About Me

My photo

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
Click on the card to order or read the reviews

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Encouraged

Last October, I took a new approach to my writing. The rules for writer's group explain very clearly that we can only take a 5-page, double-spaced writing sample for critique. I had always taken excerpts from my books, but I wanted to focus more on simple short stories for awhile. I picked a theme and made it my goal to write a complete short story within that theme in those five pages. It helped me to condense my writing and make it more concise. I go home from writer's group more encouraged than ever now, plus I see that I really do have something meaningful to say other than my two books about our adoption journey.

I read through the comments written on my last story, and this one made me want to cry. I might just have to frame it.

Last game for high school soccer this year

I am so glad I made it to Juan's game on Wednesday because his last game after that got rained out. I don't normally get very good pics from the bleachers, but I finally found myself in just the right place at just the right time.  Now we move on to Recreational soccer for his GSA team. He's pretty pumped about his first game tomorrow night.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Coming along!

I spent some time communicating with ABH this week, and we have agreed on a final title for the revised version of my book. Things are finally coming together rather quickly now, so it shouldn't be long before it will be released.

They suggested that I use a blog to begin sparking interest and drawing new readers in, so I created a new one for just that purpose.  I hope you will check it out and stay tuned for updates up through the release, and then more updates for the second book that will follow a few months later.  We've had a few setbacks, but that is always to be expected.

Please feel free to share, especially if you've already read the first book. Every so often, I will be adding pics from long ago that take you straight into several moments in the story.

unexpectedtearsbook.blogspot.com

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mission Arlington




Here are all the pics I stole and copied from Instagram and one of the leader's facebook pages. :)
The first one is my absolute favorite.

Yep, that's David giving that "awesome teaching" that led two kids to accept Christ. :) I'm so proud of him!


Slurpees with Shane, the student ministries pastor (aka--youth pastor)

Dinner at Cici's




Working a 5 day Bible club, even in the pouring down rain. 


I will have to say, I'm so grateful to be part of a church that introduces our kids to missions and service at such a young age. This is his fourth mission trip away from his family, and he's only 13! Thank you, Lake Pointe Church. 

"Food is love."

Well, to someone with a history similar to my adopted son, it's true. Food really is love. However, when I answered him saying, "No, it's not," he changed his mind and said, "Okay. Food is happiness."

I hoped to plan a quick trip to take Juan David to see his brother, Julian, in Colombia over spring break, but . . . it was a bit complicated. First, I'm still recovering from all we spent at Christmas, so we didn't have the money to go this early in the year. Second, we don't have his passport yet, and February flew right by me. Third, we would have had to get a special letter written up and signed at the consulate in Houston in order for me to bring him back home from Colombia without Mike being present. (Colombian law for Colombian citizens). So, we hope to make it work out this summer, if possible.

Plan B for spring break--use those Six Flags season passes and spend a few days riding rollercoasters.  But, it rained. Pretty much all week.

Plan C. Find a few small adventures for the week. Mom and son bonding time. We went to the movies, went out to eat, swam at my brother's house on the only sunny day, and took a little international tour with our meals. We started off at Fiesta, the international grocery store, telling Juan to pick what he wanted to eat for the week. Thus began quite a fun week. It's amazing how much I felt I bonded with him when we put the focus on food. Yes, to him, food spoke love.

Here are a few pics of our cuisine.

 Flan
 Colombian pasta with chicken that Juan made himself

Colombian cheese bread from the Colombian bakery
 Milhojas (one of Juan David's preferred Colombian desserts)
 Argentine mate (compliments of a Guatemalan friend)
 (Oh, the memories from Argentina. Love that culture.)
Little Colombian bananas (that was my daily breakfast smoothie--cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries and a mandarin orange)
 A vegetarian plate at the Colombian restaurant--beans, rice, fried egg, salad, avocado and fried plantains
 Picada from the Colombian restaurant--a little bit of everything with a special pink sauce for dipping
 El Portal--a Colombian restaurant/ bakery
 Traditional American--Cheeseburgers and onion rings
 Mexican bean and corn dip--with onions, tomatoes and cilantro added
 Colombian staples--Colombiana soda and arequipe (a delicious caramel dip that every Colombian keeps in their fridge)
Chinese rice with shrimp and chicken and egg rolls

Two especially bonding moments this week included watching this segment that aired on the news precisely while we ate together at the Colombian restaurant (a segment about helping the "children of the state" who are under government care in Colombia--children who are growing up just like he did.)

http://www.noticiasrcn.com/especialesrcn/los-hijos-del-estado

Then later in the week, we watched videos of his orphanage that people have posted online over the years, while he identified so many of his friends and even his sister. It was a special time for both of us.

We had a great week together, despite all our foiled plans.  Getting to swim in a heated pool with his cousins on our only sunny day helped, too. :)


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Powerful Journey

Yesterday my friend Fran spoke at a women's event called Powerful Journey and invited me to go. I went with my friend, Gretchen, and met up with another friend, Trisha. I enjoyed a day with my lady friends and left feeling inspired to find more opportunities to share my voice and the things I am the most passionate about in life.



 Fran did a beautiful job, and her message really stood out. Sometimes we get so caught up in finding our own way that we forget God may have another way planned for us. I really appreciated her authenticity in sharing her story of grief and loss.


They passed out a magazine to everyone, and I found this poem in it by an unknown author. One of my friends and I decided to claim the poem as a daily prayer. 

Through me, let there be kind words, a warm smile and a caring heart.
Through me, let there be a willingness to listen and a readiness to understand.
Through me, let there be dependability, steadfastness, trust and loyalty.
Through me, let there be compassion, forgiveness, mercy and love.
Through me, let there be every quality I find, O Lord, in Thee.


Mission Arlington

So proud of David for wanting to spend his spring break at Mission Arlington. He went for the first time last summer and had such a great time that he insisted he wanted to go again. I am missing him right now, but I am looking forward to hearing about his second experience leading a backyard Bible club. :)











Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snow Day 2015

We had an actual SNOW day in Texas (not just an ice day). It's the most snowfall we've had in one day in the last five years, and it sure beat the freezing rain we've had lately. Juan David woke up giddy to see so much snow. David slept as late as he possibly could. I was overjoyed to see the sun shining all day!
 

We made our first-ever batch of snow ice cream, and it tasted really good! (8 cups of snow, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk, 1 tsp. vanilla and a pinch of salt). Thanks to a friend for posting her pics and recipe on Facebook.
 


 
(Don't tell the boys I posted these pics.  They'll be super mad at me!)
 

 
The boys built snow walls for protection in their intensive snowball fight.
 



 
 
I made myself a little Colombian snowman. :)
 
(My students will be so proud of me since our curriculum uncannily scheduled us to read a story about a snow day yesterday, so we made imaginary snowmen in the classroom.)
 


 

 
 
We ended the morning at McDonalds with Shamrock shakes, compliments of gift cards Grandma and Grandpa sent the boys for Valentine's Day.
 
While we were out, a friend sent a text inviting them over for pizza and a movie. (Meaning Mom had a quiet house for most of the afternoon, too!)
 
So thankful for my boys, the snow, a day off, extra sleep, extra rest and SUNSHINE!!!!
 
One more school day until spring break.  David is participating in a mission trip with church next week, and Juan and I have a few fun things planned together. Mike couldn't take the time off work this year, so we're saving our family vacation time until summer. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Still chokes me up

Psalm 143:5  I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.

As I drove my son, Juan David, to his Elevate group at church last night, I heard this song on the radio. He didn't know it, but it reminded me so vividly of the intense emotional, spiritual and psychological struggle to bring him here. I silently thanked God for the strength He gave me so we didn't give up too soon.

Here are the lyrics to that song. Listen: http://youtube/9ylnx0NA9X4

I pulled up to the front of the church to drop him off, and watching him walk up to those doors choked me up all over again. It does every time because I know how easily we could have given up or decided to not put ourselves through the heartache to try again. Yet there he is, confidently walking through those church doors, enthusiastically greeted by friends that love and enjoy his presence.

I drove back home alone, fighting back tears, when God reminded me with yet another song that I clung to during that journey. The journey where I heard so many voices telling me we'd never bring that boy home, yet I clung to a different voice. The voice of truth.

Here are those lyrics. Listen: http://youtube/KwsvqVmFV6Y

I come home choked up every time I take that boy to Elevate at church, but I am choked up with tears of joy and gratitude. It was a fight worth fighting.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Learning how to embrace rest

If you've read my blog much, you know that I lead a passionately full and busy life. Between school (for three of us), church and soccer, we stay active enough. But then I find myself just as engaged in women's ministry, writing groups/activities/conferences, mission trips, travel opportunities, an adoption ministry and blogging/social media.

It's all great when I'm healthy and have tons of energy.

When I get sick and stay sick for weeks on end, it's a different story. I came home from Atlanta last week absolutely exhausted. With a sore throat. Head congestion. An ear infection. And a horrible cough.

Kudos to my husband for doing all the grocery shopping for me (for the third week in a month) so I could rest all day on Saturday. By Sunday, I felt better than I had in a month (and frustrated that I had to feel so crappy while in Atlanta.)

When the weather took a turn for the worse and the district cancelled classes for Monday, I embraced the chance to stay home for another day. When they closed again for Tuesday, I definitely didn't complain. I sat around and did pretty much nothing, other than read a new book. I let laziness creep in. The boys had cabin fever by day two and wanted to venture out, but I wouldn't step foot outside my door.

With all that time off, I felt like I should have been more productive or something, but  I also heard that still, small voice telling me to fully embrace the rest offered to me.

It did me a world of good. I went back to class Wednesday (after a week away) full of energy and enthusiasm, able to focus clearly. We had a blast in class! When I felt rested, productivity returned naturally.

Bad weather came again  on Friday, but the school decided not to dismiss early. Kudos to my husband again for pulling David out of school early to keep him from riding the bus on a snowy day, picking Juan up after school due to not having soccer practice, and meeting me at my school precisely at dismissal time to warm up my car and follow me home. What a great example to our boys about taking care of your wife, plus I felt so cared for.

What should have been a busy week left us stuck at home watching TV and movies, sleeping in, reading books, etc. Almost all the boys' soccer games were cancelled, and the church even postponed the big Adoption Conference.

I struggled with letting laziness take over, but I realized that I can return to busyness with enthusiasm only after I embrace rest.