I stood, visually scanning the room and taking in all the faces. People were pouring in, anxious to find the birthday boy, our dear friend, Doug. I recognized family faces in the crowd, and spotted a precious teacher my kids had when they were in school with Doug and Lynne’s girls. There were representatives from Doug’s work life, those from the dance studio where his girls (and one of mine) logged in a lot of hours. I knew there were people there from their work in the community, and just from being a part of that community for so many years. Old friends, like us, and even further back, rounded out the crowd, every single one of us thrilled to be there.

Doug hates to be the center of attention. The whole idea of a party for his 60th birthday horrified him, and he couldn’t imagine who would ever want to come. But Lynne was determined, and you don’t mess with Lynne when she’s got her sights set on something. I know, in her heart, this wasn’t just a birthday party. Doug had recently fought a hard, uncertain medical battle and won. They had, only a couple of weeks ago, sold their thriving dental practice, and retired. They have two beautiful daughters who are well-educated, employed, and happy, not to mention fine, contributing citizens. And, as they move into this next phase of life, she still refers to him as her boyfriend; their love for each other is so evident. There was a lot to celebrate.

The party went on and I watched Doug’s face light with delight and wonder over the people that filed in. He laughed and danced and spoke to the crowd, but there might’ve been one favorite moment during the night for him. If I were to guess, I would say it was when the lead band singer of The Dweebs, gave him a pair of glasses with tape on the bridge, and a long necktie, making him an honorary member of the band. As he played his toy guitar with gusto, all his girls came from other points in the room, and, although we were all still right there, in that moment it was just the four of them, together.

I think if we were to have a room filled with people we’ve loved, and helped, and influenced, we would likely expect it to be a light crowd. I think we might be shocked at who walked in filled with love and thanks for our fingerprints left on their lives. It would, no doubt, be a lovely boost of encouragement and fresh wind for our sails, but when our own hearts of hearts, our dearest, most precious – our people – filed in to be right there with us at the center of it all, we’d know we’d gotten the most important things right. The rest of that room, so thrilled to be there, would know it, too, and the whole place would be feeling the love.

Happy birthday, Doug. I’m thankful to have been a participant, not only for one fabulous party, but in your well-lived life. You continue loving your sweet family like you do, and the rest of us, privileged to watch it, will be celebrating you, and reveling in the overflow, for the rest of our lives.


“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love…” John 15:9 MSG

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
    the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?” Psalm 127:3 MSG