Turning Forty… “Not Bad… Not Bad At All!”

The long-dreaded 40th birthday arrived yesterday!  For whatever reason, 40 has been a dreaded birthday since I was 20 years-old.  I recall on my 20th birthday I struggled with the thought of being half-way to 40, I realize this is strange!  Honestly it is one of the few things in life that caused me anxiety.  Please understand, when I say “anxiety” I’m not saying I spent inordinate time crying and didn’t have panic attacks, it’s just something that has always puzzled me negatively.

Yesterday, as I sat around the house in my pajamas, my 40th birthday seemed like just another day!  Another day to rest at home in the morning, drink coffee in the living room with my husband, cuddle with my children and of course, my fur babies.  The simple pleasurable moments at home talking about life with my husband and sweet kiddos.  All of a sudden, my youngest son Daniel sprinted out of his bedroom yelling, “There is a limo coming up our driveway!”  Our house sits in back of a 1/4 of a mile long driveway in the middle of the Southern hills of Indiana.  I thought, “No way!  He must be referring to an extended UPS truck or something.”  I ran to the door, which was opened in a fury by my 9 year-old son; Right there in front of my country home parked an extended limo.  Standing outside the limo was a well dressed man.  I kindly explained that he must have the wrong address, in which he replied, “Who has a birthday today?”  I responded, “Well, I do!  But, this can’t be for me!  Your at the wrong house!”  My husband stood across from me with a big smile beaming across his face, “Happy Birthday!  Are you surprised?”  I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or tell him to send the limo back {because after all, this couldn’t have been a cheap}.  Standing there in my lounge clothes, the clothing I wear around the house on a lazy day, three of my dearest friends climb out of the limo and yell, “Surprise!”

As I write this a day later, tears escape from my eyes.  I am still in awe of the events that took place yesterday!  Still shocked by the events that took place on this long-awaited 4oth birthday.   My friends encouraged me to get dressed quickly, as they looked at one another with knowing looks in their eyes, “Come on!  Today is already pre-planned for the ladies!”.  For the life of me, I can’t recall how many times I randomly stopped to hug and kiss my dear husband, prior to leaving the house, and upon my return home.  Driving away from our home, my friends were so excited for me and proud of their ability to completely and utterly surprise the pants off of me.  Driving down our country road, observing the all too familiar sites, sitting in a vehicle intended for the elite, my heart was full!  Driving along, I never came to grips with the present happenings and the driver just laughed in amusement… I blurted out my thoughts: “Can you tell I grew up on food stamps?”  The driver responded, “You too?  And… government cheese?”  We all laughed and the driver and I pondered our meager upbringings for a moment, before moving onto discussing our lunch plans.

Suddenly, my thoughts bombarded my emotions, as my heart felt it just might burst.  Pondering to myself, “Look how far God has brought me!  From poverty and broken…  to happy and completely loved!”

Friends, it was the most wonderful day!  Better than anything I could have ever imagined!  Although, the limo was exquisite and wonderful, the most wonderful part of the day… Was the realization of how much I was loved!  I felt loved by my husband, to have orchestrated such a wonderful day, just for me, WOW!  {Again, tears drip down my cheek at the thought of his unconditional love me little ole me!). I felt loved by God, to have blessed with the desires of my heart, more than anything I could have imagined! I felt loved by my sweet children, who were absolutely excited at the present dad planned for my birthday.  I felt loved my dear friends, who took time away from their own lives, to celebrate this memorable occasion with me!  A special thank you to my amazing husband, who truly gave me the best birthday, EVER!  I feel like the most lucky and loved woman in the world!

The afternoon consisted of a wonderful lunch, painting with friends, which was escorted to and from in a limousine.  After painting, my husband picked us up in the family van, opening the front door for me his bride, and the side door for my friends!  I was proud of the man I married and thankful he chose me to journey this life with him. I was proud to serve the most loving God, the giver of all good things!  I was proud to spend the afternoon with a few of my closest friends!  My heart was well-beyond happy!

The evening ended with our family friends from down the road spending the evening at our home, we ate delicious pizza, listened to music from our growing up years, and laughed till our sides literally ached.  Of course, we ate cake and opened presents!  My day was complete; full of love, joy, and fun!

As I climbed into bed on the night of my 40th birthday, several thoughts rushed through my mind and filled my heart with joy…

  1. I am loved, completely!  And… It feels amazing!
  2. I am thankful for the life God has given me!
  3. I have the most amazing family!
  4. I have been blessed with wonderful, Godly, and fun-loving friends!

The thought that reigned above all other thoughts…

5.  Turning 40 was… Not bad… Not bad at all!

Friends, My life started out painful and broken.  As a child I often wondered if anyone loved me, if I mattered to anyone.  God has absolutely redeemed my broken childhood, by continually filling my life with his wonderful and countless blessings!

I recall a quote from the movie Hope Floats…

Berdie’s daughter ends the movie with this statement, “My dad say’s that childhood is the happiest time in my life!  But, I think he’s wrong!  I think my mom’s right, she say’s…”  {The voice changes to Sandra Bullock’s voice}…  Birdie say’s, “Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome!  That’s what momma used to say!  She say’s, “Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most!  You need to remember that when you find yourself at the beginning.  Just give hope a chance to float up and it will too!”

Click the link below to see the scene…

Psalm 37:3-4 “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Always remember..

God’s plan for our lives is better than anything you could ever imagine!  Keep the faith and trust His word and plan for your life!


Crystal Ridlon


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