Happy New Year of Life

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. ~ Psalm 139:16

Last week, I began the week in so much pain from a recent back injury that I didn’t even realize my birthday was approaching.  After 4 doctors, 5 doctor appointments, a heating pad, a cold pack, pain medications and very little sleep sitting straight up in a chair for over a week, I wandered around in a dazed fog – unable to keep up with the days of the week – much less the date.  This is why I’ve been off the grid from posting.  I was just trying to get up and down out of chair. :O

However, I have an amazing family and awesome friends who would not let my birthday go unnoticed nor let the excruciating back pain spoil the fun.  I have a great, big God who went out of His way to show me He didn’t forget the day He began our love story decades ago.

My last post, Today, was the worst day of the pain.  Back pain so bad that my skin has broken out in hives all week where the injury occurred.  Doctors said it was my back’s way of relieving the stress from the pain.  I didn’t even know that was possible.  I jokingly said that I must be allergic to pain.  Not!  Three childbirths, 5 surgeries and 2 severe car accidents have proven otherwise.

Anyway, today I simply want to post a huge, sincere THANK YOU to everyone who made this year one of the most loving, special, memorable birthdays I have ever had in my life.

To my husband and children, thank you for making me smile and laugh (the back pain from laughing was totally worth it!) and taking the time to treat me like a queen.  Bruce, you work so hard for our family.  I know you wanted to be home with me, but what you do makes our family life possible.  Your card, flowers, balloons, gifts and mostly your calls and texts made me feel like you were right by my side all day.  I love you!

Kids – you guys rock.  You got up on your summer morning at 6:30am, voluntarily, to make me breakfast!  That was the best egg white omlette I’ve ever had; the little dude made out of toast and jam – complete with wings and feet – was delicious; the fruit salad – with its professional presentation – was perfect; and homemade chocolate milk, something I afford myself only on my birthday and Mother’s Day meant so much that you remembered.  What can I say about the hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries?  For breakfast!  I am utterly spoiled, and they were scrumptious.  It was enough for all 5 of us!

On my way to the 5th doctor’s appointment, I received a text from one of my best friends telling me to go check my front door.  I did, and below is what I found!!!  What an incredibly nice surprise!!!!!!!!  Seeing as our country is in a helium shortage (weird, huh?), I can’t believe you guys found some.  Frances and Ann, your two families are family to us always and forever.  You know me well, and filled this basket with my favorite things – most touching was the cards signed be each and everyone of you.  Thank you guys so much!  Ya’ll are kind, generous and loving – and I want the world to know. :)

After the appointment, I was treated to lunch by not one, but two friends at a favorite Italian restaurant.  Their hugs, smiles and fun conversation was priceless time with women I think the world of.  Your gifts, cards and fellowship is more than I could ask for.  Pam and Renee, you are beautiful blessings to me.  Thank you for lunch and the tiaramisu.  It was delicious, but even better sharing it with you.

Renee, you surprised me with dinner the night before my birthday just to help out with my back, and completely surprised me with birthday cupcakes!  BUT, not just any cupcakes, made-from-scratch chocolate sunflower cupcakes!!! They were adorable!  Too cute to eat, but we managed. ;)  We enjoyed every last crumb.  You took so much time out of your day to do this special gift for me, and I am so thankful.  God had such a big surprise in store for me when He brought us together, and it feels like I’ve known you a lifetime.  Thank you, Friend.

Going out with my family last night  was such fun!  Bruce wanted to pull out all of the stops.  When we got home, we played family games and, one of the cutest surprises, was the musical arrangement the kids put on.  My daughter pulled popular songs from each decade of my life and we all danced (well, I swayed) to the music.  That was so creative!!

My Facebook, voicemail and email were absolutely flooded with birthday wishes from so many wonderful people from Kenya to Ukraine to the United States.  Oh my!  I never ever expected that.  I thought my heart would burst from feeling so loved and remembered.  I read and re-read each and every one.  I LOVE the way my sweet Ukrainian friend worded her message to me, Happy new year of your life.  Indeed, God makes all things new. :)  I just love that!  To me, a birthday message is priceless.  Someone I care about took the time to stop their day and think of me.  Wow.  Being remembered is a beautiful thing.

All day long, I loved hanging out with my kids, enjoying long face-to-face as well as phone conversations with friends, and anticipating celebrating with my man.  I’m not so much about gifts, though who doesn’t’ like to receive a present? :) I deeply treasure time and things from the heart the most.  My cup was overflowing with both…and very thoughtful presents I might add!

All 3 children gave me precious cards – each special in their own way.  This is the card my sixteen year-old son made for me…

This is part of my youngest’s card.  It’s the signature picture he draws of us every year.  I love it!!!!

God knows us better than we know ourselves.  He meets us right where we are and in ways only He knows is in our best interest.  He is so good.  I have a story about one of the gifts God gave me for my birthday and would love to share it.

On Tuesday, as I mentioned above my worst pain day, a house guest came over.  I was hiding out in my pajamas upstairs.  Clear instructions were given by those downstairs not to touch my camera.  My nice, expensive one I use for ministry.  (I’m oblivious to all of this happening downstairs.)  I guess the temptation was too much and hands picked it up…and dropped it.  Dropped it so hard the filter cracked in half and lens busted.

When I found out the news hours later, I was deflated more than anything.  Just 3 months ago, different hands accidentally knocked my old camera off of a table onto concrete and killed it.  Now this one, my new replacement.  Are you kidding me?  I cannot be without my camera, and when traveling there isn’t always a place to pick up another lens if this broken lens doesn’t get fixed and stay fixed.

Warily, Wednesday afternoon I hobbled into a big box electronic store where I bought it and dreaded the whole waranttee process.  I know it well and it is long and laborious.

I explained the whole thing to the gentleman, shifting my weight to find a comfortable standing position, and he was unmoved to say the least.  Another employee stood silently on the sidelines.  He called up a third employee, and I explained the saga to her.  I had told my daughter when I parked the car I would need God’s self control to get through this because of the back pain and the fact that this was camera #2 that I was left to deal with.  An expensive problem.

Another employee, fixing someone’s hard drive nearby, chimed in and borderline lectured me on the warantee process and how I am not special and do not have a choice to repair or replace.  Yeah yeah yeah.  I got it.

I was now going to be without a camera for an indefinite amount of time for an upcoming trip and milestones like visiting family, the first day of school, etc.  The whole thing gave me a headache.

Suddenly, the woman who came over from a different department placed a box on the counter.  She opened it (while the other guy was lecturing me unsolicited)  and with four simple words then entire issue ended…Here’s your new camera.

What? I responded, completley baffled.

This is your new camera, enjoy it! :)

Seriously? I questioned.

Yes, she said as she packed up the box.

Just like that? I asked.

Just like that, she replied.

Really? I asked again.  I know the waranttee process and this isn’t typical by a long shot.

Yes, she simply replied.

I’m not one to cry in front of others, but it was hard to choke back the lump in my throat.

This is the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time.  You have no idea what a blessing this is, I said while the other employees stood by speechless.

This wasn’t your fault, and you shouldn’t have to bear the stress of it.  Photography is what you do, and you should be able to do it, she said.

I’ll be honest.  This is the first time using a large company to buy my camera, and I was wary about the follow-up customer service.

Maybe this will help, she smiled.

Yes, indeed it does! Do I need to do anything?  Sign anything? 

Nope.  Just enjoy it.

Just like that, I had a brand new camera, new lens and a new battery.  Life simply doesn’t resolve itself like that usually.  I was so discouraged one moment, and in an instant the problem vanished.  Done.

Tears streamed underneath my sunglasses as my daughter and I left the store.  I was mostly relieved to have a working camera in my hands so I can do what God calls me to do with it.  No wondering if the repaired lens will flake out on me overseas, or if the body was affected in a way that won’t show up for some time.  It was new.  A brand new camera.

As we walked to the car, God spoke to me and said, You see your life broken in many ways, much like your camera.  But, like this camera, I can fix anything.  I can fix you.  Your life.  I can.

I have to say, He unearthed doubt that had built up in my heart over some things.  I felt physically broken with my back, and emotionally, mentally and spiritually broken over some heart issues.

Driving home, I wondered why this whole thing happened with my camera.  It was so random and bizarre!  But, God showed me that He allowed this to happen to prove a point with me.  That nothing is irreparable with God.  All things are possible.  He can make a way where there is no way.  And sometimes, the process doesn’t have to be long and laborious.

He gave me hope.  Hope for my back and my heart.  He wrapped it in a camera and every time I pick this new one up, I see Him saying, I love you.  I see.  I know.  I hear.  I am at work for your best interest.  What a beautiful, generous birthday present.

I will never forget this birthday.  And, it’s not over yet.  I look forward to going out with one of my favorite friends, Lisa, soon.  And, we are partying on with more family very soon.  Everything we celebrate is only what God has done in my life – a sinner saved by grace.  His faithfulness, mercy, grace and love.  He is eternally good.  All years combined, the good, the bad and the ugly, I write today that God is sovereign.  He is beautiful.  He is worthy.  Here’s to as many more days on this earth that He allows – for His glory.

My heart is full.

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