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"Happy Birthday, Me!" I'm So Thankful You Are Alive!

Forty-nine years ago, on this very day, my mother delivered me into the world at Mount Clemens hospital in Michigan. My unsuspecting first-time mom had no idea what was in store.

After more than thirty-six hours of labor and receiving medicine to help her forget what was about to happen, she delivered her ten-month, 23-1/2” long, 11.5-pound baby - me! Yes ladies, you read that correctly: eleven and a half pounds!

The doctor found my dad in the waiting room and told him, “Your wife gave birth to a monster!”

My mom's nurses informed her that I made history that day as the biggest baby ever successfully born at Mt. Clemens Hospital. One bigger had been born, but he sadly had not lived. (That's me to the right.)

November 25, 1971, also happened to be Thanksgiving Day. How apropos for me, a Butterball baby, to be born on turkey day. Now I imagine the cartoon turkey dressed as a pilgrim and think of me.

Today, l am especially thankful I made it here alive. I'm reminded of the miracle of every birth, including my own. Our belly buttons remind us we are not self-made. The earth is billions of years old and filled with billions of people yet here you are, one singular sensation. The miracle of you!

In a recent meeting with a small group of cancer patients and survivors, one member shared her powerful testimony. In her cancer journey, she had intentionally worked hard to be thankful for everything - doctors, treatments, good results, family and friends, and her faith in God. All of it. In doing so, she felt close to God and found joy, peace and the strength to continue.

At one pivotal appointment with her oncologist, instead of the good news they hoped to hear, the doctor delivered devastating news. The treatments hadn’t worked. The prognosis was bad. The clinical trial wasn’t an option. They needed to begin to prepare accordingly.

Broken hearted, she asked her husband, "How can I be grateful now? What’s left for me to be thankful for?"

Without missing a beat, her husband turned to her, took her hands gently in his own, and looking deeply into her eyes spoke these sacred words, “We can be thankful that you are alive."

Cancer can be a great birthday gift. It’s a strange gift wrapped in even stranger paper, as one of my cancer companions said, but it can be a great gift. Among all the good that God can use it to accomplish in your life, perhaps nothing is more Important than powerfully reminding you to be thankful you’re alive.

Today, I look back over the past 49 years. The past nearly three years dealing with lung cancer have been a difficult struggle. Over my lifetime, there have been many other challenges, mistakes, failures, and disappointment. God has labored long and hard to deliver me from sin and death and all my shenanigans!

As it is my Birthday, rather than wander in that bramble, I am going to count my blessings! It’s time to unwrap my gifts. I can’t wait to see what you got me! I’ll listen to all the nice things people say about me. Eat and drink delicious things. Do stuff I love with the people I love. Give God praise and worship. And the icing on the cake: I am going to be thankful I’m alive!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made...” (Psalms 139:13-14 NIV). Here’s my birthday song, Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons. Take a listen.

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