Archive for November, 2012

The Two Cents
November 15, 2012

He (Jesus) looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’ ~ Luke 21:1-4 

At this time of Thanksgiving, it is customary to count one’s blessings and be grateful for them. Also during this time of year, our church asks us to prayerfully consider our gifts to support its ministries in the coming year.

On Commitment Sunday (the anniversary of our church’s founding in 1945), the sermon scripture was the one noted above about the poor widow who gave everything she had to the temple. Her generosity was striking. It does not indicate if she were joyful or not, but our pastor inspired us to be joyful givers who delight in the gift, not grumpy ones who feel like they HAVE to give something.

To help us remember this attitude of generosity, we were invited to take two pennies back to our pews from a display at the altar rail. Not having any pockets, I put them into my wallet’s coin purse, where they were soon mixed in with the other coins, out of my sight and mind.

Swirling behind this scene, political battles continue to be fought over taxation rates and spending excesses. The forces go back and forth, and even now, post election, the rhetoric flies. Questions abound: Will our tax rates go up? Will our deductions be capped? When will this happen, and how will it affect our cash flow and charitable giving?

With all this uncertainty, Joel and I talked a lot about not increasing our pledge, just to be sure we won’t find ourselves short. But ultimately, we decided that this was the wrong attitude. We agreed to be bold and “out of our abundance”, give joyfully to our church. Even if charitable deductions are capped, we will still commit to our pledge.

Let me be clear. We love our church, and are absolutely delighted to give generously to it and to other local non-profits which we support. We know that our donations are appreciated and being used in a positive manner of which we approve. We are NOT so delighted to give any more money than the vast amount we already give to our federal government, which can’t seem to stanch its spending, much of it to causes we do not support, and much of it overreaching and unwarranted.

In our house, we have a need list and a want list. First come the needs, and then the wants. It should be the same with our government. Right now, reducing the massive debt is THE need. Everything else must wait. Sorry about things like social experiments, subsidies, stimuli and certain foreign aid.

Our want list? A new car? Continued garden improvements? Long overdue home repairs? Building a vacation home for retirement days? Nope. Sorry about that, economy. My ten year car will have to do for the time being, and I hope that our landscaper, handyman and construction folks will be ok without our business.

Having said all this, it sounds petty to even voice a complaint, given that many people would love my perceived want list. I am abundantly blessed, come what may, and I do appreciate it.

However, our children and our children’s children will be bearing the burden of paying the federal debt off for decades, maybe even their entire lives, and that is why I feel it’s important to stop the extraneous spending NOW and get back to some semblance of balance. I don’t think young people today truly appreciate what their future financial burden will be. It would be nice for them to be able to keep more of their hard earned money, instead of having to pay off a debt not of their own making.

Maybe we’ll be eating beans, but oh well! We’ll be happy about it… I like beans. Joel swears that I would be perfectly happy eating cheese and crackers and raisins every day. True.

Two days after putting the two cents from church into my wallet, I was out walking Tucker. There in the street, I found two other shiny pennies. I have to admit, I was thrilled to see them, and I picked them up and savored them before putting them in my pocket. Was it an affirmation from God? Who am I to conjecture about such a thing? All I know is that they were a NEW reminder to me of what’s important and what is not.

I know not what the future holds for us personally or for our country generally. But I can say that whatever happens, we will all live. I hope we will all corporately live with generous hearts, but that may be asking for too much.

Two cents. I’ve just given you mine. Love one another, and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

(by the way, after doing the wash, I found those two cents AGAIN in the bottom of the washing machine, where they had fallen out of my pocket. Yet another reminder!)

…pewperson will return on Dec. 7.


The Way Things Used to Be
November 8, 2012

The politicians were talking themselves red, white and blue in the face.  ~ Clare Boothe Luce

The very first presidential election I remember being aware of was the 1960 contest between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. I was all of 5 years old. We lived in New Orleans at the time, and anyone who lived in the South back then can recall that it leaned Democrat. More than leaned, it was a big blue unified blob of Democrats.

But my parents were staunch Ike Republicans. And so, of course, were we kids. One memory I have is almost too embarrassing to share, but I remember swinging on our awesome swing set (a neighborhood gathering place) and chanting, “Nixon, Nixon, I declare! I see Kennedy’s underwear!” We thought that was hilarious, and a little ribald, but had no clue who these people were or why we were saying it.

Obviously it was a sneaky indoctrination ploy by our parents, who also taught us to say, “Yeah Rice! Boo Texas!” Gotta love ’em.

I asked Joel today (I am writing this on Election Day evening while the talking heads are jabbering in the other room), was Election Day ever a holiday? For some reason, I was recalling that it was.

He said no. So I looked back to November 1960 in the book I compiled of my mom’s letters. She wrote on November 11, “The children are out of school of today (it was Veteran’s Day)- as they were Tuesday for election day. I have never seen schools give so many holidays!” I was a little sorry that there was no mention of her reaction to the outcome of the race.

So I WAS remembering correctly that we kids had the day off. I know it’s now a federal law for all employers to allow employees 2 hours with pay to exercise their right to vote, but now with all the early voting options, there is really no reason for anyone to not vote.

Until recent years, people had the option to vote “absentee” in case there was a reason why they couldn’t vote in person on Election Day. But early voting has mostly negated that option; still I know that people can and do vote by mail, particularly if homebound.

Many of my friends took advantage of early voting to “avoid the lines” on the big day. Perhaps they stood in line to avoid a longer line on Election Day?

As a result, their absence today resulted in my waltzing into my precinct’s voting location with nobody in line. It took all of ten minutes to cast my ballot. I was prepared!

I have always loved the drama and excitement of Election Day and feel like all the early voting has diffused some of that. To gather with your fellow citizens and do your civic duty was such a privilege, even if it was inconvenient and time consuming… it was a bonding experience!

At posting time, we’ll all know the results of the election. Whether or not your candidate has won or lost, my hope is that there will be no gloating trash talk that is so prevalent in our society today.

I miss the likes of the civil, stirring, yet friendly debates between Bill Buckley on the right and John Kenneth Galbraith on the left. I was so privileged to be present at one of their debates in the 70’s. I wonder what they would say about our country tonight…

Alas, I’m afraid that those days represent a civilization gone with the wind.

November 1, 2012

You may not be able to read a doctor’s handwriting and prescription, but you’ll notice his bills are neatly typewritten. ~ Earl Wilson

Recently I counted the nominations submitted by our youth choir members to elect this year’s officers. The fifty some-odd ballots were divided into two camps. The first bunch contained neatly written and correctly spelled names. The others? Atrocious handwriting and spelling!

For instance: Witicker  = Whitaker. Paton, Patent  = Peyton. Willium = William. Margert = Margaret.

All I knew about the writers was their ages and grade levels. Looking more closely, it appears the older the student, the neater the writing. I would venture that most girls write better than the boys, but there are exceptions to that generalization.

It’s a fact that kids these days write mostly on their electronic devices, whether a computer or notebook or smart phone. Recently I posted a blog entry about being the only person in a meeting who wrote notes on paper as opposed to tapping them out on laptop computers.

Alas, handwriting is going the way of the dinosaur, and though we’ll always have to know how to do it, anything important is now typed and mostly spellchecked (unlike handwritten things like ballots!).

Who am I to talk? I can write fairly neatly when I concentrate on it, but I tend to scribble when in a hurry. However, I am a stickler for spelling and grammar. Shannon threatens to bestow “Grammar” as my grandmother name, with the last name “Police” of course.

Is good penmanship genetic or learned? I guess it’s mostly learned, but good small motor skills help. Funny, two of my sisters write like our mom, and two of us write like our dad. What’s up with that? Dad was the neat writer (he was an engineer), and Mom was and is a messy writer. She used to type most correspondence… a trendsetter before her time!

According to Wikipedia, “With practice and familiarity, handwriting becomes highly automated using motor programs stored in  motor memory.” There was a reason we had to form our cursive letters over and over in the second grade. The key word is PRACTICE.

When Shannon and Kat got engaged, I bid on a calligrapher’s services in a silent auction, and I won! Carrie’s work was absolutely gorgeous, and she would just sit down and whip out an envelope with no hesitation. I would be a nervous wreck trying to still my hand to form the words without blowing it.

Looking into my crystal ball, I predict that there will come a day when pens and pencils become obsolete, mere curiosities to marvel over in museums. What I fear is that most digital communications will be lost to time, as opposed to all the hand written letters I have saved over the years. How will the current generation recapture their history?

My mother warned us. She likes real film cameras and paper communications. There’s something to be said about that, and it really makes me want to neatly write real letters to someone!

Maybe the recipient will even save it…