Happy Birthday to me

Happy BirthdayIf there was ever a time to pause and reflect, it would be tonightthe eve of my sixtieth birthday.  Sixty years are a loooong time.

On my twentieth birthday (1974), I was head over heels in love with my future wifeliving at homeand three years into my seven-and-a-half year bachelors degree program at San Diego State.  A year earlier, I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  At age twenty, I was just confused.

On my thirtieth birthday (1984), I had been married nine years.  Almost ten years!  For five years, I had been the youth and family minister in a big church.  I was a full-blown marriage expertin my own head.  I was the father of a two-year old and over my head in the deep end of fatherhood.  So what did do?  I decided to go back to school and study for another master’s degree.  It seemed perfectly logical, at the time.

On my fortieth birthday (1994), I was in a pretty deep depression.  We were broke and deeply in debt after four years on missionary support.  Our house needed tons of repairs.  I no longer belonged in the circle of friends we had grown close to.  I had dozens of options, but nothing fit what I knew I needed to be doing.  I was lost and felt completely powerless.  It was a bummer.  But my anchor was Wanda.  My joy was Chris and Corey.  And my faith became more real than it had ever been.

On my fiftieth birthday (2004), my life was completely different than I thought it would be thirty years earlier.  Living in Texas?  You gotta be kidding me!  Corey had just graduated from high school and was preparing to go away to college.  Chris had moved out and was living his life on his ownapart from me.  I was sad most of the time because I had lost my ESPN buddies to their own lives.  2004 marked my decision to step away from youth ministry and become that dreaded thing I had made fun of my whole adult life:  a senior minister.  Ugh.

What you don’t see in this short post is what happened in each of the decades separated by my birthday celebrations.  If you were to evaluate the whole of my lifespan by the condition of my heart on each of those four days, you might conclude that I had a pretty miserable life.  But nothing could be further from the truth.

My life is not defined by the “markers”, but by what happened in-between.  And it has been amazing.

I send out a huge thank you to all of my friendsfrom high schoolfrom my days in collegefrom our spiritual formation years at Pacific Christian College and Anaheim First Christianfrom the incredible decade in Huntington Beachfrom our years with Amor Ministries and Community Christian Churchand from our nearly twenty years here in the Great State.  Wow.  You all have been part of shaping and defining me.  I couldn’t be more grateful.

Tomorrow (or today, when you read this) will be my sixtieth big one.

I’ve settled into this “senior minister” gig.  I definitely miss the days of youth ministry, but the trade-off has been worth it.  I absolutely love the unique, quirky, hilarious, loving, and totally amazing group of overgrown teenagers I get to share life with now as the North Point Ringmaster.

My knees are shot.  My ankles are ok.  Bowling has replaced softball.  An elliptical has replaced running, but I could still throw a round of BP, if somebody asked me to.  I only play guitar for myselfthe talent of others has lapped me a dozen times.  I love naps, but I still rock and roll.

I have two unbelievably gifted and loving daughters-in-law who stepped into our lives seamlessly.  Two beautiful grandsons and a Farra GRANDAUGHTER on the way!  Oh nowhat are the Farra’s going to do with a girl?  My boys could not have made me more proud.  Wanda is still the greatest gift that God has ever given me, short of my redemption.

I could go on, but let’s just say tomorrow will be the best birthday ever.

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6 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to me

  1. Happy birthday Mike! God has used you in so many ways. You do live a blessed life and it over flows into those around you. Thank you for everything you have done for me. I am blessed because of knowing you. Thank you! Again happy birthday I hope you enjoy your day!!!

  2. Great thoughts! I’m kinda struggling with the whole “in my 40s and no longer in youth ministry” things right now, so this was an encouragement to me.

    Happy Birthday! See you in October!

  3. This is almost two years late but happy 60th birthday Mike. I’m just now reading some of your old posts. You were a great influence in mine and Tami’s life and I would like to thank you for that. I loved working in youth ministry under your care and have continued working with kids ever since and probably will until the day I die. Hugs to you and Wanda!

  4. By the way – your little granddaughter looks just like Wanda. I just went to grandparents day at Julia’s Crean High School yesterday. Can’t believe Tami and Russ have a 15 year old. Lucy’s 11 and Clara’s 13. You would get a kick out of all of them. All three totally different.

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