Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Hanging by a Limb"

A lone leafless tree with a blanket of snow beneath and a little bird perched on a branch.

This was the scene from our Christmas Card last year. Underneath the tree was three picture boxes, one box for each child. It had their full names and ages (I never sent anouncements, so was hoping this would make-up for my lacking!) Underneath all of this was the greeting:
"Peace Love and Joy"
"The Richardsons"

Because there was a little bird out on the limb what I really wanted to put instead of "Peace Love and Joy" was:
"Hanging by a Limb"
"The Richardsons"

The only reason why I didn't do it was because I was afraid that 2009 would be worse and the limb would brake, we would fall in the snow, the snow would turn to mud, we would have wounded wings or bent beaks. You get the picture!

I had NO IDEA what 2009 would hold when I sent off those beautiful 2008 Christmas Cards!

I will tell you that the branch did break off, right out from under us. The soft snow did turn to mud and maybe we did get wounded and bent, BUT...

We are back on the tree. It's just that we are on a different branch on the Tree of Life. The view is different. We are different.

I wouldn't change much about 2009. I am grateful for the great and mighty things the Lord has told me...that I never knew. (Jeremiah 33:3) That my Lord put wells of his Living Water in our wilderness. That He gave me more reasons to need Him and to be nearer to Him.

I hope that I learn more and need more and am nearer more to my Savior in 2010. I hope I don't have to fall of a branch and wallow in the snow and mud again...BUT...!!

In one breath I have great expectations for 2010 but also in another I have ZERO expectations, the kind of expectations where you have no agenda and are looking forward to seeing how the Lord shows up!!!

We wish you all a very Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

"Same Tree, Different Branch"
"The Richardsons"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Best Laid Plans

Well, the last month here in Panama, has been a trying one for my job as Athletic Director. It had a few bright spots, but also had its trials. I will try to share both and see if you can tell what are the high and the lows.

We wrapped up our basketball season with 2 4th place teams and 1 3rd place team. On the final game of the Sub 18 boys game, we hired a Diablo Rojo to transport fans to the game. (Red Devil for those of you who do not speak Spanish. It is a scary school bus converted to a taxi.) The bus showed up an hour late leaving us about 15 minutes before the game was to start, and then proceeded to head to the wrong school, but we got there 5 minutes after the start. We ended up with about 150 fans to cheer us on! It was awesome to have full stands cheering our guys on against the #1 team in our league. Unfortunately the scoreboard was not working at the school so most of our fans were clueless on the score! After the game we headed to load the buses only to have a torrential downpour that caused us to wait 40 minutes before there was a break to load up the kids, but we returned tot he school with everyone we were supposed to, only 15 minutes late. None of this is A typical to Panama.

After that last basketball game, we moved into Volleyball season. I was fortunate to have 4 experienced volleyball coaches able to work with our kids. We had the boys and girls practice together with a total of about 23 kids come out. It was great to see a number of kids that normally did not do sports or any activity come out and give it a try and really have fun with it. (I am sure that the boys and girls practicing together didn't hurt anything!) We had to cram the season in as we were set to have the tournament after only three weeks of practice with one week of Panamanian Independence days. The week of the tournament, I was informed that there would not be a tournament, because there wasn't enough participation from the other schools. We scrambled together two teams from two different churches and a staff team, and played a number of games. The kids had a lot of fun and got to show off what they had learned. It was supposed to go to 5:00 and most everyone stayed and played past 6:00. It was such a good turnout for kids of all ages that we are going to try to have volleyball games at school one Friday a month for anyone to stay after and play, both students and faculty.

The next weekend we were set to have a Track and Field Meet for ages 3rd grade through 12th. We worked hard to recruit kids (especially the older ones) to participate to fill out our roster. We did races during PE and had showed them the long jump and shot put. We had one practice rained out. I was all set for our one and final practice by myself (the other coach went home sick) with mostly elementary and middle school kids when I got a call. It was to inform me that the track meet was cancelled two days before the track meet. It had been double booked with a Special Olympics event. Basically, when our league scheduled the track meet no one checked the calendar to make sure nothing was already on that date. A fine example of organization in Panama. So I had to break it to the kids that there was no meet and then have a practice for an event that wasn't going to happen. It was interesting. We did some races for about an hour and then the kids played soccer until the parents came. It did allow me to have some time just hanging out and talking with some high schoolers which is so valuable.

Upcoming we are starting a CCA Fitness Club this next week. I hope it is the beginning of something new at CCA as we are inviting all 8th graders and up and staff. Besides the fitness and conditioning, I hope it brings camaraderie between students and faculty. I think it can be a huge boost for the athletics.

Pray for me to have wisdom on what programs to work on and pursue without over committing the few resources I have or stretch the kids too far. Also pray, that as recruitment for next year's staff starts that more teachers with an interest in doing activities with students after school come to CCA. I am thankful that God has his plans and I can leave my burden with him. Thank you for your prayers, I cannot share enough what a blessing it is knowing people are out there praying specifically for us.

"For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building."
- 1 Corinthians 3:9

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Some of us carry our lack of peace like a badge. I know I am guilty of that, "We had THREE children in less than THREE years!"

Some us may cringe at the thought of being alone with only ourselves. Some

of 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)

-no txting

-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

-no target

-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

Left Behind

We are almost three months in with our life in Panama. It has been a sweet time of growing and learning through many different facets!
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 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


The "Evergreen" Crate arrived after a mostly safe voyage on the "Ever Divine." We were grateful to not have any extra taxes and we found favor with everyone involved. We got a good taste of how Panama operates as we went back and forth to the office handeling the process on the Panama side of things....a sweet taste with the exception of the location of the office. After wandering around the insides of a seeminly deserted building we happened upon an office under total renovation down a dark hall...the office was still in full effect though! We had a few damaged goods. Some things damp. It seemed as if the crate had been dipped into the ocean about 18 inches up. It was still like Christmas!
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


It is a testimony to prayer at how we are starting to feel settled in here. We have been in our apartment for three weeks now. It has been a huge blessing to have our own place since dismantling our house back in April. Clare has done an awesome job as you could expect in organizing and maximizing the space. I think all we have left to do is to get some coverings for some windows and to get a few things up on the wall. It has already been called "the vortex" since it just sucks you in. That's what we wanted. At times it feels like we are living in a college dorm again as the people we work with and socialize are just a few steps away. Except this time we have kids. We are very grateful for our neighboring teachers that were very gracious with us as they let us use their oven and washer and dryer while we were waiting on ours to be delivered and fixed. It has been fun to be in fellowship with our new neighbors and getting to know them, their background, and their faith. Just as we have been learning the cultural difference in Christianity while living in Panama, I am getting to see how there are many different Christians carrying out God's work in different ways and mindsets in the States. I just pray that we can learn to not see the differences but celebrate how we love our Saviour.

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

6 Weeks In

It is hard to believe that we are starting our 6th week of school this week. It had been both challenging and rewarding. The classes have been going well. I feel that most of the kids have been really responsive to me, but I definitely have a few more to win over with each grade being a bit different. There are also a few kids that I feel like I am really getting through to and starting to establish a relationship with. Ones that I can talk with for a bit when I have a chance and get to know what is going on in their life. It is great when you get to have those breakthrough conversations for the first time and you see a genuine smile.

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.

Psalm 86:6-7

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

A Heavy Heart

Sweet Friends.
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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Vallirosa...that would be the name of the Doctor we have visited now three times since our arrival in Panama. He is a kind man who thankfully speaks English quite well.
I may or may not have mentioned that Ro had been a bit under the weather. That would be an understatement at this point. She has run a fever many of the days we have been here, even if it has been low grade. She had a pretty good fever on Sunday and it has escalated this week to becoming a fever of 104.6 this afternoon. Dr. Vallirosa saw her for the third time and she has a pretty good double ear infection as well as a good cough and swelling around her eyes, due to the fluid infection.
She is a huge trooper, getting her blood work done last week and a shot today....not to mention that the antibiotics are not flavored.
I am asking that you join us in praying for the Lord to heal her little body that she would return to her normal self and not be in constant battle with her own body and every little sickness lingering for her to find. She is a nail bitter and I am sure that is of no help in fighting infection.
She has been a much better patient than I have been a nurse. There is only a computer for watching movies (there is one tv in the basement far far away from all other activity) and she has two other little creepers who want to be in the know of exactly what is going on with her! Tonight she was asking me to tell her a story about Jesus and then we found her singing later about how Jesus carried his own cross not just for her, but for "eeeevvvverrry oooonnee!" I wish I was that pleasant when I felt sick thanking him for dying for not only me, but for all. If I am thankful when I am not well, it is only a choice not a feeling!
We are so eager to have our comforts near and eager to be and feel some sense of settled! It comes with great news, it was much less than we anticipated. We found favor in some agents eyes, eyes we have not met! Praise the Lord for Panama following procedure!!
We are sad that our apartment in not but is almost ready. There is painting yet to be done and plumbing to be installed. We are hopeful to be in there within the week. This is hard for my type A personality to let go of some of the not so straight lines and the chunky grout lines. On the other hand I am beyond grateful for the people and the school that have afforded us the beauty of new floors, new bathrooms and many other things that will help in making Panama home...silly little things that are a big deal to me!

So here is a breakdown:
Praising the Lord for Favor from Customs
Praising the Lord that our Stuff is only hours away
Praising the Lord that Tylenol is in Panama
Prayer for Ro's body to heal and fight!
Prayer for the rest of us to remain healthy...we are all dragging a bit
Prayer for the remainder of the work left on the apartment will #1 move quicly #2 not present too much more of a mess #3 not send me (Clare) to the moon bc its not how I would do it, but don't have the time or the money....(i do know i am not perfect!)
Ro and the rest of the kiddos would be unaffected by the fact that we are scurrying to get into our apartment and are having to leave them more than we wish esp when sick...leaving our hearts behind.

There is so much more to wishing I was sitting in Brentwood Children's Clinic today!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Headline Pictures.

Pictures to Accompany Headlines!


CAR PURCHASED! Green Hyundai Terracon. Diesel. In Good Shape. Thrilled to Have Wheels.

10 Month Old Eats Toilet Paper...From Toilet...Toilet Was Backed-Up. Potty Paper. While Company Was Over. Child Smells Like Port A Potty.

Ro Askes Her Daddy Who She is Going to Marry...Pauses...."I Think Maybe You Daddy!"

Mother Can't Find Two Year Old After Checking On Her During Naptime. Mother Reading The Shack. Panic. 5 Minutes Searching. Two Year Old Found Asleep in Corner Between Wall and Dresser. Panic Diverted to Histerics. Laughter.

Dinner with Cottons. Dinner with Jordan and Lindsey. Dinner with Joel and Darby. Dinner with Cousins. Dinner with Cousins. Dinner with Matt and Misty. Dinner with Amy and Shelia.Dinner with Cousins. Dinner with 650. Dinner with Small Group. 3. Dinner with Cousins.

Clare Coaching Basketball. Grateful For Years of Practice Which Thought to be Unneccessary. Necessary. Hot. Need to Soak Aching Bones. Not 15 Anymore.

Nathan Coaching Sub 12 Boys. 20 Sub 12 Boys. Patience Necessary. Need to Saok Aching Bones. Not 15 Anymore. No Need For P90X.

3 Small Children take Cold Bath. Dinner From Microwave. Nathan Cold Shower. Clare Cold Shower. Forgot to order Tropi Gas.

Disposal. Dishwasher. Missing from Apartment. Better. Never There In the First Place. Seemingly Unnecessary.

Essie Colors on Wall.
Essie Colors on Ottoman.
Essie Tattoos Herself. Markers.
Essie Paints Herself. Lipstick. 5 Tubes. Destroyed. One Large Bathmat Rescued. Thankful for Tile.

Field Climbs Stairs. Field Rolls Down Stairs. Twice. Chairs Blocking. Now.

No Need f0r Dog. 10 Month Can Lick Floor from Fallen Food from Sisters...Never from the Mother.

Ready. Almost. Apartment. Tile. Paint. Clean-up.

Missed. Friends. Friends. Mom. Family. Paisley. Canonbury.

Missing 2 Year Old. Again. Found. Asleep Behind Couch Cushions.

Missing 2 Year Old. Again. Found. Asleep With Brother in Pack n Play.

Found. New Friends. Young and Our Age.

Books Read. The Shack. The Shack. The Noticer. The Noticer. Genesis. Exodus. Reading. The Land Between....

4 Weeks. No TV. No Target. Time to Read. Time to Talk. Time to Think. Time to Pray. Time to Spend with Others. Time to Prepare.

Marvi. Dan. Wife. Husband. Cousins. AMAZINGLY PATIENT. Giving Time. Giving. Impossible Without Either.

Stuff. Its Here. Somewhere. Pray for Favor. Customs Clearing.

Becky. Carla. Cary. Genesis. Stephanie. Avery. DD. Debra. Bella. Basketball Girls. Pray for More. Other Coach. Louis. Only Spanish.

Speaking Spanish. Not hearing Spanish. Pray for Ears that Hear. Pray for Mouth to Speak.

Homesick. This is Home. Need a Home. Soon.

Teachers. Instant Community. Awesome and Unique Community. Each Loves. Loves Children. Loves Panama. Loves Eachother. Hearts For Panama, Its People.

Joyful Learning. Preschool Co-op. Instant Friends. 2 2 Year Olds. 2 3 Year Olds. 2 Babies. Every Friday.

Support. Coming. Getting There. Pray for Wisdom. Pray for Diligence.

Still Parenting. Training up Children. Ours and Others. Coaching. Teaching.

Skype. Working Most Days. Spotty. Frustrating.

My Father. Issac's Father. Abrahams Father. Jacob's Father. He Still Is the "I AM." In Tennessee. In Panama. Never Changes Who my Father Is.

Stay Tuned. More To Come. I am Sure!

Each of You. Loved. Missed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Zoo

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! 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

First Days of School

Well, I have had my first days back at school in a few years, and they started off pretty good. I think I am a little stricter in my classroom management, but I feel confident that they will learn that this is in their best interest. The kids are pretty good kids and it is interesting, having so many different cultures in class. I am trying to fight making snap judgements about cultures and the attitudes of their culture that is instilled in kids. I am hoping to just love on each of them, where they are. Many of the students really don't have adults really paying attention to them as they have been raised by maids and parents that are not involved at all. I know I will learn more about this and will blog more about it in the future. The first days involved going over rules and expectations and teaching the basketball game Knockout. I was able to play with the kids and ask them questions while in line. Of course they were all rooting against me, but thankfully I held my own pretty good, even though I am embarrassed to say that I got beat by a group of 11th grade girls. I told them that they couldn't tell anyone. I am going to have my hands full with the 12th grade class. Besides, the usual too coolness of seniors, this class seems to have been pretty notorious for being apathetic and just plain poor attitudes. I feel confident that I can win the majority of them over.

I am at full speed recruiting kids to be involved in the basketball program that starts next week. I am also working on coaches, and practice gyms for the six teams that CCA has. I spent one day last week with my Irish elementary PE teacher, Simon, trying to find some gyms. It is humbling relying on somebody to translate everything for you. We thought we had found two, only to find out we couldn't use one of them. We are pursuing a few more places, and working on a practice schedule so that is what is keeping my plate full. Once we get some logistics behind us, then I hope to start working on some ways to do outreach with our sports teams. One thing, that I hope to get good feedback with is having some of the senior basketball players help coach the Sub 12 basketball teams. I think it will be a great experience on both sides.

I especially have been getting to know some of the other staff at the school and it is great starting to meet other like minded people from all over. They all have a different story and background and we look forward to getting to know them better. It is amazing how you can get along with just about anyone when there aren't a lot of choices, so you focus on similarities instead of looking at why you might not be able to be friends. It is great hearing and seeing the heart of different people and how they ended up in Panama.

Clare bought Field a walker to sit in since he started crawling. He is getting around fast in that thing. I know it is not going to be long before he is walking. He is pulling himself up and crawled up a couple stairs the other day. The girls are still having fun with their cousins, but they have been quite a handful the past week. Hopefully, we will get into a routine and schedule soon enough for their sake and our sanity. We did go to a Panamanian zoo today with another family. It wasn't quite the same as a zoo in the US. They were all animals native to Panama, and it was like they found the animal in the wild and put a cage around it. We got to see a jaguar, parrots, nellkehs (which we see everywhere and is kind of a cross between a rabbit and rat but the size of a small dog), toucans, turtles, a very large crocodile, caymans, monkeys in a cage a foot away, deer, some animal that looked like a mini hippo with an anteater face. It was a fun adventure.

We are learning how much more complex it is to getting things done here in Panama compared to the US. For example, I needed to get a simple paper notarized for our shipping of things. Where in the US, I could go to a bank and get it notarized for free, here I had to go through a lawyer and pay $20 for the notary and then the lawyer a $20 fee. That is just one example, and add to that the language barrier, and God is teaching us some serious patience and how to roll with the punches. We had dinner with a couple tonight that is working on adoption laws and the orphanages here in Panama and we were discussing the difference in our Western "get it done" culture and the "manyana" culture of Panama. It is interesting how both are in God's timing and plan. God loves us all, and there are people with both mind sets doing His work. We cant do anything faster than God's plan, and it is in His hands. I am finding comfort and rest in that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Few Pictures

This is after a little rain shower and some homemade popsickles. You can also see pink ice cream on their shirts from a morning adventure to the terminal to get blood work and fotos for our visa...we had to wait for the doctor for an hour and killed some time with some 90 cent ice cream at 10 am! One picture you can see the humidity in the air. Field is getting his 3rd and 4th tooth and is smiling big enough for you to see! He has learned to crawl in the last week and we bought him a walker...looks like it is from 1950...but it works and he LOVES it! JD, our cousin was our entertainment today! We are sad that our cousins will be starting school in two days...I am really sad! I will post some pictures tomorrow of how the apartment is coming!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Kissisng Hand

We packed a few children's books with us to tide us over until our shipment comes and let me tell you that I have read "Llama Llama Red Pajama" and "Green Eggs and Ham" and "I have a New Potty" so many times that I have lost count. Sooo when I heard there was a garage sale of someone with kiddos returning to the states I was hopeful that there would be some books I could buy and expand our material!
The garage sale was a bit over priced, but only the Americans have them so they can sell it for more than you think they should. $2 a book. I bought 4.
I have already read them several times today, but was struck by one in particular. Let me explain.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is a book about a racoon anxious about starting school not wanting to go, he likes his toys, his friends, his swing and wants to stay home with his momma. (I know how he feels!)
His mom tells him, "Sometimes we all have to do things we don't want to do, even if they seem strange and scary at first. But you will love school once you start." She goes on to tell him about the kissing hand. She takes his little paw spreads open his fingers and kisses him right in the middle of his palm. She says, "Whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press you hand to your cheek and think, 'Mommy loves you, Mommy loves you.'" She goes on to tell him not to worry the kiss with stick.
The little racoon loved his Kissing Hand, knowing that his mother's love would go with him wherever he went. He even kisses his mother's palm as he scampers off to school to remind her that he loves her. It fills her heart.
I thought it was a cute book.
After I FINALLY got all my children down for a nap. I was feeling a bit like Chester the Racoon and wondering what I have done to myself and my children, feeling anxious about our move to Panama. I read some of the Psalms searching for some comfort, it didn't really work. Then I read about Cain killing Abel which also was not comforting as Essie tried to kill Field in the tub and then again pressing his face into a pillow only minutes later today. So again I pulled out my Jesus Calling book and it was so profound.
"Nothing can separate you from My Love....whenever you start to feel fearful or anxious, repeat this unconditional promise." "
"Be assured that I never abandon any of My children, not even temporarily. I HAVE ENGRAVED YOU ON THE PALMS OF MY HANDS."
What an unbelievable promise. I have my very own Kissing Hand. I am forever engraved in the palm of my Lord and Savior. There is no greater proof of unconditional love. I am not forsaken in the midst of my anxious thoughts.
I read both over again today to see how the Lord used a little racoon to remind me that I am NEVER separated from my Creator even when I am not wanting to try something different like go grocery shopping in a cramped store with people who assume you know their language looking for food that you can and want to eat when anything familiar is 5 times what it is at the large Publix back in the states. I liked what I had and everything around me has changed but I know the thing that does not change is that I have the knowledge that God's love for me sticks and is not going to rub off. Soooo comforting.

On another note...If you feel so led to pray for us, please pray that we find a car that is reliable and a good price. To be specific, we need a 7 seater, diesel gas, automatic, low mileage in the low teens for price....everything is more expensive here than we thought! Better to be specific than not!

All our love...and all our gratitude to our Lord whom we have the divine assurance of His Love!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adventures of the First Week

We have been in Panama for a week now, and it has looked a little different than I had expected the first week to look, but it has been good just the same. I was hoping to have a productive week as we settled into Panama, but quickly found out that many things are just more complicated than they are back in the US. So drivers license, bank, and a few other things will have to wait. The school decided that the apartment that we are to be living in was long due an update. That was a real treat for Clare, so we spent Saturday picking out some tile for the floors and bathroom and she is working on picking out paint colors. We have been living next to our "cousins" and the girls have been spoiled by their cousin Ellie. She has been super sweet to the girls playing with them and getting them special treats to play with. I think she is having fun having the little sisters that she never had. We have been able to try some of the local fruit and a Panamanian version of "chicken noodle soup" that was very good. I played basketball for a couple hours with some guys and came back literally ringing wet from the humidity. We have been having afternoon thundershowers almost every afternoon. Clare and I both have been able to read a book in the week since we have been here. I finished "The Shack" and Clare read "The Noticer." We are going to trade so we can discuss the books with each other.

The other day I ventured into the city driving and got good and lost, but I found my way around and eventually made my way to the destination after a phone call. It was actually a lot of fun. I was by myself so I didn't have anyone telling me I was doing something wrong. Driving is very aggressive, and so far it has been kind of fun, but I haven't really been caught in a traffic jam yet. We have already made a trip to the doctor as Ro found herself with a cold type virus that caused her to throw up the other night. Needless to say a very long night. Clare is not enjoying the outside yet as she feels she is being attacked by mosquitoes, since she had 15 bites. I have hardly noticed them. We quickly realized that really not many people speak English at all, and so especially the first day I froze and I couldn't even say "No habla espanol" Right now I am pretty lost if I cant point at something or the conversation requires more than the Panamanian greeting of "Bueno." So I just try to smile a lot so even if I am making mistakes they can get a good laugh out of the silly gringo.

I am very anxious to get going with the school year. Basketball season starts up soon and so that will be taking up a lot of my time as I figure out coaches, players, teams, and schedule. I was able to hear the excitement of the people seeing the new basketball goals that we ordered for the school this summer. Tomorrow the welders are making me some ball racks to store some of the equipment as well as the lines on the asphalt getting a fresh coat. I hope to be able to start recruiting a number of the staff to help with the athletics. I want to meet my students and start establishing relationship with them. It all cant happen soon enough. I believe I am being taught patience, but we are very excited to be here even though right now it doesn't seem any where close to "home."

Colossians 1:13-14
"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We are here!

The Richardson Ride is Rolling!
We made it to Panama last night without any major hitches. Nobody and Nothing was searched...all NINE bags, car seats, strollers, various carry-ons including pink backpacks with hearts that Nathan actually wore...he looked mighty handsome!
Thanks to all of you who prayed us there. The kids did awesome and to our knowledge didn't drive anyone around them crazy.
We read in our Jesus Calling book the night before we left that Rest does not actually always mean in the sense of not doing anything or getting to sleep, it can also mean to "put it all" to rest in the Lord's hands, resting in His Presence! We have only been sustained with His kind of rest or we would not have made it this far.
I saw a woman on the plane reading from her Bible last night...that was one trip with Ro to the potty and then two minutes later I was in line again with Essie. I asked what she was reading and she told me that she was reading Isaiah for the second time bc she did not understand it the first time. She was from Haiti and her husband from Panama. They were taking their two boys to visit their grandparents. I so enjoyed getting to stand in line and listen to her share.
It prompted me to open up Isaiah as I am sure I do not understand it either.
Isaiah 26:3,4 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever; for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength."
My mind has had lots to wander on...many things I have wanted to blog about, but have had little time to share...maybe soon...but I have trusted in my Lord and it is He who has given me peace. He has given me as well as Nathan an unbelievable amount of strength to do what we did not know we had the capacity to do.
Our greatest encouragement we have heard many times, but were reminded listening to a podcast by John Piper in his slow enunciated tone.."This Life is but a breath!" Knowing this we asked ourselves and we ask you, how then will you live?
Love to all of you. We think nothing less that pure gratitude for all those who are sharing in this breath of life!
May the Lord be Glorified!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mover of Men and Mountains

I have been reading this book over the past couple of weeks, as my Dad passed it on to me to read. It is the autobiography of R.G. LeTourneau, who helped developed most of the major earth moving machines in the early to mid 20th Century. He was a businessman, who had God as his partner and would end up tithing 90% of his company's common stock and 90% of his income. There were a couple quips that I wanted to share that really stuck out in my mind, mostly dealing with working.

In a story of him wheelbarrowing sand as a young worker an older man told him,
"Pushin' is a rest from shovelin'. Shovelin' is a rest from pushin'. Then there's the trip back with an empty barrow where you don't do nothin' at all. Kid, you got yourself a job that's just one long rest."

What a great way to look at the tasks ahead of each of us.

He also shared the story of being in debt, due to going into business with a bad partner. He wanted to get out of his present business and get started on his own. When the banker asked, "What security have you got for the balance of your debt?" LeTourneau answered by simply raising his two hands and the banker nodded satisfied.

It would be true character to have a legacy that people trusted you to work hard and take care of your commitments.

On another story he told of a boss's statement after hearing LeTourneau make excuses and blaming other people.
" When things haven't gone as well as they probably should have, and you start to blame circumstances and other people instead of yourself, you are never going to improve. It's when you start to improve these matters yourself that you improve the matters and yourself both."

I pray this is the attitude and spirit that I carry with me in my tasks both at work and home.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Always too early to say goodbye

Last week, we were in Nashville for the last time before we move to Panama. It was a filled week of getting things checked off our list and meeting with people. We have been blessed to have the relationships that we have had as a couple. Wednesday night there was a party for us, and it was awesome to see so many people and observing everyone enjoying each other. One of my thoughts the next day was that it was a small taste of heaven. Loved ones all around, fellowshiping. Then I realized that I wasn't coming close to doing heaven justice. We will be in the presence of our Lord, praising him and I feel we will not have a care about the people around us. It was tough to say "see you later" to so many people that have been playing a key role in our lives. I was thinking about how our parents always talk about the stories of those from when we were first married. That Nashville group will always be in that role. We have been doing a lot of life together the past few years. From newly married, multiple kids, working and job changes, 242, small groups, Christmas Parties, first houses, trips together, and birthday parties. So many memories. I can't wait to see when and where we meet up together again.

Thursday, we got to spend the day up in Clarksville with my nieces, and Paige and Nate. It was a great day of watching all the girls play and getting to visit. Then one of the times, that I most dreaded came. We had to say "see you later" Now this was hard as I love my sister and her family, and I knew that it may be awhile before we live near each other again as Nate is in the Army. Ro thanks God for her cousins every time she prays. My prayer is that we are intentional and creative in keeping that love for her cousins up.

So the departure is quickly approaching. I can't wait, to get busy doing the work that I am supposed to do down in Panama. We are busy working on our support letters and closing up shop here in the US. The last week was definitely a dreaded hurdle. I wish we had more time with everyone not only in the next couple weeks but in general. Relationships is what makes this life worth living. I wish I was better at them. I know we have eternity, and we will see each other before then.

Please pray for new relationships for all of us. Not to replace, but to add to so that we may increase our ministry.

Here is a verse that is my prayer in this new position of teacher/ coach/ athletic director.

1 Peter 5:2 -4

Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's OK to cry

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.
We had an hour and a half with them before saying good-bye. As we drove off and gave our final waves. Ro and Essie began arguing over having the music on or off. (I am not going to tell you who I wanted to side with, although I will tell you that the WEE SING CD has 62 Bible songs!) I caught myself getting irritated with Ro with how she was responding and realizing that I was irritated bc I don't like saying good-bye. I was trying to explain to her what compromising was when she just said, "Mommy, I want to go home." I told her that our new home was in Panama and we weren't there yet. She responded telling me that she did not want to go to Panama, she wanted to go to our house. I explained to her that in the same way that she sold her toys at our garage sale for others to enjoy, that mommy and daddy did the same with our home. I explained that it was very hard to do and some days I wish I hadn't given my house away but that I knew that the Lord has a special blessing for us for being obedient even when its hard to obey. She continued to get angry and then I realized that it wasn't the house she was sad about, it was that we were saying goodbye to Uncle Drew and Aunt Ellie.
I asked her if she was sad because we said goodbye to them and she nodded. I told her that it was OK to be sad. It was OK to cry. At this point she burst into tears and had her fingers in her mouth trying to hold back her sobs. I gave her a Chic Fil A napkin and she wiped away her tears and continued to cry for a few minutes and eventually pulled herself together.
I told her, "Mommy knows exactly how you feel."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

10 Years

Some of you knew him, some of you have heard of him, all of you would have loved him.
Last night as I crawled into bed, I remembered where I was ten years ago. I texted two of my brothers and said, "I wish is was 1998." I can do math, that was 11 years ago. That was when my other brother Jay was here.
Ten years ago today we gave Jay back to his Creator. Many of you know the story well.
I will tell you that there has been a looming gloom in my soul but also, a greater joy knowing I will greet him and our Savior one day.
In the car on Saturday our three year old asked me to keep telling her about her Uncle Jay. (Its painful to write that, I don't think I have ever seen it written. He is very much her Uncle and probably would have been my children's biggest fan.) It has been fun to recount my steps with him to her. All day today I could hear his struggling voice speaking out of the sides of his mouth as if to tell a secret or a joke!
I think of him everyday. There will always be a hole in my heart, someone missing, someone who can never be replaced. This hole is usually bound up but when the wind blows hard enough I can feel literal pain and I feel riped open.
Ten years goes by fast, time heals, memories come and go, dreams are precious. Sometimes I think I can smell him or hear him. This year has been more memorable though, because now I have children who want and need to know their Uncle Jay. I am loving remembering him!

Psalm 147:3

"He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds."

I am thankful to have a Lord who heals and binds me. I hope you know the comfort of letting the Heavenly Father bind you up!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Running out of Gas in Belle Meade...with a Uhaul

Thought you all would like to have a visual of a typical Richardson day lately.
On Tuesday we left Marietta, Georgia with a Uhaul. Loaded down with more keeps following us around. Nathan has unloaded and loaded the car 7 times in 8 days and now we have a Uhaul going to pick up the last load in Franklin to haul to Memphis. We both are so weary of taking trips back and forth that the Uhaul would get it all. 
We stop in Franklin to load up with only a few errands before continuing on to Memphis for the final stop. We decide to hit up Chick fil A, our only fast food stop due to gluten allergies. Nathan tells me to look up Chick Fil A on my phone and I hardly ever do it correctly the first time...that is a whole different story. 
We get off on the Bellvue exit following the directions to Chick Fil A. We cannot find it and end up in Belle Meade and right as we are crossing in front of the Belle Meade Mansion the Envoy begins to tucker out on us. There is no where to pull over and remember we have a Uhaul and the power steering goes out. 
Those of you who know me well know that when I get nervous I giggle. I have a hard time controlling the giggling and especially the more frustrated Nathan gets, the more I giggle and the more I giggle, the more frustrated Nathan becomes. We begin coastin down a hill with an up hill just in front of us. There is multiple comments from the back seat peanut gallerey, quickly hushed not by thier giggling mother! We manage to restart the car again hoping to make it just a bit further. I spot a Shell station in the distance. We tuckered out again. Nathan put it in park and got out of the car with about 20 cars behind us, he does not utter a word as he gets out of the car and begins a jog to the shell station. 
I just giggled straight ahead as cars angrily wiggled around us. Nathan made it back with a gas can and humbly stood out in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the South filling up our car, clearly out of place!
We made it back to the interstate and hour and half later, no Chick Fil A but with a full tank of gas, a funny story, at least to me (maybe Nathan will laugh about it soon,) and another chapter to the story that leaves us one day closer to Panama! We did find out that the Chick Fil A was in the mall that is now closed down! At least we are preparing for Panama and no Chick Fil A!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sold (part 2)

We posted a blog about two months ago announcing the joy of our house selling. What we have come to find out is that "offers" and "signing on the dotted line" are two different things. The dotted line has been signed and it was a huge effort put forth by many!

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!