Lori & Bud are a lot older than Janeil & I. I was often scared to sleep by myself when I was little. So growing up I often slept with my sister. I was always afraid that she would leave me in the middle of the night so I would lock my leg around hers so that I would know if she tried to get up. Eventually I would drift into a deep sleep and she could roll over and finally breathe just a little bit!
When Lori went to college – we moved from our small town to Versailles, Ky. I was in the 3rd grade. I don’t know if it was because I had seen too much in Haiti or if I had watched too many scary movies – but just the same – I was still pretty terrified to sleep alone. With Bud & Lori out of the house – it was just Janeil and me.
I don’t know too many brothers who would sacrifice their nights or perhaps total embarrassment if word got out – – – but Janeil showed pity on me. We had a kingsize water-bed that my sister and I had shared for years. So to keep me from crying in fear – he would lay next to me at night.
My momma would come in and listen to our prayers EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. She would tuck us in & constantly quote scripture to remind us that God was also sleeping in that room. Sometimes she would talk so much about God being in the room that I got scared He might come in the middle of the night and there I would be all alone and not know what to do!! (Seriously – I was messed up). While her words often brought comfort it still didn’t keep me from locking legs with my brother! I just wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to leave me by myself.
When I was a freshmen in high school – Janeil was a senior. He drove around in an old beat-up van that would remind you of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine. He had it all sanded and ready to paint – but that’s as far as he got. So it was the ugliest brown metal vehicle you could imagine! We blasted music through his amazing speaker system and thought we were the coolest cats around. We played in a church band together – drove every weekend to Northside Christian Church in New Albany, IN (about an hour away) to lead praise & worship with Lori who was the children’s minister there.
Every day after school we would swing by McDonalds for the cheeseburger value meal and then pull into the chinese restaurant where I would eat my food while he ate his. We would share about our hopes and dreams…..which typically involved which girl he liked and which boy I liked! We would then talk about Haiti and college and what life would look like for us 10 years down the road.
Janeil was apart of a school television station. He would do the silliest pranks & story lines – it was like our own Saturday Night Live. I remember sitting in class with my friends – listening to them laughing and feeling so proud that it was my brother bringing them joy. In school there were always kids that people made fun of. Janeil found ways to value them – to include them in some of his skits – – so they were no longer the punch line but instead folks were laughing with them. It wasn’t long and he made them the most popular kids in school. He just had that sort of effect.
I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with Janeil the past two years as we live on separate campuses – and sometimes what feels like separate worlds. This last year has been a pretty difficult for our family as a whole. The last few months in the Mole were filled with heartache and confusion. My father had a heart attack. My brother went through a difficult attack in his leadership. There were moments where I simply didn’t know what to do. I felt frozen. Especially when our pastor went all voodoo on us and just turned our world in the Mole upside down.
Even though logistics kept us apart – I remember calling my brother – weeping on the phone – not knowing what to do. There is a new application called VOXER which is like a walkie-talkie. I recommend anyone and everyone to download it. It’s free and even if I’m in Haiti we can talk to each other without any delay. We are starting to put all our Haitian staff on Voxer as well just so we can communicate more effectively and without any major costs.
All of that is beside the point. I remember reaching out to him – just feeling like a failure in this ministry that I had birthed and loved with all my heart.
He would spend hours and hours voxing me – walking me through each step – preparing me for the battle that was before me. Telling me what scriptures to look-up. It could be midnight & he would reach out to me. It could be right in the middle of his meetings with executive staff – and he would stop to help his wounded & terrified sister. He would spend his time reminding me just like my momma always did – – – that God was in the room with me.
Here I am now – 33 years old and transitioning into more and more leadership. I have grown so much in the last 2 years that I barely recognize myself. God has used so many of my life experiences to humble me & grow me.
While I’m no longer afraid of the the dark – there are still moments where I am frozen.
But the one thing God has made abundantly clear to me is – He will never forsake me or leave me in my room alone.
AND – after all these years – my fearless brother is STILL locking legs with me.