How God Wants Me To Radically Celebrate My 40th Birthday


My 40th birthday is around the corner. We talked as a family about how to celebrate. Nothing seemed to feel right to me. We have lots of trips planned around my birthday, so that was out. I’m not a big party person, so that is out. Dinner with friends? Yes, but we do that regularly. We tabled it for the day.

In the Bible 40 often signifies a time of testing or trial. A time of probation.

A few days prior to the 40th celebration discussion, Jacob asked me a question that continued stirring in me for days.

“Mom, if you knew Jesus was coming back in 2 days, what would you do?” He looked at me with inquisitive eyes as if testing me to see if I held the right answer.
“I’d begin telling everyone I know about Jesus.”
“I know. Me too. But we don’t know when He is coming. So we should be telling people all the time.”

He’s right. So why don’t we? For fear of offending? For fear of rejection? It really makes no sense though. It’s the greatest gift ever given to humanity. A hurting world that can’t seem to get along, that slays each other, that devours each other, that spews hate. We are holding the answer and we hold back.

I pondered his question. The thing is it wasn’t the first time he’s made me think in the last couple of weeks.

He sat in a church service recently and a verse entered his mind. Matthew 4:19. He didn’t know the verse but looked it up at his first opportunity.

“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

I see God moving him to share the gospel. It was because of this same child that Steve and I ended up in Haiti where we experienced the power of the Holy Spirit and watched a woman surrender her life to Christ as He led us to her in order to share the gospel.

When we heard the news of Jose Fernandez, his first comment was, “I hope he knew Jesus.” And a heavy weight descended on his heart. A burden and a hurt for the lost. Because we’ve all been lost. None of us were born Christians. He can’t remember a time of not “knowing” Jesus, but there came a time where he surrendered his life to Jesus and knowing about Jesus turned to a personal relationship with His Savior.

Since God impressed Matthew 4:19 on him, God’s been tossing it around in my own heart too. I am feeling the burden I am watching my son experience.

We’ve been reading Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom. The boys now say things like, “I want a faith like that.” Or “I want to experience the same miracles she experienced.” (Side note- this is a great family read aloud after you’ve read The Hiding Place. There is a young reader’s edition.)

Corrie said yes to God at every turn. If I’m honest, I am selective with my yes’s. I’ll say yes as long as it doesn’t infringe on my comfort zone. As long as I don’t have to sacrifice too greatly.

I shared recently about what God showed me in the pit. He’s been refining me, killing off my self-sins. The process is painful. I had no idea how full of self I was until He began showing me the depths of my heart I’d never seen.

The day following our family discussion about how to mark my 40th, God spoke to me about what to do. “Give your birthday away. To me. Selflessly.”

What does that look like? In a split second, He made it very clear it was not to do a list of good deeds. My first thought went to how I could do 40 acts of kindness or 40 good things for God. He said no. That would be too self-promoting, too easy to grow self-righteous. Too close to all those self-sins He’s working out of me ever so painfully.

I knew why He told me no. He’s teaching me that if I want to really love Him more, then I will love His people. And if I love His people, I will begin telling His people who He is. To do that, I must put myself away. Get myself out of the picture. My “self” stands in the way and cares about what people may say or think. And He says, “Lay down your self.”

So that afternoon I sat with my family on the porch and told them that God showed me how I am to celebrate my 40th birthday. It’s by giving away 40 gifts. Giving away the message of the hope I have to 40 people. I wasn’t exactly sure except that somehow or in some way I was to mark 40 by sharing the gospel. Not sharing good deeds, but sharing the good news.

As Steve and the other boys nodded along, Jacob’s eyes lit up. “Mom, I love that idea!”

The next morning I began to sense God telling me not to wait for my birthday. To begin to mark my 40th birthday now. We are a little less than 40 days away, and He said go. God confirmed through Jacob when he said, “Why don’t we just start now instead of waiting. For the next 40 days, let’s share Jesus everywhere we go.”

When God says move, He means move. When God places a desire in your heart, He won’t let it die. When the desire makes you squirm with discomfort because your pride is being poked, you can be sure God won’t stop until you learn that humility is the true seat of honor.

If I’m honest, it’s my pride that seals my lips from shouting the gospel message everywhere I go. I justify by saying that I live the gospel out for others to see. And while this is true at times, He also said “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” And “Go make disciples.”

So Jacob nudged because God bumped.

This goes right along with what He’s been showing me for the last year. No platform must be built to make Him known. We can make Him known with no stage, platform, or audience. We make Him known to the very next person we encounter.

Join me for the follow up to this post (hopefully tomorrow??). Jacob and I decided that if God said start celebrating 40 now, we must obey. I’ve walked in disobedience when God asked me to follow Him, and it’s not pretty. We are choosing obedience and sharing with you here for two reasons. 1- I am now accountable to you. 2- To encourage you to let God poke you to share with the very next person the hope you have….in front of your kids.

While 40 signifies a time of testing and trial, I’ve also seen how powerful developing habits that turn into lifestyle can shape in 40 days. Day 1-10 are pretty tough. As you edge closer to 40, the discomfort is gone and it’s simply part of your life. Maybe that is why God is asking me to celebrate my 40th birthday for 40 days by giving it away. So that every day of my life becomes less about me and more about Him. Not just here where it’s comfortable, but out there in the world.

A bowl of memories – when you want to give the best birthday gift ever


Yesterday Steve turned 40. It’s interesting, this turning of another decade.

From 30 to 40 feels like 3 years. It might have been the fastest decade to this point.

My friend, Adina (you may know her as Take Them A Meal), gave me an idea I’ve been holding onto for Steve’s 40th. A gift that money can’t buy, one to hold for life.

I asked friends and family to send me a favorite memory of Steve. Over the last several days, the memories poured in. I laughed. I cried. I sighed. I pondered. More than anything, I was humbled. And I couldn’t wait for Steve to read the words of people who care so much for him.


To celebrate Steve’s 40th, we cooked his favorite dinner. Country fried steak and gravy (something I only make every couple of years…too much grease, too much work), Pioneer Woman’s mac and cheese (the best ever ever ever), green beans, and biscuits. Topped off with pound cake, strawberries, and ice cream. Wishing you were with us?? It was every bite delicious. Worth every bit of all the hours it took to make.



Steve’s a simple man. And birthdays in our home are a simple affair as you can see from the decor. We take what we have and make the best of it. If you didn’t know better, you might think we were celebrating the 101st day of school rather than a 40th.


While we ate dinner, we explained that we had asked people to send us a memory. We passed the bowl of memories to Steve and watched each one transform his face.

He was two sentences in on the first memory card when the tears appeared.

I couldn’t take my eyes off our boys as they watched the emotional, tender side of dad on full display. Letter after letter, words upon words, each one unique in its own way.

A common theme presented itself in those memories. The little things matter. People matter. Relationships are priority.

This is what we were made for. Relationship.

I was struck by the sentiment in those letters. What stood out in many of the shared memories was that Steve cared. He simply cared.

He cared enough to ask about people and actually take the time to listen. He cared enough to pray for them. He cared enough to include them when others might not have. He loved first. He was slow to speak and quick to listen. He cared enough to not let differences in beliefs hinder the friendship.

No matter what memory was written, all I heard was, “he cared so much about me…..”

Don’t we all want to know someone cares? 

After the bowl of memories lay open and exposed on the table, one thought remained. The little things matter. The simple ways we treat people matter.

Don’t discount the small.

Relationships. We were made to be in relationship with God and people. People matter.

The little things are bigger than we will ever realize. The words we choose to speak. The look we choose to give. The leaning in when leaning away is easiest.

We care big through the littles.

As the evening came to a close, I saw how moved Steve was by the words now written for him to hold onto.

Words matter.

A sampling of the little ways Steve’s impacted the lives of others are now written. He has them to hold onto, to remember again. To be encouraged when he needs encouragement. To be reminded how important the smallest things really are.

Rarely do we take the time to tell someone how they have impacted our lives. I can list 100 different ways people have shaped my thoughts and my heart by the tiny examples they’ve served me. Yet, I rarely tell the person.

What a gift to hear that how we treat people matters. How we invest in relationships is immeasurable.

The notes the boys wrote Steve were priceless. Each boy told me there is no favorite memory because there are just too many. They eventually settled on one each and wrote heartfelt letters. But Andrew’s letter was precious. He wrote every single word, and it started with “Dad, this is Andrew.” 🙂 Precious. He ended the letter with, “I love you because you love us first.”

We all want to be loved first. And we are. And that is why we can love. 

We love each other because he loved us first.

1 John 4:19

Love well. Love hard. Love deep. 

Love in the little ways because they dig the deepest roots.

Love others today well. Let them know they matter in the smallest of ways. You may never know the impact you are making, but when you are investing in relationships, you are changing the world.

If you want to give someone the very best birthday gift ever, make them a bowl of memories. Collect little notes from people in their life. I promise it will be one of the best gifts they will ever receive.

We all want to know we are making a difference. And when we see how deeply we are impacting hearts, it wrecks our own heart.


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40th Birthday

I have blogged every day this week. I don’t know that I’ve ever done that before other than the time I did the 30 day challenge. I guess being caged in my house for weeks made me have a lot to say.

Today is another off-topic post. I guess I’ve become a bit random this week as well.

A friend turned 40, and I wanted to give her a small gift with some meaning to it. So I turned to Pinterest of course and found this. Do check out this pin because it really is much more beautiful than what I made. I’m just not crafty at all. However I can handle a Sharpie and a paper cutter.

I made this. 40 rocks with 40 of my favorite inspirational scriptures to celebrate 40 years.


Mine never turns out like Pinterest, but that’s ok. It’s the thought that counts right?

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