Time Is Our Gift {…and we get to choose how to open it}

Yesterday, my children baked a red velvet cake for my birthday. Then they gathered around me, and with sweet anticipation, they watched my expression as I opened their gifts.

I turn 39 this week.

Next year is the “big” one—my 40th birthday. But I can’t think about next year without also thinking about last year. My cousin died of cancer last year. He was 39 years old. He never had a 40th birthday.

With each passing year, we realize how fleeting our lives really are.

James says:

“You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
~ James 4:14

A mist.

Here today. Gone tomorrow.

When we’re young, we hear words like these and easily shrug them off. After all, we still have decades in front of us. But when we get older, we begin to know people who didn’t have decades in front of them. They were taken before they had a chance to fully live.

My cousin was here one day, and then gone the next.

When someone you love dies young, you begin to ask all sorts of questions.

Am I living each moment with intentionality?
What do I want to give while I am still here?

The time we have on this earth is a gift. It’s a gift we can’t take back to the store and exchange for something else. We only have the number of days that He gives us.

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
~ Psalm 139:16

The older we become, the more we try to slow the clock down. We cling to moments as we try to freeze time.

But time was never meant to be frozen.
And life was never meant to be frozen either.

Every year, the leaves bud and bloom. Then they turn color and fall.

We cannot turn the seasons back. It would be absurd to try and glue a fallen leaf back to its limb.

We are faced with a timeless truth: the clock continues its march at an unrelenting pace.

We cannot force time to tick more slowly. But we can choose to move through time more slowly. We can choose to live each day more deliberately.

One of the ways I am keeping a slower pace on a simpler path is to live with a clear purpose of what I want to give while I am still here.

What do I want to give while I am still here?

I want to give my life away—through written words and spoken words. With every breath, I want to live the testimony of one who has been rescued and saved, delivered and redeemed. I want to bear fruit, and then give that fruit away.

I want to give freely because I have received freely.

Time is not our enemy. Time is our gift. And each day, we get to choose how we open it.

What do you feel called to give?

Today, I am thankful for . . .

162. red velvet cake made by small hands
163. gifts wrapped with gobs of tape
164. the unquenchable desire to give hints

165. the colors God paints His world with
166. leaves of gold and rust and amber
167. a reminder that all is grace, His gift to us

168. the courage to face cancer
169. daring to love in spite of fear

170. another year to love those here

While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for.

14 thoughts on “Time Is Our Gift {…and we get to choose how to open it}

  1. Pingback: To Share Our Stories Is To Give Our Lives | Denise J. Hughes

  2. This counting of gifts seems to slow the days down. Perhaps, it is I who has slowed and not time. As I count the gifts and share them with my children, I realize that I am giving to them. I give them life, beauty and time. After reading this, I realize it is time to give more. It is time to give the gifts to others. It is time to bring joy and beauty to so many more as Christ leads me. Beautiful. Thank you for your thoughts.

  3. Hi Denise!
    Thanks for starting the blog links today on She Speaks Facebook! I enjoyed this post so much. We serve a loving God who is not limited by time. Wow! I would love to meet you at the conference! I’m doing the speakers track… you can also visit me at http://www.fullherlife.com
    -Blessings girl, Amy

  4. Happy Birthday!

    You have given me much to think about, my friend. Last year, I became the age my dad was when he died. (He died young!) I pondered much my life and its meaning that year. Still do, actually.

    Anyway, you have expressed beautifully the feelings I had. I love the question you posed: “What do I want to give while I am still here?”

  5. The sweetest of birthdays to you, my friend (red velvet cake? sounds like you are off to a good start!). I feel this words this week too. The eulogy exercise we did for class just keeps staying with me. What a blessing that was. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your faith is such a light.

  6. Red velvet cake – one of your favorites. So glad the kids made you one for your special day. I’ve been thinking of you and praying for you and wishing you an especially
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!

    I am so glad for you, that you are choosing to go more deliberately on a simpler path. I watched your hectic schedule for years (often because you had no other alternative) and wondered, “Will she ever slow down and take a deep breath?”

    Now that you have done so, I am watching your talents unfold even more impressively than before. Wishing you Many Happy Returns of the Day – Love, Mom

  7. Happiest (belated) birthday to you, Denise! Trust you enjoyed every minute–you are worth celebrating.
    lovely post and so true. we are all but a breath. time is meant to be embraced. a gift–just like you said. the same as love…..
    I’m rambling. guess that means you got me thinking! ; )
    trust you’ll enjoy every bit of this year to love those here!
    All for Him,
    Nikki

  8. “What do I want to give while I am still here?”

    A thought-provoking question, friend, one I will consider for a few days, no doubt. Thank you. I think.

    And happy birthday, my sweet friend. You’ll make 40 look good next year.

  9. Happy Birthday!!! My sister’s birthday is today too! On Facebook, my cousin’s son said, “You’ve survived yet another orbit along the undying grasp of the burning sun…” For some reason, I like the idea of each year being an orbit. May your next orbit be full of blessings!

  10. “One of the ways I am keeping a slower pace on a simpler path is to live with a clear purpose of what I want to give while I am still here.” Yes, I want to do this, too! My heart aches for it. Happy Birthday! I bet that cake was amazing! I love your gift #163. 🙂 Blessings to you, friend.

  11. I was choked up thinking about moving through time more slowly and what I want to give while I’m here. Beautiful post!

    Happy birthday Denise!

  12. Oh, I love red velvet cake. I could almost taste that yummy frosting, which is really the best part isn’t it? Happy belated Birthday Denise. You’re still young my friend. I am well into the 4’s and time does march on. And I think about this often, the legacy I want to leave and living with intentionality now. It’s a good place to be.

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