Cheers to Another Year

Cheers to Another Year

I just celebrated another birthday. Cheers to that! It was not a biggie…you know, one with a zero at the end. But still one where I sat and realized I’m not that much younger than my early memories of my own grandparents. It’s a weird feeling. It’s almost like I hold my breath every time I look in a mirror. Will this finally be the day I look in the mirror and see my Mamaw staring back at me….silver, short grandma hair perfectly coifed. Nice, tailored dress with an apron over it. Sensible shoes. Perfectly polished fingernails. My grandparents were of the generation with that stereotypical “grandma look”. This “look” was beautiful and precious to me as a kid….but I don’t particularly want to stare at it every time I pass by a mirror! So please pass the hair color and the fancy skin care my way!!

This birthday, though. This year that sees me 4 years short of the next “zero at the end” birthday. It’s all caused me to stop and do some reflecting. I’m not really surprised that one of my very first real memories is of a birthday. My 4th birthday was a year my parents threw a little party for me. This shin dig was at our house, which was a sweet single wide mobile home in Fort Walton Beach. I can remember being super excited about my friends coming over…I can’t tell you a single one of their names today. And I can remember NOT being excited about the nap my mom insisted I take before the shenanigans began. But she let me fall asleep on her lap as she sat in her chair…that I DO remember. My head on her shoulder. Her arms wrapped tightly around me. Being warmly embraced by the love of my mother. That memory is much stronger than the names or faces of the kids who came to my house or the presents they brought for me.

Why? What would make me remember anything about a day fifty something years ago? I’m sure it’s because of the love I felt that day. Because love is a powerful thing!

And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”…1Cor 13:13

Little me looking adorable enough in our “nap chair” that this could’ve actually been the day of that 4th birthday party.

With love powering my sentimentality and with birthdays on my mind, I’m not surprised that memories of birthday’s past have been filling my head this week.

  • Year 15 was celebrated at a local and newish water park. This was 1978 and water parks just weren’t all they are today. But by late 70’s standards, this one was…well…standard. I only remember it having a few different big water slides. I remember the brown bikini I had that summer, certain it showed off my tan all the better. I remember the friends who joined me on this day. And the plethora of cute lifeguards hanging around for me and my teenage friends to gawk at…I mean to save us if our lives were ever in peril from the swishing, raging water! I also remember feeling incredibly loved because my parents knew this outing would make my heart happy . And they were right!
  • The following year we were in a new town. It’s H A R D to move to a completely different state when you’re 16. The summer of this milestone birthday found me knowing pretty much zero people. We had only been in small town Texas for a few weeks, school had yet to begin, and our neighborhood was devoid of anyone even remotely near the ages of myself or my sisters. But this birthday made my heart smile because even in the simplicity of our family of five sitting in a Pizza Hut eating strangely amazing pizza, I felt all warm and cozy inside. It was my birthday and my family, who I knew loved me, surrounded me as we munched on my favorite food together. I think your favorite food and love will always go hand in hand!
  • How can I ever forget my next momentous birthday? I turned 18 in 1981. My friends and I celebrated with an overnight party and our first legal drinks. We made strawberry daiquiris and planned to wake up in time to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. Because why not? What could be more special than royal love! I really needed this time of friendship and love on that very day. When I left my friends later that morning , after basking in the richness of this royal wedding and all the birthday fun, I learned of the death of my beloved Papaw. How sweet of God to surround with me so much fun and love right before what was one of the worst days of my young life.
  • By far my most memorable adult birthday was the big 4 – 0 ! This day saw my one and only surprise party. Somehow my husband was able to pull off a full fledged unexpected gathering of new friends, old friends and family from near and far. How I managed to not notice the line up of my Texas family’s cars as I strolled through the parking lot to the fellowship hall could only have an act of God. The love I felt that day bowled me over. As I walked through the different “layers” of friends and family who had come to celebrate this day with me, the affection we shared was sweet. It was almost like a glimpse of heaven.

Looking back on these birthdays from the past, I’m struck by one thing. The REASON I remember them. There was a very evident strand of love weaving through each of those days. The love of my mother’s arms…the love of a group of friends….the love of family. The feeling of being seen and known and loved is a powerful, grounding feeling. It’s a necessary one, I think.

We all want to be seen.

We all want to be known.

We all want to be loved.

God made us to need these things. Maybe that’s because HE sees us and knows us. And He IS love. Perhaps when we’re craving love, we’re really craving God. Hmmm….because as good as human love is, His love is a million times better. It just is.

So cheers to another year. A year to be loved and seen and known. A year to love and see and know.

Until next time…

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Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No

Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No

It all started when I was a 3rd grade kid. I loved making a Valentine box to sit on my 3rd grade school desk. Paper hearts…glitter…glue. All things pretty and sparkly.  But that’s where the fun ended. I rarely ever got as many Valentines as everyone else did.  Back in the day, we weren’t required to give everyone in the class a cute little card covered in hearts and puppy dog tails. Nope. We just gave cards to whoever we wanted to declare our undying love and friendship for. My box was light.  But to not totally dis that class full of fellow 8 year olds, they may not have even known I was in their class.  I was so shy…I rarely spoke to anyone.

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Then there were all those horrific teenage Valentine’s Days.   You know the ones.    You really like him, but he really likes her.  And you’re not her. Notes are passed and you hold your breath hoping and praying he checks “Yes”!   In all my teen years, I remember getting a Valentine from a boy exactly once.   He got me a cute little stuffed bear I named “Buff”.   This boy liked me because I looked good in a bathing suit.     Ugh!

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Then there are the adult Valentine’s Days.  “Singles Awareness Days” are brutal.   All your friends have dates and you’re home alone with  a sappy movie and a gallon of Moose Tracks, thoughts of the perfect man running through your pretty head. Even after we find Mr. Right and live out our days happily ever after with him, we often become painfully aware of Mr. Right’s imperfections…(and just to be fair, he very likely becomes all too aware of our imperfections as well.)  

I wonder if we are just hard-wired to always be seeking the perfect one  so that we’ll ALWAYS be seeking that Perfect One? Hmmmm…..

You know the one?    He’s truly perfect in every way.    And I don’t mean to brag, but y’all, I’ve found him and he’s taken a bit of the “humbug” out of my hard Valentine heart.   He’s mine and I am his.    At first glance, you may not think he’s all that…but let me assure you, he is truly beautiful!

He loves me just as I am…..flaws and all.    In fact, he proclaimed his love for me well before I did the same.   He pursued me like crazy and never gave up on me.  His love is relentless and pure.  He says he’ll NEVER give up on me…and I believe him.

And now that he has me, he hasn’t marked me off his list of “claimed pursuits”, pushing me aside for the next best thing. He will faithfully love me forever.    In fact, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand how deeply he loves me. He tells me all the time that nothing can ever separate us.   Nothing I do will ever make him  love me less.   He doesn’t care if I’m grumpy or hormonal or “look fat in that dress”.     He just loves me.

He always takes care of me…always.   He does this because I love him…but mostly because he loves me so much.    He’s the perfect provider and he never has to guess what I need.  He just knows.   He’s my “knight in shining armor”, keeping me safe and protected.    I feel so safe with him.

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If He had been in my 3rd grade class, He would’ve stuffed the little box on my desk full of little heart shaped cards with Snoopy on them.   The “Yes” box would’ve been checked .

Quite simply, He’s the perfect Man.   Nobody will ever come close to His perfection.  He’s the best “Valentine” I’ve ever had or ever will have……and I don’t mind sharing Him one bit!