Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Satan Suuuuucks!

I didn't blog last night because I went to Bible study.  I haven't been to Bible study in 7 weeks , but last night it was important for me to go.  I'm not really sure why, but I really felt like I was supposed to be there.

I spent the afternoon finishing (and starting) the homework that I was supposed to be working on over the past 2 weeks.  And, do you know what?  The homework so applied to me that I thought Priscilla Shirer had been hanging out in my brain!!!  So crazy!!  So, so relevant!

This week's focus was peace.  Learning when to use peace, how to find peace, what the Bible says about peace.  And, do you know what?  I haven't had peace in so, so long.  The study moved me to those deep, ugly places that I want to hide, but then I'm so thankful when they are cleaned out!

I got to Bible study, and the power immediately went out.  At that point, I knew Satan was on the move.  (That should have been enough to convince me to get ready for battle, but I'm kinda slow.  I just got annoyed.)  Eventually, the power came back on, and we got down to the business of Jesus and peace.

One of the ladies there attends church with us, but I don't know her very well.  She was sharing about how her immigration struggles have been robbing her of peace.  At that point, I knew we were kindred spirits.  I respond (in review, I WAS THE ONE WHO RESPONDED) that the antidote of missing peace isn't more information but focusing on Truth.  (like from Jesus, truth).

Rest of study is swell.  I go home filled up.  I sleep great.  I wake up encouraged.  I go to work feeling swell.

And, then that lousy stupid Satan decided to test my peace.  And, DO YOU KNOW WHAT?

He won!  He freaking won.

And, do you know what topic we were discussing that made me lose my peace?????

Guess...  For real- guess!!


We were discussing changes in the immigration law!!!

Not even 12 hours later, the very topic we were using as an example of how we lose our peace stole my peace!!!!

And, do you know what???

It made me sick to my stomach with anxiety.


Until, the Holy Spirit lovingly slapped me upside the head.

He reminded me that I learned LESS THAN 12 HOURS BEFORE how to deal with the attacks from Satan.

I went from nauseous to pissed faster than Coralynn can take out a box of nerds.  (And to know Coralynn is to know that girlfriend can take out a box of nerds.)

I told anyone who would listen (and 2 people who weren't listening) about my screw up.  No way Satan was going to leave me in anxiety.  He needed to hear me tell people that his little scheme had worked for a minute- or 35- but that it wasn't going to work again.

Because, do you know what?

He sucks.

So there.

Monday, March 20, 2017


1.  We finally got it done.  Our immigration status is updated, and we are good to go.  I HATE feeling like I'm breaking the rules (unless it's eating dessert), so I am super happy to have this taken care of. We still have to wait before we can get our driver's licenses renewed, but at least we are almost there.

2.  We're not moving. That's our moving announcement.   So, why the last post?  Why the tension?  Isn't just staying put easier?  Well, no.  Because, we might be moving in a year which means we will potentially be in this exact same place next year.  I want my kids to feel settled.  I want to feel settled.  I'd love to be in Panama until Chloe graduates, but the company can't make those kinds of commitments.  Next year, Chloe will be a sophomore.  If we move next year, is she going to move with us?  Or, is she going to finish high school- at a school she loves- in Panama?  Carson wanted to run middle school cross country and track in the US.  Although he's happy to not be moving schools, he is disappointed, too.  Coralynn does not love school.  Should we consider moving her to my school?  Speaking of that, what am I going to do next year?  Has my position been filled?  Do I even want my position?  Then, we move onto the house.  Do we move?  We've really outgrown the place, but if it's only for another year?  But, what if it is more than just one more year?  By the time I'm reevaluating this all again, we will have lived in Panama 7 years.  Of those, more than half were "one more year" years.

In July, I was told we were moving.  I've spent the 8 months preparing my kids for that move.  A good portion of that time was building up the idea of moving.  Overwhelmingly, the kids bought into the idea a move was best.  Where does this leave them now?  Where does this leave me with them now?   We are happy to be in Panama.  We want to be here.  I am thankful for this opportunity.  But, limbo is just hard.  And, I don't want it to be my life motto.  Guess what, Me?  Life isn't all about what I want, and it certainly isn't about getting all I want.  That's a lesson that the Lord is clearly trying to teach me.

To learning more quickly,

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Three-Thing Thursday

Finding the gems in an otherwise ucky day...

1.  Talking to my educational mentor (aka- Best Friend) on the phone first thing this morning.

I miss my heart people.  I have awesome, great, lovely, fun friends here in Panama.  But, they aren't my heart people.  To make it worse, life has gotten in the way of talking to my heart people.  This morning, however, the clouds parted, and I got to have a for-real conversation with my dearest heart person.  We talked about my possible future in education.  We barely touched the educational future of my kids.  It didn't make life all better, but it made me feeling like I was winning at something.

2.   Finishing a book.

Today, I came home and locked myself in my bedroom- after some niceties with the kids.  I needed to finish a book.  I needed to have control over something.  The last too many books I've read have been not very good (the bottom 4 and the top one).  I had higher hopes for this book (#4).  Unfortunately, it was about 100 pages too long.   Too wordy.  Too self-righteous.  But an interesting story that I had time to finish.  Another win for me.

3.  Making dinner that wasn't rejected by anyone.

Every mom knows this is the win of all wins.  You come home exhausted.  You pull out stuff from the fridge.  You make something up on the fly. You hope for the best.  And then, beyond your wildest hopes and dreams, everyone likes it.  The picky kids.  The gluten-free kid.  The in-a-mood kid. Everyone eats dinner without complaining.  Everyone asks for seconds.  And, you made enough for people to have seconds!  *the crowd goes wild*

To hoping the gym and fun new outfit make tomorrow much better!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

6 Years!

Today is the 6-year anniversary of moving to Panama!  I was trying to come up with some insightful thoughts on that event.  Nothing was really coming to me, but then I decided to look back on what I wrote during those first days.  As I read them, I couldn't find any reason to rephrase them when I could just reprint them.  

Please enjoy this flashback to March 2011...

So, the goal was to have the background information all on the blog before we ever moved.  um.  That didn't happen so I'm going to share a brief version of the timeline just so everyone can basically be on the same page!!!

October 6- We return from a wonderful family vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida.  We loved the time together!!!

October 7- Tony calls me in the morning- early.  His boss has come in to let him know that he is being considered for a position overseas.  The person who is asking about him has heard that we have had another baby and wants to know if we are still interested in an ISE (CAT-speak for moving overseas).  I ask Tony where- assuming England.  He says, "Panama."  I say, "Like the canal Panama?  Isn't that where the people who screw up your paychecks work??"  His response is something like yes, but no.  Thanks, honey.  Helpful.

October 26- I receive the R U awake text.  Tony calls and tells me he has officially been offered the position, and it is effective February 1st..  He is clearly thrilled.  I stop breathing.

That was a Tuesday.  We spend the rest of the week praying and talking with our counselors and bffs.  Tony grows more and more excited.  I regain the ability to breathe, but the lack of oxygen puts me in a haze.

October 31- We tell the kids that we are moving.  Camilla thinks we mean Florida.  Carson, after the initial 40 seconds of displeasure, is thrilled.  Chloe, after the initial 5 seconds of enthusiasm, is furious.  Coralynn wants to nurse.  We then call the parents.  Overall, they are ok.  My dad is so thankful that I'm not pregnant or moving to China  :-) that he immediately starts making travel plans- for Mom.

November 1- Tony officially calls and accepts the job.  Much joy in Catland- at least among those allowed to know.  

November 2- I pick up Mom from the airport.  We head to Kohl's- never in too much of a haze for shopping!!  While I'm standing in the women's clothing clearance, my phone rings.  Tony calling.  Everything is on hold.  Paperwork is off.  He has stopped breathing.  I start spinning.

Rest of November- waiting.

All of December- waiting.
January 3- Tony gets the official official offer and accepts.  Move date- early March.We are almost to the present day.  

March 9- Movers come to pack up our stuff.  I'm acutely aware that this is just stuff and has no true value in my life.  Those goodbyes will come later.  Denial ensues.  We move into a hotel.

March 11- Luncheon with a few people whom I have to tell exactly how they changed my life while I was in LaGrange.  These are my For-A-Time-Such-As-This Ladies.  Not necessarily people I spent the most time with, but people who picked my life up off of one path, and placed it on a better one.  Perhaps the greatest 90 minutes ever.

March 12- The house is completely empty.  Walking around it is surreal.  Seeing an empty baby's room with sweet Coralynn's name on the wall brings me to tears.

March 13- Carson's 7th birthday and our last Sunday at church.  Carson surprises us all by experiencing a PAINFUL goodbye.  None of us are expecting it, and everyone is stunned by the guttural reaction.  Chloe says goodbye to Libby.  I feel like I'm walking the Green Mile as I go to pick her up.  Amazingly, it goes well enough.  I'm relieved.  More goodbyes at church.  The real hurt is coming.

March 14- I get diagnosed with a UTI.  Seriously, God, now?  We spend the afternoon swimming with the Estes and then have dinner together.  The kids say their goodbyes.  It's touching.  We say good-bye to Mr. Shawn.   Hurt is full on - like going from an 8 to 10 during labor.  There is no epidural for this transitioning, though.

March 15- Move day.  It's raining.  Fitting.  Run a few more errands.  All this feels like pointlessness.  Then, we say final goodbyes to more friends.  Thankful our husbands are there.  Keeps the drama down.  Go to Amelia's to load up the church van.  Everything fits.  Make it to the airport.  We look ridiculous with our 26 pieces of luggage, but all goes smoothly at ATL.  Say good-bye to Amelia.  Strangest sensation- overwhelmed with sadness and peace.  We are going to be friends forever.  Tears are for today only.  We will see each other soon.  I just know we will.  Flights, customs, and trip to hotel go smoothly- as only answered prayer could do.    Collapse into bed.

March 16- Denial didn't make it through customs.  This is really Panama.  And we really live here now.  Blissful times in the hotel.  Sickening times as we try to accomplish something.  Anything.

March 19- Move into our apartment.  I'm back to numb.

March 22- Tony takes Coralynn to the ER.  She has pneuomia.  Of course.

March 23- Chloe is near panic that Libby has forgotten her.  Despite my attempts to reassure her, she is falling fast.

March 24- Finally get internet again.  Emphasis on finally.  We also get a rental vehicle so I'm not stuck at home.  Amazing the things that give you hope.

TODAY-  Camilla finished a Mario Kart race in 9th place.   This is her first non-last-place finish.  Here's praying the the winds are changing for all of us!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Journal or a Blog?

Y'all, I'm not sure if this is a journal entry or a blog post.  It's definitely a stream of consciousness.  I don't have the mental energy to complete thoughts.

Yesterday, Carson turned 13 years old. I can't begin to describe how proud I am of my son.  He is uniquely gifted, and he lives out those gifts.  But, everyone has struggles, and he has had more this year than I would wish on anyone.  I'm proud that he appears to be walking out of them with himself- his thoughts, personality, softness- intact.

Today, we found out that the immigration process has progressed one step.  This is a total answer to prayer.  Continue praying with us that everything will be completed by the middle of next week.  I'm weary.

Also, today, we got word on what happens to us next year.  This is where my thoughts get all mushy. We've been waiting for this news since August.  And now we have it.  I thought I was going to feel a weight lift as we finally got answers.  I thought I was going to laugh more deeply, exhale more freely. Instead, I'm reminded that this is my first year as an adult.  And, as an adult, I'm aware that answers often just open the next round of questions.  The pit in my stomach is larger, not smaller, than it was before I knew.

Tony has asked me not to share publicly.  At least, not yet.  Not because it's a big secret, but because Tony is a man of honor.  He wants the right people to hear from him, and he wants people to hear in the right order.  It has nothing to do with favoritism but with honor.  If you don't hear until next week, it's not because we don't love you.  It's because we need to act in honor.  It's my favorite and least favorite thing about Tony. Why?  Because sometimes my carnal self wants to wallow on the low road- or in this case, spread gossip on the low road.

So, I'm here.  Pondering.  Pondering why I'm still pondering.  Pondering when it's important to just be still and know instead of pondering.  Pondering what to do next.  Pondering what life will look like.  Pondering who needs to know what so that whatever can get in line for whatever it is that happens next.

What happened to no more limbo?  Do other people live in constant limbo?  I hear rumors of people- my age- buying their forever home.  They picture having their grandchildren over to this home. They've figured out life for the next 40 years.  I know what I'm having for dinner.  Without exaggeration, I don't have our life planned out past March 25th.  That's as far as my life plan goes.  Everyone understands that he/she isn't promised tomorrow, but there seem to be some people who still don't live in limbo.  Is that true?  How do I become one of those people?

But, then, I wonder if I want to be one of those people.  Maybe God's called me to a life of limbo because otherwise I'd completely ignore Him.  I'm getting more Type A.  If I actually had a life like the horizon of the Great Plains, I'd plan every minute for the rest of my life (and my family's!) without a pause to ask the Father what He wants.

But, does that mean if I learn to ask- learn to trust- I can have a break from the limbo?  I'm tired.  And sleep doesn't conquer this kind of tired.  Tony and I are going to try a new strategy tonight...

We're not going to ponder.  Or process.  Or figure.  Or plan.  We're going to sit.  And snuggle.  And be.  That won't free us from the limbo, But, I'm praying that it will relieve the tired.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

3-Thing Thursday

Today's theme: These are a few of my favorite things!

1.  Favorite Picture.

I love teenagers.  By FAR, teenagers are more fun for me to parent than babies and toddlers.  (I am not a fan of babies.  I do my best to act like I like babies, but that's not my gig.  Tony, on the other hand, is the baby whisperer.  He loves, loves babies.)  One of my favorite things about teenagers is their need to photograph every moment.  This picture, that Chloe took, makes me smile. I love the relationship she and I have formed after YEARS of tension, and I think this picture captures that fondness.

2.  Favorite Purchase.

Shopping is my favorite thing.  If that makes me shallow, than I'm about this big of a human being, and I can live with that.  I love the packaging of items.  I love the bags that the stores use to wrap the purchases.  I love seeing all the colors and styles and trends.  I just love it.  This trip's favorite purchase is of my favorite thing: eye liner.  I promise I am not a teenage girl.  No, really, I'm a grown up.  I'm just a grown up who likes- passionately needs- eye liner.  And, I finally, finally found one I love.

Urban Decay makes this amazing pencil.  Goodness, friends, it seriously glides on.  2 seconds to perfect eye lining.  I did so well with it that one of my students complimented it.  A for-real teenage girl complimented my make up.  I'm dying.  You're either gagging or laughing at me.  Either way, I'm promise I'm an adult.  (I have the brown one.)

3.  Favorite Ponder.

Did I mention I love to ponder?  Yes?  Okay, great!

On the cruise, I got one thought firmly stuck in my brain.  It was the focus of the devotion I did today at school, but I still don't have it completely fleshed out.

Most of my complaints spring from my blessings.

My kids make a mess.  My students don't obey.  My car is acting up.  I'm tired of eating healthy food. I don't want to wake up early to meet my personal trainer at the gym.  Don't even get me started on my husband.

Without my blessings, I wouldn't have very much to complain about- except I'm sure I'd still complain.  It is clear that the Lord is bringing a heart of joy into my life.  Or, He's trying.

To having a grateful heart!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cruising- a photo review

Night one, we went to the Hasbro Game Show!  I was selected to be a contestant on the show.  My team won- but I didn't win the big prize!

Leaving Long Beach!

For Tony and Carson, a day at sea equaled a game of mini golf! 
(For Camilla and me, a day at sea meant getting sea sick!)

The amazing view of the ship from Catalina Island, off the California coast.

We took a dolphin-watching excursion.  I was thrilled to get to see dolphins, whales, sea lions, and a seal.  We were also the only ones who had signed up for the trip, so we had the boat to ourselves!

If you look carefully, you can see the dolphins in the water. 

So many dolphins!!
I'm that mean hippie dippy vegan-ish mom who doesn't let her kids go to zoos or animal parks, so this was an amazing opportunity to see actual dolphins in the actual wild doing actual stuff dolphins do.  I never wanted it to end.

But, the tour had to end, so we had some ice cream and headed back to the boat.

The next morning, we had arrived in Ensenada, Mexico.  We took a tour that allowed us to learn to cook authentic Mexican food.  We loved making our own salsa and sope (Imagine a tortilla and a tart had a love child.  That would be sope.)

It was an amazing time of unwinding, laughing, and being together.

Tune in tomorrow for 3 Things...