“Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.” Philippians 2:18 NLT
This morning I woke to hearing my husband turn off the alarm then reset it for forty-five minutes later. As he climbed back into bed he kissed my cheek and said, “Happy Birthday, Beautiful,” before collapsing back onto his pillow.
Next thing I remember was the smell of cinnamon pecan pancakes and bacon. My daughter had heated the griddle and was preparing breakfast. Her hair in a bun, Ugandan beads around her neck, dressed in her simple black dress and sweater, she held a spatula as she faced the stove; she turned to look at me as I entered the kitchen. “Happy Birthday, Mom! Want some coffee?”
This morning I feel blessed.
Birthdays to me bring moments of reflection. It’s been a great year, but I just want a moment to reflect on the last two weeks.
The last two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotion with our Ugandan friends in town from Jija to join in our church’s mission’s IMPACT Celebration. We’ve heard stories, shared stories, visited, and talked about future plans for their school. We’ve toured schools, discussed American programs and attended many church activities. The visit was a whirlwind of activity.
I fasted before their visit giving up sugar for forty days praying for God to heal me from social anxiety so I wouldn’t be nervous to host them in my home. However, I was nervous. I stepped forward anyway taking a deep breath praying each morning God would deliver joy and peace. He did. It was a good visit and much was accomplished.
Yesterday, we said goodbye to them at the airport knowing they were going back to very difficult lives. Lives served daily helping the marginalized around the Jinja area. Teaching, feeding, serving, and loving. They work very hard to give the future generations of their country an opportunity for a better life.
This morning I feel blessed, but I also feel emotional.
I’ve faced a few realities in these two weeks. Realities like: God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. God is challenging me to make a difference where I am. God is asking me to use my gifts for him. God is with me each step he is asking me to take. Each step I need to take isn’t easy.
My social anxiety didn’t just vanish after my fast. I hoped it would. I was much calmer, though than I have ever been hosting. I felt the prayers from friends I had asked to pray for me. God definitely stretched me. I made lots of mistakes as I served these last weeks, but I was able to let many go without worrying relentlessly. God taught me much through the process.
Yesterday morning I woke, ate breakfast with our friends, prayed for them; then my husband and I drove them to the airport. After an hour of luggage issues we said our goodbyes and watched them head through security. Later, my husband and I climbed in our car to head home discussing all that had happened over the last two weeks.
This morning as I woke to hearing my husband turn off the alarm, I thought about it being a new day – my birthday. I thought about the previous weeks filled with nerves and emotions, with challenges and victories, with attempts to help and failures. I knew this morning marked a new day, even a new year for me. I rejoiced for making it through the opportunities of the last. As I reflect and move forward, I don’t want to forget this moment. I want to remember my daughter making breakfast, the smell of pancakes and bacon. I also don’t want to forget the struggles of my friends. It is within the joys and trials I wrestle with God’s will for each moment. This wrestle keeps me focused on my purpose to make a difference to others around me regardless of how small or how vast.
So… my birthday… a new year ahead. My tummy is full with yummy pancakes and bacon, plus, my heart and mind are challenged.