It’s Just What We Do
I have to brag for a few minutes. I’m not bragging on myself, but on my youngest brother and his wife. First of all, they would never brag on themselves, ever, it’s just not in their nature. So as the big sister I feel compelled to share with the world (or at least the 100 people who might read this – most of whom are family and friends, hi y’all!) the profound change they are making in the world.
I have to start with the fact that they are two of the most amazing parents I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. They have 6 kids. Yes, I said that correctly, 6. Wait, there’s more. They had these 6 kids in a time span of about 9 years – the last four are in grades 8, 10, 11, and 12. That alone would send most parents running for the hills, myself included! Think about the toddler years, oy! But all 6 of these children are kind, smart, and beautiful people with their own identity and personality. Yet, they are a unit. Bonded together in a way that makes everyone want to be a part of what they’ve got. Honestly, this is not because I’m their aunt, they are the most well-behaved children I’ve ever been around. I’ll never forget one summer they came to visit. Before breakfast each morning they would make their beds, clean their room and tip toe down the stairs so as not to disturb anyone. What?!?! Seriously, my youngest son makes ten times the noise as the six of them. They left the room upstairs cleaner than when they arrived and I’m a neat freak! I had so much fun making each of them their favorite desserts (Kaitlyn, I haven’t forgotten your lava cakes!) because they appreciated the effort so much. That alone is an amazing feat these days– but they have managed to raise these amazing young people with very limited financial resources.
Here’s where I’m blown away. They recently took custody of a child who was in crisis. So that brings the total up to 7. Instead of fostering this beautiful young man, who just turned 10, and collecting the stipend to help out with the additional cost , they decided to take legal permanent custody. I asked my brother why they decided to do it that way and he said, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” He didn’t want to send this young man the message that he is temporarily staying with them. This is for real. They are family now.
It’s the right thing to do. I’ve heard myself say that many, many times over the years, but when I heard my brother say it, I was reminded of what our dad used to say, “It’s just what we do.” And it’s something I’ve seen my family live for years.
Life gets really hard sometimes, well, more than sometimes. We’ve all seen the recent flooding in Colorado, the economic downturn, the fires, the earthquakes, the shootings, and the headlines. We know people who’ve suffered devastating losses and have dealt with gut wrenching crises. We have all suffered our own personal losses and crises. It’s overwhelming sometimes, believe me, I know. I’ve asked myself so many times, what difference can one person make in this sea of need? Here’s the thing, I know I cannot do anything to fix the flooding or the economic downturn. There’s no way. But I can help the people around me who need it. And help can come in so many ways. I have a favorite phrase that I used to tell my students and I tell my own children now – we’ve all been given gifts and talents, use them to help each other. Is your gift hearing the truth behind someone’s words? Is it hospitality? Is it encouragement or leadership? Are you good with money? Do you have a lot of money? Do you have extra time to serve on a charity board or committee? The key is to keep your eyes open to the small differences you can make around you. A smile, an ear, a casserole, or providing a new family – pay attention because you really can make a difference in the world. It is amazing how giving something of yourself makes you more of who you were meant to be. And that’s really what life is about, isn’t it? Get out of the cocoon we’ve built around ourselves to see how that special spark inside each of us can be used to make a difference in the world around us. That’s what changes the world. We all can’t be like Bill Gates and work on funding the research to eradicate malaria and polio world wide, but we can bring comfort to someone in need. And we can bring that comfort without fanfare or even a thank you. Who knows what difference my brother and his wife will make in that young boy’s life? They may never know, but it doesn’t matter because it’s just what we do.