About Me

My photo

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
Click on the card to order or read the reviews

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Part 2--More spring break adventures

Tea time wth Mom--My friend Olga (more Colombian connections) recently starting managing a cute little tea room in Rockwall, and she invited me to come out sometime to see her. My mom loves to drink tea, so I thought it would be a fun way to spend time with her over spring break.

And what an adorable little tea room it is! An old house redone inside to make it a cozy little area to spend time with someone special. I loved it and plan on going back. I had a nice time with my mom, I got to reconnect with Olga, and my sweet friend Eliza (who I met on our Guatemala trip and found out we have very similar personalities) had just started working there. 

Olga and Eliza--two people I came to know and love while OUTSIDE of this country

Family Day Out--A few years ago, we went camping as a family at Lake Lavon, and we were pretty sure we heard lions roaring from a distance. Little did we know at the time that a wildlife refuge existed just a mile or so away from the campground in Wylie.

Well, since my parents just bought a house in Wylie, I felt it was a good time to introduce them to their new town by finally checking out this wildlife refuge--In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center. I took the boys and my parents, and my brother came along with his boys, too. I loved it and will definitely go back again sometime so Mike can see it, too. Such beautiful and majestic animals--all rescued from improper care somewhere. Lions, tigers, cougars, lemurs, leopards, cheetahs, bobcats, etc. And you can see them up close, much closer than at a zoo. They all have special names that they even know themselves by. It's a special place they've got there. Can't believe I've been here 15 years without knowing much about it.

 One of the lemurs, just chillin'

 One of the white tigers recently rescued.

 This beautiful white tiger unfortunately didn't want to get up from naptime while we were there.

 One of the black leopards that I couldn't get a good picture of. 

A cheetah

If you are in the area and have never visited either of these two places, I highly recommend both of them. 

Spring break 2018 (Part 1)

About ten days ago, I didn't have much of a plan for spring break. I had an overall idea to spend some quality time with my boys if they'd let me (yeah, they're at that age where Mom isn't really so cool to be around), to finally have a chance to spend some time with my parents other than a meal or two each week, and to catch up on some deeper cleaning and reorganizing around the house.

So, my visions of spring cleaning didn't really come to fruition. I didn't get a lot of extra rest, sleep in, or take naps. 

But for being a pretty open, unplanned week, I'll have to say that I really enjoyed myself. In keeping with my word for 2018, in order to cherish each moment, I must take the time to reflect. So I'm using this one and only "down" day of my break to do just that. 

The first weekend, Mike and David went on a little "off-road" trip with their homemade (self-built) rock crawler, and I ventured to DBU to pick Juan up and have a little "mom-son" weekend. 

Believe it or not, Juan actually really enjoys those times, and they're always quite bonding and connecting. It's only the second time I've seen him this semester, so I really looked forward to hanging out with him. One of his favorite things to do when no one is home is to experiment in the kitchen. Just like a typical Latin male, he turns on the music and sings and dances the whole time while he cooks his heart out. So when he found out that Mike and David were gone for the weekend, he asked if we could get special things for him to make in the kitchen. And just like any college student going home for a visit, he was craving foods from home. Not this home, though, but rather his home in Colombia. 

So off to the Latin grocery store we went to see what ingredients we could find.

The next morning he got up and hit the kitchen in preparation for a Sunday meal with his grandparents. He made a delicious Ajiaco soup, served with rice, avocado, and banana and a Guayaba roll on the side. He also made Maracuya juice, and we had Chocoramos (a special Colombian pre-packaged treat) for dessert. While we ate together, he just rambled on and on about memories we had together in Colombia. 

The following day he made pasta the way he remembered it, with a milky paste/sauce, seasoned with cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro. And then after that he made us changua, a special hot breakfast made with milk, egg, cilantro, and bread, eaten more like a soup. We'd eaten it together for many a breakfast at a special little Christian bakery we found right around the corner from our apartment in Bogota when we were there for his adoption--so it, of course, brought back a lot of memories. I also got him a can of guanabana juice (and two extras to take back to let his roommates try), made him our own version of arequipe (caramel sauce), and brought him a few pieces of Colombian candy that I'd gotten at a meeting the day before he came home. 

We really enjoyed each other's company, had fun together, and reminisced a lot about Colombia. I am very thankful for how well we connected during his time home. Honestly, I cherish each moment I have with him because I don't know how many vacations I'll still have with him. It could be a lot, or it could be very few, depending on what opportunities open up for him through DBU, his new friends there, or wherever he ends up working this summer. 

To top it all off, we spent his last afternoon here on a video call together with Laura and her mom and aunt in Spain. Priceless. I love that we are all family to each other now. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Adoption and Foster Care Conference

Here's a shout out to my church for another job well done for the Adoption/Foster Care community. 

Just a little over ten years ago, God stirred the idea of adoption in our hearts, but we had no idea where to start. We attended an adoption/foster care conference held at our church, met and talked with several agencies while there, attended informational sessions regarding the steps involved and how to handle the overwhelming financial aspects, and officially started our process that very day. 

Of course, nothing ended up looking like what we'd envisioned, hoped, or planned, just like I heard from many others at yesterday's conference. But it was the day we knew we heard God say, "You're child is already out there waiting for you. What are you waiting for?"

The adoption conference at my church has proved beneficial at every stage of adoption--with all the information I needed to finally take that step of faith and obedience to start the process, with tips on how to handle a newly adopted child at home, and even now with tips to use as an adoptive parent with a post-high school child whose background signficantly affects the choices they may make as a young adult. Yesterdy I attended a session on adopting a teenager, a session on helping your child self-regulate in order to make better choices in any stage of life, and yet another session on how to keep your cool and train your body how to handle stressful situations (good for both the parent and the child). This year's conference also focused in on the birth parents and their perspective. 

I've never walked away feeling disappointed. And, of course, I love any opportunity to share our adoption story with whoever God puts in my path. There's something special about spending a day with other adoptive parents who have experienced similar things in life, or to spend it with people who just need that encouragement and inspiration to help them take that step of faith toward opening their heart and home to a child that doesn't have that love and stability of their own. 

I am so grateful to be part of a church that not only has a heart for adoption and foster care to help people get started, but who also knows and addresses the need to continue that support after the child has already entered the home. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Our Colombian miracle(s)

Eight years ago, the word Kidsave made me want to hide under a rock and never come out. I'd followed the stirring in my heart to meet two Colombian children coming to the United States with Kidsave, loved them with everything in me, spent every penny we had to adopt them, only to be left empty-handed, broken-hearted, guilt-ridden, and absolutely humiliated.

I just couldn't even begin to fathom why God let us hear about Kidsave, why my heart stirred to meet those kids, why our paths ever had to cross, and why they still ended up without a family. Why did He let me love me love them and then not let them come home.?

Yeah, you know my story by now. And you also know that God did have plans for those kids, for us and for their older brother, too, who didn't get to come to the United States with them. God was writing a story far grander than I could have imagined, a story He's still writing.

Through our loss came so many opportunities and blessings. Three trips to Colombia, countless friends in Colombia, two books (technically three), an adopted son, a trip to Spain forever connecting two families, a failed adoption grief support group, a writing/speaking ministry, three siblings connected and in touch with one another, and a testimony that makes my heart bulge with gratitude. And those are just the blessings on my side. There are countless more from their perspective. Plus our experience led to many positive changes in the whole Summer Miracles program.

Now here we are, eight years later, no longer hiding under a rock in humiliation, but standing on it, ready to advocate for the next child given the opportunity to come here in search of the family God has already chosen for them. It was an absolute honor to sit down with Kidsave (for the first time) just a week ago with my photo books in hand to show them all the good that came out of our story.

I am so thankful for Kidsave giving my son, and his sister, a chance to come to the United States, and I am so thankful that we followed the stirring in our hearts to meet them. No, they didn't end up together. But if we had not loved and pursued them both, we may not have sought to reunite them years later. The story would have fallen short. It was all part of a beautiful plan.

Kidsave is now preparing a new group of kids to come to the United States this summer to experience life with a family and to hopefully help them meet their forever family. And guess what? They're hoping to bring at least 5-7 of them (or more) to the Dallas/Fort Worth area--if enough families will step up to host them in their home.

If you are in the DFW area and have a heart to possibly adopt an older child or at least have the space and resources to host one of them (or a few of them), please check out this website with several pictures already posted of some of the kids coming. Kidsave Summer Miracles program

Please feel free to share this post or the website, as well, to anyone else you might know that may be interested. If you know my son, Juan, you know what a happy, fun-loving "boy" he is. Imagine his life if he'd never had the chance to come here and meet us, the family God prepared him for and prepared for him.

I look forward to working with the DFW Summer Miracles program this summer in any way I can. God allowed me to travel the world last summer, so I felt the need to stay home this year. How exciting to know that a little piece of Colombia will be coming here.

If God is stirring something in your heart, don't ignore it. We're so glad we didn't. It wasn't (isn't) easy. But it's worth it.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

One word

A year ago right now, I found myself still in the beginning stages of recovery from severe burnout. Life was rather scattered, and I felt absolutely exhausted and depleted. I'd run into a wall, and I could almost audibly hear God whisper one word to me. "Stop!"

Stop all the busyness. Take some time off from the things you once loved but don't even enjoy anymore. Stop striving to please everyone around you. Take some time to rest in Me while you gather your thoughts and regain your focus.

And there it was: my word for 2017. FOCUS.

I listened. I pondered. I took a step back from my normal activity. And I made sure I focused on one thing at a time, my best yes.

Basically, God was trying to tell me, "I have BIG plans for you, but I need you fully present and focused so I can accomplish my will in you,  through you, and for you."

To be able to find your best yes, you have to learn when to say no--or to realize what your YES meant you said NO to. Running from one activity to the next wasn't going to work anymore.

I took a step back from writing, barely writing a thing all year long. Instead I listened to that still small voice and started an online support group for anyone grieving a failed adoption, a group that has grown to over 120 members in one short year.

I took a step back from women's Bible study and focused on personal Bible study instead. That meant saying yes to a night at home and the opportunity to go to bed early at least one night a week. It meant using my Saturday mornings to work on scholarship applications with my son rather than using that time to keep up with Bible study homework.

I took a step back from trying to participate in every activity or volunteer requst that came my way (no matter how good it seemed) and focused on being fully present for my family, at both of my sons' athletic events, through my adoptive son's last semester of high school and first semester of college. Present with my parents when my dad sustained a life threatening brain injury from an automobile accident. Present with God for an entire week alone while my husband and sons were far away at camp. Present with Juan on our first international mission trip together and then fully present as we travelled to Spain to reunite with his sister. Present with my husband as we stayed connected over weekly dates on Sunday mornings, a time I used to devote to writing. And then present through the holidays to take advantage of the chance to visit and reconnect with both sides of the family over Christmas.

Learning to focus made a world of difference for me. I am starting this year much more energized than I was a year ago, energy that comes naturally, I believe, after seeing several very deep longings fulfilled.

2017 took our family all over the map, literally. From Texas to Missouri, Colorado, Guatemala, California, Spain, Oklahoma, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. It held soccer games, banquets,Senior night, graduation, mission trips, college orientation, camp, Six Flags, and Homecoming. In between all that, it also held moments of significant challenge, heartache, and loss. Those hard moments sometimes made the good ones hard to celebrate.

So now it's time to settle down for awhile (I hope) and just reflect and take it all in.

I don't want to just push forward and forget all the amazing things that God did for me and my family in 2017. I don't want to say, "Okay. Been there, done that. What's next?" I want to cherish them, to savor the richness of each moment spent connecting and reconnecting with my family.

Like the moment my son walked the stage to receive his diploma after only speaking English for three years. Or the moment my dad read the card my mom gave him for their anniversary after not being able to speak just a day before that. Or the moment the other leaders on the Gautemala trip told me how proud I must be of my son for how clearly he taught the gospel to a full room of kids and kept them fully engaged as he spoke. Or the moment I watched Laura run past all the barriers in the airport to embrace her brother for the first time in six and a half years. Or the moment she snuggled up beside me, held my hand, and looked at old pictures with me, remembering our phone conversations from eight years ago. Or the moment I read someone else encourage a new member in the failed adoption grief support group, saying how key the group has been in their own healing. Etc. Etc. I could go on and on.

My boys are so tired of me taking so many pictures, but the pictures are what I cherish more than anything because they are tangible evidence of the memories we made together.

So there it is, my word for 2018. CHERISH. To spend the next year counting my blessings, savoring each tender moment, cherishing each memory and every memory to be made in the year ahead.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Moments to cherish #Collectmomentsnotthings

Christmas without gifts.

I'd say it turned into one of the best Christmasses ever. I wouldn't trade it for a single gift to unwrap on Christmas morning. 

Now we have pictures and memories that can be unwrapped again and again, to cherish for years to come. I cannot even begin to describe how much it meant to me for Juan to meet my brother and his family, the rest of the Kloppmann clan that does not live in Texas.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tenth stop

Alarms rang at 3 a.m. on New Year's Eve morning, and we all headed out the door by 4 a.m. for an early morning flight. First to Chicago, then to Dallas. 

If we thought DC was cold with weather in the 20's and 30's, it was only 2 degrees when we landed in Chicago. I had the window seat, and all I could see was snow for miles and miles. 

And as much as I wanted to head home to warmer temps, our second flight was delayed about a half hour or so due to freezing rain and sleet in DFW. We are very thankful to Amy and Kyleigh (David's sweetheart) for braving the roads to come get us. They also did an awesome job taking care of our spoiled animals while we were gone, and we even came home to a plate of cookies!

After a long day of unpacking, doing laundry, and grocery shopping, we still had to stay up long enough to bring in the New Year with one son and then pick up the other son from a party with some church friends. 

And as a way to bring our two week family reconnection journey to a close, guess who the boys got to spend New Year's Day with? More cousins! They got to celebrate Sam and Will's entry into teenagehood, along with their aunt and uncle, and their grandparents--who are now here to stay. 

What started out as a heartbreaking situation of NOT being able to reunite Julian with his two siblings turned into a chance for our family to see and reconnect (and meet several for the first time) with almost every family member on both sides of our immediate families, plus two aunts, an uncle, and a Grandma. We almost even fit in a stop at my Grandma's, but our plans that day did not coincide since we didn't think about it until too late.