Guest Post: What One Little Brother Did

Note from Becky: I’m so pleased to welcome fellow writer from ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Joi Copeland, who is my guest blogger today. Following my blog post last week about reconnecting with my brother, Joi shares a story about her uncle reconnecting with her dad. Thank you for sharing this story, Joi!

What One Little Brother Did

I don’t drink coffee with her, I’ll have tea or some type of beverage. But that isn’t the case with this Stoffels clan.

My dad decided to step away from his family some 25 years ago, not my sisters and me, but his siblings and parents. He may have had contact with them once in a blue moon, but that was mostly due to his parents’ dying or his other sister’s death. Certainly not because of anything else.

Until my Uncle Mike (Dad’s little brother) and Aunt Ronda decided otherwise. My Aunt was pretty adamant about Uncle Mike reconnecting with family. So Mike began with his nieces and bided his time with my dad. He’d tell us kids to let my father know that he loved him and was ready to see him when my dad was. No pressure.

Then the day came finally when my dad said he wanted to see his brother. I think I cried when I got that phone call. I was ecstatic and wished I could be a fly on the wall.

But it didn’t stop there. Nope. My dad spoke with my Aunt Gayle while spending time with his baby brother. Again, I think I cried.

Miracles upon miracles what the love and desire of my aunt and uncle accomplished with their persistence and patience. Nothing but God Himself could have prepared the way for this to happen.

Then, my dad was going to spend his second weekend at my uncle’s house. My other uncle, Rick, planned to have my aunt see her brother for the first time in over 25 years.

So, when I called my dad yesterday morning, my heart did a flip, listening to them laugh together….possibly at my dad’s expense, but hey, I like to pick on him.

Wiping the slate clean. Determination. Love. Those are the things that allowed this to happen.

Which leads me to Jesus. Most everything leads me to Jesus. Wiping the slate clean. That’s what He did when He died on the cross for our sins. Every day, His mercies are new. Our sins are as far as the east is from the west. Determination kept Him on the cross. He was determined to bridge the gap between us and God.

Love. That’s what lead Him to the cross. His love for humanity, for mankind, for you, and for me. Love.

Dad, Aunt Ronda, Uncle Mike, Aunt Gayle, and Uncle Rick, I’m so proud to call you all family! I love you all and am so glad you’re in my life!

Joi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She is living the dream in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom! She enjoys spending time with her sister Steffanne, and loves to sit and have a cup of coffee or tea with friends! She’s been a Christian for over twenty years. Following Jesus has been the best decision she has ever made. Joi’s books are Hope for Tomorrow, Hope for the Journey, Christmas Rayne, and Sheriff Bride Rob’s Story.

Sneak Preview for Tuesday

Please check back this coming Tuesday, 4/23 for a wonderful post by guest blogger, Joi Copeland. Following this last Tuesday’s post about reconnecting with my own brother, Joi tells the story of how her uncle reconnected with her father.

See you Tuesday!

Joi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She is living the dream in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom! She enjoys spending time with her sister Steffanne, and loves to sit and have a cup of coffee or tea with friends! She’s been a Christian for over twenty years. Following Jesus has been the best decision she has ever made. Joi’s books are Hope for Tomorrow, Hope for the Journey, Christmas Rayne, and Sheriff Bride Rob’s Story.

Relationships are a Choice

Relationships are a choice… yes even family relationships. It’s said that you can’t help the family in which you’re born, but you can help how you treat those family members. And you can help how you react when you feel you’ve been mistreated by others.

With blended families, that choice is even more important. I’ll talk about that in a future blog.

For now, let’s discuss family relationships. I was raised with three older brothers. Yes, I was the youngest, and the only girl…and probably a bit spoiled! My brothers knew how to work this to their advantage though.

On family trips, if they wanted to stop at Dairy Queen for a treat, my brothers nudged me and said “Hey, Beck, ask Dad if we can stop for ice cream.” It was me who had to “ask Dad.” They knew their chances were better if I did the asking.

As we’ve grown older and have lived our separate lives and even celebrated the fact that one of my brothers became a grandfather this year (gasp!), we could easily not remain close. Especially since the four of us live in three different states.

In fact, with one of my brothers, there was a period of time that we weren’t getting along so well… we had lost our “friendship.” Yes, we still hugged, were glad to see each other at family gatherings, and all of that. But we had lost that deeper connection that I still had with my other two brothers. It saddened me, but I chalked it up to the fact that we had gotten older and just went our separate ways.

Then there came a wonderful weekend. A spontaneous visit that turned out to be the weekend where my brother and I spent time one-on-one. Despite my parents and my husband being part of this weekend, something was in the air, and my brother and I were left alone on my parents back patio, and talked for hours.

It was one of those good talks. We started our discussing our mutual interests like writing and tennis, although he’s a big fan of Rafa Nadal and I’m a fan of Roger Federer. That only made the conversation more endearing. We talked of our childhood and laughed at our different recollections of the same event.

In a single conversation (although long conversation), my brother and I found our connection again. We focused on our commonality, and respected our differences. We made the choice to be friends again, and hang on to our relationship.

While in some ways, I have an easier relationship with my other two brothers, I will always appreciate this special time I spent with this third brother.

Thankfully, I can tell you stories of special times with each of my brothers. I am grateful that we all have the bond where we choose to be friends and choose to be a part of one another’s lives.

It’s so easy to walk away… and with certain friendships and relationships, sometimes you need to walk away.

But my brothers and I have chosen to remain as close as we possibly can. We choose to enjoy the times we spend together and do our best to respect our differences.

We’ll talk more about our relationship choices again.

But for now, what about you? What choices are you making in your family relationships?

Idols and Addictions

In talking about relationships, I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss our “relationship” with other things, like food, alcohol, television, shopping or any other types of addictions. My church recently had a message about “idols” in our life. Idols that replace God as first in our lives, like money, material possessions and more.

We all struggle with something. There’s some addiction or idol that’s distracting our focus from where it ought to be, on God, and on His plan for our lives. In our efforts to seek comfort, we beat up on ourselves, and then the cycle begins again. Why do you think there are terms like “emotional eating” and “retail therapy?” We’re seeking comfort.

So, how do we get past these idols in our path? It’s very difficult. Very difficult. But you start one day at a time. Try to eat a little less, replace that bad habit with a good habit, live a cash-only life to curb your retail shopping habits, turn off the TV. And don’t forget the power of prayer.

Don’t forget the power of friendships. It’s so hard to open up about some of these issues in our lives. As you know from last Tuesday’s blog post, I have a hard time opening up and choose to remain private. But I know the times when someone opens up to me and shares, then there is a blessing in sharing together, in leaning on one another as we deal with our struggles.

So, while there are times when we are embarrassed, ashamed or angry with ourselves, we need to know we’re not alone. There are others struggling with the same addiction or battling the same idol…

Look around you… it could be a dear friend.

How can we open up and help each other? How can we minister to each other and feel less alone?

Any ideas?