Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Friday, February 28, 2020

Leapin' Through the Year

I don’t know if you’ve given it much thought, but February is the month in which we get the least amount of sleep. Of course, it’s also the month when we eat the least and work the least. And if you still haven’t figured out why, it might help to mention that this February—and every fourth February—we do all those things a little more than other Februarys.

A year with an extra day in it should provide all kinds of reasons to celebrate, shouldn’t it? An extra day to finish your tax returns. An extra day’s pay for hourly employees (although not so great for salaried folks). And when your birthday rolls around, you’re still only a year older in spite of the extra day.

In 45 B.C., Julius Caesar’s astronomer, Sosigenes, calculated the need for a Leap Year and we’ve been leaping ever since. According to an article in Readers Digest by Brandon Specktor, it takes the earth roughly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to complete one full rotation around the sun. Those extra hours would accumulate and throw us off kilter if we never scheduled a leap year. Without it, we’d eventually be rising as the sun sets and turning in when it rises, like the owls and bats.

The extra day gets our calendar and clock back on track with the sun… well, except for every once in a while when scientists decide we need an extra second as well, like we enjoyed in 2015. (What did you do with yours?) Since 1972, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service has periodically added extra seconds—called leap seconds—on either June 30 or December 31 to compensate for the mismatch between atomic clocks and Earth’s actual rotation.

Now you know.

What you might not know is a little trivia about Leap Day. For example, according to the World Heritage Encyclopedia, the British-born James Milne Wilson, who later became the eighth premier of Tasmania, was born and died on a leap day. Wilson arrived on February 29, 1812, and died on February 29, 1880 at the age of 68. Although you could call it his 17th birthday. What are the odds?

And did you know about the old tradition that says women can propose marriage to men on February 29? If the man refuses, he must give the woman money or buy her a new dress. Leapin’ lizards! I’m glad that one went out of vogue in the early 1900s. I’m pretty sure women can propose to men any day of the year if they wish to. And as to money or a new dress, “no means no” should work both ways.

Finally, should you need a few jokes or riddles for February 29, keep in mind that Leap Day is the day kids play hopscotch, lawyers jump to conclusions, and surgeons perform hoperations. I can hear you groaning from here.

I’m incredibly grateful I’m not the one to calculate when we need an extra day or second to keep our lives orderly. I’m glad we have people smart enough for all that. And I’m even more thankful for a God who holds the universe together with his powerful hand. He is the God of all my days.

“Then God said, ‘Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years…’” (Genesis 1:14)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Another Waltz Around the Sun

I’ll celebrate another birthday in a few days. Hard to believe last year at this time I was in sunny Florida enjoying a writers’ retreat—a sixtieth birthday present to myself. Somehow I never gave much thought to beyond sixty, but here I am.

Hubby’s birthday falls four days later, so for those few days each year we are the same age…and showing it. Recently, I cut a grapefruit in half for us to share as “dessert” at lunch. Since he needed to leave, he asked me to save his for later. Knowing he likes his cold, I put it in the fridge. Then I decided to save mine, too. But since I prefer grapefruit at room temperature, I left mine on the counter.

When I went to eat it later, it was missing.

“Oh,” Hubby said. “I thought it was mine and you forgot to put it in the fridge, so I ate it anyway.”

Seems our world is getting awfully small.

What age would you like to return to if you could? Or what age would you choose to stay, given the option? It’s interesting to see how often people—given enough time to really think this question through—end up choosing the age they are right now. Oh, some might want to go back and change some of the choices they regret. Others might like to relive their carefree childhood or the year they first fell in love or a time of life where they felt strong and energetic. Some would wish to return to when their now-grown children were little, perhaps just for a day.

I suppose if it were only for a day, I’d like to pick nearly any age to relive—provided it was a good day. But to stay there? No thanks. I have no desire to relive the challenges of high school or various jobs or parenting. As nice as it might be to find myself in a more youthful body, I wouldn’t want to lose the wisdom I’ve gained along the journey—even that which came through pain and regret. Would you?

We live in a culture that does not value the wisdom of our elders. Where differences of opinion occur, it’s often easier to trust the voices of those who are quicker, louder, more tech savvy and confident. Those who are up on the latest trends and most recent developments, who more easily recall the latest newsfeed or tweet.

I recently read an interesting article about a 2016 study conducted at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania (led by Professor of Psychology Frank Durgin) that tested the ability of people to estimate the angle of a hill based on their age. The results surprised him. Using a well-walked hill on the college’s campus, the study found that older adults were better at interpreting the correct slope of a hill than young adults. The prof believes this is because of greater life experience. While all participants saw the hill as steeper than it actually was, the older folks’ estimates were closer to accurate.

You could say that with experience comes sharper perception. Perhaps the hills we’ve already climbed—literally and figuratively—help us to see that the ones which lie ahead are not as insurmountable as they might appear. I like to think so. One thing I know, and that’s the older I grow, the more I know I don’t know. Could that be the secret of wisdom? Not everything is as it appears.

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Friday, February 14, 2020

Flower Power

A lot of my female friends agree when I say I would rather receive an occasional single flower throughout the year on “nothing days” than a predictable bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day or an anniversary.

A lot of my female friends also agree that announcing this preference results in no flowers at all.

So, when winter drags on with its cold, dark days, there’s nothing like some posies to brighten my world. On a recent visit to the grocery store, I decided to splurge.

The vibrant arrangement that immediately caught my eye was a mix of coral-tipped yellow roses, purple carnations, red Gerbera daisies, greens, yellows, and more. Too gorgeous for words and no price tag in sight. I asked an employee, “how much for this bouquet?”


Ouch. Too much. I felt sure my guilty conscience would not allow me to enjoy those flowers. I picked out a blooming plant instead, which sold for $12. Besides, I told myself. It’s potted, so it will last longer. Much more practical.

As I pushed it up and down the aisles in the child seat of my cart, however, I couldn’t forget about the other bouquet. The one I really wanted. The arguments in my brain swirled:

Can you fully enjoy this one knowing you’ve ‘settled?’ If not, why bother at all?

Oh c’mon. You deserve it.

You’ve always hated the notion of ‘deserving’ anything. You have already received far more than you could ever deserve.

Stop feeling guilty. Some women spend this much on booze or cigarettes every week.

Maybe donating the money to charity would give you a bigger lift.

Stop overthinking it!

With reckless abandon, I dashed to the produce section, returned the potted plant to its shelf, and prepared to walk away. Then I abruptly paused long enough to grab the bouquet I wanted all along and hustled over to the cashier line before I could change my mind.

The customer ahead of me saw them lying on the conveyor belt. “Gorgeous flowers.”

“Right?” I said. “A little touch of spring.”

“How much are they?” she asked.

I cringed. “Forty bucks.”

“Oh, but so worth it.”

I smiled. “Thank you for saying so. I was feeling a little guilty.”

“Hey, you deserve it.”

I’d never met this woman in my life, but she somehow believed I deserved those flowers. “If anyone tries to give you a hard time about it, you tell them you’re worth it.”

“Well, the only one who would give me a hard time is myself,” I said.

“Then you tell yourself!” she insisted. “We women have to treat ourselves once in a while. Hey, if it’ll get you through the winter, know what I mean? We give and give and give. Am I right?”

Words I’d never say but had surely thought. I smiled and blinked back a tear. “Thank you,” I managed to whisper. Sometimes God sends his little messages through strangers, but always right when you need them most. 

I took those flowers home, put them in my biggest vase, and displayed them on the dining table. The next day I divvied them among five smaller vases so I could enjoy them all over the house. As I continued to trim and cull, those flowers cheered my home for more than two weeks. A great investment! 

If your doctor prescribed forty dollars’ worth of medication, you’d cough up the money and fill the prescription, wouldn’t you? Do it for your mental health. If you need permission, here’s mine. You’re worth it.