"What was your most memorable birthday?” Thani asked. We leaned against the railing of Sundial bridge, watching our friends play “Ninja” at around 11pm on my 28th birthday.
“That's a hard one...” I answered.
I've had a lot of really good birthdays in my life. When I was six, I experienced a 10 day long birthday marathon culminating in a visit from BARNEY THE DINOSAUR! Another year, my parents gave me carte blanche to “make a wish”, and they would grant it. I wished for a pet parakeet.
Then there were the various birthdays in Japan, all full to the brim with loving celebration, one year even including a massive surprise party. Its gotten to the point, in fact, that I try to fly under the radar because I am a bit embarrassed to be made so much of...
This year was no exception.
Though I am in a new city again, complete with new community, my 28th birthday was a non stop flood of loving messages, gifts, hugs, smiles, affection, appreciation, and general love. My friend Melody met me before school with a card and gift. Miriam (a new friend) gave me homemade painting. And before school started, my revival group got everyone in the auditorium to start singing happy birthday.
And to top it all off, the day of my birthday we happened to have a “Revival Group Costume Party”. Someone brought a cake and candles and the singing happened all over again. My night closed out with games and prophetic words till almost midnight at Sundial Bridge. (Which was when Thani asked me the question.) Even though it was a chilly evening, surrounded by loving friends, I was warm inside and out.
And that is just the beginning of the story.
Several weeks ago my friend Jordan called me up. “Lucy and I want to plan a surprise for your birthday. We were wondering if you could reserve the day off work? Actually we wondered if you could take off all weekend...”
I felt incredibly loved. As the day came got closer, Jordan told me to be ready by 11am Friday morning.
I was very glad Jordan didn't ask me to be ready any earlier. It was so sweet to simply rest and nurse a cup of coffee in the peaceful silence. Just when I was thinking of dipping into my homework, my sister Tiffany called. She wanted to hear how my birthday had been. I knew Jordan's surprise would be kicking off relatively soon, so I decided to give up on homework and talk with my sister. As I was just starting to wax eloquent, there was an abrasive knock on the door. Jordan must be here early, I thought. “Hold on, Tiff, someone is at the door.”
It was not Jordan.
It was (no joke) a living, human infant in a BASKET. (Full on, Moses style.) The baby looked up at me with a puzzled expression, as though I were the one who had surprised HIM!
The baby was dressed in blue, a shock of black hair visible underneath a white and polka dotted hat. In his fat hands, the baby held an envelope addressed to me! (Though my last name was misspelled.)
One of the most surreal moments of my life.
“Tiff, can I put you on video chat? You have got to see this!”
“Tiff, it's dressed as a boy but he is so pretty, it almost looks like a girl. How do I tell? Tiff, what do I do??" and before she could answer, I went on, "Oh good! They left some formula in the basket. I'm going to need that. He looks a lot like your baby, Lucy,” I told Tiffany. “Except not as fat.” ”
“How about you read the card.” Tiffany suggested wryly.
“How about you read the card.” Tiffany suggested wryly.
It was a Congratulations to the New Mother card. "Please take care of my baby boy."
Looking back, it is amazing that I was not at all concerned.
I remember was thinking, “I should close the front door so they will be less likely to come take this baby away from me.” I was laughing and cuddling the baby and not thinking straight. It had to be some kind of prank – Jordan must've found someone who was willing to lend him their baby for the weekend. Such a pretty baby... My new baby.
I should've closed the door.
Sure enough, footsteps and then someone was walking through the door, calling my name and, still streaming the video call on my phone, I was hearing double. Tiffany was in my living room! Come to reclaim baby Lucy who, it turns out, looks fatter in her photos than in real life.
“Happy birthday!! I'm here to pick you up and take you to lunch and then back to Jordan's for the weekend!” Tiffany had materialized from VIRGINIA. Jordan was right behind her bearing two cups of hot chocolate and the diaper bag.
For weeks I'd been wishing wishing wishing that Tiffany could visit NOW rather than in the spring. (Later Tiffany said, when I kept saying that, she thought I'd figured out the surprise already, but the truth is I had no idea.)
I was awash with happiness. Jordan had to go to work, but Tiffany whisked me away to join my friend Lucy (baby Lucy's namesake) at Tokyo Garden, for lunch. I rarely eat there because it seems too luxurious to spend that kind of money on food, but today was an exception. To start, I ordered miso soup, edamame, seaweed salad, and a celebratory bottle of hot sake.
As we started to eat, my brother Tobias called! I picked up the phone, planning to wish HIM a happy birthday (we share a birthday) and then ask if I could call him back later. Unfortunately, the connection was a bit distorted; I caught that he and our other brother Carlos were together, then I lost the call. When Toby called back, I shamelessly pressed “Ignore”. I'll call him back later, I told myself.
Just then, the fabric of reality momentarily ripped from top to bottom and two men spilled out into my lap.
Everyone was yelling “Surprise!” and “Happy birthday!!” and then I was standing in the middle of the restaurant (where I work) screaming and hugging both my brothers - there in the flesh, warm and solid and real. I pulled away to check that it was really them, then hugged them some more!
I actually thought, (for a split second,) that they had found a way to teleport – that seemed more likely than that they had purchased tickets and traveled for 12 hours over night from Virginia to spend a weekend with me in California.
Before it could even occur to me, Tiffany leaned over and whispered, “And as for our visit in the spring, this is in addition not instead.”
“This calls for more sushi!” I concluded.
And that was how it started – my most memorable birthday.
|Me (28) Carlos (23) Tiffany (26) Tobias (22)|
The weekend was a wonderful blur after that. (We did very little, actually, given how short the time was.) Friday night Jordan hosted us and I had the great joy of introducing my sister and brothers to Thani and Melody, two of my favorite people here in Redding.
The next day, Saturday, we spent the first half the day at the Bethel Healing Rooms. I actually haven't heard back from my siblings as to whether there were any long term effects for them, but my ear canals (which have been clogged with scaly, scabby stuff for years) miraculously cleared up completely. Another healing room blessing was, though my brothers didn't get to meet my friend Christoph, it turned out that Christoph was the one to pray with Carlos, so they did get to meet after all!
Saturday afternoon we all felt a bit ill, so we took it kind of easy. We took a walk near my house and finished out the day with Mod Pizza and then more hanging out at Jordan's pad. The next day we attended Bethel morning service. I thought the service was rather mediocre, but my siblings seemed to really approve and enjoy, which made me feel really pleased and blessed.
After lunch it was time for the Noyes kids to catch their flight back to VA. Whirlwind weekend, sweeping to a close as quickly as it came.
1. Finding the baby on my doorstep was one of the most disorientingly surreal thing I've ever experienced, with Carlos and Toby's appearance being a close on its heels. When I got home from the weekend I saw the forgotten basket on my floor. For a whisper of a second, I thought, “Where is my baby...” :P Estrogen.
2. I am insanely proud of my siblings. They are all so dynamic, so smart, so deep, so loving, so gracious, so funny, so much fun to be around, such great conversationalists, so thoughtful and intentional and humble.... I am so proud of them I can barely bare it!
I want to show them off to EVERYONE. I want everyone to share my joy. The biggest frustration of the weekend was the lack of time and opportunity to get to introduce them to more of my friends. Even as it was, after my siblings went home, I got three or four messages from people saying, “I just adore your family.” :)
3. Even though I love my siblings as much as I love anyone in the world, during their visit, I realized I don't treat them as well as I would like to. It was very surprising to me, but I found myself getting a bit stressed and speaking somewhat snappishly to them, particularly on Saturday afternoon. I don't know what my problem was... But it did serve as a lesson to me that I have a lot of growing to do in learning to love people better.
I am so grateful for my life. I am grateful for the memories, for the friendships, for the overflowing favor, and for the lessons. I am grateful for the beauty, the adventure, the comedy, and even the occasional tragedy (grateful for what has been learned, and grateful for the merciful grace throughout.) I am grateful for opportunities to learn, stretch, grow, and give. I am grateful for family and for friends, especially for MY family and MY friends. I wonder sometimes if ever there was ever anyone as blessed as I. And, as I've said before, having received SO MUCH, may I ever be quick and eager to consistently consider others, give generously, extend grace, not judge, lavishly forgive, and genuinely love.
Freely I have received, gratefully I give.