so, she waddled into the high school to turn in her graded papers so she could officially "enjoy" these last few supposed weeks before being the busy mom of two. then, she said, that is when it happened. she felt something a little weird. not sure what. but...then she knew. her water had just broken in the middle of the trinity high school teacher's lounge. lovely.
so, of course she raced to her purse to grab her cell phone and send a mass txt to all her family, her husband, her friends and her support system...and fortunately she had already gone online to pre-register with the hospital and could just go right in. her ultrasound had confirmed that she was having a boy months ago so the nursery was all painted and ready and she had received plenty of gifts at her four baby showers that had been on her baby registry. thank God she had programmed the GPS into her car for the location of the hospital so that her friends could get her there quickly.so...(deep sigh)... she was fine.
oh wait. nevermind. my bad. none of that happened. why you ask?
because the computers at the stores really had messed up her registry and she got no gifts?
because the sonographer wasn't 100% sure it was a boy and she was forced to go with a neutral nursery?
ok, maybe because her car was already four years old and didn't have the latest on-star capabilities??
no, friend....none of that happened, because this was 1979.
32 years ago today, my mom went into labor...a month early...again. and nothing has been "as planned" ever since. after all, she had me.
the nurse from her school rushed her into her own car (her brand new 1979 chevelle. or was it a buick? this part of the story gets kinda fuzzy because it all happened so fast. literally.) they raced across town to hurry and get "checked out" by the doctor at his office to "verify" that she was in labor..which was an ordeal in and of itself...and then, finally after all of that...she was able to drive all the way to arlington (that's where the doctor could deliver babies, i guess) and arrived within minutes of giving birth to me. literally minutes. she just. barely. made it. barely. her water broke around 1:45pm in or so the teacher's lounge, and i was born at 2:52pm. (yes i continually tease her about the whopping 45 minutes she spent in labor with me. she replies, jokingly that the labor was the easy part...then she got to raise me! :)
so there i was...a whopping 6 lbs. 1 oz scrawny, wrinkly, yellow skinned and black haired baby. lovely. um....not so much. those first pics of me were not pretty. and i don't mean in the whole "oh look, so-and-so just had a baby, how sweet. oh, don't worry, honey, all newborns look that way" kind of ugly. i mean u-g-l-y, you ain't got no alliby, you ugly, ya ya, you ugly. yep, it was that bad.
but, she kept me. thankfully. and after i was born, my dad walked in and decided to keep me too.
again...not so much.
another part of the family joke. my dad wasn't there.
that's right. his very first (and only) baby girl makes her grand entrance and where was he?? well, on the road to galveston, or course, that's where. if you will remember, the doctor assured my parents that i wasn't coming for "weeks". and so when i arrived the very next day, everyone was surprised. including my dad. because, he and his fellow educators had packed up and loaded our rockin' "merry miler" van and taken a road trip to galveston that very morning for a confernce. that's right. he drive all the way to galveston and had no idea my mom was in labor or anything. remember friends, this was 1979...loooong before cell phones. fortunately, as the story goes. he did finally hear about me. in fact, they arrived safely at the motel and when they checked in, the man at the counter said "oh, you are mr. sanders? i have a message waiting here for you." he did have a message waiting. the message was from my mom. it said "you have a daughter. come home."
so, my dad did come home on the next flight out. and he, too, decided to keep me. yes, after seeing me. and yes, i am thankful for that as well. and while my folks were only married for five more years, they both agree that february 15th, 1979 was a day they hadn't expected and a day they'd never forget.
and here we are now. i am quite sure that if surveyed (and let's not go there) that my parents (along with my two wonderful step-parents) would concur that the 32 years that have followed that surprising day have been...um, interesting. i was a pretty good kid. just like my sweet daughter is a pretty good kid. sweet, but awnry. cute, but mischevious. strong-willed, but...well, strong-willed. but, we all made it. and they still have kept me all this time.
here i am some 32 years later and i have just completed one of the best birthdays ever. i mean it. ever.
as you may or may not know...i have been sick for the past year or two, or three. off and on. felt like more on than off, from my perspective. i'm just sayin'. but, i haven't been able to just live a normal life. because of multiple spinal fluid leaks, i couldn't drive. i couldn't exercise. i couldn't even sit upright, for goodness sake. for months. but, lately...over these last few months, i have been getting better. (thank you, God!) God has healed my spinal fluid leak. i am all patched up now and feeling ok. (my friend calls my procedures i had "fix-a-flat" for my back. too funny!) i am super appreciative of that. and i am slowly but surely regaining my strength.
some people even see me now and say "oh, i am so happy you are back to normal!" (i feel obligated to mention that this is when my dad and many other various family members would interject with "hmm....was she ever really normal?!!?" :) the answer is no. for me...i am better. but, i am not back to the old me. yet. but i'm ok with that. in fact, i am sooooo ok with that.
because today, even not fully "me" yet...i was still able to do the unthinkable. i spent the better part of this day out and about running errands...the very same errands i would longingly dream about from my couch day after day and week after week and month after month. and today, my birthday, i was absolutely over the moon with the fact that it was not all about me.
you ever have those moments when you hear somebody say something and you think "oh...no way! not me!?!" let me give you a few examples... (purely hypothetical, of course) :)
example #1 - your older cousin comes home from her new job, fresh out of college, for Christmas. you love her. you look up to her. you, only being about 17 or so....and you hear her explaining how she is SO excited that her parents just bought her four new tires for her car for Christmas! and you think to yourself "umm, now, that's just sad. i will never want tires for Christmas. ever. c'mon stephanie, seriously!?!" (well, i am quite sure i would kiss on the mouth anyone who bought us four new tires for our 20 year old and 11 year old cars right now. for real. on. the. mouth. unless it was like a guy or something....that would be wrong. but, man, i would be sooo excited!!!"
example #2 - you see a friend you haven't seen in a while and they are sporting the "mom" velour track suit and carting their three kids under the age of six around in a used mini-van...and you think to yourself "oh ya, not me! i am not going there! never will i own a minivan. i want a seqouia or nothing at all. and holy cow - how many kids were in there anyway...and velour track suits are for mobsters who wear gold chains. period." (well, i want a minivan right now so bad it hurts sometimes. my kids were born in august 2004, october 2006 and march 2009. you do the math. and as far as the velour track suits...i own three. black, green, and brown. yep, just call me vinny.)
so you get my point. sometimes you hear something and think..."nope, not me. no way. no how." by the way...i personally think God cracks up at that. i'm just sayin'.
well, a while back..i can't even remember how long now ago, i heard about someone who spent their whole birthday going around doing random acts of kindness. they turned 40 and did 40 acts of kindness. i was like "oh wow, how amazing! what a great idea! what a blessing!" well, that was what i said. what i thought, however, was..."um, no way! no way. no how. my birthday is my special day. i want to do my favorite things. it is, after all, all about me." in fact...i really enjoyed doing lots of my favorite things on my day. i drank my favorite QT slushy (white cherry, by the way. hands down.) i wore my favorite shirt. i listened to my favorite songs. i ate my favorite lunch. ok, you get the idea. all fine things. but, i didn't focus so much on that this year.
well, over the last year or so...God has patiently and faithfully been remolding my heart in lots of ways. i am quite sure that a lot of this has flat caused cramps in His hands for having to work...and re-work...and re-work...and re-work my heart. but, thankfully, He's into His clay. :) (2 cor. 4:7)
so, before you start thinking...and i know some of you have...cause i would have too...."gee, way to go. i am so glad you did that and are now bragging all about it on the internet so that everyone pats you on the back and wants to be just like you." dude, don't go there. i am fully admitting to you that i am not great. He is great.(ex. 14:31 and deut. 10:17 and1 samuel 12:16 and oh i don't know, about a thousand others)
i am selfish. i am prideful. i am weak. i am insecure. i am fearful. i am stupid. the list goes on and on.
but, thankfully He can still work with all that and do His thing. (1 cor. 1:27)
last year, on my 31st birthday, i couldn't sit upright for very long. at all. i was having an amazingly AWFUL birthday and two of my dear friends just showed up, they brought balloons and cake and joy and love. and along with my parents who are amazing and surprised me, and with my hubby and my kids and a few other very special friends...they took that day and flat out turned it around. but, i'm telling you....before they showed up...it had stunk big time most of the day. i remember even lying there on my couch for like the 3 billionth hour and just thinking "man, i'd even go do that random acts of kindness thing if i could just get up off this couch and live a normal life." ya, i was that desperate. i was willing to take a day that i loved making all about me and instead, make it all about others. but, i didn't. instead, i threw a massive pity party (population: me) and stayed put on my couch.
thankfully, like i mentioned before...God is all about His clay. so, he worked and worked and worked...and is still working and working and working, by the way. man, His job is exhausting, i bet. not, of course, for Him. but, just me talking about it wears me out and makes me wanna take a breather.
so, friend. when is your birthday? soon? just passed? months and months away? ya know...there really is no rule. you could do 32 acts of kindness any day you want. or more. or less.
as for me. i had a great day. like the title says...best. day. ever.
i couldn't be more thankful that i am getting better. i couldn't be more thankful for those around me who have hung on for this ride with me and not jumped ship at the first emotional outburst of mine that they faced. i couldn't be more thankful for the God of the universe...Who spoke the sun into existence....Who just, ya know, decided where the oceans would start and stop...Who knew that i would be born on the day that should have been a restful day for my mom and a boring conference day for my dad...Who knows every hair on your head and mine....that same God loves me (in spite of me) and spent my birthday with me. i'll say it again...best. day. ever.
and for the record...i hope you do whatever you want on your birthday. truly. i did treat myself a few times. i really did. (a few friends found a way to spoil me - like they always do...i got like 150 facebook notes, and 12 real card in the mail, with stamps on them and everything. you gotta love seeing lots of colored envelopes and only one thing from blue cross blue shield. how cool!...my super step-dad happily rescheduled our lunch date for tomorrow, yeah! but i did have an amazing dinner and fun, including the first alcoholic drink i've had in almost three years. no, i'm not anti-drinking. tht's subject for another post. :) the difference, friend...it just wasn't what it was all about, that's all. so, like i said. do what you want. but, friend...i'd be lying if i said that i wouldn't be soooo happy for you if you wanted to do this. :) steal the idea. i didn't come up with it. no copyright laws here. as for me...(because so many of my friends have asked)...here was my birthday...
1. called our local radio station to thank them for their ministry. i have had ample hours and hours to lie flat on my couch and listen. so thankful for praise and worship. i love it. (oh, and they put me on the air!) :)
1a. thanked my mom for the whopping 45 minutes of labor she had to go through. i love my mom. i hope i am like her when i grow up.
2. dropped flowers off on my best friend and neighbor's door who has literally called me every single day during all of this time to see how i am. really. every day. talk about commitment. talk about love. talk about putting others before yourself. my own folks and hubby (if being honest) could go a whole day without me sometimes. but not her. she is amazing.
3. dropped flowers off on the doorstep of another dear friend who has been there for me, to watch my kids, drive me around, encourage me in ways others don't...and just plain put up with me. that says a lot. she ain't even from here.:)
4. went to QT to try and buy people some drinks. no one was there. it was awkward. until i realized what God wanted me to do. so i walked up and tried to buy a drink for a few of the only people there - the employees. they told me they got free drinks. c'mon, really? :) but, then i talked with them a lot about my day and then finally persuaded them to let me buy them two pieces of candy and some mints. :)
5. dropped off flowers to my chiropractor's office to thank her and her office manager for the last year of amazing care and free therapy :)
6. bought a taco bell gift card for my favorite manager at our local hobby lobby, who has, for years, always been so kind when my kids and i have gone in there. after being gone for so long, he thought i'd moved. he was so excited to see me and of course, i apologized for the serious revenue drop his store has suffered since my illness began. (i love me some hobby lobby)
7. drove through wendy's to get my eldest boy his surprise lunch and i bought the people's lunch behind me in the drive thru. :) so fun!
8. brought flowers to the ladies at the front office at my son's school to thank them for all they do. and i got the awesome opportunity to share with a lady there who goes to our church, is widowed, has two kids, one with special needs....and i had never really met, officially. now i will hug her every time i see her. every. single. time.
9. surprised my sweet eldest boy with lunch. (he kinda caught on this morning when his lunch bag was "more empty" than is should have been. the kid is smart.) but, i didn't tell him who was coming. at lunch he told me "mom, i'm so glad it was you!!" (insert mom tears here!) oooh i love that boy!
10. picked up a treat for my best friend who needed something in a pinch for Ekul. (inside joke there, but i know she's cracking up right now!)
11. bought a treat for everyone who made this day possible. the theme for the treats: go rangers! and go cowboys! (hey, don't hate.)
12. struck up a great conversation with an older man about something we both saw in the store that made us both giggle. it was greatness. it made my day and i'm pretty sure it made his.
13. colored a picture with crayons for my most special friend melanie...who loves to color! she is a few years older than me in body, but because God made her special, she is much younger than me really. she brings me unspeakable joy every single time i see her. (this really goes up near #2 of my day, but i don't want to renumber them all. hey, just keeping it real.)
14. dropped flowers and notes off to my pediatrician's office. how does a mom of three kids who have had so many medical scares truly thank that awesome group of people enough? plus, they always laugh at my mom jokes, so that is a bonus. :)
15. dropped flowers off on the doorstep of a friend who has been a mother, friend, sister, therapist, prayer warrior, encourager, confidant, Scripture-queen for me. poor thing, she has worn so many hats for me, her head is still spinning. angels on your roof, sweet friend.
16. dropped flowers and a sonic drink off to a friend who i love, look up to, admire, stand in awe of, need and love. she caught me though, darn her. but i got a hug. so i forgive her. always. that one...she's a lion chaser if i ever saw one!
17. bought a few sonic gift cards and went around to the people in their cars waiting to order and gave them one. that was cool. very very cool. and funny. they looked at me like a lunatic when i knocked on their windows, until they realized i had money. then, i wasn't so crazy. :)
18. then i tipped the nice boy at sonic quite a bit for all his help with placing my big order...making sure i was on "happy hour" prices and doing it all with a smile and on roller skates. i would have so wanted that job. but, i wouldn't have made it a week. not, cause i would have quit. but, cause i'd have broken my neck is why. guaranteed.
19. delivered 8 sonic drinks to my amazing church staff. they are my friends. my leaders. my buddies. my role-models. my peeps. i love them. they all work so hard for Jesus. i miss being on their team. i hope they miss me too. (not so much my disorganization and chaos, but maybe just me. :)
20. dropped flowers off on the doorstep of a friend's house who i clicked with instantaneously when we met years ago. like, weird kinda clicked. i wanted to be her friend so bad but didn't want to seem creepy. cause i'm really not. just way too friendly. anyway, life took us different roads for a while and i couldn't be more thankful that He has brought us back. we stuck now. period. she knows too much. :)
21. picked up a treat for my middle child. just because. i can't wait to give it to him. the kid gets gleeful when we serve him dinner or let him play longer in the bathtub. his joy is infectious. i just love him so much it hurts.
22. sent an email to a friend who is really like a little sister and mentor and silly pal all wrapped into one. i am pretty sure (i mean, i'll ask Jesus, for sure when i get there) but i very well could have gone to 5 years of college, gotten a teaching job and taught for a whopping 2 years and 4 weeks, just to have met her. and i am completely ok with that. completely.
23. helped a nice boy push his dead truck across the gas station parking lot. (THANK YOU GOD FOR THAT STRENGTH! i mean it, the kid kinda looked at me funny. i wanted to say, "ya i'm a stud" but i had just met him, so i didn't) then i drove him a few blocks down the road to his work at auto zone (i giggled when he told me that because i thought it was more than a little ironic that his truck was dead and he couldn't get back to work...at auto zone. hehehe. no? is it just me??) anyway - turns out his mom sings at our church. small world.
24. bought a wonderful woman a bit older than me a coke. actually it was a mixture of a few drinks she told me. i loved it. i told her that she just made my day being a fully grown woman, but like the 7-year-olds who push each nozzle just because they can. love it.
25. dropped flowers and a diet coke off to a friend who has stood by me through it all...for years. why? not sure. i'd have bailed on me by now. oooh she knows my real ugly side. and still loves me. again, not sure why. but, oh man i'm so thankful.
26. posted on my friend's fb wall all about how much she means to me. i've known her since i was nine. we played little girl soccer together. we got into trouble in middle school and high school together. she was my roomie in college (and she survived!) she was in my wedding. she is my tech and i am her texas. enough said.
27. sent an email to my friend, my moh, my sunshine. she is in mexico. she's a missionary there. (darn that whole following God's calling on your life thing!:) i love her mucho. (that means much in spanish, in case you didn't know. you are welcome) i feel her sunny-ness from here. sunny + pete = love forever
28. brought some water to some hard working men who were building a huge house not too far from me. (well, not too far, but far enough :) they were all so very happy and grateful. and so was i.
29. paid for the car behind me at mcdonalds. funny too cause i had to wait a while until someone pulled up finally. so, i got to talk to that girl at the window for a while. too cool.
30. wrote notes to each of my kids telling them how thankful i am for them and how they have helped mommy feel better even when i wasn't better. especially that little girl. almost every day i am reminded of God's lavish love for me because of her. we wanted a girl so bad. didn't know i was gonna get a mini-me. but, it's all good. i am beyond blessed.
31. came home and picked up my house so that my sweet hubby ryan (who i love a lot but am not a whole lot like! :) could have a somewhat clean house before he went to bed tonight. trust me, it was BAD! it looked like the valentine fairy threw up everywhere. ugh. i'm so glad that man loves me.
32. emailed the awesome ladies in my Bible study group to see if they wanted to take part in blessing a wonderful lady i have gotten to know. she is going through what i was too. poor thing. stuck on her couch. can't live her life or feel like mom to her kids right now. i so get that. i met her online through a support group and then we found out that she literally lives within ten miles of me. can you hardly stand it!?! can't wait to see what my girls and i get to do with that. use us God, use us up!
i am pretty sure i am forgetting some. i know i didn't get to do all i wanted to do. i was limited by my time, my finances, and mostly, my energy. but, don't worry. i am not done. if you feel left out...don't. this shall continue. and no one is safe. :) but...today is over. and it was a busy day. well, it is almost over. it is almost midnight. i cannot put into words how tired i am. but, i am thrilled that i got to tell you about my day. oh...and before i forget...while i was walking around like a happy fool today, i did get rejected....a lot. i was a little surprised at how often people would flat turn me down. they honestly couldn't believe i was trying to do a nice thing. some even seemed a bit put out by my interruption. too bad. but, for the record... i gave people a note about me and why i was doing what i was doing so they wouldn't think i was a complete lunatic. i am used to that really, but my main reasoning for this note was i didn't want them to wonder why i was doing something good. i wanted them to know why. more importantly i wanted them to know Who. so, anyway, here's the letter if there's anyone left reading. if so...what do you call it when you mix a centipede and a parrot?? write me back if you made it this far and want to know the answer. (my kids love this one!)... (now, nighty night! ) happy my birthday to you! :)
ps. the verse at the very bottom says. it. all. read that one a few times!
Happy 32nd Birthday to ME! :)
I have lived for months and months out of the last year and a half on my couch. Was I watching TV and eating bon-bons? Um, no. Due to various medical issues, I have been unable to walk, sit upright, or basically live a “normal” life. I could go into the details, but I don’t even know you so I will spare you the loooong story!
Instead I will just tell you that without the unbelievable support from my family, my friends and my amazing church (www.metchurch.com) and most importantly, my always faithful God, I would have never made it through.
So, why am I telling you, a complete stranger, this?? Well, over the last couple months as I have started to feel a bit better, I have been planning how I wanted to spend my birthday. And here we are! J Instead of making this day all about me, (which I usually do) I have been very much looking forward to doing 32 random acts of kindness instead! This is where you come in. I hope that whatever it is that I did for you…big or small…free or expensive…I hope that it made you smile. I pray that you have a very happy day! I know I will!
When you can’t drive a car, play with your small kiddos, or even walk around for months at a time, it definitely gives you a whole new perspective on life and what is really important. So, I wrote this note, because I didn’t want you to think for just one minute that I was just a nice person doing a nice thing. I am a Christian and I am nothing without my relationship with Jesus. I am not good. (in fact, I’m pretty selfish and prideful!) But, friend, He is good. And, I just wanted you to know.
If you want to hear the rest of my story, feel free to check out my somewhat random, possibly witty, but hopefully encouraging blog at www.mamaholzberger.blogspot.com
I hope you have a happy my birthday!! May God bless you…and may you bless God!
Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the LORD; HE turned to me and heard my cry. HE lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; HE set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. HE put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”