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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Whoa, this is a lot to live up to….

4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
 5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.  6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.. 9O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
Psalms 8:4-6, 9

Yesterday was my 47th birthday, which I hadn’t considered a milestone year.  Who knew?? I am thankful to have what I believe to be a genuinely good attitude about my life and my place in the Universe. Really, I try to keep it simple.  I expect good things, but am rarely disappointed that I didn’t get what I wanted, because I never have a wish-list.  I desire to be happy.  I desire to give love, and feel loved.  I desire to make a difference, both in my little world, and in the big world in which we live.  I strive to be the kind of person that’s behaving well whether anyone is looking or not, because if someone were, I could still be proud.  So, not expecting anything but a good day and a great kickoff to yet another year, imagine my surprise when….

My buddy (and honorary godmother to our eldest) calls me from work in early January, before her own birthday, apologizing first for not remembering the date I was born.  I giggle, one because that means I’ve matured somewhat, e.g., I no longer chant my birth date obsessively, counting down the days beginning on Christmas Eve, and two, mildly amused that it’s a big deal to anyone besides me. After her apology, she launches into her idea.  Basically, she’s offering to host a birthday brunch for me with this insane menu, for 4-6 of my friends and family, and our kids.  Any day, date, she just needs a sufficient heads up to get things together in time.  Now, this is my girl, and I am genuinely flattered, but why should she do all the work, I’m thinking, so I offer a counter proposal.  Since it’s OUR birthday month, let’s split the difference, pick a date in the middle, and share hostessing duties? Should be fun, right? Our friends are mutual in some cases, compatible, or at least simpatico in others, or should just be hanging out together, IMHO.  Her response? “yeah, that’s not going to happen.” OK. We settle on a date and a tentative guest list (she would have invited all the people I thought of anyway and I’m starting to look forward to the event.  Wow, I think to myself, this is a lot to live up to.

So, expecting nothing more than a great birthday and the opportunity to try, yet again to get it right, imagine my surprise when….

My daughter disappears to her honorary godmother’s house for about two hours, the evening before the brunch, to help out.  A teenager, she happens also to be annoyed with me over something (could be anything), and upon her return, quietly, sullenly, dispatches to her room.  I ask no leading or prying questions, in fact, hadn’t even thought to do so… The phone rings, it’s my girlfriend, and I call my child to the phone.  Overheard snippets of conversation, “um huh.  I hadn’t planned on talking to her anyway….” OK, it’s time for bed anyway.  I have a big day tomorrow.

Not only is my birthday brunch planned for the next day, but immediately following is our son’s jazz concert. It’s going to be a good day, and my birthday’s still a day away.

I awaken Sunday morning, and after a week without working out, nursing an injury, I’m getting dressed, and for the first time in a week, wearing real shoes, with heels.  I’m feeling like a birthday girl, deeply happy, excited about the prospect of another year. 

So, expecting nothing more than an elegant birthday brunch with friends as a precursor to Jazz in the afternoon, imagine my surprise when….

My daughter comes running across the street from our intended destination, barking strict orders that we are not to look out the windows, or leave the house until she directs us to do so.  Huh? It’s just brunch. I’m just happy with the Universe today, so I’m not inclined to argue. 

So, expecting nothing more than the fabulous time I always have at my buddy’s house and the delightful brunch menu I’m releasing myself from all calorie constraints I might consider to truly and deeply enjoy myself, imagine my surprise when….

We walk across the street and into my girlfriend’s house.  Everything looks marvelous, smells amazing, and she’s insisting on taking pictures of me around the table with guests, and honestly, I am suitably distracted by the bounty that I cannot take it all in.  There’s the omelet bar, where she has labels on everything from the tri-color peppers and shredded and crumbled cheese selections, to diced ham, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes.  Turn slightly, and there is also the elegantly labeled table near the window laden with Crème Brule Brioche French toast, turkey bacon and sausage, blueberry coffee cake, sliced strawberries, chilled sparkling cider, and the makings for fresh mimosas (champagne and orange juice), fresh poinsettias (champagne and cranberry juice) and any possible blend thereof.

So, fighting to hold back the tears because I’m honestly nearly speechless, (which almost NEVER happens to me, like I can honestly count the number of times that has happened, including my wedding day, the day my first child was born, and now?) and knowing I would have the fabulous time I always have at my buddy’s house and a  delightful brunch  but not even imagining it would be this wonderful, imagine my surprise when….

My best friend walks around the corner from the basement and hugs me from behind.  I start to cry. This is the woman I’ve called my best friend for nearly 30 years.  This is the woman that stood up beside me at the wedding where I lost my capacity for words, but only for a moment. This is the woman with whom I have laughed and cried, and shared all my secrets, since before I was really a grown up.  This woman has driven 4 and a half hours to eat breakfast with me for my birthday. She wasn’t even invited, because although she is the closest friend I have, I would never have thought to impose such a burden upon her as to ask if she might join us. 

Apparently, and this I discovered only later, I mentioned the brunch in passing as we were talked Friday afternoon.  We chat most every day, sharing the trials and tribulations of marriage, motherhood, and chasing the myth of the Supermom.  We always share the wonderful things that happen in our lives, and it wouldn’t have been the same without telling her everything.  Not only is this friend a remarkable wife and mother, she is a senior officer in the USAF about to retire with more than 20 years service UNDER THE AGE OF 45.  Yeah, she’s all that, and she’s my friend.  I am told by my husband, grand co-conspirator, that she reached out after we talked and made all this happen.  Our husbands consulted on highway conditions, safe routes, and the die was cast.  She jumped in the car, leaving her husband and two young sons, with his blessing, to get on the snowy roads, to come surprise me. 

Whoa, this is a lot to live up to.  And that’s why I ended up thinking of Psalms 8, which happens to be among my favorites.  Richard Smallwood, gifted modern-day psalmist, sets the psalm to music in a way that simply articulates the amazement that a God so big could care so much for mere mortals as we. 

What is man that thou art mindful of Him?
And the Son of man that thou visitest Him?
For thou has made him... A little lower than the angels..
And crowned him with glory and honor 
Whoa, this is a lot to live up to.  So, expecting nothing more than another year when I can try harder, love more fiercely, do better, and be nicer,  imagine my surprise when…
I sent an email to the guests who joined me for brunch on Sunday, and to the gracious host who was already sharing recipes which garnered rave reviews.  In thanking them, I said, as simply as I could, “F…. said something deeply profound last night that amongst my blessings is the ability to draw remarkable people into my life. There are simply not words to express how honored and humbled I was by yesterday. I pray that God grants me the opportunity to make each of you feel equally treasured, sometime very soon.” I soon received the following one-liner….“Too late.... You do that almost everyday :)”

Whoa, this is a lot to live up to.  I am reminded, over, and over, how very full my life is.  I am again reminded, that even when life gets particularly rough, there is comfort in that in an imperfect world, a perfect God loves us, and abides with us, through all things.  And despite all the toughest things I have to face and all the answers to all the questions I never have in time, I clearly have been granted an abundant life.  Further evidence that God is good.


  1. Oh, what an amazing story! And such a wonderful birthday celebration! God is good. :) Thank you for sharing this post with me through BlogFrog.

  2. What a very special birthday you had! I just makes me smile..God is so good! You are so special and I'm happy you were honored:)


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