Tuesday, November 27

Brave.

Today my big boy was brave. After being in 1st grade with all of his friends since August, today, he went back to kindergarten. As we drove to school this morning I felt tears welling up in m eyes and I got that dreadful lump in my throat. My momma heart hurt for my big boy today. Though he had a smile it was not the same. I adjusted my rear view mirror so I could watch his little face as we drove towards his new beginning. His fresh new start. I stared at his sweet face and watched as he looked out the window. I caught a glimpse of worry and doubt in his eye and began to pray. I prayed that today would be a magical day filled with love, joy, encouragement and peace. I usually drop him off in the carpool line but today I wanted to hold his hand and walk with him to his new class. As we got out of the car I swallowed my tears and put on my most happiest of faces and cheered him on with words of encouragement to reaffirm that God is with him and that this is going to be so GREAT. That it was going to be way better then he could EVER imagine and that Kindergarten was going to be so much fun. He smiled Big and grabbed my hand. As I gripped his clammy, pudgy, double jointed little hand I thanked God for giving us this day. A day to start new with people who really Love him and care about him. People who are praying for him and for people who will encourage him. I love his school and knew in my heart he was going to be in GREAT hands today. As we walked in the building a couple of his buddies from 1st grade ran up to him and threw a million questions at him. He gripped my hand a little tighter and pulled into me. I gently told them that even though Parker is being obedient to what God is telling us to do by going back to kindergarten doesn't mean they cant all be friends any more. They kind of smiled and ran ahead. Entering that classroom and seeing Parker's little face light up at the sight of his new friends and all of the fun things in his new classroom my heart began to settle. I saw and watched the bravery light up bright across his face. He is so brave. He immediately spotted his new teachers vintage tub in her room filled with stuffed animals and pillows and reminded me of the story I had once told him of my most favorite teacher I had as a kid and how she had a tub just like this one. He was thrilled to have that in common with me. Its the simple things that bring comfort to our aching hearts. I am thankful for those sweet simple things. I knelt down, kissed him goodbye and wished him a happy day. On the drive to the littles school I let my tears flow. I don't know why I am so emotional about this. I hurt for and for his disappointment but I am thankful that God has this under control and that he will bless our obedience. He will not forsake Parker in this transition at school. We are fully relying on him. And I find tremendous peace and comfort in that. Today after school Parker was shining bright. He had a GREAT first day. As I drove up to the carpool line his sweet teacher gave me two big thumbs up. My heart was at ease and I was eager to talk to him about his day. He told me he has two girlfriends already. One that he has had since he was two and a new one that is best friends with his old one.  HA! Kindergarten take two is going to be great. And I am excited. Today my big boy has taught me how to be brave and how to face things that are scary with a smile on my face.

Saturday, November 24

One-On-One

One-On-One time.
It's a term used often in our home.
It started with Phillip going on early morning donut dates with Parker a couple of years ago.
Phillip has been amazing at setting aside special time for each child.
Whether it be getting donuts, Froyo, pancakes at Cracker Barrel or just time watching a movie alone after everyone else is in bed.
He is a really great dad and makes this time a priority.
This time, for each child, is something that is highly anticipated and begged for. Which is a blessing and we are embracing it. (I need to embrace and participate in it more.)
We recognize that the day where our kids no longer what to spend time with us is approaching quickly. This breaks my heart. So...with knowing those teen years are lurking around the corner we are trying to soak up all of our time with our kids that we have.
Tonight Phillip and I focused on Parker. With everything going on with his schooling and him feeling a little left out this time was much needed. Quality time is his top Love Language and it has been obvious he is starving for some.
Phillip felt strongly today that God was prompting him that we needed to take Parker on a special date tonight! I am thankful I have a husband who listens to God and acts on it.
Tonight was special and I am thankful for time we had with our son.
I was a little concerned our plans weren't going to work out since Parker has been under the weather with Asthma issues the last 2 days. Today being the worst.
But after a couple of breathing treatments and some Morton...Parker managed to muster up some energy for a fun night out.
While the littles spent the night with my sister we...the 3 of us... set out on the funnest date.
We let Parker choose what we did.

Our evening started with dinner at Mr. Gattis.
Parker had a feast. Devouring his 2 slices of pizza, macaroni and spaghetti. After his tummy was satisfied we enjoyed racking up the tickets in the arcade for some pretty fun prizes. Parker cleaned house.





































Winning 290 tickets. With which he bought 4 new snakes.
3 new army men.
Some handcuffs.
Some orange Vampire teeth.
2 foam airplanes.
And a bouncy ball.

After our dinner date and time at the arcade we strolled through PetsMart on the hunt for a new fish.
Our beloved fish "Bait" died a few months back so we decided to find him a replacement.
It took some convincing to get Parker to accept that we were NOT going home with a SNAKE! However I would have settled for the ├╝ber cute Chinchilla they had.
We landed on a Dragon Scale Beta who is reddish orange. He seemed to be the most alert out of the crew they had. His name is "Reddy" and now he lives in my kitchen.

After we got home we played a board game and a matching game that Parker invented. He is really creative! And then we snuggled on the couch and watched Spy Dogs.
After he fell asleep I leaned over and curled up next to him. I buried my head on his back and listened to him breathe. Through the rattling of his asthmatic lungs I could feel and hear his little beating heart. I embraced him and thanked God for this tender and gentle life he has given us to nurture and raise. And oh how thankful I am for this privilege. So deeply thankful.
Tonight was the best Friday night.

Friday, November 23

Be Still My Heart

But let the godly rejoice.
Let them be glad in God’s presence.
Let them be filled with joy. Sing praises to God and to his name!
Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name is the LORD—
rejoice in his presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families...
Psalm 68:3-6 NLT

I, like many adoptive families and Christians alike have read this in Psalm passage over and over.
We have proclaimed it.
Stood on it.
Memorized it.
Prayed over it.
And have found comfort in it.
Tonight, these words on these pages in my bible have come to LIFE. They are not just words.
They are truth.
They breathe life.
They are promises that I have seen be fulfilled and continue to be fulfilled.
They birthed a new emotion in my soul.
As I shift through the visions and memories the last two days have held, my chest burns with immeasurable gratitude.
A deep thankfulness.
A familiar joy. A joy comparable to the joy I felt as I stepped out of that plane in Texas with Emme last January.

I have stood in the presence of The Lord this week. I have been able to do nothing but rejoice in Him.
He who is Faithful.
True to his word.
He who is just.
He who is alive.
I can count how many times in my life where my heart has stood still. Where I could feel the tangible essence of God's presence. Where I have experienced joy and gladness that is breath taking. This week, my breath has been taken away yet again by the ONE who sets the lonely in homes.

On Monday we left our house to embark on a journey of a lifetime.

Last February I received a message on Facebook from a girl in Illinois telling me that they were in the process of adopting a little boy from Ethiopia and that they believed he was/is Emme's brother. My teeth nearly hit the keyboard! She gave me her email and left the ball in my court to communicate or not. I immediately sent her an email!!!! Of course I wanted to talk!!
Turns out... He is indeed our little Emme's brother! We have been in constant communication ever since. We have been able to pray with them and for them over the last few months. We have been able to form a very special friendship.
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to reunited the kids. It is dear to all of our hearts that they know each other and be in contact with one another. After much prayer, we decided that it was better for us to reunite them now while they are little rather then waiting until they are young adults.
Personally I didn't want to rob them of childhood memories together. Despite them living in Illinois and us in Texas, the fact that the kids are in the STATES is a blessing and we are all willing to do whatever it takes to help them form their own unique sibling bond!

God orchestrated the most beautiful reconnection! I feel incredibly honored and blessed to be apart of these two precious kids lives.
To be apart or their story.
I feel blessed to be their family.
I feel blessed that because of them, we have NEW family!
New beautiful and precious family.

On Tuesday, we took the drive from Dallas to Murphy Texas to reunited Emme and Amenti. I am convinced the butterflies that were welling up in my stomach could have carried me the entire 14 miles that were lying between us. That afternoon as we drove to meet them, I kept staring in the side mirror thinking "This cannot be real. This cannot be happening. God is so good! Too good really! God Thank You for your goodness! For your promise to redeem and restore! Thank you for allowing us to be apart of this amazing story you are writing! A story of redemption. A testimony of God fulfilling the promise of setting the lonely in homes!"
As we continued to drive down the freeway my heart sang songs of praise to our faithful Father. I prayed for Emme's heart. For her to remember and for her to accept. I wasn't really sure what her reaction might have been. But I knew we were walking in a path that only God could have set our feet upon. And He was present in these tender moments.
At first sight of one another it was awkward. Ha! He wasn't sure what to do or say and she just snuggled in tight against my shoulder and tucked her little chin into her chest while she twisted and pulled on her curls.
The look on her face took me back to Africa. To a time with my sweet girl that was so tender and raw. A time where she was consumed with fear and uncertainty. I quickly reassured her that all was fine. Amenti sheepishly said hello and scurried off to continue a game of soccer with the boys. I'm sure what made it awkward for them was all of us adults staring at them awaiting their reaction. I think Emily (Amenti's mom) and I silently evaluated the situation and agreed to just let it flow naturally. Her and I escorted Emme upstairs to play with Barbies. Emme loves Barbies. Phillip and Steve (Amenti's dad) stayed outside with the guys. After a few minutes Emme was ready to go back out. We decided to take them all the to the park that was a couple of blocks away. As we walked to the park something between Emme and Amenti clicked. A bond began to form. The moment I could see the familiar feelings come back to them was when they sat by one another and sipped from their juice boxes. Us mom's held our breathe in excitement and sighed with heart felt "awes".  Within minutes they were chasing each other and playing tag! They chased each other for a long while. Their laughter and joy brought tears to my eyes and JOY to my heart.
I have never seen Emme shine with so much JOY. She glowed. She was proud. Something in her came to life.
At dinner she would lay her head of his shoulder, she would scoot closer and closer to him. She gently scratched his back and just wanted to be near him. Seeing them hug and look at each other with endearment took my breath away and my heart stood still.
These moments.
These memories.
They will be forever etched in this mommas heart.

Today I am thankful that God moved us.
He moved our hearts.
And I am thankful that we said Yes.
I am thankful for others, like the Hauter's, who have been moved to meet His need of setting the lonely in homes. And who also said Yes.
Emme's brother - Amenti - is orphan no more.
I am thankful for this precious opportunity to reunited two of God's precious children. To see them grow and to know and love Him, The Father who has so delicately orchestrates their steps.
I am thankful for our new family that God has given us. It is truly and amazing gift.
And how fitting that this fell into place the week of Thanksgiving.
What a memorable Thanksgiving.
Family. Its's the sweetest thing. 

Wednesday, November 14

A Re-Start at School.

First Grade.
First Grade has been quite the challenge.
Not all days are challenging but some are. And those days. Oh my.
Last year when Parker was evaluated for his new school the school and teacher (whom he has right now) recommended that we hold him back and let him do Kindergarten one more time. This concerned me and frankly confused me. We were transferring from another school where he was doing REALLY well. And was on track for 1st grade. So why would he need to go back to Kindergarten here. It is silly to say now but at the time it hurt my mommy heart.
Probably more like my pride.
Every mother wants their child to be the brightest and smartest. We just do. Admit it.
I felt in that meeting that they were zeroing in on him and telling me everything opposite of what I thought and believed he was. Note that they WERE NOT saying this. I tend to over dramatize things like this and this is just how I FELT.
You must know Parker. He is bright, very smart, creative and his wheels are always turning. He has incredible problem solving skills and critical thinking skills. I knew in my heart for sure that 1st grade was where he was meant to be.
I cried my little mommy heart out to my friends and asked for advice and for prayer. (Even though I already knew what I would do) My friends gave me GREAT advice that I wish I had of heeded.
I called the school in mid-June and told them we were going to go into 1st grade and that Parker was going to be really great in 1st grade. I could hear the hesitance in the lady's voice on the other end of the line.
Sometimes.
We should probably listen to the professional.
In August we hit 1st grade full swing. It was fast and furious. Parker was doing great. The first couple of weeks are review from the previous year anyway.
About mid September I went to a meeting with his teacher. She raised some concern about him being dyslexic.
WHAT?!?
I mean his school last year mentioned a concern but since we were changing schools I didn't feel the need to get tested at that school. I wanted to see what the new school felt.
I really don't understand my own logic behind this. 
I put the thought or concern... in the back of my head and waited to watch for some signs of dyslexia on my own before I made the appointment to have him tested/screened. My sister is dyslexic so I am familiar with its challenges and its signs and effects.
Parker WAS showing EVERY sign.
Every sign.
So I made the appointment.
2 weeks ago Parker was screened for dyslexia.
On this screening/test (its not a formal test) you want to score in the 50% percentile on each category. That is where the average student falls. Below is high risk dyslexia/disgraphia.
Parker scored between 73% and 83% on all of the tests except the last one. He scored 55%.
Since this is not a formal screening and he did so well on it we aren't 100% sure he is in fact dyslexic. He got bored in the last leg of the test and that is why the tester feels like he scored so much lower.
She believes he is just a turkey.
That he rushes through his work carelessly because he is....bored. Not challenged and just a turkey.
The recommendation they gave us was to pull him out of 1st grade now and place him back down in kindergarten to give him a chance to mature and grow up and relearn what he knows. It will give him a head start in the new group of classmates he will have.
His teacher came over last monday to our house to talk about Parker and to give us some advice. She highly encouraged us to make the move down to Kindergarten right after this Thanksgiving break.
Oh. Hurt. My. Heart.
My heart aches for him.
It hurts to know that he will hurt.
He will be disappointed at the thought of leaving his 1st grade friends and moving DOWN to kindergarten.
You know when you are this little the grade above is the cool grade. The cool big kids.
He will not be in this group again if we move him down. And he has developed some really amazing relationships with these kids.
After meeting with his teacher we both began to gently bring it up around him and quiz him on how he would feel if...

His response when we first brought it up was:
"Well I just don't think that is a very good idea because that puts me out further from graduating from college and getting a real job!"
His second response was:
"Mom, it might be good to be in kindergarten again. I mean I will be the biggest and I have already done half of a year in first grade so I will be smarter. And next year when I go back to 1st grade I will already know the stuff and I can help teach the class."
I LOVE the thought pattern of 6 yr olds!!!

After MUCH prayer and thought we have made a decision.
I called the school yesterday and told them that Phillip and I have decided that God is presenting us an opportunity to give Parker a second chance at excelling in school rather then struggling. God is allowing a DO-OVER. A restart.
I apologized for our lack of judgement and trust towards them.
We will hold him back now.
I wanted Parker in school on Tuesdays & Thursdays and there just happened to be ONE spot left in Kindergarten at this school on those days.
Thank You God for working that out.

My heart hurts for him.
We haven't told him yet.
We will tell him sometime this weekend.
Tomorrow is his last day in 1st grade with all of his buddies. They are having a BIG Thanksgiving feast with both of the first grade classes and I want him to enjoy it without any distraction.
I turn in all of his first grade books tomorrow and pick up his kindergarten books.
This morning in my quiet time I was telling God how disappointed I was that I even let him go to 1st grade anyway. When we were advised to do Kindergarten in the first place.
I am disappointed that I let my pride hinder Parker's education.
I felt God gently whisper to me that HE is taking care of Parker. HE is molding Parker. HE is setting his feet where they belong and HE is in the middle of all of this.
It is such a sweet and precious reminder that when you give it to God he takes care of all things. Even the dilemma of 1st grade vs. Kindergarten.
God is a PERSONAL God and he cares about the details of our lives.
I feel like God is giving Parker this opportunity to really mold his character and self esteem. I feel like with moving Parker now, though it will be painful for a few weeks, the pain will subside and He will excel and have an advantage in Kindergarten.
Hurting for a few weeks now is so much better then hurting and struggling for the next 10 years.

So this is where we are. We are facing telling our amazing 1st grader that he will be going to Kindergarten after the Holiday. Please pray with us that God will prepare Parker's incredibly sweet heart and that he will have peace and understanding. Please pray that the transition will be smooth.

Honestly... Is it safe to say that I am excited for the lighter homeschool load that comes with Kindergarten? I mean... 1st grade is wearing me out!!! All of these blended words, digraphs and whatever else we are learning is hardcore!
I love this kid!!! 

Monday, November 12

For Sale.

Ok. Its official. Our house is on the market. We must be looneys or something for putting our house on the market in NOVEMBER 2 WEEKS before Thanksgiving!!!
We are those people.
Those crazy people who do crazy things.
And NO... We are NOT moving to Ethiopia.... YET anways ;) Just wanted to get that outta the way.
We are staying local.
This whole house thing has been quite the ordeal over the last year and a half. We LOVE our house but feel like God was telling us a year and a half that we needed more rooms because He is going to FILL them!!!! Originally we thought we would build again. God showed us differently. Through much stubbornness on our end we gave up "OUR plans" for our house and we have been waiting to hear from God on what to do while searching homes up for sale in our city. I think I have seen around 20 homes. Thank you Julie for your patience!!!

Last Thursday I found the perfect one. Not exactly what I had imagined in my head but perfect for the dream we have of filling up a house with kiddos. Lots of kiddos. It is a GREAT house with LOTS of rooms.
We saw it.
Loved it.
Put an offer on it.
They accepted. 
We signed contracts last night.
And put a sign out infront of ours today!!

SOOOO.... Now my pretty house that we have lived in for the last 3 years is now officially on the market. CRAZY!!!! Is it weird I feel kinda sad? It's such a weird combo of feelings. Excited to see what God does with the extra bedrooms while sad to leave the home we have lived in and made so many wonderful memories in. Emme's first home in America! I know... I tend to be a weirdo sappy woman when it comes to things like this!
But I am SOOO excited about out NEW CRAZY ADVENTURE.
I mean I can get 12 kids in this house easy.
BRING IT ON LORD!!! I AM READY!!!!

Now we gotta get this baby SOLD!!! If you know anyone looking in Midland/Odessa send them my way!!!