Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi is an award-winning faith writer and columnist.

As my mother’s 70th birthday approaches, my sister and I are in full party-planning mode for a caravan trip to Florida.

Together, a group of about 15 of us will gather at an Orlando condo, and party into the night at a catered feast. The next morning, we’ll spend the day at Disney World’s Epcot theme park, where my mom can walk around the world, or Disney’s version of the world, anyway. She’s getting excited about her week in the sun, and I’m content she’s allowing herself the celebration.

A few months back, Mama was reluctant to turn the big 7-0, and even more reluctant to celebrate her birthday. She was convinced if she didn’t announce her actual age, it would somehow allow her to remain in her 60s, that time itself wouldn’t pass by.

To be fair, my mother doesn’t look 70. There’s not a gray hair or bit of fat on that woman. She also managed to avoid the natural aging of her face, which gives me hope I’ll age as slowly and as beautifully as she has.

Mama was never overly vain about her looks, but she was always excellent at aging gracefully and others always noticed.

If it were me, and I looked as beautiful as she does when I turned 70, I’d be yelling my age from the rooftops. But Mama has never been comfortable telling people her age, perhaps because she never wants people to think of her as old. Or, perhaps, she doesn’t think she’s as beautiful as others see her. I’ve met other “old” 70-year-olds, and my mother most definitely isn’t even close.

After some convincing, she finally agreed to let us celebrate her monumental birthday. She originally wanted to take an international trip for the big day, but my parents couldn’t agree on where to go, and Mom was growing anxious about the length of plane trips.

I suggested a compromise: A trip to Epcot at Disney, a quick drive away and close enough for many others to come along.

Anyone who has walked around the world at Epcot knows the experience of all those countries and the detail Disney has implemented to make each country true to its culture is quite authentic.

So, for her 70th, you could say we’re giving her the world.

Among the many, many presents she’ll receive next week – and thankfully, she won’t read this until after she’s returned from Florida – is a little mason jar filled with love.

I saw the idea on a party planning website. Fill the jar with rolled pieces of paper and tie each with a string. Inside each rolled piece of paper, write a reason you love that person. Since Mama is turning 70, I’ve been writing out 70 reasons I love her, and I’ll label the jar “70 reasons you’re loved.”

My mom is a difficult woman to buy gifts for, in part because she has everything, in part because she’s extremely particular about what she likes. For every gift-giving event or holiday, when it comes to my mother’s gift, I usually find some entertainment in trying to find her the perfect gift, something she’ll use and enjoy.

What I’ve discovered recently, is she actually enjoys homemade gifts, things that remind her of family and the joys of motherhood.

The jar should be a big hit. As I’ve been writing each reason inside each piece of paper. I’ve noticed how one begets another. As soon as I write 10 reasons, 10 more reasons come to mind.

As I’ve been putting together this little gift, I realized how true it is that our minds become what we meditate upon.

If all we do is try to find reasons for love and joy, and force ourselves to write them down, more of those reasons flood the mind. And the same is true for the opposite. If I were doing this exercise in reverse, I believe my mind would find 70 reasons to find fault with my mother because I’d be giving it permission to do so.

Even the Proverbs tell us, “As a man thinketh, so he is,” another way of saying we are what we think.

So remember the power of your thoughts this week, the power of remembering the good.

And if you’re considering a fun gift for someone you love, consider the love jar. It should be a hit at any age.

Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi is a thought leader on religion trends and global issues. Email her at jlpreyss@vicad.com or follow her on Twitter @jenniferpreyss or jenniferpreyss.work.

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