(I wrote the following post a few days ago. Tonight as I hit publish it is raining and has been most of the afternoon. Not much has gone as planned, but the food is good, texts from Abbie assure me everything is under control. I’ll let you know…)


At the time I am publishing this post, Rick and I are on our way to our friends’ Jim and Jan’s house. He thinks we are going for our usual once or twice a month dinner together. We are actually on our way to his surprise birthday party. His birthday is not today. It is Tuesday, August 3rd. This has been almost impossible for me to pull off, and truthfully, he totally knows something is up, that there is a plan, but he has no idea when or where. He also has no idea that he cooked the dinner for his own party.


Rick and his friend Joel are always comparing notes about BBQing and smoking meats. About a month ago Joel and Maryann were cooking a meal for a party and Joel asked Rick to smoke 2 of the briskets, since he couldn’t fit them all into his smoker. After that gathering Joel said that Rick’s briskets were superior to his own, and everyone just raved about them.


I had asked Joel to smoke or BBQ brisket for Rick’s party. Then last week, Joel turned the tables on Rick and tricked him into smoking the brisket himself. Only, Rick thinks he’s cooking for a youth ministry event for Christ The King church. Joel thinks this is hilarious. I think it’s wonderful, because if he were in on the planning, Rick would be doing his own cooking anyway.


Surprise parties are fun and exciting and exhausting and nerve-wracking. You have to lie. Lie about where you are and what you’re doing. Rick figured out something was up when my cell phone pocket-dialed his cell phone and left a lengthy voice mail message when I was giving Caleb money for the supplies to brew the 3 beers he’d decided on for the party. All Rick heard in the voice mail was my tale about getting the money out of the bank without him knowing, and Caleb asking Nora if she wanted to go see Grandma. Since then he’s been pretty great about not asking too many questions. And, it IS his 50th, so of course he’s hoping there’s  a plan in the works!


Other than the stress of trying to pull off the surprise, it’s been so fun to work out all the details. By the time you are reading this Josh will have flown in from Alaska, a fact that will take Rick COMPLETELY by surprise.


Rick’s friend Dick is supposed to  have arrived and will be staying at our house after the party, an opportunity for the 2 of them to talk late into the night like they’ve always done.


Rick’s mom passed all these great photos to me through Abbie at another family get together. I scanned them and edited them on Josh’s laptop right here, while I was down with back spasms a couple weeks ago, laying  at the opposite end of the sofa from Rick, without him ever knowing, .


Editing these photos and going back and looking at them gave me a peek into the little boy my husband once was, and made me love him all the more. Just like editing my parents’ photos filled me with warmth and love for them and the childhood they provided me, going through these pictures of Rick and his brothers filled me with warmth and love for his parents and the loving home they gave him.


(this looks exactly like Caleb in first grade)

My goal was to have an 8X10 for each year of his life. I am writing this on Sunday, July 25th, a week before the party, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to find, scan, and print photos for the years from our wedding on, but it will be close.


Rick has been very introspective going into this, his 50th birthday. I don’t think the number 50 bothers him, and I don’t think it’s about not being young, but I think it’s about being closer to the end than to the beginning.  Although I think it’s good to look back and review, evaluate, process the past, and then be able to look to the future and to the other half of life, I think it is an occasion worthy of a grand celebration!


I wasn’t there for the first 22 years of Rick’s life, but the 28 years I have known him, Rick is a man among men, and I am so happy to get to celebrate his 50th birthday with him tonight.

I wish you all could be here with us tonight, so I thought I’d publish this post right before we head over to the party.  Rick won’t see this until tomorrow.

When I hit the “Publish” button we will be walking out the door and on our way to the party.

I’ll bet his face will look something like this. And Matt’s will probably look just like that too!

And of course, as always, check back tomorrow and the following days for a recap and photos from the party!


4 thoughts on “SURPRISE!!

  1. OH RAT FARTS!!! I forgot to send my message to Rick!! but then again that is pretty typical of me! Well maybe it will work out ok because I can tell Rick how much I respect and love him right here and now and won’t have to share the attention with all the other ones that will be read at his party!

    Rick Atkins you are one of the most faithful friend, husband, father, grandfather, son , brother I have ever met!! I thank God for how he made our paths cross many years ago at Cornwall. We will forever be bound together as friends here on earth and will forever spend eternity together praising God. We are truly blessed are we not?? I hope your party was a great night of celebrating who you are!! Love and miss you, you old fart!

    Oh wait I said fart twice in the same note how rude of me! Now wasn’t that much better reading my note all by itself with all the attention just on me? Yes I thought so too!

  2. To my old friend Rick!

    I wanted to get a note off to Linda for you in time for the party, but we’ve had bad internet for the last few days here in Iraq. What a beautiful and loving job your wife has done in putting this together.

    Turning 50 is exciting. I know, cuz I did it two weeks ago. You are thinking about the legacy you are leaving and it is a benchmark compass check on the path of life.

    Your smile and good nature are evident of an inner joy and peace. I haven’t seen you in quite a few years, but the pictures tell a story of God’s faithfulness in your life.

    Thank you for the example you are and for the 50 years you have shared with so many.

    God bless you, Rick, and Happy BIrthday!

  3. I would have loved to be there. Happy bithday! I’m so happy to share my birthday with a guy like you, but I am glad I am 6 years younger!!! I hope you had an awesome night with friends and family. You deserve it. When tim and I are up later this month we will have to celebrate again. Happy 50th!!!! Enjoy, Ursela

  4. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. Happy birthday Rick! I wish we could have been at your party to celebrate with you. Just remember, 50 is the new 40!

    Love, Theresa

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