Growing up in a home with 6 kids, there was always energy flowing through the halls of our home. I am 3rd in birthright and follow many of the “middle child” traits.   My oldest sister Mishelle was born 7 1/2 years before me and I often looked to her as a second mother.  We loved teasing her relentlessly about her boyfriends and dates she would go on, but oh how I longed to use her curling irons and be as fashionable as she was.

Our second sister Heidi came to this earth special.  She was mentally and physically handicapped and required a lot of care from my parents.  Heidi lived 14 beautiful years and even though I was young, I know that she touched my life in ways that I can see even now and I still feel her angelic presence with me often.

A year and a half after I was born, my mom gave birth to my best friend Mindy.  We were inseparable as sisters and would ride our bikes on dirt trails, play Barbies for hours, and make up rollerskating routines that the neighborhood kids would have to pay money to attend.

After four daughters, my parents finally were able to carry on their namesake and my two brothers came along.  Nathan (my brother, not my husband) and I seemed to be cut from a similar cloth.  We just got each other!  Our age difference always kept us in different schools, but oh how we could burst into laughter without even saying a word and it was usually during church.

Andrew finished out the Fuller clan and brought with him a tender heart.  I loved how sensitive he was to the needs of others and shared my sense of adventure.  While others may scoff at my wild ideas, Andrew would be the first to jump on the four wheeler with me clear off the pond for a round of iceskating.

My dad taught at my elementary school and I loved popping in during lunch breaks or after school to sneak a treat from his desk or snag a quick hug before heading out to play ball with the boys.  I guess you could call me a “tom-boy”.  I loved giving those boys a run for their money while playing kickball, touch football,  running the laps for the school’s marathon, and don’t even get me started on jump rope skills!  My dad continually encouraged me to work harder. He taught me that I where my skills lacked, my passion would take over.  I learned my never-give-up attitude from him and how to “find it”, when I was exhausted.

Mom reminds me of a beautiful bird.  Always busy making sure her nest is strong and her babies are taken care of.  She never gossiped about others, wrapped me in warm hugs, made the yummiest dinners, and would occasionally surprise me by cleaning my room.  Her days were filled with thankless tasks that kept a home of 7-8 running smoothly and yet she was always there in the morning, in her robe, handing out sack lunches and kisses before school. She prayed with us, and heaven knows she prayed for us!

Each one of us had different characteristics that we blended to make our family tick.  Were we the perfect family, no way!  But they were my family and I loved knowing that we had one another.

Today we all are grown and are raising kids of our own.  Personality and physical traits have been passed down to all of the nieces and nephews and often remind me of my siblings.  What a beautiful plan that God put into place! “Being genetically related doesn’t make you family. Love, support, trust, sacrifice, honesty, protection, acceptance, security, compromise, gratitude, respect, and loyalty is what makes a family.”