Friday, December 27, 2013

Simple Things

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  1 Corinthians 1:27

Every house we've lived in, my brother asks me where it is. Erik knows it goes on my dresser, its designated place of honor. If it's not there, it's not our home yet.

Back when we were in school, Santa's Workshop was a little store filled with dinky gifts children could buy for family members. It was a big deal when you got to go through, the anticipation building for weeks as you waited your turn to take a look on the school stage where tables had been set up. Sometimes a teacher even dressed up as Santa.

My senior year of high school Erik picked this little gem out for me. I was 18, and he was 11, and our brother Todd was 14. I opened it up, and I wondered if his proud smile would split his face in two.

One of my favorite things about my brother is that he does not see himself as abnormal even though he is developmentally disabled. Rather, he thinks the rest of the world is a little off kilter. The more years that go by, the more I start to see things his way.

So, I unwrapped his present, which involved far more tape than paper. I pulled it out of its flimsy box and unfolded the glass encased in cheap plastic. Reading the little sentiment, "Chance made us sisters, Hearts made us friends.", I had all the thoughts of a smug young adult. I thought it was cute, I loved the effort my special brother had put into his gift, and I thought it was just one more thing he had gotten wrong. I giggled a little, and held it up for my family to see, so that they could join in my private joke.

Erik was serious, though, his blue eyes clear and sincere. He took the plaque from me,  and said in his halting, slurred speech, "They got the words wrong. It's supposed to say 'Chance made you my sister, hearts made us friends.'"

We were all silent. There was nothing to say.  I had started to make a joke of a special gift, discounting it because it wasn't just right.  I had been properly put in my place by love, turned right side up by being turned upside down. My brother, who came home to us when he was 18 months from a foster home, stunted from lack of love and food, understood the unspoken far more than I ever would know.  How could something so gentle hurt so deeply?

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost
J.R.R. Tolkien

I have toted that little glass plaque for twenty years, through countless moves. It is precious to me in intangible ways. It roots me, I think, when I am feeling like I don't belong. It does not serve to remind me of my thoughtless self, but instead helps me remember that  it is the simple things of this world that teach us the deepest truths. 

I am so thankful for simple things.


  1. Wonderful story, Kara. Brought a tear to my eye. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow, Kara, what a special gentle brother you have there. (I'm sure both are! :)) His gift is meaningful, and your story caught me. Thanks. I work with an adult who has some developmental and health issues, and her gentle sweet spirit surprises me often.

    Forgive my delay in replying. You are the second person to mention the netflix fire. It sounds tempting now! :) How were your days of baking, gaming, and carols?

    Have a great new year!

    Jennifer Dougan

  3. Oh Kara! Through misty eyes I am taking the enormity of this gift into my heart. Such a beautiful story...

  4. Hi Kara,

    Stopping in to say hello, friend.

    have a great week,
    Jennifer Dougan