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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Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 days of thanks, part 4

25. I am thankful for my parents' thoughtful hearts when it comes to spending time with us and giving gifts to all of their grandchildren for birthdays and Christmas.

26.  I am thankful for my writer's group.  I have learned so much about writing and publishing from them.  They inspire me.  I haven't had the time to continue writing as I would like, but I know God is using this group to prepare me to be able to write much more freely perhaps when my kids are grown or just during a different stage of life.

27.  I am thankful for a local Thrift Store where I can find whatever I need at an affordable price.  I am especially thankful for their semi-yearly half off the whole store sales.  We sure do stock up!  I am really liking those $3 boots I got yesterday, as well as all those nice Nike shirts that my 16 year old found for $1 each!

28.  I am thankful that God will always finish a work that He begins.  I am thankful for missing pieces that He fills with himself.

29.  I am thankful for all of my ladies' Bible study groups that I've been able to teach, co-teach, or be a part of.  I am also thankful for all the Bible studies that I've done on my own.  I love how the Bible just comes alive and connects in new ways every time I read it.

30.  Last, but not least, I am thankful for my Keurig. :)  Crazy, I know.  But it's the little things that make life easier.  Every time I've been out of town, it's one of the things I've missed the most.




Friday, November 29, 2013

30 days of thanks (Part 3)

17.  I am thankful that my 12 year old still wants me to read to him at night and still cuddles with me.  Love that kid!

18.  I am thankful that Juan David loves his new cousins and his new aunt and uncle, so much that he doesn't want to ever leave when we are at their house.

19.  I am thankful for technology that allowed us to see and interact with my brother's family out in Pennsylvania on Thanksgiving.

20.  I am thankful that Mike and I both have jobs that we enjoy and provide enough income to live on.

21.  I am thankful for my cozy little home. 

22.  I am thankful for a bank account that has money in it, despite living through all the costs of Juan David's adoption--twice. 

23.  I am thankful for the Wii that has turned into a bonding tool between David and Juan David.  Who knew how much Spanish David would learn to speak just by playing Wii for hours on end with his new brother.

24.  I am thankful for both of my sons' schools, specially catered to both of their specific needs and abilities.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

30 Days of Thanks (Part 2)

9.  Today I am thankful for family.  I am thankful to have a brother that lives close so we can celebrate holidays together.  I am thankful that my parents are able to visit us each year and be a part of our sons' lives.

10.  I am thankful for my husband's handiness, especially as he works on the furnace at this very moment because he noticed it wasn't working properly.

11.  I am thankful for the turkey already cooking in the oven, knowing how many people it will feed today.

12.  I am thankful for Julian, Juan David's biological brother, who we love just as dearly and wish he could be here to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.  I am thankful for the relationship we've built with him and for his determination to reunite us with Juan David.

13.  I am thankful for Mercedes, for loving those boys when they were young and physically and spiritually investing into their lives.  I am thankful to still have her in both of their lives and in mine.  I am thankful for her encouragement, her advice, her love, and for filling in so many missing pieces for us. 

14.  I am thankful for having had the opportunity to travel to Colombia three times so far and for the great friendships we built with so many people there.

15.  I am thankful for the opportunity to study in Argentina while in college.  I am thankful to still be in touch with my host family there and that God never gave me a break from using the Spanish He sent me there to learn. 

16.  I am thankful for Facebook so I can still be in contact with people from all stages of my life.  Childhood friends from Pennsylvania.  High school friends from Indiana.  Missionary friends we met and stayed with in Mexico.  Friends and family in Argentina.  Friends and family in Colombia.  Church friends.  Coworkers.  Bible study friends. Etc. Etc.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

30 Days of Thanks

I never did jump on the bandwagon with many of my friends to list something I'm thankful for each day.  With four days left this month, I guess that means I need to write about 7 or 8 each day.  So here goes: (These are not in any specific order of importance.  I am thankful for all of them equally).

  1. I am thankful for days like today when I can have a long, quiet morning, just me and God. It's amazing the peace and tranquility that can wash over me when I take advantage of these days.
  2. I am thankful to be spending Thanksgiving this year with both of my sons rather than living through the stressful, mind-boggling gamble through a psychologically overwhelming adoption process. 
  3. I am thankful that God directed my principal to choose me to teach Pre-K this year.  I cannot even begin to express what a blessing that has turned out to be for me.  I truly love my job and thoroughly enjoy working with my precious four year olds.  They light up my world and keep me smiling all day long.  
  4. I am thankful for a job that doesn't keep me glued to my computer every night and weekend trying to keep up with grades.  I can focus on being a mom to my tween and being a new parent to my teenager.  I have time to focus on them.
  5. I am thankful for my boys' soccer teams.  They keep us very busy, but I see just how important those teams are for both of my boys' development and character.  They learn about teamwork, commitment, and respect.  They both have a coach that they look up to as a positive role in their lives.  They stay fit and healthy by being so active.  
  6. I am thankful for my level-headed husband.  After being in Colombia for nearly a month without him, I learned just how much we need each other in order to be a functional family.  My emotions (hormones) can get the best of me at times, and his level head keeps everything running calmly and smoothly.
  7. I am thankful for my church and everything it offers.  (My Life Group, my home group, my Bible study groups, Saturday night services, a youth pastor, a godly environment for my tween and teen, a place to serve and be served)
  8. I am thankful for good friends that stand the test of time.  Friends that are always there, even when you don't see each other for a long time.  Friendships that never die.
So, there's my start to 30.  I will try my best to complete my list before the month is over this week.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bummer!

Some things don't always go as planned.  Juan David came home from school on Thursday and immediately started laundry and then packed his little bag for the high school retreat on Friday.  He was really beginning to look forward to the weekend away in Oklahoma, we really looked forward to him having the experience, and David really looked forward to a "break". A quiet house with Mom and Dad all to himself. 

Around 8:30 or so, I finally got out my computer to check my e-mail, only to find that they had to cancel the retreat at the last minute due to predictions of severe winter weather coming our way.  Ugh.  Needless to say, though thankful for a church that seriously considered the students' safety, we were all quite bummed. 

So, we decided to make the best of things.  We turned Friday night into family Wii night.  We bowled, we played tennis.  The boys' golfed for awhile, and then we watched two of our favorite shows on TV.  We turned Saturday into a one-on-one day with both boys, which turned out to be quite special.  I woke David up and took him out for breakfast at IHOP with a birthday coupon.  We had some really good conversation, and I learned a ton about his daily life in middle school.  I told him how much I miss spending the mornings with him taking him to school each day, and he told me he really misses that time, too.  When we were leaving, he said he really enjoyed having breakfast with me and said, "You're the best Mommy in the whole world."  Yes, my heart melted. 

Meanwhile, Mike made Juan David a special breakfast at home and spent time with him at home.  When I got home, I asked Juan David if he liked his breakfast, and he said, "Yes, Dad is very good at making breakfasts." He had already figured out where David and I went because he noticed the coupon suddenly went missing from the desk.

Ten minutes later, our friends called and invited him to go to a kick-boxing practice for the afternoon because their daughter also missed out on the retreat for the weekend.  He and Mike went and spent the next three hours there.  Juan David thoroughly enjoyed it, and Mike said he enjoyed watching him actually get tired.  (The boy is in such incredible physical shape that not much seems to challenge him).  While they were gone, David and I went shopping for a couple things, and David came home with a new video game for the Wii.  We played together for a bit, and then he played alone for awhile, enjoying the quiet house.

As soon as Juan David and Mike came home, Juan David and I went out to eat together.  He chose CiCi's Pizza because he knew that's where he could get the most to eat.  He said that after three solid hours of a hard workout, he was very hungry. While he ate to his heart's content, we had some really good conversation.  We talked about his siblings, more parts about his childhood and experiences he's had that I didn't know about, and we remembered specific conversations we'd had via the phone over the last five years.  Once again, another reminder that not a single moment spent on the phone with him and his sister was lost.  Every word, every conversation mattered.  I still remember them all, and so does he.  We also talked about girls--not sure I'm ready for those conversations, but the boy is sixteen.  Mike and I started dating when I was sixteen, and he knows that, so......

As we left, I told him what David told me about being the best mom in the world. :)  He said he couldn't lie to me and tell me that because he doesn't know if there are better moms out there, but he did say that I'm the best mom he's ever had in his life. I'll take that. :)

We got home, he played David's new game with him for about 45 minutes, and then we headed to church.  The high schoolers were going over to the main campus for a special service planned just for them because their retreat had been cancelled.  But right before they left, we heard that Jason Castro was at the church to lead our worship for the evening.  I was disappointed that Juan David wouldn't be in the service to see him because Jason is also Colombian.  So we had someone take us behind the stage so we could let Juan David meet him.  David enjoyed meeting him, too. :)  Jason Castro's dad was back there with him, so he and Juan David got to converse in Spanish for a little bit.  Their family is also from Bogota, so they found a quick connection.  It turned out to be a neat experience.  Juan David didn't get to be there when he led the worship, but I put one of his CD's in the car after church so he could hear him sing.

The high schoolers left and went to the main campus where they got to hear the speaker from the retreat and then just hang out for awhile.  The main campus has a huge building called Pier 419 that was built specifically for the youth, so I knew Juan David would love it.  Sure enough, they came back at 9:30, and his first comment was, "Oooooooh.  I LIKE this church! It's really big!"  He was almost giddy with excitement.  They planned to take the Sunday morning crew over in the morning, so he asked if he could go back in the morning.  I wasn't sure he'd actually get up in time to go since he cherishes his sleep till almost noon on Sunday mornings, but he excitedly got up this morning to go back.  I just dropped him off and am enjoying a quiet house with David and Mike for the morning, now. :)

Considering how bummed we all were on Thursday night when they canceled the retreat, I think the weekend ended up going quite well.  Two more days, and I get to see my parents. :)  So, so, so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Didn't want yesterday to end :(





Happy 12th birthday to my sweet little guy (who insists that he is not sweet or little).  Being that he is the only child I have ever given birth to, his birthday is one of the most special days of my life.  It's one of my favorite days on the calendar, so I didn't want it to end.  

We began the celebrations on Friday evening with cheesecake and presents after dinner, a night at the movies until almost midnight, another celebration with more cheesecake at midnight, a special breakfast on Saturday morning, a shopping trip late morning with a gift card, a run with his marathon team (and lifetime buddy) in the early afternoon, and then more cheesecake for a midday lunch. 

He asked for boots, so Mike took him to get fitted a few weeks before.  Now he and his daddy have matching cowboy boots. :)  I got him a hat and gloves that he'd been wanting and a cool t-shirt.  Juan David got him some cars and another cool t-shirt.  Juan David could hardly wait to give him his present that he'd gotten for him--it was really sweet.

Now it's November 17th, and our weekly birthday celebrations are over for another year.  (Yes, there's LOTS of cousin birthdays over the next two months, but as far as our immediate family, that's it.) 
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I think we are still busy with activity every weekend between now and Christmas, though.  Next weekend Juan David will be attending the High School Fall retreat with church in Oklahoma.  The following weekend is Thanksgiving with the Kloppmann's--including Juan David's first opportunity to meet his grandparents.  The week after that is the boys' marathon relay in downtown Dallas, and the week after that is Juan David's soccer tournament, the Tournament of Champions.  Lots going on, but I'm learning that it's good to keep an athletic, energetic 16 year old busy.  Not a lot of idle time to get into any trouble.  :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Live life to the fullest

I went to my sweet friend Stephanie's funeral this week.  I didn't know her family, but I know and love her best friend, so I wanted to be there for her.  I took the morning off of work and went all by myself.  I got there early, so I just sat in the sactuary and watched the all the pictures of her life and her smile.  Tears kept streaming down my cheeks as I kept wondering why God would take her at such a young age.  She would have turned 44 this coming week.

However, the pastor did such a wonderful job with the service, just talking about Heaven and all the reasons we can know and be sure that she is there.  He helped turn the funeral into a celebration of her life.

I know God doesn't take someone until their purpose has been fulfilled or if their purpose will be fulfilled through their death.  I hope that Stephanie's example and impact on the world will be evident for a very long time.  I learned two things from Stephanie.  Every where she went, she always wore a beautiful smile that could light up a room.  Even in the chemo room, her smile was radiant.  She also lived life to the fullest.  She didn't waste her time sitting around.  She was active, running marathons, 5K runs, and biking.  She didn't let cancer stop her.  Life meant something to her, and it wasn't something to waste.  Every day mattered.

I will admit I've been guilty of crossing days off the calendar as if to say I'd made it through a busy month.  Even when it's extra busy, I was reminded to live each day as a gift and embrace each moment of activity.  I need to cherish these moments full of life.  I need to cherish each moment God gives me, especially with my husband and my boys.  Life is not given to us so we can successfully cross each day off the calendar at the end of the day. 

I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that I won't be seeing her around anymore.  I will miss her smile and her huge brown eyes.  I just hope I can live out the lessons she taught me through her life by not letting a single moment slip by.

It just keeps going on and on and on

Both boys played in a soccer tournament this weekend that started on Thursday night and ended this evening.  Both their teams won all of their games by Saturday, which qualified them both for the finals today.  David's team came in second place, losing the final game 0-1.  Juan David's team won the championship for his age group.  Now they get to play in the tournament of champions in a few more weeks.  His coach beamed with pride when they presented the trophy to him.  He said he's never led a team to win the championship before.  The coach gets to keep the trophy for six months, and the boys all get medals to wear and keep.  David's team got second place medals, so I'm happy they both made it so far.  They both still have a game left of the regular season, so they could possibly come home with more trophies.  Currently for the season, Juan David's team is in first place--they are undefeated so far!  David's team is in second place in his division. 









Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A day not meant to be forgotten

11/6/1997--While I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a baby boy was born in Bogota, Colombia.  His mother named him Juan David...................

11/6/2008--Juan David quietly celebrated his 11th birthday between himself and his two siblings, while Mike and I began our first pursuit to adopt him and his sister.  We looked forward to celebrating his birthday with him the following year after completing their adoption.

11/6/2009-- Not only did we not get to celebrate his 12th birthday with him, but we sadly said goodbye for what we thought was the last time. 

"We only talked for about fifteen minutes.  Mike and David got on the phone to tell him happy birthday, then I told him that I missed him and I loved him.  He responded by saying he missed me and loved me, too.  We said goodbye, but little did I know that that was the last time they would ever pass the phone to him when I called.  That last goodbye really was goodbye  All the hoping, dreaming, and believing that things would be final by his birthday, and final they were.  Just not the final we were hoping for." 
p. 76, From the Mountain...to the Valley...and Back!

11/6/2010-- 
" I sent a message to Camilo (Julian), asking if he would please tell Juan that I hoped he would have a very happy birthday....I found out that Juan had indeed gotten my message, and it meant the world to me to know that he knew I hadn't forgotten his special day.  It had been an entire year since we had last talked, and I never imagined that I'd still be able to wish him a happy birthday the following year.  Truth be told, I didn't think I'd ever be able to communicate with him again.  God was so good to me." 
p. 120, From the Mountain...to the Valley...and Back!

11/6/2011--Juan David was living with another family, but I was able to send him a message online to wish him a happy birthday for his 14th birthday.  I just wanted him to know that I hadn't and wouldn't ever forget his birthday.


11/6/2012--Our case to adopt Juan David had been reopened, and his social worker gave me permission to call him on his 15th birthday.  I called him from David's soccer game, and he still remembers all the background noise from that call.  A week ago we were at that same soccer field together.  I showed him where I stood as I talked to him that day, and he finally got to match the sights and the sounds together from that phone call.

11/6/2013--Today.  We finally get to celebrate our son Juan David's 16th birthday together as a family.  Cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Early dinner out.  First game of a soccer tournament in the evening (if it's not canceled due to rain).  The boy lives and breathes soccer--what more can he ask for on his first birthday here?  Most importantly, he's home, right where he's always belonged.






Sunday, November 3, 2013

Heaven

I write today's post with a heavy heart after just learning that I lost a dear friend to cancer this week.  She and her best friend were part of the very first Bible study I ever taught, and they've been my dearest friends ever since.  She was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago after running a half marathon.  Chemo worked at first, but sadly, her cancer returned six months later.  I still saw her often at church, and she always displayed such a beautiful smile along with incredible courage.  I heard two weeks ago that she'd been in the hospital for a solid week due to severe pain, but I don't think anybody understood how little time remained.  I couldn't believe it when I heard the news this week.  My heart aches for her husband and 13 year old son, and my heart hurts for her best friend.  Their friendship was amazing, and I'm sure there's a gaping hole in her heart now. I'm stuck grappling with the why again, wondering why God took her while still so young and full of life.  Why some people win the battle against cancer and some don't.  Yet I'm comforted to remember studying Heaven together in Bible study and knowing that she's there, in the presence of Jesus.

On a lighter note, we made some positive memories this week as a family.  Mike celebrated his 37th birthday.  Juan David really enjoyed being part of our small family celebration, as this was his first time to celebrate a dad's birthday.  He'd decided he wanted to start saving the majority of his money from the allowance we give him, but he ended up spending everything he'd saved to get a hat for Mike.  I was really proud of him for making that "sacrifice" for his dad.  This Wednesday will be Juan David's birthday, then David's will follow ten days later. 
 
David finally saw the orthopoedist on Friday.  They decided to cast his arm since he is so active, which means that he can jump right back into soccer.  So, a few hours after getting his new blue cast, he headed straight to soccer practice.  Funny kid. :)  We all signed his cast, and he had his artistic brother draw a big cross on the side for him.  Then he had his soccer team sign the cast, as well.

This soccer season will soon be coming to an end, but not without one last busier than ever week.  Juan David's last regular season game is Tuesday night, but then both boys are in a tournament from Wednesday through Sunday, so we've got at least one game every day.  Saturday we have three games!  Then the following Monday, David has one more regular season game.  Soccer keeps us super busy and can be tiring, but at the same time, I love watching both boys play, they're both incredibly passionate about the game, and I miss it when it's over.  Plus they go stir crazy when they're not busy playing. 

Juan David has been very pleasant to have around lately.  Since it's getting a little colder, he's been letting me drive him to his bus stop every morning, and we wait for his bus together.  It gets me to school a little later, but the extra ten minutes with him each day have been nice.  Considering he's nearly 16 years old, I will cherish every moment that he wants to spend with me.  Sometimes I find myself just staring at him, remembering what a miracle it is that's he's even here.