A Very Special Celebration

I hold in my hands a treasure. It’s a book I will read and reread for the rest of my time here on this planet. Last night my daughter and grandkids came over to celebrate the start of this weekend that celebrates my 60 years of life. She brought a very special gift. For the past eight months she has been soliciting and collecting letters from people all over the world who wanted to express something about my life to commemorate this milestone.

To say I was shocked would be a gross understatement. I can’t believe my daughter did this. It is filled with letters and pictures from family and close friends from all over the world, and it is already been the cause of many tears. What Sara, my daughter, and my son wrote made every difficult place in this journey more than worth it. I love seeing my life through their eyes and it has touched me profoundly.

I haven’t read all the letters yet. Not by a long shot, but I can’t wait to do so with Sara as we get time. I’ve already been deeply touched just by the number of you who wrote and the kind expressions of life and grace you expressed. This book goes all the way back to my childhood as it unfolds great memories and celebrates the friendships God has given me with so many. Many have written what they have seen of God’s work in my life and how it has touched them and encouraged their journeys. Wow! It has been a joy to look through and I’m looking forward to a more detailed read.

                                 

                                     A quick peek at the book last night

And it just continues today as I watch 100s of birthday greetings scroll across my Facebook page. I am so grateful for all the people behind them. Seeing their names scroll by on Facebook brings such warm memories to my heart. Outside of family, the richest treasure I have in this age is my friendships with people near and far and how much love and wisdom I receive from every exchange of life with so many .

This is going to be a special weekend for sure, celebrating my sixty years on the planet and a journey in God that Sara and I could never have imagined, but one that we consider an incredible gift from God. Through good times and bad, Father has continued to draw us into his life and it has exceeded anything we ever dreamed.

Today is a quiet day. I got to enjoy the grandkids last night as they took me out to dinner. Sara and I are leaving now to attend A Conversation about Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Healing: Lessons from South Africa, at Pepperdine University. I have so enjoyed the South African story as it ended apartheid and has struggled to find a way to live together in peace and share a culture with all the inequities in it. I know many people from there that have enriched my heart, and I find the story of those such as Nelson Mandela, who came out of a quarter century of hard labor in prison with a heart for reconciliation and not vengeance. It is one of the transcendent stories of our time and I’m looking forward to getting behind that story today. What a birthday present!

Then, this weekend, Sara has planned a huge celebration at our home. More than 70 people from near and far are coming to spend the day with me. I’ve seen the guest list and am blessed at those who are coming, some very dear friends from many moons ago, some who were children growing up with my own, and some who are newfound friends here in Ventura County. I can’t wait to hug their necks and catch up on our lives.

Thanks, Sara, for all you did to plan this week. And, Julie, thanks for the book! And to all of you who wrote and are still writing, thank you so much. I’m a very blessed man who is so grateful this morning I could just explode. But I’ll try not to, at least not until Saturday has passed!

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