The day I got married, one of my closest friends looked me in the eye and said "God has many wild and wonderful things ahead for you and Jeremy."

Being called mom by 7 kids is definitely wild. Each day I look for the wonder in it all...and give thanks.

Partnering with my husband in life, parenting, work and serving is definitely wonderful. He is my favorite.



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

#hoco2k18


Tomball High School Homecoming happened this past weekend and we had the awesome privilege of escorting Marian at halftime for Homecoming Court.

As with any big event, the moments can buzz by and I hardly have time to appreciate them with everything going on.  

But this is one moment I did not want to just buzz on by.

I don’t think we have ever dressed up so much for a football game before. Jeremy and I arrived early to save seats for family and friends…





We prepared to walk with the court 8 minutes before halftime—pinning boutonnieres, taking pictures, listening to instructions. 




As we rounded the track to wait for the time the court would walk on the field, Marian told us how the speaker would talk about each candidate. And we soon became aware that the 3 of us would walk down the 50-yard line with the attention of the crowd in the stadium all.on.us. 

My heart might have skipped a few beats.
I thought we would be going as one big group.
Now I'm starting to pray we don't trip arm-in-arm.



I became increasingly aware that this was A BIG MOMENT.  To have Marian honored this way by her peers was so incredible! What an honor for her to be nominated out of hundreds of students.

Even if she was not chosen as Homecoming Queen, 
sharing this moment with her was an absolute gift!
Thanks, Kara, for this pic!!

Although we could not hear the announcer very well from the field, I asked him to send me her bio and this proud mom is sharing it with the world!   

Marian Evermon is being escorted by her parents, Jeremy and Vanessa Evermon.  Marian is a member of the Varsity Chorale and is in the EMT Practicum Certification course.  Marian also coaches gymnastics from ages 2-15, participates in the Princess Project, which sings to hospitals, orphanages, and nursing homes to spread cheer to those in need.  During the summer, she attends mission trips to places like South Padre’ and Honduras.  Awards include medals for UIL Solo & Ensemble with the highest score of 1.  Her future plans include getting her EMT certification and after graduation becoming a paramedic and firefighter.  Her favorite memory at THS is of playing volleyball her freshman year.  She hopes to play in college.

This was such a fun homecoming!  Memorable for sure! 
And not just for our girl, but for our boy too.
Marian & Wes (who call themselves "twins")


So beautiful--wish I could say she gets it from me ;)

 The rest of hoco festivities... included hair...

(thanks for the referral, Sara--he loved it!)


 exchanging mums...



 last minute shopping, pictures, dinner, dance, and a late night...


Monday, September 17, 2018

My favorite homecoming

It's that time of year -- Homecoming.  This is a big deal.  Although I have lived most my life in Texas, I was born in New Orleans and went to high school in New Mexico.  So I bypassed the whole Texas homecoming thing until my girls got into 8th-9th grade.  At which time we adopted from another country and entered public school for the first time.

To say we were overwhelmed is an understatement.  When a friend offered to make my girls mums that first year, we all said 'uh no thanks' not really believing girls wore those things.  My girls adapted a year or two later but I'm still not used to it.
I'm still wide-eyed at the mums and my eyes get wider each year as the mums get bigger for my upperclassmen.

But this is not the homecoming I'm talking about.  My favorite homecoming happened Sept 17th 6 years ago.  With the buzz of school starting and the new routine, I often almost let it slip by. 

However my oldest seems to always remember this anniversary.  A quick text this morning of "Happy Homecoming Day" stops me and brings me to tears.
At first, I think she doesn't realize homecoming is still a month away for my high schoolers.

But then I remember what homecoming she is really talking about.
 
I wrote a post about it 3 years ago and I had to look back at what I wrote.  Oh all the FEELS. 

I remember seeing my parents' faces as we walked through the final exit at IAH, and as I hugged my mom I cried.  It felt like I just crossed the finish line of a marathon.  Little did I know it was more like the first mile of the first leg of an Ironman Triathlon.




With little sleep on the midnight flight and 1 less bag that someone in Colombia thought they needed more than us--we made it!


We piled all of us and all our luggage in Big Blue


And headed to IHOP

This is us translating the menu and waitress just to get drink orders started.

As hard as those first weeks (months...) were forging our way through, I am forever grateful for this HOMECOMING. 
 It will always be my favorite.  

Monday, August 27, 2018

Help Wes get to Rwanda!


Welcome Wes, my oldest son.  He's in his Senior year of High School and has been asking to go back to Rwanda for several years now.  After praying about it--he applied to go with the team this November....read more about it from him...

I’m thrilled to say that I have the opportunity to partake in a mission trip to Kigali, Rwanda in the heart of Africa. This would be my second time making this trip.

First trip in 2010

We go Thanksgiving break: November 16 - 25th and total trip cost is about $3500. God has placed the desire on my heart to reach out and serve this community--A community that needs the perception of what a relationship with our Lord looks like.

I humbly ask that you please support me as you see fit. Donation funds are greatly appreciated but I can’t get anywhere without prayer! Please pray for God’s will to be done on this trip and that we can touch more lives through his Word.
This is a mission that is to be carried out through humility and love just as Jesus demonstrated. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus tells us, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

If you chose to respond, whether it be giving money or prayer, I can’t begin to thank you enough! Everything helps! Remember, the purpose is to build the kingdom of God.
Thank you for your support!


With gratitude, Wesley Evermon

Please make checks payable to Ten Talents International and send to me at:
15115 Brown Rd | Tomball | TX | 77377 or give to “Mission Trip Project” at 
Please kindly let me know if you give online.  Thanks!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Riding the rollercoaster

Well another summer just flew by!  Jeremy and I went to lunch for the first time this week since school started and he comments, "Can you believe summer vacation is over?"  He is so funny--I reminded him that summer is a SEASON, not a vacation.

School has indeed started.  I can tell because my kids' sleeping schedules have flipped.  I mean last week they were sleeping til the afternoon but this week they are falling asleep IN the afternoon when they walk in the door from school.
And with back to school, we get into all the back to school, back to schedule, back to structure stuff.  It's really good.  I like it.  But I also don't like it.  Probably for the same reasons you like it/don't like it, but maybe also because it can be overwhelming.

It's overwhelming in different ways--last weekend we moved Katerin back to UMHB on Friday 


and Emily to A&M on Saturday.  

We thought we had a week between those moves, but found out just a week prior that Emily would be going August 18th.  That was a whole week before we expected!  When Emily read the email about her move-in date, anxiety welled up inside her and she literally yelled, "I HATE IT...I MEAN THANK GOD FOR THE OPPORTUNITY, BUT I HATE IT!"

Rollercoaster.  That's our mode of transportation.  The ups and downs can happen so fast that I hardly have time to catch my breath.  A lot of the time I don't have time to process what just happened because I grasping the safety bar getting ready for the next turn.

I can see now how the summer program Emily completed was for the parents just as much as it was for the students.  Dropping her off this time was a lot less teary and more happy.  Happy because she was glad to be there, really happy because she was already connected with a few friends, and she knew a little more about what to expect.  Rollercoaster is headed up at the moment.

Overwhelming...so my two oldest girls are away at school and the other 5 are starting the new year.  August brings football practice, band camp, pick up schedules (oh yeah, be sure to re-enroll online so you can get your schedule), find your classes, find your locker, practice the combination, buy school supplies, clothes, order yearbooks, pay athletic fees, band fees, choir fees, orchestra fees, join the PTO, join the Athletic booster, join the band booster--all the things all the parents go through when it's back to school.

If you have a child with special needs, that receives special services, or has learning differences, there's a whole other level of overwhelming.  And it's not just parents overwhelmed.  Our kids feel it too.  They are facing challenges I never faced.  They are overcoming obstacles and finding ways to manage that I never had to consider.

I'm thinking about how to be pro-active and help their teachers understand -- yes they may have gotten the IEP, but honestly I don't know how teachers do it.  How do they have time to do everything they do??  And then put a stack of IEPs on their desk as they prepare for hundreds of students to walk through their doors all day.

So I'm typing and retyping emails to teachers, discerning what to say, what not to say, in efforts to help my kid be the most successful they can be.  And my kids are going to all the new classes, catching up with friends, getting all the papers and packets to sign, and coming home to crash in exhaustion.

It's overwhelming.  My feelings are not left off of the rollercoaster either.  I'm excited for all the new then I may feel down a little as I recognize the real challenges ahead.

This summer, in the middle of this crazy ride, when the rollercoaster was taking a dip and turn, Jeremy looked at me with a smile and said,

"Rollercoasters can be fun, right?"

He may have confused the summer season with summer vacation, but I love this guy.

Monday, June 25, 2018

How she got here


Last January I was looking ahead to June and thinking, “What the heck is Emily going to do when she graduates?”  We really did not have a plan.  But that changed in a few short weeks.

In February, we had a planning meeting with teachers and faculty at school and we learned about the PATHS Program at Texas A&M.  I devoured the info on the website and showed Emily with much excitement.  She did not quite match my excitement. 

I made her apply anyway.

Emily was invited for an interview in March and our hope was for her to at least have an open mind to the program, and NOT sabotage the interview.  If you look at the info online, you will find that this is an incredible opportunity for adults with disabilities.  I am super impressed with what Texas A&M is doing in this area!  

But there was just one problem….
Emily did not want to have her disability.  
She just wanted to be “normal.”

We have never shied away from the word “Autism” but we also didn’t focus on the label either.  In ARD meetings, we talked about Emily’s strengths and weaknesses and where she needed support.  The word “disability” was just not used.

When you graduate high school, the language really starts to change for a person who receives special services.  Whether we walk into Lone Star Community College, PATHS Program at A&M, or the TWC to apply for vocational services, the word “disability” is not only visible on the walls with “ADA” but it is used frequently in conversation.  This was shocking and set us back a bit. 

We walked through a couple hard months with Emily grieving all over again.  She didn’t want her disability.  She didn’t want a special program.  She didn’t want to have needs.  She didn’t want to have to depend on other people to help meet her needs.  All of this—she communicated to us.  I have to say how proud I am of her for being able to identify and communicate her thoughts in the midst of a really hard time.  

I wish I could do that as well as she did.

So how did she make it through the interview and get accepted into the PATHS Program?  The coolest thing happened the night before her interview.  All the times we brought up the PATHS Program, Emily would get upset and did not want to go or even talk about it.  When I say upset, I mean she was vehemently opposed to it.   It would always end in tears.

In an attempt to avoid her sabotaging the interview, Jeremy talked to her one more time the night before we went.  It started off rough again, but out of the blue, Emily brought up the story of Jonah.  Do you know the story of Jonah from the Bible?  It’s a short book (maybe shorter than this blog post)--I highly recommend you read it for yourself.

Emily began retelling an abbreviated version of the story and how God even used a big fish to get Jonah where he needed to be, and all of a sudden, we hear her say, “So if the PATHS Program is where God wants me, then I need to go.”

Right in front of our eyes, we saw how God used His living and active Word to soften the heart of Emily and give her a willingness to be open to whatever He has for her.  This too was a comfort for me—if God can speak to my daughter and change her mind about the PATHS Program, then I can trust Him with whatever is next.

When we got the news of her acceptance, we were excited!  




Mom and Dad might have been more excited than Emily, but by the time she left June 24, Emily was ready.  She was nervous and excited--like any normal college student leaving home for the first time.  
Drop off was hard as expected, but God is good and we got through it.  And later that night, when we were 140 miles away, we got a sweet reminder of just how much HE HAS GOT THIS.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ready or not, here we go!


Here we are again, about to take the second to college, and it is NO EXAGGERATION to confess that I did not prepare for this launch.  Not this soon.  Not with this girl.

Emily is my firstborn.  However, when we adopted our kids from Colombia, Emily became the 2nd oldest.  I did not realize how much that would impact her.  I was sensitive to birth order and we discussed it with friends, family and our social worker before we adopted.  But I thought it would be okay because I already knew that Emily would not be the first to date, first to drive, nor the first to leave the nest.  What I didn’t fully prepare for was Emily’s own realization and grief with not being the first.

When we got Emily’s diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) at age 7 (a diagnosis that now just falls under the Autism Spectrum Disorder), there was much about her future that became uncertain.  We grieved over future losses—would she ever really be able to learn as her peers, would she have meaningful friendships, would she go to college, get married, have children?

Our own future plans of being empty-nesters by age 50 were interrupted with this diagnosis. (By the way, I AM SO GLAD THAT PLAN WAS INTERRUPTED!!!)  BUT having a diagnosis helped us know how to help Emily.  We found resources and awesome teachers AND we accepted the idea of Emily living with us the rest of our lives if needed.

You know what I didn’t know when she was 7?  I didn’t know she would become one of the most courageous, strong, and perceptive among our family.

Emily is uncomfortable in social situations.  Emily sees things differently—thinks about things differently.  She and I can finish each other’s sentences, but she doesn’t finish my sentences the same way I would, and I don’t finish hers like she would. J

What does courage and strength look like in Emily?  Courage looks like walking into an uncomfortable situation every.single.day when all you want to do is isolate in your safe room.  

Anxiety arises and you go anyway.
That's courage.

Strength looks like walking out the door again and again when you know you could say the “wrong” thing and get those looks from people around you that make you feel stupid.  You have no immediate escape so you stay and endure, and walk out the door again the next day.

Walking out the door again the next day.
That's strength.

One common characteristic of Autism that can present itself is not reading people’s facial expressions and understanding their feelings, and not being able to adequately communicate your own feelings.  Not true for Emily.  When we have a conversation, I observe how keenly aware she is of my response and facial expression after every thing she says.  She glances at her audience whether it’s just one, two or three people in the room to read what their response is and if what she just said will gain approval…acceptance….or not.  

It’s a beautiful yet difficult gift to have. 

It’s difficult when what you say makes you feel unaccepted.  Yet it’s beautiful when it allows you the gift to recognize people’s hurts and show them empathy and compassion.  Emily’s perceptiveness goes beyond reading facial expressions.  She has an ability to describe people’s true intentions and motivation that has been remarkably accurate.

These qualities about Emily—courage, strength, perceptiveness—comfort me a little as we…guess what…..drop her off at college!
  
Tomorrow!  We are taking Emily to Texas A&M and moving her into a dorm on campus where she will be for the next 4 weeks.  If she successfully completes the 4 weeks, Emily will be eligible to complete the next 2 semesters at A&M as a student in the PATHS Program.  The 2 semesters consist of course work and an internship that will give her the opportunity to complete a certification as a Paraprofessional.

Tomorrow is a new beginning for Emily that we never expected to happen.  I can trust God with her because she is His anyway.  And how He got her to this point is nothing short of amazing.  Telling that part of the story will be a delight and comfort to me as I let her go and need to be reminded that He has got this.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

49 weeks

forgiveness feels like freedom.  a weight lifted.  i have not felt it quite like that until this week.  you see 49 weeks ago i hurt one of my best friends.  i betrayed her with my judgement and accusation.  and what is most painful for me is that i thought i was doing the right thing. 

i need much forgiveness.

49 weeks is a long time when you lose a friend like her.  we have known each other for almost 2 decades.  we have shared dinners, girls weekends, burdens, gifts, prayers, our families.  she was with me the day i found out my second born was a boy.  she was with me as we prayed for the children we did not know yet would become ours. if you browse my family photo albums you will find members of her family in our pictures.

the loss the past 49 weeks has been deep.  many would think, including myself, that there is not much hope for redemption after a hurt like that.  afterall, we were just friends....not family.  we could move on.  we have lots of good friends.  our lives are busy so we could just keep our minds on other people and other things.

but the truth is we can't ignore that loss.  it's too deep.  our relationships intersect. our kids intersect.  and ignoring our pain does not make it go away.  even though we do not share the same dna nor last names, she is family. we love and serve the same God.  we both have been rescued.  we both live in the forgiveness of Jesus. 

and perhaps i needed to understand that truth more.  i sin and ask for forgiveness as if i don't really hurt anybody.  the past 49 weeks i have been well aware of how my sin hurts.  how much i lose.  how much i need a savior.

and today that Savior made a way for us to be restored to one another again. 

sin abounds--i mess up even when i try to do the right thing
but t.h.a.n.k.f.u.l.l.y His grace abounds more.  

forgiveness is freedom