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A gift wrapped for a celebration

My first birthday after my mother passed away was my 52nd birthday. As I wrote in “Walking My Mother Home,” I cancelled my 50th birthday party to stay in St. Louis and spend my birthday with my mother. I wanted to shower her with love and devotion like I am sure she did for me when I was born.

Of course my friends understood. When I originally cancelled the party, my friend Janet, the hostess, offered to host the party after I returned. I accepted her offer, but with my mother still painfully hanging on to life, having a party was not something I wanted to do very soon.

One year later, I quietly celebrated my 51st birthday with no fanfare and with much reflection on my visit the previous year. The months continued to pass and my mother passed away in February 2011, as I described in my story. The revelations I experienced as a result of that journey have led to a transformation in me and birthed my desire to write and to boldly celebrate God’s healing power.

When my 52nd birthday approached in November 2011, I felt it was time to celebrate. Janet again offered to host the party. This time the party was totally different than the planned original. It was a sentimental and unconventional birthday party.

This party was held with a small group of friends who had prayed for me and watched the journey unfold with my mother. I planned several surprises for these friends including an appearance by my Spanish “family,” Rosa and Pedro, via Skype. Rosa read a note of birthday wishes she composed in English. That was her surprise for me.

I did a reading from a short story about the cross pendant I received from my Spanish family and its significance. Pedro translated the story for his mother. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We ended the day with these faithful prayer warriors anointing my writing for “Walking My Mother Home,” my first manuscript, which at that point was barely a work in progress.

On this day of celebrating my new identity revelations, I didn’t want any physical gifts from my friends, just their presence. But I did receive one very special gift of the heart that day. When I woke up on the morning of my birthday party, “Ardis’s Song,”  a song composed by Pedro, was waiting for me in my email. It was the perfect melody to capture the inner transformation I had experienced—starting slow and ending with a cheerful melody. So I started the day with tears of joy in my eyes and ended it anointed and re-purposed to share God’s story in my life.

Celebrating milestones like turning 50 are a common occurrence in our lives. If you approach life from a viewpoint that every day is a gift, you will see that there are so many milestones in our lives worth celebrating. As an avid scrapbooker and photographer, I capture most of life’s milestones through the eye of the camera lens. With the addition of Pedro’s music, I now have a “soundtrack” that goes along with it.

I encourage you to celebrate and commemorate the milestones in your life—no matter how big or small. We can cling to these milestones, along with God’s Word, when times are rough.

What about you? What kind of milestone in your life are you experiencing today? How are you celebrating? Who are you sharing it with?

~Ardis A. Nelson