When I was coaching soccer a few years back, I learned the value of halftime. I can think specifically back to a couple of games that started off horribly, and no adjustments we made seemed adequate in shifting the momentum in our favor. The team would usually hang on for dear life until halftime came around. After a brief rest and some talk from the head coach, the team would take the field in the second half as a completely different group of guys. There were also a few games where this happened to the other team and things didn't turn out in our favor. It's amazing to me how a short break can change your perspective. You start to realize you don't have all the time in the world to do what you want. You see your failures, successes, values and pursuits differently. You get a fresh start with that first half of experience under your belt. You take the field, and the whistle blows.
This past week was such a moment for me as I celebrated my 4oth year on this big blue orb. Overall, I would say that most of those years have been pretty good, with some tough times mixed in between. I have no one but myself to blame for most of the rough spots. I've had some successes, a few setbacks, many disappointments and innumerable blessings that I never saw coming. And when I stop long enough to look around at what I have to show for 40 years of life, I see people surrounding me. More than anything, God has blessed my life with good people. People who have stood by and supported me, accepted me, put up with me and loved me no matter how hard I may have tried to push them away or leave them behind. So, it was fitting that my week of celebration started with the most important people in my life.
My mom and my cousin, Kelly have been planning this event for at least a year. The plan was to send Amy, my cousin of the same age, and I into our 40's in style. We had great food, funny stories, games, cupcakes and lots of laughter. It was fitting that we held this celebration at my grandparent's house, the site of so many wonderful memories. The weather was even warm enough to take a ride in the woods on Uncle Clay's new souped up golf cart. I don't know how to describe this thing, but just let me say that if Rambo played golf, this is how he would get around between greens. There were no machine guns or missile launchers mounted on this cart, but I'm pretty sure I saw the mounts for them. This day was everything I had hoped it would be, surrounded by all of the people in my life that matter the most to me. Of course, time, distance and prior engagements kept some people in that circle from being there, but I'll forgive them. :-) As we left to go back home, we got the ultimate sign that this day was a total hit: the boys were asleep before we left Merit.
I spent the next two days in Charlottesville for some meetings pertaining to the grant I work for at UNT. I still got to connect with some old friends and spend some time meandering through Mr. Jefferson's Academical Village. More than anything, I was just ready to get home to see Gina and the boys again.
I spent most of my actual birthday in Denton trying to play catch up after my trip to Virginia, but we did find some time to open presents, eat cupcakes and go to one my new favorite places in the Mid-Cities area: Itz. This place has it all: Pizza, video games, go-karts, bowling, bumper cars (which the boys are too small to ride) and midway games. They were running a Leap Year special where you could get a buffet for $2.29. The boys ate free and we had a coupon for extra points for the games, and we got out of there for under $30. Not bad at all. They even had one of those cool photo booth things, as you can see below.
Gina and I will complete the celebration this weekend by having dinner and going to see Rent at Casa Manana. No, turning 40 did not cure my musical theater fetish. I have never seen this musical (or the movie!), and I can hardly wait. One a technical note, I learned that if you use Google+ and enter your birthday in your profile, Google will give you a customized Google Doodle on your birthday (above). No, that is not Photoshopped.
To say I limped into halftime would be an understatement. I have found myself feeling kind of lost and confused for the past couple of years, trying to make the best out situations but believing that God's best for me and my family was yet to come. I don't know everything, but I have gained some insight along the way. I have learned that relationships don't have an autopilot function. Books don't write themselves. Bodies need to be exercised. Music is meant to be played everyday. There is always something new to learn. There is a difference between enjoyment and satisfaction: one requires time, the other requires effort. Both are necessary. God is speaking if I will listen. Simple acts of faith matter more than big acts of appearance. The only way out is through (I borrowed that one). I will look back one day and be glad I wrote all of this down. I'm sure I have some more wisdom trapped somewhere in my head, but it's late and I'm tired. I'm going to bed. I have a second half to play.