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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 15, 2013

Blessed and Challenged

Every day something happens that makes me think, "I can't wait to blog about this!"  Then I don't find the time to do so until the weekend, and by the time the weekend arrives, I have so much to write about that I can't figure out where to start.  So today I'm going to try to organize my thoughts here by how we've been blessed and also how we've been challenged.

  • Blessed.  
    • This week we've been blessed in so many ways.  To start, Juan David had his first soccer practice on Monday night.  Apparently there were quite a bit of hassles in getting enough coaches for the U16 division.  So, basically, Juan David's name was amongst a group of about 11 other boys who were coachless and teamless.  Finally, they got a coach and assistant coach to step up to form a brand new team.  Mike went to the first parent meeting, and I went to the first practice.  All I can say is that I'm highly impressed with his coach.  He's been playing soccer his whole life and greatly enjoys coaching the boys, but he's very strict about their commitment, responsibility, and punctuality.  He said he's going to work them hard so there's never any excuse for not winning a game.  If they lose a game, they'll lose only after giving it everything they've got.  He also committed to staying with the team until they turn 18.  Juan David is finally back in his element, and he's so excited.  He has practice twice a week, plus he goes to David's practices and joins them, and he plays soccer at church on Wednesday nights for the last 30 minutes of the evening.  He's a happy kid right now.  ("Juan was fascinated with David's soccer pictures, and I still remember him saying how he would love to play on a team like that someday.  I tucked that comment away in my heart, silently vowing to make sure that happened if we were able to adopt them." p. 14, From the Mountain...to the Valley...and Back! )
    • Photo: First soccer practice! Go FC Garland.  :-)
    • Tuesday night we attended Juan David's Meet the Teacher night.  We are so blessed to live in a district that provides a Newcomer program for kids just like him.  No wonder he loves school so much.  It's a small school with just a few teachers, all whom are very passionate about getting these kids ready to transition into the American school system.  Not only are they all in the same boat, coming straight from countries all over the world with a very limited English, but they all have this home base to start out in without having to be "thrown to the wolves". We found that at least two of his teachers are strong Christian teachers.  One of them is from my Rockwall Christian Writer's Group.  I've shared our story with this group and have taken several intimate chapters of my second book to be critiqued by them, so they all know my heart for the older orphan.  When we realized where we knew each other from, you should have seen her face when she realized that everything I've been writing was about him, her student.  Definitely a God moment. We also walked away feeling so blessed by comments like these from several of his other teachers: "I love this kid!" "He is such a hard worker!"  "The only reason I'm still teaching is because of kids like him."  "Some kids come through this program, and you can just tell that they're going to soar.  I know that this kid is going to soar."  
    • On Friday morning at breakfast, Juan David and I were talking about how much I still had left to write in my second book.  He then informed me that he wants to add his own part to the book, his side of the story from his perspective. I never would have asked him to do that, but now that he's made it clear that he wants to, I will do everything I can to encourage him to complete it.  I think it's the essential missing part of the story that needs to be told.  The backside to that is that the book will likely take much longer to finish and publish than I had originally hoped, but I think it makes perfect sense and will make a better book in the end. 
    • On a completely different note, I am finally seeing the grace and the blessing in my change to teaching PreK.  Things went much better this week, and the kids are beginning to adapt well to the structure in my room.  I feel blessed to be able to be their first teacher, I feel blessed to have the "cutest" kids in the school, and I feel blessed to not have to carry such a huge workload home every evening like I used to.  Yes, they're a LOT of work at school.  I am 150% ON all day long (which leaves me quite tired at the end of the day), but I don't take my work home with me.  I can focus my time on my family and on keeping track of all of their crazy schedules.  With all of the changes at home, this change at school has really been a huge blessing. 
  • Challenged.
    • My boys are busy.  Life is busy.  I'm tired. We are the family that only allows one extracurricular activity plus school and church.  Yet with two of them in two different schools (plus my school stuff) and on two different soccer teams, that creates a lot of busyness during this season of life.  This week we had three nights of soccer practice, one night of church, and one night at Juan David's school.  Unless there's a conflict in schedule, we like to attend both boy's soccer practices as a family.  That didn't happen this week.  Mike had ManChurch while David and I went to JD's practice on Monday.  I had a training for Bible study teachers in Rockwall while Mike went to JD's soccer practice on Thursday.  Mike and I went to visit our brand new (beautiful) great niece on Wednesday while the boys had church.  Finally on Friday we got to all go to David's soccer practice together, and JD just joined in and practiced with them.  
    •  Photo: Both boys wearing themselves out at David's soccer practice. That makes four nights of soccer this week between the two of them.
    • After that, we had to rush to the shoe store to get them both running shoes for their marathon relay training on Saturday morning.  It all made for a busy week.  They ended up spending the entire day with their marathon relay team on Saturday, so Mike and I enjoyed a long, quiet day at home until time for church.  Today no one even got out of bed until 9:30!
    •  Photo: Great morning run with relay team.
    • We've been very blessed so far with Juan David.  We're happy that he's so happy to be here and has such a vibrancy for life.  That's not to say that there aren't daily challenges.  We struggle with the whole trust issue, trying to get him to realize and understand  that trust has to be earned, it's not just automatically given.  Trust is also an issue that builds slowly, one step at a time, but that can throw you ten steps back if you misuse it or mess up.  Fortunately the main struggles have been over small things like a missing dollar or taking more poptarts than allowed.  We had one issue over something big where he was caught red-handed.  However, when the same item went missing again, we came down hard on him, only to realize ourselves that we'd falsely accused him and had misplaced the item on our own.  I guess that kind-of leveled the field and gave us all a place to start over. 
    •  The other main challenge we've had is realizing that JD cannot handle choices.  Whether it's food, items in a store, or even clothing--he does not have the ability to make a choice.  He will always choose it all.  This has changed how we prepare meals, how much we put on his plate, and even how many condiments we can have at the table at one time.  No more, "go make your own breakfast".  We have to let him know exactly what his option is for the day and how much of it he can have.  If not, both the cereal and the poptarts will be gone in the first two days.  No more choices on condiments at the dinner table.  We can only use what's out, and if there's six choices out every night, all six will be gone by the end of the week.  It's an adjustment for us, but it all goes back to those gaps in his development due to not having been raised in a family.  Not only do we now have the responsibility of raising a teenager for the first time, but we also have the responsibility of going back and filling in as many gaps as we can.  We've sadly seen how those gaps play out into adulthood by walking his brother through that first year on his own, so we're glad that God has given us the opportunity to at least fill some of them in for Juan David so he doesn't have to go through many of the same things his brother did.

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