Last year was a big year for me: the big 3-0. So I compiled a blog post of “30 things I’m thankful for on my 30th birthday.”
Well lo and behold, this year’s also a big day: my golden birthday.
This year I’m thirty-one on the thirty-first!
So to commemorate this once-in-my-lifetime birthday, I give you “31 things I’m thankful for on my 31st birthday”:
1. I woke up on this birthday headache-free and cough-free
2. It’s been seven months since I’ve taken antibiotics
2. There’s plenty of energy to get out of bed each morning and face the whole day
3. I’m able to do all of the glorious, exasperating, mundane tasks of a housewife: cooking and scrubbing the stove and vacuuming baseboards and changing sheets; I know one day all of this will get old, but it hasn’t yet
4. My days are spent with Judah and Amelie, two of God’s best gifts to me, and I’m emerging from the exhausted fog of infant-and-toddlerhood to discover both that I’m still my own person and that I enjoy being a mom!
5. My fiercely loyal, loving son, who notices when I’m wearing a new shirt, compliments my blue eyes, and who told his grandmother: “I hate South Asia because it made my mommy sick”
6. Watching him slowly relax in the knowledge we aren’t going back, listening to him enjoy remembering his school and his friends, our homes and our habits
7. Two children who never get tired of traveling, who are always up for a new place and a new adventure, whose top vacation requests are New York City and Sri Lanka
8. My incorrigible baby girl, with her temper tantrums and talk-your-ear-off chatter, who promptly replaced her “babies” with a blankie and kept right on chewing
9. This same little stinker cuddles on my lap every chance she gets and says “You’re my very best Mommy!”
10. My kids expose my sin and my inadequacy and drive me to my knees asking God for help–the most humbling and most freeing part of motherhood
11. Our house, which is new to us but feels like an old friend, its built-in bookshelves and bright painted walls and endless windows; a beautiful gift from God to this weary, heart-broken family
12. Finding healing and rest within these walls, building new routines and memories, inviting others in, coming back to ourselves
13. Our front porch: the perfect gathering place
14. At home here in my city, where I can mark the changes in its landscape over the years, run into people I went to high school with, give directions to all corners of town . . . the discovery that I do have roots somewhere after all
15. Next-door neighbors more wonderful than we could’ve hoped for, who are already starting to feel like family
16. A park within walking distance; another one up the street being built this very week
17. Medication that provides me with daily calm, energy and hope in the midst of depression and anxiety
18. My psychiatrist who wouldn’t rest until it happened
19. This humbling road God has asked me to walk, the everyday battle of it that catches my attention and sends me to His side; the suffering that I know He’s using to free me and to bring Himself glory
20. Hope in my story and moments to share with others who are hurting; boldness that comes only from walking the dark places myself
21. Girl friends old and new, near and far, who make my life so very rich
22. The ache of missing South Asia–our friends and our team and our work and our home
23. A country I will forever cherish and delight and grieve over; it was a gift to spend eighteen months there
24. Peace in the not-understanding
25. God’s love is nearer and dearer than it was on my last birthday
26. A public library chock-full of books, just a couple miles away. It brings me delight every single week.
28. a new coffee mug that makes me smile each morning
29. Living close enough to my family for shared babysitting and impromptu dinners and cups of tea and birthday cook-outs
30. An unstoppable grin on my face as the next chapter begins
31. My husband: he’s my best friend, bearer of my sorrows and joys and dreams, sharer of my secrets, encourager of my heart, the person I want to grow up to be like. Oh, I love him.
photo by Ben Landers