Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Stephen!!!

My "little BIG" brother, Stephen, turns 25 today! <3  He happens to be just about exactly 13 months younger than me. :)  I wanted to do a post with a few memories about him and how much he means to me...just to say I LOVE YOU, BRO! <3 

Picture from my FIRST EVER Michigan State Football game!  I was so excited that he took me with him and he was such a good sport about it...even tho it meant explaining most all of the football plays because I didn't understand hardly anything about football.  He's such a patient sports explainer to me! ;)

Several Winters back I spent it at my Grandparents house in Florida....totally a blessing to be at my grandparents house; resting just as the Doctor ordered...but I missed my family something dreadful. Stephen and his buddy, Luke, came down for a week and I can't tell you how absolutely AMAZING it was to see them! Stephen...my little piece from home. :) 
 Lots and LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of volleyball party memories with brothers!  Before the world of facebook invites for events...Stephen made me CALL EVERYONE to invite them to our parties. LOL! :)  "Please can you help me call everyone, Stephen?"  "Nope...they won't come if I call them."...was always his excuse. LOL. ;)  Not true!  But I called everyone and he always got the yard ready...pretty good deal between us two. ;)

One of the many Cedar Point trips I "dragged" you on....;)  Cuz I really didn't wanna be there without you!

Both in our very first wedding together down in SC!  Such a memorable road trip! ;) 

Stephen, you've ALWAYS been there for me:

Moments when life felt like it was falling apart and I just needed to cry...you held me for hours and let me cry and never once got impatient with me.  Reminded me of God's promises and were so patient as I worked thru crazy girl emotions which were very real and very deep. 

I watched you witness to people so many times...in such a bold, unashamed way....pass out tracts...ask people if they knew where they were going to go if they died that night.  Your boldness for Jesus has impacted me SO much! 

I got to be the first girl you took out for a ride in your awesome new red TRUCK that was your baby...until Amy came into your life. ;) I still remember you saying, "C'mon sis...I want you to be the first girl I take for a ride in this truck!"  You always made me feel so special! 

All our Asian Buffet dinner nights...did we ever go to a different restaurant???? LOL! :)

You always somehow let me talk you into going to Cedar Point *almost* every Summer...even tho I knew you weren't a very big fan of roller coasters and according to you...."Nobody loves rollercoasters as much as Monica."  I knew you didn't like them...but trips with friends to CP just wasn't the same without you and even tho I LOVED roller coasters...I didn't really have much fun without you there...so you were such a good sport when I dragged you along. ;)

Camping Trips

Prayer Times

Waking each other up late a night to talk til 2AM and discuss everything under the sun

You always saying I was "freakishly tall"

Snowboarding Adventures

Your Passion and Love for people that blesses me SO much and inspires me

Showing you letters I would get from different girlfriends of mine I had met at different weekend or week events that would say, "how is your brother, Stephen?"  LOL!  The girls didn't know you...but I had talked about you SO much cuz I missed you like crazy...that they knew you were TOTALLY something I'd write back to them about in a letter. ;) Cuz anyone who knows me...knows how much I adore you. 

After you got married...and I had to go away for a weekend or week long trip...I felt lost packing...cuz I couldn't ask you about certain outfits or what I should or shouldn't bring. You were always such a good sport about me asking you questions like that! ;)  We both know what a bad packer I am. 

Moments when you left work and came and sat with me in the ER.....

The years that we didn't know what was wrong with me physically and you'd let me cry and let go of my "strong front" and talk about how frustrated I was with Doctors and tests and blood work....  I needed your strength...and your patience with me...and letting me "unload"...I'll never forget all the hours and days that you were there for me thru some of those hard/dark days where my faith was so tested.  God blessed you with so much faith, strength, grace and HOPE that you helped pass on to me...I know it was super hard on you, too...watching me go thru all of that. <3  But you were so strong for me...I don't know how I could've made it thru those hard years without you. <3

You reading the Bible to me and carrying me to the bathroom over and over again that one week where I was pretty much paralyzed and couldn't even feed myself or walk.  You read the Bible to me for what seemed like hours...and...that comforted my heart SOOOOO much. I remember not even knowing if I was going to pull thru that alive...and you read Mark 16...and when you came to verse 18...I knew God was going to heal me and that He still had a plan for my life!  Pretty sure I asked you to read that chapter over a couple times. :)  And then at night I'd play that chapter over and over again on the CD...all because you had read it to me earlier in the day.  I can still hear your voice reading Mark 16:18...and because of the reassurance of LIFE that God brought thru your voice reading that verses...it is and always will be one of my favorite Bible Verses. <3

Practicing our BACKWARDS basketball throws til we could get it in the basket like 10 times straight! :)...all so we could try and win the one game...PIG. ;)  

You "ruining" my little girl tea parties with squirt guns and water balloons

Pulling my American Girl Doll, Samantha's ARM off.....ohhhh...my little 10 year old heart was SO mad at you! LOL...;)  But then I took her to the "doll hospital"...and you were SO shocked that there was such a thing...:)

You laughing at me cuz I would always choose what colors I liked best when it came to choosing sports teams. :)   

Watching you fall in love with Amy after me secretly praying for like a WHOLE YEAR THAT YOU TWO WOULD fall for each other!!

Having you get married on my Birthday and by doing that giving me THE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER...which was a new, preciously amazing SISTER (in-law)!!

Pretty sure I'm the most blessed girl in the world to have grown up with such an amazingly wonderful brother!!  You truly were and continue to be such a blessing in my life.  I love you and you're not just my brother...you're a best friend. 

  What a priviledge to watch you fall in love and get married to Amy!  I LOVE how God brought you two together and how much He is using your lives even better *together*. <3  You're such a testimony to "God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him." <3  

Your beautiful wife gave me a book of deep, thought provoking poems by Edgar Guest...and this one reminded me of you: 

Courage isn't a brilliant dash,
A daring deed in a moment's flash;
It isn't an instantaneous thing
Born of despair with a sudden spring
It isn't a creature of flickered hope
Or the final tug at a slipping rope;
But it's something deep in the soul of man
That is working always to serve some plan.

Courage isn't the last resort
In the work of life or the game of sport;
It isn't a thing that a man can call
At some future time when he's apt to fall;
If he hasn't it now, he will have it not
When the strain is great and the pace is hot.
For who would strive for a distant goal
Must always have courage within his soul.

Courage isn't a dazzling light
That flashes and passes away from sight;
It's a slow, unwavering, ingrained trait
With the patience to work and the strength to wait.
It's part of a man when his skies are blue,
It's part of him when he has work to do.
The brave man never is freed of it.
He has it when there is no need of it.

Courage was never designed for show;
It isn't a thing that can come and go;
It's written in victory and defeat
And every trial a man may meet.
It's part of his hours, his days and his years,
Back of his smiles and behind his tears.
Courage is more than a daring deed:
It's the breath of life and a strong man's creed.

 You're a man of courage, Stephen! <3 True Courage. <3   GOD's Courage. <3  You were made to be courageous...and you are...in HIS strength, grace and power. <3

 Your "anti-gravity" milk...you crazy boy!  You always think of and do the most hilarious things!  Haha...;)  Even if I smile and roll my eyes at you...I still think you're funny...hilariously funny...deep down inside. lol. :) 

You always take time for your little siblings...:)  "little things" are important to you.   Which, after all...are really the big things in life. <3 

Remember this day??  You drove me down to Indiana to see my dear friend, Heather...annnnnnnnd...you met Amy...FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME!!!! :)  Aren't you glad you took me that day? <3 ;)  Sisters ALWAYS know best!! lol...;) JK! This would have been taken approximately TWO hours before you met who would in the future become the love of our life! <3

Haha...You and Sam..."saving the world."  ;)  What did you two call yourselves?  Superman Steve and his sidekick, Sam?? Lol....Oh brother of mine!

AHHHHH!!!!!  SOOOOOO loved this '50's dinner!!!!  Best EVER! :)  Haha...that was SO funny...I told you it was a Christian Retreat...and then invited Amy...I had to pretty much twist both of your arms to go....but oh what fun that weekend was!  And I know you two won't ever forget it!! ;) Loved watching you two "fall in love" that weekend...and then "PRETEND" to be asleep in the backseat of the car on the drive home....the conversation where you both realized your life passages of Scripture that God had given to you were the same.  Yes...I thoroughly enjoyed listening and PRAYING during that conversation.  And you two thought I was asleep...;) Am I a good sister or what?? ;)  lol...

I love this picture of us!  Can we live like this every day?? ;)   In '50's clothes??   LOL. JUST KIDDING! 

Oh look!! Your two favorite girls in the whole wide world!! ;)  One of your first pics with Amy EVER!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3  "First love" looks in your eyes...ah, yes...what a special night and weekend. <3 

  My brother, Susannah and Amy....perfect group!  My heart was so full! <3  :)

  Beach Trips with you...<3   You singing Beach Boys all day. ;) LOL.... LOVE YOU!  

    Everyone's smiling all nice for the camera....and then....there's YOU!!!!  Stephen!!!  You've never been a fan of all my picture taking...and call me names...a lot. So once in awhile...I return the favor. ;) 

 You're never lacking in creative ideas....

The skit we were in together at Erin and Josiah's wedding where we re-enacted how they fell in love....I was Erin...you were Josiah...Luke was "cupid"....OH MY WORD!!!  We laughed so hard....and have never let go of each others hands so fast as when we ran off stage pretending to be "in love".  LOL.  Good times...good times...good memories. 

Snowboarding Trip!!!!!  I just never want you to pull a "concussion" on me again....that was so scary!  

Your High School Graduation...<3  I was such a proud sister! ;) 

SO proud of you completing your first Triathalon in flying colors! :) Mr. Speedy Gonzales! :) 

  Always ready to have fun with little kids! :)  Time invested in kids is never ever wasted...<3  And SO precious to Jesus!  <3  You're gonna make SUCH an AMAZING Daddy! <3 

LOVE this picture of you and Amy...<3  SO precious!  So much love and joy and GOD! <3 He writes the best love stories...and I love how He wrote yours! <3

Bro/Sis Hang out time on long car rides. :)  

Alrighty 25 year old bro!!  I better stop with all these pictures or you're not gonna like this post at all!!  I know how much you dislike pics...and how I have made you (sometimes forcefully ;)) stop and smile for pictures for SOOOOOO many years now. <3  But aren't you glad...looking back...that I took quite a few of these? <3  :)  Okay...okay...don't answer that!  ;)  Even if you're not the biggest fan of all these pics...I am...and I'm older than you...so there! ;) 

Bottom line, I love you so dearly!  You are a TREASURE to me and I feel like one of the most blessed girls in the entire world to be your sister. <3  


Love Always,
Your Sister Forever,
Monica Nicole

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