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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Friday, May 30, 2014

What if we'd never tried again?

I look at these recent pics, and I catch myself thinking, "What if we'd never tried again? What if we decided our hearts and wallets couldn't handle going through that process again? What if....?"










Life this year has kept us so busy with all of the changes, but every once in awhile, I have these moments where I just stand back, take it in, and have to realize that the reality we waited so long for is staring us straight in the face.  

Love that boy. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

2014 Spring Soccer Season

Both boys' soccer seasons have officially ended, as of last night at 10 pm (a rain out date for Juan David's last game).  The majority of the teams finished out their season right before the big tournament that consumed our entire weekend.  I like the tournaments because they add a lot of excitement, and we make them a family deal.  They sure do wear you out, though, when you've got two involved. 

David's team struggled a bit through the season this year, falling into fourth place after holding third for most of the time. They held 3rd place for the previous two seasons, though, so here is a picture of their trophy ceremony to receive their 2013 trophies.

Photo 

They ended up in first place after the first day of the tournament, but then took a loss in the semi-final game the next morning.  That likely made them 3rd or 4th  (but they only list 1st and 2nd).

Juan David's team did well in their season, but finally lost two games to the same team, a team that is actually a group of refugees from several other countries.  They play a mighty fine game. JD's team ended up having to play against them again for the final game in the tournament.  Both teams played their hearts out and wouldn't let the other team get a single goal.  After going into overtime and still no goals scored, they went to the penalty kicks.  Juan David was pretty excited that he made one of the penalty kicks to help his team win the championship--for the second season in a row!  They ended up getting second place for the regular season.  In the fall when they start up, they jump from U16 to U19, so their competition will change quite a bit.  

We're so thankful for the team God put him on, the families of the other players, and especially their coach's dedication to the boys.  I have a lot of respect for both boys' coaches and the role that they play in my sons' lives. 

Photo: Tournament Champions again! (Only after going into overtime and then to penalty kicks to win the game). Go FC Garland!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The letter

Well, I finally got it.  The letter.  The letter.  You know, the one that every adoptive mom (especially one of an older child) hopes to get some day. 

You know, I've been struggling lately with connection.  Connection is a big deal for adopted kids, and it causes a lot of struggles for a lot of families.  Yet I didn't see it as my son having a hard time connecting.  It was me.  I felt myself pulling back, causing this wedge to come between us.  My hormones have been off balance for several months, so it really was an emotional issue that I didn't have much control over.  I got angry, quickly and often, over little things or even over nothing at all. 

I finally went to the doctor, and after a few blood tests, she gave me a diagnosis and some medicine to rebalance my hormones.  The meds actually made it worse, though, which caused an even greater divide.  My doctor took me off the medicine and I seem to be doing a lot better for now.  I feel like I am turning back into myself again, so that's good. 

I worried about how to regain the ground lost during those hormonal months (no, I'm not menopausal--not old enough), and I hoped I hadn't damaged any of the connection we'd previously established.

Both boys wrote me sweet notes for my birthday/Mother's Day last week, and Juan David definitely wrote about how much he loved me and appreciated how we fought for him.

But the day after Mother's Day, he surprised me with a letter he'd written for a class at school, a letter to me.  He told me what an amazing Mom I am, he thanked me for my patience with him and David, and he admitted that we have been arguing a lot recently over things that really didn't matter.  Then he went on to thank me again for loving him, encouraging him, appreciating him, etc.  He wrote it all in English, then reverted to Spanish for the last sentence, saying, "I often wonder what would have become of me if you hadn't adopted me.  Thank you for appreciating me in your life."  In the background of the letter, he wrote I LOVE YOU in an artistic way.

I think I'm going to frame it. 

Since he gave it to me, I have felt an even deeper connection than before.  I am looking forward to a whole summer to keep growing and connecting in new and deeper ways.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother's Day birthday

Every once in a while, a year comes around where Mother's Day falls on my birthday.  This was my lucky day! Actually, though, I gave my family a pretty hard time over the last few weeks saying I wanted to get two separate days, not just one.  They really surprised me this weekend by making me feel incredibly special for two separate days, giving me two separate occasions to celebrate.  I felt blessed.

First, I had a long morning to myself on Saturday, which gave me the chance to sit outside and read for the whole morning.  I actually had the chance to finish the book that I had started a few days earlier in the week.  We all ate a late breakfast together, then I headed out to run some errands on my own while Mike took the boys shopping.  Besides squeezing in time to get a hair cut and grab some groceries, I wrote two whole blog entries and still had time to chill! (Getting time to myself is like gold to this introvert.) Plus I loved knowing that the boys were out shopping for me!

Early in the evening, they came home to surprise me with beautiful pink roses, a pink cake, and gifts (all accessories for my bike that needed upgrading).  I'm ready for the summer now so I can hop on my bike every morning before it gets too hot. 

Today, David got up early to take me out for a Mother's Day breakfast date.  We walked to the Donut shop together and had a really sweet time.  Mike and Juan David were still sleeping when we got back, so we made some chai (that my mom sent me for my birthday) and drank it together out on the porch.  David sat down beside me, wrapped his arms around, and kept telling me how much he loved me and hoped I was enjoying my very special day.  Love that kid.

When everyone else woke up, they presented me with yet another gift for Mother's Day.  A beautiful pink fold up seat to use on the bleachers at the soccer games.  Just in time for the tournament this weekend!  They know me well and know just how much time I spend at those soccer fields!  They also gave me a card that Juan David made with the sweetest messages written inside from each of them.  I will cherish it forever. 

We spent the afternoon out riding the trails on our bikes, and now I'm out on the porch enjoying this beautiful spring weather.  Juan David is sitting here complaining that it's hot--I think he's in for a miserable summer if he thinks it's already hot!

In addition to feeling so blessed and special these two days, I can't forget how wonderful my students made me feel all week for Teacher Appreciation week.  They showered me with the sweetest gifts, hugs, flowers, candies, and cards.  There's something mighty special about being a child's first teacher.  I am so blessed to be a Pre-K teacher this year. (BTW, my principal told me she really likes me in that position and is impressed by my professionalism.  Looks like I get to stay there for at least another year! :)  She said she really appreciated my going into it with such an open mind.) It was a scary change, but a true blessing indeed.  Love my kids.  Love my assistant.  Love my job.




Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.  Biological moms.  Foster moms. Adoptive moms. Spiritual moms.  And teachers, who get called Mom, too. :)

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a mom to two wonderful sons, my biological son and my adoptive son.  I'm so grateful to be an unofficial mom to Julian, my other Colombian "son".  Someday in Heaven I shall meet the other child that God placed inside my body for a very short time. 

Just as grateful as I am for my children, I am equally grateful for my mom.  Without her constant love and encouragement as a child, or her patience while I went through those stubborn teenage years, I could not be the mom I am today. 

Thanks, Mom, for reading to me as a child. For taking care of me when I was sick.  For nursing me back to health after my car accident (and homeschooling me until I could walk again). For encouraging me in the areas I excelled in.  For believing in me.  For supporting me to fulfill my dreams.  For loving me even when I wasn't so easy to love. For becoming my friend as a young adult.  For making the most beautiful wedding dress for me, exactly as I wanted it.  For praying for me.  For showing up to take care of David when I just about fell apart.  For grieving with me when the adoption didn't go through. For giving me space and time when I needed it. For taking an interest in the things that interest me.  For being my biggest support and cheerleader as a writer.  For always picking out the best card for the occasion, showing that you are deeply connected to your children.  For teaching me how to be a loving wife and mom.  For honoring and supporting your husband always.  For modeling a life of faith and service to others.  For always being there. 

I'm so glad God chose you to be my mom.  I love you.  Hope you have a wonderful day.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Summer

I came home from my writer's group last week inspired to write something of a deeper significance.  It's long, and hasn't undergone a critique yet, but here's what I wrote two nights later.

Summer.

A word that conjures up images of sunshine, swimming pools, children playing, and iced tea.  For me, it’s a word that carries deep significance on so many levels.

It’s a monumental time in my life each and every year, especially being a school teacher.  Some years the season screams nothing but rest and refreshment to me.  Other times it has bubbled over with adventure and opportunity.   Every once in a while, summer brings healing to my broken, tattered life.

The summer of 2007 will forever stand out in my memory as one to be cherished.  My heart hurt deeply.  Life had depleted my energy, while an unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage had broken my heart.  I heard a very tender whisper in my ear, my God quietly commanding me to enter into a season of rest.  I avoided all appointments, travel opportunities, and even visits with friends during the morning hours over those three leisure months.  Instead, He began to woo me out of my bed each and every morning, and I followed.

I spent hours with my Creator on a daily basis out on my front porch for over two months straight.  I poured my heart out to Him.  I gave Him my tears and my physical exhaustion.  Our conversations went deep, bringing up issues I didn’t know I still had, opening up wounds from years past that had never truly healed.  Little by little, He softened my heart.  I found an intimacy with Christ that I never knew I could have.  I’d witnessed it in my grandmother as a child and always wondered what made her relationship with Christ so different.  So real.  I finally began to get a taste of that sweet intimacy.  I understood for the first time what it meant to rest in Him.  My life has never been the same.

God had plans for me. He used that time on my porch to prepare me deep down inside.  I’d never survive the following seven years without such a close relationship with my Savior and a steadfast faith in His character.

The next  summer I found myself completely smitten by two orphan children, a sibling pair from Colombia.  After meeting them and expressing our desire to adopt them, my husband, son, and I excitedly (and courageously) began our adoption pursuit, believing them to be the children God had given us.  We loved them from the start.

A year later, we anxiously awaited the final steps of the process to finally bring our children home.  We spent the summer months preparing our home for their arrival, dressing up their closets and setting up their bedrooms.  A time filled with adventure and opportunity.  We could hardly wait for our lives to change.  Little did we know a denial letter (rather than approval) floated around in the mail for nearly two months that summer before landing on our door step, shattering my heart.  Though I tried desperately to hold on, I eventually had to let them go.

After a year of grieving, the next summer brought an unexpected blessing.  The sibling pair had an older sibling.  He thanked me profusely for loving his brother and sister, even though they never became our children.  Our love for them touched his heart.  His love for them touched mine.  A close, tender relationship grew between us before he began to call me “Mom”.  He captured my heart and my love.  I soon loved him as my son, though he remained a continent away, unadoptable. 

Colombia beckoned us to come in the summer of 2011.  We met our “son”, the older brother of the children we once assumed to be our own.  We visited the orphanage that I’d made so many phone calls to back in 2009. I found the phone where one of them stood for every single conversation we had.  We toured the houses where those children lived, met their social worker, nutritionist, and psychologist.  We took their brother into our arms and became a family to him, as unofficial as it had to be. 

Upon returning home, I wrote the entire experience down over a period of three weeks.  What a healing response on my part.  Our “tragedy” became our published story several months later, a story that many would say helped them persevere in their faith through their own trials.

When the school year ended in 2012, our family boarded a plane once again for Colombia.  Our now nineteen year old “son” needed us, at least for the month we could give him.  We settled into an apartment for a month that would soon fill with a frenzy of legal activity, a series of events that would finally bring one of the younger siblings back into our lives. 

Besides working four days a week at a Christian school, we communicated often with a lawyer during our thirty days of residence in Colombia.  He boldly stood behind us while we watched God walk us through walls and open closed doors to reopen our original adoption case, though only one of the children remained, now fourteen years of age.

By the following June, we stepped onto a plane once again to return to Colombia.  To visit our now twenty year old “son”, as well as to finally adopt his fifteen year old brother.  After spending nearly six weeks in his country, we brought the younger brother home to stay. Though elated over finally seeing our dream come true, we came home absolutely exhausted, depleted.  Financially.  Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically. Psychologically. 

Faith held us together over those six years.  Our faith developed our perseverance, which helped us to keep going, no matter how difficult or dark each step proved to be.  Just how much had I denied myself? How much sacrifice did it really require?  Now looking in the mirror, I can see that I didn’t come through unscathed.  There are visible battle wounds, some that haven’t even begun to heal.
 
We’ve been home for nearly a year now with our adopted son, but I have struggled to be the mother I want to be.  I jumped right into life and assumed all my new roles with confidence, yet I never even had a chance to breathe and take it all in.  Life changed completely, but I didn’t have the time or the energy to let the changes sink in. 

It's been a long road of recovery. Financially. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically. Psychologically. Maybe moreso for me because of the psychological impact of going through it twice, still not knowing if the results would be different.

Summer is approaching quickly, and for the first time since 2010, we are not heading to Colombia.  I feel very strongly that God is calling me into another season of rest, offering me the kind of restoration that only He can give.  It’s time I slow down long enough to let Him bind up my wounds.  I will never be the mother I want and need to be until I let God begin to heal me from the experiences of the last seven years.  Victory or not, God has some work to do on me to prepare me for what lies ahead.  Only He knows what the next seven summers may hold.

As I tie up another school year over the next few weeks, I am now eagerly awaiting many long summer mornings out on my front porch with the One who loves me more than I ever knew I could be loved. Rest. Healing. Restoration.

Summer. 

What a marvelous word with so much meaning. 


How does it speak to you?

Love that social media

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse, all at the same time.  After going through a series at church on how technology has changed us, I've been deeply convicted about how much time I spend on social media in front of my children (and other people).  Most days I do better, but I confess, sometimes it really has the power to draw me away from the things I should be cherishing the most.  God is working on me.

With that being said, I will also be the first to tell you what an incredible tool it can be when used appropriately. Without it, I would likely have never grown so close to Julian after the adoption fell apart the first time.  Without our relationship with him, well, let's just say that Juan David would not be a part of our family today.

I love the way that social media has connected me to other Christian writers who inspire me to follow that path.  I also love the way that it has connected me with family, aunts, uncles, and cousins that I barely knew growing up because so many miles separated us.  I think it's amazing how it helped me reconnect with my host family in Argentina, whom I still love very dearly.

Recently, social media has blessed me by connecting me with other adoptive families specifically adopting from Colombia.  I've found other families who walked a road very similar to ours, realizing that our experience was not all that unique, sadly. I've read other blogs of people who have fought a fight like ours for their children and are currently still fighting.  I've seen success stories of families who have adopted sibling sets, warming my heart to know that another set of brothers or sisters did not have to split up.

I've watched families who were once strangers rejoice together over recent approvals and referrals.  My heart has ached with families who were "stuck" in Colombia for 9-10 weeks (or more) to finish out the adoption, making me grateful for the five weeks our in-country process took a year ago.  Colombia is a beautiful place to be, but a stay that long, apart from the rest of your family, living life in limbo with no control over how long you're there, can have quite a negative impact on you mentally, emotionally, and especially financially.

I've encountered many fellow Christians who accept that their whole experience has a purpose, no matter what the outcome.  How encouraging to find other people walking that road of faith.

Just yesterday, I met someone from our previous hometown area, Winona Lake, IN, who is in the process of adopting two older girls from Colombia.  Our paths never crossed because we moved away before they ever moved there, but we found out that we have mutual friends!  Small world.

When used the right way at the right time, social media really can be a blessing!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Just around the corner

This is the first year since 2010 that I have not been making last minute plans and arrangements to spend the month of June in Colombia.  I have very mixed feelings, which I share in another post at another time.  I miss Julian and Mercedes, but I am thankful to have the chance to recuperate from the last several years.

David is pretty excited about the fact that, rather than head to Colombia the day after school is out, he'll be heading to.....

BannerTrek

His first summer camp in Austin, Texas with the "youth group".

Two weeks later, Juan David will be headed off to....
BannerJourney

His first summer camp in the U.S., all the way in Colorado!  He's both excited and also a bit anxious, about being away from home, being completely immersed in English, etc.  

I look forward to the experience for both of them.  Two camps is a bit hard on the budget, but it's definitely not as expensive as trying to get back to Colombia this year.