Florida? Was this a joke? What was he thinking?
I don't even know if my brother ended up going to Florida - ever.
But I said no.
There had been a time in my life when I just followed his lead in everything. He's very charming, you see. Hoping of course to convince you of his bewitching personality, I'd urge you to overlook my stupidity when saying that I still bear the scars of our relationship. No, literally. Scars on my legs. He would convince me to be his beautiful assistant (seriously, that one probably works on any 10-year-old!) while he would shoot the target I was standing in front of with anything from bee bee guns to Chinese stars. Okay, maybe it was more my stupidity than his charm, but over the past few years, I had learned that I could resist his beguiling, persuasive tactics.
It was actually quite simple. I remembered dad's face. It was something that molded my character over the following years. Maybe a little more than necessary. Maybe not. God used it to shape my life, so I will try not to analyze it too much. But that broken, fragile man grieving for the loss of his firstborn was a pain I think I was blessed to witness. Maybe just because I realized then how much we were loved. Or at least I understood as much as was humanly possible for me to without being a parent then myself. It was the blessing I took away from the pain.
Brother eventually came home. He was with us for just a few months before he received a full scholarship to SMU. He was and is simply brilliant. A chip off the old block, like it or not. ;) Things were almost back to normal, and then he had to leave us again. Mom loaded all of us kids into her minivan, and we headed down to Texas. There, we left the boy who would soon be a man and we headed home - minus one. But this time it was just because that was the way it was supposed to be; the regular course of life. Nests being emptied, one by one.
And so I began my senior year of high school. It was about me and my high hopes, big dreams. I wanted to study law. I loved books and libraries. I still do. The smell, the silence, the history of who said what and why hidden behind bulwarks of leather-bound pages, mmm... intoxicating. The whole intrigue of what makes our society what it is, was so alluring to me that I couldn't help but dream that I'd have it all someday. The life of a young lawyer, able to run from our world into a world of words or dive right into the real-life clashes and trials that make this world go round, was at my fingertips.
And I saw that face once again.
I asked my daddy what he thought. Though he was not apposed to my career choice, he asked if I'd please consider going to a Bible college and studying God's law for just one year before I'd study man's. How could I refuse that argument? More and more I had learned to trust that face.
He began to write me letters during my high school days.
"Temporal benefits and blessings are like the summer flowers on a dew laden meadow -- their passing beauty can only be enjoyed for a brief moment, for when the sun beats down and the winds blow (like the trials that come into each of our lives) they do not possess the strength to stay, for theirs was an existence based on beauty instead of strength; ergo, seek to build that which will last and beauty will someday bow before steadfastness and say, 'Thou art truly worthwhile'."
He wrote... and I was safe when he spoke.
It was 1993, and I was soon to be 18. My graduation day came, and my confidant - a year my junior - was to be left behind. She was the one thing I wanted to take with me to college more than anything else, but couldn't. My summer birthday came, then August rolled around and at mom and dad's prompting, I left for Bible college, plans intact. One year. Then I'd hit the ground running.