About Me

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I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother.  Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing.  Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.


Surviving the Valley Series

Surviving the Valley Series
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Saturday, August 19, 2017

In it for the long haul

I'm a long-haul kind of person. We're a long-haul kind of family. We like to put down our roots and settle in.

Every year brings change, sometimes significant, sometimes subtle. We've been in the same little house for ten years now, but we add some kind of change to it every year (paint color, new flooring, landscaping, decorative touches, etc.)

This year will be my fifteenth year at my school, though I've taught three different grades and age groups. Teachers and administration come and go, but there are a few of us that have stuck around and put our roots down. The relationships and trust you can build with the families when you stick around is pretty amazing.

David has stuck with the same soccer team since about fourth or fifth grade, and he's grown up and made memories with several of the same kids from church since he was in early elementary school.

Mike has had two different jobs while here, and he maintains a close relationship with his coworkers of his first job.

When things get tough, we've learned to stick it out and not bail at the first sign of difficulty. We're long-haul kind of people. We are committed. And I hope we've taught David that commitment means contentment. Contentment with where God placed us and a belief that He placed us there for a reason.

When we jumped into the adoption process, we knew it would be for the long haul. We didn't know it meant a long haul of pain, heartache, and loss. When the adoption failed the first time, I remember so many caring people telling me they could help us find another avenue to adopt a child. But I'd already commited my heart to Juan David and Laura, and I believed with all of my heart that God led them to us for a purpose. I had to see the story through. Julian had already entered the picture, anyway, so I knew God had to be up to something. Even when it looked like we'd lost everything, we stayed grounded and followed the dark path ahead.

This week as we got Juan David moved in to DBU and walked away, leaving him there to start this next chapter of his life, I couldn't help but feel nothing but a deep gratitude for that long-haul commitment. Surprisingly, I didn't shed a single tear as I hugged him and walked away. I felt such joy in watching how God continues to play out his story. Especially when I started to walk away and happened to overhear his very next conversation with one of the upperclassmen helping out that day, a fellow Colombian.

Only God.

In his dorm room
 A pic with one of his roommates (the other one hadn't arrived yet)

 The bed he chose and quickly made up
 Getting ready to leave
 Out in the foyer area of his dorm
 Outside his dorm

 His new Colombian connection

What if we'd thrown up our hands in surrender and said, "No. It's too much." 

What if I'd never pursued that relationship with Julian?

What if I'd stopped praying for Laura and forced myself to move on and forget about her?

What if we never tried again to adopt Juan David, too scared and still angry from the first attempt?

 Two texts I've gotten from him late at night this week. :)


Without a long-haul commitment, these pictures would not exist today.

Will he make it in college? Only God knows. We're just going to take it a semester at a time. But he's there, and I'm grateful because I know God led him there. 

Classes start Monday. Keep him in your prayers!



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

One final day

God gave us four years with him. We fought for him for five years and then had him for four.

Four long years learning how to connect with someone you didn't raise.

Four short years in modeling correct thinking and behaving as much as possible, hoping he picked it up.

Four short years in keeping him active, involved, and moving forward academically, socially, and spiritually.

Four short years catching him up, bringing him up to speed, filling in gaps and holes from a childhood you missed out on.

Four long years wondering, searching for his sister to fill in a gaping hole in his heart.

Four long years trying to figure him out and find ways to get him to open up and to bond with you.

And just like that, we're on our final day at home together before he moves into college to start this next chapter of his life.

He's nervous and excited. I'm thrilled and anxious.

For me, this last year has been very frustrating to watch him face his senior year so arrogantly, knowing just how naively he looked at the future ahead of him. Yet at the same time, it's been the year that I've bonded with him the most deeply. I have to continually remind myself that his arrogance is just a mask to cover the fear and insecurity inside. Just like the first year he came. He just doesn't know how much he doesn't know. Rather than asking for help or direction, he'll instead act like he knows everything and can do no wrong. But then you'll catch him in a moment of weakness, and he'll admit that he's incredibly nervous.

That's where we are now. The walls are right back up, and the arrogant attitude of, "Leave me alone. I've got this under control." is back. Ugh.

Two roommates await him tomorrow and he hasn't even met them other than through a group text they've had going on for about two weeks. He's nervous about his English, about sharing a room again, about not being able to keep up with the workload (though he'll never in a million years admit that), and he's a little freaked out about all the unknowns in this stage of life.

I'm nervous about how my role will forever change with this move. Nineteen or not, he's still been living 100% under our roof and our rules. He still keeps his phone in our bedroom at night. He still attends church on a regular basis, which he happens to enjoy, so I'm thankful for that. He still can only spend money when he has permission or drive places with permission. He still has to check in with me or his dad constantly. He still spends a lot of time with me, especially this summer after spending three weeks traveling together and after watching his school friends and groups pretty much dissipate as everyone went in separate directions after graduation.

Now he's taking that first step toward independence, whether he's ready or not. That part is exciting for us because we know he'll never start to apply what we've taught and modeled for him without the opportunity to live away from us. We are also excited for him to begin to build those lifelong friendships within the four walls of his dorm. We're thrilled for him to get to be in community again, the extrovert that he is, especially after forcing him to live among three rather introverted people for the last four years. We're thankful for all the opportunities he's going to have in front of him.

We're nervous that the English will be too much, that he doesn't have good enough study habits to keep up, or that he won't be able to handle the freedom. We're anxious that his maturity level won't even come close to matching that of his new peers due to the gaps still very present in his life due to his upbringing. We're a bit concerned about finances, getting him through this year's tuition and room and board, as well as finding a balance to still allow him some freedom (and us freedom) to continue living and having fun.

Ready or not, tomorrow morning our lives will change, and I can't even begin to express how thankful I am that he will be spending this first year at DBU (Dallas Baptist University). Close to home, yet still away from home. If he needs something, we're less than an hour away. But if he doesn't, we can have that separation that we all desperately need at this stage in life.

Back to the three of us at home, and David has not held back in letting us know how much he is looking forward to having us all to himself again. He's been such a good sport through this whole adoption, despite the fact that we adopted out of birth order and made him the youngest rather than the oldest. This next year will be so good for him.

So today, besides going over the checklist several times, we're headed out for a last-minute coffee date with one of his ESL teachers (the one whose recommendation letters got him three scholarships!) and then out for dinner as a family at the restaurant of his choice. Perhaps a quick trip to the store to stock him up with a few snacks, as well.

Here goes!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Speechless

Lots of reflection going on here. So much that I find myself speechless in a sense.

Sometimes God shows up so big that you're afraid to even attempt to put it into words for fear of "cheapening" the whole experience because no words will do it justice.

I still have a hard time even fathoming the fact that I am on the other side of this story, that our sweet and precious Laura is back in our lives, that we no longer have to wonder about her life. We're part of it. It's such an incredible miracle that I struggle to even talk about.

My photo books came in the mail today from our Guatemala trip and our trip to Spain. Oh, the story that they tell.

I got out the first three photo books of our journey and sat in awe of the story that we've lived out. The pain and agony of that first adoption process/failure cannot be denied. Even today as I reread that old blog, I fight the tears. But I clung to a simple phrase: Joy cometh! And this summer, it truly came.

Today's mail!

Our full adoption journey


 Our first trip to Colombia--A failed attempt to adopt Juan David and Laura that led us straight to Julian, 2011
 Our second trip to Colombia--Back to Julian, a Reunion with Juan David, 2012
 Our third trip to Colombia, to bring Juan David home, 2013
 Our trip to Spain, to reunite with Laura, 2017

It's been quite the unexpected journey over the last decade, starting with a miscarriage in the spring of 2007, leading us to an adoption conference that fall and the hopes of adopting a little girl from El Salvador.

Now here we are, ten years later, with a completely different story. 

And as I look at these pictures, in all the books, I am speechless. And more than grateful. 


Sunday, August 6, 2017

A few pics of Juan in action

I finally got a few more pics of Juan from our trip to Guatemala. He sure was an incredible asset to our team as a whole and to his team that he worked with on a daily basis. Exactly where he needed to be.






While there, Juan happened to mention in conversation that he's been on both sides of the equation. This time as the servant, but at a previous time in his life, as one of the children being served. So later in the week, while making the video for next year's Journey (High School camp) video, they did a personal interview first with me and then with Juan about our story. :) Don't know if he or I will ever see the video, but I know David will when he goes to camp next year. :)



Taking Jesus to LA

Well, I can't blog about my trips with Juan to Guatemala and to Spain without telling you a little bit about David's mission trip to LA. Unfortunately, I wasn't there to take pictures, and well, you know teenage boys. They're not too concerned about taking pictures, either.

Here are a few pics that David gave me, and one pic that I stole from Instagram.

I know that they served with Radius Church, they went out in the community to invite people, and they did a lot of painting for the church, among other things. They also had a fun day at Six Flags, so David got to use his Season Pass perks and his dining pass. :)







 Two years in a row now that they've gone to California together. 💗


And last, but not least ...


This ...
is what it's all about.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A week of solitude

And today, I'm thankful for a week of solitude. Traveling for 18 days with people constantly around, living under someone else's schedule, about did this introvert in. Ha.

I came home to so many people wanting to talk, hear my stories, go out for coffee, etc. Yet all I wanted to do was hang out by myself for awhile, take time to process, to decompress, and to write it all out.

If we go out for coffee or talk on the phone, you know good and well you will never get the depth of my heart about what really happened on this trip. Now that I've written what seems like a ton of blog posts, shared my pictures and my heart, I think I can venture back out into the world of socialization again. Just in time for school to start! AAAAAAAHHHHHHH. (That came back way too fast!!!)

I've also learned to thank God for the little things now that I've experienced life without them or met people who live without them daily. As one of our high schoolers said during one of our last meetings in Guatemala, "How can I go back home and not live differently?"

When I step out of bed in the morning onto a clean floor rather than a dirt floor, I'm thankful.

When I use my own clean restroom in my own home, stocked with toilet paper and with running water to flush when I'm done, I'm thankful.

When I stand in the shower and feel the warm water wash over me, I am thankful.

When I teach in a clean classroom stocked with a gazillion supplies, I am thankful.

When I live in a community that offers free public education, free bus transportation, and is mandatory so all children can at least get through high school, I am thankful.

When I sleep with a ceiling fan over my head at night, I am thankful.

When I come in from the heat outside to an airconditioned house, I am thankful (even if it does cost me a fortune in the summer months!).

When I open the door to let my dogs out into the yard, I am thankful they have a yard.

When I cook on a stove without having to build a fire on the floor in my kitchen, I am thankful.

When I get a call from my husband in the middle of the day, I am thankful.

When I communicate with my husband via texts at any hour of the day whenever I want, I am thankful.

When I open my pantry, my refrigerator, and my freezer and find them fully stocked, I am thankful.

When I sit out on my front porch to start my day with peace and solitude (and prayer), I am thankful.

When my son and I talk about memories we made, I am thankful for the new connection between us.

When I look at current pictures of my son and his sister, I am thankful.

When I hug David's neck or run my fingers through his hair in the mornings, I am thankful.

When I sleep beside my husband in the same bed at night, I am thankful.

When I hang out at Six Flags for the day with just my two boys, I am thankful.

When we all eat dinner together as a family, I am thankful.

When my heart feels full, I am thankful.

When my son hangs out with his new Christian friends from our Guatemala trip, I am thankful.

When I can use my right hand, I am thankful.

When I see my dad progressing in his healing and recovery, I am thankful.

When I continue to get pictures from my sweet friend in Guatemala, I am thankful.

When I continue to get pictures from Spain of Laura and her mom, I am thankful.

I could go on and on. After all I experienced (and missed) on these two trips, how can I be anything but thankful?



Friday, August 4, 2017

What could've been

It was hard not to see my son and his sister together and not wonder what could've been.

It was hard to feel her hugs and not wonder what could've been.

It was hard to see pictures of the three of us together and not wonder what could've been.

But I'm so thankful to see what is and not have to wonder what could've been.

The adoption could have been successful, and she would have missed her beautiful life with a mom, an aunt, and grandparents and cousins to love and be loved on as an only child. She would have missed that undivided love and attention that she so deserved and needed that I never could have given her between three children.

The adoption could have been successful, and David may have struggled immensely as being the odd one out, the sibling that didn't grow up with the other two, that didn't share the same connection or memories.

The adoption could have failed, and I may never have connected with Julian, thus meaning I never would have known anything more about those kids.

The adoption could have failed, and I may not have ever known that Juan David would still need a family two and a half years later.

The adoption could have failed, and I might not have ever seen Colombia or known why God ever put Colombia on our hearts.

The adoption could have failed, and we may never have attempted adoption again.

The adoption could have failed, and I could have been left with a gaping hole in my heart, never knowing why.

Juan's adoption could have been successful, and we may have never known a thing about his sister again.

Juan's adoption could have been successful, and then we could have been left to wonder about his sister for the rest of his life, leaving a hole in his heart that could never be filled.

Our trip to Spain could have happened, but her mom could been guarded, keeping us at an arm's distance, not fully letting us in.

Our trip to Spain could have been successful, but we could have spent a ton of money, visited unfamiliar places, and left disconnected from the little girl we went to see.

Our trip to Spain could have been successful, but we could have hugged, said goodbye, and thanked God for closure, rather than an open door.

So rather than regret not seeing what could've been, I'm so grateful for what really is rather than all the scenarios of what could've been.