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Treasure This Moment

Walter Samaszko was 69 years old and lived in Carson City, Nevada. He also died there, alone, and it was more than a month before anyone noticed that he had gone missing. Walter Samaszko was a “loner,” who didn’t trust many people. He lived frugally. In his checking account was $200.00.

But after neighbors notified authorities that something seemed wrong, and after his decaying body was found, it was determined that his house must be sold. As workers were preparing for the sale, an astonishing discovery was made: Hidden within the house were boxes of gold bars and gold coins worth at least 7 million dollars.

When I read this story a couple of days ago, I was struck by its sadness, for here, from all accounts, was a man who was afraid of life, (even afraid to go to the doctor for fear of dirty needles) and who instead of enjoying travel and museums and hobbies and philanthropy hoarded his gold bars–and died intestate–totally alone. A solitary cousin has been found, who after the government takes their large share of the estate, will inherit the wealth of Walter Samaszko.

(image from Getty)

Such a dynamic lesson is here for all of us: Let us treasure every moment of every day, and to the fullest extent of our ability take advantage of each benefit that comes to us, without waiting for something better, or something perfect, or something greater.

Every season of our life is precious, but is of quicksilver and is fleeting. Should our hands wait to caress the jewel of this second, when we reach again, only vapor may be there . . . and a memory of chance long past and opportunity forever gone.

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Shopping Spree! (Day 7 Summer Road Trip 2012)


Dillard’s Clearance Center is less than ten minutes from where we are parked here in Phoenix. Today, I shopped! Today, I found bargains! For a grand total of $49.12, I bought a beautiful red dress, two “patio” dresses, a charming hat, a practical brown jacket, and a magnificent skirt! Top that, if you can!

The cutest item is this hat.


The prettiest is this skirt.

The best buy? This dress originally $129.00, marked down to $9.99, plus 50% off=$4.99!!

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Away…It’s Retirement Time

My friend Dean sent me this wonderful story.


From The London Times:
A Well-Planned Retirement

Outside England ‘s Bristol Zoo there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 buses. For 25 years, its parking fees were managed by a very pleasant attendant. The fees were 1 pound for cars ($1.40), 5 pounds for busses (about $7).

Then, one day, after 25 solid years of never missing a day of work, he just didn’t show up; so the Zoo Management called the City Council and asked it to send them another parking agent.

The Council did some research and replied that the parking lot was the Zoo’s own responsibility. The Zoo advised the Council that the attendant was a City employee. The City Council responded that the lot attendant had never been on the City payroll.

Meanwhile, sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain (or some such scenario), is a man who’d apparently had a ticket machine installed completely on his own; and then had simply begun to show up every day, commencing to collect and keep the parking fees, estimated at about $560 per day — for 25 years.
Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over $7 million dollars! …..

And no one even knows his name……

Smiling, I advance the moral in this story: Find a need and fill it. You’ll make a good living.

Something else occurs to me; was he dishonest?

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Thievery at Dillard’s

A few hours ago, I came in from a thieving spree; well, at least that is the essence of language used by the lady next to me, and she was involved in the same activity as was I, for, side-by-side, we pawed (in ladylike ways, of course) through the merchandise.   We were After-Christmas-Shopping and the deals we unraveled were of such degree that the elegantly dressed lady leaned a little toward me, and quite out of the corner of her fine mouth spoke conspiratorially, “It’s like stealing, isn’t it.” She looked straight ahead as she spoke. I nodded, muttered a few words of agreement, and now glanced about to see if possibly we were being observed.

Dillard’s was the crime scene. I grieve for you if you don’t have a Dillard’s in your life, for of all the department stores encountered in my now elongated years, I consider Dillard’s to be the paragon of such places. Your understanding of my passion for this store will be enhanced by knowing that in my home place of Southern California, where I have lived most of my adult life, and where all my four children were born and reared, there is no Dillard’s, and yet I judge them the epitome of fine stores. I rate them above Macy’s, The May Company (did they merge with somebody?) and even Nordstrom’s. A few months ago when they announced the building of the new mall here in Lake Havasu, I was ecstatic to hear that Dillard’s would be one of the anchor stores.

I defend my choice by telling you this; Dillard’s puts on the the finest clearance sales of any department store I know. Their stores are beautiful to start with, showing lovely clothes and fine housewares…but it surely is their sales that set them apart. Often they advertise prices at 50 or 75% off the already discounted price. dsc_0049Today was such a case, and I bought this stash–four pairs of DKNY tights, eleven pairs of Hanes nylons, and four HUE slippers for the grand sum of $36.94.

Never before had I considered indulging in Dillard’s fine sales as a form of thievery, but ever since that lady spoke in those hushed tones today, mentioning the word stealing, I’ve kept my ears tuned for a knock on the door. So far, everything seems okay, though. The mall is less than two miles from our rig here, so if there’s anything you want me to pick up, just give me a call. 🙂

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Am I Rich or Broke or What?

Rolling smoothly off their tongues and out the edges of their mouths are these discussions of ghastly amounts of money and debt and greed and mismanagement and “bail-out”–a baffling state of affairs for it sounds as though it involves me too, although I don’t think I had a thing to do with it, and, as far as I can recall, nobody asked my opinion, and I don’t think I joined up. I tell you frankly, I am just not accustomed to speaking at any length or with much authority or with any intelligence about money deals that mount up into multiplied millions and billions and threaten to tap on the door of trillions, so I hope nobody is depending too much on me and my expertise, although I’m always willing to help out when I can. Tell you the truth though; I just don’t get it.

But I think I understand that I just bought a bunch of houses and maybe an insurance company or two and saved the country from a recession and maybe a dark depression and I do know our checking account checks have the name Washington Mutual on them, but now there is not a Washington Mutual…I guess J. P. Morgan Chase backed up a pickup truck to our WaMu branch, loaded in our couple thousand dollar bills and took Jerry’s money and mine over to their own bank. I don’t know what to think, though, because I’m not sure where J. P. Morgan Chase is, and our money was in the San Bernardino branch of Washington Mutual. You know–the one over on Highland Ave.

Well, anyway, I’m a bit consoled because I own all those houses. I wonder, though, if I have to make payments or if I bought them outright? Did I get a bargain?

One other thing: Can you believe WaMu did not call to let me know they were shifting around our money. Didn’t hear a thing…but I was kinda wondering about our dollars so I googled about until I found  J. P. Morgan Chase and guess what: They’re welcoming me! Sweet of them, huh.
Welcome to the Number One United States Bank in Deposits. WaMu Customers, Welcome to JPMorgan Chase! We're proud to welcome you to one of the nation's largest banks; as of September 25, 2008, all WaMu customer deposits are now deposits of JPMorgan Chase; one of the strongest financial institutions in the world.

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What a Wonderful World

This world in which we live is a wondrous place, spinning perfectly in space, surrounded by untold billions of stars, and created gloriously by God Himself. Though one day disturbed and twisted by evil intrusion, the earth remains a wonderful place, and, on this early morning, as I consider again the wild chance of my being born, I’m thinking how grateful I am that God gave me life, and has allowed me a short journey on this magnificent planet.

It’s a wonderful world. Thousands of reasons speak to its wonder, but I’m choosing four.


Last week, I heard of a young minister who was highly offended by an action taken against him and against his church. From the details I have heard, his disappointment and hurt were well-founded, yet he recognized his response to these actions had in themselves been ungodly and unchristian. He called together his family and repented. Before his very large church, he repented. To the person who had offended him, he repented.


A pastor in the northwestern part of the United States annually conducts a conference in his home church. This is a private meeting, not underwritten by any organization, but he invites other ministers and their congregations. Several hundred people attend. One of the goals of the meeting is to promote his church, hoping such an activitiy will entice new people from the city to his church.

At the conclusion of the last such meeting, he gathered the names of all the new people who had visited, and divided them among other pastors who had churches in the area.


I know someone who in the last few days has sold his business to Microsoft for 115 million dollars.


I had a “root-canal” on Wednesday. The dentist prescribed Vicodin for the pain she suspected I might have. I had NO pain…didn’t take so much as an aspirin.

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Alexis Goggins Goes Home From Hospital

In the early part of last December she threw herself across her mother to shield her from the shooter, and in the process, Alexis Goggins was herself shot six times. She took a bullet in one of her eyes, was blinded, and during her hospital stay the eye was removed. Alexis caught the heart of the world, and in a few days a trust fund was established for her. Now, these months later, Alexis has been released from the hospital.

From Fox News

DETROIT — Alexis Goggins climbed aboard a special bicycle and maneuvered through hospital hallways, beginning the months of physical therapy she needs to recover from six gunshot wounds.

To many people, the soft-spoken 7-year-old is a hero after she threw herself across her mother just as a gunman was about to shoot the woman in an SUV.

“An angel is what I call her,” Seliethia Parker said of her daughter.

After more than two months in the hospital and six surgeries, Alexis was recently released. She returns twice a week for physical therapy.

Click here for photos.

The entire story is here.

This is one little heroic girl.


My devotional blog is here.

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Deliberate Plunge Into Poverty–And Out

Those who with any regularity read my columns know of my disdain for the actions of able-bodied persons who refuse to work, or who are quick to whine about there being no jobs available, or who live with the mantra; “The pay is so little at any job I can find, I am better off living through government programs.” Equally–no to a greater extent–do I admire those who despite challenges of every description–from ill-health, little privilege, severe disabilities, poor job market, inferior education, and racial prejudice–despite these hindrances, they scratch and claw their way into a job which supports them and their families, and that spins them on an upward trajectory.

From the Christian Science Monitor and picked up by ABC News is a splendid story by Adam Shepard who, as an experiment, left the “good life,” and took to the wrong side of the tracks. In this fascinating article, he chronicles his ascent from poverty into success. I’ve printed some of the writing here with a link to the entire article.

Alone on a dark gritty street, Adam Shepard searched for a homeless shelter. He had a gym bag, $25, and little else. A former college athlete with a bachelor’s degree, Mr. Shepard had left a comfortable life with supportive parents in Raleigh, N.C. Now he was an outsider on the wrong side of the tracks in Charleston, S.C.



But Shepard’s descent into poverty in the summer of 2006 was no accident. Shortly after graduating from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., he intentionally left his parents’ home to test the vivacity of the American Dream. His goal: to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year.To make his quest even more challenging, he decided not to use any of his previous contacts or mention his education.During his first 70 days in Charleston, Shepard lived in a shelter and received food stamps. He also made new friends, finding work as a day laborer, which led to a steady job with a moving company.Ten months into the experiment, he decided to quit after learning of an illness in his family. But by then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000.The effort, he says, was inspired after reading “Nickel and Dimed,” in which author Barbara Ehrenreich takes on a series of low-paying jobs. Unlike Ms. Ehrenreich, who chronicled the difficulty of advancing beyond the ranks of the working poor, Shepard found he was able to successfully climb out of his self-imposed poverty.

He tells his story in “Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream.” The book, he says, is a testament to what ordinary Americans can achieve. On a recent trip to the Boston, he spoke about his experience.

The entire interview is here:

I’m interested in hearing your opinions on this subject. Should every healthy person in America be able to climb out of poverty? Or, are there families who have lived so long with a “welfare mentality” that it is virtually impossible for them to think differently, and thus they are all but unable to pull themselves upward?


My devotional blog is here.

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Tipping Tales

“We hate waiting on Christians, for they tip so poorly.”

It was last Saturday as I sat in a restaurant where the meal for several of us had been paid by someone else, that I had asked about the tip, and that the ensuing conversation had included the retelling of that sad comment.

“Was the tip included for our meals?” I asked as we finished eating.

No one seemed to know immediately, but after they asked around the message was returned, “No, the tip was not included. We need to leave some.”

We had occupied a fairly large area in the restaurant, some of the others had already left, and my friend and I were concerned that perhaps many people thought the tip had been included, when indeed it hadn’t. We came up with more money from our wallets until we felt sure adequate money had been left for our group.

” We feel really strongly about tipping well,” one of the women said. “We teach in our church that one should always leave 15 percent regardless of the quality of the service. We think of our testimony in the town, and what our generosity–or lack of–says about our church and about Christians in general.”

She went on to tell of an occasion where her husband had left a $45.00 tip for a modest bill. On accepting the money the waitress had begun to cry, saying, “Thank you. Thank you. I didn’t have money to buy milk for my baby tonight.”

Someone else told of a waitress who said, “We hate waiting on Christians, for they tip so poorly.”

While reading around this morning, I came across this story of a waitress receiving a very large tip. You will probably want to watch this moving video as she tells of her reaction to this exciting unexpected gesture.

Jerry had an interesting experience the other day when we went into the new Golden Corral here in Lake Havasu, and the cashier asked as he paid his bill prior to having eaten, “Would you like me to add 15% for the waitress?” (The Golden Corral is a buffet style restaurant, where you get your own food. The waitress does refill drinks, and takes hot rolls to the tables.)

How do you feel about tipping? Do we tip enough? Does it continue to be an added amount of money given because of good service, or is it just an expected gesture, regardless of the attentiveness of the waitress?What about tipping in hotel rooms? How much do you usually leave?


My devotional blog is here.

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The Secret of Santa

KANSAS CITY, Mo — Susan Dahl had spent four months homeless in Colorado and just been on a harrowing 10-hour bus trip through sleet and snow. Hungry and broke, all she wanted to do was get back to family in Minnesota.

That’s when a tall man in a red coat and red hat sat next to her at the downtown bus station, talked to her quietly and then slipped her $100 on that recent December afternoon.

For years, Larry Stewart had been a secret Santa, for it was only last year that he revealed his identity.  His appearance has always been quite different from that of an ordinary Santa. This is his picture…but earlier this year at the age of 58, he died from cancer. Through the years in his secret way, he had given away over one million dollars. Anonymously he walked the streets, rode buses, saw people in need and handed out $100.00 dollar bills.

more hereand here.

Now other people have taken up the joyful task, and are walking our world handing out joy.

“There was this fella named Larry Stewart,” one of the new Santa’s tells a man in the bus station. “He was an old friend of mine. He was called Secret Santa, and every year he would find a few people who might need a little money and he would ask that you pass on the kindness.”

People respond differently to the gesture. Some cry. Some scream. A rare few even say “No thanks.”

Others take the money and offer their own gifts, like Robert Young, who was homeless and had only 20 cents in his pocket. When Secret Santa gave him $200, Young, 50, took out an old notebook and ripped out a song he had written.

“It’s yours now,” he told Secret Santa, who thanked Young, and carefully tucked the pages into his pocket.

The new Secret Santa has also started a Web site, and is trying to recruit other Secret Santas across the country. “Larry’s dream was for a Secret Santa in every city,” Kansas City’s Santa said.

There are now a couple apprentices, with more candidates turning up all the time. But, he says, you don’t have to be willing to hand out money to be a Secret Santa.

“Anyone can be a Secret Santa,” he says. “You don’t have to give away $100. You can give away kindness. Help someone.”

What say we join this club? Maybe it will be money you hand around, maybe it will be a plate of cookies, or a simple gift, or a chunk of time to sit beside a hospital bed. Secret Santas…the spirit of Christmas.


My devotional blog is here.