That word can cause lots of joy to bubble up in us with warm memories and a feeling of deep connectedness and a knowing that you’ve got this group of people that “have you” no matter what. That’s great and all but I’m not naive enough to think this is the reaction for everyone, though. Sometimes, the word can remind us of times of pain where your chest is so heavy with grief, it’s hard to breathe. Yeah, I’ve been there. While I may write about the hard stuff someday…today? Today I talk about some of the joys: having sisters. This week, my little sister turns 18. EIGHTEEN, people! And that’s pretty much it. It’s her up-and-coming birthday that made me get all sentimental about these ladies I call sisters. This T.V. show popped into my head when thinking of writing on this topic…. Oh, the adventures of Tia and Tamera. Ok, I know it’s corny but that theme song…so catchy! (Or slightly annoying, as my husband would say ;)) If you were around the pre-teen-ish age anywhere between 1994-1999 and had cable…you probably watched this after school. It brings back so many let’s-eat-a-big-bowl-of-Cinnamon-Toast-Crunch-before-dinner-while-sitting-on-the-couch-trying-to-do-your-homework-but-you’re-really-watching-T.V. kind of memories. Anyway, this post is about these ladies “I ain’t never gunna let go.” So, sit back and enjoy reading because this post is just me getting to talk-up some of the greatest women I know…and call my family.
Meet my big sister, Akaycia.
Yes, although she is about two feet shorter than I am and approximately 40 pounds lighter, she’s still my “big” sister. Haha! Long, long ago there was a time when she was bigger than me! This has got to be my most favorite photo of her. If you know her, you know she’s full of life and love and laughter and energy and awesome recipes and insane birthday party ideas. She’s the life of the party. Although that’s all awesome, even more than that, she’s full to the rim with compassion and wisdom. Whenever I’m at her house, I like to look behind her couch because, placed on the window sill, away from little hands, is usually the book she’s reading. She seems to be reading something all the time – often a book about how to raise boys, how to help her children know and love Jesus, how to pray for her kids and teach them to pray. I think this is pretty awesome seeing as I’ve watched those three little guys…How in the world does she find time to read? is my question. But she does, nonetheless. She does it because she wants to learn and do the best job she possibly can. And people, she’s such a good mom. My Grandmother passed away a few years ago. She was the most generous person I’ve ever known and my Mom takes after her. It is very apparent that my sister, Akaycia, has taken after them both as she lives out this generosity. Just as generosity oozed out of my grandmother, currently out of my mom, so it is with my sister. She is matched perfectly as her husband is just the same. To talk her up even more, read what she posted on Facebook just a week or so ago:
“What has this summer brought me, you ask?….
These past few months we have welcomed in a little girl. The length of time that we have her for is uncertain. God has given me such peace during this time with her. He has shown me to love not knowing the outcome. A selfless kinda love. We so often look at those who foster and think, why put so much time and effort into someone when you may never get to keep them, or benefit from what you have so faithfully poured into them during the time you cared for them. They say don’t get attached. Not me.I do get attached. I love on her and don’t let my heart hold back one ounce of my love. This whole experience has pushed me as a mom to love without knowing the outcome. To take one day at a time and be thankful. To hold back what I can give a precious child in need is not who I want to be. I’m reassured daily that she was given to us for a reason and the time spent (Permanent or not) is meaningful. I have her today and I am blessed, because… *There is no time wasted in loving a precious child!* I find peace in that.”
Yeah. She’s pretty incredible.
Now meet my little sister, Rahel.
Oh.my.word. I love this girl. She is fun-loving and has the ability to make your stomach hurt from laughing. Like I said before, this young woman has a birthday this week. Rahel’s the big 1-8 and she moved into a little apartment and starts college this fall. Something struck me as we were chatting on the phone setting up her course schedule for school — the eight year gap between us is quickly getting smaller and it’s totally fun. She’s slowly moving from the little sister that I had to watch and becoming a friend and I love it. I remember when Rae was born. I went into the room and got to hold her and recall a knot in my throat as I held back tears because, well…8 year olds don’t cry when they hold new babies. Where did I hear that? How foolish. I should have let the tears flow because that’s how I felt at the time and that’s pretty much how I feel when I think about the person she is and her incredible destiny. She wants to possibly be a counselor and work somewhere that helps women. Go for it, Rae. All in all, I am so very proud of this girl and her heart and honesty and strength and my hope is that someday she’ll forgive me for dragging her around, pretending she was a doll and remember all the times I bought her Slim Jims at the corner store.
Oh my goodness, I could go on and on about these two.
But you know what else is really cool? When I got married, I got 5 more. Five more women to call sisters. Five more ladies to get to know, do life with, celebrate the highs, have praying for me during my lows and to pray for during theirs.
Meet my new sister-in-laws:
“in-law” sounds so rigid.
Meet my new sisters:
(From left to right)
As you can see, this beautiful lady has a little baby bump in this picture! Her forth child was in there and was born shortly after our wedding in February of this year. This lady is stunning. And she’s really an inspiration. Lisa is a wife, a mom, home schools her three school age kids, and works a bit on top of that. Although they are different genders, she reminds me a lot of her brother – my husband – for some reason. They are in different seasons in life and in different fields and have different spheres of influence, but I see lots of endearing similarities between the two of them. I see Lisa as easy going yet able to juggle a lot. She’s quick to laugh and I’ve noticed something about her: Lisa enjoys her kids. They can be frolicking around, being goofy, talking about things they’d like to invent or doing a cannon ball into the pool, and you can tell she just enjoys them.
Ok, folks. You’re in for a treat if you get the chance to meet Karen. My husband calls her the “Rock Star” and that is totally what she is. She can play the piano, violin, guitar, and just bought a cello. [And she’s starting to teach some of these instruments too! Look her up for lessons!] Likewise, if you have never heard her sing…don’t worry, you will in the future. She’s going to record an album someday. Oh, and make a movie. At least that’s what her brother and new sister think she should do. Want to know something else? She’s a leader at Ignite, the youth church at our church, and I’ve noticed how kind and and involved and present she is in the lives of the teens she’s leading. I’m impressed by her often and I’m excited I get to cheer her on as her future unfolds.
As you can see, this was her wedding day. What a beautiful, bare-footed bride she was!! I see Cheryl as adventurous and straight forward and passionate and compassionate. I’ve seen her tear up easily many times and I think it’s a gift. In fact, her and her husband are going to Gulu, Uganda this week to serve at a children’s home called Children of Hope. Also, if you need a photographer? She’s a-MAZING. Look her up here. You’ll see what I’m talking about. One last thing…seeing as we got married only a short 5 months apart, I not-so-secretly hope we have babies around the same time at least once. That’d be awesome.
The other “sister-in-law.” We totally hit the jack pot marrying into this family, huh?
And I hit the jack pot getting her as another sister. I so enjoy talking one on one with Shannon. She asks lots of questions and you get the sense she wants to truly get to know you. I appreciate that. This gift of asking questions draws you out of yourself and really gets you talking which I find refreshing. This woman is fun and full of life, yet deep and desires to squeeze the most out of life that she can.
To see just how awesome Shannon is, you should totally read her blog, in metaphors, especially if you are raising little people [and you’ll get to see her 3 super cute kiddos]. Her writing is raw and honest and funny and she encouraged me to start this blog!
I have fun memories of spending time with Mel years ago. Melanie is sincere and kind and consistent and just calm. I remember tearing up and feeling overwhelmed by her excitement and joy when she got word Ryan and I were dating and soon after, when we got engaged. Whether she did it intentionally or not, her enthusiasm and kindness meant so much during that time and I am incredibly thankful for her. Mel is also married and is a mom of three ridiculously handsome little boys. I often wish we lived closer so I could spend time with her because I see something in her that I want; she is one I would want to learn from.
Oh, how I love talking-up these incredible women in my life. They are all so different and incredible, as you can see, but I also just really like them. They’re simply really good people. And…if you haven’t already noticed…are they not all freaking GORGEOUS??!! So, these are some of the ‘joys’ of family for me and my heart could just burst at the gift I’ve been given. I am so blessed.