Today was my birthday and I love my birthday. In my house growing up, you were celebrated on your day. Everyone shared Christmas and Easter, but birthday's were yours and yours alone.

Today I felt so very celebrated. My kids woke me up singing. I heard "Happy Birthday" at least 12 times today. I got 32 colored pictures, a room decorated in "fun" and a song made up just for me. I got to take a walk around the lake with friends, enjoy a delicious lunch, drinks, and treats. In the evening, I got to go out to dinner with a small group of friends where we enjoyed the view from the rooftop seating area. We closed the evening with dessert and coffee and laughs.

One of my favorite things to do on birthday's is tell the birthday person your favorite thing about them. I have often found that the people closest to you are the ones that don't hear your good opinion of them. We rarely express our deep appreciation and love and respect for those we love the most. This is what makes this little tradition so fun. My brother in law got married years ago on my birthday and my three closest girl friends pulled me outside of the reception and gave me the gift of their love and appreciation of my life. It was the best gift I ever received. To have the women I respect the most share their high opinion of me, deepened our friendship and made me desire to strive to be the person they saw in me.

If I get to celebrate a birthday with you, most likely I will demand to shower you with this gift. Last year I was in Haiti with my dad and 15 other people, and it was amazing playing this little game on the bus on our way to the work site. I saw people dig deep and get real and share their love and appreciation for my father. I witnessed him get uncomfortable and shy at the love that was being poured out on him. I watched him start to see how much he meant to all of those around him. He would never have known without us forcing ourselves to be vulnerable and share how we really feel. I now don't have to worry ever that I never got a chance to share with my dad all that he means to me.

Tonight my heart is full by how much love was poured out on me. I feel overwhelmed by God's grace in my life, by the richness and quality of people that are in my life. I wonder how I got here, and most of the time don't feel I deserve it, but I make you this promise; I do not take for granted the gift of the people in my life. I will work to honor those around me with my life. I will live to give God glory so that others may know that God can use anyone to share love and change the world.

I encourage you, when it's someones birthday, take the tradition and start loving on the people around you. Do they know what they mean to you? Do they know what value they have and the qualities that make them strong and admirable? Don't wonder, make sure they know. They will never forget that gift.