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, August 30, 2015

New and Improved--Book 1

It's finally here! I am officially pulling From the Mountain...to the Valley...and Back! off the shelf as Unexpected Tears finally replaces it.

Here are pictures of the ABH second annual brunch yesterday, the day we officially launched Unexpected Tears (among a few other books). My friend, Fran (also the President of ABH), released her book called Widowed, and her childhood friend, Mitch, released the republication of his novel, Whispers.

Our table 
My first copy of my new and revised book (with its new title, cover, and author name)
(two of the main characters in the story, though a lot bigger now)

Here are a few new additions to this version of the book, in addition to more concise writing.

A Reader Reviews section at the front, right after the endorsements

New copyright date and name, along with a mention as to how the book was previously published.

An advertisement for the second book, still in production, right after the epilogue

At the very end of the book, God's plan for salvation is presented and outlined, step by step. This is a signature mark of every ABH book that will be published. 

The best part is knowing that now that I'm published with ABH, I know that every sale of this book goes toward ministry, specifically helping pastors in other countries who have little Biblical resources in their own language, and also toward the cost of translation of those resources. 

Who knew how my pursuit to self-publish my second book would lead me to become part of this amazing ministry. If you haven't checked out Authenticity Book House, please do, and please consider supporting them if you can. http://www.abhbooks.com/who-we-are/
 (though the website is not yet updated with its newest books)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that Unexpected Tears is 100% live on Amazon, both e-book and paperback, I wanted to take a few moments to answer some frequently asked questions, or even just questions that I am assuming some of you are wondering about.

Question: Why did you rewrite your first book? (From the Mountain...to the Valley...and Back!)

Answer: Honestly, I never intended to. But when I finished writing the sequel to it, I knew I wanted the books to make a perfect pair. I joined a writer's group after publishing the first book, and my writing improved and matured so much in that time. I knew I'd be much prouder of a revised edition, which I am. It's a book that I can take back to my writer's group and say, "Look at all you've taught me." Plus, now they will go together quite well since they are both under the same publisher.

Question: What makes this book (Unexpected Tears) so much different than the earlier edition?

Answer:


  • More active voice, less passive voice
  • Shorter paragraphs, meaning less reader fatigue
  • More condensed, concise writing
  • More dialogue, taking you right into each scene
  • More intimate detail
  • Scripture verses with each chapter
  • Advertisement for the coming sequel in the epilogue (Painful Waiting)
  • The true names for three of the four "children" in the story
  • True author name, no longer a pen name
  • New title (shorter)
  • New cover (catches your eye better and draws you in emotionally)
  • New publisher 
  • Been through several editors 
  • Extra reader reviews added
  • Cheaper price (for the paperback)--less than $10!
  • More availability and greater opportunity to use in ministry
I am really excited about this unexpected turn in my writing "career"/ministry. I look forward to seeing all that God still wants to do with our story, and I hope you'll stay tuned as we progress toward publication of the second book, the sequel many of you have been patiently waiting for. 

For my current readers, please leave a review on Amazon if our story touched your heart in any way, and pass the word on!

Thank you, ABH, for believing in me and my story enough to be part of your new ministry. I am honored to be part of it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Unexpected Tears: Good news!

Unexpected Tears: Good news!: Unexpected Tears is now available on amazon in the kindle edition. The paperback should be available in another day or two!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Trudging through unemployment

It's been four long, awkward months since Mike lost his job. Four. Long. Months. We never imagined it would take more than a month or two at the most to find something else, yet here we are.

His application and resume are all over the Garland, Wylie, Sachse, Plano, Dallas area. He's spent a ton of time and a fortune in gas to meet employers all over for interviews. They all seem to go well, but we still sit and wait, wondering when God is going to open up the right one.

"Well, we really like you, but we don't officially have an opening right now."

"Well, we're looking for someone with AC certification."

"We're hoping to find someone with more specific experience in this field."

"We're looking for someone with a CDL."

"You're a bit overqualified for this position."

"You are highly qualified for our company, but we're really just needing to hire someone 'cheaper' at this time and can't invest in another full-time employee."

"I'm sorry. We ended up hiring someone from within the organization that wanted to move up/down."

"Your experience sounds great for this position. However, we've still got 30 more applicants to interview."

"Yes, the position is still open, but there are 20 more applicants ahead of you. We will call you for an interview when we get further down the list."

"You are one of 74 interviews today." (He even made it to the top 5 that day, but then we never heard anything more after that.)

Each "rejection" makes you wonder if you should be pursuing this or that certification and training, but how do you even know where to start? Which one do you pursue? How much do you invest in doing so?

I have my days where I battle quite a bit of discouragement, but I really don't like camping out there for too long. It's too depressing. I have to look around and count my blessings to remind myself of everything that is going right rather than what appears to be going wrong. I am going to choose to err on the side of faith here, continuing to believe that God has a specific assignment for Mike, a specific job either waiting on him or that's not even available yet. We both pray for His guidance, peace, and patience every day, and I thank God every day for whatever job He is going to bring his way in His time.

Thankfully, (but unfortunately), we know of a few other people in the exact same position, out of work for almost just as long now or even longer. We take comfort in that because it shows us just how hard it is to find a job right now, no matter what income level you're trying to replace. It helps to know you're not alone.

I know one thing. I have a whole new compassion for people going through a job loss. It's hard, and it can be scary.

Thanks for your prayers. God has answered several very personal and specific prayers over the last few months, so I know He is listening. There must be a purpose for this delay.

One more week!




A week from today, I should be holding my new and revised book, Unexpected Tears, in my hands. It's been a long time in the making, totally not my original plan. But I am pleased with how it turned out and how nicely the two books will go together when that one comes out.

From the Mountain...to the Valley...and Back!
 




Note to all my previous readers: This is still Book 1--just a much better version of it. The last page of this book advertises the cover of the second book still in production, Painful Waiting. A long, tedious, and somewhat confusing process that will be totally worth it in the end. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Let.it.go!


Look how I spent my last day of summer! I finally got brave enough to try the front car on the roller coasters. That picture was the Texas Giant (by far the smoothest roller coaster in the park), but I also rode in the front on the Titan, which was much scarier and thrilling than I expected. However, those hands in the air are Mike's, not mine. I was definitely the one holding on for dear life (and screaming my heart out).

I'm so glad David was able to take the picture of us. It was the perfect end to an interesting summer.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

The land of "what if?"

Have you been there? As much as I hate to admit it, I live there more often than not.

It's a land filled with fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the worst-case-scenario. Fear of something negative happening in the near future. Fear of "what if". Fear that life is caving in on you and what you assumed would never happen actually does. It steals my joy, my peace, and quite a bit of my sleep.

I used to shame myself for visiting the land of "what if". I knew better than to play with the fire of anxiety. I knew better than to let fear control me. I had seen God work in my life in so many ways that I shouldn't ever dare to question His sovereignty or His presence.

But lately God has given me a different perspective on the matter. Maybe He's actually encouraging me to enter the land of "what if". Maybe He's actually daring me to go there because that's exactly where He wants to meet me.

I used to tell myself, "Rachelle, don't go there. Stop imagining the worst. God's got this, and He's going to work it all out. Whatever you're imagining isn't going to happen."

Then I would respond back to myself in fear, "But what if it does?"

Yet maybe that's the key question here. What if it does? What if the worst really does happen?

He'll still be there, even if it does.

I'm sure Daniel asked God, "What if the King really does throw me into the lion's den?"

Moses asked, "What if Pharoah doesn't listen? What if he mocks me instead?"

The Israelites asked, "What if we have no way of escape when we reach the water's edge? What if we have no food to feed us in the wilderness?"

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego probably asked, "What if they really do throw us into the fiery furnace?"

Esther asked, "What if I approach the King and he denies me? What if I am killed for this act of faith?"

Stephen may have asked, "What if they stone me, God?"

They're no different than today's questions. What if I lose my job? What if another job doesn't come through right away and we don't have enough? What if our savings gets depletes and the money runs out? What if I fall into debt?

What if my marriage goes sour? What if we get into a horrible accident? What if they say no?

What if it's cancer? What if my best friend dies? What if my child makes the wrong choice that alters the whole course of his life?

What if the pain doesn't stop? What if I get in over my head? What if our President brings our country to ruin? What if terrorism strikes? What if evil prevails?

What if? What if? What if?

Then we hear that gentle whisper saying, "What if?"

"Was I there when Pharoah mocked Moses, or when the Israelites reached the Red Sea and had no way of escape? Was I there when they wandered hungrily through the wilderness? I was there when they threw Daniel into the lion's den and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace. I was there when Esther approached the King. I was also there when they stoned Stephen.

I was there when you lost your job and another job didn't come through. I was there when your money ran out. I was there when your marriage went sour. I was there when the car barreled into you. I was there when they said no and your dreams crashed to the ground. I was there when they told you it was cancer and when your best friend passed from life into eternity. I was there with you when you grieved. I was there when your child made that horrific choice, when your savings ran empty, and when the pain didn't stop. I was there to help you find a way out of debt.

I have always been there to lift you above your circumstances when you're in over your head. That's the point. You need to depend on me and not your own strength.

I am always there when you don't have enough because I don't want you to have enough. I want you to draw from My resources. I want you to watch Me provide for your needs.

I am there when it looks and feels like the sky is falling, your security is shaken, and evil is prevailing.

I am still there. In the land of "what if".

Trust me. I haven't gone anywhere. If I take you into the land of "what if", I will be there to hold you, comfort you, lead you, and guide you through it. I will meet you there.

Stop living in fear.

Live in the assurance of my constant presence, wherever you are. Whatever happens."










A church home

Twelve years ago this September, Mike and I walked in to a church in Rockwall, TX for the first time, and it's been home to us ever since. The first Life Group we visited welcomed us with open arms, gave of their time to help us move in to our new apartment, and embraced us immediately. We've since been embraced by two other Life Groups and even a new campus closer to home. We've partaken of a multitude of resources the church offers, served in a variety of ways, and connected with the sincerest of people.

Twelve years later, I am so grateful for my church home. It has been a true anchor in my life.

I spent the day yesterday back at the main campus in Rockwall for the Global Leadership Summit, so I took a little walk around the building during one of the breaks. It was like taking a trip down memory lane, realizing just how much my church means to me.  Every room and hallway brought back a memory of how it not only helped me grow closer to Christ and get through each stage of life but also equipped me to pour my life back out into others now walking through those awkward stages.

On my little walk I passed the room where we met weekly on Sunday mornings with our first Life Group, a group of people close in age to us. I passed the counseling center where Mike and I got the help we needed to understand what went wrong in our marriage and put us on the right path to rebuild it. I passed the little chapel where I attended the Spanish services for our first two or three years here. I passed the glassed in room where we went through a Financial Fitness class that put us on a path toward financial freedom. Another room where we met with other couples for twelve weeks to relearn the basics of a biblical marriage. A room where we first met with the team we later traveled to Piedras Negras, Mexico with on our first Lake Pointe mission trip. Another room where we met with another team to travel to and serve in Michoacan, Mexico together. Still another room where we celebrated Christmas with the Adoption Ministry.

I only circled the hallways going around the auditorium on my brief walk, but the rest of the building still held the room where I attend a monthly writer's group, the room where we made the decision to start our adoption process, the room where we attended the Adoption conferences, the room where we found a mixed-age Life Group on Saturday nights with one of the most genuine, authentic teachers we ever could have asked for, and the room where I've attended various women's ministry events.

I came to my church in a very broken state. More broken than I even knew or wanted to admit. Within the church and through all of the resources offered, I found hope. Support. Restoration. Healing. Growth in so many areas of life.

I found connection and meaningful relationships. I found ministries that I'm passionate about. I found prayer warriors. I found godly, caring teachers and leaders for my sons. I found a men's ministry that my husband raves about. I found a women's ministry that thrives on helping other women find Christ in a deep way.

My church served and equipped me, and it gave me the tools to now pour myself back into the church as much or more as it poured into me.

I don't know how people survive without a church family. I don't know why people don't tap into all of the resources that a church has to offer, especially when they attend a big church. I don't know how people attend church as a spectator and never dive in. I don't think they have any idea what they are missing by not embracing the church as their home and their family.

I can't help but be grateful for Lake Pointe Church. It has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. It truly is my family and my home away from home.









Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blessed

We thought the job search might have ended today, but, alas, it has not. Well, we at least didn't get the call we hoped for. So we keep waiting for that phone call, keep trusting God, and keep pressing on. I ran into some friends today that we haven't attended church with in over two years, though, and they let me know they have been praying. More than that, they said, "Mike has more people praying for him than he even knows". What an encouragement, especially coming from someone we haven't seen in quite a while.

God's got us covered, and He has a very specific job prepared for Mike. I have no doubt that He will provide all we need precisely when we need it, just like He already has all summer long.

Today I was hugely blessed to be able to attend the Global Leadership Summit via satellite at my church. Bill Hybels hooked me and drew me in completely as the first speaker of the day, reminding us that sacrificial love is at the core of true and great leadership. His message inspired me as a Bible study leader and also as a public school teacher. Then each speaker had equally compelling messages all day long. I learned a lot and am ready to go at it again tomorrow. It's a great way to start off the new school year with a push for true leadership on Biblical terms. I now look forward to tackling the challenges of a new year at school and at church.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On the brink of a blessing

I am counting on it. I have to. How can I memorize so many Scriptures on God's provision and care and then not believe them when it counts?

I am not even going to go in to all the stresses of the day and the anxiety I keep having to pray away. All I am going to say is, "I am thankful."

Tonight I am thankful for our camper, our extra house on wheels. But not for the obvious reason you are thinking.

We all decided we were hungry a bit early this evening, so I got up to make a pizza and put it in the oven. I layered it with lots of fresh veggies, jalapeños, and some ham. Each person's quarter of the pizza was exactly how they wanted it. I sprinkled a little extra cheese on it, placed it in the oven, and set the timer.

Sixteen minutes later, the timer went off, but I couldn't detect even the faintest smell of pizza.

Ugh. The oven didn't work. After Mike worked on it for quite awhile and realized he has to buy a part to fix it, I made other arrangements. I cut the pizza in half, walked it outside to the camper, and cooked each half separately in the little oven out there.

Dinner saved.

It could have been the straw that broke the camel's back after so many stresses continue to pile on top of each other. But at least we had an extra oven.

Sigh. :/

I know that blessing is coming soon. A year ago today, I was still fuming at God over our smashed up camper. Look how that turned out? I don't think I have a right to complain.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Unsettled

I've shared a lot of good things on this blog about our summer and about some great upcoming events in our lives. I am looking forward to yet another two days of leadership training this week for the Willowcreek Leadership Summit. I am beyond excited about the launch of my book later this month and all that God is going to do through Authenticity Book House in the coming year. I'm grateful for the chance to be part of the Scripture Memory Celebration in Houston early next year. And I am actually ready and anxious (in a good way) to get back into my classroom this week to start preparing for my new kiddos.

Truthfully, though, I'm more ready to get back this year than other years.

The fact that Mike is still unemployed after three long months leaves me feeling quite unsettled. I am grateful for the time we spent as a family. I am grateful for the time Mike's been home and has spent with the boys. I am grateful for the way God provided for us so we didn't have to worry about our normal expenses. I am grateful for our Six Flags season passes that we bought last year that we got to use almost once every week this summer. I am grateful for the little things we enjoyed doing because we didn't spend all of our time and money on the big things we originally planned. I am grateful that God forced us to spend time all together rather than all of us going in different directions.

I am grateful for the one-on-one time I got to spend with each of my sons. I am grateful the boys got to go to camp on a scholarship. I am thankful David participated in the Colorado mission trip with the church and that several people contributed to his expenses. I am grateful I got to spend some time with my parents and that we found an inexpensive way to still get to the beach. I am grateful that Mike wasn't working random hours that changed from day to day, night to night. Despite their boredom, I am grateful neither son had friends calling all the time, stealing them away. I loved spending time together riding our bikes in the evenings. As much as they hated being cooped up at home, I will cherish this summer and the memories we made because I know that we may never have another summer like this again, at least with Juan David at home (not working) and with Mike home, too.

I asked God to bless us with a memorable summer together as a family, and He did just that. This one will go down in the books.

But that memorableness won't be all warm and fuzzy memories.

The first month Mike was out of work, he spent all day every day looking for a job while we were all at school. Then we hung out together in the evenings. The second month, we soaked up our time together doing fun things and even getting a little traveling in. We took advantage of the chance to be spontaneous after a spring filled to the brim with activity and constant busyness. But the third month started to wear on all of us. Now that we're a week into the fourth month, well . . . hmmmmm.

Just think about it. A teacher mom who wants to take advantage of all this extra time and can't stand to see an hour slip away, a dad who would much rather be outside working on his truck all day rather than behind a computer filling out application after application, and two (lazy) teenage boys who wish they could be out with friends, chasing girls, or sleeping the day away rather than do anything productive.  All four of us, in our little house, together, almost all the time. I think we are all a bit stir-crazy and ready to pounce on each other. I know I've come close to biting a few heads off at times.

When you add money constraints and strange expenses coming out of nowhere (treating four animals for fleas that took forever to get under control), we basically just felt stuck. We still do.

Stuck. Bored. Claustrophobic. Anxious.Tense.  Frustrated. Confused. Angry. Moody. Unsettled.

Until God brings Mike the job He's preparing for him, we just sit and wait, unable to plan into the future. More applications. Dropping off more resumes. More phone calls. Maybe a few more interviews. Waiting on the phone to ring.

Sigh. I know God is faithful and He promises to continue to provide. So far He's provided extra money to cover daily expenses (and flea treatments). I am boldly praying that one of these days, His perfect provision will bring news of that perfect job. Once it's here, we'll look back and value this time.

I've prayed a lot of prayers this summer and watched God answer many of them in very personal ways. I know He hears us, so He's definitely got a purpose for His delay.

Back to that daily gratitude journal . . . Back to seizing the day laying right in front of us.

SSMT Celebration

Siesta_1536_plain_celebrate2

I officially registered! How exciting. This is what I love about our women's Bible studies. We not only connect with one another on a deeper level, we dig into Scripture, and we grow spiritually, but we also "spur one another on".  We learn from each other. :) I only knew about this group through a lady from another campus that sat in my Bible study last summer. She ranted and raved about doing the Scripture memory on the odd years and celebrating with Beth Moore in Houston on the even years. I am so thankful for her. She wet my appetite for it, and now I can't even begin to tell you what an impact these verses have had on my life this year. They keep me going every day.

Check out my Scripture Memory board on Pinterest (on the left hand side of the blog) to see some of the verses I'm working on. Some of the pictures are just random pictures that I put a verse to, but I definitely chose some of the pictures very specifically for the verse they go with. (FYI--I'm not the greatest at making pins at this point. Still learning. Right now I just have the verse as a description of the picture because I haven't figured out how to add the text to the actual picture yet.) 

Any of my local friends participating? We should head down there together!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

At the Hope Center

I can't say enough about the wonderful women's intensive leadership training I attended yesterday. They saturated the day with challenging messages from several amazing speakers, including Rebecca Carrel, Debbie Stuart, June Hunt, Karol Ladd, and others.  Plus they sent us home with even more resources that I'm going through. Lots to process and meditate over.

The first women's leadership training I attended back in 2011 led me to a breakout session with Karol Ladd on how to publish your own Bible study. She ended up talking mainly about the publishing process and sent me home completely inspired to start writing out my story. I literally started writing that very evening, and three weeks later, I typed the last word on my first finished draft of my memoir. (Then called From the Mountain . . . to the Valley . . . and Back!)

Now just a few weeks from now, I get to go back to the same location (the Hope Center) for ABH's second annual brunch where I will also have a book signing for the revised edition of that memoir, Unexpected Tears. Isn't it amazing how God works? To all my local friends, you are invited to come to the brunch! Just RSVP at info@ABHBooks.com so they can plan for you. I am really looking forward to seeing how God is going to use the revised edition of this book (and the next one) to reach a larger audience through Authenticity Book House.




My book will be one of several to be released at the brunch.
Here are a few quotes from the book.






Feel free to hop on over to my book blog to get a head start on the book.