Chapter OneMoney Laundering
For twenty years the laundry room has been off-limits to me.
I've been instructed-and you're my witness-that my knowledge
of how to wash, dry, fold and iron clothes is so lacking as
to disqualify me from even auditing Household Management
Furthermore, my husband has made it clear that he could
not only teach the course but run the entire university
department on such matters! You've seen him in action, Lord.
This guy is worth his weight in soapsuds! There's nothing he
likes better than the rhythmic pounding of a washing machine
whirling socks and shirts into submission. Even the sheets snap
to attention when he comes round the bend and through the
In our house, it's Charles in Charge-of all things pima and
percale, rayon and nylon, velvet and velour! Even his dresser
and closet spaces are fit for inspection any time of the day or
night. A two-finger space separates each shirt on pristine white
hangers. Socks are lined up in the drawer from gray to blue to
brown to black, and nary an argyle shall dare come between
The hamper is never more than half full. And the crease in
his pants matches the crease in his brow!
So imagine my shock and his chagrin, when I walked into
the laundry room today. There he stood holding a soggy lump
of leather in one hand and a mass of wet bills and dripping
credit cards in the other. Yep! The man is up to no good-I
caught him laundering our money!
BUT I WANT to keep him anyway; Lord! Thank you for giving
me a husband I can count on and laugh with.
Right-and Proud of It
Is it time to hire a bookkeeper? A secretary? An aide? After
what happened this week I think so-though it did work in my
favor. (Smile!) You know I'm careful about not mixing my personal
funds with the church's funds. When I do spend my own
money for supplies or services, it's only right that I get reimbursed,
as the other directors and I agreed.
But I wonder what they'd think of my latest stunt. As I was
updating my personal check register this morning, I discovered
that several weeks ago I'd written a check from my own
checking account to reimburse myself!
This is one of those "moments" I'd rather forget. Fortunately,
I usually do. Saves a lot of embarrassment. Until it happens
"Where are my credit cards?" my wife asked yesterday, as we
were almost ready to walk out the door for church. I was planning
to drop her off at the mall after the service so she could
pick up a birthday gift for our granddaughter.
Arlette was clearly irritated with her forgetfulness. As she
stood at the breakfast counter and rummaged through her
purse for the second time, I spotted her cards. Aha! I cleared
my throat to get her attention, and then chuckled out loud.
"What's so funny?" she barked.
"There they are, on top of the counter, right under your
nose," I crowed.
She picked up the cards in silence and off we went.
I settled into the driver's seat and backed down the drive. It
seemed a good time to remind Arlette of a few things.
"Before you leave the house," I instructed, "you should
make sure you put everything you need in its proper place.
Preferably do this the night before so you won't waste time the
following morning. Then before you start the car," I added,
"you should make sure you're comfortable. Check your seat to
be sure it's positioned appropriately. Check the steering
wheel. Check to see that your seat belt is fastened properly.
Check all the instruments."
At this point my wife was breathing deeply. She seemed
annoyed at my Sunday sermon but she said nothing. Then
halfway to church she exclaimed, "Oh, no! I can't believe this.
I forgot my Bible."
"As I was saying," I continued. "If you had put your Bible in
the car last night . well, it's too late to go back for it now," I
reprimanded. "You can share mine. You see I always put my
Bible in the car on Saturday night. That way I don't forget it."
I glanced at Arlette. She was drumming her fingers against
her purse. "You should .," I stopped mid-sentence. I could tell
I was in hot water.
But still-I knew I was right. As I swung into the church
parking lot I took a deep breath. There's nothing to worry
about, I consoled myself silently. If a person just thinks ahead,
he or she won't forget the essentials-like credit cards and
one's Bible, for heaven's sake.
We got out of the car, and as was my habit, I checked my
back pocket to be sure my wallet was in place.
Suddenly my face turned hot and my palms were wet.
"Oh, no," I muttered. "I forgot my wallet. My credit cards
and my driver's license are at home."
"Is that so?" my wife queried with great calm.
It was all she really needed to say.
WHAT I NEEDED to say, Lord, was, "Please forgive me," but I
hung on to my pride. I regret that now. I know it's never too
late to apologize. Excuse me, Lord, while I take care of some
important business with my wife.
Check at the Front Desk
Sometimes I get full of myself and I'm cocky about the life
I've lived and all of my accomplishments-engineer, senior
manager, civic leader, husband and father, award-winning
researcher. I can hardly believe I'm seventy-two already-but
I'm glad I made it this far. Thank you for giving me so much
time. And when I get "too big for my britches," as my mother
used to say, pull me down to where I ought to be.
Reminds me of the story I heard the other day about an
elderly man who was once a famous, award-winning athlete in
track and field. He had a room full of plaques and statues and
framed certificates. Years after retiring from competition, he
was invited to deliver the keynote address for an awards banquet
for young athletes. After finishing his presentation, the
audience jumped to their feet and chanted his name over and
over! He walked out feeling like a kid again, heady with memories
of the bygone days when he was king of the one hundred-yard
As he shook hands with admirers at the end of the evening,
he told them of his plan to spend his last years visiting the
elderly at various health care and retirement facilities. Because
of his age, he knew the children in hospital wards wouldn't
know him as a celebrity, but he was sure people in his age
bracket would! He was convinced he could encourage them
with his stories of success and even show off some of his trophies.
He could hardly wait for his first visit.
The following week he arrived at a nursing home and
noticed immediately the halls were empty except for one
elderly lady in a wheelchair. He got her attention with a
cheery, "Good morning!" Then he asked, "Ma'am, do you
know who I am?"
She looked at him with pale blue eyes and smiled. "No, but
if you go to the front desk someone there will tell you," she
replied in a quivering voice.
OH LORD, spare me from being my own public relations
agent. Help me remember that my identity is in you-and you
alone. Who am I? A child of the most high God-and that's
more than I deserve and nothing I can take credit for.
More Than One Way .
I like this one! An older man from Phoenix phoned his son in
New York with some bad news. "Son, I don't mean to ruin
your day, but I need to tell you something important. Your
mother and I are divorcing. Forty-five years of misery is
enough for both of us."
"Dad, do you realize what you're saying? You can't be serious,"
the son pleaded.
"It's true. We can't take another minute of being together.
I don't want to discuss it any further. It's settled. Call your sister
in Chicago and let her know." The older man hung up.
Frantic, the son called his sister, who exploded on the
phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouted. "Sit
fight. I'll handle this."
She called her father in Phoenix and yelled into the phone.
"You are not getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I
get there. I'm calling Dick back, and we'll both be there
tomorrow. Until then, stay put," she shouted. "Do you hear me?"
Then she hung up.
The older man put down the phone and turned to his wife,
a wry smile crossing his face as he spoke. "Okay," he said,
"they're coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own fares.
Now what do we tell them for Christmas?"
LORD, YOU REMIND us in your Word: "Listen to your father,
who gave you life, and do not despite your mother when she
is old" (Prv 23:22). Surely your wisdom and the parents' good
humor will knit their hearts together!
I need to talk to you about something. I think I'm losing it-really.
It all started when Dr. Simpson called my husband into his
office after his physical exam.
"John, your cholesterol count is close to 300," the doctor
said. "I recommend you cut down on the eggs and hold the
butter. Avoid the saturated fats, too. We'll check again in
Easy for the doctor to say, right, Lord? He doesn't live at our
house. We love butter. No hydrogenated margarine for us. We
like the real thing. Butter on toast, on warm rolls, on sweet
buns after church on Sunday.
Of course, I don't have to give it up. My cholesterol count
is just fine: 170. So there, Doctor So-and-so! I thought.
But then a pang of guilt overtook me. I should support my
husband, I mused. If he can't have butter for a while, then perhaps
I need to give it up, too. Then I decided the best thing to
do was keep it out of sight-put it somewhere he'd never
think to look. I made up my mind. I'd find the perfect hiding
place for my stick of butter.
But now I think I'm the one who needs a doctor-for my
mind! Last night I rushed around the house after preparing
for my weekly Bible study and finally got everything together
that I needed for class. I even fixed dinner for John before I
dashed out to the car with only minutes to spare. I took a deep
breath, reached into my purse for the car key-and suddenly
my fingers sank into something soft and oily. You guessed it. A
stick of butter! The one I had bought at the store the day
before. The one I smuggled out of the grocery bag (before
John unpacked it) and into my purse-and then promptly forgot
about until now!
DEAR LORD, aren't we glad that you are our hiding place! We
can run to you and be safe at any time. What comfort in the
midst of all these senior moments.
I'll Get It
Did you hear the one about the three older women sitting
around the kitchen table one morning? As they caught up on
all their news-you know, kids, grandchildren, ailing husbands-the
conversation suddenly shifted.
"I'm concerned," said Agnes. "There are times when I'll be
standing at the bottom of the stairs with an armload of clothes
and suddenly I can't remember if I'm taking them up to put
away or bringing them down to launder them."
"I know what you mean," said her friend Milicent.
"Sometimes I catch myself standing in front of the refrigerator
with ajar of mustard in my hand and suddenly my mind goes
blank. I can't for the life of me remember if I just took it out
to put on my sandwich or if I'm putting it back."
Bertie, the third woman in the trio of friends, looked up
and smiled smugly. "Well, I'm sure glad I don't have such
problems," she said, then rapped her knuckles three times on
the table for good luck. Seconds later, she stood up.
"Someone's at the door," she announced. "I'll get it."
Good for a laugh! I'd like to think I'm not as absent-minded
as Agnes or Milicent and not as proud and self-satisfied as
Bertie. But the truth is there's a bit of all three of them in me.
I can't deny it.
WITHOUT YOUR GRACE, I'd be a mess. But because of it,
I'm the apple of your eye-no matter what I do or don't do.
Thank you for loving me just as I am-a senior in transition!
Up Close and Personal
Last year many of my senior friends were wearing bifocals but
I didn't have to-at least not yet, said the doctor. I could still
see up close without my glasses. Yippee! Bifocals are for old
people, I thought. (That's between you and me, Lord. I
wouldn't say it out loud.)
But today in Sunday school class something seemed different.
I couldn't read my notes with my glasses on, and I couldn't
see the back of the room without them! Am I heading for the
Land of Bifocals? Is it all downhill from here? No! I'm not
ready for that.
I remember how I felt as I sat on the stool in front of my
Senior Ladies' Bible Study. I was wearing my glasses at the
time. Then when it was time to read the day's Scripture passage,
I realized the print was too fine for me to read with my
I took them off and laid them on the desk. "I have to take
off my glasses to read," I said chuckling, knowing most of
them have to put theirs on to read. As I picked up my Bible to
lead the lesson, one of the ladies called out from the back of
"That's okay, honey. You've got to do what you've got to do.
Why, my uncle had to take out his teeth to eat!"
Suddenly I realized I was running my tongue over my teeth,
checking for any loose parts! Bifocals, well, okay if I have to.
But false teeth? No. I draw the line there!
LORD, ALL I REALLY NEED to be concerned with is doing
"what is right and good" in your sight so it may go well with me