About Me

My photo

I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother.  Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing.  Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.

Surviving the Valley Series

Surviving the Valley Series
Click on the card to order or read the reviews

Monday, July 31, 2017

Guatemala to Miami to Madrid to Zaragoza

Neither Juan David nor I had ever been to Europe before. We'd always heard wonderful things, but we had no idea what to expect. I suppose we both imagined Madrid as a city full of people, amidst all the hustle and bustle of city life. We knew it would look and feel somewhat like America (rather than a third world country), but we expected to see much older and more sophisticated buildings and structures filled with a history we just don't have here in the United States.

We definitely saw all that, other than all the people (because apparently everyone disappears from the city for the summer, either to the mountains or the beach, to avoid the excessive heat). We felt very pleasantly surprised, though, to find the city to feel so peaceful and tranquil. We found open plazas, parks, walkways, benches, and sitting areas everywhere. People out walking or just sitting outside together, enjoying each other's company. We didn't realize that this captured a huge part of Spain's culture, something we'd end up seeing everywhere we went.

In between bus rides and train rides, we took as many pictures as we could, just to show that we really did spend a little time in Madrid. Sadly, I can't tell you what anything is. Laura's mom was an excellent tour guide, but I don't remember even half of what she told me. I just listened and took in as much of the scenery as I could. I still couldn't get over the fact that I was actually in Spain, somewhere I don't know that I ever even dreamed of going before we found out that Laura had moved there. If you've been to Madrid, maybe you've seen some of these sights.

We finally made our way back to the airport/train station to catch a train to our final destination, Zaragoza, Spain. Here we are, waiting on our train. This picture spoke volumes to me. Juan David and Laura are overlooking a small pond of turtles in the middle of the train station. 

 Turtles. Who knew what a foreshadowing this picture taken in 2008 represented.

(The only picture I ever had of me with both of them, overlooking a pond of turtles. The last time I ever saw her. Only God knew that the next time I would see her again, we'd find ourselves standing over another pond of turtles, 9 years later, in Madrid, Spain.)

We got on the train around 9 pm for an hour and a half ride to Zaragoza. Then we'd take a taxi from the train station to finally get to Laura's home. Two very long, tiring, exciting, emotional days of travel to get there. This beautiful sight awaited us as our taxi drove closer to drop us off. I couldn't believe we were actually there. It all felt so surreal.

Once we got to their home, got out of the taxi and entered her home, another surprise awaited me. They showed us the guest room, where I assumed I'd be staying. We put our suitcases in there, and her mom showed me an empty closet where I could hang my clothes for each day. She then explained that Juan would be sleeping in there, Laura would stay in her mom's room, and I could have Laura's room to sleep in.

Laura's room.

Laura once had a room in my own house. I painted it for her. Decorated it for her. Hung bright orange curtains for her. Filled the closet with pretty clothes for her. Adorned the shelf with dolls and other toys for her. 

I will never forget the day I fell to my knees and sobbed as I finally cleared out that closet and donated all the clothes that I wasn't able to send to her when I found out she would never occupy that room. She wasn't coming home to her room, after all. It took me nearly a year after the adoption failed to even be able to open that closet again and face the remaining contents.

But if that wasn't her room, then where was it? Where did God plan to send her? Would I ever know, or would I be left to wonder about her for the rest of my life until I got to heaven?

And suddenly, seven years later, there I was. In her bedroom. The one she did go home to. The one she did occupy. The one she did fill up with pretty clothes and cute toys. The one she grew up in and now began the early stages of her journey to womanhood in. 

I could let the emotion of this moment overwhelm me. Or I could breathe it all in and realize God loved me so much that He perfectly arranged to give me this priceless gift. 

Only God.

Two dreams come true in one day!

About two weeks before we left, a friend who is also an adoptive parent to Colombian children let me know about some places we could possibly visit while in Spain because she had just returned from there. She mentioned touring the Real Madrid soccer stadium, so I looked it up to see if they'd even be open on Sundays. I knew that we'd likely only be in Madrid the day we flew in. When I saw that they closed at 6:30 on Sundays, I told Juan he better tell his sister how badly he wanted to go.

I'm glad he told her because he almost missed his chance! Her mom has absolutely no interest in soccer whatsoever, so she'd already planned out several other places for us to go that afternoon while in Madrid. Historical places that most people wouldn't want to miss if they only had one day to tour Madrid, but to my son, touring that stadium topped all of those opportunities. To him, that "museum" was the only one that mattered.

So, as soon as we finished eating lunch, we hopped on a bus and headed toward the stadium. I took a ton of pictures (and he took even more), but I don't think my pictures really do it justice. I love watching my boys play soccer, but I'm not a fanatic for the sport, so I can't say I really understood what I was looking at. All I saw was a sweet girl who couldn't stop hugging her brother. Those were the moments I wanted to capture. Seeing those two together again was my dream come true.

As I said in a previous post, I have a lot more pictures that are clearer and better, but for her privacy, I will only post the ones that don't identify her so obviously.

 Where the players sit. It's dark in the picture, but Juan David and Laura are sitting there together on the players' chairs. 

What an incredible experience.
A day I will never forget. 
A memory I will never regret making with my son. 

He watched two of his dreams come true in one day. I had one of the greatest longings of my life fulfilled to finally see those two together again. 

(Plus they had wifi there, so I got to send pictures to Mike and David right in the moment. Oh, and I forgot to mention, David flew to Los Angeles the day before on another youth mission trip, which made for a crazy week of keeping up with everyone's time zones!) 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Next stop ... Spain.

After several hugs and sweet goodbyes to our new friends that traveled to Guatemala with us, Juan and I took off to the other side of airport on our own to board a plane headed across the Atlantic rather than toward home. I could literally feel myself tensing up. I wanted to cling to Juan, but our seats didn't even end up together. I ended up on one side of the airplane with him a row behind me on the other side. He'd complained of stomach issues all day, so I knew his nerves were bothering him, too. 

I sat down in my seat, and tears immediately filled my eyes. Fear and anxiety gripped me, and it was all I could do not to panic. I had no idea what to expect once we got to Spain. I couldn't have been more thankful for the sweet blue-eyed Spaniard blondie sitting next to me, traveling with her Daddy and her big sister. She was as cute as cute can be! I listened to their Spanish accents as they talked to one another and realized I wouldn't have any trouble understanding once I got to Spain. 

I took some Dramamine right before boarding, so I did my best to stay awake until they served us dinner, and then I curled up with the blanket they gave me and the neck pillow I brought and hoped to sleep my way across the Atlantic for the 7-8 hours. The lights soon turned off, the little girl beside me fell asleep, and so did I. Our flight took off around 11:00 that night, and I woke up around six thirty the next morning, right before the flight attendants came around with breakfast. 

I am so thankful I slept so well on the flight, because by the time we landed around 8 am Miami time, it was already two in the afternoon in Madrid. I ran my fingers through my hair quickly, chewed another piece of gum to hopefully help my breath, and hoped I looked presentable after sleeping all night on an airplane. I'd waited nine years to see Laura again, and this didn't make our meeting ideal. Her eyes would be glued to her brother, though, not to me. I didn't even know how much she even remembered me, to be honest. 

I met up with Juan as we got off the airplane, we took a picture, and at some point we got our Spain stamp on our passports. I don't remember anything else, but apparently quite a bit of time passed between the time we landed and the time we walked out to finally see Laura. I had my phone as ready as I could to capture the moment, but while dragging a suitcase with one hand and tryiing to video with the other, I only got about 8 seconds on camera, all from behind. Laura's mom stood on the other side with her camera, catching Laura take off running past the barricades as soon as she saw her brother, running straight toward him with the first of her many huge hugs. Her mom said she'd been going crazy since the moment she woke up that morning and then it only got worse after we landed as she waited for us to get our luggage and get through immigration. It was a beautiful moment. That "little girl" had been longing for her brother for years. 

Much to my surprise, when her arms were not wrapped around her brother, she showered me with just as many hugs and kisses. She remembered me. And her mom welcomed me with open arms. 

We found a place to safely store our luggage for the next few hours, and then we grabbed a bus into Madrid to find a place to eat lunch and begin getting to know one another. My nerves began to settle very quickly, and before we knew it, everyone felt pretty comfortable together. (Though Juan's aversion to all things seafood still didn't change even after the next nine days of living on the Iberian peninsula. Lol)

One dream fulfilled. Next stop: a visit to the Real Madrid Soccer Stadium, a true soccer player's dream. And who better to experience the dream with than his precious "little" sister?

We could never have imagined the blessings ahead over the next nine days.

(On a sidenote, I just want to let you know ahead of time that I will not be posting very many "good" and clear pictures of Juan David and his sister, mostly out of respect for her privacy. Those of you that are close to me have probably already seen those pics, anyway.)