So, I have no choice. I am going to turn 40 before I write again and, therefore, I am obligated to write about it. 40 is the first birthday where the stores start selling all black decorations. Inappropriate – 40 is fabulous, black will not do.

It has been a very long time since I have had a milestone birthday, and when a decade of life draws to a close, it is a milestone of consequence. Great consequence indeed.

Not only is this a milestone birthday – it is the very first milestone birthday that I have celebrated from a place of peace and pure contentment. I am truly content in all ways. Perhaps this is driving my joy over this looming anniversary of my life, but I have always, always, been a lover of birthdays (my own being a personal favorite, prior to being a mom). Sadly, as an adult, I have had a really hard time celebrating big. It seems garish, indulgent, un-adultlike. But a milestone birthday? Everyone can go crazy with one of those!

Birthdays, for me, are an opportunity to take a moment and appreciate your life. A chance to evaluate where you have been and where you are going. It is a moment to be fully present and cognizant of your life. I’m so going to like this milestone evaluation better than the last one.

At 30 – just ten short years ago – I was two years divorced. I lived in Atlanta, alone. I only knew three co-workers in a city of 800,000+ people when I moved there in 2000. I literally drove from apartment to apartment until I found something in my price range, not knowing what kind of neighborhood it was or exactly how to get from there to my job. I commuted to work on an eight lane interstate highway (a girl from a town with more cows than people and no stop lights).

For my 30th birthday I drove to Savannah GA, and I got a room at a bed and breakfast on the beach, all by myself. I took a journal, and I spent the weekend mentally shifting from my old life to my new life. I was like a snake shedding it’s skin, and I promise you, I drove back to Atlanta a new woman. I made a decision that my life was no longer going to just happen to me. I grew up. I took responsibility for myself. I stopped being incapable. I claimed my space on this earth. It felt fantastic and frightening.

My first stop was finishing college – I was able to finish my degree by 2002, in Information Technology, while working for GE during the day. Even managed to graduate summa cum laude much to my surprise. (gratuitous plug)

After graduating I changed jobs and went to work with a wonderful company with a servants heart at it’s core. I found in the CEO an incredible mentor who gave me incredible opportunities to build my career and stretch out of my professional comfort zones. I’m celebrating ten years with them this year, and the company continues to stretch me and allow me room to grow.

My next stop was a therapist. With hard work, I was able to really understand what drove my poor decisions in the past (and a few that were still present). The best time, and money, I ever invested in myself was that time with someone trained to help me excavate to my core and start to rebuild. She provided me the tools to live life purposefully and with intent.

After that I found a church, and not just any church, but a church that let me come as I was. A church that taught me a way of relating to religion and Jesus that was not only palatable, but fulfilling. In 2004 I was baptized on Father’s Day with a video taped confession on two jumbo screens broadcast to about 2,500 people in attendance that morning. I had been baptized as a child but I felt a compelling need to publicly confess this new faith that was so much more than I had ever known.

Then life started getting amazing.

In 2005 I made the decision to move back to Missouri and be near my family. I moved back in March of 2006. I went on a date with a very handsome, funny and amazingly witty man on Cinco de Mayo. I married him in July. Best day of my life. In 2008 we moved into our newly built home in March and brought home our beautiful daughter in April. Tied my wedding day for best day. In 2010 we had the most amazing little boy and brought him home in February. We have a three-way tie now! And now it is 2012 and we are once again adding to our family (gasp) – we are getting a new puppy in a few weeks! This family I have, it is indescribably wonderful. I would try to explain, but there are truly no words. Greg, I love you with every. single. fiber. of my being.

So, yes, I enter my 40’s healthier and happier than I have ever been. From having no one to having everyone in ten short years. On my 30th I was hopeful, but I truly didn’t think any amount of time would be enough for me to course correct the train wreck I felt was my life. I didn’t have the ability to forgive myself and realize that God was in hot pursuit. One of the most beautiful lessons I have taken from the past ten years is this; it does not matter how far down the wrong path you go, God is always busy clearing a way for you to get back on His.

My life is not perfect, but I don’t dwell on the difficulties of life. I know that as long as you have people you love, who love you back, everything is bearable. Shame and guilt have no place here. I am a forgiven child of God, and that is all I need to know.

When I thought about writing tonight, I knew this is how the piece would go. I knew it was a story of triumph and hope. I guess I can’t say guilt is totally gone because I did think, maybe I shouldn’t write that…is it prideful? But I remembered a wonderful post I read recently on self-confidence vs. humility. Both are God given traits required to live a full life. This wonderful writer put it most eloquently – self-confidence comes from knowing you are a child of God, humility comes from realizing everyone else is as well.

My life is triumphal, but I am not. I am a child of God, given an abundance of grace. Life may have curve balls to throw at me, but this new life – this beautiful, 40 year old life – is built on solid ground. I can’t handle anything on my own, but I can handle anything with the beautiful network of people God has brought to me. He has built a hedge around me – not to protect me from everything – it is no guarantee of perfection. It is a reminder, though, if I stay within the boundaries fewer things have a clear shot, and I have a place to come to and take cover.

For all of you – new friends, old friends, family friends – Thank you. You make my life beautiful and precious. You are a gift to me. You are all a part of the grace of God. I am loving this birthday because you are in my life. Thank you.



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