Back in the Middle Again

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
Sara Swank

There’s nothing like a trip back into the past to stir up my neurosis.  Is anybody else out there a “Middle Child?”

I just got back from Chicago and I can’t help but smile.  I witnessed amazing things.   My brothers spoiled me and I felt like a princess.  “Whisper your wishes and we’ll make them come true,” they said; and they did!    A fat princess at that because of all the deep dish pizza and wet Italian beef sandwiches I wished for and got.


My first day in town started off with a bang.  You know how bloggers are when we get to meet with one another in person.

I go crazy.

It’s one thing to connect with our words and understand with our hearts but then to be able to hug and chat in person is the ultimate best. 

Ceil from the popular blog, Surrounded by theSpirit Connecting the Everyday to the Divine, is loving and considerate.  She was gracious to answer all of my many questions when we met for coffee.  She lives in a close proximity to my youngest brother and found a Starbucks nearby making it all very easy for me.  I wonder if that’s why I enjoyed my visit out there so much because it was jump started with encouragement from meeting up with Ceil?  She is a cute sister in the Lord; we had a fun time!  I feel like I’ve known her for years.  When I got back to the house, family asked: “Did you meet with your friend?  How was it?”  They could tell I enjoyed my time with her by the glow on my face!

I’m use to being in the middle, and I like being in the center of my brothers.  They had big smiles on their faces (me too) because we missed each other.  When I’m with them, I miss my dad.  They look like him, talk and walk like him.  They’re kind like him.  Every day with them was special!

They took me out on the town.  But before we got into the big city, we drove past our childhood home and reminisced together.  It’s fun to hear their memories and to share mine.

I grouped my photos together to make viewing easy and fast.   Have you ever been to the Botanical Gardens in Northbrook?  Greenery drenched this parched desert dweller, especially in the Japanese Gardens.   We posed for pictures in front of the waterfall.    We saw a wedding party hamming it up.   And I saw a lilac bush in full bloom; smells from childhood. 

I showed my nephew this photo of an old church I took in the city.  He said it is the oldest church in Chicago, St. Patrick's.  Interesting.

One night as we all sat around the dinner table, we discussed just how three years ago, my sister-in-law, Bonnie, fell and sustained two aneurysms and a stroke.  We rejoiced that Bonnie pulled through and although she is still seeing doctors regularly, she improves!

I remember when I worried out loud and my on-line friends consoled me and helped me pray.   Bonnie is seated next to my brother, Denny, in this photo. 

My prayer for this family is to know just how personal God is and how much He loves them.    I opened up the topic of faith and also politics, but the debate with my big bro wasn’t a healthy one.   I made the others tense.  I guess we’ve come a long way from the days he would take me to the corner drug store, lift me up on the counter seat and buy me a cherry coke and tug at my pigtails. Now I just get “You watch too much Fox News.”

Outside of that though, I was a gracious house guest!

I’m close to my younger brother, a passionate Christian man, and our times of fellowship and prayer were powerful.  God gave me a very special word to pray over him on his birthday while I was there!

We’re like any other family with our differences and issues!  I like our family.  We choose to keep loving each other despite our imperfections.

When I arrived at my sister’s, she was depressed from so much physical pain.  I still am amazed at our prayer time together and the miraculous breakthrough she received as we uncovered some things that the Holy Spirit revealed to us.  Her smiles now make me smile!  Her faith in God inspires me.  I helped her with her necklace.  You know things are going well when a girl puts on her pearls!

I close with this quote:

What can you do to promote world peace?
Go home and love your family.
Mother Theresa


  1. What a fun post packed with good things! How exciting that you got to meet Ceil in person. I love reading her blog and I'm not surprised that she is just as warm and special in person. I felt that way about you my friend the times we've met in person. And I am also a middle child so I know how that is.


  2. Ah, Mary You were missed, girlfriend!
    Being an 'only child', I ate up every word, every interaction and subtext.
    I can't believe it's been 3 years already since Bonnie's challenges!
    Your brother's commentary about watching too much Fox News sounds like Tom's sister. It's always unfortunate when those we care about don't share our beliefs.
    This reminds me of something our minister once shared about church politics ... how, when she felt they drew a circle to keep her out, she drew a larger circle to encompass theirs!

  3. So glad you're back sister! And how fun! To see family members and a sister in God's family!!! Awesome pics. But I hope and pray that many prayers are answered while you're there!!! I never forgot to pray with you...Take care sister and Chicago is beautiful! Makes it more beautiful when you have special loved ones up there! Love and prayers.

  4. This is such a lovely post!!! I am actually an only child. My mother had four miscarriages before I was born, then in 1950 she gave birth to a beautiful son whom she named Richard. Unfortunately, and very sadly, he died of bronchial pneumonia at the tender age of 7 months. I was born in 1956, just two months short of my mother's 41st birthday. Your photos are gorgeous, and I especially like the one by the waterfall. :)

  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful visit with your family! So glad too that you got to meet another blogger as part of it too! I'm the baby in the family of three, brother next oldest and than my sister. Always interesting with the dynamics of things when we get to visit each other :)


  6. What a fun blog Mary, so glad you had such a good trip home. Yep... I'm a 'middle' too. I laugh out loud when I read the descriptions of the birth order traits in some of these books, they hit the nail on the head.

    Glad you're safely home! :)

  7. What a wonderful joy-filled post! I love that you got to meet a sister blogger too. Thanks for visiting my blog and letting me know😊

  8. What a blessing it is to hear about the wonderful time you had when you went to Chicago. Thank you for sharing about your sister-in-law. I was wondering about her on Wednesday. I'm so happy to hear how well she is doing. She looks amazing!

    Thank you for sharing so many wonderful pictures with us from your special time with family.

    Love you,

  9. Oh I have enjoyed this post so much! Made me smile and even tear up sweet lady. There is nothing like the love of family! I know you enjoyed meeting up with such a sweet blogging friend and spirit knows spirit, right? I had the same opportunity a few years ago with my friend Deb in Tn. I loved every minute of our time too. Praying you have a great week. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  10. I am so glad you are back. Hurray! +!
    You met Ceil wow!
    Lovely photos. I am very excited reading your vacation experience.
    Many Blessings. Thanks for stopping by earlier.

  11. I am so glad you are back. Hurray! +!
    You met Ceil wow!
    Lovely photos. I am very excited reading your vacation experience.
    Many Blessings. Thanks for stopping by earlier.

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. I love this post. It's always fun to meet our cyber-friends in person. Looking forward to that myself!

  14. when I saw your comment on my blog, I thought: she is back home! Therefore, I soon came to look around the corner. I'm so glad you had a blessed time. Thank you so much for sharing some of your happiness. The pictures are impressive. How precious are our family members. Let us pray for them all our days. I'm really happy for you!

  15. What a marvelous visit and even time to share blessings and allow them to spill over to those who don't like Fox news. LOL. Prayer does change things, and I agree with you for a tender heart from elder Bro to open up and allow Jesus to speak to him. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos and story with us at Tell me a Story.

  16. Wow, just seeing the photos itself i know that you truly enjoyed that chicago hometrip. :) I know that you truly enjoyed! Congratulations to the happiness, love bond and family. From your previous post i am actually excited about your trip and i know that you'll give us wonderful stories-----and you did! :)

  17. Beautiful post! Such precious memories made. I love how you ended it with the perfect quote from Mother Teresa. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Following you at #RaRaLinkup.

  18. Oh it looks like you had a marvelous time! Mary I know you and your faith filled prayers were such a blessing to your friends and family.
    PS It was sooo good to hear from you! I won't be a stranger.;-)

  19. I've been in Chicago a few times in the 20-ish years, and it's been OK or it's been very dangerous or confusing. Could tell you too much. Glad you had a good one. AND I had a few nice ones. However, just hoping more and more will turn to the Lord. Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

  20. Joy abounds in this great post about the fruit that comes from trusting God.

  21. Good for you… I appreciate your attitude and perspective about family. It's too easy to let them drive us crazy, not to mention us them…

    That's so great that you got to hook up with Ceil! She's a great person too. You two were in great company.

    Thanks for sharing your life and earned wisdom, sister.

  22. Loved this post, Mary - and I loved all the things that you brought up about family. I'm the oldest in my family, with a younger brother and sister. And over the past two years, as we've stepped in to care for our parents (and now Mom, after Dad's passing last year), we've had to have a lot of contact. It's hard sometimes, for we are all so different. And our outlooks and opinions differ. But, we are united in our love for our parents, and so we work very hard to work together.

    Shouldn't this be the way we also work in the Family of Christ? Yes, we're all so different, but we are also united in love. Let's work hard to work together, and to always make sure that we're reflecting a proper image of our Lord!

    So glad you got to meet Ceil, I'll bet she's a hoot!


  23. What great memories and the photos are amazing. Glad to hear too that you got to meetup with Ceil. I see why you call your site piles of smiles. REading your post made me smile.

  24. Oh, I also follow Ceil.
    What great time you had! :)

  25. Oh Mary!I'm thrilled that you had a glorious time loving and inspiring your family and your friend too! Those are wonderful memories. After my sister came to the Lord we prayed for years for my brother. I admit that I started whining to the Lord, "When is he going to start praying for us?" LOL Good thing the Lord is patient. Eventually our bro did come to the living knowledge of His grace! Whew! There were times of offence but mostly quiet love and prayers...lots of prayers. What a victory for the Lord when we become like minded with our family under God. Keep on praying and loving. I love your statement about putting on the pearls! And oh who can go wrong to quote Mother Theresa! Bless you this day!

  26. Hi Mary! Thank you for your kind words about our meeting at Starbucks! I SO enjoyed meeting you face-to-face, and how you gave up time with your family to spend with me. I felt like we were old friends, and that really is the gift of having blog-friends.

    What a beautiful thing to connect with your brothers and family in your faith and joy. Joy just radiates from you! And the healing of your sister-in-law was just jaw-dropping! God never disappoints, and I know your faithful prayers started the healing off right. Bless you for the joy and love you are to me, and to your family. Blog family too :)
    I'm sure you're glad to be home. It's nice to travel, and then it's nice to come home again,


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