It's my birthday! Today I celebrate 44 years of life. And since the entire weekend has been a celebration as Craig and I spent time with his family in New Jersey, today has been a day to rest, reflect and do a few things I love. I've gone to the gym and allowed my body to be pushed by my personal trainer. I've journeyed to the grocery store to select several of our favorite foods including ones for a special meal tonight since it's also our 8th wedding anniversary. And, I've watched my Facebook Timeline be filled with greetings from individuals representing every chapter of my life.
Facebook is an extraordinary means of grace on one's birthday as people take time to share birthday wishes. While many posts include the traditional words, "Happy Birthday," there are a few posts that have named my gifts or shared a particular memory. There is another post that suggests I party like a rock star - something I've certainly done before or perhaps even this weekend when I tasted Hendrick's Gin for the first time and decided one time was not enough. And there are other posts that invite me to enjoy the "best year ever."
It's quite an invitation to ponder what the "best year ever" would entail. What would I do if I was to live the best year ever? How would I pattern my days? Would my budget or schedule change? Who would I seek to spend time with or call out of the blue? What would I stop doing because it no longer mattered? I've been pondering these questions all day as if it's New Year's Eve, and I'm ready to make some changes.
I want to take better care of myself. While I treat my two weekly sessions with a personal trainer as though they are bread from heaven, something I would not dare miss, I've yet to master the art of getting to the gym five days a week or even eating five fruits and vegetables for seven days a week. I want to grow old with knees that can hold my weight and legs that want to wander all over the place. I want to be able to feel good in whatever I select that's hanging in my closet.
I want to be a better friend. There are so many individuals who I say mean the world to me but who I rarely call. I have a box of birthday cards that don't get mailed on a regular basis. There are several people who see me and say, "I know you're really busy, but...." But I don't want to be too busy for friends. I want to spend more time cultivating longtime friendships and making new ones.
I want to be the most faithful pastor I can be. I want to be filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. I want to make a difference in the lives of whoever God puts in my path. I want to know that what we are doing in downtown DC matters to people inside and outside our doors. I want to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.
And I want to seize opportunities to experience new things that lead to wonder, surprise, joy and delight. We spent yesterday at the Jersey shore. We delighted in Manco & Manco's pizza, stopped for a custard from Kohr's, went in and out of different shops, allowed the sea breeze to kiss our skin, and listened to the sound of the ocean roaring. We took delight in watching our cousins, niece and nephew ride different rides at a small amusement park at the end of the boardwalk. And an hour later, with ride tickets remaining, I accepted an opportunity to enjoy a ride with my husband, brother-in-law and cousin. I hiked up my dress, climbed inside a log, and waited for the Canyon Falls Log Flume to take off. I knew we would get wet. I even hesitated to sit down on the wet bench. But I did it, and I cannot begin to tell you how much joy I get when I see the photos of the experience!
I want to live like that!
I don't want the potential of getting wet or hurt or bruised or exhausted to stop me. I don't want to worry what other people are thinking. I want to seize the moment and take advantage of whatever new experience awaits me. I want to relish in the adventure instead of clinging to the routine. I want to take faithful risks. I want to try new things. I want to experience pure joy every single day.
A friend who lives in Germany shared with me today that I have "a wonderful Herrenhut Watchword" for my birthday. It is Isaiah 55:12 which reads, "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace." It then continues to describe mountains and hills bursting into song while trees clap their hands. The tradition in Germany is for families to read the watchword every morning and then reflect on how it has come to fruition throughout the day when evening comes.
I'm more than okay with a year of going out in joy before being led forth in peace. I find it rather delightful to imagine how I might beckon the trees to clap their hands before joining in.
So who wants to go on a ride with me next? Disney, anyone? I cannot promise that we will stay dry, but I can promise you loads of laughter and joy.
To life! For life is extraordinary and such an incredible gift.