To My Family, Never Forget How Much You're Appreciated

To My Family, Never Forget How Much You're Appreciated

I will love you, always.

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I come from a huge family. We're constantly busy and running around doing things and attending events for one another. My family and I have always been super close, and it is truly a blessing to have such a tight group of people you call home.

I was always that teenager that loved to go out with friends and always wanted to be out of the house. Don't get me wrong, college is beyond fun and I love my life here. But, the things I took for granted turned out to be the things I missed the most. Being away from home has shown me a new appreciation for my family and the time I spend with them.

I have realized after a few years of college that the small moments are the best memories. Just spending an evening in my living room and laughing with them, or watching my siblings play at their games brings me so much joy. Those are the things I always look forward to when I go home.

Friends come and go, but your family will be there no matter what. I've seen close friends come and go, sometimes not always the way you want. Your memories with your family will be the ones you cherish the most in the long run.

Family drives you crazy and sometimes you may even need your space from them, and that's okay. Aside from their own personal craziness, love them for who they are.

To my family, I love each and every one of you. I love that we have been brought up to stand up for one another, support one another, and be there for one another. I love the memories we've made at the beach, laughing at the dinner table, making fun of each other, and just simply enjoying each other's presence in the family room. Thank you for an amazing life full of happiness and memories that I will cherish forever. I love you all dearly.

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When You Give A Girl A Papa

She'll learn enough lessons to last a lifetime.
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When you give a girl a Papa she'll have the best adventures.

She'll run around atop his shoulders and learn to fly. Her imagination will never run dry and she'll always be down for a laugh. He'll tell her stories and wipe away her tears. When you give a girl a Papa she'll have memories to last her years.

Papa is German for Dad but in America, it has become a slang term for grandpa. And while it is just a word, for some, it has a deeper meaning. Papa isn't just a grandfather, he's a best friend, the instigator of mischief, a protector, a storyteller, a rock, the strongest man you know and, most importantly, a hero.

Papa can turn ordinary, everyday activities into an adventure. From a young age, I was running behind him as quickly as my little legs could carry me ready for that day's adventure. I was always down for anything Papa was doing, following him in his daily chores and mimicking his every move. Cuddling up and watching sports in his lazy chair was my favorite time of the day because he always told the best stories. Sitting there hanging onto every word he said because it was the most important thing I ever heard.

Papa is full of experience and wisdom. His wise words provide comfort every time I am sad. He can always make me laugh to fight the tears away. I'm not sure how, but he always knows what to say to make me feel better. Papa is a fearless force that never bows and is never broken. He can weather all of the storms while smiling and laughing. I can only hope to have that resilience when facing life's problems. And when Papa was struggling with his own battles, I will stand right next to him, ready to fight and do all I can for him.

Papa can do a happy dance via the phone so he is the person to call when something good happens. He is always there to celebrate life and all its joy. And, even though he tried to hide them, he cried happy tears the day of my high school graduation. I pretended not to notice.

Leaving Nana and Papa's house is always the worst part of the trip. Driving away waving my hand in the air with tears welling in my eyes because I can't wait for the next adventure. Disappointing Papa was the scariest thing you I could think of, but I knew that he would never stay that way for long. There was always a lesson to learn from mistakes.

He is the man I model all men after. If they don't treat me the way Papa demonstrated, they are not worthy of my time. If they don't make me laugh or have that twinkle of passion in their eyes and fire in their soul like my Papa, then they aren't the man for me.

Papa is my hero. I would give anything to be like him, to stand strong and hold the world together when it just wants to fall apart. To be able to make anyone laugh and feel right at home. To fight for what I believe in and work hard to achieve my goals. To have charisma and charm. To deal with people who wrong me with class and kindness. To follow my faith with questions because that is the only way to make your beliefs stronger. To be the person everyone speaks of with a fond memory in their eye.

At the end of it all, he is my Papa and no one can take his place. I can and will drop anything to be by his side. He has shaped me into the person that I am working to be. I will always call him for advice and kind words.

Best friends come in many forms, but my favorite will always be my Papa.

Cover Image Credit: Jessica Goddard

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My Life Has Not Been The Same Since I Met My Father

He showed me angels, and told me I could put my weapons down because I've got protectors.

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I rang in 2019 with sexual sin and instead of being convicted, I felt condemnation (see previous blog post). This, coupled with isolation and watching my fellow seniors have future plans while I didn't have any for post-undergrad, caused me to be in a dark place from January to the first week of April. I honestly didn't want to live anymore, convinced there was no point to my life. Three months, 1 week, and 3 days later, I went on my first A Life Retreat from April 11th to the 14th.

We arrived at the retreat site on the 11th at night so I was just expectant for the next day, but I was trying not to be excited because I didn't want to be brokenhearted if Jesus passed me by. On the 12th, during the last session for the day, many of my peers were getting delivered. I was praying for their deliverance while hoping for my encounter with Christ. However, something shifted in me and I became jealous. I remember thinking I wish I had some demons in me so that God will finally pay me some attention (we could unpack another day so this post isn't 5 pages long). I began to doubt God, I stopped praying and was looking around with a cynical smile on my face.

After the leadership team dismissed us, I went to sit down, angry and dejected. Someone asked me if I was okay. I lied, answering yes. Another person asked me; I lied again. A third person asked, and I finally told the truth saying, "no, but it's whatever". She asked if she could pray for me and I said, "you can do what you want but it's not going to change anything". I reasoned, if God won't show up for me when I prayed for myself, why would He show up when someone else does. With persistence, she began to pray for me, but I wasn't paying attention. I was just thinking she will be done soon and go her way.

She didn't end quickly so I began hearing the words of her prayer. She was saying, "God loves you." I was chuckling, thinking yeah, right. As she continued to pray those sweet words over me, telling me what God was saying and thinking about me, I began to speak out loud what was in mind, telling her that she was lying. After some back and forth, some A Life leaders came over and began to pray for me and after a good fight, deliverance took place. I became free from the stronghold of the spirit of doubt.

The next day, I was hypersensitive to the voice of God. At the beginning of the first session, I heard Him tell me to put my shield down and what I saw behind it was incredible. I had detached a part of myself that was much younger than the current me and I would transfer all the blame of my past onto her. Everything I hated about myself I put on her (this younger version of me). God told me I was supposed to unite with her, but I didn't want to. I told myself I was shielding her to protect her, but actually, I was trying to hide her in order to hate myself less or to avoid judgment. I couldn't move forward until we became one. After another deliverance session in which I was able to forgive myself and reconcile all parts of me, I felt empty, but in a good way. While on break for the day, I remember thanking God for freeing me and asking Him to fill me back up.

Throughout the last session on the 13th, He showed up and showed out for His little girl. I saw multiple visions of how much God loves me. I don't really have an intimate relationship with my natural father so what happened that night was pivotal in my life.

In my first vision, while I was praising and worshipping Him, God told me to rest my head on His shoulder while He told me how much He loves me.

Then He told me to lay my head on his lap and at this point, I'm crying because He's also telling me how He feels about me and how beautiful I am.

He showed me angels, multitudes, and told me I could put my weapons away because I've got protectors and defenders.

He told me that they had always been there even when I could not see them and He did all this while hugging me.

There was so much more that God told me and showed me, but I'm focusing on these few because it tackled the daddy issues and brother issues I had.

My life has literally not been the same ever since April 13th, 2019. I don't even know how to put into words how my life has been, how I have felt, how much love I have in my life. I just want everyone else in the world to feel what I feel, to know what I know, to encounter WHO I encountered. I also want to thank the A Life leadership team. Just in case any of you are reading this, "thank you. I can only imagine the amount of time you had to spend in your secret place with The Most High so that you were able to war for me, and the other A Lifers with Him in the open. May our Father replenish and reward you for being dedicated to people to see them saved and FREE. I love you all."

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