I love choosing a birthday person each year. It keeps me from remembering how old I am and it gives me an opportunity to thank people who have blessed my life. This year, I had two people in the run-off. Then I realized these two people don’t know each other but they are connected.
Thank you to my two birthday people for 2020. You are awesome and kind to put up with me. Pastor Mark Forrest and Diane Munford.
Dr. Forrest is the pastor at Lakeside Baptist and probably one of the best preachers I’ve ever heard. In 2018, I had the joy of helping Mark publish his first book. You can’t imagine how much you learn when editing a book and this book, Soul Beginnings, introduces the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Mark writes as he preaches—for everyday people—those who have questions, make mistakes, and long for God’s grace. And that is me. Even more important than how I’ve grown while sitting in a pew learning from this young man is how Dickey has grown. Yes, there are times my husband is still a grumpy old man, but I watch Dickey take notes during Marks sermons and see the changes in his spirit in the weekdays after services and I’m so grateful. Also, Mark has challenged the Lakeside congregation to have “A One” this year. A One is someone we can be friends with and share God’s love with.
Diane Munford and I met a few years back at the Dulcimer Festival in Glen Rose. Her Mom is the person everyone calls Mom in the Texas and Oklahoma Dulcimer communities and her brother, Dana is co-founder of the Glen Rose festival. Mom Hamilton and Dana asked me to call Diane and play dulcimers with her. I did, thinking Diane could be ‘My One.’ Instead I have become her one. She has lifted me up so often this year, sharing music, laughter, and Pickleball. When I’m down she makes me laugh. With each laugh, I believe we both grew closer to God. God’s joyous laugh is truly a blessing.
See below for more info on why and how I have a birthday person instead of a birthday party.
When I turned thirty-three, I hated my birthday. I found myself in an emotional waiting room, dressed in my party clothes, wondering who would give me a party? Who would bring presents, bake a cake, blow-up balloons? Who would say I’m of value even though I’m getting older?
“Well, what do you want to do?” my husband asked in an exasperated voice.
“I … I want … I don’t know,” I stuttered, “something special.”
“You want to go to the new restaurant?”
“Go out with friends?”
“Something special, so I don’t just feel old.”
“Hmmmm.” He disappeared into the garage. (I’ve always thought garages were built just so men had a place to escape.)
With no party in sight, I decided to give my own. How to celebrate? I couldn’t really think of any event that would turn my depression into joy. I had no idea what I truly wanted or needed.
Down through the years, Christmas time had remained my favorite celebration. I loved to give gifts, especially to those who meant a great deal to me. This is where the idea to select a Birthday Person formed.
Now each year I select someone who has blessed my life. I chose my mom first. I was her eighth child. She gave me life and added a great deal of fun and love to my life along the way. Next was my sister, Ouida. We shared everything. Best of all, she shared her faith in Christ with me and many others. She died a few years after I made her my Birthday Person. We never know how long we have to say “thank you.”
In the months before my birthday, I think of all the people who have blessed me. I search for a small token—a gift. Then I plan what I want to say. After writing my first rough draft, I get a clean sheet of paper that doesn’t have tear stains on it. And then I create the finished product and mail it with a simple present. There have been many tears involved in writing notes to my Birthday Person, tears of joy, tears of healing—tears shared on the giving and the receiving end.
I’ve chosen a Birthday Person each year, all my sisters, brothers, daughters, youth directors, pastors, grandchildren, family, and friends—all have changed my life in amazing ways. Some years it has been more difficult to choose a birthday person and several times I’ve included a group—my Sunday School class, Facebook friends and more. It has blessed me beyond any gift I could have received. By focusing on others, I have eliminated the fear of more wrinkles and gray hair looming in my future. I’m amazed when glancing back over the copies of these letters to see many people on my list have now passed away—my mom, sisters, brothers, and friends. People who changed my life and who gave me so much, people I could never thank enough, now gone. I’m glad I thanked them when I did.
Thankfulness feeds a healthy soul within us. My “Birthday Person” celebration has spread to many of my friends. The healing power of saying “thank you” and praising others can keep you young—that and a box of hair color and really good facial serum.
I now look forward to my birthday. I hope you look forward to yours. Try celebrating with a thank you gift.
Life Lessons: In Psalms100:4 it says: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” In the culture of that time, the gate was like the courtyard or the entryway of a home, but the court was the living area—the place to be at home with special friends. Taking the time to say thank you. Offer a little praise, not only makes you happy, it can change someone’s life, especially your children. Teaching your kids to say thank you and to praise is a huge gift to them. But the greatest gift is to teach them to be thankful to God and to praise him. Enjoy your birthday.