Today is my sister Karen's 40th birthday! This now means that three of us siblings are in our 40's (how does that make you feel, Dad and Mom?) Karen will be celebrating in a warm way today, as she lives in Asuncion, Paraguay with her family.
Karen is just 16 months younger than I am. I celebrated my 40th birthday one month after Christopher was born and I wasn't really into celebrating in a big way at that time. So, I decided that I am going to celebrate with Karen today! If you've ever read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages book, you would know that while I am a Words of Affirmation person, Karen is a Quality Time girl! Actually, I think in reality that Karen has a bit of all the five types of people: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts (it's more like she GIVES gifts!), Acts of Service and Physical Touch. I see her mostly as Quality Time, so that is my gift that I'm going to give her right now by spending some quality time giving her words of affirmation! That way we both get to celebrate!
It's hard to spend quality time with a sister who lives continents away from you, but Skype and Skype Chat do wonders for bridging that gap! It also helps to have had so many of my friends go to visit her in the past few years and they always come back telling me stories about Karen and the great times they spent together with her. Her Acts of Service traits are ALWAYS mentioned and it always makes me feel special to be on the receiving end of her Gift Giving as well (like the cheese, tapioca flour and guava jam that came back a few weeks ago!! LOVE IT! :)
Whenever someone comes back from visiting Karen, the phrase I hear most often is, "Karen is an amazing woman!" It is almost always followed by, "She's an amazing cook!" I hear that one mostly from the guys that come back, and that's understandable since she's usually cooking for her own family of guys! Karen IS amazing, though. She is one of those people that, after spending time with her, you walk away feeling encouraged and upbeat and determined to be a renewed child of God.
Karen is a mixture of Mary and Martha. While she is always busy doing things (housing guests, cooking for crowds of people, teaching at school, etc, etc, etc), she makes sure that being Mary is her priority by spending quality time with the Lord. She makes sure that THAT relationship is always in balance, and then the rest of her life falls into place as well.
Karen is fun! I remember when Brandon and Gaby were little, Karen would be dancing around the house making up songs to sing to them and just having FUN with her boys! I always wanted to be that type of mom, too, and thanks to her example, I do those same things with my boys. Every time that I am with her, I can count on having a blast. I love it.
Karen is an encourager. Whenever I'm struggling with something, or even when I'm not, Karen takes the positive side of things and helps me to course-correct. She does what Mom always drilled into us when we were young, to think Philippians 4:8. She thinks on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. She not only thinks on those things, she lives those things!
If you want to know a modern time Proverbs 31 woman, spend some time getting to know Karen. Karen knows how to keep her relationship with the Lord a priority. She knows how to care for her family. She extends her helping hand to her brothers and sisters in Christ as well as her neighbors and those who God puts in her path. She is frugal and resourceful. Her husband is known in the gates and he sits with the elders of the land. She doesn't eat the bread of idleness, but is always busy stretching out her hand to the poor. "She is not afraid of snow for her household" but not because they are clothed in scarlet. It's more because the chances of seeing snow in Paraguay are very slim, especially at this time of year! Her children will rise up and call her blessed some day, if they don't already do so by their actions, and her husband does praise her! She is not vain, but full of beauty! You can see that her own works in the Lord praise her.
Karen is a remarkable woman .... and today she turns 40!
Happy Birthday, Karen!