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Fishy Taxes

February 19th, 2017 by stephanie

As I sat down across from my accountant this month, he greeted me with the usual, “Well, how did we do this year?” I slid the report across the desk facing him and he quietly and methodically reviewed it.

After punching my numbers into his system, he turned and asked, “How much did you say you put away for your April 15 taxes?” When I gave him the amount again, he looked back at his screen, then back to me, and stated, “That’s about exactly what you owe this year.”

I just smiled.

It’s tax season here in the good ole U S of A. At least, for many of us. (Some do their reporting later in the year.)

But for those of us who know the April 15 date all too well, it looms once January hits.

Over the past 12 months, I was thrilled that for the first time in my business I was at a point where I could actually pay all of my estimated taxes.  Beyond that, during that same period, I was even able to set aside twice that amount in preparation for what I imagined I might owe.

The company had a good year. And, per our current tax structure, as happy as I was, I knew the day was coming that I would “pay” for that success. Sadly, the better you do, the more you owe. But I am not complaining. I was actually excited.

When I shared my accountant story with the #2 at my company, she paused and said, “That’s just creepy!”

I laughed. Then mused…Noit’s just God.

It reminded me of the story of Jesus, the disciples, a fish and a coin. If you aren’t familiar with it, you need to check it out.

Basically, it goes something like this: the religious Temple tax collectors came calling. Yes, you read that right…the men of the faith were asking if Jesus and his followers were going to comply with what they owed the place of worship. Now, Jesus did not agree with this practice. It was not a civil tax, nor was it even a tithe, but rather, a religious tax on the Jewish members. Sheesh! And I feel over taxed?

Here is how The Lord handled the matter—and directed his team: “…we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”

And so it was.

The point? A miracle transpired that met their current financial needs. It just happened. It happened for me this month, and many months and years prior in my life, if truth be told. And, it can happen for you.

If you are feeling the financial pinch lately, and a bit concerned, I hope this passage, and my personal story as well, will be an encouragement to you.

Others might see it as a bit, well, “fishy”, but when the money comes through, you and I will both smile, and nod. We’ll know what really went down.

Just my thoughts.

—S.

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And thanks!

The Accidental Career that Changed the World.

September 4th, 2013 by stephanie

His name was Samuel. All he wanted was to be a painter. He actually managed by midlife to accomplish that dream, and, for a short time, he was able to make a living at it. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t last. For us today, that’s a very good thing.

During his lifetime, it was difficult to make a living as an artist in America. If that wasn’t enough, crises hit. His wife died; then his mother and father also died soon after. Filled with grief, he headed off to Europe to paint and reflect on life.

On his return trip home, while aboard ship, he found himself discussing new experiments in electromagnetism. Apparently, as the story goes, Sam made the following comment, “If the presence of electricity can be made visible in any part of the circuit, I see no reason why intelligence may not be transmitted by electricity.” His creative mind still spinning, he returned to his room determined to solve this new equation. But he didn’t. He later wrote:

“The only gleam of hope, and I cannot underrate it, is from confidence in God. When I look upward it calms any apprehension for the future, and I seem to hear a voice saying: ‘If I clothe the lilies of the field, shall I not also clothe you?’ Here is my strong confidence, and I will wait patiently for the direction of Providence.”

In 1843 he approached Congress—one last time. He had done this more than once, and each time they had ontinuously called his ideas ridiculous. However, on the last night of the Congressional session, Samuel B. Morse made one final attempt. Then, he went to bed, tired and disgusted. In the morning, however, he was told that a few minutes before midnight Congress had awarded him $30,000 to construct a telegraphic line between Baltimore and Washington!

Within a year the line was established, and Morse received the amazing honor of tapping out the first message by telegraph. But what message would he send? After some thought, he chose an Old Testament passage found in Numbers 23:23 of the Bible: “What hath God wrought!” To him, it said it all.

– Had his wife and parents not died,
– Had he not gone to Europe,
– Had his artistic dreams succeeded as he’d dreamed and planned,
the world would never have experienced the telegraph.

Perhaps you’re experiencing setbacks and disappointments. Maybe your projects are lacking funding. Will you, as did Morse, “…wait patiently for the direction of Providence”?
Morse went on to create several other inventions and is often recognized today as the father of faxes, modems, e-mail, the internet and other electronic communication. All I can say is, “Wow.”

It seems worth asking the question: should we allow the interruptions and discouraging moments to get the best of us? It is possible, that perhaps, in them alone, lies the spark that will light the fire for the best that is truly yet to come.

Just my thoughts.
Yours?
S.

http://www.christianhistorytimeline.com/GLIMPSEF/Glimpses/glmps099.shtml

Tomorrow’s Bread, Please. And, Thanks!

April 11th, 2013 by stephanie

“Give us this day our daily bread…”
Many of us recognize this line as coming from the most famous prayer of all time. The Lord’s Prayer. Found two different places in the Scriptures, (Matthew and Luke) one needs to realize that if it takes up that much space in the prime real estate known as The Bible, it must be pretty important.
In thinking about what today’s bread really means, I have had to admit of late that I have come to expect, and feel the need to know, where tomorrow’s bread is coming from as well. Unlike those birds of the air who Matthew reminds us are cared for, I kinda want some security in the “care” department.

Alas, thus is the journey of faith. If I always had tomorrow’s bread secured, I wouldn’t have to walk in true faith now would I.

Are you content with daily bread? Or do you struggle wanting tomorrow’s bread in the freezer for that rainy day like I do?

Just my thoughts on this gorgeous spring day.
S.
More here!

Confucius say….

March 1st, 2013 by stephanie

There’s an old Chinese proverb that I just love. It goes like this: Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. (Tao Te Ching).

Stop and think about that. I imagine we’d be pretty shocked if we realized just how much of our day or week might be spent in trying to please or impress some one or some thing. Or, to discover that perhaps our time, energy, and resources might be going into or being invested in people, organizations, or things that possibly won’t matter (or even be there!) down the road.

A friend and I were chatting about this, and she quickly put it into perspective for me. When a problem arises in her life or, when something doesn’t sit quite right, she stops and asks this question: “Will I still be attached to this situation, or know this person 5 years from now. And if not, will it matter?”

What a great way to step back and evaluate when we feel a bit out of control or confused. Basically, in five years, will that organization, or person, that situation, or job be in your life? And if not, will it matter?”

You have to be very careful with this one, but if you handle it with some sensitive realism and honestly, (and in proper moderation) it’s some good brain work. Try it, and the next time you find that you are really upset or frustrated about something, or someone, ask yourself the “5-year” question. It might bring some much needed and immediate perspective, strategy or relief.

Just my thoughts,

S.
Is. 40:7 ¶ The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
Is. 40:8 ¶ The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever.”
1Pet. 1:24 For, ¶ “All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,

Are you finding yourself “downsizing” a bit?

October 21st, 2011 by stephanie

“We’re back to the same kind of car we had when we first married,” she mused as we looked around the room. Downsizing was in the making, and we were both remembering, if anything, a bit wistfully.

Just seems to be the season these days…but not for all folks.

A boat. A cabin. A motor home with car to match. A new house. Such were a few of the possessions that someone I once knew owned – all at one time. While some people simply hope to pay their electric bills, others, as the one mentioned above, are blessed with “things”.

Now, let me be clear, “things” aren’t bad. They can be, wonderful. Those who have them and enjoy them know what blessings they can be. And, understanding this, they share their things with others in order to spread the joy.

Thing, however, do not contain life. They are without life. Nor are they life giving. Without people, they just sit. Like in a museum where they don’t really do much other than offer us something to look at and ponder-and collect dust. For those of you who have had the luxury of things, you know exactly what I mean. Things are meant to be used and to be enjoyed–while we have them. They’re fun and they do make life a bit less boring.

King Solomon was a man who owned many things. The Queen of Sheba after her visit to his palace in Jerusalem was said to have noted that the stories she’d heard didn’t do justice to what she discovered during her stay. But Solomon was not always a happy man. The book of Ecclesiastes, (written by Solomon himself), explores this season of his life. Sometimes we find that we work harder for things than we do for the things that matter most.

Now, I realize this can vary from person to person, but the fact is, what we invest our time, our energy, and our resources in and on says a lot about who we are as a person.

Maybe we could all take a look this weekend and notice where we are investing most or ourselves. If we find we are more focused in, or on, things why not see if we can’t make a few adjustments here or there.

Life. It’s not about things. They’re just a part of it.

Just my thoughts…

Stephanie

 

Spread the Word…

August 17th, 2011 by stephanie

Spread the Word. The Gospel, that is.

There was one particular song I enjoyed that became popular in the 1990s that was by the band Whiteheart.. It was called Say the Word. I just could not get enough of it. The lyrics spoke directly to my heart. They were simple and true. Basically, the song explains that you don’t have to do much, just speak the words of God (the Scriptures from the Bible) and amazing things can happen. After all, it is God’s Word. I think it can pretty much stand on it’s own.

In considering the messages flying about in regards to the situation America is in today, I’d say that what this country could use more than any Stimulus Package or Debt Recovery Plan is a good dose of the Good News of the Gospel.

Just think, if instead of a mandate connected to tax payer dollars, Congress had signed into law a bill that stated we had to be honest? Had to share? Had to think of others first? Had to give first? Had to meet each others needs? Had to pay our bills or had to pay on time and had to pay in cash? Had to honor God, and had to live Godly lives? Well, this world would heal up pretty quickly if you ask me.

The answer isn’t solving the financial crises we’re in right now. It’s about peace. Peace of mind. Peace of life. Peace of heart. Something that money just can’t solve or buy. Without inner peace, all of the resources in the world, or the stability they can bring, simply isn’t enough.

Sure, we only get one shot at this life. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make the best of it. But may we not forget, there’s a whole lot of living that comes in the hereafter. It’s called eternity. And that’s a really, really, really long time. With no end!

So, instead of arguing about spreading the wealth, why not consider the clever ways to personally spread the Gospel. After all we’ve been through, it really couldn’t hurt.

Just my thoughts,
S.

You’re in leadership, but are you a leader?

May 10th, 2011 by stephanie

An advertisement that was published in The Saturday Evening Post, January 2, 1915 was not what I was expecting. See if you can guess the product…

The Penalty of LEADERSHIP

In every field of human endeavor he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction. When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone—if he achieve a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging. 

Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting. Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build, no one will strive to surpass or slander you, unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius. Long, long after a great work or a good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious continue to cry out that it cannot be done. 

Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountebank, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by. 

The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy—but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. 

There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as the human passions—envy, fear, greed, ambition, and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains—the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live—lives.    [And the company that posted the ad? Cadillac Motor Company.]

Interesting how this lays out the dynamics of leaders and followers. Do you agree?
S.

Can Greed be “good”?

April 7th, 2011 by stephanie

“Greed is good,” said the CEO sitting across from me. Then, leaning in closer, he continued, “What Enron did was wrong. But greed, in itself, is not bad.”

I had to chew on that a moment. And process it. I could understand what he was trying to say. I think. The “want” for things is not bad. The motivation that want brings to some folks, to get them going can be good. To achieve. To attain. It’s not a sin to want or to aspire. However, breaking the law? Hurting people in the process to get what you want? Not good. In my opinion that is. Not negotiable.

Apparently the Greek word for Greed means “a thirst for having more.” And if you think about it, those hot days when you are dying of thirst, once you quench it, that thirst will come again. Jesus talked about greed. He had this to say:
Luke 12:15 …“Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people having things. Missionaries depend on the gifts of others to go into the field or to take those humanitarian trips. People who receive help from the government depend on other folks to pay the taxes that allow those gifts to continue. Hospitals, research teams and charities rely on folks that “have” in order to survive. We should want people to be successful.

But back to greed. Those who struggle with greed usually aren’t the ones giving. They’re more the takers in life if truth be told. It’s an interesting topic for discussion to be sure.

Just my thoughts. Yours?
S.

Where does Fish Friday come from?

March 25th, 2011 by stephanie

While in McDonald’s grabbing what I thought would be a quick lunch, I couldn’t help noticing the exhausted police officer standing to my left patiently waiting for his lunch. When the tray finally slid out, there were two Filet of Fish sandwiches and the usual combo that goes with them. Fries and drink.
20081210-filetofish-sandwich
It reminded me of an article I came across and never forgot. Apparently, the Filet o Fish sandwich from McDonald’s was a result of a religious tradition. I’d been flipping through TIME magazine when my eyes fell on a time line showing the menu transformation of the fast food chain over the years. It was the 1960’s section that caught my attention most.

The general public these days may not remember that those of the Catholic faith (and other similar denominations) don’t just give up something for Lent. They used to strongly adhere to the eating of only fish on Fridays as well. On that day of the week they abstained from other meat. They fasted it, in a way. During the day, their focus was apparently to focus on “giving up”. Sacrificing. In honor, of sorts, for what Christ did for them via His sacrifice on the cross.

That tradition of the faith was such a part of Western culture, that Fish Fridays became a common option on most, if not all, menus of eateries.

But back to McDonald’s. A man by the name of Louis Groen, of Cincinnati, Ohio, owned a Mickie D’s (vernacular for McDonald’s) franchise. One day, he contacted corporate headquarters with a concern. He told them that he needed help if he was going to keep his Catholic customers–who wouldn’t eat meat on Friday. He was well aware that Catholics, for centuries, only ate Fish on Fridays, and that tradition was affecting his sales.

The answer to his dilemma? The creation of the Filet-O-Fish sandwich in 1962.

And so, now you know.

Knowing that we’re in the midst of Lent, perhaps you have given up something, not just on Fridays, but during this 40-day fasting period. But for today, it’s all about the fish factor. Something for your water cooler chats this week. I, personally, will be enjoying Sushi with friends this evening. You?

Just my thoughts.

S.

Voting Day cometh…

October 29th, 2010 by stephanie

It’s amazing to think that 545 people run the lives of 310,000,000 Americans. Hard to imagine, but you know, it’s pretty true! Here’s the run down:
– 435 members in House of Representatives
– 100 U.S. Senators
– 1 President
– 9 Supreme Court Justices
A friend sent the below to me. It is a portion taken from an article written by a Florida journalist. The point is, we Americans joke about nothing is as certain as death and taxes. But wow…I forget how many taxes are actually out there for us Americans. Have some fun with the below! And a reminder: not ONE of the taxes below was apparently around 100 years ago? hmmmm
Here it goes…

“Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table, At which he’s fed.
Tax his tractor, Tax his mule, Teach him taxes Are the rule.
Tax his work, Tax his pay, He works for peanuts Anyway!
Tax his cow, Tax his goat, Tax his pants, Tax his coat.

Tax his ties, Tax his shirt, Tax his work, Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he Tries to think.

Tax his cigars, Tax his beers, If he cries Tax his tears.

Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways To tax his a__.
Tax all he has Then let him know That you won’t be done Till he has no dough.
When he screams and hollers; Then tax him some more, Tax him till He’s good and sore.
Then tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod in Which he’s laid…
Put these words Upon his tomb, Taxes drove me to my doom…’ When he’s gone, Do not relax, Its time to apply The inheritance tax..

Sales Tax
School Tax
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Excise Taxes
Property Tax
Cigarette Tax
Medicare Tax
Inventory Tax
Real Estate Tax
Well Permit Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Inheritance Tax
Road Usage Tax
CDL license Tax
Dog License Tax
State Income Tax
Food License Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Gross Receipts Tax
Social Security Tax
Service Charge Tax
Fishing License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Building Permit Tax
IRS Interest Charges
Hunting License Tax
Marriage License Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Personal Property Tax
Accounts Receivable Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Workers Compensation Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service FeeTax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
…Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt… “-Charlie Reese, a retired reporter for the Orlando Sentinal

Just his thoughts…yours?

Add’l resource: http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/reese.asp

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