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, September 30, 2012

What we never saw coming......

It was October 27th, 2007.  What a year it had already been.  We lived through a surprise, though short lived, pregnancy, we grieved a miscarriage, we bought our first home, and I experienced God do a miracle in   my heart as He met with me every morning on my new front porch that first summer in my house. I found an intimacy with Him that I never knew I could have as I began to cultivate a life of authentic prayer for the first time in my life.  I also began to pray a simple prayer that summer, the prayer of Jabez, asking God to expand my borders, to give me more territory, to use me in greater ways than He ever had before.

When we registered to attend the annual Adoption Conference at our church that October, we couldn't have even imagined the journey that it would set us on or how it would change our lives for eternity. What we did imagine was bringing home a little girl from El Salvador and raising her here as our own adoptive child. Oh, how God's planned differed from our original hope and desire.

I will never forget that day.  I still remember it like it was yesterday.  The first chapter of my book begins right in the middle of that Adoption Conference, over the lunch hour, where we sat with another couple and shared our stories of why we were there.  We could hardly wait to get started with an adoption process, so confident over this call that God had put into our lives. They still agonized over the decision to adopt, hoping that God would miraculously grant them a biological child after all of their struggles with infertility.  God set us both on a journey that day, though, one that neither one of us ever saw coming.

The following year, Mike and I found ourselves back at the next conference as volunteers, proudly showing off pictures of the two Colombian children that we were in the process of adopting.  We were overjoyed at how God had brought them into our lives, and we couldn't wait until the following year where we could "show them off" in person.  We sadly didn't make it to that conference, though, because we found ourselves grieving their loss, trying to understand how we could have been so misled, so misguided, so "off the mark".  They weren't coming home to us.  We felt so cheated, so lost, so abandoned by God.  We felt like He let us down.......

Two years later, I thought I finally got it.  Right around the time of the annual conference, I'd just finished writing our story, our journey to Julian.  I understood that our journey was not an adoption journey, after all, but a journey to a child who could never come home to us.  I saw that our purpose would live itself out away from home, rather than within the walls of our home.  I look back over all that we learned and experienced, as well as over all the people we've had an opportunity to meet and minister to, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Yesterday, after missing the last three consecutive annual conferences because we felt like our purpose no longer connected with adoption, we jumped back into it as both volunteers and attendees.  Adoption may still be in our near future, but because of the experiences we've had, our hearts are drawn more toward orphan care and advocacy than anything else. This particular conference seemed to have an equal focus on both adoption and orphan care.  We attended two sessions in the morning called Orphan Care 101 and 201.   The President of Lost Orphans International and the Vice President of Children's Hope Chest led the sessions (two very fun guys, by the way).  Both sessions focused on the same thing--becoming family to those children that you may never get to bring home.  

Here we were, five years after that first conference, with the amazing opportunity to share our story.  Since that very first conference we attended, we've been eternally touched and changed by three beautiful Colombian orphans, two of whom now call me Mom.  We traveled to Colombia and back twice, visited the orphanage they were raised in several times, became part of an amazing network of believers and missionaries in the capital city of Colombia, met so many people that we never would have had the opportunity to meet, wrote and published our story so we can continue to share it with others, got to tell the continuing story to the two men who determined that we were not mentally stable enough to be adoptive parents in the first place, and now we face a new possibility and hope that at least one, if not both, of the boys might actually come home to us someday.

Were we cheated?  Did God let us down?  Not at all. What we once thought was so completely "off the mark" couldn't have been any closer to the mark God meant for us to be on.  He answered that simple prayer I prayed back in the summer of 2007.  He enlarged our territory, gave us a huge sphere of influence, and continues to expand our borders, using us in ways we never could have imagined.   I wrote to the President of Lost Orphans International when we got home to thank him for his presentation on something so close to my heart.  He sent me this note back this morning.....

You guys are living out what I was hoping to get across to the groups. Thank you for being 

faithful to God's calling into your life.

So, what about that couple that we sat with over the lunch hour at that very first conference we attended together five years ago? I actually found them at yesterday's conference.  They led the session called Infertility and Adoption.  They have an adopted daughter and they lead an Infertility support group at the church.  She told me right before she left that though she was a mess back then, God used her struggles through infertility to not only lead them to their daughter, but to use it as a way for her to minister to others.  She said, "I never saw that coming!"  We never do, but God always does.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Life just gets busy sometimes

I apologize for the long break from blogging.  Life just gets a bit busy sometimes.  I've been in one of those "take it one day at a time" kind of modes.  Between starting up our weekly Bible studies, we also had the Bible study teacher dinner one evening, a Just Desserts event for women at the church another evening, a Meet the Teacher event at both David's school and my school, that took up two evenings, and a preparation evening for the upcoming Adoption conference this coming weekend.  Add a soccer game, a birthday party, housecleaning, normal church activities, a new walking group with other church lady friends, and grading papers/lesson planning, and you get the point.  The rest of this month doesn't look like it's going to be any different.  (Let's see, two nights of soccer practice, a night of Bible study, a monthly writer's group meeting, setting up for the Adoption conference, volunteering at the Adoption conference, etc.) Thankfully, we've all managed to stay healthy, so that has helped with the pace lately.  Mike and David are out playing around on their boy toys this morning, so I have a few moments to myself while I'm waiting for the washer to get done.

Our Esther study has been amazing so far.  We've had 20 plus women each week, with at least one or two missing each time.  Everyone has been very open to sharing and discussion, which really makes the study come so much more alive (I think, anyway).  It's so great to hear how God is speaking to the other women and to find out what He's doing in their lives.  This is the second study I've taught where I found out during the first class that one of the women has just recently moved here from Indiana and joined the Bible study in hopes of connecting with other women.  Small world!

The other night, Mike was working late, so David and I drove out to Rockwall to help prepare the binders for the Adoption Conference. (I wanted to go to meet other people in the group since we don't normally attend that campus, David wanted to go for the free pizza).  Anyway, while there I connected with another lady in the group named Rachel.  Come to find out, we had so much more in common than just our name.  She has family that lives in Indiana really close to where we used to live, so she goes up there every year or two.  She's an elementary school teacher, and her first foster care adoption happened to be of a 14 year old Hispanic boy.  What a neat little connection we made.  I look forward to seeing her again during the conference on Saturday, and I'm glad to have connected with someone from the group.

David has had an interesting start to his school year.  He finally got a male teacher this year, and he absolutely loves him.  What a difference that has made in his whole attitude toward school and even his attitude at home.  He was so miserable last year, but now that he is so fond of his teacher and the way he teaches, David actually looks forward to going to school every day again and even enjoys his homework.  He is very eager to do his best and to show his teacher just how well he can do.  I'm so thankful for the way it's worked out for him.

Normally by now, soccer would have been in full swing for him, but that's been a little different this year.  The coach of his team was unable to keep coaching, and Mike really didn't want to take over coaching the team again due to time and the frustration of working with kids that are too involved in too many things that they're just not committed.  So we decided to let the team disband, and we registered David for any team that had a spot.  Well, the season started yesterday with the opening games, and as of Friday night, David still didn't have a team.  Then late Friday night, we got a call from a coach saying that David had just been added to his roster, so he was welcome to come out to the first game on Saturday morning at 9:30.  David was a bit nervous because he hadn't met the team or his new coach and didn't even have a uniform, but the color of the uniform was yellow, so he wore his bright yellow Colombia soccer jersey and played in that.  I was so proud of his bravery, and he ended up playing really well.  He took the first shot at a goal in the game, and then assisted in one or two other goals made.  The other parents noticed that he was pretty good, so I'm really happy for him.  He did end up knowing two other players, so that helped.  I hope this turns out to be a good little team for him because he sure does love soccer.  He's made so many sacrifices through this adoption process, I hated for him to not be able to play soccer this season, too.

As far as the adoption is going, we're back to playing the waiting game.  At the moment, our home study is being edited and reviewed by both agencies (the Texas home study agency and our international agency in New York) for approval.  Once it's approved and they actually give us the final notarized report, we have to quickly get it sent to Austin to get apostilled, then it will go to Colombia to get translated asap and then we'll find out if they will give us the okay to continue with the process or not.  It hasn't mattered at all how quickly we have done our part and complied with everything, or how much we have insisted that we're on a very tight time schedule, it still is seeming to drag on (at least to me).  I don't know what God has worked out in the end, whether time will run out for Julian or not, but I know He's already there and has everything orchestrated according to His plan. (Some days I have to remind myself of that fact many times or I will very quickly get filled with incredible anxiety).

Things seem to finally be looking up for Julian right where he is, though, and I am eternally grateful for how God has let us witness the many miracles He has done for him (and has let us be a part of those miracles).  He's found an opportunity to continue his studies again, so this week he'll be starting a new set of classes in the same field that he was studying before.  He seems happier now than he  has in a very long time, and he's been able to reconnect with likely the only positive aspect of his childhood. I will admit, it has been hard for me to step back and let him flounder around, but God put us in the place where we had no choice because we no longer had a single resource to help him other than our constant love.  Now we're seeing how He has continued to step in and take care of that boy in ways we never could have thought of on our own.

That's it in a nutshell regarding our personal life.  School has been a real challenge for me this year, as I have a class that's not as easy to teach as some others have been (not that there's ever an easy class to teach, but some are easier than others).  I go home pretty frustrated some days, so I'm having to rethink some of my strategies.  Meeting with the parents, one by one, seems to be helping with a few of the issues, so it looks like I need to just make more time to do that.  If you think about it, pray for me!  I hope to have a few more things figured out and put in place before I have to get evaluated this year!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Esther

We started our study of Esther this week, and I was so grateful for the twenty-one women that signed up for the study, all very hungry both for a deeper understanding of Scripture and for fellowship with other Christian women.  To be honest, I had no preparation as to how to start our study or discussion, but at the very last minute God prompted me to write four questions on the board.  I knew we were going to be tight on time with an hour video, but I also knew that everyone needed to have the chance to get to know the other women in the room.  Was I ever glad that I decided to open up the floor for sharing our answers to those four "simple" questions because I was amazed at how much these women want and need a safe place in their lives to just be real.  I am really looking forward to the next nine weeks of study with them, not only to understand Scripture more because of the Biblical history that we learn along with it, but also to just enjoy the fellowship and to bond with one another.  It is truly my favorite place to be (besides with my family).

Authentic fellowship is not superficial, surface-level chit-chat.  It is genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level, sharing.  It happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives.  They share their hurts, reveal their feelings, confess their failures, disclose their doubts, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer." (Purpose Driven Life, Day 18).  

My prayer is that in addition to growing closer to Christ and becoming more Biblically literate, we will share authentic fellowship as we bond together.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Inspiring

I was so thankful that our Meet the Teacher night at school got rescheduled for this coming week so that I could attend the teacher dinner/training for all of the women who are teaching a Bible study at church this fall.   It turned out to be a late night and I regretted drinking that cup of coffee after dinner because it kept me up half the night, but it was well worth it to be able to attend.  The fellowship was great, the drive with my friend was fun because we got to catch up with each other, and the training was captivating--it was one of those trainings that will stick with you for a long time.  However, I was so glad to attend because I had the privilege of witnessing one of the ladies being recognized for her many, many years of passionately leading other women in Bible study.  We found out that she is 81 years old (though she doesn't look or act a bit like it), and she won't let anything get in the way of keeping her from leading these studies.  She said that she won't stop until God stops her, and she said that each study and group of women is what keeps her going.  What an inspiration she is (she's also very special to me because she is a fellow poetry writer).  I hope that I can still have that fire within me when I'm her age.  She knows what matters most, and she pours her heart and soul into it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Watching God provide....one step at a time

We're starting a new FAITH initiative at church this week, so I got a new t-shirt that I'm supposed to wear to advertise in the Connection Center (where I serve after the service each week). It, of course, advertises the FAITH initiative, but the back just states these words...ONE STEP AT A TIME.  I absolutely love it.

Mike and I recently reached a point where our resources have run out to proceed with the next steps of the adoption, yet without our home study report in hand, we are having a hard time finding financial help.  We've got everything ready to apply for aid from several places, but all of them say the same thing....turn in your approved home study.  I'm rather frustrated that I don't have it yet, but that's not the point of this post.  The point is this:  Our next expense that needs to be paid very soon was going to cost us several hundred dollars.   We really didn't know what we were going to do.  Normally a few hundred dollars would not have been a big deal, but at this point in time, it became a huge deal.  Well, today we got a check in the mail from a dear friend and prayer warrior for the exact amount we needed. I opened the envelope and immediately started to cry.  How humbling to see God accomplish His purposes by burdening someone else's heart with our specific need.  I can't wait to tell Julian, who also knows that we've run out of money and has been fretting over how we were going to be able to proceed.  What a testimony to him.  We also got to share with David how God provided in such a specific way.  He keeps providing just what we need....one...step...at...a...time.

Just had to brag on God. :)  He's awesome!  I don't know why anyone would ever want to live without Him. I know that the person who sent the check will be blessed abundantly.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Break out sessions at the conference

There's a whole lot to choose from here!  You can be sure to find us in the ones that address orphan care, in addition to adoption.  I'll also have a table set up with my books if you'd like to purchase a copy to help us cover at least a portion of our most recent adoption expenses.

http://www.adoptionconference.net/lineup.php

More info. on the speaker for the adoption conference

http://www.adoptionconference.net/speakers.php

Adoption Conference

Looking forward to the Adoption Conference at Lake Pointe Church on September 29th.  Going to be a great speaker who is very passionate about orphan care.  Check it out! http://www.lpcadoption.org/lpcadoption.org/CurrentEvents/Default.aspx

Monday, September 3, 2012

For King & Country - The Proof of Your Love ~Lyrics

Reading, Reading, Reading

Why is it that I always seem to get really passionate about something right when school's starting up again?  Right when all my leisure summer time has disappeared, and I have to figure out how to schedule it all in?  Last year at this time, I was busily finishing up the last few pages of "our story", the book I never knew God was going to have me write.  I don't even remember the first few weeks of school last year because I was so consumed by writing that story.  This year, I find myself immersed into several books, along with tons of Scripture, desiring nothing more than to know and love God more and spend as much time alone with Him as possible before I start my day.  I say that with all sincerity because He literally woos me out of my bed very early every morning just to do so.  The poem on the right of this blog is truly my life poem, one that God has used to help me encourage many other women to give themselves to Him first each day, as well.  

So here's what I've been reading right now:

On Mission with God.  Can I just say, amazing?  I'm in a very confusing stage of life right now, not knowing what's coming, not sure how to prepare myself or my family, and not knowing how we'll be provided for.  It's very scary, to be sure.  I keep hearing the same message, the same question being asked of me.  Are you  willing to give it all in order to follow Him?  There are days when my honest answer has been that I just don't know.  If it weren't for my husband's vibrant faith in what God is obviously doing, I don't know that I would go through this again.  I have to daily surrender my fears to God and accept that He is all I need.  I've been so encouraged and inspired by the seven Biblical characters  investigated in this study that God used in mighty ways, seeing all that they had to give up, but then seeing how the glory that God received through them is matchless.  I want to live like that.

Praying God's Word.  What a great way to start the day.  A few weeks ago my pastor (the one who endorsed my book) asked me how I was praying regarding our current situation.  I told him that I just put those two boys in God's hands every day and ask that His will be done.  I will be more than honest to say that my heart is truly not in this process.  Last time around, the process (as difficult and tedious as it was) was a complete joy to me because I thought I knew what it was leading to.  This time around, the process is quite a valley-like experience, one that I'm dragging my feet through.  So, back to the conversation with my pastor, I told him that sometimes I just didn't even know how to pray regarding everything.  He recommended that I just pray His Word back to Him, so that very night I dug out my book by Beth Moore, Praying God's Word, and I pray through several pages of verses every day.  It really helps to keep my focus on Christ and His will rather than to be focused on myself and my circumstances.  I highly recommend it.

The Purpose Driven Life.  I got several free copies at Half-Price Books some time ago, and I've just given them out occasionally to people.  Well, this summer I was cleaning out some more stuff, and I offered several of them to the ladies in my Bible study group that came over one day for a movie.  One of them began reading it almost a month ago and told me how incredible it was.  She began sharing quotes that really stood out to her, so I was inspired to start reading it again myself.  I got Julian the  audio version, so I am trying to encourage him to stay on track with me and listen to a chapter a day.  It's been such a great reminder that our sole purpose is to know and love God and to let Him be known to everyone we meet.  My purpose is not to be a great teacher, to complete an adoption, to be a successful parent or adoptive parent, to be a missionary, to be a fun Mom, to have a close family, to decorate my house, to be frugal and save money, to be proud of my savings account, to give to others, to be an inspirational writer, or to have cute clothes and a cute hair style.  Our purpose is to know HIM and love HIM.  He may, in turn, give us many of these things or lead us to do certain things, but if they come before knowing and loving HIM, then we have not truly found our purpose.  It has really made me think about what it is that drives me to do the things I do.......What is my main priority each and every day?  Here is a quote that yesterday's chapter left me pondering over....
(p.76--Day Nine--What Makes God Smile)...."Is pleasing Him your deepest desire?..When you live in light of eternity, your focus changes from, 'How much pleasure am I getting out of life?' to 'How much pleasure is God getting out of my life?'......."

Praying God's Will for my Son and Praying God's Will for my Husband--These books are exactly the same, filled with about 10-15 Scriptures each day that focus on praying over different areas of my son's or my husband's life.  I have started praying these Scriptures over not only Mike and David, but also Julian and Juan David.  I also have made it a habit to have my prayer time in the extra bedroom set up for Juan David, almost like preparing the atmosphere of the room before he even gets here, if he does.  Praying these prayers has freed me from praying my own desires for all of them and gives me the assurance that I am praying God's will over their lives.

The Disciplines of a Godly Woman--This book has captivated me.  I'm so glad to have found a friend that could get me a copy, and to have a dear friend in Colombia who insisted that I read it.  So far I've read the chapters that include the discipline of the Gospel, of Submission, of Prayer, of Worship, of the Mind, and of Contentment.  The one on contentment really stood out to me because it showed just how hard it is to be content when we have little and how much harder it is to be content when we have more.  We are insatiable beings, and the only true contentment we will ever find is in Christ.  This quote really stood out to me, "The fact is that women who love God and love His Word find sources of joy and satisfaction that surpass any the world has to offer.  So it stands to reason that the rampant discontent among evangelical women stems from their shallow knowledge of the Bible".  Too many women have knowledge that they never learn to apply...

The Connected Child--This is one of the most highly recommended books for adoptive families who are raising children who came from hard places.  How insightful to know that the parenting strategies that work for your biological children may be very, very different from what will work with adoptive children, especially older adoptive children that bring a whole painful history into your home with them.  I know if this adoption goes through, Mike and I have many, many challenges ahead of us and need to be as prepared as possible.  Our entire life and lifestyle will change, and we have to be ready to face a watching, judging world who will not understand....I'm so thankful for this book, the author (who spoke at our adoption conference last year), and the many resources she has available for families like ours may one day become.

Esther--Next week our ladies' Fall Bible Study begins, and we are about to embark on a journey through the life and times of Esther.  I have attempted to teach this study before, but God just wouldn't let me.  The fact that He let me now shows that it is His time and that He has already hand-chosen the women that will be part of our group.  I am so, so, so ready to get started!  I miss that weekly fellowship, support, and encouragement, and I love getting to know so many new people every semester.  It's what makes a big church suddenly feel so much smaller.

So, there's what's been stealing my attention lately.  The last time I was so compelled to read was when I was grieving the loss of the kids.  God used all that He taught me in that period of time to prepare me for the life He was going to give us with Julian, for the book He was going to have me write, and for the beginning of a ministry that would inspire many other women to immerse themselves in the Word.  He's obviously preparing me for something now.  I know that through His strength in me, I can meet the challenge.  Thank you for all of your many prayers for me and the way you continue to encourage me.