Coming Change

It’s been a calm Saturday today. Spring has finally come to Indiana, at least it seems to have come. I cannot always tell how the weather will change or if there’s still a little bit of winter left to come. It’s not unheard of to have snow in April. However, today, spring is here. I opened up my balcony door, turned on my ceiling fan, and just enjoyed having the sounds of spring and fresh breezes waft through my small apartment.

I have had plenty to do today with empty boxes filling my living room which need to be filled to move soon. There’s a paper which needs to be written, homework to be done, exams to grade, wedding plans to work through, and I should maybe eat something soon. This week was so incredibly busy and overwhelming with so much due and so much going on. This afternoon, I decided to take some time to just sit and listen and be still for a little while. Deadlines are there, but I have found that I do much better if I also take breaks and take care to not overdo.

So much change is in the air beyond just the changing of the seasons. They’re good changes, yes, and I’m so excited about them, but with change comes a time of readjustment as well. Thinking back over the last five years of my life, change has been a constant. From moving across the country to start a graduate school program and later, moving across the world to teach for a year, to now preparing to get married and start a new life in another state, it’s been quite a beautiful adventure so far. Not to say, there haven’t been struggles and problems along the way because there definitely have been. I’ve loved how unpredictable it’s been in many ways, and how I never could have dreamed it up on my own how this story would unfold so far.

I remember in my childhood learning quite a few lessons about change. We moved from Georgia to Texas when I was young, and it took me a few years to fully adjust and start identifying as a “Texan”. {Come on, we’re talking about Texas here, y’all, it’s hard to live there and not just become a Texan.} Through it all, my parents taught me some valuable lessons about following God’s direction despite the changes it might involve. God knew us three younger kids would need that lesson as we’ve all experienced moves into areas which are unfamiliar through trying to follow His direction.

As I ponder all of the upcoming changes, I sometimes wonder what’s ahead in life. These thoughts bring a mix of emotions to my mind both of fear and of anticipation. A thousand “What ifs” cloud my mind sometimes. The more I experience changes, the more I am thankful for the Lord who is my firm foundation and who changes not. No matter the changing belief systems of our governments and cultures, He never changes and His Truth never changes. No matter what’s ahead and whether those “What ifs” come to pass, He is still good, He is my Rock.

One of my favorite hymns I learned while I was in France (pictured isn’t all of the hymn) is a prayer for God to teach His child no matter what comes. It asks that He might guard our hearts even in the midst of a storm and give us strength and comfort throughout life. “Teach me” the title says. This song touched me as I sang it with some of my dear Christian friends there.
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I’m thankful for His leading and His care over His children. I’m thankful we can trust in Him who changes not.

Enseigne-moi, Seigneur!

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To My Sister

Today is my dear sis’s birthday! 

In our family, girls are in the minority. Not that we complain about this. I say if we are to be outnumbered, we’re blissfully so by some sweet albeit often mischievous boys.

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We always did seem to have fun even if it did involve putting me in a grocery bag…

My sister held down the only girl status for a while until I came along. Some of my earliest childhood memories have her in them. I remember Eskimo kisses before going to sleep, her letting me brush her long, beautiful blonde hair after she’d dried it, falling asleep in her lap at church, hearing her read stories to me, her knowing how to make me smile when I was upset, going on little picnics, riding her horse, and following her everywhere wanting to grow up to be just like her.There were so many sweet moments like these which all define what comes to mind when I think of what it means to have a sister.

I was actually devastated to the point of tears when my hair started turning brown when I was around 7 because it wouldn’t be just like Julie’s. Mom reminded me then that both of her girls were unique and special in each her own way, and that in the grand scheme of things, one’s hair color doesn’t matter much. It’s true. Both of us are each are our own person and are more different from each other than, I think, we initially realized when we were both still at home.

It’s been a blessing to have a sister for many reasons beyond not having to stand alone with all those teasing brothers. 🙂

God created us with unique talents, and so far, it seems that He has been writing very different stories for us both. I have often been struck how all of us siblings were raised in the same loving Christian home, but look at all the different paths and fields we’ve gone into. Isn’t God good!? Not a one of us is exactly alike but we share that same sibling bond, those same inside jokes, and yes, you can tell beyond a doubt we all come from the same family.

IMG_0710But, we, my dear sis, share something special because of the simple fact that we are sisters. There is something that sisters share that isn’t quite the same as a sister-brother bond as special and unique as that relationship also is. There have been so many times I’ve shared a look with you and you just “got it.” Apparently, we even share a “look.” Your dear husband pointed it out one time when he walked in the room and said something mischievously funny interrupting our conversation as I was holding one of your little ones for the first time, and we both turned and gave him the same look. I chuckle now just thinking of it. I love those little moments when we’ve just quietly connected as sisters and shared a special smile.

I also find it funny how we do seem to confuse people due to looking alike. 😉 I once got asked how my chickens were doing upon arriving at a church meeting. At my confused look and response that I didn’t have any chickens, the deacon looking likewise confused asked “Aren’t you married to James T____?” We had a nice laugh when I cleared up the confusion which then followed with a statement about you and me looking so much alike. Though I have also had some of my own friends get confused when they’d never met Julie before and saw someone who looked so much like Stacey….but wasn’t?

Any time I see horses or a beautiful shade of green, I think of you, dear sis. I even had the opportunity to see a horse show in Paris not long ago, and all I could think about the entire time was how I wished you were there to share that moment with me. You would have loved it too! Those horses were majestic and incredibly well-trained to be able to handle riders fencing while on horseback.

Distance and how busy life has been over the last several years has often made it hard to keep in touch as I think both of us would like. However, I’m looking forward to the years to come and do hope our times of being together will be greater in number and hopefully more frequent.

I hope you have a pleasant birthday surrounded by your husband and children. I pray that you are able to rest, that the blessings you receive today and each day are more than you could possibly count, that each day gives you multiple reasons to smile and thank Him, and that you’ll always know how much I love you, dear sis!

Happy Birthday!

Thankful for My Siblings!!!

There are few people in this world who know you like your siblings do.

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Hard to get us all together, but this was 5 of the 6 a few years ago…

I was recently asked by some classmates what it was like growing up with so many siblings. The question came as a result of my mentioning more than one brother in the course of one conversation. I smiled and told them that I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today without having grown up in the family I did and added that I meant that in a good way. They all laughed and started talking about their own experiences in their families.

It’s true though as you’re around siblings during your formative years and see them and they see you at the best and the worst times. Sure, not all of us got along perfectly as kids if we got along at all. However, there’s a certain beauty to growing up and realizing that most if not all that stuff that came between us as kids was so silly and juvenile. By each of us being uniquely who we were, we affected each other as we grew up. Yes, this did often mean there were conflicts, but that was where we learned to state our opinions and defend ourselves though indeed, the frequent use of my parents’ rod of correction taught us quite a bit about being respectful in our manner of stating and demonstrating those opinions. We learned that there were consequences to what we did and said that often went beyond being punished as we could hurt others with our words and actions. We learned to give forgiveness when wronged and learned to ask for forgiveness as hard as it often was after the heat of an argument.

Handsome, aren't they? :)

Handsome bros!!! From L to R: The Big Bro :), Justin (pronounced with a French accent or “Jutin”…it varies) bro, Stephen (pronounced Steefen) bro, and little Bruva. What would families be without a plethora of nicknames anyway? 😀

In my case, I have four brothers who are all my best guy friends and laughing buddies each in their own way. I don’t always get a chance to see or talk to all of them, but whenever we’re together, we pretty much pick up where we left off the last time we were together. They’re also my protection crew as I always feel perfectly safe with them no matter where we go. I also have a sister who was my absolute favorite when I was a little kid. I wanted to be JUST like Julie when I was little, and as a result, I was absolutely devastated when my hair turned brown because I wanted my hair to be just like hers, long and blonde. She and I ended up on very different paths and are usually both quite busy, but it’s nice to sit down and have a chat whenever I’m down for a visit.

Above all, I’m thankful my parents taught us to love each other and to seek the Lord first in our lives. Our family wasn’t perfect because we’re all sinners and frankly, what family is perfect? Yet, we were blessed beyond measure and as the Lord shaped each of us, He also showed us more fully the blessing of each other.

I thank the Lord for each of my siblings. They’ve been a blessing to me in more ways than I can even begin to mention here. I thank Him for our many happy memories and our inside jokes, that we love each other and love being together (as infrequent as that is since we’re scattered all over the place), that we all love the Lord, that we encourage each other, that for me they’re all just a phone call away if “lil sis” or “sistah” (depends on the sib I’m talking to) needs a chat and/or advice, and that we love to laugh together and change mom’s poor WELCOME/COUNTRY block sign to all sorts of variations {I think she inwardly loves it when we do that as much as she sounds exasperated to walk into the living room and see her blocks on the wall mysteriously changed to “MEOW NET” or “ELLEN WOO”}.

Thank you, Lord, for my siblings: Joseph, Julie, Stephen, Justin, and Jesse!!!!

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To My Big Brother

Dear Justin,

Today is your birthday. I have to confess that I’m woefully behind on mailing out a card, but I wanted to do something special on your special day since too many miles separate me from being able to celebrate with you.

It’s been too long since I saw you last! Nearly two years! It seems rather odd because as kids, we saw each other every single day and many, many times we could hardly stand each other. Well do I remember us putting our cereal boxes in such a way that we didn’t have to see each other at the breakfast table because of yet another argument. I wish now we had learned to get along a little better, but sometimes I think it’s just part of being siblings.

But, I love you, big bro!

My Pictures 037We seemed to be constantly together as small children. As a little sister, I looked up to you and learned from you. I remember all of the games we invented to play together, all of the car cities built out of books and blocks, all of the cowboys and Indians games we played, and all of the stuffed animal wars we had. You taught me how to play with a yo-yo, how to draw funny pictures, how to make silly voices and imitations, how to play baseball (sort of), how to skip rocks on a lake, how to play hard outside, and how to take a hard fall off of a bike….and not cry because, you know, only a big baby cries after falling off of a bike. 😉

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I remember those late night thunderstorms when I wasn’t the only one running to mom and dad’s bedroom. Later on, you taught me how not to be afraid of thunderstorms.

You made me feel safe when I came home crying once because some bullies had threatened to beat me up, but you said that no one was going to hurt me because you’d defend me. No one could make me quite so angry as you could. But then, you had a special way of making me laugh so hard too. Yes, we didn’t always get along and admittedly, we weren’t as close when those teenage years hit, but I still looked up to you and felt that I could confide in you.

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You were definitely never afraid to tell me when I was wrong, and many times you were right even if it did make me angry. Later on, when we were a little older, you taught me about courage when you stood up for what was right in high school and didn’t waiver even when it seemed like nearly an entire town stood against you.

I know after we grew up, difficult, fearful years followed, but none of us ever stopped loving you, and we never stopped praying for you. We believed that God could work a miracle, and He did. Your life is proof of that!

The most important thing you taught me through those hard years was about forgiveness and God’s amazing conquering love. I’ve seen God’s power and His grace in your life. I see a humble and compassionate spirit in you, and bro, I want to be more like you.

I hope you have a very blessed, restful birthday, bro! I’m proud of you!

I miss you and love you!

Your lil’ sis,

Stacey

To My Little Brother

I am blessed to have quite a few brothers, four to be exact. Three of them are older. However, this post is dedicated to the one who is younger than I.

As I was only three at the time, I can’t say that I remember specifically the day he was born. Yet, many of my childhood memories include him in them whether we were playing, arguing, getting into trouble, or playing those crazy imagination games we were so fond of as children.

I can’t say that I was always close to him. We really didn’t get close until we were the last two of the kids in my family still living at home. When we started homeschooling again, he was the main one I talked to most days. We used to drive mom crazy with all of the movies we’d quote endlessly, and we’d reenact different scenes we found hilarious. I also fondly remember those many times we sat on the front porch swing with popsicles in our hands just sittin’ and chattin’. We still do so from time to time when we’re home just for old time’s sake or just because.

We pretty much got to where we could nearly read each other’s thoughts, and we seemed to be able to always find a reason to laugh. That doesn’t mean we never argued. Oh, we did plenty of that as mom can attest!  However, what I always have found kind of funny about it is that we would go into our rooms just piping mad at each other after an argument, but within about 20 minutes, little brother would come into my room wanting to play again or just chat like everything was okay. It was hard to stay mad at him.

We’ve both grown up and moved away from home though not too far away, but we’ve still been able to stay close since we go to the same university. I count on him to pull me away from my books and make me have some fun and relax. I have a tendency to just work and work without stopping to just take a break. He has a knack for just making me laugh and laugh and vice versa. He’s one of my closest friends! Though him growing nearly a foot taller than me was hard to forgive for a while. 🙂

There is something really special that I share with my little brother though. It is something that I hold dearer to my heart than anything else. It is that the two of us were both baptized on the same day. We both made the most important step in each other’s lives and began our walk with the Lord at the same time. Sharing that bond as brother and sister in Christ is the most precious part of my relationship with my little brother. He’s someone I feel that I can in many ways look up to in this area. He’s so good to study things in the Bible that he doesn’t understand and often shares what he’s found in some of our discussions.

There is something else that I also share with my little brother. That of having celebrated turning 20 while studying in France. Today is my little brother’s birthday. Well, it’s already his birthday in France anyway. I’m obviously unable to celebrate with him on his special day, but I’m thinking of him. I’m so happy for him to be in France learning so much and having adventures. I remember how special both of my times in France were, and I’m so excited and yes, a little fearful for him too. I’m still big sister, you know! Yes, I gave him oodles and oodles of advice before he left though all the while knowing that many things he will have to discover for himself.

So, today, I’d like to wish my dear little bruva Jesse a very happy and blessed birthday. Go eat a crêpe and a pain au chocolat while gazing at the beauty of France! God bless you, dear little brother!