Monday, November 28, 2011

Redundant, but thankful

We've just come from probably my favorite holiday all year - Thanksgiving. I already blogged about Thanksgiving memories here Thanksgiving Memories.

At school on Wednesday, I was privileged to lead music for the elementary chapel. My heart so desperately wanted the students to enter into worship with songs of Thanksgiving and offerings of praise, but I was struggling in coming up with Thanksgiving-y type songs that would be easy to learn for one week. So I went with a Christmas favorite (although I think it can be used throughout the year!).

Just before singing this song, we looked at a few verses from Psalms where David begins repeatedly, "Give thank to the Lord, for His love endures forever." The Holy Spirit had been reminding me throughout the days leading up to chapel about where my heart would be if everything but Him is stripped away. Would I still be thankful? I shared those thoughts out loud with the kiddos.
Then we sang along with this music guiding us.

Little did I know how I would come to wrestle with this within hours. The time that morning in song was such a treat. I don't know about the kiddos, but I was so blessed by the Lord's presence during that time. Later on that morning, news was received about a heart-breaking event within our community. The thoughts from throughout the week came back to me time and time again - will you choose to be thankful?

The words of so many Psalms came back again. I love how the Lord led David to write his heart throughout the pages of Scripture - thankfulness to heartache to thankfulness again.

Do I still "give Him all the glory?"
Do I still say, "For You alone are worthy?"

By faith, Yes.
With thanksgiving, Yes.
With heartache, Yes.
With hope for the future, Yes.

"O, Come, Let us adore Him...Christ the Lord, the newborn King."

Friday, November 25, 2011

"And I still remember, when 30 was old"

Does anyone remember those lyrics??? Can you name the song they come from? It was a personal favorite in high school. 

Being on this side of 30 doesn't seem so old anymore. :) 

My 30th birthday plans changed when sister announced the coming, long-awaited child. We had talked about doing a momma/daughter cruise, but those plans were put on hold with said baby. 

Some of my friends (Amber, Kara, and Jen) asked if I had plans and the "plan" was to go out to dinner on the evening of the big day. Now, just so you know, in Panama November 3 is a national holiday. However, due to some governmental changes and new requirements, we had school on that day for the first time in the years I have been here. So after the fair, I came home and collapsed so as to have coherent mental energy for hanging out with my dear friends that night. Little did I know how much I would need that energy! 

I had received an invitation from Amber two days before inviting me to dinner. It was WAY cute and I facebooked her about it, which people then thought I knew about the party. I definitely did not! 

Jen and Amber showed up at my house and told me to put on a blindfold. I obliged because I didn't know what they had decided for a restaurant. 

We drove and I knew exactly where we were. (This is because as a child, I would rest in the car and try to guess where we were based on the turns we made, how many speed bumps we had gone over - you know the usual - just in case I was ever kidnapped). At one point, I asked her, "Why are we driving around in circles?" Whoops! 

We ended up at Kara's entrance, but I wasn't for sure that's where we were until the guard wouldn't let us in. Then I knew, but Amber drove farther than Kara's house. We got out and I was thoroughly confused, especially when they told me to step up and I took a giant step (as if I was at Kara's) and it was small. Hilarious! We walked into the room and SURPRISE!!!! The place was FILLED with so many special people who are a HUGE Part of my life here! I couldn't believe it! 

The party was black and purple themed - two of my favorite colors. (And I just happened to be wearing a black shirt and purple shoes). 

The girls had set up a photo booth and people took such fun pictures. 

Kara made a ridiculously scrumptious black-tie mousse cake (my favorite from the Olive Garden). 

There was a basket of 30 "purple" presents that were hilarious and fun! 

The night finished with games! I LOVE playing games! It was such an amazing time of laughter, celebration, friendship, and sweet memories. 

The party planners probably didn't even know this, but I was so blessed with love from the Lord by means of my two strongest love languages.  The outpouring of so many hugs and sweet words that were an unbelievable encouragement to my heart! The Lord knew how those things alone would be an amazing gifts! 

Living here is a constant reminder of how sweet the body of Christ is. That night was one that will live on in my memory and the words spoken have continued to be a fragrant gift from the Holy Spirit. I love each one of you and am so thankful for the Lord's grace through you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Burt's Bees and Cheese

Don't you love how it rhymes???? I Love rhyming words! For real. 

So you never know what you are going to encounter when taking a typical trip to the store. 

I walked in and my eye immediately was drawn to this ginormous stand advertising Burt's Bees. 
(Side note: I have an admitted addiction to chapstick. As in, if I leave it at home, my lips are immediately dry and I try to make it. Yes, I know it is a problem. Also, my supply was getting low - low on Burt's Bees. Blistex is always a backup that I can find here). 

Back to the store, I nearly did the happy dance in knowing that Burt's Bees is right here in the store and I can replenish my supply!!! 
So as I approach the stand, there is a sweet young lady dressed in a bright yellow dress (think candy-striper dress, but yellow). She gives me a yellow flower and starts in on her whole Burt's Bees delivery in Spanish. It was very entertaining. I learned about pregnancy creams, baby creams, lotions for dry skin, and many other products. 
This was my flower from said lady. 
 My chapstick addiction is taken care of for now! 

I went on to get the actual items on my list (yes, I am a list shopper, otherwise I have no idea what to cook when I get home). 

First item scanned by the checker, fresh mozzarella in water (it's all they had). The sweet lady inspects it, swirls it around, and then asks me what you can use it for. 
I told her I was going to use this for pizza.
She and the bag boys proceed to chat about this cheese and are befuddled by this cheese in water going on pizza. 
Then she says, so I guess you can't eat this in pieces.
I told her no, it's quite delicious with sliced tomato and fresh basil and some olive oil. Again, the looks. If nothing else, now two options for using cheese in water are known. 

Thanksgiving Memories

I love Thanksgiving! It has always been one of my favorite holidays.
When I began college, I was so blessed to spend Thanksgiving with my extended family in Illinois. Those are sweet memories of Aunt Pat's amazing homemade noodles, lots of people in a small space, listening to Grandpa play his music and tell stories, the constant laughter, the day-after-Thanksgiving on the other side of the family - so many sweet times. 
Such sweet memories that I cherish as most of my grandparents have gone to be with Jesus. 
Daddy with his siblings

Momma's side of the family (whew - we were young here 2004)

Our family - 2004
 This was Thanksgiving 2004 - wow, were we young! 
Sister - look at how light our hair is????

Because I once lived in the era of non-digital photos, there are not many from Thanksgivings during college. I can't find any family shots from 2005 - oh well! 

Since moving to Panama, my feelings have warmed towards Thanksgiving - literally! It has been years of firsts - no sweatshirts, no snow (Can you see the snow in the picture above??), no American football games or Thanksgiving Day Parades. However, it has been many wonderful firsts - Thanksgiving at the beach, shorts and tank tops, air conditioning, and so much more. The Lord has sweetly provided amazing memories each of these six Thanksgivings in Panama. 
Year 1 - I have no photo, but I remember being at the beach with a sweet family. 

Year 2 - At the beach again and I ran into some sweet kiddos from school. 
Year 3 - Rachel gets married (at the beach)! So much fun celebrating! 
Year 4 - Sister and her husband come to visit and guess what we do? Go to the beach, of course! 
Year 5 - Big group visit to Santa Catalina and visiting Jordan and Lindsay. So fun!!!

So what about this year? There is a massive group of sweet people who are my Panamanian family that will be gathering to celebrate together. Lord willing, we can get a HUGE group shot and I'll post that. 

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not Forgotten

Dear Reader(s) - 
No, I have not forgotten about said blog. 
It's this little thing called LIFE that has been shouting my name and demanding my time. 

There are many various thoughts running/floating around my mind. Soon they will be put to paper, er, internet! 

No pictures today as I am not on my computer with access to my own files, so this will have to suffice. 

Stay tuned for future posts with exciting topics like...
* Getting Older - how sneaky friends are wonderful! 
* Panama Fair 
* My Small Group Girls 
* Babies (my obsession fascination with them) 
* And Who knows what else might come up!