And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47 “As you contemplate the boundless love and mercy God has shown you, you will want to sing His praises as Mary … Continue reading
In the past week, both of my brothers turned another year older.
They turned old, actually. Kyle hit the big 3-0 and Jonathan is wrapping up college at 22.
I love them more this year than I did last year. While I’ve always been a bit envious of those with sisters, I would not trade having brothers, or my brothers in particular, for anything. I never take it for granted that I got to live this life with my brothers for one more year. They are so important to me. I have been blessed.
You might think that parents shape a child, but I’d like to make an argument for siblings.
Kyle was my constant companion, my best childhood friend. I couldn’t dream of a better sibling for a child. He can create a story better than anyone I know, and I got to live that with him. We spent endless hours in imaginative play- turning our closet into a motor home, our backyard into the wild west, our downstairs into an art museum. Of course, you had to pay to visit the art museum. But you’re not surprised, right? We both love competition, so it worked well for us to have a live-in competitor for our parents attention, the best grades and status. We have had many doors open to us because we pushed each other to excellence. Today, this has led us to a deep admiration and respect. We’re following our talents (his are billion dollar mergers, mine are with kids) and our dreams (even though he is a hugely successful lawyer, he is also an incredible fiction writer). Kyle is brilliant, complex, sensitive and a party-animal. I love that I got to know that from the beginning, and appreciate the man he’s become on a very deep level.
And then Jonathan came along. You might want to stop now and read the beautiful story of his adoption. Jonathan’s more than we ever imagined God could give our family. The best way to put it is that for all the effort Kyle and I put into our lives, Jonathan has been showing us up since toddler hood. It’s because he has WOO. Woo is actually a strength on the Strength Finders test and it fits him perfectly–“Woo stands for winning others over. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet—lots of them.” You can’t help but be super happy to be alive when you are with Jonathan. His laugh is contagious and the way he inspires others has truly, deeply changed me as a leader. I’ve loved having him on my leadership team and then getting to de-brief our days. He adds valuable wisdom and insight into ministry, life and what the team needs. I’m his biggest fan and Kyle is his biggest donor, so he’s set for life. I can’t wait to see what the next few years hold for our talented, lovable, wooing baby brother.
And there you have it. 12 lines on each brother. Yes, I counted. Because they will totally argue over who got more time on the blog. Which is fine because I’m good at sarcasm, I’m not too sensitive, I can hold my own in any game and sometimes, I might even punch back. I only had brothers, you know.
A Fed Ex package arrived today for my birthday.
I love that my mom has to Fed Ex birthday cards. I’m totally my mother’s daughter.
In it, I found the best birthday card EVER.
The front says:
April, I remember the time you came home from college and told me, “No more pink roses in this house!” I’m so thankful for your decorating advice…
For those of you that don’t know my mom, she pasted her head on that body. And that wreath of flowers on top. I am pretty convinced that’s what she would look like if I wasn’t born her daughter. It does make me happy to be alive. Maybe turning older isn’t so bad after all. Maybe I have finally discovered my purpose…
Happy Birthday to my sweet mom.
I wake up every morning thankful that I get to have a mom. And not just any mom. The kind of mom that built forts under the dining room table and played Cowboys and Indians with us (what do kids call it now?). The kind of mom that pulled all-nighters to sew glorious Halloween costumes and handmade all our birthday parties.
If mommy bloggers existed back then, we all would have followed my mom with envy and admiration. And she grew up to be an even better example. I’m so blessed.
So, because I’m stuck in a snowstorm (I believe we pulled over somewhere near Kalamazoo…and I’m blogging from a gas station McDonalds), I thought I would just re-post last year’s birthday post. The thing you should know is that I love her even more this year.
Sometimes, it’s hard to grow up.
One of those arduous tasks can be to navigate adulthood with your parents. You’re not quite on the same playing field, but you’re definitely not a child anymore. And you are secretly scared that those things you did today represent the exact things you told your junior high self that you would never do as an adult…
But one of the greatest honors of adulthood is to reflect on the magnitude of the love of your parents.
To say that they loved me first. To be their kid. To play that role.
It was my mom’s birthday yesterday. I spent a lot of time thinking about the blessing of her. To this world. To her family. To me.
Thanks for understanding about Christmas. We all have such different stories.
What did you do Christmas night? We got invited over to our friend’s house for Mexican food. And pomegranate margaritas. It was awesome.
I think every Christmas should be Mexican night.
About that brother of mine. Love him. The highlight of this Christmas was our many talks. Until all hours of the night. I think he’s spectacular. Until he beats me at games.
Need a Christmas love story? I do. My Grandpa Jack (died in 2000) and Grandma Doris eloped on Christmas Eve. They were seriously in love. We still celebrate together.
In conclusion, a few simple things I wanted to remember about this Christmas:
I hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright!
I wanted to get one final November post in. Because it’s a very special month– National Adoption Awareness Month. And because my brother insisted on his own post.
Yes, those glasses were really mine…I’m a child of the 80′s. Not sure about the blue eye shadow at age 10…but back to my baby brother….
Adoption is my first memory of having a dependence on God and watching Him answer prayers. For four years, we prayed as a family each night for this baby. When he finally came, we named him Jonathan, meaning, God’s gracious gift.
Our family was adopting a baby with special needs- and Jonathan’s need was a perfect fit- he was hearing impaired and my mom was fluent in sign language! However, we quickly noticed that our new baby was turning to sounds and soothed by music. Yes, he has perfect hearing. And that, my friends was the first miracle I experienced–not that his hearing was fine, because we would have loved him regardless–but that the only way for God to get Jonathan into our family was for this perfectly-hearing baby to appear to have a special need.
And I can’t for a second imagine what our lives would have been like without him. To know Jonathan is to be blessed by joy, love, laughter and fullness of life. What a blast it’s been to journey through life as this little boy’s big sister…and to watch him grow-up into such a wonderful man and teammate (he works for me at SpringHill). I’m forever grateful that I have an adoption story (and hope to adopt someday, too). I am wholeheartedly convinced that adopting a child brings great honor to God. It’s living out what He’s done for us. Come join my family. Sight unseen. Just as you are. I’ve chosen to love you forever and then some.
Love you, buddy! So glad you’re my brother forever!
>I’m going to post my Thanksgiving Confessions again this year. Read last year’s here.
Imagine a girl and her Texas Grandmother spending quality time together and filling two shopping carts with all the joys of Thanksgiving festivities. They’re laughing at the check-out and planning the meal ahead. And then it ends with the grandmother falling face-first into the cement. Pretty much a holiday nightmare. Complete with the girl having to call 911.
First, let me give a thankfulness shout-out to the City of Park Ridge who had an ambulance to us within 56 seconds. My mom pays 10x the property taxes I pay, but it seems worth it for days like yesterday.
My grandmother’s in the hospital (doing okay, running some further tests). Unfortunately, I’m not unfamiliar with being at a family member’s hospital bedside. Sometimes, I try to act like my mom and help the patient calm down and be at peace- but that’s her role. And sometimes, I try to say some nice spiritual things like Philo, our sister from India (literally, she’s a nun- I promise to blog about her later), but she’s actually the hospital chaplain as well, so it’s better left to her.
So my role? I’m the comedian. It’s not constant hysteria, but bed-side-notes of humor. Who else was going to tell my grandma that the neck brace she was wearing had given her an instant face-lift? And, who is there to joke with her about how they always ask the hardest questions when you have a head injury? Come on, doesn’t everyone already stumble over the question, “What day of the week is it?” Even without a head injury? Can’t we make these questions easier, people?
I think I made her rough night a little easier (I rubbed her head, too- that’s better than comedy, usually). And it got me thinking about living an authentic life in all circumstances. It’s so much more rewarding to all involved when I am ME. Even in a hospital room. I confess that oftentimes I try to fit the mold of what I think others need/want from me. I try to be the whisper of peace, the chaplain, the intelligent one, the pretty one, the team leader and more. I love integrating how others see and respond to the world, but in the end, I’ve got to be the person God made me to be.
P.S. I’m pretty sure He laughs at some of my jokes.
In order to kick off the keepin’ it real posts, I thought I’d share some recent photos. My dad got re-married a week ago and the wedding was very nice. But, of course, it’s always a little awkward when you are meeting your new step-family for the first time at the wedding. In front of a hundred other people. I loved my brothers’ approach- they never thought about being anyone but their authentic, crazy selves. They teach me so much about living and loving. I do adore this picture of the three of us, but what if we only had this kind of picture to remember the night? The one of my brothers with their props completely shows off their personalities. Much more than anything posed. Love them.
And back in Grand Rapids, I continue to spend a lot of my free time with the little girl I mentor. And her brothers. And neighbors. And cousins (who are mostly the neighbors, too). We took our own family picture at our Fall Family Luncheon a few weeks ago. Let’s just recognize how hard it is to get all kids to smile authentically at the same time. So, never to be defeated by an unsmiling child, I started taking “goofy” pictures. Guess what? We laughed harder than ever. And I think we captured the heart of what it’s like to spend time in relationship with a child. Love them.
So, friends, bring a prop to a wedding or put a turkey craft on your head and pose with a kid you love. Those are the memories I want.
P.S. The new step-family is totally cool and nice. I’m not just saying that. Very thankful for that.
5) At the Thanksgiving Table, we went around and had to name 3 things we were most thankful for. We cut my mom off at 71 things. I accidentally listed my friends Tony and Mat before God. I am SO thankful that they spent tons of hours getting my bathroom ready for my Thanksgiving Guests. Plus, they are just really fun to have around. They represent so many friendships that I have been blessed with. Friends that have become my family.
6) At the holidays, I am always reminded that life hasn’t turned out as dreamily as I thought. It’s a little more messy. But, I am so thankful that while so many things in my life have changed, my purpose and identity have not. I hope that no matter what you did for Thanksgiving (whether dreamy or messy), you find joy and purpose in being salt and giving light to everyone in your house/neighborhood/world.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”