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! 


Journey 74: Wild, Wild Weston Birthday Party

Westons second birthday eating cupcake

Today my family celebrated the birthday of one of its youngest members. Weston, grandson of my sister Linda, and son of my nephew Scott and his lovely wife Nicole, will be two years old tomorrow. Warm weather created the perfect opportunity to move into Scott and Nicole’s big backyard to play, to laugh, to rejoice over this adorable little boy.

Westons second birthday party

Westons second birthday Kaleb

Rather than a game of poker, Kaleb and I played blocks. I couldn’t stop smiling over his moustache!

Westons second birthday cold drinks

Howdy Ma’am, would you like a cold drink?

Using the theme of Wild, Wild Weston, the house and yard had the feel of the Old West, complete with the bathroom becoming an outhouse and bandanas and moustaches adorning the guests. I loved the Wanted….Reward posters scattered throughout the house, with various cute pics of the birthday boy. I have to say, my eyes filled with tears when I thought about the truth in this clever decoration. Weston was SO wanted by his parents. They waited for this little boy with hearts full of love and hope. When he was born, it was definitely cause for celebration. And joy of joys, Weston now has a baby sister, Lola, who at four months, was an interested onlooker today.

Westons second birthday wanted poster

Westons second birthday Lola and Gigi

Little sister Lola tries out the pony

We feasted on grilled hot dogs with all the fixings, and gathered in the living room to watch Weston open gifts. He was excited about all his new toys, seriously inspecting each item, ready to play long before the last gift was opened. He has the cutest way of saying “thank you” without really moving his lips. It’s more the intonation of the words, the rise and fall of sound that’s just right so that you know that is what he is saying. With his curly red hair, big brown eyes, and impish smile, he could easily be a toddler model. He is content being his mom and dad’s first born, and Gigi’s only grandson among her four grandchildren. I love the way that his eyes take in everything. He’s a thinker who considers carefully and then he takes action. He will be an awesome big brother to Lola.

Westons second birthday opening gifts

Westons second birthday boy

The highlight of Weston’s afternoon was the setting up of the gift from his parents, a mini trampoline, surrounded by a safety net and complete with a swing connected to the side. He joined his dad, uncles, and Papa Roy and “Papa” Greg, happy to be in the middle of the action, testing the frame as the guys began set up. Eventually Weston joined the ladies and the other kids indoors, much to his chagrin, while the guys completed the task. It was not an easy job! We joked about how many men does it take to set up a trampoline. It takes a family, apparently. They did a great job and soon Weston had the honor of being the first jumper. I caught a great pic of him as he bounced, body suspended above the trampoline, smile on his face. I foresee many fun hours spent in the backyard this summer.

Westons second birthday helping

Westons second birthday the guys

Westons second birthday jumping

Go Weston Go!

Meanwhile, the adults sipped cold sodas or iced tea, visited and laughed, and watched some of the older kids play a giant sized Jenga that Jon made. It was such an enjoyable, relaxed afternoon, spent with some of my favorite people on this earth. I am blessed that they also happen to be my family. We sang Happy Birthday as Weston blew out the candles on his strawberry cupcake. Watching him as he had fun, it is hard to believe that a year  ago we celebrated his first birthday as he sat in his highchair. So quickly the time flies. The baby has become the toddler and a big brother. He is already busy showing up as the person he was created to be. It will be a joy to watch him journey. Happy, happy birthday Weston!

Westons second birthday Jenga

Westons second birthday London jumps

London jumps on the trampoline

Westons second birthday blowing out candle

Day 41: Nate’s Birthday Celebration at Longhorn Steakhouse


Today’s first was all about celebrating! My son, Nathanael, turned 33 today. My family is all about honoring the one who is having a birthday, so 13 of us gathered to eat a leisurely dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse. This was another first for me. Longhorn Steakhouse has been in Joplin more than a year and I’ve been overdue for a visit. What a happy reason for combining two firsts.

People say that kids grow up so fast. It is true. How can it be that this handsome young man, who is a parent now himself, is the little boy who used to climb everything, preferred to hop and run rather than walk, and once headed outside wearing only a loin cloth he had made himself? Imaginative and creative, this boy could make anything out of cardboard, hot glue and paint, sketch a picture of anything he saw, and play the piano and guitar. I turned around a couple of times, it seems, and the boy had become the man.

Nate’s desire, from the age of eight, was to be a police officer. That can put fear in a mother’s heart. And yet his father and I encouraged him to pursue his dream, and he did. He has been a police officer for 9 years, and a fine, outstanding officer he is. I’m proud of his accomplishments and at peace with his chosen profession. I look forward to joining him on patrol soon, and sharing about that in a future blog post.

We had a wonderful dinner this evening at Longhorn Steakhouse. The food was great, the conversations flowed easily around the long table, and laughter rang out often. Celebration is one of the highest forms of gratitude. We had much to be grateful for tonight. Happy birthday, Son! Long life, joy and happiness be yours.