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.