Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

Heart-shaped leaf in handSo I turned 30 yesterday. It’s about time you stop putting the same number of candles on the cake as years you are turning.

But there are other things to count that can help define the day.

Sometimes, when giving my children a Bible class, we play a game where they count as many blessings as the number of years they are.

I thought I might do just that, because I was blessed with many gifts on my special day, not all something I can hold in my hand.

Often the things we hold in our hearts last longer anyway.


cloudy sky1. I woke up to a cloudy sky and a gentle morning rain. The past couple of weeks, highs have been in the 100s. God blew a few clouds and a cool breeze my way to bring a smile to my face and remind me that the seasons do change – just as the seasons of life, bringing breezes of hope and showers of peace.


2. My husband and three children, after an early morning trip to the donut shop, gathered around me to sing happy birthday and smother me with kisses and the love of a family.


3. My youngest son, after singing happy birthday, blew on my face, as if for a moment he thought I was a birthday cake. First he said, “I’m just cooling you off.” Then he said, “You’re the stick of a wick.” Then one of my other kids suggested maybe I was the cake. His response?

“No, she is not a birthday cake. She is a mommy and you can’t eat her.” He started our day with laughter.


4. Coffee and a donut, after a couple weeks of a low-carb diet, was an immense enjoyment.


5. Jessica, Allen and I walked to my parents’ house in the cool morning weather. My son held my hand, which brought to mind that soon it will probably be me reaching for his hand rather than him reaching for mine. I held on tightly.


lamp post6. We passed a house with a lamp post surrounded by flowers. Lamp posts always hold a bit of magic for me. Perhaps it was the Narnia series. Perhaps it is a sense of something so simple bearing light for so long. Not traveling far or shining from high in the heavens, but still sharing light with all who pass its way.


7. I watered my mom’s back yard. Her plants and flowering bushes might not be the average person’s idea of a manicured, tame garden. It reminds me somewhat of the garden from the novel The Shack. The wild mess of a garden, the protagonist soon discovered, was the garden of his heart. And every day God’s Spirit worked in it to make something beautiful, a unique and colorful pattern. Ours hearts are no different.


8. I got a short note from a Facebook friend whom I’ve never met, letting me know that my writing is an encouragement and blessing to many. At times you feel remote or distant, a few words like that are all you need.


9. I got another note on Facebook, from someone I’ve met only a couple of times, one of those people I wish I had time to know better, but time and space never quite allowed it. Among other encouraging things, in her note she said, “I don’t think anyone would forget meeting someone like you.” That’s about the time I had to start looking around for a tissue.


10. I made lunch for my kids and made myself the first sandwich I’ve eaten in two weeks. Amazing how good toasted bread, meat, cheese, lettuce and a bit of mustard and mayo taste after weeks of few carbs.


11. I love naps. They’re one of life’s greatest pleasures. Enough said. J


12. I opened a gift from my mom. Angel chimes and prism.

Rainbows and angels.

Two of my favorite things.

I would wonder how she knew. But she’s my mom.


13. My son drew me a birthday picture.


14. And another one.


15. My daughter followed suit.


16. My aunt sent me a birthday card. I don’t think that in the past couple years, she has missed a single birthday in our family. I pray that I develop as much thoughtfulness and care “when I grow up.” 🙂


17. My husband gave me a birthday card too. It had golden roses emblazoned on the front. It reminded me of something, but I couldn’t figure out what. Perhaps a memory unremembered. I wonder, do they grow roses of gold in Heaven?


18. We went swimming. For a while I sat and watched the shimmering sky blue mixing and merging with cloudy teal, as light and shadows reflected and danced.

Like our lives, blending the colors of sorrow and joy, but creating something beautiful, refreshing, peaceful, when we just flow with all that life brings.

I also found a heart-shaped leaf floating in the water (see picture above). Reminded me how love finds you when you least expect it.


19. My teenage nephew spent most of the day with us and he looked after the kids so my husband and I could go out for dinner. I’m so grateful for family, near and far, who add color and happiness to my life, each in their own special way.


20. My mom and dad called from Australia, and I talked to my sister too, whose Aussie accent is coming along nicely. 🙂 Again, so thankful for my family.


21. My husband and I walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. I ate so much I thought I might have to be transported home, but the walk back in the evening breeze (though it probably didn’t take care of one-tenth of the calories I consumed) was refreshing.


22. I got a couple phone calls from friends. Wonderful to hear familiar voices; even though far away, they’re always close to my heart.


23. My kids (with Dan of course) bought a cake for me. They had it inscribed in cursive: “happy birthday dear mommy.” Though they have for the most part graduated to calling me “mom,” it’s nice to be called mommy from time to time.


24. My youngest started singing “happy birthday” about five times, trying to get everyone else to sing along.

Finally he said, “Come on, everyone, it’s time to sing!” I had never heard such a heartfelt (or heart melting) happy birthday song in my life. (Might have had something to do with the cake he knew would be cut and given out after the song.)


25. They put a “3” and a “0” on the cake, otherwise I might have hyperventilated having to blow out 30 candles.


26. After we prayed with the kids for the night, they each gave me 30 kisses before rushing off to bed. They actually didn’t get up time and again, making it possible for us to watch a movie.


27. My husband picked up Hunger Games – on its first day out on redbox. Our nephew stayed over and watched it with us. It was a good movie. Now about getting the books…


28. By the end of the day, I had scores of birthday wishes from friends and family on Facebook. Grateful for each remembrance, and every one of my friends and loved ones.


29. When I headed for bed, I noticed the present from my daughter. Last week, my aunt had dropped off a write-your-own Curious George book. She had finished it in one day and gave to me for my birthday. She had taken a highlight of her past week and wrote a very creative story about it. I was impressed.


30. Thirty years, filled with countless blessings from a God whose love is greater than the universe can contain, and whose heart is imprinted upon each precious gift.

Most of all, the gift of knowing I am loved, that my life has a purpose, and that the best is yet to come.


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When I was a young teen, a band released an album with the title of, “Age is Just a Number.” I think it was by the artist Four Non Blondes, but if I’m wrong about that, (or about the title itself) blame it on my “old age.”

I just turned thirty.

When in my early twenties, a co-worker of mine was nearing her thirtieth birthday. She went through some psycho-somatic form of depression for a month before, and I think a month or two afterward as well.

The way I think of it is, there will always be people older than you, and there will always be people younger than you.

Why get depressed over an age just because it has a zero at the end, or has a certain stigma (societal or otherwise) attached to it?

The other day a friend told me that thirty is a good age. She said you have enough experience under your belt to start being wiser, but you’re young enough to still enjoy it. All I could say was, “I certainly hope so,” – about both the wisdom and the enjoyment.

I guess I’ll find out.

The wisdom definitely did not fill my mind the moment I woke up this morning. But perhaps (and hopefully) I have gleaned a bit from the past few decades of experience.

Let’s see.

If I had any advice to give people in the few decades I just completed, it would probably be something like this:

To those still in their first decade (aka children) …

Don’t let anyone try to make you grow up faster than you have to, including yourself. You have all the rest of your life to be a “grown up,” an adult. Enjoy being a kid.

To those in their second decade (aka teenagers) …

Don’t let society tell you how long you need to act like a teenager before you start knowing who you are and what you want to be. These days, in some cultures, it seems they’ve extended it to 35 years old or so in some cultures.

I was 11 when I knew what I was called to do. It took a little longer for me to figure myself out, but I’ve come to realize that’s okay.

And don’t think that someone can’t understand you just because they’re “too old.” Age is just a number, remember? There are those who’ve lived long enough to have a few things to share, and it just might do good to take time to listen to what they have to say.

To those in their 20s…

If you find that your emotions, your thoughts, and even your mental state at times go through greater upheaval than in your teen years, don’t worry.

I’ve discovered that the most difficult and intense times in my life come right before some kind of resolution or breakthrough, and that it’s “all part of growing up.”

And to all of you in your 30s…

Watch out everybody, here I come.

I’m thirty, and I know it’s going to be the best year yet.

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It was mid-July when I heard some great news: the family I had traveled with to India and had been staying with were planning to move to Lonavla. They invited me to come along and I jumped at the chance. They had found a bungalow outside of town, and we planned to move in early August.

Besides this family, another young couple with a newborn baby planned to move with us. They were good friends of mine and I was happy about this turn of events.

We traveled back and forth between Mumbai and Lonavla over the next couple of weeks—cleaning, packing and moving. We arrived just in time for monsoon, the rainy season. I loved the magical feeling of rain falling all around, green fields and hills in every direction. The walks and hikes we took were great fun and full of discovery. We often made it home just in time to watch the afternoon downpour from the safety of our cozy home; we didn’t always make it back in time, though, and ended up looking as if “the bridge fell in.”

After a couple of weeks, Jonathan and his family asked if I would be willing to return to Mumbai for a couple of weeks to help with a couple of projects. Of course I agreed. The couple of weeks passed quickly, involved in projects and programs for the underprivileged.

Mid-August found everyone back in Mumbai to celebrate India’s Independence Day together. We had been invited to a friend’s house for dinner. “I could get used to this,” I remember saying to a friend over the dinner, which was arguably the tastiest food I ever had; it ended with fresh mangoes and vanilla ice cream—still a favorite of mine.

The family was returning to Lonavla the evening of August 18—my seventeenth birthday. I had originally planned to return with them, but a friend asked if I could stay on in Mumbai for one more week, to plan her mom’s birthday. So I stayed an extra week…it passed very slowly. The highlight of that time was a birthday card and letter from my best friend. She hadn’t forgotten my birthday, and I was so happy to hear from her.

It was at the end of the week that I got the phone call, which came from Lonavla, letting me know that my best friend had passed away. (Read the full story, “We Shared a Heart”)

Two days after that, I was still reeling from the shock when the young couple returned to Mumbai, on their way to the airport. Their newborn baby wasn’t granted a visa, so they had to return to the States.

I wished I could go back to Lonavla right then, but there had been a misunderstanding and those I had been staying with in Lonavla were under the impression that I had wanted to stay in Mumbai for good. They wouldn’t be able to pick me up for another two weeks.

It’s not easy to describe how I felt during those couple of weeks. My best friend had died; any other close friends or family were thousands of miles away. I felt every comfort had been removed and the familiar ground pulled from beneath my feet.

Had I done something wrong? Did I make a big mistake somewhere along the line to bring me to where I was now standing (and felt like falling)? Why was everything crumbling apart around me? I had nothing to hold on to, and I never felt so alone. I wanted to call my mom—to whom I could always talk and find some form of comfort—but she was away from home at the time and I didn’t have a phone number to reach her.

I had only one place to turn. It’s strange—almost funny if it weren’t so pitiful—how, when everything is going fine, we find it difficult to draw close to the only one who is always with us. Yet it was at this time that I grew to a deeper understanding of God’s grace and the depth of His love, a comfort that could only be felt through deep sorrow and a peace that could only be understood through great turmoil of spirit.

I realized that no matter how alone I might feel, how far from friends and family I was, how distant from the comforts in which I always found solace—I still wasn’t alone. Beyond feeling, I knew that there was a purpose. Perhaps it would take time to find it. Perhaps there would come more sorrow and difficulty. Perhaps the path of life would be just that—a path—with rocks and boulders and hills, rocky and cold mountains, lonely and sunless valleys.

I knew I was meant to walk the path and I knew where the path led. One day the path will eventually lead to a home where no tears will again dim the eye, where pain will finally be drowned out in abiding joy. Yet I knew that as long as I traveled this road, I would not be home, because there were still many things to experience, learn and understand upon this path. Sometimes I would feel I walked the road alone, and sometimes I would have those beside me with whom I finally felt at home. The journey beckoned, and I was only just beginning.

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