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, April 23, 2017

Pumped about Guatemala!

Today we had our second team meeting for our Guatemala mission trip. All I can say is that I am really pumped now. It's been a few years since I've gone on a mission trip with the church (like a little over 7 years, to be exact). And this particular one is right up my alley, teaching VBS, visiting local families, and training adults in the church IN SPANISH.

I am also excited to be serving alongside such an amazing group of high school students, all on fire for God. Today we all went around the circle briefly telling our stories of how we came to faith and how God is working in us now. I was so moved by hearing these teenagers give their testimonies to their own peers and to see how completely sold out they are for Jesus. They know they are in the world but not of it. I even got to hear my own son give his testimony on the spot, hearing about his most challenging moments in life and seeing just what life events spoke the most to him about Christ. I found it interesting to hear him talk about how losing his sister almost made him lose his faith in God's love, while getting adopted into a family of his own finally solidified how much God did indeed love him. I also loved knowing that the day after we leave Guatemala, he will see that sweet sister again.

There are two other parents serving on this trip (another mom with her daughter, and a dad with his daughter), plus our youth leader, who has been an incredible influence on Juan during his time here. I have utmost respect for him and his passion to guide our high school students to live for Christ.

Like I said before, this trip wasn't anywhere on our radar, but I sure am excited to be a part of this team. I'm also grateful for the relationships my son will be building with this amazing group of high school students and for the chance to serve alongside of him.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Celebrating two special people

Almost nine months after the adoption failed, Julian sent me a picture of  him and Laura together. I cherished that picture more than he ever knew, and it went up on the wall in "the empty room", along with other current pictures of the three of them that surrounded a wall hanging that said FAITH. My heart remained broken that summer as I still wondered why God let us meet those kids if we would never get to bring them home. And somehow I kept hearing a simple word--FAITH. 

Have FAITH, Child. I'm still writing your story. 

Nearly four years later, during Juan's first year home, we used that very picture to make a special cake to celebrate his siblings' birthdays. We chose April 16th to celebrate, since Julian's birthday was the 14th and Laura's was the 18th. We kept in touch with Julian, but we had no information on Laura. We have always made it a point to celebrate her birthday, though, every single year. 

Today as we celebrate their birthdays once again, we are so happy to get to celebrate with Laura back in our lives this time, to actually wish her a happy birthday and tell her we love her. And we look forward with great anticipation to arriving in Spain three months from today to finally see her again. And as if thats not enough, as of two days ago, God officially made a way for Julian to be there, too, arriving just a few hours before us. I can hardly wait to see him again and to finally see all three siblings together. 


This is one story I can't put down. 

A story of death (a failed adoption), burial (grieving a lost dream, surrendering the loss to God), and resurrection (in so many ways)! How fitting to celebrate this resurrection  story today on Easter, Resurrection Sunday. 

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness.

Monday, April 10, 2017

18 years!

Today my husband and I celebrate eighteen years of marriage. We were thankful for the opportunity to work in a little getaway trip around all the soccer activities this weekend.

First we went to Studio Movie Grill for dinner and movie where we watched the new Beauty and the Beast movie. I was amazed at just how closely it followed the original cartoon that I used to have completely memorized at one point in my life. I'd forgotten how much I loved that movie until my best friend from high school said the new one coming out made her think of me. :)

We then spent the night in a nice hotel here in the DFW area, enjoyed a nice breakfast together, and then went to the new movie, The Case for Christ, with two friends from our Life Group. Some other friends from Life Group took the boys under their wing and fed and entertained the boys for us, so we felt so blessed.

Ten years ago on this date, I spent our eighth anniversary curled up in bed, grieving the loss of my second pregnancy. A few days later, I took a day off from school to just think and process my emotions. I went to my favorite coffee shop, sat down with a notepad and a pen, and left with this poem.

Who will carry a sibling for my son?

How deeply I've longed for
a sibling for my son.
My dream has always been
a foreign adoption.

I see a Latin child
linking hands with a white,
both speaking in Spanish
and English all night.

It seemed impossible
until this recent year.
A possibility
now so very clear.

Anxiously awaiting
a chance to save for her.
My dream so tangible--
how excited we were!

Yet one day all that changed
when I found out that I
was holding within me
a dream we had let die.

Our hearts so quickly changed,
envisioning our child--
what we'd least expected
made my thinking run wild!

I felt total peace,
it all seemed so right.
Things fell right into place.
Our baby now in sight!

I never imagined
how short-lived it could be.
I never expected
I would lose this baby.

I couldn't believe it,
would God play with my heart?
Why would He tease us,
and tear our dreams apart?

Now I'm left wond'ring if,
while back here at square one,
I'm the one to carry
a sibling for my son.

I can't even describe the peace that poem brought me, knowing that God held my baby in heaven for me because another child was already waiting here on earth for me, for a mom and for a family to call their own. Only God knew the miscarriage was just the beginning of that journey of loss. Now instead of a nine-year old running around my house, my nineteen-year-old adopted child looks to me for guidance and stability, for nurturing, protection, provision, and love. He won't always admit he needs or wants those things, but he will always tell you that more than anything, he wanted a family.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Case for Christ

On the night of August 28th 2010, I wrote this on my previous blog:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seeing the bigger picture

As I heard Lee Strobel speak at church tonight, he made a comment that immediately tied three separate stories all together as one, and I'd like to share. I'm going to start with two quotes from the Wild Goose Chase by Mark Patterson that I read last week, both from the very first chapter: "When God puts a passion in your heart, ........that God-ordained passion becomes your responsibility." When "you forfeit the adventure God has destined for you,...you won't be the only one missing out or losing out. When you lack the courage to chase the Wild Goose (passionately pursue God), the opportunity costs are staggering. Who might not hear about the love of God if you do not seize the opportunity to tell them? Who might be stuck in poverty, stuck in ignorance, stuck in pain, if you're not there to help free them? Where might the advance of God's kingdom in the world stall out because you weren't there on the front lines?"

So I've been chewing on that one for the last week, which actually coincided with a message I've been thinking a lot about over the last month or so since Bill Hybels came to speak at our church. The title of his message that night, which is also the title of one of his books, was "The Power of a Whisper". Basically, he put it simply. When God whispers your name, you have to respond. You have no other choice. He told his story of how he was all set up in the business world, carrying on his father's dream for him. Yet he undeniable heard God whisper in his heart that he needed to start a church. He didn't have a background or the education needed, it would sound absolutely insane to his family and would undoubtedly break his father's heart, but he knew without a doubt that this was what God told him to do. It wasn't an easy experience, he did break his father's heart, he did lose the support of many of those around him, and he questioned the call many times, but eventually he started a church that met in a movie theater. Today, he's over a church with thousands of members. That was an extremely short version of it just because I don't remember enough of the exact details. But his whole point was, when you hear God whisper your name, you just have to obey.

Now enter Lee Strobel, an atheist. In his teenage years, he was convinced that God just did not exist--that people just made God up in order to have something to feel good about. His wife was agnostic, and they had a neighbor downstairs who was a Christian. His wife and the neighbor downstairs hit it off, became friends, attended church together, and his wife accepted Christ. She met with a group of ladies from the church and basically told them that there was no hope that her husband would ever believe in Christ, yet she was very gently told that NOBODY is beyond hope. She began praying for her husband. He at first wanted nothing to do with her faith, but the change in her made him curious, so he visited the church with her one day. It was a church that met in a movie theater, and Bill Hybels was the pastor! After visiting the church, he decided to launch an investigation (he was trained in law, so this was a very educated investigation) in an attempt to disprove Christianity. After two years of research and investigating, he came to the conclusion that it would take more faith to stay an atheist than to just believe what the evidence showed--Christ is real, and He is who He says He is. Now we have his very well known book, The Case for Christ, with all of the evidence He found, along with many other of his books. His books are changing many, many lives and helping others see the evidence of Christ.

So, the connection I made tonight was, What if Bill Hybels ignored that whisper and stayed in the business world? What if he didn't see that God-ordained passion brewing within him as his responsibility? We now know that Lee Strobel's wife would have missed out, meaning he would have missed out, and then the world and all the readers of his books today would have missed out. It's a chain reaction. What happens if we become the missing link because we didn't respond to the whisper, or we kept our passions and dreams buried out of fear or just inconvenience? We have no idea who is missing out.

So, what is God whispering to me? Two things, I believe. #1--Go to Colombia. I don't know how the details will work out, I don't know how long we will stay or if we will go back again later, I don't even know what our purpose will be. We both just know that He said Go. Our plan at the moment is June (for reasons that God has made clear). There are other "dots" that seem to obviously be part of this picture, but for some reason He has not connected them yet, so I am really learning patience in His timing, AGAIN. However, if I've learned anything, it's not to try setting plans in stone. The second thing I feel He's saying to me is I need to be writing and I need to share it. I shared a poem with my summer Bible study ladies' early in the study, and they all encouraged me to please share more, so I wrote and shared a few others with them over the summer. One of them has a daughter who I've been praying for, and tonight she told me that her daughter was so touched by my poems that she has been sharing them with her friends. I can't even begin to tell you how that touched my heart. She (the mother) said, "Rachelle, your poetry really ministers to others, you need to get it out there." That just once again reiterated the whole point--it's not just us missing out. Whatever God is telling us to do will without a doubt touch someone else's life. When we hide it or fear reaching for it or just never get around to it, we're cheating more than just ourselves.......

There's something to chew on for awhile.
Today, Mike and I went to go see the movie Case for Christ. A few details changed in the movie (making it BASED on a true story rather than an actual true story), but the main events are still the same. If you haven't seen it, go! You won't regret it.
Once again, it left me with the same thoughts. What is it God is asking me to do? Am I doing it? Who might be missing out if I don't, besides me? 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

To remember and reflect, to look forward

If you haven't read this blog for long, you may not know that I am very big on dates. Like remembering what happened on this day in the past, or how much time has passed since a certain event, or how much time is left until the next big celebration or adventure. Taking note of a date is so good to remember and cherish those special moments. It's essential for reflection, to remember where we came from and what we've been through. It's also a key reminder of how quickly time passes, begging us to savor each moment we're given.

As someone reminded me this past week, we're not promised tomorrow. Don't take today for granted.

Today I am remembering my beautiful white cat, Snowflake.

We lost him to a sudden sickness this day last year, one that took him from us very quickly. Watching him take his last breath was a moment I will never forget. When he died, I held his brother, Snowball, in my arms, (also suffering from the same sickness and fighting for his own life) and I just sobbed. Snowball hung on and fought for two more weeks before he, too, left us. I loved my cats dearly, and I grieved for them for quite a bit of the year.

 I am smitten by my new kitten, now a year old, but I still miss my white fur-babies very much.

Today I'm also thinking ahead, knowing that only two short months remain until my son's graduation. Two. Short. Months. I still can hardly believe it. This is one school year I do NOT want the next two months to fly by.  God gave me four years to mold him, to love him, to encourage him, to guide him, and to parent him. They've seemed like forever at times, while other moments it still feels like he just got here. It's definitely an entirely different world parenting him as opposed to parenting David. His high school graduation doesn't mean all that molding, loving, encouraging, guiding, and parenting will stop. It will just change.

The other day we were talking about college and the future, and he said, "Well, after I graduate (college) and get my own place, then it will go back to being the way it always was. Just me. But at least now I know I have a family I can always go to when I need help."
That's right, son. You'll never be alone again. No matter what, you'll always have a family behind you now. 

He gets it. Four years doesn't seem like much, but these four years changed everything for that boy. 

As challenging as it's been to raise a child from the age of 15 and on, when I take the time to reflect on how far he's come (how far we've all come), I know I don't want to take a single day for granted. While we keep moving forward, sometimes it's so helpful to keep looking back. Reflection is good for the soul. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

#SSMT17 Verse 7

So, I picked this verse to post for today because Scripture truly is a lamp and a light to me. Whenever I don't know how to pray or how to focus my thoughts, I always turn to Scripture.

Right after I posted the verse this morning, I opened my prayer book up to today's prayer, and this is what I read. 

I love it when God does things like that for me, always reminding me how intimate and personal He is.

Savor each moment

We've had quite the exciting soccer season in our home this spring, with both boys' schools claiming the District Champ title as Co-champs for the 2017 season. Then when they both won their first round in the playoffs, they both had high hopes of their teams advancing far enough to face each other again at an even higher level. And truthfully, both teams carried that potential to make it all the way to the State Championship.

Last night, I went alone to Juan's game, while David and his girlfriend met up with both of their youth pastors to watch the Sachse game in Rockwall (Mike worked late). Here David is proudly wearing his school's District Champ shirt while I am wearing Juan's school's District Champ shirt. :) We were definitely a house divided. :)

I dropped David and Kyleigh off, and headed back to savor one more game of my son's high school soccer career for an 8:00 game. Talk about an intense game. Not one that I enjoyed watching alone! Thankfully David humored me and let me keep texting him updates.  First half, neither team let the other team score. Second half--same. Ten minutes of overtime, still no goals. Ten more minutes, both teams barely missed at least one or two opportunities, but still no goals. They finally went into penalty kicks, and the other team sadly took the victory at 10:20. 

My heart sank as I watched Juan, his teammates, and his coaches shed their tears out on the field. They had such potential to advance far, but no such luck. Their season officially came to an end. For the eleven seniors on the team, they knew a chapter of life just closed. As I walked out of the stands, it hit me. That was the last Naaman Forest High School soccer game that I would ever watch (at least on the Naaman side). I'm glad I didn't miss it. 

Here they are at the start of the game.

Here they are joining as a team to support their five players going out for the penalty kicks.

Here they are after the game, slowly coming together to hear their coach encourage them, saying, "I could not have asked for any more. You guys played a great game."

Juan came home and just sat in his car alone for quite a long time, grieving the loss and processing all that it meant. That team has been his family for the last three years, and those two coaches have been his mentors. This morning I think he even cried a few more tears.

All good things must come to an end at some point, so now we move forward and savor each moment of his last two months of high school. Thankfully we gave him good news to chew on earlier this week when we showed him what we got him for his graduation--tickets to Spain to see his sister. :)

Right now I'm listening to him skype with her in the other room, telling each other about how they celebrate Easter in the country where they each live. Hearing her voice fill my home is truly something to savor.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

This just happened . . .

There are so many emotions represented in this post that I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Juan doesn't know yet, so please don't tell him. But Laura is sooooooooo excited and happy that we are coming. I can't wait to see her again, and I am really looking forward to meeting and getting to know her mom. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

The need to recharge

As we near the end of spring break, I am reminded of how much we truly need to take time to recharge. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. There's a reason God asks us to set apart the Sabbath--we can accomplish more by honoring it than we can by ignoring it.

Last week was a full week for my family. Had I added one more thing to it, I likely would not have enjoyed any of it (or at least anything after the first day of activities). Tuesday kept us going non-stop from 6 am till 10:30 at night with work, school, and soccer activities. Our boys' high school teams played each other, plus it happened to be Senior Night for Juan's soccer team. So my day consisted of school all day, a meeting after school till 4:00, a 4:30 soccer game at Juan's school to watch David play (they tied, keeping their undefeated streak, claiming first place for all the Freshman teams in the district), a quick dinner at Chick Fil-A with David at 6:00, a fast return to Juan's school by 7:00 to walk out on the field with Juan while they recognized him as one of the Senior players, a 7:30 game against their biggest rival (David's school) which ended in a tie, leading into penalty kicks, giving Juan's team the final victory for the night (leaving both schools as co-district champs, tied for 1st place). By 10:30 that night, we finally got home and fell straight into bed.

After a night like that, I was very thankful I left my Wednesday evenings open this semester, giving me a chance to rest and recharge from the night before. Thursday night would hold another late evening, one I would have ended up resenting had I not taken a break between the two nights.

Thursday evening I met up with a friend at the Rockwall campus at church to attend Awaken, a very special evening with Priscilla Shirer. Her message challenged us to live fully awake to the things of God, fully accepting our lot in life at this time, aware that God placed us exactly where we are in life for a divine purpose. We have not been cheated--we've been chosen. Years from now, people will not remember our accomplishments, but they will remember how we responded to whatever ailment God allowed us to suffer.

Had I been exhausted by the time I arrived, I might not have been fully awake enough to let God speak to me through her message. I'm so glad my friend invited me and gave me the chance to be there.

Friday evening I readied my classroom for spring break, sent my kids off with a smile, and headed to watch David's last soccer game with his Freshman team. He left with his girlfriend and her mom to attend a youth event at church while I headed across town to watch Juan's last regular season game at yet another high school. Now all that's left are the playoffs. My teacher badge won't get me in for free to those games, plus they're all out of district, so looks like I won't be going to many more high school games. After the game, Juan went to a cook-out to celebrate their win, while I grabbed a very quick bit to eat and then headed to the church to pick up David. By 9:00, I got home and fell into bed shortly after.

Saturday held just as much activity, if not more, and I didn't give myself a break between three full days and nights. And I felt the effects by Sunday. Between a pancake breakfast with David to support Juan's team, lunch out with Juan at a new Colombian restaurant, grocery shopping, a flat tire, church, and a friend's 50th birthday celebration, I came home exhausted. I've worked hard to not get to that point this semester, and I was reminded quickly of why it's so important to PLAN times of rest in between activities.

So when the dogs disappeared on Sunday afternoon, I could only breathe out a long sigh. How dare they on my day of rest????? After searching for them for a few hours on Sunday, I went to bed early because I felt so depressed that they were gone. And I don't really even care for the dogs that much, but I hurt for them, not knowing if they were cold, hungry, sad, or even if they had stayed together. Thankfully we got a call the next day from a neighbor on the next street saying our dogs went in their garage the day before and refused to leave! Silly dogs. I'm just glad they stayed together, they're okay, and they're home--and we didn't have to pay any "get out of jail" fees to the shelter.

We filled our first few days of spring break with appointments we didn't have time for in the regular school season, spent a day at Six Flags, and now I'm determined to stay home and recharge for the last few days. When I take time to rest, I end up feeling better, have more energy, get more accomplished each day, stay focused, connect more closely with God, and I even see things from a more positive perspective. When I let myself get run-down, it's easy to let my stress level get the better of me. We're going to have a full plate from here till the end of school, with David's recreational soccer season starting next week, Juan getting everything in order for graduation, college prep stuff, and getting ready physically, financially, spiritually and emotionally for a summer full of traveling. I've definitely got to be fully awake these next few months! I've been asking God for some big things lately, and I don't want to miss seeing how He answers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#SSMT Verses 5 and 6

I am a little late on posting verse 5, so I decided to post it together with verse 6 today.

I absolutely love both of these verses. To think that the God of the universe is contantly thinking of me. Delighting in me. No wonder He wants me to take delight in Him. No wonder He wants to give me the desires of my heart. When we truly take delight in knowing Him more intimately each day, our hearts change and He plants new desires within us that are completely aligned with His will. 

I am really enjoying this focus specifically on the Psalms this year. Plus I love taking the time to relax and color them, It's a great calming, chilling activity.

Thanks, Mom, for getting it for me.

If you've got a few minutes, hop on over to the ABH blog to check out my most recent monthly devotional on the importance of Scripture memory. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Am I dreaming?

Guatemala bound! LA Bound! Spain bound!

Dearest friends and family,
I still can’t believe I’m even writing this letter, but I’m so excited to tell you about our family’s upcoming adventures (some very unexpected) and to ask for your prayers.  

Our former Student Ministries Pastor (Shane) recently pulled Juan David aside to tell him he really wanted him to be part of our church's first ever mission trip to Guatemala this July 8-15th. They will be installing home kits of electricity, a stove, and a water filtration system to enhance the lives of many in the San Raymundo community. They will also lead a daily Backyard Bible club and train other members of the church(Iglesia Vida Real) so they can continue ministering powerfully in the community. We felt grateful for the potential he saw in Juan David and his willingness to keep investing in our son’s life even after moving to a different campus within our church. Later Mike and I attended the informational meeting, and my heart began to stir within me. I wondered if perhaps God wanted me on this trip, too. Without  me even having to say a word, Shane asked me if I’d like to go. After praying about it for two weeks, I knew that this was something God wanted the two of us to do together.

We are both bilingual in English and Spanish, Juan David has contagious energy and spirit that can add to any team, and I’ve been trained and have led several backyard Bible clubs in the past. It wasn’t anywhere on our radar for our summer plans, but it just made sense. Juan David will be heading to college at Dallas Baptist University a month later, so I can’t think of a better way to connect and bond with my adoptive son than to go on mission together. Now that we’ve met the rest of the team, we feel very confident that God chose both of us to be part of it.

In addition to our trip to Guatemala, it looks like God might be fulfilling our dream to reunite Juan David with his beloved little sister. Two summers ago, we made a request for Colombia to reconnect him with her, but it took an entire year for us to finally hear back from them with any news. Shortly before Christmas this last year, they finally reconnected via e-mail and social media. Less than two months ago, they “saw” each other again via a Skype call and have been communicating through video calls almost every week since then. The door quickly opened to find a way to travel to Spain to finally reunite them after six long years, so we are hoping to travel directly from Guatemala to Spain while the rest of the team flies home on July 15th. We’ve already arranged the dates with her adoptive mother and hope to be able to purchase our tickets soon. This will be our graduation gift to Juan David. We are still in awe of seeing this dream become reality, watching God continue to take the broken pieces of our failed adoption and turn them into a beautiful masterpiece.

The same day we plan to fly to Spain, David will be joining a different mission team with the church to return to Los Angeles, CA to work with a new partnership that our church has formed in the area. He will be there from July 15-23rd. We tentatively hope to be in Spain from July 15-26th.

Would you please consider partnering with us in prayer over all of these trips? Please be in prayer first and foremost for the unity of both teams and the relationships we will build with each other and with the people we will be serving in both Guatemala and Los Angeles. Also pray for our safety, our health, and for God to use us to open doors for the Guatemalan church and the LA church to reach and touch more of their communities for Christ. Pray for this to be a bonding experience for Juan David and me that will continue to connect us in deeper ways. Pray for David to grow as a leader as one of the older students on his trip. Pray for Juan David and his sister to be blessed beyond measure when they see each other again, and to truly see how intimately God loves them and has worked so intricately in both of their lives. Also pray for God to make a way for their older brother Julian to join us in Spain so all three siblings can reunite at the same time.

If you feel God prompting you to participate in either of these missions financially, you can make a donation at https://www.lakepointe.org/missions/contribute/. You will need to create an account, then select the correct trip:

·         1300-22640 YTH Guatemala July 2017-Boswell     or
·         1355-22640 YTH Los Angeles-FW July 2017-Villasenor.

Verify our names as trip attendees, and then click how you would like to contribute. All donations are tax deductible. (If you’d prefer to send a check, please address it to Lake Pointe Church with our names and the above codes in the memo line and mail it to Lake Pointe Church, 701 E Interstate 30, Rockwall, TX 75087.) Please do not feel obligated in any way to give, and please do not give if it is not above and beyond what you are already giving toward your local church. 

More than anything, we covet your prayers as we travel so extensively and are not together as a family. We trust that God will provide the funds necessary through His abundant supply of riches in Christ. Any donations towards the two mission trips will help offset our own personal expenses to attempt to take Juan David to Spain.

Thank you in advance for your prayers!

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY.” Psalm 126:3     

                                                                                             With thankful, joyful, and hopeful hearts,

Rachelle and Juan David Alspaugh

***We will also be selling a special APP for your phone called ShoppingBoss which will give you 6% cash back at over 200 of the best national retailers like Home Depot, Amazon, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, AMC, Old Navy, Petco, Nike, Chili’s, etc., etc. If you’re interested in purchasing the APP, let me know! We earn 50% of each app purchase to go towards our trip.

***If you noticed that Mike is not mentioned here, don’t worry. He’s definitely not complaining about having lots of uninterrupted time to work on his truck. J He’d considered joining David in LA, but they have already met their cap for the trip. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My head is spinning

My head is spinning with so many thoughts and emotions right now.

Six weeks ago today, I woke up feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I hate feeling that way, so I decided to start taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ. I literally made a list of every anxious thought and lifted my notebook up as I prayed over every single thing on my list.

The hardest thing about Juan's senior year is that you have so many decisions that need to be made far in advance, decisions I wasn't ready to be making so early in the year. I thought we'd have more time to get through this year, yet March just barely started, and he's already registered for freshman orientation in college! I am more than grateful for how God led him to DBU and how He's guided every single step, but still, making all these decisions so early in the school year has not been easy as neither of us really seemed ready.

On top of college decisions, scholarship applications, and regular senior year stuff (ordering a cap and gown, graduation announcements, etc.), we still both carried a huge dream in our hearts, wondering if it might actually come true. Would this summer be the year that God would reunite him with his sister?

That very morning, six weeks ago today, I cried out to God  in my prayer time. "Take us to Spain, God. Please take us to Spain."

Just a few short hours later, Juan woke up and checked his phone to find a message from his sister asking to talk via Skype. God took our faces and our voices to Spain that day via a video call. As we popped up on a video in her home in Spain, she popped up on a video here, filling our home with her sweet voice once again after eight years of silence. That voice has continued to fill our home almost once every week or so since while she and Juan David talk for over an hour each time.

The first Skype call gave Juan David the chance to meet his sister's mom. The second led to them telling him we could stay with them if we ever came to Spain. Today, he gave her mom specific dates that we're considering to make sure our hopeful plans don't overlap something they may already have planned. A few hours later, we talked to our leader for our Guatemala mission trip to see about getting only one-way tickets for the two of us so that we can travel directly to Spain from Guatemala after the mission trip. My head is spinning just thinking about it--everything is happening so quickly!!!!! I hate making quick decisions, especially big ones, but sometimes when God says go, you put your seatbelt on and go!

This morning during my prayer time, I read this quote on today's prayer (from the book The Prayer that Changes Everything by Stormie Omartian). One I've read so many times before, but it stood out to me very boldly today.

 "Thank you for giving me the courage to go forward and fulfill the destiny you have for me."

About the same time, I heard my phone vibrate. When I looked down, I saw his sister had posted a picture on social media. A picture I recently sent to her of the two of them together nine years ago, the one I used so often when I told people about our plans to adopt them. She wrote, "When we were young. I love him so much."

How can I not go forward to reunite them? It's not my story. It's their story. Their destiny.

Guess I better get started with my fundraising for our Guatemala trip so I still have the money to purchase tickets to Spain. My ultimate dream would be to purchase a ticket for Julian to join us. If that's really God's plan, I know He'll make a way.

Like I already said at least twice now, my head is spinning. In a good way.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Big things ahead

While my Plano friends and family are off celebrating their start to Spring break, I must admit I'm not even jealous I've got another week to wait because this particular week looks to hold a few big events for us. :)

Tomorrow David and Mike have a meeting at church to find out more about his upcoming summer mission trip back to Los Angeles, California. Meanwhile Juan and I have our first team meeting at another one of the campuses to start preparing for our mission trip to Guatemala.

Tuesday afternoon and evening our boys' schools play one another again, this time at Juan's high school. Mike and I get to play traitors, cheering for David's school for the freshman game and then later for Juan's school during the Varsity game in the evening. At the moment, David's school is in first place for Varsity, while Juan's school is in second place, only having lost to David's school this season. So there's a lot at stake. It's also Senior Night, so we all get to go out on the field with Juan right before his game starts as they recognize him as one of the seniors on the team.

Thursday night I get to attend Awaken (http://www.awakendfw.org/) to hear Priscilla Shirer speak at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall. When the tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. on a Thursday a few weeks ago, all 4,000 tickets sold out within less than thirty minutes. I was at work, so I didn't even have a chance to get one. A week or so later, my friend texted me saying she got extras and wanted to know if I'd like to go. :) I'm really excited to see Priscilla Shirer in person and hear her speak, and I'm so grateful for a great friend who thought of me.

On Friday afternoon/evening, the high school regular soccer season comes to an end. David's freshman team will play their last game for the season, but he immediately starts up with his recreational team two weeks later. Juan's team will play Friday evening to find out what place they will take in the district, then take a two week break, and then go into the playoffs.

So, a week from now, I, too, will be celebrating our start to spring break, but with such a great week coming up, I can definitely wait.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Embracing opportunities for rest

Contrary to popular belief, teaching is not a very restful career.

Teaching Pre-K is restful when I go home because I very rarely take any work home with me, but by the time all forty-four rambunctious little ones go home, my energy is pretty much spent, anyway. (Just ask my friend who subbed two days for me while I went to the NABE conference!)

But when I find a moment to rest, I am learning to embrace it.

Like today. David's counselor called two weeks ago to say she needed to set up a conference that each and every freshman needs to have with their counselor and a parent to go over their graduation plan. The latest she'd schedule a conference was at 2:00 p.m. Since my school doesn't get out till 3:10, I had to take a 1/2 day personal day and get a sub. That gave me a 3 hour lunch before the conference, and then another two hour break before I need to go to David's soccer game.

Nice. I got to sit out on my porch with a book and a cup of coffee after I made my lunch and caught up on some laundry. Now I get to spend a little time to blog while sipping on a yummy smoothie. And I got to spend a half hour with my son, talking about what he wants to do (or doesn't know what he wants to do) with his life. (Sigh.  The poor boy is clueless when it comes to finding his interests. Soccer and mission trips are the only things he can put a finger on at this point. Thankfully he's quite immersed in both.)

I've also learned to embrace a quiet start to my day. Not just my usual quiet time at 5:00ish while everyone else still sleeps. But now Mike takes David to school, I push Juan out the door as early as I can (which isn't always very early), and then I have between 20 to 30 minutes of absolute quiet before I have to leave. I might enjoy a second cup of coffee, catch up on some reading, talk to God, play with my cat, etc. I leave the house feeling calm, rested, recharged, and ready to face the day. Maybe once a week or so, I'll leave early so I can take David for doughnuts and catch a few minutes of one-on-one time with him.

Besides making some significant changes to my schedule to help me balance out my life a bit, I will also say that I'm thankful for two suggestions my doctor made for me that have made a world of difference in how I feel. Extra Vitamin D3 and Magnesium. Since November, I doubled the amount of Vitamin D3 I was taking every morning, and I take a small dose of magnesium every night. I finally sleep soundly and feel more rested in the mornings than I have in years. I even feel rested after waking up at 4 am because my body slept so soundly all night. Wow. I truly feel like a different person.

Rest. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual rest. It does the whole body good. I am so thankful I decided to start listening instead of just plowing through life at breakneck speed. I am able to tune in to the small moments and embrace them, whereas they may have passed by me unnoticed before or I may have shoved them aside because I didn't have time for them.

Well, the clock is telling me break time is over so I can make it to David's soccer game. So far, his team is undefeated. :) I'm so thankful for this beautiful weather to sit outside in today. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Value of Dual Language

I was in middle school when the yearning started. I loved learning words in a new language, getting glimpses into a different culture. I knew people from other countries, and I longed to communicate with them in their language and to travel to their homelands. I wanted to experience another world.

My first high school Spanish class captivated me. A student teacher made learning fun as she taught us all she learned while studying abroad in Spain. She inspired me to follow in her footsteps, to find a way to study the language by living in another country and culture.

I later moved to Indiana and had a similar inspiration with one of the greatest teachers ever, who also shared often of her experiences of studying abroad in Guatemala.

Several years later, I found myself flying home after spending a semester studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'd lived with an Argentine host family, faithfully attended a local church youth group, and took part in a Spanish as a Second Language course every morning. As the flight attendants came on the intercom to give information about our flight, first in Spanish and then in English, I realized that my whole world had changed in those three short months. I tuned in to the Spanish announcement over the English and understood every word.

Bilingualism opened up a whole new world to me.

I quickly embraced opportunities to teach English as a Second Language to both children and adults in our small community. I got to use my bilingualism in order to help them gain it, as well. In doing so, I found yet a third world open up to me. I grew up in the "American" world, embraced the "Latin American" world, and now I fell in love with the "Bilingual/Bicultural world", children growing up in a community of one culture and language while being raised at home by parents from another.

Sadly, school systems all over the country saw these children as a hindrance, as kids with lesser skills than their peers due to a limited English proficiency. Those systems in reality failed to see what an incredible advantage these students bring to the table, an opportunity to be the bridge, the link between two worlds. Anyone knows that the ability to speak more than one language makes you far more marketable in the workplace than a peer who can only speak one.

Speaking two or more languages means your brain is working at a greater capacity, carries double the vocabulary, and can make connections that other monolingual brains cannot.

I worked in the ESL system for about five years in Indiana before moving to Texas to work in Bilingual Education for the last fourteen years. ESL focuses solely on gaining English proficiency, while Bilingual Ed. gives children more of a foundation in their native language while still pushing the English as quickly as possible. Now we've finally gotten the right idea here in Texas that a Dual Language Education makes so much more sense. Both languages are equally important. Just imagine the society we could be producing by raising students who speak, read, and write both languages!

I am very grateful for the opportunity I had the last three days to attend the NABE (National Association for Bilingual Education) Conference here in Dallas, along with my Principal, a fellow-coworker, and many other Bilingual teachers from our district. I walked away feeling very inspired to continue in my profession  of teaching bilingual learners, raising them to be bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural human beings who can only enhance the society we live in.

Here are just a few key take-aways from the conference:

  • The whole concept of America being an English-only nation didn't even come about until the early 1900's. 
  • If we don't push students through all of the levels of rigor in their own language, they may never be able to transfer the knowledge and skill into the new language.
  • Brain research clearly supports the fact that biliterates have enhanced cognitive gains in multi-tasking, classifying information, reasoning skills, visual and spatial skills, recall skills, creativity and focus.
  • When you lose your first language, you lose your culture and your family connections. 
  • Dual language education is an opportunity to stimulate the brain, not remediate a student.
  • Your accent is nothing to be ashamed of. It just means you have two world-views or more. To speak with an accent is a gift.
  • A second language gives you power.