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, October 30, 2016

Look who's turning 40!

So, his birthday is technically tomorrow on Halloween, but since Juan is working tomorrow, we decided to celebrate as a family today, and unbeknownst to Mike, we did a little celebrating on Saturday night, as well. I tried to arrange a little cookout where I could have a few of his friends stop by to surprise him, but he decided against the cookout. So I sent a secret message out to our Life Group letting them know about his birthday and asked them to shower him with cards. I bought a special cake and some ice cream, with some black balloons for decoration, and my friend, Martha, set it all up in our Life Group room for me right before class was getting ready to start.

He was definitely quite surprised!

Then this morning we gave him his gifts, a Cowboys jersey and a picture of his truck that Juan drew and framed for him (sure is nice to have an artist in the family!). Mike absolutely loved both of them.

We all went out for brunch together this morning at a nice little restaurant that Mike and I like to go to, and they are looking forward to watching the Cowboys play later this evening.

It was nice to separate his birthday from Halloween this year. :)

To be part of a grander story

October 30, 2009 was one of the worst days of my life. I sat numbly through dinner with Mike and David, in absolute shock. Despite all the prayers and all of our love for two precious Colombian children, my agency called to tell me that the Colombian adoption committee refused to accept our appeal. They refused to let us come down to Colombia in person to plead our case, to show them we were indeed capable of adopting Juan David and his younger sister.

Eventually, over time, I had to come to terms with the fact that if I truly loved them, I had to accept that perhaps I was not the mother God had already chosen for them.

Just like the analogy of the butterfly, when you let something go, if it's meant to be your's, it will come back to you.

Juan David came back to me. His sister did not. I was the mother God chose for Juan, but He had other plans for his sister.

Fast-forward 7 years to today, October 30, 2016. I woke up this morning to an e-mail for Juan David in my inbox. The first e-mail sent directly from his sister, telling him where she lives, how much she loves him, asking about her older brother (who thought she didn't even remember him), and telling him how happy she is with a family who loves her dearly.

God had a different plan for her, another family who needed her to fill their hearts and complete their lives. It's a grander story than I could have imagined.

My heart is so full seeing them come back together after all this time. I look forward to watching them rebuild a relationship now that they are back in contact with one another.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wednesday Review

Today's review of Painful Waiting comes from Charlie Ray again, my dear friend who loved seeing the greatness of God written all over our story.  She's a gem! She gave the book five stars.

Painful Waiting is a wonderful book as God's plan finally all comes together for the adoption of Juan David. You can see all the trials & tribulations were "strategically placed" by God to ensure this blessing. The story truly exemplifies the family's faith journey & trust in God!

Thank you again, Charlie, for your amazing support for me to share this story of God's goodness and faithfulness. You know how quiet and introverted I can be, so you can only imagine how much I needed cheerleaders like you to help me spread the word about this book.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

When my passion became a burden

As an elementary school student, I loved to write short stories for assignments in class. While others saw writing as a difficulty, I found it to be an enjoyable task, something I looked forward to. In fourth grade, my teacher taught us how to write poetry, and I fell in love.

Through my middle school years, I started writing poems and fictional short stories based on real life events. Little did I know that writing was my outlet. I didn't quite understand the power and value in being an introvert who doesn't like to talk through much of anything, I just knew I found pleasure in writing.

As a high school student, my teachers praised my writing and encouraged me to write more. I found I had a way to take writing to a deeper level than most of my peers. I took all the honors and college level writing classes offered to me, but my Creative Writing class was by far my favorite class in all of high school, even above my beloved Spanish class.

In college, I loved how every class syllabus included at least one piece of writing as an assignment. I poured my heart and energy into those papers, which always helped my grade come up in the classes that I struggled a bit more in. They were also a way for my teachers to connect with me and see the depth of my learning, since I was always that introvert that rarely spoke in class.

I continued writing in my post college years, but never in a public way. I wrote because writing brought me pleasure. When we started our adoption process 8 years into our marriage, someone suggested I start a blog for others to follow our process. So I did. And for the first time, anyone who wanted to could read what I'd written. No more living in private. I wrote poems. I shared intimate thoughts and feelings as we trudged through a long, tedious process. I opened my heart on the screen.

Almost a year and a half later, our adoption crumbled, along with my world. An adoption failure is humiliating enough, but failing so publicly on the blog was almost more humiliation than I could bear. I wanted to run away and hide, but instead I continued to bleed my heart all over the screen and let everyone watch me grieve. What started as an adoption blog for people to follow our process turned out to be my outlet to grieve without having to talk it out. If anyone wanted to know how I was doing, I just sent them to the blog.

Over the next year, God worked miracles that ended up leading us to Colombia, after all, to meet Julian after he turned 18. Somehow blogging through my grief merged into blogging about our unexpected journey to him, leading me to turn it into a book. I can't tell you how thankful I am for having written such a detailed, intimate blog of our adoption pursuit, failure, and grief so I could include all those details in the book.

Over the year following that book, God continued to work miracles, and my blog soon transformed into an adoption blog all over again, documenting our progress through a second adoption attempt. With such detailed and intimate documentation I used it as a reference to write the second book that finally brought Juan home to us. By this time, I'd joined a local Christian writer's group that helped my writing grow in ways I never imagined. I loved finding a group of people just like me that found pleasure in writing and actually valued an honest critique.

After submitting the manuscript to the publisher, I changed focus and started writing guest blogs as a ministry to other women while I waited for my second book to come out. I gained so much momentum and enthusiasm, as well as training and preparation from my writer's group. I envisioned taking my writing to a whole new level and writing in a much more public and consistent way, finding ways to encourage and challenge other women in their faith.

The second book finally came out in April, and at the very same time, my writing enthusiasm and energy came to a screeching halt. When I should have been pushing myself to find new ways to self-market and spread the word about my books, I shut down. Burn out? Post-book depression? Tired of telling my story over and over? Drained from opening up my heart and soul in such a public way? Insecurity? Frustration over a small number of reviews when I'd been promised so many more? Spiritual warfare? On-going depression and grief from losing both my beloved kitties at the same time as the book came out? All of the above? I really don't know.

I broke all the rules of book launching and actually backed away from the computer and social media for awhile. I figured a rest might do me some good, as well as a vacation and a few weeks of summer. Then I took advantage of some personal coaching from one of the best, one of my biggest writing heroes. I took all her words and suggestions to heart and tried to pour my energies back into it, checking off as many of her ideas from the list as I could.  But rather than finding pleasure in typing words, my stomach started to churn at the thought of sitting behind my computer. Anxiety began to creep in when I even considered writing out some type of spiritual lesson with a story behind it. Rather than using the momentum I'd gained in preparation for the book launch to get my name out there, I felt like curling up into a ball and hiding from the world.

I no longer wanted to have a blog for strangers to follow. I wanted to go back to writing about our life just for close friends and family, no one else. I watched other new authors from my writer's group embrace this new adventure, securing interviews on television and radio stations, doing facebook live sessions, hosting book contests, writing weekly newsletters, gaining more and more followers by the day.  That life suddenly had absolutely no appeal to me. I wanted my quiet, private little life and my introverted lifestyle back.

I'm thankful for God continuously reminding me through others that He has things He wants me to say in a way that He created me to say them. Like the encouragement from a friend recently saying how a certain chapter really influenced her to start her days out with God first. Or a phonecall from a stranger saying how my first book completely changed her, getting her back in to the Word so much that she craves it now. Or a fellow blogger who told me to keep writing at least something because I really do have a powerful story.

I don't know what's going on, all I know is this is the first time in almost six months that I've even been able to put these thoughts and feelings into words. I've always taken pleasure in writing, but when writing has a complete opposite effect on me for the time-being, I have to just take a step back and wait until the words come flowing back.

In the meantime, I will share pics of our family events whenever I find the time. I know God has more for me to write, but for now, I will just focus on enjoying every aspect of life with my family without stressing myself about how I'm not writing or interacting with the world as a writer. When God gives me a story to tell again and the time and stillness needed to write it, I will be sure to share it here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday Review

Today's review of Painful Waiting comes from my friend, Amy, who gave the book five stars. She also was one of my biggest cheerleaders through the book launch.

This book isn't just for people who have adopted or are thinking about it. It shows God's faithfulness to take care of every detail in His way even if it may not be our own. It shows how the Alspaugh's walk with God through His amazing journey to Juan David. The book challenged me to trust Him even when I don't understand what He is doing.

Thank you so much, Amy, for your honest words about how the book challenged you. I can't thank you enough.

Monday, October 17, 2016


This has been a very different sort of year so far. Besides Juan's senior year activities, I can't forget to mention that David is now a freshman in high school, too. Jumping into high school was not the easiest transition for him the first few weeks of school, nor was the shift toward an earlier morning routine. In middle school, he got out of bed just as everyone else left the house. That gave him plenty of time to wake up, eat breakfast, and take care of himself on his own. He didn't leave for almost another hour after everyone else.

This year is a different story. His high school is the same distance from home as Juan's, but since it's in the other direction, we have to leave no later than 6:30 in the morning in order for me to get through all the school traffic and still make it to my school on time. He no longer has the luxury of taking his time and waking up slowly on his own. Now it's a jump-out-of bed routine and a fight for the bathroom. It's been quite a difficult transition for me, too, with a very shortened quiet time, and then having to fight for my bathroom space. When we leave on time, I get to school pretty early and can start the morning on a calm note. When we leave just a few minutes late, the school traffic picks up and I barely make it to school on time.

David started working for the first time in his life as a referee for the soccer association that he plays for. He's gotten his first two paychecks already, so that's been a big step in his life. I love how he immediately started thinking of gifts he can buy for his brother and dad's birthdays coming up before he even thought of spending any of his money on himself. He's always had a heart like that.

He made sure I didn't post this picture on Facebook, but I never said I wouldn't post it on my blog! I am really proud of him for how seriously he takes his new job, though we're still working on the importance of actually putting on sunscreen while working out in the sun all day. Sigh. Teenagers.

Soccer has become a bigger ordeal at our house with Mike taking over David's team as the coach and having Juan assist in that coaching. Juan hasn't really stepped up to the title with the enthusiasm we thought he would, but Mike has definitely taken the position very seriously and treats the boys with a lot of respect. It's definitely a big time commitment, though, one we didn't really want to add to our plate at this point in life. However, it is what it is, and the other parents have let us know how thankful they are that Mike stepped in to keep the team together at the last minute. The season will be over by the end of the month, and I pray Mike will be blessed for the time he dedicated to his son and the other boys.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Love at first sight

Last Monday, Juan and I took a day off of school to attend DBU's Patriot Preview Day. We left super early so as to avoid as much traffic as possible. Juan had been to the campus once before very briefly with Mauricio, the former student ministries assistant from church who is currently a student at DBU, but I'd never seen the place.

I wish I'd had time to take more pictures of the view we encountered as the sun had just risen over the campus while we drove up. Beautiful and breathtaking. My pictures that I took from a moving bus hours later don't even begin to do it justice. To help you imagine it, take note that the entire campus is set up on a hill, so you are looking up at this magnificent view from the road below. We immediately fell in love, which set the tone for the entire day we spent together.

Since we arrived so early, we took our own little tour around parts of the campus, which, of course, led us to the soccer field where Juan hopes to have the opportunity to play all through college. He enjoyed sitting in the stands, imagining himself out on the field. His high school situation was pretty complicated, so we're not sure yet whether he is technically eligible to play for the school, but we hope to contact a few more people this week to get exact clarification on his elibigility. 

The day's events began in the lower level of the chapel with breakfast and a warm introduction. The room was packed out with over 300 guests.

First, a picture of a "Future Patriot". :)

After breakfast and an introduction, everyone's day began with a challenging chapel service. As I sat through the service, singing praise songs side by side with my son, I relived so many positive memories of my own college years in two different Christian colleges, Taylor University and Grace College. I know firsthand how powerful, influential, and life-changing a Christian college education can be, and I am so thankful for how God has used our student ministry leaders at church to give both of my boys a desire to attend a Christian school. 

After chapel, they provided an amazing lunch where we sat through more speakers to tell us about the mission of DBU. When I read the Academic Vision Statement of DBU, it reminded me of Grace College's  emphasis on teaching servant leadership.

"Building a gret Christian university that is pleasing to God by producing Christ-centered servant leaders who are transforming the world."

The speakers made it a point to let us know that they specifically designed the campus to provide displays and reminders of Christ everywhere the students look, and they also intentionally created sacred spaces where students can escape to sit alone to reflect and talk with God.

These signs are on every street pole all over the campus, one of my favorite Scripture verses. So inspiring. All the spiritual aspects spoke volumes to me about what a great environment this could be for my son who, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to grow up in the most wholesome of environments. I can only imagine what four years in a place like this could do for him. Small class sizes. Small teacher to student ratio. Constant reminders of why were are here, to pursue a relationship with Christ. Surrounded by other Christian young men and women. Solid teaching mixed with faith in every subject area. 

Of course, to Juan, he didn't quite see what I saw. But he did get pretty excited when he saw the varying possibilities for upperclassment student housing. Yes, these houses serve as apartments for groups of 4-7 students, right on campus, with a very reasonable cost for rent when it's split up between them. 

They agreed to waive the application fee for any student that filled out the application before leaving, so Juan filled it out and turned it in before we left.  He came home and wrote a short essay explaining why he wants to attend DBU, and yesterday he wrote another essay for a scholarship application. We're still waiting on a few other things before they can say if he's accepted or not and release his financial aid package to us, and then we can see if the school is even a financial possibility for us. 

All in all, it was a really good day for both of us.  Even if he ends up going somewhere else, this was a great place to start looking. I am excited to see the plans that God has for our son. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday Review

Today's review of Unexpected Tears comes from an anonymous Amazon customer, who gives the book five stars. This review is short and sweet, but gets directly to the point. I love it.

Up the mountain, down the mountain of emotions, faith and love. This is the true story of Rachelle and how her forever family finally became whole. A good read to strengthen your faith and determination in life.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and description of the book. I think you hit the nail on the head. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The struggle is real

SAT, ACT, GPA, FAFSA, NCAA, NAIA--a bunch of letters with a whole lot of signficance. College fairs, portfolio days, college visits, college applications. Scholarship searches and applications. Job responsibilities, extra school requisites, work availability, overlapping schedules. E-mails from the counselor with a senior year checklist. E-mails from colleges with preview dates. Searching through lists of majors trying to figure out at least one or two areas of possible interest for a child who has absolutely no idea what he might want to do with his life. Early mornings, late nights, quick greetings as one of us comes in while the other one goes out.

All with a nearly nineteen-year-old child I've only had for three years. It came up way too fast, and I'm not sure any of us were ready for this stage of life.

It's no wonder I'm overwhelmed. After dealing with 44 four-year-olds who wear me out physically (we move around and exercise a lot) and mentally (it amazes me how many struggle to make any connection when I give the same instructions repeatedly) every single day, then I come home to an emotional exhaustion that threatens to knock me to the ground.

Though all the senior year paperwork, activities, schedules, and deadlines don't even come close to comparing to an adoption process, they overwhelm me in a very similar way. Maybe the emotional attachment to it all triggers a fear and anxiety in me that I lived through while we pursued his adoption. I pushed through the insanity, set on doing whatever it took to bring him home. Yet I feared with everything in me that one missed deadline, one misinterpreted word, or one mistake could derail the whole endevor.

Now here I am fearing that a missed deadline, a misinterpreted instruction, or a simple mistake can mess up his whole future. Are we communicating enough about college options? Are we clear enough about expectations for balancing work, play, and school? Is he disciplined enough academically to handle college? Is he mature enough to make the right decisions while out with friends that he doesn't throw a promising future away? Have we met all the right deadlines? Are we maximizing our time?

He's begging for freedom, begging for the chance to make mistakes and learn from them. Yet with every plea he makes, I seem to hold on tighter rather than let out the rope. While he yearns for freedom, my grip tightens, wanting to shelter him and protect him from the world I didn't get to protect him from in those early years of life, wishing I could shape him through those late years of childhood and guide him through those first years of adolescence. While I try to sneak in every little chance to teach and guide him, he's pushing back, saying, "Mom. I know. You don't have to tell me." He's constantly reminding me that he learned a lot of life lessons without me. Lessons that I probably don't even want to know about.

I remember the feeling at his age, desperately wanting people to trust my judgment, to let me make my own decisions for my own life. But those missing fifteen years of his life are much harder on me as a mom at this stage in his life than I ever imagined they would be. It's hard to let go of a rope when you haven't had 18 years to build trust beforehand.

The struggle is real.

Tomorrow we head off on our first college visit to DBU (Dallas Baptist University), thanks to our former student ministry assistant from church for introducing him to the school and sparking an interest. I pray that the day is fruitful, that we have a lot of questions answered, and that God will bless our time together. I've had an extremely stressful time at school recently, so the break and the time with my son should be good for my soul.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wednesday Review

Today's review of Painful Waiting comes from Kristine, the one who dared to open her home to two precious Colombian children to host them for the summer in hopes of finding them their forever family. I am forever grateful. She gave the book five stars.

Painful Waiting is a moving tribute to adoptive families and the challenges they face throughout the process. Rachelle's trust in God gave her the strength to continue on an amazing journey that seemed to keep slamming doors every step of the of the way. When many people would have given up, the Alspaugh's persevered. Their unwavering faith made them the amazing family they are today.

Thank you, Kristine, for your heartfelt words about the book and our family. But most of all, thank you for loving Juan David and his sister first so that I could have the chance to love them, too.