Aug 15

I turned 33 today.

I remember random things about random birthdays over the years. All of my birthday memories are happy ones. I am so blessed.

My earliest birthday memories are of opening gifts early in the morning. I loved that my parents let us open gifts Later in life I was horrified to learn that not all families operate this way.

I remember a birthday phone call when I was 8 or so. Ma, my grandma in Australia, who lived on a cattle farm, called me to tell me that I shared a birthday with a newborn calf. We even had the same red hair!

My parents are party people, and they always let us have sleepovers and friends over to celebrate. The faces varied over the years, but all of the memories are precious.

On my tenth birthday, I got to get my ears pierced–a much-anticipated event.

On my twelfth birthday, my mom took me to the Clinique counter at the mall to get good face cleansers and for my first mascara and lip gloss.

My teenage birthdays were always in the middle of volleyball preseason. My mother was always very stressed that I would get cut cut ON my birthday, but I always made the team. (Phew.)

I celebrated my 18th birthday five days before I left for college.

My 21st was spent at Norris Lake in Tennessee.

Brad and I were distant acquaintances on my 23rd birthday, yet engaged by my 24th. We just knew.

I found out I was pregnant with Maren on my 27th birthday. I was at the ocean for that one, too.

I celebrated my 30th birthday during my first big trip out west: we were at Yellowstone National Park.

My birthdays have always been special. Not because of me, but because those who love me go out of their way to make it so.

Today, on number 33, I feel special. Brad and the girls doted on me all day long. I got birthday messages all day long. I’m on vacation. It was a glorious day.

I drew in a deep breath and blew out my wishes. I wished for a cure to cancer, I wished for my girls to always feel as loved as they do today, I wished to be at the beach for my 83rd birthday. I wished big on my 33rd birthday, and I did today well.

Thank you for loving me: today and every day.


  1. SandraA /

    Happy Birthday! You share a birthday with my sister. And today, my daughter-in-law’s sister gave birth to a little girl. What a glorious day.

  2. Happy birthday! Leo’s are strong AND wise so you are the perfect Leo!

  3. KellyE /

    Happy Birthday! What a gift this blog is to everyone! I find myself, almost daily, thinking about your “Do Today Well” post. You are an inspiring person! Still praying for all your birthday wishes!

  4. Birthdays are a CELEBRATION of Life !!!!! Jen & you do it so well ~ I so hope & pray you are @ the beach @ 83 !!!!!! I Love Birthdays, they are as Special as the person being celebrated !!!!! You go girl ~ I am so happy that you had Happy Birthdays as a child, as they should be 🙂 I am also glad you shared a birthday with a calf w/red hair !!! I loved that story 🙂

  5. Marion /

    Happy Birthday sweet Jen! I know you will have many, many more birthdays to celebrate. Glad you had a great day.

  6. Julie /

    Oh happy, happy day….warm wishes sent your way….

  7. Ginger /

    Happy birthday Jen!!! I so remember all those first birthdays and what fun get togethers we had with all you children!!! I remember you and Erin and the ear piercing!! What a great day!!! I hope you are having a fun well deserved vacation with your sweet family!!! Safe travels! You are such an inspiration!!!

  8. You are really stretching out the “Birthday Celebrations” this year. You start at the beach and then share birthday celebrations with your Dad close to his birthday this year …………. did you ever think that we are just a party family and your birthday was another excuse? Although we do love you……….a lot
    xoxoxo Mum

  9. Michele Weaverling /

    Best wishes for many, many more birthday and life blessings to come your way!!! Xo

  10. Sharon Hajek /

    Today celebrated how you have been grounded in, centered in and growing in love for 33 years. You’re no longer a canal where love flows through it, but a deep filled reservoir and even at 83, you will be the same reservoir with love overflowing. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is gift. Dear Jen, you are gift each day. Happy new today.

  11. Laura /

    Happy Birthday!!! You don’t know me, but I follow your blog and cheer and pray for you. I too wish for many many many many many many more birthdays to come!!!!

  12. Melissa Pizzato /

    Happy 33rd birthday Jen 😉 It’s a great time to be 33, I think, as thirty-three in twenty-twelve has a real nice ring to it… And us 1979ers have lots to celebrate!!! Congratulations on making it to this fantastic age so well – you inspire us all!!! All the very best for the year to come. Please know that all of your family in Australia love you heaps and heaps and are fighting and cheering along side you every step you take xxxooo Mel.

  13. suenitz /

    Every day is a celebration of life! God put you on this earth for a purpose and He is smiling down on you for how you give Him glory by the way you live your life. You are truly an inspiration and a gift to us.

    If you haven’t already check out the American Cancer Society’s website called Love to you!

  14. Peggy /

    ♫♫♪Happy Birthday, Jen♪♫♪! I always look forward to reading your blog and am actually disappointed when I click on email on there’s nothing from you! I used to wake up every morning thinking “This is a great day, make the best of it”, but I much prefer your “Do Today Well”! I Today would have been my mother’s 95th birthday ~ she, too, was a party girl! I loved that you got your ears pierced on your 10th birthday and your first make-up lessons from Clinique on your 12th ~ that’s exactly what I did with my daughter on the very same birthdays. I suspect that’s where your mum got the idea…if so I’m flattered. My birthday wish for you is that you’ll be repeating all your wonderful birthday traditions with your own little girls…including spending their 83rd at the beach!

  15. Rebecca /

    Blessings to you on your birthday!

  16. I think I’ll stick around for that 83rd celebration…with the partying family!! Cheers for an outstanding year of fun surprises!!

  17. What a wonderful read! It brought me such joy to read about your birthday bliss! I loved especially that you aren’t afraid to WISH BIG on your day! Happy Birthday yesterday and for many more years to come!

  18. Julie /

    Looks like I am fashionably late, but happy birthday! Thanks for helping me get geared up to make special memories for my boy who is about to have his first birthday. You seem to really know how to celebrate and appreciate!

    Still praying,
    Julie and baby (almost 1! Yikes)

  19. Happy BBirthday to you fellow survivor. I hope we can talk again soon. So glad you are able to have this special vacation time with your family! You are an amazing source of inspiration to me. And I think we have similar hairstyles! I thought we would be bald, but I’ve got the fuzzies like you seem to have in the photo. My kids love rubbing my head.
    xoxoxo And I hope you had a fabulous day! You are loved by so many but most of all God loves your sweet lady!

  20. Tina Mathie /

    Happy Birthday Jen!!! (Late)
    I hope you guys continue to have an amazing time on your vacation!
    Dale and I leave tomorrow for Ireland, we will have drink for you and Aunt Roz!! Cheers and prayers!!

  21. Lindsay /

    Happy beautiful birthday!!!

  22. Britt /

    Happy Birthday, wrecking ball friend. You are such an inspiration and positive force for God. He knew what He was doing 33 years ago.

  23. Happy Belated Birthday Jen! On vacation for a week (not always w/web access) so much missed keeping up w/you and your mom’s blogs. You have gone through so much already a birthday puts it all into perspective somehow. Relish in how far you gone already on this journey and how well you’ve traveled it.