My mother posted on Face Book, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SON! 57 years ago (now) I was at Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah, Kentucky waiting for his arrival. We have weathered many storms. Love you Keith. mom” She, now 81 years young, is the only remaining member of my immediate family from Paducah. My dad and younger brother died in 2008. Mom’s post made me wonder what it was like for her in the delivery room birthing her first child. Dad was outside of the room somewhere, no doubt with cigars in hand to pass around. That was the tradition then.
I also ponder today my own immediate family and what each of my birthdays have meant since they have been in my life. My oldest daughter has been a part of my birthday celebration 23 times. She was again today as we had a phone call over Viper from her apartment in Germany. My next daughter, a 21 birthday veteran with me, shared a meal and time together yesterday before she returned back to her final days of school at Lee University. My son, 18 birthday celebrations, greeted me at breakfast on his way out to work and will be home to celebrate tonight with me and my wife, who has wished me a special day 27 times now.
Birthdays are interesting. People contact you on that day with a special acknowledgement that may not come again for another year. It is a special day to remember. For me, I enjoy giving to others so much that it seems a birthday should be filled with such gratitude that I thank others, who have been, and are now a part of my life. I should send my mom flowers on my birthday. I want to let everyone who cares about me know how much I care about them and how much I appreciate their friendship and love. Even over the years and miles, love continues.
I miss many people who have been a part of my birthdays past. Some I have lost touch with in the drift of time and distance. Some have passed over to life beyond the earth. If they are able to know what happens in the present, I hope they are cheering me on today. I think I will let a helium filled balloon go today just to send them a thank you.
There are so many types of gratitude I have today, more than I can list now. Here are 57 of them…
- I am a son with a legacy of a mother and father who love me and tried hard to provide for me and my future.
- I am a brother with a younger brother who taught me a lot about myself in the way I treated him both good and bad.
- I am a nephew with a wonder set of uncles and aunts who have always shown me love and acceptance.
- I am an uncle with opportunities to show my love and acceptance to my nieces and nephews.
- I am a cousin with cousins who have been a fun part of my childhood and still inspire me today.
- I am a husband with a wife who is a beautiful, amazing companion.
- I am a father with three children I admire and love so deeply and two that I will meet one day in heaven.
- I am a follower of Jesus Christ with an unquenchable desire to know Him more, grow in Him more and show more of Him.
- I have heard God’s voice in my inner spirit.
- I am prayed for.
- I am spiritually aware enough to know to pray for others.
- I am a spiritual friend to many other Christians who contribute into my life and receive from me.
- I have had the honor of performing weddings and funerals.
- I am a life coach with a passion to help others move forward in life.
- I am healthy, physically, mentally and spiritually.
- I live in a beautiful place.
- I have great neighbors.
- I have people both near and far who want to learn from me.
- I have people both near and far who teach me.
- I am open to learn.
- I am open to share.
- I seek more; not earthly things, but eternal things for others and myself.
- I live in the present, less bound by the past and less fearful of the future.
- I get to eat and drink safely each day.
- I have never really been starving, even though with hunger I have said so.
- I have a comfortable, clean bed.
- I have more than enough shelter for me and others who share it.
- I have learned to stop whining and complaining.
- I can read and understand, almost anything in English and a lot in Spanish.
- I don’t have to eat butterscotch.
- I like to laugh.
- I can make others laugh; and sometimes groan with my humor.
- I have been able to be a peacemaker in conflict.
- I have been able to be a mediator to help agreements come together.
- I have been a reconciler of people to God and to each other.
- I have been broken enough times to know I need God and others.
- I have been wrong enough to know I will never know it all and must be open to be taught.
- I have people in my life that will speak to the truth to me in love.
- I have forgiveness.
- I give forgiveness.
- I have come to know who I am in Christ.
- I have learned about the power of shame and how to help myself and others with an antidote.
- I have finally begun to enjoy playing cards.
- I got to fly like a bird in a hang glider.
- I have traveled around the world and met people on every continent except Antarctica.
- I have met many famous people.
- I have met many infamous (unknown) people.
- I have been cared for by the very poor.
- I am learning to see Jesus in those I hadn’t recognized Him before.
- I give smiles away.
- I have received so many smiles.
- I hug freely.
- I have been hugged much.
- I dream big and remain filled with hope.
- I have rejected passivity.
- I have become courageous.
- I am just beginning to live, not ready to retire.
So, thank you for reading all the way down to here. My birthday wish is for you to find peace and joy today in your life. May your mile markers give you pause to reflect and grow in forgiveness and gratefulness in your journey ahead.
As I was writing this my son called to ask me what I wanted to do tonight. He, my wife and I will be serving birthday cake to the homeless in downtown Nashville. Now that is a birthday party I can enjoy!