Every now and then, don’t you just wish you had an extra day of the week? Maybe between Tuesday and Wednesday—a day no one knows about where you can tackle reorganizing the basement, get some genealogy done without interruption, or visit a distant relative. But Tuesday is over and here comes Wednesday, normal as usual, with laundry, work responsibilities, and shoveling the driveway all over again.
Well, I just looked at the calendar and realized we do have an extra day this year—it’s Leap Year!
That’s right, 29 days in February. Okay, so even though there’s the extra number, it’s not really exactly an extra day–I mean, chores still need to be done, there’s schoolwork and church callings and family responsibilities—but in a way, it is an extra day. Looking back at other leap years (I’ve actually had 14 of them, and if you do the math, you can come up close to my age!), I can’t recall anything different for any one of those days.
For 2012, I want it to be different. I want to make a difference. Don’t you think our “extra day” ought to be significant? I began thinking about how we could all focus a little differently and make a difference because of the extra day this year.
I realized that I need to focus on more than the basement or closets in my home, so I turned to the hymn book for inspiration. Here are some ideas I found that you can apply to your extra day this year.
- Hymn #223: “Have I done any good in the world today, have I helped anyone in need?” We live in a day with lots of need around us. People losing jobs, losing homes, losing hope. James 1:22 says, “Be ye doers of the word.” Certainly on Leap Day we could find at least one person to serve and make their day better as we make our day memorable.
- Hymn #140: “Ere you left your room this morning…oh how praying rests the weary.” If you’re weary, have you thought about praying? Sincere prayer? Enos went about his normal routine of hunting, but when he stopped to pray it changed his future. We may not be able to cease from our daily routine, but what can we accomplish with a specific, sincere prayer in our heart throughout the entire day? At times when we are able to stop our routine, we can return to that prayer and then let the Spirit guide us and restore us as Enos.
- Hymn #241: “Count your many blessings, see what God has done.“ Could we maintain an attitude of gratitude the entire day? I remember a talk given by Elder Bednar where he spoke of a time when his family was struggling with some difficult news, and a visiting general authority challenged them to give prayers of gratitude only, not asking for anything. How they longed to ask for help, but in choosing to “count their blessings,” they recognized the help they were getting all along.
- Primary song, “Kindness Begins with Me”: “I want to be kind to everyone, for that is right, you see. So I say to myself, ‘Remember this: Kindness begins with me.’” Doesn’t this world need more kindness? With those few lines in our heart all day long, would we be more patient when in line behind the little old lady who counts her change a penny at a time? Ephesians 4: “Be ye kind one to another…” Would we do a better job if we kept that simple song in our heart for one whole day?
- Or how about the Primary song, “I’m trying to be like Jesus”? If we rose early on the 29th of February and had that song in our hearts, would we drive differently on the freeway, listen more intently to the four-year-old’s story about her day, or sacrifice to help someone else succeed?
I really do want February 29th to be different this leap year. But of course, when it’s come and gone, I shouldn’t wait another four years to try this experiment. I’m hoping that if I can focus well on this extra day, that I will wake up March 1, 2012, and realize that I didn’t need an extra day to focus, I needed extra focus on that day. Then maybe every day after that can be different because I am different. But it’s got to start somewhere, so my challenge is to start with February 29th and see what changes we can make in ourselves.
Happy Leap Year; use your extra day well!
Marion Stewart married her husband Ken in 1974 and had six children in eight years (no multiples—“change one diaper, change three” was her motto for a few years). She was co-editor and reporter for the California edition of the Latter-Day Sentinel from 1984 to 1986. She has served in nearly every capacity in a ward or branch, having had four or five callings at a time—including playing the piano for Priesthood! She has lived in California, Michigan, and Utah. She is looking forward to her 11th grandchild.
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