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, June 27, 2015

Taking my own advice

I buddied up with a friend for prayer time during Bible study last night. We each shared one specific area where  we needed prayer. My request is to just lighten up a bit. I can get so wound up thinking about Mike's job situation that I throw all fun and lightheartedness out the window.  I don't want to look back at this time and regret what we missed. The boys are growing up way too fast, and I want to embrace every bit of time we have with Juan David, considering we missed the first 15 1/2 years of his life.

My friend texted me two days later saying she prayed for me to have a lighter day. I went from feeling anxious and overwhelmed in the morning hours to feeling carefree and joyful the rest of the day. David and I had a super fun day together (Juan was at camp) playing games, going shopping, enjoying a lunch date, and just doing stupid stuff and laughing about it.  I sure do adore that kid, even though I barely recognize his voice anymore. Ugh. Puberty.

Mike and I made a random decision to get out of town for a few days again to enjoy another family camping trip. Without knowing the future regarding Mike's employment or schedule, we can't plan anything too far ahead (or too expensive). But I'm kind-of enjoying this randomness. It's definitely keeping everyone on their toes. :) Plus it helps Mike from getting discouraged through this job search.

I have to be back to teach Bible study on Wednesday night, so I'll post pics of our newest adventure when we get back. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015


It's been a bit quiet around here this week. Juan David is having the time of his life, I'm sure, in Winter Park, Colorado for high school church camp.  They call it Journey.  He was pretty nervous a year ago when he went for the first time, but he came back speaking a ton of English and with the official title of "ladies man".  Let me tell you, he did not hint at even the tiniest bit of nervousness about going this year.

I have been looking through these pictures that I stole from Instagram, and I must say, I am a bit jealous of his experience. Yet when I look through all the worship pics, comments, and videos, I am reminded of God's purpose for this boy, my son.

There's so little I really get to teach him in the few years we have him, so I am thankful that we have such a great "village" to help us guide him toward Christ.
And there it is! #419journey Ladies & Gents
Getting ready for camp picture this morning! All 700 of us #419journey
Praying over this tent this morning, that God will continue to move in this place like He has already began to! #419journey
I BELIEVE IN THE NAME OF JESUS! Let's do this Lord! #419journey #journey2015
#selfieswithpastors #419journey

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

To refrain from embracing

I joined Beth Moore's Scripture Memory group for the year back on New Year's Day. That means I committed to memorize two verses a month for a year, and then I get to attend a special retreat next year with Beth Moore along with other women who do the same. One of the ladies in my Bible study last summer really raved about the experience and challenged us to do it this year. So a few of us did.

January 1st was easy. I wanted to learn verses on parenting. I picked I Corinthians 4:2--Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Then came the 15th of the month, and I didn't have a second verse picked. I prayed about it and asked God what verse He wanted me to learn.

Ecclesiastes 3:5--A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.

Really? I wasn't quite sure where that one came from, but okay. I wrote it down in my little notebook and started to rehearse it every day.

Hmmm.  Maybe since my sweet baby boy is now an official teenager, it could be a reminder that I need to start letting go of my Mommy tendencies. (A time to refrain from embracing . . .)

Now that we're halfway into the year, I am beginning to see that it's not just my little boy that I'm having to let go of. 

Julian left Colombia to pursue a dream in Argentina. Tickets to Argentina are double the price of tickets to Colombia. We took a summer off last year to stay stateside and get some much needed rest, and now I don't know when I'll be able to see Julian again. I will miss being able to see him and Juan David cherish time together this summer.

We grew even closer to our campus pastor through the ReEngage program this spring, admitting how grateful we were to have such a genuine leader. Then he made that announcement we never expected. He left our campus a few weeks ago to plant a new church in an unreached area. I will miss his authenticity.

My principal of only three years announced at the very end of the year that she, too, will be starting at another campus for the following school year. She had confidence in me and praised me, and I will miss that.

Our friends from our small group decided to travel all over the world this spring, so we haven't seen or connected with them very much over the last few months. I miss their company and guidance.

My husband lost his job where he's worked since we first moved here almost twelve years ago. We know God has something even better in store for him, but I will miss the security and the familiarity of his job, the seniority he'd earned over the years, the insurance that let us keep the same doctors and dentists all 12 years, the flexibility in his hours, and the close proximity to home.

My dearest friends who we love like family, friends we have traveled to Mexico with on several occasions and who live just up the street are leaving tomorrow to move to Hawaii to connect with a new church ministry. I will miss our random meet-ups, our summers with Madai visiting both of us, the convenience of having them so close, and being part of the same church fellowship.

Makes me a bit nervous about any other changes the next six months might hold. I guess I am realizing the point in the verse, though. Carpe diem. Seize the day. Embrace the moment. Don't take a day, a moment, a relationship, or an opportunity for granted. Make the most of (and be grateful for) whatever you see in front of you today because it might not be there tomorrow.

I pray every morning for a friend who recently lost her son in a tragic accident, and with each prayer for her I am reminded to embrace all that I have in front of me.

Ecclesiastes 3:5--A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

An unplanned vacation :)

So, school's out. David's back from camp. Juan David's camp is a week away. My husband is still out of work, but our expenses have been covered for the month. What to do?

We hopped in the car and drove to St. Louis to spend a few days with my parents. Juan David had only been to their house once so far, and only to sleep. I want him to have memories like I do (and like David does) of visiting his grandparents.

It turned out to be a fun, inexpensive trip (thanks to my parents for abundantly feeding us). Mike felt rested and renewed after a long six weeks of job-hunting. The boys came back with another bonding experience under their belts. We made good use of our Six Flags season passes, including free parking even there. (FYI: Getting those season passes last October turned out to be one of our wisest purchases for two teenage boys!) In addition to all the fun, I also cherished the extra time with my mom and dad.

Here are some pics of our time there: (Unfortunately, I didn't get a single family pic or any of my parents, either. Oops.)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Celebrating 2 years as a family

Yesterday marked two full years since the day we finally got Juan David back. June 13, 2013. Hop on over to my other blog, www.unexpectedtearsbook.blogspot.com, to see a poem I wrote for him back in 2009, hoping he'd join our family very soon. Little did we know the struggle and heartache on the horizon at that moment, still four years before he'd actually join our family.

Rachelle Alspaugh's photo.    
Rachelle Alspaugh's photo.

I told someone the other day that our adoption experience was horrible, one I wouldn't wish on anyone. At the same time, though, God was in it, and for that, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Then and now

What a difference a year makes. A year ago right now, I desperately needed rest. Healing. Rejuvenation. We still hadn't gelled as a family unit. Juan David still didn't speak English. I struggled with health issues that likely came from all the stresses of the previous six years.

Today, I feel good. Thanks to Plexus for curbing my appetite and helping me move away from a sugar addiction, and thanks to the Daniel Plan for teaching me to enjoy the abundance of all the natural foods God has provided us, my body is back on track. Plus I am more mentally alert and alive than I have been in a long time. Who knew how much I would crave broccoli every morning?

Last year, I felt like I'd been running by the seat of my pants and had the life sucked out of me. This year, I felt organized, intentional, and I had an absolutely wonderful year teaching my second batch of four and five-year-olds.

Thanks to a little camper getting dropped into our laps, our first three camping trips last summer really helped us to finally gel together as a new family unit. Thanks to a newer and nicer camper that God upgraded us to, the gelling continues on each trip we take, even if we only drive about 20 minutes down the road. We look forward to taking many random trips together in our house on wheels. It is indeed a blessing.

Thanks to Journey, our church's high school summer camp in Colorado, Juan David finally broke the ice and came home speaking English, all the English he'd learned during the year but refused to apply. His silent period ended, and now he speaks amazing English and continues to improve every day.

Last year, I still felt like the reality of Juan David's adoption hadn't hit me yet. Now it seems to hit me every day, every time I see his smile, look into his eyes, watch him dance around the house, or see him play soccer. He really did come home to us. Wow. I still tear up from time to time when I think about it.

Last year, I wanted nothing more than to stay home (or local). This year, I am rearing to go, go, go! In fact, I originally planned to board a plane to Colombia today with Juan David to spend a week with Julian. Until Julian boarded a plane to Argentina. :(

It's okay, though. I am learning to embrace the present. Like the other day when I prayed for God to guide my day with Juan, to give us an enjoyable, memorable day. We ended up spending good quality time with a friend who is more like family, a friend who happens to be moving away in two weeks. Plus Juan David got to swim, so that made him a happy boy.

I'm so thankful for all we have to celebrate when I look back at all the differences between then . . . and now.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Down time? What's that?

We sure do keep busy around here. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not so much. Life is full, all the time, though.

This week brought a lot of things to a close, and now we move on into the next season. David's soccer season is officially ending today (after 11 rainouts!), and it looks like his team most likely came in first place for his division. Juan David's season closes out today, too (after 9 rainouts), and it looks like his team will most likely take second place in his division. It was a long, unpredictable season with all of the rain, so we are kind-of glad to finally bring it all to an end. We are also very proud of how the boys did.
School officially ended on Friday. Both boys did exceptionally well in their classes and on their STAAR tests. I don't have the paper results for Juan David's tests yet (other than the news that he passed them all), but David's results showed that he only missed three questions on both his Math test and his Reading test. So proud of him. I finished up my second year of PreK on Friday with 43 kids in attendance for what I called our "celebration" (we have to have both classes together whenever there is an early dismissal in order to save the district money). We had a picnic outside, sang a bunch of songs, read a few stories, and just had a great day. This year's kids (and parents) treated me so wonderfully this year, making this one of the best years I have ever had in the classroom.
Mike and I attended a program at our church called ReEngage for the last sixteen Thursdays, and it, too, came to a close on Thursday night. I'd always heard that every married couple in our church should go through it at least once, no matter what stage they are in in their marriage. So, when they opened it up at our satellite campus, we decided to give it a try. What we didn't know when we committed was just how hard it would be to stay committed due to having so many other things come up on Thursday nights. We stuck through it, though, and we are so thankful we did. Our marriage grew much stronger, we learned more about each other, we communicate more effectively, and we know that God used it to prepare us for our current season of unemployment. We are going to miss our small group meetings, but we now have the tools necessary to keep growing closer as a couple. What we took away from it the most was that every marriage has issues, and it put us in a safe place to talk about our struggles together in a group and to learn from each other. If you ever hear of ReEngage at your church or a church nearby and you have the opportunity to attend, DO IT! I do believe it's one of the greatest ministries in our church.
Here is a link to a song that pretty much sums up Re/engage.
So here we are now, at the end of a full season of life, already jumping into another full season. So far, it looks nothing like we originally planned. No trip to Colombia. No trip to the beach. No big family vacation planned. Julian moving to Argentina and Mike losing his job kind-of changed all of that. However, on the positive side, we get to have Mike hang out with us in between his job interviews. This will be a first, and thanks to God's constant provision for us, we can enjoy our time together as a family without the stress of not having Mike's income for at least another month or so.
When God says, "I will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19), He means it. When He says, "Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it" (Malachi 3:10), He means it.
I can say that with confidence because while we have been busy praying for God to give Mike a job, He has been busy providing for our needs, teaching us to wait on Him with peace that He's in control. Not once, but now twice we have unexpectedly received financial gifts combined with enough money to cover seven whole weeks of lost income. And on both occasions, their words made it clear that it was meant to be taken as a gift from God.

He's got this, and we can move forward into an unexpected and unplanned summer with peace to enjoy each day as it comes. It reminds me of a conversation God had with me back in 2011 that I wrote about in chapter 13 of my book. "This is one (summer) that I'm not letting you plan. Every moment of every day has already been planned for you." (p. 127, From the Mountain to the Valley and Back--to be republished by August with the new title Unexpected Tears, www.unexpectedtearsbook.blogspot.com)
David's departure for church camp yesterday began our 2015 summer trek with God as our guide. Looking forward to it.


Monday, June 1, 2015

One more brag

Gotta brag on this kid, too! I got a letter in the mail inviting us to attend David's awards ceremony at school because he would be receiving an award. We kept it a secret from him, so he had no idea I made arrangements to leave school to be there, nor did he even know about getting an award. (He wasn't too happy with me for keeping it a secret, but, oh, well, I was glad both Mike and I made it.) He got an award for Scholastic Excellence with a 92 percent average for the year. Great job, David!