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Meet The Family: Joel, The Antisocial Tigger

I have often described my oldest-younger brother as “an odd duck”, and it’s pretty true, albeit vague. To put it more specifically: Joel has the most extreme sanguineness paired with the most extreme introversion that I’ve ever seen paired together. I didn’t realize this until the last few years, as he’s really started growing into his own. And so now I get to blog about him! 😀


Happy as a baby!


Happy as a toddler!


And happy as a teenager!



Joel turned 18 years old this month, (yikes!) and he was the first of us that was born in Illinois. From our childhood until now, Joel has been:

1. The hammiest and loudest of all of us kids (at least the boys)
2. An enthusiastic initiator of games, sports and other activities
3. One of Elizabeth’s favorite siblings to shop with
4. A boisterous debater who can rant about both hates and loves with equal fervor

We all loved being video recorded as children, but Joel was perhaps one of the hammiest of us. Someday we’re going to turn all of our VHS’s into DVDs, and then I can show you the awesome clip of Joel enthusiastically singing “Santa Fe” from Newsies and acting it out just like Christian Bale did. (Would any of his drama team be surprised?)


Playing Jesus for youth group

When we were younger, Joel was always willing to be in skits, family plays or anything that involved being front and center stage (even if it meant playing the damsel in distress because his sister Elizabeth wanted to be the main character superhero). My sisters and I loved to play “games” where we made up characters and lived through their life, and Joel’s favorite way to participate was to play the moody stranger who showed up suddenly on the family’s doorstep and was silent and secretive. It annoyed us at the time, but it made for great memories.

Now, Joel still carries on his love for drama by being a part of Alive Drama Team, our church’s play-writing and skit-performing ministry team. He also loves to do lip-syncing, and he sings and dances with abandon, no matter where he is or who’s paying attention.


Delving into the Bible

However, on the flip-side of Joel’s love for attention, he also is an extreme introvert. You wouldn’t know it to see him interact at church, but he definitely loses energy the more he is with people. He doesn’t spend much time alone in his room to recuperate (that I’ve noticed) but he often escapes to music, movies or gaming in order to get some energy back. There’s a story from when he was in middle school, and after a full afternoon of hanging out with people, he went and hid under the tables to avoid conversation. I don’t think he does that anymore, 😉 but too much stress or socialization makes him feel that he needs to withdraw in order to gain some more strength to continue. Which is not surprising, due to all the energy he expels every time he’s around his friends!


Always willing to be James Bond serious

Joel currently works at McDonald’s, but he eventually wants to be a lawyer, which fits him well since he loves debating. Get him in an argument, and you can’t get him to shut up! Whether he’s fighting hardcore for something he believes in, or playing devil’s advocate in order to give you something to argue against, he can debate as enthusiastically as all get-out. (I dare you to ask him what he thinks about Gaius from the TV show Merlin!) However, despite his strong-willed obstinacy, he has a heart that is willing to learn and change, and when it comes to serious topics, his emotional connection to everything he says is equally as evident. He has a quick and creative mind that he utilizes in fun, such as during improv games, or important discussions about things he cares about.

Joel loves movies and TV shows, heavy rock music or any song he can sing along to, playing board games, organizing events, video games, being a team with his younger brothers, partaking in conversations, showing off, lip-syncing, sports, ballroom dancing and competition. He has a generous heart and is passionate about God and ministry. He wants people to think deeply, and at church he has oftentimes stepped up to speak or help lead Bible studies. He likes adventures, from dressing all fancy and visiting restaurants, to traveling across the world on missions trips. He is chivalrous, energetic, courageous and strong-willed.


Ever the goofball!

While he’s not the most conventional guy you could meet, he’s an extremely loveable dork; so don’t take him seriously when he either brags on himself or bashes himself nonstop. He mostly just wants to make people laugh, and he does a good job of it. Seeing my oldest-younger brother grow up is so much fun to watch; I’m extremely proud of him, and I know that God has created a wonderful man who will be a wonderful husband, father and leader someday.



1. We both love singing loudly and dancing crazily
2. We’ve both worked at McDonald’s
3. We both had issues with fear when we were kids
4. We’re both adventurous, though in very different ways


The three adventurers, exploring Whiteside County restaurant by restaurant because we have money


1. His default is to be loud, while mine is to be quiet
2. He’s a front and center person, while I prefer being the audience or behind the scenes
3. I love reading, but he’s bored by it if he already knows the story
4.He’s a very competitive person, and I’d rather lose if that means everyone is happy

Meet the Family: Hannah the Oldest, Blogging and Brilliant

So I know I’ve been a bit lax with my blogging (or lack thereof). But a few days ago I was inspired with another series idea. And now that it’s the weekend and I actually have time, I’ma post my first one.

I’m gonna spotlight, over time, each of my family members and write a blog about them individually. I love my family, as they are my best friends and have been for years. They’re the only people in the world so far who truly know me and get me, through and through, and so each of them deserves a blog post.

Today I’m going to start with Hannah.


 Hannah the Oldest, Blogging and Brilliant

Hannah is gonna be 28 in October, and she’s my oldest sibling. She has been a part of my life ever since I was born (duh), and in the course of that life she has been:

1. The creator of all kinds of nonsensical games for us siblings to play

2. My polite “slave driver” (even though I am not one) who also tells me lies
without thinking I would believe them so earnestly

3. My intimidating yet brilliant older sibling who is fascinating to get
into conversations with or watch debate

4. A close friend (who I wish was closer physically) who I can trust
with my life, my secrets, my emotions and myself

My older sister is a fantastic human being. She is creative, intelligent, hilarious, and someone I’ve looked up to for a very long time. Me and Hannah4

Though our early teen years might have included the usual “older sister wields her power over her younger sister” drama and the year of fighting when I was 13 (she fought with each of us when we were 13), I have always been in awe of her determined opinions and her creativity. For years, she helped entertain us by coming up with all kinds of crazy games for us to do. She helped direct and write numerous plays for us to perform. She initiated the several year long fun of “Doing Movies” where we turn down the volume and speak nonsense for the characters. (Golly, that stuff was ridiculous.) She is always up for a half an hour of reading “Top Bottom” in a book, and will gladly supply me and Bekah with a character, plot and setting to write an entertaining one page story. She introduced us to NaNoWriMo, and encourages us in our creative endeavors. From the nonsense of our “Baby Wayney” titles and her fantastic speed stories (“I’m an archaeologist! I don’t know anything!”), she has been the forerunner of many of our family’s quirky ways of entertaining ourselves.

188538_1003877113807_3630030_n Hannah’s creativity has continued into her adult life. She is a great  writer, and writes a blog which is far more interesting and consistent  than mine. In it, she writes often about depression, introversion and  movies, all with honesty and openness. (UnpublishedforaReason.)  She has been doing a movie challenge this year where she watches  5 movies a week that somebody ELSE recommended to her.  Because she is just that cool.

 My oldest sister loves theater, writing, music, books, TV shows,  movies, meaningful dialogue, fresh perspectives, introversion blogs,  playing games, respectful debates, unrequited love songs, self-  sacrifice stories, and travel. She has always been to me a model of  someone who sticks to her beliefs, no matter what anybody else  thinks or how much they disapprove. I know she has her own story, and that she may not always feel as if she’s as fearlessly her own person as I’ve always viewed her. But I see her as a brave defender of who she is, and a defender of those who feel like they’re being pushed away from who they are. She roots for the underdog. 🙂 Me and Hannah3

Hannah is very passionate about the things she believes, but she has a humility and a willingness to hear other perspectives and adjust her thinking as she mulls and talks things over. She knows how to speak with graciousness, and even when she believes strongly, she never forces her opinions on others. I’ve seen her get into Facebook debates where she phrases her response civilly and kindly, even if inside she’s probably ranting and raving. She also doesn’t look for arguments, but values meaningful conversations and will back out if she feels it’s unprofitable. She has always been one of my top examples of somebody who is both reasonable and intelligent.

Hannah went off to New Life, and then to college, and then she decided to go and get married and move away. She married a fantastic man who is just right for her, and I am so happy for them. But as our relationship has grown from squabbling teenage silliness to a genuine adult friendship, I am missing her more and more, and so grateful for every chance I get to talk with her.

Meandhannah5 I’ve gone through some crazy experiences in the past several  years. I followed in her footsteps and joined New Life for two  years, I recently went through a serious relationship that  ended, and am now in the workfield and am embarking on a  journey towards independance. Through all my emotional ups  and downs, through each experience, whether good or bad,  she has been there for me over and over if ever I needed it.  AND she knows how to give me space when I need that, too!

 I know I can talk to her anytime I need to, whether it’s to share  a funny story or open up about some deep personal issues. I  am finding her to be a very good listener. When I talk to her, I  don’t feel judged or blamed. Hanna is kind and understanding  (even though I just spelled her name wrong), and yet she is always honest and straightforward. Many a time has she leveled with me about her thoughts, but always coming from a heart of love and treating me with a tenderness with which she views me.

I wish I could write a blog as well as she does or more so, so that I could better explain how awesome she is and why I love and value her so much. But alas, my skills fall short. My sister is fantastic, and I love her to and miss her to death. Thank you, Hannah, for being an amazing sister and a wonderful friend.


1. We’re both introverted at heart, gaining our energy from our alone time
2. We’ve both always loved reading, writing, and putting lots of names into our stories
3. We are both big believers in a balanced view and understanding where people are coming from
4. We are the only two to have lived away from our family

1. Her introversion is a lot more definitive for her than it is for me; read her blog and see how much! 🙂
2. I enjoy some typical domestic things (like cooking and cleaning) while Hannah would be perfectly content living in a body that never had to eat in a house that was always comfortably cluttered
3. It is extremely hard for me to say no to anybody, while Hannah has a much better grasp on being firm and making decisions
4. I want a bajillion kids, and Hannah doesn’t want any