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, August 25, 2013

Lost and found

What a week this has been trying to get back into work when almost every aspect of my life has changed.  As of two weeks ago, I felt completely lost and overwhelmed while moving into my new classroom.  However, with the help of our lady custodians finding me available furniture that fit my personality and teaching style, I finally purged enough, reorganized, and got the room to feel like it's mine.  Now I'm rather excited about starting the year.  Change is good, and I feel like I'm starting with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for teaching.  To think that I get these kids while they're fresh and ready to learn is exciting, as well as knowing that I get to be the one to set the bar, train the parents, and instill in them a love to learn.  I will have two classes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  That equals 48 kids, 44 of whom I got to meet on Thursday night.  I have two sets of twins in my morning class, and I also found out that I have the daughter of our custodian at church.  He's a young Hispanic guy, and I was surprised that he recognized me immediately as someone from the church. :) 

Moving my stuff out of my old classroom and away from my teammates left me with an incredible sense of loss, but now that I'm settled in my new room with my new assistant, my new teammate, and my new "neighbors", I found the excitement and enthusiasm that I didn't know I'd been missing. 

I guess this whole adoption experience has gotten me thinking about the concept of being lost and then found.  The lengths that God went to to find Juan David and Julian and join them with our family has really spoken to me about how God sees all the details of our lives and has complete control over them.  He doesn't miss anything, not even the minutest detail. 

This very week I've lost three, no four, quite important things.  I wanted to beat myself up each time for being so careless.  Yet God eventually gave me a sense of peace that He knew exactly where my missing items were.  If I needed them, He had all the ability to lead me to them.  If not, I could trust Him that I lost them for a purpose--He was still in control. 

First, I lost my flashdrive.  Not just any flashdrive.  The one that held a digital copy of ALL of our adoption documents.  Quite a bit of personal information.  If anyone picked it, they could very easily steal our identity.  Here I'd been so careful with it for those five weeks in Colombia, and then in one careless move back home, it was gone.  I assumed it had broken and fallen on the ground in one of two very public places.  When I couldn't find it, I just prayed that God would allow it to be run over or destroyed in some way.  Four days later, the boys found it, broken just like I assumed, but stuffed way down inside the couch.  Whew!

Later in the week, I got an important paper in the mail with account information and a # that I needed to call by a certain day.  I carefully put it somewhere that I would not lose it or forget to call.  Yet in one careless move, it disappeared.  Not only did I need the information on that piece of paper that very day, but I also freaked out about it getting into the wrong hands.  Once again, I was reminded that God knew exactly where that little piece of paper was, and my assistant found it on the floor in my classroom.  Relief!

A few days later, I came home from the doctor after getting x-rays because I tripped over the dog.  (No broken bones, thankfully).  I didn't even think about how eerily quiet the house was when I got home until we got ready to leave at five in the afternoon.  The dogs had gotten out the back gate much earlier in the day and were now long gone!  The shelter would not be open until Monday morning to even call to see if they'd been reported.  Driving around looking for them didn't do any good because they'd already been gone for several hours.  I didn't even want to think about how heartbroken both boys would be if we didn't find those dogs.  God reminded me again that He knew where they were, so we just prayed for them to be protected.  Later that evening, a friend showed me how to look online for any dogs that had been taken to the shelter that day.  I went to the link, and lo and behold, there they were!  The pics had been posted less than an hour earlier.  Thank goodness!  (As I write this, they are sitting in doggie jail at the shelter until we can pick them up.  Hoping the jail fee isn't too much, but it's worth it to at least know where they are).  Those dogs will be officially grounded when they get home. 

Now, if I could get through this week without losing anything important, that would be nice.  But at least I'm reminded that God sees it all, from the abstract sense of loss, to two big black dogs, to a tiny little flashdrive stuffed in the couch. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Interview with Juan David

Here was my "interview" with Juan David as we slurped our ice cream shakes, celebrating his first complete month in the United States:

Me: What has been the hardest thing so far?

JD: Speaking (the language)

Me:  What has been the easiest thing?

JD: Sleeping (he loves his bed)

Me:  What has been the most fun so far?

JD:  Hmmmm.  Swimming, Biking, Camping.... what else?

Me:  What has been the best part so far?

JD:  I don't really know.  Everything.  All of it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Camping pic--Tyler State Park, August 8-10, 2013

Photo: Had a great time camping with boys this weekend at Tyler State Park!

A Full Plate Coming

Juan David has officially been in the United States for a solid month today, and our plate seems to be getting fuller each day.  Welcome to reality.  We've had a nice, quiet sort of month, keeping everything low-key and just focusing on adjusting to our new life as a family.  Getting to know each other.  Figuring each other out within all this newness.  Struggling through the changes in family dynamics.  Enforcing the rules (or better said, values) that we live by within our home.  Creating a home base where everyone feels safe. Not a lot of interaction outside the home besides with church and church people (and family that happens to live in Texas).  They said this time would be essential in order to establish property authority and boundaries in Juan David's life.  Again I'm amazed at how God seemed to work that timing out rather well, having us return from Colombia with still a month left of summer vacation.

However, now the test will come as we venture into the realities of life.  We're a pretty simple family, but we're very purposeful in the activities we're involved in.  This last week, I went back to work.  A day of training for new PreK teachers and a day of district wide training on changes within the school and scheduling.  The other three days I worked in my classroom early.  Some could call that being an overachiever--I call it being an introvert, knowing that I think and prepare best when it's quiet and no one is around.  I took the boys with me two days, while leaving them home to play Wii together the third day.  So far I've been able to come home and have lunch with them every day.  This week I'll do the same most days while I'm at staff development.

A week from  Monday, though, reality will be in full swing with school starting.  I'll be in a whole new grade level at school with a new room and a new teammate.  David will be starting middle school with a whole new schedule, routine, and workload (he's going to an academy for Gifted students).  Juan David will be attending a school here in a brand new country, learning in a language that he's only beginning to pick up on, riding a bus and learning some independence. (He's going to be in a Newcomer program at an alternative high school, starting the year out in a sheltered environment with one teacher and about twenty students who are brand new to the country).  Newness for everyone.  Even Mike has a new manager at work, so his "normal" has changed quite a bit, too.

Soccer officially started for David yesterday as his team recongregated to play a little practice scrimmage against another returning team.  Juan David is still waiting to be placed on a team, but he's already registered and paid.  Soccer is his element, so he's quiet excited to get started.  I look forward to  watching him play and being his cheerleader, and I look forward to taking him to David's games so we can cheer for David together. 

With David starting middle school, that also meant that he graduated into the youth group (aka "student ministry") at church.  Both boys are in the same class on Saturday evenings at church now, and they'll be attending The Net (youth group) on Wednesday evenings.  This last week David went to his introductory night activity as a middle schooler, while Juan David went to a different introductory night as a high schooler.  They both had a great time and are looking forward to the Wednesday night youth program.  Juan David is excited because they play soccer during the last part.  David is excited because they play video games during that last part. Mike and I are excited because church is a safe and happy place for both of them.

Three weeks after The Net starts up, so does Ladies' Bible study.  I haven't taught a study since last fall, so I am very anxious to get back into teaching what I'm most passionate about. To me, there's nothing cooler than watching women's lives change as they dig deep into Scripture with other women.  Relationships form.  Walls come down.  People get vulnerable.  We support each other in whatever stage of life we're in.  We love on each other.  We pray with and for each other.  And we all grow closer to Christ personally as His Word starts to plaster itself all over our hearts, minds, and lives. I love it, and I love being part of it.  This semester I'm teaching a study by Jennifer Rothschild called Missing Pieces.  It's a study all about how God specifically allows missing pieces in our lives to draw us closer to Him.  When we surrender those questions and missing pieces to Him, He Himself fills them, leaving us to see that He is the missing piece, not the answer that we're searching for. 

On top of all of that, I am also part of the launch team for Mary DeMuth's new book called Wall Around Your Heart.  She is one of the main "leaders" of my writer's group, having written about thirty books already.  She is a gifted speaker, an encourager, and an incredible mentor to new writers.  I learn so much from her advice as a writer, which has helped me as I continue to work on my second book.  I've read the first three chapters of her new book so far and am amazed at how candidly honest she is as she writes, and I'm so drawn to how real she is about her relationship with Christ.  This particular book teaches us how Jesus modeled prayer and shows how praying The Lord's Prayer, phrase by phrase, can help us not only break down the wall around our heart, but prevent us from grabbing the next brick to start building yet another wall.  Amazingly written.  I will continue to share as I read through it.  I believe the book will be out in October.

A full plate is definitely coming.  Life will be busy, but it's all very intentional and purposeful busyness that we don't take lightly.  Pray for us as we begin these stages of life together as a new family.  Pray that we will keep our home a safe place for everyone.  Pray that we will stay united as parents raising our two sons through all of this newness.  Pray that Christ will be the Rock and foundation of our home as we figure out life and guide Juan David (and David) through all of these life changes.  Pray that we would be patient with him and understanding of the places he came from and the perspectives he has learned to take on life.  Pray most of all that God will draw his heart to Himself.  He obviously has great purpose for bringing him here, specifically to our family.  We know the road ahead will be filled with incredible challenge and covet each and every prayer for us. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Baby" (Adoption) Shower

Yesterday my sweet sister-in-law threw us a post adoption shower to celebrate Juan David's arrival home and to help us out with our needs.  What a blessing!  I was so touched by how many people even included something special for David, as well.  We had a great time with several dear friends from church, got a surprise phone call from a missionary friend we met in Colombia, and we even got a gift card in the mail from someone who didn't even know about the shower.  Most people gave either us or the boys gift cards, so we headed straight to Target when it was over in order to purchase some of the things we've been needing.  Plus the boys got two new Wii games to play together.  There won't be much Wii time once school starts, so it's a good way for them to enjoy their last few days of summer and to use as a bonding tool.  They also are both now stocked up on toiletries.  I shared with one friend how much Juan David likes to draw comics, and she bought him some sketchbooks and art supplies to work with.  We are incredibly thankful for everyone's generosity and thoughtfulness toward our family. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

This is quite long, but a must read!

Believing Big: Dear Adoptive Mama: This post is for all of the mama's (and daddy's) that understand the adoption journey and for those who are somewhere in betw...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A needed break

While Mike and the boys head out on a camping trip for the rest of the week, this is where I get to be over the next two days! http://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership/schedule.asp 

I've always wanted to attend the Leadership Summit at church, but I've never had the money to do so.  This year I got invited because I am a volunteer at the church. I am really, really, really looking forward to it.  It's a break that I am desperately needing after quite a stressful, life-changing summer.

Mike borrowed our friend's pop-up camper to take the boys camping, so that should be a fun experience for David and definitely a new one for Juan David.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Just warmed my heart

I've been thinking about Julian a lot in the last few days.  I know he tried to be strong while we were in Colombia, but it hit him pretty hard as soon as we left--and took his brother with us.  Not only did he suddenly feel incredibly alone, but he also realized just how close we'd come to adopting him, too, so the reality that we adopted his brother without him really devastated him.  He'd always dreamed of traveling back with us and getting to stay here.  We may never know why God let that door remain open for so long, just long enough to give us a real hope, only to close it again.  (Hmmmmm.  Has that been the case with another situation????)  We know it's either not meant to be, or it's just not time yet for him to come here.

So, needless to say, he's been on my heart.  Today I printed off a beautiful picture of the three boys together and put it in Juan David's room for him.  Then I added his cell phone # to a special account that we have to call Colombia at a very cheap rate.  I dialed the #, gave Juan David the phone, and waited for his brother to pick up. It absolutely warmed my heart to hear such excitement in Julian's voice when he realized who called him. He had so many questions for his brother that he barely let Juan David get a word in.  He may not have any contact with his sister or even know where she is, but at least he knows that he and Juan David will still be brothers for life.

Saturday, August 3, 2013