A woman turning 40 is not viewed in a positive light. For many, it is downhill from here.
Literally, gravity is steadily pulling parts of their body down.
Three days after my 40th birthday, my youngest daughter celebrated her 7th birthday with a garden theme party in our backyard.
Unfortunately, our backyard lacked a garden.
The cement backyard had a designated garden area, somewhat like a garden bed.
But, there weren’t many flowers blooming.
On the right side stood a slanted peach tree full of life – covered with tons of unripened peaches. There sweet aroma filled the backyard.
In the center of the garden was a wild raspberry bush whose branches spread like uncontrollable tentacles. It was blooming with raspberry buds.
And, then there was the pink rosebush on the left side of the garden. It only had one branch that had blossomed. The other branches were bare and appeared to be dead.
Due to my unattractive raspberry bush and dying rosebush, I knew without a doubt I had to incorporate some vibrant, colorful flowers for this garden theme party.
I purchased yellow chiffon superbells, white phlox intensia, and petunia hybrida fanfare flowers for the three large ceramic flower pots located along side of the white privacy fence.
I also purchased a couple of Lowes’ finest flower arrangements for two plastic, mint green pots that I so strategically placed on each side of the gloomy, garden bed.
Lastly, I made flower arrangements for the tables – yellow chrysanthemums and white daisies in clear glass milk jugs and large mason jars.
All of these little touches brought liveliness to this once destitute area.
The birthday girl was the necessary last touch to the garden theme party. She wore a colorful, flower print dress and a crown made out of plastic flowers.
She was a flower princess.
My most treasured memory from the birthday party was her blowing out the number 7 candle that was placed on the top of her cupcake tower.
She was filled with joy, because the day finally arrived.
You see, approximately three months before her birthday, she started a birthday countdown. She had a paper that was numbered 1 to 58, and every day she would scratch a number off the sheet.
I, on the other hand, I wasn’t anxiously, anticipating my birthday. I was trying to process the fact that I was turning 40.
My oldest was graduating from high school and attending college in the fall. It may sound cliche, but “where had all the time gone?”
The day before my birthday was Father’s Day.
Before Sunday church service commenced, my church family sang Happy Birthday to me. My sweet friend baked me a beautiful lavender, tres leche cake.
That afternoon, my husband’s family also sang Happy Birthday to me. They had purchased a neapolitan cake filled with bananas and strawberries from Weber’s; which, unbeknownst to them, was the type of cake my mother always bought me. It was her favorite.
For both occasions, there were no candles. And, vainly speaking, I was immensely thankful!
For the first time in years, I had to go to work on my birthday. The word quickly spread that I was the “BIG FOUR O”!
The overall census among my coworkers was that there was no way I could be 40.
“Oh wow! You don’t look 40!”
I wanted to take this as a compliment, but at the same time, I was 40. And, it seemed like being 40 years old was getting up there in age.
At least, that is how I took it.
One coworker, a woman that had already experienced her 40th birthday a couple of years back, made sure to tell me how it was “all downhill” from here. She said, “I don’t even tell people my age anymore, and I don’t like celebrating my birthday”
Now don’t get me wrong, my assistant principal and coworker did celebrate with me. They did buy me Thai food and red velvet cupcakes for lunch. I also got plenty of hugs from my coworkers.
But, by the end of the work day I felt down.
As I was leaving work, a coworker shouted out to a 20 something year old, hipster coworker, “Did you know today is Rosa’s birthday? She is 40.”
In my head, I was thinking, here we go again!
To my surprise, the woman coworker looked at me and said, “Happy birthday, Rosa! 40! Man, that is sexy!”
I was taken aback by her response, but at the same time, pleased!
Her response went against the norm of this world’s thinking.
You see, this world is vain. Youth is valued, where as, growing old (at least for women) is frowned upon.
That night I read my devotional book, the scripture for the day was Psalm 139:4 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
This scripture was a nice reminder of how my God sees me.
There is no doubt about it, I am getting old, and so are you. But, it is up to us to embrace all of the seasons in our lives, and walk it out in the fullness of what God has for us.
Remember my garden?
The rosebush had one branch that had roses blossoming. The rest of the branches were bare and appeared to be dying.
Before my birthday, I thought about uprooting that rosebush and planting a new one.
But now, I don’t want to.
That one branch that is blooming with the beautiful pink roses is a reminder that it is still alive.
Like me, it has flaws, but it still producing beautiful things.
Next Spring, I am going to give the rosebush some tender loving care by pruning it, and preparing it for the summer.
As for me, I am going to continue to allow my God to prune me, and trust his handiwork in my life.
And so, when I am asked “how old are you?”
My response is, “I am a forty, flourishing, foxy woman (why not?!)” .