Build a Better Birthday

When you’re a kid, you don’t really pay attention to days on the calendar.  They’re all pretty much the same: boring white squares with numbers in the corner that get filled with Mom and Dad’s chicken scratch and occasionally cause their blood pressure to rise.

But there are three days that actually matter.   Three days that are worth circling.  Three highly-anticipated, eagerly-counted-down-to days:

The first day of summer.


And your birthday.

At some point, birthdays become not such a big deal.  At some point, you stop anticipating your birthday and start dreading it instead.  At some point, you no longer count down the days until your birthday but actually forget it’s happening.

Not me.

No, I believe life is to be celebrated.  Every year is a gift.  Every successful trip around the sun is an accomplishment.  Every year I grow older is an achievement.  Every anniversary of my birth is a milestone that deserves recognition.  But  I’ve long since outgrown party favor bags and pinatas and Chuck E. Cheese and Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  And in my whirlwind, pedal-to-the-metal life it’s often hard to find the time to celebrate.

So this year, I determined things would be different.  I would ways to celebrate: in special moments, in simple pleasures, in time spent with those who matter the most to me.  And even if we couldn’t squeeze in a family dinner at my favorite restaurant, or eat a homemade cake, or open hastily-wrapped gifts with far too much scotch tape, I would find ways to make this a truly “happy” birthday.

7:30 A.M. I started off with a new top – as well as a new haircolor –  that made me feel young, hip…and happy.

4-4-14 39 and holding

Never mind that the color job was rushed, and in the morning my bathroom looked like a crime scene. A truly happy birthday does NOT include gray hair.  Especially “old lady” gray hair.

9:30 A.M. I met the bestie for our weekly “Cawfee Tawk” at the place where everybody knows my name…and my drink.  Mostly because it’s named after me: the Little Debbi.  After two hours of delicious conversation – and my signature delicious drink – my heart and my tummy were happy.

4-4-14 Happy birthday chai

I honestly don’t know what’s prettier, me or the drink.All I know is they’d sell a LOT of these if they used this for advertising.

And then I’d be rich.

12:00 P.M. Met the hubby – and a very special group of friends – for a Tex-Mex lunch.  Thanks to my phone, I got a free BOWL of queso.  Seriously, how could you NOT be happy about that?  A lunch margie, queso, and a fresh salad that *I* didn’t have to prep the veggies for equals pure awesomeness in my book.  Throw in some great laughs and you’ve got a recipe for downright giddiness.

1:45 P.M. The only downer of the day happened when my Moms in Prayer group was cancelled due to conflicts.  I love this group and get spiritually and emotionally intoxicated from the time we spend bringing our children – and our schools – before the throne of Almighty God.  But God honors prayer regardless of time, place, or attendance, so I spent some one-on-one quality time with Him instead.  Praying for my children is something that never grows old…and always brings me MORE than happiness.  I think it’s called “life abundant.”  In other words, unbridled joy.

3:00 P.M. As much as I dislike so many aspects of pick-up at McGowen, as much as it disturbs me that I *have* to do this (rather than choose to do it) because of her horrendous bus situation, as much as dealing with aggressive parents, catty classmates, and way too much noise makes me grumpy, seeing my daughter’s smiling face and hearing her chatter on about the wonderful time she had in art, or the new song she wrote, or her dreams for the future brings an unquenchable smile to my heart.  And going to Bliss for not just any after-school treat, but a mega-cupcake for two is, well, pure bliss.

4-4-14 Birthday Bliss cupcake

5:00 P.M. Being part of an awesome, active, growing, God-honoring, Bible-preaching, truth-centered church makes me happy.  But when being a part of that church means I get to spend time with some of my favorite people, then I am super-happy.  Even if that means I’m technically “working” on my birthday.

4-4-14 Hanging cool with the birthday girl

Because who says you can’t have fun while you’re working?

And who says serving has to be serious?

For all we know, Jesus may have worn funky glasses when he changed the water into wine.

But probably not a tiara, even though He IS the King of Kings.

7:30 P.M.  Being part of raising the next generation of servant-leaders is an incredible privilege, as well as an unparallelled blessing.  Seeing how these youth – and children – served with such maturity, focus, and genuine care was inspiring.  Watching the older youth mentor the younger youth in a truly biblical model of baton-passing was beautiful.  And getting to hear their excitement as they begged to come again tomorrow put a smile bigger than the entire state of Texas on my face.

4-4-14 Birthday surprise

8:00 P.M. Getting serenaded by those same youth – lives you’ve invested in, poured your heart into, molded and taught and loved on since some of them were babies – in the most rousing version of “Happy birthday” you’ve ever heard (complete with “cha-cha-cha’s” and “eat more chicken!”)…well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.  Until someone hands you your very own cupcake, with a candle to blow out.

4-4-14 Birthday cupcake

It’s chocolate y’all.

Because chocolate is proof that God loves me and wants me to be happy.

9:00 The day ended with me feeling overwhelmed.  For just this moment, I chose not to allow myself to be overwhelmed at the massive pile of unironed shirts in the corner, or the overwhelming amount of dust on the dresser, or the overwhelming mess of dishes in the sink.  Nor did I think of the overwhelming amount of work yet to be done to prepare for my recital, or Easter services at the church, or the upcoming pre-K camp this summer.  No, for just this moment, I chose to be overwhelmed by the incredible amount of love I have been shown, by true friends and partners in ministry, by a husband who never wavers in his commitment (though I swear his eyesight must be failing), by children who give me far more grace than I deserve, by hundreds and hundreds of friends on social media: people whose lives have intersected mine for specific purposes and left me richer for it.  Overwhelmed by the joy of doing what I love, both for a living and for my God.  Overwhelmed by the blessing of life, of health, of family.

Overwhelmed…by joy.

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