Spreading Joy on My Birthday (and how you can, too!)
I love birthdays! I love celebrating and being celebrated! Do you love birthdays, too? What about them do you love?
Sometimes, special days land on hard days. We might be feeling sad or happen to be in the middle of a global lockdown. Like so many others, my birthday happened to fall in the middle of a global pandemic. During this lockdown, I was starting to feel like I misplaced my joy. In order to not spend the day pouting about being stuck inside, I had to come up with a plan.
If you’re looking for a new way to celebrate your birthday this year, check out a great list of ideas at the end!
Points to Ponder
In Jennie Allen’s book, Get Out of Your Head, she makes a point that we have a choice in how to direct our thoughts. She reminds us, “When you look at Jesus, you are so moved by His love, so moved by His grace, so moved by what He did for us, that you can’t contain yourself. So you go give Him away. It’s how we’re supposed to live.”
I also recently read a book by Max Lucado called, How Happiness Happens. One of my favorite things that he shares is, “Happiness happens when we give it away.”
So, I decided that I wanted to spend my birthday week choosing to shift my thoughts to Jesus and spreading joy.
My Plan for Spreading Joy
Planning a week to focus on spreading joy gave me something to look forward to, helped me refocus on Jesus, and encouraged me to choose how I would direct my thoughts instead of throwing a proverbial pity party for myself.
Now, instead of feeling down, I was actually excited about my birthday this year! My heart felt lighter than it had in a while and that made it already worth it! It was the perfect antidote to this extrovert’s fear of having a depressing birthday! Just thinking about a week of spreading joy to others got me excited!
I knew that people around me would know of needs that I didn’t, so I wanted to hear from them. So I decided to post on social media and ask people for ideas for my special week of spreading joy. It was wonderful getting comments, direct messages, and texts with ideas.
I also really wanted to get my family involved.
Two days before my actual birthday, we had a family meeting to plan out my birthday week. My hubby had run out to get cinnamon rolls from a bakery to support local, and because cinnamon rolls are my all time favorite treat. Family meetings should always have yummy food, right?!
As my jammie-clad, sleepy-eyed family came together to devour their gooey sweet cinnamon rolls, I asked them how they wanted to join me in my quest of helping others and spreading joy. I told them some of the ideas my friends gave me on social media. With sticky fingers and smiles on their faces, they offered up suggestions that we added to our big, white sticky note on the wall.
In between some unnecessary noises, smells, 5 year-old-movements, and teenage screen distraction, we came up with a pretty good list. I loved my family’s help and felt even more encouraged to get going!
We organized the list into what things we were going to do on which days. What would be on your list?
Spreading Joy: Day 1
One of the suggestions I received in a message was an idea to bless a newer foster mama with some baked goodies (she doesn’t enjoy baking), pampering supplies, and some treats for her kiddos. My family was knitted together, in part, because of foster care, so my kids really liked this idea.
However, because God is so giving we were blessed by this mama that we were trying to bless!
Growing up, my parents always said “you can’t outgive God.” Isn’t that the truth?
The very first day when we dropped off our goodie basket, that sweet foster mama gave me three grocery bags full of things they had received but her little ones didn’t care for. The bags contained things like oranges, yogurt, cereal, crackers, and teddy grahams — all things my kiddos love!
The week of spreading joy was kicking off really well with a lesson of God’s goodness that I was able to share with my kids. I couldn’t wait for Day 2!
Spreading Joy: Day 2
The next day, we made cards for the kids’ teachers and put gift cards in them from a local coffee shop. Our teachers deserve so much more during this crazy season! We just wanted to let them know that they are loved and we are thankful for them.
When we went to purchase the gift cards, we also got one to leave at the coffee shop to pay for a few people behind us.
Later on that day, I saw a post on social media that explained someone had paid for their coffee at our coffee shop, so they paid for the person behind them. Then later in the comments, someone else also said that their drink was paid for so they also paid for the person behind them!
As I read the comments, I got tears in my eyes thinking about how fun God is to let me see how much giving can stem from just one little act of spreading joy!
Spreading Joy: Day 3
One of my kiddos had the idea to bring cookies to first responders during our special week. I had read an article saying the police and firemen had received a lot of food gifts lately, so I asked him how he felt about bringing cookies to a local doctors office for the staff there instead. He said, “Well, they’re first responders too. So that works.”
So, we made big cookies (one said “thank you” and another had a sunshine-yellow heart on it) and shared some sugar with my sweet friend, Ashley, and the amazing staff she works with. In a time of staying at home, a few minutes of connecting with my friend to deliver treats gave my heart so much joy.
Human contact and fellowship is what we were made for, and in some seasons we have to be creative to make sure those needs are met.
Spreading Joy: Day 4
We also wanted to spread some “sunshine” with a friend we love who lives a state away from us.
My kids adore Mr. Bob so they were all very excited to send him a literal box of sunshine. We went to the store and picked out snacks, drinks, and candy that were yellow. Then, the kids each made a card on yellow paper.
Mr. Bob is a guy who brightens the day of everyone he meets, so we wanted to make a sunshine-bright package to let him know how special he is to each one of us.
Spreading Joy: Day 5
One of my friends has a birthday two days after mine. She also has a daughter, who was visiting her from Texas, and this daughter happens to share a birthday with me. So, she suggested on social media that a drive-by cookie delivery should probably happen.
She lives about an hour away so I know she was kidding, but the kids and I thought a short road trip was a fabulous idea! Visiting with a friend during quarantine (socially distant, of course) was one of the greatest gifts of the week. Nothing cheers the soul quite like a visit with a forever-friend who has known you since you were 6.
Spreading Joy: Day 6
Just like the joy of friendship is the gift that keeps giving and is meant to be given away, flowers are meant to be given away too! When May-day lands on spreading joy week, obviously giving away flowers is a must.
My girls and I made cards, and we got to deliver flowers and cards to some of our favorite aunts and uncles that live in the same town as us. The girls got so excited about taking turns walking the cards and flowers up to their porches. Giving really does make a heart happy!
Spreading Joy: Day 7
During this time, I had also found out about a couple from church who both had surgery. I got to set up a meal train and bring them a meal. I love bringing people with me, and my small group girls are usually willing to come along. So, I posted the link on our group’s Facebook page and several others brought meals or gift cards too.
What’s It Like Spreading Joy for a Week?
At the end of a full week, I was exhausted. Not quarantine-exhaustion that comes from the monotony of doing the same old thing every day, but from the joy of feeling like it wasn’t about me.
The joy was contagious and it was so fun getting into the spirit of giving with my kiddos and my hubby. Every single member of my family played a part and we had a blast.
The budget was a birthday week budget, so it’s not really an option to do all of these things every day of the week. But, it has made our family have more conversations about ways to give to others every day. We can make cards, phone calls, and bake cookies for people any time.
My kids love helping their teachers and neighbors with yard work, and odd jobs that they need done. I love dropping off a meal to a friend in need of a break. We love looking for ways to serve as a family.
What I learned during my birthday week of spreading joy was that I loved being filled up by loving on others. Taking my eyes off of myself led me to experience one of the best birthdays ever.
I think I would like to make this a new tradition in our house. “What can we do for others on our birthday?” will definitely be one of the questions asked whenever another birthday rolls around. (And in our house, there are a lot of them!)
The Giver of Good Gifts and The Ultimate Spreader of Joy
Remember how I said that my mom and dad taught me a long time ago that we can’t out-give God? God has shown me this to be true over and over again.
Sometimes those gifts are tangible and come in the form of groceries. Sometimes the gift comes in the form of joy. Joy deep, down in my soul that makes the day better and brighter.
Such goodness could only come from a good, good Father. He gives us gifts and talents so that we can give them away, making a difference just by loving our neighbor and doing what God has put right in front of us each day.
Ideas for Spreading Joy on Your Birthday Week
- New mom- bless someone by baking cookies, gathering pampering supplies, and treats for her kids
- Teachers- buy a gift card and have your child make him/her a special note
- Stranger- pay for someone’s coffee in line behind you
- First Responders- bless and thank them for serving your community: Health care workers, Firefighters, Police Officers, Doctor’s Office
- A neighbor who lives alone- deliver a “basket of sunshine” to a sweet neighbor who could use some joy and company
- A friend- surprise a special friend with an unexpected visit and cookies
- A relative- gather flowers and drop off to a relative
- Someone in Need- set up a meal train for someone ill or who just had surgery who could use meals for a few weeks
Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Spreading joy with small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness is an easy way to start those little ripples.
We can look in front of ourselves and see a need, and meet it. Creating a ripple effect that continues to impact others, that continues a ripple effect that goes on and on.
Try it, friend! Give away some happiness and spread some joy. You will be glad you did.