Tag Archives: birthday

MOP April 21: Little Sister

“Hey Emily, guess what?” My little sister stood in my doorway at 11:02 last night.


“This may be the last time you’ll see me as a 16-year-old.”

Maybe not so little, after all.

“Not if we hang out for a while,” I said.

She sat on my bed and we started chatting. I don’t even know what about.

“Let’s take a selfie,” she said.

“But I still have that white stuff in my eye.” I’d been doing an odd experimental eye treatment.

“I’ll cover it up for you.”

We took a selfie.

Jenny is almost nine years younger than me, and when she was born, seventeen years ago today, I didn’t think that we’d end up being best friends. I thought that she would be the little sister, and I would be the big sister, and there would always be a large nine-year gulf between us.

I was wrong.

I never wanted to be the person who was still living at home at age 25. I really value my independence. I was on my own for a couple years, but I was too ill to support myself and my mental health was in shambles and I wanted to go to college so I came back.

As much as I love my family to pieces, I always thought I would move out again if it were at all financially possible. Because independence.

Something interesting happened though, and I truly believe it was God redeeming a situation that I found very difficult. I became best friends with my little sister. The nine year gap became nothing. We learned to work through all our weird sibling issues. We had piles of fun.

So Jenny, on your 17th birthday, here are 17 things I love about you:

  1. I love your love of learning.
  2. I love your artistic side and fantastic sense of style.
  3. I love your wacky sarcastic humor.
  4. I love all our inside jokes.
  5. I love that you are unafraid to bash stereotypes. That you simultaneously embrace being geeky and girly and sporty, reading romance novels and solving math problems and doing cardio in your spare time.
  6. I love that you like to have spontaneous adventures.
  7. And sleepovers.
  8. And that we still play truth or dare.
  9. I love that you give me your honest opinion when I ask you what you think of my outfit.
  10. Or when I ask what you think of anything, really. Even guys. Especially guys.
  11. I love that you like to discuss the interesting oddities of life with me.
  12. I love all the interesting YouTube videos you find and share with me.
  13. I love the way you like what you like, whether or not it’s “cool.”
  14. I love that you’re not afraid to tell me when I’ve hurt your feelings.
  15. And that we can talk about everything.
  16. I love your unique perspective on life.
  17. I love that you are my sister and my friend.

Check out Jenny’s last MOP post here, and Mom’s latest here.


Thank You for That

Some people walk into your life and change it for the better, change YOU for the better, even though you never knew you needed them.

Esta Doutrich and Jenny Smucker are two people who have blessed me this way. Somehow I never knew how close their birthdays are; Jenny’s is today, and Esta’s was yesterday.

Today’s post is in honor of them.


Thank you for teaching me that it’s possible to be best friends with your sister despite nine years age difference.

Thank you for amazing me with your intellect and wit.

Thank you for your fashion advice.

Thank you for the impromptu sleepovers.

Thank you for bringing me kittens and books and tea and hugs when I’m feeling down.

Thank you for understanding my sense of humor.


Thank you for making an effort to befriend me even before we’d ever even met.

Thank you for listening and offering expert advice to all my problems, especially those pertaining to depression.

Thank you for getting what depression is like.

Thank you for your fun and funny personality that makes life so much more enjoyable of a place to live.

Thank you for the overflowing bounty of insight into the world you possess, due to your faith and your hunger for knowledge and your understanding of culture.

Jenny. Esta. You have now idea how much you’ve blessed me in life. I love you tremendously.

Happy Birthday.

22 Stories about my 22’d Birthday

1. I was not at home for my 22’d birthday. I was at the Faith Builders College Student Seminar and Retreat. I will now show a picture of the mansion/castle where the retreat/my birthday was held.

2. Even though I was not at home, my dad and many of my friends and siblings sent me “Happy Birthday” text messages or voicemails. It made me feel loved.

3. My birthday was July 6. That was one week ago. I didn’t post on my birthday because there was no internet access at the castle.

Scratch that. I assumed there would be no internet access that far off in the boondocks. I found a signal on the morning of my birthday, and halfheartedly tried to connect, but gave up when it was slow.

A few times during the retreat I pulled out my droid and thought about connecting.Then I said to myself, “What’s the point? This is a retreat.” And I would stick the droid back in the drawer.

4. The day after my birthday,  my mom sent me the following text message:

Just has the horrible thought that maybe you Can.t check face cool there n didn’t get my happy birthday on your birthday. If so i am very sorry i didn’t call also

I laughed and laughed.

5. Several of my friends decided that they would sing “Happy Birthday” to me 22 times, since it was my 22’d birthday. They only sung it six times.

By the end of the day I was still awkwardly asking people what their names were, and they would say, “well I know what your name is, because I heard the songs.”

Here are three of the song birds.

This picture always  makes me smile. Conrad and Cindy are getting cozy, and Chris is trying to scuttle out of the photo.

6. That night, the three pictured above, along with Holly Kemp, Rachael Mast, and I, climbed to the highest room in the tallest tower.

There, they sang Happy Birthday to me for the sixth and final time.

We also talked about random things. Like Heaven. Which was brought about, obviously, by the enormous and beautiful mansion we were in.

7. Not only was it my birthday, it was also the first birthday of a staff kid named Adaline. I thought that it would be nice to get a picture with her, since we had the same birthday and all that jazz.

Me: Come on little girl, smile for the camera!


Me: Don’t run away little girl! I’m lots of fun! I promise!

Adaline: 911! Police! Get me away from this person!!!

8. Perhaps most importantly, I listened to four wise men (as in, men who are wise, not nativity scene characters) give wise seminars.

But here’s the thing. Every single one of those seminars was applicable to my life. I went to bed that night feeling absolutely amazed. I hadn’t felt so fed in a very very long time.

9. It was also the birthday of Richard Bean, one of the speakers.

He gave a super relevant talk on sorting through and processing the messages we receive in the classroom.

Later, I mentioned this to my Aunt Barb, and she said, “Richard Bean? I knew him when he was a little boy!”

For some reason I found that humorous.

10. The morning of my birthday was foggy. Chris decided to walk around the pond. I took a picture of it.

11. After all the seminars of the day were given, we were split into small groups to discuss anything we wanted to discuss in the context of a small group.

Talk about spiritually filling. I had a great time in my small group. It was one of the nicest things about the weekend.

(This collage is missing pictures of the leader and his wife because I couldn’t find any. I’d look them up on Facebook but I can’t remember their last name. I didn’t even bother with last names this weekend, except in the case of Mr. Bean, for the obvious reason that his last name is Bean.)

12. Do you remember the story of my friends trying to sing “Happy Birthday” to me 22 times, but only making it to six?

This blog post is kind of like that story.

That is to say, I can only think of 12 stories about my 22’d birthday.

And so, since the post was about the retreat as well as my birthday, I will close with a picture of the entire group I spend my amazing birthday with.

Photo credits: Bad pictures taken by me. Good pictures stolen from the Faith Builders Facebook page.