Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Excerpts From a Six-Year-Old's Journal

One of Yikealo's daily school activities is practicing his handwriting. Our method of doing this involves him writing a few sentences on a topic of his choice in his journal. Sometimes he wants me to give him an idea or a sentence starter, and other times he comes up with his own thought, but regardless of the beginning, the results are nearly always somewhat entertaining. This is purely free-write time for him, so we rarely spend time correcting grammar or spelling. Rather, it is just a chance for him to get thoughts down on paper. Besides, it's really interesting to see where his brain goes, and the mis-spellings make it way more fun for me! :-)

A few entries for you to enjoy:
"Something Captan America is my fafrit toy becaus he is vary strong and he can cut sumbtys arm off and he has a cool stand. I like America because it is a fry cachry." (That's free country for those of you who have trouble deciphering little boy writing.)

"My favorite anumals are cheetahs and lions but my favorite anumal is a clodid leprd (clouded leopard) becas it has a blend in trees and they hunt other anumals."
Notice the actual "cloud" on the "clodid leprd's" back...

Along those lines: "If I had a magic ring I would turn my self into a cladid leprd. Then I would eat Mom and dad and my brother. Then I would brf Mom and dad and my brother." Just what I be eaten and then "brfed."

"If I could choose my name I would be called Batman. That is a cool name because I like bats. I would nevr haft to stand in the corner because Batman is a good man." After this entry, I attempted to persuade him that someone named Yikealo could also avoid standing in the corner with good behavior, but he wasn't convinced.

On a day when Mom was being particularly unfair by making him do school and eat fruit: "If I were five years older I woud be 11. I woud plae the cumputr all day. I woud eat candy all day long."

"School would be better if we did not have math or fonix. I do not like speling or riting. I wish I could paint in art evedaye." I think we'd better continue with the "fonix, speling and riting," don't you agree?

"If I were very small I would snecke up moms back becus mom wood screme and howl. I would whisper in moms ear and giv mom goos bumps. I cood clim into dads pocit so I cood go to wrck."

"The best kinde of pet is a lisrd. I wood let him out uv his caje and let it clim moms shrt becus mom wood screm. I wood play with my frend."

"If I could breack the guinness Book of recrds it would be for being the fasts mostrtruck. I would driv 3000 books tol. If I got in enee trafick I would go ovr the cars." This one took me a bit to decipher, and I had to ask what he meant by "3000 books tol." He said, "Remember when we read about the giant who was 3 books tall?" Me: "Aha! Do you mean 3 stories tall?" Y: "Yeah, that's what I said."

"If I could decorate my room anyway possible I would put a jacalatrn covrd like a spitre. I would hoold it if I cood nevare slep. Sintae would be so scard that mom would haft to lae dawn with him all nite." Nice.

That week he was apparently all about scaring his little brother, because the next entry is: "If we never slept I would mack Sintae scared bi macinge a moster out of paper. I would trn off the lites and cepe the holwae lite on. I would cepe a litall crac opine and then I would ras up my mostr."

"If the ocean was made of jelly I would wunt to eat the jelly. Well not ol of it. I would get a tumy ake. Then if I had a wotr bord I would ride it. The best thing would be geting stuck in the jelly. Skish skish."

"If I could be invisible I would giv pepale wejys. I would all so giv pepale jokes. Then when the day was ovre I would go to bed and slepe."

"I am skared of a Chedae becus if it thot that I was a tasty snack it mite chase me. When I got tiyred I would let it chase me. When it got close to me I would jump back wrds and land on it's back and then it would be my horse."

Once in awhile he shows amazing insight and gets a little more serious, as in these entries:

"My farvite is God becos he helps me doo good at scool like a good boy. With God nuthing is posubl. He did for my sins."  Too bad he forgot the "im" in front of "posubl."

"When I was at Ethiopia I didn't have very much muny. When mom and dad udoptdid me I was scard. I bet when mom and dad udoptdid Sintay he was scard to."

This past Monday, we talked briefly about Martin Luther King Jr. and his work for civil rights. We listened to part of his "I have a dream" speech. That afternoon, Yikealo wrote this: "I think Martin luther King is speshol to me becus I'm free. Why wuold sume body wunt to shoot him? I think I no but who did it? It was some budy white. I think he did it becus he didint wunt brown pepol to be free."

He doesn't always limit his creativity to his own journal either. After one particularly rough day with Sintay, I found this written in the notebook that I keep in my purse: "My brusr isint the best I think, mor like I wish I cood sel him for 0 dolrs." These touching sentiments were accompanied by this picture:
David and I are at the bottom, waving "biy" to Sintay with sad looks on our faces while Yikealo stands over us with a smile and a hammer. Sintay is happily holding hands with his new family as they walk to their car to drive away. Lovely. Needless to say, we had a long discussion on the story of Joseph being sold by his brothers. Maybe I should take comfort in the fact that at least Y wasn't planning to profit from selling his own brother?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Redemption: A Legacy and A Promise

I've started a personal Bible study this year on 52 women of the Bible, using a book that I recently discovered through one of my blogging buddies. If the first week is any indication, I'm going to get a lot out of this, and I want to share a couple of thoughts that God revealed to me during my devotional time this morning. For the last several days I've been studying the story of Eve....a story that I thought I was completely familiar with....a story that I doubted would have too many new epiphanies to be revealed to me. Boy, was I wrong! There's a reason that God's word is called a "living" word...why am I so amazed when He breathes new life and meaning into an old, old story?

We're all familiar with most of the details of creation: God formed all of the birds and beasts from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:19). He made Adam, the first man, the same way....with 2 key differences: Adam was made in God's own image, and God breathed his own life force into Adam's nostrils (Genesis 1:27, 2:7). The woman was an entirely different story....she was not made from the dust at all, but from Adam's own rib. She was set apart from the very beginning....created in an entirely new way and made for a very specific purpose: to be the beloved, completing, counterpart to Adam, the helper perfectly suited to his needs. The word "help" that is used in Genesis 2:18 is most often used in Scripture to describe the way that God is a help to His people. It is used, for example in Psalm 33:20: "Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield." This word certainly does not indicate any inferiority or subordination; rather the man and the woman were meant to be equal partners, each contributing their own special gifts, talents and abilities to the marriage and family, truly completing each other. As Adam named all of the animals, so he named his new bride, "woman" (Hebrew 'ishshah) a word that meant literally "part of man."

Then we come to the story of the serpent tempting the woman. Satan is not very good at coming up with new tricks. Thousands of years later, he tries to get to us using exactly the same methods that he used in the Garden of Eden. He took the woman's attention from all of the good things that God had freely given her and focused it instead on the one thing that God had said she could not have. He also appealed to her fear of "not being enough." Which of us, as women, has not felt that at one time or another in our lives? We spend so much of our time trying to "measure up"...with our homes, our careers, our children, our relationships. We look around us and worry about what others think of us, and we want to be MORE. The woman had the same fault, as Satan talked to her about becoming like God. What she didn't realize was that she already WAS like God. He had made her in His own image, after all. Satan told her that "knowing good and evil" would make her more like God, when what it would actually do was the exact opposite. By His nature, God is completely seperate from all evil, and He hates it. By "knowing evil", the woman was drawing farther and farther away from God.

The next part is what completely grabbed my attention. God confronts the sinners and pronounces judgement on the serpent, the woman and the man. In the middle of this sadness is one little verse that, at first glance, seems very out of place. Genesis 3:20 states "And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living." The 19th verse is the end of the curse of the man, and the 21st verse is about God making coats of animal skins for them before driving them from the Garden. On my first read-through, I was struck by the strangeness of verse 20. Had Moses forgotten to write it in Chapter 2, when Adam was naming everything, and he just stuck it in here? No, because Adam had named her "woman" in 2:23, and besides, I don't believe that anything in Scripture is placed there arbitrarily. Then, with some help from my concordance and my favorite commentary, the answer became clear:  Adam re-named her Eve. In Scripture, a change of name indicates a change in nature or character (ie: Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul.) As "woman", she was already the physical mother of all people, so "the mother of all living" must mean something deeper here. Adam and the woman had just experienced spiritual the word "living" here must correspond to spiritual life. The woman was the first believer...the first to receive God's promise of a Messiah. She was the first to place her trust back where it God Himself...and her legacy is therefore changed from one of sorrow to one of great hope. Adam honors her great faith with a new name, one that is synonymous with her new Spirit, and she becomes Eve, the spiritual mother of all who put their trust in Him.

Isn't that just how God works? At our darkest moments, when all seems lost and overwhelming and completely incomprehensible, He comes in with redemption. He changes us from the inside out...creating a new life within the old shell. At the very fall of creation, a spark was born, a light of hope through Eve's burgeoning, clinging faith in God's promise. He's still doing the same today. He can fully restore the most desperate circumstances and make the hardest paths into the most beautiful stories. His hope and joy and redemption is all around us if we're only willing to place our trust in Him.

"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness....O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever." Psalm 30:11-12

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Holiday Recap

As of last week, we are finally finished with the longest, most relaxing holiday season that either David or I can remember. We were truly able to be "in the moment" this year, and it made for a wonderful Christmas. I don't know if it was due to David not being under so much stress at work for once, or the fact that we weren't in the middle of an adoption, or the decision that we weren't going to spend money on ourselves this year (probably a mix of all of those)....but we enjoyed this year's festivities more than we ever have before....and that's saying something!

We had numerous family get-togethers, and saw lots of cousins:

The boys slept by our tree the night before they opened their presents from us:

We saw happy smiles on our "Christmas morning":

Sintay loved his new bike, and tried to ride it through the house:

Mr. Y loved his new Playmobil castle....and he especially enjoyed waging war against his daddy's army:

Sintayehu fell madly in love with his cousin Jana. He followed her everywhere, insisted that she sit beside him whenever possible, and still sings her praises on a daily basis. Unfortunately for him, Miss Jana is currently in Minnesota on a pharmacy rotation, so we won't get to see her for awhile.

We had an interesting time trying to limit our boys' exposure to electronics. With lots of older cousins around, it is never easy! However, I'm afraid that this mean old mom thinks that being with family means you should be spending time with said family, rather than constantly playing Subway Surfer on your cousin's i-phone!

We opened stocking stuffers on the real Christmas morning:

We played outside in our bountiful snowfall:

Mr. Y lost a tooth, and was thrilled to discover that his cousin Zavier had the same one missing:

We met Vitaly, the sweet Ukrainian orphan boy that my sister's family hosted over Christmas. When he met me, he gave me the biggest hug you can imagine and crowed excitedly, "Mama's Seestra (sister)!" Vitaly headed back to Ukraine today....but there is some exciting news ahead for him! God is definitely not finished with this precious boy's story.

We attempted to take cute pictures of our kiddos with their cousins, but we got stuff like this:

We spotted superheros reading stories in our living room:

We celebrated Ganna or Ethiopian Christmas on January 7th. We dressed in our traditional costumes and had a dinner of injera and shiro, while listening to Ethiopian music. Sintayehu was SO excited about it all. When I walked out of my bedroom in my traditional dress, his whole face lit up and he shouted, "Mommy! Pope-ia! Cute!" He was quite distraught when I changed later in the evening to go to calling hours at a funeral home.

On January 1, David and I celebrated our 18th anniversary. (Crazy, I tell you!) We really wanted to get away together, but we didn't feel that we could leave Sintayehu overnight with anyone else yet. In the end, we decided to take the boys to a nearby hotel with a teeny-tiny "water park" (think nice swimming pool with a slide and a couple of "extras.") They loved it, and it was so much fun to watch them enjoy the water. I'm pretty sure that Sintayehu went down the slide about 9000 times.

We did have to laugh at ourselves though. Sintay doesn't fall asleep if we are in the same room with him. He will keep goofing off and talking and carrying matter how tired he is. On the night of our anniversary, David and I solved the problem by going into the bathroom and closing the door. While we waited for our three-year old to fall asleep in the hotel room outside, I sat on the counter and played free cell on our i-pad, while David sat on the toilet lid and read a biography. Yep....this is what passes for romance these days! Ooh-la-la! One of us commented to the other, "I wonder what the us of five years ago would say if they could see us now?"

Anyway, back to reality: school for Y and me and regular work weeks for David. It was fun while it lasted, and we're thankful that we'll get to enjoy the memories for a lifetime!