Sunday, February 1, 2015

Remembering advice and .... blessings of sisters

Today is my sister Karen's birthday. Sadly Karen died in 2007.  Just last week I was talking about my sisters and brothers.... with my small group Bible Study.  You might think that the above picture is not a really good shot.  But for me, it is really significant.  I love that I am sitting on Karen's lap and my sister Julie is sitting next to her.  Here we are, three sisters.  But you can see by the picture, there was quite an age gap between us.  As a matter of fact Karen was home from college, Julie was a junior high girl and I was just 4 years old.  This picture is special to me because I actually remember this time.  On the other side of the room was a Christmas tree. I guess your memories start to really form somewhere around 3 or 4 years old.  I remember very clearly, waiting by the window for Karen to get home.  Karen got married before I was 6 and moved away.   In many ways Karen and I related a bit like she was my aunt rather than my sister (especially since her kids were closer in age to me that she was!).  But I have these times of memories of Karen that are such a blessing to me. I love this picture of us.  It was taken in 1976 at my brother Greg's wedding.  Karen was making sure that my sweater was exactly right.  I remember that I so wanted her approval.
As I got older, got married and had children, our age difference seemed to matter less and less. It was a wonderful surprise when she sent me a package in the mail after Gwen was born. It included sweet dresses for Gwen and also a note (that I am so sorry I didn't keep) but I did not forget what she said. She reminded me that I should "not sweat the small stuff" when I was parenting.  Karen told me that the best parenting advice she could give me was to let go of the little things and choose the battles with my children. I never forgot that advice.   I loved that she came to my home for a visit when Doug was a baby and Gwen was a preschooler.  We were suddenly not only sisters, but moms! One of my favorite memories was in the summer of 1979.  All of my siblings gathered at the "Lake".  Karen and I actually shared the living room, each of us on one of the sofa's, with Gwen in a playpen between us (she was 4 months old).  Karen and I laughed about the fact that this was the first time that we ever shared a bedroom as sisters!  
And here is a picture of us sisters in 1985 at the time of my dad's funeral.  Isn't it interesting how much we look alike?  Yes, I was very blessed to have these two women in my life.  Both of my sisters had a part in shaping my choices and the path that I walked as a child, teenager, young adult and married woman and mother.  It was really difficult for my mom when Karen died.  She was 92 at the time and had been very close to Karen.  It is always difficult to lose a child no matter how old they are!  And Karen was very missed during the last years of my mom's life. I  regretted that I didn't spend more time with my sister.

I have really gotten to know Karen better in these last years, by learning more about her three children... my nieces Amy, Nancy and Susan.  Thanks to Facebook, I keep up with all that is happening in their family.  This is certainly a wonderful benefit of the internet. These sisters have kept in close contact and have a wonderful relationship.  My brother-in-law Roy enjoys time with all of them and his grandchildren.  Karen's legacy lives on.  

I never forgot that advice that Karen gave me on parenting.  It was a foundation of my dealing with Gwen and Doug.  I am so thankful that Karen loved Jesus and served Him all of her life.  She sang His praises with an incredible voice.  She cared for others with a heart of love.  She was a planner and could carry out events with grace and poise.  And she loved her husband and family.  Yes, she was a blessing to me and to so many others.

Isn't it sad how we realize only in hind sight how important relationships are?  I know that the last few months have caused me to evaluate what is really necessary and what I need to devote my time and energy towards.  It is always good to have a bit of a wake up call since everyone seems to get caught in the rut of busy-ness.  Rushing here and there and packing your calendar with events that may not even be that important.  This is the time to purpose to change priorities.  Spend time with those that matter to you.  Sow seeds for your legacy.  Share and care and love above all.  Don't waste a precious moment.  

Jesus, thank you for family, for siblings for parents and children.  Thank you for reminders of seeds that have been sown into us through well meaning advice.  Holy Spirit, help us all to spend time with those we value.  Help us to keep our priorities right.  Thank you for revealing the legacy of my sister Karen through her children and grandchildren.  Jesus, thank you for the wake up call.  Amen

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