I am 50 years old today.

438,000 hours have passed since I drew my first breath. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for 50 years I’ve been simply breathing. Give or take a few hours (more as a baby, less as a college student, virtually none as a new mom) I have spent approximately 146,000 of those hours sleeping.

Funny, the face in the mirror doesn’t reflect that I’ve slept a little over 6,000 days.

As for the remaining 292,000 hours:

I’ve been loved by my parents since before I was born. They provided for me a solid foundation on which to grow, learn, explore, succeed, fail, and become fiercely independent. I’m deeply grateful that the large majority of my memories are built around them, my big brother, and the rest of my family. Their influence, character, and faith are undeniable benchmarks in my life.

I’ve enjoyed 23 years raising my children. And for all the spilled Cheerios, tickle-fests, school projects, year-round sports, and story times under a blanket, I wouldn’t trade a moment. My children are my heartbeat and they know it. They have made me a better person and I pray that, in spite of my many parenting failures, they know I will always be their biggest fan. (And I will always say ‘yes’ when they ask for hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles.)

I’ve loved my husband and he has loved me: for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health. Many couples spend their whole lives together never knowing what the other is truly made of. But we are together navigating the sometimes delightful and often treacherous path of marriage. And I believe we will continue to love each other, to pursue harmony for ourselves and those around us, until death parts us.

I’ve worked hard, I’ve played hard, I’ve been easy to get along with, and I’ve been a thorn in the flesh of others I’m sure. I’ve done happy dances, wept bitterly, burned biscuits, changed a flat tire, learned to shoot a handgun as well as a shotgun, squealed on a roller coaster, killed spiders (and a few snakes), and felt the sting of bad news. I’ve grieved the passing of those I love; I’ve tenderly kissed and tightly hugged my babies; I’ve prayed my heart out; and I’m learning the difficult task of holding on while letting go as I watch my own children dare to tackle life head on.

The one thing I know better than my own breath is that God knows my name and Jesus loves me. It’s been a long journey, at times painfully desperate, to come to the realization that I am not here – none of us are – by accident or simple reproduction. There is a plan. There is a purpose. It is why our hearts continue their glorious thump-thump of rhythm.

Another 50 years? I doubt it. However, my maternal grandmother is 97 and in excellent health so it’s at least within the realm of possibility that I have her genes. If so, I will have enjoyed close to a million hours here on planet Earth. Yet, it is but a moment – a mist, a vapor, the morning fog – in light of the glorious adventure waiting for me in eternity.

438,000 hours. And the God who created me has had His hand in every one.

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