Today is my birthday and I am sixty-one years old. Wow! I am surprised that I have made it this far! Life began for me as a ranch-hand’s daughter on a rainy morning in a small town hospital. My Mom was twenty-eight years old and my Dad was thirty-one when I was born. I was the third and last born in the family. My sister was nine, soon to be ten years old, and my brother was two and a half years old. My parents were hard-working and life was not easy for them but they always made sure that their children had food to eat and clothes to wear. I never knew we were poor.
I have good memories as a child growing up. I remember going with my Mom to pick up my siblings from school each afternoon. When the weather was nice we would stop on the gravel road and look in each ant hill for Indian beads. There were a lot of ant hills and we found a good share of colorful Indian beads too. I especially loved spending time with my Mom and she loved nature. She taught me to love bird watching and flowers and cooking. She taught me to love my family and to be honest and to always be kind and have good manners. She taught me about God and I am forever grateful for what I learned at her knee.
I also loved going to check the cows with my Dad. He taught me about the circle of life, how a cow gives birth and that sometimes the baby calf needs a little help to be born. He taught me about predators and how to shot them. Of course I am talking about animal predators such as coyotes as they stalked the innocent new-born calf and tried to kill it. Sometimes they were successful but most of the time my Dad put some fear into the predators and they left the area. Dad also taught me that family is important and to do good for others by helping them when they need help. I have no idea the number of days in his lifetime that Dad did things for free for others. If anything mechanical needed fixed my Dad was the one everyone in the family called for help. He gave selflessly. Dad taught me what loving others was really like.
My sister and my brother were my best friends growing up. I loved them unconditionally and would defend them fiercely. I know that they loved me too but sometimes we did fight with each other. It seems strange, though, that I have outlived both of them. My sister died at age sixty and my brother died at age twenty-two. My brother taught me to ride a motorcycle and to make tortillas. My sister taught me how to cuss and then my Dad overheard what I said and I found out that ivory soap can be used for more than washing dishes. Yes, I watched my language from then on and made certain not to repeat every word my sister said! Such memories.
The time came in my life to grow up and spread my wings and so I went to Hong Kong with a college team to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the Chinese people. My eyes were opened to the spiritual needs of others and I fell in love with one special man, boy, really. Soon we began our own family and time went on and the circle of life continued. Four children later, one divorce, and the death of my siblings, and then my parents, and here I am! What a full sixty-one years I have spent on this earth. I believe in all things we are commanded to give God praise, including birthdays.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, (New International Version or NIV).
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:15-20, (NIV).
In many parts of my life this had been easy to accomplish. In having wonderful parents I can easily give praise. In having interesting siblings I can easily give praise. In the large and loving extended family with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who nurtured me and loved me and taught me so much I can easily give praise. With the many Christian friends that I have made along the way I can easily give praise. In finding a life calling as a wife and mother I can easily give praise. In having musical abilities and the opportunity to use them all around the world I can easily give praise. In being a writer and a poet and song writer I can easily give praise. In the many churches I have been and the teachers and preachers that I have learned from I can easily give praise. So much of my life I look back upon and I can easily give praise to God for His goodness toward me.
There are times in my life, some very dark circumstances with even darker memories that I do not wish to look upon nor is it easy to give praise to God. It is during those times that I see the mercy of God, the love of God, taking my fragile life and making me whole again and lifting me up on wings of eagles to help me see the bigger picture that I can finally find praise for Him. It is in the darkness I cried and tears of joy were restored to me. It is in the illnesses that I found true healing. It is in the broken spirit of pride that I found sweet relief. During those times when I was not walking without the help of my God, that is when I grew spiritually. Those times were when I saw the goodness of God and the mercy applied to me and the forgiveness of my sins that helped me to see the spiritual needs of others and the need for God in their hearts that helped me to forgive them. During those dark memories I have learned to praise my God because of His infinite love and mercy and grace poured over me, passing through me to help me pour it all out on others. For this I can praise God as I have never been capable of praising before!
Sixty-one years old may seem young to some but over-the-hill to others. To me it seems like yesterday was but a drop in my bucket and tomorrow is forever before me. I have only begun to live, I have only begun to learn and now is the time to apply that education and to continue growing and continue learning. But most of all I want to continue praising God for all the wonderment of my life. Because all the good and the difficult memories because they have made me who I am. I am strong in my weakness. I am soft in my toughness. I am wise and hope that I will continue to become even wiser. I am more loving, more understanding, and more forgiving, than any other time in my life. I am not rigid but I do know what I believe and know it is right. I am thirsty for God and desire to learn more about Him than I care to know about the world. I love deeply and for a lifetime. I now know what it means to love unconditionally because I am loved unconditionally by the one true God. I have peace for the first time in a long time. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone anymore. Thank you God, for the gift of another birthday. Happy Birthday to me!
Until next time…Katherine