A lone leafless tree with a blanket of snow beneath and a little bird perched on a branch.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
A lone leafless tree with a blanket of snow beneath and a little bird perched on a branch.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Some of us long for peace. That "state of tranquillity or quiet" To live in "harmony" with those around us, whether spouse or children, friends, family or neighbors. All these words "tranquility, quiet, freedom, security, order, harmony, concord, agreement, silence, calm" are "states" I think we rarely have this kind of peace and when we do, maybe we don't know what to do with it, knowing how to spend such precious states.
Do you sleep? Do you read? Do you turn on the TV? Do you go to the computer? Do you pull out your phone? Do you put in music? What is it that you do?
Some us may cringe at the thought of being alone with only ourselves. Someof us never let on to a soul that we have no peace in our lives, our homes, our jobs, our hearts, the very pit of our souls.
I am that person who cannot wait in line without speaking something to the person in front of me, or that person who wants to comment on every facebook status. I want to be involved in everything; one because it looks like it would be awesome to be a part of it or two because I think I could make it better. I cannot even enjoy little moments of peace bc I am thinking of all the things I could do if I JUST HAD MORE!! (but that is a whole different subject...called contentment!)
Many of you ask how my Spanish is coming. It is coming well. I am learning, I am feeling confident to speak and sometimes to understand and reply. BUT I will tell you that I have found such a peace in my everyday from not knowing spanish and from being in a foreign country.
Track with me.
-no TV (other than movie watching)
-only intentional phone conversations (no minutes to use up)
-radio is only in Spanish
-most songs on radio are in Spanish, some in English...same ones over and over from the 90s
-restaurant, grocery, mall, any other public place all conversations are in a different language.
-no mail with sale fliers
-billboards are in Spanish
-bumper stickers and every commercial truck signs...all in Spanish
I am alone with my own thoughts. There are few outside sources pumping thoughts into my mind, very few and it is sooo peaceful.
I began asking the Lord, I will be on full overload when I am in an English speaking place, what will I do then? Is this the only way to find peace, to take away all these distractions? I didn't even know I was this distracted, not to even mention the daily tasks of mothering and wifery!
I still have plenty that could keep me from a state of peace and I am learning that I can only find peace in Christ Jesus. Even when I do have "time allotted" to me of peace sometimes it is not peaceful, bc it is my heart that is not at peace.
I may have peace in the midst of my chaos, While I am even cooking dinner in a kitchen that is well over 80 degrees and having little people at my feet begging.
We all have broken hearts and blasted lives to some degree or another BUT Jesus say - "in Me, peace!"
In Christ we have peace in our disturbance giving us tranquility; peace in the commotion giving us quiet; peace in our restraints giving us freedom; peace in our insecurities giving us security; peace in disorder giving us order; peace in being off key giving us harmony; peace in discord and disagreements giving us concord and agreement; peace in chaos giving us silence; peace in the storms giving us calm.
In Christ we find Peace! I will not let my flesh rob me of the inner peace that I have found in Christ's forgiveness - my heart's assurance. When I am at peace with my Savior I am at peace with myself.
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee." Isaiah 26:3
I am finding peace in the everlasting Love of my Father. I am praying for all of you to know the same peace that I am finding.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
We have had many encouraging days and many discouraging days following by some more encouraging ones!
Basketball, has been very discouraging. It is safe to say that we have not had a winning season...all 6 teams. This week marks the end of basketball and it can not come soon enough.
Nathan has done an awesome job with what he has been given. Improving on the athletics in many areas....but if you don't have the talent...you just don't have the talent!
I asked him yesterday what he felt like the Lord has taught him most, he said patience. I said do you think you have learned it then...followed by a big "NO WAY!" We both had a good laugh...we are both learning patience.
Nathan posted about relationships and how we have been very encouraged by the many relationships we have already developed. There is one in particular that I would covet your prayers for.
I have had the opportunity to drive all my girls (8th-12th grade) to all our practices and games (that is for a whole new post...11 girls in a 7 passenger and I ran over the bag of balls, 6 of them, not my finest moment!)It has been a privilege to watch them enteract with each other and to see them growing as people and as a team. We have two girls on the team that are completely new to the school (most are new to bball.) One of the new girls lives up the road from us.
I am not going to share her name, but she is from Europe and speaks fluently in three languages and understands 2 more, one being Russian! Her mother died when she was 7 leaving her father with three children in a foreign country. They have just moved to Panama as he has continued his work here. This is her first christian school to attend. All others have been science based, as she described to me.
She has come under my wing, always riding in the front seat,babysitting for our kids every Thursday night when she is not grounded, treating our car and stroller as if it is her own when we are at school functions and her father is not around, and sharing about her adjustments to living here and about her life growing up. It has been my joy.
Last week she was reading "Left Behind." She is an avid reader and very brilliant.
The few weeks prior I asked her if she wanted to come to church with us, she looked like I had just run over a cat, she was so shocked saying, "I can't remember the last time we went to church." She and her brother agreed to come but called the night before to say they could not. We did not pry praying for other opportunities.
Last week after dropping everyone else off I asked her how she like "Left Behind" she said she loved it. I asked her what she loved about it. She said all of it. Then I asked her if she was going to be Left Behind, she replied, "probably."
I asked her why she felt that way and she said she was so confused, confused about everything. The only things she knew for sure was that, "I am here, and that I am a girl. Beyond that, I have no idea."
We continued in a deep conversation of what the Bible means and what it means to follow the Lord. She said that there was a lot for her to think about.
Please first pray that she feels the presence of the Lord in her life, that she accepts that she is loved unconditionally by a Heavenly Father, she has be given a place to release her sins and that she can give her life to someone whom she cannot see, she cannot understand, and she cannot figure out.
Her brain is trying to grasp the profoundness of what the Bible is saying and she wants to figure it out...without the love of the Lord in her heart. I want so badly for her to accept His love and love in return.
Please pray for many more opportunities for her to share and for me to share and for me to love and encourage. Pray for a wise and discerning heart, and pleasant words to promote instuction. That I may be a fountain of understanding and for my mouth to be guided. (Proverbs 16:21-23.)
There are so many more things I want to tell you about her....hopefully soon I will have lots!
This is why we are here. This is why we are sweating our brains out and shuffling our kids around so that we may coach these kids. It is such an awesome way to love, teach and encourage...with the love of our Savior.
I will be with her, even today!
Pray for courage, boldness, knowledge of the Holy Spirit and always for patience!!
Team pictures on Wednesday....I will post asap!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Sadly, as soon as we unloaded the crate we piled it into the middle of the rooms and covered it all with plastic as we had much to go in having a livable apartment. The school was so gracious to put new floors in and re-do the bathrooms. Another taste of Panama would be how long the processes are here. I just about drove the painters crazy. There were complete walls of paint peeling off. They arrived the first day and painted two rooms without so much as wiping off a few years of dirt and grim much less sanding. I spent days sanding with them. It was a full two weeks of spanish lessons. It ended up being a blessing because I was forced into remembering and learning the language. Nathan would probably tell you that NO ONE can paint a room to my satisfaction except myself. I think he may be correct. I can tell you this, it may not be perfect, but its a lot better than what was there!
These are the painters. In the two weeks we spent 'lejando y pintando" (sanding and painting) they called me a princess, detailed, boss, commander, perfectionist....and that is what I heard! I think they finally got the picture that I wanted it done well. I taped down the floor lines and they said, "We don't do that here in Panama!" I said I knew that and that is exactly why I was doing it! I treated them to many Snicker bars hoping they would see beyond my needs for perfection! We spent a few nights going behind them and sanding and cleaning. They had never seen or heard of a 5 and 1 tool used for all your painting/scraping needs! Nathan has been a huge trooper with all my perfection detailed princess bossy moments!
We are moved it, plastic is off, sanding and painting has commenced until a later date and I have the urge to be nerotic! We are having fun settleing in and enjoying our neighbors...fellow teachers with Nathan. We are so grateful to the people helped us with our furniture and so many other things to make this feel like home and to look beautiful! All three kids are sleeping WELL together and having lots of fun giggling and jumping on the beds. Hope they remember these days! I know I will never forget. I am doing my best to remember the Lord's promises of yesterday, of today and for our future and not dwell on what I do not have, but remember what I do. So many prayers have been answer and so many new ones have manifested.
More to come....just taking it one day at a time!
All our love! Clare and gang
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I believe it is all about relationships. We are here to glorify God and to share what He has done in our life with others. To be able to share and give input with others, you have to have put time in. That comes through family, being a friend in tough times, a listening ear, a shoulder, youth leader, counselor, carpooling, small group, bible study, or meals together. Relationships are what makes life messy. It is easier to not be involved in someone's life then to deal with issues and to love them through their faults and risk the same for yourself.
This contributes to why teaching is such a draining profession. You are in the middle of relationships with parents and students. You come across more people then most typical workplaces. I have been praying about seeing the children for who they are and what the Lord has in store for them. They will one day be husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. It is easy to lose track of that when you are trying to manage a classroom. I pray that I am teaching life lessons and shaping them to be joyful in serving our Lord.
Relationships back home are definitely missed. It is hard to be away from the ones that we love. It is more difficult in that I must choose to not dwell on what I am missing, but to be where I am. This is more a defense mechanism than anything. We are working on being content with where the Lord has us. Some days that is easy, as I play games with kids, see parrots flying by, watch a cruise ship go through the canal, learning a new language, and countless other things. Other days it is more difficult, as I deal with parents that don't communicate, drive for an hour after a practice or game to take kids home, deal with staff that is anti-sports, have to talk with kids about their apathetic attitude, and learning a new language. On top of missing out on family gatherings, small groups back home, and groving in Oxford before a big game. Ro is especially homesick these days after a visit from her Grancy and Grampton. When she prays it is "Help us to be in Panama, I don't want to be in Panama." She then prays for everyone that she wants to come see her here. It kills me.
Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to do so. Pray that we hear God's words of encouragement and not Satan's doubts. I pray that you see the hearts around you that need prayer and love. We are all in this together.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I am realizing that a lot of teenagers just need someone to expect more out of them. I read a book called "Do Hard Things" that was written by teenagers for teenagers. I would recommend it for anybody that deals with that age or parents. The idea is that the concept of teenagers is a relatively new thing and that our expectations of teenagers are so low in comparison to history. We talk about "kids these days" but we have allowed this time of childhood to go on for two long even though they have the mental and physical capacity of adults. Today they are "a good kid" if they are staying out of trouble and go to church. We don't expect anything proactive as far as taking on responsibilities or working to better the community. It all goes to the fact that we all want to be tested and found worthy and capable. We just need to give teenagers more opportunities, so they can see what they can accomplish and come along side them when they fail to dissect what went wrong for the next time. These are the opportunities that I am praying for.
The other day I was going around to the basketball players that had low grades to talk to them. Some of them had this look of astonishment that I knew what their grade was and was telling them to get it up. I told them they had to take responsibility on themselves to go talk to the teacher and see what they need to do. I hope it will help be the kick in the pants that they need, or at least that someone outside of their house and the teacher cares about the work that they are putting forth. We will see this week if it pays off as Friday is grade check time for eligibility.
We had a basketball parent's meeting a couple weeks ago in which about 10% of the parents showed up. It went well for the ones that were there. I was disappointed with the turnout even though that was about what I figured in the days leading up to it. I reminded myself that I just have to keep telling the same message and that eventually they would catch on. Clare reminded me that if I could get it to where I wanted to be in the first year, that there would be no reason to stay. I have to keep focus on doing the right thing and not focus on what is not changing.
I have the privilege to coach the Sub 12 boys basketball team that ranges from 3rd graders to 7th graders. It takes me a bit to slow down and see that these kids have never really played basketball or been on any organized team. They do not understand the concept of focus, hustle, and hard work. I am growing in patience and losing even more hair. We are improving, but I found out last year they lost a game 52-6 and we lost most of our players, so I am not clearing any spots out on the trophy stand just yet. Most of the other teams look to be competitive so that will be fun.
It is hard to capture some of the busyness we have been the last few weeks,as I know many of you are super busy yourselves. I will give you a glimpse of a couple days last week.
Wake up feeling sick
Go to work to then need to get a sub as I was sick.
Go to the Dr to end up getting two antibiotics and 4 doses of shots for Clare to administer
Find out that we will need to unload our crate as there are no muchachos.
Go to recruit a new friend to help move.
Unload the crate in the rain.
Go back to school, still sick
Cover the elementary PE teacher's classes that fainted the day before playing dodgeball with my classes.
So I am outside straight from 8 to 2:30 with classes of K4 that speak very little english all the way to apathetic seniors. I tried to do something structured with the little kids but gave up after 15 minutes and just gave the m some balls to just run around and play with.
Have basketball practice from 3- 5 with 17 kids while it is raining, so I get wet and the floor is wet.
Wait around for an hour for a student to get picked up.
Rush home to change clothes and eat a bite before playing in a game where some adults scrimmaged the varsity boys team. Sadly for the adults I was one of the leading players. My head was pounding, but it was fun. It was my first refereed bball game since 5th grade and thankfully I played better than I did back then.
All of this while waiting to hear and talk to my sister who had my 4th niece, Sarah Paige Forrester. All went well, but I had a tough time of feeling like I was missing out. I wanted to be in the hospital to greet her and be with family. Can't wait for my kids to meet their new cousin.
We are so thankful for your prayers. We feel lifted up, because despite the craziness we are making it and feel like we are seeing some fruit in why we are here. When we went to the Dr we saw a parent of a CCA student that I have. We were asking him about what he did. He is a brick runner. He takes cement blocks to remote villages to help them build better places to meet and live. And through that he is able to minister to the tribes. It is a rough trip for him to get there that involves boats, trucks, and sometimes horses. He is a a modern tent maker. He told us what a blessing CCA was to them with their ministry and being at a place where there daughter was at a good school. Clare and I looked at each other and said this is why we are here. It was good to hear as we needed the encouragement in fighting of the sickness throughout the family and working to get into out apartment so we can get settled.
Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble i will call to you, for you will answer me.
Monday, August 31, 2009
I have much to share about what is going on here in Panama which I may do later today.
My heart is heavy for my sweet friend who loves so well and never seems to be weary in loving not just her six children but all God's children.
She left TN before we left for Panama. She was heading to CA to pick up her sixth baby, Wylie. She and her husband have adopted 4 of their six.
It is week nine and they are still processing papers in CA for Wylie. She is there with her younger kiddos waiting...patiently.
Please pray for Heather and Scott for the time in CA to end so they may return home with Wylie soon. For Favor in the courts, for health for their other children and strength and continued patience.
I had not know Scott and Heather long (and sadly wish I could know them better) before I knew that these were two people who loved each other, loved their children, loved those around them and most importantly they love the Lord and are unafraid of it oozing from them.
Please pray with me for them today.
Their blog is www.redingtonfamily.blogspot.com
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
The National Bird of Panama! Quite a threat from what we understand!
This was the only paved road in the zoo. The rest of the walk/stroll was off roading. It took me back to my high school days! Thankfully it had not yet rained for the day and only required minimal hosing off of the shoes and strollers.
I wish I could remember the names of all the animals. These were like small hippos with anteater faces. Interesting animals in Panama!
Just a random picture from my day...a zoo in and off itself! I am not sure whose day is longer...Nathan in the heat with teenagers playing games all day...or mine, inside with toddlers playing "games" all day? Its up for a vote!
The monkeys were begging for food at the zoo!
This was a rare moment. Ro taking it in how close she was. I asked her to turn around and take a picutre. She said, "No thank you, Its too close!" Most definitely I agree!
We are looking over the ledge at the small alligator charging our way! He just is loose in the zoo!...as are a few other animals!
New friends and cousins! We were so excited to have an invite to the zoo. It cost us big money for 2 adults and 5 kids...$2.25....bets the Nashville Zoo any day!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday we all piled in our Envoy (filled with gas for those of you worried about previous excursions!) We picked up Drew and Ellie from the airport. They were coming from doing all the music for Young Life at the camp, Crooked Creek. They had just a little time to do a few things before driving to another Young Life camp, Windy Gap to be continuing with music.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
"He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds."
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
For those of you who do not know the details of how we got from the offer to the dotted line I will tell you that it has been one of the most agonizing situations we have been through as a couple. Nothing tries your marriage and your flesh like selling a house!
When we moved into the house ten months ago I never felt a peace about it being mine. Every trip down the street home and everytime I looked up at my trey ceiling and wiped down the granite countertops I would ask the Lord, "please don't take this house away from me; I love it." Everytime that I asked, I heard the reply, "I am going to take this house from you Clare." Well, the house is no longing in our name and not only did the Lord take it from me, He made (I say made like a 2 year old dragging her heels in defiance,) he made me GIVE it away.
Most of you reply when I tell of our home selling, "That is AWESOME!" I am continueing to remind myself of the miracle in selling it, not in the amount sold.
Other than the prayers of so many of you and the helping hands of some as well...thank you Thomas and Paige especially.....the only peace I have found is in my Jesus.
I had three hours in the car by myself last week and put in an old mix of music I found in our "moving." (I also found Whitney Houstons Dance Mix, I am saving that one for another solo trip, Nathan can't take it, it is right on up there with Celine Dion's Power of Love for him!) On this cd was a some old hymns that were honey to my soul. Some of you know them, but the one that I keep humming is "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." It has given me such joy and such deep peace knowing who my Friend is and I want to share it with you.
"What A Friend We Have In Jesus"
"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privelege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All bc we do not carry everything to God in prayer."
"Have we trials and temptaions? Is there trouble any where?
We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness, take it to the Lord in prayer."
"Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our Refuge-Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He'll take and shield thee, thou wild find a solace there."
My solace is in the Lord. As much as I hate to admit it, I love my things. The things being my house, my things in my house, my places I like to shop, the places I like to eat. All these things are sold or in my friends houses (beautifully displayed I might add) some things stored away, all these places will change, but what will not change is the Friend I have in Jesus.
Also, on a very important side note, many of you have asked how you may support us and why you have not recieved a letter....well, we have been one step behind ourselves and will hopefully get them out in the next two weeks so you may have more specifics about what we are doing, how we are going to do it and anything else! We are making our way to Panama...ONE STEP AT A TIME!
Praise God for His Faithfulness!