As this week began, my birthday week had arrived. Generally women do not like to acknowledge they are getting older. What we do like? The gifts. Being made to feel special, valued and loved.
On Sunday evening my family gathered at the restaurant of my choice and all fifteen of them celebrated my birthday at Buca Di Beppo. As the hostess walks you through the”live and cooking” kitchen with a family sized booth off to one side she acknowledges that “Buca Di Beppo” really means Joe’s basement.
The restaurant is full of celebrity photos along with all manner of colorful and “off color” Italiano memorabilia. Old Blue Eyes can be heard singin’ over the speakers while you soak in the atmosphere. The walls are wood paneled and smack of 60s era decorating.
They have a “POPE ROOM.” A round room with a large round table that seats exactly 17 people. EXACTLY. SEVENTEEN. In the center of the table is a large “Lazy Susan” that spins the food around the table rather than passing just place your item on the Susie Q and spin. In the center of the Lazy Susan is a clear acrylic box with a bust of none other than the Pontiff Himself, the Pope.
If Buca sounds like a cultivated atmosphere-it is. My 14 year old niece said the bathroom “…sort of freaked me out.”
LAUGH. OUT. LOUD.
Why? Because they have a cross your heart style bra with a tulle underskirt in a shadow box hanging on the wall above the stalls and all sorts of inuendo in the advertisements and pictures adorning the walls.
The meals are served family style. Small dishes serve 2-3 and large dishes 6-8. As we perused the menu I couldn’t decide. Everyone paired up to order something delicious in a big bowl. I finally closed my menu and said, “I’ll just eat something someone else has ordered.”
STOP. RIGHT. THERE. I’ve never gone to a restaurant and not ordered off the menu. I mean, I’ve shared or ordered a few Ala Cart items on occasion, but I always order. Not Sunday.
I agreed to eat some of my baby girl’s lasagna and even had a Chianti braised short rib along with some sort of fabulous chicken pasta with a green speckled white sauce that tasted a bit like Heaven. We had Apple Gorgonzola and Antipasto Salad and Garlic Cheese bread featuring huge savory chunks of chopped garlic covered in gooey cheese on each hunk of warm toast. Can you say YUMMO? Indeed.
Each member of my family celebrated in their own way. My eldest brother, who is a year younger than I, brought in his two sweet little cherubs who each handed me a homemade construction paper card with a cute little birthday wish acknowledging that the age of 42 is the answer to everything, but of course we will just have to wait and see what I know next year. 🙂 I love them.
Eva drew me a happy tree, with a heart and a lot of sweet words. Benny, who is six these days, drew me a happy tree surrounded by a yellow something that looked like sunshine dancing on the ground and shooting “sun drops” up around the tree. The tree had a word bubble, “I love you Ben.” He pointed out that the round bobble hanging from the tree was a bat, the warble winged creature with long forked legs in the top corner a bird and the little bulbous headed creature dressed in polka dots on the back wishing me Happy Birthday was TOAD from Super Mario Brothers. Ben loves to play video games.
Scott and Steph provided a nice gift hidden inside a card that said, “Welcome to the Wonder Years” A dark headed dancing girl in pink graces the cover. Inside with their hand written greeting and monetary donation to my gift pile were a page full of questions, “I wonder where I parked my car… I wonder what the speed limit is… I wonder what that policeman wants… I wonder where I left my keys… I wonder if I paid that bill… I wonder if I should have another piece of cake… I wonder if I should buy that dress…” There was an affirmation of the last two on the wonder statements before a signature line that said, “Happy Birthday, Wonder Girl!”
I opened the card from my mom and dad that also held a monetary donation to my gift pile. It had a beautiful inscription about faith and growing into a wonderful woman of God in it… As I re-read it I realized it is a “Confirmation” card. I sat puzzled staring at the words, “On Your Confirmation Day” and found myself chuckling with a bit of confusion.
A Confirmation Card? Then I remembered what my mom said about why she selected the card. “I picked it because I wanted that Scripture.” The Scripture? 1 Thessalonians 1:4 “It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special.” CONFIRMATION? Indeed. The card is very special, very meaningful and very appropriate to this season of my life.
We went on down to Milwaukee Joe’s for ice cream in Southlake Town Center. It was so much fun to watch my parents feeding ice cream and milk shakes to four year old Wyatt the Pirate and our youngest family member, one and a half year old Baby P. They were covered in sticky, and Wyatt has no problem recounting everything there is to know about Pirates of the Caribbean and Cap’n Jack Sparrow with a bark in his throat and an “ARRRRRGH” on his elbow. He even winks his eye in his best pirate impersonation. He will also acknowledge that Pirates do not have inside voices. Nope – they have ARRRRRGH-side voices.
Monday was a quiet day, but a good one. I painted in the healing rooms and felt fresh vision flowing off the tips of my paint brush as the scene took shape. I came home and indulged in fast forward skipping commercials while taking in this week’s episode of Bachelorette Emily Manard’s saga on ABC. ThAnK yOu JeSuS for DVR!
I awoke on Tuesday morning and dressed comfy. Then I darted off to Staff Chapel, my last staff chapel as a member of the Pastoral Care Team at Gateway Church, and short time fever set in with some pure joy that made me seem a little bit high. My co-workers blessed me by decorating “my hole in the wall” complete with birthday greetings, cards and personal gifts reflecting their kindness, love and affection for me. Prophetic Leadership Training opened up my afternoon and God gave me some sweet words for my new season.
I left work a little late and headed home to a husband waiting to take me to dinner. B. J.s Brewery house where my favorite things… strawberry lemonade along with some grilled pork chops with spiced apples, zesty garlic mashed potatoes and steamed green beans delighted my taste buds preparing the way for the triple Yummy Triple Chocolate Pizookie. Oh YeaH! Scott and I returned home stuffed, and full of happy. We turned in early as I liked the last of about 50 or so birthday greetings on my Facebook timeline. How I love me some Facebook on a day like me birthday.
Oh, and did I mention that the Queen of England hosted her Diamond Jubilee finale celebration with a full blown royal parade right through London on my very own BIRTHDAY! Yes, yes she did. Wasn’t that sweet of her?
This morning my friend, and photographer, Amy (see her work at amypenningtonphoto.com) had delivered to my inbox a link to dropbox and the beautiful head shots she took for me on Memorial Day weekend.
So many people have given me favorable feedback on the photos that follow but only this morning did I fully realize what was happening. It makes me think of Psalm 45:11 (MSG) “The King is enthralled with your beauty.”
That is how I’ve been feeling with all the love I’m receiving. And then… I heard the sweet voice of my Daddy God say, “These pictures reflect your heart.” I knew in that moment that the reason the pictures are so beautiful is because 1.) Amy has a talent for capturing and seeing people the way God sees them – she captures the spirit and heart of a person as well as their visual appearance. 2.) These pictures reflect this new season of my life. I wrote today, “For the first time in my life my heart is whole and you can see it in these pictures.” Yes my heart is whole, it is full and my cup runneth over!