Happy 4th Birthday Mekonen

On December 28th, my sweet, handsome boy turned 4 years old and I found myself asking again, where on earth has the time gone! It seems like yesterday when I walked into the doors of the Wanna House in Ethiopia and fiercely hugged my son for the first time. Now he's a big, strong, healthy 4 year old who's love for life is contagious!

I get choked up simply writing about this amazing kid I am privileged to call my son. I have trouble even finding all the words to describe what he's done to my heart and simply how amazing he is, just as he is. Not because of what he's done, how he acts, or what he can do, but simply because he IS Mekonen.

Here are a few of the things that make Mekonen, Mekonen, and how I've been praying for him.
Every day when I pray with Mekonen, I thank God first for the joy that he's put in Mekonen's heart. I thank God for how he brings so much happiness to those around him. There isn't a day that goes by that this kid isn't smiling and laughing, even when he is sick. His love for life oozes out of every part of his being. Even in small ways, he oozes joy, such as begging me to tickle him just one more time! When I think of Mekonen, I think of joy and I pray that God matures and develops this wonderful quality. I want him to know that joy isn't dependent on circumstances, but on Jesus. I want him to know that joy doesn't mean there isn't sorry, and joy doesn't mean he has to always be, or appear to be, "put together." I want him to know that joyful people experiences tears, both happy and sad, and that it takes strength to know and rightly display both sides of joy. I think our culture has watered down joy and stolen its strength...especially in men.

Mekonen is growing into his namesake which means "Prince" or "the noble one; the next to rule." His vibrant personality and love for life can draw people to him...we pray that this is in a positive, God glorifying way. As one can imagine, that's a huge discipling task on our end... and not one that we merely want to train into outward behavior, but one that we want to come from a heart that loves Jesus. That's a big and overwhelming task that most days I'm not sure how it looks! I just pray that God gives us grace as we learn along the way to fashion the leadership potential he has.

On the outset, if you don't know Mekonen, you might not guess that he has quite the compassionate heart. He gets very upset when someone starts crying, esepcially Evie (unless he is the reason she is crying!) He becomes very unsettled when something seems to be wrong with others. We pray that the Lord develops this into having a soft and compassionate heart towards those whom society casts aside, and that he will come to the aide of those in need.

Right now, this characteristic seems more of a vice than a virtue! This child is the most persistent preschooler I have met in a loooong time. His persistence and "lack of ability" to let things go will be an amazing quality to have in this life if it is coupled with a heart that belongs to Jesus and a heart that is submissive to God's authority in his life. We are in a major training/instructing time with Mekonen on getting control of his persistence as it shows up in asking us the same question, or saying the same statement, in about 50 different ways, after we have already given an answer, in hopes of somehow getting the answer he wants! I have to daily ask the Lord to give me patience and wisdom as I navigate how to rightly bring this persistence under control without squelching what can be an amazing part of what God does in and through his life.
We are beginning to see the little snippets of protection that Mekonen has over Evie and it melts my heart. Now don't get me wrong, a lot of the time, my 2 feisty children are going head to head with each other, but we are also seeing some of our teaching about being a protector coming through. I love that our firstborn is a son. Love that we get to train him to love, lead, and protect. When he feels Evie is in danger (like when she is standing on ANY cement when a car is within sight- even when the cement is NOT the road, he will FREAK OUT. He will scream, yell, then burst into tears, if she doesn't move to where he feels is a safe zone, even when we tell him, she is perfectly fine). We pray that the Lord develops this protector quality... that Mekonen will protect his siblings, his future wife, his children, and anyone the Lord places under his wing. That he will do it fiercely and with great courage.

I'm sure a lot of Mekonen's inquisitive nature is simply his age, but it's been so much fun to watch him begin to ask questions and understand little things about the way life works, about who God is, and anything else that comes up during the day. He's paying much more attention to our catechism questions, our Bible readings, and prayer times, which has led to lots of seed planting. I need to continue praying desperately that God gives me wisdom...that my answers will lead Mekonen to the cross, covered in Grace, not works righteousness. This is such a big task, one that I know the Enemy tries to overwhelm me with. But instead, it drives me more to the Bible and prayer, where I seek God's mercy and wisdom.

I encourage you, parents, to pray for your kids, out loud, and not only the things that you want to see God "change" in them, but let them hear you praise God for them, and let them hear you praise God for how He is working in their lives. Many of our seed planting spiritual talks come after we pray. Just this week after prayer Mekonen asked me, "Mommy, why do you always pray that God will draw me to His heart?" And I had the opportunity to talk about God's love and goodness, and how desperately I want Mekonen to know, in the depths of his soul, how good God is, how much God loves him, and how worthy of his worship God is. Another day he asked me, "Mommy, why is it that I should love God?" From that we got to talk a lot about God's grace and how we love because God loved us first and that there's nothing we can do to earn God's love and favor. So parents, pray, and pray out loud. Even if you don't think they are listening, or understanding. Pray, because they are!

So without further ado, here's a snapshot of how we celebrated the most precious boy in our life.
I'm so not a character Mom. I can't stand character theme bedrooms, clothing (except pj's and t-shirts he doesn't wear in public), and I even balk at character themed toys (unless it's the actual toy- so no "Thomas the Tank Engine baseball bat" because Thomas is not a bat). But one area I definitely let lose on is birthday parties! I say heck with it, and let him have the birthday party of his current favorite character(s). This year, it was Toy Story!

The special birthday boy place setting! 
So fun to have all your cousins at your birthday party!
 Buzz Lightyear cake! 
 So happy! 
 He was all business blowing out those candles! 

 cheesin' it
He was all about those candles and wanted them right on his plate. 
 And he sure enjoyed licking the icing off of them!
 Mekonen is very into construction vehicles right now!
 So handsome. 

 I love the cousins gathering around. Same thing as my childhood birthdays. Love it. 
 Where oh where has my baby gone? 

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