Today’s E-votional comes to us from past King Speaker and friend, Sarah Thebarge. You can see more of her blog atwww.sarahthebarge.com

TEARS IN A BOTTLE: THOUGHTS ON MY 37TH BIRTHDAY

Today’s my birthday.  I’m 37 years old.  It’ll take me a few days to get used to saying that.

I’m always honored on my birthday.  Honored to celebrate another year of life.  Honored by my friends and family and readers who have walked it with me.

Every year, I experience this day a little differently.  This year, my heart is heavy.  I have two friends whose spouses died in December, and another friend whose mom died, and my heart aches for their loss.

My heart is also heavy for the suffering in the world.  I woke up this morning to the headlines that North Korea is claiming to have a bomb and ISIS still exists and a little girl in New York lost her family in a fire that was set intentionally.

There was also an article on Huffington Post that there’s a new trend of making cocktails out of tears.  That’s what happens, I guess, when the whole world is crying.

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If it weren’t for Donald Trump’s gentle, encouraging rhetoric, I might really lose heart. (I kid.  And I digress.)

Anyway.  I’m in Portland today, where I lived for seven years before moving away to pursue speaking full-time.  When I lived here, I used to spend my birthdays hiking in the morning, then writing in the afternoon.  Then I’d drive to Bonneville Hot Springs, where they will draw you a bath of mineral water and let you soak in a claw-foot tub for half an hour with frozen grapes and lemon water.   Afterwards, you can do a wrap — they wrap you with warm towels and let you lie in a dark room with soft music for a while.

So that’s what I’m doing today, minus the morning hike because it’s raining, and sloshing through mud didn’t seem super celebratory to me.

As I was driving through the Columbia River Gorge this morning, the heaviness in my heart was countered by the hope of Advent, the arrival of Jesus on our messy, messed up world scene.

The first miracle Jesus did was turning water into wine.

I’ve always wondered why he did that first.

This morning as I was driving, I remembered the verse in Psalm 56 where it says that God remembers our tears, and keeps them in a bottle.

And maybe that’s why Jesus turned water into wine.

To remind us that he saw our tears, that he was keeping track of injustices, that he was capable of redeeming the worst of our pain.

Maybe this is what we can remember the next time we cry tears into our cocktail glass.  Maybe this is what we can say when the world is weeping.   Maybe this is the silver lining to my soul’s storm clouds today.

We are loved by the God who counts and keeps our tears, who turns them into wine, and who — one day — will wipe them all away.