I posted this last Friday, but I'm reposting it today because I want to link it up with the gang at Soli Deo Gloria. Take a second to stop by and visit other posts - there's always LOTS of encouragement to go around.
I just can't let the week end without telling my friends in the blog world what an AMAZING birthday I had. Thank you to all who celebrated with me!
It started exactly one week ago, when my husband was up for the fourteenth night in a row finishing the deck he built me:
He spent hours, days, weeks doing manual labor after working full days at his job - all for me. One week ago - when he was putting on the finishing touches:
"Um, for my birthday?" I asked, slightly confused.
"Well, yes," he responded, with that Captain-Obvious look he gives so well. "But it's more than that: it's because I want you to know that you are loved lavishly. This is one way I know I can tangibly show you. I want you to have everything you've ever wanted. I want you to know that your heart's desires are heard. I know it's just a deck, but it's a symbol of that - my lavish love for you."
Um, can I just say, I was speechless? (Yes, me...even I can be at a loss for words.)
I've wanted a deck since before we moved in more than three years ago. I had definitely given up believing that it could happen. And then - poof - I now have the most amazing deck ever.
But it didn't stop there. The next morning I had a quiet time - a real, uninterrupted quiet time - during which the Lord showed up in a big way. Guess what he said? "This birthday is about me showing you how lavishly I love you." Yep, He used the same word my husband had! It was really cool to see how God had spoken first through my husband and, second, directly to me. That's when I realized that "lavish" wasn't just a really amazing gift from my husband - it was a word from the Lord.
Then He gave me some verses: Psalm 34: 9-17.
Then we had a party, and nearly forty of my friends showed up (sans kiddos!). I reconnected with friends I haven't seen in ages - from all parts of my life - while milling about on the (you guessed it) new deck.
At the party several of my friends brought me flowers.
FLOWERS! I absolutely love having fresh flowers in my home, but I can count on two hands the amount of times I've had them since my husband and I got married over five years ago. It has just seemed too ridiculously frivolous to spend money on flowers when there were so many other things to cover.
Did it stop there?
Nope! So at this point I had this amazing deck but no patio furniture. Hey, a girl can't get greedy, I thought to myself. Then my mother gifted me lavishly with cash for furniture. And when my husband and I went to buy it, we found out that the exact patio furniture we wanted - the expensive furniture - was on sale! In the height of patio-furniture-selling season! Everything we wanted was covered exactly by my mother's gift.
There's more...all the people who posted on Facebook with birthday well wishes; the phone calls and texts; the twenty minute, unrushed conversation I had with my sister who lives in the Bahamas; a wonderful day alone with my kiddos on my actual birthday; the chance to go out - alone - with my husband on my birthday night...the gifts just kept on coming.
And all the while, I'm ashamed to admit, I was rejoicing, receiving, and having a really hard time. It's incredibly difficult for me to receive like this, in ways that overwhelm my defenses. This lavishness confronts my doubts, my fears, my disbelief - the places in me that whisper: do I really believe that God will provide, not just what I need but also what I want? Do I actually think that my dreams will come true, even the most seemingly small and insignificant ones? Do I serve a God that gave me desires in order to fulfill them, and not just to tease me with unfulfilled longing?
Wow, that last thought is really ugly. But there you have it - raw and real.
I wish I could say that this week of symbolic gifts - gifts that represent the Father's heart toward me as well as my friends' and family's hearts - has magically erased all fear. It has not - not yet anyway. But it has definitely started the process. Faith is growing; fear is waning. That, in the end, is the greatest gift. I am so thankful, and I am rejoicing. I can hear Him whispering: "Happy Birthday, Beloved; you are loved."