The earliest birthday I remember was when we lived in the dust bowl of Laredo, Texas. I would have been turning four or five years old. I remember it because my mom made me a homemade cake, and I think it was shaped like Grover. Or some other Sesame Street character. I remember feeling so special that she would take the time to make me the cake that I wanted.
One of the other birthdays that sticks out in my mind was a birthday I had when we lived in Virginia. Ten or so of our friends went out to eat with Maile and I to an Indian restaurant in Ashburn. It made me feel loved and appreciated, that so many of our friends would set aside that night, find babysitters, and join us in toasting the fact that I was alive for another year.
Birthdays: the celebration of being.
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Yesterday my daughter gave me this birthday card. Yes, it was one day before my birthday and, yes, it kind of looks like I’m wearing a large yarmulke. But you can’t beat three balloons with the number “37” on them, and you certainly can’t beat having a daughter who thinks you’re the best dad ever.
Whenever I have a birthday, I’m reminded of Henri Nouwen’s words:
Birthdays are so important. On our birthdays we celebrate being alive. On our birthdays people can say to us, “Thank you for being!” Birthday presents are signs of our families’ and friends’ joy that we are part of their lives. Little children often look forward to their birthdays for months. Their birthdays are their big days, when they are the center of attention and all their friends come to celebrate.
We should never forget our birthdays or the birthdays of those who are close to us. Birthdays keep us childlike. They remind us that what is important is not what we do or accomplish, not what we have or who we know, but that we are, here and now. On birthdays let us be grateful for the gift of life.
I think that comes from his book, Here and Now.
It is good to be reminded of this, at least once a year, that what is important about me is not the books I write or how many (or how few) people read them, not the things I own or the fame and accomplishments of those I know. What’s important is that I am here, that I exist, and that I get to enjoy this existence with all of you.
Thank you for your friendship, and for so consistently reading the scribbles of this now 37-year-old ragamuffin.
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There is a winner in this week’s book giveaway contest and her name is Colleen Butler Coar! Colleen, please message me with your mailing address and I’ll get those books out to you.
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I’m reposting one of my favorite blog posts ever over at Deeper Church today. If you’ve ever felt like giving up, you’ll want to check that out by clicking HERE.