Surrender 36: Happy Birthday Josh

This year, I’ve surrendered to an idea that came to me, to honor each person in my family on his or her birthday. Parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, both “regular” and “great”, all will be celebrated on the anniversary of their entrance into the world, or on the day of the birthday party, whichever arrives first! 

I kicked off the year, with the first birthday, followed by great-niece Aralyn. And I just this moment realized I missed her daddy, my nephew Eric, whose birthday was three days after mine! Watch for a belated birthday post. My son-in-law Josh leads off the February birthdays. Today is his actual birthday. 


Josh is married to my daughter Elissa. However, I’ve known him all of his life. When I met his parents for the first time, Deb was pregnant with her first born, Josh. Mike and Deb moved to Pittsburg, KS and a few years later, Greg and I moved to Joplin. We saw the Adam family often, and their four children and our three would play together. Elissa and Josh, being the eldest of the kids, have hung out since they were children. 

Elissa and Josh each have a son from their first marriages, Dayan and Jonathan. When they married a little over a year ago, after reconnecting and dating for several years, they brought their hearts and their boys into a beautiful new family. 


I love and appreciate Josh. He is steady and dependable, low key and quiet, yet when he shares, he has something worthwhile to say. He works hard, helps around the house, cooks. Josh is a wonderful husband to my daughter, and an excellent dad to Jonathan and stepdad to Dayan. 


And while he’s not normally one to be the center of attention, he certainly knows how to have fun! I love when my whole family is gathered. Watching my adult children and their sweethearts laughing, joking, and chatting animatedly together brings great joy to my heart and a smile to my face.

I’m thankful for Josh and this opportunity to express my gratitude for his strength, his character and values, and his kind and generous heart. Who would have known, years ago, that this charming boy would one day become a son? I’m so glad he’s part of my family. Happy birthday Josh! I love you! 


Surrender 9: Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday. And a beautiful day it has been, from start to finish. I had the joy of spending the entire day doing things that I love. 

I awoke leisurely, and I was greeted by falling snow when I opened the blinds to let the world in. We only got a dusting, but how beautiful to sit sipping a steaming cup of hot tea and watch the swirl of snow through the windows. 


Throughout the day I received a steady stream of well wishes. My grandson Jonathan called and sang Happy Birthday, kicking off my celebratory mood. So far I have been the recipient of more than 400 birthday texts, Facebook posts, messages and phone calls. I am surrounded by love and joy.  

I replied to each post, text and message, and an interesting thing happened today, as I typed. As the words appeared on my phone’s screen I would whisper, “Thank you…(and add the name of the person who sent the message)….love and blessings to you.” I’ve never done that before. I’m not sure where the idea came from. I suddenly became aware of what I was saying. I liked sending a blessing to the giver and I surrendered to what was unfolding. Imagine how full my heart is tonight, after whispering those words more than 400 times! My joy overflows. 

I only left the house once today, and that was to attend the All-District Honor Band Concert this afternoon. Last fall 400 students from 27 different schools auditioned for honor band. Ninety-nine musicians were selected, including my grandson, Dayan. My daughter Elissa and son-in-law Josh picked me up and we made our way to the Joplin High School Performing Arts Center. I was excited to be inside this new building on the beautiful high school campus for the first time and I was in high anticipation for the concert. 
 Dayan, handsome in black, headed onstage. 

What a thrilling performance. Under the skillful direction of conductor Dr Rick Espinosa, the band moved the audience with “A Longford Legend”, “Shenandoah”, “Three Folk Miniatures” and “Pas Redouble”. We were on our feet cheering by the last musical piece. 

                      Listen to Pas Redouble here

These yearly concerts expand my heart, inspire me, and remind me of the importance of living fully as the person I am, offering my “music” to the world, while allowing everyone else to do the same. I tear up listening to these teens as they offer their beautiful gifts so soulfully. 

After only eight hours of rehearsals, playing music they have just received, joining in with other musicians and a conductor they’ve just met, they create a concert that astounds. Dr Espinosa, Director of Bands at MSSU, praised these students, saying they were the best honor band he’s ever had the privilege of conducting. He joked that he could take the band on the road and they could all make money! I was blessed to get to hear their performance today. What a birthday gift. 

Back at home I enjoyed the perfect afternoon tea…hot Scottish thistle tea, and a single piece of cake that I purchased yesterday at the market bakery. I’ve had a simple dinner, and I am content, still thanking people for their kind happy birthday wishes, continuing to send love and blessings back. I have a stack of coloring books and my jars of colored pencils nearby, and the next episode of Mozart in the Jungle ready to play. 

My birthday is my personal New Year’s Eve…a time to reflect on the last year of my life and feel gratitude for the experiences and the growth, before releasing the past. It’s a day to feel excitement for the perfect moment by moment unfolding of the upcoming year. It’s a day to be aware of my blessings, and they are many. Life is good. Happy Birthday to me!


Journey 41: Happy Birthday Nate

Nate honor guard 2e22

Today is my son’s birthday. Nathanael (Nate) is a fine young man…smart, handsome, creative, musical, dedicated to his family, a loving husband and father. He excels at his chosen profession, being a top rate police officer who helps to keep his community safe and trains other officers. He is continually learning so that he can teach others. It has been wonderful to see him achieve what he’s wanted to do ever since he was a young boy. I am very proud of him.

Today, although it was one of his scheduled days off, Nate taught a class for other officers. Which meant, I got to pick up his little daughter from school. Because it was her daddy’s birthday, she quickly had an afterschool snack and then wanted to shop for a card and gifts for her father. Since the boys weren’t with us, Aubrey became the “designated shopper” for the kids, a role she took quite seriously.

Aubrey and I dashed into Target to make her purchases so we could get her home before her daddy arrived. I love shopping with young children. They are so earnest, so heart-centric, in their desire to gift a loved one. I give them free reign on making purchases and rarely have to offer guidance.

Aubrey looked at a couple of cards and then asked where the cards were that played music when you opened them. I pointed her in the right direction and she immediately found the perfect card. It had Spongebob Squarepants on the front, and when the card is opened, the quirky sponge sings Happy Birthday. Aubrey was delighted with her choice, and opened the card often while we continued birthday shopping, giggling every time Spongebob broke into song. It was even more humorous when I remembered that a week ago, I embarrassed this sweet child by singing that very same song for a free meal at McDonald’s!

nates birthday t shirt

Next were gifts. Aubrey very thoughtfully chose a gift card to a restaurant for her dad to use while he’s patrolling and needs a lunch break. And then she headed to the T-Shirt section. Aubrey found the perfect shirt. On the front were Minions, from the Despicable Me movies, with the phrase Ba Ba Ba Ba Banana on it. She loved it. I’m sure her dad did too.

Aubrey signed her name to the singing card and Joey and Oliver added their names as well when we arrived at the house. I know Nate and his family had a very fun evening, celebrating his birthday. And I know Nate celebrated his family, because that’s the type of man that he is. In fact, as I drove home after dropping Aubrey off, I was reminded of a tremendous gift that Nate has given his little girl. It is a story that Aubrey has asked to hear many, many times, and now shares with others. She loves to tell how her daddy hoped for and wished for a daughter, and then she was born and his wish came true. I am so proud of my son for giving this true and enchanting story to his daughter. It is so vital to the heart of a young girl to know that she was wanted and then that she is seen and appreciated for who she is. It is so important to know that being a girl is perfect, in her father’s eyes. That tender story brings such a look of fierce pride to Aubrey’s face that it brings tears to my eyes. Nate’s gift will carry his girl into adulthood, and she will always know that her dad wanted a daughter, and was proud of the girl that she was. I have no doubt that he will be proud of the woman she becomes.

Nate and Aubrey

Nate is also an awesome stepdad to his two boys and his quiet strength and authentic love bolsters their confidence in who they are and will accompany them on their journey to manhood. It is equally as important that boys have someone to look up to, to mirror, and to learn from. They need to be seen as well, and applauded for their accomplishments and taught how to use their awakening strength.

Well done, Son. I am honored to be your mom. You teach me by your example. I love you. Many, many more happy birthdays for you!

Nates family

Day 9: Birthday Celebration at Five Guys Burgers


Today was a double first!  For the first time ever, I am 56 years young today!  And to celebrate I chose to have an informal dinner at Five Guys Burgers Restaurant.  My family joined me there and it was a noisy, fun gathering!

Five Guys Burgers is new to Joplin and this was the first time my family and I have been there. The burgers were delicious. The atmosphere was bright and friendly.  We had a wonderful time together, capping off an amazing day! Happy Birthday, Me!