Tag Archive | birthdays

Sweet Surprise

secret_surprise_2For my 30th birthday, my husband threw me a surprise party. We went out to dinner and were just planning on going home and hanging out. This was before we had kids, just 9 months after we had gotten married and 4 months after we had moved to Florida from my home state of California. Needless to say, my stress level was very high, even though some of those events were good ones. Like the getting married part.

When we got to our apartment, I was met with a sweet group of friends all gathered to celebrate my day. It was truly a surprise, which is often hard to pull off, and a lovely reminder of how much I am loved.

Those kinds of surprises are great. Others, not so much. Like when your favored team loses to a major underdog in the surprise performance of the century (looking at you Virginia). I don’t like those kinds of surprises.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book back in 1955 titled Surprised by Joy, which tells the story of his conversion to Christianity. Although he says it’s much less a chronology of events than it is a look at his life as only C.S. Lewis can tell it.

Surprise. Something unexpected.

I remember when my kids were little and I wanted them to keep a secret about secretsomething, like a gift for someone, I would tell them it was going to be a surprise rather than a secret, because I wanted to ensure that they didn’t keep secrets. I knew the stories of abuse that have happened with a relative who would tell a vulnerable child that this behavior would be their secret. They weren’t ever to keep secrets from us.

But surprises are meant to be fun. I like to think of them as good. I think that’s what Lewis found as he came up with the name for his book. He was an atheist. He didn’t know what he would find when he turned back to God. Joy was unexpected.

In some cases, we may wonder why we are surprised at the things God does. We ask Him joyto provide, and He does it. Sometimes it’s not in the way we expect, so we can call that a surprise, but not the fact that He does it.

It’s not the same as being startled.

It’s different than being shocked.

Some people don’t like surprises, and if I had to guess, I would say that it’s because it takes a modicum of control away from them. Just tell me what’s going to happen already. I want to know what to expect.

But that’s where trust comes in.

I’m not in charge, and if I allow myself to be surprised, I might just be blessed by a God who wants to give me all good things.

Like C.S. Lewis and joy.


images from tonnerdoll.com; nameberry.com; crosswalk.com

Five Near-Birthday Observations

Birthday-Cake-With-Candles-10I’m 2 days away from my 53rd birthday. And I’m OK with that.

I’m sitting on my back porch this late December morning, in 70+ degree weather, remembering the gathering of 50 friends I had around me for my 50th. It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years. Wow. Time does fly; it’s not just an old adage.

My eldest turned 18 2 days ago, and I’m OK with that, too. It doesn’t make him a different person. It doesn’t make me less his mom. His journey to manhood keeps going.

And my journey continues as well. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way of my 53 years.

1. People come and go from our lives all the time.

It’s a smaller world now than it used to be. We have text messaging that puts us in touch with people instantly. We have Facebook, which gives us a glimpse into their lives. But sometimes, we just have to let people go and be thankful that we got to spend a little time with them anyway.

2. Age doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to friendships.

I have friends who are in their 80s, I have friends who are in their 20s. Since I had my kids a bit later in life, the majority of moms I hang out with are a lot younger than I. I may not be as hip as they, but they keep me feeling younger than I really am.

3. Faith is not a feeling.

I am going through a highly annoying health issue right now associated with menopause, and it has caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. But one thing I have said over and over is that I would rather have Jesus and this issue than no issue and no Jesus. No issue with Jesus would be ideal, but if that never happens, can I be content? If I don’t feel like God is even listening, does that mean He’s not? If God’s character was based on my perception, than He wouldn’t be much of a God. He’s a lot bigger than how I feel.

4. I really and truly am not in control.

There’s a saying: “Man makes his plans and God laughs.” I think God does a lot of chuckling when He’s listening to me. I like to have things planned out. We take a trip, I like to know where we’re stopping along the way. I want to know where my kids are and what they’re doing. I want to be in the know for anything that’s going on around me. But you know what? That’s not how God wants me to live my life. He is in control and if things don’t go the way I think they should, that’s because He’s got something better in mind. Boy, that’s good head knowledge; now if I could just put it into practice.

5. Last but not least, there is no hope for this world apart from Jesus.

A day does not go by that we don’t hear about some terrible tragedy or another. People dying, evil dictators torturing their detractors, planes mysteriously disappearing from thin air. Evil seems to be rampant and taking over the world. And there is no hope for it aside from Jesus. You can’t legislate morality and you can’t expect anything to get better if people’s hearts remain unregenerate. Protests, laws, micro-management are not going to help. Only Jesus.

So, 53 years are almost in the books. There are many more lessons to be learned.  What are some of the truisms you’ve learned on your journey?


Image from november2013calendar.org

Happy Birthday To Me

ImageToday is my 51st birthday. I still haven’t gotten used to that number 5 being at the beginning of my age. I don’t feel 50-something. I’m told I don’t look 50-something. But I can’t escape the fact: I am now middle-aged.

But, whereas friends younger than I have married kids–and my eldest is still in high school and my youngest is only 10–I can get away with pretending I’m younger for just awhile longer.

But some facts just can’t be denied: the gray patches in my hair are getting more prevalent; in March I will have been married 22 years; I can remember the first moonwalk and watching it on a black and white TV. That puts me in a certain era, doesn’t it?

Getting older has never been my favorite activity, but ever since I turned 50, I’ve been trying to see the benefits. So to end my 51st year, I’m going to try to think of some of those now.

1. I am able to lead younger women and help bring up the next generation.

In my role as the lead 6th grade teacher at Trace Academy, I have the awesome responsibility of leading a young mom who serves as my co-teacher. I hope that some of my wisdom helps her along the way, though she is more than capable of carrying on herself with great maturity. Her children are still very young, so I can help shepherd her through some of the turmoil of mothering young children and having responsibilities at Trace at the same time.

2. I can take things that are thrown at me with more equilibrium, because I have seen God’s faithfulness through many years.

I trusted Christ to lead my life when I was 14 years old. If you do the math, which I try to avoid at nearly every opportunity, that means that I have been walking with Jesus longer than many of the people I hang out with lately have even been alive. He has brought me through the pain of having an alcoholic father, the trial of infertility and the heartbreak of losing three babies before they were born, and the grief of losing both of my parents 16 months apart. I have seen His faithfulness through 27 years of fulltime ministry and almost 22 years of marriage. I can attest to His faithfulness. He is good all the time.

3. I have seen a lot of changes in the world and can give a perspective to the younger generation that they won’t get from their peers.

My children often say to me, “Where do you come up with all these songs?” I frequently burst out with lyrics pertaining to something they just said, and they marvel at my repertoire. I can tell them about these big, black circular things that held songs and the days when phones had dials. I love my gadgets and enjoy keeping up with new technology, but I also find pleasure in remembering making it all the way through college as an English major with only a manual typewriter on which to write my volumes of papers. Ah, those were the days.

4. I can attest to the fact that getting older really does mean getting better.

As I watch my mother-in-law always striving to learn new things and stay healthy as she nears her 70th birthday, I can be inspired to never get lazy or let myself go just because it’s so much harder to get into shape as I age. It’s not easy, I admit, and things hurt a lot more often than they did when I was younger, but I refuse to be that decrepit old woman hobbling along. And I’ve already told my husband–who happens to be 3 years younger than I am–that he is not allowed to be a curmudgeon. We’re going to be the fun grandparents who offer to babysit, if we’re given the privilege of living close to our grandkids. Of course, by the time any of my kids get married and have kids, I may be well into my 60s, but if 50 is the new 30, I’ll just be in my mid-40s then, right?

So I’m not getting older, I’m getting better; better at loving, better at learning, better at living for Jesus and serving others. Every year is a gift given to me by my heavenly Father. I won’t cringe at being 50-something anymore.

Well, maybe only a little.

Thankful today for:

731. all the birthday greetings

732. free Starbucks peppermint mocha

733. Giovanni’s pizza

734. only a few patches of gray

735. clean movies to watch with the kids

736. celebrating Morgan’s Disney’s Dreamer and Doer award Friday

737. gift cards

738. Christmas cash

739. free lunch for good grades

740. Justin’s upcoming job interview

741. failures that bring lessons

742. memories

My goal was to get to 1,000 things to be thankful for by the end of the year. I’m not sure I’m going to make it. But it hasn’t been a full calendar year, since I started my list on February 7, I’m giving myself grace to finish my 1,000 list on February 6, 2013. So stay with me. Let’s see what God has in store for us in the new year. Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to hear some things that you’ve been thankful for this year.

10 years ago Friday

I was sitting inside where it’s nice and cool, watching my 10-year-old daughter cavort in the pool with her friends. Friday was her birthday.

Of course, I remember that day clearly. I went through most of labor in the waiting room as there was no room in labor and delivery. There was a bomb scare which kept the doctor away until it was almost too late. She was snatched away from me by a well-meaning nurse who thought she spit up something greenish that could indicate a perforated bowel. She had to spend several days in the NICU, and I had to go home without her, which was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. Turns out she was perfectly fine, thank the Lord.

20120921-183342.jpgI loved the baby days, even with the sleepless nights. She was an adorable baby, and she has grown into a funny, gregarious, happy little girl young lady. Her heart is full of songs. She loves her family–even those annoying brothers–, she loves her pets, she loves Jesus. She wants to run a zoo when she grows up.

I’m hoping that doesn’t happen for a long, long time.

Happy birthday, Morgan.

Thankful today for:

595. My daughter
596. The rain holding off until after the pool party
597. Lasagna
598. Chocolate cake
599. Weekends