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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Monday, May 8, 2017

Naaman Forest Soccer Banquet

Thursday night we celebrated another great year for the Naaman Forest Soccer team. This year's banquet was rather bittersweet, knowing it officially brought Juan's last three years of high school soccer to a close.



About a week or so before the banquet, we got an e-mail asking for baby pictures of any seniors, or at least a few soccer pictures of them in their younger years. This is always one of those requests that make an adoptive parent nervous, and I told Juan I was sad that I didn't have any baby pictures or even younger soccer pics of him. But Juan quickly reminded me that I did indeed have a picture, and he insisted that I send the picture of him and his sister together holding a soccer ball. A picture taken of them when they came to the United States with KidSave. The picture I used to advertise our adoption plans. The picture I held close while I waited to bring them home. The picture that brought such incredible pain and heartache when the adoption failed. The picture I've held onto with longing to know more about that little girl, with hope to see her again and reuinite her with her brother some day. Seeing that picture so huge up on the screen could not have touched my heart any deeper.


Juan received the Defensive MVP award the last two years in a row when he played for the JV team, but this year he didn't get anywhere near the playing time as a varsity player, so we didn't expect for him to go home with any specific awards. His coach surprised us, though, by calling Juan up last to give him the Coach's Award, meanwhile speaking so incredibly highly of Juan's character and dedication not only to soccer and to his team, but to his Coach. He talked about Juan's determination and hard work to chase after what he wants, stating that one day he will be "the boss". After the banquet, Juan said to him, "Maybe I'll be back at Naaman someday." His coach said he'd be more than happy to see Juan come back and take his job. :)

Never underestimate the value of a coach in a boy's (or young man's) life. This man has had a very deep impact on my son, and I will always have great respect for him. We are grateful, thankful, and blessed that Juan had him in his life.







Now we look forward to things ahead. Graduation will be here before we know it. This weekend we worked on getting all the graduation announcements ready to send out next week, along with invitations to his graduation celebration here at the house. We also invited a few special people to attend the ceremony with us.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

It's official

#WeareDBU.


Ok, so it was already official when he registered for housing and also registered for orientation next month. But then we got an e-mail about "Signing Day", saying they'd send Juan a free t-shirt so he could wear it, take selfies, and post them on social media to tell everyone about his choice to attend DBU. They also invited us to come to a special come and go celebration on campus on May 1st where he could get professional pictures of him "signing" his commitment to attend DBU.

Thankfully, we're only about an hour away and we didn't have anything going on that day after school, so both boys and I decided to enjoy the rest of the afternoon together hanging out at DBU.

We're thankful for the financial aid he's receiving and the Christian Leadership Scholarship that all helped bring the overwhelming pricetag of a private school look more doable. We're still taking a leap of faith that possibly another scholarship or two will come through or that God already has a plan to help us come up with the remaining cost. We know it's where He is leading Juan, so we are following in faith.

















Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pumped about Guatemala!

Today we had our second team meeting for our Guatemala mission trip. All I can say is that I am really pumped now. It's been a few years since I've gone on a mission trip with the church (like a little over 7 years, to be exact). And this particular one is right up my alley, teaching VBS, visiting local families, and training adults in the church IN SPANISH.

I am also excited to be serving alongside such an amazing group of high school students, all on fire for God. Today we all went around the circle briefly telling our stories of how we came to faith and how God is working in us now. I was so moved by hearing these teenagers give their testimonies to their own peers and to see how completely sold out they are for Jesus. They know they are in the world but not of it. I even got to hear my own son give his testimony on the spot, hearing about his most challenging moments in life and seeing just what life events spoke the most to him about Christ. I found it interesting to hear him talk about how losing his sister almost made him lose his faith in God's love, while getting adopted into a family of his own finally solidified how much God did indeed love him. I also loved knowing that the day after we leave Guatemala, he will see that sweet sister again.

There are two other parents serving on this trip (another mom with her daughter, and a dad with his daughter), plus our youth leader, who has been an incredible influence on Juan during his time here. I have utmost respect for him and his passion to guide our high school students to live for Christ.

Like I said before, this trip wasn't anywhere on our radar, but I sure am excited to be a part of this team. I'm also grateful for the relationships my son will be building with this amazing group of high school students and for the chance to serve alongside of him.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Celebrating two special people

Almost nine months after the adoption failed, Julian sent me a picture of  him and Laura together. I cherished that picture more than he ever knew, and it went up on the wall in "the empty room", along with other current pictures of the three of them that surrounded a wall hanging that said FAITH. My heart remained broken that summer as I still wondered why God let us meet those kids if we would never get to bring them home. And somehow I kept hearing a simple word--FAITH. 

Have FAITH, Child. I'm still writing your story. 

Nearly four years later, during Juan's first year home, we used that very picture to make a special cake to celebrate his siblings' birthdays. We chose April 16th to celebrate, since Julian's birthday was the 14th and Laura's was the 18th. We kept in touch with Julian, but we had no information on Laura. We have always made it a point to celebrate her birthday, though, every single year. 





Today as we celebrate their birthdays once again, we are so happy to get to celebrate with Laura back in our lives this time, to actually wish her a happy birthday and tell her we love her. And we look forward with great anticipation to arriving in Spain three months from today to finally see her again. And as if thats not enough, as of two days ago, God officially made a way for Julian to be there, too, arriving just a few hours before us. I can hardly wait to see him again and to finally see all three siblings together. 

FAITH.

This is one story I can't put down. 

A story of death (a failed adoption), burial (grieving a lost dream, surrendering the loss to God), and resurrection (in so many ways)! How fitting to celebrate this resurrection  story today on Easter, Resurrection Sunday. 

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness.


Monday, April 10, 2017

18 years!

Today my husband and I celebrate eighteen years of marriage. We were thankful for the opportunity to work in a little getaway trip around all the soccer activities this weekend.

First we went to Studio Movie Grill for dinner and movie where we watched the new Beauty and the Beast movie. I was amazed at just how closely it followed the original cartoon that I used to have completely memorized at one point in my life. I'd forgotten how much I loved that movie until my best friend from high school said the new one coming out made her think of me. :)

We then spent the night in a nice hotel here in the DFW area, enjoyed a nice breakfast together, and then went to the new movie, The Case for Christ, with two friends from our Life Group. Some other friends from Life Group took the boys under their wing and fed and entertained the boys for us, so we felt so blessed.


Ten years ago on this date, I spent our eighth anniversary curled up in bed, grieving the loss of my second pregnancy. A few days later, I took a day off from school to just think and process my emotions. I went to my favorite coffee shop, sat down with a notepad and a pen, and left with this poem.

                                                                                                                               
Who will carry a sibling for my son?

How deeply I've longed for
a sibling for my son.
My dream has always been
a foreign adoption.

I see a Latin child
linking hands with a white,
both speaking in Spanish
and English all night.

It seemed impossible
until this recent year.
A possibility
now so very clear.

Anxiously awaiting
a chance to save for her.
My dream so tangible--
how excited we were!

Yet one day all that changed
when I found out that I
was holding within me
a dream we had let die.

Our hearts so quickly changed,
envisioning our child--
what we'd least expected
made my thinking run wild!

I felt total peace,
it all seemed so right.
Things fell right into place.
Our baby now in sight!

I never imagined
how short-lived it could be.
I never expected
I would lose this baby.

I couldn't believe it,
would God play with my heart?
Why would He tease us,
and tear our dreams apart?

Now I'm left wond'ring if,
while back here at square one,
I'm the one to carry
a sibling for my son.

I can't even describe the peace that poem brought me, knowing that God held my baby in heaven for me because another child was already waiting here on earth for me, for a mom and for a family to call their own. Only God knew the miscarriage was just the beginning of that journey of loss. Now instead of a nine-year old running around my house, my nineteen-year-old adopted child looks to me for guidance and stability, for nurturing, protection, provision, and love. He won't always admit he needs or wants those things, but he will always tell you that more than anything, he wanted a family.




                                                                               
                                               


Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Case for Christ

On the night of August 28th 2010, I wrote this on my previous blog:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seeing the bigger picture

As I heard Lee Strobel speak at church tonight, he made a comment that immediately tied three separate stories all together as one, and I'd like to share. I'm going to start with two quotes from the Wild Goose Chase by Mark Patterson that I read last week, both from the very first chapter: "When God puts a passion in your heart, ........that God-ordained passion becomes your responsibility." When "you forfeit the adventure God has destined for you,...you won't be the only one missing out or losing out. When you lack the courage to chase the Wild Goose (passionately pursue God), the opportunity costs are staggering. Who might not hear about the love of God if you do not seize the opportunity to tell them? Who might be stuck in poverty, stuck in ignorance, stuck in pain, if you're not there to help free them? Where might the advance of God's kingdom in the world stall out because you weren't there on the front lines?"

So I've been chewing on that one for the last week, which actually coincided with a message I've been thinking a lot about over the last month or so since Bill Hybels came to speak at our church. The title of his message that night, which is also the title of one of his books, was "The Power of a Whisper". Basically, he put it simply. When God whispers your name, you have to respond. You have no other choice. He told his story of how he was all set up in the business world, carrying on his father's dream for him. Yet he undeniable heard God whisper in his heart that he needed to start a church. He didn't have a background or the education needed, it would sound absolutely insane to his family and would undoubtedly break his father's heart, but he knew without a doubt that this was what God told him to do. It wasn't an easy experience, he did break his father's heart, he did lose the support of many of those around him, and he questioned the call many times, but eventually he started a church that met in a movie theater. Today, he's over a church with thousands of members. That was an extremely short version of it just because I don't remember enough of the exact details. But his whole point was, when you hear God whisper your name, you just have to obey.

Now enter Lee Strobel, an atheist. In his teenage years, he was convinced that God just did not exist--that people just made God up in order to have something to feel good about. His wife was agnostic, and they had a neighbor downstairs who was a Christian. His wife and the neighbor downstairs hit it off, became friends, attended church together, and his wife accepted Christ. She met with a group of ladies from the church and basically told them that there was no hope that her husband would ever believe in Christ, yet she was very gently told that NOBODY is beyond hope. She began praying for her husband. He at first wanted nothing to do with her faith, but the change in her made him curious, so he visited the church with her one day. It was a church that met in a movie theater, and Bill Hybels was the pastor! After visiting the church, he decided to launch an investigation (he was trained in law, so this was a very educated investigation) in an attempt to disprove Christianity. After two years of research and investigating, he came to the conclusion that it would take more faith to stay an atheist than to just believe what the evidence showed--Christ is real, and He is who He says He is. Now we have his very well known book, The Case for Christ, with all of the evidence He found, along with many other of his books. His books are changing many, many lives and helping others see the evidence of Christ.

So, the connection I made tonight was, What if Bill Hybels ignored that whisper and stayed in the business world? What if he didn't see that God-ordained passion brewing within him as his responsibility? We now know that Lee Strobel's wife would have missed out, meaning he would have missed out, and then the world and all the readers of his books today would have missed out. It's a chain reaction. What happens if we become the missing link because we didn't respond to the whisper, or we kept our passions and dreams buried out of fear or just inconvenience? We have no idea who is missing out.

So, what is God whispering to me? Two things, I believe. #1--Go to Colombia. I don't know how the details will work out, I don't know how long we will stay or if we will go back again later, I don't even know what our purpose will be. We both just know that He said Go. Our plan at the moment is June (for reasons that God has made clear). There are other "dots" that seem to obviously be part of this picture, but for some reason He has not connected them yet, so I am really learning patience in His timing, AGAIN. However, if I've learned anything, it's not to try setting plans in stone. The second thing I feel He's saying to me is I need to be writing and I need to share it. I shared a poem with my summer Bible study ladies' early in the study, and they all encouraged me to please share more, so I wrote and shared a few others with them over the summer. One of them has a daughter who I've been praying for, and tonight she told me that her daughter was so touched by my poems that she has been sharing them with her friends. I can't even begin to tell you how that touched my heart. She (the mother) said, "Rachelle, your poetry really ministers to others, you need to get it out there." That just once again reiterated the whole point--it's not just us missing out. Whatever God is telling us to do will without a doubt touch someone else's life. When we hide it or fear reaching for it or just never get around to it, we're cheating more than just ourselves.......

There's something to chew on for awhile.
Today, Mike and I went to go see the movie Case for Christ. A few details changed in the movie (making it BASED on a true story rather than an actual true story), but the main events are still the same. If you haven't seen it, go! You won't regret it.
Once again, it left me with the same thoughts. What is it God is asking me to do? Am I doing it? Who might be missing out if I don't, besides me? 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

To remember and reflect, to look forward

If you haven't read this blog for long, you may not know that I am very big on dates. Like remembering what happened on this day in the past, or how much time has passed since a certain event, or how much time is left until the next big celebration or adventure. Taking note of a date is so good to remember and cherish those special moments. It's essential for reflection, to remember where we came from and what we've been through. It's also a key reminder of how quickly time passes, begging us to savor each moment we're given.

As someone reminded me this past week, we're not promised tomorrow. Don't take today for granted.

Today I am remembering my beautiful white cat, Snowflake.



We lost him to a sudden sickness this day last year, one that took him from us very quickly. Watching him take his last breath was a moment I will never forget. When he died, I held his brother, Snowball, in my arms, (also suffering from the same sickness and fighting for his own life) and I just sobbed. Snowball hung on and fought for two more weeks before he, too, left us. I loved my cats dearly, and I grieved for them for quite a bit of the year.


 I am smitten by my new kitten, now a year old, but I still miss my white fur-babies very much.




Today I'm also thinking ahead, knowing that only two short months remain until my son's graduation. Two. Short. Months. I still can hardly believe it. This is one school year I do NOT want the next two months to fly by.  God gave me four years to mold him, to love him, to encourage him, to guide him, and to parent him. They've seemed like forever at times, while other moments it still feels like he just got here. It's definitely an entirely different world parenting him as opposed to parenting David. His high school graduation doesn't mean all that molding, loving, encouraging, guiding, and parenting will stop. It will just change.



The other day we were talking about college and the future, and he said, "Well, after I graduate (college) and get my own place, then it will go back to being the way it always was. Just me. But at least now I know I have a family I can always go to when I need help."
That's right, son. You'll never be alone again. No matter what, you'll always have a family behind you now. 

He gets it. Four years doesn't seem like much, but these four years changed everything for that boy. 






As challenging as it's been to raise a child from the age of 15 and on, when I take the time to reflect on how far he's come (how far we've all come), I know I don't want to take a single day for granted. While we keep moving forward, sometimes it's so helpful to keep looking back. Reflection is good for the soul.