August 28, 2015
Today is my birthday. 34. It feels like a funny year to celebrate. Perhaps the more and more kid’s’ parties I throw, the less and less exciting it is to have my own birthday. “What kind of party should we throw for Mom?” 5-year-old Noah asked my husband earlier this week. I’m sure he was thinking about Avengers or Minions or Frozen or something.
When we are little, birthdays seem like they are most importantly times for us to indulge in things we want. Even as adults, we do this. What do I want? What special thing am I going to splurge on (or ask others to splurge on) so I can celebrate my birthday in the best way possible? What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? How do I get the most joy ?
This year, I didn’t have a desire to make my day exciting, to have friends over, or even for the boys to make me a cake. In years past, I’ve wanted to do things like going out for a long run or getting away by myself for a few hours or receiving exactly the present I was hoping for; but this year, I am out of shape, had alone time yesterday, and nothing on my list has a hold on my heart. So instead, we’re going to have a picnic in a park and go out for ice cream at a special place. It sounds perfect to me (especially since we’ve been out of ice cream in this house for the last two weeks!). Birthday Joy.
I got to sleep in this morning and was woken up by two sets of four limbs crawling onto my bed shouting, “Happy birthday!! Wake up!! It’s time for breakfast!!” followed by secretive whispering, “We picked you flowers, but that’s not your present… and Dad’s going to bring home roses later, but that’s not your present either.” Birthday Joy.
I fumbled on my glasses and followed their happy feet out to the kitchen table where I found a cinnamon coffee cake muffin on a plate for me, one yellow candle sticking out of the center, and four impatiens petals scattered about. My love lit the candle, they sang, I made a wish and blew out the flame. Birthday Joy.
I felt loved, appreciated and special. Birthday Joy.
But there is a joy that found its way into my heart and into my day that I did not anticipate or expect. At one point, my three-year-old Zeke (who was more than a little frustrating at various times throughout the morning), requested that we turn on some music and do some dancing. With baby Simon in my arms, we began singing and dancing around the living room. Zeke was happy, moving his body every which way and bounding around. A few moments into the song, I looked down, and there was three-month-old Simon, looking up at me and laughing. He had the biggest smile across his face, and he was giddy at the moves I was making.
There is nothing like baby laughter to melt everything else in the world away.
And with everything stripped away, I was left in my living room, holding this gift from God in my arms that brought joy to my soul. In that split second, God spoke something like this to me:
I have given you life. And your greatest joys will occur as you follow me. The rest of the stuff and the special things of this life do not matter—not even a little bit. Your Greatest Joy will be Me. Today, on this special day, and on every day, Christa, I am your joy.