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, July 31, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

They're back!

So glad to have our middle school mission team back safely from Colorado. I have only gotten little snippets of information from David so far, but what I do know about their trip was that they worked HARD. They ended up doing a sport's camp every morning and a different service project in the community every afternoon.

I look forward to hearing more from David and the others once they recover from their long travels.

Thank you to everyone who partnered with their trip financially and through your prayers. I know it was an unforgettable experience that had a pretty deep spiritual impact on these young teens and preteens.





Friday, July 24, 2015

Unexpected Tears: Book launch commercial

I posted this on my book blog earlier, but I wanted to share here on this blog, too. The projected date of publication for Unexpected Tears will be August 29 or sooner. Stay tuned. I am getting excited! It is an honor to work with ABH Books and to see our story be part of their new ministry.



Unexpected Tears: Book launch commercial: ***I am momentarily interrupting the story to give a brief book launch commercial! :) Would you join my launch team to help spread the wor...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Colorado Mission Trip


And he's off . . . again.

I am definitely missing my little buddy. He left early yesterday morning to head to Colorado for now his 5th mission trip without the rest of us.  In 4th and 5th grades, he went on a trip to do service projects in Waco. In 6th and 7th grades, he went to Arlington to work with backyard Bible clubs. Now he got to step out a bit further (okay, a lot further) to work with one of our partner churches in Castle Rock, Colorado. He came home from his trip to Arlington in March with his heart set on Colorado. He's one of the oldest kids on the trip, so that will give him an opportunity to be a leader of some sort. 

His team will be serving and working pretty much non-stop every morning and afternoon, leading a sports' camp for kids in the community, working on a bike restoration project to get bikes into the hands of kids that can't afford them, helping out in a food pantry, and doing various other service projects that come up.

Of course, they will have a few extra fun activities planned, like zip-lining, swimming, and dinners out. Sounds like they will have a lot to be proud of when they come home and will have some great memories. I bet they'll be pretty tired, too, since their days start earlier than most school days!

Proud of my boy, thankful for the people that partnered with him financially to make it possible for him to go, grateful for a church that gets our kids mission-minded very early on, but missing him, too. 


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

While we hung out with cows . . .

We all looked forward to July 14th this year. In fact, it's one of the few dates I had anything written on the calendar at all for the entire month.

COW DAY! (AKA--Chick Fil-A's Cow Appreciation Day).

Here's the deal. You dress up like a cow, you get a free meal. Sounds kinda silly, I know, but when you get the whole family involved and make it a yearly tradition, it's almost like another holiday! We get new people to join us every year, too, so it's a lot of fun.

                                         Our first year                               Juan David's first year
  
THIS YEAR!
   


However, little did we know that while we all ate and hung out with other cows, God appointed that same hour for my grandmother to slip into Heaven.

She lived quite a long life, widowed three different times. I lived too far away to ever have a chance to get to know her well. In fact, I think it's been about ten years since I last saw her. But I prayed for her daily, at least for the last six months, not knowing how little time she had left. I prayed for two things for her every day--joy and purpose. I don't know that I'll ever know how God answered those prayers, but I believe He did in some way.

I wish I could have taken one last trip to see her, but I'm glad my oldest brother recently felt that burden and did have that chance last November. I know it overjoyed her to see him and his children.

I hope my uncle doesn't mind that I stole this off of his Facebook page, but I love this picture. Not only do my dad and my uncle both look great in the picture, but she's wearing my favorite color.

Pink is my happy color for some reason, so it makes me hope that the day they took that picture was a happy day for her, one filled with a sense of joy.

Love you, Grandma. I bet Heaven is amazing.






Saturday, July 11, 2015

Remembering Sentencia

July 11, 2013. A very, very, very long awaited day. A lot of "blood, sweat, and tears" led up to it, five years of blood, sweat, and tears.

When we set out to adopt, we wanted a little girl. When we found her, we fell in love with her brother, too. At least one of them. (We didn't know there was another one.) We came so close to adopting them, so, so close. Then we lost them both.

That's when we met the other brother. He helped me grieve. He gave me back the opportunity to say goodbye. He gave me closure. I loved him, too.

Another family stepped up for the first two. At least I knew they'd be part of a family. At least I knew they'd stay together. Until the split. It broke my heart in two. He let her go because he loved her and wanted the best for her.

She had a new family. He was included as part of another family. The "other brother" became part of ours. I still loved all three of them as if they were mine. I knew I always would. I always will.

"If you had the chance to still adopt my brother, would you do it?" Julian asked me one morning as we sat and talked over breakfast that first summer in Colombia.

"Of course we would, but another family has embraced him now. I just want him to be happy."

I never imagined I would have a chance to live up to my response to Julian that day. I never thought another chance would ever come our way.

I'll never forget July 11, 2013, though sadly, the details of the actual day are quite blurry. I'd been in Colombia for five weeks. David slowly recovered from a pretty serious sickness, and now I myself was falling ill. I waited all morning for my lawyer's phonecall, hoping and praying to finalize the adoption that day. With a heavy heart, so disappointed that he hadn't called, I laid down for short nap. Shortly after I fell asleep, the phone rang.

"Come now!" Our sentencia was ready to be signed.

I jumped out of bed, quickly brushed my hair, grabbed the boys, and ran out the door. We met our lawyer shortly after, waited in a line, climbed the stairs for about five stories, recaught our breath, waited on a bench, and then signed a paper at a counter.

Nothing formal. No courtroom. No ceremony. Nobody dressed up. But with that paper officially signed by all, Juan David officially became our son and took on our last name.

I kept my word to Julian that we'd still adopt his brother if given the chance.

Hardest thing I've ever experienced. But I am grateful for all of it.

(Want the whole story? Hop on over to my book blog, www.unexpectedtearsbook.blogspot.com to read it piece by piece, with pictures. Or wait until it comes out in print next month and is followed by the sequel a few months later).



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Unemployment

Yep, that's right. I am choosing to be thankful for my husband's unemployment. Honestly, what other choice do I have? To not be thankful doesn't help change things--it only makes it harder to deal with every day.

To be honest, I struggle. It's been over two months now. I won't deny that panicked feeling whenever I have an extra expense come up or whenever a day goes by that he doesn't get a single phone call back or line up an interview somewhere. I give it to God every morning and feel such peace. Then I come inside, and it doesn't take long for the anxiety to creep back in.

God is reminding every day, though, just how much I have to be thankful for.  Here are the things I'm thankful for regarding his unemployment.


  • Time. We are all off for the summer. This has never happened before. We've been blessed with lots of lunches together, unhurried dinners, movies, trips to Six Flags, and even two spontaneous trips that weren't quite so close. With no school, work, or soccer schedules to work around, it's a gift.
  • Rest. No one has to come up with a schedule of who takes which son where at what time. Who has to work late, who needs to start dinner, what meals have to planned for what days because of time crunches, etc. Sometimes we have to fight over who wants to take one of them somewhere because we are both free to do it.
  • Miraculous provision. Two random, unexpected gifts paid for over half of our summer. We have not had to scrape for anything. If Mike still had his job, we would have missed out on witnessing that God really does work like that. He really does just drop money from the sky. Our sons would have missed that, too.
  • Peace. Just like we learned last year with the camper situation. When God takes something away, it means He has something better in store. We know God's got this.
  • Prayers. I can't tell you what it means to me to hear someone is praying for him to find a job. Even someone from my writer's group wrote a comment on my story last month saying, "Praying for you daily". 
  • Knowing there are people in our life that have our back. People who tell us, "I promise you, we won't let you go under. Please don't suffer in silence. If you ever have a need, let us know." (We haven't had a need to bring up and shouldn't for awhile, but it's nice to know we're surrounded by people like that.)
  • We are a two-income household. We have money to live on. I am reminded of that when I hear of families who lost their only source of income. 
  • Faith in a God who always has our back, and who always goes before us. Faith that every loss has purpose. Faith in a God with a track record that's not about to change.
  • We finished Juan David's recognition of adoption without the cost of a lawyer, saving us over $1500 that we can use now.
  • A trip to the beach (one of my biggest desires for the summer) that only cost us gas and two nights on a campground. Taking a big trip to Florida would have cost us a whole lot more.
  • Two opportunities to be trained in leadership. A women's intensive one-day leadership retreat in August, and then the Willow Creek Leadership Summit for two days at my church the following weekend (I get to go for free because I serve in a leadership role of some kind in the church). If all had gone according to my plans, I would have been on vacation during both of them. 
  • A chance to expose the boys to "reality" and the importance of stewardship and money management, as well as faith in a God to take care of us and meet all of our needs.
  • Timing. 
    1. We just came through a ReEngage program that helped us communicate so much better with each other and take each other's needs into consideration. Without those tools, I'm not sure our relationship would be standing as strong as it is at the moment.
    2. I'm teaching a Bible study right now. There is always a trial or struggle when I teach a Bible study, and we always come out with a blessing on the other side.
    3. Extra savings. We're living off the second year(and likely final year) of a larger than normal tax refund due to the Adoption Tax Credit. The extra expenses that come up (new tires, vet bills, computer issues, etc.) haven't hurt us or put us into any kind of debt.  
    4. Julian went to Argentina before I could spend the money to buy tickets to go to Colombia with Juan David.
    5. I signed David up for his mission trip to Colorado just before Mike lost his job. I fully intended to pay for the entire amount, but instead we had to live by faith that God would provide the funds through other means. That in itself gave others the blessing to partner with the "mission" financially, and it keeps David more accountable to others, knowing that they supported him. 
So, while I do prefer security and routine, and while I don't like not knowing how to plan very far into the future, I am thankful for all the ways God has shown Himself to us in this trial. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thankful

It's all about perspective, I guess. I know, it's hard for me, too, to watch all my friends' and coworkers' posts about their lavish trips and vacations and not envy them. Not wish I could have taken a more extravagant vacation, Or updated my house just a bit more. Or had the fancy stuff that other people have.

It only takes a quick second to glance someone else's way and forget all the blessings right in front of me. Or the trips I have taken in the past. Or the updates we already made on the house. Or the fancy stuff I've collected over the years.

I suddenly don't see the relationships God gave me, the friendships He blessed me with, the abundant provision over our lives in the last two months, or the amazing difference in my health and energy level since last summer. I take for granted the opportunity my boys had to go to camp this year, an opportunity I definitely didn't have growing up. I forget to thank God for blessing us with enough to take two quick, random trips this month as a family to see my parents and later to camp on the beach. And what about that giant camper we all slept in so comfortably?

I hate it when I play the game of comparison, knowing full well how damaging it is and how ungrateful I can quickly become.

I'm trying to shift my focus back to gratitude so I can stop playing this senseless game. We will never have enough (enough money, enough savings, enough blessings, enough relief, enough pleasure, enough rush, enough time). We'll strive for one thing, and then once we have it, we think we need something else. We fight to survive one issue, and then we immediately jump to another one as soon as the first one is resolved. We take that fancy vacation or buy that wanted item only to want something even better next time.  Or if it seemed perfect, it's still not enough until we get to do it again.

Reality check. We'll never arrive at ENOUGH on this side of Heaven. The closest we'll ever come is finding complete satisfaction in Jesus' presence. Everything else I strive for is meaningless and just leaves me feeling anxious for more and more and more.

In my quest to memorize more Scripture this year, God has led me to so many verses that focus on having a thankful heart. I hope the words truly sink in the more I practice them and hide them in my heart. So I think my next few posts are going to focus on specific things (and trials) in my life that I am thankful for. If anything, they are good reminders to me, if not also encouragement to you, so we can both be "overflowing with thankulness" (Col. 2:7b).

Stay tuned.

(Check out my Pinterest board (on the left column on this blog) called Scripture memory to see some of the verses I'm working on. Okay, so I'm still not the greatest with making pins, but at least it's a start. I'm learning.)

     

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Camping trip to Galveston, Texas

I wanted more than anything to take David to the beach this year once it dawned on me that he'd never had that experience yet in his life. We mentally planned a trip to Florida in late July/early August, but then Mike's job situation made it hard to stick with our plan.

I also really wanted to take advantage of our new camper this summer, so we killed two birds with one stone and headed to Galveston to camp at the beach, literally right next to the water. It turned out to be a huge blessing. I think it's one of my favorite places to camp now. Not much else compares to waking up at the crack of dawn and sitting on the beach all alone with God as the sun rises. Or watching your 13 year old experience the ocean for the first time ever, taking it in through his eyes and his delight. Or walking along the shore with your teenage sons later in the evening as the sun is setting. Or cooking out for dinner in the moonlight and listening to the sound of the crashing waves just a few hundred feet away. Or seeing your boys so amused by playing in the waves all day.

I had to remind myself to just breathe and take it all in, not to take a single minute for granted. We made it a quick trip, just long enough to get away, to appreciate the experience, and, of course, to bring home a nice sun burn.

We kept the month of June pretty full and adventurous for the boys. David's church camp in Austin, Six Flags (several times), Hurricane Harbor, St. Louis with the grandparents, Juan's church camp in Colorado, and then Galveston.  Not sure what else might come up this summer. Other than David's mission trip to Colorado, the calendar is open.


Sunrise on the beach on the first morning
 

 Our site, literally right next to the water
 Late night coffee with Mike
 The boys loving every minute of playing around in the waves
 A ferry ride
 Coffee on the beach
 Another sunrise on the beach
 On the ferry
 Best place to start my day
 The boys contemplating if the waves are big enough to have some fun
 Our view from the camper


 Our site was right where that light pole is
 The sun trying to peek its way through the clouds in the early morning
 Roasting marshmallows while listening to the waves



 Mickey's reaction to the ocean (Minnie wasn't as laid back)
 David's first morning on a beach. He wanted to sit out there alone to take it all in.
 Another ferry like the one we rode
 David :)
 
BLESSED.
 
I don't know that I could have enjoyed this trip so much or have felt so blessed by it if we had actually planned it ahead of time.