it’s my birthday and I’ll laugh, whine, curl my hair and ramble if I want to

Erik timed his text perfectly this morning with my 5:37 alarm–

Happy Birthday to you,
You live in a zoo.
Just look at the monkeys
Sleeping right next to you!

How right he is. Those little monkeys bounced and giggled well until the night until I practically sobbed, “You have to let me sleep; it’s almost my birthday.”

There’s something about ‘my day’ that makes me giddy, but also a bit whiny like a little girl with a great big curl at her party– “I shouldn’t have to clean the kitchen; it’s my birthday.”

My little girl curls are much better since I used Mary’s iron on a whim. You know those ones they wave at you in the mall that cost $200? Well, they are $30 on Amazon. Two minutes transforms my naturally messy hair into luscious ringlets. Lizzy, Zoey– I bought you a green one. It’s in the mail.

No, I don’t usually look this good, but if I’m taking the photo, I choose my best angle. I’ll do the same for you.

Hmm, maybe it’s too frivolous a look for my age bracket, but I’m famously immature. Ask my kids, ask the girls in the neighborhood (and girls, come over if you want to borrow my new curling iron or get a new playlist for your ipod). I don’t mind getting older. In a way I feel more free to be myself– sillier, goofier, more creative. As for wrinkles and sagging eyelids– I have an almost twenty year old son, I should look it (and I’m finally putting away the Clearasil, hurray!). Just don’t talk to me about weight getting harder to control as you get older; I’ve been struggling since elementary school, I don’t want to hear about things getting worse.

But I was thrilled to hear about instagram on my iphone. My friend Annie made these fabulous little books capturing everyday life and I think they are the perfect gift for my little missionary. Goodness, instagram is a fun world: seizing the moment during violin lesson, playing with the filters (see above), making friends… My photos are private but I’ll approve you if I know you. Be warned, I take way too many and will probably keep up the pace until I get 72 for my three tiny books.

My favorite set of big books these days are the Maisy Dobbs series. Set in the 1930s, Maisy is a housemaid risen to a well-educated private investigator. The pace of the novels is slow compared to today’s one hour crime shows, Maisy is intelligent and well-spoken; true principles come out in the stories. I don’t buy audio books very often (’cause you can’t get them for a penny) but I bought a recording of books two and three because the narrator is extraordinary and it’s simply a good voice to have in your head. Many of the characters in crisis in these books are dealing with hurts from WWI twelve years after the armistice– and this gives me hope, maybe I don’t need to heal too quickly. I should give myself a decade and then work on it.

I do worry I’ll never be able to forgive what was done to me– that I’ll grow bitter and old and never become the woman I once envisioned. My sister worries about the same thing, which makes me feel much better because she’s one of the most fabulous people to ever walk this earth.

And I do know the path to peace. My friend Catherine wrote The Battle in Our Brains, an amazing article on how scripture study navigates us through the chaos of daily life. Read it. You’ll love it. I’m privileged to pound the early morning pavement with Catherine and be tutored in person. All my running buddies are incredible. Truly. Erik always wants me to do weight classes at the gym but I hate missing a conversation with the girls.

The age of internet birthdays is perfect for an extroverted introvert like me. I love people– all of them– and I love Facebook messages and gifts on my doorstep, but I’m just not up to a string of lunches. I’ve been far too busy these last months and for me that leads to depression. I’m not ashamed of it. Some people thrive on action; I thrive on quiet. I really and truly love every person who asks a for time or a favor. My heart says, ‘Yes! I’ll write that article, take those photos, help with that project.” And I mean it, I really do. But I don’t have the hours or energy for everything asked of me. You remember the words from Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “My Life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds.”

Ah, writing opportunities, photos and projects will always be there but I only have a few short years with my children at home. I intend to give them the best of my time. I can sneak in a few diversions, but I need to be careful.

Our favorite family diversion these days is the the British series Merlin. Have you heard of it? It features Merlin and Arthur as young men in Camelot: completely clean, incredibly entertaining and full of interesting ideas. My sister and I talk constantly about life lessons from Merlin:

1. Merlin always saves the day, but because he keeps his magical abilities secret he never gets credit for anything.

2. Humility and honesty are more powerful than magic.

3. Even when problems appear impossible, Arthur and friends keep fighting. They don’t know Merlin is about to jump in and save the day. Even when our problems appear impossible we should fight like dragons– we don’t know the forces at work providing help. “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” 2 Kings 6:16.

Favorite episodes? Beauty and the Beast parts 1 and 2. You’ll see why.

Phew, this is long, but I’ve saved the best for last. Several months ago, in the wake of selling my mother’s home, my friend Lisa took home a bag of clothing. For my birthday she transformed it into this:


I’m overwhelmed by it– the colors, the pattern, the sheer artistry. The backing and surrounding fabrics look like they were chosen by my mother. Lisa said she felt my mom with her; I know that’s true.

And today, I hope she’s with me.

January 31, 2012
February 5, 2012



  1. Kit Linkous

    February 2, 2012

    Happy, happy birthday! Thank you for being my listening ear and my great source for advice on everything that matters 🙂 That quilt is AMAZING. We love you more than you will ever know!

  2. Annie

    February 2, 2012


    You are stellar, Michelle. I hope you have a frivolous, giddy day. What an amazing quilt! I’m positive your mom is with you, today and many days.

  3. Andrea R

    February 2, 2012

    Beautiful! Love you dearly.

  4. jen

    February 2, 2012

    have a wonderful birthday.

  5. jen

    February 2, 2012

    have a wonderful birthday.

  6. Selwyn

    February 3, 2012

    Happy birthday gorgeous.

    I hug you every day, in my head. I also have conversations with you in my head – we need to Skype soon!
    Luvies, SK.

  7. cristie

    February 3, 2012

    dear girl…

    you are lovely.
    you are loved.
    your life is filled with magic.
    i rejoice is your peace.

    Happy Birthday! xox

  8. andrea

    February 3, 2012

    Happy birthday Michelle! You look young and beautiful! I bought that curling iron too only my curls didn’t come out nearly as nice. Maybe a tutorial is in order? Or maybe not, LOL. I did learn something from this post. Hope you have a wonderful day! (PS–I can’t imagine a nicer gift than that quilt. It’s lovely.)

  9. Judi

    February 3, 2012

    I love the curls. I wish I had long hair just to have those curls. The quilt it amazing. Just like you are amazing.
    I hope you had a wonderful birthday. xoxo

  10. Adri

    February 3, 2012

    Happy day to you!

  11. martha corinna

    February 3, 2012

    Happy Birthday Michelle! You are so beautiful, love your hair. And that quilt! Gorgeous! And humility is magic, one of my new years resolutions, I feel a little pit of pride well up too often, it is not good.

  12. Linn

    February 3, 2012

    That quilt made me cry. What a beautiful representation of your mom, given with so much love.

    Happy, Happy Birthday friend. I don’t think you realize the impact you have on my life or the inspiration you are to me. Thank you so very, very much.

    And may this year be a year of joy and goodness and healing. You are loved.

  13. Tracy

    February 3, 2012

    Happy Birthday dear friend. I hope your day was amazing…like you.

    I like your sexy curls. I bought the same curler..dare I try it on my old-self…I think I will..

    Love you. See you in seven days. I can hardly believe it is true.

  14. Rachelle

    February 3, 2012

    Happy birthday, Michelle! You look fabulous. What a wonderful idea for a quilt! Enjoy your day!

  15. Cath

    February 4, 2012

    My sweet Michelle, I should be in bed but I’m so glad I’m not and I’m in front of the screen reading (although belated) your birthday post. The picture is gorgeous – and I think you always look that good, even without curls. And I loved all of your ramblings. Your heart is soft and good and all of you splinters with light. I have no doubt that is who you will always be. The privilege of pounding the pavement together before dawn is all mine. I love you birthday girl.

  16. Cath

    February 4, 2012

    and ps – the quilt? breathtaking. what a treasure for you. xo

  17. Michelle

    February 4, 2012

    Sending love your way.

  18. Michelle

    February 4, 2012

    And that quilt? Wow.

    And you are beautiful. In more ways than one. The gift you are giving your children…maybe some of what it means to avoid the bitterness from what has happened in your life can come about by deliberately choosing to pass along something different to the next generation. And you are doing that in spades. It’s one of the things that moves me most about you and your heart.

    And it’s what brings me back to your blog again and again. It’s my guilty pleasure blog. There is heaven in your heart, and in your home, in your photography and in your writing, in your desires to keep coming back to center as you do here.

    I have to believe that in that process, there is power from heaven available to help heal your heart, too.

    Even if it takes a decade…or longer.

  19. Claudia

    February 6, 2012

    I love that picture of you! Gorgeous girl!! I’m excited to follow you on Instagram. It’s so fun. Thank you for the Segulla article. It is a direct answer to my prayers. Blake and Sarah introduced our family to Merlin last summer and we’ve been fans ever since. The quilt is SO lovely. I can’t wait to see it in person. I thoroughly enjoyed our 20 minutes and cupcakes yesterday. You constantly amaze me. Happy day girlfriend.

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