The Best Part About Turning 50 {...and it wasn't the ipad pro...}

In other news - I turned 50 last week! And The Preacher gave me an ipad pro!

whaaaaaaaat??  We so cannot afford that!  But apparently he had been setting back money for awhile, and then unbeknownst to me, an awesome sister-church blessed his socks off with a speaking honorarium that pushed him over the top, in terms of the amount he needed to pull this off without my suspecting a thing.  

Then, my daughters surprised me with a lavish, lavish surprise party - and people came.  You guys - lots of people came!  There were twinkle lights, four firebowls burning around the property, music (live, and sound system), a gorgeous tiered cake, food, drinks, gifts, and a slide show of a bunch of my baby pictures.


There was a surprise video message all the way from Scotland.  A prophetic encouragement from my friend:  Joe Ewen.  I'm not going to share what it was yet, because I am still deeply processing it.  It was not a light, "obligatory" birthday encouragement to me.  It was monster encouragement - a word that I will be living into for years to come.

There was a surprise video message all the way from Colorado, from a woman who is becoming my sweetest friend:  Jeanne Oliver.  

(And when I say "my sweetest friend", you need to know that isn't a light thing, in my world.  I don't toss out terms of endearment to people like candy at a parade.  I just don't.  I wouldn't be "Sheila Atchley" if I did.  With only less than a handful of extraordinary exceptions, I don't call people my "mom" or my "grandpa" or my "son" when they aren't actually blood relatives - and it's beyond fine if you do that.  For me - and I'm likely the only person in the world that feels this way, and that's how I like it - for me,  it is how I show honor to the people who are family.)

So in saying that Jeanne is becoming a sweetest friend - I say it carefully, and I'm almost sweating bullets.  Friendship is mizpah, to me.  I can be effusive in my encouragement of total strangers, but I'm a "lifer" when it comes to my near-friendships.  You won't usually find me having known someone for only a few months, yet calling them "my family" or "my bff", or some such thing.  I want my life-long friends to know that I wouldn't give away a top spot in my heart cheaply.  I know what it is like to hear someone call me their "best friend", and literally vanish from my life less than a month later.

But Jeanne and I have now been friends for about 5 years, I've stayed in her home, and...well...she's becoming the Anne of Green Gables to my Diana.  We are different in many ways, yet she gets me. 

(Someone else who is my kindred spirit - 
praying the blessing over The Cutting Of the Half-Century Cake.
This girl "gets me", I get her, and we've "gotten" 
one another for over 30 years!
There were several other life-long
friends there...I just don't have
pictures of each one.)

My sister was there, my mother was there, my dad was there, my pastor was there (haha), friends from other churches were there, even babies were there - even a newborn baby and her super-mama was there.  

I've heard of all manner of lavish "turning 50 gifts".  Cruises, diamonds, travel to some European city, you name it.  You can have every bit of it.  No offense.  I mean no disrespect.  In fact, I want you to be thrilled with your own celebration of 50 years, trust me.

But me?  Give me my grandchildren.  Give me my children (who were all gathered around me, except for the baby, a Marine in California.  ::sniffle::) and give me the body of Christ, and give me my friends.


Of all the things God and man made...

...puppies won't attend my funeral.

Goats won't pray for me when I am sick.
A beautiful mountain view won't weep with me over a prodigal child.
A great house won't tell me that it thinks my art is beautiful.
A car won't say, "I love you, Mimi."
A cow won't come to my birthday party.

People are God's favorite, and people are my favorite.

That's the best thing about turning 50.

(is it okay to say this wasn't even everybody?  There were more by the time I arrived!  EK!)

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