Nothing like a birthday to turn me as reflective as the bathroom mirror. I’m 44 now, and I have a choice. I can focus on all the things about me that still need changing, or I can focus on all the blessings God keeps pouring into my life.
Hmmm…I think I’ll pick Door Number TWO! Happy birthday to me!
Get ready for it, friends! I’m about to do a gigantic brain and heart dump right here on this little ol’ blog. And, of course, it’ll be in the form of a prayer gift. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than by gifting my God with every bit of gratitude my heart holds.
Lord, Oh, how good You are to me! I could type out my blessings until the internet runs out of space, and I’d still have more to say. Where to start? I guess I’ll start at the beginning and see where my memories take me.
One thing I know…You’ve been with me from the beginning, and I know You’ll be with me ’til I’m with You in heaven. You were there when a young teen found herself pregnant with her second child. With arms still aching for the baby boy she gifted through adoption, she faced another nine months of judgmental stares. Thank you, Lord, for my birth mother, who named me Kelly Ann and laid me in the arms of Bill and Mable Walker, who named me Elizabeth Lee.
Thank you for parents who made room for one more “squirt” and for a brother and sister who saw me as a precious gift and not a pest.
Thank you for dates with my cowboy daddy, for shopping days with my fancy momma, for baby dolls and Tonka trucks, for a pony named Cowboy and a collie named Bubba.
Thank you for our housekeeper, Pearl, who made me Coke floats for after-school snacks and who came to my wedding late and my daddy’s funeral early.
Thank you for Aunt Venia reading me hundreds of books and for giving me subscriptions to National Geographic Kids for my birthday, including the hardback, special edition bonus books. And for Uncle Joe whose gruff heart melted to mush when it came to his nieces and nephews.
Thank you for Aunt Neda calling me her “sweet potato bug” and for her daughter, Kathy, teaching me how to have a quiet time with Jesus.
Thank you for Granny Maxwell with her tight hugs and chocolate pies and for Mamaw Walker who let her last week of life be filled with my young teen ramblings.
Thank you for cousins much older and for others just my size. For childhood friends…some I got back thanks to Facebook. For slumber parties and rodeos. For Marco Polo in the pool my daddy built and for cheesy pizza at Crystal Palace.
Thank you for teachers who pushed me and pampered me…whatever it took to help me thrive. For a special library aide who still remembers the utterings of my 12-year-old heart.
Thank you for the church on the corner of Bert Kouns and Mansfield Road where I gave my heart to Jesus and my hand to my sweetie.
For a Sunday school teacher who taught me to pray by kneeling beside her folding chair and speaking to God like a friend. For an Acteens leader who made me a bonus daughter and for a pastor who closed each service with the song, “He is Lord.”
Thank you for the piano lessons I hated that taught me to read music and for the singing lessons that added a new dimension to my contribution to this world.
Thank you for rodeos and songs made-up with my daddy as we treked from one race to another.
Thank you for a first date ending with a handshake and for a mission trip giving me first glimpse of my sweetie.
For singing with the Continentals one summer and for being a Sigma Alpha sister the next fall.
Thank you for a white wedding dress and a honeymoon cruise.
For youth ministry in Ballinger and just scraping by in San Angelo. For jobs and college by day and Arsenio Hall episodes by night.
Thank you for a short stint in Dallas and five years in New Mexico. For Arizona heat waves and blue-sky winters.
For plane rides with blue-eyed wiggle worms and for others with just me and my thoughts.
Thank you for wearing out Barney and Pooh videos and for a thousand walks to the park with blonde-haired boys.
Thank you for pastor’s wives who were role models and friends and for children’s choirs who grew to have children of their own.
For next-door-neighbors with pools and patience for unkempt grass and for a special Mormon bishop with chicken-killing wiener dogs and a heart of gold.
Thank you for shihtzus named Winston, Alley and Riff and for other critters with fur, scales and feathers.
For family pictures at Olan Mills and in sunflower fields and for family trips to San Diego and Slide Rock.
Thank you for sons who trusted You as young children and who question everything now. For how they call me “Momma” just because I like it and for how they become better friends as the years go by.
Thank you for in-laws who are in-loves and who remain true to You and to family, even in their frailties.
Thank you for jobs at a jewelry store, day care centers, a home office and schools. For the passion to write words that represent You well and encourage others.
For waiting and writer’s conferences, for listening and for letting it all hang out, for working through grief and whooping in triumph.
Thank you for childen carried in my belly and for bonus kids calling me Momma Merrill.
For pet names and inside jokes and for tender love and laughing fits. For friends who came and for friends who went. For those who live and for those who died.
For victory moments and for learning opportunities. Thank you for comfort zones and for living on the edge. For receiving more than I ever dreamed and for giving beyond my human means.
For marriage struggles and marriage triumphs and for holding hands no matter what, no matter who, no matter when.
For praying loved ones to heaven and for praying broken ones to wholeness.
Thank you for the power of prayer and the progress of the Christian life. For the Word of God and for my identity in Christ.
For sad goodbyes and grace-filled hellos. For hope for the future despite regrets from the past.
Lord, I. AM. BLESSED. And YOU…YOU are the One who deserves all my praise, all my thanks and all my devotion. Thank you for this 45th year of life, Lord! Use me to represent You well. In the name of Jesus, I pray, AMEN