A few weeks ago, I decided to have a birthday party for myself to celebrate 40 years. At that time, I thought that Saturday night sounded better for a party than Sunday, which is the day of my actual birthday. So, I began to make plans.

Now that the day of the party is here, and the treats are baked, the crock pots are heating, and the decorations and chairs have all been laid out, I realized that there was even a better reason to have the party today. Not only can I look forward to 40, I can celebrate my last day in the 30s.

I’ve gotten some funny and interesting comments about this milestone event. One friend suggested I now tell people that I am 30-10, rather than 40. Others have quoted the “Lordy, lordy” phrase to me. And people from an, er, “older” generation have called me a “pup.” 

Last night, as we were chopping broccoli and mixing lemonade for the party, my friend Kelly asked me how I was doing on the inside with all of this. I told her there was definitely a part of me that never thought that this was what my life would look like at 40.

This morning, as I was thinking about that statement, I wondered what age I was when I first started picturing my life at 40. I was probably around 17 or 18, choosing a career path and college. That teenage Me made some good choices to be sure, but why would I want to trust that Charity’s vision of life at 40? She probably thought 40 was old. She also teased her bangs to an unnatural height. 

From that perspective, I should be glad that life isn’t what I imagined at 40.

I also answered Kelly’s question last night by saying that mostly I am just really, really grateful. Particularly during the late months of 2007 and the early months of 2008, when my 37th year seemed more of a nightmare than a life, I was certain that I wouldn’t make it to 38, much less 40. I had to hunker down and live one day at a time in a way that I never had before. When I discovered in late May 2008 that the cancer was still there, I was convinced my life would end within a few months.

But somewhere along the way, sometime just before my second surgery at the end of June that year, I found a boldness before God that I hadn’t known before. I wrote about it in a blog then:

I have recently begun praying that Jesus would heal me. I realize that He may not, but it is a deep desire of mine. And by asking, I feel I am saying to Him that I know He alone can do it. Either way, I know that He is completely good, completely loving, and completely powerful. And I trust Him.

My story is certainly not over, and who knows if cancer lies just around the corner again. But today, the last day of my 30’s, I am cancer-free and healthy and happy again in a way I thought I never would be.

Thank you Jesus, this day is a gift.