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!

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A Special Friend

Several years ago over a cup of coffee at a Starbucks on the corner of two busy streets in West Texas, two girls sat down with full, steaming cups and started talking about life and began getting to know each other. Both had been through some tough stuff and had no idea that the other had been through similar things. As the coffee steam subsided and the cups emptied, a sweet friendship began. The two continued talking until it was closing time. They reluctantly parted but promised to meet up again for coffee soon.

In the weeks and months that followed a special bond developed between these two. So many dear memories were made involving movie nights, coffee chats (never going to forget the soapy coffee incident…wow!), game nights with friends, sleepovers, long phone chats and texts, long discussions about life and the future, and more laughs than one could count. These friends cheered each other on in the challenges and were there for each other in the hard times.

Then, change came.

The time came to part ways in the sense that life was leading these two in different directions. What exciting adventures lay ahead for both though tears were shed at the thought of parting. One friend moved several hours away down to Central Texas to be closer to her family. About a month aftLauren and Staceyer her move, the other found out that she was indeed moving to Indiana to continue pursuing her studies…

Oh, dear Lauren, I still remember that night I came to your almost packed up apartment to say goodbye before the moving truck came early the next morning to take you south. We hugged, cried a little, and promised to stay close friends no matter the distance. Just as Anne of Green Gables said “True friends are always together in spirit,” and so we were and continue to be no matter how many miles separate us. God blessed us during those two years that we lived in the same city. He had a plan. He knew we would need each other’s friendship in the years that would follow.

This week dear Lauren had a birthday. What a blessing you have been to me, Lauren, from that first moment when we discovered we were kindred spirits. We’ve both been blessed to see our friendship mature as we’ve prayed for and encouraged each other in the Lord. I’m thankful for our laughs and our many inside jokes.

Let me tell you a little about this dear friend. She’s a sweet one, this Lauren. You will almost never see her without a100_1304 book and consequently, she’s the perfect person to ask if you need book or author recommendations. Her ready smile will brighten your day and her hugs will cheer you no matter what you may be going through. She has a tender heart as is demonstrated in how she cares deeply about others and truly desires to bring comfort and light to those around her.

By the way, she has great taste in clothing and fashion. I still mention to her that a certain purple dress of hers might just mysteriously disappear some time when I’m visiting. Of course, I would have no clue how it disappeared but may coincidentally be found wearing a similarly styled dress later on. 😉 That aside though she’s the perfect one to take along if you need some help finding a new outfit.

God gives us friends for a reason. You see, God can see ahead to what the future holds. He knows the struggles, the joys, the changes, the trials, and everything that we will face, and He knows the friends we need at those specific times. Isn’t God good!?

I’m thankful for each one of my dear friends. Thank you, Lauren, for being such a bright light in my life, and a very happy birthday to you! 🙂

Thirty Days of Thankfulness

It’s been a whirlwind the last couple of months since I last posted. What blog posts I did work on seemed too focused on the stress and not what was truly important. I’ve accepted a challenge to post one thing I am thankful for each day of November. I decided to mainly do this through blog posts. However, I can’t guarantee that everyday will be posted on here. Depending on where I am and what I’m doing, some days may be posted on Facebook first and then later copied here. I do have a smartphone now, but I don’t like being on it all the time, especially if I’m traveling to see friends, so it may be easier to post on FB during those times.

Grad school steals a lot of my time and energy, and it often causes me to become incredibly self-centered as I try to get through the stress and the never-ending stack of work and research. I pray that just taking a few moments out of my day over the next month will help me to refocus my perspective on where it should be. The Apostle Paul writing to the Thessalonians said:

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thus, I felt that I would begin this challenge thanking the Lord for joy.

Day 1

I am thankful for joy.

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This JOY goes beyond a simple “feel good” feeling. It lives within the depths of the soul and is a willingness to go on despite hardship and discouragement as it is the comfort in heartache. It is a joy so deep within us that we cannot even fully describe it. This is also the joy that gives us the ability to laugh and smile with friends and family. Many a hard day has been brightened by the smile and laugh of a dear one.

I thank the Lord for the joy in being freed from the bondage of sin and death which is where this joy comes from. I thank Him for the joy of holding a newborn, of a hug from a dear friend, of a long late night conversation with a friend one hasn’t seen in months, of seeing beauty even on cloudy days, and of a beautiful walk amidst the changing leaves of fall.

Thank you, Lord, for the joy of living!

A Valentine Hug

It was about 8:40 a.m. as I was sitting at a red light on my way to teach class this morning when the radio announcer started talking about it being Valentine’s Day. I had an “Oh, yeah” moment as I was sipping my coffee waiting for the light to turn. I had only been thinking of the 14th really as a sort of D-Day for presentations and such that were due. My class was a little disappointed that I didn’t bring them chalk hearts either. So, I drew a heart in chalk on the board and told them how to say it in French. That really didn’t seem to help their desire for sugar.

It was such an insane day of writing and just trying to survive that it really didn’t bother me as much as it might have. It’s true as it’s always been so far in my life, I don’t have someone from whom I’d expect anything on a day like today. Even if I did have someone, maybe I would prefer he didn’t go all out on a day like this. It just seems too fake and forced in some ways. I would hate a guy to feel like he would have to get me something just because popular opinion says he should on a certain day in February, but maybe that’s just me.

I had just gotten home tonight from class and was trying to find something to eat when there was a familiar knock on my door. It was Grandpa Dalton (my neighbor) who frequently stops by to check on me or just to say hi. He also frequently brings me flowers that he gets from someone that he figures I’d enjoy more than he does.

I opened the door and he chuckled in his grandpa sort of way and reached out an arm for a hug. “Well, hi, Stacey! I just wanted to come give my Valentine Girl a hug! You doin’ okay?” I laughed and gave him a hug. I told him that I really hadn’t thought much about it being Valentine’s day and that it was sweet for him to come out in the cold to give me a hug. He laughed and said that he just couldn’t let the day go by without giving me a hug and told me he loved me.

He didn’t stay long due to the cold east wind that was blowing through the apartment complex, but he hugged me one more time and walked on leaning on his cane while chuckling and telling me to get some rest.

I closed the door and just smiled. I’d say that hug beat any stuffed bear or box of chocolates (which I’m allergic to anyway). I don’t think Valentine’s Day should only be a day focused on not having someone but instead showing someone else you care. Maybe that sounds cliché, but I definitely feel loved tonight.