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, November 30, 2014

Making each day count

This last week didn't look anything like I'd planned or envisioned. In fact, I anticipated a week with my parents here for Thanksgiving, grocery shopping and cooking with my mom, a big feast at my brother's house, Black Friday shopping with my mom, a yearly lunch date with my mom, Kloppmann Christmas (an early Christmas with my parents and my brother's family), a week of cousin fun while we hung out with my brother's family, and maybe a little Christmas decorating at the end of the week. Plus I had the whole week off for the first time this year!

Then my mom called Sunday morning with the news none of us wanted to hear, that my Grandpa's health was declining fast and that he said he was ready to go to be with Jesus. As my uncle stated, he was ready to be with the one Person he loved more dearly than his wife and family.

That phone call changed the whole course of the week, my parents spent time with my Grandpa in his final days instead of coming here, and now the family is making plans for the funeral of a man who touched more lives for Christ than he ever could have known on this side of Heaven.

The rest of the week felt so awkward. Thanksgiving felt incomplete. The day after even stranger, since I'm used to always spending that day with my mom. This time I spent it with Juan David, and then we enjoyed our own family time with the boys for the rest of the day at Six Flags Holiday in the Park (so thankful we got those season passes for the boys!) We all four worked together to decorate the house for Christmas on Saturday, and I bought the boys a Gingerbread house kit after Juan David told me he'd never made one before.  I also finished up all my edits for the revision of my first book, which they told me should be published in February!

David only met my Grandpa a few times in his life, and Juan David met him once. They sympathized with us in our grief, but they couldn't share that grief. I tried to make the week fun for them, though I often found myself with thoughts wandering and tears welling up in my eyes, thinking of the rest of my family and remembering my Grandpa.

Here are some pictures of memories we created, despite the change in plans and the sadness we feel.

Picnic lunch at the park
One of our many roller coaster rides for the day


Thanksgiving. Missing my mom's additions to our plates. :(
Juan David and Uncle Matt (Realizing the family this boy gained still brings tears to my eyes.)
A quick pic by the tree in the park


Juan David's first gingerbread house experience


The whole reason for the season--Jesus

My prayer corner now holds my favorite Christmas decorations, my Jesus tree and a nativity. This morning I took a good long look at my little nativity and my ornaments that say so many different names of Jesus.  I looked at that little baby in the manger, the baby born to die, and I thanked Him for being each and every name on that tree. Then I realized, my grandpa finally got to meet that precious little baby in the manger, face to face, and thank Him, face to face, for being all those names to him in a personal way. I'm sad for us to lose him, but I'm so, so happy for him. What a privilege to be in the presence of Jesus.

Christmas just took on a whole new meaning for me. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Reflecting over a great example

I am sitting at home this morning with a heavy heart, tears in my eyes, Thanksgiving plans overturned, reflecting over one of the greatest blessings in my life. My grandfather.  He currently is living out his last days on this earth, and I am overjoyed that he will soon be in the presence of Jesus. I am, on the other hand, incredibly sad to be losing him.

His passion to live for Christ above all has inspired me since my childhood.  I remember writing a paper in elementary school about how much I admired him.  I still do.

I have not been the greatest at keeping in touch. I am a person of very few words on the telephone, I rarely use Skype, I don't have Facetime on my phone.  I got to see him for his 90th birthday last March, which happened to be the first I'd seen him in about ten years. The first I'd been back to his house in nearly twenty years.  I write on here often, though, and he's gotten every blog entry I've written over the last seven years.  I hope I've made him proud.

My grandfather is a pillar of faith for my family, and he taught me years ago to lay my family down in prayer every single morning before I do anything else. He taught me the importance of prayer through his example, as I, myself, have coveted his prayers each and every morning, especially during difficult seasons of my life. He prayed me through marital struggles, financial struggles, through grieving the loss of Juan David and his sister, through our journey to meet Julian, and through our fight to finally bring Juan David home.  He is leaving a legacy of faith for his family, and I commit to carry it on through his example of daily prayer.

Thank you, Grandpa, for everything you've taught me by your example, even across so many miles. I love you dearly and will miss you more than words can say.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

100 Happy Days

I don't know if you remember, but I went through quite a slump this last summer.  I think it started when the camper got smashed and the AC leaked all over our new floor. One negative thing led to another, and before I knew it, I found myself griping and complaining about everything.  My husband quickly grew tired of my negativity, as did the rest of my family.  I grew tired of myself, too.

Then I read a post on Facebook about a friend who challenged herself to a goal of living 100 happy days.  I thought I'd give it a try.  So, in mid-August, I opened up an old journal and started Day 1. Each day's entry began with the words, "Today I am happy because . . . ".

After about a week or so of writing something that made me happy each day, I felt awkward about the word happy, so I changed it to what I felt thankful for. It became my gratitude journal. I couldn't believe what a difference it made in me to start my day out being thankful. One thing each day led to two or three things each day, and now I find myself writing nearly a paragraph each day about what I'm grateful for.

Today I finally reached my 100th day. I have no intentions of stopping, though, and I encourage anyone in a slump to start their own gratitude journal.  I start my day thankful, and then I notice more and more things to be thankful for all day.

What a difference from that negative mindset that captivated me late this summer.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Disturbed

Yep. It's official now, and I'm a bit disturbed at the thought. With David turning 13 years old today, I now am officially a mom of two teenage boys. Pray for me.

Pray for me to start the process of letting go of my little boy, letting him go through some awkward phases as he begins his search for self, letting him pull away a little bit more each year that passes.

Pray for me to remember myself at that age (that's a scary thought in itself) so I can handle the inevitable trials with grace, patience, and compassion.

Pray for me to keep fighting for his heart every day, teaching him how to give it to God before anyone else.

Pray for me to never stop praying for him. To not let a single day go by that I don't pray for him and with him.

For all of these boys, for that matter.  I can't imagine life without any of them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Silence

Silence and solitude. Ahhhhhhh.

My favorite way to recharge my batteries. At this moment, I am actually sitting in an absolutely silent house, other than the sound of a crackling of the fire behind me. I braced myself all day to brave the suddenly cold temps this evening, despite an already sore throat,  in order to watch my boys' soccer games. Instead, Mike volunteered to go and started a fire in the fireplace before he left so I could relax. Yes, he's a keeper.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Garland Cup Tournament

Both my boys played in a big tournament this weekend, making our day long and full yesterday. Though the calendar had it starting on Wednesday, the rain pushed their Wednesday games into Saturday, giving them five games total between the two of them yesterday.  

The first game started at 9:15 in the morning, and the last game ended at 7:15 in the evening. Thankfully David's team had a little cookout between games, so that kept us from having to try to squeeze in a quick lunch somewhere.  

David's team lost their first game, then Juan's team lost their first game. After stuffing themselves with hamburgers and hotdogs and cake, David's team played again and tied.  By his third game, they pushed hard, but they couldn't pull off a win. David did finally score a really nice goal, though, so he had something to be proud of.  They did not advance in the tournament, though.

After that, Juan's team played their second game at six o'clock. I don't know if David's coach put some special potion in those burgers at lunch, but Juan played with incredible inspiration and scored three goals! Several players congratulated him on his "hat trick", so we had to explain to him what that meant. :) It was definitely his best game all season, perhaps out of all three seasons so far. 

His team advanced to the final game today, but they ended up losing 0-1. There were only three teams in his division, so they still took home the second place medals. It's the first out of all three seasons that they didn't this particular tournament, but they still have three more games left in their regular season to be excited about.  David's team has two more games left in the regular season, as well. 


These last few Saturdays have been fun, but they are wearing me out!

Next Saturday we will be camping for David's birthday, enjoying our lovely RV that God literally gave to us. I am looking forward to actually relaxing for a change.

Love Worth Fighting For

I felt so blessed this last Friday evening to be part of the Love Worth Fighting For Marriage and Parenting event. Both Kirk and Chelsea Cameron spoke at the event, and Warren Barfield (I think that's his last name) sang for us.  I remember watching both Kirk and Chelsea on Growing Pains back in the 80's, and I always thought it was cool that #1-both of them were Christians and #2--they were married in real life.  I appreciated hearing them both speak so transparently about the ups and downs of marriage and about their struggles as parents.  They adopted their first four children, who are all teenagers now.  I loved how Chelsea spoke so authentically about the challenges of parenting and the grace they need to show their children each and every day.  She reminded me how much more I need to smile at my boys.

Marriages don't fail, people just fail at marriage. Our spouse is worth fighting for, and it was a good reminder to really step back to evaluate just what we end up fighting for every day.

Our kids are also worth fighting for. But it's more important to fight for their heart and their relationship with Christ than absolutely anything else.  If our own relationship with Christ is not what it should be, then we will not have the power or the strength to fight for it in our children's lives.

Some events come and go, and the messages stick for a short while before fading into the background. This event touched me and will be one of those messages that will stick with me for a long time.

What an honor to have two people from one of my favorite sitcoms of the 80's come to my church to talk "real" about their relationships with Christ and to pray with and for us.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

One special day

Happy birthday to my Latin American son, Juan David Alspaugh. I hope he felt as special as we intended to make him feel today. He is one very cherished child, by his family here AND his family still in Colombia.

Several moments absolutely touched my heart today as his mother. If you've read my book (or even my blog entry from this date last year), you know the heartache that this particular week once held for both him and us. It happened to be the week they told him he could no longer have contact with me, and his birthday happened to be the last time they let him talk to me on the phone. It's a week that could still carry that same heartache, but now it's a week to cherish each year that it comes around.

Today I took him out for a "birthday cake sundae" after school, and we talked about that fateful day five years ago. We both remembered those last two phone conversations very clearly. Then we said, "But, hey, look at us now! We're together, eating ice cream, on your birthday." 

I also started communicating with Julian early in the morning to arrange a time for him to communicate with Juan David in the evening. It warmed my heart to listen to him talk to his brother on the phone and to hear him talk to Mercedes. 

I hope he felt loved and cherished.





(Right before heading off to school, after Mom made a special birthday breakfast).


(Getting ready to eat a home made birthday dessert/cookie cake).


(A special phone call from Colombia from Julian and Mercedes)


We also met with his counselor at school today to discuss his current (and very unique) academic situation. He had to enroll in the newcomer program last year as a freshman, but he didn't get full credit for his classes. So he enrolled in the traditional high school this year as a freshman again. He will officially be a sophomore by the end of this semester, but today we arranged a plan that should put him on track to graduate with last year's freshman class (still graduating at 19). It's going to mean a few semesters of extra hard work and some credit recovery courses, but definitely doable. We finally feel better informed and equipped to understand the high school system here.

All in all, we had a good day. 

Only ten more days till birthday #3.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Let the birthday season begin

Friday, October 31st, marks the start of a full birthday season in our home for a few weeks. Mike's birthday starts on Halloween, followed by Juan David on November 6th, and David on November 16th. Fun, fun, fun! (Meanwhile I stress to the max about how to budget both time and money from here to Christmas!)

So, yesterday we began our celebrations by spending the day together at Six Flags. We'd planned to all four go together for a day in the summer, but we never made it there. We wanted Juan David to have the experience, so we held it off until late Fall  and planned to go for one of their birthdays. Through a random conversation about our plans to go later in the month, Mike found out we could get a season pass for little more than the cost of a one-day ticket. It's a special that's been going on the last month and ended today. By going before the special ended, we ended up with four season tickets for 2015, combined with unlimited parking and unlimited visits to Hurricane Harbor, as well (for only about $50 more than we would have spent for just one visit).  Plus we get in free for the remainder of 2014. Not a bad deal! I am looking forward to many fun days to come over the next year with my boys.

I used to be the brave, adventurous one when it came to amusement parks. The higher the roller coaster, the better. I unfortunately found that my stomach can't quite handle what it could about ten to twenty years ago. :( I went on all but one ride with the boys and Mike, and I am proud to say I didn't lose any of my lunch--but it's just not as thrilling when your stomach is churning by the end of the ride.

Upset stomach or not, we had a great day together. I enjoy seeing David interact with a brother when we do things as a family, and I enjoy seeing Juan David's attachment to us grow through each experience. A year ago, he struggled with us not letting him go out more with his friends. Now he looks forward to everything we do as a family.

This coming week, the boys will both play in a soccer tournament, so we'll have a small celebration with Juan David on Thursday night for his birthday. Friday night, Mike and I get to go to a Marriage seminar at our church led by Kirk Cameron and his wife. I am really looking forward to a night with just Mike. Those days don't come by very often during soccer season, unfortunately.

After that, we're headed out camping in our beautiful house on wheels on David's birthday the following weekend, with a big cake for all three of them.  My brother and my nephews will join us, per David's request. :) I love being able to celebrate all these birthdays together, but I will likely be pretty exhausted by the last one--thankfully just in time for Thanksgiving!