Life in General

Miscellaneous observtions on Life


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Faith is defined in Wikipedia as "Faith is hope, belief or trust in an entity or idea that is not based on material proof."   Martin Luther King, Jr. defines it as:  "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

Many persons receive their personal faith in God or a higher power through being handed down through the generations in their families. When family unity is strong or intact, the beliefs of their family and extended family generally follow the next generations' belief system. Some families believe in 'let them choose faith themselves when they are older', but faith is hard to establish without early seeds of planting the basics of what faith is. You can't just 'choose' something you've never experienced.   Many people with no faith want to know how to get it or help them get it.   It's simply opening your heart to acceptance of it.   A blueprint or background helps them understand better.

Whatever the denomination or religious belief the family follows, it usually encompasses rituals, beliefs, and traditions based on reverence, devotion, loyalty to beliefs, good works and lifestyles. There are numerous faiths in our world, and my aim here is to appeal to parents to instill their own faith, or beliefs or good values or morality and ethics to their children. If these virtues are learned as a child, the seeds will be planted and take root.  A conscience will develop to the good or virtues in life and avoid the bad.

How can parents do this?    By teaching them the values they themselves learned as children and share these gifts with their children when they are very young. Talk to your kids about what is right and what is wrong.  Foster friendships with families whose family life you respect and want to imitate.  Take your kids to a place of worship. Children love the unity of sharing faith with family and this unity rewards all family members.

We live in a fast-changing world.  Technology can be a good thing and sometimes it is not. Everything is speeded up; even games. Especially video games. A friend mentioned to me that her grandchildren get bored with movies like Bambi, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp - the Disney Classics, etc. because they are 'boring', 'too slow', and 'not exciting.  They have missed  the 'messages' these movies taught about loyalty, love, and good vs. evil.

These values need to be taught in the home, but many times, today's families are fractured; perhaps led by a single parent, or perhaps some families are caught up in endless activities, working and school sports or clubs.

So where do the younger generations learn about morality, ethics, respect, and fair play if everyone is too busy to be role models or teach them?  From Hollywood and pop stars? Our politicians? Who ARE our kids' role models? Are you?   Do you teach them about spirituality, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, Rules to Live By or any doctrines?   How will they learn to love one another, forgive others, and respect others?   By your example and by your faith.

Where do they learn about bullying, hurting people who they 'don't like' or thinking about violence in the school to get back at someone. Did they ever learn that murder is wrong or revengeful gossiping can hurt people or it isn't right to publicly insult people on Facebook that some kids have committed suicide?  Or teaching them that wanting and needing every new tech device or latest fad negates thinking about helping someone less fortunate than themselves.  Are they Numero Uno in all they do?  If so, chances are, they always will be,  if they are not taught otherwise.   And that will affect their parents' future relationships with them.

Most schools don't teach social skills or moral values. Or how to play fair, love fair or how not to priortize their interests to the detriment of others.

Your house of faith, temple, or churches do teach these values.  Bring your kids to your house of worship. Yes, sometimes  small children get cranky or noisy, but they quickly adapt.  And when they grow up will probably take their own kids. You will reap a bond with your children through your common beliefs and traditions. Your faith will help your family through turbulent times, hardships and personal malfunctions. It is sorely needed today and sorely absent.

Faith brings people and families together. A family that prays together usually stays together. Couples, too. If a person disappoints you, knowing that you share the same faith can bring you close again. If a person deeply loves you, faith can bring you even more the best joy in life you've ever had. If you are alone, faith can provide a path and blessings that you never experienced. Faith isn't a crutch or a substitute - it's a blessing that will stay with you forever and will multiply.

"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." ~Galatians 6:7    Sow some good seeds today and plant them in your children.    They will become the fruits of your labor and you will all  be blessed.

© Marie Coppola   Updated January 2018

 

When visiting South Carolina, PLEASE do not feed the alligators!

The good news first: South Carolina is a great state to visit or retire to - droves of retirees move here every year. Why not? it's beautiful country, inexpensive, balmy winter weather, close to the beach and water, lots of attractions and places to go with myriads of same-age friends to socialize with.

The bad news: The American alligator is native only to the southeastern United States, where it inhabits wetlands that frequently overlap with human-populated areas. Wetlands abound in South Carolina. We have them behind our house.   Occasionally we hear of them entering a home or swimming in someone's backyard pool.

Wildlife experts estimate there are 100,000 alligators in South Carolina. These extremely powerful creatures, with cat-like quickness from the snap of their heads to the crushing whip of their tails, can be dangerous, and weigh hundreds of pounds. Most wild alligators (are there any other kind?) do not get above 13 feet in length and weigh 600 pounds. The record one is over 19 feet. Not something you'd like to step outside in your back yard and run into.

Alligators are on the shy side and normally do not chase or bother people unless their nest is provoked or you get closer than 15 feet to them. And people do that all that time. For some unfathomable reason, people may think that if they get close to an alligator, the alligator may invite them for a swim or to see their young. Not. They have good eyesight and can run very quickly to overtake a human. Sometimes alligators become disoriented when their natural habitat is compromised and have been seen swimming in lovely developments' community swimming pools. We had such an occurrence a few miles from our home here on the east coast - a five foot alligator taking a swim in a backyard pool.

And alligators are good press copy. Recently three Critter Manaement workers removed a "monster" of an alligator -- an 11-foot long, 500 pound alligator from a tiny lagoon in the Hilton Head area. And recently, too, part of a man's arm was bitten off by an alligator as he leaned to retrieve his golf ball at a private South Carolina course, officials said this past Friday. The man, in his 70s, was bitten by a 10-foot alligator on Thursday afternoon at Ocean Creek Golf Course in Beaufort County.

Alligators eat fish, birds, turtles, snakes, mammals and amphibians. They will also eat small fish at any opportunity. As they grow, they gradually move on to larger fish, mollusks, frogs, and small mammals like rats and mice. Some adult alligators take a larger variety of prey ranging from snakes, turtles or birds to and moderate-sized mammals like a racoon or deer. Once an alligator reaches adulthood, any animal living in the water or coming to the water to drink is potential prey. Adult alligators will also eat wild boars, deer, and dogs of all sizes, and livestock including cattle and sheep.

The purpose of my article is to plead with tourists and even natives of South Carolina and all southern states: Please do not feed alligators. Dogs and cats disappear all the time from golf course communities - where at least one or two alligators reside -- in the ponds on golf courses.

Never feed or entice alligators - it's dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. Some unknowing people with small children with them have been fined for feeding alligator; the alligator could view the child as possible food. Don't feed ANY wildlife in or near the water. Again, it may create a situation where an alligator sees these events and begins to associate people with food.

To keep the alligators at bay in South Carolina, 1,200 excited people take to the public waters of South Carolina for the annual alligator hunt. The season opens in September and closes a month later, with each licensed hunter allowed to capture one alligator. The sport is popular in the Palmetto State. The number of permits sought by enthusiasts and granted by the state has grown each year since it became legal two years ago.

Do I partake? Nope - the only alligators I ever want to see are at an alligator attraction down by nearby Barefoot Landing, a popular North Myrtle Beach tourist spot. They are contained and all I ever hope to see.

© Marie Coppola Revised February 2013

 

 

By Andrew Wommack | December 17, 2012

While many ask, “Where was God last Friday?”                                                          The answer is that He was right there.

Jamie and I have shared the shock and sadness with you over the terrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, where twenty children and six adults were brutally massacred. Our hearts go out to those who have lost their precious children. We can only imagine what they are going through. But I know that the Lord loves them even more than we do, and I’m confident He is moving to comfort their hearts. We mix our prayers with yours that although the Lord didn’t do this, He will bring good out of it.

Such evil is hard to understand and shakes our sense of security. We want to understand how this could happen so we can fix it and move on with our lives without fear.

In the coming days, all kinds of causes for this senseless act will be put forth with corresponding solutions. Much of the talk will center around how we protect ourselves and those we love from tragedy like this. While it’s prudent to adjust to the reality of the world we live in, I don’t think any of us want to surrender our freedoms and live in a rigid police state. And I don’t believe we have to.

As the governor of Connecticut said Friday, “Evil visited us today.” This wasn’t just natural. This was pure evil. It was demonic. Certainly, government is an impediment to evil, and there are things that need to be done. But the only way to truly beat evil is to change the hearts of people with the power of God’s love. God’s kind of love works no ill to his neighbor (Rom. 13:10), therefore the antidote is to inject people’s hearts with God’s love.

I know that many, or even most people, will reject what I’ve just said and say it is impractical. But in reality, this is the only solution that is practical. We can’t build fortresses strong enough to keep evil out. This is not just a physical battle (Eph. 6:12); this is a spiritual war.

And this reveals why there is an increase of these terrible acts. Our society has systematically rejected God by rejecting His standards of morality. Although morality hasn’t been banned in America, immorality has been legalized and promoted. Its prevalence has weakened and in some cases eliminated the fear of God from public life. Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil…” It’s now “politically incorrect” to hate evil in this country. This moral vacuum allows and encourages demonic activity.

And make no mistake, this kind of act can’t happen without demonic involvement. No human being would kill an innocent child without being controlled by evil. The devil and his demons are real. Anyone who believes the New Testament would have to admit that. This is a spiritual battle, and our best weapons are spiritual weapons (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

The ultimate weapon against evil is the power of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16). This most recent incident is a reflection of the church’s failure to influence our culture as we should.

But as bad as all this is, it could have been worse. While many ask, “Where was God last Friday?” The answer is that He was right there. He was in teachers who made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of the children entrusted to them. He was in a janitor who ran down the halls giving warning and saving lives. He was in the first responders who entered the school cutting short what the shooter wanted to do. He had hundreds of rounds of ammunition left and obviously planned to do much more than he did.

God was in all these people who resisted and ultimately stopped this rampage. The Lord didn’t cause this to happen or allow it to happen. He gave us a free will, and He doesn’t control us like pawns in a chess game. This shooter gave himself over to evil. Others resisted the devil in him and eventually stopped him. It could have been much worse.

It’s easy to see the evil that has already happened, but we will never know until we are in eternity just how much evil was thwarted by all the godly influences. John 10:10 says the thief ONLY comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He’s after nothing else. There isn’t any good in the devil. If he was unchecked, we’d all be dead.

But there is much good all around us. I can show you hundreds of people scattered all over the world who are giving their lives to confront evil every day. I heard Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott who was murdered in the Columbine School shootings in 1999, talk about how he and those associated with him have spoken to over three million students since that terrible tragedy. They know of three school shootings that have been thwarted and over 500 suicides that have been prevented through their efforts.

I have friends who have left the comfort of America to travel to impoverished nations where they are sacrificing their lives to make a difference. Thousands are being impacted.

One of our Bible college graduates who lost her husband while she was in school continued on, raising six children by herself, and is now supporting twenty-nine children in an orphanage in the Congo. My good friends, Darey and Karen Jolly, have laid their lives down to minister to thousands of children in Nicaragua. The first graduates of their K-12 schools are now entering college. Only the Lord knows what tragedies they stopped and what good will be done through these children who have been loved and shown the true Gospel.

Our Charis Bible Colleges are impacting thousands of lives. We now have more people actively participating in CBC right now than all those who have gone through the colleges over the last eighteen years. The numbers are growing, and I believe this is making a difference.

Our students in Uganda have impacted that nation. I met with the president and first lady of Uganda who have totally embraced what we are doing there. President Museveni recently addressed the nation and publicly repented of his personal sins and the sins of the nation and dedicated the nation of Uganda to the Lord. Praise God!

There are people all around us who are resisting the devil and his influence, but obviously there is much more to be done. We are in a battle. We live in a fallen world and evil is everywhere. But so is God. However, He can only flow through us to the degree that we seek and submit to Him. He doesn’t sovereignly control all things.

I think it’s good that terrible things like this, shock and sadden us. We should always hate evil and grieve with those who grieve. I pray this never becomes so commonplace that we are insensitive to atrocities. But we should not be discouraged to the point of thinking, What can I do? Each one of us is a soldier in this war, and every godly thing we do makes a difference.

I don’t know what toxic mix of things caused this shooter to break and do what he did. There is no single cause that will ever be identified. But we have read that he was diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. One in eighty-eight boys are afflicted with this disorder in the U.S.A., and it is said to be incurable. Yet we have seen that condition healed by the power of the Lord. If you believe the medical profession alone, you are in despair. If you believe the power of the Word of God, nothing is incurable. What do you believe?

Finally, I want to once again say that Jamie and I weep with you and the entire world over the slaughter of these innocent children and their heroic teachers. Our prayers are that these families will be comforted by the Holy Spirit in ways beyond our understanding. At this Christmas season, I am reminded that our Lord Himself, as a mere infant, barely escaped such a slaughter of children in Bethlehem. Scripture reminds us that He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and that He is a high priest who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He is near to the brokenhearted, and He is their healer.

By Andrew Wommack | December 17, 2012   website:   http://www.awmi.net/

Reprinted by Marie Coppola February 2013

 

Spring is the birth of our existence, propagating growth spurts of our personalities, hopes, discoveries and dreams. Seeded correctly and lovingly nourished, within 20 years or so, a budding person starts to bloom. This can be a gangly and sometimes disorderly growing crop; supports may be needed.   Best grown in a sunny family atmosphere. Enrich generously with good faith. First blossoming is a sight to behold. Transplant into a bigger receptacle if needed or if roots start to tangle. If drooping occurs, it may be because they were neglected. It’s amazing how they bounce back with the right care and attention.

Summer becomes the harvest which is cultivated from our Spring.  Size and growth rates vary. Some become perennials; some are annuals and others are seasonal. Development continues through the 30s and into the 40s and 50s, refined from the acknowledgement, acceptance and sharing of our God-given talents and energies. Occasionally we are pruned, hoed, raked, and sometimes scorched and tested in fire and heat.  We  become hardy and can  achieve self-knowledge, direction and life focus during this abundant time. This is the prime of life in physical and mental abilities. Life can be a single flower, a field of bouquets or a cactus.

Autumn arrives in our  60s and 70s; a dazzling array of acquired self-actualized splendor which  displays  wisdom, understanding, compassion and acceptance of ourselves and others.   A period of maturity and fulfillment.   Can thrive  if transplanted to new soil or environment. This is a time to  become well anchored and rooted in chosen  lifestyles and values. New life experiences abound at this time — the joys of new ‘Springs’ of grandchildren and relishing the ‘Summers’ of our children. Happiness creates flowering inwardly and outwardly.

Winter is inevitable. It gets cold and dank - it is accentuated in whiteness. For some - it comes quickly; for some it withers away. Life can ebb and some leaves start to fall.  Like the frost coming in, there can be loss of life around us. This can happen in our 70s, 80s or 90s. Or 100s.   Winter can be a bleak time;  colorless, brittle or dry; the end of life’s journey. For others, it can be a satisfying contentment of life’s fulfilled dreams and aspirations. For those who are well nourished, devoid of weeds and religiously fertilized, it will be a blessed transplant into a new life - a spectacular garden of splendor, glory and harmony with God. For eternity.

© Marie Coppola Revised November 2018

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.” ~ William R. Inge

I used to be one of the worst worry-warts.  There’s always something you can find to worry about – whether it’s going to rain tomorrow and you hate to drive in the rain, or it’s 3:00 am. and the new driver in the house is not home yet.

Once I had a mini spirit-breaker over a job change.  It wasn’t the work that I wanted to do or studied for in school; I was transferred to another department to broaden my experience that I had no interest in.  I worried about everything connected to this job for 9 or 10 hours a day.  What if I quit?  What if I didn’t succeed in something I had no passion for?  What if I made a lot of mistakes?  What if I get fired?  What if . . . ?

What are the odds of worrisome thoughts actually coming true?  Statistics tell us that the probability of things we worry about that won’t ever happen:  a whopping 45%; reliving regrettable events that happened in the past: 25%; unnecessary worrying about health: 10%; and nagging, miscellaneous worries: 10%.

Around 90 percent of worries are pure self-induced stressful, unnecessary time-consumers. The remaining 10%, are actual issues that may have merit to give thought to or concern about . .

During a more-than-usually stressful peak in my hell-on-earth job, I asked a supporter for advice on what to do.  She asked me back, “Is it a life or death situation?” [And although it felt like it was, it truly wasn’t.]  No.  Then she asked, “Will this be as important 6 months from now?” And again, I said, no, it probably would not.   And she replied with the cliché, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and everything is small stuff. ” This advice was helpful to me in dealing with the day to day problems.  But when, at times, the stress increased, I asked another Support Person to help me – a Heavenly One.  In prayer.  I asked God to take this cup from me if it was His will.

Prayers are sometimes answered through other persons or events; I believe there are no coincidences. That next Sunday, the pastor’s sermon caught my attention. He suggested that when stress is overwhelming you, go to a quiet place where you will not be interrupted.  Close your eyes and visualize all the stress factors in your life that you are dealing with.  Lumped together, they are overwhelming.  They would be to anyone. But — God tells us:    “Fret not yourself…..” (Psalm 37:1)

Take them, these ‘stress-thorns in your side’ — one at a time, and mentally picture giving each one individually to God. Visualize the problem ‘thorn’ and extend each one to God, literally with outstretched hands, asking Him to take it from you and to handle it from now on. Visualize God taking the worry from you.  And don’t take it back.  He wants to help you.  As you give each worry to Him, remember to thank Him for relieving you of this burden.  Consider it a ‘done deal’.  Take a deep breath and relax.  It’s not your problem anymore to worry about.  It’s in His Hands. And you will be amazed how God will give you peace. Our  Father in Heaven promises us this:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:31-34)

P.S.  God did take the cup from me – and replaced it with the best job I ever had.

© Marie Coppola, Revised January  2020

 


As we look around and see results of the recession in some lives of family and friends, we can see how expectations for a good life can meet with disappointments. We can learn from what caused the recession.

"It’s a boom-bust world" says Kenneth Rogoff . When asked what caused the worst recession to grip the globe in decades, Professor Rogoff, a Harvard University economics and public policy professor, said history shows the pattern. Recessions follow booms.

Expectations for prosperity caused great disappointments. We can say these circumstances were beyond our control and yet, they cause disappointments. Big, major disappointments.

What if we add all those big ones to all those little disappointments we experience each day? If we depend on circumstances to gauge our happiness, we are in jeopardy because circumstances are constantly changing. And like the big ones, they are beyond our control. You might say you don’t do that. In a day’s time you may do it more than once. I use to.

I have felt like that when a great promotion was coming up that I just knew I was ready for; it was 'my time' in the department to move up, and I 'sensed’ that I would get it — and I didn't. I ‘expected’ the schools to close due to the bad weather, but it didn’t, and I had two teens bored from being indoors with 'nothing to do' while I had made my own plans for that day. I expected’ that I would get an "A" I worked hard for in my writing class, and instead, I got a "C." No way! I expected my best article ever to be selected for a contest, and it didn’t. I set myself up for these disappointments because I 'expected' them.

When you place your expectations on people, you will usually be disappointed. A good friend whom you thought would never betray you, may have told another of a secret you told him. Or your child may turn off into another path you had not envisioned for them. Or an illness in the family changed the dynamics of plans you had made. You may be having a divorce which separates the family into a lifestyle you never thought or expected would happen to you. Crushed expectations; big disappointments. Life and people change; the unexpected happens. To us all.

I know that men and women can never fulfill all of each other’s needs. Only God can fill that place in my heart that needs that fulfillment. But I use to expect them to and in those expectations of them, when they don’t or cannot, I was disappointed. Disappointment is ‘the first seed of doubt’ and can lead to defeat or depression.

So how do we learn not to expect things from others, not to lean on others for our joy or happiness? Can we unlearn the emotion of expecting others to fulfill our needs and do the things we think they ought to do?

Yes, I believe we can. God made all of us in His image - not everyone else’s image. We are all separate beings. He did not make a commandment saying, "Thou shalt expect others to fulfill our needs and do what we want them to do." Actually, the commandments are a compilation of honoring and doing good to others ;not expecting them to do good for us.

My answer to "Have no Expectations - Have no Disappointments", is to experience gratitude and thanksgiving. By daily acknowledging gratitude for all the gifts and blessings I have in my life, I make them more important than the things I expect or want from others.

I had a tremendous expectation turn into disappointment with my teen-age son. It was a turbulent time and I loved him, but did not like him much. The disappointed expectation turned into a life role play where I was the mother of expectations and he was the child of disappointments. I had visions of what he should do with his life and he had much different views of what he wanted. So much so, that it affected our relationship and the whole family was affected.

I finally went to a trusted family counselor and gave him my story. He wanted my son to come in to hear his view. That being done, he then told me my son did not have to come back, but I did. What? Is there some mistake here, I am paying for this session and I’m the disappointer?

I did return and he explained that my son was perfectly happy with himself and in his choices for school, work and his future. I had different expectations for him and that was my problem. His remedy was that I should learn to love my son as he was and to compliment him each day on something he did that was good. I told him there was nothing he did that pleased me. And his answer was, ‘If he takes the garbage out, that is good - thank him.’

Which is the only thing I could do and the garbage taking-out WAS good and I did genuinely thank him. I’m happy to say that I did follow the counselor's advice, I thanked my son for all the good things (and there were many I had overlooked) and downplayed what I thought was bad.

Within a week, the tension subsided and we were talking and smiling to each other. The mother of expectations and the child of disappointments were no more. I took stock of what the doctor told me and found that once I lost my expectation of what I believed was ‘good’ for my son, I found what was ruining our relationship.

Today, I am so blessed to have such a close and endearing relationship with this man - my son, who has done well in his life and succeeded without my expectations. Instead, he had my support, love and encouragement

I made a habit of gratitude instead of expectation. Don’t grumble or murmur if your mate forgets to put the mail out. Yes, you expect him to do that every morning, but he was in a hurry today. Instead, call him and ask him how his day is going and don’t mention the mail. It will get where it’s going. Expectation can become a habit and sometimes the more you expect, the more you want. Then you have to deal with more disappointments.

Marie Coppola © Revised November 2012

In these lean times, your savings account may be decreasing and you may need some extra cash. Loans are hard to come by with banks and lending institutions.  Borrowing money from friends and family may not be an option for you. Your retirement funds are nestled away in your 401k plan but it’s always been advised that you don’t touch it unless it’s a hardship.

If you are still working, your company may have some restrictions about borrowing or withdrawing from it, and if you are retiring or retired, your options will differ. The following are standard options for you if you are still working: There are usually two ways to withdraw from your 401K.

You can withdraw money as [1] a loan to yourself or you can withdraw money by [2] claiming a hardship.

[1] Withdrawing monies as a LOAN.   You are ‘borrowing’ on your own money according to the rules of your plan and pay yourself back with interest (usually the going prime rate plus 1%). You can take up to five years to repay the amount borrowed. In a loan to yourself, there are no restrictions on why you are withdrawing: it could be a large personal purchase, wedding expenses, a new car or anything you may want to buy. There are no tax penalties involved in this type of withdrawal. Repayment of loans are taken out automatically from your payroll check. You may repay back the entire amount of the loan without any penalties. Some 401k plans require a spouse’s approval for any loan amount.

Disadvantages of Loan Withdrawal:

[a] the money you withdraw will hamper your retirement funds with the loss of five years of compound interest - the "golden egg" of 401ks. Compound interest charts will give you an idea of what you may be giving up by losing all the compounding interest that you could have earned, therefore diminishing your future earnings.

[b] If you leave the company or are terminated before the loan is paid off then you have to repay the loan upon your termination or it will be considered as an ‘early withdrawal’ and the penalties that come with it — plus taxes.

We all know that there are life events that could force you to withdraw from your 401k if there are no other financial sources, such as a home equity loan. The only other way to withdraw on your 401k is to claim a ‘hardship’.

[2] Withdrawing monies as a HARDSHIP.   Hardships are defined as : overdue medical expenses; avoiding foreclosure (stipulations vary), funeral expenses, and college tuition. These hardships require documentation to prove that you have no other assets to draw on before the hardship is allowed.

Disadvantages of Hardship Withdrawal:

[a] Not only will you pay income taxes on the withdrawal amount (as added income), but also a 10% federal penalty for early withdrawal.

[b] You will be suspended from contributing into your account for six months, losing any company matching funds; a big loss that is hard to recoup, again, by losing all the compounding interest that you could have earned, therefore diminishing your future earnings.

[c] If your employer goes bankrupt or you’re laid off, the loan automatically becomes due. You will be given a certain amount of time to pay it back. If you fail to do, you will be classified as "default." If you are on default for a 401k loan, you will be charged a 10% penalty fee for the outstanding loan amount as well as pay federal and local state taxes.

These withdrawal options above are for when you are still working on the job. It is advised by financial planners that when you leave your company or retire, you should roll your 401k into an IRA or other stable or fixed fund investments.

Disclaimer:  These materials have been prepared for information purposes only. They are not intended to be nor do they constitute legal advice.

Marie Coppola © Revised November 2012

 

Sandwiched between Mother's Day and Father's Day are Grandparents.  What would we do without grandparents?  I remember a story about a young man who was very close to his grandmother.

On her deathbed, when he went in to say his goodbyes, his grandmother took his hand and told him, "I believe in you. You will be very successful one day". This young man always remembered her prediction and went on to become successful in work, family and life. He believed what she told him and it became self-fulfilling.

Plagiarizing Jesus' Beatitudes on the Sermon on the Mount, I offer and dedicate Beatitudes for Grandparents and why we celebrate them and are so thankful for them:

1) Blessed are the grandparents, who lovingly and joyfully come to the aid of their children and grandchildren in times of joy and in times of needs. Especially blessed are those senior grandparents who live some distance away, and bond with their little ones by phone, letters, e-mails, tapes and videos. The warmth from these communications lessens the distance between them.

2) Blessed are the grandparents who comfort their grandchildren in times of trouble, sorrow, disappointment, or maybe just for not making the football team or cheerleader squad. Grandparents’ comfort in caring for them gives them extra assurances of love. A kind and understanding word goes a long way, and is most special from a grandparent.

3) Blessed are the grandparents who instill confidence and self esteem to their grandchildren by appreciating and acknowledging their achievements - educationally, athletically or spiritually. Extra blessings for those grandparents who live nearby and attend school functions, class trips or school plays. Their presence lights up their grandkids’ activities. Attend a school lunch or a midget football game and watch how happy kids are that their grandparents are there!

4) Blessed are the grandparents who mentor their grandchildren with ethical issues, honesty in all things and offer themselves as examples of what kind of adults they should aspire to be. A grandparent’s fine example is better than reading a book about it.  Kids emulate their grandparents as well as their parents.

5) Blessed are the grandparents who are patient with their grandchildren, especially if there are issues of fighting, misbehaving or argumentative displays between siblings. Especially blessed are those grandparents, who use tactics of understanding, forgiveness, and persuasion to bring calm waters to a stormy situation. Sometimes, a grandparent’s input is listened to more than a parent. A grandparent can be a great equalizer.

6) Blessed are the grandparents who act as peacemakers, not only with their own children and their family, but between grandchildren, too. It is a blessing when there is no finger pointing or taking sides or adding fuel to a fiery situation during family arguments. Grandchildren recognize grandparents ‘having some clout over their own parents’ actions; and that ‘clout’ can be  directed towards unity and not divided-ness.

7) Blessed are the grandparents who can overlook the young grandchild’s honest remarks about them; ie, you are old; you look fat, you look skinny, you aren’t as good on the computer as my mommy ; you walk funny; why is your hair gray? – and are serene enough to remember they are children and do not mean disrespect. Blessed are the grandparents who can make a joke or gloss over ‘truthful remarks’.  Parents are especially thankful for this.

8) Blessed are the grandparents who are young in spirit and ‘play’ with their grandchildren. Kids LOVE to play and grandparents usually have more time than their own parents to play board games, watch them on PlayStation [kids love for Gramps or Nana to watch them] or even games you played when young. Kids love bingo, scrabble, monopoly, checkers, etc. or you can teach them card games or chess. Playing and having fun makes a strong bond between generations. All enjoy these activities. Kids are very competitive and extra-blessings to grandparents who allow them to win sometimes.

9. Blessed are the grandparents who attend church functions with the family. Even if visiting on special occasions, and Nonna lives far away, going to church with the grandkids brings an extra bond in relationships. Kids listen to Grandma’s input on spiritual matters as well as others, and they will ask her questions they won’t ask other adults. She listens to them and answers them as best she can. A spiritual bond is a lasting bond.

10. Most blessed are the grandparents who show affection and love to these small people - and most find it very easy to do. The grandkids know how important Mimi and Pop-Pop are to the family unit, and how their unconditional love is the only one they will know besides their parents’. They know it and bask in it. Maybe it can be that one day these children may live with their grandparents or the grandparents live with them and the love element will allow that situation happen with more ease and naturalness.

There are countless ways that we are blessed with these ’surrogate parents’. Some are latch-key caretakers; some take the grandkids on vacations with them, or take them shopping which turn into memorable jaunts, or to the movies the grandparent really has no interest in going to, or simply reading and learning together. Grandparents are there for school vacations or extended visits. Grammy makes the best cookies and lets the grandkids help. Grandpa puts the miniature trains together and teaches anyone who wants to learn how to fish.

The best gift that grandparents give is the gift of themselves; they make some of our best adult memories. If we are fortunate to still have them, we are ever so thankful.

Copyright © Marie Coppola Revised May 2020

If you are observant and even if you are not, you have to notice that men and women hear differently ~ which probably accounts for communication problems some of the time ~ well, much of the time ~ OK ~ most of the time.

This auditory malfunction may be triggered in childhood when little boys make all those whhrrrrrr and brrrrrrmmm truck noises when they are involved in the concentrated effort of maneuvering steel trucks bigger than they are. They are totally 'engaged' trance-like in what they are doing. They hear nothing but their own noises. It's a male thing.

Little boys take longer to come when they are called. This happens when calling them from their rooms, the bathroom, playing outside, watching TV or playing video games or anything that is compartmentalized. They simply are working at 'compartmentalizing - a trait that was handed drown from another male influence and is designed to drive their female companions crazy.  Males are direct in what they are discussing and when a subject has been talked about for 5 minutes, they are done. When they don't want to 'go there' at all - they simply don't ~ and the auditory malfunction occurs - they simply didn't hear it. They nod a lot and say hmm, hmm, but the words never made it through the ear canal.

Females rarely compartmentize but are very good at dramatization,   compounding discussions and conversations leaping from one subject to another which can last hours, overnight or even a talking-marathon weekend. On some occasions, it can last months.

It is a fact that little girls, hear everything. They can hear their mother applying nail polish in the next room and join in pronto with out-stretched fingers. They listen to every word spoken in the house and love to repeat it verbatim to anyone who happens in their path or they will go out and find one. Little girls are why neighbors know everything that goes on in your home. They are communicators and can hear the lowest whispering, decipher voice tones and even interpret spelling intended for them not to understand.   No matter how young they are - they get it. They understand. And they like to talk about what they understand. Or analyze what they quite didn't understand. It's a pre-cursor to becoming a mother which is the peak of their best auditory performances. This magnified hearing lasts their whole life. Some hear things BEFORE someone actually says it.

Auditory malfunctions morph and become increasingly dysfunctional and create havoc in marriages. The longer the marriage, the more hearing loss impairment ~ I mean selection.

Here is a typical communication between husband and wife waking up on a weekend.

She: "Good morning honey, What a gorgeous day! Look the sun is shining ~ wonder what the temp is -- check, can you? -- and we have great weather to go over Pam & Joe's to pick up the desk she is giving us."    She gives a detailed description of the desk, its measurements, how each drawer will be used and in which room they could put it and adds what times would be best to pick it up.  She continues to list all the things they had to do that day - AND methods of how to bring the desk home unscathed.

He: "Yuh". (Silence for 3 seconds)......then....

She: "I had the best dream last night" (goes into descriptive, expressive, and demonstrative description of dream with exclamations and laughter).

He: "Burp".

She: "Are you hungry? I can make some eggs and bacon (lists 5 or 7 different options) - or wait, we could go out to breakfast with Pam & Joe - should I call them?"

He: (Is in the shower already). No answer.   She:  Opens the door and repeats what she said.   He: "I can't hear you".

She goes downstairs to make breakfast. As he comes down the stairs. she starts hearing him approach as he dries himself with the towel and hears him cleaning his ears with Q-tips.  All from downstairs.

She: "Shall we take the dog for a run in the park this morning?".

He: (Sitting down looking over the paper) "I parked the car in the driveway".      She: "I wasn't talking about the car".

He (not looking up) "I can take it to the car wash . No problem."   She: "What about Pam and Joe?"    He: "What happened to them?"

She: "I think you need a hearing aid".

Of course, he doesn't need a hearing aid.   When he is in the car with Joe and Steve driving to a baseball game, he has heard everything that Joe and Steve said, even if both of them are in the back seat, and it is hailing, raining and thundering outside from a sudden thunderstorm, and country music is blaring on the radio and a tractor-trailer is traveling alongside them. Every word is traveling smoothly through his ear canal.

It's called "Selective Hearing" and there is no hearing aid that can fix it.

Marie Coppola  ©  November 2012

 

It was on one of many trips to Siracusa, Sicily, that I noticed a wrought iron gate on the side of the busy road,  Behind the wrought iron gate were numerous uniform graves similar to the uniformity found at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. We tried to park to see what was in the cemetery as family cemeteries in Sicily are very different from this one. The parking was difficult, impossible that day, so we passed it by. We tried on subsequent jaunts to Siracusa to try to park and did once, but could not get into the gates. When we asked the Sicilians about it, they would call it the English Cemetery and said there were probably Americans buried there, too.

One May, appropriately nearing Memorial Day, the honoring of fallen heroes, we finally visited inside the gates.

The grounds are immaculately cared for and flowers and shrubs are well tended. These war cemeteries (CWGC) are distinctive in treating floriculture, or flower farming, which is a discipline of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants as an integral part of the cemetery design.

Established by Royal Charter in 1917, the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) pays tribute to the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. It is a non-profit-making organization that was founded by Sir Fabian Ware, then commander of a mobile unit of the British Red Cross. This sensitive man, driven by the enormity of large-scale loss, felt compelled to provide a final resting place for fallen heroes on foreign soil. By 1918, some 587,000 graves had been identified and a further 559,000 casualties were registered as having no known graves. These graves sites, are all over the world, and are cared for by the Commonwealth. The dead come from many different countries and cultures, all social ranks, standings and faiths.

The Commission's principles:

Each of the dead should be commemorated by name on the headstone or memorial

Headstones and memorials should be permanent

Headstones should be uniform

There should be no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed

Since its inception, the Commission has constructed 2,500 war cemeteries and plots, erecting headstones over graves and, in instances where the remains are missing, inscribing the names of the dead on permanent memorials. Over one million casualties are now commemorated at military and civil sites in some 150 countries. They build memorials for people who have no known grave and they keep records of the people who have died.

The grave headstones are uniform, similar to those in Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C. and there are no distinctions made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed. Some have names and branch of service and some have none. Some graves have remains of multiple persons with no name or country. Where the deceased is known, there may be a name, country, personal family message or religious affiliation. The majority of those who are buried in this cemetery fell July 10, 1941 when the Commonwealth forces landed in Sicily or in the early stages of the next campaign. Many were part of the Airborne troops who were killed when strong winds pushed their gliders away from their targets. And some who died here are unknown, both in name or where they were from.

The operating cost of the Commission are split amongst the organization members in proportion to the number of their war dead. The six current members are United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa.

We were the only ones in the cemetery that last Mother's Day visit. I had a strong sense of separation from my own children across the waters on this day to honor mother's and felt a kinship to the many graves around me also separated from their mothers across the waters. As I walked amongst the graves, reading the inscriptions therein, I felt a strong sense of respect and honor for these brave, fallen men, some not yet 20 and those in their prime of life.

The epitaphs, where the person was known were poignant. One merely said, "A Victim of the Second War World." Others said, "Nine Soldiers of the Second World War" - Army Air Corps - Known Unto God; Another: "A Soldier of the 1939-1945 War". And, "At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember him". "Not till the Loom is silent; and Shuttles cease to fly; Shall God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why." "May some kind hand, in some foreign land, Place a flower just for me, "My Hero".    May they rest in peace.

Marie Coppola © Revised 2017