My newest book, Letters from Mother from College, is now available on Amazon.
Will Polly discover God’s plan for her life in a small southern college?
Letters to Mother from College was inspired by the letters my mother wrote home during her first two years of college. Mom was the only child of a single mother, and they were very close. At 17 years of age, Mom left her home in Pennsylvania to attend a small college in a small Southern town. Everything was new and different, and Mom wrote about her experiences in frequent, lengthy letters. It appears that my grandmother kept every letter my mother ever wrote to her.
We discovered the letters after my grandmother passed away. Mom wanted to toss the letters, but I took them and kept them for “safe keeping”. Occasionally, I considered ways to share the letters with my siblings. I began reading them in order a few years ago, after my own mother had passed, and they were enlightening and engaging. The letters inspired me to write at story, and I simply needed to add some details.
The letters provided the framework for the novel. Many of the details were added from family stories that my mother told us or were fabricated from my imagination. However, the primary elements of the story are the actual experiences my mother had as she adjusted to college life and being away from her family for the first time.
I hope that you will enjoy this look at college life in the 1950’s. Polly discovered that God was directing her path and had a wonderful plan for her life. God also has a wonderful plan for your life. I pray that you will open your heart to the Lord and allow Him to direct your footsteps.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
If you have never considered that God loves you and created you for a purpose, you may not have experienced the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and having your sins forgiven. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.
Tomorrow, we celebrate motherhood. All across our nation, people will take time out of their busy schedules to recognized the sacrifice their mothers made in giving them life and in raising them. A common denominator across people is that everyone has, or had, a mother. Someone gave life to each of us.
When my husband and I decided that we ready to have children, we waiting anxiously each month for the first signs that we had conceived a baby. It took a few months, and we were disappointed in each of those months when it became evident that I was not pregnant. Our hearts soared with joy when a pregnancy test confirmed that a baby was on the way.
Like many expectant parents, we began immediately to consider possible names for our newly-conceived child. We went shopping for baby furniture and paraphernalia, decorated the nursery, and childproofed our home. But the first thing we did was call our parents to announce that a new family member was on the way. “We are having a baby,” we exclaimed with great joy.
As great as our joy was, however, it dimmed in comparison to God’s joy at the creation of a new life. God knew about our child that moment he was conceived, and God already had a plan for his life. Psalm 139: 13 – 16 tells us,
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”
God knew our child upon the moment of conception. God knew him, and God had a plan for his life. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” My child, and every child, was born with a God-designed destiny in mind. My job and my husband’s job, as our child’s parents, was to raise him up to fulfill God’s plan for his life.
In recent years, technology has advanced to where scientists can detect the creation of new life the instant a sperm penetrates an egg. At the exact moment, a zygote is formed. The zygote is a new organism with a combination of the DNA of the two gametes (sperm and egg) that created it. That DNA contains all the genetic material form the new child. A new life is created in the moment of conception.
Another technological advance has allowed scientists to detect the emission of zinc sparks when new life is created. In his book Whisper, author Mark Batterson describes this event, “At the exact moment a sperm penetrates an egg, the egg releases billions of zinc atoms that emit light. Sparks fly, literally!” (Mark Batterson, Whisper, Page 20, Multnomah Press)
I like to think of these zinc sparks as fireworks that God is shooting off to celebrate the creation of a new life. The joy that Steve and I felt at the realization that we were going to be parents was akin to the explosion of fireworks. I hope that your parents felt that same ecstasy upon learning of your impending arrival as part of their family. Every life should be celebrated as a gift from God.
If you are a mother, I pray that your children recognize the love, time, and energy you have poured into their lives and that they celebrate you tomorrow. I also pray that you recognize the wonderful joy and privilege of conceiving, birthing, and raising a child. Every child is a blessing, and every child has a divine purpose for his or her life. As a mother, I pray regularly that my children and grandchildren will allow the Lord to reveal to them to His plan and that they will follow it. There is no greater joy in life than to be on the path that God has chosen for us.
My parents raised nine children on a single income, so careful money management was a priority. I don’t recall them ever formally sharing money management lessons. Rather, they instilled good money management habits through their example and casual conversations. One of the ways they taught us good money management skills was by a allowing my sisters to make some of our spending decisions at an early age. The lessons I learned include:
Spending for one thing means less money for something else. When I was about 13, my parents decided to give us each $20 per week allowance. In 1972, $20 was a significant amount of money. In fact, it is equivalent to about $130 today. The catch was that the money had to cover all of our discretionary spending. We were free to pack lunches for school, but if we wanted to buy lunch, it came out of our allowance. We were also responsible for buying our own clothes and paying for movie tickets and other recreation. We learned to manage money and make hard decisions. If I wanted a new pair of shoes, I might have to pack my lunch for a whole week.
Shop the sales. My mother was a master shopper. She watched sales and clipped coupons. I have seen her leave a department store with multiple shopping bags of clothes for which she paid less than $20 in total. She loved to search the clearance racks for a blouse or sweater that everyone else had overlooked, and she loved the challenge of finding the perfect skirt or pair of slacks to go with it. She would go to every clothing store in the mall in search of what she needed to ensure that she got the best bargain. Mom knew what month to shop for appliances or furniture, and she knew when the “white” sales (linens) would be going on. She loved to shop the after-Christmas sales, and she often bought outfits in January which she would give to us the following Christmas. With four daughters born in a 4 ½ year span, she knew one of us would be able to wear the skirts and sweaters she bought.
Buy quality and keep belongings until they wear out. My mother believed it was worth spending a bit more to get better quality. She bought traditional styles that would not go out of fashion, and she wore her clothes until they were worn out. Similarly, Dad taught us to keep cars until the costs of repairs exceeded the car’s value. He and Mom purchased a car when they married in 1955; my middle school principal purchased the car from them in 1974. They added a second car in 1965, as I was starting first grade. I drove that car until my junior year of college, when I was rear ended while driving it.
Save up for major purchases. I don’t recall my parents ever taking out a loan to purchase a car. Of course, a new car was a true rarity in our household. I do recall, however, a couple of occasions when my father borrowed cash from his life insurance policy to cover a major purchase. He explained that the interest rate was very low, and he was, in essence, paying it back to himself.
Balance your checkbook regularly and know where your money is going. Balancing the checkbook before we had computers could be a time-consuming activity. My mother always sat at the kitchen table to balance the checkbook. Canceled checks were returned to the payer in those days. Mom would tape the canceled checks to the check stubs in a large, three-ring binder. She would mark them off on the bank statement and determine what checks she had written that had not cleared. Mom balanced the checking account to the penny, and she was never satisfied until it balanced.
Count the true cost of debt. My parents bought their final home in 1971 for about $35,000. The monthly payment of $238. I believe the interest rate was 7 ¼%. Mom marked off each payment on an amortization schedule. When there was sufficient money, she would make an extra principal payment or two. I remember her explaining to me that when she paid extra money toward the principal, she was saving more than one payment, as the balance went down and less interest accrued from then on. I also recall multiplying $238 by 360 payment and realizing that, if they made each payment as scheduled, the $35,000 house would cost them about $86,000. This was an eye opener and provided an ideal opportunity for us to talk about homes as investments that would increase in value, whereas a car would lose value over time. My mother paid off the house in about 13 years. While my father appreciated not having a mortgage payment, he did fuss more than once over losing the tax deduction of the interest.
Establish credit early and manage it well. When I graduated from high school, my parents bought me a sewing machine. Mom then declared that I needed a sewing cabinet, which I would have to buy myself. We went together to the Singer store and picked out a cabinet. I believe the price was $125. She instructed me to put $25 down and helped me apply for a credit card. When the bill came, I paid off the balance in full. At the age of eighteen, I had established some credit of my own. I never used that credit card again, but it was the key to allowing me to get a Sears card a few years later.
These money management principles have served me well. Steve and I have tried to instill them in our own children. I hope that they will help you to manage your money better and have less financial stress in your life.
For more money management tips and information on creating budgets, please check out my other blog posts under the Finance tab. For those desiring a better understanding of Biblical principles of money management, I have written a book Honoring God with Your Money. It is available on Amazon and from Barnes and Noble.
If you have money questions you would like me to answer, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write your question in the Comment section. Those who email me will be signed up to receive my free quarterly newsletter with money management tips, encouraging stories, and Scripture inspirations.
I am a woman. I am a frequent shopper in your stores. I am first and foremost a mother. Your recent change in policy of who you allow to use each restroom concerns me. You stated in your blog post, “We believe that everyone…deserves to be protected from discrimination and treated equally.” and “…you’ll always be accepted, respected, and welcomed at Target.” As a business owner, I do understand your right to make a stance as a company. As a parent, I will never understand why you would trade the safety of our women and children for the sake of not hurting feelings.
I realize that everyone needs to feel accepted, loved, and wanted. I know the struggles of a person struggling to find their identity. I also know that as of September 2012, a Gallup poll showed that approximately 3.4% of Americans identify as
My two year-old grandson is crazy about cats, or Meows as he calls them. So when I decided to make him a piñata for his birthday, it seemed natural to make a cat piñata. My husband Steve and our four year-old grandson Daniel got in on the fun. Steve and I made piñatas for our children when they were young, but it has been many years since our last one.
I used two balloons to form the head and body, and paper mached them using a mixture of flour and water. Daniel painted it orange, as his brother’s favorite stuffed animal is an orange tabby. I used batting to make a patch of white on the cat’s chest and face. Steve made the feet, eyes, and ears from construction paper, and I finished it with a fancy tail.
Daniel was quite proud of our efforts and dubbed it ‘cat yata.’ Joshua was thrilled. I am not sure that he will be quite so thrilled tomorrow when it is put into action at his birthday party. What a delight it was to work together as a family on a creative project. Our granddaughter is already wondering what kind of piñata grandma and papa are going to make her for her birthday in December. I am certain that we will need Daniel’s help to make a very special piñata for his cousin.
Have you ever had to give up a job, a project, or a dream that you really wanted, only to find afterwards that the sacrifice had given you your life back? I have had the experience a few times.
The first occassion was about 20 years ago. I was teaching part-time in the small private school my sons attended. I had a wonderfully supportive principal and liked most of my fellow teachers. The families of the students were encouraging and supportive. Theoretically, my work day ended at noon, giving me three hours of ‘free’ time before my children got out of school. However, the free time was often taken up with grading, lesson planning, and filling in where needed. Additionally, the school had some issues which I couldn’t overlook. I struggled with these issues my last year before making the decision to not return. I chose instead to homeschool my sons. A friend questioned that decision. She had homeschooled her son previously and she told me, “When I sent him back to school, I felt like I got my life back.”
For me, the opposite was true. As I adjusted to being a home-school mom, I realized I had gotten my life back. I enjoyed teaching, but it was time-consuming and extracted a toil on my family. Homeschooling allowed my children and I to sleep in and be better rested. It allowed me to focus my ‘best energies’ on my husband and sons and to have more time to take care of my home and prepare more home-cooked meals. An added benefit was the ability to travel and take vacations when everyone else was in school. I never regretted my decision to be a full-time mother and homeschool teacher, even though that was not what prompted me to make the decision to my teaching job.
After six years of homeschooling, my husband and I decided to open a restaurant. The boys were hold enough to work in the restaurant. The plan was that my husband would run the restaurant in the mornings, while I home schooled the boys; the boys and I would cover the evening shifts. It was a good plan, but needless to say, things did not work out exactly as planned. Homeschool and family life soon took a back seat to the demands of business ownership. After much soul-searching, we decided to sell the restaurant. It was a difficult decison for me, as I felt we had worked so hard to make this dream a reality. I was heartbroken that it hadn’t worked out as planned. Yet, once it was sold, I again had the feeling that giving it up allowed me to get my life back.
Once the business was sold and we had moved back to our home town, our twins asked to enroll at the local Christian high school. They needed a math teacher, so I found myself teaching again. I loved being part of this wonderful Christian school, but it was demanding. I taught seven classes daily in addition to being a class sponsor and helping out with other clubs and projects. I stayed for two years after the twins graduated and thoroughly enjoyed it. Yet, I felt God leading me to leave. Again, it was a hard decision. God led me to another job that allows me to use the skills I have honed through my past work experiences and through business ownership. And, once again, I felt like I got my life back. Teaching was very demanding and required many hours of grading and planning after school hours which took away from my family time. It was also very rewarding, which made the decision to quit that much more difficult.
Since leaving teaching, I have had time again to engage in hobbies and try my hand at some new ones, including writing and blogging. I have had two novels published and recently completed a Bible study on money and finances. God has opened doors that I would not have had the opportunity to walk through if I had remained a teacher.
Perhaps you are wrestling with making a change in your life, such as leaving a job you love or giving up on a dream. Change is never easy, but it can lead to new and exciting opportunites that would never come if the change were not made. Search your heart, pray, and allow God to lead you. As a Christian, I know that God has a great plan for my life. His plans and purposes are much more wonderful that the plans I would make for myself. I have found that I am happiest and feel most like ‘I got my life back’ when I follow the path He lays out for me.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Have you ever made a change and felt like you got your life back?
Do you feel God is leading you to make a change now and you aren’t sure that you want to let go of your current job and/or dream?
Today Steve and I celebrate thirty-two years of marriage. We started dating as our high school graduation approached and married one week after graduating from college.
This is what we looked like in our dating days (circa 1980).
Our family grew in 1985 with the birth of our son Chris and expanded again in 1987 when our twins, Jon and Matt, were born.
We took our first cruise in 2006 to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary. With us in the picture is our amazing server Virginia.
In recent years our family has grown rapidly as both twins married and became parents.
God has truly blessed us and our family. We are grateful that God is the head of our household and that we can look back together on thirty-two incredible years as a family. We can’t wait to see what the coming years hold. Through the good and bad, we will face all of life’s challenges together with God’s help.
Happy Anniversary, Steve. I love you with all my heart!
I wanted to share this blog written by our long-time friend Mike Patz, pastor of First Assembly of God church in Gainesville, FL. Mike writes about what constitutes real, lasting love and provides words to inspire us all to love our spouses with the same commitment we love our children.
Last week a couple in our community won the lottery in the amount of $217 million. They took a one-time payout of $135 million. I’m not sure if that is their before-tax, or after-tax, winnings. Either way, it is a lot of money. The husband and wife were reported to be planning to retire early, buy a large retirement home, pay off debts, and give money to charity. The husband bought a quick pick ticket on the spur of the moment as he was preparing to board a plane in Richmond to go on a business trip. It was certainly a fortuitous decision.
It got me to wondering what I would do if I were to win the lottery. It’s not going to happen, as I don’t play the lottery. However, it’s interesting to think about. I bet most of you have at least thought about how such a staggering sum of money, or even a mere few million dollars, would change your life. I think most of us would agree in general with the decisions this winning couple announced–early retirement, vacation home, debt elimination, and charitable giving.
But what would I do specifically with that amount of money? This is what I have come up with:
1) The first ten percent would go to my church and like-minded Christian ministries to share the gospel and love of Jesus Christ. God asks that we return a tithe, or ten percent, of all that He gives us to support the work of the church and spread the gospel throughout the world. A big chunk would go to my local church and to support Assembly of God missionaries. Another portion would go to the Assembly of God’s emergency relief ministry, C0nvoy of Hope, and to organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse. Based on the one-time payout of $135 million, the tithe would be $13.5 million. Let’s round that up to $15 million, leaving $120 million for other things.
2) A large vacation home at the beach would definitely be on my list. And perhaps a second vacation home in the mountains. I would love to have a place large enough for my children and grandchildren, as well as my parents and siblings to all gather together in one place. And, of course, with all those people in one house, I would gladly spend money on a cleaning service. It is hard to imagine spending $1 million or more on a home, but for the sake of this exercise, let’s budget $10 million on vacation homes, leaving $110 million.
3) Donations to my college alma maters would be another priority. It would be nice to give back in a substantial way to the institutes of higher learning that played a prominent role in my education My father taught at my undergrad college, now the University of Mary Washington, for 32 years. It would be very satisfying to donate several million dollars and have a building named in Dad’s honor. Let’s assume that $5 million goes to each institution, with $100 million left.
4) I would spend another large portion, perhaps the largest, to provide first-rate care for my mother-in-law. She is in a nursing home and, while she is more than adequately cared for, she longs to be in a real home of her own. However, she needs round-the-clock care and the socialization afforded her by being with other people. It would be very satisfying to provide her a warm, homey environment with the care she needs. I can envision spending $20 million to build a nursing home in which each patient would have a private room and a personal staff to attend to their needs. After building a nursing home, about $80 million would remain.
5) I would set up college funds for my grandchildren and a nest egg for each of our sons. Conservatively, these savings funds might consume another five million. $75 million remains.
Beyond these five expenditures, I think I would set aside a rainy day fund for Steve and I and would donate the rest to charities. Of course, it would be a chore to decide which charities to support. The Bible teaches us that “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” (Luke 12:48) I believe I would feel burdened to do the most good I could would the money. Therefore, I would target organizations that help the homeless and our wounded veterans to get back on their feet.
Winning such a staggering amount of money is really beyond my comprehension. While this couple is free to spend, save, and share this money as they wish, they have a moral obligations to use the money wisely. History has demonstrated, however, that many lottery winners frequently wind up broke or in debt in a few years. They aren’t prepared to handle such a tremendous sum of money and they spend it lavishly and donate to any and all groups that asks for a donation. I don’t expect that to happen to this couple. I hope that the money brings them happiness and that with this money, they help many other people to have better lives.
Have you thought about what you would do if you won the lottery? I bet you have. What would be your top priorities for the money?
Last week my father retired for the second time. His first retirement was back in 1979 after serving 26 year as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He was 47 at that time. He never considered his military retirement to be a true retirement from the world of work. He was far too young and had far too many obligations. Three of his nine children were in college and another was a senior in high school. The youngest of the bunch was only two.
His first attempt at a second career was selling life insurance. It wasn’t a great fit, as it required meeting with potential clients in the evenings and weekends. Dad had spent much of his military career away from his family and he wasn’t willing to sacrifice any more family time. After a year of selling insurance, the perfect job opportunity became available. Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington) was expanding its offerings of business courses and starting a business department. Prior to joining the Marine Corps, Dad had trained to be a teacher. After a tour in Vietnam, Dad was given the opportunity to earn an MBA. He was a perfect fit for the new department of business and was the first instructor hired.
Last week Dad completed his teaching duties at University of Mary Washington, although his official retirement date is a few weeks away. Dad also turned 80 last week. After a career spanning 59 years, Dad is certainly deserves to enjoy a leisurely retirement. However, it is unlikely that he will sit around idly. He’ll spend time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and cheer on the Washington Redskins and the New York Yankees. He will also continue to do taxes for the many friends who have depended on him for many years.
Many people have asked why Dad continued to work well past the normal retirement age. I always respond, “It keeps him from having to help Mom with the gardening.” The truth, however, is that he continued working because he enjoyed it and it kept him busy and engaged. Working with college students helped keep Dad young and active. It allowed him to interact regularly with his peers and young people and to keep up with changes in our society and in technology.
Working past the normal retirement age is nothing new in our family. Dad’s grandmother was irate when she was forced to retire from working in the textile mills at the age of 72. My mother’s mother was a victim of mandatory retirement when she was forced from the nursing job she loved at the age of 65. In the 1960s and 1970s, many capable adults were compelled into retirement at the age of 65. In 1978 the mandatory retirement age was increased to 70 and in 1986 it was abolished altogether.
I am thankful that the laws have been changed, allowing healthy, vigorous seniors to remain active in the workplace as long as they desire to keep working and as long as their employers feel they are continuing to contribute positively to their companies. I am grateful to the University of Mary Washington for giving Dad the opportunity to continue teaching for as long as he wanted. No one at the University ever suggested that he was too old to continue teaching. The university supported his decision to keep on teaching until he felt he was ready to retire.
I am very proud of my father’s contributions to protecting our nation and educating our young people. He has touched many lives. I pray that he enjoys a long and productive well-deserved retirement.