Learning to say no

My earliest Easter memory is of my mother cautioning my older brother and me that if we didn’t pick up the nails we’d spilled on the front porch of our Oregon ranch, the Easter bunny couldn’t come to our house. He’d hurt his feet. Then there was the time she cleverly disguised a carpet sweeper as an Easter gift. We’d get to clean floors? Oh, joy!

The Trouble I Caused

The Trouble I Caused

We were late for a family-reading night at our youngest child’s school. It was dark and cold. The end-of-winter ground was oozing mud, and the parking lot was packed. I slowed our minivan in front of the brightly lit building, wondering where to park. And that’s when I saw it: just enough room off the edge of the pavement to pull alongside another vehicle. “Do you think it’s OK?” I asked my husband, Dana, who sat in the front passenger seat while our young sons prattled impatiently in the back.

Paying Penance

Paying Penance

Last year I celebrated Lent for the first time. The churches in which I grew up seemed to skip from dolling out Christmas cookies to cutting the Easter ham with hardly a pause to reflect on the passion of Christ leading up to the pivotal moment of our faith. I fasted one meal a day, which caused me to pause every morning I gave up breakfast to thank God for all Christ gave up for me.
This year my husband, Dana, decided to join me. Wanting to pursue a healthier physical life as well as a healthier spiritual life, we decided to give up wheat, milk products, and white sugar for the 40 day season, which this year began on Valentine’s Day. Forgoing the traditional gift of sweets, Dana took me out for breakfast.

The IRS, Taxes & Lent — Oh, My!

For the first time ever, my husband and I hired a tax accountant. Having sold both our house and my late mother’s – as well as being self-employed – I really hoped we didn’t owe money. Just as importantly, I wanted to avoid making a mistake that might later result in a bill from the IRS. A couple of weeks later, we were blessed to find out that – like up to 80 percent of Americans – we were to receive a tidy tax return. But where to spend it? The leaky roof? Investing in a second car? Helping our high school senior with college?