“We tend to forget that our real gift is not so much what we can do, but who we are.” Henri Nouwen
I am good at planning birthday parties.
I love celebrating birthdays.
When I found out my high school best friend Annette wasn’t doing much on her birthday a couple weeks ago, I insisted on driving over on the weekend and doing whatever she wanted: breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Better yet, why don’t I plan a girls outing with you? I suggested. I got excited brainstorming and actually started having a virtual party in my head just imagining all the different things we could do.
And when it came time for my son TJ’s eighth birthday last month, I got really adventurous — and decided last minute to deviate from the plan of baking cupcakes to bring to school. I experimented and made rice krispy treat balls (instead of my usual squares) and shook some cookie sprinkles to make them look happy and festive.
Trouble is, when the kids started eating them, they were too hard to bite. I think I made them too big. Some of them kind of disintegrated. I don’t think I put enough marshmallows.
And you know those sprinkles? They looked pretty. But they didn’t actually stick. The micro-candy-balls just fell through when a little girl took her first bite. I quickly turned to the teacher, Um… why don’t we have the kids enjoy them outside?
I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as tiny sprinkles rained down like ping-pong balls, trailing the kids as they spilled out into the hallway.
Like I said, I’m really good at planning birthday celebrations — for others.
But I don’t organize birthday celebrations with friends — for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy celebrating my birthday. But, in more quiet-by-myself ways.
I reminisce the close of one year. I love getting sentimental, looking over the past year of memories. I reflect on where God may be leading me into the new year and ask Him to place one word on my heart and search the Scriptures for a special verse.
I love enjoying my favorite places — hiking, the beach if it’s a warm winter, or a day in the city.
In other words, I’ve enjoyed birthdays in more introspective ways. I’m an introvert. I savor feeding my soul, especially on my birthday.
Since being married, I’ve had a companion on my outings — my sweet hubby Eric — who takes me out and listens to me gab for the longest time at a cafe.
And when I became a mom, birthdays became a fun time to enjoy being out with the kids.
But, since surviving PTSD this past year and half, something curious started stirring in me last month.
I wanted to have friends to celebrate my birthday with me.
I didn’t want to pass my birthday hidden.
My Birthday Wish
My birthday wish this year is very different from what it’s been in the past.
A new part of me is emerging: the little girl in me who longs to receive.
My birthday wish is for friends to blow out candles with.
I never would have guessed among the devastation of brokenness, I’d find something so unexpected on the journey.
A discovery so soul-changing, I know it must be from God —
I wasn’t made purely to give.
My heart was made to receive.
I realized why I have a passion for organizing get-togethers with friends. Why I love making a big deal out of birthdays for friends. Why I have a wild abandon to experiment and bake something sweet for them.
It gives me joy seeing others happy and valued.
These are all longings of my own heart.
Will I open my heart to give myself the same chance to receive?
An Anxious Thought
How would I ask? Would anyone come?
What day would I choose?
December is such a busy month with few precious weekends before Christmas. I didn’t want to take time away from my friends. They probably have stuff scheduled already.
I wouldn’t want them to feel obligated to come.
Then, an even more anxious thought dawned on me — What if my friends did come, but only out of obligation?
You see how I torture myself?
You see how foreign it is to my heart to open up and take the risk to receive?
The Second Half
I came up with a gazillion reasons there was no need to make a big deal out of my birthday.
Weeks went by until a week was left before my birthday.
I didn’t want to live the second half of my life unchanged.
This year and a half has been a long journey through brokenness that has led me to healing.
Now that my heart is coming alive, I am giving myself permission to receive this year.
I emailed some friends last week. I tell them it’ll be my birthday soon. I tell them I wanted to celebrate by combining three things that has brought God’s comfort and beauty to my soul on my journey:
– my soulful girlfriends
Then, I asked them to help me start my new forty-third year together enjoying these three things. Did anyone want to join me for a birthday hike and brunch?
They said yes.
The Real Gift
The joy and comfort of real friendship.
It’s one of life’s greatest gifts.
It isn’t what they can do for me.
The real gift is who they are.
Loving hands who have held my heart along this journey with.
The real gifts they gave was simply being present with me.
That is the kind of friend you have been for me here online — through the gift of words.
This is the reason I am writing this post.
To share my birthday week with you.
Because I count you as one of my real birthday gifts this year.
I am learning to give myself permission to receive. As is.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
What are you learning to give yourself permission to do or become?
What is your birthday wish this year?
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Happy Birthday Bonnie! I only found your blog this past weekend & I have read back as much as I could. The reasons you listed for not wanting a birthday party are nearly the same as I had a few weeks ago. I turned 40 & could not let myself celebrate. Not really. I think I will change that. I hope to celebrate in at least a small way in the next few weeks.
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The real gift is who you are. I love that, Bonnie. You are a gift to all of us. Just you as you are, not what you give back to us (although that is plenty!). Thanks for sharing your true self here. You’re such a brave soul and I love you for it.
Bonnie. Over and over, God uses the beauty of your words, the beauty of YOU to speak to my heart. What a gift. Tuesday was my birthday:) I have a special spot in my heart for birthdays, and I wonder each year if I am selfish for wanting mine to be special. Wanting the day to be significant somehow. Thanks for giving words to the meaning behind a birthday, and a hug to the desire of my heart not to let the day go by unheeded.
Happy Birthday Bonnie! Enjoy your day! Your love and encouragement and courage has helped me to keep going when it is hard. I appreciate you so much. I am capturing moments of hope like we “talked” about in your post.
Virtual gift: hugs from me, wishing I could give you one in person.
Happy Birthday to you Bonnie!! I have a problem with receiving too, I’m working on it! 😉
PS. I’m so glad I found your blog!! You inspire me! 🙂
Thanks so much for this post, Bonnie! Have a blessed birthday!
Happy Birthday Bonnie!
My birthday is December 20, and on that day I am turning my Middle school English for Homeschoolers class into a party (watch and discuss A Christmas Memory and maybe eat fruitcake) and the week before my Ladies Brunch Group is going to meet at my house with my table set with the Spode Christmas tree dishes my mom bought two years before she died and it’s to celebrate my birthday as well as catch up with each other. I think my life is always now a mixture of pain and pleasure but I am learning to be thankful because it turns the pain into blessing somehow. Trust that there will be growth, I guess, that it’s not needless pain. Or with grief the thanks dissipates the pain altogether like vinegar dissolves hard water deposits.
For my birthday I want Jesus to fill my heart with song.
Pain to turn to praise
Fear to turn to faith
Maybe a glimpse of what my past 48 years have meant and what the next dozen or so are for?
Bonnie, enjoy your birthday, whichever day it is and whenever you hike with soul friends. I’m glad to be your friend here online. I am so thankful for your writing and leading and courageous following God.
Thank you for your heartfelt post. It lifted my heart on a feeling sorry for myself day. It lifted my spirits. Thanks and God’s blessings to you.
I’m so glad, Susan! As my prayer partner in PA told me last week, keep the Kingdom vision no matter the circumstances. God’s love to you, dear heart.
Happy Birthday, Bonnie!
God bless you for how you share your heart and your process and bless others who may not have the wings to do so yet. I am grateful to be linking up with you. I almost waited to post my post (which I finished two days ago) since I had just posted one on gentle parenting and wanted to leave it up a bit … but then I read your post and thought, I have to post now. Blessings on the coming year, on your “word” for 2014 and on the verse. I do the same thing — with a verse, but never have done the word. Maybe I’ll try that this coming year. I appreciate you.
Beautiful post as always Bonnie! Enjoying time with good close friends is always so refreshing to the soul. Enjoy your special day! 🙂
Happiest birthday!!!! Isn’t it so wonderful to know that the Masterpiece maker designed you and formed you and celebrates you, as I do and many others do too!! Hope this is a wonderful, special and memorable birthday week for you!! You have inspired me to really celebrate others on their special days, as well as myself when the next bday rolls around!! We will celebrate!!
Thank you for sharing your birthday with me!! Praying for blessings to pour down on you this week!!
This year I am giving myself permission to cry when I need to. God hears every tear fall and sits with me until I am finished. It feels cleansing and healing to know He cares so very deeply for me, even in my brokenness. Then I am able to pick myself up and move on. Then I can see the world around me with a clearer vision and relish in all the blessings I have been given. It has been a tough year. Permission to cry frees the tension and helps me relax into the future. My birthday wish this year is that EVERYONE has a happy and blessed birthday!!
I often deny myself things because it is sometimes uncomfortable for me to receive. Even compliments take me by surprise. I think the biggest thing I can let myself have is to really be myself.
Speaking of birthdays, my 13 year old granddaughter, Alex, has decided to have a “bake party” for her 14th birthday! I thought it was a great idea. She and her friends will bake cupcakes together to eat as part of the party. Alex will also be allowed to pick out what gourmet things she wants for her cupcakes from a high priced grocery called AJs in Gilbert, AZ. They have some pretty nice cupcake toppings that you would not see in a regular supermarket and also some extracts that are not common, like licorice. Alex is actually pretty good at this sort of thing and she has not once exploded an egg or melted a tea kettle. 😀
Anyway, Happy Birthday to you, Bonnie!! May you receive tons of blessings throughout the year! 😀
Happy Birthday, Bonnie! Oh, yes, nature, girlfriends, pastries…a hike and the presence of friends who accept us- embrace us- how we need this. I am so grateful for your sharing here again, and thank you for your words. You are a blessing, and I am looking forward to joining up with a post asap- and praying your journey continues to reveal your heart’s joy to you and those around you!
Happy Birthday Bonnie! This year was one of my happiest birthdays ever. I asked God for blessings, as I’ve spent way too many birthdays grieving over unmet longings and I was so blessed in lots of lovely little unexpected ways.
I have always wrestled with the desire to hide on my birthday. My friend has vowed that that won’t happen next summer when the big day rolls around. She knows I hide. She knows I need to receive. And I’m not sure what to expect. I know, like you, I am changed. But, what will stir there in the forgotten corners when that day approaches? Your story will encourage me to be brave and allow myself to receive. Thanks for sharing it!
Bonnie… Happy Birthday to you.
Thank you for your post and your transparency in writing.
Your ‘jam’ for today is also interesting….. All I could think as I read it was…
Giving myself permission to …. give myself permission.
Staying in the p.r.e.s.e.n.t. today.
I love it!! I look forward to every post because I know that you are going to take us somewhere, because you are always opening yourself up to where God is leading you. How is it that everything you write about is so relatable, even the awkward feelings of inviting your grown-up friends to a birthday outing? I am so with you…so grateful that God thought of you and that you have the courage to believe in the gift that you are!!
Dear, dear Bonnie–
Thank you for allowing us to celebrate and share joy in your birthday
Yes, we have walked together, wept together, plunged deep
now it is also time to laugh together
Happy happy birthday, may you find yourself in the centre of His great love
where He never once lost you
Happy Birthday, soul sister! So grateful for your willingness to share with us. Love you much!
Birthday Blessings 🙂
Thank you for daring to step out in sharing about PTS. I caught your blog through (in)courage community and it has blessed me so very much. I am learning to find my voice again at 50 plus. God has done so much in my life but the best gift I received was reading your story as I connected with it personally. There have been so many times I felt alone because you don’t find many people who know about PTS. Its only assoicated with war veterans. And the fact that it can be very personal in regard to family history. I don’t blame my experience on anyone. I believe we do as best we know, and when we know better we do better. I didn’t let it hold me hostage in rising my own children. But unfortunetly it effect my social interaction with others. It limit me and limit relationships. So I am catching up right now in social skills and comfort. But each new contact with others becomes a growth even if its a tiny one. Keep writing, please keep writing because it sends courage to the rest of us that one day we too will be able to celebrate in joy and freedom of who we are.
[…] Social Justice Kristine McGuire December 5, 2013 Leave a Comment Giving Myself Permission To… What am I giving myself permission to do or believe (about myself)? What is my birthday wish for this (next) year? This are questions being pondered and asked by my friend Bonnie at Faith Barista. […]
Reading your words made me smile and shake my head….how well I know them. I walked that path myself, desired and wanted to receive so badly the very thing He called me to give. And it’s hard to celebrate me…..to ask for something that seems so extravagant. But coming out the other side of something desperately hard and life changing, I too, just wanted to share myself with others. Happy birthday to you Bonnie 🙂 what a gift you have given in sharing your words, your heart, your story.
Happy birthday, Bonnie ~
I wish for you an enjoyable birthday filled with friendship, love and fun. I would love to share the pastries with you, the hike, well, not so much!
This morning, I had realized that I got the last two writing prompts mixed up.
While I was jumping though your webnsite to try to straighten myself out, I scrolled though your ‘Why Faith Barista’ page and saw your picture.
Oh, what a beautiful smile and such a pretty lady, inside and out.
Many blessings to you on this cold and snowy day in the Ozark Mountains.
Have the best of birthdays Bonnie! And as so many others have Said Thank you for your story!
Love Elisabeth from Sweden
Thank you so much for writing this, and inviting us out in the blogosphere to join along in your journey of faith. It is an honor and a privilege and I thank you. Oh, and happy birthday, may the Lord bless you richly with all of the desires of your heart!
Oh and I forgot to add… I quoted you on my blog. Hope you don’t mind.
Thank you for your beautiful and honest post. I hope you have a truly lovely time on your birthday. Bless you.
Thank you for your courageous and vulnerable words. They are a blessing to me and God is using you. 😉
I also have my birthday next week and can really relate to what you are saying. Thank you.
I just love your thought provoking posts. They encourage me to be more purposeful n engaging in my own life. Thank you. Hope you had a blessed birthday with your friends.
I, too, have a December birthday–the same day as Beth Werner Lee, above–the 20th. Although my family has always remembered, I don’t even mention it to others, for the reasons you’ve mentioned. Everybody is already so busy; they don’t need another obligation.
But your post has me thinking about the scripture, “It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35),” and the truth someone spoke to me years ago: If you won’t receive, you’re stealing the blessing of giving from others!
OK, so that applies to celebrating birthdays–even in December! Here’s my plan. I already have a group coming for brunch, close to my birthday. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to sing to me. Might even put some candles in the coffee cake!
Belated but most blessed birthday to you, sweet Bonnie! It makes me smile to know we’re nearly the same age. My 42nd birthday comes in January 2014. You have so much to celebrate with your friends and before God this year… big boulders of memorial stones. Thank you for allowing us to join the celebration with our thanksgiving. Your life and perseverance are a testimony. Thank you for not quitting in this arduous journey. I look forward to your one word or verse, if God gives you one.
It feels like God is nudging me to give myself permission to rest and be more than do, but I’m struggling with that, to be honest. Between the “should”s and the “must”s, the “may”s get squeezed pretty hard, and I find I have to rest in prayer before I can even discern what to give up. Does that even make sense in words outside my head?
A faith jam post was one of the things I gave up last week, as appointments on Thursday quickly followed by 4 days of ice shutting us in changed the plans drastically. Please accept this small participation as a token that my heart remains with you on your journey.
Again, may any lingering birthday celebrations be blessed, and may the Lord pour out joy and abundant mercy on the year ahead for you. May He restore what the locusts of PTSD have eaten.
Happy birthday Bonnie! Thank you for sharing your heart. My 40th is coming up in January and I’ve been ‘uming’ and ‘ahing’ over whether I want to celebrate this milestone. Reading your post I realise it boils down to whether I value myself to celebrate me. I, like you, adore celebrating others’ so why not myself? I think I’ll do it. I pray for your day to be filled with many moments where you are celebrated and valued.
I love this post! I too, like to plan celebrations for others and seeing them blessed and happy. My word for 2014 is “change” and one of the changes I am making is choosing/allowing myself to receive, especially the things that make me vulnerable and authentic. I have spent the last 13 years taking care of others and 24 years in the retail industry serving others. It’s time for me to ask and receive so that I can be filled. I can’t keep giving when I am empty.
From now and through the coming new year, I pray that you will continue to receive all that God has for you.
Take good care,
I love this post and I especially love that your friends could celebrate our birthday with you. I also enjoy celebrating the special days of others in my life, but for my birthday…not so much.
My birthday wish this year? The same as every other year…to actually enjoy my birthday…I used to have fun…before I knew…back when I believed that I was worth a birthday. But, now…I try, I really do, and I play with my kids. But there is always that empty place that longs to be cared for…to be worth enough for peers to be willing to take time to celebrate with me…to have real friends who can hear the song of my heart–the song that sings joy in time together, not in packages.
Some really valid points and great ideas. We are made to crave, so why not be made to receive as well?
I so resonated with this post. I have been away for a couple of weeks with no internet and am catching up reading lots of blogs, but this one stopped me in my tracks as it brought back memories. I was 40 when I started discovering my little girl and I had never had a birthday party since I was 10 and it wasn’t a very good party because of my family. So I decided to have a 41st birthday party and as i started planning it got even more amazing. I am an introvert to the extreme (especially back then) and had always hated it if i had to dress up, fancy dress, had always found excuses not to dress up. However, the new part of me that I was discovering, wanted to dress up. So at my 41st birthday party – the one I thought no one would want to come to – lots of my friends came and dressed up as their favourite book character and I had great fun dressing up too. That started a whole new part of life for me. And when it comes to dressing up, you can’t stop me now. I’m a High School teacher and now in my 60s and last year when I was teaching a book called ‘Gorilla” to a class that I wanted so much to inspire but who weren’t easy to inspire, I got a lend of a gorilla suit (the way God works is hilarious at times – I sent an all staff email to the teachers at my school asking if anyone knew where I could get a gorilla suit and three of them already had a gorilla suit!!!) and I dressed up fully as a gorilla and walked into that classroom and totally surprised those kids. I think it all started at that 41st birthday party – so watch out and have a wonderful, wonderful time.
Wow. Vicki — it’s great imagining you at 40, 41 — and now at 60 in a gorilla suit! Thank you. It’s encouraging to know it’s never too late to discover a new life as the little girl. I just went yesterday with my friends and it was a perfectly sublime & happy!
[…] Inspired by Bonnie over at Faith Barista, I did something last week that is NOT me. I invited some friends to come celebrate my birthday with me. They were friends from my recovery group. It wasn’t the actually day of my birthday, but it was the day we were free to come together and celebrate. […]
[…] I never did get to tell you what happened. I did something I had never done before. […]