“Mom, meet us here at open mic night and we’ll leave for dinner.”
Turns out “open mic night” was code for MY SURPRISE 50TH BIRTHDAY PARTY planned by my beautiful sister, Tonya and my three wonderful kids on Friday night.
Well, my beautiful surprise party was scheduled to begin at 5:30pm…
But, at 5:30pm, I was at home in my bed asleep with a WHOLE hair bonnet on my head. For the record, when a black woman puts a bonnet on her head and climbs in the bed, she is communicating: “I’m out and leave me alone.”
Therefore, when I arrived 45 minutes late to my party and heard everyone yelling “SURPRISE,” I was still waking up and totally confused. Here’s a video that captured the moment – ha!
So, earlier that day…
Friday was a blazing, ninety-five degree day at the zoo with my sister, Tonya, my kids, Abbie, Kai and Cass, our friend Heather and her baby, Hiro. (If you follow me on social media, you know that nine-month old baby Hiro has been battling cancer for the past four months. His family would appreciate your prayers.) Behind my smile and sunglasses, I was hiding a pretty broken heart…
(On Wednesday, my relationship ended with someone who was very special to me. He’s a wonderful man. Sometimes, the outcome doesn’t shape up as we’d hoped, no matter how badly we want it, right? Monday was my third post-divorce, non-anniversary. July 18 would have been 30 years, so I still need to do forgiveness and grief work on that day each year. While it wasn’t the end of the world, I was having a really rough few days.)
However, I was fiercely committed to making the best of my birthday weekend since my sister and all of kids were in town. Still, sad tears periodically leaked from my eyes from time to time. During a low moment on Friday morning, I whispered to my youngest, Abbie: “I’m really glad that I didn’t plan a party for my birthday.”
Later, Abbie told me that she panicked because my surprise party had the planned for months. But, at the zoo, she didn’t give anything away. Abbie just gave me a hug and then snuck away to snapchat a SOS to her siblings: Mom’s a mess, guys…
I was hot, sweaty and drained by the end of the trip. Back when my kids were growing up, we had a saying in our house: Sometimes, the best way to make a bad day go away is to take a nap.
So, when we returned home, I put my bonnet on and climbed in my bed…at 3:30pm.
About 5:40pm, my sweet sister coaxed me awake from my really great nap. She remineded me that we needed to meet the kids downtown for dinner. I was just going to comb my hair and leave, but she smiled and suggested: “Hey, you should probably change from those sweaty zoo clothes. The kids might make this your birthday dinner.”
That should have been a big clue, but sleepy-head me missed it.
When we rolled up to the coffee shop at 6:15pm, my oldest Kai was waiting out front. For someone who didn’t care about open mic night, Kai hustled me inside. That should have been another clue. Missed that one, too.
Turns out, a surprise party with loved ones is what I needed!
I had no idea that everyone around me had been planning for months. My sister, Tonya, was just like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain managing dozens of details on a secret Facebook page. She and my Abbie coordinated all of the “who-is-doing-and-bringing-what” with friends and family. My heart was so touched when I found all the ways that everyone brought their loving touches to my special day. Makes me want to cry every time that I think about it.
During the party, everywhere my eyes landed in the room, I saw love, beauty, and connection.
Whether I visited with loved ones or took in the beautiful food and decorations, my tender heart savored it all, especially when I think about all of the sacrifices that everyone made to be a part of my speical day.
Here’s a picture of my family that we took at the end of the evening.
After the party was over, we had a huge laugh over all of the ways that I TOTALLY missed that they were planning a party. Even in the parking lot, I hopped out of the car and said, “Oh, that minivan looks just like my friend, Lauren’s.” My sister thought that I figured it out…still nope. Ha!
Having a 50th surpise party was wonderful! It was also a reminder to me that God doesn’t always give me what I want, but He always, always knows exactly what I need. On Wednesday, I was texting with friends after my breakup and the last line I wrote went like this: “Somehow God will make it okay. He always does.”
He totally did.
P.S. Today is my sister Tonya’s birthday! Could you wish her a “Happy Birthday, Tonya” in the comments – add an emoji, too!
Happy Birthday Barb&Tonya🎂🎉🎈💝
Yay! thank you MaryTheresa!
What a great story, “He always does”! Happy birthday to you, dear Barb, and your sister Tonya! 🎉❤️🎁🎈
Thank you, Kathy! God is good!
Happy Birthday! 🎉
Happy Birthday Barb and Tonya!
Elizabeth, thank you for stopping by and sharing the birthday wishes with us!
Happy birthday, Barb and Tonya!! God’s blessings to you both. 🎂🍨🎉
Happy Birthday Barb and Tonya🎉
Hi Tia! Thank you for sharing those birthday blessings with us!
Happy Birthday Tonya! 🎁🎂🎉🎈
Thank you so much, Cheryl!
Happy Birthday, Tonya. And, happy belated birthday, Barb. Thanks for sharing your special day (and life) with us. You are a blessing to many!
Cheryl, thank you for sharing your birthday blessings and such kind words!
What a wonderful party; so glad you were surprised. Our God is amazing and loves us so much. God has wonderful plans for Your precious life and “whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice saying, “this is the way; walk in it”. Much love, Carole
Hi Carole, you are so right – God loves us so much. Thank you for sharing the precious scriptural reminder for others who need a whisper of God’s promises today!
Happy birthday Barb and Tonya! What a blessing to be able to celebrate together! I hope your day and year will be fabulous just like you are! God bless you! 🎂 🎉 🎉 😊 🥳
Terry, you are so right – it was a huge blessing to see 50 years and to celebrate with family. Thank you for your words of encouragement!
Happy Birthday Tonya 🥳🎉🥳🎉
Thank you, Lori! Your birthday blessing for my sister puts a big smile on my face!
Happiest birthday wishes, Tonya!🎉🎈🎊🎁
Deb – thank you! Love you, friend – This means so much!
Happy Birthday Tonya 😍😊🤗
Thank you so much, Darlene!
Happy birthday Barb. So happy you were honored. You are such a beautiful person. I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you through the Joshua Bible study.
Happy birthday to Tonya too
Hi Bonnie! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your encouragement and birthday blessings with us. I’m so, so glad that God encouraged you through the Joshua Bible study.
Happy birthday 🎂Tonya and Barb!
Thank you, Terri!
Happy Birthday, Tonya!!! You are truly a God-inspired sister. Barb, I believe someone said. “sometimes you have to open your hands for God to fill them up. Continue to celebrate and mourn, but rejoice in the new adventures instore. 🙂
Jacque, thank you for sharing your birthday blessings and that wise insight. I’m believing it!
Happy birthday to you both!! And that God would continue to comfort you tender heart 🤎
Jenny, thank you for stopping by and wishing us a happy birthday! God has been so kind and gracious in countless ways!
Happy Birthday too both of you.
Hi Kathleen! Thank you so much much!
Happy Birthday, Tonya and Barb! I pray you continue to feel the love of God and how he shows His love through your family.
Tammy, thank you for stopping by and sharing this birthday blessing!
Happy Birthday Tonya!! 🎊🎁🎂🎉💕
Thanks, Tina! Happy 50th fabulous birthday to you, too! (It’s still our birthday month so we can keep saying it for another week…or two – ha!)
Happiest of Happy Birthdays to both of you amazing ladies! Much love to you both! ❤️
Alexa, thank you so much for your comment and happy birthday blessings!
Happy Birthday Tonya 😘😘
Hi Nicole! Thank you!
Happy happy birthday Barb & Tonya! 🎂🎈🎂
Who is the oldest?
Hi Joy! Thank you for wishing my sister a happy birthday! Our birthdays are three years and one day apart – I’m the oldest 🙂
Happy Birthday Barb and Tonya! Ah, family 🥰
Family! You’re absolutely right, Katheryn. Family!
Happy Birthday to u n your sister. This story and video are priceless. Prayers for sweet baby Hiro too.
Thank you, Kim! I’m glad that you enjoyed my fun birthday story 🙂
Happy Birthday to you both. Barb you have always been so generous with your time for others, so glad it came back to you. Kudos for your party planners.
Thank you for those kind words, Lynn. It’s a joy for me to sharing God’s love and encouragement with others – He’s been so generous and loving to me. And yes, my family and friends did an AMAZING job!
Wishing you a blessed birthday 🎁 Tonya! God bless, Judy
Happy Birthday Tonya! 🎂💐💜
Happy Birthday, Tonya! You are clearly such a blessing to Barb!
She absolutely is! Thanks, Alysia!
Happy Birthday, Sweet Barb! And Happy Birthday, Tonya too!
Thank you, Deb! I appreciate you, my friend!
Happy Birthday Barb & Tonya! May you experience God’s blessings today and everyday!!
Hi Erika! Thank you for sharing those birthday blessings!
Happy Birthday Tonya 🥳
Thanks for sharing your birthday surprise party story and words of wisdom and encouragement ❤️
Hi Leslie! Good to hear from you, my friend! Thank you for wishing my sister a happy birthday – and I’m glad that you enjoyed my wild birthday story!
What a wonderful birthday celebration! Birthdays are always so much better with family and friends! Kudos to your sister and daughters in keeping it a secret.
Happy birthday Tonya🎉
You are so right, Mimi! Thank you for sharing your birthday blessings with Tonya, my friend. Laura Monhollen and Kristy Meyer-Amy were a part of the birthday surprise, too! It was wondeful!
The way you tell it, it’s a beautiful story, Barb! You re-framed the sadness in your heart and saw the love and goodness God has placed around you instead. Glad your family/friends celebrated the wonderful blessing that you are. And happy birthday to your sister, Tonya too!
Jenny, God made His love and grace so, so clear and I am so, so grateful! Thank you for sharing your birthday blessings to my sister 🙂
Happy Birthday Barb and Tonya!!
Thank you, Susan!
Happy birthday, Barb and Tonya!
Thank you, Linda!
Happy Birthday to you, Tonya!! 🎂 🎈
Hugs to you, Barb!! Praying for comfort for your aching heart…
Hi Dena, thank you for sending some birthday love to my sister and your prayers. I appreciate them, my friend.
Happy birthday to Tonya!! And to you!
I cracked up seeing your reaction at the party! I LOVE that your family planned this for you!!
Thank you for giving a shoutout to my sister! Jill, the confusion was REAL – ha!
Love how your family loved on you, my friend! 😊 Happy Biethday, Tonya! 🎉
It was pretty amazing, wasn’t it? Beth, thank you for sending birthday love to my sister!
Happy Birthday, Barb and Tonya 🥳🎉🎂
Thank you, Paula!!!
Happy Birthday, sweet sisters! I love how you take care of each other. Blessings on you both, Susan
Hi Susan! Thank you so much for this lovely birthday greeting. We may not have gotten along as kids, but my sister is one of the most fabulous people that I know 🙂
Happy Belated Birthday Barb🎂🥳🎊🙏🏾.
Happy Birthday Tonya🎂🎊🥳🎁🙏🏾
Thank you, Shirley!!
Happy birthday, Barb! I LOVE that your loved ones pulled off a surprise on you. Many blessings to you and to your sister, too!
Happy Birthday Tonya! And Happy Birthday Barb, you are a beautiful woman-inside and out! You are still suffering & I do understand that. I became a widow at 50 which may be different but many of the feelings are the same. By God’s grace alone I have made it through that, spending almost 6 months in a nursing home, losing my Momma days later, had 11 more surgeries and am largely homebound. But I can honestly say God has blessed me in more ways than I can count and I passed my 60th birthday a couple of months ago! You were so right when saying we may not get what we want but God always gives is what we need. I will go a step further to say He gives us far better than many of the things we used to think were what we wanted! When facing my last health scare I told my Daddy that I didn’t see God’s hand in what happened, I saw His handprints all over it, how could I want any more?? As long as I know He’s carrying me in His palm, I know I’m covered! And I believe you are in His hand as well!
Deb, thank you for sharing your story with us today. I know that I was encouraged and inspired by your story and I know that others reading your comment will be inspired as well. Thank you!
God always comes through on beautiful ways! Happy birthday Barb and Tonya!
You are so right, Michelle! He really does. Thank you!
Wow … He sure saw you. What you needed and He was right on time. ❤️❤️❤️
Happy Birthday, Barb & Tonya!
Amen, my friend! Amen! I am so grateful for how God sent just what I needed!
Happy Birthday, Tonya🎉❣️May it be your best year yet! What a precious blessing you are to Barb (and I’m sure others !). Hugs, Barb.
Hi Deb! Thank you for sharing that birthday blessing with my sister!
Happiest of birthdays Barb and Tonya. It’s so special to have family that loves you. You have a beautiful and devoted family…such a special gift!
Angela, your word capture my sentiment exactly! Family is special and I never take them for granted!
Happy belated birthday to both you and your sister. You are a blessed woman. Thank you for being you.