This year, to my delight and surprise, it actually was a happy birthday. I really didn’t know what to expect. So much had changed since last year. And yet God just astounded me. On September 17th I went to the Wehrli home for a Dream Team dinner. By then we had had two weeks of Sunday morning church services and Pastors Caleb and Sarah wanted to bless us all with a cookout dinner at their home.
Additionally, those with September birthdays were recognized with a cake complete with candles.
Mallory (9/27), Me (9/24), Kim (9/10), Meg (9/19) and Sarah (9/30)
Make a wish!
Jenny asked Photog Sam to take our picture.
I remember leaving the cookout party that night just feeling so happy and alive. I have friends. I have community. I have people hugging me and happy to see me. I have people laughing with me.
My birthday fell on a Wednesday this year and I took a pre-planned vacation day. I had no plans other than to get a pedicure. Some impromptu texting the day before my birthday led to casual plans to meet at Trader Joe’s the next day. I had never been there and was curious after all the hype. Clearly the hype left some details out: I had no idea it was a grocery store! Oops! Word spread of the T.J.’s meet up and a two-some grew to a party of five and since it was mid-day, we traveled to the nearby eatery: The Coop. I ate chicken & waffles for the first time and as we were leaving the southern affair, we stopped for a group selfie.
Me, Bekah, Heather (back), Meg (front), Brittany
After we parted ways, I received a phone call from two more friends: Ruth and Dede inquiring if I had dinner plans. When I said I did not, they asked if they could come to town and take me out to dinner. I say ‘come to town’, because they live in Melbourne, a solid one-hour drive to East Orlando. I was flabbergasted at the offer and inquired if they really wanted to do that drive for no other reason than to see me. They assured me that they would love to bless me with my birthday dinner and it would be a nice opportunity for us all to visit and get to know one another. We met at Macaroni Grill (one of my favorites) in Waterford Lakes. We ate a feast of carbohydrates (also my fave!) and visited for nearly three hours. It was one of the nicest evenings. Before we parted ways, I suggested we take a parking-lot-selfie.
Me, Ruth, Dede
I got home at nearly 9 o’clock that night, full of yummy food, tired, happy, humbled, full of joy, tearful (in a good way) and smiling. I spent the better part of thirty minutes sifting through text messages and Facebook notifications from friends and acquaintances near and far. As I laid in bed that night reflecting on the day, what stood out to me was that I didn’t have to ‘drum-up’ plans. My Father in Heaven touched the hearts of each of these people to spend time and resources to be part of my birth-day celebration. I received that as such a personal, tender blessing from Him to me, His daughter, who is now thirty-six years old.
And it doesn’t end there. The next day, my friend Crystal came to downtown Orlando, picked me up at my office and took me to lunch at Smokey Bones for some yummy BBQ. Crystal and her kind husband and three cute kids moved from Tulsa nine months ago to help with the launch of Victory Orlando. They stepped out in faith big time to be obedient to The Lord. The Lord is blessing me with friends where Jesus is the focal point of their lives. Quality people. Before Crystal dropped me off, we posed for a selfie.
Additionally, I was blessed to enjoy dinner and a movie with long-time friends Darci and Larry the weekend before my birthday, and former co-workers Rich, Summer and Kate blessed me with lunch out.
I take none of this lightly.
“The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in [my] eyes.” ~ Psalm 118:23 NIV
“Those who go out weeping… will return with songs of joy.” ~ Psalm 126:6 NIV