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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.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Thirteen greatest challenges of 2013

With two days left this year, I decided to end the year with two specific posts: our thirteen greatest challenges and our thirteen greatest moments/events of 2013. Today will be the challenges.  Mike and I sat down with a cup of coffee together the other night to create this list together.

  1. Waiting on that piece of paper finally declaring our official approval to adopt from Colombia.  The men over our case told us that we were the first family to ever try a second time after being denied, so we knew that piece of paper would change history, not just our own and Juan David's, but possibly for others down the road.  It was no easy feat, though, and they added even more requirements for us than the norm.  God went before us (and all of our paperwork), though, and fought the battle for us.  A picture of that final approval is posted on the right hand side of this blog.
  2. Living through months of the unknown, especially waiting to see if God indeed planned to bring Julian here with Juan David.  The adjustment with Juan David alone has been challenging enough, adding Julian would have been difficult.  However, our hearts and our home will always be open to him if God ever opens the door for him to come to this country.  
  3. Living apart from Mike for our last three and a half weeks in Colombia.  We had friends in Colombia.  Lots of them.  We had Julian and Mercedes, intimate connections to Juan David. We weren't alone. I spoke the language. I thought it wouldn't be so bad.  Ha.  I never want to do that again.  Not without Mike.  Not for that long.
  4. Watching David suffer through such horrible tummy aches in Colombia, the worst one landing him in a little unsanitary clinic far from our living arrangements, far from our apartment in Bogota, far from home, and far from Daddy.  We waited there for nine excruciatingly lonely hours, hoping and praying that it was not appendicitis and that he would not need an emergency surgery in the middle of nowhere. 
  5. Adjusting to a teenager in our home.  One that has lived most of his life without the love, comfort, guidance, and security of a family.  It's a learning experience for all of us, and we just take it a day at a time.  The hardest part is knowing that we never had the chance to teach him and guide him up to this point.  We pray. A lot.  All we can do besides that is model, model, model and hope that he's watching.  
  6. Overcoming the language barrier.  I remember telling Juan David in Colombia that he'd be speaking a lot of English once he was in the States for just a couple months.  The ESL teacher in me knew it could happen because that's how immersion works.  Now almost six months later, it's still a huge struggle to get him to use any English at home.  Instead, he speaks completely in Spanish to David, so David is the one who surprised us by picking up the language almost naturally.  I try to speak mostly English to him, but before I even realize it, he's turned the conversation right back to Spanish.  When I ask him to try to say it in English, he can (or he finds a way).  He just doesn't have any desire to.  Sigh.  I guess there's just been so much change in his life that his language is the one thing he's still holding on to.  We considered pulling him out of the newcomer program and putting him into a regular school so his English would improve. However, after meeting with all of his teachers and his principal, we realized that they are meeting so many more of his unique needs and giving time for the culture to sink in.  The English will eventually come.  I guess in his case, it might take a little longer than the norm.  
  7. Building trust.  Juan David came here expecting so much more than he was given at the start (I guess like having expectations in a marriage and then seeing your actual marriage fall far short of everything you expected).  We don't have a lot of spare money to just go and do or buy on a whim.  We don't have a big house.  We don't have fancy stuff.  We sacrificed more than he'll ever know just to get him here. We also are a Christian family who operates on Biblical values.  There are many things we've never allowed David to do, and it's never been questioned.  Now Juan David is expecting the same material things and the same privileges as his classmates have in a public school.  Stuff that David always understood why he didn't have or couldn't do. It's been a challenge to get him to understand why the privileges and the material things have to start small.  Trust has to be earned, starting with the little things.  When it's broken over something small, that makes it even harder to earn it for something bigger.  We've stuck to our guns and had some success, but like I said, it's a learning experience for all of us.  We take it a day at a time.
  8. Changing all daily school routines with David.  My baby is a middle-schooler now.  And yes, I am grieving. :(  Not just the changes in his little body and personality (a personality that is identical to mine, so I am getting quite a taste of my own medicine).  I am desperately missing our daily morning commute to school together, when I'd drop him off at his elementary school just a mile away from my own. We would listen to the radio together, sing together, and just talk.  My, the deep conversations we could get into during those fifteen minutes in the car each morning.  I also miss picking him up three days a week after school, seeing his smile each afternoon.  Now I leave an hour before his bus comes and I get home sometimes thirty minutes before his bus drops him off.  It's a HUGE change, and one that this momma isn't liking very much. 
  9. Moving down three grade levels with very little notice before the school year started.  Yes, it has turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life this year.  But the initial change was quite overwhelming and challenging. I had to spend two weeks of the summer moving out of one room and into the next, then I completely revamped the entire room in order to make it my own, one where I could feel comfortable teaching. Plus, getting into the mind of a four year old took quite a bit of mental adjustment.
  10. Freak weather cancellations.  Since when do they cancel fall retreats, soccer tournaments, and marathons due to ice storms in Texas? We will not even try to mask our disappointment over Juan David (and David) not getting to participate in what would have been key events in their lives.  Especially the fall retreat with church.  A weekend of solid English hanging out among Christian friends would have done him a world of good.  
  11. David's broken arm.  He still got to play soccer, even with his broken arm.  However, it put a damper on quite a few activities and a pretty big dent on our wallet, especially right before Christmas.  The ironic part about it is that he just fell on his own while trying to kick the soccer ball.  All eyes were on the ball, so nobody even saw him fall.  Nobody knew anything had happened until he came running off the field with his wrist hanging limp. Meanwhile, I was at home in bed with strep throat.  Not one of our finer days.
  12. Wishing we could have traveled up north over Christmas so Juan David could meet more of his new family, specifically on Mike's side.  By spring break, we should have all adoption expenses fully paid off, all medical bills paid from a broken arm, and a tax refund to provide us with the opportunity.  We look forward to it.  
  13. Losing a sweet friend to cancer. We just never know how long we have. She challenged me to live life to the fullest.  To smile whenever I have the chance.  She could light up a room with her beautiful smile and big brown eyes. I'm sure she's smiling at Jesus right now.
I hope tomorrow's post will put a smile on your face as you read about our 13 greatest moments/events of this year.  The boys even made their own lists, too, so I am excited to see the year through their eyes and share it with you.

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