Sunday, July 3, 2011

Birthday Reflections

Another trip around the sun has come to an end for me. It is a bittersweet time. Over most of my life, birthdays have not been a big deal to me. My parents threw me parties with cake and ice cream when I was little. Occasionally, friends bought me things as a teenager, but the day went largely unmarked. My birthdays haven't been the things my children's birthdays were early on (a mistake we soon stopped making). There haven't been grand parties, only little family gatherings if that. That was really until I met my Mother-in-law, who we all called Nana. She loved throwing parties and making the center of attention the person with the birthday. She had grand events for Easter, Independence day, Halloween, all birthdays, and Christmas. Memorial and Labor Days were both cause to celebrate. I had been to many a party in my young years- usually for no reason at all other than it was Friday night, but not her. She married at 17 and lived the life of a good girl. She loved to celebrate the life of people she loved, folks who worked hard for her, and soldiers who fought and died for her freedom. She especially loved religious holidays. They weren't particularly solemn, and sometimes I wasn't sure that they were actually in celebration of the Savior, but they were regular. You could count on the holiday celebration coming at the right time each year! Over the years in which I knew her, our family had it's doctrinal differences with her but overall we all knew we loved the same Yeshua, our Savior. It's been almost 3 years since she has gone home to be with Him. For 3 years no one has celebrated my existence quite the way she did. I know my family does love me and they do exactly as I have insisted for many years....but I honestly miss it. And I miss her. Even though her favorite holiday was Christmas, it's my own birthday that I notice her being gone the most. My husband and children like to cater to whatever I  want to do. She would have scheduled games and food. My little family wants whatever I want. She was a force to be reckoned with when it came to organizing a party. So, today, as I begin my next trip around the sun, I have to stop and think about the people in my life: the ones I have now, the folks from my past, and the ones who have passed away. I have to wonder how loving my family has changed having known her. I have to think about the ones who I still have here and how they impact me. I hate to admit it, but I really didn't see her impact fully (and likely still don't) until she was gone. I had to be removed from the daily care of a sick person to realize that in life as well as illness, she changed me.

Then I think of my Savior: His life and death changed me as well....more than she did and for all eternity. I think of the apostle John, watching Him die then being charged with caring for Mary, His mother as if she was his own. I think of Mary, His mother, having to watch as her Son cared for her welfare even at the last of His life. No other death I have seen has been that way. No one thinks of other people when they are dying. Nana was really just asleep for the last days of her life on earth. He was fully awake and aware of everything going on. He knew that His death would mean life to everyone who would accept Him. Our deaths mean eternity stares us in the face- a place that there are only two path- both forward, depending on our choice here in life. If we believed the account of YHWH's Messiah, our eternity is in His presence. If we deny it, our eternity is always outside of His presence in torment. Eternity. It's forever. I can't even imagine it at all!

I pray my own life makes people who know me reflect on their lives and especially on their choice. I knew a woman once who died never having claimed to believe in anything. My heart grieves for her, but also wonders at what did she not see in my own life to never talk to anyone about eternity. Talking is great, but hearts are where the real changes take place. Do I reflect the beauty of Yeshua to the world? Can anyone see in my habits and celebrations that I love the Lord? What legacy am I building to point anyone in the right direction? My children? Friends? Strangers? Because really, we're all in the same boat- we are all going to be judged and we all have the same choice before us daily.