Happy Birthday #87: Counting my Blessings

Today I am 87 years young, the perfect day to look backwards and forward.

fresh picked whimsy: Counting my blessings...

Birthdays in our family were always special. Meals ended with dessert of the birthday person’s choice. White cake with fudge frosting for me, banana whipped cream cake for my younger brother, and butterscotch pie for Dad–who “wasn’t much of a hand for cake.” I can’t remember Mom or my older brother’s favorite.

Certain birthdays stand out. A group of friends from a church 50 miles away surprised me with a potluck picnic at Clear Creek, a local campground, for my 17th birthday.

When I turned 40, a co-worker at Bonneville Power Administration (she was half my age) marveled, “I never knew anyone who was excited about getting to be 40!”

At 70, my brother asked, “What is different from when you turned 60?” I thought for a moment, then said, “Well, it takes me 15 minutes longer to mow my lawn.”

Before Mom passed on at almost 96, she asked my brother and family to always remember my birthday. They have, with whomever is available.  Meals at home, or in nice restaurants, family get-togethers, a day at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, a stage play of “Brigadoon.” One year, I reversed the trend and took everyone to the Old Spaghetti Factory.

This year was no exception to my family’s faithfulness. Day before yesterday, my sister-in-law and oldest niece took me to lunch at a favorite place. To my delight, my niece pulled up three of her four out-of-state daughters on her phone. How exciting to see their smiling faces, hear their “Happy Birthdays,” visit with them, and hear them say, “I love you.”

I am now the last of my immediate family. If Randy were still here to ask, “So, what is different at 87 than at 70 or 75?”

My answer? “Well, I can no longer do everything I once could, but I am so grateful for the many things I can do. And that I am not afraid to recognize, accept, and admit my limitations.”

The best thing is, God always supplies help when I need it. Examples.

  1. For the past several years, a wonderful neighbor mows my lawn–a young man now in college who I have known since he was a child.
  2. Across-the-street neighbors keep close watch and are here when I need them. Including telephone calls if my garage door is still open after dark.
  3. NML. (No more ladders.) The last time I climbed up to change a light bulb in the garage, I looked down at the cement floor and asked myself, “What are you doing up here? This is not smart.” The next time a bulb needed changing, I snagged my long-term mail carrier when he was taking a walk while off duty. He was happy to help, then and at other times.
  4. My yard needed major work this year. I invested in a big clean-up. My next-door neighbor’s daughter, who I had watched grow up, her husband, and two hardworking kids spent hours pruning shrubs, edging, hauling and spreading a gazillion bags of decorative bark, and taking away the debris. The father will come back when it rains (hopefully soon,) clean the roof and gutters, and sprinkle with moss prevention, things I did for many more years than would be expected!

Looking back

 I have lived in the same home in a quiet cul-de-sac for more than 40 years, surrounded by those who love and care for me. I love the song “Count Your Blessings,” written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman, Jr.

7,729 Choir Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock

When upon life billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings every doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done.

Ten years ago, after being diagnosed with cancer and beginning chemotherapy prior to surgery, my doctors asked what I considered was bringing me through with flying colors. I replied, “Four F’s–faith, family, friends, and St. Francis [the hospital].”

The first three still apply. Unexpected blessings, big and small, brighten my life. Yesterday I received a card from a former neighbor who has kept in touch and comes to visit me through all the years since they moved. The cover shows roses, like the ones we both grow. Her message brought a rush of memories and gratitude.

“It’s been 44 years since we first met you and your mom. How fortunate we were that God drew us to that house across the street. You have been a light of God in our lives and so many others. Your humility and joy in the Lord inspires others.  We love you.”

The card will go in my cherished keepsakes box.

Looking ahead

I have no idea what the future holds. This I know.  God will continue to guide, surprise, and care for me as He always has. Every morning I thank Him for another day to love and serve Him by serving others. I praise Him every evening for keeping me safe. Rich in faith, family, and friends, I am of all people, most blessed.


With grand-niece Sophia







10 thoughts on “Happy Birthday #87: Counting my Blessings

  1. Happy 87th to you. We somehow thought it was the 29th. Doug and Betty ________________________________


  2. Lovely remembrances and a lovely expression of God’s continued faithfulness in future. Blessings to you in this next year of life!


  3. Colleen, you are such a treasure! Happy birthday! You are a gift to the world, thank you for being you. Love, Katherine Shields


  4. Thanks, Katherine. So glad to hear from you and hope you are doing well. God is good!
    Love and prayers,


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