On this, my 61st birthday, I am more than thankful for another candle on my imaginary cake. And while I don’t enjoy the attention or share much personally on social media, today, I feel compelled to give PRAISE to the Lord who is the giver and sustainer of life. Last year at this time, I was recovering from a cardio angiogram and wearing a “Life Vest” aka, an external defibrillator. While I learned that I did not have any arterial blockages to my heart, I was diagnosed with heart disease called VT (ventricular tachycardia).
The summer became all about my heart. Suddenly everything changed for me, my family and my ministry. It was s-t-r-e-s-s-f-u-l and s-c-a-r-y every time the alarm on my life vest sounded. I was weak. I was tired. I was sad. I had been so looking forward to turning 60! After decades of chronic autoimmune illnesses and overcoming a number of close calls through the years, to be 60 was a milestone I wanted to celebrate. I canceled my party. I became acutely aware of every heartbeat.
I had convinced myself that 60 was going to be my year. I had plans. I would transition into my “golden” years with style and a zest for all that was ahead! I would do all “those things” that the busyness and urgency of life had prevented me from doing until 60. I would carve out time. I would be more intentional. I would drop those extra pounds (again). I would get in better shape. I would enjoy this stage of my life even with my existing limitation.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” And so He did mine. I spent much of my time last summer, sitting in my backyard. I saw the mountains framed by the bright blue sky. I witnessed the monsoon rain cleanse the desert. I enjoyed the freshly planted grass while watching the hummingbirds and butterflies grace my garden. I spent time with precious friends who sat with me for hours because I could not be alone. I had delicious meals made by loving hands. I experienced the compassion of my adult children who cared for me and drove me wherever I need to go. I was again reminded why I married my beloved husband, who never flinched in his commitment to love me even after years of doctors and hospital visit and more medical bills.
In creation and kindness, I saw God all around me. I began to feel restored in my spirit. I felt joy again. He, Himself, was my portion. His presence was enough. It is enough. I now have a heart monitor implanted in my chest. When I am awake at 2:00 a.m. I see the bright light on the machine next to my bedside go off when it transmits my heartbeats to the cardiologist’s office. My good doctor reminds me not to be afraid because he is watching. I appreciate his care but I know who has numbered my days.
So today, the first of my 61st year, I have only one plan: to Follow the One who holds my heart full of praise in His hands. It is a Happy Birthday.