Work Is More than a Paycheck

scan0004Recently I have been thinking about how hard my parents worked to see to it that my sister and I had what we needed to have a good life. They both worked hard both at their jobs and then at home. They never shrank from work. There was not man’s work and woman’s work. There was just work. They both pitched in on whatever needed doing. They never complained about it. They just did it. They both dug out the dirt to create a basement room in our newly acquired house. They hauled that dirt in a wheelbarrow to make a wider front yard and as a foundation for a much wider front porch. Each had his or her own lawnmower. Mother’s was electric. Dad’s was gas powered.

Consequently, my sister, Jean, and I grew up with a good work ethic. We were taught by words and examples that all work if it is legal is honorable.  While serving as a graduate assistant in the speech and hearing center’s program for young adults at the University of Alabama, I learned firsthand how motivational the prospect of being able to get a job and earn money was for the clients. These severely impaired young women and men tackled work related vocabularies with gusto. They discovered as did I that working feels good and is good for both body and soul.

Once I said to my late wife, Liz, when our children were younger that I would like to be a beach bum. “Go ahead,” she said. “I can’t,” I said. “I have you, Suzanne and Michael.” “Oh no buddy, you can’t pull that one. You can’t be a beach bum because your make-up will not allow you to do nothing. It is not us. It is you.” I had to admit that she was right as usual.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both talk about bringing back jobs. Neither of them talk about how meaningful work is to the mental health of the worker. They never talk about how important work is to the dignity of the worker. Work is more than a paycheck. Middle class Joe Biden gets it. Sure, a paycheck is great and necessary, but that is not the end of the story.

I never thanked my parents for all they did for us. The dignity of work was one of their greatest gifts.

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Baton Rouge Still Has a Place in My Heart

During the past couple of weeks I have been grieving and praying for the people of Baton Rouge. Liz and I spent four years there and I went back for another summer to study German. Our children, Suzanne and Michael, were born in Baptist Hospital there. Baton Rouge is a beautiful, friendly city. The staff at the Cerebral Palsy Center and the folks at Goodwood Baptist Church, where I taught an adult Sunday school class, opened their hearts to us. The faculty of the Speech Department at LSU were some of the finest people I have had the privilege of knowing. You cannot imagine the friendliness and the professionalism of that department.

We were there during the anxious days of the Cuban Missile Crisis and I was asked to teach oral English to many of the Cuban refugees. It was during the time that “Sing Along with Mitch Miller” was on television and my course quickly became known as Speak Akong with Mitch. Paula Eagle, director of the Cerebral Palsy Center, Sally Coperthwait, occupational therapists and I were in Dallas the weekend that President Kennedy was assassinated and Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. We were attending the convention of the National Cerebral Palsy Association.

We were very tempted to stay in Baton Rouge. We had developed so many friendships. I also had a private practice and was teaching in the Speech Department in addition to being a graduate student. The invitation to come to Charleston was too challenging to pass up. It was the right move for us, but Baton Rouge and its wonderful people still have a place in my heart.

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Be a Peacemaker

Our words are powerful. They have the power to become building blocks or wrecking balls. As the late Dr. Arthur Caliandro, pastor of Marble Collegiate Church, said. “You can never know that your words will be received the way you intended them to be.” We do not know what the other person has experienced.

As the long summer days heat up so does the political rhetoric. Inflammatory words can often spark unintended consequences. Our nation seems to be experiencing one horrific tragedy after another. It is time for us to step back, take a breath and realize that we are all in this together. Black lives matter. All lives matter equally. We need to approach each other with open hearts, open hands and an attitude of respect.

People of good will can turn this deplorable situation around. We can learn from our previous mistakes. Offer a kind word instead of a shrill voice. Offer an outstretched hand instead of a fist. Be a peacemaker.

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Tragedy Transformed into Triumph – Randy’s Writings

Randy and Sarah Moody have every right to be angry. Their bright, handsome, athletic 21 year old only son died while scuba diving on a camping trip. Randall was a committed Christian and had already decided to become a missionary .He was president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the College of Charleston. He gave his testimony at the group’s annual banquet in 1997.

These grieving parents transformed their tremendous grief into a crusade to memorialize their son and to further his mission. Sarah and Randy used Randall’s writings, diary entries and the hundreds of letters and phone calls they received about him to compile a book, “Randy’s Writings, which they hope will inspire others to follow in his footsteps. It is not a sad book. There is something here for everyone. Sarah and Randy have gone even further. They have developed an oral presentation and a video from the tragedy. Their talk and/or video would make a wonderful program for any Christian organization.

Randy’s Writings, is available at www.amazon.com.

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