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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.