“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!

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