Family Life

For Those We Call Brother and Sister

With Thanksgiving in a few short days and Christmas only a few shorts weeks after that, I want to stop, collaborate and listen. Just kidding, I save that for the dance floor.

Back to my post :). This time of year, I find myself thinking often of my family. It’s such a huge part of of the holiday season and one I am so incredibly thankful for, like my brother and sister. From 87 million inside jokes to staying close, life would be incredibly dull without them, so I figured, why not share about them?

And I’m much better with written words than in person, so here we go.

If I ever write a book, these two will definitely be in the dedication. They were forced to love me early on ;), but thankfully have chosen to as well.

Hello 80s and little puppies!

I love that we are each so different. Trust me, we are. Take my brother and I. We might look like twins, but outside of looks we are opposites. Example 1: In a crowd of new people, if I’m by myself, my stress level sky rockets. Hello introvert (unless Tolkien, C.S. Lewis or The Walking Dead comes up, then I’m your bff). My brother? He can talk to anyone, anywhere and become instant friends. I’m pretty sure when we were in Europe, he became friends with the entire nation of France. I actually stress out for him when it comes to meeting people.

Then there’s my sister. I think she’s the Jane and I’m Lizzie. She looks for the best in everyone and is sweet, compassionate and giving. It’s fun to see the traits her little girls have from her as well. She also works in accounting to which I say: No ma’am.

I think it’s these differences that make our sibling-ship (new made up word for the day!) work so well. Where one is weak, the other two step up. By no means do we have it together, TRUST ME, but I know we’re always striving to support and encourage one another.

“I know that in my weakness I am stronger
It’s your love that brings me home.” NEEDTOBREATHE

We are all very close, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been or will be hard times and trying times. Whether having to watch one of them struggle while doing my best to encourage and support (wishing I could take on the pain or hurt) or praying as they make a major life decision that changes our dynamics (like when I moved a mere 1,300 miles away). But through those times, we’ve come out stronger and I’m so grateful and thankful (words are never enough) that our foundation rests in Christ. I truly 100% believe that is why our bond has deepened so much over the past decade and a half.

As you can see, we’re also known for our incredible hair and clothing choices.

I’m not saying it’s all peaches and cream in the world of families. We’ve all seen this (whether in our own families or in people we know). People make hurtful decisions, people hold grudges, people are stubborn and prideful. People sometimes don’t even realize they caused pain. But y’all, I just want to say this: choose forgiveness. Choose mercy. Choose grace. Choose love. There is so much freedom in that. Does that mean everything will be mended and healed instantly and everyone will move on in life skipping while holding hands? No, but don’t let that deter you. There’s something beautiful that awaits!

We like weddings.
These two….(plus my adorable niece)

And what do you know, a favorite song from NEEDTOBREATHE fits perfectly for this post (I know I’ve used it before, but I can’t help it if it’s the perfect song). ‘Brother’ is a song I can listen to anytime, but I love it especially thinking about my brother and sister. Because I know I can depend on these two. I know if I needed to call them at 3:00 a.m., they would answer. I know that when I tell them I’m moving across the country, even if it’s hard, they’ll cheer me on. I know they’ll share truth with me and pray for me. I know they’ll always love me.

And you know what? I’ll do the exact same for them.

“Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home.”

I’d love to hear from you as well! What are some relationships you’re thankful for this holiday season?

I’ll close out with one more:

I’m pretty sure we almost knocked down the entire tapestry behind us trying to take this photo. Our bad!
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Ponderings

Happy Thanksgiving World!

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9

Family Life, Travel Adventures

A Japanese Legacy

One of the favorite parts of my trip to Japan this past summer, was when we went to hang out with Mariko’s grandparents.

We hopped on the train and headed over to their house (which they’ve lived in forever) and spent such a relaxing and wonderful afternoon. Do I speak Japanese? Nope. (Unless you count “I eat rice in my house,” then yes, I’m fluent). Do Mariko’s wonderful Grandparents speak English? Nope. But were we able to have an amazing time? Why, yes we were! With Mariko translating, it worked out perfect.

There was one time during lunch when the chopsticks weren’t being my friend, so I attempted to be stealth and just grab the cucumber with my fingers. I figured that was better than trying to stab it with the chopstick. Totally thought no one was paying attention to me, but nope…totally busted. How’s that for immersing myself in the Japanese culture? But they simply laughed.

But more than that, I’m so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from them, be encouraged by them and simply get to know more of their story. A legacy is the only thing you’ll leave behind and I promise you, the one they have started has already made an incredible impact on the world!

My hope and prayer is that this glimpse into the lives of Shizuko and Saichi Ohashi inspires and encourages you as much as it did me.

As a teenager during World War II, Shizuko still can recall the constant bombings on her city and watching the B-29 Superfortresses fly over their city. It’s hard for me to even imagine what that would have been like. To have a never ending fear of a bomb falling from the sky. To not know when it would end. What if my country, instead of unleashing the power of the A-bomb, was victim to it? How would my heart have handled losing such a war? I believe she said it best: That while losing was a blow to Japan, simple put, war is never a good thing.

Yet, even while having lived through that history, joy abounds from each of them.

But our time there wasn’t all sadness and dark times from decades past. Most of the time we spent chatting about family, our adventures and faith. Both came from Buddhist backgrounds, but after their two daughters became Christians, they started going when they were in their fifties. At first they started going because Christianity wasn’t about money (as their experience with Buddhism had been). That led to discussions with several pastors and finally one led them both to Jesus.

Two quotes that stuck with me? “Believing in Jesus and being a Christian is joy” and “We have Jesus to protect us.” Said with such conviction and decades of life experiences behind them, it was such a great reminder of Truth.

What a joy and privilege it is for me to be able to share some of their wisdom, story and to spend time with them, even if only for one summer afternoon.

To end, I’ll close with a very special 4 Questions with Shizuko (some the same, some a bit different!)

1. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was growing up, I didn’t have the option or choice to get an education. If I could go back, I would like to study all kinds of topics. I especially want to learn to speak English so I can communicate my grandchildren, great grandchildren and more American friends.

2. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
As you know it is very important to have a son to carry on the family name in Japan. We didn’t have boys, but God blessed us with wonderful and God-loving son-in-laws.

3. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want the next generation to know this most important thing: If they could, meet Jesus when they are young and memorize as much of God’s Word as you can.

And you know me, being the romantic that I am, tossed in a couple of extras for the interview!

4. How did you and your husband meet?
I was sewing clothes for family and friends with my free time back then. There was a country rail road employee apartment near our house and Saichi asked the apartment manager if he knew a good seamstress to sew his clothes. She recommended me to him, so he started to come over and that’s how we met!

5. What’s your advice for a lasting marriage?
Trust each other. Don’t talk back to each other, but share your opinions. Care for each other, especially when it comes to healthy living.

(Interviewed with the help of Kumiko Barnes)

We’re best friends now.

Thanks so much for reading! I never get tired of hearing people’s stories! So who has inspired you? What about your grandparents?

Family Life

Auntie’s Girls!

I’m currently going through Auntie withdrawals. I miss my girls!

My sister recently had her second precious little girl, so I made my way to Cali just as quickly as I could. It was a great few days helping my sister, hanging with the fam and of course, spending time with the two sweetest and cutest girls on planet earth!

I brought my camera (of course) and had a quick/informal shoot. Most of these my mom took (since you know, I’m in them 😉 ), but I think its safe to say that I’m the luckiest Auntie there is!

I can’t wait to see them again!