don’t toy with this girl

It’s my sister’s birthday tomorrow, and she will still be younger than me.

I wouldn’t call her a kid sister, of course. It’s been a long time since that was appropriate.

Toy (real name) is instead a woman who has friends who want to canonize her, four mostly adult kids who depend on her, and a husband who loves and takes care of her. He is the strong, silent, safety conscious guy I never was.

But these responsibilities are no indication of how hard she has worked and how much she has grown since I was changing her diapers. We are preacher’s kids and we were brought up on adult conversations and over-sized expectations.

We learned stuff and then we did stuff. We cut our teeth on ministry. And my mom, whose many gifts were not particularly domestic, leaned on us to take care of each other and of our younger sister, Joy.

It turned out Toy would need all this experience. And wisdom. This blog is no place to describe the details of her life. But she is not a complainer. I wouldn’t call her a survivor either. I would call her an overcomer, which is what God would call her too. 1 John says “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Church splits? We’ve been there and done that. Few things get as ugly as disagreements between people who think they have divine authority for their contradictory opinions.

Family crisis, unemployment, long-term care-giving——these have been her battles and grace has been her shield. It makes me feel bad about taking the biggest scoop when I dished up the ice cream.

I’ve not always been the big brother she needed. I was in college when she was just entering high school and probably needed me the most. I lived at home, but it’s not like you are paying attention to your little sister while you are sorting out your own life.

I did have a huge paper route in college and every other week she or Joy would get up at 4:30 and help me stuff the Chattanooga Free Press in plastic bags and deliver them to homes and apartments. I don’t think she helped because I was such a kind and gracious big brother. It was the $25 a month and all the Christmas tips.

For three fourths of our lives now we have lived in different towns and taken different paths. But she is glad to hear from me. She still welcomes me. She still loves me. She has taught her kids to respect me. And she has honored me for every achievement along the way and bragged about me at every opportunity.

So today, Toy, I want to honor you. Thank you for your faithfulness to God and to your family. And thank you for your service to your friends and to your ministries, which have been many.

You are creative, resourceful and resilient, a credit to our father’s legacy and a joy to our heavenly Father’s heart.

Happy birthday.

And I’m sorry about the ice cream.

4 thoughts on “don’t toy with this girl”

  1. I should know by now that when you write about your family, I should be prepared for the “waterworks.” Thank you for this tribute to your lovely sister. Please give her many birthday blessings from me. There isn’t a sister alive who wouldn’t love to hear similar words from her brother.

  2. Thank you. You are and always have been such an encouragement to me.

    One of the best gifts in my life was given to me the day I was born – a big brother that would always be there when I needed him!

    I Love you.


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