At a high top Carrara table, I sit slope side.  The window to my immediate right frames the Peak 7 Double Black Bowl.  I can see skiers making their way down Vertigo and Magic Carpet this moment.  I hope I never find myself on those slopes again.  It was by accident that I ever did!  Next to me the vast flagstone fireplace provides impromptu seating for the chilled coming in from the decorated streets.  A soft snow is falling through intermittent sunbeams while a bluesy Christmas tune fills the small amounts of empty space in the room.  European families come in and out, warming in front of the fire before they head out for their day of boarding or downhill.   Snowy boots shuffle across the floor declaring the carefree attitude of the place.  

Doug sits across the room from me, giving me the space to write and celebrate a few hours alone on this day the Lord chose to send me into this world.  The girls are at the cabin finishing a few lessons and packing for our mini trip today.  When I finish my writings for the day we all will head to Denver where Doug has planned a day of celebration for me.  Ill have tea with the girls this afternoon, dinner alone with him this evening and stay at a favorite hotel tonight (thankful for hotel points!).  How lovely.   

As we made our way down the winding mountain road this morning, peace and joy filled my heart.  Not any more than yesterday, or any more than weeks ago, which, I realized as I broke into smile in its Truth, is exactly the Gift.

My faith has been increased.  

This birthday, this 43rd, I am at a place of learning (and continuing to practice) to be content in any circumstance, to truly know Him as enough.  If you have read here over the past years you have witnessed that I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.   What I didnt realize is that, in that, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.     What circumstances has the Lord used to teach me this?   If I only go back to the beginning of our marriage, there have been 12 moves (two cross country) since we married 17 years ago.  7 lengthy rounds of unemployment for Doug in the past 12 years.  Leaving church staff for secular work (you either get this loss or you dont).  5 years now since I have had a car of my own, 2 years now since I have been able to drive myself or the girls anywhere unless we have a rental (due to Doug not wanting his 375K mile car to do its daily breakdown while I am alone).  2 years (2001 and 2008) where I was a single mom while Doug worked across the country.  Hereditary mental health issues I deal with daily.  No health or dental insurance for over 5 years now.  A daughter who fights illness constantly and struggles daily (for years now) with pain the doctors cant diagnose.  Two highly intense, special needs students who also happen to be teenagers.   An idealistic husband who is very difficult and refuses to live for the eyes of man (he gave me permission to write that).  Oh, and three seasons (2001, 2010 and current) of homelessness.  These are just some of the great weaknesses in my life.  But in these (and the ones I haven't named), I am learning that I can do all this through Him who gives me strength!  His Grace has been sufficient for me.  He has been enough, not simply to survive, but to thrive amidst my weaknesses.

Now...that does not mean that I do not have times of emotional distress, nor does it mean that I am not affected by my circumstances.  What it does mean is that I am learning to not be characterized by them.  I am His.   He is mine. That is my definition.  What an incredible Gift!    Being safe and secure (by worldly standards) would have never found me in this place!  My security is in Him.

But alas, I have also learned that my feelings on this will come and go.  Thus I do not live by feelings.  This life of following Him will slay me anew.  I will feel surrounded by darkness at one point or another.  I will share in His sufferings.    He tells me such.   But I am learning more than the slaying,  amidst the slaying,  and that I celebrate.

Peace and Joy, regardless, are finally mine.  Happy Birthday to me!  Thank you, Lord for every moment you have allowed and ordained.