Why I Can’t Stand “Strong Female Characters”

 My siblings and I were watching a bonus feature on a TV recently (Avatar: The Last Airbender, if you must know), and it was titled “The Women of Avatar: The Last Airbender”. One thing I’ll point out first is that none of these “women” were over the age of eighteen, so in my mind they were all still children or very young adults. But as the creators, fans, and writers talked, and as the clips to back up the view that all these female characters were “strong” characters played, I noticed something.

Most of the time, these girls were yelling. Or beating up a couple grown men. Or challenging authority figures.

And I started thinking, since when did strength become synonymous with disrespect? Really. Think about all the Disney Princesses over the years. How many of them are what you would call well-mannered, respectful young women? Please understand, I am not “anti-women” and know that I am directing this post to a Christian audience. If you don’t believe and live under the authority of God’s Word, the Bible, this is all likely going to sound repulsive to you.

Young Christian women and girls, what are we told strength is? Where does it come from? What does it look like?

Is it challenging any and all authority at any time? Is it fighting against any sort of rule or regulation? Is it speaking up whenever we have something to say? Does strength come from our biology? Does it come from the fact that we are “liberated” and no longer in the “oppressive” society our grandparents lived in?

What is true strength? What does a truly strong woman look like?

I can tell you with certainty: she doesn’t look like Suki. She doesn’t look like Belle. Or Jasmine or Elsa. Not like Black Widow, or Mary Watson.

She looks like my mother, like so many of the mothers and wives I know. Like the elderly women at my church who gather to pray every single Tuesday morning. Like Mary. Like Martha. Like Ruth.

Would anyone deny that Jesus was a strong person? I doubt it. And yet He is most often described in Scripture as meek or humble. As obedient. Do you know what meekness is? It isn’t shyness. It isn’t flinching away. It isn’t cowardice.

It is strength.

Under control.

That, ladies, is what our “strong female characters” lack.

They lack control. They lack obedience. They lack humility. They lack, because they are of the world, Christ-likeness.

And sisters, is that Christ-likeness not our goal? Isn’t it what we are to be striving for? Not to the be the loudest voice or the stronger personality. But to be obedient to God and those whose authority He has, in His perfect will and plan, put us under.

Our husbands.

Our fathers.

Our church leaders.

Our teachers.

Our mothers.

None of us- male or female- will ever truly “be our own boss”. And you know what? That’s a good thing.

Jesus wasn’t exactly His own boss. He bowed the knee of obedience to His Father. Every day, in every situation, no matter what the culture around Him said, He obeyed God.

He took direction. He used His strength, His power, for God’s purposes. He was not loud or obnoxious or rude. He was not constantly trying to show up others. He was not yelling about His rights. He was quietly, contentedly, going about God’s work.

Am I? Are you?

The world tells us a strong woman doesn’t have to listen to anyone. It says that obedience is demeaning. It tells you, loudly, brightly, happily, that if you submit or obey that you are weak.

Ladies how much strength does it take to give in to your flesh?

Not. Much.

How much willpower does it take to snap irritably at someone? To roll your eyes at your dad’s face or his back? To talk back to your mother? To know that you know best?

None.

On the flipside, how much strength does it take to tell yourself “no.”? How much strength does it take to obey God?

He tells us to be grateful for those in authority over us, to pray for them. He tells us that a strong- a meek- daughter of His is obedient. That she finds pleasure and joy in obeying. He tells us quietly, honestly, lovingly, that obedience is the mark of His children. That it is a way we can thank Him for the marvelous gift of salvation.

How much strength does it take to smile and joyfully obey? To be still and speak later, in private, when you’re calmer? To take a deep breath and submit? To turn away from sin?

It takes more strength than we have.

We cannot be true strong women without Christ. We cannot be meek without learning how He was meek. We cannot be good ambassadors if we do not study, stand by, and practice, our King’s laws.

We have no hope of every having true meekness in our own power. It is through genuine prayer, repenting of disobedience, and studying Scripture that we become strong. All our strength is in Christ- we are nothing without Him.

So ladies, please. Let’s be cheering for the “meek females” in our lives Let’s honor them- not the sad, distorted shadows the world tries to tempt us with.

Let us make honoring God our priority and goal- not honoring our flesh.

Saying Goodbye… Again

Over the last seven years, I have said goodbye many, many times. I’ve come to expect the word in relationships. For all the times I’ve been viscerally reminded that nothing lasts but Christ, each parting or separation is still as painful as the one before.

Goodbyes are a part of life. There are the “until tomorrow” ones. The “when you get back from your trip”. Then there are the “I’ll see you again one day in heaven.” “Be safe on your trip to your new home.” And of course, “what did I do wrong? Why did you disappear? I can’t even tell you goodbye.” They are all partings, some for longer times than others.

They all hurt.

Today, I stood at the house of my friends and told them goodbye for the last times. Over the last eighteen months, we had gotten together most Saturday nights for ice cream and nerdy fun. They know my crazy side- the imaginative one. They see all of me. I saw them lose their father last year. We have watched Sherlock, played Real Life Games, eaten loads of ice cream, and now they’re moving to Mississippi.

Another goodbye.

I didn’t cry today- that happened last week after our last ice cream hang out. I cried as I realized that in the town I live in, I once again am friendless. That the people who know me at church know part of me. That my new friend lives an hour away and is much more productive and busy than I am.

It hurts. It hurts to feel alone again.

As I look at Facebook or listen to people I know talk, I realize that people actually have friendships for more than a couple years. That some people have been friends since they were little kids. That some people get long friendships. That’s good. It’s wonderful, and I’m happy for them. It’s a precious gift and if God has given it to you treasure it. Tell that friend how much they mean to you.

Actually, tell a friend what they mean to you no matter how long your relationship has existed. People need to know.

In all that, however, as always, God remains. God is constant, faithful, and always present with us.

There is one goodbye I will never have to say, one parting I will never have to fear, one Perfect Friend, Father, King, I will never lose.

And that is Jesus Christ. That is my heavenly father. My Savior. My King.

“He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5b). That was my favorite Bible verse when I was about eleven. It is making its way back to that place now. As is Romans 8:28-29.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.”

Nothing.

No one- including me.

He will never leave me, never let me go.

Ever.

He will always be. He is I AM. He is my eternal friend. He is my Rock, my solid ground. And though others may come and go, good and hard times pass, He will always remain.

I will never have to say goodbye to God.

My Savior and My God

This week at my church’s Bible Study for women, I was asked to share what God has been doing in my life. As I wrote out what I planned to share, it struck me that I should share this on my blog as well!

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God has been teaching me the same things over and over because apparently I’m a very slow learner. Two of the things I want to focus on are contentment in Him and finding my value in Him.

As I’ve said before, in 2010 my family and I moved to Conway, Arkansas from our small town in Missouri where we had lived for nine years. In this move and before we came to our home church in November, God saved me and then taught me to be content in my family.

I made friends with a girl just a year older than me in early 2011. We were totally fangirls- Star Trek, Star Wars, Artemis Fowl, Lord of the Rings, Narnia– and our own worlds of course. We played Real Life Games (“pretend”) with our characters and wrote together several times. However, in 2013 she began to suffer from intense anxiety attacks and depressive episodes. For several months we essentially communicated solely by letters.

However, in 2013 she began to suffer from intense anxiety attacks and depressive episodes. For several months we essentially communicated solely by letters.

As I struggled with the difficult and often confusing questions she asked me, I learned obedience. I knew my answers weren’t always what she wanted to hear and sometimes I didn’t say things well. I really couldn’t see her very much as I was sometimes a trigger for her attacks because I reminded her of the games and her difficulties with putting those down was part of what led to her problems.

As I prayed for her and for myself and walked through that time, I also learned to be content with God’s outcome. I expected that if I did everything the right way and said what God told me to say, that we would still stay as close as we were before. That wasn’t the case and while we are still friends, we only see each other and communicate twice a year when we put together a piano recital for our students. I learned that obedience does not necessarily mean we get the outcome we anticipate.

In 2015 I lost more friends. The family that we did house church with was called to serve with a ministry in Texas. Looking for a church again was a daunting task, as I’ve blogged about before. Going to church in a city forty-five minutes from where we live has been difficult in several different ways and I have struggled with bitterness, anger, loneliness, anxiety, and complaining.

God has been teaching me that just because someone does something differently does not mean it’s wrong- in some things there is more than one way to do something. He’s taught me that no one is perfect, that His plans are perfect, and that He puts us where we need to be.

God is good. Through all of these and more circumstances, God has forcefully re-aligned my focus to Him. He has reminded me that He loves me, that I am safe with Him, that I am not alone. He reminds me that I can be fully and completely content in Him.
Another lesson God has been teaching me is that my value comes from Christ and I should be focused on pleasing Him, not man.

I am nineteen years old and I graduated high school last year. I’ve never been on a date or had someone tell me a guy was interested in me- nothing. I wanted to be married or at least close right out of high school and obviously that hasn’t happened. I want a husband, family, and home to care for and when people ask me what I want to do… that’s what I tell them.

Lately, as I have struggled with being content in this time of my life, I have started down the path of wondering what’s wrong with me that no one is interested in me. I have looked at women and girls I know who have what I want- trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I self-examine and try to figure out why I’m left out and what is wrong with me. I see flaws aplenty in my physical appearance and am reminded by others and my own mind about things that are wrong or annoying in my personality and temperament.

But my worth is in Christ. Yes, I need to be examining myself to see where my life, actions, words, are not lining up with Scripture. My worth is in what Christ did when he sacrificed himself for me and rose from the dead. God loves me because of the blood of His Son. He is the One I should be working to please. God comes with a whole book on how to love Him- guys don’t.

Because of what Christ did, I can know that I am loved by God. He is the reason I am who I am. He’s the reason I can love, the reason I live, the reason I keep going. He is pleased with me because of Christ. He is my peace. My friend. My God.

He is and always will be more than enough, and these life trials, as well as ones I haven’t mentioned, have only served to make me see that more clearly.

Have You Ever Heard an Almost-Grown Man Giggle?

I have. In fact, I hear it at least once every summer. The giggles get deeper and hence more endearing every year.

Earlier this summer, my brother’s two best friends drove in from Missouri for a visit.
And it was awesome.

I always love when Caleb and Zachary come to visit, because no matter how old they are, it’s the same every year.

Both boys yell “Philip!” and Philip laughs self-consciously and says “Hey!”

And then they bro-hug and it’s all good.

We haven’t lived in Missouri for six years and yet these three boys are still just as close as they were when none of us were teenagers and they were all shorter or just as tall as me.
Now we live in Arkansas, Caleb has finished his first year of college, Zachary is in public school, Philip is playing basketball, and I haven’t been taller than any of them in like four years.

They sat in the den one afternoon, playing Tanks. Zachary wasn’t playing at one point and would periodically call out something like, “Philip… that was pathetic” or, “Shoot him!”.
And Philip would laugh that laugh that makes his face get all red and his hands shake and his tank would get shot because he was laughing so hard.

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I was standing in the kitchen, listening and grinning and laughing at them.

Because when three boys all over the age of sixteen and all of whom have voices just as low if not lower than my dad’s start giggling at each other?

That’s when I know that I have an amazing life. That’s when I know my brother has amazing friends.

These boys have never ignored him, never forgotten him, and never passed up a chance to see him.

 

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Seeing Philip happy- the kind of happy Caleb and Zachary make him- that just makes any room re-arranging, any noise, any zoned-out-ness, it makes it all worth it.

So thanks guys. Thank you for giving my brother such a wonderful gift, and giving his older sister the gift of seeing him so happy and having so much fun.

It’s been hard for him, you know. Living here. But when you guys come up in the summers, even just for a few days, you make it easier. You make him laugh and let him be comfortable and just let him be him.

Thank you for that.

An Ode to My Sunday School Class

I’m alive y’all! Between graduating, looking for a job (getting a car!!), finding a job, getting training to officially get said job, and then WORKING said job, I’ve been just a little busy.

But. I’m back.

***

Almost two years ago my family and I started going to a new church. I was halfway through my junior year at that point- over on the far end of the Youth Group. Due to a lot of things, some of which being my own fault, I was looking forward to graduating and being able to pick my own Sunday School class. There are a lot of different classes at our church, organized by topic, not age.

A month or so after we had started attending this church, the Youth Group took their annual three-day Spring Retreat. This meant that on Sunday, there would be no Youth Group. Since my siblings and I didn’t go, we were on our own. Philip went with my parents, but I was allowed to chose a class to attend that morning.

There were several that looked interesting, but one caught my eye. It was a class only for women- the only class with a specific audience. I decided to go there.

After wandering around the hall for several moments, I found the classroom and poked my head inside. I was a little late. As I smiled and asked if I could join them, I realized that the class should have had a different name. At our church in Missouri it would have been the “Golden Agers”.

I knew in that moment that it was the class for me.

All the ladies welcomed me in, delighted for some reason that I was there. They went around and quickly introduced everyone. I only caught one or two of the names unfortunately and on later visits ended up making a diagram of the table that I could fill in as I listened and was able to put names with faces.

That first Sunday was one of the most restful and enjoyable experience I had had at the church to that day. The lady teaching had done a lot of research on the chapter of Hebrews that they had studied that week and shared from what she’d learned as we went through the lesson’s questions.

Later that week I received a note in the mail from someone in Little Rock. We didn’t know anyone in Little Rock really at the time, so as I opened it I had no idea who could have sent it.

It was from one of the ladies in the Sunday School class. I’d like to take a second to point out that as of yet, we had only been attending the church for about a month and our names were obviously not in a church directory. I don’t know how she got my address- I was impressed that she remembered my last name!

The note simply said that she had enjoyed meeting me and hoped I would come again soon.

Between that day and my graduation the next spring, I visited the class three or four more times. Aside from the next Spring retreat, the other times were often mornings when I needed a break from Youth Group and would quietly slip out of my seat in that room to head over to the people I have affectionately called “my ladies”.

Since I have been regularly attending the class, I don’t speak as much as i did when I was visiting. That is due in most part because I just love watching them all too much. I’ve loved seeing the interactions between them all, putting together their life stories, hearing their prayer requests and the way they remember people who need prayer. I love the two ladies who attend that are in their 4o’s. I loved listening to the organist talk about Jesus this last week- her character to share about as our class retold the nativity story. She shared that she had lost several very, very dear friends over the last four months, and how in each o their passings she had seen a different aspect of Christ’s love and perfect timing.

The ladies in this class are my example. They are the people I pray I can be like one day, the people I want to approve of me, the ones I want to know even better. They are faithful prayer warriors, servants to their families, friends, and church, and a joy to be around.

They’re my ladies and I love each of them dearly. They have given so much to so many people and I know that by His grace, God is pleased with them.

An Open Letter to Sydney

Dear Sydney,

You’re awesome. Seriously.

You’ve got this great sense of style- everything from Pusheen to scarves to The Flash. It’s eclectic and it’s you. Even though you’re still figuring things out, you doing it the right way. You’re looking to find your style, not trying to simply copy everyone else.

You listen. On Sunday, you let me say things I hadn’t said to another person. Even when we got lost, you kept me as calm as you could and then you did something awesome:

You talked to me about how you felt. You reciprocated. And I can’t explain how much it means to me when you are willing to open up and talk to me.
Being your age is hard, especially the places we are right now. But you’ve always got your family. All the girls at volleyball like you- I know they do. Because you’re funny, you’re caring, and people love being around you.
You’ve got this great ability to make everyone feel good just by being around you. You build people up and are genuinely concerned about their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. And that’s special, Sydney.
I know that we argue a lot. I know I push you too far sometimes. I want to ask your forgiveness for that.

Because you are the best sister for me in your own way. You’re one of my best friends, one of like two people who I can always talk to. Thank you for that.

Sydney, you are not a failure. You are enough- more than enough- for all of us. I’m going to go all Veggie-Tales on you, but it’s true: God made you special and He loves you very much. We all love you very much. You are enough because you’re you.

So keep exploring. Keep trying things and working towards the person God wants you to be. Don’t freak out if you make mistakes- you know I make tons of those and look! I’m still alive!

Don’t give up. Don’t let yourself believe the lies that you aren’t good enough, that people don’t like you, or that you never do anything right.

Because those are lies. They are false and they are wrong and you have to remind yourself of that.

I love you so much. So much. I don’t tell you enough or show it enough, but I do. I’d do anything for you, sis, and I hope you know that.

Love ya, bubsie!

 

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The Best Karen EVER

Karen is my younger sister. She turned thirteen last week and I honestly can’t believe it…

Like, when did the little kid who dug her tiny fingers through our mom’s ice cream cake at two in the morning one year suddenly become old enough to wear eye shadow and be interested in boys?
HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

*sighs*

But now she’s off at camp, away from home for five days. She’s never been gone this long. Ever. And although I know she’s going to have a blast, I still miss her. Her twin misses her. Her big brother misses her. (I don’t think the dog cares…). And her parents miss her.

It’s going to be a quiet week without Karen.

She’s the type of girl who is very quiet, often thinks she’s the person who’s wrong (when normally that’s not the case) is quick to stand up for others, and always looks for the best in people even when expecting all sorts of terrible things to happen (blindness, death, maiming, thunderstorms- I don’t know, her imagination is endless…).

Basically, she’s the Jane to her sisters’ Lizzie.

And she rocks at it, really.

Her tastes are so different from mine and Sydney’s that sometimes things get tense as we try to figure each other out, but once we can get her to open up (…this is a very lengthy process….) we can all laugh and tease each other again.

Karen plays guitar and piano, enjoys math, loves Peanuts and Dear America, and has a heart to serve (even if she is a little scared of small children). She rarely complains, puts up with her weird and often selfish older sister, and is a counselor for everyone in our family.

She knows when I’m sad and when I’m happy. She’ll roll her eyes when I’m talking about a cute guy, get teary when I talk about getting married, and laugh when Philip tells jokes.

She’s the perfect Karen for herself, for our family, for her friends, and for her Savior.

She is dearly loved by all who know her, liked by all she meets, and cherished by her family.

I love you so much, sissie!

 

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Speeding

I love driving.
Seriously.
I got a car roughly two months ago and I’ve already put over a thousand miles on it. I do every errand I can just so I can drive around town.
I love going fast- love driving on the interstate. No, I don’t speed. I go the speed limit.
That’s where I’ve run into problems.
See, not everyone drives the speed limit.
Some people don’t know there is a speed limit.
And if I’m not doing eighty, they don’t like me.

As I was driving into Little Rock this morning for a meeting and cars were passing me every which way, I realized something.
Driving really is a lot like life.
A lot like life.
There are dozens of areas where this is true, but I want to focus on one today: peer pressure.

When I’m driving, and not one, but three of the people behind me whiz past me at ninety miles an hour for no apparent reason (I do the speed limit, remember?), I find myself, well, wondering.

I glance at my speedometer.
Is my cruise control off?
Am I slowing down?
Did I take my foot off the gas?
Should I speed up so I don’t bother everyone else by driving ‘slow’?

The answer to all these question?
No. no. no. and no.
So when I’m with a certain group of people, and I’m outside the group once again, unsure as to how to engage in conversation, trying to make sure my face looks happy and inviting, when I’m wondering if my makeup is good enough, if my clothes are just the right combination of “fit in” and “stand out”, I find myself, well, wondering.

Should I try different shorts?
Should I straighten my hair instead of curling it?
What are they talking about?
I don’t know…
How do I take all the effort of making friends and conversation onto myself?
What did I do wrong this time?

The answers to these questions are a little more complicated, but it all really comes down to one thing:
Am I doing as I’ve been told, either by the law or by God?
If the answer is ‘yes’? Then I don’t have to worry.
I shouldn’t feel pressured, shouldn’t start panicking, and I shouldn’t start doubting the instructions God has given me.
Because I’m driving in the right lane for me. I’m going the right speed for me.

So sometimes I don’t wear makeup. Sometimes I wear my baggy shorts and tee-shirt, just to remind myself that I do not have to conform. God loves me just as much in a tee-shirt as a button-down. My friends don’t care if I put on makeup. They want to see me.

I keep doing what I’m doing. I keep walking along the path God has laid out for me. Sometimes I still panic, sometimes I still cry, sometimes I still try to change. But He always brings me back. He always reminds me, gently pulling me back to where I need to be.

And if you are His child, He’ll do the same thing for you, too

On the Eve of the Eve of My Graduation

When did you get excited about your high school graduation?

Was it during your freshman year?

During your senior prom?

When you were accepted into a college?

When you got a scholarship?

When you finished your last paper?

Or was it really, really late?

Like, six days before graduation late.

Because that’s when it was for me.

I have dreaded graduation for… well, a really long time. Maybe I started dreading it when I realized My Someone wasn’t going to come (yet…) and I wouldn’t be at the alter six months after I got my diploma. Maybe it happened when I realized I was going to have to enter the workforce again. Or when I remembered that people don’t really get their dreams jobs.

Or maybe it was when I realized: I. Am. Not. Ready.

I’m not ready to work outside the home. I’m not ready to own a car. I’m not ready… Maybe I just want everything to just slow down.

Have you heard Nichole Norderman’s song Slow Down? It’s really good. I’m using it in the slideshow for graduation. It’s beautiful and my mom says people will probably cry. Well, I agree with her, because I kinda cry when I hear when I hear it too.

Although, when I listen to it, I change the words.

Slow down
Can’t I stay here a minute more
I don’t want to walk through the door
Because it’s all too fast
Let’s make it last a little while
You pointed to the sky but I don’t wanna fly
But do you think we can somehow
Slow down

I’m trusting God with my future. I’ve asked Him for the right job at the right time. I’ve asked Him for peace. I’ve asked Him to help me trust Him. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He will answer my prayers. I don’t know what kind of job I’ll be getting, but I know that it will be the job God wants for me.

I’m graduating on Saturday. Yes, this Saturday. The one after tomorrow. Yeah.

And… well, I’m excited. I’m excited about Saturday.

But Sunday? And Monday? And the Monday after that? And the Monday six months from now?

That’s what I’m scared of.

But I don’t have to be. I shouldn’t be. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:38-39).

I will “Trust in the LORD with all my heart. And lean not on my own understanding; in all my ways I will acknowledge Him, and He shall direct my paths. (Provers 3:5-6).

I will “…put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, I may be able to stand my ground, and after I have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, I will take up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. I will take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:13-17)
“Fear not, for I [The LORD] have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Is. 43:1-3)

Why? Because “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2nd Tim. 1:7)

So I will tell those panicking, squabbling, yelling, sobbing voices in my head to be silent. I will take every thought captive and give them to God.
Because being afraid is exhausting.

And I’m tired of being tired.

I’m done.

I’m done allowing my sinful heart to lie to me. I’m done not trusting God. I’m done saying that His promises are not good enough.

I. Am. Done.

Because “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end, He will stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25)

I’m graduating on Saturday. And after that?

All I know for sure is that God has it in his hand, along with the futures of EVERYONE ELSE.

And that’s more than good enough for me.

-Sarah

The Best Brother (Sorry everyone else, Philip wins hands down)

I am the oldest of four children, and today is my “little” brother’s birthday. Philip is sixteen today, but as I told him this morning, I think I’ve been telling people he’s sixteen for the last four months because he never really looked fifteen. Well, maybe he did, but that would have been two years ago.

Philip is at the top of my “Opinions that Matter to Me” list and has held that position probably his entire life.

He’s the model of a dedicated student, having carried a harder school load for the last two years than I ever have, and still makes better grades than I did.

And, thankfully, he’s not just smart.

My brother is the funniest person I’ve ever met and probably ever will meet. We can have a perfectly serious conversation peppered with inside jokes and misunderstood words and just plain “Philip” stuff that keeps the mood light.

He is one of the most knowledgeable people under the age of twenty-six that I know when it comes to the Lord and the Bible.

Philip and I created worlds when we were younger, building spy organizations, goat farms, bad-guy bases, and more out of LEGOs. Our Bonicles fought villains, had kids, went to kholi tournaments, and always ended up saying things that entered into our daily speech.

We had a deal when it came to playing together: we could have a long battle if my characters could have a wedding. This satisfied both of us, and Philip, as my girl’s dad, got a lot of practice interviewing prospective husbands.

For the last three years or so, Philip has been into photography. Most of the photos of my family that you see on this blog were taken by him. His nature photography will leave you breathless and I’m still trying to figure out how to get it out to more people.

Adults love him, little kids can’t get enough of him (I’m totally not kidding), teens think he’s a senior in high school, and I just get to stand there all smug and say, “Oh yeah, that’s my brother.”

I reference him all the time in conversation. I go to him when I need a question answered. He listens (eventually). He reads. He answers.

He is the best brother anyone could EVER ask for. His sisters know that, and so do his friends.

Philip is my go-to-guy for those puzzles that distract from the story of the Nancy Drew Games we always play together.

He kills bugs.

He opens things.

His closest friends are two boys who live five hours away. They’ve been best friends since they were probably four or five and see each other every summer.

I love watching them see each other again because it’s always the same, year after year.

Caleb will come in first. Philip will smile shyly, a little worried that maybe they’ve changed and they won’t be as close anymore. And then Zachary comes in, sees my brother, and says

“PHILIP!”

At that point, Philip is caught up in a bear hug and before we can blink all three of them are crammed into Philip’s tiny room and we can hear the laughter all over the house.

So happy birthday, Philip. No one can ever replace you and I wouldn’t want them to. I love you, Little-Brother-Who-Isn’t-So-Little.

 

Love,

Your Short Sis.