My 40th Birthday Gift to Myself…Six Months Early


Six months from now, I’ll be 40.

Finally…the decade I’ve been waiting for.

I know. Crazy, right? Who WANTS to turn 40?

Me. I do, please.

My 20s? They were good. Finished college. Got married. Went to graduate school. Moved a handful of times. Bought our first house. Bought a lot of stuff for the house. Had two babies. Worked and worked some more. Found a church. Made some friends. Lost touch with some friends. Went to a lot of weddings. Visited a lot of babies. Had some fun times. Went through some bad times. Began dreaming. Grew in my faith.

My 30s? They were good. Sold a house. Built a house. Worked. Worked some more. Then decided to take a break from paid work and work on a hobby, a passion, a calling, whatever you want to call it. Worked out a lot. Had another baby. Did lots of kid stuff. Spent lots of time with other peoples’ kids. Got some date nights and a couple vacations with my hubby. Didn’t get nearly enough date nights and time with my hubby. Left a church. Found another church. Made a few friends and a lot of acquaintances. Lost touch with more friends. Had some great times. Went through some very bad times. Received and processed diagnoses. Read a ton of blogs. Began a blog. Felt sure. Felt totally unsure. Had dreams come true. Continued dreaming. Grew in my faith.

And now…I’m less than six months out from my 40s.

Yes, it’s 2016, the year of my 40th birthday.

40 is first and foremost, totally respectable.

40 is much wiser.

40 is aging very well, thank you.

40 is been there, done that.

40 is I’m done playing games, I’m living now.

40 is prime.

40 is golden.

40 is no longer naive.

40 is (pretty much) half-way there.

40 is time to begin again.

40 is mid-life awakening.

40 is life.

40 is me being me.

40 is let’s settle into this.

40 is I’m tired of playing games.

40 is I don’t (want to) care what you think anymore.

40 is let’s do this.

40 is it’s time to get real.

40 is let’s rock this.


Three years ago, I was mistaken for a 13 year old when I was in the elevator with my husband on a cruise ship. I’m not. even. kidding. I was wearing a swimsuit and coverup. I wasn’t wearing makeup. Still…I hope I acted older than a 13 year old.

Two months ago, I was mistaken for an undergraduate student at a speech-language convention. Then I was mistaken for a graduate student more than once. For the most part, I looked like all the grad students I met there. Still…I hope I acted older than 18-23 years old.

I know I LOOK much younger than I am. But I’ve always FELT much older than I am. The discrepancy still bothers me. 

This year, I might be mistaken for a 13 year old, an 18 year old, a 22 year old, a 26 year old, or even a 35 year old. But make no mistake, whether I’m 39 1/2, 39 2/3, 39 3/4 or 40, I’m rocking 40 the whole year through.

40 is me being me.

40 is it’s time to get real.

40 is golden.

Eight days ago, I woke up and got dressed in a black and white work outfit with tall black boots, and put my computer in my black and white polka dotted Thirty-One bag. My husband asked why I was all dressed up. My kids did too.

“I’m leaving the house and I’m going to write. All day. And I’m going to write for six hours every Tuesday and Thursday for the next three, four or five months unless there’s a really good reason not to.”

Okay, I’m paraphrasing. I don’t remember the exact words I said. But basically, that’s what I said. That’s exactly what I meant to say, at least.


I spent five to six hours writing on January 5th.

I spent five to six hours writing on January 7th.

On January 9th, I finished Mark Batterson’s book, “The Circle Maker.” I haven’t been praying nearly enough. I haven’t been praying nearly big enough. And I haven’t been trusting myself, anyone or God Himself nearly enough. God made TWO of my lifelong dreams come true in 2015, and I wasn’t even actively praying for them to come true. I was just walking this dusty, narrow, totally unknown path called…

“I’m following my dreams.”

“I’m pursuing my calling.”

“I’m following Jesus?

What does any of this mean, anyway?

Seriously, is this work or is this not work? Am I living in reality or am I not? Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing or am I not? Because I’m confused, but I’m totally NOT confused all at once.

So yeah…


40 is much wiser.

On January 12th, I spent 1 hour 40 minutes in Barnes & Noble bookstore and 1 hour in LifeWay Christian Bookstore. I prayed. I perused. I looked. I examined. I analyzed. I wondered HOW I fit, WHERE I fit, and mostly IF I fit. I imagined. I dreamed. I took a lot of notes. And I very intentionally decided to begin dreaming bigger. Because I’m praying bigger. I’m believing bigger. I’m believing that God has more. I’m believing that God has more than I’ve visioned, more than I’ve imagined, more than I’ve allowed myself to dream.

It has to be true.


Then I remembered the dream I’d forgotten until recently, the dream I held long ago to own an Amy’s Hallmark store. I don’t want to own an Amy’s Hallmark anymore. But I have been thinking about that forgotten dream. I have been wondering if it’s more about the cards, if it’s about the words and simple, intentional, and meaningful connections with human beings in old-fashioned pen and paper form. The truth is, I still LOVE cards. A beautifully-designed and well-written card still ROCKS my WORLD. I’m still compelled to buy and send cards. I still find myself at complete peace when I’m alone (aka without kids) in a Hallmark store. Geeky AND cheesy, I know. So I’ve begun dreaming a silly little dream…what if I could land a job writing cards someday? Maybe I could fill a card niche that doesn’t currently exist? Wouldn’t that be an awesome little dream come true?

It’s a new dream.

Perhaps it’s old made new?

Perhaps it’ll come true.

Perhaps it’ll never come true.

Perhaps it’ll forever be a silly little far-off dreamy dream I shared with a few people who happened to read my January 14, 2016 blog post?

Perhaps it’s something.

Perhaps it’s nothing.

I’m open.

So I made my way over to LifeWay Bookstore’s card section and didn’t waste a second looking at anything but Karen Kingsbury’s STUNNING card collection I’ve been swooning over since it released. The collection is noteworthy, but small, so I allowed myself to handle and read EVERY. CARD. EVERY. ONE. It felt indulgent, this stopping to read a bunch of greeting cards on my third official writing “work day,” but it was necessary for my heart. It was necessary for my acknowledgement that WORDS MATTER, that WORDS MATTER to me, that MY words matter.

By the end of all that looking, I’d gathered three cards in my hand, three cards that spoke to my heart, three cards I LOVED. You know what I did next? I decided I’d buy them all as a 40th birthday gift to myself…6 months early.


40 is trusting and believing that all things work together for good, even when I feel stupid, silly, dreamy, discouraged, worthless, out of place, or totally off course.

40 is giving grace.

40 is knowing myself better than before.

40 is loving myself.

40 is giving myself what I need, so I’m better equipped to give others what they need.





In 14 days of 2016, I’ve condemned myself, I’ve disqualified myself, I’ve had disarming and disturbing dreams, I’ve had a whole lot of dreams about broken glass and ceramic, and I’ve been awake in the middle of the night praying “Jesus” because I felt my brain swirling with fear and darkness drawing near.

40 is NOT foolproof, friends.

But make no mistake, I’m rocking 40 the whole year through.


40 is braver.

40 is bolder.

40 is KNOWING there’s a reason we’ve been here, TRUSTING there’s a reason we’re still here, LIVING like we’re worth more than a passing glance, PRAYING that God can and will do all things, and BELIEVING our best days are still ahead.

40 is knowing with 100% certainty that I DON’T want a 40th birthday bash. It’s not me. It’s simply not me. But make no mistake. I bought those cards for a reason. This 40th is momentous. This 40 means something to me. I’m dreaming big for one thing, I’m working hard for another, and I’m praying hard for both. This year of 40.

40 is…


  1. Tom Baunsgard says:

    He or She who does “CELEBRATE” the most birthdays wins! A great start in celebrating your 40th Amy! Happy, Awesome, Fullfilling 40th Birthday Year! CELEBRATE!

  2. Jaimie West Bowman says:

    Amy! This is SO GOOD. I have all the same feelings, as I turn 40 this July too! Thanks for reminding me that it IS good. I truly hope and pray that your dream to become a card writer will come true!!

  3. Monica Anderson Palmer says:

    How do you do it? How do you have me in a complete mess of tears (forcing myself to stay seated so I can keep reading) wanting to JUMP up and down with huge praise and encouragment for you…this amazingly talented, wild heart wide open to orphans on this globe, deeply in touch with herself and every word spoken or written, beauitfully bold and brave, superhero mom & wife and WOMAN of God? Here’s some vulnerability at it’s finest….I wish for even half a second I lived as intentional as you do, that I would actually have a smidget of the courage you to do to dream anything at all and that I could approach being in my 40’s with as much sheer determination to ROCK this decade! I loathe an enemy that robs you…me….women of the worth they have. I can see yours! It’s oozing out of this post and spreading gorgeous HOPE all over your readers hearts, it certainly does mine! “Go Amy…Go Amy…. it’s your birthday! PS: I LOVE CARDS TOO! It’s not cheesy to read cards, or maybe it is and I’m just cheesy too! HA!

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