The morning dawned with feelings of trepidation. I knew something was afoot. I had been banned from the church property for three days... my husband had brought someone in to help me clean the house and prepare beds... and for WHO? No one would tell me a thing. At around 8 AM my phone rang and my daughter-in-law, Amanda, told me to be ready at 10:30 - her and Randi - the other DIL - were going to pick me up for lunch. ...AND to pack a bag with hair fixing necessities and a formal (preferably black) outfit. Hmmm... sounded like fun to me - so I was obedient to the letter.
They arrived right on time and we headed to "lunch" which turned out to be one of my favorites... Olive Garden! We were taken to a private room where my sister Debbie and her DIL, Shannon... and two of my nieces (Taryn and Tanis who had driven 5 hours to be there) were already seated and waiting. We ordered and were sitting there visiting and catching up on all our lives - when I saw my husband in the doorway... with a familiar looking lady... and there was my oldest son, Brocc. It took a minute to register what was going on - I was thinking I had left home with somebodies' keys or something and then I recognized the lady with them - ALETA MAE - my childhood-best-friend-cousin, who lives in AL! (I hadn't seen her in many years, so I didn't recognize her right off.) I burst into tears and we hugged and kissed and laughed like the little girls we once were - "SO", I thought, "She must be my birthday surprise guest!"
We enjoyed our lunch together and then Amanda stood up and said - "Okay ladies... we have a spa appointment to keep!" To my surprise, we were booked at a local Day Spa for massages and manicures... all paid for by my sweetheart husband! We had a blast - I had a facial, a Swedish massage, and a manicure. Again, Amanda whisked us off to "get ready" for the next "surprise". We had finished at the spa early enough to get changed at home, so we went straight to the house to change.
The girls fixed my hair... got me all together and in the van - and then BLINDFOLDED me! What in the world??? I could tell the van was heading south on the main highway and we only live 1/8 mile from the church - so it was obvious "where" we were as we turned in there. I was laughing because they had me blindfolded just to drive me to the church - but Amanda assured me she just needed to stop for a second to check on something. So Aleta, Randi and I sat in the van (with it running) while Amanda went in. A few minutes later she gets back in and says, "Okay, we're ready." I've put my seat belt back on - thinking we're leaving - and she turns the van off. She reaches over and takes my blindfold off and we are sitting directly in front of the door to our Family Life Center. The doors open and there stands my husband and all three sons in black tuxedos with bow ties and the works. When I walked in, the place was decorated incredible and standing around the tables were ministry friends and family, clapping and smiling. I was in total shock! It was definitely an "Evening to Remember" - 50's music playing in the background - a delicious catered meal - our church ministerial staff looked so sharp as they served us all (they were in black tie attire). As the evening progressed there was a video presentation and then my friends and family started sharing "Wanda" stories. (It was a bit unsettling to just sit there and listen to accolades in my honor, to be honest... but I didn't plan the party, did I?) My boys all had sweet things to say to me and I was overwhelmed by the end of the night to say the least.
Aleta stayed til Sunday afternoon, and she and my other BFF cousin, Kim, spent the night at my house. We stayed up til dawn and reminisced. There were so many gifts (like the gorgeous patio set complete with a beautiful awning and chandelier) and all were special... the most precious gift of all was the "time" everyone took out of their lives to celebrate my life with me. Fifty is a milestone - and I will never forget my 50th birthday as long as I live. The church threw another big bash on Sunday night - with cake and ice cream and sweet fellowship. I look back and consider it all, and I know I am blessed. Blessed with a loving church family; wonderful friends; godly parents who gave me their best; precious siblings who I cherish more every day; three handsome sons who make me so proud; two daughters-in-love who have filled that empty "daughter" spot in my heart; five incredible grandchildren who love me like I'm amazing or something; and my one and only... Jeff. He has been exactly who I needed through every season of my life. He is making all my dreams come true and I am enjoying this "fifties" season more than I would have ever imagined. Our lives are Gods. He comes first - and I am grateful that my husband is as committed to God as He is to me.
Who knows what lies ahead? I know I am in good hands with Jesus and Jeffery!