A Lenten Birthday Surprise

I knew my husband had something planned for my birthday by the way he was acting, lots of hush, hush, with the kids, and don’t open that e-mail sort of thing. But I could not have imagined all he had planned…

On the eve of my birthday, the only hint of what might be planned was leaked, “Children make sure you have warm clothes for tomorrow.”

 “Aha!” I thought, “We’re going somewhere outside.” 

I have a hunch of what you’ve planned for my birthday  I quipped.


“Don’t tell me! Just write it down on a piece of paper and give it to me so you don’t ruin this surprise!” I was warned.


“This surprise?Is it my fault I have such great natural intuition? Just because I guess doesn’t mean he has to give it away!”, I thought to myself, as I wrote down my far-fetched but most confident guess.


The next morning, my dear husband kissed me goodbye while I dozily responded back with a peck.

Five minutes later he was back in the room telling me to jump in the shower because we needed to leave by 7:30 am. The goodbye kiss? All a hoax. He really had taken the day off and had big plans for us!


So by 7:40 am, the children, the dog, my husband and myself were loaded in the mini-van headed to pick up bagels and coffee to eat on the way to our surprise destination. My husband turned on the CD player for my first clue:  Nuns chanting beautifully.  I was right! I knew we would be going to visit St. Walburga Benedictine Abbey, I just knew it!


My dear husband had peeked at my guess from the night before and knew I had guessed correctly leaving him enamored with what I could only explain as my feminine genius!


Three and a half hours later (after passing the exit by four miles on the most expensive tollway in America and decideing to take the back way rather than turning around and forking out more cash) we arrived at the Abbey just in time for noonday prayers.  The sisters chanted the prayers beautifully. They truly sound like the choirs of heaven when they sing and are a great testimony to the power of Beauty, that which is True and Good.  Prayers only lasted for 15 minutes before the noon hour was being announced by the striking on the bell tower that sounded for lunch. I had stayed in the chapel to pray when I heard the bells and realized it was the hour that our Lord had been nailed to the cross.  Sorrow filled my soul for my sins as the psalm resonated in my heart, “I am like water poured out; all my bones are racked…Many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me: they have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. They look on and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my vestures they cast lots.”

 Oh, Jesus, I am sorry. May my tears wash your feet and bring you consolation on the cross just as Mary’s did. 

It then dawned on me that I am now the age of my Lord when he was crucified: thirty-three. Wow, was I prepared to suffer I wondered? I wasn’t so sure. Giving up Starbucks seemed difficult enough but that wasn’t really suffering. The Lord then, in his mercy, reassured me of his love by reminding me of the times in my life when I have bled, when I have suffered, when I have been crucified with him. These memories no longer brought me pain as I thought back on them but rather joy. I felt so honored to have been allowed to suffer with our Lord on the cross.  What a gift!


Aware that was alone, I then wiped my eyes and went looking for my family, who were wandering around the beautiful grounds of the Abbey. We hiked for a while, climbing near St. Peter’s Garden for a short time, taking in the natural beauty of the granite mountains that butt up against St. Walburga. It is quite breathtaking.


We loaded everyone back up into the van and received my second surprise; a beautiful & thoughtful card with MONEY inside with a note stating it was to be spent shopping in Old Town Ft. Collins! Whoo hoo!!! My second guess was right too!

After a full but fun day shopping in all the stores you have to tell young children NOT TO TOUCH in (my dear husband took the young ones to visit a skate shop owned by an old high school buddy) I made my selection: two ceramic chickens for the kitchen! They were even 20% off which meant I had leftover money for new curtains in the kitchen to go with the chickens. What an awesome birthday.


We once again packed into the van, gave thanks for the miracle that happened with the dog which I will explain below, and headed toward home looking for a restaurant that had something vegetarian on the menu since it was a Friday in Lent.


 (About the dog: Someone let her off her leash when she was tied up outside the skate shop but I just happened across her on the corner of a very busy intersection while having to go find a public restroom for Galadriel. We figured that just about the time she was let loose, I started down the street where I met up with her! The women who were holding her said they were going to take her home if nobody had answered the phone number on her collar. I can’t even express what a tragedy it would have been if we would have had to go the 2 ½ hours home without Lil’ Anne!)


Rosie suggested we eat at an Italian restaurant in town. Samwise had just fallen asleep after an incredibly exhausting day, so I suggested we drive on towards home and eat after he got a little shuteye. My dear husband insisted that we eat in town and nothing I said would sway him. At this point I knew something else was planned, but what? I hadn’t guessed anything else last night.  As we pulled into the parking lot I saw my in-laws van. Okay, you got me, honey! I wasn’t expecting this!


As we walked to the table, not only my in-laws were there but my mother and stepfather were sitting at the table, two hours away from home too! I really was surprised! And that’s when I was presented with my last surprise. The children presented me with a card and a gift bag. In the gift bag were lots of earplugs and 13 tickets to see Chris Rice in concert. The date for the concert: February 23, 2007! We finished up dinner, enjoyed an on the house dessert and then ended the night with 3 of the 5 children falling asleep listening to there very first concert!


Thank you, honey, for such a wonderful birthday full of blessings and surprises!


What are we doing next year?!?


1 Response to “A Lenten Birthday Surprise”

  1. 1 Mary G. February 28, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful husband! We love Walburga and took the littles for a pilgrimage over Christmas break. Those sisters are just wonderful…..

    Happy, happy birthday and give your dear husband a big hug from me — that was really sweet!

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Rocky Mountain Catholic Home Educator’s Conference

June 21-23, 2007 http://www.rmchec.org/

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