Happy Birthday, M….
Turning thirty-nine is dangerous territory. The temptation is to become obsessed with your next birthday, to make this year all about what you can squeeze in before forty.
To treat thirty-nine as an evaluation point, a “have I accomplished enough to be successful?” observation deck for your life.
Anyone who believes in that also believes your age is a number. And we both know that’s just not true. We’ve both known twenty-somethings who are cranky and stuck in their ways. We both know eighty somethings who treat each day as a gift to learn something new and important.
So, turning thirty-nine does not mean “365 days until 40!” It’s not about searching for signs you’re old. This birthday is about celebrating exactly where you are, celebrating the very best point in your life so far.
Thirty-nine is a gift because you know exactly who you are, what you need to do, and you are doing it.
You know you love to run, you need to run to maintain your sanity. You realize a marathon (or half) every year will keep you grounded and motivated. You can trust yourself to skip a month of running, confident you can come back to it at any time.
At thirty-nine, you have a quiet, confident faith. You’ve weathered the seasons of “should we go to church today?” and trying on different worship styles. You’ve been a valuable part of church leadership teams, and you’ve been challenged to share more of your faith. And your money.
You’ve mastered the professional trait of accelerating and coasting. When your work challenges line up, you accelerate, speed up, gain momentum. And when the challenges slow down, you’re secure enough in your future so down shift and enjoy coasting for a stretch.
This year was about tackling the Really Big Dreams. You made your schedule elastic enough to start your own company. You carved out huge slabs of time to build our family dream of a beach house. You’ve mastered the art of saying “no” to a million tempting ideas so you could say “yes” to these two big ones.
As a dad, you’re in the sweet spot. You have four kids who need to touch you. Four kids who seem to need your hugs and undivided attention as much as they need oxygen. They’re old enough to tell you this, to make you birthday cards featuring stick families and pages of hearts. They draw you, Daddy Stick Figure, right in the middle of it all. You get a front-row seat to the drama and comedy of watching these four kids grow up. You know who can use a hack saw without cutting off his arm (Sam–hopefully). You understand girls sometimes need to rest on a hammock and talk about Rapunzel for hours. You also know all these kids need you right next to them when they’re doing these favorite projects. You realize how much you need to make time to be there.
Most of all, after fifteen years married to the same woman, you know true love. You know weathering our snappy moods and weeks of fatigue are worth it for the quiet moments of complete peace. We are harvesting those seeds of unconditional love, iron-clad trust, and hours of talking about our feelings (mostly me) we’ve planted over the years. Most importantly, we know how to make each other laugh. Really hard.
This past month has been one of our hardest yet. But I didn’t want your thirty-ninth birthday to come and go without celebrating the beautiful place you are. When I heard both of us start to talk so much about forty coming right around the corner, I realized we needed to look around and see exactly why thirty-nine is a wonderful place to be.
Happy Birthday, M.
We are living the dream.

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1 Response
  1. scott hamilton

    This is a fantastic way to remind Mike how fortunate he is. You accidentally reminded me, too. Thanks for this letter, Tina!

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