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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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sixteen blessings from 2016

At the close of each year, I like to take the time to reflect on all the ways God has blessed us. Since we are now at the end of 2016, I've chosen to find at least 16 of our greatest blessings from the year.

They are in no order of importance.
  1. A fun summer vacation up North visiting with a whole lot of family. We stopped twice in St. Louis to see my parents, spent time in Columbus, IN with Mike's brother's family, stayed a couple days in Warsaw, IN to visit Mike's parents, his younger brother's family, and to see a few friends, and we even made a stop in Carmel, IN to see my Grandma and my Aunt Peri. We came home with very full hearts.
  2. Full-time employment and benefits for both of us (something I no longer take for granted). After a very hard year with a hard hit financially, this has been a year of abundance.
  3. Both boys made their high school soccer teams.
  4. My second book came out, making my books a complete series--the whole story.
  5. Juan and his sister reconnected and communicate almost daily now.
  6. Juan and David went on a mission trip to California together.
  7. Mike and I enjoyed a nice staycation here at home while they were gone.
  8. We got a new (to us) vehicle and paid cash for it.
  9. We got a new kitty (though the reason we got her wasn't the happiest after we lost our two precious white cats).
  10. Juan got a job, is learning money management and how to take responsibility as a driver.
  11. Season passes to Six Flags continue to be a great way to spend time together as a family, as well as with friends who also have season passes. Now we are extra blessed after the boys were gifted a dining pass to their cards for the coming year. 

12. We finally got a few projects done around the house--laminate wood flooring in every room (which actually became a necessity after a flea infestation this summer), a rock garden to replace an ugly weedy mess behind our back porch, a nice grilling area (and smoker grill) for Mike, a bike rack, etc. 

13. Enough money to finally take care of some necessary dental work (Juan finally got a crown on one of his teeth, David got braces, and all three of us got some unwanted cavities filled).
14.Now that I' feel ready to write again, God is opening up a few new ministry opportunities to write for.
15.A year of weekly dates with Mike. Once he got his new job and no longer had to pay for gas to get to and from work, we put that money toward a weekly date together. Something we should have made a priority a very long time ago now that we are seeing how good it has been for our marriage and for our boys to observe how good it is for a marriage. We've been able to try out a lot of new restaurants and still frequent the ones we really like, along with Starbucks. :)
16.Attending Beth Moore's Scripture Memory celebration in Houston in January. What a great experience to look around and hear/see so many other women reciting all the verses they'd put to memory over the year. I can't wait to get started on the challenge for 2017 and to attend the celebration again in January of 2018. 

Friday, December 30, 2016


It's that time again! Time to join hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other women across the country (and even into other countries) to commit to putting Scripture to memory.

You pick the verses and even the translation you want to learn them in. You can pick long verses, short verses, or verses that speak truth into your current season of life.

On January 1st, you post your name, your city, and the reference and translation of your verse, along with your verse. For the next two weeks, you practice it daily until you've got it memorized.

On the 15th, you pick another verse and do the same. Then you continue on the 1st and 15th of every month with a new verse (basically one verse every two weeks).

If you post at least 20 out of the 24 times throughout the year, you qualify for the celebration retreat in Houston, Texas with Beth Moore the following January.

I've only participated once, and I can't tell you how life-changing the Scripture memory part is and how much the retreat inspired me, getting to meet so many other women who memorized verses all year right along with you. You become part of this amazing community of women. I met women who acted like family, and little did I know that they'd met at one of the celebrations and just continued a friendship across the miles when the retreat ended.

I bought my special little spiral a couple months ago to write my verses in, and tonight I printed off the special SSMT17 spiral. Click under the picture for the instructions for you to do the same. I sure hope you'll join me! I'll put pictures of this year's event in an upcoming blog entry.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Not what I planned

Life never seems to go according to my plans.

As a child growing up in Pennsylvania, I never really imagined myself ever living outside of its beauty. I could have stayed there forever, just like my oldest brother. But twenty-four years ago today, God changed my plans and moved me from the beautiful Lancaster County hill country to the flatlands in Warsaw, Indiana. It was there in Warsaw that I started a friendship with the young man who would marry me less than six and a half years later. It was there in Warsaw that God opened doors for me to study abroad in Argentina to learn Spanish at the level I needed to become bilingual.

As a college student with a heart that beat for the mission field, I always envisioned myself living a simplistic lifestyle as a foreign missionary, serving as a teacher overseas, leading Bible studies, and raising my children in a country not my own. My heart beat to "go" to the mission field, but God led me to a missions conference in Argentina where I commited to God that I was dying to "go", but I was willing to "stay".

As a newlywed who'd dated her new groom for five solid years, I assumed we already knew each other well and would merge well into married life, following a strict budget to pay off school loans so we could head to the mission field as soon as possible. Marriage didn't look anything like I'd envisioned, though, and neither did our financial reality after about two to three years.That first decade of marriage humbled me in ways I never knew I needed humbling, and it taught me the power of praying for your spouse and for your marriage. Years later, God still uses me to guide others to pray for their spouses in order to transform their own struggling marriages.

When God made it clear that he'd brought the mission field to my doorstep rather than taking me outside of the country, I poured my heart and soul into a ministry with Hispanic children that lived all around me, meanwhile teaching them English at school. I thought I'd watch my core little group grow up over time, but God whisked us away very quickly and unexpectedly to Texas. No one saw that move coming, though we knew God was giving our marriage and financial situation a chance to start over and get ourselves out of debt. It also gave me a chance to get certified as a bilingual teacher. Now when I look at pictures of my students, they're exactly as I envisioned them as a young college student with their little brown faces, brown eyes, and black hair. Children from Mexico, Central America, and even from South America at times. I just never saw myself teaching them within my own country.

As our lives began to rebuild themselves and our financial reality improved, the idea of adoption stirred in our hearts. We had our hearts set on adopting a little Hispanic girl around the age of 5 so she'd be close in age to our only son, David. We started saving money, we picked an agency, a country, and we quickly dove into the process to find her and adopt her. First we thought God said El Salvador. Then we thought we found her in Colombia. We thought for sure He led us to adopt siblings, actually, and then neither one came home. Now I teach Bible studies about clinging to faith when life doesn't make sense, and I recently started leading an online support group for those who are grieving a failed adoption.

God surprised me in my grief by sending me an angel, actually an older brother of those siblings who sent me e-mails to keep me in their lives. If God didn't bring Colombia to me, maybe He used those children to take me to Colombia. If my husband had felt the same, I think I would have sold everything and moved there in a heartbeat to be that teacher I once envisioned myself to be. We made it to Colombia to meet him and then made plans to go back as summer missionaries the following year, perhaps to see if God had a place for us to serve. Yet God still had other plans.

He wanted me to fight for the cause of the orphan and fight once more to bring one home. He wanted me to write my story, our story, to encourage others whose stories aren't going quite like they planned. He gave us a son, a teenage boy, instead of the little girl we'd planned to adopt. A son with 15 years of his own story before he ever came home. Fifteen years we missed. Fifteen years where someone else influenced him and shaped him. I love and adore him and thank God for him every day. Yet I often wonder why God chose me, why He chose us, to be the ones he will call Mom and Dad now for the rest of his life. It's definitely not the life he planned, nor is it the life we planned.

I think I'm learning not to make so many plans. It's okay to dream and obviously healthy to set goals. But to make my own plans? Let's just say I'm glad that none of my plans seem to come to fruition. God's plans never cease to amaze me when I look back and see how He trumped mine time and time again.

It's a good reminder as we get ready to embark on a new year before I'm tempted to plan it all out! And believe me, I've already got

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dallas Baptist University

We spent part of our Christmas break visiting Dallas Baptist University again, once to take care of some financial aid paperwork (when you are adopted after the age of 13, it's a bit more complicated, but more promising). Then we went back again for Juan to have an interview with the admissions counselor regarding a scholarship he applied for. Now we're waiting to see about his acceptance and what kind of financial aid package he is eligible for. I take pictures every time we go now because there are just so many little things about the campus that inspire me.

 This sign right here says it all. What Christian Mom wouldn't want their child to be in a place that teaches this? When I first heard about DBU and Juan's interest in going there (thanks to his now Student Pastor who took him by there after spending a day at Six Flags together), I immediately started praying that God would open a door for my son to attend there.  No definitive answers yet, but I'm still praying!

 Now we've started a new tradition. Whenever we visit, we go to the little Starbucks inside the library.  
Here are some more examples of things you see while walking around the campus.

The Great Commission (on the oppposite side, it has John 3:16)

One of many prayer gardens. This one particulary states, "Called to Pray". One every side, there is a different verse on prayer.

This is a statue of Jesus right at the entrance, mostly visible as you are leaving the campus.

Having attended both Taylor University and Grace College in Indiana, I know the personal value in attending a Christian college. Those four years were incredibly foundational to my own faith as an adult and really shaped who I am. Living 10 minutes down the road from Grace College made it an easy choice, a choice that quite a few of my high school friends also made to attend there. DBU may not be 10 minutes down the road (more like 40 minutes), but it sure would be nice to send my son off to college to give him the experiences he needs while still having him close to home. Especially considering we're still building those bonds as a family.

We're still waiting to hear about his acceptance and what kind of financial aid package he might be eligible for--to see if it is even a financial possibility for him, but so far, God keeps guiding us in this direction and isn't closing any doors. So we just keep praying. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Holiday in the Park at Six Flags, 2016

 These two don't pose often for pictures, so I was happy when they willingly jumped up here to let me take pics. Too bad they're not the clearest, but I'll take what I can get. 

(Enjoying their new dining passes on their Six Flags passes--now they get to eat lunch, dinner, and a snack every single time they visit and have unlimited drinks!)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy birthday, Mom!

Today's blog is reserved for one purpose--to wish my mom a happy birthday!  Circumstances kept her from coming to visit at Thanksgiving for the last two years, bringing her at Christmas instead. So I've gotten to spend her last two birthdays with her. This year she came for Thanksgiving and isn't here for her birthday, but I'm still thinking about her and celebrating her today.

Mom, I know good health hasn't been your friend this year, and my prayer is that next year will bring you some relief, especially from headaches. I woke up with a headache today and really feel for people who suffer from those consistently.

I love how you and I have developed a closer and deeper relationship through the years by sharing books and devotionals that have spoken to us. I always appreciate your gifts because they express sentiment and thoughtfulness about who I am and how you see me. I still keep that calendar of poems from a Mother to a Daughter up in my prayer corner, even though the calendar is long expired, because I love the poems.

I thought long and hard about your birthday gift this year, and I finally chose what I thought would mean the most to you. It should be delivered to your door some time today.

Love you, Mom. Wish we could have lunch together today!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Eve and Christmas 2016

 Family pic in front of the tree at church, compliments of my dear friend Aubree for taking the pic
 David and Sam's first year with braces (Sam's first week!)
 Juan and Uncle Matt at the end of the candlelight service
Mandatory selfie with Mom 💗

 Animals first! Minnie had been sniffing that stocking for days. She knew it was hers! The cat was so overwhelmed by all her new toys that she played with wrapping paper and boxes instead.

 Juan wants a real husky of his own someday. This cute little stuffed pup will have to do for now.
 We got both the boys their high school soccer shirts at their parent soccer meetings, but David's didn't come in yet. 
 Juan finally got the EXPENSIVE colored pencil set he's been wanting for his Art class.

 There's been a bit of Cowboy fever in our house this season!

 You know you're bonded to your adopted kid when he writes that your gifts from him are actually from the King of Sparta and from Super Batman. 

 Christmas without sentiment just drives me crazy, so I had a card for each of them tucked in the tree with a personal letter from me. 

 I'm so excited about this new pencil sharpener and my new colored pencils! Now for a little time to relax and color my heart out. 
 A stocking stuffer from David--my absolute favorite verse that I've had written on a little sign in my prayer corner for years.  (I'm totally a morning person.)
 Cinnamon rolls and coffee for Christmas morning. 
 Watching Christmas at Home (our Pastor doing a monologue drama of the first Christmas through the eyes of Joseph.)

Christmas dinner. Ham, potatoes, roasted veggies, and buttery rolls. 

Merry Christmas!