Be the Song

February 3, 2012 | 20 comments

The phone rang, and it was the neighbors, singing the most awful, horrible and magnificently beautiful rendition of Happy Birthday I’d ever heard.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

It was off-key, wobbly, interspersed with laughter and a high-pitched fake vibrato. I could picture them in their kitchen, a mile away, with mussed hair and jammies and arms stretched out wide, with their eyes cinched tightly as they welcomed me into a new decade.

I set down my coffee cup, held the phone to my ear, closed my eyes and sang along with their gravely, wobbly, magnificently horrendous version of a 40th birthday song.

Man, it was gorgeous.

And behind my closed eyelids, it was all fluid joy. Knowing that someone loved me enough, to be silly enough, to gather ’round a phone, and just call to sing a song. I was important enough to love.

I held my breath, and I held that moment, pure gold, in my hands, knowing that life at 40 isn’t about brushing up my life’s exteriors, but finding beauty in the middle of the tarnish.

And if we can’t be a singer,
we can still be a song.

(I’ve a mind to be one today.)


 Joining with Gypsy-Mama’s Five-Minute Friday, in which we’re given one word, and five minutes to just write. This week’s word: REAL. I don’t think I used the word “real” here, but it was the glorious moment that came to mind. Happy weekend, everyone. Now … go be a song! 🙂 

by | February 3, 2012 | 20 comments


  1. Megan Willome

    Happy belated Birthday, winter buddy! You certainly gave me a gift I will never forget.

  2. Marcia Steffen

    I love it! Thank you.

  3. Catherine

    Love this post! Happy Birthday 🙂 .

  4. Simply Darlene

    Heya, I think I’m older than you 😉

    I celebrated my 4-0 a couple weeks ago… and I wrote about it today too. Great minds.

    Birthday blessings.

  5. Jessica

    Happy Birthday! “knowing that life at 40 isn’t about brushing up my life’s exteriors, but finding beauty in the middle of the tarnish.”- that is real beauty!

  6. patricia spreng

    Oh baby… you’re just beginning to get to the good part ; )

    Birthday Ode to Jennifer…

    Welcome to 40!
    You won’t be here long.
    Enjoy the music!
    You are the song!

  7. S. Etole

    Forty gets younger every year!

  8. Nicole

    That’s a wonderful story!

  9. Diana Trautwein

    I’d say you’re the singer AND the song. Welcome to a great decade. And keep singing, please.

  10. Diane bailey

    This post reminded me of the Karen Carpenter song ” Sing, sing a song make it simple to last your whole LCD loooooooonnnggggg!”. Happy Birthday!

  11. Sharon O

    that is so cute, what a wonderful way to enjoy your day, remembering you are loved.

  12. tara // pohlkottepress

    happy, happy birthday! oh yes – you are a song. Sung in the key of Awesome 🙂

  13. Kimberlee Conway Ireton

    What a great story. What lovely friends. What a good reminder: to look beyond the tarnish to find beauty.

    Happiest of birthdays!

  14. Dina

    as I stumbled across this post thorough someone else’s feed, my husband is waiting for us to worship together before bed. for now, he waits, with headphones on, singing terribly offkey but with a frequent impulsive “amen!” and “hallelujah!”. if you knew my husband, you would know he would never sing in church like this! his greatest joy comes in just lifting his voice for his savior, knowing this audience loves him and his voice! 🙂

  15. Christine

    What a lovely birthday present! Happy Birthday to you! And thank you for sharing your friend’s incredible faith story. It hasn’t left my mind.

  16. Angie Vik

    You’re such a good writer that even in five minutes you can whip out something good and inspiring. Hope if your neighbors see this post they won’t mind your commentary on their singing.

  17. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    These unexpected outpourings of love from others–they’re just the best.

  18. Kat Cavanaugh LaMantia

    I am one of those horrible, memorable, singers and that fact that toads migrate up from the creek in the direction of my voice does not stop me from singing to my friends and family. Many of them save my musical offerings from year to year. I do Mockingbird Hill from Burl Ives’ Greatest Hits as my signature song with some Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah thrown in. When I want a romantic evening with John I sing Froggy Went A Courtin’ and he comes running. It’s not about the sound. It’s all about the heart-shaped notes and this post says that beautifully. Kat in Alaska


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