I'm So Glad I'm a Part

I’m still in thankful mode. As a matter of fact, my family is in Deep Creek, MD right now to celebrate the holiday together. My mom rented a big, beautiful home to fit my brother and his family, my sister and her family, as well as me and my own. There are nine little cousins all running around together. I have to say that one of the best blessings God has given me are my siblings. I am the oldest. My poor brother, Luke, was born in the middle, sandwiched between crazy me and crazy Brooke, our younger sister. We have such a close relationship and share many awesome memories. Sure, we fought like the best of them growing up, but we were also there for each other in the tough times, particularly when our parents divorced. As adults, we all love the Lord, which is just the best blessing of all. We have such great conversations about our God, his ways, his mysteries, and what he is doing in our lives. We also cut up together like we were still little kids. Observing friends have commented on our closeness. We just really enjoy each other. We have our own peculiar sense of humor, including our own play on words. We delight in annoying one another still, or laughing at each other when we are unknowingly embarrassing ourselves or just doing something strange and unaware. We sit around and plan the awesome food we are going to eat together during the holidays and then are amused at putting our bodies in extreme fitness training afterwards (another laughable moment). We make fun of our parents together, all the while being extremely thankful for them. We laugh at our own parenting foibles and how our poor children are inheriting our idiosyncrasies. And even though our lives have us running in different directions now, when we do get together, that deep connection is already there—always. One thing special about the brother/sister bond is that even though we may get on each other’s nerves at times, we always have each other’s back. Being the oldest, I’m sure I drive Luke and Brooke nuts with my overly-decisive, opinionated tendencies. But they offer me grace and love nonetheless. I provide for them a way—a way to follow, and a way to avoid. Unfortunately, I’ve done a lot of modeling on the way to avoid. But by God’s grace, that has benefited them as well. Because of them, I have learned many of life’s lessons growing up about conflict resolution, sacrifice, servant leadership and unconditional love. And now, they still help me not to take myself too seriously. In addition to growing up with Luke and Brooke, I now have 11-year-old twin brothers from my dad’s second marriage. Although I had already had my first child when they were born, I still haven’t lost my bossy-big-sister edge. Eli and Brody have easily slipped right on into our crazy, blessed, Rinehart-sibling affair. I hope no one takes this personal, but I feel sorry for only-children. I know many great people who are only children, but I am sad they have missed out on a picture that points so well to God’s family in Christ. Thankfully, biological only-children don’t have to be spiritual only-children. Just like in life, you don’t get to choose your spiritual brothers and sisters. They can be both a joy and an annoyance. God is using these relationships to teach us. Our Christian brothers and sisters may not even be the same nationality, but we resemble one another nonetheless. We are made in the image of God the Father, and we are being transformed into the image of his Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our unity in Christ brings joy into our relationship with one another. We have older siblings in Christ, who are to mentor us along the way. We also are given new siblings added to our number, who we are to welcome in fellowship and seriously take our role of helping them grow in Christ. We should always be there for one another, whether it is for a physical or spiritual need. Knowing our place and role in God’s covenant community and our common goal to worship him in eternity, we have real identity as a family. God isn’t just saving a bunch of individuals to worship him privately. He is calling together a family in Christ, the Ultimate big brother. And I am overwhelmingly thankful for that.