The Thing About Birthdays

The Thing About Birthdays

The thing about birthdays is this: The candles on our cake can measure the years of our life but they’re a poor indicator of the life in our years.

Today’s my birthday and I’m happy to celebrate but I’m counting more than candles this year.

Today is My Birthday!

Today is March 11—my birthday. Last night we all enjoyed a delicious, home-cooked pasta dish and chocolate cake made by my daughter. There were decorations and singing and gifts, too. This morning I woke up very early despite staying up past midnight. (Thank you Daylight Savings Time.) I made coffee, fed the cat, made breakfast and packed lunches for Maddie and Caleb. Yes, they’re adults. No, they don’t expect it. Good food is a love language at our house and acts of service is mine so it seems fitting to celebrate by serving.

Here’s the pretty, delicious cake Maddie made:

And the decorations:

My yellow jasmine blooming this morning:

Now I’m at one of my favorite coffee shops miles from home. Good music, hot tea, and anonymity = writing time.

Later there will be thrifting and painting and another piece of chocolate-chocolate cake. My birthday is off to a great start, don’t you think?!

I’m This Many!

“How old are you?”

I haven’t been asked that question in years. When we, women especially, reach a certain age, that question doesn’t come up much. I don’t feel old and I only occasionally and jokingly describe myself as old. But I’ll happily tell you that today is my 53rd birthday. What that simply means is 53 years, 19,345 days, have passed since I was born on March 11, 1966.

To say that I’m 53 tells you very little about who I am.

For the past few months, as I anticipated another birthday, I’ve thought more about who I’m becoming and less about marking another day, another year, on the calendar.

I’m celebrating year 53 and instead of counting candles on my cake or wrinkles on my face I’m measuring my life in a different way.

A child prompted by a parent proudly proclaims, “I’m this many!” and holds up a few fingers with a wide smile. My Father has challenged me to hold out my life and proudly proclaim, “I’m this many!”

I’ve made my list and now I want you to make yours, too. In honor of my birthday will you celebrate with me, beloved one?

Tell me, just how many are you?

  • How many sunrises and sunsets have you witnessed?
  • How many boo-boos have you kissed?
  • How many tears have you shed in joy or grief?
  • How many steps have you walked to the mailbox, the garden, or class?
  • How many books have you read?
  • How many mountains have you seen?
  • How many songs have you heard?
  • How many times have you said “please”, “thank you”, and “you’re welcome”?
  • How many meals have you cooked and dishes have you washed?
  • How many miles have you driven (or pedaled)?
  • How many wishes have you made or prayers have you prayed?
  • How many pets have you cared for?
  • How many movies have you watched?
  • How many donations have you made?
  • How many cups of tea or coffee have you shared with a friend?
  • How many love letters have you written?
  • How many clothes have you washed, folded, and put away?
  • How many baseballs/footballs have you thrown and caught?
  • How many early morning hours have you spent alone and quiet in the woods?
  • How many times have you listened while a friend shared a burden?
  • How many hours have you worked and served your family, your neighbor, your community, your church?
  • How many breaths have you breathed?

How many are you?

I don’t know much about the Roman poet, Ausonius but I like what he said about counting our years:

Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.

What happiness has time brought you? Are you keeping score?

How many beats of your heart will it take until you wake you up to the gift of your one life?

This year may we measure our lives not by what we’ve lost, the weight and wrinkles we’ve gained, or the goals we’ve set and failed to reach, but by every heartbeat appointed by our Creator and Sustainer.

I challenge you today to measure your life in brand new way.

God is with us on every ordinary day and the mundane becomes sacred.

Thanks for celebrating with me today!

The “How Many Are You” list above may not be the best questions for your life. They’re just a few I thought of this morning. What questions would you add to the list? How might you “know the happiness time brings”?