Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Friends forever - part three

Okay, we are almost done!!! Just a few more ‘friends’ to mention before the grand finale!!!
This group is the most precious to me, because they are not only my friends, they are also my family. I know that it’s rare for family to also be friends, and I don’t take it for granted how blessed I am.
My parents didn’t always like me, I’m sure. Likewise, I wanted to kill them on a few occasions. But they were intentional about spending time with us when we were young, talking to us, laughing with us, playing games, reading books, watching movies. (none of the movies had curse words in them if Mom was watching…Daddy was a little more relaxed.) I remember I was 17 before I realized that not all parents were like mine…and I was shocked. I then started to really appreciate them, and all the time and energy they had put into developing a relationship with me and my siblings. Now, today, I am so very blessed to say that my parents are my friends. I call my mom almost every day, for one silly thing or another, and we often have lunch together…just because. My dad is still my “go to” guy if I have a medical question, not because he is a doctor, but because I really do think he knows everything. As a kid, I can remember so many times that they prayed for me, laying their hands on me and seeking the Lord on my behalf…and they do it for me as an adult too. I could call them up right now and they would pray. They give me advice, and counsel, and admonish me to walk in the way of righteousness. They are my biggest fans. Even though they have SEEN my worst they still choose to think I am cool. You could argue eloquently to the contrary, but I would still believe I have the most wonderful parents on the planet…so save your breath. The fact that they are also my friends is a bigger blessing than I can explain.
I am pretty sure it is thanks to my wonderful parents that I can also consider my siblings as my friends. They took great care to instill in us this truth; friends come and go, but you will always have your brothers and sisters, so cherish those bonds. Being homeschooled helped, because we spent the whole school year in a ‘classroom’ together. I could spend all day telling you why my siblings are my friends, but I won’t. Just allow me a second to tell you about each one.
Daniel was my first friend in life, because I was only 22 months old when he was born. He was the first ‘man’ I ever walked down an aisle in a wedding dress with (we were 4 and 2) he was my protector (even though he was younger, we were basically the same size until he was round 10, and since then I have always been smaller than him) he was the voice in my head saying “mom and dad will kill you if you do this.” Now our kids are friends, and they play together happily for hours. Occasionally I will catch Daniel’s eye, and we will smile at each other, remembering the years we spent playing together and a few of the times we spent disliking each other (because we are brother and sister, after all) That shared smile communicates we are both grateful our childhood friendship has transformed into camaraderie as adults. When he puts his arm around me now, my ear lays against his heart. He’s really tall, but he’s still my little brother, my very first friend.
Since I was older than all my siblings, it took a while to form ‘friendships’ with my sisters. Joy was 4 years younger than me, Sarah was 6 years younger, and Rachel was 8 years younger. I spent a good deal of my childhood helping them with things, or being annoyed with them for always wanting to be wherever I was. Oh my, how that has changed. Now I WANT to be with them…every day wouldn’t be a stretch. Sisters are the only people who will ACTUALLY tell you when an outfit doesn’t look good on you.
Joy was my roommate my whole life. Sometimes Sarah and Rachel were also in the room with us, but it was ALWAYS me and Joy. We had a queen size bed that we shared. When company came, Joy and I were kicked to the couches. I loved to lie in bed at night and read, sometimes till the wee hours of the morning, and Joy would be snoring softly beside me. She never complained that she had to go to sleep with the light on. Lots of times I would be reading Frank Peretti books, and I would be SCARED. I remember sliding closer to my sleeping LITTLE sister, because if she could sleep peacefully then I probably wasn’t about to be eaten by monsters. She was the best one to call and tell stories about my kids, because she loved my kids so much. She was the sister who was a servant, washing dishes for me, folding laundry, taking the kids for walks. She loved to have deep spiritual discussions and would ask really hard questions just to see what I would say. She was the most fun to say shocking things to, because she never failed to BE shocked. There is a hole in my life where her friendship used to be. I miss her.
For some reason, even though she was 6 years younger than me, Sarah was my confidante. She is the one I told about all my sneaky disobedience. For a long time, she was the only one who knew I had ever kissed a boy. You know what’s funny? She is still the one I tell about stuff. When there is no way I can admit something to ANYONE else, I call Sarah. I have witnessed her doing some of the WILDEST things, and she has seen me doing the same. She laughs at all my attempts to be funny, and I have laughed till I couldn’t breathe at some of her antics. People ask us if we are twins, and I always feel honored when they do.
Rachel is my baby sister. If you have a baby sister…I don’t even need to say anything else, right? Sometimes I scold her for her actions, sometimes I DESPERATERLY want her to think I’m cool instead of old. But most of the time I just want to sit beside her and watch movies and eat twizzlers, or lay out in the back yard in our tube tops and cut off shorts, or go shopping and let her try everything on because nothing ever looks bad on her. When she was little, if she got scared in the night, she would climb in bed with me and I would tell her about the angels we had protecting our house. Now we are friends, and I am so glad.
While I know it’s not that common to be friends with your family, I have another set of people who it’s even more unusual to call friends…my in-laws. I have been a Martin for 13 years now, and I am blessed to consider them friends. Kathy Martin, my mother-in-law, is one of the most wonderful people I know. She gives, and gives, and never stops giving even when she can barely keep her eyes open. She opened her arms to me when she barely knew me, she called me her daughter, and she let me be her friend. We have commiserated about being married to ‘those Martin men’ together, and even though the one I married is her son, she takes my side when he is acting like a dork. She loves me, and I know it. That kind of mother-in-law isn’t rare…she’s PRICELESS. When my sister died, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my kids during the funeral, she is the one who came and helped me. She asked what I needed, I told her, and she came. (All the way from Indiana, a 10 hour drive) Michelle, my sister-in-law, came with her. They cleaned my house while I was gone, they cared for my children when I couldn’t, and they gave me space to all but ignore them, even though they had driven an entire day to get here.  I can’t remember another time when I ever felt so loved by them.
Michelle is the one who I commiserate with about having THREE SONS. She is my ‘nurse on speed dial.’ She laughs with me at the antics of our husbands…or scowls, depending on the situation. Melissa, my other sister-in-law, is the same way. We laugh at ‘the boys’ (our husbands) a lot. She calls me just to chat, and to ask me cooking questions, and to remind me of stuff I would otherwise forget. Spending 13 years becoming a ‘sister’ to these two has been fun, and wild, and worth it. I love them both very much.
Man, I thought this would be a short post, but it is getting long and I still haven’t talked about my favorite things…
My mom has a love of and intimacy with the Word. She instilled in me, just by her actions, the truth that THE WORD OF THE LORD WILL SUSTAIN!! I saw her reading her Bible my whole life. I HEARD her reading it to us. She is my concordance. Who needs ‘Strongs?’ I have Patty Bausum. Its one of my favorite things about her.
My dad thinks he is always right…and he usually is. He is the voice of reason in my head, the calm logic to combat my wild thoughts and emotions. He is ALWAYS willing to let me talkif I need someone to listen. He is steady, he is a ROCK. Its one of my favorite things about him.
Daniel would fight to the death to protect me…literally. I think he grew so tall because he knew he would have to be the protector of FOUR wild sisters. He protected us well when we were young. He would still do it now if we needed him. I KNOW he would take care of me. It’s one of my favorite things about him.
Sarah is wide open, wild, and wonderful. She doesn’t even blink when I spill the ugliest things in my heart. She usually laughs. She is laid back and she is high strung. She is one of my very favorite people, so I can’t think of just one thing I like about her. I like it ALL!!!
Rachel is honest…sometimes to a fault. “Your butt looks as big as Kansas” is a sentence that has actually come out of her mouth. But I love that about her. I KNOW I will get the truth from her. I NEED the truth. She will always tell it like it is, and that’s one of my favorite things about her.
Kathy will do, and has done, anything for me. And she isn’t just like that with me. She will bend over backwards to help EVERYONE she can. It’s just who she is, and it’s one of my favorite things about her.
Michelle can laugh at the craziest of moments. Even when all of our boys are running around screaming, she laughs. She stays relaxed even if the situation calls for CRAZY! It’s one of my favorite things about her.
Melissa is still a kid at heart. Maybe it’s because she stopped growing when she was the size of a 12 years old…I don’t know, but I think it’s so funny. She wears cartoon apparel and brightly colored tennis shoes, she plays video games, she loves Dr. Seuss and Veggie Tales. She is willing to play with kids all day, and she enjoys it. Its one of my favorite things about her.
JOY is my hero. I never knew anyone so brave in all my life. Reading her journals I see she was nervous, and sometimes afraid, and often felt lonely…but she kept on doing God’ work, she kept on walking out His will for her life. I think she still would have gone to Malaysia even if she had known she would die there. She was a regular girl, shy, a homebody, thin and always sneezing…and I wish I could be HALF as brave as her. She just lifted her chin and kept moving forward…right into the presence of Jesus. I’m not surprised she got there first. She always liked blazing the trail. Her courage is one of my favorite things about her.
Alright, those of you who have stuck with me through this series…hang in there!!! The next post will wrap it up, I promise!!!

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