Today, I turn 39 years old. I’m etching my way toward the big 4-0. I’m slowly but surely approaching the age that, when I was young, seemed old. Somehow now it doesn’t feel quite so ancient.
Of course as adults, birthdays become more reflective. There’s something that comes with the wisdom of age that makes one reminisce. I’ve been thinking about the last 19 years of marriage to Chris and the abundance of memories that have stuffed themselves into our lives. It seems the walls of our relationship are stretched and filled, and bursting at the seams. So many moments in relatively few years. Yet each year somehow miraculously offers just a little bit more room to squeeze in some extra.
We’ve tiptoed through that difficult first year of marriage, learning and growing and realizing that the perfect picture we had in our minds was some type of mirage. We’ve rejoiced at the discovery of my one and only pregnancy, feeling our son move in my belly, welcoming him into the world and watching in awe as he absorbed and learned from the world around him. We’ve walked through the process of adoption, filling out endless paperwork and sometimes feeling like we were living in a fishbowl as social workers determined whether we were worthy of being parents to children in need.
We’ve faced the painful challenges of parenting multiple children with broken backgrounds, children who had experienced greater loss and abandonment than I could ever have imagined. We’ve potty-trained, and bottle-fed, and taught kids how to read. We’ve cried and laughed and looked at each other and wondered how we would make it through.
We’ve been public school parents, and homeschooling parents, and private school parents. We’ve parented kids who excelled in school and kids who struggled in school. We’ve learned over and over again just how unique and individual each of our children are, and garnered a whole new appreciation for the gifts and talents that God has given each of us, and how important it is to discover those gifts and build our lives around them.
We’ve made difficult choices that no one understood, and even given up sometimes. We’ve made the decision to leave behind logic and comfort in order to follow God’s call by having me go back to work full-time. We now know what a successful marriage really is: commitment, trust, unconditional love and support, 100% giving from both partners, even when it’s not what we want to do. And most importantly: a relationship grounded by Jesus.
We’ve experienced the death of multiple friends our age who suddenly passed away with no warning.
We’ve lived through loss and new life, watching our nieces and nephews grow up before our very eyes.
And now, we’re here.
It’s my birthday, and you know what I want?
I want the walls of my life to always have room for more. More love, more laughter, more understanding, more empathy. I want to be filled so much, that I’m bubbling over from the abundance of memories and joy and fellowship that comes from friends and family. I want to appreciate and enjoy every moment with Chris and our kids. I want to be intentional about every interaction I have; whether it’s with the President of the United States, or the janitor in my office or the homeless man standing on the corner. I want to treat every person with dignity and respect, and be a welcoming face to anyone who sees me. I want to get to the end of my life with no regrets, a spirit of gratitude, and a life so filled with joy that I leave a legacy of Jesus behind for my kids and grandkids.
So, that’s what I want. Not too much to ask, right? 😉
Happy birthday to me, I made it another year!