Giving Time


Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. — Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

Rick Warren is spot on when he says time is our most precious gift. Money comes and goes (too often it seems to go!), but time is finite and cannot be regained, reinvented, or recaptured. Time is the Creator’s precious gift to us, so how we choose to spend our time also says something about our understanding of this gift with which we have been entrusted.

Remember those Mastercard commercials that illustrated the priceless nature of spending time on relationships? They ended with “For everything else, there’s Mastercard.” Being generous with time is foundational to cultivating and nurturing relationships. The gift of time is critical to keeping a marriage or partnership strong. Time spent with children is love made visible. Time invested in strengthening one’s faith life and spiritual relationships is of eternal importance.

We have no way of knowing how much time we have left to live on this earth–how long this phase of our eternal journey will last. Therefore, steward time wisely. Give it generously. Treat it with the care it deserves. Do with your time what really matters. Don’t squander and fritter it away on frivolous activities.

Here are seven suggestions for how to be generous with your time:

1. Call someone you love who lives in another town or state. Really listen to them. Don’t have an agenda. Don’t set a time limit. Let that person know how much you care even though you can’t be there in person.

2. Devote an entire evening or day to your partner. Put away the work. Take a digital sabbatical. Talk. Laugh. Love.

3. Have a “date night” with your child. Even if you would really rather not go to Chuck-e-Cheese or play yet one more game of hide-and-go-seek do it. Be there. Be fully present. These are the kinds of things your children will remember more than what was under the Christmas tree from Toys-r-Us.

4. Go to worship regularly. Make this a priority for spending your time. Not only are you giving God your best, you are setting an example for others and walking the walk.

5. Invite friends over for a meal. You don’t have to do anything extravagant; just get together. Try a potluck or progressive dinner.

6. Give time to your favorite charity. Work in the soup kitchen or food pantry. Play with the dogs and cats in the animal shelter. Visit the elderly in your local nursing home. Be a Big Brother or Big Sister. Do something for others.

7. Read a book. It’s a vacation for your mind. Reading isn’t your thing? then do something for yourself other than veg out in front of the television. Go for a hike. Ride horse. Plant flowers. Work out at the gym. You matter, too. If you don’t take care of your physical and emotional health, you won’t be much good at giving time to others.

Thanks for taking time to read this post. This is my gift to you. Time is precious. Thanks for spending some of yours with me. Blessings on the journey!

Photo: kojotomoto, Creative Commons

The Year of Living Generously

Happy New Year

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.    Acts 2:46-47

It’s a new year, a new day filled with promise and possibility. What will you do with the minutes, hours, and days ahead? How will you shape and craft the time entrusted to you? How will you use your gifts and talents to make this world a better place?

I’m not talking about resolutions. Those are well and good if you make them, but our culture and human tendencies work against their care and keeping. I’m not even talking about goals. Setting goals is vital to achievement and essential to moving forward in ways that are productive and measurable.

What I hope to do–and I invite you to join me–is to commit to live intentionally and deeply into a fresh way of being for this new year. This year I want to build a life that is deliberately joyful and generous. I’m talking about a deep culture shift that begins on an individual level and ripples outward into community.

Living generously begins one person at a time, BUT…living generously has the power to change the world and to heal and cultivate relationships, one life at a time, one small group at a time, and one community at a time. It starts with you. It starts with me. It starts now.

The Year of Living Generously has two parts. First, I’ll be posting three to four times a week to offer ideas, share experiences, and plan and dream with you. I invite you to comment and share your ideas and experiences, too. Secondly, I invite you to participate in a Lenten discipline called With Glad and Generous Hearts. This 40-day faith-based study is designed with both individuals and groups in mind. It features daily reflections and questions for individual use, as well as a weekly group study. More information about how to participate will be available mid-January.

I hope you’ll consider joining me for the journey and will share this information with your friends and in your communities. Together we can craft a year of living generous lives, marked by prodigal love, and seasoned with gladness and joy.

For today I leave you with this thought:

Divine time is infinite and fluid. Human time is finite and marked by artificial constraints of our own creation. The key to a glad and generous life is to acknowledge our human reality while embracing and living into Divine (or Kairos) time. In doing so we have the potential to maximize our days and hours by living fully each precious moment.

Happy New Year! Blessings on the journey.

Digital Sabbatical

Dear Readers and Friends,

I am away from my computer for a few days–a tech sabbatical, if you will. Actually, I have traveled to North Dakota for the funeral of a very dear friend who left us unexpectedly and much too soon. While I treasure any opportunity to visit the prairie and the folks who have such a special place in my heart, this visit is a bittersweet one. My friend, Paula, was a pillar of the community, a force for joy and living life to the fullest, and a woman of deep faith. She knew how to live a life of thanks-living and she did it well. She will be missed by so many people. She touched so very many lives. She leaves behind a legacy of joy, love, faith, and relationship. My heart goes out to her family.

Treasure the ones you love. Get to know the folks you don’t know. Relationships matter. Stuff does not. Faith is important–no matter how you find its expression in your life. Time is more valuable than money. Be the person you are created to be. Laugh. Love. Live. Life is short.

Peace and blessing. I’ll be back on January 1, 2013, to begin a new year of thanks-living. I hope you’ll join me for the journey!

Peace and blessing.


Quality Time in Target

Shopping is not one of my favorite activities. In fact, I normally loathe it. Today, however, I went shopping, and it wasn’t so bad because it involved spending quality time with my 18-year-old daughter while she shopped for college.

We started out with a stop by her favorite fast food restaurant (Taco Bell) for seven layer burritos and cheesy potatoes. As fast food goes one could do a lot worse. Then we hit the big red bulls eye (a.k.a. Target). She had money to spend thanks to generous relatives and friends who sent her graduation presents, so there was no pressure on the “Bank of Mom.” That definitely took the financial edge off of the trip.

Normally, if I have to go to a place like Target I am armed with a list and the dedication to be in and out as fast as possible. Today, we spent well over an hour meandering the aisles comparing towels, paring knives, and ice trays. We looked at lights, fans, pillows, and all manner of dorm-related goodies. Best of all? We talked. I would have walked under the halogens inhaling the dyes and scent of plastic all day long to have this kind of quality time with her.

I am keenly aware that every moment is now a precious one. My spouse and I took her earlier this week for her college orientation. This is real, and it is happening in a little less than two months. It seems like just yesterday that she was a toddler. It surely wasn’t so long ago that she sat on Cinderella’s throne at Disney World and glowered for the camera. Wasn’t it just last week she secured her driver’s license? Senior year of high school? Where did THAT go?

Now she’s talking about classes and foreign exchange programs and internships. I see a new confidence in her words, growing maturity in her actions, and excitement about the future. These are good things, and I am so happy for her.

Yep, I’ll take my quality time in Target, watching old episodes of Dr. Who, or walking the dogs with her. Time flies when you’re having fun–and it flies when you see your child growing up, too. I hope that I can be a good steward of the remaining time we have left this summer and that I can then gracefully release her to her future with  prayers, hugs, and care packages.

What are you doing to take advantage of precious moments with the ones you love? Don’t let time pass ya’ll by now, you hear!

Photos by Matt Callow and Sharron Blezard used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

What’s It Worth to You?

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.  — Martin Luther

Time…what’s it worth to you? Money…what’s it worth to you? Love…what’s it worth to you? Do you ever stop to consider the worth of things like time, money, and love? What about people, relationships, and experiences?

We rush through our days trying to accomplish myriad tasks, hoping to mark off our long to-do lists, and make progress. Often, in the midst of our busyness, life passes us right on by. What’s your life worth to you? After all, you have only one life.

There are no guarantees how long that life will last either. You could be here today and gone from this earth tomorrow. What will be the worth of that overstuffed to-do list then? Who will care about how much you earned, or what you accomplished on your climb up the corporate ladder?

What will count is how well and how fully you lived your one, wild precious life. What counts are the family and friends you would leave behind. That is your legacy, the thing of great worth. Yes, money is a necessary tool of life, but time is so much more valuable, and love is the most valuable of all.

Think about it. What do you have to lose? If you said nothing, you are right. If you said everything, you are right. Be present. Live. Love. Be thankful for your life and those who share it with you. Plant your apple tree.

Photo by wwarby used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!


Thankful for Mother-Daughter Monday

“We need to pick a night and go for dinner and a movie,” my youngest daughter announced last week. “We never do anything just the two of us any more.”

Her words hit home with the mental thud of a frying pan upside my head. Since moving to Pennsylvania last May after my spouse and I married, our time together has been different. Sure, we took a couple of trips to New York to see shows, but dedicated time for a girls’ night out has been seldom.

Tonight after her rehearsal, we took off to neighboring Hanover for some quality time. We had good conversation over a simple dinner and then went to see War Horse, both the restaurant and the film her choices. It was good to spend time with her, even if she did tease me mercilessly about my waterworks during the film.

Too often the ones closest too us get the short shrift of our time and energy. We assume there will always be tomorrow and another opportunity. We tell ourselves that surely our loved one will understand if we are busy earning money to ensure their livelihood. We forget how quickly time passes and how fast things change.

In a few short months my daughter will be off to college. Those familiar and plaintive calls for assistance will be fewer with three hours between us. Even the requests for money will likely be less frequent. My “baby girl” is 18. My oldest daughter is 24. It seems like just yesterday that I held them in my arms and whispered to them all the things we would do together, the places we would see, and what wonderful women they would become.

They’re on their way — both of them — to becoming amazing women, making their own choices, experiencing successes and failures, taking life by the horns and charting their own unique courses. Yes, things change. Life goes on. Time might as well sprout wings and fly.

So, dear friends, don’t take those you love for granted. Make time for them now. This present moment is the only one you have. Put aside your work. Skip your own hobby and do something your loved one wants to do. Be there for the ones who matter to you before it’s too late. The price of dinner and a movie is really quite a small one to pay for time that can never be replaced or replayed.

Thank you, dear daughter, for making time for me and for reminding me of what’s really important. I had fun. I’m proud of you. Yes, I’m proud of both my girls, and I love you with all my heart.

Photo by Dave Parker used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

How Much Time Does God Get?

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. –Psalm 62:8

Sometimes I wonder…the One who knows me the best, the One who always has my back, and the One who loves me beyond all measure and reason is too often the one with whom I spend the least amount of “quality” time. And no, I’m not talking about my wonderful husband (although we do have to be intentional about giving each other good, quality time and not the end-of-a-long-busy-day-totally-worn-out leftover time). The One about whom I speak is my Creator, the one who according to the psalmist “…formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).

Why is it so easy to have time for almost everything but God? It’s easy to spend an hour or two a day in the gym or several hours a week involved in a civic club, our children’s sports events, or (fill in the blank), yet spending an hour or two on Sunday in worship and Christian education can feel like a chore. When faced with the choice of reading the Bible or a NY Times bestseller, what often wins? I’ll admit it…the book of Judges or the Jon Stewart Show, Matthew or The Mentalist…sometimes the choice is not so clear cut.

And prayer. Most folks can talk for an hour or more to a best friend or family member, but to pray for an hour? This relationship with God thing can be tough to cultivate sometimes. It takes effort and dedication, an investment of time and love. All relationships take time and effort, commitment and care if they are to flourish and grow.

The thing about the Divine One is that God desires good for us, is patient, forgiving, and kind to us. Even when we break God’s heart repeatedly, God doesn’t give up on us. The Lord of the Universe who proclaimed all of creation good has arms wider that our biggest hurt, love that exceeds our wildest dreams, and is a refuge from anything the world can throw at us.

Today I am thankful for an awesome God who is trustworthy, with whom I can be myself no matter how awkward or inadequate I may feel, and whose love does not depend on anything I can say or do or not say or fail to do. Truly, I can pour my heart out to the architect of the heavens and designer of the cosmos, and even my puniest most pathetic whimper is heard and counted as worthy. Thank you, God. Thank you.

For Further Reflection

Give God some time today. Write your Creator a thank you letter. Sing to God. Dance like David before the Lord of the Dance.  Praise God in whatever way you feel moved to do so. Read Psalm 62 and give thanks for the goodness and grace of the Divine One.

Photo by Dave Stokes used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!