Well, HAPPY 31ST BIRTHDAY!!!!!!
In honor of your special day, I decided it would be fun to list 31 really great memories I’ve shared with you. There is a rough chronological order, but since I’m nearing my elderly years as your much older sister, my dating is a bit foggy. I’m sure you can forgive me. Here goes…
- Watching you play baseball and soccer… and many other sports.
- Seeing you in the stands (or beside them running around) while I played softball and soccer… and many other sports.
- The first time we got to go to the concession stand by ourselves to purchase a pretzel or the ever-so-coveted chili pie (or whatever that mix of Fritos, chili and cheese was that we hardly ever got to eat) at the field.
- Enjoying the Cosby Show every Thursday at 7pm… followed by Family Ties, Fresh Prince, and whatever other show filled in the fourth slot. No television lineup will ever be as good.
- Playing NERF basketball in that teeny tiny bedroom of yours.
- Breaking into the house after school through the bathroom window when we would forget our house keys.
- Riding our bikes or walking to Taco Bell to break up the boring summer days at home.
- Playing wiffle ball in the back yard with Greg, John and Dad.
- Going to that water park in Waterloo, IL where they had the super-fun waterslides.
- Swinging upside down on the monkey bars at Salem. First the little ones, then the big ones, then the really big ones where we all played that strange dodgeball game knocking people off the bars.
- Grand Haven. Getting our clothes totally soaked the first day we arrived and couldn’t resist running out into the waves. Russ’s. The pool at Days Inn. Walking the pier. Running down the sand dunes. Taking our rafts way out into the lake and then seeing how far the waves would take us before we reached the shore again… and realizing that sometimes it would take us much farther than we had anticipated. The day you dug a hole in the sand as tall as yourself while I made a mermaid beside it. Watching the sunset.
- The long car rides to Michigan and back. Stopping at the same truck stop restaurants in the middle of the night every time: Brazil and Tecumseh. Ordering a cheeseburger and fries every time no matter what the hour of night was and knowing you thought I was a little crazy for it.
- Running into you and chatting for a minute between classes in high school.
- The day we went to the riverfront right before you left for boot camp. Sending letters back and forth during boot camp. And better yet, the day you came home from boot camp!!!!
- Hearing about the Lord’s work in your heart and seeing you IMMEDIATELY begin to run hard after Him.
- Writing the first check to help you fund an overseas mission trip. Then seeing missions become your life. It has been more than amazing to see all the Lord has done throughout the world as He has used you as an instrument!
- New Orleans!
- My wedding weekend. We laughed hysterically at all manner of silliness during the rehearsal. There aren’t many people who have such a fantastic laugh as you. Then on the wedding day, you carried the train of my dress all around the Botanical Garden so it wouldn’t get dirty. Even when other people offered to carry it, you took over and made sure to do it yourself. You take care of me just as well today, even if it’s from far away.
- The first time you told me about this girl you met in Houston and then proceeded to hand the phone over to her so we could talk directly. She was great from the start!
- Spring break in Houston and Galveston. I remember standing off to the side with Amber and Chet praying as you shared the Gospel and a few dollars with that homeless man we encountered.
- Going shopping for Amber’s engagement ring with you.
- Praying for you the December day you proposed… and then getting really excited when you told me how it all went down!
- Your wedding weekend. Do you remember when all you guys were hanging out the night before the wedding, and Chet decided to drive the Corolla over a speed bump? Then there was that Sesame Street character that flatulated quite loudly at the push of a remote button. Oh my word. On your wedding day, I got to help you get wrinkles out of your shirt, watch them reappear just minutes later, and then try to get them to go away again. Then we had the joy of watching you forget all about the wrinkles when it was time to demonstrate to everyone watching that marriage is a picture of the Gospel.
- Laughing with you on the phone when you repeatedly suggested that we attempt to simultaneously conceive. And finding out within a couple months that we got pretty close!
- Thanksgiving in the mountains of New Mexico. Remember that porcupine on the post high in the air? Weird. Remember how the wind was so strong that it blew all the smoke from the super-cool fireplace back into the house, and we all had to sleep with wet washcloths over our faces so we had some humidity to breathe? HILARIOUS!
- Getting to walk through some of the hardest times of our lives TOGETHER. Mom and Dad’s divorce. Dad’s death. Relationship struggles. Marriage struggles. Parenting struggles. Personal sin struggles. And then getting to celebrate together as we’ve witnessed God’s grace to help us and sanctify us in and through each of those situations.
- Seeing you hold Ladan just a couple days after he was born and watching you smash his cheeks to your own. Seeing Gabe’s cheeks squish between your fingers. Seeing Claire’s cheeks jiggle like Jello when you shake her high in the air. Knowing that you love them like they’re your own… and not just because they have great cheeks!
- Talking to you as you nervously drove Amber to the hospital to give birth to Titus. And then talking to you in what seemed to be only about four-and-a-half minutes later when he was born! Receiving texts in the middle of the night when Justus was on his way and seeing photos of his sweet face just minutes after he was born. Then getting the opportunity to love on your boys like they’re my own.
- Titus’s and Ladan’s first birthday party when we ended up washing the icing off them in the waterfall at Forest Park. Hiking with the kids in and along the creeks in Benbrook. Taking them all to the beach in Grand Haven and hiking up the “cliff” at Gram and Ken’s. Watching the boys do science experiments together and then watch football with you to insure that they both get to share what they’re most interested in with one another. Enjoying the similarities and differences of all our kids and appreciating how God has created each of them to be unique and still equally loved.
- Getting iced/snowed in at your house during moving week, resulting in opportunities to help you load your vehicles in snowy 1-degree weather, watch those hilarious comedy videos on YouTube all smashed on the couch, eat pizza that was literally swimming in butter, and wave to you as you drove off.
- Throughout all these stages of life and specific memories, we have had almost daily contact no matter how far apart we are geographically. We may not remember the exact words of most of these conversations—and there may not actually be a whole lot of words spoken in a given conversation depending on the day and how many millions of things we’re doing—but you’re there, and I’m here. And that’s a pretty great thing to remember.
Happy birthday, Bro!
Phyll (a.k.a. Sister… and later, Phatty)