No one loves their birthday more than I do…NO one.

You can try and argue this with me.
You will not win.

My family and friends will agree.

In my (ever so humble) opinion, it should be a national holiday. Not because I’m so great, but how great would it be for everyone to have an extra day off for sunshine, beach-dwelling & BBQ and have me to thank???

I have always loved my birthday.

When I was young, I spent MANY of them with my Gramma Penny in the good old County of Humboldt. My parents were youth pastors, so summers were full of youth camps, missions trips and day trips…but I’m not complaining. What kid wouldn’t love getting to be spoiled by a grandparent for a huge chunk of the summer??? Not me! I loved every minute of it.

And she was the ultimate.

Everything was fun with her.

An event.

We didn’t just have breakfast…we got out her good china and her collection of tea cups and dined.

We had carpet picnics with salami and cheese and crackers while we played Scrabble or watched her “black & whites” as she called them.

We didn’t have rootbeer floats…she took them to the next NEXT level – you know, the level after rootbeer floats made with the bombdiggity expensive bottled rootbeer) and made them with Strawberry Soda. Trust me. They are amazing.

And she loved to bake.

Her cakes?

The best.

She had all the best cake pans and cake books. She would let me look through them and pick out any cake I wanted for my birthday. Since I was basically born with a sweet tooth, this was sheer heaven. I would spend hours pouring over those books. I would make notes and Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Mo which cake I should choose. I basically did everything but pray about it. And when I would finally choose, I would show her and we would talk about colors and flavors and head out to the store to get anything we might need for my carefully chosen cake.

I have so many memories of so many cool cakes that she made me. The hamburger cake and Purple Boom Box being my 2 favorites.

I have amazing pictures of all of them-and the most treasured ones of me “helping” her make them.

And while the cakes were so important to me and I LOVED every single one of them, I think the thing I loved the most was the time I got to spend with my Gramma choosing and planning and making them.

My Gramma wasn’t like other Gramma’s.
She was young.
And fun.
And so loving and caring.

I could always talk to her about anything. I was never too old to curl up next to her on the couch with a blanket and a cup of her Whipped Cocoa and tell her the funny or happy or heart breaking things that were going on in my life.

She made the bad things seem not so bad. “Honey, I’m so sorry, but it always works out and we always get through it. And that’s what we have each other for.”

She made the funny things seem that much funnier, *Laughing until she farted and gave herself an asthma attack* – true story – Every. Single. Time.

She made the happy things seem like the biggest deal in the world. “Let’s throw together a family dinner!” Appetizers, Main Dishes & Dessert thrown together within hours and a house full of laughter and LOUD conversation. If you think I’m loud, you should meet my family. I’ve got nothing on them! You just didn’t tell Gramma no when she called about a family dinner. And family meant FAMILY and other stragglers we’ve adopted as family along the way.

Gramma was the most generous and caring person I ever met.

No matter how little she had, there was always enough to help others. There was never a person without family she ever met that didn’t get adopted by her. There was never a person who came into her home that didn’t leave feeling loved and full and fat and happy.

My hero- or at least one of them – for sure.

She was left widowed at the age of 28 with 5 kids between the ages of 5-11 and barely a HS diploma. She didn’t sit around pitying herself and expecting others to do anything for her. She dusted herself off, went to work always having 2-3 jobs and handled business. She didn’t have a lot of help, if any. My great-grandma and grandpa didn’t live near her at the time. She had no choice. She did what she had to do.

And she didn’t complain.

She loved her children and worked her butt off to provide and be the best mom she knew how to be. None of them are perfect, but they’re all productive members of society who loved their mom and had amazing relationships with her.

And she loved all of us grand-babies fiercely and well.

When I tell people that my Gramma passed away last year, it still brings tears to my eyes and a pain in my heart that is indescribable. Because she wasn’t just a “holiday and birthday card” Gramma. She was like a second mom to me. And my heart was broken in a way that will never fully heal when she passed away.

I have the hope and joy that she found a deep relationship with Jesus that last year of her life and I will see her in heaven one day. That brings a smile to my heart that will never go away.

But the part that still hurts is never hearing her voice again.
Never hearing her laugh.
Never hearing her hum while she ate a really good meal or buzzed around the kitchen getting ready to feed the multitudes.
Never getting a squishy hug.
Never cuddling up on the couch again.
Never being irritated that I’m a grown up and she’s telling me what to do. Still.

What does this have to do with my birthday and me coming back to this blog? Well, she loved this blog. And so did I. It was a huge part of my dreams for my life. Dreams that I talked with her about many times.

And 2 days I ago I turned 38. And I’m finally OK with my age. (If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that THAT is a miracle.) I’m older than my Gramma was when I was born – and it’s time to make my life what it was made to be.

I want my life to be lived to the fullest. I want the destiny God has for me to be fulfilled. I want my dreams to come true. And I want to honor the hard work my Gramma put into all of us and make her proud even though she isn’t with us any more.

This past year, I’ve let so many things become excuses and stand in the way of my destiny and today is the day I say, “No more!!” Many things have happened that I never saw coming – more on that later – and I’m not going to let any of it stand in the way of what God has for me…

So, Gramma, I honor you today by taking the steps necessary to make it all happen. I thank you that on my birthday I had a million memories of you to pull from and smile that even though you weren’t here with me, you were in my heart all day long, and even after death, you are inspiring me to make my life an event every day.

I miss you more than you’ll ever know.

Thank you for a million cakes and kisses and cuddles and imparting into me everything I need to fulfill my destiny in the one who created me.