Monday, December 27, 2010

The Gift of the Sibling Bond

As Christmas approached this year, I must admit, I was not looking forward to it as I usually do. In the past, I have always loved everything remotely connected with Christmas. I love celebrating the birth of Christ, decorations, putting up the trees, shopping, eating, drinking egg nog, Christmas music, driving around to see lights and even wrapping presents. I did a few of those things, but others, I let go by.

All three of my children were going to be in Ohio for Christmas, away from mommy. My own mother was spending the holiday in Jackson with her sister's family. My sister was spending it in Murfreesboro with her daughter to escape the sad memory of losing her husband last year at this time. It just didn't feel the same. As I have sat and pondered over this....I realized that the greatest gift I received this year came just before Christmas and it wasn't anything store bought or ordered or gaily wrapped.

It was a dinner at a restaurant with myself and six other people. These were not ordinary people. Not friends that I'd had since school. Not coworkers. No, the bond that I held with these people goes much deeper and is stronger and has lasted longer than any other relationships I have had on this earth. For the first time in many years, all of my siblings and I, came together, all in the same place at the same time and for the same reason. Our mother is growing older and she had expressed her desire to have all of her children in one room together. At times while trying to get it planned and all the details worked out...six different people with six different families and schedules was almost a herculean feat...but somehow, we all got together and made it happen.

I am blessed to have four brothers and a sister. We range in age from 51 to 40. Each of us has carved our own initials on our trees of life. We have all been blessed with different gifts and talents. A couple live in apartments. One has a rather large home. Two have decently sized homes that they own. One of us lives in a church parsonage (want to venture a guess as to which one that is?). We all have different professions. One owns his own business. Another sells automobiles. One loves the music field. One hooks up cable. I am a full time wife and mother and my sister is adjusting to life after losing her spouse.

All of us, except for one very fortunate sibling, have gone through the pain of divorce. There have been extreme highs and devastating lows...but throughout it all, the years have left one thing remarkably unscathed and that is our bond of being brothers and sisters. That is not to say that we all get along 100% of the time. But, we have a connection that transcends time. There is a part of each of my siblings tattooed on my very soul that can never be removed. As we sat at this dinner and relived old times and laughed and teased each other, anxiety melted away. No one argued. We didn't try to outshine each other. We didn't check each other's bank accounts to see who had the most money. We didn't brag (well, maybe about our kids & grandkids...but just a little) or share past woes. We just ate and sat and enjoyed each other. I looked at each sibling as we ate and relived special memories in my own heart and mind as we grew up. For my youngest brother, I was his Tinkerbell. For my oldest brother I am forever his baby sister. For my sister, I was the irritating little sister whom she loves dearly now. For my other big brother, I am the sister he wrote a song about to make everyone laugh. And my other younger brother, he affectionately refers to me as his "twin."

Each of us carries our own private thoughts and memories of growing up. Time has changed a lot of things. Our parents divorced which is sad but we are now accustomed to it. In my heart, I think of how each of my siblings and I started out so long ago. Two people, loved each other and together, formed each of us and for nine months all six of us lay under the same beating heart as our hearts and limbs and organs grew. As each new child was born, there was great rejoicing from our parents and each of us.

I pray that each of my brothers and my sister will take time to fondly remember times we have shared. But most of all, I want them to know that our bond is strong. I love each of them with an unconditional love and thank God for the bond we share daily. Sharing those two hours with all of them, was indeed a gift that will grow in my heart long after all the decorations are tucked neatly away and the seasons change.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rocked To Sleep

I haven't written a blog in quite a while. To be completely honest, my heart has felt a little distant from God lately. He hasn't gone anywhere. He remains solidly in place even when I am shuffling around, trying to find my way. No matter which path I seem to choose, whether it is the path of least resistance or another, God never leaves His throne...He remains indelibly, my Shelter in these storms of life that rock me to and fro.

Undoubtedly, there are those that feel that because I am a pastor's wife, that I do not have the same issues as other women. I have been told on more than one occasion that I have the perfect life and how wonderful that must be. I am blessed beyond measure in so many ways, but, I am human and fight battles within, just as everyone else does. I am not the perfect wife. I am not married to a perfect husband. I do not have perfect children. My home is not always a haven of tranquility. So, in times of turmoil and distance, that I put between myself and the Father that loves me so unconditionally...I am not my most creative and cannot seem to put together two sentences, much less an interesting blog. Which only strengthens my belief that all gifts given to me, are truly from above.

Recently, while working through some struggles, I was having a very hard time sleeping. I was up most of the night, tossing and turning and no matter which side I tried to lay on, sleep eluded me. Finally, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes and just imagined myself in the arms of Jesus. I conjured up images of His loving hand stroking my hair, as I nestled deep under the covers, as I have done so often with my own children. Although it was bitter cold out, in temperature and the world in general, I was safe and warm as I was rocked to sleep by my Father.

When my daughter got up the next morning, we were sitting beside the fire and I was rocking her in my recliner, I asked if she had slept well. She snuggled in closer to me and she said "I slept much better now that my picture is above my bed again." When we decorated her bedroom earlier in the year, I bought this beautiful picture of Jesus standing over a little girl as she slept peacefully with her doll. I had told her back then, that she could always feel safe as she falls asleep each night because Jesus is always near. Her picture had fallen the week before and Ken had finally rehung it for her. Little did I know that on the same night that mommy was being rocked to sleep by Jesus, so was my little angel.