Today is my older brother Darin's 31st birthday. I'm not exactly sure how he would feel about me making him the center of my blog for a day, but I know he reads it, and I choose to love him by wishing him happy birthday this way! (Unless, of course, he asks me to take it down.) :)
Darin and I are great friends, and grew especially close when I lived with him for 5 years. He graciously agreed to take me in as a roommate after I graduated college and we were both "living the dream" single and in a city far from home. My brother has a kind and gentle spirit, and is one of the most generous people on the planet. He does not bat an eye to give what he has or be the first to meet a need. If I ever needed anything he was always willing without hesitation to help me out. He never made me feel bad for being in a tough place. He would probably literally give you the shirt off his back if you asked him for it. Partially because of his amazing generosity and partially because he really has no need in the least for materialism. And it would probably make him feel a little more than awkward that you were asking for it. Besides, he'd enjoy the shock factor.
He has such an eye for art, and quite an amazing and authentic taste in music and movies. Many fun times from our childhood include some seriously classic soundtracks. He used to spend hours recording cassette tapes of our current "greatest hits" for our 30 hr. bus rides on mission trips. He is absolutely hilarious with such a quick wit and keen sense of humor. I love to see and hear him laugh so hard he can't hardly stand it. This often happens when he's with a few of his closest friends.
Darin is a friend of EVERYONE. If you know him, you like him. If he has met you, bought coffee from you, or knows you personally, he has been intentional in noticing you. If you need to talk to him, he will listen. Even if he'd rather not. He is a master of empathy and is practically getting his doctorate in it. He has a veracious appetite for a wide range of great books...both deep and funny, convicting and controversial. He is incredibly wise, and extremely intelligent. He loves and is devoted to his parents, sister, and brother. And we all to this day love the times when we can be together.
He is highly competitive, and very often wins. You better swallow your pride before you get into a game with him. I still remember the one time I beat he and my brother in a game of flag football in our basement when we were kids. Certainly a sweet victory for me. He also used to spend hours practicing basketball in our driveway. Which was why he was so good. He was committed. My brother follows through on what he starts, and if he says he will be there, he is certainly one you can count on. He is loving life right now in the midst of March Madness, and you better believe he is making it a blast for everyone else who's loving it too.
My brother is a master of pointing out the simple, yet powerful moments that fill up every day, and a pro at exploding the big moments of life and making them special. He officiated my wedding ceremony and it is one of the sweetest memories I have. It was an awesome expression of his love for his little sis, and it was such a wonderful moment for which he had faithfully prayed for me for years. His selfless joy was so great because the desire of my heart became true.
While Darin is an incredibly faithful son, brother, grandson, friend, and pastor, he is first and foremost a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. Throughout the year he has several opportunities to preach at his church. And he is good. I have loved watching him grow over the past several years in his unique ability to deliver a message that consistently communicates the core of what Jesus was and is all about. Loving the one. Serving even just one. Sacrificing for many. My brother lives this out on a daily basis and is one of my heros for doing so. He genuinely works to learn about people and love them where they are. He is great at preaching on a Sunday, but his life is his message. He passionately serves and loves the thrill of making someone's day by surprising them with kindness. He loves to serve those who make a life of serving. He is an awesome gift giver. And he sacrifices more than many will ever know, in so many different ways.
So happy 31st birthday Darin! I respect your humility, I love your creativity, I admire your wisdom and desire to learn, and I love how God made you. Your devotion to Him for all these years is the message of your life, and it speaks volumes. It is easy for most people to see that you are a great man, but you are an even better man than any of them know. Thank you for listening to me all those nights I stood in your doorway, thank you for loving my dog who loves you right back, and for dreaming with me and helping me through all these crazy years. Thank you for loving and praying for my husband, and for trusting him with me. God is doing an amazing work in you, and it's awesome to have a front row seat. I will always be thankful for the friendship we have, I will always be one of your biggest fans, and I treasure the memories we have made. I am praying for you, I believe in you, and I am so very thankful for you! I love you big bro! Here's to an un-be-lievable year!