Why I love my birthday…

I feel a little bit like a 2nd grader writing that title.

But, being born in December I have always had a stressful relationship with my birthday. I’ve even played with the idea of moving it 6 months so that I get presents twice a year, but that idea was a non starter.

I’ve spent my fair share of birthdays at Christmas parties, or taking final exams. I’ve gotten more than a few birthday/Christmas presents over the years. Combine these things with a childhood spent caring WAY too much what other people thought of me, and an obsession with being “cool” and it meant that most birthdays were a mix of both excitement…and disappointment.

For example…one year, my mom used those trick candles on my cake that you blow out and they re-light. I’m sure she thought they’d be funny…but they caused me so much anxiety that in a moment of panic I ended up spitting on my cake just to get them out. I was like 9 or 10 but I still remember that feeling…it felt like everyone was laughing at me for being so dumb that I couldn’t put them out…but also being mortified because I had ruined the cake for everyone.

While childhood birthdays were stressful, adult birthdays were a full on anxiety inducer. Suddenly I was far from home and no one was obligated to celebrate me on my special day. Should I tell people my birthday was coming? Would people plan something for me or should I? Did the people I called friends even love me enough to take time during finals week to acknowledge my birth? Would anyone buy me presents?

There was this one year my sweet cousin drove to campus to spend my birthday with me and make me feel special….which it totally did…and it was good she came up, because she ended up having to take me to the hospital where I would spend the next week fighting off a double kidney infection.

So yeah, the birthday and me have had a bit of a love hate relationship…and honestly while I don’t mind at all getting older…I had come to dread my birthdays a bit.

And then one year things changed.

On December 13th 2013 Ian and I sat in a courtroom and listened as Andrew’s dying mother surrendered her parental rights, making the way for us to adopt him. She was so sick at this point she couldn’t make it to the courthouse and she had to call in to make her statement. We listened over the speakerphone as she shared why she was making the choice, and why she had chosen us.

Less than a month later she had left this earth to be with her Savior.

I remember sitting in that courtroom…my mind swimming with thoughts of sadness and gratitude and an overwhelming sense that this woman was giving me not just my greatest birthday present ever…but the thing her heart treasured the most.

It was beautifully awful and the most painfully joyous thing to experience. To be trusted this much…with something so precious…but to know that loss was the thing paving the way for me to receive this gift.

4 years later we were sitting in the middle of the week that rocked our world. It had been a few days since we had found out about the pregnant young lady that wanted to know if we might adopt her baby, and we hadn’t shared anything with Andrew yet because we didn’t want to get him excited until we knew for sure. Then we got the text “I’m due the 17th.

4 days away

So last year on my birthday we told Andrew he might be a big brother…in 4 days. We spent the day getting fingerprints and background checks and filling out paperwork. We walked around Target staring at bottles and car seats and diapers unable to make any sort of decision we were so overwhelmed. We went to dinner with friends…most of which had no idea what was happening…and had quite, secret conversations with those that did.

Last year’s birthday was another jumble of emotions; excitement, joy, fear, uncertainty, grief. It was a day where I found myself deeply aware of the incredible calling placed on my life…to be mom, in the absence of mom.

This year, my birthday feels different. I’m not worried about how we’re going to celebrate, or who will show up. I don’t care about the gifts or the cake. I have just found myself reflecting on this life, on this family I’ve been given, on the children I’ve been entrusted with.

Before, I loved my birthday because of gifts and parties and things being all about me…but now I love my birthday because it’s this reminder that in an instant life can change. Grief can turn to joy, fear to peace, and loss to overwhelming blessing.

This year has been hard, and it’s easy to remember that, to remember the hard. But looking towards my birthday this year has brought me so much joy as I remember two of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

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How I lost my voice…and then got it back again

Hey friends, it’s been awhile. This year has been full of lots of changes and transitions, trials and pain, and for a while there I lost my voice.

I was still walking around talking to people in my outside voice, but inside there was silence. Usually there’s this story telling voice inside of me that processes through every blog I write… if I’m gonna be honest, it’s not just blogs, it’s in there helping me process everything. For days, or weeks sometimes, I just kind of tell the story to you guys in my mind until I have clear what it is I want to write out.

When the voice went silent, I don’t know if it’s that my mind was busy adjusting, processing, healing, surviving, and my voice got lost in the midst of all of that. Or, if when things got very real, and hard, and painful the voice ran away, but either way…it was gone.

It started with wanting to write and just not being able to put words to things, and then it felt like I’d been away so long that to share was awkward, and then finally it transitioned into a complacent acceptance of the silence.

Until this past Sunday…

A friend casually encouraged me to write again while having a passionate discussion about french-fries. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but with his words the voice had stirred inside of me.

I’ve been thinking about you all a lot since then; what you’d like to read and what I’d like to share. Then the voice started telling stories again, stories about how terrifying grocery stores are, and what it’s like renovating my home with my dad, and French fries!

But the first story is a special one; it’s all about my birthday. It’s the epic tale of a girl who spent her life fighting for her December birthday to be something special…and how it is now one of the most important and special days in her story.

Coming at you next Thursday…my birthday!

the Sun Ring

Guess what….I love jewelrymost of you are not surprised…But, really I do.

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Not because I make it, and not because I grew up and realized how pretty it was, but for my whole entirety of my life I have loved jewelry. Over the last couple of months I have been really analyzing why I love jewelry, why I enjoy making it and collecting it, and wearing it.

I don’t care really how expensive it is, or how fancy…at least not most of the time…because what I love about jewelry is it’s ability to evoke emotions, remind us of people, and stir up forgotten memories…it’s the stories jewelry tells.

In my life my most cherished pieces of jewelry are Ebenezer stones…if you have no idea what I’m talking about check out this post Faith>Fear

For the next couple of weeks I wanted to share with all of you some of the stories behind my favorite pieces. Some remind me of people, some evoke a memory of a place or a moment, then some I bought with the specific intent or purpose of reminding me of a season of my life, a truth of God that I was struggling with, or a pain that I was walking through.


Up first is the very first of my Ebenezer stones…the Sun Ring.

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At 23 I made the decision to not simply trust God with my soul, but with my whole life…. specifically I told Him that if He opened doors I would spend the rest of my life trusting Him and walking through them…the thing was, I was a drunk who found my worth in the way others valued me.
This meant I was daily fighting a war between living out what I knew to be true and good…God loved me, had purpose for my lie, had good plans for me, and I was so incredibly valuable, precious even…and what I felt…alone, insignificant, incredibly insecure, purposeless.
I would decide each day to live trusting the truth, I would tell myself these truths…and then, each day I would fail to trust, slide back into believing lies, and then wake up disappointed, discouraged, and condemned.
So, I decided on a trip to Mexico that what I needed was something physical to remind me of the spiritual decision I had made. It needed to be something I would see and something I would feel.
I remember the moment I saw it, the moment I slipped it on my finger and then held my hand out to examine it.
It was massive on my finger…it spans my entire first knuckle…It was big, and heavy, and it had a sun on it…a reminder that I had chosen to live a life that honors the Son…I would feel it, I would notice if it wasn’t there, I would smack it on things during the day and be reminded of my decision, of my desire…it was PERFECT!
For years I wore that ring, and it serve it’s purpose. At work I would be frustrated and angry and I’d walk quickly past a wall, smack my hand on the brick…I’m a little clumbsy…and remember to choose love, to choose patience.
Sometimes It would pinch my fingers at just the right moment, and when I wasn’t wearing it I felt like I was missing something. It’s presence constantly drew me back to remembering, it kept my mind on choosing love, choosing joy, choosing to trust…choosing to live like Jesus.

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I no longer wear it every day, but those days when I do pick it up and slip it on, I find myself reminded, not just of that moment, or of what it means…but of how I’ve grown, how I’ve changed. I am not the person I was when I bought it…drunk, depressed, alone, scared…love has changed me.
The sun ring no longer reminds me to choose love in the same way it did…before it was kind of a warning, like a silent siren that would go off and remind me I was getting off course…Now it’s a much more gentle reminder…like a soft touch on my shoulder…encouraging me to remember the beautiful change that comes from choosing love.