When I was 13, the most amazing thing that could happen to an awkward rising eighth-grader, happened.  My beautiful, fashion forward, has-her-license, Sunflowers perfume-wearing, 16 year-old cousin, moved in with us.  She and her guinea pig, Kiefer, came to live with us her junior year of high school in our small Indiana town.  And when school started that year….

She did not ignore me in the halls.  She did not shut me out of her room.  She did not treat me like the annoying tag along that I most certainly was.

She included me.  She let me sit with her (and the other juniors) at lunch.   She let me ride around with her.  She ate fettuccine alfredo with me after school until we were sick.  We got so close that we eventually chose to share a room so we could talk as late as we wanted.  That year we turned my juvenile lavender room into a much cooler midnight blue and I learned how to appropriately wear flannel, as we were well into the grunge phase of the early nineties.  Oh, and she let me borrow her clothes.

The two years that Kim lived with us were by far the best of my teenage years.  She taught me so much. Her gift of mercy is unmatched.  Her heart breaks when she sees suffering.  And when she sees animals.  She is always rescuing and caring for them.  Which is why that year we acquired a cat, Mischief, who spent the next 15 years trying to assert himself as the dominant creature in our home.  (Kim hates having her picture made, but I did manage to get this shot of her behind our house one day.)


She taught me about helping.  She completed her chores without complaining and encouraged (guilted) the  lazy three of us into doing ours as well.  Teenage years are tough.  She was such a bright spot in those years for me.

We’ve come a long way since then.  Although we have ditched (most of) the flannels, she is just as beautiful as ever.  And she has grown into one of the most amazing women I know.  I recently wrote her a letter and here is an excerpt from it:

Kim, when I think of you, I think of strength.  I think of a person who lives with resolve and conviction to do what she deems right by God.  I think of passion and determination.  I think of a person who won’t settle.  I think of a tender heart that sees His creation in a way that others do not; I see that you see the Creator through His creation.  I also see a person who has been wounded and scarred by those in whom she has placed her trust.  But greater than her wounds, your wounds, and greater than your scars, is the amazing love and grace you have found in Christ.  What I see now is one who is learning to abide in His love and trust in His grace as she navigates the waters of today, of right now.
Kim, I admire you so much.  You have taught me so much about life.  You exemplify loyalty, creativity, imagination, passion, laughter, and mercy like no one else I know.  Your gift set that was entrusted to you by God is so incredibly unique that His purpose for you could be fulfilled by no one else BUT you.  
Kim, I love you, so much.  I am a better person because you have invested in me.  I know who God is better because I know you.  I love people more because of having been privileged enough to know and love you.  I look forward to our cousinhood throughout the rest of our life.  I pray that it is filled with drip castles at the beach in the summer and Christmas in the basement in the winter and creek walks in the woods in the spring.  I pray that our unique bond will carry us through the next season of life as it has thus far.  I am so thankful for you.  
 “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philipians 1:3
Kimmer, on this, your birthday, I pray that you feel every bit of the treasure that you most certainly are.   I cannot wait to see what God has in store for the next year of your life.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I love you!!!!

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