31 March 2013

Our hearts and thoughts, this Easter morning...

 “If man had his way, the plan of redemption 
would be an endless and bloody conflict. 
In reality, salvation was bought not by Jesus' fist, but by His nail-pierced hands; 
not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness;
 not by force but by sacrifice. 
Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; 
He destroyed His enemies by dying for them 
and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him.” 

A.W. Tozer, 
Preparing for Jesus' Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope


And, of course, we're missing family, lots
(some times this missionary thing is a lot harder than others)... 

...we wish we could have been there...

...although we can't think of a more amazing time 
to celebrate a wedding and a new marriage than this Easter season!

Congratulations, Grandpa Gene and Grandma Susan!
We're so very happy for the two of you!


wedding photos by O'Gorman Images

30 March 2013

Updating ~ What's up with these kids of ours: Mary Michelle

The French equivalent of the name Mary is Marie... which I hear often and which almost always brings a certain song from The Sound of Music to mind...

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

And those words so accurately describe my sentiments about our littlest one... our only one not yet in school... Most days I don't know whether its best to cry, pull out my hair or simply laugh. Most days I end up doing all three and loving every second with this little imp!

It is hard to believe she's only four because she has the air of an older child. It is equally hard to believe she's not still that silvery-haired baby who was the most traumatic for me to birth (not sure if that was because I had to shovel the driveway to get to the hospital, because she couldn't make up her mind if she was ready to brave an Michigan winter on the exterior, because I had to go through it all with Tim on the other side of the Atlantic, or because she is the most recent and so I remember her arrival a bit more clearly).

She's convinced that everything her siblings do, she can do as well... bigger and better, of course. If she thought she could exist on peanut butter alone, she'd do it. She is offended by the fact that she's the only one who doesn't go to school at least for a little while every day and has threatened to hold her breath until Elsie Mae gets home again. And boy, does she have some opinions that - good or bad, nonsense or valid - she'll defend them until it is easier to plop in a Dora video and distract her from the discussion at hand.

Are four year olds supposed to be like that?

She supplies those of us with Facebook accounts an abundant supply of status updates that are sure to garner lots of likes.

She wants to do everything all by herself (except snuggle at night - then she has to be "pinching Mama's face."). She dresses herself, starts the videos herself, feeds the goats and lets them out of their cage herself, puts away her laundry herself, washes dishes herself, dries (sorta) the dishes herself, brushes her own hair and gets her own snack out of the refrigerator - almost always all by herself. Unless, of course, I'm in the middle of something (kneading doughnut dough or something along those lines) and I really can't help her immediately. 

Maybe that's my fault because I taught her that she couldn't climb trees until she could climb up and down all by herself... and she simply expanded that thought figuring she was allowed to do anything she wanted to do as long as she could to it herself!

Yeah! She's a bit of an independent bugger that one.


She loves to smile. That's a good thing because it has quite possibly saved her life so many times! She plays hard to get - and of course that makes people work all the harder to win her over. She likes to be the one in control of her relationships. She's very cat-like, that way. But you'd never think it to look at her. The blond hair, bright blue eyes, mischievously darling smile... and two super extroverted siblings right before her... It is easy to assume that she's ready to be friends with anyone and everyone at the drop of a hat.

She prefers to watch people for awhile, until she feels safe with the other person... or until she decides that being friends with their kids makes Mary Michelle-initiated interaction worth the risk.

She's a living, breathing oxymoron... 
  • courageous and cautious
  • a deadly serious comedienne
  • cuddly and prickly all at once
  • fastidiously messy... as in "Don't mess with her mess! She's got it just like she wants it!"
  • quietly always having something to say
  • timidly unafraid
  • too-big-for-her-britches half-pint
  • malleable while not budging an inch
  • enticingly ornery
  • irresistibly frustrating
  • stubbornly teachable
  • a terrifying source of tremendous joy
It's cliché, but: we can't live her and we can't live without her!

She and Nadia have been enjoying Spring Break together: Nadia has been working with her on her phonics sounds and her letters and her numbers. Our little M&M is clearly ready for school and I've been working on and off with her throughout this school year. I'm quite sure that if I'd been more consistent, she'd about be reading short vowel words by now! She's loving all the attention from Nadia.

She is a huge Dora and Diego fan. She also really likes Dr. Quinn, Cars, Spirit, Ice Age 4 and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She has quite an eclectic taste in movie/tv shows.

She does have a clear and distinct style and taste when it comes to clothing - and her idea of matching doesn't necessarily agree with mine. More often than not, she puts her clothes on wrong side out - on purpose - and wears unmatched shoes - by choice. I think it is because she thinks the more pieces and accessories she can add, the better the outfit.

Her favorite food is the drinkable yogurt you can buy just about anywhere... we've finally convinced her to ask for "Solanis" instead of for "Fulanis." (Yes, a bit of W. African humor and yes, you can thank her daddy for encouraging that little mix up.)

She is also a baguette+peanut butter-aholic. Her eyes literally fill with tears on those few days the peanut butter jar is empty. Peanuts will do in a fix. As will doughnuts... but she might ask if she can dip them in peanut butter.

She also loves munching on carrots and cucumbers with her baguette and peanut butter for breakfast. I've seen her plunge carrots into the peanut butter. Apparently cukes are good enough all on their own. She told me the other day that she prefers her cukes with a little bit of pepper.

She likes to help make pizza - spreading out the dough and helping with the toppings. Like all of her siblings before her, she's also discovered the joy of helping Madame Safana make bread: given a tiny ball she'll knead it, let it rise, squish it (the "bestest bit!"), knead a bit more, form it, let it rise again and then set in directly on the rack when the rest of the bread goes in the oven. And beware to any sibling tempted to steal her tiny morsel of bread!

Elsie Mae is her favorite playmate. They dig out in the sand, climb trees, create places for their animals to live and play and work and be. It is so much fun to pretend to read a book and listen to their conversations as they are wrapped up in these imaginary games. She's been known to pray that Elsie Mae would get a little sick so that she could stay home from school to play with her. So, it really doesn't need saying that she's loving Easter Break!

She's a fish... although her sisters claim she swims more like a frog. I think she looks like a puppy trying not to drown. She is up and down and all over the pool - meaning I'm needing to be pretty vigilant, especially when there are lots of folks jumping and playing around her. She is the only one of our kids who makes regular use of resting on her back and just floating when she gets tired. Have you seen those videos on YouTube of the baby who falls in the pool and knows how to turn over and float spread eagle on its back until someone comes to help him out. I never taught her that... I'm wondering which sister did or if she came up with it all on her own. Both possibilities are highly likely.

She told Tim the other day that she knew who she was going to marry when she grew up. Hmmmmmm.... Tim didn't say too much about that.

Her petite size, blonde, blonde hair, bright blue eyes and timid, almost reluctantly reticent smile gives her a pixie quality that many of our African friends find a challenge. They just have to see if they can get "little-miss-playing-hard-to-get." Even the military dudes bearing large arms would wave and smile at her when I'd let her tag along while transporting Anna to and from school.

She's already informed me she wants a tatoo someday - and regularly reminds me by creating designs with a Sharpie marker. She loves to wear earrings - when I take the time to put them in. The only problem is that our pixie sprite also tires of them fairly quickly and takes them out herself - never to be seen again.

She keeps me busy, this Mary Michelle girl... I wonder if she's going to grow up to be a blonde version of Anne of Green Gables...???

And so I'm back to that song I mentioned at the beginning...

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

I don't think I want to solve this little M&M problem we've been gifted...

Life would be so much less entertaining, interesting, exciting and simply...? Wonderful!
And that little moonbeam - I think I'll just hold her with my heart and watch her shine.

She's sure to... beautifully and brilliantly!

Which brings me to some specific ways you can pray for our munchkin M&M:

  1. Pray for her health. She struggles with health issues more than many of our other kids. We went through much of this past year sick for a couple of weeks, well for a few days and then be sick again. It has been exhausting for both her and I. Changing climates, traveling lots ('cause that is what furloughing missionaries do), meeting tons of new people, being in a new home AND starting school, I'm hoping and praying we don't have a similar year this year as well.
  2. Pray for our introverted, more reticient around new people child. Bunches of new people, in the past, have been quite intimidating to her. 
  3. Pray she takes her cues off of how her siblings are behaving as we reintroduce our family to many people of whom she has independent-of-pictures-or-stories memories... and that includes grandparents and cousins and close friends, people who really love and feel like they know her a bit because they do have memories of her.
  4. Pray that she enjoys our vacation on the way home and that it is restful for her.
  5. Pray that I'm able to update her immunizations prior to leaving - I'm thankful she's been healthy for a chunk of time and I need to take advantage of that and see if I can locate those immunizations in the pharmacy.
  6. And... I know this sounds kinda funny, but pray that she adjusts to wearing clothes every day, most of the time. She doesn't do that a lot, here... and she does, in fact, very much like the fact that she wears mostly nothing most of the time. :-)
  7. She has been asking lots of questions about God and Jesus... pray as we disciple her through what has proven to be a tender age for all of our children relative to spiritual issues.

29 March 2013

Five Minute Friday ~ Broken

There's always a song that comes to mind when I see or hear the word broken - and it has been that way since I was in high school. I think I'll just borrow these words today... 

One day a plain village woman
Driven by love for her Lord
Recklessly poured out a valuable essence
Disregarding the scorn
And once it was broken and spilled out
A fragrance filled all the room
Like a pris'ner released from his shackles
Like a spirit set free from the tomb

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of you Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on Thee
Broken and spilled out
And poured at Your feet
In sweet abandon
Let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee

Lord You were God's precious treasure
His loved and His own perfect Son
Sent here to show me
The love of the Father
Just for love it was done
And though You were perfect and holy
You gave up Yourself willingly
You spared no expense for my pardon
You were used up and wasted for me

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of me Jesus
God's most precious treasure
Lavished on me
You were broken and spilled out
And poured at my feet
In sweet abandon Lord
You were spilled out and used up for Me

These are beautiful words on which to meditate this Easter weekend ~ 

And I've also been thinking about how easy it is to be broken in this world in which we live - and how that is a bad thing. But to be broken and spilled out? That is totally a God-thing. He makes beautiful things out of the dust, He makes complete that which is unfinished, He secures those that are willing to confess and trust their brokeness to Him.

Linking up with Lisa Jo for another Five Minute Friday.

28 March 2013

Updating ! What's up with these kids of ours: Brendan

Ok, I'm gonna start off right up front and tell you that I'm totally biased and cannot think objectively about this boy. He's a good one and I'm so excited for the doors God is opening in his life and the future he has before him.

God has done a really good job raising this kid, many times in spite of his parents. And although I'm so totally not objective, I KNOW I'm not the only one who thinks that. I've been told too many times, now, for it to be a total fluke.

On June 6, 2013, Lord willing, he'll receive his high school diploma and then be headed off into a brave new-to-him world. Just a few days after graduation, our family boards a plane to Scotland for about a week of vacation. Then we climb back on a plane, hop back over to the American side of that big water, sleep a bit and do bunches of laundry before squeezing into a van (that we've yet to purchase) to drive cross country for our niece's wedding. We hope to visit the Grand Canyon on our way out there!

After that? Hopefully our schedule will relax as we meander our way back to Michigan, trying to stop and visit a few sites along the way and also enjoying our time together as a family.

Lots of folks have asked about Brendan's plans for next year. He has been accepted at Messiah College, Toccoa Falls and Michigan State University. He is proceeding with plans to attend Messiah, study Environmental Science and then see where God leads from there.  It doesn't seem like that many years since Tim and I were making our own plans to begin our university studies. Hardly seems long enough that our son now is... but as we talk and listen to him, it calms our hearts to know that he is ready, even when he fears that he's not.

The rest of us? Well, I'm beginning to see that it just might be a harder transition on the family as a whole than it is on Brendan himself. He recently was gone for a week, spending time and doing all sorts of neat activities with his classmates. Before he came back, Jonathan was badgering us incessantly as to when he'd return, Elsie Mae was in tears asking for him and Rebekah was posting on Facebook about how he was no longer permitted to leave for college. His presence around our family is never taken for granted - and not just because he dumps the trash and takes out the compost.

Brendan is one of those steady, reliable kids. He's patient (most of the time) with his siblings, he's obedient (most of the time... except when he decides to work on his time table instead of the family's) doing what he's been asked to do and doing it well, he's calm and self-disciplined (except for when he's got a new computer game or he's screaming like a girl to make the rest of us laugh); he just tends to be consistently consistent.

He's not afraid of hard work - even if it isn't in the top 5 on his favorite list. He's great to jump right in when there's a job to be done- particularly when he knows it is his responsibility, and complete it in a timely manner and with a positive attitude. That's the case even when there's something else he'd rather do.

He has an air of maturity about him that not many 17 year old guys have. Talking with him, even when I think he's full of hot air, I'm still almost always impressed with his thoughtful reasoning, carefully chosen words and most-of-the-time humility. As I told one of my friends the other day, it really isn't scary to think about him heading off to school next year because I know he is ready and I believe he wants to follow the Lord, do right and be the best he can be. Thus, it makes it easy to celebrate this milestone with him. It doesn't, however, make it any easier to imagine next year without having to chase him out of the bathroom so we can make it to school on time most mornings. I'm going to miss him. A lot.

One of the things I love most about Brendan is his smile. (I also love that his favorite color is green, just as it is mine, but that is a really superficial and inconsequential thing to love about someone!) Most of the time, when you look at this guy, he looks happy... content... at peace... calm... or even bemused by something known only to him. I love that he finds his siblings entertaining and fun to be around. I wasn't that kind of older sibling when I was his age, so I'm thinking he picked up that characteristic from his dad. We often joke and say that Brendan inherited the best traits of each of us: he has my drive to be the best he can be without being so competitive; he has his daddy's skills with people and gentle spirit, generally without becoming complacent.

He's a mostly good student; my only complaint is that he likes to procrastinate and put things off until the last minute, barely pulling through when the pressure is on. He's convinced he works better that way and I have little space to discuss this issue and encourage him to do differently for I often do the same myself. I love that he loves to learn and that he is a self-motivated, probably forever student. That's why he's taught himself some Irish, how to play the recorder and several different types of folk flutes, lots about archery and falconry and is an aficionado of all things about the medieval British Isles. 

He's enjoyed volunteering at a local orphanage for the last many years as we've been in Niger... in fact, I think he's been going since he was old enough to start accompanying the group that goes every week. He seems to thoroughly enjoy the kids and they seem to appreciate him as well. I love to hear him rattling away in French with them. I know the leaders of that group depend on his French skills to communicate with the folks at the orphanage.

I also know he hasn't enjoyed teaching Sunday School at our church nearly as much - not that he didn't like the kids. He clearly felt the weight of the responsibility to teach others about Jesus, and he wanted to do the best he could. He impressed me week after week with the efforts he put into preparation. Our pastor's wife was very appreciative of his consistent faithfulness and continual effort to make sure each one of those kids had the opportunity to hear about Jesus and His love for them.

Sahel Academy has changed a lot in the years that Brendan has been a student. In the pictures below, you can see most of his graduating class: a few students are not present and a few others have moved away since that photo was taken, but his class represents students from several different home countries, cultures, backgrounds and religions. It has been neat to see them come together as a class this year and work through some really huge hurdles. They've had to fight together to make their senior year something special and they have succeeded. Brendan genuinely cares about and appreciated each one of this great group of kids.

He reads about like he breathes - and the genre changes depending on his mood. But his favorites tend to be historical fiction or fantasy. In fact, it is hard to imagine him without a book (or three or five) in hand. He loves the fact that the school librarian has him preread new books to determine their appropriateness and rating. I think she appreciates his voracious reading habits and his level-headed evaluations of the different tomes he reads.

He adores games of strategy: chess, card games like spades and rook, Risk, Diplomacy, etc. Even as I type, he's in the midst of a game out in the living room with some of his buddies from school. He does have a hard time saying no - to others as well as to himself. When something seem like it would be fun, he'll try and figure out a way to squeeze it into his life, even if there are earlier obligations, better priorities or more appropriate ways to spend his time.

Brendan loves to be outside, mucking around down by the river, climbing trees, harassing the animals, playing softball or volleyball, canoeing, sliding down enormous sand dunes or just sitting around a campfire talking and enjoying the amazing stars. He finds our cats amusing; entertained by their cat-likeness and unique personalities. He makes a pretty mean dog food (just ask Butterscotch and Beethoven) and a pretty awesome beef stroganoff (just ask the two legged members of his family). His pie crusts are phenomenal and perhaps even more remarkable? He can bake bread, without any help from his mom or Nadia!


He takes his responsibility as a role model and a big brother seriously. He wants to be a good friend. He sometimes talks about his struggles to remain a friend to those who've moved away or to those he's left behind when he's moved: it is so much easier for him to live in the moment with the people who are right there. They say that is often a characteristic of TCKs. I know that is one area where he hopes to see himself improve... to learn how to keep investing in at least a few of those friends, even if they aren't right there and able to hang out as often.

He's a talker, debater, discusser... I know because we've spent many a late night engaged in those sorts of conversations. He isn't afraid to ask hard questions and he wants to know why people tick... why they do and think the way they do. He, himself, has strong opinions, usually well founded and well developed, regarding what is right and what is wrong and he isn't afraid to defend his position. Yet he shows remarkable sensitivity and maturity in so doing. He is equally passionate about his need to do so graciously and respectfully, trying not to needlessly offend or hurt another person by careless or insensitive words in the process.

There are so many things I appreciate about this guy. Perhaps one of the things I love the most is how willing he is to accept and include people who challenge him... even who frighten him a little... with their differing ideas. He is fiercely loyal - continually encouraging me by his example to think the best of people and to continue thinking the best until I find out beyond any shadow of a doubt that something less than the best is the truth. Even then, he remains lovingly loyal to his friends, while attempting to not compromise what he knows to be right for the sake of that friendship. He's not only willing to ask some hard questions of himself, he's willing to gently ask the hard questions of the people he loves and cares for. He is always reminding me to examine my motives.

It really is pretty cool to gaze across the room and watch this boy that was once a babe in my arms and know that he's becoming a young man of God, worthy of my admiration, respect and confidence. I don't think he's perfect. In fact, I know he's going to make mistakes and probably blow it pretty majorly at times. But I do trust the One he has asked to be the Master of his life to walk with him and his parents (and eventually his other significant others) through those difficult moments... and that the man who emerges on the other side will be even more like his Lord...

Some ideas of how you can pray for wonderful young man ~ 
  1. Pray he makes wise decisions regarding time investments and priorities over the next several months and as he transitions into college. And don't stop praying after the worst of that transition is behind him... My most challenging years at school were my 2nd and 3rd...
  2. Pray that he learns to embrace the strengths of what makes him TCK-unique while seeing the weaknesses and tendencies that impede his forward progress. He wants to understand himself. Pray that God gives him that knowledge.
  3. Pray for diligence and focus this last marking period as he finishes up two on line courses, applies for scholarships and financial aid, and prepares to graduate.
  4. Pray that our trip to Scotland will be as much fun for him as he hopes it will be - that it really will be an amazing opportunity and a dream come true.
  5. Pray that he is able to sustain those important friendships as he leaves the African continent, and that he is able to renew special ones he's already established back in the States.
  6. Pray for godly influences in his life: other men and women, wiser and older who can come alongside his daddy and mama and help him truly grow into a mighty but humble servant of God, followers of Jesus who model for him what it means to live in the freedom of grace and to truly love others the way that God would have him to love.
  7. Pray for guidance, wisdom and liberty to talk and share his heart with us, his parents, as he continues to make life-impacting decisions and transitions into a new and exciting season of his life. We want to continually know better our precious gift from God. We want to disciple him well...

26 March 2013

Updating ~ What's up with these kids of ours: Rebekah Joy

There's so many things I could say about our Rebekah Joy, so it is hard to know exactly where to start, especially since I know she knows she's the next one I'm writing about and she's anxiously awaiting to see what I'll say.

Rebekah was the first granddaughter on the Wright side of the clan - and so she's always been a little bit spoiled by Wright grandparents and her Aunt Mary, in particular. Maybe that is why she seems as confident as she does. Or it could be because she's one of those extroverted introverts. She can easily spend all day curled up with a good book, but easily holds her own in social situations and claiming to enjoy them.

She loves animals. For the first time this year, she was able to accompany her dad and brother to the softball tournament in Ouaga, where she spent the weekend hanging out with friends and socializing while her cheering for the Sahel and Niamey teams competing. Normally the kind of thing she'd just adore, she was ready to come home after she heard she'd miss the goats of our baby goats by a mere couple of hours. And that was the first thing she did when they drove back through the gate - she hopped out of the car and took off running to find the little kids. Her words, later? "Ouaga was fun, but the goats were even better." 

The fact that she is short nearly drives her to distraction some days. It is, you know, very unfair that two of her younger sisters are now taller than she is. There's no doubt who's the big sis, though. We went through a period where she acted as though she thought she was too big to hang out with her sisters, so it has been fun the past couple of years to watch that changing, to see how she can really enjoy hanging out with her siblings. And make no bones about, she adores her big brother and soaks up any time and attention he'll share with her.

She also appears to be well liked by younger friends - of all ages. She likes to babysit and it does my mama-heart good to see those little ones stopping her at the pool to talk or grabbing her hand to let her know they are around. During free periods at school, I can often find her hanging out with her classmates - but also often see her surrounded by a group of younger, middle school girls. And at Nadia's birthday party a few months back, she singlehandedly handled the entertainment - and the office was full of party girls, smaller siblings and even her big bro, all giggling at silly YouTube videos about animals and other such silliness.

She still loves horses, although she's taken a break from riding lessons for awhile. She is very much a pleaser who continually wants to be better at what she does. I hadn't recognized those traits in her at first, until we started having real communication about why she wanted to stop her horseback riding lessons. First, she had wanted to stop but kept on plugging away partly because she thought we wanted her to keep riding - which seemed strange to me at first. She isn't usually shy about voicing her opinions or letting her parents know when she thinks we are being unfair or unreasonable about something (We're still working on how to do that in a respectful and gentle way - and I do believe she'll get it one of these days. Learning to respectfully confront an authority well is not an easy skill to learn.). Secondly, and even more surprising to me was the fact that she was frustrated that she wasn't improving the way the other kids in her class were (she was limited to one, instead of two lessons per week). She can often gives the impression that she's a pretty laisser-faire and live in the moment kind of gal, but I think a good chunk of that is an image she chooses to project - it is a little safer than risking letting other know how hard you work to be better person, than risking letting others see you fail.

Another instance of that striving to be better? With an already full load of classes and IGCSE exams imminently looming, she decided she was bored and wanted something more to do with her study hall time at school. She initiated a conversation with the teacher who supervises on line courses and now she's taking a semester of German, on-line. She seems to be enjoying it

She's doing well in her other classes. She's finally overcome her paranoia of math. Not too long ago she came to me, asking for help with a problem from Algebra 2. The two of us decided after a few minutes that she'd be better off asking her instructor for help the next day when she got to school. I might have been able to eventually figure it out, but Algebra 2 was 20+ years ago, is not something I use every day - and I think she was a little bit proud to know that her working math knowledge is at least on par with if not better than mine. She's come a long way from the gal who cried over her Algebra class a few years back. She loves Biology and is actually considering pursuing a career related to that science. We'll have to see what God does in that area. 

She's excited to be a bridesmaid at her cousin's wedding this summer. Last year, with a cousin-like-a-big-sis around was a wonderful year for Rebekah. She has missed Leandra fiercely this year. (We're thankful she has such a great role model in her life.) But that is another thing about our Ekah-girl: she is not afraid to feel her feelings - to cry when something makes her sad, to be angry at perceived injustices and unfairness, to laugh and giggle with delight at those things that amuse her - often having to do with animals or smaller siblings.

She is hilariously funny. Get her telling a story about some silly, mundane thing that happened at school and she has the whole family roaring with laughter. She's got a mischievous side - and she always figures out a way to get even. 

She detests shoes. Well, that's not really true. She does like the cute, handmade but fall apart quickly sandals you can buy from the Musée here in town. But she rarely wears shoes, if she can get away with it. All of my girls planned on running around barefoot at the Sahel Banquet last month - but I did make them at least take shoes. I think Rebekah somehow slipped out without anything for her feet. Looked like either she and her date planned it that way - or they were the perfect couple.

Speaking of couples and dating - it is totally awesome to parent an almost 16 year old young woman who knows how to hang out with guys as buddies. She also knows how a guy should treat her. That is, in large part, to the influence of her daddy but also to having had some pretty incredible adopted big bros - friends of her brothers who would sometimes allow her to tag along on their wild animal adventures and who would adamantly and loyally defend her honor if they felt someone was acting improperly towards her. Those guys would also get on her case when she did something that they felt was too forward, risky or could be interpreted wrongly. With the exception of Bren, those guys are all graduated and gone. She talks about them often. She misses them a lot.

She loves Facebook (we've caught her simultaneously chatting with more than 4 friends all at the same time and her dad wonders how in the world she keeps all those conversations straight) and emailing friends. I think she must be a multi-tasker who loves using words to communicate, like her mama. 

But like her daddy, she gets her totally at ease presence in situations that unnerve me. She can chit chat easily with others. She seems completely comfortable in her own skin and likes dressing up in a fancy dress with her hair all curled and done up, and a bit of make-up (still no shoes though!). She can also pull off camouflage or jeans and flannel. I think she likes it when I tell her she can be a classy redneck when she grows up one of these days. That usually provokes a smile because we only say that about one other person and Rebekah really admires that lady back home.

She does have her own, specific style, however - rough and rugged, often lots of black and dark yet with bits of bright sprinkled around and flashes of dainty and delicate thrown in the mix, as well. What started off as looking for ideas regarding our upcoming vacation in Scotland ended up looking at Celtic wedding dresses. She says the dress below would be the perfect wedding dress for her. :-)

Don't all little girls dream of their wedding some day?

Her music tastes are quite eclectic - country western, contemporary Christian, folk, musical, classical instrumental, Big Band... and I know I've not exhausted all the genres on her play list. She loves listening and singing along and fortunate for the rest of us, she usually stays on tune!


She has asked for one thing for her birthday: to take Sasha, our all black cat back to the States with us when we go. Sadly, her daddy and I aren't sure how to make that happen since we can't have pets in the house where we will be living. She knows that - we've told her that repeatedly - but she continues, hope against hope.

She's relieved to be through with her time teaching the littlest ones in Sunday School at our church. There were times she hated it, but she really through her heart into it, did the best that she could, loved on those little ones and it was a joy to watch her lead her class through their part of the Christmas spectacle a few months ago.

She loves epic movies. The Hobbit is her current obsession. But then again, she just loves the word epic... Epic is a pretty apt word for her... 

I watched Les Miserables last weekend and I had to smile when I heard this song - I immediately thought of my girl:

And little people know
When little people fight
We may look easy pickings
But we've got some bite
So never kick a dog
Because he's just a pup
We'll fight like twenty armies
And we won't give up
So you'd better run for cover
When the pup grows up!

I definitely prefer to be fighting with this girl, instead of against her. She can be a pretty formidable force...

It isn't unusual to find her dancing in dust storms or...

...catching a nap in a tree, very cat-like, this nearly 16 year old of ours...

....or carting needy monkeys to the top of a sand dune in the rain while enjoying snuggles.

I love her big and generous heart for the little, the defeated, the downtrodden, the brokenhearted, the helpless, the sad, the lonely, the poor, the orphan... in general, anyone who seems to be one of life's underdogs. Her indomitable, strong-willed spirit will serve her well in this life, as long as Jesus is her Prince and Lord.

In case you can't tell, I'm thoroughly enjoying this daughter-rapidly-becoming-young-woman-and-even-better-yet? Friend.

Want some ideas on how to pray for Rebekah Joy over the next few months? Pray:
  1. She remains diligent with her on line class as April and May are notorious for their numerous (and often long) power outages and internet cuts.
  2. We find a place for her black kitty Sasha (he literally follows her around like a puppy dog), as well as our other animals, that will put her heart at ease as to the welfare of these animals. It will break her heart if we can't find homes and have to put them down. Once we are settled in in the States, she'd love to have the opportunity to work with horses and possibly other animals, so we will be investigating that opportunity.
  3. She has some friends who will remain consistent in communication via email and Facebook after we head back to the States. Those friends from our last furlough who've kept in contact with her make her day, each time she hears from them.
  4. She's looking forward to playing volleyball, perhaps cheer leading  singing in the choir and picking up many of the activities she left when we returned to Niger three years ago. I'm hoping she finds her niche relatively quickly and is confident in those activities she chooses to pursue.
  5. As she makes decisions for the future: friends, school, area of study, part-time job, ministry opportunities. I'm looking forward to see where this girl will invest her time, love and energy over the next few years.
  6. that regardless of what happens, she always looks first to Jesus and keeps her heart pure and devoted to God, not distracted by the many things in this world that could easily tempt her.


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