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Sunday, 20 September 2009

Creating Sense from Cents

I don't know about you, but I get sick of findng that my purse jangling with money only contains cents. Here in South Africa, the 1c coin has already been made obsolete, and now they're doing away with the 2c coin. When the teller rings up your purchases and sees you're due say 53 cents change, she gives you 55c. 

So our lowest official currency is now the 5 cent coin.

Nearly three years ago, David (youngest son) and Pam, visited us before Christmas with the two little ones. Two-year-old Timmy was concerned to find that the white box outside our front door was empty. At home, he posts money regularily through the slot in his money box. Poor Granny and Grandpa didn't have any money in their box! 

Of course, the white box is actually a post box, but he didn't get that. The box has a slot. And boxes with slots are supposed to get money posted in them. So he trotted inside to Daddy and came out with a 5 cent coin, which he put into our "money box". 

Daddy drew the line when the child returned to ask for coins to put in all the post boxes along the road "'cos they're empty too".  

So why am I telling you this? Because nearly two years later, that 5 cent coin still lies on the bottom of the box. In South Africa -- where nothing is safe if it's not bolted to the ground -- no one has bothered to steal it. It's only 5 cents. It's worthless. 

Or is it?

Yesterday in my Quiet Time, I read of a couple who decided to be proactive over their high-school daughter's future wedding dress. They and a few friends saved their pennies, rolled them into paper wrappers, and stored them away in a secret hiding place. 

Years later, their daughter announced her engagement. With a local photographer and newspaper writer standing by, the couple used a wheelbarrow to roll the money to the bank. They bought the dream wedding dress with pennies.

Rob & I have a dream. We want to go and visit our daughter and family far away in Eurasia. So we've decided to follow this creative couple's idea, and we're going to collect our 5 cent pieces. We don't plan on hording them until we need a wheelbarrow though. We'll deposit each month into a special account and see how much it amounts to. It'll be fun. And you never know . . . 

So here's a challenge for you. In these tough economic times, why don't you join me in this venture? Set yourself a goal, and start storing up your lowest value coin. See how it mounts up. You never know. It might not buy a wedding dress or take you half way across the world -- but you might be surprised.

Please comment on this post by telling me what you're going to do with your cents/pennies. Let's lighten our purses and increase the balances in our money boxes. I'd love to know what ideas you come up with. And feel free to report back and let us know how it's going.

P.S. The first 5 cent coin in our collection is the one donated by two-year-old Timmy.  

Monday, 14 September 2009

A Time for Everything

I've reached the end of my first two-week cycle of night duty at the frail care. It's been a challenge in many ways, but on the whole it's good. I've learned a few lessons apart from nursing responsibilities.
  • The Internet, including Skype, Email etc, swallows way too much time. Sitting at my laptop for hours at night without Internet access is far more productive.
  • It is possible to keep my Inbox under control. I send and receive when I get home, and receive once more before I leave for work. I allow half-an-hour each evening to answer the emails and send them to the Outbox for the next morning.
  • Sleep is good. When I walk in the door after a night on duty, I can't wait to hide behind my blindfold, pull the duvet up to my chin, and pass out for a few hours.
  • Tomorrow does come, but I'm probably on duty. So a task's either important enough to do it today, or it doesn't need to be on my "to do" list at all.
  • Time is precious. Rob and I now make a point of sharing quality time together when I'm off duty.
  • There's time for everything that needs to be done--if you think ahead. Solomon had it right when he said, "He has set the right time for everything." Ecclasiastes 3:11 (GNB)
So enjoy your week, and remember, if it's meant to be done, you can do it!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Be Still . . . No Matter What it Takes


As I write this, I'm sitting with my feet up, facing a sparkling swimming pool. Birds twitter in the trees overhead. The blue African sky is streaked with what looks like soft silky fibres of cotton wool. The pool motor hums gently in the background.

It's a perfect scenario for writing, although it would be better if I could see my laptop screen. As a result of the glare I have to keep my eyes focussed on my typing. If I take my eyes from the cursor I lose it. Still, it's worth the effort. Sitting outdoors is one thing we miss in our new P.E. lifestyle.

This break is the result of an unscheduled, spur-of-the moment decision. Yesterday morning I was still in bed, enjoying my Quiet Time, when I read in the devotional book I'm using, "God calls us to be still."

I know that, I thought. Especially with me now doing night-duty.

As I meditated on that verse I thought, Sometimes we need to create the space to be still. It doesn't just happen.

We hadn't been away from home for a while and perhaps we needed a break. But I've just started work -- and I'm back on duty on Monday night. Yet as I thought about our calendar I realised, we had an almost clear few days. That's just about unheard of.

Into my mind came thoughts of my son and daughter-in-law's home in Sedgefield, less than four hours away from Port Elizabeth. I phoned Steve.

"How would you feel if we came to you for two nights? We need a break."

"Sure, that sounds good. Hannelie's away until Sunday, but we can get back to you."

"Ahh well no. That's too late. We need to come now."

Stunned silence, followed by, "Now? as in now-now?"

"Yep, as in as soon as we can throw things into a suitcase and get there. We'd need to leave again early Monday."

A quick call to our daughter-in-law, Hannelie, who was away at a conference to confirm it was okay, and everything was set. After quick showers and breakfast and an even quicker pack, we headed out the door less than two hours after I'd first had the thought.

We arrived three-and-a-half hours later, minus pyjamas, toothpaste, jackets and hairbrush. But otherwise all intact.

We only have one full day here. We head off home tomorrow morning, Rob to a meeting and me to sleep prior to going on duty for the night. We also have Rob's pc that's on strike, awaiting the technician's tender loving and expensive care. However I know we'll be refreshed and more able to cope because we followed the Lord's injunction to "Be still." According to Ecclestiastes 3:11, God sets a right time for everything. Even being still.

Hmm. I see verse 6 of the same chapter says "a time for finding and a time for losing". Right now, that's an encouragement for me. I've had my time for losing. Let's hope once my time of being still is over, I'll arrive at the time for finding. Read more on my conference blog.

'Till next time. Be good - and find a time to be still.