Birthdays and numbers

There are 23 days until my 38th birthday.  You can't avoid numbers when you talk about birthdays.  Each year you are stamped with a new number that reminds you of your progress as a human with a limited time here on Earth.  Some things are subjective.  Songs, words, weather, and colors.  We all have our own opinion and feelings about them.  Numbers aren't like that.  They are concrete facts.  The can be sobering and objective.  It is undoubtedly good or bad.  One hundred and two degrees on the thermometer of your kiddo at two in the morning.  There are ten questions and you get 9 right.  Your bank account has less numbers in it than you need, or maybe that number has a negative sign in front of it.  Your team is up by two points, and the game time clock counts down to zero.   There is no arguing with numbers.

So in anticipation of my birthday, I thought I would recount a few memorable birthdays leading up to 38.  And as a homage to numbers, I am going to try to be sobering and honest about those birthdays.

February 6, 1983  This birthday was a big deal to me.  I was turning 6 on the 6th of February.  That would never happen again, and I had learned just enough about numbers in Kindergarten and 1st grade to think it was special.  I had a party at McDonald's, which was very exciting.  It was the thing to do in the 80's.  And I received an amazing gift from my parents, a pink Huffy bicycle.  That bicycle would last me into my teen years.  (Which is not surprising if you know my dad and how well he takes care of possessions.  We moved that thing across the country and back.  I never remember having problems riding it.)  I was over the moon excited about it.  I wouldn't own another bicycle until I was an adult, a Christmas gift from my father-in-law.  I was also over the moon about that bike too.

February 6, 1985  I was crazy about Cabbage Patch Kids.  We had moved to Oklahoma City, and I had made a few friends there.  My parents had a birthday party for me and invited some girls over.  I really wanted a Cabbage Patch Kids cake.  My dad has the most can-do attitude of anyone I know.  My mom baked a cake, and my dad decorated it by drawing a CPK logo on it with icing.

February 6, 1989  I was twelve.  I had finally arrived in the teen category, just like Jessica and Elizabeth from the Sweet Valley books!  On top of that, I was thrilled to be having a slumber party.  We were living in Mansfield, Texas.  Uncharacteristically of that part of Texas, huge snow storm hit, and I wasn't sure any of my friends would be able to come.  Five of them were able to beg their parents to drive on the horrible roads, including my cousins Donna and Rhonda.  (Donna went to be with the Lord a few years ago, and I miss the loving, sympathetic, caring lady she was.)  I got a pretty great birthday present from my parents that year, a Nintendo NES complete with Mario Bros. and that Olympics game that had the pad you could run on.  My mom had wrapped it in white paper, so I could see what I was getting through the paper.  I know how bad my acting skills are now.  I cannot keep a straight face or hide my every thought from it.  I can't imagine how bad I was at acting when I opened that gift.  I remember being so stressed out that I was trying to hide my knowledge of the contents of that present.

February 6, 1993  Sweet sixteen.  I didn't have a fancy party, but it was the best time.  I was far enough into high school to know who my true friends were.  I wasn't trying to impress anyone.  They just came over and we laughed the whole night.  We laughed so much that I was physically in pain by the time they left.

February 6, 2002  John Mayer has this song that says, "I rent a room and I fill the spaces with wood in places to make it feel like home.  But all I feel's alone.  It might be a quarter life crisis or just the stirring in my soul.  Either way I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life.  Am I living it right?"  A quarter life crisis might sound like something made up, but I had one.  I started worrying about wrinkles, applying sunscreen and nightly face cream.  We had just bought our first house.  I had a three year old and a baby on the way.  I was wondering if I had rushed into being a grown up or missed out on something that I should be doing as a 25 year old.  The answer of coarse, I know now, is no.  I didn't miss out on something.  I had a pretty great decade of being twenty something.  But I was worried about it back then.

February 6, 2007  I turned thirty.  I was ecstatic about it.  I felt like I had joined a club.  At that point in my life, most of my friends were home school moms well into their thirties or even forties.  I was such an adult.  I said goodbye to my unauthoritative twenties and welcomed in my thirties.  I had a pretty great party too.  I was exploring new food and cooking new things.  I decided to make everyone falafels.  That's so me.  I made a playlist on my iPod for the party.  That's so me.  The thing I love about turning thirty was finally feeling comfortable about being myself.  One of the guests at my party was Andy Chase.  He brought his guitar and sang happy birthday properly.  He also gifted me this really great drawing of a store kitchen from his childhood.  I have it hanging up and I remember that fun time turning thirty every time I take the time to really look at it.

February 6, 2009  I was going through a rough time.  It was excruciatingly bad.  My social anxiety was kicking my tail.  I didn't know what was wrong with me.  I had days that winter where I didn't get out of bed because I was so paralyzed with anxiety.  I was convinced that everyone in my life thought the worst of me.  I was depressed.  This was a short season of my life, but it was real.  I haven't been cured of social anxiety, but I have learned to deal with it.  God has been faithful to lead me through it.  I didn't realize that birthday what a rough time my mom was having with her depression and anxiety.  All I knew was she didn't call me to wish me a happy birthday.  Since she didn't remind my dad about my birthday, he didn't call me until days later.  It was heartbreaking.  I can look back now and see that my mom was really hurting, and I have truely forgiven her.  But in that place I was at where my thoughts about everyone in my life was skewed and wonky, it was awful.  James's family wanted to celebrate my birthday, but I refused.  I begged and threatened James to let this birthday float downstream.  I warned you that I was going to be honest and sobering didn't I?

February 6, 2010 My mother's depression has spiraled down and hit that place of extreme in January.  So mid-January to mid-February was spent at my parent's house in Houston.  And my birthday was spent in a very untypical fashion, visiting my mom at the mental hospital.  I was 5 months pregnant with my youngest, Gabe.  James took me shopping and bought me the cutest blue maternity dress.  The morning of my birthday, I took out my phone, opened a notepage and ranted.  I got all my mad and ugly feelings out and then I deleted it.  I decided that I had purged the ugly and I was going to choose to be positive.  I was going to be happy my mom was alive, wear my new dress and try to be happy I was having a birthday.  My dad, James, I and went to visit my mom.  It was emotionally draining, but James was there for support.  When we got back to my parents house, several of my dad's brothers and sisters had arrived from Ft. Worth.  They had brought a cake and some presents (all of the presents were really for Gabe, baby clothes and baby things, but they were presents at any rate.)  There are so many reasons I love my dad's family.  They have a closeness and a willingness to help out each other.  They are loving people.  But I just remember that impromptu party being a worrisome ball of nerves for me.  I felt such a spotlight of questions and expectations.  If you have social anxiety, you know any spotlight or attention can be completely nerve-racking.  It isn't their fault, they were trying to be helpful and sweet, but I was so ready to put that birthday to bed.

February 6, 2011  I really don't remember many specifics of this birthday.  I just remember I was happy to be having a normal birthday after my two yucky ones.

February 6, 2014  I had the opportunity to host an IF:Gathering at Citychurch on the 7th and 8th.  I spent most of my birthday getting journals, handouts and decorations ready for the women's event the next day.  I was thrilled to be serving the Lord on my birthday.  After the loss of my father-in-law in 2009 and losing my brother in 2010, I had a new perspective on life.  I was renewed in my fervor and intentions to serve and share Jesus.  I had 12 women attend, and it was a great birthday and a wonderful weekend.

February 6, 2015  It is coming soon, and I know what I will be doing (Lord willing.)  I am knee deep in the trenches with 8 other women planning a city-wide IF:Gathering.  I am again so excited to serve the Lord on my birthday.  I can praise him because He has been faithful in every season of my life.  When I was a hyped-up excited and shy 6 year old, he was there.  When I was a nervous about life 25 year old, he was there.  When I was in the dumps and in despair, He was there.  When I'm loving and serving Him, He is there.  He's my rock and my fortress.  He's my gift and my gift giver.

"I love you, O LORD, my strength.  The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:1-2 ESV

"For who is God, but the LORD?  And who is a rock, except our God?— the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless."  Psalm 18:31-32 ESV

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." James 1:16-18 ESV