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 27, 2015

Soaking up more blessings

As promised, we are still finding ourselves immersed with blessings after a very trying time. You know that verse in Malachi about not having room to store them? Yep, it's happening again. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

For the last several months, both the fridge and the freezer (and the pantry) ended up empty by Friday evening. Like, literally empty. Everybody had to scrounge around for crumbs for breakfast on Saturday morning while I went to the grocery store to restock for the week.

It's now Sunday afternoon, I haven't made it to the store yet this weekend, but the fridge and freezer still have quite a bit of food in them, and the pantry is overflowing.  Every day we still find little goodies from our friends who moved away and gave us their fridge and all the food they had left before moving.

Another friend dropped by the house during the day on Thursday and left a bag of clothes for me and two big giant bags of macaroni. Now I've got cute new shirts to wear every day for the next two weeks!

Mike finally got all the clearance necessary to drive the company truck for work, which he uses to drive to and from work now. A brand-new truck that makes it tight to park all three vehicles in front. (Not complaining). Just in time, too, because something else went out on his own truck, making it un-driveable until he can get the part to fix it. A situation that could have made tomorrow morning extra stressful if he didn't already have the company truck here to drive on Monday morning.

God is so good. And we are so grateful.

I love how the boys are watching and learning more about God through these trials over the last two summers. On Thursday evening, Juan David said, "See, Mom. We just had to wait on God. You were so stressed out, and now Dad has a job, we have a new fridge, we've got plenty of food, and you even have new clothes,"

Waiting on God can be excruciatingly hard some times, but it's always worth it.  Mike loves his new job so much, even to the point of saying, "I'm so glad God closed all those other doors and that I didn't end up taking any of those other jobs I applied and interviewed for."  This particular job holds more blessing and potential than anything else he even looked at or considered himself qualified for.

Yes, Juan David. We just had to wait on God's perfect timing. I'm sorry for the stress I wore all over my face as the months dragged on. I hope what you learned about God's character in this situation will help you face your own trials the right way.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Putting the hat back on

I've officially put my "Soccer Mom" hat back on for the 2015 Fall Soccer Season. And with Mike working long hours here at the beginning with his new job, their soccer schedules are spreading me a bit thinner than normal. Thus, there may not be near as many blog posts as before. But I will try my best to update my blog on the weekends.

Thankfully, for the most part, I enjoy this role (except when I've had a long day and am tired). During David's practices, I walk with another one of the moms that I have known for several years. During Juan David's practices, I get to hang out with David and do different stuff than we would at home. During the games, I get to take pictures and thank God that I have two healthy, active boys that are passionate about the same thing. Both games make me teary-eyed. David's bring tears to my eyes because I realize how much he's grown and how long his legs are now. Juan David's games bring tears to my eyes because I'm just so thankful to be his mom.

See what I mean about those long legs?

Oh, and I forgot to mention that David decided to give football a try, too, so he is playing football for his school soccer team. Here's a pic of his first game. He is playing Running back and Starting Kick Return (whatever those mean-- Lol.).

Doubly blessed

About a month after Mike lost his last job, one of our close friends lost his job, too. Both of our families struggled through the summer months, not always knowing how certain bills would get paid, not able to spend money on vacations, and frustrated at how long the job search seemed to take. We also watched simultaneously as God provided for both of our families in very similar ways, which led us to grow even closer as friends.

Mike finally got offered the job at Goodyear within days of our friend getting offered a job in Maryland. Though sad to see them leave, we are so excited to see how God also worked out so many details in their favor and very obviously orchestrated a move for them out East.

The night before they left, just as their house officially sold, they gave us their refrigerator (much bigger, better, and nicer than the one we had). What we didn't expect was all the good, healthy food it came stocked with! :)

Not only did we get a new fridge, but it helped us save money on groceries as we still wait on Mike's first paycheck. Doubly blessed.

Showers of blessing

God did it for us again. After a big loss and four and a half long months of not knowing what lie ahead for us financially, we have finally arrived to the blessings that, of course, exceeded all of our expectations.

Mike started working this past week as a Commercial Tire Sales Representative for Goodyear Tire. If you knew Mike 20 years ago. you'd know just how much knowledge and experience he already carries in this field. We listed his experience in the tire field on his resume, but since he's been working in the maintenance field for the last 12 years, that's the main area of employment he was looking for.

Then, out of the blue, Goodyear Tire noticed his resume on a job website, contacted him, and asked him to apply for their Tire Sales position at a new store that just opened this summer. He did, and they interviewed him and offered him the job that very day! (We then had to work through several gliches that kept delaying his start date, but he finally started to work this week). In addition to being employed in a field he's already good at, the pay is better than anything else he had even applied for!

(Here's an excerpt from a story I recently wrote about it:

Give him a story
After four months of my husband’s unemployment, each day drug on with no end in sight. I had no idea how long it could take to find a simple job. By now, he was ready to apply for anything, no matter how little income it brought in.
                “If it gets you insurance and pays more than $0, we’re still ahead of where we are now.” I know it wasn’t the most encouraging thing I could have said to my husband, but we’d come to a point of having to face reality.
                When unemployment hit our home, we arrogantly assumed another job would come quickly and easily. After the first month, I began to pray specifically for Mike’s next job, and I thanked God daily for the answer still to come.
                “Bless the work of my husband’s hands. May the job You provide him fulfill him and earn him respect quickly. Let it be close to home and provide enough to cover our current living expenses plus two upcoming needs over the next year. But, God, more than anything, may the job You provide him come with a story, proving that it came from You alone.”
Now four months later, after spending hours upon end filling out applications online, using up tank after tank of gas driving to countless interviews, and meeting up with random people all over the area to give them a resume, he still came home each night without a job.
                “Yes, your resume looks good. But there are still 30 applicants ahead of you for this position.”
                “You’ve got a lot of great experience, but we need someone with this specific certification that you don’t have.”
                “You are a bit overqualified.”
                “You’re highly qualified, but we can’t hire another person for this position right now.”
                “We really like you. If we don’t find someone else more qualified, we’ll give you a call.”
                “You’re in our top five out of all 75 applicants.”
                Yet day after day passed, and the phone didn’t ring.
                I questioned God. Why wouldn’t he just give Mike a job?
I know He provided enough to sustain us over the last four months for a reason. But after hearing a long series on money management and finances at church, it felt quite uncomfortable deciding whether to pull money out of retirement or college savings just to make ends meet until a job finally came around.
“God, I do trust You, and I know You will continue to provide. I know You are not going to let our boat sink. But please just tell us what to do in the meantime while Mike is not working.”
The more frugal we tried to live, the more our daily expenses seemed to multiply. All four of our pets became infested with fleas. Two of the animals got sick enough to need medical attention. Both of our vehicles needed several hundred dollars in repairs. Our electric bill skyrocketed over the hot summer months. Medical insurance through the government cost us more than we’d ever had to pay before.
We prayed daily, begging for wisdom on how to handle our finances. God provided, unexpected people gave money to sustain us, but I selfishly just wanted my husband to go back to work. It’s uncomfortable to be the one in need. I hate to admit that I started to question Mike’s interviewing skills, while at the same time I wondered if I didn’t do a good enough job drafting his resume for him. Maybe I didn’t make him look marketable or emphasize his strengths enough.
Or perhaps God took my bold prayers seriously and therefore wouldn’t give Mike a job that didn’t fit my specific prayer.
Summer ended, and I went back to work. Less than a week into the new school year, Mike sent me a text around mid-morning.
“I just got an e-mail from a tire company. They saw my resume online and asked me to apply for their tire sales position.” Tire sales? Mike worked for a local tire company from the age of sixteen up until right before David was born, now fourteen years ago. Although he currently sought a job in a maintenance field, we knew he held a lot of experience and knowledge with tires.
Later that morning, I got another text. “They want me to come for an interview this afternoon.”
Then late that afternoon, I got a phone call. “The interview went really well. They offered me the job!”

A job that will fulfill him and earn him respect quickly because of his prior experience. A job close to home, offering more income than any position he applied for over the last four months. An employer that sought him out.
A job that came with a story. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A spread out family

This skype conversation today just warmed my heart.

I love it when these brothers get to reconnect with each other.

Once upon a time, it was the other way around--with me on the other end.


Praise God, my husband has a job and is working again!!! More details to come in later posts. :) (You know there's going to be a God-story here. Stay tuned.)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Do you have a war room?

I just read that this movie is now #1 in the country!  I can't tell you how happy that makes me. I've been so excited about this movie since the very first mention of it. I went to see it by myself (on purpose) on opening weekend, and I cried the whole way through it. You see, I've been there, and I can personally attest to the power of prayer. 

Do you have a war room? In my first house, it was a screened in porch. I spent a lot of time with God out there, digging deep into Bible study, but I can't say I had a prayer strategy or spent a lot of time praying.

When I moved into my house in Texas years later, I turned my front porch into my sanctuary. I started meeting with God there every morning shortly after moving in, and by then I found the need and desire for a specific prayer strategy. Life is a constant battle, and without prayer, many days feel hopeless. With it, we can overcome anything the enemy throws at us. I learned how to fight my battles the right way, with the right power.

Now I have three war rooms. My front porch (where I can watch the sun set in the evenings), my back porch (where I can watch the sun rise), and my prayer corner in my living room (where I can sit by the lamp light when it's too cold to sit outside and where I can cover the wall with Scriptures, prayer requests, and answers to prayer). 

It works, and I can tell story after story of specific ways God has answered my prayers, led me to victories, and changed my life in unimaginable ways. Yet even better than that, I've watched other lives change and know that God used me to pray them through. 

If you haven't seen the movie, please don't wait another day!  Make plans to go. And if you don't have a war room, make one, and then develop a prayer strategy to fight your battles the right way. The only way. 

The lamp light
Tucked in the corner by the fireplace
Sit a small lamp and a chair,
A few books and pens and notecards,
A worn and tattered book of prayers.
Before the sun comes up each morning,
I turn the lamp light on.
I sit to talk with God
About how my days have gone.
I fess up all my failures,
And add to my journal of praise.
We adjust my grumpy attitude
And address my selfish ways.
I read a portion of Scripture,
Ponder over a devotional page,
I reflect over how it affects me
So differently each year I age. 
Once my heart is in tune with the Spirit,
I open that tattered book by the chair.
I anoint my family with Scripture,
And surrender them all in prayer.
Though I always fall short as a wife,
A mom, a daughter or a friend,
Know I give you the gift
That matters most in the end. 
Every morning when you wake up,
And you see the lamp light on,
It means you have been prayed for
Even before your day has begun.

By Rachelle D. Alspaugh

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105:

Saturday, September 5, 2015

When the child you've prepared for doesn't come home

Over the last year, after turning in both my manuscripts to ABH for editing and publishing, I started working on something completely different. I wanted to focus on short stories, and I felt compelled to write personal testimonies on the names of God. I've been writing one a month to take to my writer's group for critique, and now it looks like they all might be turning into another book. I'm not really sure what God wants me to do with them yet, but here is the latest one I wrote. Since it coincides with the release of Unexpected Tears, I thought I'd share it here. Feel free to share this blog post with anyone you think could benefit from it.

Jehovah Oz, the Lord my Strength
She reads the books about what to expect during the pregnancy, the labor, the delivery, and even about the first few months of her child’s life. She and her husband choose a name, paint the nursery, stock the closet, set up the crib, and decorate the room. They anxiously await the day their child will finally come home. They dream about this day for nearly nine months, ever since the moment they realized the miracle of life growing inside of her.
                She goes in to see the doctor for one last check, assuming their baby will be here any day.
                Delivery day comes, but they return home, devastated, without a baby in their arms. Instead, God holds their child in Heaven while He holds them in their grief.
A new wife, baffled by her own body, yearned to be a mother someday. They told her she’d never be able to bear a child of her own. Her dreams of motherhood vanished as she processed those words. She and her husband grieved, and then they prayed.
                Meanwhile, a young girl, barely prepared for the responsibilities of an adult, responds with fear and trembling as the pregnancy test reveals a positive result. She weighs the odds and decides someone else should take on the responsibility she isn’t ready for. 
                Someone else who prayed desperately for the chance to be a mom.
                She and her spouse read the books, chose a name, painted the nursery, and made every last preparation. When the birth mother went into labor, they rushed to the hospital to be present for the delivery. Someone else would give birth to the child they’d been waiting for.
                In their excitement, they missed the fear and mixed emotions in the birth mother’s eyes. She’d had nine long months to think, meditate, and ponder over the reality of her decision. The moment she heard her child’s first cry and held her child in her arms, she knew. She couldn’t let her child go, after all.
                With tears in their eyes and a hollow ache in their soul, they went home without a baby in their arms.          
                God held them tight as they grieved the loss of the child they had prepared for. The child who never came home to them.
We held our son close. We loved him dearly. We thanked God for him, our little miracle.  A miscarriage took away his only sibling very early in pregnancy. That child existed in my womb just long enough to let me dream about the possibility of our son having a brother or a sister. Just long enough to make our family feel incomplete.
                Two years later, we anxiously awaited the arrival of both his brother and his sister. 
                We read all of the adoption books, took the parenting classes, and received specific counsel regarding the adoption of older children. We knew their names, saw their pictures, met them in person, and even chatted with them by phone on a regular basis. We painted their rooms, set up the beds, and filled their closets.
                Over a year of paper-pregnancy gave us plenty of time to dream and envision how life would change as a family of five, rather than our intimate family of three. Our hearts and our home were more than ready for them to arrive.
                We didn’t foresee the glitch in our paperwork, though, that would halt our whole process.
                Just a few months later, we all three grieved when neither brother nor sister came home. God held out the bottle and collected our tears.
Where do you turn when the child you’ve prepared for doesn’t come home?
It’s a different kind of grief. It’s a loss that must be properly and fully grieved, but it cannot be categorized with the loss of a child you have raised and already called your own. Very few understand the emptiness that follows losing a child you held in your heart but never in your arms.
When I lost the kids I tried to adopt, I felt so alone. I connected more deeply with those who had lost children due to other heart-wrenching circumstances, but a guilt over my loss not being as great or tragic as theirs kept me from fully opening up.
Instead, I retreated into myself, withdrawing from friends, activities, and social circles. I didn’t talk to anybody as each stage of grief set in. I just kept myself as busy as possible as I searched for something else to fill the void in my heart.
I went through the shock, the numbness, and the denial for the first few months. Then when reality finally set in, the anger and emotional outbursts came. After that came the fear. The fear that it was all my fault, that it could’ve turned out differently if I would have sought more counsel in the beginning. Fear that I’d never escape this pain, this heartache, this guilt. Fear that I’d never think clearly again.
Everything inside me hurt. I had two choices. I could let the bitterness continue to grow and numb my heart enough to move on, or I could reach out for the tender strength offered to me in the initial moment of loss.
I chose to reach upward, taking hold of Jehovah Oz. He embraced me as I finally let the tears spill out, and then He lifted me up when I didn’t have the strength to get back up on my own. He held me steady while my whole body trembled with fear. He gently whispered my name, over and over, reassuring me He’d see me through this.  He gave me breath when the grief seemed to suck away all my air.  He lifted the guilt when I felt its weight might suffocate me.
He spoke promises over me every day, whenever He caught my attention at random moments through specific Scriptures in a devotional, songs on the radio, e-mails from friends, or cards in the mail.  His strength came through other people’s prayers for me, people I didn’t even know were praying.  He showered me with His love and convinced me I could trust Him, but I had to let it go. I had to let my children go and accept His will for their lives. I had to believe He loved them and that He had not abandoned them, while at the same time I had to believe He loved me and had not abandoned me.
I still grieved.  I still hurt. But I found that grief eventually carries on into the light. It gave me a new sense of determination to move forward, and it led me to new relationships. I found myself stronger than before, and I found a new me clinging to a new hope. He affirmed to me that this circumstance held purpose, and He began to use me to help and encourage others. Not only those who might be grieving a loss or hurting in some way, but anyone who craved an intimacy with Christ or a greater understanding of Scripture. Anyone who wanted to experience the Strength they saw in me, a strength beyond myself.
Jehovah Oz, the Lord my Strength. (Exodus 15:2)
"The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Also known as:
Jehovah-'Ez-Lami- The Lord my Strength – Psalm 28:7 (NIV) The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise him.

Jehovah-Tsori - Lord my Strength - Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Read the full story here: