Thursday, March 22, 2007

When Brent and I were growing up in Marion he had to put up with my presence many times that he would have preferred not to have. We are two years apart in age and as a boy, that can be a big difference.

Brent and his friends were of course always bigger and stronger than I was but they actually put up with me much better than many kids would have. They let me play football with them, "ditch-um" (a "cooler" version of hide-and-seek) and other activities. I won't say that Brent or his friends were always happy to have me around because they weren't, but they could have made it much worse for me than they did (especially when playing football with a little runt of a brother).

They even came up with a nickname for me - "tag-along", or as I more often heard, "t-a". I did have a few friends of my own, but I was generally shy and introverted so it was never a large circle, and I always felt more secure with Brent around. Of course, there were those times when Brent let me know he would be happier if I weren't there (what teen or pre-teen boy wants his little brother hanging around all of the time?) but I don't recall too many of those and they weren't ugly.

I do recall several occassions when his friends didn't want me around, or that they just decided I was fair game because I was a smaller, easy target, and they would blindside me with a tackle, a snowball or something else. It was at those times that Brent's protective nature was jarred loose and he would let them know that it wasn't open season on me. I remember one particular occassion when he physically intervened, then put out a verbal assault aimed at the perpetrator, took my hand and we headed home.

Now that we are older things haven't changed so much and I still look up to Brent, now in more and different ways than I did when we were boys. He and his family have continued to be very important to me, as all of my family is. It has been very difficult to watch Brent, Deanna, Lauren and Whitney go through the events of the past year and a half. It is interesting how some gifts bloom through hardship.

I still looked to him for much of my social interaction and now that he and Deanna are in Tulsa I am having to do some more growing up. I do better some days than others but I miss them very much. But there are hundreds of others out there who are gaining much by his presence, by his leadership and benefitting from the love of Christ that he and Deanna live each day. I know that many of you are in this number and I can't tell you how much your support means to them.

I am so grateful that Jesus, while being the son of God, is in fact closer than a brother - and for me that is saying something. Through his Holy Spirit we are given all that we can ever need, in good days and bad, through lonliness and fear, anxiety and pain, and yes - the good times too. I know that you have heard it before but it is true, if you feel a distance has come into your walk with the Lord it isn't because he has moved.

Father, thank you for family, for friends (even those we haven't met)...for your Lordship in our lives, and your love. May your love be what others notice about us each day.



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