Sunday May 19, 2019

Ecclesiastes 5:19 Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God.

We all got up early this morning and made our way to breakfast and then the field for another game. Today’s games were double elimination (though we thought they were single elimination). Their team was the newest team in the tournament and while they held their own, they did not win any games yesterday. This morning, however, they won! Which meant they had one more game to play. Since we were never going to make our check-out time, the kids and I piled into the car and headed back to the hotel so we could check-out and then stop by the store for baby wipes (Jeff wasn’t going to have access to a shower) and some gatorades for the team. We got back to the field just as they were finishing up their game, but Lucia has time to trip and fall, which landed her in the first aid tent. (OK let’s be honest here…this was definitely not a serious injury, but in the mind of a 6 year old, she was desperately needed this attention for the first aid crew and boy did she soak it all in!)

It took a while to leave the field, between Lucia requiring first aid and Jeff requiring a baby wipe bath! But we did manage to gather everything up and make our way to the Circus Pub where we had an amazing lunch. Jeff said that this was the best burger ever. Once we finished lunch it was almost 4 pm, so we decided that our best bet would be to drive by the Palace of Parliament. We realized that our time for sightseeing was over for the weekend and really did do much. So during lunch we discussed the possibility of coming back to Bucharest on our way out of the country, but after seeing the parliament building (which was beautiful and huge), both Jeff and I agreed that we didn’t feel the need to come back. The city was beautiful, but it was still just a city. We agreed that there was more to see and experience in Brasov and the surrounding areas, rather than come to a congested and crowded city. I guess this year has really shown us the kind of traveling we prefer doing, and I can say with absolute certainty that I do not enjoy traveling in the big cities!

Friday May 17, 2019

Proverbs 9:11 “For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life.

Years, eventually yes, but for today we celebrate at least one more of adding to Sara’s.  She refused to write today’s blog because she doesn’t like to write about herself.  That’s fine, we can happily do it for her.  It’s not hard actually because she really does try to be a model of living a Christian life.  She is humble, faithful, giving, and she most often puts others before herself.  We as a family are very appreciative that God has gifted us with such an amazing wife, mother, sister, cousin, daughter, and friend.

As for the day, well that was a bit less remarkable.  The plan was for me to do the hospital shift so that Sara could help the kids pack and then meet me to grab a taxi to pick up a rental car.  We were heading to Bucharest so I could play in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.  Sara and the kids would get to sightsee a bit and maybe catch a game or two.

The plan went accordingly to start.  I met up with my two colleagues for the morning and we handed out diapers for the weekend need.  We then headed to the top floor to look after our charges.  I was surprised to see a familiar face, a baby whom I had cared for a few weeks earlier was back.  While I loved his giant smile (fitting for his somewhat bulbous head) I was sad that he was back.  Such is the case here, bittersweet moments of happiness to see a face you have come to adore but sadness to realize that he or she is back and in need of your care because the parents cannot do it.

My baby today, however, was new to me.  She is probably in the 6-8 month range.  Not verbal yet and not strong enough to stand.  Moreover, she is very needy and sad.  I was told about her from Sara who said that the previous day she basically had cried the entire time they were there.  Clearly she was missing home.  Fortunately she and I hit it off.  She at first was very fussy and cried but after a few minutes she snuggled in and after a few more she was sound asleep.  I felt a bit of encouragement when one of the nurses reported that she was pleased to see her sleeping and that it probably was because of my being a man.  The babies are surrounded by women most of the day as all of the nurses are female and most of the doctors as well.  I have really noticed that the kids have a very different reaction to me, not just because of my beard which they find to be very enticing to play with.  It is not always a positive reaction but for this little girl it worked and it made for a very pleasant stay in the room.

After completing our time on the 4th floor we shifted to the 3rd but we only had two babies needing attending.  I asked my coworkers if they would be okay if I headed off early so we could get started on our trip to Bucharest and they kindly gave me the okay.  After catching up with Sara and the kids we finished our packing and headed off for the car.  As expected, by the time we got to the rental place, signed paperwork, and got loaded up we were heading off just after two.  We had birthday dinner plans for Sara at 6:30 but as the trip began to stretch out with unexpected bathroom breaks, traffic, and some challenging weather, we wisely elected to switch our plans to Saturday.  I felt bad for Sara as her celebration would be put off but as is often the case she simply said it was okay and that she would rather celebrate when everyone was feeling happy and rested.

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We made it to the hotel, got settled in and opted for what turned out to be a less than stellar dinner at the hotel restaurant.  To cap it off, our eldest, who was gung ho to sleep on the couch for the night, suddenly felt it would not be comfortable enough and threw a tantrum.  Net result, she got to sleep in mom and dad’s bed, Luci and David shared a room, and dad took the couch.  While I wouldn’t say this was the best way to celebrate the birthday of such a wonderful person, in a way it kind of was.  It celebrated all the great things about her.  We volunteered helping abandoned or underserved children, we got to go on an adventure to a new city, we dealt with the challenges of parenthood, made the best of an unexpected situation, and through it all we smiled at the end of the night.

God never promised things would be easy, always positive, or be exactly as we want them.  He promises only that He will provide for us and that in the end we will say hello to Him.   And at that end of the long day of life, we will both smile.  In the meantime, I am so thankful I have a wonderful partner on the journey.

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.

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 May 5, 2019

John 2:23-25 When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

Today we split up as a family, Jeff took the younger two kids down to the school for Junii, which is another celebration of Easter here in Romania, complete with a horse parade, while Anjali and I headed to church. Here is a snippet of the parade:

We all met up together at the house for lunch and then a quiet evening at home with the hope of having Mexican food and margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but those plans fell through. The kids had something easy for dinner, while Jeff and I had a quick ravioli toss after the kids went to bed.

I was able to do get the process of obtaining my license all figured out and should be able to submit everything on Monday. I even started the readings that I will need to. I am so happy to be doing this because the types of jobs that I will now be qualified will be much more prolific. We also started looking at apartments in the same area where we were before and have at least narrowed our search down to a few.

The peace and calmness I have experience today is so wonderful. God knew that I needed this direction and because He knows me better than I do, knew just how to present it to us so we would understand. What is so funny is that this path has been here all along, we just were not following it.

Saturday May 4, 2019

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

Today was such a wonderful day. We all woke up, had a nice breakfast and then headed into town to see the art fair and to acquire that last few things we needed for the box to India (thankfully we found everything we were looking for).

The kids were tired and wanted to go home, so for the first time ever, we walked them to the street leading up to our apartment and they walked home by themselves while Jeff and I headed into town for some lunch.

We ended up eating at La Ceaun right on the square. This was such a wonderful afternoon of sitting outside, getting rained on, and drinking wine (beer for Jeff). We talked for hours as we sipped our drinks and believe it or not we finally agreed that going back to Madison is the best decision at this moment. God has not led us anywhere else, so why are we stressing about trying to make a new plan? We also agreed that I needed to acquire my Social Work license for Wisconsin because it will open up many more job opportunities. I can’t even begin to tell you how much better we both felt after we made this commitment. We have been waiting on a job to tell us where to go, instead of following what was planned all along. We both sat back and, for the first time in a while, relaxed. We had a plan, a direction, a path and if God wanted to change it He would and we would listen, but for now, this is it! Now comes the leg work of getting my license and the us finding an apartment and a job for Jeff.

The only problem was that when we stood up to leave, the four glasses of wine I had hit me really hard. I realized quickly that I had had too much! I felt so irresponsible. By the time we got home I went straight to bed, while Jeff and Anjali headed out to play ultimate frisbee David helped manage both himself and Lucia. I could not believe that I did that, I guess I let it get away from me because I was so relieved to have a plan for after this year. I still make poor choices as adult, thankfully not as often as I did when I was younger!