8 ways to celebrate Jon Swanson’s birthday

Yep. Tomorrow, July 10, 2008, is my fiftieth birthday. Last year I had a huge social media birthday. It was really cool. But don’t do it again. Instead, let me suggest what I’d like for my birthday.

1. If you know someone who can’t afford to go out to lunch with your office group, slip them a $10 anonymously. Bring them into community. (If you don’t know someone, send something to the local rescue mission.)

2. If you know someone who is fighting cancer or Alzheimer’s or panic attacks or depression, sit with them, listen to them.

3. If you know someone who locked up for something they didn’t do–or even something they did–send them a note. If you can, visit them. Talk to them. The people I know who have been on “ankle bracelets” could use someone being kind.

4. There are people who go shopping at Goodwill and Salvation Army. They can’t afford more than the $2 for a pair of slacks. So pack a bag and drop it off.

5. Sometimes people get to demand your time (bosses in particular). Throw one of those people off-balance by offering to help on the next part of the project.

6. Shake hands with someone who no one else will touch. Or at least look them in the eye and talk to them.

7. Tell God that you can’t figure everything out yourself.

8. Find a little kid–a niece, a neighbor, your own–and listen for how they talk about what they believe. Listen to their trust.

That’s it. Do one of those things for me. Tell them Jon sent you.

(It will be easier to explain an internet friend than explain that Jesus said these things, too.)


34 responses to “8 ways to celebrate Jon Swanson’s birthday

  1. northpointcc

    Happy birthday Jon – I can remember 50. As I recall, it was a good year. I’d sing for you but I want your birthday to be a happy one. God bless.

  2. I found out this week that I have a neighbor in the #2 category–I’ve never met her, but know her son. I want to connect, so pray about that, please…Is it okay to ask something of someone on their almost birthday? Thanks, Jon, and happiest of all days and the year ahead!

  3. Tom, on Sunday evening at a restaurant, the server said, “I won’t sing. You don’t need an acid bath.” a most peculiar metaphor. Thanks for stopping by!

    Amy…absolutely. And you will do great.

  4. And at a moment when I’m looking for some answers by myself and getting frustrated about not finding them, I read number seven and realize that you’re right. Thanks, Jon. 🙂

    Oh, and happy, happy birthday! 😀

  5. Happy birthday tomorrow, Jon. I will celebrate you in one or more of these ways! 🙂

  6. Great list. I love this one:

    If you know someone whos locked up for something they didn’t do–or even something they did–send them a note. If you can, visit them. Talk to them. The people I know who have been on “ankle bracelets” could use someone being kind.

    We forget these are real live people and the only way they get better is with love and attention.

  7. What an awesome post. My teenager would actually listen if I said “..but what would my internet friend do?” when faced with a moral dilemma.

  8. Happy birthday! Great list 🙂 I hope to participate in your honor!

  9. Very nice – Happy Birthday!

  10. Thanks for the inspiration Jon. Happy birthday. Your gift is coming. Jesus lives!

  11. Suki Fuller


    It’s my birthday on the 31st, I was going to have a party instead I am now going to continue on this vein. Thank you.

  12. One of those Goodwill shoppers here, Jon — though I’m certainly more financially safe than most of my fellow shoppers. (I’ve got this PC I’m typing on, don’t I? Picked up a PowerBook about 2 or 3 years ago at a Goodwill, too!) I’m not familiar with you, but here’s to you (a virtual toast, a drink lifted)!

  13. Happy Birthday Jon! What a wonderful way to share life with the rest of the world.

    enjoy your special day,

  14. Happy Birthday. Your birthday wish list overwhelmed my emotions with the compassion they exuded. Many more birthdays to you. –Just an internet stranger that has come upon your site.

  15. What a way to share the love! Many happy returns, Jon.


  16. I go away and I come back and there has been all this company. Thank you all for coming over to this party…and thanks for the willingness to take the party elsewhere, or at least the contact.
    And thanks, Mr Brogan, for building a bridge.

  17. I can’t wait to do these things tommorrow- i try to do them most days- but thanks for the very good reminder!

  18. Happy birthday to you! congratulations on the Fab 50 dude – you ROCK!

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  21. Without even knowing it was in honor of your birthday, several folks have been doing #3 for my “baby”…and I can DEFINITELY handle #7. Yup. Got that one covered. Who knew it would be so easy to celebrate your day, Jon? Do you know how much it says about you that this is your preferred way to be honored?

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  23. Jon,

    Happy, happy 50th birthday! Praying that God pours out his richest blessings on you so much so that you can’t contain it!

    Kim Haynes

  24. Jon – I’m honored to share the same birth anniversary, though I reached 50 ahead of you. Awesome giveback ideas! Jim

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  26. Thank you everyone. I’m getting ready for two lunches: co-workers and others with my position at other churches. I’m grilling for both.

    What’s fun is the number of people who I know from a number of contexts …and some whom I don’t know at all…bumping into each other here.

    How cool is that for an introvert? Thank you. talk among yourselves.


  27. Jon, Thanks for giving US this gift, on your birthday.

    It reminded me of a morning radio interviewer who asked Mother Theresa what he could do for her. She told him “get up at 4am before work, find a homeless person in your city, and make them feel worthwhile as a human” (Paraphrased from Wayne Dyer’s Power of Intention).

    Many happy returns.

  28. Thank you and Happy Birthday.

  29. Pablo Picasso said ““It takes a long time to grow young.”

    Happiest of Birthdays, Happiest of Lives!

  30. Stu – Rereading the gift of asher lev. The character interacts with “the Spaniard” so this reference is fun.

    Thanks Laura, good company.

    You are welcome Shannon.

  31. Happy Birthday, Jon! Thank you for a very inspiring list. I can’t get to them all today, but I will do my best to do all those things in honor of you and the people they benefit.

  32. happy happy birthday
    happy happy birthday
    doo doo doo
    doo doo doo
    happy happy birthday!!!

    *huge hug*

    hope you had a big ol birthday cup-o-pie!

  33. Happy birthday dear Jon. I thought of you at the ocean today.

  34. Oh very very happy celebration of birth day, may the 5th decade be profound

    and thanks again for your guest post today