{Enough, Continued …}

Part One of processing the book Enough is here.

I read the book “Enough” by Will Davis Jr and wrote my review.  I kinda thought that would be the end of it.  Lesson learned – my More Than Enough, my Plenty, my Abundance can be or IS someone else’s Enough. Such a neat  idea in theory, but what that means in a daily way didn’t fully sink in – not at all.

That book is messing with me!

I read in Enough” that we are to be giving our ten percent to the church, but in reality for us we’re giving about five percent to our church and about one percent to other organizations.

I cannot stop thinking about that principle that is all over scripture.  What will it mean this month to give ten percent off the top, at the beginning before we pay our bills, and sort out how to live afterwards? These are things that we don’t really want to think about or do.

I woke up this morning thinking about this again, that we’re instructed in scripture to give ten percent and we’re to trust God to provide for our daily manna.

That means honestly taking a look at how we spend our money, where does it all go in a month? Many times for us it is frittered away on more video games, and frozen yoghurt, and iced coffees for the kids; on the conveniences of modern life, like dry cleaning and lawn care and mobile phones and eating out a few times.  For me, on buying books and not requesting them from the library.

What does it mean to take a cold hard look at our monthly spending and at the beginning give to God off of the top and then sort out the rest?

The first thing I remember from the book is that Davis suggested we look about our home for all the things we haven’t used or worn in the last year.  That job, to clear our home of these things so that they might possible become someone else’s Enough, is the task for this week. (Even though, I REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO IT! I’m so lazy.)  We’re going to photograph all the things we don’t need and use, things that are just taking up space in our basement and garage, and give them away.  The task just as it stands is a daunting one and today with the sun shining and a long  empty day looming ahead, what I really want to do is hang out by the lake or something, anything but go through our stuff.  But I think this act of obedience is the thing that needs to be accomplished, today.

Davis spoke of slowing down, listening and being open to God speaking

Yesterday, I found out someone I know is sending their kid to a Shakespeare away camp.  (It feels like everyone sends their kids to summer camp away, except us.) And another person is sending their kids to Grandma and Grandpa for the duration of the summer.  When I heard that I felt envy and anger that we haven’t take our kids on a vacation in several years; although it is out of an act of obedience, where we decided we would never again live on credit.  That was a baby step of financially growing up, that we took a few years ago.  This means we don’t travel if we don’t have the cash the bank.  Yes, I wish to be able to take the kids to visit Grandma and Grandpa, that but for now this is not possible.  We have a child in college and we have many other obligations.

As I woke this morning I was angry and to be honest kind of thought I was mad at God.  Then I realized that we’re just being smart.  We save for retirement, we live within our means, we give (like I said not ten percent yet) and we try to respond to needs as they come before us.  Right now there is no margin for vacations.

It’s not God that is to blame for an unsustainable American Dream.

And if I feel angry that we don’t have Enough to go on a vacation with our kids this summer, I should focus that emotion toward clearing out of the house our More Than Enough so that others can be blessed.


A part of the Patheos Book Club on the book “ENOUGH: Finding More By Living with Less” by Will Davis Jr.

Not to Speak is to Speak

Image by just.Luc via Flickr

I got to thinking that I may annoy others because I send so many article suggestions over FB. So, here is my effort to be more discerning and to discipline myself about what I share.  I’m going to try summarizing five or six (in this case eleven) in a blog post, from time to time.  

Not to Speak is to Speak although a little convoluted comes from the quote by Bonhoeffer below.  And I connect with it because that thing in me that is often “outraged” is what compels me to share with others so that they will be outraged too.

Of course, some of this is about justice.  Other articles are about spirituality and growth as a human being, yet others simply interesting. Hoping there is something for everyone.  Enjoy!

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:
God will not hold us innocent.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
— Bonhoeffer

I cannot promise that these updates will be on any one topic today it ranges a lot.

Here We Go Now!

How racism in the media keeps African American children in foster care, especially boys.

From the Maynard Institute whose goal is to improve Cultural Diversity within American Journalism the article: Does the Media Help Keep African American Boys in Foster Care? African American children who enter foster care after the age of 5 are much less likely to be adopted than their White peers and the situation is more grim for African American males. Experts on the foster care system say the media play a role in painting negative stereotypes of African American boys that make the job of placing them in adoptive homes more difficult.  Chet Hewitt is President of Sierra Healthcare Foundation. He served 6 years as the director of Alameda County Social Services Agency, one year overseeing the Child Welfare Department and was a foster parent for 12 years.  Hewitt believes the way young African American males are depicted in movies, how they’re described in literature and how a Black youngster involved in a violent incident is described in the news media all affect the public’s perception of Black youths.

Sometimes I get tired of reading only the voices of men. Don’t you?

The blog Lady Journos! features anything in journalism written by a woman. You can share the links, hire these writers, and help close the byline gender gap.  Why?  Why not?

Look at incredible statistics about the percentages of women to men in your most popular magazines and journals.

Take a look at these statistics from VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. As VIDA says on their website as you scroll slowly down notice the red.  You will see numbers from The Atlantic,  Boston Review, Granta, Harpers, London Review of Books, New Republic, New Yorker, NY Times Book Review, New York Review of Books, and many more…  “The truth is, these numbers don’t lie. But that is just the beginning of this story. What, then, are they really telling us? We know women write. We know women read. It’s time to begin asking why the 2010 numbers don’t reflect those facts with any equity.”

Researchers at epolitix.com say in an article titled Does the Glass Ceiling Exist? “Our own research shows that equal pay for men and women won’t be in place until 2067.” Sigh.

Exploring the notion of being the outsider through the prism of this illness.

In 1995 Sarah Manguso was diagnosed with the rare autoimmune disease which poisons the blood. In this fascinating article titled My Body in the Aliens issue of GRANTA, she explores the notion of being the outsider through the prism of this illness. It’s quite incredible.

One way to respond to the immigration conversation.

Immigration reform, destabilized children, Christians seeking asylum from atrocities… are we not accountable to God for the impact of use of terms that mask the reality that we are talking about human beings made in God’s image; the discounting of the importance of their lives; of American laws and systems on these men and women and children.  “God has chosen the people who are scorned and without importance in this world, that is to say, those who aren’t anything…”  If you’re conflicted or confused about how to respond to the immigration conversation the website UnDocumented.tv is insightful and this article God’s Chosen helped me think.  “… I’ve observed a de-humanization in many of the comments that I hear that is reminiscent of much of the rhetoric around the issue of abortion: the use of terms that mask the reality that we are talking about human beings made in God’s image; the discounting of the importance of their lives; the attitude that we are not accountable before the God of the prophets for the impact of American laws and systems on these men and women and children.”

I cannot believe the earthquake in Christ Church, but these pictures from THE DAILY BEAST brought it home.

I highlight this important article Bailouts, Federal Debt, and the End of Responsibility asks “Is it possible that the moral values of the bailout economy have left us less able to confront our problems with debt?”  Um. yeah!

And why the international press is covering the protests across the ‘Arab World’ but ignoring the rest of Africa?

Just thinking!  And that’s all for now.

Gonna catch some deals? Make them count.

Going shopping tomorrow?

Ask yourself what local, independently owned businesses would you really miss if they disappeared and make sure to get into those stores tomorrow.

For every $100 you spend locally, $68 stays in the local community.

If you shop or eat at national chains, only $43 stays in your community.

If you shop on-line nothing stays local, did you hear that? Nothing.

Rather than suck up to the giant conglomerates drink from the fountain of pure and  local and rest in the knowledge that almost $.70 of each dollar you spend will go back into your community.

I wrote about this in more detail a few days ago and also here.

P.S.  Last year I wrote about spending $100 locally. (So okay, maybe I did have this idea first.) But seriously, it’s pretty good.  Read it.

P.P.S.  Obviously, this is geared toward Madison, but the same applies to any local economy.  Just do it!

Let me know your three choices whether you are here locally in Madison or elsewhere!

Top five reasons to buy Local

Reasons for Buying Local

Reason 1

Enrich the community economy. Each time money you spend money at a locally owned business, the tax stays in Dane County to support local resources such as schools, parks, police and fire and much more.

  • When you spend $100 at a locally owned business: $68 stay in local economy and $32 leave the local economy.

  • When you spend $100 at a non-locally owned business or chain, $43 stay in local economy and $57 leave the local economy.

Reason 2

Keep Dane County original. We make sure that unique, one-of-a-kind businesses survive which is what makes Madison interesting.  There are hundreds of locally owned restaurants and shops.

Reason 3

Provide more jobs. Altogether, locally owned independent businesses are our largest employer.

Reason 4

Ensure a solid foundation for local nonprofit organizations who serve us. Locally owned businesses give more.

Reason 5

Create good places to work.

Dane Buy Local is a group of locally owned and independent businesses, community groups and services working together to support a healthy local community.  Their website has information on over 400 shops and services that make our county unique.  excerpted from danebuylocal.com. Go to their website for an up-to-date directory of members.

Madison Originals is a nonprofit association of local, independently owned restaurants dedicated to preserving the area’s unique local flavor.  You can buy and print gift certificates online.

Supporting local organizations helps keep our county unique, interesting and vibrant.

Remember $50 spent in three local businesses on Black Friday or over the weekend will put money back into our economy and support jobs and the needs of those around us.  I’ve written about that here.

Nightmares: A conversation with my son.


Originally uploaded by M e l o d y

He says out of the blue, driving down the rode:

I want to live with you forever, Mom.  Because — what if  — I’m homeless some day?

Trying to understand what exactly he is trying to say, I reply:

You can always live with me, if you’re down and out or homeless. I would never let you live on the streets. Besides that doesn’t happen to very many people…

[pause to think and choose my words carefully]

… usually if you are willing to work hard (really Melody? homeless people aren’t willing to work hard?) and are smart enough to do well in school (this isn’t going well, because I’ve met homeless who are PhD’s) you will not end up homeless. (Which I know very well isn’t always true.  I considered launching into something about mental illness, and drug addiction and family, and job loss being contributing factors.

And then I realized he was just scared and I couldn’t make him understand something that I don’t completely.)

He said:

But what if I can’t find you? If I don’t know where you live?

I said:

You will always know where I am. You can always call me.

(And I found myself explaining about calling collect. )

I will always take your collect call.

Why is he thinking about this? He’s ten. Why is he so scared?

The Sky is Falling (part 2)

—> I posted this last year, October, and interestingly it is still relevant. The Sky is Falling (Part 1) is here. <—

Did you know around the world

some 26,500 children

die DAILY?  This is equivalent to:

  • 1 child every 3 seconds.

  • Almost 10 million children dying every year.

  • An Iraq-scale death toll every 15–36 days.

  • 18 children dying every minute.

  • A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring every week

(Statistics from: http://www.globalissues.org)

It is a difficult battle to face down the fears of today.

What am I afraid of ?  For starters, I am afraid for the state of the world’s economy.  I mean, financial security (something that I thought was a given and that I have absolutely taken for granted) is all but disappearing.  Yes, I am afraid.   It feels like our country is being run into the ground.

Ironically though, really what I’m afraid for is the state of my America — my middle class, or upper middle-class life is feeling shaky.

Did you know America’s poverty rate was almost 13% of our total population last year? That was the fourth consecutive annual increase, the Census Bureau says.

Last year, there were 37 million people living in poverty in the UNITED STATES.

That’s more than one in ten citizens living below the poverty line, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening.

I am a “have” — and yet I’m scared?  It makes me wonder what kind of fear and stress others live with daily.

Perhaps as a result of all of the reality shows on television which do nothing to project “reality” but something surreal and unbelievable.  My children are often asking “Are we rich?”  Ah, a good question and difficult to answer.  But if I compare myself, our life, to most of the world we are rich.  As my son says:  we’re definitely thousannaires. (I’m fairly sure he’s coined this phrase.)

And although I am afraid; Even as my mind runs to ‘what ifs’ it is good to remember to reflect on these facts.  Though winter is coming:

  • I have heat and a roof over my head.
  • I can feed my children three meals a day, more if I want.
  • We have two cars,
  • and clothes,
  • and clean water,
  • and health care,
  • school,
  • and our health,
  • currently, we can pay our bills.

I am blessed.

There are many places in our community where others are in need and you and I can help.  Donate clothing or money, or time or food to homeless shelter or a local food pantry.  These are just a few ideas.

Remember to be grateful and not focus on fear.  I want to give out of my abundance, because no matter how much I lost in the stock market recently, or may in the future, or how much the prices of gas and food are skyrocketing, I have much, much more than so many in our community and around the world.

Updates from an Oct 2008 post.

And a few articles to read regarding the US Economy.

1) An interesting article with a little hope about the economy, written by John Maudlin, investment specialist and author of many best selling books.

2)  On another note, I just read this interesting article about a woman, Brooksley Born, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission ,who was warning against this current financial crisis ten years ago, titled: The Woman Who Could Have Prevented This Financial Mess Was Silenced by Greenspan, Rubin and Summers.

The Sky is Falling (part 3) Shop locally, it’s more IMPT than cheap underwear!

Recently I received a notice that TARGET wanted to build a store in my neighborhood.  I often shop at Target.  So why do I resent them moving into my turf?  I had to really think about it and I realized, other than the increased traffic and tacky feeling of strip mall, I am afraid local mom and pops businesses will suffer.  My money represents power and I have the opportunity to wield it.

There was no author to credit on the website I read it on. So thanks to whomever wrote this:

Top Ten Reasons to Shop Local

10. Local stores are more likely to carry locally produced foods which supports local agriculture.

9. Local business owners give to more local fundraising and 501(c)3’s.

8. Local businesses create a majority of jobs.

7. Local businesses support other local businesses.

6. The business community becomes reflective of this community’s unique culture.

5. The sales taxes I pay support this community and county: fixing my roads, maintaining my recreational facilities, . . .

4. Competition and diversity result in fair prices and more choices.

3. Shopping local reduces my carbon footprint.

2. Local business owners invest in the community and have a vested interest in the future of this community.

1. My hometown is more important than a cheap pair of underwear!

Well said!

And this is a great website the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) which proposes a set of new rules that builds community by supporting humanly scaled politics and economics. The rules call for:

  • Decisions made by those impacted
  • Communities accepting responsibility for the welfare of their members and the next generation
  • Households and communities possessing or owning sufficient productive capacity to generate real wealth

NewRules.org discusses the importance of rules and catalogs the best.  We make the rules and the rules make us.

“Nobody’s Perfect” Give me a break!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am sitting here listening to the White House Press Secretary and I just want to scream. Of course I generally support our new President but give me a break.  This isn’t accountability or new leadership.  This isn’t reformation.  This is same old government.

“Nobody’s perfect” is their response to Daschle not paying his taxes.  I want to know what would happen to me if I don’t pay my taxes.

I just mailed in a check for more than $3,200 for HALF my property taxes.  What would happen if I just “forgot” to pay,  or if I made an “honest mistake?”  If I said, well, “nobody’s perfect.”  What would happen?

Well I just checked and quess what?  The average American citizen, that’s you and me, we would, after ignoring many letters from the government informing us of our need to pay, would face …

If you continue to pursue your personal revolt against taxation, it could cost you!  The government has the right to recoup its money as it sees fit. It can:

  • Place a levy on your bank account
  • Place a lien on your home
  • Seize your car, boat, or any other personal or real property of value

Simply put, failure to file, failure to pay and tax evasion can result in any number of civil and even criminal punishments, including imprisonment.

I’m pissed off.  Why do they have different rules for politicians????  Tell me what you think?  And here’s what I think.

Let’s vet all politicians – make it a prerequisite for the job.  I’m thinking, if two out of Obama’s cabinet have now had issues with not paying taxes, there’s like a few more old dogs in Washington that think they can get away with ROBBING the American people.  It’s no coincidence, people.  They are ripping us off WHILE we pay their salaries.

Here they are, asking us to fork over billions in bailouts, when they are even keeping their own houses clean.

I’m angry and disgusted.

This information was found at: http://money.howstuffworks.com/did-not-pay-taxes1.htm

Things I Gave Up For the Recession (Updated)

One one of my current favorite websites, The Huffington Post, has a new section, Blogging the Meltdown.  Here’s my entry for how the recession has impacted me.  It’s updated from something I wrote a month ago.

Ten (or so) things I gave up because of the recession:

Not in order of importance.

1. Coffee shops. Though I still drink good strong (usually fair trade) coffee at home, I no longer stop for it when I am out and about.  (Sorry Starbucks.)  And I’ve vowed to use up all the tea I have at home.  Somehow I like buying tea (they come in beautiful boxes) but don’t seem to drink much of it.  That’s changed.

2. Books. My husband swears I could read for two years or longer on the books I currently own, but I have given up purchasing books.  That’s a compulsion that is hard to change but important way to save big dollars.  I will visit my local library which means I have to be much more organized and less spontaneous about my reading preferences.  (Goodbye Borders.)

3. Neighborhood grocery store.
I love the beautiful atmosphere including classical music, but I’ve given it up for the prices at Trader Joe’s and a warehouse store like Woodmans.  Again, I must be more organized.  Frankly, I don’t miss seeing wine on every corner associated with all the good food I like, since I gave up drinking in July.  (That’s saving us a bundle.)

4. Shopping for entertainment.  Okay, don’t judge.  It is something that I enjoy(ed.)  But we’re not shopping at all.  Only what’s absolutely needed and in the budget.

5.  Eating out. We just don’t do it. And we used to eat out three or four times a week, sometimes as a family of five, sometimes at lunch from work.  It was a way to stave off boredom, an antidote for laziness, and somehow a ‘reward.’  Again, planning ahead is required to eat every meal at home.  Tom just got eight cans of Progresso Soup for $10.  Now that’s a deal!

6. Cambodia. I had planned a trip there to take a photography course, but this is postponed indefinitely.

7. Our Dishwasher. It broke, burning out in a blaze of glory after probably 30+ years and it won’t be replaced for a while.  Things we don’t need, won’t be repaired or replaced.  We wash our dishes by hand which has caused me to use more hand lotion.  But funnily enough, I have quite a bit.

8. Furniture in our Living Room. Our cat George has issues (related to peeing) and we’ve lost furniture, rugs, pillows, etc. all because of it, I mean him.  They won’t be replaced for a very long time.  He may get the boot!  Though that is under debate.

9. Gourmet cheeses (and things like it.) Yummmmm.  The older the better.  Stick to grocery store brand Sharp Cheddar.  Oddly difficult for me.

10. We’ll be canceling all of our magazine subscriptions (except PASTE magazine, which is awesome! And you get a CD of cool new music each month.  (By the way, no more CD purchases!)

On the short list for what’s next: Piano tuning won’t happen this this winter or vacations & travel of any kind.  We’re considering cutting Cable, although we’ve had an ongoing family debate over this.  The Persian rug in our den will not be cleaned.

We’re still investing in retirement, the kids are still in soccer and music lessons, we eat well, we are in no manner suffering. The biggest sacrifice has been what we perceived as financial “freedom.”

It is interesting how our priorities change as we deal with the fact that we must bring down our debt and increase our savings.  The recession was basically a wake up call for my husband and I who have been living as if we can buy and do whatever we want whenever we desire.  If we can’t afford it this month but we really want to do it, we put it on credit.

We now live on a budget and track each category (almost) daily.  What we thought was freedom was bondage, and now, we are free. It will take us four years on this restricted budget to be completely out of debt.  It is ironic, but by the time Mr. Obama is running again, we will be in a place to afford vacations, send our kids to college, and have a little more real freedom.

The recession is a blessing disguised as a burden.

For us, that is.  For many people it is much more dire.  Just spend a few minutes on the Huffington Meltdown site reading the stories of the homeless, uninsured, jobless, … yes, in my America.  Your America.

It makes my little list of “sacrifices” seem so silly.

Buy Local: Pledge to Spend $100 at Local Merchants this Holiday Season

12/03.2008 Edit.  No matter where you live, spending locally will help your local community and I would encourage you to consider it.


The Isthmus – Madison’s local weekly newspaper – is urging readers to spend at least $100 of their holiday money this fall at locally owned stores in Dane County – a move that could pump more than $15.9 million into the urban economy during this recession-plagued season.

The project is based on data showing that money spent in locally owned businesses tends to stay in the area and circulate through the community, increasing economic activity. Economists call this the multiplier effect.

You can pledge on their page.You will automatically be entered to win gift certificates from Willy St. Co-op, Dimaggio’s Euro Design and the Downtown Madison Business Improvement District (BID).

You can find a list of locally owned businesses at www.DaneBuyLocal.com.

Madness! My Brain on Recession

It is also what my brain feels like today.  I’m starting to really have a pit in my stomach about the state of the economy, every day I am aware of the cost of the most basic things.  I just feel down by it all, dragged down.  It is all madness!

(These are trees really played around with in a program called Picnik. )

The Sky is Falling!! (part 1)

This is the best summary I have seen on the state of the current financial crisis, which I read online in Scientific Monthly.  Succinct with ways to fix things.

But before reading that article, consider this poem by Kipling. I loved it when I first read it.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And which is more; you’ll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling
1865-1936, written in 1895