37 Minutes

All I wanted to do was write. With many little kiddos in my house, time to write is scarce.

On this day the kids all happened to be taking a nap. Even the baby was asleep. Only 37 minutes until the older ones would wake up and demand a snack, but that was enough time to work on that friendship post.

Then my phone rang. I hate talking on the phone. There are plenty of times I do not answer it and do not feel guilty at all. I checked the caller id. Yep. A friend who has lots of free time.

Decisions...
Decisions…

Groan. Sigh.

Wait.

This is not an interference. This is an opportunity. These 37 minutes may be my only chance to write today, but they are also a chance to live out my words on friendship. Besides, I do want to talk to my friend.

I picked up my phone. I have not mastered the art of when to answer the phone or not. It is hard for me to balance when I can ignore a call in my free time and when I should pick up. Many times I err on the side of ignoring. But that day I answered it.

We had a good conversation. We both poured time into our relationship. My time is precious to me, but so is my friend. She is worth more than a blog post. She is Life. And Life comes before Observed.

Brothers and Sisters: BFFs?

“Brothers and sisters are among the most important people in life, yet often they are also the most trouble.”
Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends

Do you know what the first sibling interaction ever recorded was? Cain murdering his brother Abel. Great start to the whole sibling thing, right?

I love my siblings. We want to be friends. We have each others backs. We know each other better than anyone else (yet we still surprise each other). There may not be such a thing as a perfect relationship, but I would say we come fairly close.

It is not because we never get on each others’ nerves (we do). Not because we always get along (we do not). Not because our personalities work well together either (because some of us are friends in spite of our differences ).

The biggest reason is because we have realized how valuable our relationships are. We made the choice to be friends. We mess up but we never let our mistakes be the last word. (Familiar? I must sound like a broken record. Do not worry; this series is almost done.)

One tool that helped us is a book called Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends. A family of two sisters and a brother wrote the book together. Out of their own experiences becoming best friends, they give practical ways for other siblings to improve their relationships. They put into words the vision of siblings being the strongest allies we could ever have.

This book helped my siblings and I realize that we were on the same team. My family read it together when we kids were in elementary and middle school. That seems to be a good age for this book. Older kids and adults will appreciate “Stephen’s Definitions” and the comics. I would encourage your family to read it together.

The book gave us the vision that we could be allies towards a bigger goal. Part of that goal is welcoming foster children into our home. We permanent siblings are strong enough to build each other up with some love left over. Because we have each other, we do not look to foster kiddos to fill our needs (or as competition). Foster kids get a taste of what a family should be; a sort of trial membership. They get all the benefits for as long as they live with us, at no cost to them.

This did not happen overnight. Our sibling relationship is something we have to fight for. It is work. It is so worth it though. My siblings are my treasures.

Now I have younger adopted siblings. Oh man, I love those kiddos. My little siblings are another big reason I am glad I can live at home. Since there is such an age difference between us, we may not have as many years to deeply bond like we would if we were closer in age. Each day I do have with them now is an extra blessing. I want us to develop as deep a bond as we can while we still live together. When the time comes and I do move away, hopefully our relationship will be established enough to withstand any distance. Seriously, though I do not want to move away too soon or too far- I would miss them too much.

It is scary to think of my brothers getting ready to move out on their own. They are men and can handle it- but I am not sure if I can. As far back as I can remember in my life, they have been there with me. It will be weird one day when they are not.

I am not worried about my soon-to-graduate sister. She cannot leave- I will not let her. She is my partner in crime forever. We often joke about the White Christmas song “Sisters” where they sing “Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister…”. Everyday we confirm how we each keep half of the other’s brain. We have to stay together to have maximum brain power.

My other sister and I have plans too. We would move to New York, of course. Together we would get a little apartment while she becomes a prima ballerina and an innovative fashion designer. I do not want her to leave me, but she is growing up by the hour. Each day she is a bit more of a young lady; beautiful, clever, poised, ambitious, and confident (even if she does not see how much she really is). I love her.

Siblings. You share the same parents; house; childhood. They are the closest humans to you; yet totally different. Thing is, you can spend your life fighting against these people or you can become greatest allies and friends, withstanding anything life throws at you.

Moving On

When I think back to the first year I moved here, the mistakes I made while meeting people are the first thing to mind. (I have learned from my mistakes, but because this is a small town they still seem to haunt me.) Then there was the year after that.

I mean, pretty much until last month I was messing up in my friendships. Who am I kidding? Until yesterday, I have been making more mistakes than good choices. And then there was this morning…

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Loving as a Tax Collector

It hit me, but only after the words had left my mouth. That is usually when I realize things; you know, the worse possible moment.

I was being harsh to my sister. Words I had said throughout the day ran through my mind. I had been harsh to most of my family. Why? They were being abundantly caring and kind. In each instance, they had done nothing to deserve my harsh words.

What we had talked about at church struck me. It was Matthew 5 were Jesus says “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”. Nice, I thought. I am not even as loving as a tax collector.

Wait; in the same chapter it says something about loving your brothers. The first part is not good. Verses 21-22 compare being angry at a brother or sister to murder! Luckily, it goes on with a remedy for if (or when) you have sinned against a brother or sister. The solution: go and be reconciled. Go, even if you are in the middle of doing some wonderful churchy project. Go, even if they have not apologized for what they are at fault for. Go and reconcile your relationship.

So I did. I apologized to my sister for how harsh I have been to her. “I don’t want to hurt you. I love you.”

Now I just have to remember before the words leave my mouth.

Reactions VS Healing

Revenge.

Suspicion.

Bitterness.

They seem so justified in the moment. When I have been wounded, it is easier to slip into these reactions than to choose healing. That mindless descent is still a choice though. Simply reacting in my emotion is a choice just like healing.

Reactions do not just “blow off steam”. They directly effect the friend, others, and myself. Revenge is a first thought when I am hurt. Suspicion quickly follows on its heels. Bitterness seeps in and embeds itself into my heart. It establishes revenge and suspicion as a cycle, then spreads like decay, slowly destroying me from the inside out.

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The Pain of Friendships

Raise your hand if you have been hurt by a friend before. Oh look, every arm on the Internet just went up. (Except that guy in a corner- wait, that is just a troll.) We are on the same page then. It stinks that every human has been hurt by another. Not only that, but by someone we trust.

That seems to be the hardest. To know humans betray each other is one thing, but to be wounded by a close friend just makes it a thousand times more bitter. It hurts. Having our trust broken hurts. Losing a friendship hurts. Caring about someone then being rejected hurts.

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