Well this was the big year of turning 50 for me! To be honest when I think of that number I still struggle to think it describes my age. I used to think 50 year olds were very old. haha Now I don't think that so much. But this birthday will go down as one of my very favorites thanks to my sweet family (especially Jeff and Jessi). They pulled off an amazing surprise and filled me with so much love that I ended up not minding turning 50. :) Here is how it all went down.

First Mandi and David came home on Thursday which was November 10. To be honest we could have stopped right there because being with them is a gift! I miss Mandi so much that when she comes home it fills my heart with so much comfort that it all could have been good right there but that actually was just the beginning. At noon on that day Jeff had Jessi and Jefferson bring me to a really cool spot for lunch where he had arranged some of my close girl friends to meet me for lunch. It was such a blessing and so much fun to be with each of them. My sisters and mom were there as well and it was a great time with friends. 

Next I was informed that we were all going to Tucson to revisit my home town memories! So we got packed and ready to go and headed out the door in two cars to drive to Tucson. When we got there we checked into the Westin and relaxed a bit before all meeting in the jacuzzi for an evening of talking and being together. The next morning we hit the bagel shop and headed up to Mt. Lemon where I have plenty of childhood memories. We visited the cookie cabin for a big chocolate chip cookie and ice cream, threw the football, and walked into a few shops. We then headed down the mountain because Jeff had arranged a photographer to photograph our family (picture above). We were to meet the photographer in the lobby of the hotel at 3:00 sharp. We all got dressed went to the lobby and waited. Who do you think walks in??  My bff from Seattle!! Alison (an amazing photographer)!! I could not believe it! After I got over the shock of seeing her we went to Sabino Canyon (the 6th stop) and took some great family photos.

Again things could have been stopped here as well but they were not even close to being over. After the family photo session they informed me that we would be doing a "memories tour" of Tucson. :) (something that made me feel completely loved). We started by heading to my elementary school and junior high school. They all jumped out of the cars (we were in three cars by then) and they would chant, "memories, memories, memories" and then I would tell two or three funny memory stories. Here is a photo after I finished telling stories of Jr. High and the church I grew up going too. They all look like they are shooting a basketball because I told them my jr. high basketball memories... :)

From there we were off to my high school. Everyone jumped out of the cars again as we stood on the steps that I once climbed 30 years ago. This time I was grown and sharing memories with my children who were all old enough to not be in high school themselves. I told them how I had been bullied by a girl in high school but how I have found the positive in order to not let it get me down. I told them about my friends and the good times. They listened to my stories and it all made me feel so loved. 

After that they told me they wanted to take me by the house I grew up in and take a picture in front of that house. I had not really seen the house I grew up in for almost 26 years. My parents had sold the house shortly after I got married. We drove up to the house and Jeff said he would run and ask the owners if we could take a picture in front of the house. He came back to the car and said they had not only agreed to a picture in front of the house but they had invited us all in to see the house. This thrilled me because there have been many times in my life where I have just wanted to walk back into "the house that built me".

And here I am walking into that house for the very first time in years. The last time I had walked through that door I was 23 years old and a young married woman. Memories in the home stopped right there. So when I walked through the door with my husband and grown children two of which were married my entire childhood hit me and gave me the largest hug ever! I can hardly put it into words. It was as if my childhood looked upon me. All my fun days of childhood entered my mind all at once. The owner of the home noticing my emotional response said, "I know it looks different than when you lived here." I shook my head and said, "It does but it doesn't all at the same time." She said, "Let me show you what we have done with the kitchen." I followed her back into the kitchen and she showed me how they had updated it. She then said, "well the yard looks almost exactly the same" she turned the outdoor lights on and I saw a crowd of people yelling "surprise!!!"

I could NOT believe it! Outside friends from high school, childhood, and my wonderful family were all there!! There were tables and chairs set up a food truck and music playing. Jeff looked at me and said, "happy birthday!" It will be the largest surprise of my life! I had zero idea!! I was enjoying all the fun memories and had not thought once about a surprise party in my childhood home. 

HONESTLY this makes turning 50 amazing!!!  It was so much fun and I felt so blessed!! I do not know if I will ever be able to thank everyone enough but I will never ever forget this night!! It will be one of my favorite birthdays!!!

In time if you find that you are having trouble finding yourself take some time to look back upon your life. Walk through the memories that made you into who you are today. Reflect upon all the events, all the struggles, and all the joys and blessings that created you into YOU. What you may find is that ALL of it (the good and the bad) created something very unique. Something that is uniquely YOU. You will begin to see why each life has its own twist, its own strengths, its own weaknesses, and its very own perspective. You will become very aware that we are all uniquely created as individuals sharing this world with one another. Not one story being exactly the same but all stories being just as important. Memories.... 

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