Tag Archives: family

one for Megs

 

“Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness and affection. These are ways of saying ‘it’s good that you are alive’; ‘it’s good that you are walking with me on this earth…'” Henri Nouwen

meghan

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog for almost everyone in my family but ran out of steam just before the end of the year. Meghan, my younger sister by 18 months, has reminded me from time to time that though we are quite close, I had stopped the birthday blogs before her birthday that year. She’s mentioned being unimpressed.

Never fear. Birthdays come annually, and Meghan’s is tomorrow. Here are some things you should know about Meghan. She loves fiercely. She gives generously. She communicates clearly. She works hard. She organizes our motley and over-sized crew for holidays and birthdays. She got on a plane the moment Betsy Claire’s birth happened so that she could hold our very first niece and be there for Bridget. That’s the way Meghan does life: giving of her whole self to those she loves.

Oh, and Meghan is really, really, really funny.

When we were kids Meghan and I shared a room for most of our growing up years. As adults we shared several apartments.

When Mom had cancer, Meghan and I took on nine of our younger siblings for one very long February while Mom and Dad were away seeking treatment. We had no idea how to handle the kiddos in the midst of everything going on, but somehow, together, we did it. And only one of us got bit by one frustrated tiny brother. Way to take one for Team Blinn, Megs! We even managed to keep the kids alive.

We live fifteen minutes apart now, and we talk on the phone most days. We don’t agree about everything, but I cannot, cannot, cannot imagine my life without my beautiful sister. Her birthday is cause to ponder God’s goodness to me, to our family and to the world. When you’re gifted someone as fantastic and beautiful as my sister is, you can’t help but uttering the best one-word prayer I know. Thanks.

Happy birthday, Meghan! Can’t wait to celebrate it up tomorrow night.

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today: stroke jokes and superheros from ordinary folks

“Those issues are biblical issues: to care for the sick, to feed the hungry, to stand up for the oppressed. I contend that if the evangelical community became more biblical, everything would change.”
-Tony Campolo

(Dad, Mom and Jakey towards the end of his undefeated season.)

In case you didn’t know, my dad had a stroke a few weeks ago. We are thankful he is doing as well as he is, but he did spend a few days in the hospital. He will spend a few more, as he needs a couple of surgeries to get his health in order. He had one this week, and he’ll have another in a few weeks. The thing about his stroke is it snuck up on us. It wasn’t like he woke up with red stroke flags warning him that his brain was about to freak out over some clotted arteries (the cause). Instead he had a seizure which led to a trip to the ER then a hospital stay then a lot of doctors appointments then surgery and more surgery. He can’t drive for a few months, and that first hospital visit, well, it was not fun.

We have a lot of kids in our family and a lot of balls in the air on any given day, so it was amazing to see how our community pulled us through the initial diagnosis and surgery. I need to tell you that before the ambulance arrived to help my dad, a friend arrived at our house. He took my mom to the hospital, where more friends arrived. Virtually every waking minute he stayed, friends were there. My mom was never alone. He was never alone. The doctors and nurses noticed. We kids noticed. I’m pretty sure God noticed, because He’s answered prayer after prayer and been so faithful to bring protection and comfort to our family. My little brothers never seemed fearful about our dad. We explained things to them as best we could, and when they visited him at the hospital, they were glad to be there with him and quick to make stroke jokes. I think a lot of their security was anchored in the way my parents remained calm (if a little stressed) in the midst of everything. My parents security was anchored in God. It was good to see.

After my dad got out of the hospital, he has had to adjust to six months without a driver’s license, a medical mandate for people who’ve had seizures in the state of Texas. He’s on medication, but he won’t be behind the wheel for a while. My dad drives a lot for his job, and it’s been beautiful and amazing to see people come out of the woodwork to help my mom and dad. Life is busy, and yet when he needs to go somewhere, there’s almost always a driver. I’m sure it’s frustrating for Dad to be unable to just up and go, but I hope it’s encouraging for him to see how many people love him and are willing to help out.

A lot of the support in the midst of this has come from people from our church. Our extended family and friends and significant others have been amazing too. It’s incredible to consider the genuineness of community we’ve experienced in the past few weeks. My parents have attended our church for 20-plus years, and they try to love people well. The church teaches that the Kingdom of God is something we are meant to bring to others, and it looks like praying for the sick and sitting beside the hurting and meeting the needs of the poor. We believe that’s what Jesus did. I love that this is exactly what we’ve experienced in my parents’ hour of need. We are overwhelmed with just how blessed, how loved, how cared for we are. When people live the way they’re made to live, ordinary folks become superheros. For us, that’s looked like meals on the table and rides to appointments and ears for processing.

I say all that to say this: in the midst of this mess that is my dad’s stroke, we know we are loved. And that, my friends, is a gift, light in the darkness and hope that there’s more. Thank you.

Today: Heather and Her Beautiful Family

Our friendship really took off when we went to Mazatlan several years ago, Heather and I. Little did we know that one short-term mission trip to Mexico would spur a dozen or so more, shaping the contours of our lives for several years. Little did we know that the ongoing planning of those trips would lead to the ever-growing constancy of a friendship needed and wanted.

Now Heather is one of my best friends. Then she someone I knew slightly and admired. Then she was pregnant with her sixth child. Now Emily is five years old. Heather and her husband, Lee, both turned 40 this year. I took some photographs to be a part of their birthday gift. It’s still a work in progress.

This morning on my run I found myself thinking about Heather and Lee and their family and wanted to write some words about them. The world needs families shaped by moms and dads like these two. They love well: each other and their kids. They parent uniquely. They believe the best about their kids and are unapologetic about calling that out of them. They’re not concerned with convention or status quo; they are concerned about relationship and raising whole children.

I can’t help but think when God dreamed up marriage and family as an answer to the it’s not good for man to be alone problem, he envisioned a family like this one. They are not perfect; but they are beautifully human and life is celebrated and love is the greatest wealth in their inheritance.

In their house there is real food and family around the table at meals. There is laughter spilling from the piano room and filling the whole house as the girls write a song. There are piles of worn books beside a television that I’ve never seen turned on. There are smiles and there are hugs. There is listening. There is learning It’s not that there aren’t fights or disagreements, but when they happen, apologies are the norm and trust is rebuilt. Little children are not intimidated into proper behavior, and older children’s dreams and desires are valued and discussed. It’s not always possible to do everything, but it is always possible to see a child, right where they are and meet them. I think this is the gift Lee and Heather give their kids: they are fully present parents. It’s not that they are perfect, but it is that they choose to show up, time and again. They choose each other. They choose their kids. And then they find ways to choose others too.

In the midst of all this kid-loving, life-celebrating goodness, Heather and Lee both pursue interest and passions of their own too. If your life is focused on the others around you, somehow time finds ways to stretch and make room for music lessons and long runs and date nights. I don’t know how it works, but it does. I think some intentionality might be required and some help from a God who’s way is to discipline the ones he loves. Because in so living, fullness is found.

When I spend time with Heather, I’m reminded that people are gifts and that some of life’s greatest treasures and most beautiful moments are found- and shared- when you encounter someone who lives fully and entrusts and empowers others to do the same. This is the way Lee and Heather illustrate love and life and friendship and family and beauty to their kids and to the world.

I thought about this today and thanked God for my friends. I wanted to write this down to remember and to share, because when you realize you’ve recognized something beautiful you want others to see as well. Because lives like these? They make me hope in a world where families struggle and break all too often. Lives like these are beacons of something different, something more.

They compel hunger while illustrating the way to living full. I love that.

tonight: today, remembered in washington d.c.

“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
-Kahlil Gibran

my heart dances at these love songs lived out before me,
new melodies, distinct stories
a baby
a child
a youth
a commitment
a wedding
a marriage
a birth
a family
a party
a story, a story, a story
all these, songs lifted to heaven
in places same and different
all this hope etching smile lines into my face, permanent
for all these clicks of shutter
record the notes, permanence
as i see, i see, i see
all these
and i do believe (help my unbelief)
all is grace, gifted- my heart aches at the goodness
and i yield to these dance steps wonder-fully. thankfully.
seeing pieces of the mystery of a world called good
solved right in front of me,
these hearts in their stories. wonder-fully. thankfully.

(today, remembered in Washington D.C.)

today: thankful.

“Where are we really going? Always home.”
-Novalis

Thanksgiving came and went without a post. The rhythm of photography and travel in the fall was fast-paced. I learned a lot, lived a lot and slept a little. And then it was Thanksgiving and the rush whirled on. And now it is December. I am finally catching my breath and writing a Thanksgiving post. I have a lot to be thankful for. Every day. Most days I try to stop and savor the grace that has been gifted me. (Some days I utterly fail to do so.) What I know of God is so often understood through the people He’s placed in my life. It’s like He knew we need each other to understand His goodness and love. I am thankful for that. It starts with these guys. I am so thankful we are…

I’m thankful…

…that they took their better and worse vows seriously 35 (is that right?!?) years ago. And they look good together, don’t you think?

…she loves justice and mercy and lives accordingly. And that she makes yummy food.

…she wants the best for her family and friends and is not afraid to say so. She’s also an incredible roomie-sister-friend combo.

…integrity is ingrained in this guy, and so is leadership, compassion and kindness.

…he remains childlike and teaches us to love in extraordinary ways day in and day out. My parents took a big risk bringing him into our home. And he is utterly worth it every day.

…for her creativity and grace, for the way she always calls back. We have truly become friends, a rite of passage in becoming an adult sister, I think.

…for his humor and confidence. Not many 17-year-olds know how to celebrate being in their family. He often does.

…he has always been laid back and unafraid to do his own thing. He is steady.

…he allowed change when it needed to come and remains teachable, honest and wry.

…the thought of how compassionate this kid is makes me tear up. And he’s fun.

…that he’s a reader and is fast climbing the humor ladder in our family in the most unassuming way. He says thank you more than any other kid I know.

…he is himself. He always has been. He send the best emails. He thinks differently.

…he is the baby Blinn bookend. He is just right for the role, a fun-loving, athletic, smart kid who doesn’t mind being the center of attention.

I’m thankful we go together. We don’t always get it right, but we do our best to let go when we get it wrong. I could write a lot of other thankful thoughts and words. Instead, I want to camp out here tonight: I am thankful for my family. We go together, and it is good. We laugh a lot. We rely on each other. We do our best to love.

I think maybe we are God’s kindness to each other. That, to me, is a beautiful thought.

tonight: all we have are these moments

“Loving draws us more to things than knowing does.”
-Saint Thomas Aquinas, quoted here (oh, Parker Fitzgerald, could you be any more inspiring?)

all we have are these moments that
compose our days
and mostly they happen just so without notice
occasionally we pause for reasons random or not
and that sticky little hand of my baby brother
disappeared and he doesn’t even walk beside me any more
he runs on ahead doing his own thing
and when he comes over I am asleep before he is
gone are those days when he curled on the couch
napping in the late afternoon lazy light
here are the days when he knows more than me
and he thinks the world was made for him
him? lose? never. (his losses
but stories to be told with grandeur)
and he is still a very little boy
and all we have are these moments where i remember
a toddler mispronouncing my name
and stare into eyes that mirror my own
and i am glad that we share a patchwork assembly of moments
that are our lives entwined, our days entwined (us plus some),
family, we notice. we are written
and i have this story a dozen times over
and so many moments that it seems to be far too much
because it is far too much many moments
but the full composition we (mostly) know: grace, when noticed

tonight: bunning

my eyes on a sea of faces
wearing my same eyes
crinkling and laughing as
we cock our heads exactly the same way
and we stretch out limbs
of exactly the same shape
nuanced in difference
uncanny we are in a room
where we find place
my baby brother appears to be
my grandfather shed of some seventy years

the richness of that context
eludes on days when
politics or religion trump
hope and faith and belief
uncanny we are in a room
when our same eyes meet
over a meal or just a smile
as we realize the place
family, context provided by one Divine
with our misses and our messes
we are our story
best told in pages bound tightly
together