You can find more information about the #my40 40th Birthday Challenge (what it is and what I'm doing it) here.
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This is the #my40 list!
Friends, I feel like by sharing these with you I'm sharing something very sacred and special.
Each of these are little windows to my heart of where I've been; of where I am; and of where I'm going.
These people have obviously changed my life significantly and have made me who I am today. I will be introducing them to you each day this week, five of them at a time.
Remember that none of them are in order by importance, but by the order they appeared in my life.
Thank you for sharing this moment with me as I reflect back and honor these amazing people.
1. To the One who imagined me (and knew me) before He created the foundations of the earth. How can I ever stop shouting your praise?
2. To the two incredible people whose love made my life possible; and who bore me, nurtured me and cared for me for the first eighteen years of my life (and beyond). Is a mere thank you enough?
3. To my polar opposite whom I've come to know and call “friend.” We shared a bathroom for all those years, but I'm most proud of the mothering journey (and, finally, the true sisterly bond) we now share together. Love you, dear one.
4. To the most amazing couple who have taught me everything from how to bluff at cards to how to have the best belly laughs ever. You two have taught me so much about life, about marriage (yours is 70+ years and going strong!) and about loving generously. I treasure you, and am so thankful that my kids get to know you as well.
5. To my parents' neighbor and dear friend who always welcomed me with the most genuine hugs. You probably don't know this, but God used you to make me feel loved on so many of those teenage days when I felt like no one understood me. Thank you, thank you.
6. To the young man in college in my journalism class. You were the first person I met that was not afraid to tell me about God. Thank you.
7. To the young woman who befriended me at the door of a on-campus Christian college ministry the moment I walked in and who then discipled me for three years after. You were so faithful and patient to help me find the answers to all my questions. Your model of discipleship is one that I use with my own little “disciples” (my kids) today. I am in awe of your continued ministry today and am forever in debt to you.
8. To the Great and Mighty One who purchased my salvation. This song expresses exactly how this young girl felt at that first moment you met me and showed me the path to the rich, full life. “Take this world from me/ I don’t need it anymore. I am finally free. My heart is spoken for…. Covered by a love Divine/ Child of the Risen Lord/ To hear you say “This one’s mine”/ My heart is spoken for.” (from “Spoken For” by Mercy Me).
9. To the sister in Christ who has laughed with me, cried with me and shared all of life’s ups and downs. For over 20 years we’ve had our deep, introspective conversations…and we still have more to say. Oh, how I treasured our friendship then, and I treasure it more now!
10. To my tough (but much loved) journalism professor. You believed in me and in my writing like no one else ever had. I knew how tough you were, and I'd seen you crumple many student papers right in front of the whole class. But I also knew that underneath all of that, you were an amazing teacher and you really were just pushing us to be our best. I still hear your voice when I think about “trimming away the fat” in my writing. Thank you for all that you taught me, and the times you told me that whatever “it” was, I had it. Those words helped me on those days when I doubted my talents.
11. To the friend I “happened” to live with during a summer internship. You taught me how to be introspective, to ask the deep questions and to not be afraid of my voice. You are an amazing woman, and how blessed am I that our paths crossed all those years ago!
12. To the counselor who introduced me to healthy, Christ-based self-esteem. I remember the day you opened my eyes to the second half of the verse in Matt 19:19 (the “as you love yourself” part of the infamous “love your neighbor” verse). You truly were a light in a very dark time in my life. Thank you.
13. To those in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile program. You believed in this then-twenty-two-year-old enough to give me the keys to a Wienermobile and an incredible three months spent driving all over California sharing love, peace and wiener whistles. To my hotdogging partners whom I spent 15 hour days with: You treated me like a sister and with the greatest respect and kindness. Most importantly, you taught me to lighten up, have fun and to enjoy the moment. And to all those beautiful little faces I met in my travels: your smiles and enthusiasm still brighten my heart!
14. To that amazing woman I worked with for only a few months. You fed and nurtured so many with your pure love and kindness, including me. Truly, people flocked from all over our office just to talk to you (and I know, be encouraged). And then, you and your husband were gracious enough to spend a whole weekend moving this young single woman halfway across the state! Your positive outlook and enduring spirit still encourage me today to “keep looking up.” Thank you.
15. To those incredibly talented Christian artists like Sara Groves, U2, Christy Nockels and others. For so many years, your songs have given a voice to my fears, my doubts and my passions, and have expressed the emotions I was unable to. Your words have brought me closer to God. Thank you.
16. To the woman in my Bible study who got me to pray “in a new way” and to truly understand what salvation and forgiveness meant. God used your prayers in a mighty way in my life. Thank you.
17. To my husband, best friend and life partner. How can I fully express how amazing it has been to share my live with you for almost 15 years? I love you so much and am grateful that God chose you for me. I hope to spend my next 40 years (and beyond!) right by your side.
18. To my “second” set of parents. Thank you for welcoming me into your family, for loving me like a daughter and for raising a man who loves Jesus.
19. To the wonderful pastor and his wife who introduced us to the beauty of the homeschooled life, and who believed in pure forgiveness and in our marriage. Thank you for giving us such a strong foundation.
20. To the little boy whose life gave me the new title of “mother.” You have brought so much joy to our home. Raising you has grown me and changed me in ways unimaginable. Your daddy and I love you more that you can ever know… just for who you are. You will always have my heart!
21. To the neighbor couple who loved me and my husband unconditionally, and like a daughter. To her: Your simple smile that always made me feel welcome, even though I always felt inadequate and humbled at your graciousness, hospitality and creativity. To him: Because of you, I saw at a distance what it was like to walk through a terminal illness and how God can still be on the throne through it all. You taught me to always have a spark and zest for something new… I think of you often, my brother, and am excited to see you in heaven.
22. To the midwife who opened my eyes to the incredible world of natural birth, natural remedies and introduced me to a better, healthier lifestyle. Thank you.
23. To the doula who continued my natural birth education and who saw me through three unbelievable births. You taught me so much and believed in me and in my ability to give birth like no one else! Your support and love (and yes, all those Vitamin B shots!!) allowed me to triumph through pregnancy, birth and beyond.
24. To our little water birth baby. From the moment you came out and looked deep into my eyes, you have stolen my heart! You are growing into such a handsome and strong man (inside and out). You are such a blessing to me—daily. All my love to you!
25. To my former boss who opened up a whole new world for me. You gave me the opportunity to not only write for a magazine, but to build a magazine from the ground up; to interview and interact with some of my lifelong Christian mentors; and to finally feel like I’d found my passion.
26. To the Christian author who mentored me and gave my writing wings. All of your (always kind and constructive) writing criticism was invaluable. You showed me the tricks of the trade and believed in me. Thank you, thank you.
27. To the pastor and his wife who modeled before us what Christian parenting could look like; who gave advice and wisdom on countless occasions; and who showed us that this homeschooling thing really could work. We’ve loved watching your family grow and we’re thankful for all you’ve taught us.
28. To my one and only little girl. How I rejoiced when I found out I was to have a daughter! You are just as I would have designed you myself—spunky, fun, passionate, energetic, fearless and the life of the party. You are both strong and beautiful inside and out! I’m so thankful for our special bond. Love, love you, my darling!
29. To our unborn little one who is waiting for us in heaven. I am grateful for the 7 weeks I got to nurture you in my womb. Although I never got to hold you in my arms, I know without a doubt that you are in the arms of Christ, and that one day I will see you in Heaven and you will come running to me to call me “Momma.” You taught me to never take life for granted, and that every day spent together is a gift. I miss you and love you so much.
30. To my brother and sister-in-law. You have loved me and accepted me as a sister. You have generously hung out with our kids on several occasions so that my husband and I could enjoy some unbelievable experiences like going to Africa and to NYC. You love your kids generously and with a focus on relationships. It’s a beautiful thing to watch you raise such strong kids for Christ. We love all of you!
31. To the MOPS mentor mom that was always so faithful to be kind to me. Through the years, you loved me like a mother and taught me so much about being a Christian woman. You have inspired so many, including me, and I’m so thankful for you.
32. To the missionary couple in Sudan who allowed me the opportunity to have a firsthand account of what it was like to be a missionary in a third world country. You believed in the Jesus in me to do amazing things I didn’t think I could do (share my testimony to a Sudanese tribe; and work as a midwife in a medical clinic). I will never forget our nearly three weeks with you there.
33. To the children of South Sudan, whom I had the privilege of dancing with, playing with and enjoying life with. Your passion for life—the simple, humble life—reminds me that when it comes down to it, having nothing is all that I need.
34. To the beautiful women of South Sudan, especially the women I got to treat as a “midwife” in the clinic. It was a privilege to share my birth wisdom with you, to assist in your deliveries and to teach you all those pregnancy stretches (I know you are still laughing at the crazy white woman). You taught me of the universal beauty of motherhood and that being a mom (with its joys and trials) is the same no matter where you live. Thank you.
35. To the silly and wonderful little toddler that I get to spend my everyday with. You were a long awaited gift to us! You are precious, cuddly and all around wonderful. I always say that you are the comic relief in our house, and that’s so true! We all adore and “dig” you! You make me a more fun mommy… thank you!
36. To my dear friend who made an offhand comment one night after our women’s bible study group: “you should have a blog. I’m serious.” That one comment gave me the ounce of courage to start The Vintage Creative… which eventually let to writing a book, to re-launching the site as Vibrant Homeschooling, to producing online courses, etc. Wow! Your words that night (and your design talents later on!) changed my life. Thank you!
37. To the quiet, humble woman at my church who, to me, is the Proverbs 31 woman. You have always loved me with an undeserved kindness and grace; and you have taught me so much about hospitality and the gentle, kind-spirited, unbelievably generous woman I want to be. I will never forget that month where you taught me to sew (and helped me make my first quilt)! I want to be like you when I grow up!
38. To the woman who has adopted our family and who helps us over and over in unimaginable ways. My kids adore you and love spending time with you. And I treasure your wise words and willingness to show love in any and every way. Your kindness humbles me and inspires me to want to “pay it forward” when my kids are a little older.
39. To the countless faces of incredible female friends I’ve known through the years. I have been blessed with so many of you! I see the beautiful face of Jesus in your faces as you laughed with me, cried with me and together we attempted to discover what it really meant to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul in this present moment. You are each cherished and loved, and you are a dear gift from me sent straight from the Father.
40. To all the wonderful women I’ve met as a blogger: the ladies from Inspired Bloggers Network, iHomeschool; and the wonderful Vibrant Homeschooling readers (that's you!) and contributors. You have all inspired me! You remind me that “this journey is our own” and that there’s no comparison needed.
The big balloon release video from the party:
Photos from the birthday party:
How about you? Who are your #my40?[Tweet “How about you? Who are your #my40? http://wp.me/p4R9E2-16j”]
This week, tell 5 people in your life how they have inspired you to be the wonderful woman you are.
Thank you for celebrating with me.
With joy, celebration and gratitude,