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, June 26, 2016

Another priceless "family" memory

Gotta brag on my adopted son here.

We told him the newcomer school his first year was a dream school. He got to be with the same group of friends all day long every day. The majority of them spoke Spanish, so they became pretty tight-knit early on in the year. He never came home with homework, and all he did was complain that he wasn't able to spend more time out with his friends. We told him when he went to a regular high school the following year, it would be quite a bit different.

"You'll have homework. You'll have STAAR (state required) tests that you likely will need more than one opportunity to pass. You'll change classes and classmates more, so you won't have that close group of friends to hang out with all day. It will be 100% English, so you'll be challenged on a much harder level." He only earned half credit for his year at the newcomer school, so he'd have to take extra on-line or summer school courses to catch up.

I hate to admit it, but he proved us wrong.

By the second semester this year, he earned straight A's (only his second year in a regular high school), and he still never brought home homework because of block scheduling allowing so much extra time in class.  Last year he took 3 STAAR tests and passed all of them on the first try. This year he took 2 more and passed them on the first try. He even scored advanced in US History. His teachers all spoke very highly of him, one even stating that he wished he had more students just like him. He made the JV soccer team and played faithfully for two years now, voted by his teammates as the Defensive MVP both years. He took a Drawing class this year where his teacher noticed his talent and encouraged him to sign up for AP Art his senior year. He also took Driver's Education online at home and learned how to drive a stick, then passed his driving test on the first try.

We've barely had him home for 3 years, and now here we are preparing for his senior year. We spend so much time finding new ways to connect with him, modeling wise behavior and decision making, and do all we can to mobilize him to be a productive citizen and young adult once high school is over. College is a definite, though we truly don't have much of an idea of where he'll go or what he even wants to study. He may go the community college route since it's a very viable option here where we live, but time will tell. Sometimes God brings opportunities that we aren't even thinking about, so we will trust Him to guide us through this next year and into the following year.

So, as we finished up one year of high school and then immediately took off on a road trip to visit family, we couldn't have been more blessed than to embark on Juan's senior year by having his aunt (a professional photographer) do his senior photo shoot. She's absolutely amazing, and it was just another one of those moments that reminded me of the entire family God gave him when he allowed his adoption to finally go through. After spending this special time with Chrissy, my sweet sister-in-law, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

If you're in the Columbus, IN  area and need a photographer, she's definitely your gal!!!!

Here are a few of my favorites, and a few of her work in progress.

Did I mention how talented she is????

Can't wait to settle on the absolute favorites to print out for friends and family. 

Ready or not, senior year, here he comes!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Taking my books on a trip

Another fun aspect of our 2016 summer road trip was taking my books on a little tour of their own, getting them into the hands of people that don't live very close to us. Here are a few examples in pics. Someone once told me that the best way to sell books is by word of mouth, so the more hands they fall into, the more people who can start talking about them.

 Warsaw, IN--right into the hands of one of my very first ever ESL students. I've known this girl since she was in kindergarten. BTW, she's even mentioned in the first book when I attended her quinceanera back in 2008. (That would make her about 23 now, I think!)

 Columbus, IN. My favorite photographer of all time. (Stay tuned for another post on that!)

Warsaw, IN--the daughter of a friend who ran cross-country with me back in high school. This sweet little girl now wants to write her own book about some of her own challenges with Juvenile Arthritis. If anyone can understand the title of the book, she can.  Her mom prayed me through grief when our first attempt to adopt Juan and his sister fell apart. Now I get to pray her daughter through her faith and perseverance in the midst of a challenging health issue. 

 She sure had a lot of fun with the boys, though!

 Carmel, IN--my wonderful Grandma. 

Warsaw, IN--my dear friend who won a free copy of the book for being the first one to arrive at our event! We walked through a lot of life together, including pregnancy, back when I lived in IN. 

Warsaw, IN--I left a copy of both books at the local library where I used to take David when he was just a wee little thing.

Warsaw, IN--a friend from my dad's previous church in Indiana, First Baptist Church.

A surprise complementary copy of both books that I left on a table in my favorite coffee shop in Warsaw, the one right around the corner from where I worked. Who knows who ended up picking them up?

I didn't get pictures of another high school friend who came by to purchase a book, another previous student I ran into at Walmart, nor of the two ladies in St. Louis, Missouri who each bought a copy of both books.

I also contacted the local newspaper in the town where I went to high school and college (and later married Mike and gave birth to David). I ended up getting an interview scheduled while we were in town, and the article they ran on my books really blew me away. I can't think of a better way to get the word out there in that community! Hope this pic is big enough and clear enough for you to read it. (You'll have to overlook the misspelling of Colombia. Other than that, I love the article and feel very blessed by it.)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Making new memories with my dad

If you know me very well at all, you've probably learned 3 things about me. I love to write and prefer using the written word as my main form of communication, I am rather quiet and reserved in a crowd but come alive when I teach, and I am very passionate when it comes to teaching and leading women's Bible studies.

What you might not know is that I get all that from my dad. We happen to be quite a bit alike.

My dad's a quiet kind of guy unless he's behind a pulpit, he's been writing for years, and he obviously has a deep passion for teaching and guiding others in Scripture. Here's a picture of him holding his first book and me holding mine. :)

On our 2016 summer road trip, we finally timed our travels just right to take Juan David to my dad's church so he could hear his grandpa preach. While we walked around exploring the building, I found this article up on a bulletin board, my dad's written testimony, along with several other articles he's written and published. I think I learn more about my dad through his writing than anything else (sound familiar?).

Before we left, I had the privilege of giving my dad an extra set of my books for his new church library as they move into a new location soon and change their name to New Beginnings Bible Church. 

With both of us being the introverted and quieter type, I didn't grow up talking a whole lot with my dad. But every time we visit my parents now, I realize how much I'm just like him.

I've even finally acquired a taste and appreciation for the coffee he likes to drink so much, so drinking coffee with my dad is a whole new memory in the making.

I found it funny when he grabbed a random mug out of the cupboard to pour me a cup of coffee one morning, and look at the mug he brought me. A mug from the school I've enthusiastically (and quietly) taught at for the last 13 years.

Thanks, Dad, for passing your gift for writing, enthusiasm for Bible teaching, and your passion for digging deep into Scripture on to me. Oh, and your introverted personality--it's kind of fun being the mysterious one that people don't always know how to interpret. 

Now if only I could have gotten Mom's sense of direction.

Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Home, "sweet" home

Well, home, sweet home hasn't been as sweet as we expected. We came home to three animals and a house full of fleas--despite having recently treated all three of them, along with the house. Ugh. Not fun at all.

So, rather than wallow in self-pity, I think I'll take some time to reflect on our recent blessings while traveling. I will focus on one a day in order to keep the posts short and sweet.

Last summer, we made all these grand plans to travel here, there, and everywhere, with  a trip to Colombia, both boys heading to different camps, a mission trip to Colorado, a family vacation to Florida, and possibly a trip out to Pennsylvania. When Mike unexpectedly entered the world of "joblessness" last April, we threw out all the plans and took things a week at a time. Juan and I didn't make it to Colombia, and we didn't make it to Pennsylvania or Florida, either. The boys did attend their summer camps, though, David went to Colorado on the mission trip, we took a fun, quick trip to St. Louis to see my parents, and we spent a few days in Galveston camping right on the beach.

This year I had a really hard time making plans to do anything. The boys wanted to go on a mission trip with the youth at church to help a young church in Los Angeles, California. At a cost of $1,000 per person, we told them they'd have to choose between the mission trip or camp. They both chose the mission trip. It seemed an easy choice until the time came to sign up for camp, and suddenly that choice stung. So about a month ago, Mike and I decided to leave as soon as school got out (precisely when the middle schoolers left for camp) to head out on a family road trip to see as many family members as possible within a 10 day radius.

With David starting high school this coming year and Juan starting his senior year, Mike and I realized that we probably have very few opportunities left to travel all together as a family without having to work around several different schedules. As hard as it is to see them miss out on making those camp memories this year, I am grateful for the family memories we made instead. Juan speaks English now, so this was his first real opportunity to get to know the rest of the family. :) Sadly, I didn't get pics of all of the family we visited, but here are a few of my favorite pictures.

 The boys with my Grandma

Hanging out in Brown County on a little hike

Celebrating cousin Dane's 4th birthday

 Dinner with my parents

A fun family pic taken by my Grandma 

Exploring something new in St. Louis this time, Fitz's Rootbeer

Another fun family pic taken by our favorite photographer, Chrissy Alspaugh

Meeting our sweet little cousin, Kase, all decked out in the Colombian jersey we bought for Dane three years ago!

 David and Uncle Mark (apparently David looks a lot like Mark did when he was David's age)

Enjoying the country life at Uncle Matt's 

Having fun watching Uncle Matt and his boys

This trip was all about family. It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and never take the time to reconnect with the family we left behind when we moved to Texas. A fancy vacation to someplace we've never visited may have been nice, but then we would have missed out on all these priceless moments with the family we rarely ever get to see. 

Stay tuned for more segments and pictures of memories we made on our 2016 family road trip.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ten Days

School has been out for 10 days. So far, this is what we have done:

  • Drove from Dallas to St. Louis, delivered my mom's Mother's Day gift to her in person, and had brunch with my parents
  • Drove from St. Louis to Warsaw, IN to have dinner with all of Mike's immediate family together, meeting our two youngest nephews for the first time
  • Spent two and a half days with Mike's parents, visited with his uncle, two aunts, and grandma, played games, and hung out in the country
  • Dropped off a copy of my books to the Warsaw Public Library and left a surprise complementary copy to the next guest at my favorite place in Warsaw
  • Had an interview with the Warsaw Times Union to later see a HUGE article published about my books 
  • Visited with several old friends at the lake and even sold a few books
  • Reconnected with three of my first-ever ESL students and their family
  • Drove from Warsaw, IN to Carmel, IN to have lunch with my sweet Grandma
  • Drove from Carmel, IN to Columbus, IN to camp out in front of Mike's brother's house for three nights
  • Drove a bunch of tractors
  • Got to attend our 4-year-old nephew's Cowboy themed birthday party
  • Went for a short hike in Brown County, IN
  • Drove from Columbus, IN back to St. Louis, MO to spend two and a half days with my parents
  • Had a belated birthday dinner with my favorite dessert ever--strawberry pie
  • Took Juan David to my dad's church for the first time and heard my dad preach for the first time in many years
  • Visited and ate at Fitz Root Beer and had giant root beer floats
  • Celebrated our third anniversary of the day Juan David came back to us
  • Gave my dad an early Father's Day gift
  • Ate lots of good food (too much)!
  • Watched my boys spend a lot of time together as brothers
Tomorrow we're headed home, where I have a sweet, spazzy kitty waiting for us to get there.

What an adventurous start to our summer! I will post pics and write more about different aspects of our trip once we're finally home.