A Time to Give

It’s hard to believe December is already here. Thoughts of giving gifts to loved ones and friends are on the minds of many. Anticipation of receiving gifts creates hope and expectation.

We just finished “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” In addition to ordering stuff online, massive crowds of people spent billions of dollars shopping in a real old-fashioned building called a store. Some of you may remember those places where we used to do all our shopping.Not everyone loves to shop, but my dear Terry surely does. In addition to planning and cooking special festive holiday dinners for family, friends, and even people she has never met, Terry loves to decorate our home and shop for special gifts for our family members and friends.

Not so much with yours truly. It’s always been difficult for me to come up with creative ideas for Christmas gifts. It’s pretty easy to choose the wrong size or color. And did I mention that I really don’t enjoy shopping? For me. For you. For anybody. I like to give. I just don’t like to shop.

That’s why for the past decade or so my Christmas giving has consisted of a personal letter to each member of our family, with a reasonably generous check in the same envelope. It’s always the right color and at least fairly close to the right size!

The spirit of giving is contagious. This week a neighbor asked if I knew of needy folks his family could support in a special way this Christmas. I called another neighbor who serves on the board of directors of a social service organization I helped start 34 years ago. They will suggest a family in need. My friend’s gesture of generosity has prompted our family to do the same.

It’s hard to talk about giving without mentioning the wisdom of planning to give gifts to loved ones and favorite charities when our shopping days are over. Someday the good Lord will call us home. That’s the time the plans we establish now to make final gifts later will be implemented.

For ideas, suggestions, and assistance with planned giving, go to www.legacydeo.org.

Whether giving now or in the future, Christmas is a reminder to celebrate the greatest gift of all, the birth of our Savior Jesus. He gave himself for us. In a spirit of love, it’s time for us to give.

 

Don’t Let the Old Man In

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Credit: Wikipedia

Several days ago my second cousin once removed John Kieschnick forwarded to me a link to a song inspired by Clint Eastwood and sung by Toby Keith. The song resulted from a story.

One day Toby Keith, the country-western singer, was playing golf with Clint Eastwood. At one point, Eastwood said to Keith, “I turn 88 on Monday.” Keith asked, “What are you going to do?” Eastwood replied, “I’m going to shoot a movie.” Filming was to begin the following week.

Keith asked him, “What keeps you going?” Eastwood replied, “I get up every day and don’t let the old man in.” Keith went home that day and wrote a song. He sent it to Eastwood, hoping he would approve it. And, he did. Here are the words:

Don’t let the old man in, I wanna leave this alone
Can’t leave it up to him, he’s knocking on my door,
And I knew all of my life that someday it would end
Get up and go outside, don’t let the old man in.

Many moons I have lived, my body’s weathered and worn
Ask yourself how old you’d be if you didn’t know the day you were born.

Try to love on your wife and stay close to your friends
Toast each sundown with wine, don’t let the old man in.

Many moons I have lived, my body’s weathered and worn
Ask yourself how old you’d be if you didn’t know the day you were born.

When he rides up on his horse and you feel that cold bitter wind
Look out your window and smile, don’t let the old man in.
Look out your window and smile, don’t let the old man in.

Whether we like it or not, someday the old man will come in. It’s simply a fact of life that people grow older, every day. It’s important to live each day with the kind of positive attitude reflected in this song. Yet someday, even Clint Eastwood will meet his maker.

This brings to mind the seventh and final estate planning myth I promised months ago to share: “It’s too depressing to make plans for my funeral service. I’ll let my kids make those decisions.” The fact is that making advance plans relieves loved ones of that burden and allows them to celebrate your life and home-going to heaven.

Celebrating Victory in Christ is the name of Legacy Deo’s Funeral Planning Guide. It’s available for the asking in electronic fillable format. Request your free copy at info@legacydeo.org.

In the meantime, between now and the day the Lord calls you home, don’t let the old man in. Keep living your life, every day, to the glory of God and to the joy of the people you love.

Two Important Tasks

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Credit: Carlos Muza on Unsplash

Last year I created an Excel spreadsheet for the purpose of planning a family budget for the next ten years. For this purpose, our immediate family is Terry and yours truly.

My thought is that someday I’ll probably want to retire from full time employment. Because I began working for pay from the time I was about 12 years old, and still do so today, fully retiring from gainful employment will be a big step in my life. I’m not ready yet. But it will happen someday.

Be that as it may, I believe it’s not only important but critical for individuals or couples approaching the end of their working career to take a close look at anticipated income and expenses to see how the two match up. So that’s what I did.

The expenses on our list include generous contributions for our home congregation and other favorite ministries and charities; home mortgage, including PITI; auto expenses, including payments, insurance, maintenance, and gasoline; utilities, including water, gas, electricity, cable TV, internet, and cell phones; health and life insurance premiums; groceries, occasional restaurant meals, clothing, and routine household expenses; family birthday and Christmas gifts; travel and vacation allowance; federal taxes; medical expenses; savings; unexpected and miscellaneous expenses.

The sources of income on our spreadsheet include salary, estimated to terminate at an approximate point in time; retirement plan/pension payments; social security checks; income from IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and annuities.

I planned for gradually increasing expenses with income adjusted by loss of current salary, followed by stable but slightly increasing revenues. As long as the difference between these two numbers is positive on the revenue side, we should be alright. That’s certainly the plan.

This process is closely related to estate planning myth #6: “No need to make a list of what I own. My family will be able to find it all.” Here’s the reality. This myth is the result of indifference, laziness, lack of care and concern for loved ones. It takes time and effort to create a budget and at least as much time and effort to make a list of assets and liabilities.

To assist in this process, we at Legacy Deo have created what we call the “Red Book.” It’s designed to help record in writing your assets and liabilities; account numbers and balances; contact information for each account, including address, phone, user name, and password; location of important legal and financial documents, etc. This is a very significant document!

Request your free electronic Red Book at mailto:info@legacydeo.org or call (512) 646-4909. You’ll be glad you did. And while you’re at it, get busy on that budget. Both are important tasks!

Sold! Not Sold!

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Credit: Bill Oxford on Unsplash

Sold! That’s the word repeatedly spoken by the auctioneer this past Sunday at Camp Lone Star in LaGrange, Texas. The event was the annual camp celebration. Activities included Bible study, outdoor worship (with indoor video projection for those who don’t do well in 90+ degree heat), delicious BBQ beef and pork with homemade noodles, followed by live and silent auctions.

Terry and I were there, along with a few hundred other folks. Soon after the auction began I told Terry that Lutheran Outdoors Ministry of Texas would most likely be the beneficiary of the greatly improved U.S. economy. That prognostication turned out to be quite accurate.

This year, for the first time ever, I dutifully recorded the winning dollar amount for each of the 116 items presented for bid. Only 115 items were actually sold. More about that later.

Monday morning I tallied the winning bids, which amounted to an actual total, if I recorded all those numbers correctly, of $52,080! That amount does not include the silent auction, worship offering, and other contributions. God be praised!

Not Sold! That’s what the auctioneer said about the only item that did not successfully solicit even an opening minimum bid. It was an estate planning program, valued at $800. No one offered the initial amount suggested by the auctioneer. When that suggested amount was lowered from $500 to $200, there still were no bidders.

Finally, the auctioneer simply instructed the camp staff assistants to pull that item off the bid list. It was simply not sold. No one was interested.

Intrigued, I pondered the fact that bidders had spent a total of $3,200 for four 15-packs of delicious homemade cinnamon rolls, $3,100 for a quilt and pillow case, $4,000 for a painting of Jesus (a priceless possession), $4,500 for a softball signed by camp staffers, and $1,000 for a wine basket. But nobody was interested in the estate planning package.

So I come to you with the fifth of seven estate planning myths: “Charitable estate planning advisors only want me to include the church in my plan, not my family.” I have no idea if that myth contributed to the lack of interest in the auction package, but it is certainly not true.

The Bible says: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Tim. 5:8

Legacy Deo exists to help folks like you make plans to provide for your loved ones and, if you so choose, for your favorite charitable causes. We’re pleased to make available to you our electronic Wills Planning Guide. Request it at mailto:info@legacydeo.org or call (512) 646-4909.

Not sold! It’s free!

Julie Andrews

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Credit: Wikipedia

To commemorate her 79th birthday a few years ago, actress and vocalist Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was My Favorite Things from the legendary movie Sound Of Music. Here are the lyrics she used. If you sing it, it’s especially funny!

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak, When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don’t feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin’,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break, When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had, And then I don’t feel so bad.

In the spirit of talking about growing older, here’s Estate Planning Myth #4, as promised several weeks ago: “If I don’t have a will, my family will be able to figure it out.”

Here’s the reality: If you don’t have a will, the probate judge will appoint an administrator. Do you actually think a court-appointed person will carry out your wishes?

In all likelihood, that administrator will not have known you. So how would that person have any clue whatsoever about your wishes on how to distribute the possessions and assets you have worked hard all your life to accumulate?

One of the important decisions you’ll make when preparing your Last Will and Testament is appointing an independent executor. Pick someone younger than you. Pick someone you trust. If you can’t think of anyone, pick Legacy Deo. We’d be happy to help.

Numerous other planned giving topics of significance are addressed in our Planning Your Legacy — A Guide to Planning Your Will and Trust. Contact us at info@legacydeo.org or call (512) 646-4909 or (800) 880-3733 for your free electronic copy. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t already have a Last Will and Testament, git ‘er done! I have a feeling Julie Andrews would approve. God bless your day!

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Celebrating Victory in Christ

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Many of you recall that my dear mother went to heaven January 10, just over two months ago. All three of my siblings and spouses, along with their children and grandchildren, spent time, money, and energy caring for our Mom, especially during her last few years on this earth. My sister Carol, whose birthday is today, was the anchor. She lives closest to Mother’s assisted living residence and with rare exception spent at least five days a week caring for her.

A couple months prior to Mom’s passing, Terry and I, with Carol also present, paid a special visit. We surmised Mom’s passing was imminent and wanted to be sure that her memorial service would be conducted according to her wishes. So I asked a few questions about her funeral service preferences, using as a guide a form I had helped prepare a couple years ago. She was glad I asked.

Legacy Deo, formerly Lutheran Foundation of Texas, is pleased to offer to you a copy of that same document — Celebrating Victory in Christ Funeral Planning Guide.

There is no charge for an electronic copy of this valuable tool designed to assist people in planning their memorial service and other important end of life details. Topics include:

  • Introduction
  • Personal and Family Reference Information
    • Your Information
    • Your Immediate Family Information
    • Person(s) to Make Arrangements
  • Planning for Your Celebration of Life Service
    • Type of Service
    • Facility Handling Arrangements
    • Pastor(s) to Officiate at Service
    • Music Selections
    • Scripture Readings
    • Pall Bearer Contact Information
    • Colors, Flower Selections
    • Military Honors
    • People to Notify of Your Passing
    • Meal or Reception in Connection with Service
    • Other Details of Your Service
    • Memorials
    • Significant Dates in Your Life
    • Photographs and/or Videos for Remembrance Service
    • Burial Location
    • Details of Burial
    • Burial Marker
    • Selection of Coffin if Desired
    • Obituary Preparation
  • Location of Legal Documents and Information
    • Last Will and Testament
    • Trust Documents
    • Organ Donation Designation
    • Life Insurance Policies
    • Other Documents
  • Leaving Your Legacy
    • Christian Preamble for Your Last Will and Testament
    • Family Blessing or Remembrance
    • Gift Legacy
  • Appendix
    • Suggested Hymns and Other Musical Selections
    • Suggested Scripture Readings

For your free copy, call 1-800-880-3733 or 1-512-646-4909 or contact info@legacydeo.org. If you use this guide for planning your own memorial service, your family will be spared the difficulty of making these decisions for you without your input, at a time of sorrow and grief.

Do it now, while it’s on your mind. Provide a copy of your completed form to someone in your family and also to your pastor. You and they will be blessed as a result.

Seven Old Age Adages and One Piece of Advice

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This week is the celebration of the 55th anniversary of my graduation from Texas A&M University, known during my days there as A&M College of Texas. Thinking about all my aging classmates leads me to share with you these old age adages. Read, smile, and enjoy.

  1. A reporter interviewing a 104-year-old woman asked: “And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?” She simply replied, “No peer pressure.”
  2. A senior citizen feeling his age said: “I have outlived my feet and my teeth. I’ve had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes. I’m half blind and can’t hear anything quieter than a jet engine. I take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. I have bouts with dementia. I have poor circulation and can hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. I can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92 and have lost all my friends. But, thank God, I still have my driver’s license.”
  3. Another senior said: “I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape. So I got my doctor’s permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.
  4. An elderly woman decided to prepare for her funeral and told her preacher she had two final requests. First, she wanted to be cremated. Second, she wanted her ashes scattered at Wal-Mart. The preacher asked, “Why Wal-Mart?” The lady said, “That way I’ll be sure my daughters visit me at least twice a week.”
  5. Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.
  6. It’s scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.
  7. A senility prayer: “God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

My serious and sincere advice: While you’re still of sound mind, be sure to take care of the responsibility and privilege of planning your estate. Provide for your family and your favorite charitable causes. We at Legacy Deo would be honored to help.