July 17, 2009

Happy Birthday!

If you know me well and spend any amount of time with me May-July, you know that yesterday was my birthday. You will know this tidbit because I will begin talking about my birthday two months before it actually arrives. I love my birthday.

It isn’t that anything absolutely spectacular happens on my birthday, in fact, most birthdays are quite normal. Nor do I expect cards, gifts and flowers from everyone (although those are nice perks). So most people wonder, why would someone my age be so happy about turning over another year? Shouldn’t I have grown out of this by now? Why would I look forward to moving from one age bracket on forms to another that puts me firmly in middle age territory? Why would I want to admit that time is passing, whether I like it or not?

Usually people tell me their birthday is just another day or they dread the day because it just makes them feel older. My question to all you birthday haters and to everyone who chooses to simply ignore the day is this, why wouldn’t you love your birthday? It’s the day you entered the world and officially began your journey. It’s the day God specifically chose for you to begin transforming the world around you, merely with your presence. Isn’t that a good reason to celebrate the day?

As I’ve aged and life has thrown some fairly tough things at me, I’ve found that I’ve become more cynical and don’t trust as easily or quickly as I used to. I’ve lost my positive, “dive in without looking because it’s all going to work out” attitude and I’m often accused of being overly cautious. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that I know the day I was born is special. I know the day you were born is special. I know if you or I weren’t here, the world would be a much different place and we have no idea how far reaching the changes would be.

So the fact that I was born several years ago yesterday is a big deal. It’s worthy of taking the day off from work and giving myself the gift of time. It’s worthy of spending it with family and friends. It’s my day. Good or bad, God chose that day to bring me here to change things, even in small ways. I definitely think that’s reason to be happy, enjoy it and celebrate.

July 15, 2009

Dillon, Montana

Last month I traveled to Blackfoot, Idaho to meet my week old niece. She was, of course, beautiful and perfect. The trip from Spokane to Blackfoot takes a little over nine hours, unless you happen to stop in Dillon, Montana for ice cream and realize you have a nail in your tire; then it takes about ten hours.

There is no doubt we were being watched over that day, because had we gone on without knowing about the nail, we likely would have had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere Montana. The side trip for ice cream was a sudden decision and it was a miracle we saw the nail before getting back in the car to travel on. As it was, we were able to find a local Les Schwab and relaxed while the nail was removed and the tire was fixed.

Prior to this unexpected stop, my experience with Montana had been limited to traveling through the state at record speeds. I was at the end of a long journey from Texas with a confused cat in the back seat of my truck and the bed of my truck loaded with all my worldly possessions. All I wanted was to reach my destination of Spokane, Washington that day, and I thought Montana seemed endless. I wasn’t a big fan of the state.

But my impressions of Montana all those years ago were wrong. It’s a beautiful state, and although it does take quite a while to drive through, you really can’t beat the mountains, trees, rivers and more. However, what I liked most were the people. As we hung out at the tire shop, I watched locals deal with their own tire issues. I felt like I had arrived home. Cowboy boots, blue jeans, cowboy hats, and even some actual accents with a hint of a drawl. I had found my people! They were nice, friendly and for a brief moment, I felt as if I was home. Sadly, I this is the only picture I took in Dillon. Trust me; it looks much better than this.

I’m not ready to move to Montana, but I now know it’s a wonderful state to drive through and an even better place to stop and rest during a long trip. I should have known Montana would be high on the Texas cool meter; some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know in the northwest are from Montana.