Archive | counting blessings

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

I wrote a little tribute to my dad on Instagram for his birthday, and then I decided I should share it here. My dad is truly the best! So thankful to my Heavenly Father for my Daddy!

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This is my dad.
It is pretty hard to catch him in front of the camera, but I found this shot from Amsterdam on my phone.
Some of you are already thinking about Father’s Day, but I’m going to get ahead by talking about my dad today, on his birthday!
My dad got married while he was in college and they had my brother Joey the next year. He finished college by taking several semesters off to work every job imaginable. He was a janitor, a pressure-washer, and a construction worker. He worked an assembly line, he went door-to-door, he mowed the alligator pen at the zoo!
My dad has not stopped working hard to provide for his family since then. By the time I was born, he was in med school, still working hard. From the moment Joey was born, he’s made sure my mom could always stay home with us.
My dad hasn’t ever had a lot of time “off,” but when he’s off, he’s at home with his family…or taking us on a “vacation” (adventure!)
He used to line us girls up on the bed with our hair hanging off to blow dry it, and then he’d brush it and sometimes even French braid it! He’s a man of many talents!
He builds houses, pins butterflies (but only those that die of natural causes, because he’s awesome,) cooks, bakes, takes beautiful photos (he taught us how to develop film in our own darkroom,) fixes All The Broken Things, and has great taste in music, coffee and cookies. smile emoticon
Now I realize that my dad was really young when he started his family, and was still a young child in the family of God at that point. Now that I’m in my twenties, I see what a remarkable man he has been to love his wife as Christ loves the church, to raise his nine children to follow Christ unapologetically and to otherwise never be a “follower.”
I still learn from him, I still sit on his knee and he still braids my hair sometimes. We definitely still go on adventures!
I love you SO much Daddy! Have a groovy birthday!
P. S. If I never get married, it’s all your fault. You’ve given me such high standards, the guys I meet just don’t usually measure up! That may have been your plan all along…

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choosing to love {already}

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Last Wednesday, my sister and her husband took my family and I completely by surprise and announced that they’re expecting their first child this summer! I was astonished that I hadn’t already caught on, seeing as they currently live with us and “sister vibes” are totally scientific. The family erupted in tears of joy, shouts of excitement, hugs and questions. It was a truly wonderful day.

I can hardly express how excited I am! For one thing, I get to become an aunt. It’s not every day you get a new title. I can’t wait to dote on a baby in our own family! I don’t remember any of  my siblings’ births (weird, right?) so I’m still intrigued by the process. I am also thrilled for the expectant parents who have wanted to start a family for a while now. When the baby is born, four people will become grandparents. Three people will become uncles and five people will become aunts. Two people will become parents. Wow.

It feels kind of crazy to already love the baby so much. I mean, Caitlin’s not even showing yet. Though I know the baby’s DNA is already determined, we don’t yet know it’s sex. We don’t know if he or she will have brown hair or blond…or red! We don’t know much about the baby at all. And yet I love it.

Funny thing is, there’s only one thing we can really know about Wee One: we will all love it and we will love it until it hurts. And he or she will hurt us. Will will call him or her “perfect,” but they will make mistakes. We talk about spoiling and coddling the baby-and we will!-but the baby will at some point fall and scrape a knee or bust a lip or make a choice that makes us cringe. We know that, and yet we choose to love. Already.

This morning while I read in The Book of James, something triggered a thought about an old friend. It hurts my heart to remember her because I thought I’d have her forever, but I don’t. I sometimes wonder if there a lot of people I was supposed to grieve for a long time ago, but moved on instead. Why do we have to lose people? Why do we all hurt each other so much? I ask God. For a moment, I don’t ever want to introduce myself to someone again. That could lead to a relationship and a relationship could lead to more pain.

There was the baby who was meant to be my sister and was taken way too early. My friend’s little one who never left the hospital. The painful memories and awful possibilities are endless. However, there is no doubt in my mind that love is worth it. That’s all I came here to say today. Whether your loving a person who hasn’t even been born or a child who was born to someone else and now needs you to parent them, LOVE. Whether it’s your spouse who isn’t quite as charming as the day you wed or the sister whose words sting worse than the words of an enemy ever could, LOVE. Whether they’re in a womb at 8 weeks old or on their deathbed at 104, today is a great day to start loving and never stopping.

That’s what God does for us, right? Loves us starting before time, knowing how much we will hurt Him, and prepares a place in eternity to continue loving, loving, loving us.

Come on, Wee One! We’re all ready to welcome you with open arms, no matter what you look like, no matter what you do. See you this summer!

-Aunt Everly

 

 

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7 Stories that Helped Me Relate to the Poor

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I am a very privileged person. Growing up, we may not have had everything we could’ve wanted, but we were never hungry or in need. Poverty was just something I read about in my many, many books. I recently had a conversation with my eleven-year-old sister about why certain people act the way they do. We talked about how much we have to be thankful for and how “hurting people hurt people.” We wound up referencing “The Hundred Dresses” by Eleanor Estes, a wonderful book about a little girl who wears the same dress to school every day, but claims quite brazenly that she has a hundred dresses at home. This gave me the idea for the post you’re reading. Which stories have helped me relate to and understand the poor? I’m sharing seven that come to mind.

1. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

This winner of the 1945 Newberry Honor is a timeless short chapter book for kids. It is one of those stories which perhaps couldn’t be written for adults, but is easily taken in by children. The story revolves around Polish immigrant, Wanda Petronski, who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress to school every day. To avoid bullying, Wanda claims she has a hundred dresses at home. This story doesn’t not necessarily have a happy ending, but an important lesson is learned by the other girls in Wanda’s class and by generations of readers.

2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

After falling in love with the 2005 BBC miniseries, I read this novel during a road trip. Several years later, I still think back on it often. I never expected to find such themes of generosity, fair trading practices and social justice in a book written in 1855. The book itself is fascinating, romantic and well written, but the plight of the factory workers during England’s industrial revolution will stick with me forever.

3. A Christmas Carol (or anything by Charles Dickens!)

While Austen was writing about ballrooms and bustles, Dickens was writing about the grim and grimy lives of those below the poverty line. You’ll see yourself reflecting in the amazing characters in his novels and your heart will go out to every orphan, widow, drifter and pickpocket he concocts.

4. The Rich Family in Church a true story by Eddie Ogan

This story has had a great impact on me personally, ever since I read Eddie’s real-life account online. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this short tale will touch your heart. What happens when a widow and her teenage daughters try to raise money for a poor family in their church during The Great Depression? You’ll never forget it.

5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Well, the reason this book taught me about poverty is probably that this book taught me about everything. I consider this to be my favorite fictional book of all time. The March family is struggling to make ends meet while Mr. March is serving in the Civil War, and yet they are remarkably and realistically generous. I just love it. It will make you want to give your butter away on Christmas. (The movie is also excellent.)

6. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Though I haven’t read the assumably wonderful book, I adore both the 1998 and 2012 film adaptations. In what I consider to be one of the most incredible stories ever written, you’ll follow the plights of the pure-hearted prostitute, the honest thief who has broken parole, the innocent daughter of swindlers, the once-rich rebel fighter who is willing to lose everything in the name of liberty and an orphan who, against all odds, becomes an heiress. Just. So. Good.

7. George Muller the true biography

A missionary to Bristol’s orphans, George Muller has taught me more about trusting God for financial provision than any other hero I’ve read about. I loved his biography by Janet and Geoff Benge, but I know his autobiography is said to be great as well. Don’t believe in miracles? Read this account.

What stories have impacted how you think about poverty?

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