Wednesday, December 3, 2014

One of Those Moments

When you look down from what you're doing, and see your four-year-old.  She's happily playing a game all by herself.  Because all the other kids are gone, you've had an extra moment to do "fun hair," and she's clearly pleased with your work.  You look down, and you feel like you're going to explode from the rush of love you have for that sweet child.  Not because she's the cutest, or the smartest, or the most anything.  The overwhelming love you feel is simply because she's yours.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just Like Grandpa

My journal is falling apart.  The pages have separated from the binding.  I've glued it.  I've used mounting tape.  I've tried just about everything to keep it together.  At Bible study last week, someone mentioned that I should put a rubber band around it.  I hadn't thought about that.

A few days later, I asked Tony if we had rubber bands.  He found one.  A big ugly red one.  I wrapped it around the journal disgusted that it was going to look bad.  Then, it hit.

A big smile of remembrance.  Grandpa (my Dad's Dad) used to wrap all his things in a rubber band.

Who knew that one sweet memory could totally change the way I saw an ugly red rubber band?

Friday, November 14, 2014


Nothing takes more of my time each day than parenting so I thought I'd give you a glimpse in to my parenting...

Camilla Rose.  My beautiful blond daughter.  My beautiful blond daughter who is forever falling on her face. 

She was playing catch with a friend, went for the ball, and landed on her teeth.  Of course, she decided to do this on a Saturday of a holiday weekend.  Excellent.  Fortunately, she was in no pain, and she got her new filled-in teeth on Tuesday morning!

The major part of my parenting is teaching my kids about Jesus.  I love our church because children matter.  Last Sunday, our pastor called the children up to the front and had grown ups pray over them.

Then, he had the children pray over the grown ups.   I love the recognition that kids have a purpose in God's kingdom while they're still kids.  They don't have to wait until they are the grown ups to have value. 


I'm nowhere near the kind of parent I once was.  (Could you hear my children scream "Thank you, God"?)  I've become more comfortable in my own skin, and that confidence is reflected in the way I handle my kids.  The early years of parenting were focused trying to do everything the right way.  Upon realizing that was ridiculous,I changed styles.  Now, my parenting is focused on making my kids know they are loved and teaching them to love others.  

Chloe got the brunt of my early-years parenting mistakes.  We've had some tough times together, but I'm grateful that we're working through those.  She's beginning to recognize that the Lord has made her in amazing, unique ways that have value.  When we started home schooling two years ago, she was confident that she'd never be smart enough to go to college.  Now, she realizes that she is more than capable.

Home schooling has allowed us show Chloe what her true areas of giftedness are: organization, compassion, toughness.  She has a capacity to love the "unlovable" that I've never seen in a person her age.  She loves going to the orphanage to talk to the middle schoolers who live there.  She works in a tutoring program in a tough area of Panama City.  She'll go anywhere where she can love on people.

She and I began discussing the possibility of her going into social work.  Between her natural areas of giftedness and her Spanish, I really felt social work could be an area where she could thrive.  I met with my friend, Misty, who takes Chloe to the orphanage.  She agreed that social work would be a good fit for Chloe- especially on the mission field where Chloe feels led.

When I was in Los Angeles, we went to USC's campus bookstore because I wanted to get Tony something.  When I walked into the store, I found the perfect gift for Chloe.  The perfect gift for fostering her growing confidence in herself (both in the now and the later)

I got home at 9pm, and I immediately gave the kids their presents.  Chloe got teary when she saw it.  She had it on by 9 the next morning.  The shirt doesn't mean she has to go to USC or major in Social Work.  It means that she has a Mom that believes she can do it.

And that, my friends, is a parenting victory!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Reviewing the Past Few Weeks...

I got back form Los Angeles, and I was immediately thrown into some busyness that I didn't expect.  The good news is that November equals many Panamanian holidays which means slower days for me!  yeah!  I thought I'd just give y'all a quick update of what's been going on with us!

I was so excited to receive an upgrade to first class on my flight to Los Angeles.  We travel a lot, but I've never before experienced first class.  It was amazing.  I'm still not sure I'd pay full price for the experience, but, wow, it definitely made my 7-hour trip to California EASY!

My bff and I arrived in Palm Springs which was probably the quietest place I've ever visited.  The desert beauty was incredible.  It is hard to believe that this place is just a few hours from the chaos (that I love) of Los Angeles.

We were able to go horseback riding which is one of my favorite things.  I haven't been in years (like decades), but it was everything I remembered and loved.  (except for the sore hiney- wow, being old is tough!)

More of the beauty of the mountains surrounding Palm Springs. 

I managed to not get a single picture of Tim and Susan or LA, but know that was because we were having one of the greatest vacations ever and couldn't be bothered to pause to take photos!

Home schooling went great while I was gone, and I picked right up where Tony left off.  He really is that amazing Dad who handles being home with the kids by himself for several days without any issues.  He was able to take the time off from work, and they all had a great time together.  We've been studying flowers in botany, and the above picture is off the flower garden we made in our little co-op!

Tony's birthday was October 22, so we also got to celebrate him!  He was pleasantly surprised when the girls reminded him that he turned 35 this year, not 36.  (No comment.)  This picture is from yesterday.  Our church joined in with the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Tony and I had the privilege of planning our church's service, and Tony had the honor of bringing the sermon. It was a super heavy, but beautiful morning.

What's coming up for us?  Juice Fast.  Our diet has been a little wonky lately, and we want to get back to good health and good eating habits, so we're coming up to our 10-day fast.  I normally do a juice for breakfast, but we're going to solely juice for 10 days- just as soon as we get organized and brave enough to do it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Heading out.

Tomorrow, I am headed to Los Angeles for a quick trip with my BFF to celebrate her birthday!!  I can't wait for this little getaway and to spend time with people I don't see often enough.

Amazing view from the Cinta Costera

Yesterday was running class so you know my heart and mind are full of things to share, but they'll have to wait.  Preparing my luggage and the notes for the substitute teacher take priority today.

I'll be back in Panama on Monday, and I'll look forward to blogging Tuesday or Wednesday- which happens to be Tony's birthday!  Y'all know that I love birthdays!

Have an amazing weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

More ponderings.

My 9 days away from the blog have been spent pondering.  Well, they've been spent driving the kids places, home schooling, cooking, chatting, and all kinds of other things.  But, my mind has been pondering.

The hour I spend downtown with Carson each Tuesday has become a time of great renewal for me.  He runs, and I think.  In the noisy quiet of city buzz, I'm able to steal away into myself.  It's perhaps the highlight of my every week.  I'm an extrovert in the truest, most textbook ways, but this one hour-long conversation with myself allows me the interaction that keeps me moving.

I walked and pondered your words about this blog and its purpose.  That led me to pondering me and my purpose.  Which, ultimately, led me to a place of deep gratitude for this place I'm in.  Not just Panama City, Panama, but also the place I'm in with my journey through life.

I'm sure part of it is being okay with being an adult,   I'm even more sure that an even bigger part of it is walking in deeper relationship with Jesus.  For the first time ever, I recognize that I'm not the sum of my failings.  I'm not the picture of "not good enough."  I'm not just a mess.

My value isn't measured in what I can do, who I know, or how useful I am. 

No, my value is complete and perfect in the love of Christ.  And, I have had the privilege of spending the past three and a half years diving deeper in what the Truth means for my reality.  For me, it brought freedom.  And total redemption.

I used to believe (because church people taught me) that Tony's job as an accountant for a secular corporation wasn't good enough for God.  We have received congratulations from people who mention "at least" Tony has "earthly success."  I used to shy away from church functions because people would ask me what Tony did for a living, and I really wanted to say something holy like missionary,  but all I had to offer was accountant.  

I now have the freedom of rejoicing that God is using my exceedingly-gifted (and handsome) husband in the corporate world.  And the freedom to know that God desires Tony in that job.  The job isn't less than.  It's perfectly within God's perfect will.

I used to live in constant fear of a god who was constantly looking to destroy me for my mistakes, sins, and short comings.  More than that, I used to have the constant frustration of forever failing, in my strength, to be anything God would desire.

Freedom has brought the total understanding that God's love isn't changing.  It isn't affected or altered by my behavior.  

**Did everyone get that?  We're running over that one again because my guess is some of you don't get it.  And, that's okay.**  

Think about the highest point in your faith journey.  That moment when you were thrilled because you knew that you had done the right thing for the right Reason.  Okay.  You there?  Now, think about how much God loved you in that moment.  Got the warm feeling?  Perfect.

That's exactly how God loves you all the time.  ALL.THE.TIME.   Just let that one soak in deep.  And, stop arguing with me about it.  God cannot love you more, and He will not love you less.  Ever.  Period.  Done.

Freedom to know that God has given me power, through the working of the Holy Spirit, to walk out everything He desires of me.  This march toward holiness that we're all on?  We're all going to fail in our flesh.  And God knew it!  The Holy Spirit marches with us- not as a brutal tyrant ready to rip you to shreds for your sin- but as a constant companion and comforter to encourage you through the battle.

I now sleep at night.  And breathe deeply during the day.  I celebrated my birthday this past Sunday, and I don't think any purchased present compares to living without fear or shame.  And, the superest, coolest thing is that freedom is totally available to everybody.

No one needs to live in a state of shame.  Or of fear.  Or of guilt.  You don't have to believe that God just needs more out of you.  Or that doing more or giving more will make Him love you more.  Nope.  You can breathe deep, too!

I was talking with my 1:00 am friend the other day (at 11:00 pm).  She said the sweetest thing.  I'm sharing it not because I want to brag, but because I want to promise you that you can be different.  She told me, "Lisa, I met you right after you moved to Panama.  And, I know that the you of now wasn't the you of then."  

This isn't about beating up the old me or glorifying the new me.  It's about recognizing that the God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow has mercy enough to accept me as I am today, and love enough to not leave me that way.   And the journey- in the long term- doesn't bring discouragement but freedom.

Cue another deep breath.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day 30.

We made it!!

September is over, and we made it with 27 blog posts.  I'm pretty impressed with myself- even if Dad just sent me a message to remind me to blog.  (Technically, he just asked if I needed encouragement.)  And thank you to those who've read with me each day. (or day or 2)

So, what have I learned through this process?

Mostly, I've learned that I love writing, but that the lack of clear scope of the blog and the uncertain audience makes blogging incredibly difficult for me.

There were times during the month that I wanted to pour my soul out all over the laptop.  I wanted to go to those deep, sometimes ugly, places where my mind spends much time, but I despise drama.  Yes, my former bestie, drama, now makes me physically ill.  I can handle real and emotional, but I can't stand all the syrup-y nonsense that is taking over blogs and social media.

So, how do I pour out my soul without dripping in drama on a blog that doesn't have clear parameters with an unknown audience?  How do I balance the fun, this-is-the-cute-kids blogs with the deeper ones that feed and energize me?

Yes.  That's my pondering for the next few days.

All thoughts appreciated.  :)