Big God...Small Gifts!   
     Birthdays are such awesome events!! With the much anticipated and exciting day of the actual birth until the very last birthday that we celebrate on this earth, birthdays are always cause for a celebration!  As children, we would count down the months, weeks and days each year to our next birthday.  As adults, somewhere between the ages of forty and eighty, we may not be so excited for that milestone that awaits us annually.  But I believe, after the age of 80 or some time before, we are so thankful to celebrate another year of life and pray with hope and anticipation to be here for our next birthday.  One thing that is pretty common throughout our lives is the anticipation of what we will do for our birthday each year.  Almost everyone I know makes plans to do something special for their birthday with the special people in their life.  One of the biggest aspects of birthdays are the gifts.  We may make a wish list, buy our own gifts or just hope that someone will give us even a small gift for our birthdays.    
     This month I will celebrate my 42nd birthday!  While 40 wasn't my favorite birthday, I have made peace with this time in my life.  It's as though the first 40 years can be compared to the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert.  In those years, from birth until age forty, we all change in so many ways - physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.  Of course, with each decade of our lives, we have fond memories of our birthday parties, gifts we received and other milestones that took place when we were 8, 13, 21 and so on.  However, most of us have endured struggles in our lives - some small and some really big ones.  I have found that at this age, I can look back and see the journey God has brought me through, walked with me and the many things He taught me. All of the experiences, the people, the places, the trials, the joys, the struggles, the hardships were all GIFTS from Him.  
      Every day our life is a gift...   This alone is cause for us to celebrate!  With the rise of the sun every morning and from the moment we open our eyes, we are given choices.  Every day God gives each of us the choice to be joyful or to be un-joyful.  This one of the most important choices we can make each morning.   I know un-joyful really isn't a word, but either you feel joyful or you don't :)   To truly experience His love for us, we have to choose to be joyful.  It doesn't matter what the day has in store for you, God is with you and if we all TRUST that He absolutely has EVERYTHING under control, then we will find it very easy to choose to be joyful. Your day may contain large and noticeable gifts from God, but it may contain some very small gifts that He planned for you.  The key is to choose to be joyful and aware of His presence so that we can see even the smallest gift He has in store for us.   Every day that He breathes life into us, is a day to choose joy and be aware of the gifts He has planned for us that day - and, it's not even our birthday!   
      So, today I choose to be joyful...I choose to find every gift God planned for me....not because its my birthday, but because a gift from God shouldn't be overlooked, it should be noticed and celebrated.  (even if it's the gift of the spilled kool-aid by my two-year old - that is the gift of Ava and the "sparkle" she brings to our family ;)