Just another day on Venus

As I was listening to the radio recently, I heard some interesting facts about the planet Venus. I already knew a few things, like that it’s the second planet from the sun, which I remember using that old mnemonic device from elementary school: My Very Educated MotherJust Served Us Nine Pizzas (Now that they’ve removed Pluto from the lineup, Mother serves Nachos, by the way). It’s the hottest planet, with a really muggy atmosphere…so pretty much just like Tennessee in August.


I didn’t know that it rotates backwards from the direction of most other planets. Hot and spinning backwards is never a great combination for me, think Tea Cups ride at Disney World. But Venus makes it work, lighting up the night as the brightest thing we can see in the sky apart from the moon.


The most surprising fact I learned was how slowly Venus rotates. It takes 243 “Earth days” for Venus to rotate once on its axis, making one Venus day. But the planet orbits around the sun in 225 “Earth days”, making one Venus year. Hence, a year on Venus (225 Earth days) is shorter than a day on Venus (243 Earth days). Just let that sink in a minute.


In the last few weeks, many of my friends have sent their children off to college, some for the first time. They packed them up and drove them miles from home so their sons and daughters can begin a new and exciting chapter. I still have two more years before this will be a chapter in my daughters’ stories (Chapter titles might include: “Twin Daughters Study Twice as Hard” or “The Library is Her Favorite”).


When it comes to evaluating moments like the first day of kindergarten or the first day of college, studying for spelling tests or preparing for driving tests, it’s hard not to say things like: “Where has the time gone? Weren’t they just in diapers yesterday? They can’t be this old!” We say these things because we humans are complicated creatures. Why else would something as measurable and concrete as time have a feeling? We say a Monday feels like a Tuesday. We say that 8:00 pm feels like midnight. We joke that “time flies when you’re having fun.”


There are times when we are metaphorically dropped onto the hot, clammy surface of Venus, and we think that the calendar mustbe wrong. We want time to spin backwards or at least stop for a bit so we can catch our breath. It’s easy to feel like we’re waking up from a coma, seeing our kids as if for the first time in years. He used to come up to my elbow, his hair just the right height for me to run my hand across it to wrestle with that cowlick. Now I have to reach up to pat down his unruly tufts of hair, and we’re eye-to-eye. Good grief! How long was I out?


But there was no coma, only the day-to-day moments that make up their childhood. The hectic mornings out the door and grabbing supper on the way to ball practice. The busy schedules and the good night hugs. The sweet memories and the discouraging frustrations. That feeling that we only get one chance to do this right because, in the end, it seems so fleeting.


So pretend that for today, you are a Venusian—a hot-natured inhabitant of the planet Venus. Make a “New DayResolution,” giving the next 24 hours your attention as if this day were as consequentially important to fully live as a whole year. Treasure the blessings and value what’s really important.

Welcome to Venus!

I Love Fall

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Fall is for brown-eyed brunettes. It’s our time to shine. Our mousy brown locks suddenly takes on streaks of auburn and honey-gold in the slanting afternoon sunlight. We can easily pull off warm, autumnal colors. That’s why our wardrobe is full of chocolate brown.


Speaking of chocolate, Fall is also for the less-than-slender. Gone are the summer days when you had to wrestle your way into a bathing suit. Now our outfits are like onions—layer upon layer. We are even able to wear skinny jeans or even jeggings because the roly-poly parts will be covered in over-sized tunics and long shirts, sweaters and sweatshirts.


Now that you mention it: Fall is for sweatshirts. What can possibly match the blissful feeling of slipping into a big hooded sweatshirt on a chilly day? You remove the uncomfortable business casual you’ve lived in for the past eight hours. Then you sigh and bask in the relief offered by the fleecy soft inside of your favorite hoodie. Once properly attired, you can prop up your feet and watch TV or a crackling fire.


Fall is for bonfires. The sooty smell is unmistakable on an autumn night. If you are fortunate enough to be present at a bonfire, you bring home the bonfire smell on your clothes and in your hair. It lingers like a perfume and it speaks of more than just scent. It says that you are rugged and you like being outdoors. It also says you enjoy s’mores over an open fire.


Besides the bonfire scent, Fall smells of cinnamon and wet leaves. It smells like silk floral wreaths and roasted pumpkin seeds, chili in the crockpot and cornbread in the oven.


I’m so grateful to live in a place with changing seasons. Fall comes at exactly the right moment for me. I welcome Summer when it comes calling around Memorial Day, but I’m never sad to see it go. By late September, I’m ready for something different.


The author of Ecclesiastes saw the beauty of changing seasons: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.” (NLT)


Sometimes life seems to be spinning out of control. Changes come as uninvited guests. If we choose to relinquish our role as “spinner of the universe,” we might see these changes as opportunities. We might see this new season as a gift.