i don't know about you, but i'm feeling twenty THREE.

Okay, the only part about this so-called Music Monday post that actually involves music is the title, which is slightly-altered T-Swift lyrics. Because yesterday was my birthday and I turned twenty three and I'd rather talk about that.

Basically, what you need to know is that I grew up celebrating my birthday with my whole family. My mom would make a special birthday dinner, which could be anything I wanted, and the six of us would all sit together and eat. The tradition was to open presents before the cake and candles, and I would be excused from dishes duty. (This was obviously the best part.) We also did this thing where everyone would take turns saying their favorite things about me and I would feel overwhelmingly loved.

For twenty two years, this is how it happened. The details may have changed from year to year, but the fact that we were always all together stayed consistent.

And so this year, the fact that I live in Nashville meant things would be different. My family wouldn't be here to celebrate with me, but my parents had a trip planned and I focused on that. Until the hurricane and the change of plans and suddenly, all that was left of my birthday celebration was me.

I didn't say it out loud, but it felt like all the air was sucked out of my lungs and what do I do now? I took me a few days for it to sink in, and then I texted my friend, Julie, to ask what her plans were because it was my birthday and my parents were supposed to be here but they aren't. She said we could go to church early and maybe brunch and whatever else I wanted. And then she sent a message to our Community Group, telling them whatever it was that she told them so that when I showed up to church yesterday morning, they were there and ready to celebrate with me.

I can't tell you how incredibly thankful for these people. Because, while I am technically a part of their group, I rarely ever make it because I have to work most days when they meet. Because they don't actually know me that well, but they came anyway because it was my birthday and my parents weren't here. Because it was the early early service, which no one ever wants to go to. Because they didn't just come and say happy birthday, they bought me lunch and flowers and balloons and cupcakes that tasted like cookie dough.