Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Throughout my life and as far back as I can remember, I've loved a challenge. In every area and arena. Since that day in Guatemala, the day Aviana and my eyes locked, she's been my biggest! If I think about it, I believe it started long before though. Maybe when first realizing we couldn't get pregnant. So really, she'd been a long time coming!

You know that square box you surround yourself in? The one you feel most comfortable? From the day I met Aviana, she took one look, shook her head as if to say, "that's isn't going to work!" and shoved me out. Without warning - I was on the opposite side! From then on - there we were - she and I, live without a net. I had never in my life been to such a place before. I was terrifiedShe terrified me. All one foot something of her...

Life came fast and furious. 

'Here's your daughter! The one you've been waiting for. The one you always wanted. Now go home and bond; even though she moves a mile a minute and won't let you hold her for more than a second. Oh and by the way, she's super independent, so she won't want help with anything! But, she's incredibly cute, and will love you so much that you'll feel guilty as hell for being unable to bond with her. Good luck back in America, adios amiga!' Of course, no one said that, it's just what was constantly running through my crazy mind. 

That's okay, because this pint sized beauty taught me more about myself than I ever wanted to know at the time. She showed me sides I didn't know existed. Apparently, I had some serious ugly that needed prettying up in the kid department. She showed me who I did and didn't want to be. I wasn't the most patient person before, but she slowly taught me (whether I liked it or not). Together, just the two of us (along with a ton of help from Dave, her Nana and Papa) we were slowly, but surely finding our way.

And just when smoother waters appeared ahead, the accident happened. I didn't know if I had it in me. I wasn't sure if Aviana and I had enough of a foundation built at that time. Everyone knows a house built on a rickety foundation will crumble. The accident was too much for me to comprehend, so I left it to God. I had to trust that He knew better, and would take care of us. Thankfully, He provided. Because as I sat bedside Aviana day and night in the hospital, something happened. The few remaining vacancies I'd previously worried about, well...they were filled. I was more than ready to not only get, but rip, Aviana out of hospital by the time of her release. 

These years haven't been the easiest, and often times - far from it, but with love - all things are possible. I've been there when the love wasn't, and nothing comes easy. Everything feels like a struggle. 

Every single step with Aviana presents its own unique set of challenges, but with each also comes a whole new lesson set. In the very beginning I didn't understand, so I used to fear these types of situations. I began to realize - with Aviana, the road was going to be rough. It twists and turns. Sometimes I don't know if I'm coming or going. It's always wild, but the truth is - I never was the type to like a boring ride anyway. She always makes it worth my while. When we get to the end...we are always so happy to have made it!! We survived, yet again! We made it! We wipe our brow, high five each other and then...that's when the real work starts. The mind work, because our little tour guide doesn't stop at just the ride, oh no.

For those who are paying attention, her entire life has been given for the betterment of those around her. It's up to us if we chose to see, or not. She's here to teach us about what's most important. Kindness, Compassion, Love, Empathy, Courage, Spirituality, Resilience, Grace, The Human Spirit, Appreciation, Community, Good Will, Patience, Acceptance, Generosity, Death, the list goes on...

Oh Avi, I love you so...


  1. Jen, You are so right!! You don't know how many times I want to tell people "Get off your pity pot, you should know about this little girl, Avi ,and her family".
    Every time you share, you have a way to bring me back where I aught to be ,a little more humble :)
    Avi & your family has shown me and taught me more about Kindness, Compassion, Love, Empathy, Courage, Spirituality, Resilience, Grace, The Human Spirit, Appreciation, Community, Good Will, Patience, Acceptance, Generosity, Death, the list goes on...
    BUT MOST IMPORTANT, about LIFE as it should be!!
    Love ya all!
    Cindy from NC

  2. Thinking of you all daily. Wishing you peace. My old-man-beagle sends beagle-y love to Rainey, who has an important job.

  3. She truly came with a lot of gifts and she has shared them with all of us who were lucky enough to know her. Most of us never know what our work on earth is/was supposed to be, but all of us surely know what Avi's life work has been. I may say this to you a million times, THANK YOU for sharing her with us. She's certainly made me a better person and probably not just me.

    Jen, my computer had to be replaced so I cannot currently send email. Thank goodness for your blog!

    Love you all,

  4. I love you. I love your honesty. If only we had known each other back then during the 'bonding' or lack thereof on my part with Valentina, then WE could have bonded. No, instead we found something else to bond over. And as much as Aviana has taught EVERYONE about EVERYTHING, you, my dear sweet friend, have taught ME about everything. You have been on my mind constantly and I keep going back to our conversation yesterday. You will never know how much of an effect that had on me. I choose to deal. This is the case we were given. This is the case we are to open. This is the case that will/has been closed. All I have to say is like mother like daughter :)

  5. Jen, your honesty and insight is remarkable. You've expressed your feelings so well, and I couldn't agree more: Aviana most definitely lives her life helping people in so many different ways. I wish I could cuddle her and tell her how very special she is -- but I know you and Dave are constantly doing that, so she knows how special she is. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your struggles, and your beautiful little girl with us. Hugs to you, my friend. I'm always thinking of you. xoxox

  6. Wow. Powerful and beautiful words. Something to be read again and again.

  7. Oh Jen I wish I had the words to express what I feel for you and Avi and what all your family has taught me. I know the Lord lead me to your Blog so that I could learn from her. I wish I could be there to give you all hugs and you know how much you mean to me. Our beautiful little girl is and has always done things her way and what a blessing all of you are to so many of us. Very few times do I not read without crying - your words make me feel like I am there with you, and know I am with my heart. Keep your head held high, make many many memories. Love you all so very much!
    Julie n Texas

  8. We have loved reading about your journey with Aviana . The story of her adoption to now. Your blog reminds our family to focus on what is most important in life with our children. My older children 19 and 14 have enjoyed the many stories about your dogs. Aviana is such a great teacher. Thank you for sharing your journey with her. She is such a sweet , special girl. You are an amazing family.

  9. You are so right, Aviana has such a huge purpose on this earth. She was meant to be with you from the day she was born. She is an amazing part of life. She has touched so many through you. When I look at my own daughter I can't help but see your daughter. They look so much alike and are the same size. Sometimes I just hold her hand, and think of you. Sometimes it brings tears to my eyes. You and Avi have made a difference in my life.
    Love you,

  10. Yes, a house will crumble built on a Rickety foundation, but usually we find what we need in the rebuilding. Trials, never liked them never will. I can make a pretty good argument with God about how I love and appreciate all my blessings and so therefore we can forgo this whole trials deal. I'm a happy go lucky kind of gal, the world needs happy people and I'm just the one to fit the bill. If I have trials then how can I possibly fulfill that roll? I've often confused happiness with joy. They are not the same thing, one can have many heartbreaking trials and still experience untold joy. Happiness, so fleeting and brief, like a drug, always needing the next hit. Joy is eternal! It reaches deep down and rocks our soul. I have experienced much happiness and much joy in my life. Joy is harder won for me because it usually comes in putting the pieces back together. Because I live in the Middle East my house is full of furniture that has been made out of old Saudi doors. They are beautiful to me, yet imperfect, marred, cracked, scuffed etc.. The untold stories of the people who walked through and lived behind those doors, oh how I long to know their stories. They say trials build character. I say they teach us about love. How many times have I just wanted a trial to be over, done, finished obliterated out of my life so that I could just feel happy again. Yet in those trials is the very place that I find God the most. I love deeper, pray longer, gain more patience understanding and appreciation for this precious life I have been given. I am learning to open the door . Trying to let myself experience my life the way God intended. It's hard! It's work! I'm a cryer and I cry, a lot!!!! A river I tell ya, a river! My grandmother, she had six children, three of which died in their youth, a alcoholic husband and living well below poverty level. Untold heartache that I cannot not even fathom. She was gracious and kind. But what I remember most is how she loved! Pure, with her whole soul! Oh to be able to have true Christ like love. She had it! Oh Jen, I feel that way about you and your sweet husband. Your pure and good and filled with radiating love. Aviana is angelic trapped in a failing body. Yet, the love she spreads without ever saying a word. Your family fills my soul with true joy and peace. Thank you for sharing this precious and sacred time of your life. It is humbling to be allowed a look behind your door. I wish you peace in all that you face! I love you Hodder family.