Saturday, September 7, 2013

Beyond What I Could Imagine, More Than I Deserve

"Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's."
Psalm 103:1,5
I feel so blessed to have passed another birthday.
Another milestone on the path of life.
Life is precious...every, single moment.
And though, I definitely do not relish some of the outward signs of aging, such as...
the abundance of gray hair I am accumulating,
the crow's feet that are becoming more pronounced and noticeable,
and the extra baggage I am so unwillingly carrying around my mid-section...
(will it ever go away?? Ugh! Can I get an amen? Can anyone relate?),
I am still beyond grateful to be a year older.
I am still here.
Still standing, by God's amazing mercy and grace.
I am happy.
And more thankful than I have ever been in my life.

The older we become, the more we realize how fragile life is.
Nothing ever drove that truth home more to me than to stand and watch both of my parents breathe their last breath of earthly life.
The two I depended on, relied upon, needed...since birth were gone.
Just gone.
That is when it hit home the hardest...
when it became most transparently, most crystal-clear...
how own life really is.
And how quickly it, too, can come to an end.

So, with that being said, I have come to truly love birthdays.
I is strange.
What can I say?
I love knowing God spared my life to see another year come full circle.
I love being alive.
I love candles....and singing...and, of course, cake!
What's not to love...about a birthday?

This year, I got to celebrate my birthday more than once!
It has been so happy and blessed...I think it has been my happiest....
and longest-celebrated birthday ever.
We've been celebrating it for days...
in no less than five different states!  :)

I've been on a white, refined sugar fast for over six years.
So, the taste of traditional birthday cake has been a pleasure I have long been obliged to avoid.
I have missed it.  :)
I've learned to bake yummy things without using white sugar
by substituting healthy, natural sweeteners, like honey or sorghum in its place,
but sometimes, I still miss that store-bought cake mix taste, you know?

Well, guess what?
What a thrill it was to recently find pre-mixed cake mixes in the grocery store that say, "sugar-free"!
Woo!  Hoo!

I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners.
In fact, I strive to avoid them.
They just plain aren't healthy,
and in all actuality, it is probably healthier to eat full-blown white sugar
than to put those chemical poisons into our God-dwelling temples.

I do, however, on occasion, break the rules and indulge in something artificially-sweetened....
like ice-cream, candy, or cookies. Especially, when I am with my family, 
and my sister, Debbie puts on a pot of her famous decaf coffee.
She makes the best pot of coffee you could wish for.

My coffee never tastes like hers.
I have watched her make it countless times,
but I just can't measure up.
She's a pro.
We have shared some of our most precious, cherished heart-to-heart talks
over a cup of her freshly-brewed decaf or an occasional iced cappuccino.
She is beyond dear to my heart, and I wouldn't trade our relationship...
or our times together for anything in the world.

Kevin, Zachary, and I have recently had the privilege to do a good bit of traveling,
and during our travels God arranged a special visit to the home of our dear friend, Priscilla.
When we arrived in her home, we found that she had bought
and baked one of those sugar-free cakes for my upcoming birthday.

She decorated it in my favorite color.
It was so pretty!
We had so much fun together doing other things while there,
that we ended up not having enough time to eat the cake!
When we got ready to leave the next day,
she and her sweet Mom insisted that we take the cake along with us.
I'm so glad they did!
It ended up helping us make more special memories,
when we reached our next destination, at my niece, Kim's house.
I had the privilege of sharing it with one my favorite little ladies in the world,
who also happens to have a birthday this month.

Little Miss will soon be six years old.
She helped me blow out the candles, after everyone sang "happy birthday".
Excuse my partiality, but isn't she just adorable?

In West Virginia,
a cook out was planned to celebrate my birthday...again.
We bought a sugar-free cake mix and sugar-free frosting,
and the night before the cookout,
Zachary walked in to the kitchen, got out the needed supplies,
and commenced to mix, bake, and frost my birthday cake....
all by himself!

Can I tell you how much that meant to me?

It touched me deep inside that he would do that.
He is so precious to me.

After trying the candles another way,
he ended up arranging them in the shape of a smiley face.

We ended up bringing the leftover cake home with us,
and I finished it off yesterday on my actual birthday.

As I relished each, sweet bite, I thought of the son God has given us.
Of his tender heart, his loving ways, his deep affection for spiritual things.
I thought of the way he sacrificed play time with Austin
to stand in the kitchen and make sure his Mama had a birthday cake.
I thought of the long years we spent waiting....hoping....longing...and praying...
for a child of our own, even though doctors gave us little-to-no hope.
I smiled as I remembered that first moment they placed him in my arms...
for the very first time.
How I looked down into his round, little face, and softly whispered, "Hi, Zachy."
How they swished him so quickly away as they realized the shape I was in from complications,
and the doctor rushed into the room.
How much I have cherished every, single moment of being the one he calls "Mama".

Having Zachary is the crowning achievement of my life.
God blessed him to overcome incredible, insurmountable odds....just to get here.
He brightens every moment of our lives and is a Godsend more precious than words.

God is so good to me.
I owe Him so much praise...and honor...and worship.
It springs from deep within when I think of Who He is
and all He has done....especially, in my life.
Where He has brought me from.
How He has set my solitary, lonely life smack-dab in the middle of.....
a family that I so gratefully call my own.
"God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains..."
Psalm 68:6
How He graciously and unquestionably led Kevin into my life.
How he enriches every day by walking hand-in-hand and side-by-side with his wife.
How the longer we are together, the more "one" we become,
and the more filled with gratitude I am for every, single moment.
How He has opened the barrenness of my womb.
How He defied the wisdom of man and the diagnosis of modern medicine,
and abundantly blessed us with a child of our very own...of my own womb....
in spite of it being humanly impossible.
How He has filled my heart with unspeakable joy and peace that is past understanding.
"He maketh the barren woman to keep house,
and to be a joyful mother of children.
Praise ye the LORD."
Psalm 113:9

Yes, praise the Lord, indeed!
All glory be to God.

10,000 reasons would just be a small start...
to begin counting my many abundant, lavishly-bestowed, God-given blessings.

I cherish and am beyond grateful for the bounty of family, loved ones, and friends God has placed in my life.
Every card, gift, token of love, and gesture of thoughtfulness.... 
means more to me than I could ever put into mere words.

This one was hand-cross-stitched by my dear friend, Wanda.
Inside she wrote the most beautiful, heartfelt, meaningful words.

Words don't seem adequate to express my gratitude to God 
and to everyone else who made this birthday extra-special..

I am glad God hears the words we cannot speak.
I am beyond thankful for each blessing and every person He has placed in my life.
You all mean the world to me.

God has blessed me beyond what I could imagine and way more than I will ever deserve.


  1. Blessings to you!! And Happy belated birthday. All the love to you, in Christ, Pam Anderson.

    1. Thank you, Pam! You are a blessing to me. God bless you! Love, Cheryl