On October 21st, I celebrated my 43rd Birthday. I kept asking myself how I could be 43 years old when I feel not even a day older than 34. In my mind, I've intentionally embraced my inner fountain of youth and have been trying to convince myself that somehow there is a mistake. I can't be this old, can I? I was thinking over the times I have watched the evening news and heard stories that referred to people this age. I would hear the news anchor start off a story with... "A 43 year old woman from such and such a city was found...." As the story would progress, I would imagine this 43 year old woman as a mature, much older, probably not very attractive, maternal figure. I never saw myself as being this age. I think somehow in my heart I will remain 34, at least until my children catch up to me in age.

My husband was really sweet in the way he made me feel good about my new age. He did some of the most endearing things for me leading up to the birthday. He did a #12daysOfBirthday countdown where he posted the sweetest pictures of me every day on his social media pages and then he accompanied each post with a meaningful gift every single day for 12 days.

On my birthday itself, I was overwhelmed with so much love and so many surprises from friends and loved ones, most especially my darling husband. He organized a celebrity football match, a surprise garden "All White" party and so much more. 

He was by my side all throughout the birthday, making me feel like the center of the universe. His affection and care was simply astounding. He paid attention to every detail and did everything with precision. He even reached out to some of my closest friends and had them specially record birthday messages for me that he knew would make me smile. It was an amazing day from the beginning to the end.

I felt like I was the recipient of too much love.

I woke up on Sunday morning the 22nd exhausted. I was emotionally and physically spent. I felt so “overloved” that there didn't seem to be space to receive any more.

To my amazement, when I arrived at CGMI Church Unusual, where I serve as the Senior Pastor, I was in for more love and more surprises. I assumed that the church might get a cake for me and that would be the extent of the birthday celebrations. I couldn't have been more wrong! I drove into the parking lot only to see a beautiful red carpet rolled out for me with a gorgeous custom-designed backdrop featuring my pictures all over it. When I walked into the church, escorted by all of the Pastors, I couldn't believe my eyes! They had decorated the church beautifully in honor of my birthday and draped massive banners from the ceiling with photos of me that I had forgotten even existed.
The entire service schedule was arranged to honor me. This was deeply touching and very humbling.

The Pastors had invited my husband, Bishop Feb Idahosa, to minister the Word of God, so that I could just sit back, relax, and enjoy the service. He preached a beautiful and memorable sermon (on 3 actions that will change your life in 2018) which inspired and impacted all of us in the congregation.  My husband has a rather tight schedule of preaching assignments on Sundays, so having him speak in Church Unusual was quite the experience.  Consequently, as soon as the teaching was over, I expected him to leave immediately, but, he didn't. 

I was about to experience MY BIGGEST BIRTHDAY SURPRISE!

Apparently, the conspiracy ran quite deep because as a few of our faithful ushers brought a elegantly covered table to the front of the church. My husband called me forward and told me that there was one more surprise for me. I looked over and saw my personal assistant holding a large brown envelope. My heart and mind started racing with the possibilities of the new surprise.  For a moment I thought that there might be papers to a new car in the envelope and at the same time I found myself  hoping that he didn't buy me a car, because we don't really need an additional vehicle right now. Of course, I couldn't tell anyone all the thoughts racing through my mind.  I could only come forward and smile in anticipation of this big surprise.

As my husband talked about the surprise, the head female usher, Ify began to fold back the covering on the table to reveal what was concealed underneath. I couldn't believe my eyes! I wondered in shock... what had my husband done for me?

He published a book of my prayers under the title #LauriePrays, after the hashtag that I use on social media when I pray!!! The book contains 40 of my prayers with lovely photos and inspirational teachings.

This was so amazing to me for so many reasons, but, permit me to list a few:
1. Writing a book was a goal of mine in 2017; a goal I thought I would have to abandon, simply because I didn't give it the attention it needed.

2. Many authors and pastors seize the opportunity of launching books on their birthdays, hoping for significant donations to help them offset the printing cost. He didn't do a book launch; he did a "book gift!"  He had reprinted a thousand copies of my first book, "Every Woman's Journey," and gave copies of the book to every woman in the congregation.

3. He increased my value in the eyes of many. Previously, I had authored a book. What he did for me was make that word “book” plural. Now, I can go anywhere in the world and comfortably say that I have written BOOKS!

4. The quality of printing reflects the way he sees me. He did it with an international standard of excellence that you'd expect from any major author. He made me feel so, so, so deeply loved.

I could go on and on about how special and remarkable this gift is to me, but the truth is, seeing is believing! You need to get a copy of this book.  Allow the words to impact your life and to serve as a guide and daily inspiration for you.  Allow the quality of the book be a constant reminder for you that you are valuable and important to God. I say this because my husband models his love for me after Ephesians 5, where it says, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself for it." If a human can love another human this deeply and passionately, imagine just how much more Christ loves us, His Church. 

I would like to sincerely appreciate my husband for this epic gift and to encourage you to get your copy today.

The book #LauriePrays will be available in a bookstore close to you soon, in the interim you can order a copy of the book by sending a Direct Message on the Instagram handle @wisdomtomydaughters.