A Love Filled Day

What a perfect day!

It didn't go like I planned. I figured: my birthday, my plan, my favorite food, I do what I want. But when I tried to talk to Brian about what I wanted to do for my birthday, it didn't go so well.
"I'm going to plan it for you!" He insisted.
"But it's my birthday, shouldn't I get to do what I want?!"
Oh. Great.
"We're going to do something cool for your birthday, not something lame like going to a mall."
Ouch. That's what I had wanted to do.
"Don't you trust me to plan something you'll really like?"

Waiting to find out what he planned for me was a good exercise in letting go of some of my selfish desires. My birthday really isn't all about me, I realized, because now I'm one with someone else. After I stopped trying to control my birthday, I found I anticipated it even more.

It's been a long time since I've felt so loved on my birthday. I'm loving this whole second-family package that came with marrying Brian.

I slept in later than I had wanted to, but I woke up feeling fully refreshed. I dressed up in my favorite dress, a little blue and white pinstripe cotton confection of cuteness. I put a bow in my hair, and fixed coffee for myself in my fancy mug. I put out a new tablecloth and added a centerpiece. Soon after I finished my morning Bible reading and prayer, my mother-in-law sent me a text wishing me a happy birthday, and so did my older sister. My older sister also texted me a picture of my niece, who is growing up fast!

My big plan for the day was to check out the stores on the fancy strip mall a block or two away. Thanks to our cell phone rebates, I had $50 that Brian said I could spend on whatever I wanted. As I was about to leave, my mother-in-law called me to wish me a happy birthday in person. We talked while I finished my coffee, got my purse, walked to mail boxes and checked the mail, and walked all the way to the first store. At some point my phone started beeping, and after hanging up I discovered a text from my father-in-law waiting, also wishing me a happy birthday.

Anthropologie was the first store on my list to explore. If you've never been to an Anthropologie, you need to go. Even if you don't buy anything. It's expensive, but it's SO fascinating! In addition to fabulous clothes, they sell cosmetics, kitchen decor and utensils, wall decor, furniture, dishes, bedding, curtains, towels, tablecloths, jewelry, accessories, purses, stationary, books...all kinds of unique treasures. I had to look at everything- it was all artsy, indie, exotic, or charming, and it all had a special handmade or hand-designed feel. You just have to go yourself; I'm running out of adjectives to describe it! I snagged a couple steal-of-a-deals: a beautiful soft and flowy sweater originally $88 for $20, and a beautiful turquoise flower pot. I can't decide were to put it; in the kitchen window, on the front porch, on the patio, or above the fireplace nook. It has a lot of potential!

After spending almost three hours in Anthropologie, I moved on, past beauty shops, Chico's, and White House Black Market, to Barnes and Noble. There was a reason for this; I hydrated myself amply before leaving my apartment as a cautionary measure in this heat, but by the time I got to Anthropologie, I already had to go. Unfortunately, they didn't have any bathrooms! They had beautiful dressing rooms with pretty candles burning and comfy couches, but nowhere to pee. I don't know when I've been so happy to use a public restroom as when I arrived at Barnes and Noble!

I perused the sale bins, shelves, and piles, but nothing really jumped out at me until I found my way to the journals and sketch books and decided on a journal with a striking bright blue butterfly on the cover. If you know me, you know how obsessed I am with butterflies! And, as an extra bonus, it was on sale :) My lovely sister-in-law texted me and told me she'd call me tomorrow to find out how my whole day went. About that time, I got another phone call, this time from my father-in-law! He took time while he was working to give me a call and wish me happy birthday. While we were talking, I got that call-waiting beep in my ear again, and discovered after the call ended that it was Brian. He picked me up at the bookstore so that I didn't have to walk back in the heat.

Then, I made my birthday cake while he took a nap. Ok, not this cake, but I wish!
 Nati's Cakes

I LOVE cupcakes!!! I made myself a dozen pink roses! The pink frosting is strawberry flavored. Brian didn't want to eat pink cupcakes, so I frosted some with white confetti frosting just for him

Then, it was time for the Big Birthday Surprise! Brian packed a cooler and tote with food he'd bought on the way home from work and paper products, and off we went! 

We drove and drove, out of Phoenix and into cowboy country. No seriously, we passed several Man on Horseback Crossing signs! 

Finally the secret came out: I saw a sign that read "Canyon Lake." We twisted and turned up the mountain, and I tried to snap pictures along the way. 
Our first glimpse of the lake.

This surprise picnic was reminiscent of the surprise picnic Brian planned for me after he proposed! I never would have dreamed that we'd be having another picnic in Arizona almost a year later! 

The spot we picked was picturesque, but we were pretty sure we could hear a couple rattlesnakes close by! 
After the picnic, we came back to the apartment to eat the cupcakes and open presents. Brian sang "Happy Birthday" me; it was so sweet! 

I had two presents to open, both from my mother-in-law. Brian's present to me was all the thoughtful planning and preparation he put into our lovely picnic. My grandmother-in-law also sent me a card with a present in it!

In case you were wondering, I do have a biological family too, with a mom and dad, two sisters and three brothers.  I assumed they'd forgotten about my birthday, since I didn't hear anything from them all day, even though I got text messages from acquaintances, and a facebook wall full of birthday wishes, many from people I hadn't seen or talked to in a long time. I finally did talk to my family, but I cheated. I texted my dad a picture of the cupcakes, and he then texted me "Happy Birthday." When I replied that I thought they'd forgotten it was my birthday, he decided to call me after all. He wished me a happy birthday, and I told him about my day, and caught up on goings ons at home. He eventually gave the phone to mom. 
"What do you want to talk to me about?" she almost snapped. 
I wanted to say, Uh, it's my birthday! I'm twenty! All grown up! Are you...glad? Proud? Do you care? But instead I stuttered, "Well, I just, um, figured I hadn't talked to you for a little while..."
"Yeah, I was starting to wonder because I hadn't heard from you in a while, and I heard about those inmates that got out."
"Huh? Inmates? In Phoenix?" 
"They got one in Colorado, but they think the others are hanging out there in Phoenix. You better get a newspaper."
Ok, mom. I listened as she told me all about how the boys were doing, especially Ethan, my middle brother who suffers from epilepsy, how they were installing a security system, and redecorating the basement bedroom. She told me she mailed a car for me the day before (Birthday shopping happens the day before in my family!). Finally, I had to go, because it was much past Brian's bedtime, and he really needed his rest before getting up at 4:30 for work. 

She never said "Happy Birthday." 
But before she hung up, she did say, "I love you." 
And that was the best birthday present she could have given me. 
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved god, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 5:9-11)
I can't tell you how overwhelmed I was Wednesday and Thursday with all the love and thoughtfulness behind all the text and facebook messages, phone calls, and cards. You showed me God's love through your actions! I know that I'm not alone, and He will continue to supply my needs. 

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