the best UN-birthday ever


I often wonder if she remembers her gift that year,
all I know is it’s one I’ve never forgotten.


I don’t know how long ago it was but the kids were little and money was tight. Shoot, money was always tight; I do remember that much. The kids were little and yet it seemed like everyone had grown out of everything all at the same time. That’s the way it usually happens.


We were freshly “self(un)employed” and it was one of those times when there was way more month to go at the end of our money with no jobs in sight. So, we’d have to hunker down and pinch our pennies trusting God would provide.


He always did.

the best UN-birthday ever

A knock at the door revealed our sweet lady neighbor, Miss Linda. The kids loved her and she loved them too. EVERYBODY loved Miss Linda. She was THAT neighbor; her coffee pot was always on, her door was always open with a place for you at her table and the only thing bigger than her smile was her hundred-pound heart stuffed up inside that 4′ 10″ frame.


On this particular day, Miss Linda was headed out to the Last Chance Thrift Store for their weekly sale and she wanted to take the kids shopping. Well…hallelujah! How could I say no?

We loaded up and headed out. Four hours and 3 big bags later, each kid had a new-to-them coat , a few outfits and a pair of shoes (or two!) besides whatever little toy she–or they– thought was needed that day.


After helping me herd everyone back inside and getting one last hug from each of them Miss Linda told me it was the best birthday she’d had in a long time.


Whoa, really? It was her birthday? Sure enough. Miss Linda had decided she wanted to spend her birthday giving to others, which was really the best gift she could receive.  Who knew? She was that kind of sneaky and  I was humbled with gratitude.


My children are nearly grown
and I’ve never forgotten the love I felt that day.


I remember the answer my mother-heart prayers, for a way to provide for my children.  I recall how cheerfully and selflessly Miss Linda gave to us on her day. When others may have chosen to feel sad,  overlooked or forgotten, Miss Linda made her own party and celebration in a few hours of shared joy at a thrift store.  She showed my kids love and she showed us all Jesus. Miss Linda was three-sixteenin’ it!

Y’all. It was precious.
It was the best un-birthday I ever had!


So now it’s my turn.  In a few weeks I’ll be fourty-something. Depending on how you look at it, that’s either way old or still young. Either way, I just don’t care!

I’m choosing to see my birthday as a way to mark this memory with  memory-makers of my own. From now on, I want to celebrate however many more  birthdays I have and what God has done throughout my life, by giving back one way or another


Starting this year, I’m having my first UN-birthday party with a Sole Hope shoe-cutting party !


If you don’t know about these folks, you should. Sole Hope is a WONDERFUL agency started by  a sweet little three-sixteener, Asher Collie,  which serves villages in Uganda by providing medical attention, education and shoes to children whose feet have been infected by sand fleas (jiggers).  


It’s a heartbreaking situation with a marvelous solution and we get to play a part by cutting pieces of the shoes here in my living room next weekend!


Confession: I’m going WAY outside my comfort zone.
I’m just a wee bit nervous.

Remember when I told you I’m a social idiot? Well yeah.     I wasn’t exaggerating.  I mean, I’m not anti-social but I get easily overwhelmed and tend to be worried about people pleasing or performance.

I’m not a “fancy Nancy”.  Some folks can brag about being Southern Living…I’m a bit more like “Livin’ Suthern” !

Tree Branches

Our house is still decorated in “Early Marriage” with heavy accents of “Late-American Yard Sale”.  OK?    I’m an artsy-fartsy, folk artist-type who decorates with bits of glass and fabric and cuts stars out of tin can lids to string them with wire. I have tree branches as window dressings for Pete’s sake!

My wood floors are a hot mess, my kitchen hasn’t been updated, the bathrooms are “rough” but ready, and the ceiling in my bedroom still has massive water stains from the leaky roof (praise God) finally fixed this past summer.

But you know what? I don’t care anymore. I’ve been convicted of another serious sin issue in my life: pride. This is all selfish pride. I am SO stinkin’ blessed.

I’ve been to Africa where the sweet women will drop whatever they are doing to invite you to drink chai from one of their few cups in a two-room thatched hut furnished with lawn chairs and decorated with old calendars.

Where we visited together as their chickens pecked the dirt floor around my feet and wide-eyed children peered at me from behind their skirts.  Their faces beamed with joy to share what precious little they had to give. And where my convicted heart was filled to the brim.


So what’s my problem again?

Uh, yeah…pride.

Sole Hope Shoes

Pride is the sin and hospitality is a command, not a choice (thankyouverymuch).  It is my pleasure to serve and give whatever I have to give and in this case…. so very little compared to the so very much I have been given. I’m still learning.

So pray for me will you? Look up the Sole Hope people and maybe this year you can host a party too!

A white-elephant, ornament or cookie exchange combined with a shoe cutting party! Imagine the possibilities!!



 So, as we enter into this season of giving I pray that you will join me and live in a way that expresses living faith in the One who came, Who was given and has given to all who believe and receive the great gift of eternal life… much more than a season. 

It is, after all,  the best Un-birthday present any
of us  could ever receive.


Three-sixteenin’,Lorretta signature


14 thoughts on “the best UN-birthday ever

  1. Lorretta, I loved this piece. Your writing draws me right in. That story of Ms. Linda….I will remember that for a very long time. Thank you! And happy un-birthday to you!

    1. Thanks Ashley! Miss Linda is a peach…as I look back at so many moments in my life, I had no idea then that God was preparing this place for me now. My greatest desire is that others would further their reach through those kinds of moments…little families and hurting people all around and we have the ability to offer a “cup of kindness” and pay it forward. Bless you!

  2. I love this! Can’t wait to find out more about it. Love your heart and your gift with words. I sent you a link on your FB page as a message in your “other” box the other day … just wanted to share a post with you. Have a very blessed birthday. He shines right through you. Blessings ~ Patty

  3. Sounds like a whole lot of fun! I’ll have to look up the group and find a new way to celebrate my next birthday. And you’re half way to 90 😉 -which means you’re still a young’ un. I’m half way to 94 (I love telling my students this when they ask how old I am…their shocked looks are precious).

  4. Dear Loretta,
    Happy Birthday and I love your idea…just participated in a Sole Hope denim cutting last week/ such a great time….and I love how you and Miss Linda blessed others…and P.S. 45 is young 🙂 Hugs to you 🙂

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