I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. ~Anne Lamott

I have to write this down because it has been one of those months so full of grace that it has added to my foundation; I need to detail it as reference for a future time.

The past month was my 40th birthday.

The birthday itself ranked in the top 4 days of my life (after our wedding and the days Grace and Max were born).    I felt surrounded by the things that matter most to me – family, friends, laughing, exercise, good food, pom pom socks.  And deep gratitude.

The gift from Dan for my 40th was the most precious I’ve ever received.  There was no package; nothing wrapped.  It was a beautiful backyard party that bumped the birthday itself to #5 best day of my life.   I have never felt so keenly his intention to love, honor and cherish me.  Our marriage is forever changed by his gesture, his planning, his work, his love and that awesomely funny roast disguised as Jen Trivia.

He had asked if he could throw me a birthday party, to which I said Yes!  And then several times as he planned I said No! No! No! No! No! We should really redo our living room instead or at least get a new couch, no one wants to be stuck in our small house for a party and caterers are expensive plus what’s the hook?  fire jugglers?  a chimp?  Bono in person in the breezeway?

He chose the party and told me there didn’t need to be a hook.  I waivered between excitement and fear of no one showing up, especially without a hook.

The gift I got from this party was divine, infinitely better than a couch.  Our house was transformed to a dreamy garden dinner party with white lights, flowers and delicious catered food.

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Plus the love, the laughing, laughing, laughing and warmth of all our favorite people jammed into our cottage, spilling into our breezeway and backyard.

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Joy poured into the space inside that tries to nag at me by wondering if I am really ok, if things are really going to be ok.  Every bit of that party shined a light on the wholeness that is our life.  A spotlight on how far beyond “ok” we are.

Experiencing Dan expose his hilariousness to the whole group with his game show-like “trivia” was the best gift of all of it. It was the hook for me.  The questions themselves reminded me how much we laugh and how much grace and humor it takes to truly love.  Since that trivia, I’ve felt even more lucky that I’m his girl; that we have each other.

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It also helped that I didn’t do a lick of work; Dan did all of the preparations, my family helped him organize and set up, caterers served and cleaned everything.  Except the desserts, which were made by hand by Missy and Dan.

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The only thing missing was my Dad.  I am so sorry he missed it because he would have loved how much Dan put into it and how lovely everything and everyone was.  Thank you to all of my sweet family who traveled to celebrate with me.  I love you to BITS.  Sorry I don’t have pictures of all of your beautiful faces.

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Prior to the party Dan took me on a shopping trip.  Whatever else I have already said, here’s the takeaway -the key to a good birthday is new jeans, new bras and underwear, and new makeup.

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I felt undeserving and entirely overindulged by it all.  At the same time I’m TOTALLY willing to take it all in as fuel for my soul.

Our little family is sitting in a place in time and space that my little inner nagging bugger wasn’t sure was attainable.   We’ve been able to build friendships and community which have led to so many safe places to give and receive so regularly.

The bugger is astonished that we are surrounded by people who allow us to keep showing up with our faults and failures and they theirs; each offering the other our strengths all wrapped up in our weaknesses (or is it vice versa?).  Seriously, to RSVP yes AND show up to a birthday party for a grown girl, with no hook!, is astounding.  Thank you all.

I am not sure I have ever been able to feel so good in my life; the place we’re sitting has been a choice: an everyday choice of seeing the joy around us, in giving and receiving vs doubting and fearing; a choice founded by a shit-ton of blessing and good fortune and luck; a choice to Let Love Rule (thanks Lenny), that Love Wins (thanks Glennon), that grace can squish a nagging bugger inside; a choice to believe that the love and joy inside of us can live outside of us and surround us, more than the liar fear.

Does it take reaching 40 to feel this amount of contentment?  Can I shout from the molehills how blessed I am?

Thank you Dan for the precious gift of a birthday party and for this dream-come-true of a life with you and Grace and Max.

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