Today I found myself thankful for my nieces and nephew. I was blessed with the opportunity to spend some time with each of them this year, which seemed to simultaneously swell my heart and break it. 1,800 miles is too far. I did my best to recruit my younger brother Chris and his wife to Pacific Northwest life, but I think they are set on staying in Minnesota. It just makes me double, triple, quadruple appreciate every second I spend with these little ones.
Ella (Chris and Jess’s daughter) renamed herself Balto this past summer. Each dog we saw became her “cousin”. I adore her imagination and sweet spirit. After talking with her for a few days, it wouldn’t surprise me if she grew up to be a doctor or award-winning journalist or if I find her climbing mountains and sailing oceans. This girl is smart and adventurous. She’ll do anything she sets her mind to.
“But I’m just throwing mud, Auntie Jojo!” Isaac (Carole and Caleb’s son) pleaded with me when I threatened to take this oversized candy cane away from him last June after a piece of dirt hit my face. 100% BOY, this young man is afraid of absolutely nothing and has a mischievous grin that would melt any heart. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, Isaac will be the one climbing mountains and giving us all heart attacks. Fearless.
Lilly (also Carole and Caleb’s) is a pensive child. She could sit for hours and write stories and draw pictures. Patient and calculating, she’ll be the one who watches the more impetuous kids get in trouble first and then sneak in under the radar. She’s also a climber. I found her standing on top of her bedroom dresser diving onto the bed when she was only two. This past summer she could be found sitting on the kitchen counters eating cereal out of the box. She’s my Lilly Bug.
I finally got to meet Jillian (Matthew and Jenny’s daughter) this past June! It was hard to get over how tall she was…and that red hair! Having only a single afternoon to spend with her, we made the most of it – reading stories and visiting the local park. I look forward to learning more about her over the years and to discover what her unique charms and abilities are.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I think we could all learn something from the little ones in our lives. They aren’t yet burdened and jaded, still believing the best in people despite evidence to the contrary. My nieces and nephew refresh my vision of life, and I would do absolutely anything for them.