Category Archives: Family

Good Byes and a New Beginning

Written the afternoon of Saturday, August 22.

I sit in the passenger seat of the same van I’ve ridden in with my family for years. My mom is less than two feet away, driving like she always does, looking like she always does. The fields of Wyoming breeze by outside like they did when we moved to Nebraska almost ten years ago, and like they have when we returned to visit California every summer. The familiar sound of my fingers tapping away on the keyboard fades into the sound of the Supreme Court Audio Files in the CD player. Everything seems normal. But it’s not.

This morning, I said good bye to the place I’ve grown up. But far more painful than that, I said good bye to the people I’ve grown up with. It really started about a week ago. I said a few good byes at church on Sunday. As the week continued, I had a few farewells here and a few there. Some were harder than others, but partings are something that life always brings, and we all knew that we’d see each other again. This morning, I said good bye to my father, my three younger siblings, and two of my closest friends. There were lots of hugs, lots of kind words, and a few tears. Everyone was trying to be strong, though some were more successful than others.

As for me, I managed not to shed a tear while saying good bye. I’m sure I looked miserable enough, but my eyes were dry. Until we drove away. Before mom had gotten off of our block, I was crying hard. Silently, but hard. I cried on and off for the next hour. Once or twice during that time, mom reminded me that this was my last chance to change my mind, that I could go home and drop out. I don’t think she realized just how tempting that was. But I shook my head, unable to speak past my silent sobbing. Now, here I sit, calmly tapping away at the keys. My heart aches. After never being separated from my family for more than a week, I’ve left them for several months. After my best friend and I have been all but inseparable for nine years, we’re going to college a thousand miles away from each other. And every moment takes me farther away from the only life I’ve ever known.

Yet in the middle of all of it, I find a strange sense of peace and joy. I’m going where my Lord has led. The future holds so much hope. I find myself  begging God for the strength to let go of the past and let myself enjoy my new life at school. I love so many people back home so deeply, and I know that it will be far too easy for me to slip into loneliness and depression. But I know that the Lord has far better things for me than that. And I know that in Him, I can find the strength to get through.

I miss my family, friends, and church family already, but I know that I’m not alone. My heavenly Father will always be with me. And I know I’ll see those precious faces again. For now, I look back with a smile, grateful for everyone who has helped me to become who I am, and I look forward with a rush of excitement, wondering what God has in store for me next.


Happy Birthday, Sis!

Today is my precious little sister’s fourteenth birthday. The older I get, and closer the time comes that I may be leaving home, the more I’m coming to appreciate things like that. I never realized how much I enjoy watching Susanna open presents before. She just gets so excited. Another thing I’ve realized is how much she’s really grown up. It’s only been in the past few months that I’ve noticed that she’s really not a little kid anymore, she’s beautiful young lady, and quickly growing into a woman. Once again I’m realizing how blessed I am to have younger siblings, however much I may have complained about it in the past. Since I fail at putting things into words well, I’ll quote Fiddler on the Roof in my prayer for Susanna in the coming year…

May the Lord protect and defend you
May He always shield you from shame
May you come to be
In Israel a shining name

May you be like Ruth and like Esther
May you be deserving of praise
Strengthen them, oh Lord
And keep them from the stranger’s ways

May God bless you, and grant you long lives
May the Lord fulfill our Sabbath prayer for you
May God make you good mothers and wives
May He send you husbands who will care for you

May the Lord protect and defend you
May the Lord preserve you from pain
Favor them, oh Lord, with happiness and peace
Oh, hear our Sabbath prayer. Amen

That’s for you, sis. I love you so much. I’ll leave you with one verse: Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30. You’re beautiful, but you’re beautiful because you’re following Him. I pray as you continue to mature, you’ll grow closer the Lover of your soul.

Happy birthday, Susanna.


This One’s For You, Bro

Today, my younger brother turned sixteen. It’s a strange feeling to realize that your younger sibling is old enough to drive. For his birthday, he did a concert at a local coffee shop, playing and singing music he’d written. Okay, I’ll be honest, he’s not really a sensation or anything, but he’s pretty good. He’s also great in front of people. That boy really thrives on the spotlight. Anyhow, I just wanted to say: Happy Birthday, Joe! You’re such an amazing young man, and it’s such a privilege for me to watch you grow and mature. I pray for wisdom for you going into this next year. I would love nothing more than to know you can look back over your sixteenth year of life and see that you have truly grown in “wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

I’m not really a genius, and I won’t try to be eloquent. I have one piece of advice for you, Joe. Go to God. I know you know that, but I can’t emphasize it enough. Let Him show you the way to go. Proverbs 3:5-6 holds a foundational truth that’s all too easy to forget… “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” I’ll support you wherever you go, bro, just please, do things His way. I don’t want to see you get hurt. I love you so much, Joe!

Happy birthday to my wonderful brother!


Little Moments

A few days ago, I had dinner with my brother, my sister, my best friend, and her brother. While growing up, the five of us spent hours together every day. We were all like siblings. Almost two years ago, my best friend and I both got jobs. Only a few months later, my brother got a job. That was the end of our carefree days of playing tag for hours on end, playing music together as a “band,” or any of the other things we’d done together. Well, as time went on, the number of hours we were working went up, school got more difficult, church activities became more time consuming, people got involved with plays and volunteer work, a million things came up to keep us from spending time together.

Anyhow, my best friend and I had decided to go out to dinner, mostly because we hadn’t for a little while. Well, my sister said she wanted to come, then my brother, then her brother. Okay, so that wasn’t exactly what we’d originally had in mind, but whatever, we can change our plans. We ended up going to Arby’s, somewhere we could afford to feed everyone with the money we had handy. Of course, Arby’s isn’t exactly the most exciting place to eat. Since the weather’s been warming up a bit, we decided to take our food to the park. Well, the boys said the picnic tables were boring, so we went to sit on the merry-go-round. We just sat there spinning kinda slowly, eating dinner, and talking. It felt so much like life five years ago. It was nice not be stressing about work and deadlines, to just be a kid for the evening.

So that’s something I’ve been thinking about, is it okay to just be a kid sometimes? I’m a senior in highschool, I work full time, I do tons of stuff at church, I’ve got a lot of responsibilities. So to say the least, my life if fairly high-stress. I’m thinking about graduation plans, about colleges, about life goals, about careers, and about callings. I’ve done some things I regret, and not done some things I wish I had. There are things I hope to do, and things that I worry I might. But there’s one thing that’s important to realize. In the middle of all our planning and fretting, all we really have is the present. Of course it’s important to plan ahead, to be good stewards, to be prepared to follow God’s will for our lives. But it’s also important not to totally burn ourselves out getting ready for “real life.” The time we have right now is just as much a part of life as the time we’ll have after we’re in college, started on careers, or married. Yes, it’s important to do things that will really matter, but God also wants us to enjoy life. By studying the Old Testament holidays, we can see that many of the observances commanded by God involved spending time worshiping and feasting with family and friends.

This is really a lesson I’m still learning. I want to succeed. I want to be ready for life. I want to do the best I can at everything. But at the same time, I’m realizing more and more that those precious moments spent with those we love are important, too. There’s no point in going through life succeeding at everything if you’re going to be miserable despite it all. Sometimes, it’s important to take the time to play with your siblings, to talk to your friends, to walk in the rain. Most importantly, remember to take time to worship, to pray, to read your Bible, and to continue to get to know God better. It’s all too easy to let anything without a deadline attached fall by the wayside.

I guess all I can really say is, it seems like all too often, when I get overwhelmed with everything, when I’m depressed, scared, or worried, it all comes down to the little things. Most of the time, if I think to stop and take the time to talk with a good friend, to read a few psalms, to take a walk and pray, I’ll feel better. Of course it won’t fix everything, but it certainly makes it easier to cope. Right now is really all the time we have, that could be your last chance to kiss your mother, hug your friend, or remind your brother that you love him. Don’t let those little moments escape while you’re busy meeting deadlines.