Lucky you.

2:43 PM


  Tomorrow I will reach another milestone in my life.....turning 29.  This is it.  I've officially, finally, and permanently reached the END OF MY TWENTIES.

I am completely unsure of how I feel about this.

   This means that the next birthday is 30 and when I was young (and I guess by young I mean in my teens?)  30 yr old people were the ones that had like, 6 kids and a mortgage and bills to pay and lawns to mow and jaw-droppingly boring lives.  And then all of the sudden here I am, ditto to everything (except the 6 kids) and can hardly believe I am entering my last year EVER as a twenty-something.

How?  How, how, how.

   My niece Annika and I share a birthday and this year she turns 10, which is a little bit terrifying because I can remember, CLEAR AS DAY being 10 years old.  I remember my party, what we did and who I invited.  I remember what I wore and how it was hot and sticky and humid, a typical Iowan August.

   For some reason, (that will always and forever remain a mystery) I decided that it would be fun to have a beauty pageant at my birthday party.  Because what could be a better idea than rounding up a group of preteen girls and comparing them to one another in a public way?  Um, about a million other ideas, that's all.

   And for some even MORE unexplicable reason, my parents allowed me to do so.  So we all trounced through my closet, throwing together our various ensembles.  I chose to be a cowgirl.  Hat, jeans, boots, the white shirt with the fringe....the works. The shirt was an early birthday gift, and I couldn't WAIT to put it to use.

    We we were ready, we flounced and bounced downstairs, hair freshly primped and cheeks and eyes aglow as we lined up in front of the "Judges panel" which of course was one of our peers, a guest of the party.  And so in case you were unaware, YES, it's possible for bad ideas to get worse.

   My dad was videoing and we each took our turn walking down the sidewalk toward the camera with a cute little twirl at the end, to the announcement of our names and ages.  I remember my little brother Shawn zooming around on his scooter, or bike, or something with wheels, and was being "terribly annoying" in my 10-yr-old mind.  And of course now I would give anything to go back in time and drop everything and play with that adorable, gap-toothed, skinny little 6-yr-old boy.  We would have such fun together rather than experience the tragedy of a beauty pageant that was my 10th birthday party.

    So after our trouncing and flouncing was complete, we thought it would be a good idea to all line up in a neat little row, and eagerly await the announcement of the winner.  There were 6 or 7 of us in line, and I remember feeling equally nervous and excited and squirming against that gnawing pit in my stomach...you know the kind that you sort of hate and kind of love?  My heart was lodged somewhere in my throat as I waited to hear the results.

   The judge cleared her throat and started with the last place.  When she announced the name I felt instantaneous pity and relief.  Pity for her, relief it wasn't me.  (Once again, how was this ever conceived as even a remotely good idea??!)

  We all held our breath as the next name was announced......"And second-to-last place is......Shelley Graber!" 

   I remember not knowing if I had heard correctly and then everything else proceeded in a bit of a blur as one by one, the girls were named until the winner had won.

Second-to-last.  

  I couldn't believe it.  It was MY birthday and I still got second-to-last!  That probably meant that they were only feeling sorry for me because it WAS my birthday, and so ordinarily I would have gotten plain old LAST!  But perhaps the worst part of all was that the party wasn't over.  It was only beginning.  And so I still needed to smile and eat cake and say thank-you and laugh with everyone there, all the while my heart was breaking.

I'm not beautiful.
I'm not wanted.
I'm not worthy. 
I'm not enough. 

  These were the lyrics to the beat that my little heart pounded in my ears and I fought back the tears that stung at my eyelids and tried so hard not to let anyone know.

   I guess up until then, I hadn't known the sting of rejection.  I was just a child, and as all children should be, I was accepted and loved and cherished.  I always felt worthwhile, and I suppose yes, beautiful.  Beautiful because I was loved.

   Of course it is all rather silly and ridiculous to look back on now, but those feelings were real.  Not dreamt up by the vivid imagination of a 10-yr-old girl (although we all know I had one).   Not conceived on paper by the author of young adult fiction, but REAL.  Playing out in real time, in my life, on my birthday.  And while I don't believe that wound was sufficient enough to hurt me into my adulthood, the messages were.

   The lies whispered by the enemy of my soul in those brief moments cut deep through marrow and bone, causing this story to bring tears to my eyes even now, 19 years later.  But please don't misunderstand me.....the tears are not because I didn't win a beauty pageant on my birthday.

  The tears are for all the years I've lived under the shadow of those lies, and for all of the years I've tried so hard to not let anyone see me hiding.  

   If I've said it once I've said it 1,000 times, but I'll say it again.........It's often the people you'd least expect.  The very ones that you can't imagine battling insecurity or facing their own demons day after day, are often the very ones who are.  And be careful to remember that it's not an imagined, fictional, feeling.......it is real pain.  And it can happen to anyone.

   And so what I would like my 10-yr-old niece to hear on her special day, and anyone else who may need to hear it too, is that....

You a beautiful daughter of the King.
You are wanted and redeemed.
You are worthy of grace.
You are, dear child, enough.

   And in honor of those beautiful promises, a little celebration is in order!  I was so inspired when my friend Janene hosted a giveaway on her blog one year for her birthday, and I thought that was just a beautiful thing to do.  So this year I thought, why not!

  Enter here to win everything pictured above.  Just a few things to help the transition from summer into fall....a light floral scarf that reminds us of the hot days of summer past, fall colors for manicures in cream and navy, a $10 Starbucks card for all of your Pumpkin Spice latte needs, Orchid body wash and spray and a pack of Thank you cards that truly, will never be out of style.  All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment on this post, but there are additional ways to earn additional entries listed below.  I will announce the winner on Monday.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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62 comments

  1. favorite birthday memory? The year I turned 22, my now-husband wrote me a letter, and had my sister place it under my pillow so I could finish off my day with a letter and a smile!

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  2. I remember feeling that same rejection. It's interesting knowing you and how beautiful you are it's hard to imagine you ever felt anything less. This post was beautiful. I've often thought I want to affirm my daughters so that they don't struggle with the feelings that I still struggle with at times today. My favorite birthday memory was when I was 16 and my parents threw a big surprise birthday party for me. I felt so loved and celebrated. --LaDonna

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  3. Aw, shelley, i think you are super beautiful!
    a favorite birthday memory? ok, i usually cry on my birthday and am oddly depressed. i cannot remember a favorite specifically.
    BUT. my husband always takes me on a date and i love that! sorry, it's not more specific.

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  4. Here's to birthdays and aging gracefully and earning wisdom as we go. Happy day to you!

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  5. I vividly remember going through these same feelings when I was younger, and some of the things were quite pathetic really! Happy Birthday!

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  6. Happy Birthday! this giveaway looks like so much fun!

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  7. Hmmm… birthday memory? My favorite birthdays were always when they fell on Mother's day. Then I got to go out to eat with the whole family. :)

    Happy birthday a day early!!!! Hope you have an awesome day :)
    Emily

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  8. Favorite Birthday was probably my 8th birthday. All my friends and cousins came over for a big sleepover. I got the best present... my stone washed fringed jeans I had been wanting forever!!!

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  9. What a fun giveaway! There's nothing wrong with getting older; the good times are just getting started! :) Jessica Kauffman

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  10. Happy Birthday!wishing you a birthday that fulfills all your expectations!beautiful post.

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  11. Awesome giveaway! A birthday I will never forget is when I turned 16 and celebrated with some friends and later had a party with my cousin who is 2 days younger than me. Happy Birthday!

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  12. Just realized I forgot to comment a birthday moment! One time I got spanked on my birthday!

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  13. Last year, about 5 days after my birthday I found out I was pregnant. I considered it a late present!

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  14. I love your blog and honesty Shelley! My most memorable bday was my 16th. Lots of surprises and flowers from a friend thousands of miles away :) Ashley Shaw

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  15. I got engaged on my birthday 5 years ago!!!

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  16. Happy Birthday! I love this idea. Aaron proposed to me on my 20th birthday.

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  17. Happy birthday my dear! Love this idea! Hope u have a blessed day of celebrating you! Xoxo

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  18. Happy birthday! =) Hope you have a lovely day! What a fun giveaway!

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  19. I remember waking up and thinking "Hey, today on this exubrent day I am now a year older, imagine that" and then going to school, working all day, attending the annual Pathway Fish Fry (..and I'm not a fan of the taste of any kind of fish, fyi) and heading home. I counted the number of birthday wishes I got, a total of maybe 15...and I snuggled in my bed and thought, " that was a lame day." but the truth that I later realized is, it doent matter what b-day presents you get or what fun things you do...in fact, its not about you at all, its about God and the pure enjoyment of knowing he chose to give YOU LIFE and each year you get to thank him even MORE!... On my birthday that year, I got the best gift ever, a breakthrough in knowledge and knowing, its not all about me. I got something better than 1,000 rainbows. I got to thank God for Life.

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  20. Happy Birthday! Love your blog and this giveaway is awesome! :)

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  21. Happy birthday! God bless you! And hope you have a great day!

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  22. Great post! And leaving your 20's isn't all bad. :) I loved my 30th birthday even though it was a tad depressing but being in my 30's has been enjoyable. I just try not to think about my age and go by what age I feel like. ;)

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  23. Happy birthday, Shelley! I really don't think getting older is a bad thing; you make 29 look good!

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  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  25. One of my birthday memories is having a slumber party with my girl cousins and we played truth or dare outside on the deck at my grandma's house. I shouldn't have been nervous but they dared me to go inside an kiss grandma who was sleeping on the couch! Grandma loved it and I proudly walked outside smiling! I think I was 8 or 9 :)

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  26. One of my birthday memories is having a slumber party with my girl cousins and we played truth or dare outside on the deck at my grandma's house. I shouldn't have been nervous but they dared me to go inside an kiss grandma who was sleeping on the couch! Grandma loved it and I proudly walked outside smiling! I think I was 8 or 9 :)

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  27. Really neat giveaway! I would love to win! :)

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  28. I would say that last year's birthday was one of my best! -Sherri Y.

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  29. i also had a similar birthday party one year. My friends and I dressed up and walked down the "runway" (made of christmas lights on the floor.) We didn't have any judges which sounds like ended up being a good idea!

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  30. My very favorite birthday memory was on my 30th. I woke up that morning to take a pregnancy test and found out that I was going to have my 3rd little one. :-) I couldn't help but smile all day and so I never had time to think about how crazy it was to be out of my 20s.

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  31. Beautiful words! I can relate to those feelings. I loved how you said this, You a beautiful daughter of the King.
    You are wanted and redeemed.
    You are worthy of grace.
    You are, dear child, enough.

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  32. Happy birthday! Leaving the 20's wasn't toooo bad.. but each birthday farther into the 30's has me digging my heels in! The 20 year old inside me is screaming that 35 is OLD!! I continue to choose to be 20 inside! :)

    Your birthday story, oh the trauma of being a young girl and feeling your snug little world crumble! Selfishly I want to shelter my girls but I decided rather then that, I will encourage security in who they are so when the storms hit, they are ready!

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  33. Happy birthday Shelley !! I'm sure the 30's r not so bad:) keep up your good writing skills my friend, it's always a joy to read your thoughts! Be blessed.

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  34. This post brought up a few memories from my 9th or 10th birthday (I can't remember which one) when I had some friends over and during a game one girl called me bossy. And as silly as it seems now, I was very hurt at the time. Anyway, happy birthday! :) - Teresa

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  35. Happy birthday from another shelly lynn:) my favorite birthday was four years ago when I found out we were having a baby girl, it really was my lucky birthday.

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  36. Shelley-

    I'm really not quite sure how I came across your blog, and I feel terrible that I've never commented! I've always been waiting to find the right words, the right time, to tell you how much your words have spoken into my life and how much you have blessed me- even without knowing me or who I am.

    My heart does a happy little leap when I see a new post of yours come up in my blog feed, because every.single.time you speak into my soul the encouragement I need. I'm so encouraged as I read about your marriage and motherhood- how you embrace it, even when you feel like failure. You never complain- you always speak love and life about your girls, even when it's been a hard day you always come back to the fact that these hard training seasons don't last forever. So many mamas talk about how they can't wait for this season to be over, but you, dear Shelley, are bravely choosing to embrace these trenches and enjoy each moment.

    So thank you. Really and truly, THANK YOU. Because even for the non-mamas like me, it gives a girl hope that mamahood and marriage are JOYS. You shine brightly, dear Shelley. I honestly would love to hop on a plane and just glean from your wisdom for a week- and I know you'd argue and say that you're so not qualified. But that's just it- YOU ARE. You don't preach with words, girl, you preach with LIFE, even through the messes and the mistakes you bring it back to where it needs to be- on God and His plan.

    Much love to you, Shelley- and happiest of birthdays!

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  37. Favorite birthday memory? Last year's birthday, playing pin-the-tail-on-the-zebra with my nieces and nephews.

    Just 'cause we could.

    ....and then spent the rest of the evening coaxing medicine down their throats because we all had a terrible cold.

    Hey. It's a memory! ;)

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  38. Well, you're finally getting my first comment. I've had many conversations with you in my mind since Melissa K introduced me to you via her blog (she and I are blog-turned-real-life friends and attend Bible study together now). I so appreciate all your honesty and beauty and how you put into words so many of my own insecurities and the redemption the LORD brings to them. Thanks for being my encouraging friend even though you're just discovering I exist.

    As for a birthday memory, the one that comes to mind is my kindergarten birthday party (age 5) when my neighbor offered to pay the boy I had a crush on $1 to "ask me out." Totally one of those moments of excitement over maybe having my first "boyfriend" and sadness that it was via a bribe and not him just liking me enough to tell me.

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  39. the first birthday memory that came to mind was when you took me to tuscan moon for dinner and then when we got home you had all my friends at our house for a surprise party. I just remember feeling so loved that birthday and honestly that's how I feel like all birthdays should be, full of love and celebration of who we are! i hope you feel so celebrated this birthday! xoxo.

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  40. going to Idaho with my family for my 30th birthday! Fun memories!

    happy birthday!

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  41. Happy birthday! I would love to win! :)

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  42. I love this. And I LOVE you. Happy birthday, my beautiful friend.

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  43. Happy 29th birthday!! What a fun give away!!!

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  44. Happy birthday! I love reading your blog.

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  45. I remember my 10th birthday, too. A big pool party in the hot Mississippi sun. :) Good times!! Love your blog, by the way. :)

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  46. Shelly, don't you know the 30's are the new 20's?? Actually, I hear the 40's are the new 20's (or I may have made that up to make myself feel better about turning 40 in another year or two!) Chin up - you're haven't even hit your prime yet!

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  47. My favorite birthday memory was the year I turned 13 my parents allowed me to have 13 girls over and we camped out in tents at Wildwood campground... back when vault was still around. I seem to remember that 3 liters of vault were drank by about 3 girls.. oh good times;)

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  48. I still remember one of my youngest birthdays and you and Ramona were my only party guests. And we played "horse" on the couch cushions. Well, I think it was for my birthday.... that's how I've always remembered it. :)

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  49. Oh and I meant to add...I really enjoy reading your blog and find so much to relate to and encouragement! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  50. Aw! What a beautiful post shelley! I turned 28 this year and it really does feel strange to be what the teenagers consider old. Haha!

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  51. What a neat way to celebrate your birthday with a giveaway. Happy birthday and many blessings as you continue to share your heart.

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  52. Oh my! I can just imagine the pain of that pageant! So sorry that your birthday was ruined like that.

    Happy Birthday! May this birthday be way, way better!

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  53. Firstly, such good words on the lies versus the truth. It absolutely inspired me this morning.
    Secondly, what a fun giveaway and I would certainly love to win. ;) My favorite birthday memory is the year that a bunch of aunts + uncles surprised me with a trip to a steeplechase horse race for the day - one of the best days of my young life for sure!
    Thirdly, happiest of birthdays to you!

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  54. I think my best birthday is yet to come. This November I turn 40, it feels like such a wonderful milestone, and I am anticipating my 40's being even more wonderful than my 30's!

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  55. Surely I will win the prize, yes? ;) Have a great day today, and hopefully I will get to see you real soon!

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  56. Happy Birthday! One of my favorite birthdays was my 20th, because I got married two weeks later and it was such an exciting, happy time. :)

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  57. What a beautiful, generous giveaway! I'd be thrilled to win. :)

    And my heart HURT when I read this. Because I so know the power of words, and have experienced living with the terrible lie the enemy can make of them, and how we can live in such bondage because of them. Wow. Recognizing the lie is one thing: being free from it is another. But, my lovely friend, You ARE beautiful, and you offer so much beauty and joy to the world around you!

    xoxo

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  58. I like the giveaway! I don't know if I have a very favorite birthday memory, but some standout ones are these: my dad hurting my feelings and then apologizing (that's what stood out) on my 13th, my church family giving me surprise gifts on my 19th, and my husband coating the back of my chair with sticky notes and buying me lots of cheap gifts (in memory of how my siblings celebrate birthdays) on my 23rd. Thank you for your honesty about your struggles; I can identify with some of the insecurities and it's helpful to know I'm not alone on the journey.

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  59. I love birthdays. Although it is just a tiny bit harder now that I keep getting older and older...but still, I love birthdays!! Happy birthday Shelley!!

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  60. Shelley
    I have to admit I frequently check to see what you wrote about. So real. My most memorable birthday was Aug 6, 2002 when my son was born on my 30th birthday. Was very emotional day but now every birthday is fun with him. =)
    -Rita

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  61. wow. another post that touched me! i love birthdays!!

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  62. Oh Shelley, how I remember that birthday party too. Obviously not quiet like you...(I don't even remember if i was in the contest or not) I do think you wore the Navy and white poke-a-dot jumper though am i right? :)
    Crazy how something like that can be imprinted in our brains at such a young age! Love you and just saw this post so i am sad that i missed the giveaway, but just know that the 30's are all that and the bag of chips!! :) Jewel

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