Birthdays Are Meant to Be Celebrated

Parked at Hobby Lobby, I turned to my almost two-year-old daughter and said, We’re here! Would you like to pick out party hats for your birthday party?

 

Party hats! She screamed as she double fisted her hands in the air and begged me to take her out of her car seat, right now!

 

Placing my daughter in front of the cart, I sped to the party aisle. Five items were on my list and I wanted to be in, out, and on our way home in record time. Ava, on the other hand, had a different agenda. Her agenda was to socialize. And socialize she did. I promise you that not one person left Hobby Lobby that morning without knowing that it was her birthday, she was turning two, and party hats would be worn at her birthday party.

 

I thought about hushing her, apologizing to the people who seemed annoyed at her enthusiasm, or simply grabbing only the party hats and bee lining it to the checkout line. But instead, I got my five items and then proceeded to walk down every single aisle just for fun. Why? Because birthdays are meant to be celebrated.

 

The book, I Want Two Birthdays, by Tony Ross, is one all kids can relate to because the main character, Little Princess, longs to have more than one birthday. The prime minister allows her to have one birthday put on the calendar but Little Princess keeps asking for more and more until it is her birthday every day! Through this hilarious read, kids come to understand that only having one birthday a year is what makes the day of your birth special.

 

As adults, we don’t look forward to birthdays like we did in our youth. In fact, we often dread them. Birthdays mean being another year older and being older means wrinkles, sore knees, loss of metabolism, and gray hair.

 

 I am knocking on the door of the 30-year-milestone. However, I’m not dreading it. In fact, like Ava, (except, maybe not to that degree) I am looking forward to it. Let me tell you why:

 

  • A birthday means I have had one more year to be a wife to my husband, Nicholas
  • A birthday means I have had one more year to be a mom to my daughter, Ava
  • A birthday means I have had one more year to be a daughter, granddaughter, auntie, and above all, a follower of Christ.

Birthdays are not only a time to reflect on all we have been given. They are also a time to ponder what we want the following year to look like. What if instead of sighing when our birthday approached we smiled knowing that we have been given another year.

 

  • Another year to apologize to someone we have wronged.
  • Another year to love our neighbors.
  • Another year to join that Bible study, register for that online course, or attempt that heirloom recipe.
  • Another year to write that book, make that phone call, or sign up to volunteer.
  • Another year to love on our families and another year to be the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth.

Why are we dreading a day that is such a gift from God? Together, Let’s encourage each other to wear that party hat because birthdays are meant to be celebrated.

What Lies Do You Believe?

For years I have been making New Year’s resolutions and for years I have failed. What starts out as I got this turns into a cycle of tomorrow, next week, next month, and finally, forget it!

 

Desperately wanting a successful year, I decided to take a different approach in January of 2018. I ditched my New Year’s Resolutions and chose one word to focus on for 365 days. My Word of the Year was TRUTH.  

 

I was no longer going to allow lies to steal me of my joy. I was going to replace those lies with truth. For example, if the lie was, I’m the worst Mom ever, I would replace that thought by saying (often out loud) something like, I am not the worst Mom ever. All Moms make mistakes. Or if the lie was, I’m a loser. I would say, I am not a loser. Peeing in my pants as a grown woman doesn’t define me as a loser. (Praise Jesus!)

 

On my journey of TRUTH, I picked up the book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free. In her book, author Nancy Leigh DeMoss, zones in on five areas of deception that Christian women often believe:

 

  • Lies about themselves
  • Lies about sin
  • Lies about their marriage
  • Lies about their emotions
  • Lies about their circumstances

This book did not replace the lies I was believing with feel-good truth. This book replaced the lies I was believing with God’s truth. And knowing what God’s Word says about me changed everything!

 

I recently shared my 2018 Truth Journey with a group of ladies, including my mentor. This friend pulled me aside after my speaking engagement to thank me for sharing but also to challenge me further. She said, “Stephanie, next time a lie fills your brain, don’t just replace the lie with truth. Replace the lie with positive truth.

 

Using my own examples, she said, “Instead of saying, ‘I am NOT the worst Mom ever,’ say, ‘I am the BEST mom for my kids.’ Instead of saying, ‘I am NOT a loser’ say, ‘I am a WINNER because I remained positive after peeing myself.’”

 

This shift from truth to God-centered, life-giving truth is powerful. Because when you say I am NOT a bad mom, your brain is still hearing, bad mom, bad mom, bad mom. But when you say I am the BEST mom for my kids, your brain is hearing best mom, best mom, best mom.

 

This same exercise can be put into practice with our spouses, children, co-workers, and neighbors near and far. The key is to remember that just because something is true doesn’t make it truth.

 

  • It’s true that my husband forgot to pick up milk in town. But the truth is, he is reliable.
  • It’s true that my kids fought all day. But the truth is, they love each other.
  • It’s true that my neighbor complains about my kids playing in her yard. But the truth is, she loves spending time with them indoors where they can’t harm her flowerbeds!

What we believe shapes our behavior and determines our actions.

 

Knowing this, let’s replace the lies we’re believing with truth. God centered, life-giving truth.

Someone Who is Present

Do you love making and crossing things off your to-do list? I do.

 

I enjoy sipping my first cup of coffee while I scan my sticky note titled, Today’s Agenda. As I sip, I prioritize my plan of action.

 

One evening I was quite proud of myself because I finished everything on my list AND more! Floors were mopped, laundry was finished, I had a fun outing with my daughter, and the new recipe I attempted was a success. Turning to my husband, I held up my finished to-do list and dramatically asked, “What more could you possibly want in a wife?”

 

Someone who is present.

 

Gulp. I had asked that generic question expecting a response of praise. Maybe a How do you do it all, honey? Or a I am the luckiest guy in the world. Someone who is present? What?!

 

Seeing my speechless response, Nicholas gently went on to explain. Babe, you do it all. I never have to wonder if you have a plan for lunch. I never run out of clean underwear. And if I misplace something, you always know where I left it. You even put a new tube of toothpaste in my bathroom without me telling you my current one is almost gone. I appreciate all you do. I really do. But sometimes I want to write, “Sit on the couch with your husband” on your list. Maybe then you would spend quality time with me.

 

My husband’s words stung. Not because he was mean, but because he was right. I was excelling in my role as mom and homemaker, but was neglecting my role as wife.

 

In the book Present Over Perfect, author Shauna Niequist writes, “Being present over perfect is about rejecting the myth that every day is a new opportunity to prove our worth, and about the truth that our worth is inherent, given by God, not earned by our hustling.”

 

My goal-oriented self was viewing my day’s success by how much I accomplished. But not even the to-do list cares if I get it crossed off. My husband would choose sticky floors, an unorganized pantry, and wearing the same underwear two days in a row if it meant evenings spent with him. My worth is in Jesus. Not my productivity. And I’m pretty sure Jesus would prefer I invest in my marriage over mopped floors and caught up laundry too!

 

Can you relate? Do you go, go, go all day only stopping to mutter a goodnight to your husband before crawling under the covers exhausted? I’m not here to cast judgment. I’m simply wondering if I’m the only one. If you do too, you’re not alone.

 

Let’s encourage one another in our role as wives. Comment below. Share what you do to grow in your relationship with your spouse. Do you have weekly date nights? Ask each other your highs and lows of the day? Give evening backrubs while watching your favorite show together?

 

Let’s motivate each other with ideas and encouragement. I look forward to hearing from you!

What’s Your Hurry?

Running errands is not fun for me. So, I glance at my list of the places I need to go and set a goal. How quickly can I get to town, complete my errands, and be back home? If I don’t stop for a coffee, I think I can do it in three hours. Ready, set timer, GO!

 

My apologies if you’ve seen me in the grocery store looking like someone who swallowed a bottle of hot sauce. I’m not running sprints. There is no family emergency. And I don’t mean to be unsocial. I’m simply racing against my self-set timer.

 

One more stop. JOANN Fabrics for a box of photo splits. I park close to the entrance and speed past those who have a head start on me.

 

What’s your hurry?

 

Glancing back to see if the question was addressed to me, an elderly man held my gaze and repeated the question. What’s your hurry?

 

If I’m honest, I wanted to either pretend I didn’t hear him and keep walking or brush him off with a lots to do today. Instead, I found myself saying, you know, I have no reason to rush. Where are you headed?

 

JOANNS.

 

Me too. I will walk with you.

 

Shuffling my feet to slow myself to his pace, we discussed the weather, our past and current occupations, and what was on the supper menu. Once in the store, I showed my new friend the aisle with the buttons and helped him narrow down which one most closely resembled the missing button from his coat.

 

He thanked me for my help and fought tears as he explained that his wife passed away just three months prior, his grown children lived far away, and he hadn’t had a nice conversation with anyone since the funeral.

 

Squeezing my arm, he thanked me for slowing down.

 

Gulp.

 

How many times have I forged past the hurting because I am eyes straight ahead, focused on me? Or worse, noticed someone who could use assistance and walked by anyway?

 

I recently read a book to my toddler called Jared and the Ordinary, Handy-dandy, Excellent, Extraordinary, Plain Brown String by Dana Webb. When Jared’s Mom challenges him to find value in a plain brown string, he goes for a walk in hopes of coming up with an idea. On his stroll he notices a runner with a broken shoe lace, a cat stuck in a tree, a gardener who is trying to make his rows straight, and an elderly woman who want her vine to grow up the post of her home. In all these scenarios, Jared stops to help, using his string to solve their problems. When Jared has no more string to share, he realized his plain brown string was valuable because others were blessed by it.

 

How I long to live like Jared. You too?

 

What if we all chose to live each day with intention? Intention to see and hear the hurting around us.

 

The truth is, being a world-changer doesn’t require big platforms or fancy titles. Most often God uses plain, ordinary people. People who are willing to slow down and notice what He is doing and where they can step in.

 

Are you willing? Same here.