thankful: 1 girl + 3 boys

A little over 15 years ago I became an aunt (AJ), and my life has truly not been the same since. These four have become the most important people in the world to me, the ones I pray for unceasingly, the ones I celebrate most of all. I am truly blessed by them and more thankful for them than anything else in my life.
Kiwi, as she called herself at the age of two, came along first and changed all of our lives. She is the one and only granddaughter in her mother’s family, my one and only niece. And she is extraordinary in every way, if I do say so myself. She’s a dreamer, just like her AJ, and I live to encourage those dreams in her. In her mid-teens, Kiwi is finding herself and looking for her place in the world, and I want her to know how important she is and that she can do whatever she puts her mind to. She can go to New York City and dance on Broadway. She can travel to London. She can visit Paris during Fashion Week. The world is before us all, and above all I hope Kiwi will hold onto those dreams and pursue them without fear. Most of all, whatever she chooses, I pray she’ll have no regrets. I pray this every day for you, Kiwi! Remember that you are beautiful in every way.
K2 was born just eight months after the sweet little girl. And he was a boy, through and through, from the very beginning. I was privileged to be present at his birth, to hold him and sing to him during that first hour. We bonded immediately and have been developing that relationship, that friendship, since those first moments. We have always shared many of the same interests, we enjoy hanging out together, and we’ve been learning from each other for 14 years now. K2 is headstrong and independent, but quick to laugh and desires to please. He’s tender-hearted but scrappy and driven. I admire this in him so much and look forward to watching him pursue his interests. My heart could not be fuller with love for this boy. He is the one who wants to spend entire weekends with me just watching The Lord of the Rings, and he is the one who embraces my own interests so we have things to share. From K2 I have experienced the unconditional love of a child. And there is nothing more incredible than this. 
When W.S. arrived 5 years later, he began the second wave of grandchildren. He was called “little bitty” for years simply because we were all so excited to have another baby around! We found a bond in Star Wars and every time we’re together it’s the topic of choice. He loves those films in the same way I first loved them, at just about the same age. Talking with W.S. is like revisiting my childhood, and I see myself at his age and have to laugh at how focused we both can be. It’s taken us a few years to really find our groove, to develop a strong relationship — we live in different towns and can’t just drop by to see each other — but I believe we’re now able to pick up conversations whenever we’re together. I also appreciate that he was the first of the four to really get excited about learning and about school. W.S. wanted to learn to read more than any other child I’d ever known, and when he finally did learn, he called and read to me over the phone. I was as proud as I’ve ever been of anyone. My heart swells even now. I hope education will always be our bond. One of my own greatest memories is being quizzed by an uncle to determine how my education was progressing. It made me try harder so I could impress him the next time we spoke. I hope to find that groove with W.S., and I hope it will encourage him as much as it did me.
And then came our Dyl Pickle (thus dubbed by his own silly self). I’m not exaggerating when I say the equilibrium shifted as we got to know D. He challenges our perception of life and relationship, and he teaches us to see the world differently, to look beyond the obvious and question our surroundings. He questions everything, all the time, again and again and again. And I’ve learned that this is how he comes to understand what he sees and what he believes. He wants to know if his perceptions are correct, and if they are not, he needs to know why and he needs to be convinced that he’s not correct. At the same time, D has the greatest sense of humor I’ve ever encountered. He laughs at practically everything in life. And I’m not so sure he doesn’t believe it’s all absurd! When I look at the world in the way that D looks at the world, I can begin to see that he’s absolutely correct. Almost all the time. D does everything full-steam, and he’s unrelenting when he sets his mind on something. I dream of using my brain as much as D uses his. I dream of being as perceptive as he is. I look forward to a lifetime of him teaching me how to do these things and how to tap into my own dormant potential. I’ve learned more from this young boy than I’ve learned in a lifetime of random experience, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for the future.
I am thankful. For one young woman and three young men. For being an aunt, their AJ. For the gift that they’ve given me in this lifetime, and for the opportunities I have to give back to them. To love them. To show them Christ. Above all else, this is my purpose.


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