For several weeks - well since my birthday - I have been trying to figure out how to share how richly blessed I have felt by my family and friends - but I couldn't get the words to flow the way I desired; so there my title sat - alone for days...
Maybe tonight will be different. I have been reading the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Anne Voskamp. During that first year after Al had died - I could hardly breathe - yet as the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months - one of things that I longed for - was to feel joy again. My life had been a happy one - yes of course there were struggles - but we managed to come out of them smiling and joyful. I needed to feel joy - to have a reason to smile or laugh. Inch by inch little things began to thaw the deep recesses of my heart that I wasn't sure would ever feel again. They were blessings in my life. Recognizing the blessings the last four years is not always easy - mostly because I am stubborn - not because God has not placed them in my path. I want to recognize my blessings and I desire to shower others with the blessings God has laid before me - but I fail so often - letting them slip away before I choose to act.
This book - although I sometimes get lost in her words - reminds of all the everyday moments that are gifts and blessings that God wants me to feel, see and enjoy and be thankful - for each person and moment in my path. To recognize the gift they are to me. Everyday moments are not covered in glitter or with a thousand lights - but each is a gift - and my desire is to be focused on God so much that I will recognize His handiwork and be joyful!
Which brings me to my birthday....
My daughters and son asked me at different times, what I wanted to do for my birthday.... my answer was to "skip it." Apparently, they all thought differently and on this Leap Year birthday - I was filled with joy, laughter and lots of love. When I thought it would be fine to do nothing - they had been thinking about it for a while. Amy, during the Christmas holiday, scoured my address book and email contacts and asked just about everyone to celebrate my "15th" birthday by sharing a memory of me. She placed each one in a manilla envelope (Michelle will always know what a manilla envelope is now:)) and I spent at least forty-five minutes laughing and crying. It was wonderful!
Michelle had planned a surprise party - she had asked my co-workers, the friends I work with in the GriefShare ministry and some of her and Amy's college friends (that I have claimed as my own!) I knew something was up when I was cloistered in our family room the night before while Michelle and Amy made appetizers and drank wine:) I never dreamed that there would be such a sweet gathering of friends to spend this birthday with. Ryan blessed us with a song at the piano and Colleen and her family were here in spirit - I know, I could feel their smiles!
I had shared with Michelle that I am uncomfortable being the center of attention - but this day was precious to me - for the labors of love that prepared for it, for all the funny and sweet memories, the beautiful and delicious food and the gift of treasured friendships - some newer and some well worn - in our "new home." A day richly blessed by Christ's faithfulness to me and my family as we continue this journey.
Thank you to each and everyone who celebrated with us - with notes, messages and your presence - you are each a precious gift to me and for each of you I am truly thankful.