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.

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.



Sunday April 7, 2019

Isaiah 30:15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But you refused.

Today we skipped church so we could spend the afternoon at Bran Castle. We walked down to the bus station to find out the we missed the bus by 1 minute, but we were saved from an hour long wait with three kids by a very nice taxi driver who offered to drive us to Bran and back. As much as I wanted the adventure of taking the bus, waiting for an hour until the next departure with three kids sounded like a bad idea. So we hopped into the taxi with Eugene and were at the castle in about 30 minutes with a private tour guide to show us the best places to get traditional Romanian treats like Kurtos and Langos (Hungarian fried flat break topped with jam).

Kurtos (pronounced Kurtosh) covered in cinnamon

We all had a great time learning about the history of the castle and the story behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula. When we were buying our tickets both Anjali and David were very interested in the seeing the torture exhibit, so we made our way through that portion of the castle towards the end of our tour. This ended up being a bit more than I was wanting them to see, especially Lucia, and as we walked viewed the various torture mechanisms I could see their interest slowly fade, so we made a fairly rapid exit and headed to our driver. Here are a few pictures from the castle.

A secret staircase that was not discovered until the 1900’s

We ended up having a great afternoon with no real tantrums or fights, even though, despite our best efforts, David didn’t eat much food at all. On a positive note he did prove to us that he has control over his behavior with no food, which is a nice change of pace! We made it home, ordered some pizza, sent the kids to bed and Jeff took off for his ultimate frisbee game while I stayed back and enjoyed some TV and wine! This was a wonderful family day and am so grateful that everyone was in a good mood so we all could enjoy the experience of Dracula’s Castle!

Friday April 5, 2019

1 Timothy 1:12-17 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

The peace I felt today was overwhelming. Maybe it was the many prayers over the last week or it was an actually good night sleep because Lucia did not come wake us up. But whatever the reason I was forever grateful at the peace and calm feeling I had when I woke up this morning. I felt rested and content. I got up, did some yoga, made my smoothie and headed off to the hospital enjoying my peaceful walk through the city of Brasov. Despite the difficulty of this shift (lots of crying, some even screaming and jumping up and down in their beds, when we left their rooms) I felt rejuvenated in what God wants me to do. He wants me to be in the present and give all that I have to these beautiful children in the hospital and at home. I had a strong need to spend some fun time with my children this afternoon, so I asked if they would please be done with their schoolwork by the time I got home. Unfortunately this didn’t happen, but my mood was not wavering. I was able to hang out at the house while the kids played outside. And though I wanted to spend time with them, they were so happy to be with their friends that I didn’t want to disrupt their enjoyment. Anjali was invited to the Youth Group at the church we have been attending and was given a ride to and from the meeting tonight. We had a plan of hamburgers for dinner, but our meat had gone bad during the course of the week. So once Anjali left for her youth group we all made the long walk down to The Addiction, a restaurant right at the bottom of our stairs, for dinner.

Our dinner, while I really missed Anjali, was wonderful. The food was so good and the company of David and Lucia was so fun. The food and the service was spectacular and we all thoroughly enjoyed our respective evenings. We got home just in time for Anjali and then everyone went to bed, even Jeff and I (we both have been so tired and I think we really needed the extra sleep).

I am so grateful for the peace and contentment given to me today by God grace. He has continued to provide for me at every step of the way, I just can’t understand why it is so hard for my heart to let go of this desire to control our future plans. But for today I will enjoy and relish in the peace given to me and continue to pray for it every day moving forward.

Wednesday April 3, 2019

Genesis 33:1-13 Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother.

But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor with my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favor. Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have everything I want.” So he urged him, and he took it.

Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you.” But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me; and if they are overdriven for one day, all the flocks will die. 

For the life of me I can’t figure out how this scripture relates to today, which is why I am not publishing it until now. I will skip over the scripture part for now and share a little bit about today. I worked at the hospital while Jeff stayed home with the kids to work on school; if they work hard enough they will be done by the time we leave Romania which would be wonderful to have that task off our plate during our time in Kenya. I really hope that they will work hard over the coming weeks and finish up the little bit they have left. Thus far they have not been very productive this week.

We had a nice treat tonight. Jeff worked all day preparing a wonderful Indian feast of Briyani, chipati, and chutney. But the real treat was the company, both Katie and Calah (the long-term volunteers for FFR that live in the apartments above us) joined us for dinner. It was so much fun to spend some quality time with these wonderful ladies who are giving so much for the children here in Brasov. We had an evening filled with conversation, laughter, and wine! We all had a lot of fun and the kids even put themselves to bed while we continued to visit with Katie and Calah.

I have really thought about this scripture and I realized that this scripture is actually very fitting for me. As I was walking home from the hospital on Friday I realized that this is just another way God is telling me to let go and give control to Him. In so many ways I have no problem with giving God control, but there are other ways that are not quite so easy. We are facing a lot of uncertainty right now, with potential jobs, where we are going to live, what will our lives look like when we get done with this year, will we have jobs, etc. and I have been struggling to gain some control over something. In my heart I know I need to give the control to God, but there is this Type A part of me that is saying that if I do it I will have the answers sooner and faster! But when I read this scripture of Jacob giving everything over to God, trusting Him to work everything out between he and Esau, it made me realize that this is exactly what I need to do myself. I need to give my life over to Him completely, in all aspects of my life, because He will fight for me if I just stand still. (This is what Moses says to the Israelites as they are fleeing the Egyptians across the Red Sea. Exodus 14:14). God knows me so well and He knows how much I have been struggling. I have lacked patience with my children and have felt completely overwhelmed this past week (I am sure that my grandmother’s passing and trying to find flights back to the states didn’t help matters.). I am so glad I waited on writing this blog because if I have tried to get it done on Wednesday I would have missed out on the insight I gained from thoughtfully praying on it. I guess the hardest part of this process is for me to let go and give God control in all aspects of my life and wait patiently for His timing to show me the path I am meant to walk.

Sunday March 31, 2019

“Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.”  Proverbs 15:22

Apparently Romania observes daylight savings time which resulted in our losing an hour unexpectedly overnight.  Rather than getting to “sleep in” until 8 and then get ready for church, Sara and I “overslept” until 9.  We both realized our mistake right away but fortunately the kids were in good spirits which made a more rapid preparation for the day possible.  Those that wanted to and could do so quickly showered and then we headed out for service.  We are fortunate that even here in the middle of Romania there is a church which offers a service in Romanian and English.  While that means that services run a little longer than our usual 1 hour, we at least get to sing along with most songs and understand the sermon.

After finishing church I walked the kids home along with Anjali’s new friend Rebecca. The girls had made plans to bake a cake following church and then we invited Rebecca’s family, our new friends from New Zealand, over for dinner.  The girls learned, and more importantly were open to, the concept of many advisors.  Anjali has, in the past, been known to attempt to do things on her own without instruction because, as she puts it, she wants to be independent.  Her belief is that independence means capable of doing things on your own with no assistance whatsoever.  Without counsel, plans go wrong.  Unfortunately she has had to learn this lesson often and at most times with great distress as she is also very headstrong.  But in this case, and perhaps because her friend was present, she was more willing to consult a recipe as well as be open to counsel from Sara, our resident baking expert.  As a result, the cake and icing turned out beautifully, a real treat for the 6 kids and 4 adults.  Better yet, Anjali had a great time with baking and spending time with her friend.  I hope that this lesson will reinforce the notion that independence does not mean ignoring good counsel but rather knowing how to use the good counsel around her.

While the girls baked, Sara and I got to spend some time together doing yoga, something we both enjoy but rarely get to do together.  Our detox practice was refreshing and invigorating helping to loosen our bodies and our minds.  I find these hour long practices to be the perfect opportunity to not only feel healthier but to clear my mind of all the clutter that I allow to enter and remain.  I find it is good to clear my thoughts so that I can better allow the good counsel of others to enter, whether it be the quiet voice from God or the more overt voices of my friends, spouse, and children.


Friday February 22, 2019

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Fridays are interesting around these parts.  They are typically the days that the local schools have their field trips so we were inundated with running, giggling kids ranging in ages from 6 – 16.  Surprisingly enough the younger kids did a much better job at being turtle conservancy visitors usually abiding the rules which most especially includes no touching the turtles.  Older kids would be told not to touch and then surreptitiously reaching another finger into the tank in hopes of copping a turtle feel.  Both Sara and Fanny had to raise their voices on more than one occasion and by the end of our morning shift I think everyone was more exhausted from playing the role of chaperone than when we had cleaned tanks.

Fortunately, Friday afternoons we have off to get a head start on the weekend to explore the island or just simply relax.  Lorna’s time with the project was coming to a close so we opted to eat a quick bite for lunch and then head over to the sand bar just up the beach to have a few beers and enjoy an hour or two catching up with our new friend.  The fishermen who also operate the bar were very happy to see us and were quick to pour the drinks and bring us some appetizers.  Sara and I taught Lorna and Joeri the intricacies of playing Hearts which they both caught on to quickly.  Meanwhile the kids got to play in the surf and sand.

We headed back in around 3 and said our goodbyes to Lorna (and Fanny who was going with her for the weekend) and then made plans for dinner.  The kids did some playing in the pool and then after a quick clean up we made our way to the neighboring town.  Sara had found a restaurant that was well rated and right on the beach.  The only problem as it turns out was that our Tuk Tuk drivers did not exactly know where it was located.  We had agreed upon a price for the ride and they drove us into the next town.  However, a quick check of Google Maps revealed that they had gone too far.  A u-turn later and a quick stop for the driver to ask some directions and we were off again.  We found the location and sat down for a nice and relaxing meal.

Nothing quite like enjoying some good food and conversation with a sea breeze gently caressing you.  We definitely found the fruits of our labor this evening.   After a long week of getting dirty, sweaty, and tired we enjoyed basking in the beauty of God’s Earth.