Another Year With Cora

Dear Cora,

On Monday, you will complete another year of life. I feel so blessed to have had you in my life for 5 years now, Cora. Your first days of life were scary for us. Now every birthday you have is a reminder of how precious life is, and how fragile.

But you have been anything but fragile. From breathing problems at birth, to RSV as a six-pound, 12-day-old baby, to a overseas move when you were three, to spending your first year of school in a country outside of your birth country; you amaze me with your strength.

This year you have gone to school for the first time, read your first words, learned to write your name and mine, and made friends in a language I couldn’t understand until I was an adult.

You have learned more about sharing, being flexible, and being a caring friend, sister, and daughter this year than ever before. And you’ve learned by practice and self-control. Your warm heart and enthusiasm often make me (very) tired, but I want to learn more of that from you.

You are always very brave, and sometimes very shy. And I have hardly ever seen a daughter so in love with her Daddy.

I hope for you this year, that you will see dreams come true. That you will have the desires of your heart. I hope that when you don’t get what you want, you won’t be hindered by that, and never doubt that God is with you and for you. I hope you will be able to be brave and try new things, because you are confident He is with you.

I hope that you always know how much I love you; this year and every one to come. I’m so happy to be your momma, Cora Jewel.

Te quiero mucho!!

IMG_1882 IMG_0782 IMG_1003 IMG_1939 IMG_0523 IMG_0156 IMG_1008IMG_2496IMG_2076 IMG_2228 IMG_2204


Posted in Cora, Family, Personal | 1 Comment

Comparing ourselves

From my friend Dave:

The way we dumb down law and sin is by comparing ourselves to others, instead of to Jesus, the Standard, the Perfect One.  “Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect,” commanded Jesus.  Wait, that’s impossible!  Bingo.  Impossible to enter the Christian life, and impossible to live the Christian life.  I need the convicting work of Jesus’ Spirit 24/7, not just for Sunday morning, not just for the big decisions in my life.  I need dependency on Him in every detail of my life, all day long, asking Him and thanking Him about everything.  His life, lived through me, so I’m amazingly joyful and peaceful, wowing those around me, as I operate by His power, not my puny power.  No credit/glory to me.  All to Jesus.

Another reason it’s (mainly) a waste of precious time, in my opinion, to constantly have conversations and articles about the latest trend in American Evangelicalism and who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s a silly habit that looks like concern for the church, and even feels like concern for the church, but comes along with a mega-dose of comparing and arrogance.

What I need is less thinking about (famous guy)’s performance and news and also less thinking about my own performance. I need more thinking about God’s unmeasurable love and to get filled up with that so my friends and neighbors can see it in me and hear it from me. I need more conviction, more repentance, more joy, and more peace. That’s how the Gospel goes forward.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:3-5, ESV)

Posted in Christian Life, Encouragement | Leave a comment

Mama said there’d be days like this…

Sometimes we have one of “those days.”


You know the type.

The really rough ones where nothing seems to get done, no one goes to bed bathed, lunches aren’t prepared ahead of time, you clean up the whole house just to sit down on the couch and find popcorn on the living room rug. Maybe these days just happen at our house. This week we’ve had a couple of these days. There are a lot of reasons for our chaos. One of them is that I’ve been swamped with doing a million good things lately. There is always another classroom to help in, another workshop to go to at the school, along with the usual cleaning, house keeping, Spanish classes… life. It’s messy. It’s chaos. It’s beautiful.

But I’ll be honest – it’s really easy for me to get overwhelmed by the messy, chaos.

Last week I made a list in my journal. It went like this:

Popcorn kernels (we eat a lot of popcorn).
Dirty Clothes.
Tire Tracks.
Scraps of Paper.
Broken Crayons.
Crumbs of Red Velvet Cake.
Freshly Ironed Tablecloth.
A Mountain of Yogurt and Milk Containers.

Yep, I had been cleaning. The point is – sometimes I need a change of perspective. I’m looking at the mess, and not seeing the beauty in it. It’s time to move the camera.


It’s not about keeping the house clean, it’s not even about parenting, or seeing the bright side of things. It’s not even about not caring about the mess. It’s definitely not about that.

Our homes aren’t the only messy places. Watch the news, take a walk, hang out in a school, go grocery shopping, spend time with a friend… There are messes everywhere. We will never on this earth see the end of hunger, war, death, sickness, abuse… There is no way to avoid it. The one thing we can do, is move the camera. The day is not over, and some day the mess will be cleaned up. Not by us, though. That’s not our job.

Until then, we wait, we hope, and we love. That’s the most important thing, right? Love. When I refocus on my husband, my kids, my city, and just love them, the messes pale in comparison.

I went back and revised my list. Here is what it looked like later.

Dust – because we live in beautiful, dry, dusty Spain.
Hair – from Cora’s long beautiful locks.
Popcorn Kernels – from family movies and snacktimes.
Dirty Clothes – worn by people who play hard and live crazy.
Toys – Loved and played with fiercely.
Tire tracks – from the patio through the living room from our new bikes.
Scraps of paper – From Malaki’s never-ending desire to make art.
Broken Crayons – Used by our creative kiddos.
Markers – for putting imagination on paper.
Crumbs of Red Velvet Cake – A Valentine’s Day treat.
Freshly Ironed Tablecloth – the juice and pizza sauce stains freshly washed out.
A Mountain of Yogurt and Milk Containers. – washed and waiting for Malaki to take to school for another art project.

Love changes everything.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Posted in Christian Life, Family, Learning, Love, Personal | 1 Comment

One way smart students got that way

Amanda Ripley:

And I don’t have a problem with sports; I love sports and played sports all my life. But we’re the only country that makes sports a core mission of school. In most countries, kids play sports outside of school: they do pick-up games, recreational leagues. Sports are not part of what principals and teachers have to think about every day. So sports itself is not the problem. The problem is a broader lack of focus and consensus about what school is for. And kids and parents pick up on that. My child’s school is constantly asking me to do things that have nothing to do with learning. That does not happen in Finland [nor in Spain]. Finnish elementary schools do not ask their parents to hold auctions. So there’s a limited amount of time and energy, and if we don’t have a clear consensus and focus on what matters, then it is easy to do things that feel good and that do create community bonds that are important, but don’t actually lead to helping your child learn to think for himself.

emphasis and brackets added

The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way


Posted in Language, Parenting | Leave a comment

Who Is Jesus?

Posted in Recommendations | Leave a comment

Jack Miller on 1 John 4:10

“[God is] not only your forgiving God, but your friend. And he has no reservations about you whatsoever!

God has loved me so much that he covered me over completely with the righteousness and blood of his Son. And there’s no more feeling on his part of any kind of having any anger or disapproval with me and no matter what may come out of my past, out of my memories of what anyone may have said against me, good, bad, or indifferent, whatever it may have been.

I am a son of God, or you are a daughter of God, through propitiation . . . and that is unshakeable. It will never be repealed. It is a complete forgiveness.

But more than a complete forgiveness, it is a total reconciliation with God. And it means that he is your friend forever!”

[shared by R W Glenn]

Posted in Christian Life, Encouragement | Leave a comment

2013 in Review. A year of pictures.

Winter 2013:
IMG_1578We went to the Alpujarra with our friends Becca and Michaela in January.

Aunt Karolyn & Uncle Ryan visited us.

The Phillips Grandparents visited us, and we had Cora’s dedication service at church.


We experienced Semana Santa in Granada.

IMG_2066The Fuller Grandparents Visited us.

We got some exciting news in April. Although we lost the baby in May, we have a lot of happy memories of sharing our news, and preparing our hearts.

Grandpa Tony & Malaki working on the landscaping
We got to return to the states for a couple of weeks in April/May for my sister’s wedding.

IMG_0028While we were staying in this house (our house in the states) a truck ran off the road and crashed into it. It really was miraculous that none of us were harmed.

IMG_0032We are enormously thankful that Cora was not in her room at the time.

IMG_0053Malaki and Cora enjoying Klaire & Josh’s wedding reception (Cora was the flower girl).

IMG_0218After our crazy trip to the U.S. we had a work conference at this resort in Spain.

IMG_0404In June, Malaki graduated from Infantil. (Preschool/Kindergarten)

Early Summer:

IMG_0523We took a family vacation.

IMG_0477We had pity on a poor orphan kitten with half his whiskers and a bad case of “I hate humans.” His name is Roy Rogers; today he is healthy and loves our kids… though he still doesn’t care much for Brian & I.

We continued exploring our city (and finding cool places like this one).

IMG_0874Malaki continued to be an artist.

IMG_0322We had to say goodbye to our dear friend and nanny, Michaela.

(the hot part of the) Summer:
IMG_1142  Most of the summer was spent just trying to get our bearings after the crazy Spring.

IMG_0782Brian and Cora had an ice cream date.

IMG_1003We kept enjoying our city. Malaki is pointing to a 16th century cathedral here in Granada.

IMG_1217We bought a car!


IMG_1304In September school started again. Cora was very excited, and has done well. Malaki continues to wow us with his Spanish skills, and he is also doing well.

IMG_1317We’ve gotten several thoughtful packages this year.  This one was for Jairus’ 3rd birthday from Brian’s parents.

IMG_1443Malaki chose to go back to Basketball this fall.

IMG_1575Those world-traveling Fuller Grandparents visited us again.

IMG_1916We were so blessed to host Thanksgiving with our good friends. Though we missed being with family, we really enjoyed sharing this day with our Spanish family.

2013-14 Winter:
We visited the Generalife at the Alhambra.

IMG_1939We realized we didn’t have a nativity; so we made one.

IMG_1953The finished product.

IMG_1993A family outing to Plaza Bib-Rambla

IMG_2025It was a homemade Christmas. But it was fun that way.

IMG_2087It was a hard, good year.

Posted in Family, Personal, Photos, Uncategorized | 1 Comment