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 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 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 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 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

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It takes a throw a wedding!

Nathan and I had a very special date recently where we able to take a moment to breath and decompress over the weeks leading up to our date! We had had Christmas Break and then I went to the States with Laney and Berdie for 10 days to meet my niece and to see my cousin get married. Then the day after I got home we decided to throw a wedding in under 2 weeks, soccer season started 2 days later and then we turned around the next week and had another community gathering and cookout at our place and finally a moment!

One thing we talked about on our date was my nervousness about having 4 girls and the financial burden that can mean and I am sure would be regardless of our life status! Nathan was so sweet as we prayed and dreamed together and he reminded me in his words, "Clare, I don't know what you are panicking about, you just threw a dream wedding for under $1000 in our own backyard. What makes you think we can't do that again?"

He was totally right and for the moment that put end to it and left me resting and remembering how good the Lord was to us in planning this wedding for Jessica and Epson. I wanted to share some pictures from the night!

So this was our community wedding:

Student's family donated the money for the fabric of the dress and the seamstress made it is 4 days for $40! Another coworker gave the Guayabera shirt to Epson, it is the traditional dress shirt in Panama!
   All the kids waiting for their special role in the wedding activities! 
Later, after they had all had too many smores we set up a movie on the lawn!
  Jessica and her best girls having a roommate moment laugh! A dear friend made her jewelry, a student's mom did Jess' nails, the salon did her hair for free and another student's mom did her make-up! 
 All the kids waving their ribbons yelling and skipping, "The bride is coming! The bride is coming!" Then they all sat around the back of the tent and played in the rocks! 
 The beautiful bride! We forgot to give her the bouquet of flowers! Check out the lights! Our small group came the night before and helped us hang all the lights! They were awesome (the lights and our small group!)
 Jess is the K5 teacher and we had all her students draw a picture and write what marriage means and that was a part of the table decorations. Almost each kid wrote and drew, "Marriage is kissing!"
 Talented friend Vivian played for the ceremony!!
 Thankfully we have a professional chef around here as a dear friend, Cresta! She made her first wedding cake and made an awesome cupcake presentation....and half were gluten free! 
 Our Neighbors let us borrow their iron tent (which the wind blew over the day before and bent in half in several spots...leaving the tent in a heap and me not far behind!) It turned out beautifully! 
Our dear friends and neighbors the Almacks were amazing getting 650 ready! 
 The wedding planning girls! Plus Cheryl our cheerleader!
 Getting ready to send them off! We had almost 150 people come! 
 Sparkler send off! Thankfully found a "chinito" store that sold sparklers, thought we were going to have to sing a send off! 
 And the couple is off to the Honeymoon suite at the Hotel Rui....a day of the wedding gift from another family! 
A few more things of how it came together. 
-We had the whole building painted in 10 days LONG OVERDUE paint job! 
-The 1st grade class helped donate the drinks for the punch.
-K5 helped with donations for a smore bar. 
-CCA Staff provided and prepped all the AMAZING DINNER food! Catering and beyond quality! 
-CCA Family who owns a restaurant donated all the kids food, mini cheeseburgers, pizza, fried chicken and mini cake bites! ]
-One CCA family donated the photographer and another guy did the video! 
-All the amazing people who kept our kids while we did this and helped us set up the day of! 
-The CCA upperclassmen were amazing at serving the food and getting the trash!
-Let me not forget my amazing husband who hung pictures, fixed drywall, hung lights, filled tiki torches, and spent 2 weeks helping me prep and 1 week helping me get back to life! He is a remarkable man! If you don't have a mate and you are reading this.....choose wisely and make sure they are supportive in what you love to my case have people over...LOTS OF PEOPLE! 

There is more who helped, but you get the idea! IT WAS TRULY REMARKABLE to see the body of Christ come together. Pastor Steve, who married them said he had never seen such an amazing wedding and pulled off in 2 weeks!

Such fun! Love our community here and love our community back home in the US that sustains us so we can serve in this capacity! We have seen so much generousity poured out on our behalf and for the love of our Crossroad's community!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Miss Williams' Wedding!

So here is the story!

Ro's kindergarten teacher left in the middle of the year and they hired a girl right out of school in the middle of the year. As a parent I was freaking out. New teacher in a new country with ESL kids mixed with native English speakers....she might be ruined forever (Ro, not the teacher....but maybe her too!) I didn't do so great in K5 probably because I was the oldest and mom was dealing with having a new baby, a handicapped one, and Sam on the way. Not to mention we were living in a rental house because Mom and Dad were in a wee bit of a debt redoing a house....which was also a mistake we would make! So me learning my vowels was not the top priority....which I have forgiven them for...and grateful it has made me more aware of my kiddos learning patterns. As to what I have done with that awareness is yet to be analyzed, thankfully. So to get back on point, I was nervous about a new teacher!

We were the first to greet her to Panama after she was dropped off. She moved to the upstairs apartment in 650.

Man oh Man I could not have asked for a sweeter teacher! Since she was living above us she was keenly aware of all that was going on in Ro's little life. New twin sisters in tight quarters, packing up our house temporarily, moving out....Miss Williams filled in when I could not. Ro fell into her arms crying on more than one occasion because she just knew when to love on her and scoop her up and speak truth and love into her life. I am eternally grateful.

This year Essie has her as a teacher!

Not long after arriving Jessica aka Miss Williams, was pursued by the man who is a part of the Crossroads Maintenance Crew. They are truly remarkable men. Epson in particular has learned  and speaks English proficiently since we arrived and moved his way up to Head of the Crew. He is in school at night and has joined the church and serving there as well.

He asked Jessica to marry him last fall (raining season here.) The wedding was planned for late May but then as we all just want to be married!

So when everyone came back from Christmas Break we heard they were going to just push up the date and have a civil court date and be married and forgo a wedding and a reception especially due to all the expenses.

Here is where we come in! Her 2 best buddies came to me and asked if we could pull a wedding off in 13 days. I am always up for a challenge! So here we are 4 days out! 9 days ago seems like a long time ago but we are almost ready!

My list is long! But it is getting checked off!!!
I will post some pictures tomorrow of all the "Work" going into the wedding! We are planning for 150!
We have "wedding work" and "make sure the house is ready work!"

We have had plumbers, electricians, painters, gardeners! You name it and they are aworking!!! But I have to admit I love a good party!!!