Elijah Verdoorn

Programmer, Designer, Musician



It is hard to overstate the impact that my family has and continues to have on me. I am privileged to have grown up in a tight-knit clan of six, consisting of my mom and dad (who are great) and three younger brothers. I could write ad nauseum about any of them, parents included, but for this post I wanted to take the opportunity to put a few thoughts about my brothers out there, mostly for myself to read and reflect on in the future.

Much of this writing is inspired by the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s 2021. For the first time in a year my family and I gathered under one roof and had the chance to do “a whole lot of nothing” as we call it, finding joy in the small and simple while celebrating these important holidays. After an endless train of baked goods, board games, movies, football games, long morning conversations over pots of coffee, and revisiting childhood favorites I couldn’t help but return to my more ‘normal’ daily routine renewed and restored, energized to break into the new year on the right foot. In between honoring all the traditions that my family holds and enjoying reminiscing on the past I was struck repeatedly by how much each of my brothers has grown since we were last together for any extended period of time. It shouldn’t be surprising since as a set of young men we’re all in a phase of life that is highly transitional: myself from young adulthood into the second half of my 20s, others closing out college careers and starting jobs, still others moving from high school life into college for the first time.

As the eldest in the family I know that I carry a nonessential amount of stress as a result of wanting to be a model for the younger three, to always have the answer, to be the ‘put together’ one; I’m beginning to discover that this stress has kept me from really embracing what brotherhood is all about: a give-and-take relationship that can teach and give to me as much as I can offer and provide to the others. Interactions as a group or one on one with each of my three brothers revealed to me not only the many ways that they are succeeding in coming into their own but also lessons that I can learn from each in turn. In an effort to remain focused I’ll expand on one lesson each, but I could easily dedicate an entire series of posts to what I have begun to learn as a result of being connected to these inspiring young men.


My brother Zachary is closest in age to me, and embodies what it means to be convicted. He has chosen to put aside a myriad of opportunities gained thanks to his choice to obtain a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics; and instead pursue a life of reckless abandon in service of the deep and abiding faith he has built. He will soon be moving across the world to serve as a missionary, and over the past few months has been toiling in the process of readying himself for that mission by gathering support, gaining needed skills, and deepening his network such that he would be able to logistically perform the duties that his new profession will ask of him. He is excited to dive headfirst into the unknown, trusting that everything will work out in the end and that his needs (few as they are, he’s an admirably uncomplicated guy) will be met.

Above anything I want to feel the same kind of conviction that he feels for his mission work. I observe the way that it centers him, shaping both his hour-by-hour decision making as well as his overarching longer-term plans and am inspired to give more of myself to the causes and initiatives that I believe in, to mold the way I spend my time around a stack-ranked list of life priorities like he does.


Isaac is, in a word, focused. If anyone in my family needs him we have only a few places that we have to look, each of these are in front of a musical instrument. He can invest days at a time riffing on melodies, playing along to his favorite music, composing, creating, and learning. We were raised with the idea that if you’re going to do something you ought to do whatever it is to the best of your ability, do it right the first time if possible, and learn from mistakes; Isaac relentlessly does this through his music. He has a natural talent for the arts, to be sure, but it has been refined and honed through countless hours of practice.

One quality that my dad has always held in high regard, and one that I truly see in Isaac is a sense of craftsmanship. Constantly striving for improvement while offering the best of what you have at the time is something that I can take and apply to many areas of my life: certainly the obvious area of my professional work, but also my hobbies, volunteer opportunities, and (perhaps most importantly) my interpersonal relationships.


Those who know Peter well might be expecting me to write about his inspired eye, one that he uses to paint and draw and design with great skill and creativity. I could certainly do this, but to do so would rob me of the opportunity to instead offer praise for a less-observable but still important quality that he possesses, one that is more directly educational for me: Tranquility. Peter lives his life in a relaxed manner, one that doesn’t bother too much with the concerns of the world. He forges his own path and does “his own thing” in a healthy and satisfying manner.

He’s not naive, he more than fulfills his responsibilities, but he is able to ‘Chill’ as well as anyone I know. He is independent, doing ‘his thing’ while not allowing the opinions of others distract him. Unlike my nature he doesn’t sweat the small stuff, instead pushing against the big obstacles that may be put in his way. No matter the challenge I know that he will persist in finding a solution, and will do so without allowing the process to affect his level headed attitude.

It may be a while before my entire family is presented the chance to live, even for a short while, under one roof again. While saddened by that reality I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to be a part of my brother’s continued maturation, being as good an example as I can while also learning from their strengths and successes. Family is one of the greatest parts of life, mine is a special one and am grateful to have each of my brothers by my side (even if at a physical distance) as examples to me of ways that I can be just a little bit better by striving to emulate them.