"When a person quits having birthdays, there's somethin' bad wrong."

A very wise quote from my very-quotable grandfather, who is now deceased and no longer concerned with birthdays or time or anything else.

And so, I am embracing this, my 26th birthday. Which will, no doubt (I hope), be looked back upon as a time when I was really just a child in so many ways.

I wanted to reflect back upon a few of my more memorable birthdays and have been thinking about that all day, but I've been busy with birthday stuff and am just now getting around to at at nearly 2 AM on October 19th, which is actually the day after my birthday, but whatever.

First off are my not-so-memorable birthdays... at least not memorable to me.

The day I was born. I know I was born around 5 PM... or as I was told when I was little, around the time Sesame Street comes on. Or at least that's what time it came on back then. Now it comes on at 8 AM. There's a picture of the doctor holding me upside down by my feet on that day around 5 PM. Which would bring me to the very first thing I was ever thankful for... or at least should've been... and that is the fact that he didn't drop me on my little newborn head on the very cold, very hard floor leaving me less articulate than I am anyway. It's a scary thought.

My 1st birthday. There's a video of this momentous occasion. A very long video since I was the first baby in the family for a while and, well, let's face it, I was adorable. The video consists of about 20 people saying my name simultaneously and then sticking me under my grandparents' bed. A bizarre family tradition that has rendered me emotionally unstable.

The next few years are a blur of McDonalds and skating rink parties... and one party at my sister's house at which I received a karaoke machine and to which a family member who shall remain nameless and who was going through some wild, wild west phase came dressed in Wranglers, Ropers, and a Stetson.

Fast forward to my 11th birthday, which is when I started shaving my legs and also when I got grounded for 2 weeks for following a group of older kids into the cemetery at a church function. The only other details I remember are that I somehow ended up wearing a Dallas Cowboys jacket which belonged to a boy with a slight unibrow, who I happened to be the object of my giggling at the time (the boy, not the unibrow) and there was a Boyz II Men CD in the pocket.

Thirteenth... my first "real" party to which the "big kids" were in attendance. Bonfire, hayride that ended with a flat tire on the wagon, and, at the end of the evening, a hug and a "happy birthday, birthday girl" from the drool-worthy 16-year-guy who showed up much to my shock and delight pretty much making my entire life up to that point.

Fourteenth... just a few months after being saved. Just a few weeks after my first kiss.

Seventeenth... a couple nights off work, a church camp out, a visit from a far-away, on again/off again boyfriend, being a punk, sneaking off to smoke in the woods.

Twentieth... first birthday with a new last name. Still such a baby. Still oh so self-important and almost completely ignorant of what a good man I had married. I'm still learning about that every day... and doing my darnedest to be a wife who he can say "excels them all."

Twenty-second... first birthday as a mama.

Twenty-fifth... Washington D.C., Five Guys burgers, and homemade carrot cake with friends so dear that we call them extended family.

And today (yesterday, technically)... my 26th... on the downhill slide to 30... has been an exceptionally good day. Nothing spectacularly out of the ordinary... just a sweet, good day with my family.

And what of it all?

Through all the ups and downs... all the growing and changing... the times of punkdom... the times when I've tried my best to be found doing His will... God has been there.

I've drifted away from Him too many times to count, but He has never moved... always waiting to draw me back to Him.

I can look back over my life and see His hand in all of it.

Thank God for all His mercies!

For saving my soul, first and foremost. And for saving my life over and over again.

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