There are few things in life for which I find myself spontaneously offering daily thankfulness to God. In the last year, in particular, I don’t think a day has gone by during which I haven’t found myself in awe of some aspect of our marriage, our family, or some act of love that has been connected to Daniel. (And to be sure, there have been plenty times of frustration, annoyance, and discouragement, too.)
Celebrating another year of his life on his birthday has always been complicated. Since we met during our college years, his birthday has always fallen at the time of commencement or final exams or the weddings of friends. Still, we’ve been able to do some pretty memorable celebrating. I wish I had a picture of the first birthday card I made for him for a joint surprise party we threw for him and some friends. I was in a season of life when my close friends received my trademark poster-sized birthday cards, and since he was going to Tanzania that summer, his was complete with pine needle thatched roof and real mud/clay that I attached to the poster-board sized card. And then it promptly fell off. 🙂 Then there was the year when we weren’t quite engaged, so I didn’t think I was supposed to tell him I love you. Instead I made him a video with pictures and 72-point-font scrolling text that said “I like you!” even though we really did love each other. (Yes, how embarrassing.) May has always been a busy month, including our engagement, our wedding, our anniversary, his birthday, and now likely a new child’s birthday will fall in this month, as well.
Earlier this year, when we learned of a cyst on Daniel’s brain, I was reminded of how incredibly thankful I am for each year we’ve been able to celebrate his birthday. (As a child, he had a congenital heart-defect that often meant loss of life by the early 20’s–thankfully, they discovered a permanently corrective treatment shortly after the time his condition was discovered.) Although it may not be as imminently threatening of a health condition as I initially thought, it’s yet another reminder to me to thank God for each and every day we have together. It is a gift, every day is a gift.
I am thankful for Daniel for so many reasons–he’s funny, we could talk for hours every day (and sometimes do, to the detriment of getting to bed on time), he’s a gentle, tender, strong Daddy, he’s a faithful husband and friend, he’s a hard-worker, he’s diligent, driven, and self-discipline, and yet patient, involved with his family, and caring and gracious toward others. We’ve changed a lot over the years we’ve known each other, and we’re thankful we’ve been able to grow through that process together.
But if there is one aspect that I think characterizes his life over this past year in which we added another candle to the cake, it’s been his life-laying-down love. Jesus talks about this in John 15:13, when he says, “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Although he hasn’t (thankfully!) laid down his life through a literal, physical death, I’ve watched as he has lovingly put aside many aspects of his life to serve his family and his friends. I’ve watched him lay down pursuits that could have easily taken up all his time, put away distractions, and give so much time and energy to love me during this season of life–especially during a somewhat physically challenging (for me) pregnancy. He wouldn’t need to say “I love you” every night, because he says it through actions all throughout the day. Yet, his love hasn’t just come at times when I’m lovely and easy to love. I don’t wonder if he loves me or our daughters, and I don’t wonder if he loves and wants to honor God. This year has been full of many challenges and happy moments, and I’m thankful we got to add one more candle to the cake this year, though I definitely didn’t have enough for the actual number of years. 🙂
I woke up feeling dreadful this morning (the time I’d hoped to make a cake), with a full day ahead, full of work, an appointment, and a family birthday lunch out. I was thankful to feel well enough by lunchtime, but was definitely worn out and without time to make anything special. Daniel had run out of paint for a project and decided to take the girls to the hardware store after supper, and somehow in the time he was away, a cake and icing were created, and we enjoyed a birthday dessert after he gave the girls their baths. 🙂
Happy Birthday, Daniel!