40. She is the best gift-giver. She will take a looooong time to pick out the perfect gift, but it’s all worth it in the end because it will be, indeed, perfect. AND. She is the best present wrapper; she makes the packaging almost better than the gift itself.
39. She has an infectious smile and laugh and they definitely light up a room.
38. She has the softest skin that I love to creepily stroke from time to time, and she always smells good (just don’t steal her scent).
37. She once found us the worst hotel in New York City, and my parents hated it so much that they upgraded us to the Marriot in Times Square the next night (win-win).
36. She is one INCREDIBLE aunty. Seriously. I think my kids like her more than they like me.
35. She has a heart for the underdog, the victim and the oppressed. Her compassion is beyond inspiring.
34. She knows probably every word of the Bible, yet has taught me the most about what it means to have a simple, “childlike” faith.
33. She has gotten over her fear of affection and doesn’t hyperventilate so much after I try to hug her.
32. She is a great debater. Good luck to those who go up against her. She knows her stuff and she’s convincing.
31. She let me sit at her lunch table when I was the new kid at school and had no friends. And she only rubs it in my face like four times a year.
30. In middle school, she made me a sign inspired by a Full House episode that says, “Guys come and go, but sisters are forever.” I had it in my room until I moved out. Because of a guy.
29. She is like the teacher that Michelle Pfieffer played in “Dangerous Minds” and I always hear “Gangsta’s Paradise” playing faintly in the background every time she gives me a pep talk.
28. She was my sidekick on two incredible, life-changing trips to India.
27. She let me live with her for a month in Washington, DC after I graduated from college and had no direction in life. We had fun.
26. She thought I was the most annoying little sister when we were little because I’d always get her in trouble. But she also did a lot of stuff worthy of getting in trouble for. To my credit.
25. She forgave me after our hugest fight over a Brian McKnight tape back in the early 90s. Didn’t think we’d survive that one.
24. She is the most popular in any crowd and she doesn’t even know it. Ever since we were little, I knew she had that special something that made people comfortable and made them flock to her. She is that person everyone wants to be around.
23. She used to squeeze my sides and tell me my obliques would leak.
22. She took me on the adventure of a lifetime: two weeks traveling through Europe with just a backpack, baguette and jar of Nutella. It was magical. She pushes me to expand my horizons, and because of her, I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things in this world.
21. She used to sing songs from Sound of Music or the Little Mermaid in the shower every morning at the top of her lungs.
20. While other kids in school got in trouble, she went to journalism camp.
19. She is a great singer and artist and is super creative, which is not fair because I did not get those genes at all. AT ALL.
18. She is an AMAZING writer. I’m always just like, whoa, whoa, WHOAA!
17. She has a book recommendation for EVERYTHING. I’m not kidding. Name a topic and she’ll give you a book title and author (and 9 times out of 10, she will order it for you from Amazon and have it shipped out to you the next day).
16. She once put a drink on a random girl’s head, the drink spilled, then she got mad at the GIRL for giving her a bad look. (????)
15. She volunteers Lisa and I for the most random things. Mostly church things and going on runs with her clients.
14. She is the worst liar. The WORST. (As in she can’t lie, not that she lies a lot).
13. She was my first example of seeing someone have a dream, work for it and see it through to fruition.
12. She is steadfast and resolute in so many things that matter.
11. She is truly both the sweetest, friendliest person and the toughest, most capable person.
10. She has chased after someone at a train station on a bike while ringing the bell on her basket.
9. She has forgotten to pick me up nearly three dozen times when I was a poor helpless child, but it’s impossible to stay mad at her.
8. She worked for a real newspaper in high school and had her own column called “Bina’s Beat.”
7. She felt oppression at a young age by cops who pulled her over for speeding. Because she was speeding.
6. She did a radio interview on KUBE 93 about racism. It was poignant.
5. She is the hostess with the mostess. Everyone is welcome at her house, always. And they are always made to feel welcomed, loved and important. She has the gift for hospitality.
4. She is the best role model God could give me growing up. She is strong, confident, humble, full of faith, love, and passion. She is a dreamer and a follow-througher and a seize the day-er of life. I truly do not think I would have made it through my youth without her wisdom, example, encouragement, truth-telling, tough love, just plain love, friendship and laughter. When it comes to sisters, I got the best of the best.
3. She sees love through from start to finish. She fights for people and for what they are meant to become. She’ll not only fight for them in court in front of a judge, but she’ll take them home, pray for them, loan them her car, have them over for dinner,and introduce them to her family so it feels like they have one too. People are so important to her. She loves in such a beautiful way.
2. She is a risk taker. Whether it’s moving across the country for school, believing in someone despite the odds, traveling the world, studying abroad, working for a nonprofit, changing her career path, following her dreams, standing up for truth, voicing an unpopular opinion or pursuing her passion. She doesn’t just settle for the status quo in life. I believe this comes from her faith in God, her belief in HIS ability to get things done and make things right, and her insanely deep desire to make this life count.
1. She fills this major, much-needed space in this world that only she can fill with her sweetness, smile, strength, smarts, sense of humor and sincerity. She also fills that much smaller, but still JUST as needed Bina-shaped space in individual people’s lives. I’ve seen it time and time again. People go to her with questions, with problems, for advice, for a listening ear. She is a source of fun, laughter and comic relief. There is only one Bina and we are all blessed people to know her, love her and get to do life with her. But me especially. I get to be her sister, which means that many, MANY times for ALL OF MY LIFE I’ve gotten her attention, her ceaseless prayers, her listening ear, her wisdom, her honesty, her vulnerability, her graciousness, her silliness, her friendship and her love. It’s that love that I’m most thankful for, because she truly loves like no other. To say, I’m thankful for her is an understatement. To say I love her doesn’t even express it. To say she blesses my life, so many lives and this world, is the absolute truth and comes from my heart.
Thank you for living a full, honest and loving life, Beans. Thank you letting me be a part of your passions and adventures. Thanks for being my best friend since the day I was born. May this day, this year, this decade and this season of life lead you to places that bring you great joy and fulfill the deepest desires of your heart. I want the best for you sister, and I love you so much!!
Happy 40th, Beans. #goshortyitsyour40