Reunion, Graduation & Redemption (If ever there were reason to praise, it is this!)

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Nine months ago our oldest daughter walked out on us and her last few weeks of high school.

In the toughest love we could muster, we not only allowed her to walk away but held to our previously given word of: leave again and you cannot come back.

It was awful for all of us.

She was 18 and out on her own. We prayed and prayed. And then prayed some more. We had everyone we know praying for her.

Over the 9 months we still communicated over text. It was great to know she was safe but at the same time heartbreaking to hear how she was living. The handful of times we got to see each other was simultaneously joyous and torturous. I harassed her about finishing high school nearly the entire time. It was all I knew to do. Every time I’d leave her at the homeless shelter or on a downtown street, I’d drive home crying the entire way.

Tough love is just that, it’s tough. It’s hard to not enable, not hover, nor give handouts. It’s flat out excruciating to stand back and let your child live out their choices and consequences.

Ryan and I both knew she had to come to a place where she chose the right path. We couldn’t force her or even hand it to her – she had to do it for herself.

And even though there were moments when I was tempted to give up hope, I knew the Lord was right there with her. I was confident He had protected her from a million different harms and He would continue to do so. He, alone, could redeem this situation.

And then He did.

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At the end of September Arianna left the homeless shelter and moved in with her older brother.

There, she had accountability. She started working and registered herself back into school. Cuero High School has a similar program to the one she was in here in our town before she left. An accelerated online course that enabled her to finish her work in less than 2 weeks.

And so on November 30, 2016, Arianna graduated High School.

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She did it.

And she is so proud, as she should be. Equally are Ryan and I. That tough love, while I’m sure was as hard to receive as it was give, built a determination in her. So determined was she that we didn’t even know she was back in school until she called us to announce her upcoming graduation. She was so excited to surprise us with this news and we were so elated to receive it.

What a joyous day it was. My heart was floating in praise and hope.

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One of the ways we exercised this tough love motivation to finish high school was to refuse visits with her siblings until she graduated. We had to draw a distinct line in the sand of what is acceptable over 18 years old behavior. Quitting high school was at the top of our unacceptable list. With 6 more kids behind her, we didn’t want to face a similar scenario later in life.

This made for a long 9 months. The kids asked about her all the time, “Has Arianna finished school yet?” We’d answer, “not yet.” And then we’d all pray for her to make good choices.

On Thanksgiving, Arianna got to surprise them with her news. She came and spend the day with us. All was right, as if the past 9 months had never happened.

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And now, Arianna is working on college. We’re hopeful she will be able to begin in January at a community college close to where she is living.

If you joined us in praying for Arianna, I cannot thank you enough.

Our God is mighty to save.

 

The Boys’ Birthdays

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We have 3 birthdays in a 2 week time span. These birthdays creep up on me fast every year and even worse, time slips by even faster once they’re past! While time may defy me, my camera does not. I am, at least, capturing these fleeting moments in pictures.

Adam: 14 years old

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As usual, we opened presents at 630am, before school started. He received NBA 2k17 from Grandma & Grandpa – he’s received this game in it’s newest edition every year.

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He also got some weights, a football, and a parachute for speed training.

Classic gifts for a 14 year old boy.

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I bought him Mary’s tacos for breakfast – it’s a place of legends here in our small town.

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For dinner we picked up pizzas and headed to the park at the river. Adam has become an obsessed fisherman and there was no other way he’d want to spend his birthday than fishing.

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And with food I would never buy on a regular day but allow on birthdays.

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Lance: 13 years old

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Lance’s birthday is right around the corner from Adam. And with this day, we now have more teenagers than non-teenage children.

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Lance really only talked about wanting one gift all year long. It was expensive so both grandparents and us had to go in together to make it happen.

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This is the smile of a boy who got exactly what he wanted.

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A hoverboard.

And with this, we had one happy boy.

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He was on and riding it immediately.

And he’s still riding it. So much so, we are mildly concerned he may forget how to walk.

After school Grandma and Grandpa Newcom came and picked up to spend the night at the ranch. This was all he wanted to do for his birthday – go to the ranch. Adam joined him and they spent the weekend fishing, hunting (or maybe just shooting things), and eating really, really well.

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Edward: 10 years old

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Before I can recover from two birthdays, Edward’s comes along a few days after Lance.

He was super excited to turn 10. Double Digits. Where does time go?

He was so excited, he sneaked into our bedroom and peeked at his presents a few days before his birthday. I wouldn’t have known if he didn’t proceed to tell me what he wanted for his birthday was (ironically) exactly what he saw. Little stinker.

This made early morning present opening a tad anti-climactic, but his loss.

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He’s trying to act surprised to receive a Kindle but we knew he already knew it was coming. Turd.

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And he got a chess and checkers set. He loves chess and wants to start a chess club at his school.

Probably because he can beat everyone in our family but Ryan so no one wants to play with him anymore. He needs some new competition.

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I sent E off to school with an apology, “Sorry, buddy, I have to work today and cannot bring you lunch.” But when I got to work my schedule had gotten messed up and there were 2 Pharmacists for the morning shift. Guess who left for the day? Yep. Totally me.

I surprised him with some DQ chicken tenders, a favorite of my kids.

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That evening we ate homemade pizza and went out for dessert at The Cheesecake Factory (all his choosing.)


I must say, these 3 boys have such drastically different personalities but are all such a joy to be with. I look forward to celebrating their birthdays together when they are adults. I have a feeling their unique gifts and talents will be mutually beneficial to one another in life. In other words, they are going to need one another.