Whenever my mum sends me messages like this, my heart feels all warm and fuzzy and I feel a little bashful. I am so thankful for this beautiful and resilient woman who gave birth to me and raised me, and till this day still loves me so unconditionally. On a day like this, my celebrations are now so much more about her and less about me. Thank you mama, I love you to the moon and back.

In these last few years, I have really struggled with conflicting feelings on each birthday. On one hand I feel like “this is SUCH A SPECIAL DAY, I need to cherish every second!” Yet on the other hand, I do not really know how to celebrate anymore. I do not throw parties, or invite friends to dinner, or want to make much of a fuss these days… largely because I don’t really have many close friends left in this city, but also because I am too lazy, and also because I do feel burdened by the weight of every rise in the numbers that indicate my age.

Perhaps on a day of emotional conflict like this, it will be best to spend some time in thoughtful reflection. Here it goes..

Things I am thankful for:

  1. I am finally in my final year of specialist training. This time next year, I will have CCT’d and be eligible for a consultant job. At last, after so many years on the conveyor belt of exams, WPBAs, registrar on-calls and ARCPs, the end is in sight. Imagine me, a consultant, a boss!
  2. I have found a creative outlet/ hobby at last! Since October of this year, I have taken up brush lettering. It is perfect for a person who cannot commit to doing things at fixed times at specific locations like me. I can practice anytime and anywhere. All I need is an ink-filled brush pen and some paper. I am in awe of people who write beautifully. I hope my practice pays off, and I can eventually graduate from brush lettering to modern calligraphy.
  3. I SAW GD IN CONCERT THIS YEAR! I breathed the same air he breathed. I saw his charming, bashful smile in real life. The excitement of seeing GD made me feel alive again.

Things I am prayerful for (short-term):

  1. Smooth sailing redecoration of my parents’ house. It is an exciting time- we are renovating! The 20 year old, yellowed and creaky built-in cupboards, desks and shelves will finally be hacked. The tiny holes on the floor will finally be filled and the tiles polished. We are installing an oven in the kitchen. The greyed walls will finally receive a fresh coat of paint! I am so excited to see our old flat look new again. We have been packing and throwing- that was all I did when I went home in October. It is such a challenge to try and throw out the trash we have hoarded for the last 30 years (I found it particularly hard to throw away stuff from my childhood) and to pack everything into boxes. I was exhausted after only 2 weeks of that… I hope my parents cope better as they have to continue this process till the actual renovation begins next February/ March. I pray that mum will not get too stressed out and that the whole process goes a lot smoother than we ever expected.
  2. What happens next in my career. I have come to yet another point/ cross-road where I have to apply for jobs again. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? What does God want me to do? Where does God want me to work? I am thinking of a post CCT fellowship, potentially at the tertiary paediatric centre in this city… but I am also thinking about Canada, or Australia, or even Singapore? I also want to go and work on Mercyships for a bit. However, if I leave the UK, does this mean an end to this chapter of my life? Moving on after 14 years is not going to be easy.
  3. I need some new friends. New good friends. New best friends.

Things I want to fully trust God for (longer-term):

  1. Health for me and my family. I have started exercising regularly, and have certainly started taking a keen interest in what I put into my body. At present, I STILL haven’t seen much change in my body but I need the Lord to help me persevere. I need to lose weight, and I want to look beautiful for myself. Quite honestly, I would like to have a 6 pack at some point in this life. I hope this point is now.
  2. A husband and children. When I was about 14 or 15 years old, my mum suggested that it was a good time to start praying for my future husband. I took her advice and have done so for years. Yet, I am 32 and STILL single. Cycles of posts have come and gone on my social media. Friends posted about their new boyfriends and girlfriends. Then people started getting engaged. This was followed by a flux of wedding photographs. Baby pictures then flooded my FB feed. And now people are posting about their 2nd, their 3rd or their 4th child. Other friends have gotten divorced and are re-married. Through all of these… my relationship status has remained unchanged. Single, a little desperate, and seemingly unwanted. I’m not entirely sure why men are not interested. Perhaps it is my fierce independence? Or maybe I am just too boring? Now that I am 32, I’m thinking that I may be too old? Whatever it is, I hope these will be overcome and that the Lord blesses me with a single, Christian man. And if possible, a couple of wonderful children.
  3. Contentment. People love to ask the question “If you were to have one superpower, what would it be?” I’ve thought long and hard about this… and whilst most people will tend to suggest “invisibility”, “telekinesis” or “time travelling”, I think I would prefer to be blessed with the power of feeling content. I would like to be content and happy in any and every situation that life throws at me.

Dear Lord, hear my prayers.