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.

Wednesday May 15, 2019

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.

A busy, but wonderful day today shows just how amazing God is and how much He does in our lives. I went to the hospital today and Jeff stayed with the kids. Our neighbors downstairs don’t get out often just as a couple seeing that they have 4 kids, so we offered to watch their kids. As it turned out, we were able to allow Anjali to “be in charge” of the youngest, Martin, who is just under a year. Both Jeff and I were here during the whole afternoon, but Anjali really was watching and babysitting Martin and she did a great job. She was attentive and acted very responsibly.

I spent a good portion of the day studying for my licensing exam, but had a wonderful coffee break with Amy when they got home from their afternoon date. We have been trying to have coffee for some time, but our schedules seem to be conflicting, so it was nice to sit down and visit.

We still are no closer to answers about our future (what are we doing after June 2, where we will live in August, will we have jobs, etc), but I don’t feel as scared or anxious. We have heard that there is a possibility (though very slim) that we may be able to extend our time in Romania for a few weeks and continue helping here until the end of June. In order to even explore this as an option we need to find a Romanian speaker to join us for a visit to the Head of Police here in Brasov and ask for an extension. We have been searching for another place to serve after our time here ends on June 2, but we truly have not found anything we are feeling called to do. I think our hearts are still here and not wanting to leave. I am sure we are going to be able to find someone to help us with this task and I am praying that God will find a way for us to stay for a bit longer.

I know that God will take care of us and that whatever the outcomes may be, it will be wonderful because, just as the scripture says, For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. (Hebrews 6:10)

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.

 

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.