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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.