Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Off to Volcan they GO!

Pretty exciting week for Nathan!

Nathan has had all kinds of vision for CCA and most of it has come to fruition which keeps us dreaming which is certainly a fun place to be in.

One thing that has taken more time than we anticipated was having a missions trip for the CCA secondary kids to go on. This year it is happening and TOMORROW IS THE DAY!

Check out the blog the kids are doing in regards to the trip. It has been amazing to see who the Lord has brought together to make this happen.

I am particularly grateful for Miss B. She is the high school math teacher and she has major caught the fever for loving these kids well. She has been able to take some of Nathan's dreams and visions and make them happen. One being helping with Student Council (really taking the lead!) and the other being making this trip happen!

So here is the blog!

Junior/Senior Missions Trip 2014


I don't read much. I have many books. I am a slow reader. So instead of reading whole books, I read chapters. That also seems to be my recent approach to reading the Bible. Thankful that books are marked in chapters for those of us, maybe just me, who can't do the whole book very often.

I am almost through Shauna Niequist's book Cold Tangerines (chapter one began in November so March is great for me!) The chapters are only 4ish pages long...doable for multiple chapters when I pick it up or just one when it just isn't the day to read...and they don't build on one another in regards to a story line, which is better for my feeble mind. Each chapter is a little story...part of the greater story that is approaching everyday life with Jesus.

So today I read a chapter on "Shalom." I underlined most of it, but it resonated with me today.

"There is a way of living, a way of harmonizing and hitting a balance point, a converging of a thousand balance points and voices, layering together, twisting together, and there are moments when it all clicks into place for a split second...-that's the place I'm trying to get to."

Ok, well yes, me too. I had that once. It was before my first child was born. The month of November 2005. She was born December 6. But in those weeks leading up to her birth, I had everything on my list done, checked off. Christmas gifts were all purchased and wrapped. The tree and all the fixings were carefully placed mid November. Her little nursery was decorated and everything was washed and put away. Hospital bags were packed. It was a dream come true. I even had time to read whole books, while rocking in a rocking chair with my feet up. I had coffee with friends. I meandered down the aisles of TJMaxx. I wrote (most) of my thank you notes. I spent extra time with my church high school small group gals. I finished homework in my bible studies. I made dinner for my husband, we dated too. All my ironing and mending was done, store returns taken care of. A total dream.


"It (shalom) is the physical, sense-oriented, relational, communal, personal, ideological posture that arches God-ward."

My mom told me to enjoy it, because it would never happen again. She was right, for certain, at least about the having it all done. Maybe again one day when all 5 kids are grown and out of the house it will happen again, but I seriously doubt it. No offense Mom, but you still don't have it all done and we are out of the house, but not out of mind and our stuff you are housing and taking care of is not out of sight!

BUT...this Shalom feeling. This need to be harmonized and balanced goes deeper than tasks. I want it, crave it and pretty sure I need it even with all the chaos going on around me. Here I go again quoting, its just easier because she nailed it:

"...I am given more life, more hope, more moments of buoyancy and redemption, the more I give up. The more I let go, do without, reduce, the more I feel rich. The more I let people be who they are, instead of cramming them into what I need from them, the more surprised I am by their beauty and depth."

Give it up more = Get more (of the real stuff, like balance and harmony and peace and freedom that only Jesus offers in FULL!)

As a professional organizer all those years ago when I would be with a client and they were overwhelmed by their stuff yet overwhelmed with the decision to let it go when it came time to make a decision, I would place both my hands on their shoulders and press firmly and then release and say, that is what it feels like to have all this stuff and then the burden is lifted and you are given more life when you get rid of this stuff. It worked 85 percent of the time 15 percent of the time I just reorganized or shuffled the stuff around to make it look like less but the ones who released...they were the ones who found that "buoyancy" Shauna is talking about.

Last quote, "Shalom is happening all around us, but it never happens on its own. The best things never do happen on their own, and shalom is the best thing. In the same way that forgiveness never feels natural until after it's done, and hope always feels impossible before we commit to it, in the same way that taking is easier than giving, and giving in is easier than getting up, in that same way, shalom never happens on its own."

So to bring this back to Jesus, because that is just how it is for me. I get that from my mom too. Nathan says, "You spiritualize everything!" I am ok with that.

When I can release to Jesus, lay it all down which is so what this last couple of months have been about; learning to LAY IT ALL DOWN and not feel like IT is being taken from me, IT is what I think my life should look like, then I get to this place of Shalom. That pushing and making something work, only works when their is truth involved. Freedom and peace is only harbored because I let IT go and gave it back to whom it belongs.

"It happens when we do the hardest work, the most secret struggle, the most demanding truth telling. In those moments of ferocity and fight, peace is born. Shalom arrives, and everything is new. And when you've tasted it, smelled it, fought for it, labored it into life, you'll give your soul to get a little more and its always worth it."

Laying my soul back down at the throne and running fiercely hand in hand with my Jesus into the day, maybe even the dark yet when I do I will get more because I know there is more getting in giving than the latter.

A little bit of peace and a little bit of freedom add some balance and harmony and there and that sounds about perfect.


Now to go get my running shoes on and run into the day!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


We know...We know...6 months ago was the last post and the last newsletter even longer ago! But we are still here, very much so, plugging away.

One of our most amazing teachers Esther Brunat committed to another year in Panama...we love that kinda news around here.

Here is a post she wrote on her own blog last week with a little shout out to Nathan and his leadership class and a particular student who has made some pretty huge changes in her life since we first met her almost 5 years ago. Follow the Student Spotlight link below...and when you are finished read her most recent post about why she is staying another year!

Student Spotlight

Saturday, May 25, 2013


One of my favorite things to do is plan a party! So a planning I went. I had 3 weeks since my last project where I redid a friends house while she was away as a surprise (that was fun and crazy and worth it and for another post...) so this time it was THE SENIOR BANQUET!

I set the theme for the night and went with a Global theme with maps and worlds!

The invitations was suppose to look like a luggage tag and complete with a passport page! Thank you graphic friend Cheryl (and friend of other gifts too!)

I searched the city high and low and even lower to get what I could (not what I want, remember I like in Panama and "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit!"

So here is how the night turned out and here is my charge to this great class of 2013.

"It is not the just the "Oh the Places You Will Go." It's 'where you have been' and 'where you are now' that help make how you go. I choose this theme and prayed for each of you by name as I cut out maps and twirled paper. I pray that because of where you came from you are ready for where you are going. You kids from all over the world, kids that speak multiple languages that live cross culturally, you have a leg up but remember to give because it is not about what you get out of this world, it is about what you give. Give and you will see how you will be the one blessed. If I want you to remember anything from tonight remember that. Giving is better than getting. Now GO....!"

Getting ready for the big night! 

Some of my crazy helpers!!!

Something for all to do! 

Most of my Senior Banquet Helpers! Yall are awesome...even if you needed community service hours! 

Before the Lights went out...not the strands...that did happen 4 times when we were stringing them! 

Lights out and trying the color lens!  
Ready to GO!

So the whole story behind the Map. A friend's husband is an artist and she gets prints done to sell and the printer wraps the prints in these old air or sea maps. So we got tons of them for free!!! 

God is so good how these things come together! $1 plants from the store. Re-used pots from past parties,  $.50 placemat from the chinito, free map, chalk board I bought in CA,  candles and sand!  

Can't go wrong with lights and lanterns! 

So 90 Balloons will not fill up a room...it will just slightly cover the high gloss oil bases cream paint. Lets just say no one has asked me to pick out paint colors at the church....I am waiting though. 

Teachers and favorite "Greek Girl!" My servers and helpers for the night had to dress up "Globally!" They got pretty creative! 

Wish the lights were out so you could see hoe adorable this turned out! 

You get the picture! 

Saw these on pinterest and had all my extra time kids cutting and stapling!  
So cool seeing how each turned out differently, like snowflakes! 

Seniors....a place of honor! 

When you run out of blue paint on the last letter you improvise with darker paint and make it look like shadows...sort of!  

What to do with the columns! 

At least the juice matches the kitchen colors! 

Some of our CCA Ladies! 

Jason and Anjali! Helpers! 


Half way through the banquet I started panicking that the glass was gonna sweat on the piano! No Sweat! 

Some CCA men...counting Michael our Student Council President! 

Senior Boys and Mrs. Hillburn! 

Some of the Senior Girls! 

Helpers...and some of my Soccer Girls! 

The Liang Family! Jane (left) plays soccer for me! 

2013 SENIORS!!!!! 

Past Grad Carla...my right hand woman during this fun week! 
My best accessory...this good looking man! (Yep Dad, my nails are blue!)

Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24, 2003 to May 24, 2013...10 Years.

10 Years.
4 Pregnancies.
5 Kiddos.
1 Dog.
Countless Geckos.
8 Moves. (1 International)
1 Apartment.
1 House Remodeled with our own 2 hands.
1 Apartment.
1 House built.
1 Pitstop at Parents.
1 Pitstop at Aunt and Uncle's.
1 Apartment Remodeled.
1 Pitstop at Aunt and Uncle's.
1 Apartment Doubled in Size Addition.
2 Grandparents Buried.
2 New Sister in Laws.
6 Nieces.
2 Nephews.
1 Major Back Surgery.
6 Emergency Room Visits.
1 Set of Stitches.
1 Cat Scan.
1 Broken Bone.
6 Vehicles.
2 Stolen Vehicles.
1 Car Break-in.
1 Apartment Break-in.
2 Teaching Jobs.
1 Nanny Job.
1 Preschool Job.
1 Design Job.
33 Teams Coached or ADed. (Football, Wrestling, Track, Basketball, Soccer)
Countless Tennis Shoes!
2 Building Jobs.
1 Door to Door selling Pest Control Job.
2 Lost Jobs.
3 Months Unemployment.
1 Business Started.
Countless Clients.
1 Ministry Started.
Countless Supporters.
3 small groups.
Many best friends.
10 years of women's Bible Studies.
2 years of men's Bible Studies in US.
2 years of men's Bible Studies in Panama.
10 Cell Phones.
2 Banks.
2 Dwell Cities.
2 Dwell Countries.
1 Honeymoon.
1 Babymoon.
1 Anniversamoon.
1 Garage Sale.
2 Mac Home computer.
3 Laptops.
1 IPad.
1 IPad mini.
3 Ipods.
4 Nanos. (Don't ask!)
3 Infant Carriers.
6 Carseats. (Stateside and International)
4 Boosters Seats.
1 Set of Bunk Beds.
5 Different Cribs. (some borrowed...some handmedowns)
4 Double Strollers.
3 Single Strollers.
1 Set of Stainless Silverware.
1 Set of Tervis Tumblers.
1 Mattress.
3 Sheets of Queen Sheets.
3 Sets of Towels.
3 Duvets. (Just started on 3rd!)
1 Set of Pillows.
Bi weekly visits to Target/Walmart reduced to Less than 5 a Year.
3 Tooth Fairy Visits.
3 Kitchen Tables
1 Bible each.
8 Children's Bibles.
Where do we stop!

We started with a foundation. We have built on top of that, some of it has stayed some of it torn down...But the foundation is still strong. So grateful that I waited. I waited for the right man and God gave me you, Nathan Richardson! What a happy happy day it was to marry you! I wouldn't change a thing....well maybe the fact that I was on Valium bc I herniated a disc in my back a few days before....but at least I don't remember the back pain!

Loved laughing in bed last night trying to remember what we imagined the first 10 years of marriage to hold. I know it was way different than what we were thinking...but it has been so much better! Can't wait to see what the next 10 years has! I know I wasn't expecting to build a house and sell it less than a year later to move to Panama or expecting to ever be a missionary or expecting a 15 passenger van much less 2 and both stolen and never in my wildest dreams did I expect twins!! The last 10 years have been boring.....hope to be REALLY blown away the next 10! 

You have given me so much and not one thing holds value to me in any way close than to you and our 5 babies....and as you reminded me this week that I have expensive taste...I do and I know I am blessed!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Third Culture, Steeples and Sobs

Third Culture. That's what our kids are. Third Culture Kids. It means they don't belong to their first culture, 'Merica. They have lived more life outside of the US than inside.

They ask questions when we are back for a visit like, "Mom and Dad, what are all these buildings with points on them?" We look at each other "STEEPLES?" They just learned what disposals are and say English words with Spanish accents...it quite cute until my blonde kid tells the latin Exxon gas clerk, "Ahlow" instead of "Hello!"...."Lo siento vivimos en Panama, somos missionarios. Ellos hablan espanol." Annnnd then there is the awkward "ahhh ok."

Ok. So they don't fit in the States. They live in Panama. They are not Panamanians. For sooooo many obvious reasons. And they don't belong to their second culture, Panama.

So they are "MKs." You have all heard that before, Missionary Kids. The culturally correct terminology is Third Culture Kids. There are books written about it. But man is it hard to know your kids don't actually fit into anything but a term. I read a blog today from a missionary mom from Columbia and kinda snot cried and she NAILED it.

Its not just the kids who feel out of place...actually pretty soon they don't even know they are but I am a Third Culture Mom and this is how I feel on a hard day...not every day...but some.  


The reality (one I am grateful for and a fan of) is, that this is totally God's will for our children to be here, not there. She is right...it is a constant death of idols. So many things I miss, but this is where the the Lord wants us, all 7 of us, right now. Here in Panama.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Abby's Adventures

When we first visited Panama...we met Abby. I was confident she was going to be one of my favorite people!

The first year we were here I honestly didn't see her much but had a sweet time getting to know all the 650 crew. Abby was actually working on her masters, tutoring after school and like most people who have lived her for any amount of time busy with lots of stuff!

Thankfully with her masters wrapped up we finally got to spend some quality much loved time with Abby. Oh my how the Lord has used her to bless the heck out of us! Her spiritual gifts are enormous!

This past year she moved within the Crossroad's ministry as a teacher and took over the Children's Ministry. She has done a REMARKABLE job. Just this weekend there was a mini retreat for the little kiddos and my girls were able to spend the night and we found out that Abby kissed each one of the kids on the forehead before they went to bed and told them she loved them. The amazing thing is, is that she does love them...each one of them!

Abby has been in Panama for 7 years and her adventure here has come to an end. I felt it coming last year and sobbed at the mere thought of her not being here. Her very presence soothe's my soul. My children are the utmost safe and secure under her. I know she prays for us, I know she articulates her words and that they are from the Lord. I know her gifts and talents are vast. I knew I couldn't keep her forever.

I called her sometime in the last 3 months and told her she had the Richardson's blessing to go where the Lord leads...but selfishly I wished it was nowhere but Panama. I should have told her sooner, but as it turns out it was perfect timing for her. (You can read back in her blog about it!)

This is my ode to her and how very dear she is to me, my kids, our family. She would show up for hours and just hold babies or carpool big kids. She is an encourager. She is a friend and she will be missed. BUT now we have anther friend in Dallas. A friend who has made our lives richer.

Abby Spencer....The Richardsons love you. You have changed our lives.

Read here about her next adventure and how it is the Lord who determines our steps!

Abby's Next Adventure