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, October 27, 2013

The Pumpkin Parable

I'm so thankful to be part of a church that is intentional about parents being intentional with leading their children spiritually.  We've got a whole bunch of intentional family activities from church to do as a family throughout the holiday season.  Having a new son has gotten me excited about the opportunities we have to teach him all the things we've been so intentional about teaching David since birth. 

Tonight we focused on the pumpkin parable.  We got a big pumpkin to carve, and we used Scripture through each step to show how we are just like that pumpkin.  We are filled with nasty "gunk" on the inside until we let Jesus come in to clean us out.  Once He does, He comes to reside within us so His light can then shine through us. 

I  did the whole fall celebration thing by cutting up apples to dip in hot caramel sauce.  We also had hot apple cider to drink. Tonight was the fall festival at church where Mike has been the driver for the annual hayride.  However, the church built soccer fields this summer where the hayride took place, so this year the hayride was out.  With me still recovering from sickness and David a bit injured, we stayed home this year.  I hope it turned into a memorable night for the boys, though. Mike and I enjoyed it. :)

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Photo: Carved a pumpkin as a family tonight! Fun Family Night!

Not quite the day we had planned

So, yesterday's plans looked a little bit like this:
  • Get up at 8, make breakfast
  • Leave at 10 for a day at the soccer fields
  • Get home at 3:30 to shower, rest, and eat something before church
  • Leave for church at 5:30
  • Come home at 9:00
Instead, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. with a terrible sore throat.  I headed straight to the weekend clinic at 9:00 and tested positive for strep.  Mike got my prescription at SAMS and met me with it, then I headed home and went to bed while he headed out to the soccer fields for the day.  They sent me a picture during their lunch break between the two games, and everyone looked happy. 

The next picture I got was around 4:00, taken in an urgent care clinic with David's arm held up in a makeshift sling that Mike and some other soccer parents rigged up for him. He took a shot for a goal, slipped, and fell right on his wrist.  He said he heard it pop or crack or something, and then it just hung limp.  All we know so far is that it was a buckle fracture, so they put him in a temporary splint.  He's waiting to make an appointment with an orthopoedist hopefully tomorrow or Tuesday. 

They were there till about five o'clock, went back to SAMS to get David's prescription, came home to eat quickly, and then Mike and Juan David headed to church.  David and I cuddled up on the couch to watch church online and then to just chill.

So not what we had planned for the weekend.  Thanks to the antibiotics, I'm feeling much better and am no longer contagious.  David's recovery won't be quite as quick, unfortunately.  He almost made it to the end of the season, with only two soccer games left and a tournament. :(

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Good things come to those who wait.....

Waiting on that call to find out which soccer team he was going to be on was incredibly hard for Juan David.  It got especially harder when David's team started practicing and scrimmaging, and Juan David just got to go to his practices and watch, maybe kick the ball around some.  This boy lives to play soccer!  Well, it looks like the wait paid off because now their team stands undefeated with one game left to play on November 5th. Looks like he might get that first trophy he's been dreaming of, after all. :)

Photo: Juan David Alspaugh's first soccer season picture. They are 9-0 at this point! 
FC GARLAND!!!!

A song that expresses the message of the book

PROactive versus REactive

I'm stuck in bed with strep throat today, missing my boys' soccer games.  However, the rest has definitely been good for me after a busy month of school, soccer, church, and also having 45 individual parent conferencesI didn't realize just how much I craved a day at home alone.  I haven't had the time to put up my official review for Mary DeMuth's book, The Wall Around Your Heart, so today I spent time adding my review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.  Here is my official review of the book.  Being part of this launch team has been a neat experience for this just barely emerging author.  I'm learning a lot.

PROactive versus REactive: I loved Mary's approach and perspective in this book.  We all have walls around our hearts for some reason or another, some that build up and crumble easily, some that are so large and sturdy a bulldozer couldn't even crack them.  Not only is Mary's approach to pray those walls down effective because it follows Jesus' own model of prayer, it's also a proactive approach, helping us see how destructive those walls are and using that same prayer to keep from letting the wall get built again.  Praying Scripture is a win-win situation every time.  Praying like Jesus did can only help us draw closer to Him and know Him in a more intimate way.  I highly recommend this book.
 

THE WALL AROUND YOUR HEART book trailer

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Blind Side

 
 I still remember sitting in the dollar theater with David in the summer of 2010 during one of our movie marathon dates.  We were in the process of rebuilding our life after the adoption failed, and we were finally beginning to heal.  Julian had recently entered our life, though it would be another year before we met him face to face.  
As we sat in the theater watching The Blind Side, I suddenly found tears flooding down my cheeks, with Juan David heavy on my mind. Michael Oher (main character from the movie) had a brand new chance at life, gained a family, and surpassed all odds, becoming a famous football player.  I just kept thinking, "Why, God?  Why couldn't you give Juan David that chance, too? Why didn't you let him come home to us?"
Tonight Juan David came home saying that he needed to watch The Blind Side for a homework assignment.  We found it online and sat down together to watch it.  I had to translate several parts to him.  Parts that were parallel to his own life.  Wow.  What a humbling opportunity, over three years after the first time I watched it, thinking only of him.  Who knows just how God might use his soccer abilities to help him surpass all the odds that have been stacked against him, just like Michael Oher.
All I can say is that watching it with him tonight was quite an emotional experience, especially remembering the emotions and thoughts it evoked in me the first time. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Good stuff

Life is plenty full of activity right now, but writing on Sundays after having time to rest is a good time to reflect over all the good stuff we've been blessed with.  I'm trying to find a balance between rejoicing over another day survived and getting teary-eyed over another day gone by.  I don't want to miss any aspect of my boys' lives.

We're gone pretty much every night of the week for either soccer practice, soccer games, mandatory school events, or church.  Both soccer teams are doing very well, though.  David's team has only had one loss so far, with four games left to go.  Juan David's team is undefeated with only three games left to go.  Both boys have scored several goals for their teams, too.  They sure do love the game, and I sure do love watching them play (even in the rain, as long as I've got enough to bundle up and take cover). When they don't have games during the week, we have three nights of practice between the two of them.

We got a new youth pastor at our church campus this week, and both boys really seem to like him.  David was sad about the other one leaving, but we're eager to see how God plans to use him in their lives in the future.  Juan David said this one talks really fast, but the guy must have inspired him last night because he came out of class very eager to speak some English with anyone who would listen.  He will be going on a high school retreat next month (he doesn't know yet, but he expressed a desire to go).  I think the experience will be really good for him and will give him some of that independence that we're not always eager to give him yet.

My Bible study has two sessions left, and I will be sad to see it come to an end.  (Yet relieved to have a night each week to rest or to spend with Mike).  Since it's about missing pieces in our lives and seeing how God has filled them, I cut a bunch of holes into a blanket on the first night and talked about specific holes that I've encountered in my own life and faith.  (Jennifer Rothschild did the same in the video, I just made it more personal).  I've shared quite a bit of my own testimony and how God has brought me through several trials and filled those missing pieces with more of Him each time.  I didn't realize how much I've talked about praying through the Power of a Praying Wife, but this last week I found out that two ladies felt led to start their own journey of prayer through that book because of discussions we've had in Bible study.  I love it.  I love seeing how God not only uses the study in each woman's life, but He also uses our conversations and discussions to help us learn from each other and encourage each other. 

October is the month to hold a parent conference with the parents of each child in our class.  For me, that meant 46 parent conferences.  It's felt like a marathon of conferences, but they have all gone very well.  The parents are really pleased with how much their children are learning and how enthusiastic they are about school.  I've enjoyed meeting with all of them, too.  My instructional aide has been an immense help in sending little reminder notes with the kids each day to remind their parents of their conference.  Because of her help, every single parent has shown up right on time.  So far I've met with 32 sets of parents and have 14 left to go this week!  I look forward to actually having a lunch time and prep. time after this week is over. 

David is in choir at school this year and is loving it to pieces.  He got to go on a choir field trip to a Ranger's game, he had his first performance on Tuesday evening of this week, and they're going on a field trip to a local football game on Tuesday night this week.  I never would have imagined my little athlete enjoying choir, but I guess it's the serious side of him coming through.  All the little field trips and extra activities help, I'm sure.

Juan David's English is coming along, slowly but surely.  He understands a lot, but he's still very reluctant to speak.  Dinner time is designated as only English time, so that has forced him to try a little bit more.  He admits that the hardest part right now is using verbs, so he often will stop mid-sentence and say he needs to review his list of verbs more. :) 

That's all the good stuff going on in our lives right now.  Our current parenting challenge is getting him to ask permission for things rather than just tell us what he wants or thinks he's going to do.  Sometimes he remembers, other times I have to get on him and remind him of the proper way.  Little by little, day by day, we're all adjusting to the changes in our lives.  Thanks for your prayers.






Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Wall Around Your Heart--Releases October 15th!

http://www.wallaroundyourheart.com/
 
I feel very privileged to be part of my author friend, Mary DeMuth's launch team for one of her newest books, The Wall Around Your Heart.  Being the introvert that I am, I am so guilty of building walls around my heart, keeping everyone at a safe distance.  Until one day I sadly realized just how pitifully lonely I was.  I'd pushed everyone away.  The pain from our first adoption attempt was so much heavier and harder to bear than I had ever imagined it could be.  I guess the wall served a purpose for awhile, keeping me clinging to God for strength for my every step. However, healing didn't come until I let Him use my broken heart to minister to others.  This book helped me to see that the wall gets built one simple brick at a time, and the key is taking our hurts to God immediately rather than even reaching for that first brick.  Check out the website above and consider purchasing a copy of my friend's book.
 
 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Texas State Fair

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We ventured out to the Texas State Fair yesterday since we all had the day off and had free tickets (except for Mike).  Personally, I'm not a big fan of the fair.  I think I'm just too cheap to get much enjoyment out of it, and the things that might interest me don't interest the boys.  However, we felt that Juan David needed to experience the fair, so we went.  We warned him ahead of time that everything was super expensive, but we could have fun taking pictures.  

I gave both boys the same amount of tickets to buy lunch and then enjoy an activity.  I soon remembered how quickly Juan David became overwhelmed when faced with all of the hundreds of lunch choices.  Choices are not easy for him, but he did okay, deciding early on that he wanted chicken. Then choosing an activity was just as hard, since he wanted to go on everything he saw.  We made the round through the midway once, then went back around again so he could choose a ride.  David chose to play a game, and then we spent the rest of our tickets on a funnel cake to share.  We told Juan David that it's just an unwritten rule to get a funnel cake at the fair.  He didn't know what a funnel cake even was, but when we got it, his response was, "I'm going to need to do a lot of exercise tonight." Ha.  At least we only got one to share between the three of us.  
We rode the DART (the only form of public transportation) to the fair and back, but we chose the wrong time to come back because the train was jam-packed.  We rode the entire way home standing on the back step surrounded by a bunch of obnoxious high school kids.  Not a fun ride when you're already tired and drained from a long day in the sun.  It reminded us of our public transportation experiences in Bogota, so Juan David enjoyed the fact that for once we couldn't say the experience was more pleasant here.  

We got a few good pictures out of the day, though.  Hope you enjoyed them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Current parenting challenge

We are finding many parenting challenges every day, as you can imagine.  However, our current challenge right now is in teaching humility.  We walk a fine line with our newest "child" in this area.  This is not a child that was raised with all of the love and support he needed during the early years of his life.  He did not grow up with a healthy sense of self worth.  Yet somehow he came to us with a pretty "high" self-esteem, thinking quite highly of himself at all times.  Part of that is his age, I'm sure, no different than most 15 year olds.  Part of it is cultural--being a Latin male (I don't mean to stereotype, but I'm hearing that one quite often especially from my Latin friends).  Another part of it could be due to being raised by psychologists, rather than a family. 

He has this little ritual that I caught him doing the other day.  I'm sure it's something he learned to do through one of the psychologists that met with him over the last several years.  He looked in the mirror in the car, addressed himself, and started telling himself everything that he's good at.  When I asked what he was doing, he said he was lifting his self-esteem.  Then he pulled down the mirror in front of me and told me to do the same. 

I immediately put the mirror back up and told him I don't need a mirror or self talk to help me feel good about myself.  If I'm ever feeling down, all I need to do is open up my Bible and let God's truths speak to me.  All I need to do is open my Bible to see what God has to say about me, to hear that I'm beautiful, I'm loved, and I'm cherished. 

It's tough.  It's hard to tell a child that came from a hard place that he thinks a little too highly of himself.  Yet as a parent, it's also hard to let it go when you know that others around him will be turned off by such an arrogant spirit.  They won't get it and won't understand where it's coming from. 

We model as much as we can, and I ask God for wisdom more than anything else. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Surprise, Surprise!

This week was David's week of surprises. 

A little over a week ago, he called me after school to ask me why I had signed him up to take a Spanish test.  I told him I didn't know anything about it or why he was selected to take it.  I figured out later that he was selected because back when I enrolled him in kindergarten, I listed that we spoke both English and Spanish in the home.  He'd just come out of the Spanish immersion preschool, so hopeful me thought that we'd keep up that Spanish.  Not so much.  Anyway, all these years later, he gets this little note saying that he needs to take a Spanish test during first period.  Poor little guy.  All eyes were on him when he realized he was the only white child in a room filled with all native Spanish speakers. 

We had told him to not worry about it.  It was just practice, and it couldn't hurt him to take it and find out just how much Spanish he knows now, anyway.  The timing couldn't have been any better after just having spent a summer in Colombia and three months at home now with a brother that will only speak to him in Spanish.  He got home that day, saying the test was pretty hard, so we just kind of laughed about it and moved on.

Well, as much as hearing Juan David only speak in Spanish makes me want to cringe at this point, it definitely has paid off for David.  He came home this week with this little note in his backpack.

Photo: So, so proud of my little guy, especially knowing how resistent he's always been to speak Spanish all these years. 

Yes, that does say HIGH SCHOOL foreign language credit.  The child barely started the SIXTH GRADE!  We're so proud of him, and he's quite proud of himself.  It was quite the unexpected surprise for all of us, though we knew his Spanish has really blossomed over the last three months.  

Another surprise also awaited him at a soccer game this week.  Both boys had just been given brand new soccer balls recently.  We warned Juan David to guard it with his life at the soccer fields because they "disappear" very easily.  A few days later, they both took their balls to their soccer games, and David's sadly "disappeared".  Despite the fact that we'd put his name, his team name, and his phone number on it, it never got turned in.  Someone decided they liked his ball and stole it right out from the net while he was stretching with his team.  I prayed about it and asked God to return it to him unless he was meant to learn something from the loss.  

This week we sat down on the bleachers before Juan David's soccer game, and some kids were playing around on the field with a ball just like it.  They walked away from it for a minute, so David marched right out there to see if it had his name on it.  The kids saw him and told him that was their ball, but then we watched David look right at them and show them his own name and phone number on the ball.  Those boys scattered pretty quickly after that, and David felt good to have his ball back.  

I told David that God answered my prayer, and he said, "You prayed about my soccer ball?"  I said, "You know I pray about everything."  Thank you, Jesus, for answering my prayer.