These thoughts are not my own – I am sharing the message my pastor gave us this week.
She told us that if we make $37,000 a year we are in the ranks of the rich when compared to the rest of the world’s population.
Then she listed the “rich” people problems we face all the time. Things that we complain about – and do not really stop to think how many in the rest of the world would be grateful for those problems.
Our cell phone service is bad.
Our air line flight has been delayed.
Amazon is out of the size we needed.
Amazon promised shipment in three days and we now have to wait a week.
We have to get new tires for our car.
Our laptop stopped working and we have to buy a new one.
The lines at McDonald’s are too long.
And we could go on and go about the “problems” we complain about every day without realizing these are “rich” people problems.
We take so much for granted in the USA.
Yet, at the same time we know there are many in our country who are struggling financially right now.
According to Feeding America, 1 in 9Americans struggled with hunger. In 2019, 35,207,000 people were food insecure. Food insecurity exists in every county in America. Millions of people are still struggling to get by because of underemployment, stagnant wages and the rising cost of living. To these Americans, food has become an unaffordable luxury.
In 2019 more than 5.3 million children live in households struggling with hunger. Approximately25% of children in households at risk of hunger may be forced to rely exclusively on hunger relief organizations to make ends meet.
According to the USDA, in 2020, 35.3 percent of households with incomes below the Federal poverty line were food insecure. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security. Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for single-parent households, and for Black and Hispanic households. Food insecurity was more common in both large cities and rural areas than in suburban areas.
As I look at these statistics I realize how blessed I am. My husband and I have a freezer full of food and a pantry with shelves fully stocked. Yet, my studies have shown me that many elderly have to decide between buying food or purchasing needed medicine.
So what do I do? Just feel bad and move on with my life? Or, try to help in some way.
If you fall in that category of having plenty of food, I challenge you to reach out and help
Find a food pantry in your area and contribute food and/or money. Money is probably better than food because most food pantries can purchase food in bulk at much cheaper prices than an individual can. If you give food, think dried and canned goods. And please, check for expiration dates and do not give something you would not eat.
Many schools have food programs – check with your local school.
Do a volunteer food drive.
Volunteer with your local food pantry or with the Meals on Wheels program.
I am grateful that my church works with Compassion in Action, a local group that helps with school children who are food insecure, and with a local food bank to distribute food to those in need every month.
My pastor shared the story of the farmer in the Bible who had a huge harvest. His response to that was to build more barns and then sit and enjoy his success. While Jesus was clearly not condemning being successful or even rich (many of godly men in the Bible were wealthy) or being a good steward of what you have, He clearly tells us we are not to trust in our own riches. Our trust is to be in God.
Also, we are not to grasp on tightly to what we have, but be willing to let go and share with others.
Finally, when we talk about riches we usually think of money or possessions. But I am rich in so many other important ways – ways that money cannot buy. Family, health, peace with God.
I think of a song my mother used to sing when I was a child.
If you are one of those who are food insecure, do not be afraid to ask for help. Check with your local church, your local school. There is help out there – and you should not feel bad about receiving.
If you are one who is truly “rich,” be grateful but also reach out and share with others.
As my husband often said when he preached about giving generously to others, “I never saw an U-Haul truck following a funeral car to the grave.”
In the words of Jesus:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
When I was 54 years old I was diagnosed with a very aggressive and advanced stage of breast cancer. My doctor said I had only a small chance of still being alive in ten years.
Ten years – that would put me into retirement age. At that time I planned to retire at age 62. So I figured if I could last ten years and retire at 62 that would give me two years to enjoy retirement with my husband.
For years I had worked a secular job which kept me busy with work Monday through Friday. My job was a very demanding job and often required overtime. When the weekend came I was really not free to enjoy time with my husband because he was a pastor. That meant that much of his weekend was involved with the church.
So I thought if I could just make it to those ten years, that would give me two years of retirement to enjoy more time with my husband.
That is what I asked for – “Lord, let me live to retire and give me two years to enjoy some quality and quantity time with my husband.”
As the time grew near for my 62nd birthday, I was thankful that I had made it eight years – but finances dictated that I needed to work until I was 65.
“Lord, let me live until I am 65 and give me two years of retirement with my husband.”
Well, obviously I made to 65. What is so wonderful is today I celebrate nine years of retirement. Nine years ago today I walked out of MidAmerican Energy Company for the last time. Still praying for those two years of retirement with my husband.
God has given me now nine years of retirement – and I am still going strong looking forward to many more years.
What I have been able to enjoy in those nine years.
And all the trips we have been able to make:
All across the south loving the old oak trees and the Spanish moss.
Enjoying the beach and the carriage rides.
And out west to Wyoming and Montana following the Pony Express/Mormon Trail.
Being a history nut I have been able to visit many former presidents’ homes and I loved walking the grounds of Fort Laramie.
Seeing the names carved into the rock at Register Cliff.
But most of all, I am so grateful for all the quality and quantity time I have had with my husband, my bff, these past nine years.
Those of you who follow my blog know by now that my husband and I are Scrabble addictions.
We have kept a record of our scores since 2008. Equally matched in skill, we usually remain only one or two games ahead of the other one.
Recently, however I seemed to be on a winning streak. As I was leading with four games ahead of my husband, he began to get nervous. If I got too big a lead it would be hard to catch up with me.
So when we sat down to play this week, he informed me he was out for revenge.
Boy did he get it!
For those of you who are not Scabble fans, you get seven letter tiles to make your words. If you can use all seven of the tiles in one word you get not only the actual points of the word you made, but an extra 50 bonus points.
He began the game by using all seven tiles and starting off with 50 bonus points. No big deal I thought. That early in the game I had plenty of time to catch up. But he did not stop there. Of the first six words he made, five were made using all seven tiles. Now he had 250 bonus points.
And the rest of the game was all in his favor! He not only won the game – he beat me by over 200 points.
Still, considering he had 250 bonus points I think I did okay.
Now he only has to win the next three games to be equal with me again.
Don’t think I am going to sit idly by and let that happen.
Although it has been years ago, I still remember the day when I heard I was going to be a mother. What excitement as my husband and I began planning for this addition to our family.
I read books on child care. We began shopping for a crib, a baby bed, and tried to decide if we should use cloth diapers as our mothers did or go with the modern throw away kind. We picked out a new paint color for the nursery. I enjoyed a baby shower given by friends and had such joy finding a place for all the gifts.
After a few months while I still found joy in the waiting for this child, I also began to really long for the nine months to end and the child to come. There was morning sickness that seemed to never end, back aches as my stomach got bigger and bigger. The closer I got to the expected delivery date it seemed the more active my child became. It was hard to sleep at night as no matter how I laid, she seemed to move and turn and I was miserable. Sometimes I could feel what I realized must be a foot or a hand and my excitement grew.
The time for her delivery came – and went. Now my anticipation grew stronger. Come child, come. I am so tired, so miserable and long to be delivered from this stage. But even more, I am so anxious to meet you.
For nine months I have thought about nothing much but you. I have wondered if you would be a girl or boy. I prayed that you would be healthy and have all your toes and fingers. Often I tried to imagine what you would look like. Would you have my red hair or my husband thick, dark hair? For nine months you have been the center of my thoughts. Everything has evolved around “when the baby gets here.”
As the delivery date passed, my anticipation grew much stronger. Every morning I would wake thinking “will this be the day?” Every night I went to bed thinking “will the baby come tonight?”
Then it happened. Sitting in my living room with my husband, my water broke. What excitement as we grabbed the bag we had packed a few weeks before for my stay in the hospital. Thankful that we lived only a few blocks from the hospital, we hurried to the car and were filled with such excitement. The baby was finally coming!
At the hospital there was still a time of waiting. The doctor said “yes, the baby is almost here. Just a few more hours.”
My husband paced the floor as I prayed the baby would come soon. It was painful and I wanted the pain to end, but more than the pain, I longed to finally hold this child in my arms.
After a few hours, the baby was born! I still remember as if it was yesterday, the moment I held her in my arms. To finally see her face to face. To be able to count her toes and fingers, to look into her beautiful hazel eyes, just like her Daddy’s. To whisper to her how much I loved her and how I had longed for her arrival.
It’s Christmas time. We are excited about the day. Seeing family members, opening presents, enjoying a great feast.
But I wonder, do we really understand what this time of Advent should be about? How much do we anticipate the return of our Lord? Do we even think about it?
Does the thought of His return fill us with excitement? Do we count the years since His promise and wonder “When will you return?” Do we think about what it will mean to see HIm face to face? Does that thought fill us with wonder?
There is such chaos in our world today. Covid has created health issues, and divided people on what our response should be. Politics have beoome so ugly, so divisive. Many are suffering financially. Fires in California, tornadoes in Kentucky. Almost weekly we hear of a shooting in a mall, in a factory and now even in our churches and schools. We are like a woman in the last months of pregnancy, hoping for deliverance soon.
But where do we turn for deliverance? Some are thinking if we can just get Donald Trump back in the White House all will be well. Others think if we can just get rid of Donald Trump and keep Biden in the White House all will be well. Some are hoping Congress will pass some legislature that will solve it all. Just the right action by them and suddenly the Covid crisis will pass, the economy will get better, the violence will be controlled.
As for me, while I have no idea when that day will come just as I did not know the exact day my child would be born, I live in anticipation.
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Just as I did not sit around doing nothing when I was told I was pregnant, so must we not just sit around and wait for the day of His return. I was busy preparing. How do we prepare for the Lord’s return? He told us in HIs parables. We work to help others, to make our world as much like His kingdom as we can. To be His hands, his eyes, his arms to those in need until He returns and makes all things right.
This season, I encourage you to seek to do all you can to reach out in His love to the hurting world as you wait for His return.
And in all the dinners, parties, family gatherings, please take time to remember what this season should really mean to us. And in all the chaos, frustrations of daily life right now, remember our Lord will return. While we wait, work to be His hands and feet to help those in need.
There’s a light upon the mountains, and the day is at the spring, When our eyes shall see the beauty and the glory of the King; Weary was our heart with waiting, and the night-watch seemed so long, But His triumph-day is breaking, and we hail it with a song.
In the fading of the starlight we can see the coming morn; And the lights of men are paling in the splendors of the dawn; For the eastern skies are glowing as with lights of hidden fire, And the hearts of men are stirring with the throb of deep desire.
There’s a hush of expectation, and a quiet in the air; And the breath of God is moving in the fervent breath of prayer; For the suffering, dying Jesus is the Christ upon the throne, And the travail of our spirit is the travail of His own.
He is breaking down the barriers, He is casting up the way; He is calling for His angels to build up the gates of day; But His angels here are human, not the shining hosts above, For the drum-beats of His army are the heart-beats of our love.
Fifty-one years ago today I became a mother for the first time. That day will always be one of my favorite memories. As I held my little girl in my arms I whispered to her that we would be best friends. All the fun we would have – shopping, reading books, playing games, singing songs.
I thought then that I had all the time in the world with this little one. I was wrong. Too quickly she became a toddler getting into everything. Then a little girl off to school. Her first day of school she gave me a scare as she did not get off the bus at our street. We still laugh about that day, but at the moment I was one frightened mother.
Then a teenager. Although we often hear parents complaining about teenagers I found the years when my daughters were teenagers some of the happiest of my life.
Finally she was a young woman in love. Then came marriage – and later three beautiful children making me a grandmother. Time has passed too quickly and she is now a grandmother (which means I am a great-grandmother). How did that happen?
Fifty one years – looking back at 1970 – what a difference.
In 1970 prices were:
Hershey’s candy bar – $.15
gallon of milk – $1.15
dozen eggs – $.62
pound of coffee – $.91
loaf of bread – $.25
can of Coke – $.10
average movie ticket – $1.55
postage stamp – $.06
median cost of house – $26,600
average cost of car – $3,500
Of course, income was much less then also. Median wages was $8,734
The top 10 TV shows were:
Marcus Welby M.D.
The Flip Wilson Show
ABC Movie of the Week
How times have changed. We did not have cell phones. The first commercially available cellphone was developed by Motorola and went on sale in the U.S. in 1984. The phone was huge, cost $3,995.00 and was only good for about thirty minutes of use before you had to charge the battery again.
Other technolgies we did not have in 1970:
MRI – 1977
e-mail – 1971
post-it note – 1974
Rubik’s Cube – 1974
first commercial barcode scan – 1974
Apple computer – 1976
Sony Walkman – 1979
Looking back over these fifty-one years, while life has changed in so many ways – not only in my family but in my country, one thing remains true.
I have not lost that magical feeling of being a mother. Although my daughter now lives hundreds of miles from me and I do not get to see her as much as I would like, when I hear her voice on the phone or get a text, my heart still smiles.
Growing up every year as fall began, I would begin getting excited when the mailman came. I would come home from school and ask my mother, “Did it come today?” Anticipation grew each day until finally Mom would smile and say “Here it is!” How excited I would be as I opened the Montgomery Wards Christmas catalog.
Aaron Montgomery Ward launched the nation’s first mail-order business with a one-page price list boasting 163 items, which he sent to farmers’ cooperatives throughout the rural Midwest. Unlike existing mail-order businesses that dealt only in individual items, Ward offered the rural consumer a variety of merchandise and, by eliminating the middleman, kept prices low. His new business found a ready market as homesteaders pushed west across the frontier. By the spring of 1874, his price list had grown to 32 pages and was bound into a catalog. Ward offered a guarantee – “Satisfaction…
Shortly after posting that blog my youngest daughter called to tell me she had some bad news. Our granddaughter had been sent home from school that morning, along with all her class, because they had been exposed to Covid-19 the day before. They would have to quarantine for Thanksgiving and would not be able to join us for the day as we had planned.
Of course, my first concern was that she and her parents would not get Covid-19 in spite of the exposure. But immediately I also realized what this meant for us. They would have to spend the day with just the three of them and my husband and I would be just two for Thanksgiving.
We have a large blended family but they are scattered all over the USA. We have children and grandchildren in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri and Illinois. As the grandchildren have grown up and married with families of their own, our Thanksgiving gathering has slowly gotten smaller.
Moving three years ago to Michigan we only have one daughter nearby. And yes, she is the one who had to quarantine.
As I started to feel discouraged about that, I remembered my own blog I just posted.
So I began looking at what I have to be thankful – even as my Thanksgiving feast will only have two seats at the table.
Here are just a few of the things I found I have to be thankful for:
Thankful for cell phones and FB so I can still wish loved ones Happy Thanksgiving and see pictures of them.
Thankful that none of my family have died from the Covid-19 though a few of them have had the virus.
Thankful that I have my husband – my bbf – and I will not be all alone at the table as some may be.
Thankful for my beautiful home and that my table will still be full of good food.
Thankful for health so that I can prepare the meal not only for us two but also take a meal to my daughter’s home and leave it on the porch for them to enjoy.
Thankful for being granted the privilege of being born in this country.
The more I thought about it, the more my list of things to be thankful for grew.
The best thing to thank God for is that we will soon be celebrating his coming to earth to live, to die, to rise again. That in the midst of chaos, He is there.
How did my Thanksgiving day go?
My husband worked with me fixing the turkey and all the trimmings, then quickly took some of it to our daughter’s home. We enjoyed the meal, shared a time of prayer and Bible reading, played Scrabble (we are Scrabble’s addicts), and ended the evening with a movie.
As we went to bed last night my husband said, “This has been a different Thanksgiving and I missed family, but in a way it was one of my favorites. I spent the day with my best friend doing things we loved to do. It caused me to really take a look at all the blessings God has given us and I am very grateful.”
The day ended well for me – I won the Scrabble game!!!!
My daughter sent me a picture of my granddaughter enjoying my pumpkin pie – with loads of Cool Whip.
And after almost a week – it appears my family are free of symptoms – no Covid-19.