Monday, March 23, 2015

An Excerpt from Noah's Book

This is written in the font called dyslexie which was created by Christian Boer. You can read about it and download a free version here. Noah has written 4 chapters so far. I have corrected his spelling for both ease of reading AND because he wants to know how to spell the words correctly.  I have added a few quotation marks as well. ENJOY!

Chapter 2

Bracht Clan heard that TorClan was talking about getting a warrior cat. Puff Tail said “yes” but Trash Hunter said “NO!” “Why not?” said Suzie. Because then TorClan will win said Trash Hunter. But if they get another cat then we both will be even.

So the next week Suzie and Puff Tail went out of their hut and they saw a black cat. Then they went to the cat. She said, “I don't want to be in Bracht Clan.” We know. You want to be in TorClan. Yes, I do said the black cat. We will show you. Ok. Then they walked to the hut of TorClan. Then Coal Heart went in TorClan's hut. Then Tormentor said “Get them!” But Coal Heart said, “NO!” They were bringing me. Then they asked her name. My name is Coal Heart. Cool said Tormentor. We will train you. Ok. Where? In the middle. Ok. So when? Now. I think at nighttime. Ok said Tormentor. Good.

So soon we will surprise Bracht Clan because we will be in their hut. But we will get captured by them. No we wouldn't. Yes we will said Coal Heart. NO we wouldn't! Said Tormentor. Then it was time for them to train. Then the warriors went to Bracht Clan. But when they got there they got captured in the Bracht Clan's hut. So they made a deal. Suzie and Tormentor had to fight each other so TorClan said yes. Ok. Suzie and Tormentor started fighting each other. So Bracht Clan won the war. So TorClan had to stay for one week at Bracht Clan's hut. Then TorClan went away from Bracht Clan. Then Coal Heart went away from TorClan. Then went to Bracht Clan. And she asked to be in Bracht Clan. And Trash Hunter went to TorClan and asked to be in TorClan.

*Noah was inspired by the books Warriors by Erin Hunter that his big brother enjoys reading.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cinderella Musings: Why We Are Made for Happily Ever After

We went to see Cinderella yesterday. It was a visually beautiful movie and the message was a bit deeper and more virtuous than the animated version...although perhaps not as empowering as the version we see in Ever After.

I happened upon a review, that blasted the latest Disney version of Cinderella on several accounts (you can read it here). I don't completely agree with this exposition on the most recent production of Cinderella; but, nor do I completely disagree with some of the points made. For example, this article points out the atrocity of tolerating emotional abuse. Of course, none of us would promote emotional abuse; however, I believe we tolerate it in this movie because we already know the end of the story.

In support of the most current Cinderella film, I will say that I thought that the emphasis on kindness and bravery was refreshing considering what we tend to find in movies these days. I also appreciated Cinderella's unsolicited forgiveness of her step-mother at the end of the movie. Forgiveness: a biblical command for sure. Not that we need to add to God's commands, but I believe that failing to forgive creates an inner bitterness that will rob you of so much joy and life.

Thus, here are some brief musings on fairy tales like Cinderella. In our heart of hearts, we all have a need to be rescued. From our own sin. We are deceived if we pretend that sin is not there—like being locked in an attic living in a fantasy world. We are made for happily ever after. Eternity with God*. We have opportunity to live for eternity happily ever after if we accept the forgiveness for our inherent sin through the grace of God through Jesus Christ. And speaking of whom, there is a prince charming, or rather a Prince of Peace, that rides in and saves us from injustice and suffering...and He does accept us as we are.  Jesus Christ. (I think somewhere in the book of Revelation, it mentions Him riding in on a white horse. Just sayin'.)

*Check out a book called Forever by Paul David Tripp if you want to read more on the concept of being created for eternity.

** Vintage image from

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Plans Vs. Steps

The purpose of this post is not to boast about my kid. Although, I could.  I am exceedingly proud of him and beyond humbled by him.  I am writing this as a reminder to myself (and perhaps even a reminder to you, the reader) to let your faith in God be the motivation, strength and thought behind your goals, hopes, dreams, and expectations.

This morning, Noah found a book on our shelf called Wesley the Owl.

This is not a simple, beginner's chapter book.  This book has small print and big words. He said, "I am going to read this book." And he is--reading this book--right now as I write this.

Every few minutes, he stops and shares something about what he read. A few times, he has come to ask for clarification--on words like "T.V." and what the "big-band era" was.  I've thumbed through the book myself, as I had planned on reading it.  It has words like 'circumstances.' He probably isn't getting every little detail; but he is engaged and interested.

This kid, who, as many of you have read on this blog, lives with and works through several learning challenges (I think that is the new 'PC' term).  Noah continues to amaze me, as well as, challenge my own learning and thinking.  Please know, I am his biggest advocate. He is a brilliantly creative kid.  He is a learner! That said, I am tempted to and often do set lower goals for him than perhaps I should.  I am a realist in every pessimistic sense of the word.  While I expect him to work and try to the best of his ability, I grossly underestimate his ability. I want him to feel success in learning, so I set manageable goals.  Yet, he climbs over the hurdles, sometimes knocks them down and sets higher goals.  I believe he takes to heart on a deep level the fact that with God on his side, he is capable of whatever God has planned for him.  His learning 'challenges' are far more assets than disabilities.

He may not finish this book.  However, he is reading it now. I am humbled by his perseverance and excitement for learning. I love this kid and he is teaching me more than I could ever teach him.

I hope that this can be a source of inspiration or perhaps conviction to you (as it is for me) to not be limited by man but rather allow our path to be set by the Lord. His plans are always perfect and for our good. Like Proverbs 16:9 says, "We can make our plans, but the Lord our determines our steps."  It seems our plans are often achievable and manageable because we make plans according to our limited view of ourselves.  God, however, walks us--step by step--along into the greatness He has determined is best for us.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Our Life as Illegal Aliens

Yes. We have lived the last 3 months as illegal aliens in Nicaragua. Sounds exciting, huh? Well...not so much when you find out that you can not leave the country under an expired visa. So since December 2nd, 2014 we have been “stuck” here, in Nicaragua, without the legal right to leave (from immigration's perspective). Not so exciting after all.

However, today ended our adventure as illegal aliens. We renewed our expired visas today. You may be wondering WHY we allowed ourselves to become illegal (especially considering my over-the-top attentiveness to details). Well, you don't plan these things. In fact, you try to avoid these things. We started our paperwork process back at the end of October 2014 to renew our visas. We hit roadblocks and got derailed several times. As our expiration date of December 2nd loomed in the near distance, we realized that we were going to be late in submitting our paperwork. Unhappily, we acknowledged that we would have to pay an monetary fine for being expired. The fact that we were 'legally' stuck here without the ability to leave was the most unpleasant factor...although we had no plans to travel....but still. (The American in me screamed...."I am an American citizen...I can do whatever I want!) When January 2nd passed us by, we started to get concerned that they (the powers-that-be at immigration) would deny our renewal and require us to start back at the beginning...or worse...that we would face deportation! [Seriously, I am really living this life!?!]

Well, mid-February, with the help of our amazing lawyer, Oscar, we submitted our paperwork for visa renewal. We received an appointment to return March 2. On March 2nd, Oscar called and received word that we had been 'approved' but the camera (yes, just one) used to take the visa photos were being fixed or replaced. So, TODAY we returned and waited for 2.5 hours in a building that looks like a giant airplane hanger and heats up like an oven. Oh, but before arriving, we had to stop at the money changer dude that works on the side of the Pan-American Highway to change our U.S. Dollars to Nicaraguan C√≥rdoba. We are fairly certain he has some sniper friend waiting nearby...just in case. 

Okay, back to the story—so, while we waited those 2.5 hours, we people watched. We saw a woman on crutches who only had one leg...but she wore a very high healed shoe on that one good foot. We saw a stray cat run frantically through the building and jump out a window (a low to the ground window). We watched as people bought donuts from the American Donuts kiosk and wondered if they truly tasted like American doughnuts. We interacted with a very elderly lady who was begging amongst the masses. We watched her punch a large man in the chest after he supposedly gave her a few coins. Not wanting to get into a fist fight with this very spunky woman (being that we were still illegal and all), we didn't give her any money. She told us, along with dramatic hand gestures, that she was going to heaven and we were going to hell. That was certainly the high-light of the morning. We finally received our visas and left. However, before traveling home, we stopped at the side of the road where the sidewalk lawyers and copy machine people are set up to make copies of our newly acquired visas. Finally, we treated ourselves to some good ol' McDonalds fare and called it a day!

I snapped a few discreet photos with the ipad while we were there for your viewing enjoyment!

The font is just a teensy bit similar to Dunkin' Donuts, dontcha think?

The Immigration/Migration building

Jeff and our lawyer (and Andrew) waiting in the first of many lines.

The spunky, elderly lady is almost in the center of this snapshot.

Finally up to the first of many windows (See Jeff's blue shirt?).
Look carefully, do you see the printer set up on that wooden table? It belongs to one of the roadside lawyers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday's (Random) Teachable Tidbits

--Sea snails, also known as whelks, are responsible for those perfect little holes that we find in seashells. They drill the hole so they can eat (by sucking it out) the bivalve living inside. By the way, there are several cannibalistic creatures in the sea. 

--Watch out for words like 'ditch' when sounding out words with a dyslexic child.

--Reading with our beginner reader makes both Jeff and I feel very sleepy. Anyone else experience this odd phenomenon?

--While written with some liberty, Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World is great history read-aloud.

--We are reading through the book of Matthew for Bible class this month. Today we read Chapter 2.  When the angel of the Lord came to Joseph and told him to move his family to another town, Joseph obeyed immediately.  I wondered aloud to the kids, if I would have the faith and courage to believe and just move immediately like Joseph did. It takes faith and maybe a little bit of crazy...crazy for God to take those kind of leaps!