I share a home with a wonderful person named Ney Bailey. We’ve lived together since 1976. At first, other friends (who also worked on the leadership team with Campus Crusade) lived with us but, in time, they all married and moved away. So Ney and I kept living together “until one of us married.” So far, it looks like we’ll live together long enough to participate in one another’s burial!
Years ago, when Ney turned fifty, I wanted to take the opportunity not only to celebrate her life and worldwide ministry but to do something tangible. It took a lot of sneaking around on my part but on the night of her 50th birthday, our home was filled to overflowing with family members, lifelong friends and/or colleagues in ministry from around the world.
Everything about the evening was a surprise: the party we’d planned, the people we’d flown in, the memory book we’d all created for her, and the special concert we’d arranged in our living room (which was very small, by the way!) She especially did not know that hundreds of her friends had contributed to buy her a brand new Honda Accord which was wrapped and waiting for her in the driveway. (We even had a specialized license plate that read “For Ney.”)
There was nothing about the evening that wasn’t perfect . . . except for one thing. At the time, Ney and I were both on a bit of a health food ‘kick.’ We’d sworn off sugar and were eating as healthy as possible. Not realizing our preferences were not universal with all our friends, I ordered a birthday cake, and various other treats for the evening that contained no white flour, no preservatives and of course, no sugar.
At the end of the most wonderful evening, Ney and I were filled with delight and joy. Then we walked into the kitchen and saw every counter covered with plates of birthday cake . . . each with one bite missing. Obviously, our friends didn’t share our commitment to healthy eating. We tasted the cake and our friends were right―it was AWFUL.
The great news? It didn’t matter. The spirit of the evening lingered long after the party ended and the cake was tossed. It wasn’t about the food, the car, or the details—it was about celebrating someone we loved. When we discovered how horrible that cake was we laughed our heads off; thinking about it still makes me smile. I encourage you to celebrate your special people whenever you can and don’t worry if your cake turns out to be disgusting; that’s not what’s important. Besides, it’ll make for a really memorable party!