My birthday is August 1st and my parents named me, “Noelle.”
Do you know how many people ask me, “Oh, were you born on Christmas Day, Noelle?” Assuming that’s how my parents came up with the name. You should see the look of disappointment on their faces when I break their hearts with my response:
“Nope. I was born in August.”
“Oh,” they say, understandably puzzled.
Here’s the thing; I have “birthday issues.”
Besides having a name that doesn’t match the season in which I was actually born, there a few complications and misfortunes that comes with having a “summer” birthday.
1. Growing up, I never had the chance to bring birthday cupcakes to my class. One of the great experiences in childhood is bringing the kids in your class, “cupcakes” on your birthday. Of course, your mom makes a few extras cupcakes. So you can bring them around to the other teachers, hoping you’ll butter them up into giving you a sticker or one of those cheap plastic toys from their “prize box.” Unfortunately, due to the placement of my birthday, school was always off for summer break. This meant there was no class for me to bring my cupcakes to. I wanted to bring cupcakes to the church office where I work on my birthday this year, but I know there won’t be any stickers given or a special toy from the “prize box”...so really...what’s the point?
2. During my birthday, my friends are usually on vacation. Try planning a birthday party around everyone’s summer vacations. Ha! I rarely gather enough people to even host a party. Friends are away to the Outer Banks, or down the shore, or visiting their Nana in Florida. Seriously. I gave up on birthday parties sometime during my teenage years. For several consecutive years in a row, my darling husband was away on my birthday, leading mission trips. You’d think I wouldn’t be bitter, since he was away doing “God’s work.” But...no...I’m still bitter.
3. Summer is a season when people are out of routine and when people are out of routine, they forget things.... like my birthday. It happens. And sadly, I get offended. Living across the ocean away from family and close friends doesn’t make it any easier. Out of sight, out of mind. Isn’t that what they say?
Oh, I’ve got “birthday issues.”
Last year, I turned 30. My family and I were on vacation (of course) and the whole idea of trying to have that amazing 30th birthday extravaganza you are supposed to have just depressed me. So, I slept. I took the longest nap of my life on my 30th birthday. I don’t know if that’s sad or if that’s a greatest “birthday wish come true” for any woman with two or more children under five years old. I wouldn’t know. I can’t differentiate, because I have birthday issues.
This year, as my birthday was drawing near, I started to panic:
“Should I send mom and dad an email a week in advance reminding them my birthday is on its way?” “What if friends forget because I live so far away?” I am living in a new city now, trying to make new friends…
What if I really have no one to celebrate my birthday with? What if I am disappointed?
Yup, birthday issues.
In the midst of fretting over my upcoming birthday, the Lord dropped this verse on me:
“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.”
The Lord is interested in me and He’s been giving me His attention… before my birthday even existed!
The Lord planned and created everything about me and He has been excited for the life He designed for me...before I ever saw the light of the day!
I have made my birthday a way to measure other people’s “interest” in me I and yet completely forgot that the Lord has always been excited for my existence!
You know what? I think I will make those cupcakes! I’ll make those cupcakes and celebrate that for the last 31 years I have been abundantly loved by the Lord. He has never forgotten one birthday and He never will! He celebrates me everyday. Now, isn’t that wonderful?
Your birthday girl,
Update: I had an incredible birthday this year, celebrated with friends old and new and family from far away. I couldn’t have asked for a better day!
Noelle Rhodes is married to her best friend, Troy, and 'mama' to two of the most hilarious human beings to exist: Silas and Olive Pearl. She and her family reside in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as missionaries. When she is not wrangling her children or beating her husband in a game of Scrabble, you would probably find her doing laundry. Noelle blogs at Coffee with Noelle.