It was 7:00 on Sunday morning, and I was enjoying a rare birthday treat: sleeping in while Brett got the kids ready for church. I wasn’t fully asleep, though, just in that blissful drifting-in-and-out-of-dreamland mode. I could hear the kids snickering in the kitchen, with Brett helping them make breakfast.
My lazy musings were quickly interrupted when my four-year-old son bounded onto the bed and shook me awake.
“Mom… Mom… MOM!!!!”
I rolled over and mumbled something like, “Mm-kay. I hear you. Stop shaking me.”
“Mom! DON’T WAKE UP!!!” he instructed. “We’re going to surprise you and say ‘Happy birthday!’ And look, I made this card for you! So don’t wake up, okay?” He jumped off the bed and scurried out of the room, all footsteps and giggles.
And so began my first day of my thirty-seventh year.
It was a fun day—starting with “Happy birthday, Mom!” and homemade cards, then worshipping at church (and blushing at my husband’s sneaky surprise), and having fun with the kids. I got just what I wanted: an entire day in which I didn’t have to cook, clean, or be responsible for anything.
At dinner last night, Brett and I were reminiscing about how much we’ve been through together. Then he asked me, “What’s the best thing that has happened to you in 37 years?”
“That’s not a fair question!” I protested. After all, there have been a LOT of wonderful things—how could I pick just one? I grew up in a great family, had fun in high school, enjoyed my years at Texas A&M, loved working at Word Publishing, and now have a wonderful husband and three amazing kids. How could I pick something as “the best”? I’ve been abundantly blessed.
And yet, I’ve also had lots of obstacles along the way. My dad’s death . . . frustrations and failures . . . miscarriage and medical problems . . . betrayals and ministry struggles.
Over a free birthday hamburger and fries (thank you, Red Robin!), Brett and I began to muse about how things would have been different “if only”—if only my dad had been around to help us, if only we had handled that situation differently, if only we hadn’t gone to that church, if only we hadn’t had to deal with those medical issues . . .
Then again, I don’t know if I would change anything.
I've learned a lot of things the hard way. But I’ve learned them well. And those experiences radically shaped my life and transformed my faith from zealous idealism into seasoned maturity. The pain has made me stronger. Deeper. Humbler. More desperate for God. More vulnerable to others. More grateful for life’s blessings.
Pardon the cliché, but these 37 years have been a long and winding road. But it’s the road that led me here. To this place. To this family. To this ministry. To this community.
And no matter how I got here, this is exactly where I want to be.