It’s official. I’m thirty-two!

I feel like that seems old, but I don’t really feel old at all. Hmm.

This year, 2014, I made two travel goals. Glenn and I often find ourselves committing to trips, weekend getaways, and family visits across the country that we don’t have the money for at the time of commitment, so then we are scrambling to pull together cash a few weeks before said trip.  This year we are changing things. No more scrambling. No more committing to things willy-nilly. We have promised each other that we will only commit to a trip once we have ALL the money we need in the bank.  Seems logical, I know, but you would be surprised by how easy it is to say YES to fun things without having the cash  in advance.

At any rate, my two travel goals for 2014 are: ski in Deer Valley {ideally for my birthday, which, yes, was last week} and vacation at the most luxurious place I have ever been : Manele Bay on the Hawaiian isle of Lana’i.

Trip number one: HAPPENED LAST WEEK! And it was awesome!!!! If you follow me on Instagram, you already know this. It was such a great trip that it is worth talking about here on the blog, too.

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I grew up skiing, and it is one of the only sports I actually enjoy.  We have great friends who have a home ON THE MOUNTAIN at the Deer Valley Resort in Utah and are sooooo generous to invite us to stay with them each year.  It’s honestly one of my favorite places to go, and skiing is one of my favorite things to do, so this is the perfect birthday trip for me!!

This year we only skied one day, and it was pretty brutal…  In all ways.

I haven’t skied in about five years, so needless to say I wasn’t exactly in “ski shape” when I hit the slopes a few days ago. I also had to remind myself, and allow Julie and Glenn to remind me, that I have had a bit of a rough few months. I had major surgery just over a month ago. I am just barely starting to jog again. I birthed and buried a baby. {Low point.}

I cried a couple times on the slopes {once on the lift, once at Stein’s while having a pretzel and hot chocolate}, but still did it.  The first run was really hard, the second just slightly less difficult, and then the rest of the afternoon was super fun. We even did a couple of “advanced intermediate” runs, which were a great challenge!

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I am probably boring you with all of these details, but honestly, by the end of the day I was genuinely proud of myself and wishing we could stay longer and ski every. single. day.  It started to feel like my birthday, like a “celebration”,  if even for just a few minutes.

In this season, where it seems like everything is so brutally hard, I have noticed that holidays and “celebrations” are extra difficult.  It feels almost too vulnerable. Like we shouldn’t be celebrating — like there isn’t really much to be happy about because, ultimately, what we are celebrating seems so shallow compared to what we have lost.  It feels weird. Really, it just feels  sad.

On our anniversary, when I was having a hard time feeling celebratory, Glenn reminded me that even though it’s different, there are still things to celebrate without pretending like we are happy-go-lucky or like Branch never existed.  He reminded me that celebrating our marriage was extra important this year because our marriage was what allowed someone as wonderful as Branch to come into the world. I am grateful for Glenn and his perspective.

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For my birthday I tried to remember that, too. I can still have fun. It’s ok when sadness is wrapped into, and all around, the fun.  It’s just fine when you have a great time skiing and still cry several times throughout the day because you wish you hadn’t lost so much so recently. A celebratory birthday is not defined by faking it, but by doing things you love with people you love — people who laugh with you, make fun of you as only friends can, and cry because they feel the profoundness of your loss alongside you. Thank you to my friends and family for being those people. For taking me skiing on my birthday, for planning special dinners, teas, parties. For sending me gifts in the mail. For singing to me on my voicemail. For wishing me a happy birthday in all sorts of ways.  You, my friends and family, my “tribe” as some say — you make everything better, and make me so grateful for all God has given me in my thirty-two years.

This morning Glenn was reading in Job, and this part struck us both — it’s at the very end of the book:

10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

We are awestruck over the generosity and kindness our friends have shown us in this season. They come and eat with us at our house, they take us to dinner, they comfort and console us, they give gifts that seem far too generous. They are kind in every way.

I am starting to open my soul and listen as God tells me that He makes all things new. That His promises never fail. That spring comes from the winter. That He will bind up my broken heart. That He restores all that is lost. That He loves me so.

Thanks for being part of that.