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December 6, 2012 — 3 Comments




Tomorrow is my birthday! Yep, December 7th – a date which will live in infamy. I’m pretty excited about it actually – I like cake and presents very much!

Unless something really bad happens, I will be 47 years old tomorrow. Much, much older than my youth ministers ever thought I would be. One guy, every time he sees me, he says, “Nifong? You still alive?” And I say, “Yeah, Steve, still kicking. Thanks!”

I have the day off, Cheryl is off 1/2 day and we are going to lunch (Pappadeaux’s) and a movie (Skyfall?) and she will give me a present and then we’ll pick up the kids and they’ll sing happy birthday to me. I love my birthday!

It has not always been so. December birthdays are tough. When I was a kid, I’d either get something really good for my birthday, and socks/underwear for Christmas, or sometimes my parents switched it up and did it the other way around.

Sometimes I didn’t even want to be home or have a birthday at all. 30 was tough for me. I had just gone through something pretty terrible and honestly I didn’t see a way out – I didn’t care so much how old I was, just that I was eating at Taco Bell by myself, and was headed back to a broken down roach motel where I lived at the time. No cards, no phone calls, no presents at all. 30 really kinda stunk.

It got better though – the next 10 years were filled with friends, family, a beautiful wife, and successful ministry. Not that the years before 30 weren’t. I’d already done a lot by then, it’s just that it all fell apart for a while and I didn’t see a way back.

40 was awesome. Cheryl had a surprise party for me at Putt Putt – there was about 50 people there. People from churches I’d served in, people I’d ministered to, great friends, pastors. And we all tried to kill each other on the race track all night long!

Then – believe it or not – everything fell apart again!

It’s kinda funny how life tends to do that. We all have ups and downs. My ups tend to be VERY UP and my downs tend to scrape the bottom. Life’s a roller coaster most of the time. What I’ve learned is, regardless of if you’re up or down, you can still live in freedom and victory!

About 3 years ago, life was tough, our family was in trouble, I was depressed, I think Cheryl was angry about a lot of things. All I could think was, “God, I’m 45 and it just seems like life for me is over.” I was wrong, just like I’d been 15 years prior to that when I’d been thinking the same thing.

I remember most of my birthdays – who came, what we did, even some of the gifts I got.

I remember my 10th birthday. We lived in Tulsa, and I wanted to see “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (an R rated movie about a mental institution). What I got was “Against a Crooked Sky (a G rated movie about some girl kidnapped by indians). My friends thought it was lame. 

I remember going to Skateland with David Byers when I turned 16. There was one cute girl in the whole place and he ended up getting her number. On my birthday.

I remember 21. Kinda. I was a mess back then.

I remember 25, thinking, “I’m a quarter of a century old and I’m on top of the world!”

And now I’m 47. Which is pretty old compared to 10, 16, and 21. But I don’t look old, mostly don’t feel old, and most of all, I feel hope. I feel peace. I feel alive! And I’m so very thankful for all the birthdays I’ve ever had, and all the birthdays still to come!