I grew up with a father who trapped me in tickle fights and made me laugh until tears streamed down my face. I grew up with a father that showed me magic tricks and taught me how to strategize during card games. I grew up with a father who knew how to encourage and lift me upwards when I felt so low beneath the concrete. I grew up with a father who knew right from wrong and when to take the high road. I grew up with a father who had ‘I love you’ fights with when we’d end a phone call.
Most importantly, I grew up with a father who taught me about my father in heaven.
I grew up with a mother that read me storybooks before bed and taught me how to fold my hands to pray. I grew up with a mother who planted seeds in my brain and taught me how to tend and water them. I grew up with a mother who listened to me when no one would. I grew up with a mother who walked me to the school bus stop and sang me off with “A Bushel And A Peck.” I grew up with a mother who never failed to encourage me with kind words and never-ending hugs.
Most importantly, I grew up with a mother who taught me about God’s unconditional love.
Whenever I come to my dad about something, whether it be school problems, friend drama, or stress, my dad asks me if I’ve prayed about it. I grew up with a father who I saw love my mother every day. I grew up with a mother who knows exactly what to say and exactly when I need it the most. I grew up with parents who still call each other honey.
My brother got married when I was 11 years old. Since then, he and his wife have had two beautifully precious little girls and are currently awaiting the arrival of a baby boy. Their dorky tendencies and silliness complement each other wonderfully. Now, they don't complete each other because as they’ve shown me that’s God’s job, but they complement tremendously. I grew up with a brother who scowls at boys who look at me and calls me just to say hi.
My sister got married when I was 14. I remember her blonde curls and Barbie-like features. My brother-in-law absolutely adores my sister and their baby girl. We knew they were meant for each other when she called to tell everyone that they were in love. I grew up with a sister who taught me how to be strong and smile when things might seem like they’re falling apart.
This past year, my other sister got married. My sister and now brother-in-law showed me the importance of going through fire and rain. Through them I’ve truly learned to understand that it is the tough times that make you grow strong. I grew up with a sister who showed me how to make everyday life fun.
I grew up with a sister who stands up for me when I am unable to. I grew up with a sister who proof read my English papers at 12:30 am the night before it’s due. I grew up with a sister who taught me it’s okay to not be okay. I grew up with a sister who unashamedly shines her colors for others.
I grew up with parents who gave me grace, who taught me that it’s okay to be unsure, that it’s a good thing to stretch outside of your comfort zone, and to live boldly.
You learn to love the way you are loved. You love the way you know.
Pour into others full-heartedly and unapologetically because the love you show them will ripple onto others. Putting love into little things—phone calls, hugs, walks to the bus stop, tickle fights—they all grow into something bigger.
That's how you love.