Letters to My Sister


(Above: Janet at age 5! Twenty years ago. P.S. We are TOTALLY in style again! Score! )

Today is a big day! Today is my younger sister’s 25th birthday. She’s an incredible woman and I am so proud to be her older sis! We’ve, in fact, been through quite a bit together. She is I think the first example I have of how it will be to be a mom and have that protective fire in your belly to care for and stand up for someone you love.

There are things I knew at 25 or realized that I think would be wise, good, and perhaps just fun, to pass down. She’s more than worth it and I think she will go even beyond what I could. I actually think she could explode the world with her love. Which probably would look like her throwing her arms up and the world lighting on fire and then bursting into wildflowers… just a thought.

So, Janet, these are things I learned, maybe things you already have been through or will at a different year. I want you to know you’re loved and the best is yet to come!

25 Lessons I Learned At 25

1. Let go of other people’s perceptions of you. Finally, truly don’t care because God fully accepts and love you as you are. He MADE you this way.

2. You just won’t like everybody and that’s okay. Everybody is different and some people will really rub you the wrong way. That goes both ways and that’s really okay too. If they know you, it can hopefully be communicated. If they don’t really know you then it’s probably not a reason you can do anything about.

3. It is important to still love, have grace for, and care for people and yourself regardless. You can learn a lot from them and yourself when you do.

4. There is SO MUCH MORE waiting for you.

5. God is nothing like some of the people you have experienced in the church or elsewhere in life. He actually LOVES you and knows you.

6. He’s actually angry about what’s been done against your heart. He’s pretty pissed and thinks it’s not okay, too. He wants to repair it.

7. Getting a change of scenery every once in awhile is a good way to get a fresh perspective on life.

8. Everything you do brings God close to you. If you try to hurt God, He pursues. Perhaps differently, but pursues still. If you hurt yourself or others, God still pursues you to the depths of hell and is RELENTLESS.

9. Despite everything you’ve ever done, He has still been redeeming it continually. He has been weaving golden threads in the tapestries we try to weave on our own.

10. Figure out what YOU actually WANT. Since you’re married, it is a compromise, of course, but discuss both of your deep wants.

11. Find spontaneity in your day-to-day. Change your minds mid-outing, listen to new music, watch odd movies, try new food. You don’t always have to go far to find new experiences.

12. You actually have all power to change the atmosphere around you to one of love, life, joy, peace, etc. You are an agent of change, a shifter.

13. This life isn’t about you at all. It’s about how you love others, and out of the overflow of God’s love you love others, and out of the overflow of these things you in turn feel love. It’s crazy, but so good.

14. Befriend new people. Notice the hurts and joys in others and focus on them. Really listen.

15. Go to “coffee” with people. Buy theirs sometimes, even if you can’t really afford it. Make allowances elsewhere so you can bless others. Not because it will bless you, although it will actually bless you so much in return.

16. Hope for the future. It’s okay to tell God what you’re thinking, He already knows, even the bad stuff. It’s okay to tell God what you hope for, He knows. It’s nice to get it out there and He’s actually listening.

17. Hug people more!

18. Sometimes you have to get down in the dirt at the end of your rope before God reveals the next steps. It’s worth it, completely.

19. Ride your bike, often. It makes you feel like a kid and is a great work out! Ride bikes together with a friend or with Rodger.

20. Travel! Make cuts elsewhere in your budget so that you can freely go.

21. Create more. It doesn’t matter much what. Get a little book and draw whatever you like, no one has to see it. But you should show it off, because it feels good and (see #1) you won’t care if it’s bad anyway!

22. Cook new things and invite new people over to eat it! Build community and share your talents with them!

23. If you’re afraid to do something, you should probably do that thing. I think you learned this one before I did.

24. Forgive others truly. It will release you from so much of your own pain.

25. Greet everyone kindly, especially people you don’t know (cashiers, waiters, nurses, etc.) who may not be spoken to kindly otherwise. Smile also, it makes a world of difference for you and others.

26. (ONE TO GROW ON!) LAUGH! Laugh often and because you are actually joyful! Find joy and LAUGH!

There is still so much more, too. There’s so much to learn and that’s so exciting because it means we’re ALIVE and that there’s more story to tell!

So, Happy Birthday Janet! You are by far the best sister I’ve ever had!

All Love,

Your Big Sis


(Above: A more accurate depiction of us. Me – ridiculous face. Janet – filing her nails. Mom – Embracing the scene.)


One thought on “Letters to My Sister

  1. Patricia Brady says:

    Great advice Toni! Janet, you look like ME in this picture.

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