Showing posts from 2017

What's a month between friends?

So, it's been a little while since I posted, but thank you for your forgiveness and understanding.
Let's go back to June 6th which was the last day I posted.  We'll just pretend it's only been a few days. It can be June 11th. We'll call this post, "Saying Goodbye- Phase One."
5 days.  3 events.  Dozens of goodbyes.
That's how I would have started the blog.  My heart was spinning.  It all started with Coralynn.  Her school didn't finish until June 15th, but her teacher left early to go the US for her son's graduation. We had her going away party, and I, of course, couldn't be there.  I had to work, but that didn't stop my heart from being deep in the emotion of the moment.
In October, Coralynn's pregnant teacher went on maternity leave.  I had mixed emotions about that. On one hand, I didn't prefer her teacher.  On the other hand, I had no idea who this sub would be, and I didn't love that the sub would leave in March when the…

It's been quite the week

I'm sorry it's been so long.

We've gotten completely unpacked.  The house is running well.  We have (scalding) hot water, wifi (in one room), and all the art on the walls.  I'll post pictures soon.

We've hosted 2 dinners, a violin recital (video forthcoming), and a surprise engagement party.

I've also walked my students- seniors- through the grief of losing their classmate's father suddenly a week before graduation.

I don't have words to describe the roller coaster.

So, I've remained quiet.

I have never been so mentally or physically or spiritually exhausted.

In theory, I'm the keynote speaker for graduation.  I was thrilled with the opportunity.  I love love the Class of 2017.  But now, I feel completely unqualified.  I've rethought my speech about 200 times. The Lord has clearly given me a phrase that is my focus.  So, I have 5 words.  If nothing else, I won't make the ceremony run long.

Sometimes, I feel like my joy didn't make i…

Packing Day Three

Well, folks, this is really happening!!
We are in possession of the new house keys, so we actually are moving!!
The movers came Monday morning to begin packing up our apartment.  Apparently, we have a lot of stuff because when the team returned Tuesday morning, they brought along two more workers.

Just some of the over 300 boxes! And do you not love the way the piano is wrapped!?! 

The great news is that they finished packing today, so they can start unloading at the new house tomorrow!  And, hopefully, we'll be moved in by Friday night!!  I am so ready to make the new place "ours!"

Coralynn is 7!!!!!

Today is Coralynn's birthday!!  
7 years ago she made her entrance into the world (15 days early),  and our lives haven't been the same!
Coralynn is a series of extremes: She's sensitive and sassy.   She's loving and explosive.   She's shy and talkative. She's ready to conquer the world as long as someone turns on the light for her.

1 year old!

Summer 2016
Summer 2015

                  Coralynn now with her "coming home" outfit                                  Summer 2011

Getting tubes!  Spring 2012
Sisters and Best Friends

My beautiful baby girl, 7-year-old version!

For real real

Ir's 4:25 am.

I'm sitting in my office on the bathroom floor because I woke up at 3:46, and I don't want to bother anyone else in the house.

The dog thinks I'm her personal cuddle buddy, so I have the computer propped up on my knees to prevent her from typing stuff that's irrelevant to this blog.

I have to laugh at the 2 of us sitting in here.  People tell me how I'm "superwoman" and that I "have it all together."  I think they know that is not true.  But I do wonder if they picture scenes like this when they picture my togetherness.

I wonder if they realize that most mornings I wake up with no recollection of going to sleep because I didn't intend to fall asleep.  I'm sitting here in my jammies.  No that's not really true.  I'm sitting here in lingerie because the evening was supposed to be about Tony and me.  The last thing I remember is Tony looking at something on his phone and me rolling over to put my glasses on the bed…

What's been going on...

Well, just a little.

We have a house!  And we move on Monday!!  (Lord willing!)  So, we have all weekend to prepare!!  Oh, wait...  We don't actually.  Today, we've had to kids' performances, a soccer game, and a child headed to a beach trip.  Tomorrow is only Coralynn's birthday party, Senior Banquet, Chloe returning, and packing for a week at the hotel.  Sunday equals a half marathon, a couple of 5k, church, dance practice, a birthday dinner, and last minute preparations for the move. (And pretty much everything is last minute)

I'm not complaining.  I'm just explaining why the blog has been kind of quiet.

I don't want to leave you empty handed, though, so please enjoy Camilla's movie debut...

Three-Thing Thursday!

Since it's been 7 days since I last blogged, we're going to go with 3 things from the last week!

1.  Running Away with Tony!

Life has been a tinch stressful, so I asked it we could run away together.  Tony not only said yes, but also decided that Chloe was old enough to stay home with the other kids.  That's a total blessing because she can also deal with the dog which is a major issue!

We stayed in a lovely hotel with the most amazing view.  I don't need roses or champagne, but Tony likes to spoil me with those.  I just wanted to exhale with my husband.  It was a success!
2.  Booking our Summer Vacation!
Three states,  Five flights. 2 camps.  1 AP summer institute.  33 days.
I am so excited that we are getting back to Georgia this year!  My heart feels most at home in GA, and I'm ready to be back with my people there.  The best part of the Georgia portion is that Tony will be with us the whole time.  That means we are actually going to get a family vacation during…

Another Little Thing

*I keep hoping that there will be exciting house news that I can share on the blog.  I've been told for the last several days that the lease will be available to sign soon.  I don't want to wait any longer, but I will because I want to make sure the information accurate!*

But, as I wait, the Lord is showing my heart some of His graciousness to us. I think the joy of every parent is seeing that your kids "get it."  That whatever value you've spent innumerable hours teaching has sunk in.  As we were house hunting, I got a glimpse that Camilla got it.

One of the priorities of Tony's and my life together is to love other people.  I want the people in our lives to know they matter.  I want our family to not be defined solely by blood relationships.  I want our home to be filled with love and laughter- and the more the merrier.  Tony, the introvert in the relationship, has been beyond understanding in my open-door policy.  He welcomes everyone I bring home.  He has…

The Little Things

I am a lover of the little things.  
A small gesture can make my day brighten.  My favorite part of a rainstorm is when the sun peaks out in the middle.  It's amazing to me how the smallest ray of sunshine illuminates the sky.
Today, Carson brought me my much-needed little thing.
I had to take him to piano lessons during the middle of a serious thunderstorm.  We arrived at his teacher's house just as she arrived home from an afternoon of teaching lessons at the church.
I dropped him off, told him his dad would bring him home, and I started to back out.
But, something stopped me.
I looked up to see him running into the carport to avoid the rain.  Then, I saw him come around the car to ask if his teacher needed him to carry anything.  She must have said yes, because I saw him take a plastic bag from her.
The interaction brought me the biggest smile.  My son was being a gentleman.  Just because.  He didn't know that I was looking.  There was no prize to be won.  He just did i…

The Joy Treadmill

Y'all, I'm going to tell you the truth.

I'm over choosing joy like I'm over 4:20 am alarms.

I don't want joy anymore.  I want to be right.  I want to demand justice.  I want to yell and cry.  I want my frustration and hurt to matter.  I want stability.

I think God put my joy treadmill on incline 10.0, and I'm ready to hop off.

The past 7 days have been a test of joy like no other I've encountered since I decided it was worthy of pursuit.

The disappointment has flowed from virtually ever arena of our life.

Today is a holiday in Panama, so our house search has been at a stall since Friday.  We made our choice, but now we're stuck in the limbo of lease negotiations.   Our move out date hasn't changed, though, so I feel the heat.  My joy muscle is reminding me that we were blessed with multiple incredible options that would work for us.  But that muscle is getting sore.

The job limbo is getting rockier.  And with it, my joy gets shakier.

I'm trying…

Little Update. Little Prayer Request.

Good evening!

Yesterday, we saw 11 properties!

Of those, 4 were total contenders.

Tony and I went back today and looked at 2 of them, eliminating one as too small.

Tonight, we took the kids and looked at another one of our favorites.

The family has narrowed it down to 2.

We are hopeful that the kids can see the other option tomorrow.

(Of course, they aren't making the decision.  But, they're old enough to have opinions worth hearing.)

Please pray that we make a decision by this time tomorrow.

We have to get this ball rolling!

But, I so appreciate your prayers from Monday.  I am beyond grateful that you cared enough to pray and that what we saw is doable.

Have a great evening!

Hoping tomorrow we know where we're living,

Just a quick prayer-request post.

Hey all!

Tomorrow, at 3:00, Tony and I are meeting with the realtor to look at some properties.

I am beyond nervous.  I want to find something we love and can afford and that is in the perfect location.

Would you be willing to pray that we find something??  I'd be extra super grateful if we found the place tomorrow!

I appreciate it!

Weekend Review!

Welcome to Sunday night!

This weekend has been amazing from a health and fitness standpoint, and I couldn't be happier.

Saturday, I hit the next weight decade!!!

(I hate feet.  I can't figure out how to edit this picture.  Uck!)
I'm SO thankful that I've FINALLY gotten everything moving in the right direction.  It's silly because it's the exact same thing I was doing in 2012 when I get to the same weight.  Very limited sugar.  Pretty much vegan.  Almost no eating out.  That's it.  Why does that seem so hard?  Regardless, I've lost almost 15 pounds since the beginning of this school year, and I feel so much better.  (I'm actually down to 138.5, but I didn't take a picture.  I'm now almost at my Louis Vuitton award weight!!!)

The far more impressive health and fitness success was the running trio's trail race.  Tony and Carson ran a 12k, and Chloe ran her very first 5k trail.  They did amazingly well.  Although I'm incredibly proud of…

Three-Thing Thursday!!

As I've mentioned a few times, I'm really trying to improve my outlook on life.

I'd noticed myself getting more negative and bitter- neither qualities that I wanted to be. I decided to make an intentional effort to choose to see the Light in any situation.

I definitely don't want to be Suzy Sunshine when the world is falling apart.  I don't want to be that person who tells hurting people that "all things will work together for good."

I still want to relate to people in their ugly places.  I am just coming to the realization that I was spending too much time focusing on my own places and focusing on the ugly places makes them appear bigger than they are.

So, with that it mind, today's topic is Things that I Can Now See...

1.  Joy breeds Joy.

I know that it's not always true, but looking at life through the eyes of joy makes those around me more joyful.  We all know that misery loves company.  I've come to the decision that joy loves company, …


Today, Carson had his first soccer game of this season which, of course, meant that rainy season started.  Fortunately, the game was able to be played.  Carson is the goalie, and I'm fairly certain that this was the best game of his career.  He was unbelievable out there.

And, his team lost 0-1.  On a penalty kick.  A penalty kick where he got a hand on the ball.  (you can watch below)

For those of you (us) who aren't soccer people, you should understand that penalty kicks are difficult to block.  And, according to Carson, this ball's location is the trickiest to stop.  After the kick, he turned around and gave me the "this close" signal.  I saw, happily, that he was pleased.  He wasn't beating himself up for the miss that ultimately cost his team the game.  He was pleased that he got so close.

You know me.  The whole situation has left me all ponder-y.

You know what I learned?  That sometimes you do "everything" right and still fail.  Sometimes, y…

Prepare Yourself

Because when you tell Jesus that you're going to focus on living a life marked with joy and delight, Satan will test your resolve.

He'll announce that your landlord is selling your apartment.

He'll throw out your back to the point that you can't walk correctly.

He'll break your hot-water heater so that you take cold showers.  And, then it will break again the same day it's fixed.

He'll make sure that your work computer is on the fritz.

He'll even go so far as to have your contact get stuck WAY up in your eye lid so that your 14-year-old will have to fish it out for you.

But, I'm choosing joy.

I got to go for a run with my husband.

I was able to teach my classes day.

My kids all made it home safely.

We got to hear Coralynn laugh that deep laugh of joy.

Carson has been in the purest happy mood that I've seen him in years.

And, ultimately, the risen Jesus in on the throne.  He's already won the victory; I'm just navigating Satan's retr…

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from Panama!

Of Course.

Subtitle: We actually are moving.

But, not out of Panama.

We found out yesterday that our landlord is selling our apartment.

Now, we get to move out by July 31.

We found this out exactly 5 minutes after we determined our plans for the summer.

So, we need to move out before June 23 when we leave for the US.

2 months.  To find a place, pack our place, move, unpack.

Ok, Jesus, I get that you want us in constant flux.  Can I get a hint at what you want me to learn?

I understand this isn't a crisis.

It's just more limbo.  More upset in our very unsettled life.

If I were a holier person, I'd come up with some spiritual metaphor for this whole adventure.  I'd connect it to Good Friday, the death on the cross, the 3 days of despair.  I'd see that I'm simply in darkness waiting for the light of Resurrection Sunday.

Instead, I'm sick over closet space and pools.

*And I know You are loving me where I am because that's Who You are.*

Until I get over my pity party,


Today was Walk-a-thon at my school.  This is absolutely my favorite event the school does.  It was at Walk-a-thon 2012 that we discovered Carson's running ability.  Any community-building activity that involves physical fitness brings me joy.

This year, I was tasked with running/walking the 90-minute event.  Any female secondary students who ran more laps than I did would earn bonus points on a test.  I was super pleased I was able to complete 6 laps (about 6.6 miles).  I'm fairly confident that I had one more in me, but a middle school girl finished lap 6 just a few feet in front of me.  There was no way she had another lap in her, so I stopped.  No reason to ruin her hard work just in the name of proving something to myself.

I did, however, prove to myself that I miss running.  More importantly, I proved to myself that I'm still able to run.  I didn't win any awards or set any records, but I did it.  I ran more than a 10k in less than 90 minutes.  That's someth…

Chloe is HOME!!

We all survived her week away, but now she is home, and my house and my heart are full!
And can I tell you what?
I really, really like her.  
I'm her mom, and I have to love her, but I am beyond thankful that I like her so much.
She is just an amazing person.  She's a mess because she's human, but she is probably the greatest 14-year-old I've ever met.
Because of a weird pick-up time from the trip, I had to take her back to work with me this afternoon. She didn't want to sit in my classroom for 2 hours (sounds like my students), so she hung out in the nurses office. 
I don't have a class the very end of the day, so I was able to spend that time with her and whomever else was in the nurse's office.  Those 30 minutes were the highlight of my week.
When I came down, she was hanging out with two seniors- one of whom she's never met.  They were going through instagram and laughing at the old pictures like they'd known each other for ever.
Fairly soon, it…

This is not ok.

We've discussed before how true calm doesn't come for me until everyone is home for the night.  This extends to other people's cars in our apartment building's garage.  I shouldn't need 2A's '07 Camry to be parked to be able to sleep at night.  It's weird.  I understand that.
Just because I know this is weird doesn't mean I can change it.  And, even if I had figured out how to change it, tonight would be a test to my new-found mental health.
Tonight, Chloe is on her school trip to somewhere in Panama.  At least, I'm pretty sure it's in Panama.  I keep telling people where she went, and people keep getting this weird look on their face because they have no idea where that is.  This is not settling for me.  Don't these people know that a Toyota not at home at 20:00 can make me anxious?  My child missing in the expanse of Panama is not helpful.  
Oh. wait.  We got an email with pictures in it.  I still don't know where she is, but she h…


Time for this week's confession.
It's only Sunday.  I know. 
Technically, this confession comes from last week, but I had a confession blog on Wednesday.  I wanted to give it a little space.
Tonight's confession:
I have no faith.  Like none.  
There are a handful of people who I trust.  Jesus is not one of those people.
(feeling better about yourself yet?)
But, late last week, He shocked me.  He did what I've been telling myself since August was impossible.
************* Last August, we learned who Coralynn's teacher would be.  And, we learned that she was 7.5 months pregnant.  I was so sad because this meant Coralynn was going to have multiple teachers. Last year, she had 2 teachers and 3 teacher's aides.  That's a lot of change for a 5-year-old.  I didn't want a repeat, but here we were again.
The sub came in October, and I fell in love with her warm disposition and her teaching excellence. She was exactly the kind of teacher who makes Coralynn thrive…

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 k…


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.  Al…

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…

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-s…

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 …

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 …

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…