TIMELY GENEROUSITY

What does it mean to be generous?

I was recently given a flyer about creating a congregational culture of generosity. As far as I could determine it was primarily about money, engaging the members and caring for the members to grow a larger sense of stewardship and the church budget. I’m nostock-photo-luxury-watch-isolated-on-a-white-background-103887638t against this, but I think there is more to being a generous person.

The Biblical basis of the program and of our lives is that all comes from God, so in thanks we give back those things we’ve been given.

What is the one thing we all have the most of? TIME

What is generosity of time?

Standing in a checkout lane with a basket full of items and a person behind you holds one or two things in their hand and you quickly step aside to let them go first? A gift of a few minutes.

The driver who stops to let you move into traffic from a side street is generously giving you a moment of their time.

The store clerk who must call assistance and wait for help? What’s happening to her blood pressure? Letting the clerk know you are sorry for her wait, but do not blame her is being generous. Offer a quiet comment? “It’s been a long day?” Or “It’s busy here today.” Or “Are you nearly finished work?”

One day I was shopping when a woman holding an address book said, “a gift for a teacher?” I responded “I rather have an ornament or something to eat.” We chatted for a few minutes. She was stressed out and needed to talk. She thanked me for listening. Those few minutes enriched my day.

Then there is the opposite of giving time and one of my favorite peeves.

It is a driver dashing back and forth across lanes to be first at the next stop light. If they are not going at least fifty miles, speeding will get that person to their destination only seconds earlier than if they’d stayed within the speed limit and in a single lane. I always want to ask, “What are you going to do with those nine seconds?” It’s not even time enough to take a deep breath.

The next time you are in a hurry, think about what you will do with any time you save or perhaps if you slow down something or someone will touch your life in a way you would have missed by hurrying.

What are other small ways to be generous with your time?

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DAYS ARE CHANGING

Is it the coming end of summer marked by the opening of school? Is it the ripening of the decorative grasses putting up their seed heads, notifying me they are finished growing?

The porch boxes are overflowing with plants, including one with fresh lettuce waiting to be pulled. After months of slow growth, my caladiums are in full leaf, but they won’t survive a frost.IMG_20160822_115930

My kitchen counter was covered with ripe tomatoes that I waited all summer for those plants to produce. Now they have been reduced to juice for the winter.

Everything seems to have come to fruition. Why do I sit here feeling apathetic?

Evenings are shorter, morning comes later.

Perhaps it is simply I’m not ready to transition to autumn and winter.

How do you feel with a change in seasons?

WHO IS VERSA WHO ISN’T

What is there about us as people? Why we must push one person down to make ourselves seem better?

We have fought wars and continue these fights some with guns and some with words.

Who has the moral authority: Republican or Democrat?

What is the right color: black or white?

Who can be a better preacher: man or woman?

Who should marry: straights or gay/lesbians?

Which is right faith: Sunni or Shi’ite ? Jew or Gentile? Protestant or Catholic? Buddhist or Hindu? Religious or Atheist?

We divide ourselves up in our side and their side, like we did when I was in a one-room school. The self-appointed captains chose their favorites first and reluctantly took the rest of us on their teams.

This past week I spent two days with a group of Reformed Church women. The first woman in the Reformed Church in America (RCA) was ordained in 1973. It took the RCA another six years to work through the church judicial business committee before women could legally become ministers. There are still places—mostly in the Midwest—which do not allow women to hold office in their churches.

Last night I watched the news of the Supreme Court. I heard declarations that gays/lesbians shouldn’t marry because a child needs a father and a mother. Wouldn’t it be better for a child to have a home where two people of the same sex love them, than in a home where a man and woman treat each other badly? Consider the child who moves back and forth daily from their dad’s and stepmother’s home to mom’s and her new boyfriend’s home? Of these three homes, which gives the child the loving stability needed to grow? Which would you choose?

Every time we categorize a person or idea as bad, we seem to elevate ourselves. Not true! It only shows our true narrow-mindedness.

THAT CERTAIN SCRATCHY FEELING: LARYNGITIS

I woke at three in the morning with a scratchy feeling in the bottom of my throat. Oh, oh. I know that feeling. It means laryngitis. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been afflicted with it, but I can’t forget the tickle in that certain spot in my throat.

Several years ago, I could almost count on having no voice around early December and then again in the spring, near Easter. These I managed to bring on myself because I would push my voice to teach, sing or to direct a choir. Many times I could not sing “Gloria” or “Alleluia” when the holy days arrived.

One year, I went to the doctor complaining I couldn’t seem to get over my voice problems.
Dr. B. said, “Go home and stay there for a week. Rest!”
“But I have a job. I have to go to work!”
“Suit yourself.” Dr. B. was clearly annoyed with me. “You’re not going to get better unless you take care of yourself.”
It was not easy for me, but I did stay home an entire week. I slept, read, and did very, very little. Dr. B. was right. I got better.

Hopefully, I’m being a little smarter today. I stayed home from a group meeting. I will not go to choir rehearsal this week or plan to sing on Sunday. Perhaps with rest, my voice will recover.

Why do we often feel our presence is so important that we put our health and that of others in jeopardy?

LEARNING TO TYPE

In September, I found a job at a nursery school two blocks from our Philadelphia apartment. At the beginning it went well. I liked the other staff, particularly my partner, Sarah. The boss left us on our own with no direction. I confess I was a horrid teacher. For the first time in my life, I spanked one or two of the boys. I was a mean teacher. Those little boys must have hated coming to nursery school. I’ve regretted and compensated for my behavior ever since.

Early the next spring, the boss came to Sarah and me separately to say she had to let one of us go, but said, “I’d like you to stay.” Walking home, Sarah and I shared those conversations. Neither of us wanted to work there. After being paid the next day, Friday, we skipped and danced down the street, happy to be jobless.

My friend, Joy B., suggested I apply for a summer position at the Provident Mutual Insurance Company home office where she worked. I did. I took a typing test without erasures and made 35 words a minute. Typing had not been my strong point, but the personnel director was satisfied. She asked me to type a short letter and allowed for erasures. I was hired and put in the sales department. We took cards sent in to the company by perspective clients. The cards said we would give them a personalized pen or some other gimmick to get a salesperson in their door.

Once a month I typed a long list of agents giving their sales of the month. The agents were very picky about their names, initials, etc. I learned to be picky with my typing. These had to be typed on blue mimeograph film (no copiers in 1956). Fortunate for me, if I made a mistake, I could put some blue liquid on the error, wait for it to dry and make the correction. Another person took the film and ran it through the mimeograph machine to make copies which we then addressed and sent to each agent.

I sat next to a woman, June, who typed at least a100 words per minute. She would reach into her drawer and pull three sheets of paper and two carbons, put them in the typewriter and whip off a letter. Should she make a mistake, she ripped the papers and carbons out of the carriage, tossed them in the trash, and reached for more. The way she used carbons must have cost the company a lot of money.

One day June was sick or on a day off. It was the day I really learned to type. The boss handed me three letters at 3:00 in the afternoon. We were finished work at 4:00. He wanted the letters before then. I handed him the letters just before 4:00. I must have taught my fingers to concentrate that day. Ever since then I’ve been a much better typist. Computers make typing a breeze, but in 1956 it was an IBM manual typewriter.