My husband enjoys the 19 days that separate our birthdays. Because for those 19 days he insists that he is not 6 years older than me (as if that isn’t enough) but 7 years older. I humor him. But I do love that we get to celebrate our birthdays together.
However, this year, we were doing Thanksgiving with my family early. My sister is expecting her first baby on Thanksgiving which means my mom will be heading to Virginia and not hosting our annual turkey day. So we chose Oct. 28th to be thankful together (at least with the local-ish family members…we missed you Leah and Sarah!).
Since Bill’s birthday is the 29th, I thought it would be fun to surprise him. I called his parents and filled them in, asking them to show up at 7pm for a surprise birthday celebration for Bill. I covertly made his favorite chocolate-chip cheesecake (even baking up a batch of brownies at midnight on Saturday to camouflage the sweet cheese-cake scent on the air when he walked in from work at 12:30 a.m)….and smuggled it into the van before church in a freezer bag so I wouldn’t have to load it in front of him when we hit the road after church. I was sneaky and so proud of myself. I didn’t think he suspected a thing.
So, we finished a delicious Turkey dinner and around 6:15 pm, I heard people singing happy birthday. My first thought was someone must have grabbed the cheesecake from the fridge to start the surprise but as I looked up, there was Bill carrying a fire-topped cake with a huge grin on his face. He was flanked by his parents and everyone was staring at me, smiling. I literally fell over laughing. I knew the irony. The guests were laughing because they had been keeping both secrets. Bill was the only one in the dark still.
I blew out my candles, still shocked that my surprise party for Bill had turned into a surprise party for me. As soon as I had a minute, I slipped away, grabbed Bill’s cheesecake and walked back to the dining room asking if anyone had six more candles. Now Bill was the one laughing and all the guests laughed again, too. Can you imagine what a kick they were all getting out of this process as both Bill and I were secretly calling them to work out the details?
Needless to say, it was a wonderful night. I love spending time with my family and it doesn’t happen often so that makes it even sweeter. (I will admit, I ate carbs that day. Ha! Who wouldn’t?) I was so impressed that my hubby pulled off his surprise. It’s hard to surprise me. I really don’t try to, but I usually figure things out ahead of time because I’m a detail person when it comes to conversation. So usually, someone slips and I catch it without meaning to. There are only a couple times in my life that I can think of when I’ve been truly surprised by something like this so it’s an accomplishment on his part!
As I thought more about it, I realized why we were both able to surprise each other so easily. I was so focused on surprising him, I never even thought about myself. The thought never entered my mind that he would be planning something. But if I hadn’t been planning his surprise, I probably would have picked up on clues or at least considered that he might be planning something, after all, it is a big year for me. (Starts with 4…ends with 0 ;))
It was the same thing for him. His birthday was the next day and we were in Rochester for the day, where his parents live. It only makes sense that we would celebrate his birthday. Yet he never even thought of it because his focus was on surprising me.
I love that and I’ve learned something from it. I want my life to mirror this experience. I want to be so focused on loving others that I don’t have time to think about what’s in it for me. It’s not about me. And when I make it about me…when I put myself in the center of the story, I get paralyzed with all my short-comings and failures and I’m useless. But when I start each day asking God to help me bless others, he uses me. And that is a beautiful surprise.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2: 3-4
I pray that you will let God use you today too. Surprise someone with his love. It’s fun!