"Mom, when you were a little girl, what did you want the very most for your birthday?"
"Well," I answered, "that depended on which birthday I was having."
With a giggle, I told her about my fourth birthday wish. I wanted Baby Alive, the dolly that ate and peed and pooped like a real baby. My dad wondered why I'd want a doll that needed its diapers changed and my mom questioned whether I'd really enjoy the "real life fun" once I had such a baby, but I was persistent. My artistic sister designed posters of Baby Alive and we hung them all over the house as a subtle reminder of my birthday desire. I still remember spotting the rectangular package at the breakfast table on my birthday morning and knowing that my wish was about to come true.
Then, there was the picture dictionary I asked for in first grade (My kids claim that's proof I was on the road to nerdhood from an early age, while I stand by the theory that the Lord had sewn in me a love for words from the very start), and the brand new maroon ten speed bike with curled handles and hand brakes. Topped with a silver bow, the inarguable proof of my maturity waited outside of my window the morning of my ninth birthday. I rode it proudly to school in my bright red knicker overalls but didn't anticipate a patch of gravel as I soared down the alley that led to Lincoln elementary's parking lot. My skinny new tires responded quite differently than the blue banana seat bike I'd just outgrown. My swerve and skid routine left me with a bloody red knee to match my fashionable new knickers and a few tears to prove that nine-year-olds are still little girls at heart.
My sixteenth birthday produced the high-end electronic gift. No, not the "boom box" to prop on my shoulder like all my other friends had, rather, the ever- so-amazing word processor, a budding writer's dream. (Yes, yes, I know, I'm dating myself with this gift memory. I attended high school in the era when home computers were still as large as microwave ovens and as expensive as cheap used cars!) Finally, I can still picture the bouquet of eighteen red roses I found propped on the red vinyl driver's seat of my Ford Mustang when I returned to my car after a long school day in the first quarter of my senior year. More moving than the stunning crimson flowers themseves was the birthday message carefully scrawled in teenage boy handwriting on the simple white card: I hope this year is your best year ever. I love you.
I no longer post pictures around my home to declare my birthday wishes In fact, my husband would claim I've become a difficult woman to gift. I'm not trying to be thwart his gift-giving fun, but the truth is, money can't purchase what I most want. At thirty-seven, I've stopped wishing for a dolly to feed (I've got five of the real things now!) and have begun longing for a well-fed soul instead.
Just yesterday the kids and I read a story about an Englishman who gave himself a unique birthday present. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineer in the 1800s, designed a railroad tunnel to be built in England with his own special day in mind. On only one day a year, Brunel's birthday, the sun was in just the right place so that when it rose in the morning, it brilliantly lit up the inside of the tunnel. (Did You Know Devotions for Kids) .
Though a sun-drenched tunnel may be spectacular; I want a Son-drenched soul. Not just on my birthday, but on every day that I draw breath.
After I told Hannah my favorite birthday memories, she placed her hands on my cheeks and gazed sincerely into my eyes. "Mommy, what do you want more than anything on this birthday?"
"More of Jesus," I told her without hesitation. "And less of me." Now I think I'll blow out those candles before 38 little flames begin a fire!
The Overflow: From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God. Psalm 22:10