Sunday, July 17, 2011

Celebrating Life

This weekend we went to 3 birthday parties. Each one made me pause and remember the sweetness of being "in the moment." They helped me to focus on friendship, family, faith, and in all honesty: fatigue.

Birthday #1:Saturday was spent at the beach with my youngest daughter and her best friend Grace. It was Grace's 10th birthday. The ride to and from the coast was a special treat for me because Grace's mom is  one of my best friends. So the drive allowed for hours of conversation catch-up. While sitting on the sand watching the kids play in the ocean with Grace's dad Jeremy as "lifeguard," I was delighted to see Grace and Jolee run time and time again into the waves, jumping and splashing, daring each other to brave the cold Pacific. They laughed and shivered through a day friendship. How I longed to be 10 again, holding hands with my BFF and facing the dangerous tide relatively unafraid, kept safe by my fearless father, and only worrying about the sand in my swimsuit.

Birthday #2: Sunday afternoon began with an Alice In Wonderland themed very "unBirthday" celebration for my favorite 4-year-old on the planet. Miss Jilian was, as always, a walking talking source of entertainment, amusement, and preciousness. I really wish I had my camera rolling for the entire time I was at the party. Because with Jilian, you never know what's going to pop out of her mouth. The sweetest moments of the party occurred when she opened her birthday cards. Most pre-schoolers would simply glance at a birthday card, discard it and dive into the gift. But not Jilian. Each card was opened with eager anticipation. She would squeal at the pictures, describe the card to us, and then "read" it. Each card she read aloud sounded something like this, "Happy Birthday Jilian. Thank you for being my friend and are at my party. Thank you for the food Amen and Jesus." When I'm around children, I feel like God is giving me a gift. Maybe Jilian was just being silly, perhaps her "reading" comes straight from her heart. But no matter what, being in her presence while she opened her presents, fed my faith.

Birthday #3: We left Jilian's party to go to Keith's. Keith is my friend that died from brain cancer late last year. His birthday is coming up in just a few days. So his widow (ugggh, that's such a sad word) and his son threw a party for friends and family to celebrate Keith's life and to have a chance to get together in his honor. There were many smiles and lots of laughter at the party. But as I spoke with Shannon, I realized how incredibly tiring this last year must have been. Actually that's not true. I have NO IDEA how tiring this last year has been. I am at a complete loss to understand her loss. It breaks my heart all over again. I stand in awe of Shannon and I stand in awe of God. The Holy Spirit has given her strength beyond measure, humor in the midst of pain, the ability to continue on with grace, to make new memories with her son, and to be a witness to the power of living life intentionally. Fatigue. It can rule you or you can choose to continue on. Shannon continues with friendship, family, and faith.

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