This week I celebrated my 70th birthday. No! That’s not true. This week hundreds of wonderful friends held a surprise party to celebrate my birthday. My staff, my family and my friends made this one of the most blessed days of my life.
It started with a surprise dinner at Mellow Mushroom in Franklin, TN. That dinner was a celebration but also a smoke screen to set me up for the real thing. The real thing was as unreal as it gets. Keep reading to preview just a few of the fun moments of the night.
As we walked back to our car from dinner, I noticed that one of my dearest friends, Bob Stromberg, had his name on the marquee of the Franklin Theater. Diane told me that she had purchased tickets as part of my birthday surprise. Little did I know that the theater was filled with 160 people who were there to watch some of my closest friends roast and honor me for my birthday.
Comedians: Tim Hawkins, Daren Streblow, John Branyan and David Pendleton, (The lost boys of my three previous posts: part 1, part 2 and part 3) did cameo performances that gave a whole new hilarious meaning to the word ROAST.
Friends like Dan Marlow, from before the revolutionary war talked of my influence on their lives. Chuck Christiansen, who was 14 yrs old when I mentored him in the early 1970s, performed a song he had written in my honor. I even received a video message from my long time friend, Bill Gaither.
Michele Cushatt, author of Undone, who didn’t even know she was a comedian, honored me with a side-splitting and affirming presentation.
George Bush impersonator, John Morgan had people in tears with his tribute and performance of an original song written just for the occasion.
I received over 100 video clips of congratulations and love. It will take me close to a week to watch them all.
I was overwhelmed and as usual, I contemplated what I learned from this humbling experience…
- The kinds of tributes I heard that night are usually only spoken when the coffin is too tightly closed for us to hear them. Every person needs to have this kind of experience before they die. The number of people who attend doesn’t matter. Each of us needs to hear of the unknown influence God has allowed us to have on lives.
- Everything of any importance in life boils down to relationships. If one subtracts God, family, friends, and the beautiful people who’s lives we touch then we have nothing.
- You have no idea of the influence your life and words have on others. I have lived with insecurity and self doubt most of my life. I came away from last night still insecure and filled with doubt, but knowing that God has used me in spite of myself… maybe even because of myself.
- The words I love you, need to be spoken often and with sincere meaning. Those words are not reserved for young lustful lovers. They are the words God spoke and demonstrated to use and need to be passed along on a regular basis.
My daughter, Traci, recounted one of the most embarrassing moments in my life (don’t ask) as well as her gratitude for the laughter that often reverberated in our home. Then, in front of the multitude of crazy friends she proclaimed her love for me.
A final part of the program included my blessed grandchildren saying the words we were all born to hear.
I could die a happy man now but I have decided not to rush it. After all, at age 80 I might get another crack at this blessing.
Thanks to all of you who attended and sent cards and messages of love.
Many thanks to Matt Brady, Lauren Brady, Joy Groblebe, and my bride, Diane, for the hard and deceptive work they went through to surprise the guy who can’t be surprised with one of the most blessed nights of his life.
Have others blessed you with an outpouring of love?
Have you ever totally surprised someone?
Sorry, Ken, that we didn’t get a chance to send you a video. But Happy Belated Birthday! You continously make us laugh as we have related to your stories through the years. Thank you for blessing us with laughter and with encouragement to walk the way of Christmas.
In His love,
Mark & Gail Beach
Best. Night. Ever.
Happy belated birthday, Ken! You’ve brightened the days of so many people; it’s wonderful that you could experience some of that in return. Sorry, no video message, but passing on my sincere wishes and prayers for God to continue to shower you with His richest blessings.
Happy birthday Ken!!!! I would imagine that you were hourse from laughing. Sounds like they all got even with you. I wish you many many more and maybe we can travel to the 80th!!
We gave my momnlaw an 80th last year. She loves Christmas, so it was Christmas theme on Nov 18. Everyone were Christmas, decorated Christmas and Christmas cake!! We did the same thing when my brother turned 40 in April. It was more fun in April, but easier to plan starting with all the Christmas closeouts the year before and everyone gave a christmas card for his birthday!!
Okay, keep on reading!!
Happy birthday Ken, you are one of my family’s dearest most treasured memories together. Yes you…. we attended one of your shows in Walla Walla WA about 16 years ago. You gave my family your personal touch, you had asked who had dogs (I cannot remember why) but one person had two wiener dogs named Oscar and Meyer, then my youngest son about 4 or 5 at that time speaks up and said we have a wolf. You came over to us, and proceeded to make a very special night for that family of 5. It’s something we still talk about from time to time, and you have been my favorite comedian ever since. God has blessed you with such a love for people it was obvious. Thank you, hope you have many more birthdays to come. Love always
I hope your incredible Birthday Bash was as amazing as you are! A Belated Happy Birthday to you, Ken.
Through your writings and all the videos I’ve watched of you over the years, you’ve taught me SO much! You’ve taught so very many Biblical Truths, it always makes me want to dig much deeper into God’s Word. That you’ve taught with so much humor is a HUGE added bonus! I thank you, Ken. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing. Please. I have SO much to learn from you still!
The Lord’s Blessings to you, Ken.
(PS: HOW is it out Grandchildren keep growing up but WE don’t age? If you figure that one out, will you please let me know?)
In Christ’s Perfect Love,
Happy birthday, Ken! Time flies doesn’t it!
Thank you for including us in this wonderful night. You and Diane will always be dear friends to Doug and me!
Love ya Ken
3 years ago, on July 13th, 2013, we surprised my Grandma on her 80th Birthday. Family and friends got together, to celebrate her. She is precious, to so many. My Dad had told her to be ready. That him and and my Mom was going to take her out for Lunch. He picked her up, and turned into the church parking lot. He said some of her friends from church wanted to wish her a happy Birthday. My Grandma was like, “Look at all these cars. Wonder what’s going on today?” Everyone inside was just anticipating her coming through the doors. When she walked in, we yelled “SURPRISE!!!” She was taken back, and was definitely surprised. I remember just crying, and thinking how special she is to me. What’s funny is the shirt she wore actually matched her 80th Birthday Cake, which was shaped in an 8 and a 0. Wish we could attach pictures in a comment, and I would show it to you. The next day our family went to the Beach. That day and ever since, she has reflected on that day. She said that she would never forget that moment as long as she lived. She tends to be very modest about how much she means to people. We remind her everyday just how much she is loved. She’s the best Grandma ever! Please pray for her. She has throat cancer, and is also getting over from having the crud. Pray for healing, peace, and comfort for her. Thank you, Ken, for sharing your 70th Birthday Bash with us. I know that you were blessed by that night. You are a blessing to so many, and I am one of the many who has been blessed by the laughter and wisdom you give. Though I’ve never met you, (hope to one day soon) you have made an impact on my life. Thankful to the Lord, for the way he uses you. I pray thay God blesses you abundantly, and gives you every desire of your heart!
Your Sister in Christ,
Ken, my wife and I were so inspired by your “Fully Alive” book & video… sadly however, we’re still on the couch…next year! Happy Birthday blessings from all of us at The Lighthouse WECC!
Will you please turn 70 again next year…I don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard!! What a blessing you are Ken!
P.S. Happy Belated Birthday, Ken!! Here’s an acrostic that I just made for your name. Hope it blesses and encourages you.
K- Knows that God Keeps Him safe
E- Encourages Everyone with laughter Everyday (and)
N- Nurtures Numerous people with the Nature of God
D- Delights in the Lord Daily/Desires (to)
A- Always Affirm All Around him (uses his)
V- Voice (as an)
I- Instrument of Inspiration
S- Shares Jesus his Savior with everyone and Steadfastly Seeks and Serves Him
“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:13-14
Your Sister in Christ,
*the h in Him, by the K should be lowercased.
So happy you enjoyed your 70th…The best part to me ….your grandkids….I have 21, 18 living….they tell me all the time they love me….and I love them more….sometimes that turns into a game…I win, cuz I’m older….LOL. Thank you Ken, for all the laughter. Carolyn Raley
Happy 70th birthday! I am grateful for how the Lord has worked in your life and for teaching me that one cannot forecast how a person and his unique personality can be used for His glory. From my encounter with you at Oak Hills Bible school, the journey has been truly amazing. Looking forward to hearing you speak at Willow church Saturday night. May the Lord continue to use your weird but uplifting personality. Geri Penz
I have been following you for quite some time now and have not only rolled in laughter at your daily happenings but also have grown spiritually because of you and been emboldened to live for the Lord better.
You have such a love for God that is contagious. I want to wish you a belated birthday and another wonderful year.
Happy Birthday! And God bless you and your work.
Belated birthday wishes Ken. Our Pastor – Kim Smith – at the Newfane NY United Methodist church introduced you to us in a video for our Bible Study several years ago and we have been fans every since. He – Pastor Kim – had to leave to do a funeral so left your video for our Bible Study that day. Have purchased several of your videos since and enjoy everyone. I also enjoy your posts on Facebook. You definitely brighten our days. Your birthday celebration sounds absolutely fantastic. Wish we could have been there! Once again – Happy Birthday – and I hope you have many more wonderful years to enjoy your family and to entertain and inspire us.
God’s Blessings on you always,
I’m glad that you’ve made it to 70, because I’ve studied your speaking techniques intently. I have learned a lot not only from your style, but also from your testimony. Thank you for your faithfulness to The Heavenly Father, we appreciate it!
Wow! I do so wish we could have been there. This sounds like it was a blast. And it sounds like you may have gotten something worthwhile out of it. But the real question is did you get money? I mean, like, piles of cash. ‘Cause that’s how you tell who your true friends are. I know we sent a small (hey, we’re on Social Security!) U-haul of cash. I hope you got it OK. Anyway, Happy Birthday again.
Edd and Stephanie