Tuesday May 14, 2019

Exodus 17:12 But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set.

I honestly could not think of how to relate this scripture reading to the crazy day that occurred, but as I read the scripture before this passage, I understood immediately. So here it is:

Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some men for us and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword. (Exodus 17:9-13)

Let me start with the day today. I woke up to an email this morning from the apartment complex we were hoping to rent upon our return to Madison apologizing for missing the fact that there were 5 of us (which was clearly listed on the application), but they could not rent to us because we exceeded their occupancy rate. So now we are back to square one. We really wanted to get the kids back into the same school, but honestly after this morning, I am not very confident with this plan. There are very few 3 bedroom apartments in the area and the ones that are there are really expensive, well above our budget. So I reached out to our neighborhood to see if anyone knew of a house for rent starting August 1. I put my phone down and didn’t look at it again for a while.

Jeff headed to the hospital while I stayed with the kids and had them complete an assessment to gauge where they were with their common core standards. We all were pleased to see that all 3 children were testing well above their grade level and all had improved from the beginning of this journey. It was definitely a win for everyone, because the homeschooling aspect of this year has been exhausting for all of us! The kids have all agreed to do a small amount of math practice each day, as well as reading (which is never a problem because they all get lost in books easily!). A definite win in my book–official school for the Hayes kids is done!!

Jeff got home from the hospital and I would love to say that we had a pretty mellow afternoon, which everyone did but me. My day was full of ups and then downs and then ups again. It was an exhausting rollercoaster. I completed my yoga practice and while trying to catch my breath again I snuck a peek at my phone and found that I had several comments on my post about an apartment, one that was a listing on Craigslist that would be just what we wanted–a 3 bedroom in our price range and in the same school boundaries! I was thrilled. I messaged him back and after a bit of back and forth, disappointment again….they needed a renter now and can’t wait until an Aug 1 lease. Sigh……Back to the drawing board again.

I am finding it so hard to not get overly excited at each and every opportunity to pin down our future, but I am regularly finding that by doing this I am also experiencing regular disappointment, which is only making the anxiety and uncertainty worse. Thankfully I have Jeff to help keep my arms up and to regularly remind me that God has a plan for us and that this is all part of it. We may not be able to see it now, but He is fighting for us and He is preparing a way, we just have to be patient and trust in Him. I am so grateful for his reminders (and I am needing them much more often recently), but without fail, Jeff is there to prop me up on a rock and hold up my arms. I am not in this journey alone. I have a wonderful husband to help me find my faith in God and show me how to trust in His ways. Just like this scripture, we all need people around us to support us and sometimes hold us up when we are weak, but that is part of being a child of God; we are all in this together and need each other every day as we live out our faith in God.

Monday May 13, 2019

Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’

I think Sara asked me to write today’s blog because she had no idea to what this reading pertains.  Unfortunately I agree with her.  The first part seems fairly straight forward enough but that second part, it’s all a little “Biblical”.

In any case God is our refuge and we try to remember that as often as possible.  After today’s news we are even more hopeful for that to be the case.  We thought that we had found an apartment in Madison for our return which would work, even if it were a bit cramped.  However, when our friend Sandy went to take a look she learned that the representative had not realized that there would be five residents.  Apparently she had ignored our application which clearly referenced not only Sara and me but also our three children.  Needless to say we were not too excited about the prospects of getting that apartment anymore so back to square one.

All that is okay though.  We know that this will all work out in the end.  While I know that my friends and family are starting to panic about our living arrangements I am as calm as ever.  Not that I plan to move in with relatives or friends but I know that there is a place for us, we just don’t know where it is yet.  God is my refuge.  I am just hoping the enemies before me are the absence of affordable and properly sized housing!

As for the day aside from apartment hunts, it was relatively uneventful.  Sara worked the hospital shift, Luci and David enjoyed their first day of no school having completed their coursework for the year, and Anjali continued her commitment to being an early adopter of teenage angst.  We managed the morning well enough and enjoyed a relatively relaxing afternoon.  I think the kids were content to just enjoy being done with school so they played hard with the neighbors and enjoyed the spring air.

 

Tuesday April 23, 2019

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We didn’t have a shift at the hospital this morning, but both Jeff and I were scheduled this afternoon. We tried to get school done before we left and managed to do that with Lucia. David had a rough go of Math today, but he finally came around, just in time for us to leave for our shift. Anjali claimed to be working on her Math as we were leaving, but failed to finish it and her Science. On top of the frustrations with the lack of determination with school, the kids were asked to clean up the kitchen while we were gone, but as I walked in the door after the shift I walked into a messy kitchen that needed to be cleaned before I was able to start dinner.

Our shift at the hospital was wonderful, though we were surprised to see that one of the children that had been there for a month was no longer there. We had been praying that God would find a home for him and according to the limited conversation I was able to have with the nurses, they were able to find a placement for him. We are hoping our understanding of the nurses explanation was correct because that would be an answer to our prayers. God knew this little boy needed a home and He provided what was “acceptable and perfect”.

This scripture follows yesterday scripture perfectly. Paul’s letter to the Romans is reminding us to open our minds so we can “discern what is the will of God” and, in my opinion, this will allow us to live out our belief that “… God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2). When we give our lives to God and allow Him to work on our behalf, we will experience a life without fear. We will still have ups and downs, trials and tribulations, joys and concerns, etc., but with God as our foundation the outcome of each situation will always be His will, which means it will be “good and acceptable and perfect”.

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.

Monday April 8, 2019

Luke 8:49-56 While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.

Today was pretty routine: school work with the kids while Jeff volunteered at the hospital. The kids are losing steam with school and to be honest so am I. I don’t know who wants this aspect of our year to end more, me or them. I will say that whenever we are finally done with their curriculum I will feel a huge sigh of relief that we all made it through without strangling each other. There are some amazing homeschooling parents out there and while I have managed for this year, I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that I made the right choice to not pursue teaching.

Jeff reported that the children at the hospital were so much fun today, full of smiles and laughter. These children have such a profound effect on me, their little faces just light up when they see us volunteers walk into their room and then break our hearts with screams and tears when we have to leave.

Jeff and I talked a bit this past weekend and we realized that while we are looking forward to Kenya, we are not feeling that pull to go just yet. We have been dragging our feet with purchasing our tickets for our planned departure of early May. Yesterday I sent a quick email to Mary with FFR to see how they were doing with volunteers for the month of May. Come to find out they have been very concerned about how they were going to manage hospital shifts because several supervisors are heading to Germany for some fundraising during the middle of May. When I asked her if it would help for us to stay, she emphatically said “yes” (in an email that is). During a quick texting conversation with Jeff we both agreed to stay in Romania a bit longer, as long as KGSA in Kenya was not in dire need of our help. A quick message and an immediate response that we should stay in Romania where we are needed, but they were still looking forward to our help in June. So there you have it…we are staying in Romania to snuggle and love these little angels through the end of May. Between this and the purchase of my tickets to the US for my grandmother’s funeral, I finally feel a bit of direction has been graciously given to us. It may not be the answers to everything we are waiting to learn, but it’s a start and it helps me have a more concrete plan through May. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest and I feel much calmer knowing where we will be for April and May.

Today after the kids finished school I was able to start packing for my trip back to the States next Saturday. We have decided to lighten our load significantly and I will be traveling back with Jeff and David’s backpacks filled with clothes and souvenirs that we will leave at my parents house. This will help our travels significantly, as we won’t have to lug around as many bags. We will be down to just two checked bags and then everyone will have a carry-on. I can’t believe how much easier this will make traveling. I wish I could take more, but the bag is packed to the limit.

With everything that has happened between this weekend and today, I feel rejuvenated and ready to continue on this faith journey for the rest of my life. I realized that this journey does not stop when our 12 months is up, but rather this was just the beginning of a new life with God as our captain.

Friday March 29, 2019

Philippians 1:6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.

Today’s scripture is a terrific reminder of how God isn’t finished with us yet. He will always finish His work in us and it is yet another way He is affirming to me that I need to be patient. The recent themes of patience, God’s timing, and His plan has been redundant over the last few weeks, but I am pretty confident that is because I have needed the reminders and the affirmation that He does have a plan for me and my family. I do like this idea that He is not done working in me yet, probably because it is so simple. With all of the possibilities that we tossed up in the air recently He has a plan for every piece of it and when He does reveal it, it will be awesome and wonderful and full of blessings.

I stayed back with the kids today to teach while Jeff headed to the hospital for some baby time. Our kids have had a marked change in their efforts with school recently and I have a feeling being around so many other kids that are homeschooled gave them a new perspective and a new energy to finish out this school year strong. They have had their moments, don’t get me wrong, but overall they are doing great and are all set to finish their grade level (well, Lucia actually will be finishing 1st grade since she has already completed Kindergarten) by the end of May, if not sooner. I am so thankful for the homeschooling families around us here because their impact on our kids has been so powerful and positive.

Jeff came home after the morning shift and had lunch with us and then we both headed back up to the hospital to feed the newborns. This was the first time we have worked together and it was so much fun. I love spending time with him, especially when it is just the two of us because I am always laughing and having a great time. We made it home to find all three children buried in their screens, but they were quickly shooed outside to play which led to the screams and laughter of many children until everyone returned home for dinner.

I feel rejuvenated despite the loss of my grandmother, which at first seems very odd, but as I reflect on this scripture I think it is because I know He is not done yet. This is definitely a difficult curve in our path, but there is a comfort in knowing that this is all part of His plan. I also think I am comforted in knowing that His plan for my grandmother was to bring her home to be with Him. Her time here with us was done and He finished His work within her, so she went home. God only fulfilled His promise to her. This a very comforting scripture when I am able to apply it to my life, but it is even more so when I put it in the context of my grandmother’s life. God will never leave us and He will always care for us, until His work in us is done and we go home to be with Him.

Tuesday March 26, 2018

1 John 3:18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

My hospital shift today was wonderful, exhausting, but wonderful. There were three of us there and it was a good thing too because there a lot of babies needing snuggles and care. I ended up with two little guys that were very angry every time I had to put them down to snuggle another one. I went back and forth between two rooms and three babies for the last hour of the shift and it was exhausting. But I will tell you, as exhausting as the morning was, I had so much fun playing with and loving on these little guys. Their smiles just brighten my day! After the morning shift I headed back to the Support Center to wok on the 25 “baby bundles” we needed to restock and then back to the hospital to help the nurses feed the newborns. This mission project has brought me so much joy. It is so easy to give these children all the love I have during the time that I am with them. And just as it has been with our previous work, I am receiving just as much, if not more, in return. The most difficult part of this mission is saying goodbye to these children who are in desperate need of love and affection. They need a caregiver and we are only able to provide such a small amount of what they are needing. I know that God has a plan for each of these little angels, but it is still very difficult to walk away as they are screaming, wanting you to just pick them up and hold them. I hope and pray that what we are able to give them sustains them through the night until we can hold them again tomorrow.

On a totally different note, our kids have been doing so much better at school lately. There are still tantrums, fights, and times when they don’t want to work, but all in all I can see a shift in their mentality. I am not sure if it is knowing and engaging with other families that homeschool or if it is just finally sinking in with them, but I like the change and it is reassuring that we can finish out this year of homeschooling strong.

I also heard that my grandmother is not doing well and had to go back to the hospital again today. I would greatly appreciate any prayers for her comfort and God’s grace. It is so hard to be away from family at times like this and I just don’t want her to be in pain.

Thank you to all that read these daily blogs. This has been such a wonderful way for me to stay connected to the true purpose of this year, showing others the love that Christ has for them. This scripture speaks to that very thing “little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action”–1 John 3:18.