I spent a wonderful week with my family at Thanksgiving and we finally got some pictures taken. The last time we had a family picture was at my sister’s wedding in 2005, so we were overdue! As I look at the picture above and remember the last several visits I’ve had with my family, my heart warms. God has blessed me so greatly, I decided to share a few thoughts about each of these precious people.
The easiest one for me to write about is the sweet little girl in the picture above. My precious niece, who is about to turn three, is so full of personality and charm. She is confident in a way that few are, aware that she is adored, and yet so sweet and full of empathy for others. Earlier this year while I was visiting for a few days, I spent the morning playing with her. It was a sweet time and all my attention was focused on her. Around lunchtime, my sister had friends and their children over for a play date, so I planned to go out during that time. When the other kids arrived, my niece immediately showed them her toys and started running around with them. I was on my way out when she and the other kids came running through the kitchen on an important mission. Suddenly, she skidded to a stop and looked at me with concern. She turned to the kids and said, “Guys, guys! Hey! Stop! THIS (pointing to me) is my Keebee.” Then turning to me she said, “Keebee, these (motioning to them) are my friends. Do you want to play with us?”
I was stunned at the capacity she has to think of others, to consider others feelings, and to come up with a solution that might work for everyone involved. I hugged her tightly, said hello to her friends, and told her that I was actually going to go play with one of my friends at her house but I really appreciated the invitation. Relieved, she told me to have fun and went back to her play. I thank God for giving our family such a wonderful child. She has been our delight and joy ever since the day we knew she was on her way.
My sister, mother to the amazing child, is a really good mom. She’s funny and laid back at times, and yet is good with discipline too. She’s the kind of person who makes friends everywhere she goes. Sometimes it’s hard to go out with her because she has to stop every few minutes to chat with someone she knows (or make friends with someone new). She’s also very goal-driven and works hard to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to do. I have been amazed to see her become a woman, a wife, a mother, a rock-star sales rep, and still look so beautiful. She thinks very differently than me, but in some ways we’re so much alike it’s scary. One of my favorite things about her is that no matter how hard of a time she may be having, she finds a way to communicate it in a funny way. Whenever things go wrong, I know I can call her and we can somehow find the humor in it.
My brother-in-law is also in sales and when he’s along for an outing, we stop twice as often! He’s the guy that everyone knows and likes. His daughter’s confidence clearly comes from him and I’ve always been amazed at what a wonderful father he is. He’s also awesome with technology and seems to know intuitively how anything with wires works. But from my perspective, one of the best things about him is how he handles my sister. She and I both have a tendency to be a little impatient and high-strung. We have high expectations and want things done a certain way in a certain time-frame. My brother-in-law is perfect for her, working around her quirks and making her laugh when things get tense. I’ve often thought, “Oh, what I would give for a man who could handle me as well as he handles her.”
The young man in the green shirt is my little brother. He’s eleven years younger than me, so I can’t seem to break the habit of calling him “little.” He’s been several inches taller than me for years, but he’s the first child I ever adored and saw grow up. From the minute I found out my mom was expecting him, I began making plans for our relationship. I knew that the age difference would make it hard for us to be friends, but I decided that wasn’t going to get in my way. He delighted me from the very beginning and I couldn’t wait to see what he’d be like when he grew up. He’s such a neat guy, with killer musical talent for writing songs, playing guitar, singing, and performing. He can fix just about anything and loves anything with wheels and a motor. Oh, and he can be hilarious. He’s often quiet, but every once in a while he’ll get on a roll and have me laughing so hard my face hurts. Leaving South Carolina at the age of 22 was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because it meant leaving him.
Lastly, there are my parents. They’ve been married for nearly 40 years and spent most of those years leading churches. Dad is a pastor and Mom spent years helping him in the church. A few years back, Mom became a real estate agent and has been one of the best sales agents in her office ever since. Mom does everything “with excellence” (words I heard A LOT growing up) and pours her heart into her work. Dad builds churches, disciples people, and helps them change their lives. I’m so proud of both of them.
Even though Mom is such a tenacious sales woman, she’s got a pretty laid back personality. She just rolls with things and provides love and support to us all. Dad is the one I take after – a little loud, gregarious, dominant, and able to get things done. It’s a pretty good personality for a man, but I’ve found it difficult as a woman and have worked hard to temper myself. (My sister and brother both seemed to get a good mixture of them both, but I try not to be jealous…) Dad owns a room when he walks into it. He knows what to do, when to do it, and how it will best get done. He’s usually right, too. Mom is smart and has strong opinions, but she often keeps them to herself and is content with letting others think whatever they want to about her. Dad is too much of a people-person for that. He tries to figure out what makes each person tick and bring out the best in them. Both of them are also excellent teachers, seeming to know just what to say to explain a new concept or skill.
At Christmas this year, we’ll all gather at my parent’s house to celebrate and enjoy our time together. We don’t worry about planning a bunch of activities, but just enjoy relaxing and being together. We play some games, take the
baby toddler to see Christmas lights, watch movies, and talk and laugh. Things might get a little tense every once in a awhile (we do NOT agree on what to watch on TV), but we work it out and move on.
And this year, we’ll be joined by the wonderful man I’ve fallen in love with who seems to know just how to handle me (not that I’m ever anything less than sweet, kind, loving, and fun to be with). We’ll be surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even snow. (My parent’s new house is at the bottom of a ski resort mountain.) God has blessed me richly and I am so thankful for the family He’s placed me in. I pray that each of you have a wonderful, joyful Christmas and New Year’s. I hope you’ll take some time to let your family know what you appreciate about them and how much they mean to you.