Milestone Birthday

Time marches on, doesn’t it? I know this because I celebrated a milestone birthday a few weeks ago. The phrase “milestone birthday” is a nice way of saying, “Wow, you are getting old!). To commemorate this auspicious occasion, my husband planned a huge “I Can’t Believe She’s Sixty” birthday celebration event for me. I must admit that I was surprised – perhaps even a bit overwhelmed at the number of people who cared enough about me to be a part of this celebration.

As is common when my husband turns his attention to a project, my birthday bash was spectacular - a gala event of epic proportion (or as he likes to say the pre-eminent pinnacle of party pizzazz). There were festive decorations in my favorite colors (pinks and purples), a never-ending supply of barbequed burgers and hotdogs, a large, beautiful, and delicious birthday cake, cases of soft drinks on ice, and more summer specialty salads, side dishes, appetizers, and desserts than I’ve ever seen assembled in one place at one time. There were inviting groupings of chairs and tables with umbrellas scattered across the lawn.

The main attractions for youth and adults were the swimming pool and the live music provided by the band my husband plays in (he’s a rock star bass player and I’m his favorite groupie). Highlights for the kids included a kiddie pool (complete with water slide), two slip-n-slides, various play structures, organized games, a fish pond (for prizes), water balloon fights, and a piƱata. It was a kid’s version of heaven on earth for twenty-plus kids that day.

My husband asked me to organize the kid’s area and activities because he knows I love children and wanted to do this. Planning and coordinating the other aspects of the day were my husband’s gift to me – and what a fun day it was. I am a lucky woman.

As great as this was, the best part of the day was a gift from God. As dozens of family, friends, and neighbors parked their cars in the field across the street, our deck, patio, yard, and swimming area came to life with conversation and laughter, I realized that most of the purpose, meaning, fulfillment, joy, memories, and lasting value in my life was embodied in these precious relationships. From family members I see every day to those I haven’t seen for years; from my best friend since 5th grade to our newest friends who rent our guest house; from neighbors we have laughed with, cried with, and prayed for over the years to the new family that just moved in down the street; from people we ministered to and worshipped with in our last church plant that closed six months ago to those in our new church family that we are just getting to know, it’s the people in my life that count. People matter to us because they matter to God.

I was humbled when I realized how God had used us in the lives of so many families and blessed to recall how he had used so many of these people to enrich our lives. From the oldest to the youngest, I was grateful God allowed all of these precious people to become a part of each other’s lives – in large and small ways.

I felt so blessed and humbled as the awesomeness of God manifest itself through those relationships. Tears filled my eyes as the band led everyone in a rockin’ version of Happy Birthday. As everyone sang, my nephew who had been estranged from me for years, put his arm around me and whispered, “Happy birthday, Aunt Cassie. I love you.”

The pure joy and deep gratitude of that moment was overwhelming – a life-changing birthday moment experienced in the rich context of meaningful relationships with people was my favorite gift this year. Life is precious. God is good. He is so good to me.