Birthdays

January 7 was Mike’s birthday.  It was always a challenge having a birthday right after Christmas.  One, it really sneaks up on you!  I always wanted to have Christmas decorations put away.  In my mind, there needed to be a separation between Christmas and birthday décor.  Two, the weather was a factor more times than I can count.  I remember one time coming home from a birthday dinner on a sheet of ice.  I think my knuckles turned white.  Third, it was hard to decide what to get him.  Christmas day football games always seemed to determine whether I get something with Dallas Cowboys on it or not.  If the season didn’t end well, he put his Dallas fan wear away and expressed his disappointment.  The upside was that if I decided to get him clothes, I got really good deals on after Christmas sales!!  Mike always liked red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.  One birthday, I even decided to make it from scratch!

A birthday is a time to celebrate another monumental moment in life.  As a child, we looked forward to birthday parties, friends, and reaching certain ages.  A birthday reminds us of our birth, brings us gifts, shows us faithfulness and lifts our hearts like balloons to the sky.

Our Birth.  We have all heard stories about the day we were born.  It is a time for celebration – after all, it is our one and only BIRTHday.  One of my favorite verses is Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  None of us were created by accident.  God put us together just as He planned.   He created us to love and praise Him so that one day we would have a spiritual birth and invite Him into our hearts and await eternal life with Him.

The Gifts.  Everyone likes gifts!  I think the best birthday gift I gave Mike was a shadow box with a shirt from his favorite college team, Vanderbilt.  It also had a picture of us three attending the game and the tickets we had to the winning bowl game.  There is something about opening a wrapped gift that fills us with anticipation and surprise.  God gives us gifts every day.  We just have to see them.  They may not be wrapped in pretty paper.  They may be small or they may be large.  1 Corinthians 12:4-5 says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.”  If you have never taken a spiritual gifts test, do so.  You can find one at www.spiritualgiftstest.com.  My main gift is the gift of faith.  This pertains to encouraging and building up the church and not being surprised when God answers a prayer or moves in a special way.

Faithfulness.  God is faithful to remind us that each birthday is a gift from Him.  We aren’t guaranteed another year.  We are to live each day to encourage and lift each other up, like balloons at a birthday party.  It also reminds us that we are one year closer to being in the presence of the One who created us.  Growing older isn’t a bad thing.  It is growing closer to the day we spend it in heaven.

It is hard to believe that I have had to celebrate the last two of Mike’s birthdays without him.  I celebrate the 22 that I spent with him and, like the past two years, we sent balloons to him in heaven.

Crabby, Coincidence, Compassion

I guess you can tell that I was a Pastor’s wife because my devotional today has three sections and they all start with the same letter, C.  What can I say? I loved his style!

Crabby.  Do you ever have one of those days when it started out productive and worthwhile?  Then you get a phone call, email or something else happens and it all goes sour?  You get crabby, irritable and everything that you had planned for the day just goes down the tubes.  You have feelings of “life’s not fair” and “why bother.”  Most of the time you express your crabbiness to at least one person and then later you realized how little you resembled Christ’s love and you more resembled a crab.  Your witness is gone but if you are still in the crabby mode, you aren’t even looking or thinking about that.   We all are human and that leads me to coincidence.

Coincidence.  There are some people that think that your thoughts, feelings and actions are all just part of coincidence.  For me, I don’t feel that way.  I believe that God orchestrates everything in your life like a beautiful musical performance.  If you have ever heard a musical score, there are times in the music when it is upbeat and happy.  There are also times when the music turns scary or makes you feel anxious.  There may be calming times in the music that gives you peace and tranquility.  Nothing is coincidence.  As I was experiencing the crabby time as mentioned above (yes, I am human and not ashamed to admit it), I looked at my devotion for the day.  There it was, like a bonk on the head – three verses.  Coincidence?  No.  God was telling me to stop being crabby.

  1. Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
  2. Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
  3. James 4:6, “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

COMPASSION.  As I read the devotion, it talked about how we should be compassionate in all things.  We should diligently seek God instead of the approval and accolades of the crowd.  That is when I felt the bonk on the head.  The musical performance of our life doesn’t always deserve an Oscar or a Grammy Award.  Sometimes we won’t get the praise or attention of a job well done.  If the approval of others becomes more important than the approval from God, we lessen the impact of our witness.  How we handle life’s disappointments is a direct reflection of that witness.  When we don’t get the job promotion or don’t get picked to be the lead manager or even when we don’t get the praise that we feel we should get, maybe it isn’t meant to be.  We must stay grounded and compassionate because there is a much bigger picture.  There are those that are homeless, jobless, and without much hope at all.  If you have a roof over your head, food in the pantry and clothes on to keep you warm, you have something.  Humility is hard but there are others that don’t have as much as we do.

When you have compassion, it overrules crabbiness and that isn’t a coincidence.