In three days I’ll be blowing out 28 candles on my all-time favorite dessert: birthday cake. But none of that fancy stuff. They say your tastes mature and get fancier as you get older… Not me, buddy. Just plain white cake with white buttercream frosting, please. With lots of roses. And multi-colored sprinkles. As my 28th year approaches and my mouth waters for the taste of that sweet birthday cake, I figured now would be a great time to do some reflecting on 27. This year has been one of the most transformational of my entire life. The Lord did such a beautiful work in my heart this year and it all started on my 27th birthday.
Birthdays have always been special to me. I grew up in a family that made a big deal about birthdays. April 18th was always my day and I was always celebrated and gifted with lots of things that made me feel valued. I’ve always looked forward to my birthday and counted down the days until I got to party with my friends and blow out the candles. But somewhere in my mid-twenties, things began to shift. Birthdays were no longer this super happy occasion where I celebrated another year of life and looked forward to what the new year would bring. Birthdays suddenly began to take on this whole new meaning: Another year had come and gone and my life was not what I had hoped it would be.
It’s no secret that one of the greatest pain points of my life has been waiting for marriage. At times it has consumed me and brought me indescribable grief. I remember turning 26. I had finally landed my dream job, but so much in my life was still missing. I thought 26 would be the year I would be married (see previous post), but instead as I blew out my candles, it felt like I was blowing out every dream I had dreamed about that year. I spent my 26th year grieving the life I thought I would have. Hope and joy were not part of my everyday life. In short: I was miserable.
So when my 27th birthday came, it felt like a fresh start. A chance to get life right this year. A chance to stop wallowing in my grief and really start living again. I remember the day I turned 27. I didn’t have any plans to hang out with friends or family. Instead, I decided I would celebrate myself – take myself of a birthday date, if you will. I drove to Indianapolis, on a mission to buy my favorite fancy makeup, because in my mind, that was the perfect way to celebrate. I walked around Keystone Mall and drifted in and out of stores, not really looking to buy anything else. Towards the end of my trip, I stumbled upon a store that sold paper goods – stationary, notebooks, planners, etc. I’ve always been a sucker for cute things to write stuff in, so this store just screamed, “Happy Birthday to me!” I wandered around the store when my eyes spotted a notebook that was made to look like a map of the world. Across the map the words, “DREAM BIG” were whimsically written.
At this point, I was slightly freaking out because it felt like God had placed that notebook there just for me. It was perfect. It reflected not only my innate nature to dream big about my life, but it also captured my heart for travel and my desire to see the world. I stood there for a couple of minutes, staring at the notebook. I picked it up, flipped through the pages, and placed it back on the shelf. It was meant for me to buy and I knew it. However, after just indulging in MAC Cosmetics, I felt the need to restrain from buying anything else. I walked out of the store, immediately regretting not buying that notebook that was destined for me. I walked to the opposite end of the Mall and thought about those words the entire time… Dream big. That’s what I wanted year 27 to be about. Dreaming big. I wanted this year to count for something. I wanted this year to be different. I wanted it to be filled with joy and adventure and dreams.
Looking back, I think it truly was the Holy Spirit that told me to turn myself right around and walk back to the paper store. I joyfully obeyed, because I really wanted that notebook! I walked back to the paper store, made a beeline for the notebook, put it on the counter, and through giggles said to the guy checking me out, “I just couldn’t leave without buying this.” He laughed and I walked out of the store with a huge smile on my face and in my heart. This year would be different. I just knew it.
Hi! My name is Stephanie, and I'm the girl behind this blog! I'm a pastor and a writer and a lover of all things chocolate. As you browse the content on this page, I hope you find yourself encouraged and smiling. At some moments, perhaps you would even shed a tear or two. Most importantly, I pray you find hope in whatever season you're walking through. We are in this journey together, and my calling is to encourage you along the way!