I was 11.

It was my birthday and I was in Montana.  It was freezing cold and right after Christmas, and my Dad took me out on a special date.  He held my hand in the car, after he’d smoked his Malboro cigarette and he told me about the day I was born.  How it was the coldest day of the year, and I came so early.  How I was supposed to be born in February but I decided to come in December. How they were going to name me Ann, but instead settled on Kristin Ann because I was born four days after Christmas.  He also told me that he didn’t have the money to buy me a gift.  That was one of the elements of being a Christmas Baby, money was always so tight and especially around Christmas.

I knew my Dad loved me. I never doubted my parents’ love.  And in those moments I was just so very glad that I had time with just him.  We were going to go walk around the Mall and get an Orange Julius.  My Dad decided to play one dollar on a video lottery game.  I sat on the bench outside the little casino in the Mall, my keds tracing the lines along the tile floor – When my Dad came out beaming.  He had won money, enough to buy dinner for our family, and a gift for me.  Anything I wanted.

I had never been able to “Choose” my present.  I spent so much time looking at them.  I chose what was the most impractical gift out of every gift on the shelves. It was a 3D puzzle, of Disneyland.  A place I’d only seen pictures of, but the puzzle was just as magical. We went to the grocery store, my Dad and Me, “His lucky Charm” the Birthday girl, and we bought dinner, a dinner that I got to choose, with ice cream for my birthday cake.  It was a great day.  Because it was filled with blessings that weren’t expected and I knew that I would never forget that day.  The drive.  The cold.  The winning.  The impractical gift.  And my Dad’s deep voice remembering the day he met me.

I love Birthday’s. They are my favorite.  I love celebrating my kids and making them feel like a million bucks. My friend Renee gave me the idea years ago about the birthday table so we always have our kids wake up to a decorated table just for them with a special breakfast and presents there. It doesn’t take much to make it so special.

On their birthday’s we say “Me Gusta” around the table and shower them with why we love them, and I tell them about when they were born.  I love that at night Grace’s most requested story is the story about when she was born.  She can recite it back to me, and will prompt me if I forget even one detail.  I love each of my kids’ birth stories.  The days they were born were the days where my heart grew sizes and I loved each one with more capacity than I ever knew I could.

I even love my birthday. I don’t dread getting older.  I love having a day dedicated to just being Me.  I can wear sweats all day, and sip coffee. I can take two hours putting on my make up. I can take a nap.  I can work out. That’s the one day I allow myself to not apologize for the laundry not being done, to not feel guilty of all the ways I don’t measure up.  That day I get a pass.

Jonah usually asks for just one thing for his birthday and always wants to make sure he’s not asking for too much.  Daniel puts a lot of thought into it, but usually only wants to spend the day with his Dad who shares his birthday.  Everything else is just icing.  Micah is like me, he spent his entire birthday this year playing Legos.  All day long, and he asked to go to Sonic for lunch. It was a lovely perfect day. And then there’s Grace. For her birthday this year she has requested…A pool, a cell phone, a tv, and a Mermaid Fin. Maybe that’s what I love about birthdays.  The possiblity of anything.  Grace won’t receive any of those things- but I know she will be so excited about whatever she recieves and will be so happy that she gets to have cotton candy…the one day I will let her eat her body weight of it.

But isn’t that the magic of being five? Just wishing for the possiblity of something spectacular?  Just like the day we were born, just letting go of all the uncertainty and accepting the magical gift of that day.  Of something so amazing and miraculous. Something that is so life altering.

It’s like meeting that friend that you’ve been praying to have for years.  It’s the moment when you realize that a huge prayer was answered after days of stress and anxiety.  It’s the day when I looked at my boyfriend of two years and I saw the next 60 years reflected in his eyes.

Maybe that’s why my eleventh birthday was so unforgettable was that I realized that the best sort of surprises are the ones you weren’t expecting.  Even if I had a list as long as my arm of what I’d wanted, nothing could have compared to my 3 D puzzle that for that day was so very magical.

Today, someone posed this question for me…did I think that I was the best thing that has ever happened to my husband? And I paused and I said “I didn’t know.”  I know he is. I know that he is my favorite person in the entire world, and the best thing in my life.  And they followed up with, “Why would you ever doubt that you weren’t the best thing in his?”


Because of all the ways I don’t measure up.  Because of all the times I feel guilty for just wanting five minutes of quiet. The days I hide in the bathroom, because they are fighting and I don’t want to hear one more, “But SHE…”  Because I can be critical and scattered.  Because I get my feelings hurt too easy. Because I only get one day a year for a pass…To just be me. To not try so hard.  Because anything else would seem selfish. Because this year, my husband, my beloved, has lived his vows so beautifully when I was shattered. And has loved me so completely when I have been so incomplete. And yet…

Today when I was asked this question, I realized what I wanted this year for my birthday.  I want to not doubt.  I want to be ok with just being present right where I am.  I want to not just give myself a day, but every day allow myself a little grace to just be.  These days the good days out weigh the bad.  And that is an absolute gift..  Just like Birthdays which are so special, And every day is a gift. Every single day should have little things that make us realize we are also a gift to this world.  We matter.  We shouldn’t doubt that beautiful things are in store even during the hardest season.  And suddenly we have those little miracles.  When we are tracing the lines on the floor of our year, a year filled with grief or sadness, when the bad days have fogged over the good,  that is when those little glimpses of hope happen.  Those are what we should embrace.  And cling to.

I believe we are given little tables of surprises from a God whose love is constantly showering us every day.  Even when we aren’t enough.  Even when we don’t think we deserve it.

It may seem impractical, but none-the-less it’s absolutely magic.

Because on the coldest day in December, right after Christmas, my story began after 8 months of growing and hearing my parents and siblings voices.  My story which was created by a God who is a God of miracles.  Who brought a teeny tiny girl, to my parents.  A God who was willing to share his birthday week with me, because he knew I’d love birthdays as much as Him. The one who created me, his daughter, who doubted his love for me this year…but once if I was ready to let the uncertainty go and just allow the possiblility of being better to come something happened to my heart. I started looking forward to things again.  I started anticipating life.  I started living.  And it was magical.

There is no doubt that HE loves me. And I deserve to know that Love.

I can’t wait for my birthday this year.  I can’t tell you now whats happening but it’s spectacular.  And there is the possiblity of everything!