I woke up happy this morning and have stayed that way all day. This happens to be my 54th birthday. That alone is a momentous event--Josh sent me a note the other day reminding me that the "big five four" was coming up. I didn't know there was a "big five four" until then. I take it as a good sign for the year to come.

On Sunday morning, at the end of the men's retreat in California, a fellow asked me when I was born. When I told him September 26, 1952, he said Truman was president then and that there had been 11 different presidents during my lifetime, which means that I've lived during the tenure of over 1/4th of all the presidents the U.S. has ever had. That will make you feel old. But the weekend before that, during my trip to Vineland, NJ, a young boy named Andrew told me, "You look better in person than in your picture." I took that as a huge compliment because I'm sure the day will come when my pictures will look better than me.

I've heard from Josh and Leah today, Mark called in from China via Skype, Nick called a few minutes ago from Samford, and tonight Marlene and I are going out to eat at a nice restaurant in Tupelo. And Dudley is celebrating my birthday by taking a nap in the sun outside the front door of the cabin.

There is no greater blessing than to enjoy the life God has given you. Today I am glad to be alive, glad my sweet wife is by my side, glad that my boys are all doing well, very happy that Josh and Leah found each other, and I am profoundly grateful for friends--too many to count--who love us unreasonably. As a wise man once said, every day above ground is a winner.