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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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Memorable events of 2012

2012 proved to be a very unpredictable year and is ending on the same note.  I remember looking back over 2011 a year ago with such awe and satisfaction over seeing all that God had done.  Just looking back over it and reflecting was a mountaintop experience in itself.

I can't say that I feel on top of the mountain as 2012 comes to a close.  Truthfully, I'm tired.  Emotionally,  spiritually, mentally, and psychologically exhausted is more like it. The last six months have been a walk through the valley (thus, why the title of my second book will likely be: From the Mountain, to the Valley, and Back AGAIN!) But the year truly held some amazing moments and events that were mountaintop experiences in themselves.

These are in no specific order of importance.  I am just writing them as they come to my mind.

  1. Publishing a book--My ultimate dream come true, and my first book was everything I had always imagined it would be--a book of poems with stories behind each one.  I haven't done much marketing or advertising, unfortunately, but I've been so blessed to hear others tell me how much our story touched their heart.
  2. Spending a day with Cindy Burden--My second book signing was at an adorable little Christian gift shop, where they also hosted Cindy Burden for the day.  I got to meet several customers and sign a few books, but I loved just sitting and chatting with Cindy while she "played with her clay" and created   a small masterpiece.  At the end of the day, I took home one of her sculptures and she took home my book.  
  3. Teaching both Experiencing God and Esther--Experiencing God prepared me for the things that were about to take place in my life, things that I would recognize immediately as what could only be done by God.  Esther was a huge reminder to me of God's intimate handiwork in our lives, also reminding me that the God that Esther and Mordecai served is the same God that I serve, with the same power and authority over the events in my life that He displayed over their lives.  
  4. Coming face to face with the two men who stood their ground to deny our adoption pursuit three years ago--I'm sure all the color left my face when our lawyer first introduced me to one of the men we'd be meeting with, clearly stating the name I suddenly remembered from years ago.  I had prayed my heart out for that man, by name, desperately pleading with God to change his mind and soften his heart toward us.  I never understood why God said no.  Now I see that He just said to wait, that three years later, He would indeed answer my prayer and soften that man's heart.
  5. Meeting our God-appointed lawyer for the first time--It is uncanny how this man's name was brought to us and how we actually connected with him.  There is no doubt in our minds that God appointed him to us, especially after finding out within minutes after finally meeting him that he shared our faith and attended the same church as the director of the Christian school we were working at.
  6. Working at El Camino Academy as a family--By making the decision to volunteer our time to this amazing school, our network of friends and family in Bogota immediately multiplied, also giving us a support system for when Mike got sick (with a horrible tooth infection).  
  7. Meeting Mercedes--Words still cannot describe the awe I felt in that moment when Julian introduced me to the very woman I had prayed for blessing over because of the foundation she laid in those children's lives.  I never imagined ever having the chance to meet her, and now she is not only a constant support and encouragement in my life and in Julian's, but she is also my link to their missing past.  In a city of seven million people, only God could have led us straight to her.
  8. Our first night with "Juan"--Honestly, I was scared.  Terrified.  I didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, reopening this door to the past.  We didn't get him until pretty late, then it was a long drive to the apartment, so we all headed to bed pretty quickly.  It was awkward, to say the least.  Until it was time to say goodnight.  I gave Julian a hug and told him I loved him, and then my eyes met with "Juan's".  He stood up and met me in the middle of the room, I hugged him and told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me in return.  Three years of near silence, and then our moment came--one I had longed for for so long, one that I never expected to come.  I forgot that he'd been longing for that moment, too, for just as long.  
  9. Our first morning with "Juan"-- Another awkward morning, but one I will never forget.  Mike and David were upstairs sleeping, Julian had gone to work, and the two early-risers were left to the silence of the apartment.  "Juan" had found some Spanish DVD's that we brought and was watching them alone.  I was reading at the table and realized that I should be taking advantage of every moment I had with him (we didn't know yet if our case would be reopened), so I sat down beside him and watched  cartoons with him.  The silence of the last three years just hung in the air over us, neither one of us bringing up a bit of it.  After a few minutes, I just put my arm across his shoulder and told him again that I loved him, and he laid his head on my shoulder, telling me again in return just how much he still loved me.  I told him that I'd missed him, only for him to tell me how incredibly he had missed us.  Like Mary as she watched Jesus grow up, these were moments that I just tucked away in my heart, wanting to treasure them forever.  They were a gift.
  10. A weekend in Apulo, Colombia--After probably the most stressful and emotional week of the summer, I wasn't even sure I wanted to go.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  But you know me and my excitement to travel to new places and see new things, I wasn't about to let the opportunity slip by me.  What a gift we would have missed out on!  Apulo turned out to be a small hidden paradise, tucked away between the mountains, surrounded by palm trees and orange trees, with absolutely beautiful weather.  No words can even come close to describing the beauty and serenity that we soaked up that weekend.  
  11. David's new soccer team--David played for the Titans since he was four years old, but now that he was the only remaining original player, it was time for the team to split.  Due to some unforeseen circumstances, he almost ended up without a team at all.  We finally got a phone call from a coach the very night before the first game, so David had to play in his first game without  knowing his coach or even his teammates.  He didn't have a uniform, but since their color was yellow, he wore his yellow Colombian uniform and blended right in.  We were so proud of his courage, knowing he was nervous, but he began scoring goals for this #1 team by his second game, and he impressed his new coaches and everyone on the team throughout the season.  He now looks forward to getting his trophy for playing on the #1 team of his division for the season.
  12. My son is a genius--We're looking into options for middle school next year (yikes) and I knew his ITBS (national achievement test) scores would be important for getting him into the Academy next year (even though he's already in the Gifted and Talented Program) rather than staying in the Math and Science program.  You should have seen that boy beam as he got into the car after school a few weeks ago and handed me his scores. In comparison with other fifth graders across the nation,  he scored in the 99th percentile in EVERY SINGLE AREA!  His grade level equivalency was compared to a 12th grade level for Language, an 11th grade level for Reading, and a 10th grade level for Math.  No wonder we find ourselves butting heads so much.  He's not your average fifth grader, and I need to remember not to underestimate his level to think.  We are so, so proud of our little guy.
So, there they are, twelve very memorable events of the year.  Now maybe I'll have to come up with 13 goals for 2013.  We'll see.....Thanks for reading through this long post.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Heroes of the faith

Up until now, I don't know that we, as Americans, had any clue as to what it meant to be persecuted for our faith.  Today when I read that the owners of Hobby Lobby are standing their ground on not providing the "abortion pill" to their employees, despite the fact that they are now accused of civil disobedience and face outrageously insane fines, I was so proud of the stand they are taking.  I'm sure they are only the first among many  that will have to make the same decision.  I'm also sure that their road ahead is going to be long and very, very difficult.  I've always known that we, as Christians, are called to follow the law completely UNLESS that very law violates God's law.  They are now my new heroes of the faith because they have stated just that--that as much as they want to be law-abiding citizens, this is an area where they just cannot do so without violating God.  I pray that God will bless them somehow for their faithfulness and obedience, despite what it is going to cost them.  I'm thankful that I can point my son's attention to them as heroes who will put God's laws first, no matter what the consequence.

My prayer is that Hobby Lobby will gain so much support that their sales will skyrocket.  I shared this with David today, and he immediately fetched his wallet with his Christmas money inside it, saying, "I'm going to Hobby Lobby".  He determined to spend every bit of it THERE, wanting Hobby Lobby to have 100% of his support.  I was so proud of him and his choice.  It wasn't even the item that he purchased that made him happy.  It was the fact that he was supporting this company for standing firm in their faith.  

I will rest in you - Jaci Velasquez

With  silence comes rest....
Exodus 33:14--My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks so clearly to me through His Word each day, giving me just the right message that I need to hear.  Right when I'm talking about savoring silence rather than fretting through it, I turn the page in my Women of Faith Bible study to a chapter called, "Discovering the Rest of God".

The other day, I worked through a chapter called "God as Multiplier".  It had me think through times in my life when God took something small that I had to offer and multiplied it.  I remembered financial examples (like the money for our housing in Colombia both times actually going toward helping a missionary who actually lived in the apartment, or supporting Julian for a few months, which actually supported the missionary that he lived with.).  Then it went on to spiritual examples, and all I could really think of was teaching Bible study, because if each lady in the study is deeply affected and drawn closer to Christ, then her whole family is affected, along with all of those that she touches throughout her day.  However, God then gave me another example this very week.  For the third time now, someone read my book and told me they immediately went out and got The Power of a Praying Wife after reading it.  By writing and publishing my own story, now at least three other marriages and families are being changed.  My personal agenda for that book was for the next person grieving a failed adoption to not have to feel they grieved alone.  I knew that lonely place and didn't wish it on anyone.   Looks like God had more in mind on how to use that book than I did.

Friday, December 28, 2012


As much as this introvert craves a period of silence at least once each day, knowing how energizing it can actually be for me, I find myself conflicted by the silence that has loomed over our life this week.  We are so close to completing this adoption, yet so many questions still hang in the air with no answers.  I would have liked to have gotten answers over this week while I am off work and have time to make the necessary phone calls or write the necessary e-mails.  My mind is not cluttered with work, lesson plans, grading papers, attending meetings, conferencing with parents, etc.  Yet, for the same reason that I am off work, so are the people that I need to be in contact with, the people that I need to be making phone calls to or sending e-mails to.

I feel like God has been screaming at me to just take the mental break and enjoy the peace and solitude.  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Take a walk. Play a game with my son.  Enjoy life as it is.  Savor it.  Life is just as it was always meant to be in this moment.  Some days I've done well with that, but I confess that other days I have not done so well.  I find myself continuing to fret over all the unknowns (what is God's plan for Julian, when will we go to Colombia, will David's school be affected, how much will it cost, will the grant be enough, will my students be okay, how much longer till these two documents come, who are we supposed to see to get this new report that they're asking for, etc., etc., etc.?????  Will this adoption ever become a reality?  If it does, are we even ready for all the change that will come with it?)  The list of questions goes on and on.  Taking a mental break is hard, but one that I obviously need.  I'm sure God knew what he was doing when he dumped all these unknowns onto us right at Christmas time, knowing that everyone being off of work would just mean silence.

Silence is good, though.  I am an introvert, and as much as I love to pour myself into other people, I desperately need moments of solitude to reenergize myself, and I desperately need time alone with God to let  Him fill me up, over and over again.  I'm slowly learning patience and trust and the ever-so-difficult act of letting go.  God has a plan, and when I need to know more, He'll fill me in.  I think He's proven to me time and time again that He can be trusted, no matter what.  I wish this process and paperwork were already behind us, but for some reason they're not--which could only mean that there's still more to be learning, still more reason to be trusting, and that it's just not time yet.  Life is just as it should be at this moment.  So for today, I'm going to try to savor this silence.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day

Today was just a perfect day.  Mike got up early with the dogs so I could sleep, and I actually slept till after seven o-clock! (Yes, this is a true miracle that I got to sleep past five.)  I woke up to him making a breakfast that we got to enjoy together before David even thought about waking up.

We worked together to make a nice little Christmas dinner, and then we headed out to see Parental Guidance, which just came out today.  My friend had given me three tickets to go to the Studio Movie Grill, so it worked out great and was a very enjoyable experience.  We'd never been there before, but we absolutely loved it.  Plus the movie was really, really great!  I highly recommend it.  I'm so glad David specifically requested that we go see it.

We woke up to a thunderstorm this morning and endured a pretty wet morning.  We later walked out of the movie theater to SNOW!  That's right, snow in Texas (and not just a little bit) on Christmas!  David was just out in his shorts yesterday, and today we came home scrambling for gloves. David and Mike  went for a long walk and threw some snow balls, then we took the dogs for an early evening walk in the snow, and then Mike and David had another snow ball fight.

Now we're sitting around the living room watching tv, playing with our new toys, and enjoying a fire in the fireplace.  I just checked my facebook and read a message that made my day even better yet.  It was from a friend who also studied in Argentina through Grace College, and she said that one of the gifts she opened this Christmas happened to be my book!  Just hearing that was a gift to me.  I told her to let me know when she's done reading it so I can fill her in on the latest.  I truly thought that writing that book was about healing and closure.  Little did I know it was just the beginning of finally seeing the pieces come together.

Our Quiet Little Christmas, 2012

Candy-cane pie. Mmmmmmmmm.
Trying out a new Wii game

Couldn't be more fitting!

Monday, December 24, 2012


I read somewhere the other day that rather than count the days that are left until the next "big" event, I should be making every day count until then.  This will be David's last Christmas as an only child, so I wanted to make sure that it will count as a memorable one in his book.  I wanted to make sure it was special.  Sometimes I can be so laid back and simplistic that I forget to look at Christmas through his eyes.  I tried extra hard to really "listen" this year, finding out what things stick out to him and mean something to him about the season.  We won't be a little family for much longer, and as consumed as I have been lately with expanding/reuniting our family as soon as possible, for the moment, I just want to savor the moments we are spending together still as a little family.  

We followed our normal tradition for Christmas this year by attending the Christmas Eve service, stopping for pizza on the way home, then opening our presents.  Yep, it's not even Christmas yet, and every gift has been opened.  David did not get the one thing he asked for, but he got so many surprises that he ended up a very happy boy.  Right now he's working on a little model car while watching one of his favorite shows.  Mike loved the gift that David got for him, which is a big sign that says FORD SERVICES--CARS, TRUCKS, AND TRACTORS.  I loved the new warm, fuzzy socks that Mike gets me every year, and I think one of my favorite gifts was my new coffee mug that says Kloppmann Architects.  Now I can think of my brother every morning when I make my coffee. :)  After we opened our gifts, we enjoyed a Candy Cane pie and some sparkling cider.  It's been a nice evening.  Not that we didn't want to be around more family, but since my brother's still sick with pneumonia, it worked out for us to spend a quiet little Christmas Eve at home.  This adoption has consumed me in so many ways (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, financially)--the mental break from it until the holiday is over can do me a world of good.  

We plan to sleep in tomorrow morning, make a big breakfast, and then we're headed to a movie (another one of our traditions).  We'll come back and make a nice meal to enjoy for our Christmas dinner after that.  

Making it count.   

Friday, December 21, 2012

A new day

Today's a better day, though we're still quite confused and wondering what's coming next.  Colombia held a pretty big meeting with a lot of important people on Monday to discuss our case, which led to me getting an e-mail from the boys' social worker that left me feeling quite anxious.  I didn't know what to think of it, and it had me wondering if maybe they had changed their minds or if we were still in danger of not being formally approved.  I wrote to our attorney to find out what he knew, but I didn't get any response, and I just never had a chance to sit down and call him.  Then we got a letter from immigration with a new deadline to submit things in order for them to approve us to bring Julian, and we knew that there was no way to meet that deadline.  I called to check on the status of our two remaining documents, only to be told that they can't even give me a status on them for at least two to three more weeks.  It sure was one nerve-wracking week.

Thankfully, after a tear-filled morning yesterday and another screaming match with God, I got a response from the attorney, saying that the psychologist over our case in Colombia wanted me to call him.  So, while my students watched Polar Express during our pretend "field trip" to the North Pole yesterday, I slipped into a quiet room and spent nearly an hour on the phone with the psychologist.  (Let me remind you that phone calls in Spanish are just not my specialty or my favorite thing to do.  I don't even talk to Julian on the phone anymore).  What an interesting conversation that turned out to be, but one that made me thankful for a lawyer who could put me in touch with the people that mattered.  We are going to need to provide more documentation on a few matters that they had concerns about and wanted more clarity, but there were several times in the conversation that he made comments about understanding our thoughts and intents better after talking with me.  Due to a HUGE misunderstanding that I still don't quite understand, we are back on the fence about Julian.  Yet somehow, both Mike and I feel at total peace regarding him, even if he gets dropped from this equation. The psychologist was very positive about our relationship with "Juan", though, and is just trying to make sure all is in place for his adoption to be successful.   The people from the orphanage were there in that meeting on Monday, as well, and they all gave their support of the adoption, too.

I felt so much better after that phone call, and I was able to calm down and enjoy my kids and our trip to the North Pole for the rest of the day. (We were all in our pajamas for the whole day, so it was nice to just "lounge around".)  Then last night I had a long conversation with the lady that Julian lives with, and she assured me that he is fine where he is and that He is definitely in God's hands.  I needed to hear that, too.  I told her I didn't know what I'd do if I didn't have the assurance that Julian was surrounded by such a great Christian family and part of a church like hers.

David is starting to get excited.  He said that adopting "Juan" will be our Christmas present to him (to "Juan") since we can't send a gift right now.  I thought that was really sweet.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pressure's back on

It looks like that smooth ride to the finish line of this crazy adoption attempt isn't going to happen after all.  I guess I spoke too soon.  The pressure is definitely on as these last two documents are taking way too long and we're facing more deadlines.  I'm frustrated, discouraged, anxious, and just absolutely exhausted.  It's complicated and too hard to explain, so I'm not even going to try.  I wouldn't wish what we've gone through in this adoption process on anyone.  All I can say is this......I AM SO TIRED.  

Thankfully, despite all of my anxiety and frustration, God is still there and still in control.  The good news is that we've been re-awarded the grant that we'd gotten nearly four years ago and were not able to use.  This was a matching grant that a lot of our friends and family generously donated to, so it is reassuring to know that God always had plans for those funds.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Untouched but not unaffected

I didn't even know anything had happened yesterday.  It was a busy day, following a busy day, at school.  I barely even took time out to eat my lunch.  I found myself quietly grumbling about all responsibilities that go along with teaching, quietly grumbling about the obvious challenge that my class this year has been for me, quietly grumbling about how little time there was to actually accomplish all that needs to be accomplished each day, and I sadly forgot about the privilege it really is to carry such an awesome responsibility day in and day out.  The responsibility not only to educate, but to love and nurture 22 children that are not my own, to keep them safe each day, and to inspire them to always have a passion for learning, no matter what stage of life they are in.  I got so caught up in being frustrated because they couldn't sit still long enough to finish a test to the best of their ability that I forgot about the fact that there are 22 sets of parents who are putting their confidence in me every day, counting on me to always look out for their child's best interests, their child's safety, and their child's success.

I just happened to earn a "Get out of Jail Free" card yesterday (a leave-early pass), so I drove over to David's school to pick him up a little bit earlier than normal.  As I sat in the parking lot, I checked my facebook and was sadly reminded of what an honorable and vulnerable position we hold as teachers.  The news of the school shooting in Connecticut hit way too close to home for this teacher.  It broke my heart to imagine those children's last moments, especially knowing that the last person to touch their life was their teacher.  It makes me sick to think that they will never get to go back home for Christmas.  I'm sure most of their parents already had Christmas presents wrapped and under the tree for them, or at least hidden in a closet somewhere.  I just can't even fathom what those families are going through.

I look at the teachers who put their lives on the line for those kids, who somehow remained calm and were able to keep the children calm, reassuring them that it would be okay.  It made me wonder if I would have had the same courage that they did.  Would I have been able to stay calm in the face of such uncertain danger?  I really don't know, all I know is that I suddenly realized how lucky I am to be a teacher, what an honor it is to know so many parents put so much confidence in me to entrust their children to me each day.  I remembered what my real responsibilities are each day, besides all the paperwork and frustration over kids not being able to sit still long enough to take a test that's not developmentally appropriate for their age, anyway (that's another soapbox for another day).  I also suddenly felt so blessed to be sitting in the parking lot of my son's school, waiting for him to get out, knowing he would be coming out.

Today I can't seem to keep my eyes off the news.  It's one of those days where, though I was completely untouched by this incident, I was certainly not unaffected.  Life goes on, but sometimes, you just wish the world didn't keep turning.  My heart is broken for those families, those teachers that survived, and for that school.  I may have thought just twenty-four hours ago that all my silent grumbling was justified.  Today, I just feel blessed--to know my 22 little darlings will still be walking back into my room on Monday, fully confident that I am going to teach them, to inspire them, to genuinely care about them, and to help them never want to stop learning.  It is an honor and a privilege to carry such an awesome responsibility each and every day.  I needed to realize just how much I have to be grateful for, even if they can be a more challenging bunch than other classes have been in the past.

Friday, December 7, 2012

All I want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas is for all of our paperwork to be in Colombia and out of our hands.  Just waiting on yet another fingerprint clearance and birth certificates.  After we get them and have them apostilled, WE WILL BE DONE......AGAIN.  It all still seems so unreal, almost as if I'm still wondering if this is actually for real.