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The Gifts of the Magi: Healthy Wealth

Positively Speaking

That someone on Ebay was selling a version of the Multiform Bender for $40 is kind of astounding. More startling still was finding out that Kalamazoo was buying all of JA Richards and tearing it down to develop more parks and recreation green spaces. You know what’s that like? It’s as if someone bought K2 and then turned all of the space underneath into a gigantic public park. Culturally impactful shall we say.

Like K2, all the work of the Multiform Bender and other jigs and such had been outsourced to China. Like K2, all the buildings had been left empty and unused. The end of an era had come.

So much of my life has been defined by the Multiform Bender, and other related machinery. So many of my days spent visiting ‘the shop’ where the smell of machine oil and the metallic taste of ambient particles rested on the surface of one’s tongue and the inside of one’s nose.

With an eighth grade education, an adolescent orphan John Arthur Richards settled himself in Albion Michigan learning the printing trade. In the course of a few years, he met up with a man who had invented a process using tools and dies. JA asked if he could purchase the patent, or some such business process, and went on to make an industry of it in the early 20th century. He married adolescent orphan Anna Armstrong and they had ten children, five girls, five boys with two sets of twins, one identical and one fraternal.  

Do you know what’s it like to grow up in a family where the largest character that demands the most attention is a business? Odd. Different. Fun sometimes, and other times it causes so much friction there doesn’t seem to be a positive point.

I think it’s like this. The first generation is obsessed with the business and the money it makes. They crave it like water, way more than a passion. They are enamored of their ability to run it.  The second generation isn’t thrilled about what it cost them to make the business most important, but they like what the business buys. The third generation either helps keep it staggering along out of family loyalty, takes it for granted, or squanders the privilege with loose living and drink.
So Mom was number nine of the ten kids. She married down, according to the family standards, but she married noble. Dad was a preacher man. His family was supposedly poor, but they had two houses, one in town and one at the lake. I dunno. Poor is relative I think.

Flash-forward to, grandchild #26 I think I was. Maybe. I have to look at the chart. Yes, there is a chart. Raised with all the right rules from when to wear gloves to not going out in public with wet hair, a separate set of dishes for breakfast than other meals, no jelly jars or mismatched cutlery, and I end up on an Island, in the ministry, and all indications would seem to direct one’s gaze towards hell freezing over before I can recover from being a full time Mom and get some financial traction. Nobody knows my history and I become labeled, poor and stupid. A bit incongruous. And there’s a problem. I don’t know how to be poor.

Eventually, because there is such a strong business gene and I have a lot of faith, I’m able to get what I know will be helpful for financial independence even though the odds seem against it.

When things were just beginning to turn around I wanted to find a book called ‘Making Money God’s Way’. Then I wanted to write a book called, ‘How to be Poor”. In those wanderings, I happened to have a chance encounter with the ever delightful Ava Waits of fame. I listened to one of her teleseminars on lessons she had learned as a poor girl growing up on a wealthy Island. Wow…. suddenly my background, story and heritage came slamming in my back and covered my face. You know what she said that did it? She said what she had noticed about wealthy people is that they fix things when they are broken.

Bam. There has not been anything that’s bothered me more in the last twenty years of puzzling financial struggle than the fact that I can’t just fix something when it’s broken or keep it looking nice. It must have been time to remember, because suddenly I felt like a whole person again and knew just how I was going to rebuild and reconstitute.
As much as we would like to think Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, it’s really about businesses making a comeback. It has been for centuries.
And the real news is that the numbers were down for spending over the Thanksgiving holiday. If you want to be a part of real Christmas you can only give gifts like Gold, and Frankincense and Myrrh. That means you can only buy a person a gift that is precious to them, acknowledges their calling in life, or confirms their destiny. Use that as the rule for purchasing. Healthy wealth is money that has meaning and purpose and nurtures others.
Spend wisely, spend meaningfully. Because ya know. In a couple of decades, what you purchased may be replaced for a pretty park.

Love, Deborah