Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You!
What is it about the birth of a new baby that so captures our hearts? The newness? The adventure? The discoveries? One only has to watch a baby discover his hand, his toes, laughter, and how to elicit a respo
nse, to know that each succeeding birthday is an adventure of discovery. The nine months is a preparation for the mother through the stages of: Really? A baby? – Am I eating right? – I need to have a crib and diapers – When, how much longer?
A new mother is filled with determination and the desire to care for her baby, not realizing that each birthday of her child will present new perceptions of motherhood and joy. Even during those sleepless nights as the mother longs for sleep, and her baby has other ideas, she is making the discovery of a mother’s sacrifice. She must guard her child and nurture her child – until one day her child becomes a person discovering a world beyond Mother. Just a hug and a change of the diaper is no longer sufficient.
The many decisions the child must make – life decisions – can become overwhelming without a firm foundation of faith and strength and family support.
As our four children, born between 1952 – 1956, grew older we learned together that each child was an individual. The days when my hugs weren’t enough to comfort or solve problems. Recently, going through the papers I came across a homemade birthday card – presented by Dan, Paul, Tim and Anna. Imagine my surprise in finding this faded penciled card inscribed with names and the message:
In times like these When you can’t say please
And walk back in time like a door You just might find
You’re having a better time Than you ever did before.
(turn) – Burma Shave
The rose was drawn by Paul and the Burma Shave can by Dan. I’m not sure who drew the teens. As I read it, I realized the effort that it took for these children, then teenagers, to make this card. I treasure this find. The Burma Shave reference reminded me of long drive
s in a 1935 Ford, sitting in the back seat reading the Burma Shave signs, always wondering who wrote them, and how they came up with so many ideas.
In preparation for my 81st birthday, I pondered on the characteristics of a birthday. Discovery. There are changes thrust upon us – changes in economy, physical condition, environment – but that element of discovery is always there. Learning to skate, ride a bicycle, read, play the piano, cook, garden, sew and many other activities. We discover through our senses. Each achievement or discovery fills us with joy. Just as a small child discovers the world about him, I continue to revel in the discoveries in my life – God, family, writing and learning.
Discovery was first nurtured by my mother in the circle of her arms. I continued to learn all the things children learn and my world enlarged. One summer my brothers left for their summer jobs, and I learned to do their chores – milk the cow and take care of Jim’s pig. Spraying water on the pig on a hot summer day as she turned around was not my idea of joyous time then. As I grew, Mother taught me about boundaries. As long as I stayed in those boundaries, my life was joyous. When I made decisions that took me outside of the boundaries I learned about consequences, outward and inward.
I continue to discover – part of the joy of discovery is the ability to do so. One discovery I made today, is that a birthday is a time of spiritual discovery. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior when I was eight – I was nurtured in His love. My parents and grandparents and great grandparents set up expectations and an environment that helped me grow and mature.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that there is more than “Thou Shalt Not’s”. It was there all along, but I needed to grow in Him to learn it, That is when I discovered there is a true relationship of freedom in Christ Jesus. There is a sense of peace, wonder and anticipation, not dread, for each day.
A vivid picture comes back to me in the year of 1946, as my Grandfather Gerhard Suderman sat at our breakfast table reading the Bible. The wonder in his face and voice after he finished comes back to me often….”No matter how many times I read His Word, there is always something new for me.” The man who endured the loss of four children, a crippled hand saw reason for thanksgiving and a joy in reading God’s Word.
The words of my children’s birthday card 40 years ago holds true, I am having a better time than I ever did before….
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13