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, September 28, 2014

Author update

As much as I want to keep this blog updated at least once or twice a week, I struggle to find enough uninterrupted time to actually sit down and write. It's amazing how adding one extra person to the family can totally throw you off kilter. But that's okay. We waited a long time for him, so he's worth these sacrifices of time right now.

I know a lot of you are awaiting my second book, wanting to know just how our son ever did make it back to us after my first book ended with him in the presence of another family.  Don't worry.  I assure you it is coming, in due time. It's filled with just as much poetry as the first one, if not more, and will put you right in the moment with us as we traveled the long road back to him. If you cried through the first book (as most of you told me you did), you will get frustrated and angry through the second one and will feel completely exhausted by the last page (as a test reader shared these thoughts with me). You will understand the complications of international adoption like you never have before, you will hear the orphan's voice, and you will see God's hand guiding every step of our journey. I originally planned to publish it myself through Create Space and have it out by the summer, but God completely redirected me in a way I never imagined (as usual).

I attended a one day writing seminar in April to learn more about self-publishing. I almost didn't make it due to having a zillion things on my calendar that month, but I finally registered the night before and showed up exhausted the next day. A friend from my writer's group sat down at my table, along with her husband, just as God had planned. I left that day with lots of information about self-publishing through Create Space, but I also left with the new knowledge that my friend and her husband were about to start their own publishing company with the purpose of publishing books for ministry. Was this a divine appointment?

I let another month go by, and then she and I connected again at our monthly writer's group meeting. She took a copy of my first book home to read from a publisher's perspective. I've grown so much as a writer in the last few years since joining a writer's group, and I really wanted to apply all I've learned not only to my second book, but to my first book, as well. She encouraged me to rewrite and re-title the first book so I can sell them both as a pair. This, of course, set off my original plan to have the second book out by the summer, but I take much more pride in both manuscripts now. More voice. More active verbs. Shorter paragraphs. Shorter sentences. Very little passive voice. Crisp, clean writing.

I also went back and changed all the names that I had permission to change. Julian and Juan David, specifically.  (Although their sister's name is still replaced with another name.) My author name will be my full name--Rachelle D. Alspaugh.

My friend's publishing company launched earlier this month, https://www.facebook.com/AuthentictyBookHouse, and I turned both my manuscripts over to her two days later. I don't have any idea regarding a timeline for publishing the books, but that's perfectly okay with me. They are God's books. They are His story. They are on His timeline. They consumed my summer (and my life for the last six years), and I am glad to have them off my hands for the time-being. I am looking to build a launch team for them in the near future. If you are interested in being part of that launch team, please e-mail me at ralspaug@gmail.com for more details.

Now I am taking a different direction with my writing. I am focusing only on poetry and short stories that I can take to my monthly writer's group for critique and later share with friends or in my Bible studies. I want my writing to continue to improve so I can look into more writing opportunities after my boys are no longer at home with us. I hope to build a collection of short stories documenting God's hand on our lives in a variety of ways over the years, stories that I will eventually bind together for David. He is my biggest fan as a writer, and I love how each story draws his complete attention when I read to him. I've written so much about Juan David and Julian (and their sister). Now I want to write with David in mind.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned as I continue this writing journey and as we continue our journey through adoption and beyond.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Off to a good start

We went to an event called Meet the Teacher at Juan David's new high school on Monday night. Honestly, we didn't know what to expect to hear from his teachers. We know that his teachers last year really enjoyed him, but they also said he would play around quite a bit. Plus he had so many Spanish-speaking friends, making him feel more than comfortable. They did all comment about him being a smart kid, though.

The comments from this year's teachers encouraged me. A lot.

  • "He participates in class and raises his hand to share quite a bit." (Not bad for his first year in a regular English high school)
  • "He's a hard worker."
  • "He's a very bright student. Have you considered putting him in Honor's classes? Not that I want to get rid of him, but considering how bright he is, I don't know that my class is really challenging him."
  • "He's very respectful."
  • "We love this kid."
  • "I wish all students were like him."
  • "Yes, he can get to talking, but if we point out that it's not the appropriate time, he settles down quickly and gets back to his task."
  • "Very respectful." ( I know I already said that one, but we heard it at least twice.)
Looks like he's off to a great start at his new school. I am really proud of him. The boy shows no fear and truly does embrace life with a smile on his face, no matter what.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Embracing His Blessings

Life cycles through seasons. Seasons of trial. Seasons of busyness. Seasons of bliss. Seasons of comfort. Seasons of pain. Right now, I feel like I'm in a season of blessing.

Sometimes blessings scare me. I wonder if the blessings are too good to be true, fearful that if I let myself enjoy them, they might slip away. Losing that camper made me feel justified in my fear, almost glad that I hadn't yet embraced it since God turned around and "took it away".

Yesterday God just blew me away, yet again.  Not only did the insurance give us almost double what we paid for our camper (instead of the mere $500 they originally said they could give us), but God led us to a sweet couple who sold us their camper for the exact amount the insurance gave us. It's 6 years newer. Way bigger. So much better in a multitude of ways. Not only does it have a couch and table to make into beds for the boys, but it also has an entire extra room on the back with four bunks. All the bedding included. The kitchen is fully stocked, too!

I absolutely love our new little house on wheels. Except it's not so little anymore. It feels like a dream, considering how little we paid for the first one, knowing that we pretty much got to upgrade to something we never imagined being able to afford, without having to spend another penny. Especially after we felt that all was lost.

In addition to the huge material blessing, I also just sent both my books on to a publisher today, a publisher who only publishes for ministry. Their goal: maximum Kingdom impact.  I couldn't be more blessed to be part of their mission.

God is good. I don't want to be guilty of not appreciating His blessings because I'm afraid of what might be around the corner.

I want to embrace this season of blessing, to embrace the joy that God is offering.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Embrace Life

I can't believe we've already been in school for a whole week!

To me, it was exhausting. No matter how "prepared" you are, the beginning is a challenge. Lots of training and practice to get your system in place.  I run my classroom on a very strict structure that takes a lot of work in the beginning but pays off incredibly in the end.  My morning class did quite well, actually, and are very pleasant to work with so far.  My afternoon class arrived in tears the first day and cried (no, screamed and wailed) for three hours straight.  Meaning, no teaching or establishing structure the first day.  The tears pretty much stopped by day two, but that group still brings a lot of drama!  Oh, my!

David came home the first day all stressed out because the school had messed up his schedule.  He had signed up for an advanced Spanish class and ended up in an Enriched Piano class.  After talking with the counselor, we realized he didn't get in to the Spanish class because it was too full.  If you know my son, you know a piano class has no appeal to him, so he ended up in P.E. instead.  He's happy now.

Juan David's schedule wasn't right either, even after three attempts over the summer to get it straight. His football coach is the one that is supposed to get it changed because he didn't get put into the Athletics class, but even after the first week, it's still not changed.  Sigh.  Other than that, Juan David had a good week.  He found his way around easily, and he understands the English in all of his classes--enough to call a teacher out on a mistake! (Respectfully, I hope.)  He also found several of his Vietnamese friends from his classes last year, so he is happy to share the same lunchtime with those friends.  He had football practice until six o'clock the first two nights, and a football game until almost eight on the third night, so the week felt exceptionally long to him.

We are all thankful to have a day off today.  Less than two months ago, we were enjoying ourselves so much on a camping trip that we had already mentally planned another trip for this weekend.  We sadly ditched that plan when the camper got totaled on the way home from that very trip. We could be wallowing in self-pity this weekend, still trying to figure out how to recoup some of the money we lost in the camper after the insurance said they could only give us $500 for our loss.  Instead, we are back in the market to replace it after the insurance decided to cover it, after all!  Mike had such an incredibly humble attitude regarding the whole thing, trusting that God had a plan.  I believe God is blessing him for that humble attitude.  He went above and beyond, giving us much more than expected, too.

I know one thing, I need to learn to embrace life and to embrace the gifts God gives us.  I need to stop worrying all the time about money, time, parenting, etc., and just learn to live.  When the camper is replaced, I want to enjoy every moment in it, accepting it as a true gift from God to our family. My boys are growing up, and I have very little time left with them, especially Juan David.  I want to enjoy every moment with them and accept the gifts that they are.  A full calendar doesn't mean we're running ourselves ragged.  It means we have a lot of opportunities to enjoy every aspect of life together, whether it be at a soccer game, a football game, a school event, a church event, or a family night out.

So, that's my "goal" for this school year. Embrace life and all the gifts it has to offer each and every day.

This is the day the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10