community birthday

A birthday can make you feel all kinds of crazy things. But you get to choose where you focus, just like any other day.

My phone woke me up early. A friend sent a quick birthday text before she had to head into work. As I stumbled out of bed, the thoughts started. How am I (__) years old already? Yeah, I’m not sure I’m ready for the internet to know that number. Let’s just say it’s another anniversary of my 29th birthday and leave it there, okay?

I started wrestling with my own mind.

I’m not THAT old.

Well, this number is pretty high and really the odds of me meeting someone fantastic to share the rest of my life are not good the higher it gets. And have you seen your thighs? You aren’t exactly a size 10….

Stop it!

Just when I thought I had the negative thoughts under control, I decided to tweeze my eyebrows. And there it was, unwelcome and mocking me—a GREY hair in my eyebrow! I think I heard it snicker!

Oh that is not even funny.

I decided I needed to do something productive. If I’m not happy with my weight, do something. So I put on my exercise stuff, grabbed my fav podcast (Communicator Academy with Kathi Lipp and Michelle Cushatt) and headed out, full of forced optimism. And then my bad knees, bad ankles, and some other mystery ache started up.

Really?! I’m NOT THAT old!!!

The more I walked, listening to great advice on how to improve my blog from Kathi and Michelle, the quieter the mocking got. My focus shifted from the imperfect in my life to what I was doing to improve my writing and chase dreams I am trying to nurture. Optimism started to replace the soundtrack of negativity.

I have a good life. God has taken such good care of me, providing in ways that blow my mind—both before my husband died and since. I get to be part of the lives of four amazing kids growing into incredible adults. I have a nice home and a beautiful location. I need to focus on those things today, not some number that feels huge.

And then I sat down at the computer to see Facebook birthday greetings starting to pour in.

Facebook can be a mixed bag. Political fights and vague posts from overly-dramatic friends mix with pictures of friends’ families far away and prayer requests from those in need. But Facebook got it right when they thought of reminding us of our friends’ birthdays.

As the day went on, happy birthday wishes rolled in from friends and acquaintances from so many parts of my story. New friends and friends from decades past. Family members I saw just a week ago and family members scattered across the country but still able to connect here. Friends from Ireland, Belgium, and so many states wished me a great day.

Each greeting made me think of my history with that person—both short and long. Each message meant someone was taking the time to think of me. What a sweet thought. Yes, a computer program reminded them. But there’s nothing forcing them to send a quick note. Some were simple and some more elaborate. Each made me smile.

Later in the day I headed with my son to his bon voyage potluck before he leaves for his trip of a lifetime this week. For the last 18 months a community of parents and high schoolers have met to plan and execute fundraising, to learn what they’ll be doing on their trip, and to get to know each other. We’ve become a village working together to help our kids do something amazing. And as word spread from those who are connected with me on Facebook to those who aren’t, I received hugs and more birthday wishes from both teens and their parents in this tribe. Sigh. Day brightened.

The power of community is essential for our survival. We were never meant to walk life in isolation. Every chance we get to build community, to lift each other up, to connect as human beings is a good thing. God said it was not good for Adam to be alone in the Garden of Eden and sent him a companion. We are designed to be communal beings since the dawn of time.

If you are a single mom like me, make sure to cherish and nurture your community connections. Pour into friends’ lives both online and in person as much as you can. This is part of self-care. This is part of taking your focus off your own struggles and walking through life with others’ in theirs. Friendships that are nurtured give back such incredible support. They even help you smile on a birthday that’s making you feel waaaaay old.

What ways do you connect with others? What struggles do you have finding connection and community? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.






  1. Denise Pass June 9, 2017 at 4:53 am

    I love this blog, Jenn! “The more I walked . . . the quieter the mocking got”.

    • Denise Pass June 9, 2017 at 4:55 am

      Great way of expressing how when we walk in faith and keep putting one step in front of the other, we overcome what is bringing us down.

      • Jenn Buell June 9, 2017 at 5:14 am

        Thanks so much!