Frisbee (adults vs kids). The hospital shifts went well for both of us and they had a great time playing ultimate frisbee. I got to meet Ann, another volunteer who comes twice a year for 3 months. We had a great time talking and getting to know one another. But in the process of sharing about some of the places we have been, I found myself really missing GSAM in India. So much so that I rushed home to make breakfast for dinner and some Chai. Though I will say I was quite disappointed because the Chai just doesn’t taste the same.

But our family in India must have known how much I was missing them because I got some messages from Cathy. She sent me several pictures of her with various people/kids. I love getting these pictures because it makes me feel like I am back there. So in order to share the feeling, I sent some pictures of our family.

Today was a good day. No fighting and bickering amongst the children, a wonderful hospital shift, and then a relaxing evening of Uno and family fun. Days like this are easy for me to praise God and thank Him for all that we have as a family. The harder thing to do is to praise God and to be thankful when things don’t go the way we want them to. This takes courage, patience, faith, and grace.

Tuesday April 30, 2019

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Jeff and I both did the afternoon shift today, but I went to the support center a bit early to help with some sorting. It was so fun to be there just the two of us. During our whole time here, we have only done 1 shift together and that was feeding the newborns. It was wonderful to share this afternoon with him, watching him play and interact with the kids. There is one little boy, who is probably about 2 or 3 years old, that absolutely adores Jeff. He just grabbed Jeff’s hand and walked him around the room; it was precious.

My kids can be so stinking cute one moment and complete terrors the next, but here is a cute moment from this morning.

And then on our walk home from the hospital today, Jeff and I encountered some of the largest snails I have ever seen.

We got home from the hospital and the kids were glued to their tablets. I really can’t stand those things and if we were able to get rid of them we would, but I will say, when they are on them I am pretty much guaranteed an absence of fighting amongst them. The problem is not that they are playing on them, but rather the fights always come as soon as they turn them off. It’s like their brains have to readjust to reality before they can rejoin the human world. Any one else have this problem???

This scripture was one that we heard in church while we were preparing and deciding whether to take this year long journey. There were so many sacrifices that would have to be made, so many risks and chances that we often questioned whether this was the right choice. But I remember hearing this during church one Sunday, and then this scripture came to me in another way shortly thereafter and I think this scripture solidified my resolve to do this. To give up our way of life, our safety and comfort zone, our jobs, our retirement (or part of it), our friends and family, etc. all to serve the Lord. This was a cross that we could bear daily. We could make this sacrifices for the well-being of others and little did we know that we would get so much back in return. So much so that we don’t want it to end. We know it has to, but we don’t want it. I guess this next chapter in our lives is another way for us to carry our daily cross and just as I did before, I will do it willingly because He has given up so much for me.