A Tribute to My Brother

Jeff & RobertToday my brother is celebrating his 55th birthday.  As part of that celebration I wanted to share some thoughts about my “little brother.”

Robert and I are only 18 months apart in age.  While we were growing up that resulted in intense competition about everything.  There were many basketball games that ended in anger over our competition.  In high school we played for the same soccer and basketball teams at the same time.  During practices the Landis’ brothers were highly competitive – with each other!

As we got older it became apparent that we were very different.  Robert is really good with his hands and turned to carpentry and construction.  My wife can attest that my hands seldom accomplish what my brain desires.  She wishes I had some of Robert’s gifts.  I have always loved books and learning and would jump at the opportunity to return to school again.  Robert never caught the love of reading and, to my knowledge, never gave serious thought to completing college.

Over the years I have watched by brother – get married, have two children and a grandson, and progress in his career.  He has a wonderful family and a reputation in the construction field as a hard worker.  He seems to be gifted as a “fixer” – the one who goes into construction projects that are messed up and turn it around.  That results in more stress than most construction jobs, but also brings great satisfaction when it all comes together.

But I have also watched Robert go through some significantly hard times.  Construction work is prone to periods of unemployment.  After the housing crash of 2008, Robert had multiple times of unemployment and suffered some significant financial setbacks.  In addition to unemployment, I watched Robert stand by his wife as she went battled with cancer (and eventually won).  I watched him grieve the death of both his father and mother.  Through all those times I also watched my brother stand firm and not give up the faith.

I remember a conversation we had one day while he was unemployed, his wife was suffering from cancer and our dad had just died.  As we talked about all that was going on in his life, Robert commented, “I am amazed at how good God has been to me.  When I did not know how I would pay for our health insurance premiums or other things, the Lord always came through.  I am incredibly thankful for how good the Lord has been to me.”  My little brother had turned into a great man of faith.

Robert is not perfect.  He has made his own share of blunders – just like me.  But the true character of a man is revealed in how he responds to hard times.  In times of trouble, I want to be a man of faith, like my brother.

So Happy Birthday, Robert.  May the Lord continue to bless you and enable you to live by faith.

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