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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Not Exactly Yesterday

Not Exactly Yesterday

Our oldest son had a birthday this week. I remember the day he was born like it happened this morning. The weird thing about this is while this memory from 26 years ago is immediate, I have to stop and think a minute about what I had for dinner last night. Can I get an amen from my other 50-something’s ?!?

Son #1 was actually due on my birthday. One of those biggies with a zero at the end. I think about turning 30 and how old that made me feel at the time. It must’ve been all the raging pregnant hormones! Thirty is awesome! But exiting my 20’s just felt huge. Like I was suddenly gonna wake up into a brand new level of maturity and experience I didn’t have even the day before. I think I’ve felt that way with each passing year but as I approach this next birthday that will launch me to the other side of my mid-50’s, I think I’m over feeling ancient over the calendar changes. That was so 26 years ago! Maybe!

But I digress. That mid July day in 1993 started like most of my summer pregnant days. It was four million degrees in our corner of Georgia…at least. And the humidity was just as bad. I’m sure my hair was awful as I drove my enormously pregnant self to my doctor’s appointment that Friday morning. (FYI…. I’ve slept a few times since this day and may not remember this part exactly right. My Man may have gone with me and been in the drivers seat. We may have even stopped for donuts on the way! Who knows?? ) I was just happy to have the morning off work. I planned on dilly dallying and getting to work really late. I didn’t know as I buckled my seat belt that morning just how long my delay back to work would be! My doctor gladly cooperated with my dilly dally plan. Seemed I was in labor. (I had a tendency to be in labor and not know it…please don’t hate me mommas !) He sent me immediately to the hospital, likely afraid I’d spit out this baby over the weekend and totally ruin his golf plans! My labor with this third child of mine was the roughest and the fastest. Sweet baby boy nearly came while the doctor left me in the “c section recovery room” to find me a real labor suite. The full moon had labor and delivery packed to the gills and I was far from the first one there ! There was nearly “no room in the inn”! My man had also left the room to go tell his mom what was going on. Now before anyone goes bashing these men for leaving a laboring woman all alone, all was well when they left. In the 10 minutes they were gone,however, this sweet child of mine got in a real big hurry and was almost born with no audience! Yikes! But the doctor returned just in time to deliver my bouncing baby boy!

Oh the memories! It really IS hard to believe 26 years have passed. But then I think about all that has changed since 1993 and it feels like eons ago.

In 1993, the average cost of a new house was $113,200. The price of a gallon of gas was around $1.16. It cost $4.00 to go see Jurassic Park or Sleepless in Seattle in a theater. And we had to see it in the theater because , well, no Netflix or Amazon Prime Of course we could wait for movies to come to Blockbuster, but the pressure to “be kind and rewind” or to return said movies on time was large! Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey could be heard blaring from our car radio speakers. Bill Clinton was president but had not yet “not had sexual relations” with that woman. The World Wide Web was still a tiny baby . Cell phones as we know them today were still a dream but big boxy car phones were all the rage if you were well-to-do. When new parents took photos of their babes, they held their breaths and hoped for a decent shot because they wouldn’t be able to see the picture until the film was developed. Commodore released the Amiga CD32 and Atari had the Jaguar. But the Playstation was still a year away.

And of course, there was Sears Portrait studio for all your baby’s first professional photo needs. Don’t you love how they disguised my steadying mommy arm with that amazing furry backdrop?

Today I look at my 6ft 2 son and wonder where the time went. I mean,wasn’t I just swaddling him and laying him in his Jenny Lind crib; just singing our made up “big buddy buckle up ” song every time we got in the car; just packing his little backpack for school ? But that car phone thing? That makes me feel like we walked with dinosaurs back then and I realize 26 years ago wasn’t exactly “yesterday”.

A lot has changed over the years. But one thing has remained constant. The days may feel like they’re dragging … especially when the crying seems to never end and you’ve stepped on the 110th Lego and they won’t eat their peas even with cheese sauce and they roll their eyes at you one more time…

But the years are short.

In the blink of an eye, that adorable baby becomes a curious toddler who turns into a messy elementary kid who barrels into teenage rebellion. And before you know it, he’s a grown, married man with a job and bills to pay and little furry mouths to feed. Just as it should be.

So parents of yunguns, cherish those moments . Even the ones that make you want to claw your eyes out in frustration. Stop wishing time away. Stop always looking forward to the next amazing thing your child will do and simply enjoy the things they ARE doing. Now. In this moment. We can get so wrapped up in the next best thing that we don’t even see the now best thing. And I bet that even in those pesky pre-teen years where they’re trying so hard to be the boss of themselves and they’re on your last nerve all. the. time…..even then there’s something they’re doing that’s their now best thing. Find it. Love it. Brag on it. And in the proper time, you’ll all gracefully slide into the next little piece of greatness .

So Time, thank you I guess. Thank you for faithfully doing your thing and always marching on. Thank you Time for the weird ways you cause us to think you’ve stopped because those moments are filled with delightful memories. Thank you for the times that drag and for the times that seem to move forward too quickly.

And to that little boy who grew up too fast (and all his siblings) and to all the other children who seem to do the same …. my prayer for you…

“May God bless you and keep you. May God smile on you and gift you. May God look you full in the face and make you prosper.”

Until next time…