Budget A Little Love

All the believers were together and had everything in common.
They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

Acts 2:44-45

During Lent this year, many of our parishioners and their children made those in need the focus of their efforts. We provided little cardboard banks where change and any other “shareable” cash could be stored. Adults gave up their coffee while the kids did extra chores. They all filled their banks with the money saved or earned. By the week after Easter, we had hundreds of banks to open which resulted in thirteen large plastic containers filled with coins. Fortunately, many of our adult participants inserted paper money into their banks which lightened the load for those of us who made trips to the bank with this treasure. My husband and I coordinate this effort and every year the generosity of our parish families takes our breath away. The truth is that this phenomenon is repeated whenever we bring the needs of others to our people.

During our last trip to the bank with a load of change, it occurred to me that the capacity for generosity lies deep within each one of us. When we encounter a good cause, most of us are hard-pressed to ignore it. Our parish families seem to plan ahead for those cardboard banks because every year the total collected increases. Perhaps they budget ahead of time to be certain they can support this cause. Though I have no business advising anyone else regarding budget management, I’ve decided that a line item for giving is a great idea. What better way is there to secure a handsome return -of joy, that is!

Loving God, help us to love one another with our hearts and our treasure.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Plan Ahead

“…go, sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.”

From Matthew 19:21

A recent dinner in Chicago reminded me of my college commute. Every day, I traveled from the West Side to the far northeast. This involved one bus and subsequent transfers to the Lake Street and then Howard Street trains. The safety of this commute depended upon the time of day. One consistency was the array of God’s people whom I met along the way.

One frosty January day, a woman wearing only a clear plastic raincoat over her other clothing rode with me. She carried a few bags which looked more like her belongings than the fruits of a shopping spree. Though the woman didn’t ask, I felt compelled to give her my jacket. At the time, this jacket was my only coat. I was paying my own way through college and really couldn’t afford to replace it. Still… While I closed my eyes to ask for guidance from above, the train stopped and my raincoat-clad friend stepped off. I felt terribly guilty about this missed opportunity until I shared this story with a friend. “You did receive guidance from above.” he said. “The woman got off the train and you kept the coat you needed as much as she did. God took care of you and God will inspire someone to take care of her.”

I puzzled over this for some time and I gave to the poor whenever I could. When I graduated and acquired a full-time job, I began to budget for my giving. Then, there was no question regarding what I could and couldn’t afford. Giving became part of the plan.

Generous God, sometimes, the easiest way to live as you would have us live is to plan accordingly. Thank you for taking care of me and the woman in the raincoat.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Love in the Budget

All the believers were together and had everything in common.
They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

Acts 2:44-45

I have to admit that the people of my parish never cease to amaze me. Whenever we bring the needs of others to their attention, they respond generously. It occurs to me that this capacity for generosity lies deep within each one of us. When we encounter a good cause, we are hard-pressed to ignore it. Not long ago, I was reminded of two extremely good causes which need on-going support. One assists children and their families during the summer months and after school when food and productive activities are often hard to come by. The other assists the poor who need short-term assistance.

These causes nudged me to make an ongoing commitment to those in need. Rather than waiting to be reminded to be generous, I’ve decided to budget for the needs of others along with my own. This arrangement keeps my finances in order and my heart happy! Hopefully, these efforts occasionally bring a smile to someone else as well.

Loving God, help us to love one another with our hearts and our treasure.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Habitual Goodness

Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Luke 11:23

This third week of Lent, it occurs to me that I’ve probably thought more about the words and works of Jesus during the past seventeen days than I have in a very long time. Today’s scripture passage would have thrown me for a loop not so long ago because I would have questioned Jesus’ exclusivity. “What are you thinking?” I might have asked. Today, I realize that this is not the case. Jesus included everyone in this remark. He simply asked that we live as we should consistently, rather than when it is convenient or “in season.” When we are not living as we should, we are living as we shouldn’t. Consistency is definitely the way to go!

Though Christmas seems eons away, can you recall the numerous charitable efforts in progress during the Christmas Season? It seems that everyone tried to do something to help those in need. My parish family provided five thousand gifts for two thousand people who would otherwise have not received any gifts. Giving is always in season at Christmastime. Unfortunately, poverty and abuse and need don’t adhere to a calendar. Jobs are lost every day and medical bills mount up regardless of the season. Food pantries have long since distributed their Christmas donations and the economy has taken its toll on social agencies. Perhaps it’s time to extend our Christmas generosity to Lent. Today, I’m going to eliminate something from my budget and I’m going to give what I save to someone who needs it more than I do. If consistency is the name of the game, it’s time for me to make a habit of this.

Loving God, help us all to live as we should rather than as we should not. In the process, help us to make our generosity a lifelong habit.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved