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?


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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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


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.



Your Short Sis.