seven – ohana

I come from a family full of stories.

Books, certainly, but also road trips, slips of tongue, song writing, witty comebacks, restaurant fiascos, prayer-sharing, secret recipes, inside jokes, legendary sunburns, concert attendances, safety-dad-teasing, loudly singing, church-going (and skipping and planning and planting and loving), tears flowing, laughter running stories.

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We like to laugh, my family and I.

So we laugh often and we laugh loud: with each other, for each other, at each other, because of each other. Sometimes we yell and sometimes we cry and sometimes we flat out ignore each other (but only for a little while, because as much as we sometimes try to avoid it? we know conflict is necessary and better off faced than avoided), but in the end we wander back to laughter.

Hey dad, remember that time you said “meer-ack-les” instead of miracles — in the middle of a sermon?

Hey, Con, remember that time you tried to say “fun sucker” but switched the first letters?

We’ve been through a lot, the five of us: moving, break-ins, heartbreaks, deaths, health issues of various importance, Tucker’s beta fish that killed each other. Yeah. Nobody told us that male beta fish were that aggressively territorial. That was an interesting birthday for him…

I read two articles recently about siblings, how they shape & mold & form our identities. The first was from Time magazine, published a few years ago; the second, The New York Times, published a few weekends ago. The former was all research, describing how siblings influence us more than any other group. They are with us our whole lives, past parents and long before spouses or children; they teach us how to deal with and move past conflict; they can be both our best friends and our most notorious enemies in the space of a single hour. The latter was opinion, with some research, confirming much the same — with the addendum of the author that these, his siblings, were one of the most cherished blessings in his life.

There’s something to be said for that.

My family, I’ve said, is one of stories. The words and laughter pulse through our hearts like blood slides through our veins. Sometimes, we get things right: scoring a Christmas photo because of the photobooth props at a friend’s wedding, or a night of hot chocolate and some Downton Abbey or a few rounds of Settlers of Catan. Often, we get it wrong: our words can tear down as well as they can build.

There’s this line in the book of James, though, that goes but he gives more grace, and a similar one in the gospel of John — for from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.

So yes, we screw things up. We have tantrums or pretend everything’s fine and dandy when it’s really quite messy — we aren’t perfect. But through it all, we have this understanding. We have a common grace-story that binds us together more than our blood ever could on its own.

And so we forgive. We tease. Dad and Tucker will awkwardly laugh, leaving me & Em & mom exchanging bemused glances at our rather odd male relatives. We recount new adventures, revisit old favorites, and I know, cheesy as it may sound? I know, deep down in my heart of hearts, that these are a blessing worth fighting for, time and time again.

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— lest you think I was kidding about that photo I mentioned.

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