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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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The kids are watching....

My good friend from my last Bible study responded to my plea for the book I was wanting, The Disciplines of a Godly Woman, so David and I walked over to her house last night together to go get it from her.  We enjoyed a good walk over there, just talking and having some great conversation.  Plus I love the fact that he still holds my hand when we walk together.  (I will so miss that someday!) It was actually very convicting to see how much my little guy just wanted to talk now that he had my undivided attention away from my computer and all the social media that I can so quickly attach myself to.  We got to my friend's house, got the book, and stayed there just talking to her for a bit.  Then we left to walk home so we could make it before it got dark.

As we turned the corner just after leaving her house, I told David how excited I was to start reading the book.  He asked why, so I told him that not only is it going to help me become more disciplined, but I also was looking forward to the connection it will give me with Mercedes, the lady that Julian is living with now.  I am reading  The Purpose Driven Life along with Julian (I gave him the audio version), and now I will be reading The Disciplines of a Godly Woman with her.  (Plus I'm reading through at least three other books right now, on top of preparing to teach Esther....).  Anyway, David responded again by asking, "But how is this book going to help you, Mom?"  Before I could even answer, he gave me the most priceless compliment he ever could have given me, one that I will strive daily to live up to. "You're already the best example there is of a person who worships God."  Wow.  That little boy really is watching and learning.  I sure do adore him and thank God for giving him to me.  Just a week or so ago, I said, "You are just so adorable.  How did I get so lucky to get a kid as adorable as you?"  He looked at me and said, "Because you were faithful to God, so He gave me to you."

We may have our issues at times as parents of a preadolescent, but he sees what we prioritize with our time and energy.  Kids are always watching.  May I always remember that.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A peace that passes all understanding

This was one long, busy, tiring, and rather complicated week, yet we survived.  I'm actually really looking forward to starting school on Monday morning with my 22 new little darlings under a new principal with a possibility of being out for at least a month at some point during the year if God does indeed lead us back to Colombia for an adoption of one or both of those boys.  You'd think that with that possibility looming overhead and with all the unknowns that complicate my life right now, I should be a bit stressed and overwhelmed.  The truth is, though, I'm not.  I was, but now I just feel a total peace that God is driving this boat, He will take care of our needs, and wherever He decides to take us on this journey is okay with me.  He's provided too many miracles at a moment's notice for me to worry and fret over all the what-ifs about a tomorrow that's not even here yet.  I work with two incredibly driven teammates (who are awesome, by the way) who are constantly making to-do lists and planning for weeks and months down the road.  I, on the other hand, am the very relaxed one who just makes sure that I'm ready to teach the following day and have a plan for the next day after that.  I provide the structure and routine that my kids need, and then we take each day or week as it comes.  I can't say I've always been this way--I think a lot of it comes from what I've learned about walking with God over the last few years.  My walk with Him affects every area of my life and my being.

This week was a bit complicated for Julian, as well, but the future seems to be looking up.  The lady he's been living with has officially moved to another area of the country where she can use her passion for music education more effectively.  We knew when he moved in with her that he only had six months until he'd have to find somewhere else, so to us, those were six months for him to transition out of the orphanage so he'd be more ready to be on his own.  She put the word out and talked to a lot of people about his need for a place to live by August, but no one responded.  When she told me that back in June, my only response to her was that I really felt like God had already chosen someone who wasn't even in the picture yet.  It was going to be someone that we didn't even know.  Just a few days later, we got invited to a cookout at a Baptist church and divinely "ran into" perhaps the most influential person from Julian's childhood.  The one I wrote about in my book, the lady who had planted seeds into his heart as a child that took root and never left him.  Though he's still got a long way to grow spiritually, those little seeds planted in him so long ago have kept him seeking water so that they could begin to grow.  When he and I came to the conclusion that we had no way of finding her, I prayed that God would bless her for her faithfulness to spread the Word to those children and that somehow she would know how God continued to work in their lives.  Not only did she meet us and become our instant prayer warrior through this second adoption attempt, but she also has provided Julian a new home to live in, has guided him to take some very positive steps toward his future, has gotten him to attend church and prayer meetings with her, but she's also become like a mentor to me and a huge source of encouragement.  She is a miracle.  I am blessed beyond measure to not only know her, but to now partner with her in guiding Julian in his spiritual journey.  Only God.  There are some times in life when you realize that you're living out something that only God could have orchestrated. There are not words to express the miracle of finding her.  I guess that's another reason why I'm not a big planner, anymore.  You just never know what surprise God has right around the corner.

This week, she sent me a message saying that she's studying a book at the Bible Institute that I really need to read.  It's called The Disciplines of a Godly Woman.  I am now on a search for it.  If anyone nearby has a copy that I can borrow, please let me know.  I would love to be able to study something alongside her and think it would be an amazing connection for us, plus the book looks amazing.  I went to Half-Price Books to look for it, but they didn't have it.  Today I'll check the Christian bookstore, and if that doesn't work, I'll see how cheap I can find it online (yes, I'm scraping for pennies at the moment...).  However, while I was at Half-Price Books last night, I found another book on the clearance rack that I know without a doubt was the book I was "sent" there to find.  It's a workbook called On Mission with God--Living God's Purpose for His Glory, by Avery Willis and Henry Blackaby.  If you don't know, I led a group of women through the study called Experiencing God in the spring, by Henry Blackaby, and this one "is a natural follow-up" to that study (as quoted on the back of the book).  I do believe this is a study that I need to lead in the future.  I'm so excited that I found it, (and that it was on the clearance rack)!

So, I'll end all this babbling now with a quote that I underlined on the first page of the study.

You usually ask God for a road map of your life, and He replies, "I am the Way.  I will personally lead you.  Follow Me and My commands, and you will get to the destination." On the way you discover that you may not get to the destination you first had in mind, but you will get to His destination for your life--a far better arrival point than you had planned.  That's what it means to be on mission with God.  You let Him be your Guide and direct you, because you believe He has a purpose for you.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to school!

I can't believe it's here already (maybe that's because our summer wasn't as restful as others have been).  We've been back to school as teachers for four days now, and in between meetings, watching required videos, and attending staff development, we've been working hard to get our rooms ready for our Porch Party last night.  We always hope that we have a good turn-out because it gives the kids a chance to drop off all of their school supplies early, find their room and desk, meet their teacher, etc., before the first day of school.  Then everything tends to flow much more smoothly that first day, plus it gives us a chance to organize many of those supplies that the kids don't keep at their desk.

Well, anyway, I got to meet 19 of my 22 students last night, and then I had an extra parent who came and brought supplies, but the child wasn't able to come.  So that means that there were only two parents that I didn't get to meet.  That proved to be a pretty good start to the year, I'd say.  The kids all seemed really sweet and very eager to be back at school.  I hope to have a great year with all of them.

I also got a chance to slip out for a half hour to get over to David's school Porch Party, which is only a mile away from my school.  We were glad to see that he got the only male fifth grade teacher, and he seemed to have a neat personality.  We also found out that he and David have something in common--a fire ant allergy!  It always makes you feel more confident as a parent of a child with a severe allergy to know that their teacher totally gets it.  Anyway, David wasn't a real happy camper last year at school, so this year is already looking to be brighter.  However, as a mom of a fifth grader, I don't know how great I felt about knowing this was his last Porch Party at the elementary school level. :(  This is one year I DON'T want to just fly by.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another one under our belt....

We now have yet another home study under our belt.  We survived yet another set of interviews where we very honestly shared our hearts and our dreams, our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and failures, and now our commitment to walk through this all again for the love we have for a fourteen year old boy that we met four years ago and his older brother, who very unexpectedly captured our hearts, as well.  We still have to wait on the final report to be written, but we feel good about how it all went and are at peace with whatever happens now.  It's all in God's hands, and He's always had a plan.  Let's just wait and see how it all plays out from here.

Once our home study report is completed and the final fees are paid, we are completely out of funds from here on out.  We will reapply for the Matching Grant we received the first time around as soon as we have that approved home study in our hands, so hopefully that gift that so many friends and family contributed toward our adoption pursuit three years ago will come back to us now to help us through.  All I know is that we've been in this exact situation once before, and if I remember right, God totally came through.  I trust He will again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One part down...

We survived the first part of the home study today.  Now we have to do the individual interviews on Wednesday.  Hopefully we'll be able to get it all done then so she can start on the report.  So ready to get things moving.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back here AGAIN

I'm sure you can see a certain word that keeps popping up all over my posts in all caps.  Yeah, that word.  AGAIN.  So much de ja vu around here lately.  There are so many things that we find ourselves doing that make us ask, "Didn't we already do this once, or twice, before? Are we really doing this all over AGAIN?" We are "supposed" to have our home study done tomorrow (I say "supposed" to because we never got a confirmation of the time, and we're not getting a response to our calls, so we'll see what actually happens tomorrow.....).  Anyway, it's not every day you have a home study done, so we've been working hard all weekend to get the house ready.  Not only have we cleaned and fixed up a few things, but we had to come back to the extra room in our house and make it look ready and inviting for a teenage boy to reside in, as well as for the possibility of his 19 year old brother to reside in it with him, if God continues to work out that possibility.

So, I'm currently sitting on the newly made bed in this cozy little room, reflecting over all the events that have brought us back here AGAIN. To this room. To this bed.  For this boy.  Wow.  This poor little room is probably a confused mess by now.  Five years ago when we first looked at this house, I was pregnant at the time, so it was logically going to be the baby's room. By the time we closed on the house, though, I'd already  had a miscarriage, so it became the office.  A few months later, we began pursuing an adoption from El Salvador, so it was "her" room, the little girl we hoped to adopt at least a year or so down the road.  Then we met "Juan" and "Viviana" and began to pursue their adoption instead, so it became "Viviana's" room.  When that dream fell apart and she never got to come home, it became an exercise room and a prayer room.  At some point in time, I found a framed picture that said FAITH in big, black letters, and I hung it up on the center of the wall in that room.  Soon Julian came into my life and started sending me pictures of himself and his siblings, and those pictures have surrounded the word FAITH on the wall for over two years now. Then after going to Colombia to meet him, we made a poster size picture of Bogota' and hung it up in this room.  Little by little, as I began realizing that we weren't meant to forget about them, I started putting up more pictures of the kids.  It became our little "Colombia" room, holding all of our Colombia memories.  This year when we went to Colombia, Julian gave me all of his artwork that he'd done during his one semester in college, so I hung it up in here, as well.  Well, this weekend we finally set up the extra bed from the bunk beds and set it up so that it shows that we have a place ready and waiting for the child  that was always meant to occupy this room.    The room just feels "right" this time.  Complete.  The ironic thing is, this was even his bed, his very bunk that we already had ready for him once, with his own blanket draped across it, waiting for him.  I just can hardly believe that we're really back here AGAIN.

The truth is, though, that when the room finally came together, I finally realized just how terrified I am.  Terrified of it not going through again, but also terrified of the possibility of it actually going through this time.  This isn't the sweet little sibling pair that we fought with all of our hearts to bring home.  Now we're talking about teenagers with lots of grief and abandonment under their belts, hearts that have been hurt deeply and are incredibly confused.  Lives that are filled with huge gaps in their development because they've been raised in an institution rather than by a family.  I know the gaps are there because I see them every day in Julian.  Last time around, our love for the kids was a feeling, one that pushed us to give up everything because we had such hope in the final outcome of the process.  This time around, love is more of a choice, a choice to abandon ourselves because we love them and know that if they are supposed to be part of a family, then they, of course, belong with us.  They especially belong with us, in this very room that has been kept full of our memories of them after all this time. In fact, right above my head at this very moment is the framed picture that says FAITH, surrounded by a picture of Julian's graduation, a picture of Julian and "Juan" together, and a picture of Julian and "Viviana" together.  When I put those pictures up, realizing that I was never meant to forget them, I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined that we'd be back here again today.

It's a very awkward, confusing path to be walking down, and there are days that I really don't know how to pray besides just giving both boys to God every morning and ask that His good and perfect will be done in their lives. My heart is so guarded and most days I feel very little to no emotion at all.  We're going through the motions, and I know that my heart is just protecting itself.  However, it's much harder to make those big decisions when my heart isn't driving them. This time it's our faith alone that's driving every single decision we make.  I don't know how we'd get through this AGAIN this time if it weren't for the reminders we get on a daily basis from different people saying that they're praying for us, praying us through each day.  There are no sweeter words to hear right now than that.  Thank you if they happened to have come from you recently.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Full Speed Ahead

Today marks my last day of "freedom" as a new school year begins bright and early tomorrow morning (well, for the teachers, anyway--the kids still have another week and a day before they start). David spent the night with his long-time buddy last night, Mike's about ready to go to work, and I'm about to start on a cleaning spree.  I always go into this panic mood right before school starts, as if I couldn't bear to live with myself if I returned to work with a messy house after all this time off.  (See, there really is a domestic side to me, even if I do hate everything to do with being in a kitchen). However, now we have another home study scheduled for this weekend, so now I definitely need to make sure everything looks as good as it possibly can.

Fortunately, all the purging, decluttering, and reorganizing is pretty much done.  Coming home from Colombia helped with that.  (Plus, I've spent several hours a day in my classroom for the last week two weeks doing just the same--purging, decluttering, and reorganizing, which kept me in the organizing mood).  I think I'm driving David crazy.  He would prefer to keep the legos strewn all over the floor so he can see all of the pieces, despite the fact that you can't even walk across his bedroom to get to his bed.  Needless to say, we're saving his room for last.

I'm so ready to get this show on the road--to get this home study done and sent to Colombia so we can know whether or not we can continue this process to finally bring "Juan" home to us and possibly make both of those boys part of our family in all legal senses of the word. It's all still so surreal, though, and I've been amazed at how guarded my heart is.  There are days that I am so void of all emotion, just going through the motions.  At first it concerned me until I realized that it was just how my heart has responded to it all after what it went through three years ago.

We still have no idea where the money is going to come from to complete this process, but God has dropped hints and reminders to me every morning that He will provide.  Here was yesterday's example: 

Isaiah 58: 5a,7a
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen.....
....to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter?
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

I know in good faith that we have cared for Julian both in a loving, familial way and in a financial way to cover his needs up until now.  Whatever we have done "for the least of these, we did for Him." (Matthew 25:40).  God has led him to a point where he can begin to take responsibility for himself, now that He has built up a good network of connections around him, for which we are thankful, but I know God will reward the sacrifices that we made for him in his time of need when he truly was a "poor wanderer" with no where to go, no way to provide for himself, and had no one to turn to.  

My reminder today was how God provided for Ruth and Naomi when they were widows.  

On another note, God has really been working on my heart, showing me just how selfishly I've looked at this whole adoption possibility.  I keep looking at it as another part/step/chapter to our journey, as how it is going to change our family, as how God is going to provide for our needs, etc. It's all been about me and about us. However, I am realizing that more than it being a continuation of our story, it's actually still their story.  This is a story of how God is continuing to provide for them, guide them, and answer their prayers.  I'm reminded of a tender piece of information I received last summer, one of those gaps that God began filling in for me while at the time I couldn't understand why He wanted me to know.  I had always wondered how "Juan" had reacted when he found out we weren't coming for him and that I wouldn't be calling him anymore. Later I was told that he wouldn't even come out of his room for a week because he was so devastated, and every night when they would say their prayers before going to bed, he would just cry, saying, "Please bring my Mama Rachelle back to me." Sounds like this is a story of God hearing his cries, not just ours.

So, on that note, I'll stand on the promise that all will be provided just as it is needed.  Now, I'm off to clean.....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Making connections

I went to my very first writer's group last night in Rockwall.  It's a group that began especially for Christian writers in the Rockwall area, and it's been going on for about ten years or so now.  Little did I know it was going on right in my own church!  How cool is that! As much as I would have loved to have help to edit and refine certain parts of my first book, I found that this is the place where I can get the advice I need to help me get a good polished copy of my second book that will be done......sometime.  Once I got my first book out there, I knew I really wanted to work on several areas of my writing.  This little group is the perfect place for me, and I'm so glad God led me to it.  I loved having the opportunity to meet other authors and writers, and I loved hearing all of their advice and tips.  Plus just the connections that can be made by networking with other authors is endless.

No word from the social worker yet.  Some days I'm tempted to panic because time is quickly running out.  However, somehow other days I find total peace while I'm waiting.  God has a future for Juan (and Julian), and He is carefully working each and every day to make sure that future will happen just as He has planned. Who am I to doubt that when I've seen Him continue to work so intricately in the details of Julian's life over the last three years?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mission Accomplished!

Mission accomplished....I just finished the tenth chapter, and I've now written as far as I can write on my new book. (Good timing since I only have four more days off this summer). Besides filling in a poem that's missing in one of the chapters, I can't write any more because I don't know what's going to happen next. I'm just the writer, not the Author, and it's not my story, it's HIS. All I know is that it's a really amazing story so far.

So, besides getting so much accomplished in at least getting the backbone of the book done so far (the more I think about it, the more I realize just how much "meat" I forgot to put in....lots of revising ahead), I'm actually pretty psyched because I just found out that there is a Christian Writers Group at my church!  It meets monthly at the Rockwall campus, and there is a meeting this Monday night! I'm really excited to go and connect with other Christian writers in my area.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Reliving each detail

My newest book is moving along rather quickly.  I just finished the seventh chapter this morning, which completes the first of three parts of the book.  My goal is to have at least half of the middle part finished by the end of next week when I go back to work.  Truthfully, I don't have any more to write after that because I don't know what's going to happen next......However, writing the last year down, reliving every detail that stood out, has really helped me to see that we're living out an incredible story of God's grace.  It's actually quite an honor to see that our first book was only the beginning of our story, that we're still living out the rest of the story.  I guess that's why He's pressed it so heavily on my heart to continue to write it all down, so that it becomes so blatantly obvious to me that everything we've gone through has just been leading up to a very grand moment that is yet to come.  Just like in any story you read, you can read the signs and the foreshadowing throughout each chapter, knowing that something greater is coming.

I wrote a lot of poetry over the last year that has fit right in to the chapters, which has been neat to see.  But even neater than that has been seeing how I've been able to pull in a lot of poetry that I wrote during other times of life that has connected just perfectly to certain chapters.  Shows how everything you go through in life is just a preparation for what will come later.

Help Myself To You - Kathy Troccoli

I've been doing  a new Bible study on my own this summer called Falling in Love with Jesus, by Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli.  (I hope to maybe lead it at church in the spring). I must be honest with you that it has so touched my heart in a way I wasn't expecting and drawn me deep into the Word every morning.  I've gotten so much out of it.  This song was part of the study today, so I looked it up to be able to share it with you.

This was the verse that stuck out to me today, as well.

Psalm 119:147--I rise before dawn and cry for help:  I have put my hope in Your Word.  

This reattempt to adopt has not been an easy decision for me.  I've literally fought God through every single step so far, begging Him to shut this door if it is not His will for us to pursue it again. He hasn't done that, though, and my husband keeps reminding of how the door even reopening period was completely of God. So, we move along, but not without waking up early every morning and surrendering it all to God again.   That's why this verse and this song really touched me today.  I hope you are encouraged by them, as well, in whatever circumstance you find yourself in.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Casa Vieja

My sister-in-law was given the chance to earn extra credit in her Spanish class by attending a dinner at a Colombian restaurant. It's called Casa Vieja.  I  heard we had one in the area, but I didn't know where or how it was, so I was so excited that she invited me to go along. The decor was definitely Colombian, and the food was really good.  We shared a traditional plate called Bandeja Paisa, which included three different kinds of meat, rice, beans, avocado, a sweet plantain (mmm....my favorite), an arepa, and a fried egg.   We also tried an empanada and salpicon (a really yummy fruit drink that's filled with all kinds of diced up fruits).  I don't know that we actually were able to tell what the restaurant is really like because it was filled with three different Spanish classes (making it extremely crowded), but I will definitely go back again sometime.  I heard there's a little Colombian bakery around, too, so now I need to find that and try it out. 
 (my eyes are a bit funky looking here)