I had a wonderful birthday this week. In fact, it was so wonderful we’re already making plans to do it again next year.

I know some of you are disappointed that I didn’t promote the event so you could help me celebrate the 69th annual celebration of Jim. I didn’t remind people of the big day. Facebook did that for me. I had a day filled with best wishes.

It was exciting to go back and see the different names people used to greet me on Facebook – Jim, Jimmy, Uncle Jim, Uncle Jimmy, Jimbo, Poppa Jim, Poppa Turtle, Sweet Man, Sweet Friend, Brother, Daddy, Pops, Pop Pop and Sweetheart.

And just so you know, the Sweetheart greeting did not come via Facebook. That was a live and in-person greeting from wife Becky. That, I believe, is the ultimate in social media. What do you think?

And while I’m elaborating here, I’m Daddy to daughter Amy, Pops to son Isaac and Pop Pop to grandson Noah.

Noah put the icing on the cake (birthday cake, that is) with his text message I received Tuesday night while waiting for the city council of Royse City to come out from executive session. Yes, of course, I worked on my birthday. News doesn’t stop, meetings aren’t rescheduled, deadlines aren’t changed for birthdays when you are honored to work in this honorable profession.

The message from Noah? I will just say it was priceless.

And I can’t forget the birthday cake prepared by Rose Marie, the official birthday cake-baker for all Herald-Banner newsroom celebrants, and the card signed by all my co-workers.

My birthday celebration started on Dec. 11 with lunch at daughter Amy’s home.

Of course, my precious family showered me with gifts. They didn’t have to do that, but I’m glad they did.

There’s one gift I will tell you about.

Honestly, I heard a little voice tell me not to share this with the world. It’s too personal. Some people will not understand. What will people think of you?  Just keep that part of your life to yourself.

Then I heard a louder voice tell me to share this with the world. This is about who I am. I am not ashamed about who I am. It’s OK if some people don’t understand. It could actually bless some people.

Here’s the deal. Daughter Amy presented me with a framed picture. She took this picture of me at a recent Sunday morning service at Oasis Church in Caddo Mills. You don’t see my face. You see my back. It’s a picture of me with my arms raised as high as I can reach. Yes, I am worshipping.

Unique gift, but it didn’t draw a unique response from me.

I have problems reading greeting cards. You know, the cards that have sweet, personal messages written inside. I get a little emotional and I don’t usually read those cards while I’m sitting with a group of people. I read then later while I’m alone.

Amy blindsided me with this gift. She didn’t give me a greeting card with the framed photo. She didn’t need one. What she did, though, was tell me some of her thoughts and why she took the picture.

When she saw me with my arms raised, Amy told me, she thought of how thankful she was that I was there worshipping. And her mom, husband and son were there, too.

How thankful she was that we were there as a family, not just sitting and listening, but participating – worshipping.

Embarrassed?

Why should I be? I’ve had more victories over the events of life than I can list in this space. I’m thankful, and raising my hands in worship is a very simple expression of thanksgiving for those victories.

In 2015, I had a nurse tell me, “The doctor is not ruling out cancer (of my bladder).” After finding a blood clot from my groin to my knee, a lab technician told me that the doctor who referred me “saved my life.” Then, a doctor who implanted an IVC filter (clot catcher) in my body told me, “Jim, we were afraid you wouldn’t make it through the weekend.”

No cancer. The blood clot is gone. I made it through the weekend.

Yes, I’m very much alive and I’m still running.

That’s another reason to celebrate, to worship, to express thanksgiving to God.

That finally brings me to what we’re planning for my 70th on Dec. 13, 2017.

On my 60th, I ran 10 miles for the very first time in my life. Since then, I’ve run a dozen half marathons (13.1 miles) and two marathons. Becky and Amy hosted a big party for me. A big part of the celebration was the video of me running 10 miles. No, they didn’t have to sit there and watch me take 10 miles of steps. The video showed me starting with Isaac, my first running partner; completing each mile and starting a new one; and finishing the race with Becky because we’re going to finish this race of life together.

So, what about my 70th? Actually, I don’t know. Yes, there will be a party and there may be a video of a 70-year-old man running. And there will be lots of family and friends there. For this milestone (running pun intended) birthday, I will promote it, maybe even in this space in this newspaper.

For this event, yep, I’ll be wearing my running shoes like I always do. These shoes are also my dancin’ shoes. Get ready. Dec. 13, 2017, will be a celebration.

 

Jim Hardin may be reached at jhardin@heraldbanner.com.

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