I was two weeks old when this photo was taken in 1959.
And today I am celebrating my 61st birthday.
What a life it has been.
Setbacks and sorrows, trials, pain, bad decisions, hard decisions, loss and betrayal are scattered throughout the decades BUT...
Through it all I had Someone watching over me, Someone directing and re-directing (cause I went off course a lot), Someone who never gave up but Who LIFTED me up time and again - and still does today.
Because of all the sorrows and trials my FAITH in He Who loved me to Cross has grown deep roots, strong roots, yielding roots, healthy roots.
(uncle Brian, Mum and me - 1960)
I have always cherished the few photos of my mum, sad there's only two of her and I together but this was an era when photos were uncommon, and also because she was killed in a car accident in 1962 so there was no opportunity for more.
It was only last year that during an afternoon of looking over old photos I realised that the veil she wore in this photo below (she was bridesmaid at a wedding) must have been removed after the ceremony and placed on me. I bet she delighted in that bit of fun!
The reason I'm sharing some of this today is because of the many emails or comments over the years where my readers mention how they wish they lived my ideal life.
They may have not regularly read my blog through the more than a decade it's been published, or are new to it, because scattered throughout are many, many life trials shared...and always with the HOPE of Christ shining through. I don't dwell on them though! I look up and see my life as though from God's view and know that with every sorrow there's a joy, with a trial there's a triumph, with each road bump there's a better way discovered, with every loss a treasure follows.
In one of the deepest valley experiences of my adult life, and one which still carries residual consequences and grief, the Lord brought me a husband, a man who loved God and wanted to share Him with me. I was broken and lost but this sweet man, seven years my junior, asked me to go to church and as they say - the rest is history.
Five months later we stood at the altar...
(Mr E, Aunt Penny, me, Uncle Brian - December 1991 at our wedding)
Having Aunt Penny and Uncle Brian at the wedding was such a blessing as I'd not been raised to know my mother's siblings at all...but God opened that door just before our big day. Blessed.
The joy of my wedding day was a gift from On High because it bubbled over onto everyone and I was able to step aside from the heaviness of the ongoing trials to simply embrace my new husband, my Saviour, and whatever He had in store for us in the years to follow.
That same JOY fills my heart today, and every day.
In the valleys and on the mountaintops I worship my Creator and His Son, Jesus, with all my heart, mind and soul. No matter what, He never lets me go and in all circumstances His arms are open to receive me.
Today I am 61.
Old in some opinions, but young to my Father in heaven. Still His little girl no matter the number of earthly years I accrue.
Friends, if you love the Lord, let me encourage you to love Him more.
If you don't know the Lord, I pray you soon will.
"This is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour all the day long."
I'd also like to update you with my health choice in regards to the heart issue.
I say choice because it's not what some of you would choose to do, but it's what my spirit knows is right for me.
I was booked in for an angiogram and 'whatever' the cardiologist deemed necessary in early March but have decided to cancel any further tests, investigations or procedures.
Some incredible health miracles have already happened this past week (thank you for your prayers!) and I feel amazing. Going completely vegan has done more for my health than I could believe possible in such a short time, but I also KNOW the Lord's hand is on me and He has given me the tools, the knowledge, to bring healing if I follow through.
I had been walking around under a dark cloud of doom and gloom and fear for many weeks, the negative words of men echoing in my ears, but when I made this decision it was as though I walked straight out of a cave and into bright and HOPE-filled sunshine. The transformation was immediate.
My energy returned in abundance and I sit here this morning brimming with good health, I can breathe easily (despite the heat and humidity), and I am not tired, nor have I had a migraine in such a long time.
This choice of mine is not for everyone because there's no one-size-fits-all for health. We are each unique and must approach our situations in that manner. You cannot live someone else's testimony or their life. We each must live our own. Whatever you are facing, place it before the Lord and follow His lead, whatever that may be....for it may be very different to the path He has me on.
Tonight Blossom is preparing a family dinner for the family and I will be surrounded by the people I love and who love me. If we remember to take photos I'll share a few next week, but if we don't, be assured we were too busy enjoying just being together.
May your own weekend be full and abundant with every good gift from the Father, and may your home overflow with goodness, laughter, love, forgiveness, kindness and HOPE.