Friday, October 24, 2008

For the Love of Family

Stemming from a conversation I had in passing with my own pastor last evening, I began calculating the number of years that my brother, Doug, has been a pastor himself. I couldn't believe the number I came up with.

Dude's gettin' old! And I don't like it because he's just dragging me along with him.

In reality, he's only 46, but it seems a lifetime ago that he moved out of the house when I was just 10. We made the trek with our parents to move him in to Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University) in Columbia, South Carolina, and I literally cried most of the way home. I was his pesky little sister, but he was my favorite person on the planet. If I remember correctly, I believe I actually made a scene right there on campus about not wanting to leave him there.

I'm not sure what I thought those crazy Christian conservatives were going to do to him!

As it turned out, he became an awesome pastor, made some lifelong friends, and brought home to us the most incredible sister and daughter-in-law in the world - which then extended our family by a few more wonderful people via her family. So in the end, it was all more than okay.

The most amazing part, however, is how my brother handled our relationship after he left. It would have been very easy to get on with his life and simply have a cursory relationship with me during holidays, etc. But he made a concerted effort to not only keep in touch with me over those 600 miles, but was interested in my life and counseled me on many occasions.

Consequently, we have a great relationship to this day - even with the little actual physical time we get to spend with one another.

So this actually gives me hope that my own two older boys, who spend most of their waking time together fighting, will someday have some type of amicable relationship.

Which brings me to my relationship with my sister, Aimee, who is five years older than me. Yes, I'm the baby. She and I fought like a couple of junk yard dogs growing up. We were very different, didn't see eye-to-eye on many things, and each resented the other's place in the sibling rankings. I hated getting all of her hand-me-downs, and she hated all the things I got to do that she didn't because I was the last one at home.

But then she left for college, and went and grew up . . . and made sure we remained close. We are now best friends and rarely go a day without conferring with one another about something in our crazy lives. She is my autistic son's biggest fan and cheerleader and sees absolutely each and every great trait that my older two, very challenging boys, have - and just loves them all to pieces.

Through all of the parenting I have done (I had the first grandchild) and the issues I've faced with my boys and the slew of mistakes I have made, never has either one criticized me once. Not once. Their words are always encouraging and full of praise for what I have managed to accomplish. I would not be the parent, or person, I am today without their presence in my life.

Siblings are awesome. If you don't have any, go grab someone and recruit them as your honorary sibling! They are who remain when everyone else is busy doing something else. They are who are by your side when no one else can stand you. They love you no matter what.

At least those are the type of siblings that my parents raised. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for setting the bar!


  1. My parents thought my older sister and I would never speak if we didn't have to. She, too, is my closest friend and we talk all the time. It's amazing what can happen in your relationships if you don't have to share a bathroom! Siblings rock! I have 5 of them, I should know:)

  2. Kind words, H., thanks. The Lord has indeed blessed the three of us with a special bond. I cannot imagine my life without the close friendship I have with my two sisters, and with my two parents.

    I do remember you moping around campus all slumped shouldered and sad while I was moving in 27 years ago.

    This ministry thing that has me far away from everyone else in the family, way down here in NC, can sometimes be frustrating, but you and Aimee do a great job of keeping the three of us present to your kids, so when we do make it back up to Indiana/Ohio we are not considered strangers.

    You know, I have now lived in the Carolinas several years longer than I lived at home in Indiana. But it is our love for one another that keeps the communication ongoing, and that is more important than a simple physical proximity.

  3. A CAR people...she got a car for high school graduation! At 42 years old I may be over my sibling jealousy, or maybe not. ;)

    Seriously folks, Holly is so right. Siblings are such a treasure; at least mine are. We love getting the entire family together. We prefer a house in the mountains or at the beach! We are serious eaters of good food, love to laugh, and play some mean card games. Oh, the words fly when we play cards. Our sister-in-law Mona once called my husband "sister-boy" when he was trying to pull something in a game of liverpool. Our mother, the matriarch of the family, once accused the men of cheating at a card game. Our father makes the best homemade chex mix - we devour it by the gallon when we all get together.

    One of the greatest by-products is seeing all of our children grow up spending time together. The cousins may go months without being together but it doesn't matter. They're thick as thieves.

    Family - one of life's greatest gifts. We are an eclectic bunch who value and love one another. We are loud (well, some of us) and definitely know how to have fun. The joy of being together, I believe it is one of the finest gifts our parents have bestowed upon us.