March 17, 2019

Four Years

Four years ago today, I arrived in Romania. I think I said this when I hit two years as well, but when I left the States to come to Romania, I really had no clue how long I'd be here. I knew it wasn't going to be a short term thing, but I also wasn't entirely sure that it would be a long term thing either. Honestly, at that point, I had stopped trying to predict the future so I can't say that I was thinking too much about the length of my stay.

A lot has happened in these four years. Sometimes I don't feel like four years lends itself to too much change in a person until I think about a freshman versus a senior in high school/college. When I think about it that way, it's almost impossible to overlook the drastic changes that often take place in that span of time.

Raegan and I walking around the airport before saying goodbye on  March 16, 2015.
I also think about how Raegan was 2 years old when I left and now she's 6 years old (and has two younger brothers!). She's changed SO much (physically, emotionally, intellectually) since I first left and sometimes when we're on FaceTime, I can't comprehend that she's reading books or helping Maveric get a snack or trying to calm Holden. She's grown so much in four years, and in so many different ways. Again, drastic changes.

It's also a little crazy to think that when I came to Romania, I was in my 20s and now I'm in my 30s. Granted, I was in my late 20s and now I'm barely in my 30s, but still...that's a fairly big life change. And, as I've said before, this is not at all how I envisioned living my life at 31, but good grief, I couldn't have imagined anything better. And, of course, that doesn't mean that every day is full of sunshine and rainbows...just to be clear.

It continues to feel like such a natural and normal thing for me to live in Romania...a place that I once would've called "a foreign country", but now refer to as home. I often get asked how long I'll live in Romania, and obviously, I have no clue, but for now, it still very much feels like home.

And it is an immense privilege to call it home. It is an immense privilege to do life with the people here. It is an immense privilege to spend time with kiddos in the village and teens in the It Takes Courage programs. It is an immense privilege to help expand the worldview of American university students who come through the Romanian Studies Program. It is an immense privilege to serve the community alongside my Veritas coworkers and foreign volunteers. It is an immense privilege to grow here in Romania.

Before I click "publish", I have to say one more thing...

To every person who has ever said a prayer for me, given a generous financial gift, sent a text or card of encouragement, thank you. Words truly cannot express how grateful I am to have you on this journey with me. My support system is stronger than I ever could have imagined. "My people" are some of the best people, and they (YOU) are a huge reason why I can continue to say that Romania is my home. I came to Romania after I finally stopped being stubborn and started listening to that still, small voice, but I've been able to remain here, and call it my home, because you also listened to that still, small voice.

February 23, 2019

2019 - One Little Word

Well, we have been living in 2019 for almost two months now and I've officially decided on my word for the year. Last year, I chose the word light, which you can read more about here.

Can I be honest and tell you that I wanted a fancier word for the year? I see the words that other people choose like connection, creativity, intentional, gratitude, etc., and I think that they sound so much "cooler". Insert eye roll emoji here as I roll my eyes at myself. Anyways, when the word "grow" kept coming up in my mind and in things I was seeing/reading/hearing...I was a tiny bit disappointed. Grow seems like such a simple word. Now I'd like to insert the crying laughing emoji because growth is anything but simple. Here's a little bit of the backstory in how I ended up choosing GROW...

On my first or second Sunday back in Romania after being in the States for Christmas, I wasn't feeling (read: sleeping) well so instead of going to church, I watched a sermon online. Without giving too many unnecessary details, I ended up choosing a sermon series called "Off the Grid", which didn't give me a lot of information about the sermon's theme. But...would you like to take a wild guess at what the theme was? That's right, growth.

The sermon series focused around Luke 2:52, which says "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." All of that to say, after listening to the first sermon in the series on that Sunday, my word for the year was solidified.

As you may remember, last year I broke "light" down into four parts, which happens to also be how I'm breaking things down this year with "grow". I like to use my word to guide me into some goals and themes throughout the year, but when "grow" initially came to mind I wasn't sure what that was going to look like. However, after listening to the sermon series, it was clear that I would use the four parts of the verse to guide me in my goal setting.

So here are a few examples of how I hope to GROW in 2019...

  • In wisdom: to read more books (the Bible, in particular) in order to gain wisdom, to pray regularly for God's perspective on life and situations that come my way, to seek out wise people from whom I can learn, to learn more (about social work, Romania, enneagram, etc.)
  • In stature: to work on my overall health (physical, emotional, relational, spiritual)
  • In favor with God: to grow in relationship with God, to focus on the simple act of being with Him rather than doing things for Him (this one's a little hard to explain without writing five more paragraphs and it could honestly be it's own blog post altogether...maybe another day!), to grow where He has placed me 
  • In favor with man: to open my mind, circle and heart to the people around me, to be more aware of how I treat others, to improve my communication skills 
Even as I read back through that list I get a little overwhelmed because it seems like A LOT...and I didn't even share all of it with you! It's a lot to think about, a lot to start doing, a lot to work on...but at the same time, I feel a strange (and yet familiar) peace about all of it. I know that God put the word "grow" on my heart for a reason. I also know that things will change as I grow, which can be really scary...but as I think we can all agree, change can also be really beautiful. 

As I end this post, I hope that you have also chosen a new word for 2019, and if so, I'd love to hear what it is and how you plan to focus on it throughout the year! Feel free to leave a comment on Facebook when I share this post, to send me an email or text message, or to leave a comment on this blog post. 

And finally, I must leave you with this lovely quote that I found as I was searching for "grow" inspiration. For me, this quote relates to those overwhelmed, yet peaceful, feelings that I have. I know that growing isn't going to be easy...but I'm so curious about who I will become as a result of it. 

January 26, 2019

Moments of LIGHT in 2018

My top 9 Instagram posts from 2018
Okay, I'm back to reflect a bit on 2018. IT. WAS. A. YEAR. Am I right?! If you haven't already watched my 2018 1 Second Every Day video, you can find it here. As I said in that post, it continues to be my favorite project, but I know it's hard to fully catch everything when you watch it "as an outsider".

I decided to write this post to give you a little more information on what 2018 looked like for me, but also to personally reflect back on the moments of LIGHT that I found along the way. As you may remember, I chose the word "light" as my word of the year so it felt important for me to think about what that looked like in 2018...

Moments of LIGHT in January: 
  • Hearing the smiles and giggles from the kiddos in the village
  • Drinking coffee, of course
  • Bonding with a super cool gal
  • Discovering beautiful doors
  • Celebrating Maveric's 1st birthday from afar

Moments of LIGHT in February: 
  • Being celebrated on my 30th birthday
  • Celebrating three lovely ladies on their birthdays
  • Drinking more coffee, reading and journaling
  • Discovering yet another door
  • Receiving super cute photos of my super cute nephew and niece

Moments of LIGHT in March:
  • Reuniting with close friends
  • Capturing a cute photo of Jimmy...the dog who lived in the citadel in Sighisoara
  • Eating Chipotle
  • Getting surprised by photos from Raegan's mini-photoshoot with her nesting doll dress 
  • Visiting friends in St. Louis with other friends

Moments of LIGHT in April:
  • Celebrating the beautiful marriage of a close friend
  • Receiving a sweet photo from my It Takes Courage group
  • Spending time with three of my besties
  • Celebrating Easter with my family

Moments of LIGHT in May:
  • Eating ice cream at the good ole Union Dairy
  • Celebrating my mom's birthday with Mexican food
  • Taking neighborhood walks with the family
  • Reading "You are Free" by Rebekah Lyons
  • Stopping to smell the peonies
  • Attending the Reaching Europe's Children conference in Hungary
  • Capturing a door with my favorite door model
  • Celebrating the local high school graduation in Sighisoara

Moments of LIGHT in June:

  • Celebrating the "graduation" of It Takes Courage
  • Posing for a photo with my Romanian Studies Program summer student
  • Stopping to smell (and pick) the wildflowers
  • Reading Katie Davis' book, "Daring to Hope"
  • Creating with kiddos
  • Enjoying a visit from good friends
  • Leading English Camp for the 4th year

    Moments of LIGHT in July:
    • Participating in a service project with It Takes Courage and ITC 2.0
    • Spending time with some beautiful ladies
    • Celebrating little kid birthdays
    • Making cute crafts with the cutest kiddos in the village
    • Finding out the gender of the new Barr baby
    • Inviting a bunch of teenagers over to my house 
    • Admiring Romania's beauty

      Moments of LIGHT in August:
      • Re-reading an incredible book
      • Bringing my two worlds together by hanging out with an American bestie and a Romanian bestie
      • Visiting Belgium with Erica (all four photos in the middle)
      • Enjoying camp in the village with my favorite kiddos

        Moments of LIGHT in September:
        • Celebrating 25 years since Dorothy came to Romania with a vision to impact the community
        • Attending Veritas' annual open house where Adela always displays her face painting talent
        • Celebrating Adela's birthday
        • Attending the Central Europe Field Conference in Albania
        • Discovering some beauty at a nearby castle 
        • Loving the cute little faces of the kiddos in the village

        Moments of LIGHT in October:

        • Meeting new teens in Sighisoara and helping them to build their character
        • Starting a new year of It Takes Courage with our biggest group ever!
        • Drinking more coffee
        • Enjoying the annual Veritas staff retreat in the mountains
        • Observing sibling love in the village
        • Attending a week of training at the Nazarene Global Ministry Center in Kansas

          Moments of LIGHT in November:
          • Spending a few days at home to visit friends and family
          • Visiting a cultural center in a nearby town in Romania
          • Taking a cute pic with Adela
          • Celebrating the birth of Holden James Barr!
          • Taking the It Takes Courage teens to serve the kiddos in the village
          • Attending the church's district assembly 
          • Celebrating Thanksgiving with some other Americans in Sighisoara

            Moments of LIGHT in December:
            • Enjoying a mini "field trip" with the It Takes Courage 2.0
            • Saying goodbye to my Romanian Studies Program fall student
            • Celebrating a birthday of the sweetest little boy with one of the most amazing families (top middle photo)
            • Being reminded to be the LIGHT at the children's Christmas program in the village (bottom middle photo)
            • Flying home and seeing the beauty of Chicago from above
            • Surprising Raegan on her SIXTH birthday
            • Enjoying a last-minute visit from a close friend
            • Spending time with baby Holden
            • Celebrating Christmas with my family for the first time since 2014
            So there you have it. 2018 was truly a year full of light. I was constantly amazed at how much light I found simply because I was looking for it. Now, of course there were dark moments as well, but finding the light had become such a habit that I could more easily get myself out of the dark than before. Even though we're almost one month into 2019, I'm still continuing to see the light...and I think the word "light" will not just be a 2018 thing, but more like a lifetime thing. 

            I'll leave you with this super cute photo of Raegan and Maveric enjoying the last few moments of 2018. 

            January 4, 2019

            One Second Everyday in 2018

            I have to admit that towards the end of 2018 I was kind of wishing the days away just so I could finally watch my 2018 1 Second Everyday video! This "project" continues to be my favorite way to document, not just life in Romania, but life in general. I've always loved taking photos and documenting life through scrapbooks, photo books and art journals, but this takes it up a notch and I continue to love it.

            I also wanted to include a brief summary of the year...and to pull out a few special moments in 2018. However, you'll have to wait a little longer for that one. I'm planning to write a blog post about "light", my word for 2018, and how that manifested itself throughout the year. So you'll see that soon.

            So for now, enjoy a look back at 2018 with my one second videos :)