Your Delight is Mine

Mom and I had been planning this occasion for weeks, dreaming of the look on Dad’s face when he discovered the surprise.

To make matters really interesting, we made him drive. I kept the directions carefully tucked out of his sight as I instructed him on where to turn. He commented a few times on how long we’d been driving, and asked when we were going to reach this “cool place.”

I was watching Dad’s face the first time he saw the sign reading “Appomattox.” His smile resembled that of a small child who had just been given a new bicycle (but don’t tell him I used that analogy; it’s kind of a sore subject for him.)

My Civil War buff of a father was finally going to visit Appomattox Courthouse – where my mom had been without him. Twice. This was a day to go down in history. Or at least in the guest book at Appomattox Courthouse.


Not much makes me happier than to rejoice in my family’s delight. Sometimes I’m delighted by their delight when they aren’t even around to be delighted. I’ll often find myself smiling and thinking things like, “Lydia would love this.”

That thrill at the thought of their delight is what draws me to the fantasy titles at a bookstore, elicits a smile when Phil Collins comes on the radio, and causes me to stop to look at crazy socks and funky hats. Those aren’t the things that would normally delight me, were it not for the fact that they first delighted another member of my family.

It’s my belief that families should be so intertwined that the victory of one member is the victory of the whole family (and not just because Dad promised we’d get a horse once a certain child was potty-trained). What causes a father to rise to his feet when his son scores the winning shot in a basketball game? It’s because in some inexplicable way, it’s almost as if he himself made that shot.

When Ruth said to Naomi, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay,” she was speaking with the devotion a daughter should have to her mother. Friends come and friends go, but families are forever. So delight with them, and never forget to delight in them.


Dad signed his name in the guest book larger than John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence. And somehow it seemed that Appomattox Courthouse was better the second time around. At least, it was for me…


There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

I held my breath and accepted the phone from my grandma’s outstretched hand. Never had I felt such nervous anticipation. It was as if my entire life hinged on what my mother was about to speak into my ear.

“Are you going to be sad?” Mom asked.

My seven-year-old heart deflated. “It’s a boy?” 
“No, it’s a girl.”
And so began the Rebekah/Lydia show.

A sister is perhaps one of the greatest blessings God could ever give a girl. Though there are days it certainly doesn’t feel like that fact is true. After suffering through three brothers, I believed the gift of a sister was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Most days, I still feel that way.
I have to confess that Lydia wasn’t what I had in mind when I asked Jesus for a sister. I can’t play with her hair, she doesn’t like to shop, and most everything I love to do is what she would consider  “boring”. At first, I was disappointed, but I now know that I wouldn’t trade her for the world. Lydia has stretched me and grown me in a way no one else ever could. I’ve learned a lot from her. And this may sound funny since I’m the older sister, but I want to be like her when I grow up.
I found that I connected most with Lydia at night. Once the lights were off in the rest of the house and we were supposed to be sound asleep, we’d be whispering back and forth, hoping Mom and Dad couldn’t hear us. Sometimes we would giggle at the silliest things, and other days we would share the intimate things of our hearts.
I don’t believe people when they say they are “just too different” from their sister to befriend her because, if Lydia and I can be seven years apart and differ so drastically, then anyone can be friends with her sister. While our personalities often seem to clash, our hearts are knit of the same fabric. And that is what makes our friendship work.

Oh Brother

I was tired of sharing a room with my little sister. Tired of cleaning her messes. Just plain tired. I slammed a few dollhouse toys into the storage container and grumbled when one immediately bounced back out.

“Sister,” I heard the voice behind me say.

“What?” I growled, turning to shoot my older brother a warning look.

He stood in my bedroom doorway holding a plate in his outstretched arm. “I made you a taco. Just the way you like it. No tomatoes.”

I tried to be angry, but it didn’t work. The corner of my mouth twitched in amusement. A sparkle slipped into my eye. I burst out laughing there in the middle of the mess I had been so frustrated over only a moment earlier. I ate every last bit of that taco.

It was the best taco I ever tasted in my life.

Brothers can be the most irritating creatures on the planet. They can also be one of the greatest blessings in your life. And it’s funny to note how quickly they bounce back and forth between the two.

My brothers like to make me laugh. Most of the time, they’re only trying to be funny, but other days – taco days – their silliness is actually their way of supporting you. I can’t even tell you how many stressful situations have been lightened because my brothers manage to find humor in even the most hopeless of situations, proving that laughter truly is the best medicine.

Yes, there are days when I don’t find their efforts quite so entertaining. There are days I’ve looked to the heavens and shouted, “Why me, Lord?” But there are other days that I’ve sat in the midst of three amazing boys and laughed for hours on end. And while they’ve been the recipients of my greatest anger, they’re also the ones with whom I’ve shared the deepest, most meaningful conversations.

It was my brothers, more than anyone, who taught me that there is no specific formula for relationships. Each brother differs so drastically from the others, and I’m forced to meet them all on different levels. With each brother, I’ve had to find that special place where we can relate.

I’ve learned to cherish my brothers as I would a friend because, in the end, brothers remain the most faithful. And while they may often be a pain in the neck, no one has your back like a brother.

My Mother: My Best Friend

“What do you mean that doesn’t count?” I wondered when my coworker questioned me about my best friends. If my most trusted confidant couldn’t be my mother, then I had never had a best friend at all…

Now, I realize that the relationship I share with my mom is unusual. I wish I could give you a step-by-step plan of how to get there, but I honestly couldn’t tell you how my relationship with my Mom developed to this level. All I know is that I’m living proof that it is possible for mothers and daughters to be best friends.

The best thing about having my mom for a best friend is that she knows where I”m coming from. There’s no unshared history, no background barriers, and no differing theologies because Mom knows all of my stories and helped shape my theology. She’s the only person who fully “gets” me because I am who she raised me to become.

The biggest problem with having my mom be my best friend is that she’s irreplaceable. Once I moved 450 miles from home, I realized that I would never share that close relationship with anyone else. Fortunately, we can still call and email, but there’s simply nothing like having your best friend in the next room when you need her.

Most moms and daughters aren’t best friends, and sadly, most of them probably never will be. But I firmly believe that all moms and daughters should at least be close friends. You may relate with your mom differently than you do your peers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t relate with her as much. You need to find your common ground – that place where you can relate. Start by learning each others’ likes and dislikes as you carry on conversations like a couple of friends. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree on everything. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you don’t have one single friend with whom every opinion is identical. Just like with peer friends, there are some things you will have to agree to disagree on when relating to your mother.

A friendship with your mom is supposed to differ from all your other friendships. (Of course you don’t want your mom to dress and act like a teenager; she’s a mom!) But different is not always bad, and a close relationship with one’s mother is something to be treasured. Your mom can be your most trusted confidant, if only you will let her. So why not take some time to develop that relationship? After all, who better to confide the deepest longings of your heart with than the woman you have known all of your life?

How do you relate with your mom? Leave a comment and let me know how the two of you connect.

Mirror Images: Dads and Daughters

Dad studied my face for a moment. “You have my eyebrow,” he exclaimed. He was, of course, referring to the one unmanageable eyebrow that stuck out in places where no eyebrow was supposed to go. (I have since learned to control it.) “Only yours is your right eyebrow, and mine is my left,” he observed. “It’s like looking in a mirror!”

What do eyebrows have to do with the way dads and daughters relate? Maybe nothing. And maybe everything. Dad remarked that looking at my face was like looking in a mirror. As we know, mirrors turn everything backwards. Dads and daughters can seem to have a lot in common, but often they look at life with two very different perspectives. If someone were to tell you both to “go right,” you might find yourself drifting away from your dad simply because your two different minds have opposite opinions on which direction “right” is.

I experience this with my dad a lot. I love him. I really do. And most days, I thoroughly enjoy his company, but there are some places we simply don’t connect. (Seriously, algebra lessons were torture.)

So how does one overcome these “backward” struggles? You find a safe place that you can connect.

I relate to my father in carpet warehouses. Not because I am particularly fascinated by carpet, but because it was the one place I could have Dad all to myself. When I was young, I would sometimes be the lucky child selected to make “the drive” into Columbus with Dad. I’d climb into the van feeling very important, and we’d head off to pick up some things for his next job.

Usually, this was followed by a trip to Galyan’s (Dad’s favorite sporting goods store). He even took me there on my 13th birthday because, although he asked me if there was something I’d rather do, dads simply don’t belong at the mall. So to Galyan’s we went, and as he browsed the tents and other camping supplies, I stayed by his side and played with the brand new ring on my finger – the one he had given me as a reminder of our shared love as father and daughter.

A carpet warehouse, a sporting goods store, and a daddy with his daughter. Once I got older, I even figured out how to work in a bite of Chinese. (Hey, if I’m going to meet him on his turf, he can certainly step over to mine every once in awhile. Besides, I think I actually  taught him to like oriental cuisine.) This was our special place. That world in which we connected. And to this day, the smell of brand new carpet brings a smile to my face. It smells just like my daddy.

Where do you connect with your dad? Leave a comment and share your story!

The Family Puzzle

I was browsing through a well-known publisher’s website yesterday when I noticed something that greatly disturbed me. Under the family/parenting section, there was a link that said “Fathers”, but when I clicked the link, it was empty. So I tried the one that said “Mothers” only to find that it was empty too.

It seems to me that there are plenty of opinions on raising children and surviving parenting teenagers, but somewhere along the way, we have forgotten what it is to be a parent. What role does a parent play in a child’s life? What does the ideal parent/child relationship look like?

Now, I’m not claiming to have a perfect family (far from it actually), but one thing I can say is that we relate well to one another. We’re not just family, but friends as well. Best friends.

What caused my family to be this way? A lot of love, a couple decades of prayer, and a whole heap of God’s grace.

Though I’m no expert, I’m going to spend the rest of January writing about the “Family Puzzle.” The way I see it, families are like one big jigsaw puzzle. At first, nothing seems to make sense, but as you begin to connect the pieces – to mesh as a family – you start to get a glimpse of the bigger picture. And like the most complex puzzles, family unity can take weeks, months, even years to form. But in the end, your efforts will have created a masterpiece, and everyone will know where they “fit” in this unique puzzle that we call “family”.

So check back in for new insights throughout the next couple of weeks as we take a look at relationships within families.