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Woven Blessings
Fall 2007

by Sheri L. VanDuyn

...a penny for your thoughts…

You always hear the usual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I've ever heard this twist on the story that was sent to me by Email. I did not change the text or the names and believe this to be a true story. This story truly gives you something to think about.

Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband's employer's home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house. The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant the next evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband.

He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment. Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up? 

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value. A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?
"Look at it," he said. "Read what it says."
She read the words “United States of America.”
"No, not that; read further."
"One cent?"
"No, keep reading."
"In God we Trust?"
"Yes!"

"And?"
"And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of
me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”   

I smiled as I read this story because my motto has always been the catchy jingle from the hit musical “Grease”-

           “Find a penny,
            Pick it up;
            All day long
            You’ll have good luck.”

I have picked up every penny that I have ever seen on the ground. Perhaps because of my Dutch heritage and the expression-“A penny saved is a penny earned.” 

When my son, Brian was young, I loved to take him shopping. To keep him busy, I allowed him to get out of his stroller in clothing stores and look around the base of those round racks for money. Of course we played peek-a-boo and once in awhile Brian would find change; he would get so excited about his “treasure”. As he grew older I started to toss out coins on our outings so I could shop longer; pennies were the key to both of our happiness during these shopping ventures. 

I remember the Bible story of the Widow’s mite who gave 2 small copper coins-“pennies”. Jesus said this widow had given more to the church than those who had more wealth as she gave all that she had. (Mark 12: 41-44) In Bible times a mite would have been the coin of the least value. This coin could have been considered the “penny” of the Bible. Today money is still the driving force for many people. I hope that I never take for granted the value of a penny and now the value of the words “coined” on each piece-In God we Trust!  

Seems like such a twist that something as insignificant as a 1 piece could hold special significance with the saying: “In God we Trust.” This story really makes me think about stooping over to pick up lost coins. For me, finding a penny on the ground will never be the same. Seems true that coins found on the ground are always pennies, perhaps because pennies are abundant, not worth much and someone has always “beat” me picking up the larger coins. Oh well, pennies are still good enough for me; I love the commonness, the treasure, and especially now, the symbolism. 

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, "In God We Trust," and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message! It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient!

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