Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Love, Marriage, Honeymoons and Boyfriends

Twice a week, Yikealo has an online group session with his virtual academy teacher and a few other students. They study math or language arts concepts for about 45 minutes, and using the online whiteboard and the microphone gives them a taste of what it’s like to be in an actual classroom. A couple of the little girls in the class are usually drawing hearts in garish shades of pink or purple on their whiteboard sections, and Y is convinced it is because they are in love with him. Never mind that all we know about any of these kiddos is their first name. In addition, he has developed quite a “crush” on a little girl named Zoe, because he thinks she “has a nice voice.” Whenever it is her turn to talk, he giggles and simpers and makes the most ridiculous faces. At the end of a session, Y's teacher gives microphone access to all of the kids in the group so that they can say goodbye to each other. One particular day, Y shouted into the mic, "Bye! Zoe, I hope you marry me!" Ugh...who would have thought I'd be dealing with this when my son was only six? Heaven help us!

Yesterday, we had an online class again, and upon hearing Zoe speaking, Y started his typical swooning. Later in the day he presented this picture to me and told me it was him and Zoe getting married.

Yikealo, making a smoochy face, is running up the steps of a horse-drawn carriage to go away with his new bride. To the left, the coachman is "wapping" the horse, which is rearing and neighing loudly. To the right, David is waving goodbye, while I am praying (or so he informed me.) When I asked where Sintay was in this picture, Y responded, "Oh, Sintay is off getting married somewhere else....probably in China." Great.

He DID tell me at bedtime last night, "Mom, I really wish you could be Zoe and I could be Dad. Then I could be married to you, but you could be Zoe too." Hmmm....how's that for some seriously convoluted thinking? Maybe I just need to practice speaking in a Minnie Mouse type voice, since that is what attracts him to Zoe in the first place!

On Sunday morning during church, Y spent his time drawing all kinds of random pictures, which he then handed out to a bevy of teenage girls afterward. He is SUCH a flirt! This does not bode well for us when he gets to be a teenager himself, I'm afraid.

When we told Yikealo that we were going to a hotel as a family over our anniversary, he was overjoyed that we were all “going on our honeymoon!” He then proceeded to ask, “Mom, tomorrow on our honeymoon, would you like it if Dad and us boys all went off to do boy stuff while you just had some quiet time by yourself?” David smirked at me and said that it sounded like the exact opposite of a honeymoon to him.

Which brings me to David's take on me and my boys. I read on a blog awhile back that having little boys is rather like having "little boyfriends." There is something breath-taking in their all-out, no-holds-barred, physical affection. Both of our boys love snuggles with Mommy, which is kind of awesome for me most of the time. David has started laughingly referring to himself and the 2 boys my "3 boyfriends." David also writes me a letter each year on Valentine's Day, and this year, it was a persuasive argument about why I should consider him the best of my "3 boyfriends." It included such statements as:
  • I have never misspelled “bake” for half an hour
  • I have all my teeth
  • I only yell during hours where you are supposed to be awake
  • When I pray for 20 minutes I use words with more than one syllable
  • While I do rack up the most expenses, I also contribute the most income
  • You named your other boyfriends after me
  • I’ve not embarrassed you in public this week
  • I change my underwear regularly... without being asked
  • I am not nearly so jealous when you’re hugging one of your other boyfriends
  • I am the only one without peanut butter constantly smeared on my lips when you kiss us
  • I am one of only two without peanut butter constantly smeared in my hair
  • I am 50% less likely to leave my shoes lying about the house
  • “Be quiet” actually means something to me
  • I have an inside voice
I did think he included some excellent points! :-)

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Adopting" Skippito

Last summer, Kohl’s had a large selection of Skippy Jon Jones items available through their inhouse charity fund. Yikealo is a big fan of the Skippy Jon Jones books by Judy Schachner, so when he saw that the stuffed animal Skippy was only $5, he immediately wanted to spend some of his money on it. Skippy (or Skippito, as Y calls him) has been close by Y’s side ever since. For those who don't know, Skippy Jon Jones is a Siamese cat who is constantly pretending to be a chihuahua and creating all sorts of disasters in his room. What better companion for a wildly imaginative boy who loves dressing up and making messes? Skippy has traveled with us, he sleeps with Yikealo every night, and he sometimes shows up to do school with us. He's been a superhero sidekick, a scary bad guy who gets nabbed by the police, and apparently he's been a patient as well, considering that I recently found this "prescription" lying about the house!

Last week, Y wrote in his journal one morning, “When I gro up I will be an inventr. I will bild spaseships and cars and a holl bunch mor things. I will macke toys too. I wundr if God will wunt me to udopt kids.” That same day we drove by Kohls on our way home from work. Y pointed excitedly out of the window and said, “Hey! That’s where I adopted Skippito! I guess God already DID tell me to adopt a kid!”

After work yesterday, I mentioned to the boys that we were going across the street to buy some presents for a bridal shower. Yikealo wanted to know, “Are we going to Kohl’s, where I adopted Skippito?” When I said that we were, he added in a wistful voice, “If ONLY I had brought Skippito with me today. I bet he would LOVE to see his birth-country!”

Today, after conferring quite seriously for awhile with Skippy, he wrote this in his journal, "You may think I am a baby and you may think this is a sily topik. But I am going to rite abut one of my friends Scupeto. He is a chiwowo. I adopted him from Kol's. I sinugall him evry night and shar my dogy blanket with him every night. He felt happy glad and safe but best of all speshol. I am glad Scupeto was not scared when I adpted him. I love him with all my hort." He even drew a little heart in place of the o in both "love" and "hort." :-)

I've read that it's not uncommon for adopted children to use inanimate objects such as dolls or stuffed animals to "give voice" to their feelings about what has happened to them. I don't know if that's what's going on here, as Y has always talked openly with us. If it is, though, I'm glad that at this point in his life, those feelings appear to be mostly positive! We love this kiddo with all our "horts" too!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Bad, The Ugly, and The Very, Very Good

Yesterday was a rough day. The boys were horribly behaved, and my reaction to their behavior wasn't much better. Around noon, I called David to vent and turned into a sobbing mess on the phone. I really just felt like running away....from the fighting and tattling and disobeying and also from my own feelings of being completely out of control for the day. At one point, Yikealo told me that Sintayehu had done something which resulted in punishment for Mr. S, after which Yikealo admitted that he had been lying. I sat down with a sobbing Sintay in the rocking chair to apologize and ask for forgiveness, admitting that "Mommy did a bad job." (We believe in freely admitting to our kiddos when we're in the wrong, so that they can see repentance and confession modeled out for them.) I asked what we should do with Mommy: should she have to stand in the corner? Should she sit in the chair? Sintayehu shook his head solemnly at all of my suggestions, and then, borrowing his little head into my neck, gave his own solution, "Kiss Mommy." I dissolved into tears for about the 15th time that day.

There might be some who would say, "Oh, give yourself a break! So you had a bad day as a Mom. We all do that....it's no big deal!" While it's undoubtedly true that we all have bad days, I also think that it is utterly false to give place to the idea that it's not a big thing. It is so hard to be confronted with your own sin, but it is so necessary to make it right, because sin has a way of snowballing. Things that we like to call "mistakes" or "faults" to make ourselves feel better about them can ruin our relationships and wreak havoc in our spirit if they are not rooted out.

See, here's the thing....the Bible says it this way: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

The truth is that there was quite a bit of bitterness (acridity, poison), and wrath (fierceness or indignation, breathing hard), and anger (implying vengeance and punishment) and most certainly clamour (an outcry in notification, tumult or grief) going on in our house yesterday. I wasn't edifying or ministering grace to my boys when I was infuriated over yet one more bout of disobedience. I was wrong....no matter what had provoked me in the first place....and I needed to repent. To my sons, to myself, and mostly to my God.

Look at the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar for a moment. In Chapter 12 of Genesis, God speaks directly to Abram, telling him to leave the land of his fathers and go into a new land, where God promises to bless him and make a great nation from him. Abram obeys, steps out in faith and begins his journey toward greater communion with God. God appears to him in Canaan and makes greater promises. Imagine that for a second! God appeared to him, and Abram, recognizing the occasion as one of great honor, marked the place with an altar. Immediately after, though....literally 3 verses later....there is a famine in the land, and Abram forgets to trust the God who has already promised provision. Instead he takes matters into his own hands and goes to Egypt, where he is obliged to make a deal with Pharoah, which includes lying about his relationship with his wife and handing her over to the harem. In fact, Abram temporarily traded Sarai for all sorts of worldly goods, including "maidservants" (verse 16.) The Bible doesn't say for sure, but this is more than likely when Hagar entered the picture. When Pharoah rushed them all out of Egypt a short time later, hoping to undo the plagues that had come on his household, Abram took all of the riches with him, probably including future temptation in the form of Hagar.

Abram and Sarai made the same mistake later when they again forgot to trust God for His provision and plan. They weren't having children, despite the Lord's promise, so they decided to take matters into their own hands again by using Hagar as a surrogate mother. Now, this was a perfectly normal, accepted practice of the day, but it wasn't God's way. Anytime we step outside of God's will, we are opening the door to all sorts of potential evil. The world is STILL paying the price for that bit of disobedience, as the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac hate each other to this day.

Abraham and Sarah sinned again and again. They forgot to trust God, they were willfully disobedient, they lied, they committed adultery, they were unloving and harsh to those whom they were to care for. The book of Genesis makes that pretty clear. Yet here's the wonderful part: that's not the end of Abraham and Sarah's story! There is the most amazing statement in the 4th chapter of the book of Romans: "(Abraham) being not weak in faith....he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore, it was imputed to him for righteousness." Now wait a minute! Abraham absolutely DID waver. He chose the completely wrong direction at times, and yet because he did the right thing in the end, because he finished well, his obvious sin does not even enter the picture in Romans. Instead, the faith that he ultimately had in God's promises becomes his defining characteristic.

Here's the other awesome part: Romans 4 fnishes with this statement, "Now it was not written for his (Abraham's) sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification." When we fall to our knees in repentance over our actions, when we ask for forgiveness and grace to move forward, we won't be remembered for our sin either. Rather, the righteousness of Christ is given to us....because we have faith in Him and His atoning sacrifice.

I am so thankful....for forgiveness, for redemption, for mercy, for the righteousness of Jesus that has been credited to my account over yesterday. I am grateful for the chance to start new and fresh every morning. I am awe-struck at the 2nd, and 3rd, and 917th chances that I've been given. I'm glad for growth....even when it hurts a bit. The sun shining outside on the fresh snow is an excellent reminder of King David's words in Psalm 51, when he came to the Lord in repentance, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow....Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities." 

Today, by the way, has been an incredible, beautiful day with my boys...