November 30, 2006

Brothers

When Lincoln was three years old (a month shy of turning four), he announced to his parents: "I'm gonna pray and ask God for a baby when Lillie gets bigger. I'm gonna pray right now. 'God, please give me a baby brother when Lillie gets bigger. Amen.'"

Today, 14-year-old Lincoln has blond hair, green eyes, and fair skin. Jack Henry, 10 years his junior, has brown hair, big brown eyes, and olive skin. They are both athletic and handsome.

Lincoln spends his days doing Algebra II, studying Latin, and reading Herodotus. Jack Henry spends his days playing cars and trains, coloring, and asking, "When is Lincoln going to be done with school?"

Like their sisters, they share a room and bathroom. They also share a love for the Oklahoma Sooners. Unlike their sisters, they don't bicker or fight much, probably because they're 10 years apart. On rare occasions Lincoln might tell Jack Henry to quit bothering him or Jack Henry might come tattle to me that Lincoln isn't playing with him, but this is so rare that I can't even remember the last time it happened.

As Brandy has pointed out before, Lincoln is really a good big brother. He teaches Jack Henry how to dribble a basketball, how to hit a baseball, and how to tackle a ball-carrier. A few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon while Brandy and I were resting, Lincoln took Jack Henry outside, took the training wheels off his bike, and taught him how to ride a two-wheeler. Later when I went outside to watch, it was hard to tell which brother was prouder.

Lincoln reads books to Jack Henry, plays Monopoly with him, and often helps him get ready for bed, including bathing the little guy, putting on his jammies, and brushing his teeth. At night when I go in to check on them I often catch them whispering. Lincoln has crawled down into Jack Henry's bottom bunk and is telling him stories.

During Sunday morning worship Lincoln often sits beside Jack Henry. If Jack Henry gets fidgety Lincoln gently reminds him to be quiet. Jack Henry can't read yet, but he likes to follow along in the hymnal. Lincoln will help him hold it and will guide his fingers along with the words.

And what does Lincoln get in return for all this? He gets a little brother who looks up to him and adores him. Jack Henry follows Lincoln around and wants to be just like him. The other day at lunch Jack Henry asked Lincoln, "What are we going to do today after you get done with school?" -- as if it's the most natural thing in the world to have your best friend and playmate be your 14-year-old brother.

Jack Henry was two days old when he first attended one of Lincoln's baseball games. Since then he has spent countless days at various ball fields and gyms watching Lincoln play. This spring Jack Henry will have his turn to play t-ball. I can promise you that Lincoln will be sitting on the front row cheering for his little brother. He'll walk over to the dugout between innings and tell him what a great job he's doing and Jack Henry will beam. As Jack Henry gets older and plays more sports, Lincoln will be his biggest fan. He'll spend hours in the driveway with him helping him improve his basketball shot. He'll coach him on how to swing a bat and throw a football. One day he'll be the one driving Jack Henry to practice.

There are many reasons I am proud of Lincoln. He is a diligent student. He is kind and considerate and grateful. He loves to hear the gospel and is growing in sanctification. And he is a great big brother. Seeing him look after Jack Henry and play with him (and actually enjoy it) is one of my greatest rewards as a homeschooling mom.

Jack Henry doesn't know this yet, but one day Lincoln will go off to college. Actually, that day is coming in about four and a half years. As a mom, thinking about having your firstborn leave home is hard. Thinking about Jack Henry having his brother leave home is even harder. Thankfully, we serve a God who has planned our days before the foundation of the earth. He loves my boys more than I do and more than they love each other, and He will use temporary hardships to teach them that His grace is sufficient for them. Lincoln knows this and one day Jack Henry will know it too. No matter how far apart they are in distance they will always be brothers and friends.

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