Thursday, February 28, 2013

One of those Days

It's been one of those days.

I woke up an hour before the alarm, which meant it was 6. I was getting up later because I had an appointment at immigration and didn't need to come in the office beforehand.

I got in the car and started heading down to Caledonia. Now what you need to realize is that there have historically (as in the last five years) been two immigration offices - the new one and the old one in the hood. Because I am under the "old laws" (sounds like the Old Testament doesn't it????) my paperwork has forever been at the old office.

So begins the adventure:

I'm going to list one situation and then one way I chose to be grateful, even though I didn't want to be.

1. I get yelled out in my car by a police women directing traffic because I didn't move when she motioned because there were pedestrians in front of my car.
grateful moment: I didn't go to jail for hitting a pedestrian.

2. I learned that I can't parallel park on the left-hand side of the street. I was laughing at myself. AND of course there was a whole crowd of people around while I tried.
Grateful moment: I went around the block and found a place where parallel parking wasn't needed.

3. I was at the wrong immigration building. Back in the olden days when I first moved here, there was only one immigration building. Then there were two. After the new one first opened, I went there assuming that was where I was to go. Wrong! So I've had this fear of not going to the wrong one again.
Well, today was that day. The old one is now closed for real (maybe I was their last case) and now I'm in the only immigration building.
Grateful moment: The police man outside the old building was SUPER kind (Ok, so the roommates and neighbor think he was hitting on me, but he was like my dad's age - Ew!) and was helpful. And he said "mi reina" which might be my all-time favorite Spanish term of endearment.

4. Traffic INSANE to get out of Caledonia. See photo
I saw through two green light rotations without anyone moving.
Then we moved. I sat through two more to go through the intersection while performing some awesome car weaving skills so as to avoid being smashed by a bus.
Grateful moment: I wasn't driving a bus and I have a phone to take a picture during this time.

5. I made good time getting to the new building (20 minutes is good time) and there was no parking anywhere.
Grateful moment: I parked along tumba muerto (insanely busy road with a grass ditch median where cars park) and I found a spot, and I didn't get hit by a car walking against the traffic in the road to get to the building.

6. I meet Ruben, the lawyer inside, and guess what? The system that makes the carnet was not working.
Grateful moment: So thankful for a lawyer who knows what to do and was so kind even though I majorly messed up with location. AND thankful that he was gracious and accepted my apology. The Lord totally used him to bless me today with sweet words of affirmation. Such a gift.

7. Then I decide to go on to the bank to cash checks because now I have my passport back to cash checks. Abby forgot that today is the last day of the month, meaning lots of people got paid today. Not only was the line somewhat long, but nearly every person ahead of me was doing transactions for their businesses ie: getting change for the till.
Grateful moment: this one is much harder!!!! Thankful to have my passport back so I can actually go to the bank. AND I got a good parking spot. AND when I left, the line had DOUBLED in the 30 minutes I was there.

8. Go to work for the first time at 11am from the sagas of the morning and within ten minutes of being there cry with a sweet friend. Not because of the day, but just life.
Grateful moment: being able to cry with the quivering breathing and have your friend hug you and not need to say anything.

I know much more happened today, but that's all I can process for now.

This is not a complaining about Panama post - it's just a living life post. Wherever we live, there are always days where things don't go the way we planned! Part of the aventura! 

Thankful for moments where I can live life, laugh and cry with friends who are family, be reminded that it's all a process (that will be a new post soon), and that each day is a gift. I may not want to repeat this one in its entirety, but it had precious moments that I took mental snapshots of to hold onto for coming days.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pickup Line on a Shirt

Recently I was at a department store here in Panama. Please don't think your Dillards or Macy's type department store, more like Fazios or Kmart. (Does anyone from Mesquite or the DFW area remember Fazios???)

While in this store, I happened to spy out this fascinating t-shirt. It's like a pickup line a shirt.
It reminded me of something brother would say.

AND it had a somewhat Biblical connotation. Can't you just hear Adam saying this to Eve, except the meat market would have been other animals since Eve was only woman.
I feel like I'm going to see this on a line of Christian pickup lines soon.

Without further ado, here is the t-shirt.
Luke - if you want it, I'll go get it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

White House Tour Part 2

So the coolest part of the DC trip (beyond seeing amazing people) was the private West Wing tour of the White House.

One of my former student's father is working in the White House right now and was able to give us this amazing opportunity.

We started out meeting up with the Louderbacks to split into our two groups for this tour.
 Ms. Tina - amazing woman!
 Trinity - one day I will say I knew her when!
 Gracie Lynn - precious one!
Getting ready to head in - no pictures on the inside! 
 Our fearless tour guide braving the bitter cold and making it a late night to give us this incredible and unique experience!

Here's what you're not going to see!
There are photographs everywhere of the president and his family at various events and functions. They are all recent photos within the last couple of weeks (exception - one area where there were photos from unique world events/with leaders etc).

We were able to go to the West Wing, see the Oval office, waiting rooms for dignitaries, conference rooms, etc. It was surreal! It is like what you see on TV and movies, but real life! So crazy.

Highlight - situation room. Yep, we were able to go in. We saw the bubble phone space, the three situation rooms, the room where there is the photo of the president and others watching the take down of Bin Laden, and we all sat in the president's chair in the big situation room. Crazy! It was one of those places where my mind thought, "If these walls could talk." Can't imagine the conversations that have taken place within those walls. Most definitely the highlight of the tour!

 Outside of the press room!
Yes, you could take pictures in the press room. 

Love the architecture of the White House

What an amazing experience and opportunity! Definitely unforgettable!

Hurray for adventures!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

You Never Know What You Will See

One of the fun things about driving in Panama (yes, you need to look for reasons to smile while driving) is that you never know what you will see.

Not long ago I saw this license plate alongside the Panama placa.

Yes, friends, that says Tennessee.

I did a triple take before taking the photo.

Not sure who was brave enough to drive a semi all the way from Tennessee to Panama, but rock on, buddy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Washington DC Part 2

After the morning tour of the White House, it was off to explore more of DC.

This included a tour of the Capitol building. Seriously, gorgeous building!

Fortunately the tour included the opportunity for more photos than the White House tour.

 Obviously this is not the Capitol Building - pictures out of order!
Gorgeous! Look at the beautiful sky also!!!!
 It also reminds me of Texas, since the capitol building in Austin is modeled after this one!
 Super cool headsets for the tour! Wonder how many people have worn these?

 Yep, went in there - it's the old one!

 There it is - the old senate chamber
 So I was taking a picture of the hallway - I heard my name being shouted and fingers snapping! The hand up in the air in the corner is TJ telling me to take this guy's picture. He is a senator and this picture is totally an accident!
 Seriously?????? I grew up seeing this in history books! love it!
 More of the amazing paintings and.... know that white-haired guy????
Senator Kerry, yep, walked right by us. TJ talked to him.
 Amazing architecture and artwork!

 We got to go and sit in the House and Senate galleries. Incredible. So surreal.

The house was in session, which was even more fun, so we got to watch a vote.

What an amazing time! So thankful for the opportunity to see places from history and go inside!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Two weeks ago, a group of us went fabric shopping to get some things for Jess's wedding dress (yes, she had it made!)

We went into the "dangerous" fabric store. It's "dangerous" because there are bolts upon bolts of fabric stacked one on another quite high. It looks at though if you pull one out, the whole stack will come crashing down on top of you.

While there, I saw two things that sent me back to days gone by.

I don't know about y'all, but my momma was a sewer growing up (and even now). I remember spending hours and hours in fabric stores. AND back in those days, mom would give us a pattern number and the best part was if sister and I could go looking for the pattern in these pattern filing cabinets. I haven't seen one of these in years. AND the pattern books used to sit on top of them to flip through. Good memories of childhood.

Now I know fax machines are not completely out of date, but I hadn't seen one like this in a long time.

I remember when our church in Dallas bought their first fax machine and it was set up in daddy's office. AND the fun when the machine would ring and you would watch the paper gradually spit out the message. Amazing!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Last week at Bible Study, we were sharing what the Lord had been teaching us either over the Christmas break of just in general.

I'm a word girl and totally see the Lord using themes or words as a learning tool for me. My grad "speech" from the Master's program a few years ago used this idea with all "R" words - restore, renew, refresh, redeem, rebuild...

I like those ideas so much they hang on the wall in the dining room.

As I have been reflecting over the past few months, the word that kept coming back to my mind was "present".
No, not the one to lay before another or introduce and no, not the one meaning a gift.

Present - to be there, wherever there may be. To participate in the moment of what is.

This has taken many shapes.

To be present when another is grieving. To be present in tears and hurt. To be present when it seems that there is so much brokenness.

To be present when another is rejoicing and celebrating. To rejoice and laugh. To be present in the joy of new beginnings and hope for the future.

To be present in the normal. To delight in the simplicity of today and the wonder of life. To be present in a sweet hug or smile. To be present in watching a five-year-old delight in a baby's "tiny toes". To be present when seeing the question in a young girl's eyes - "does anyone see me?"To be present in laughing at another joke from roo (the roommate).

Sometimes it seems like schizophrenia - moving from sobs to laughs. From gasping for breath when your heart aches to an overwhelming flood of joy at the delight in a friend's eyes. But more than that, it reminds me of Scripture.

Ecclesiastes 3 comes to mind about seasons. Sometimes it seems like the seasons all come at once. Celebration. New life. Death. Loss. Hope. Destruction. Rebuilding. Waiting. Action.

Jesus felt deeply. Loved fully. Sorrowed greatly. Celebrated passionately. Gave sacrificially.
He was present.

Emotions cost.
They cost time.
They cost energy.
They cost sleep.
They cost questions.

They require presence.