But this year takes the cake. And my husband gets the credit. He had help (thanks mom and dad) but it was his truly touching idea that sets this birthday apart.
What he doesn't know is that it couldn't have come at a more crucial time.
Since my girls died my self-esteem has been in the toilet. I have struggled for the last year and a half to feel okay with myself. Grief didn't exactly bring out the best in me and facing those weaknesses in my character on top of the guilt and shame I carried for so long left me increasingly insecure.
As I approached 30 my insecurities only intensified as I felt that I was not meeting my own expectations of where I wanted to be at this point in my life, and more importantly of WHO I wanted to be, or thought I should be, by now.
By my assessment I had fallen drastically short. And I worried that everyone else believed so as well.
When I woke up on the morning of my birthday I laid in bed for a bit and listened to the quite. Today's the day God. The big 3-0. Let the sun shine today. Please. I would love sun shine for my birthday. For some reason I just wanted a nice sunny day.
Little did I know how the SON would shine on me that day.
It turned out that my husband planned a surprise party for me! But that isn't even the best part. During the party my husband asked everyone to come into the living room. I thought maybe it was time to open presents or something, but he had something else in mind.
It turned out to be the best gift I ever received.
Instead of bringing birthday presents, my husband had asked everyone to tell me, in their own words, what having me in their life these last 30 years has meant to them. I had the surprise and privilege of sitting quietly as one by one each friend or family member took a turn sharing from their heart. I heard over and over again how much I was loved and valued and how I had made a difference in their lives in one way or another. By the end I was in tears.
Never in my life have I felt so special. Saying I was deeply touched is an understatement.
All those meaningful words of affirmation and encouragement were profoundly healing to my broken spirit. I was humbled and built up all at the same time. And for the first time in 20 months I felt good to be who God made me.
It felt like sunshine on my soul.
I knew immediately that God had given me the gift I had requested.
The Son himself was shinning on me, warming my heart and healing my hurts through the words of those who knew me best and loved me most.
I couldn't believe that my husband, family, and friends would do something like that for me. And more importantly I couldn't believe that God would.
We do serve an amazingly poignant God. His gifts are always perfect.
Jars of Clay has a song called the Eleventh Hour and there is a line in the song that has been a prayer of mine for many years. It says I won't give up on giving you a chance to blow my mind. After Aubrey and Ellie died I sort of gave up on giving God any further opportunity to blow my mind as I felt that moment should have been when he saved my girls.
Unmet expectations have a way of eroding away even the most solid faith.
But clearly God had not given up on me.
On my 30th birthday God blew my mind anyway.
Thank you friends and family for your amazing gift to me on my birthday. You know who you are and what you said. It meant more to me than you will ever know.
And thank you Kirk for loving me so boldly.
I will never forget this birthday as long as I live.