Today, I’m celebrating LIFE!

Celebrating LIFE:  It’s something I hope to never again take for granted.  Today is my birthday.  I’ve always heard that the older we get, the less important our birthdays become… and I’m finding that to be somewhat true.  I used to celebrate a “birth month”, then a “birth week” – but now that I’m so much more mature (a-hem) I’m learning to be grateful for the ability to celebrate living another year in the life God has given me to live.  God has been so good, and so gracious to me and to my family.  It is The Lord that I now celebrate, expecially on this birthday.

As I think about this day, I can’t help but remember a few special birthdays past.  Birthdays always make me ponder.  If you’re so inclined to reflect with me, I’d love to share a few I’ll be especially thinking about today.  😉

My 28th birthday is one I’ll always remember.  We were living in KY, in a house across the street from the church.  I was great with child ~ Nathan was due in less than 2 months.  I was not physically strong at the time (more on that later), so I spent much of my time “resting”.  That morning, I literally spent 4 hours studying the Scriptures and furiously writing all God was revealing to me.  One of the things He told me was that days like this (where I could sit and soak in for hours at a time) would not come again for a long time in my life, and that I needed to soak in all of Him that I could while I had the luxury of time.  Boy was He right! {Well…  of course He is always right!}  I did what God said, and soaked in as much of Him as I could.  Those days are still bearing fruit in my life 15 years later.

On my 30th birthday, as a surprise, my husband got some of my friends together at our church for lunch.  We were all young moms, so he arranged for child care in the nursery, and about 10 of us enjoyed a few peaceful hours together, eating Pizza Hut pizza (I believe), laughing, and sharing life.  The fellowship and the thoughtfulness was an incredible gift to me.

That same night of my 30th birthday,  our little family of four (Abi was just over a month old) went to eat at a favorite restaurant.  As I sat in the booth, I looked across at my precious husband and my almost 2 year old son (who looked so much like his daddy).  Then I looked beside me in the infant carrier at a beautiful doll-like baby daughter, and I had this thought: “My life is now complete.”  It was the most content feeling I had ever had.  I wasn’t physically well, but I had lived 30 years, married a wonderful man, and been blessed to give birth to two beautiful children.  We were serving the Lord in ministry together, just as God had called us to do.  God had fulfilled every call He placed on my life, and it was good.  Life wasn’t easy, but it was full, and I was blessedly satisfied.  

Five years later, on the day I turned 35, the most wonderful realization of my life hit me.

Years ago, I was very sick, and honestly didn’t think I’d live to see my 35th birthday.  In fact, I was already praying for the new wife and mom my husband and children would have when I was gone.  Of the many requests I made for them, I asked God to bring them someone who would love Him and love James and love Nathan & Abigail even more than I did; someone who could cook, vacuum, take the kids to the park and push them on the swings… someone who could do the things I wanted to, but couldn’t. 

Then on April 1st, 2000, the Lord miraculously healed me!  I was 31 years old, and our family changed forever!  {Must stop here and just give God some praise!!!!! Will you join me???}
O.K. I’m back.

A few years later, when Nathan was in the 1st grade, I was volunteering at his school that day.  I had walked him to his classroom, and when we saw his teacher, he told her that it was my birthday.  When she asked how old I was ~ It hit me.  I was 35.  I was the age I never thought I’d live to be.  Tears filled my eyes and as I walked out of that classroom, I was overwhelmed…

I was that woman! 

I was the woman I had prayed for my husband and children to have.  I loved the Lord, my husband, and my children more than I had years earlier.  I could cook and clean and vacuum {um…notice I said “could” – haha}  I had taken our children to the park and pushed them on the swings numerous times since God healed me.  I was the woman I had prayed for to be the wife and mother of my beloved family!   {Must stop again and give God some more praise!!!!!}

The whole story of God healing me is here.  If you’ve been around SC for long, you already know it – but maybe today, you need to be reminded that God is still in the miracle-working business.  Or maybe you know someone who will be encouraged and strengthened by the Lord through it today.  After 11 years, I’m still overwhelmedly grateful.

I’ll close my birthday reflection post with one more special day that never fails to bring a smile to my face.  Three years later, and I’m still living on the joy that special day brought!  It was my 40th birthday.

As long as I can remember in my adult life, I made it known that I wanted a surprise birthday party for my 40th birthday, I wanted it to be a surprise, and I wanted 300 of my closest friends to be there.  It was said in jest, but in my heart, it’s what I really wanted.  (Except for the 300 friends… that was just saying that I wanted lots of my friends there.)

I had no idea I’d really receive such an answer.  At 35, I started warning James that the countdown was on… 5 more years to plan the party.  Then at 36, I’d warn him that he better start putting aside some money, etc… It became a joke around my family and friends.  I really did hope (and actually prayed) that he would do something, and I really did want to be surprised.  He’ll tell you, it’s hard to surprise someone who is looking for the surprise. 

But James and my friends Stephanie and Amy did it.  They pulled off the most wonderful surprise party in the world!  And, they took my address book in my Palm Pilot and invited around 300 of my “closest friends” – haha.  I still can’t believe they did it.  And I was honestly SO surprised!  

I had just started blogging, and I’m so glad the joy was journaled here!  This is the post about the party, and this post has some special pics from itI had so much fun reading these posts and re-living the party.  😉 

Thanks for reminiscing with me, friends.  You know, every birthday for each of us is special – because as long as God chooses to leave us here on this earth, He has life-altering work to do in and through us.  I hope to never have a birthday that I don’t reflect on and celebrate LIFE as God has chosen to give it to me for such a time as this.  It’s not mine to own, only to steward.  As I look ahead into this next year, I earnestly pray that I steward it well.

Thank you for being a part of the life God has given me.  May He reveal Himself to us and thorugh us in this next year, and may we steward all He has given us for His glory.

Jennifer

About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two teenagers, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at SmellingCoffee.com