Today is my brother Stephen's 27th birthday, and I love him dearly, so I'm writing this post for him. He is three years younger than me, and our family would certainly not be the same without him. My earliest memory of Stephen, (thanks in part to some great 8 mm movies), is the day he came home from the hospital and I, as a 3 year old that just loved her baby dolls, was eager to hold him. So we were sitting at the kitchen table, and my parents gave him to me. My older brother, Darin, got to hold the video camera "microphone," another sign of the times. Well, it took only a few moments before Darin wanted to hold Stephen so my mom said, "Page, give him to Darin." And I said, "Okay," then promptly "dropped" him on the table for my brother right next to me! It wasn't as bad as it sounds, but you've never seen a mother move so fast! We love to reminisce about that memory and laugh at that video. Stephen likes to blame any of his not-so-favorite moments of his life on that particular incident!
My little brother was also the most adorable little boy you have ever seen, with his super sweet face and shiny blond curls. I remember how sad my mom was when he finally got the big boy haircut to cut them off. Stephen always had more energy than anyway, and loved to be a part of everything. He was so sweet to play school with me and be the "principal," or play house with me and be the "dog." We also loved to play "barber shop," where I would wrap a towel around his neck, set him up with some magazines, then soak his hair with my spray bottle filled with water, and comb it to death. Luckily real scissors were never involved. :) I was the only girl, which meant I was never shy about the annoyances on the other side of my wall that kept me awake at night! My brothers always chose the weirdest times to drive me crazy!
Stephen, Darin, and I also loved playing in our basement, making a tent out of the ping pong table, or putting blankets all over the floor and playing flag football. I remember clearly the night when I beat them both. Stephen also was the best nurturer of whatever pet we had at the time. He loved kittens then, and his children do today. Stephen was also the master of getting every possible thing ready for school the night before, then sleeping until the last possible second, (when the bus was almost pulling up to the driveway,) and running out the door. He also was a lego fanatic as a kid, and still to this day can take a part and put together almost anything you put in front of him that has a lot of parts. If you don't know how to work the t.v. or the computer...you just ask Stephen. He is so much fun as a person, and definitely has taught my older brother and I a thing or two about not overanalyzing too much or being too serious in life. The three of us fought like any other siblings, but shared a sweet love for one another. We have so many amazing memories of fun times we have shared, including a great deal of laughter between us. I believe the three of us share a bond that is rare to many families, much in thanks to our parents who cultivated those relationships and made time for the memories we made.
Stephen was also quite the cook. He became a master of his special "pasta with cheese plate," and the classic cereal in tupperware dinner. My brother loves his candy and sugar too!! He was also known as an excellent cross-country and track runner, as well as an amazing pole vaulter, which scared me to death. He was definitely the brother that always scared me with the risks he was willing to take! Of course I, as the over-protective, some might say at times, "nagging" older sister, always tried to look out for him and protect him from the world. When we were both in high school for one year when I was a senior, we shared some real heartaches and joys, and started building a real friendship. We were able to run cross-country together and cheer for one another. I remember being proud that he was my brother, and being so glad we could make that memory together. He stood up for me when I needed it most, and I for him. I always loved looking out for my little brother, and still to this day will stand up for him in a heartbeat. Then we had the college years and after. It's amazing how much deeper and more real relationships get when you can't take them for granted anymore. My brothers and I definitely grew much closer in those years as we became true friends as adults.
I am so proud of Stephen for the kind and nurturing heart that he has, and I admire the work ethic that demonstrates his desire to lead and care for his family. He has two beautiful children who adore him, and his love for them is obvious. I remember how crazy it was when my little brother had a baby before me, and I marveled at his natural ability to be a father and want the best for his children. I still love to see him love them, and I am so proud of the way he cares for his wife and children. He has a deep desire to raise them with the depth of love and values we were raised with as children. Stephen always had the sweetest, most honest love for Jesus as a child, and was never afraid to ask tough questions. He has high expectations for people to practice what they preach, and be true to who they are, no matter what resistance might be faced.
Stephen is one of the most driven people I know, and he has a great business sense about him. In recent years he has really refined his skills as a leader, and he manages a team of people who look up to him and respect him. He has a kind heart, a loving spirit, and his focus has always been on family. Although our time together is much more infrequent now, I treasure the opportunities I have to spend time with my little brother. Whether he knows it or not, he was always such an encourager to me when his sensitive spirit sensed I needed it. If I need an honest answer, Stephen will usually do his best to give it to me lovingly. I haven't always understood him or loved him well, but I have always been more grateful than words can express for the two brothers I have, who have both made me feel like the luckiest sister ever. I wouldn't trade my family for the world...and I praise God today for the gift of my amazing younger brother.
Stephen, you are a special man and we celebrate you today. We are so blessed to get to love you in this lifetime, and I am so thankful for the many memories we share. God has is doing a great work in you, and you bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart. You are a great brother. Happy Birthday! Enjoy being 27...it was a special year for me, and I pray it is an amazing year for you. Love ya little brother!