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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 29, 2014

A time to reflect: Fourteen struggles of 2014

This year divided itself in half, as the first half marked the end of our first year as a new family while the second half marked the beginning of our second year. We had a year of firsts and now we are experiencing a year of seconds. For the record, the year of seconds has been much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Here were some of our defining struggles over the last year, though we experienced many more:

  1. Spreading ourselves too thin. We never had a second child before, so we learned through trial and error about what activities we could handle and what we couldn't. We had to learn how to be intentional with our time, knowing what mattered most and what had to go. The calendar became my best friend (time management) and my worst enemy (not enough margin at times).
  2. Getting through the wall of arrogance. I thought it was a typical teenage thing. What sixteen year old boy is not arrogant? Until we finally started to see that little boy trapped on the other side of the wall. He wore all that arrogance as a mask to keep from looking or feeling vulnerable.  He didn't want to admit he had things to learn. All the changes in language and culture (and daily life in a family) completely overwhelmed him, so he acted like he already knew everything he needed to know and refused to let anyone know he needed help. Thankfully, time passed and the wall did eventually start to come down. Patience. Patience. Patience.
  3. Truck theft. Talk about a scary, vulnerable experience! I'll never forget reading that text from Mike around 3:00 in the afternoon saying, "Call me. My truck just got stolen!" A huge red F350 pick-up stolen in broad daylight in a busy parking lot. Thankfully, we got the truck back, but not without a fair share of damage and loss.
  4. Trying to manage a budget well. Like I said, we never had a second child before, nor have we ever had a teenager. Now we have two. We had to learn how to budget for two (double soccer uniforms, shoes, clothes, birthdays, registrations, camps, events). Not to mention that my grocery bill about doubled by just adding one person who could eat forever and still not feel full. When I thought I got a better handle on projecting an actual budget, unexpected youth events or soccer events seemed to come out of nowhere that threw my carefully planned budget out of whack. Stuff that we didn't foresee because even David entered into a new age group.  Thankfully we have still maintained a debt free lifestyle and have faithfully tithed and saved at least some for college. I haven't left much of a margin in the rest of our spending, though. I hope to be able to plan better financially this coming year now that I know what expenses loom ahead.
  5. Taking a step back from teaching Bible study. Okay, so this one is my own personal struggle. I absolutely love teaching Bible study. I love connecting with other women, sharing with them on a deep level, digging into the Word together, and inspiring others to take their relationship with Christ to a deeper level. This year held so much change and extra responsibility for me that I had to take a step back during the school year. I miss it. A lot. But I know that I couldn't give it the time or energy (or passion) that I needed to if I didn't take time to rest and recover from all the stress that our entire adoption journey created in me. I am so thankful for the two ladies who stepped up to lead studies this year, showing me that God prepared them for such a time as this.
  6. Getting through the language barrier. I always wanted a bilingual home for as long as I can remember. But having a child who refused to speak English really took a toll on all of us. I am more than thankful for the opportunity to send that child to camp in Colorado for a week in June. He came home speaking a ton of English and hasn't stopped since! What a difference it made in our home. 
  7. Teaching a sixteen/seventeen-year-old the concept of dependence on a parent. That boy wanted nothing more than to be trusted and given the same independence as his peers. He lived under so much structure in an orphanage that he could only dream of being independent some day. We held back, and we still hold back. We knew that he needed the security of a family first. He needed to learn how to depend on a parent to take care of his needs, whether he was old enough to take care of himself or not.  We met a lot of resistance for the entire first year. Now we are finally seeing the benefits of holding back that independence he so desired. 
  8. Losing our new home on wheels.  I finally started to relax by our second camping trip this summer.  I still could hardly believe we actually owned a small RV. I looked forward to many more family trips and even weekends away with my husband. I felt so blessed, until the car behind us plowed right into the back of the camper, scattering my slippers and bedding all over the highway. A totaled mess, an uninsured driver, and no coverage of our own for the camper. I struggled immensely over the loss, angry at God for letting it happen and not understanding why He took it away.  When I finally learned to say, "I trust You, Jesus, to work Your good into this situation," we ended up doubly blessed with more than we could have imagined.
  9. Watching my little boy turn into a teenager. Enough said.
  10. Lots and lots of house repairs. New floor. New ceiling in one room. New laundry room. New washer and dryer. New gate. AC issues. Leakage issues. Plus lots of other issues we didn't even touch yet.
  11. Finding time to stay connected as a couple. This goes with the first struggle listed about stretching ourselves too thin at times, not knowing how to plan a life we're not quite accustomed to yet. Since I took a step back from Bible study for this semester, we will aim to reconnect through a ReEngage program offered at church that I've heard so many wonderful things about from friends at the Rockwall campus.
  12. Taking back control of our health. This, too, may apply more to me. Too much stress caused my body and hormones to go haywire.  Just six months ago, a personal trainer from the gym asked me how I wanted to gauge my success. I said when I don't feel so tired anymore. Between changing my eating habits, getting more active, taking Plexus, and refocusing my thoughts on gratitude rather than on negativity, I truly feel like a different person now six months later.  I still have a lot to work on, but now I have the energy and motivation to keep going. 
  13. Missing my parents at Thanksgving. So thankful to be able to spend time with them for Christmas, though.
  14. Losing my Grandpa and one of Mike's uncles within a day of each other. We are so blessed to know without a doubt that they are both in Heaven today.
All struggles, but many of them turned into blessings. However, tomorrow I will share fourteen specific blessings that may or may not stem from these hardships.

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