There’s been a lot of hype lately. (Created by me.)
I AM TURNING 30.
Last year on my 29th birthday, I announced to South Africa that I would turn 30 in a pair of boots on a dance floor in Texas. Dreaming and scheming the most fantastical golden birthday kind of plans.
Well… that didn’t work out.
South Africa and visas and “the system”.
That’s all I’m going to say about that.
In a frenzy of tear-filled emails cancelling best friend reunions, church family functions and a long anticipated family vacation, I heard my Father say, “Your family is where you are. You will celebrate your birthday with your family.”
I still haven’t met baby Judah. I’ve never seen my sister’s first married home. And I NEED TO SQUEEZE NANA. But since I heard that voice, it feels just right to be right here. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s beautiful.
Last week at Sunday Lunch, we made plans. I brought out 29.87 years of sass as I shook my church skirt at the mamas. I told them to prepare my birthday speeches and get ready to make me a birthday cake. The giggled, cooed and lit up as I told them how happy I was to celebrate with them. We were actually going to be celebrating four birthdays all happening within the week.
Mine is August 30th. 30 on the 30th!!!
Um… just in case you were wondering.
Between that Sunday Lunch and this one, where we would celebrate four birthdays, four people in our lives passed away. Two of them were babies.
I got in my car this morning aware that this Sunday Lunch might not be the party we had planned after all. I had no idea what it would be.
Four lives. Four deaths.
And a rainbow swirl cake.
As one of the mothers got in my car, I could feel her heaviness. We were given the rare gift of a front seat moment of privacy (and by privacy, I mean the kids in the back were too busy LOSING THEIR EVER-LOVING MINDS in the back to even know we were trying to communicate). And that mama told me that, during our 15-hour power outage last week, someone had come into her home in the night and tried to rape her. She escaped unhurt, but her brand new table is broken, along with her sense of security.
I was speechless. What kind of day was this going to be? We just kept driving to church.
In the silence, (and again, by silence, I mean backseat screaming so loud you can’t really hear anything so you count it as silence), I started thinking about all the plans I had.
Today is the day I would be arriving in Texas. At 4:30pm.
We’d go straight to Gringo’s for Mexican food. And then to squeeze NaNa. And then to the nearest place to two-step. That’s how birthday week would commence.
A week ago that changed to dreams of playing Sunday Lunch games, praying blessings over families and learning with the other mamas how to make a rainbow swirl cake.
On that drive to church, I was profoundly aware of was how insignificant the plans were and how valuable the lives are.
This past one week has been a swirl of life and death, celebration and devastation. There has been hellos and goodbyes, sickness and health, poverty and provision.
While I sat in church, I held a sleeping, sweating drool bucket. I listened to the somber tone of worship, and I shared water bottles and bathroom moments with the most precious human snot rockets there ever was. I heard a beautiful word spoken by a man who had just found out the day before that three of his family members died in a terrible car accident, and I carefully watched the empty face of a sick woman who had slept with the body of her daughter one week ago because she didn’t have enough money to take her to the mortuary.
Life swirls hard and without stopping.
And with those sights and sounds in church today, on this birthday week that isn’t exactly going as planned, it hit me in a way I don’t even want to forget.
Why not make rainbow swirl cake?
So we did.
|Moms at work!|
|The observation deck.|
|Each mama died a portion of the batter the color of her choice.|
|Esther and her leopard print skirt has the BEST swirl face.|
|Mama Charity works sticking her tongue out...|
just like all of her children. I love it!
|Mama Siyabonga representin' the hair bump and purple swirl.|
|Ready for the oven. I was SO EXCITED.|
|So were they... the clean up crew.|
After we put that cake in the oven, I gathered up our whole Sunday Lunch family in a circle… circle-ish. We held hands, and I poured out my swirling heart to them.
I told them that there was no place I’d rather be than in that circle where we shared our swirls.
We remembered four lives and four deaths. And a million other moments that had impacted us to our depths in just one week.
Each hand I held was stained a different color from our cake making. And that was exactly right.
We all bring our colors. We all have life stains. We all have our swirls. Our lives and our deaths. Our wins and our losses. Our dreams and our fears.
We stand in a circle. We hold life-stained hands. And we make rainbow swirl cake. This is abundant life.
This is how I was made to start 30. This is how I choose to start every day for the rest of my life. Living, loving and sharing rainbow swirl cake.
And it was AMAZING.
|LOOK AT OUR RAINBOW SWIRL CAKE.|
I CAN'T EVEN HANDLE IT!
|South Africa crowd-pleaser: Just add custard.|
|Seriously. The entire time I served it, I was screaming.|
|Victory fist pumping!|
|And this is me toning it down.|
And them too...
|Look at Given's tongue - just like his mom!|
The Creator came down here, and He reached out His unlimited arms.
His body was broken for us. So instead of breaking, we bend.
We bow to the Rainbow Hanger while life bends and swirls.
When we bend, we get more flexible.
When we swirl, we get more colorful.
When we blow out those candles and celebrate abundant life in the midst of swirling blows, just the right amount of light shines through the rain and Beautiful wins.
|Photo and all kinds of help by Patricia Laura|