Saturday, February 28, 2009

What Will be Said of Us After We Have Gone?

In reading Blaise Pascal's Wager I wondered if his life measured up to what he wrote. Many men and women have written well and lived poorly before their family and friends. I thought perhaps the best way to find out would be to see what those who knew him best would say about him after he was gone. to follow is the Epitaph Blaise Pascal's children wrote for his grave. May god grant us this type of legacy and generational grace.

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662).

Epitaph of M. Pascal, Pere

HERE lies, etc.
Illustrious for his great knowledge which was recognized by the scholars of all Europe; more illustrious still for the great probity which he exercised in the offices and employments with which he was honored; but much more illustrious for his exemplary piety. He tasted good and bad fortune, that he might be known in every thing for what he was. He was seen temperate in prosperity and patient in adversity. He sought the aid of God in misfortune, and rendered him thanks in happiness. His heart was devoted to his God, his king, his family, and his friends. He had respect for the great and love for the small; it pleased God to crown all the graces of nature that he had bestowed on him with a divine grace which made his great love for God the foundation, the stay, and the consummation of all his other virtues.
Thou, who seest in this epitome the only thing that remains to us of so beautiful a life, admire the fragility of all present things, weep the loss that we have suffered; render thanks to God for having left for a time to earth the enjoyment of such a treasure; and pray his goodness to crown with his eternal glory him whom he crowned here below with more graces and virtues than the limits of an epitaph permit us to relate.
His grief-stricken children have placed this epitaph on this spot, which they have composed from the fulness of their hearts, in order to render homage to the truth and not to appear ingrates in the sight of God.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Notes About Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday Historical Background (A thought on Ash Wednesday from Dave Bunker)

"The imposition of ashes on the foreheads of Christians is an ancient Christian practice, going back at least to the 10th century. Biblically, ashes are a symbols of purification and penitence (see Numbers 19:9, 17; Hebrews 9:13; Jonah 3:6; Matthew 11:21, and Luke 10:13 ).

In the early church, people who had been separated from the church because of serious sins might seek to be re-admitted to the fellowship by observing a formal period of penitence during Lent. These people were generally sprinkled with ashes or given rough garments sprinkled with ashes as a sign of their sorrow for their sins.

Beginning in the tenth century, the observance of Ash Wednesday became a general rite for the church. The ashes, which were a symbol of purification in the Old Testament, remind us that we are mortal. In many churches the ashes are made by burning the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday. Ashes are placed on the forehead, usually in the sign of a cross, in a ritual known as the Imposition of Ashes. As the ashes are placed on the forehead, words such as these are spoken:

"Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," recalling God's words to Adam in Genesis 3:19.

The ashes are prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebrations and mixing them with olive oil as a fixative. In the Roman Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence. " from Dave Bunker

Saturday, February 14, 2009

You are not alone in dread of opening financial statements

Published Thursday February 12 in The Williamson Herald

By Tom Grimm, columnist

Do you have a stack of unopened financial statements sitting on a counter somewhere? And even though you know you should take a look at them, you haven’t.

Amazingly, for most of us this feels strangely familiar. As you know, you are not alone in your concerns about your finances. This is, in many ways an unprecedented time we are living in. We do not have a magic ball that is going to tell us the future, but there are still some sound principles that do work, despite a dwindling market economy. However, in this downward market, it is now more important than ever to not ignore your financial situation. It doesn't matter how much money you have tucked away in your personal financial portfolio, if you have a stack of financial statements, then you need to know and understand what is in them. Every effective financial plan must have a strategy, and no where in the laws of economics can you find a spelled out strategy for burying your head in the sand. So, here are a few first steps to offering you a helping hand to get your head out of the sand, and making your way to being financially empowered and knowledgeable about what you need to be doing to protect your retirement and life’s savings.

Before you can make sense of your statements, you need a plan. And every plan needs a checklist. Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your current financial advisor as you begin to sort through your financial situation.

Financial Checklist:
1. Do you meet face to face with your financial advisor? If not pick up the phone today and call them and request a face-to-face meeting with them. Bring a list of questions to the meeting. The industry standard is to meet at least once a year and/or on a quarterly basis if necessary.
2. Communicate your concerns with your advisor and make sure you are comfortable with the advice you are being given.
3. Open your statements every month, review them and examine them.
4. Consider your age and your tolerance of risk.
5. Make sure your advisor is not a salesman but a strategist keeping your best interest in mind.
6. Read the newspapers and keep current with financial news.
7. Get a second opinion and make a change if you are not happy with the service you are being given? Though it may not seem like a good time to change advisors ask yourself when would be a better time? Even though finding a new advisor can take time and be difficult don’t wait if you aren’t being serviced professionally.
8. Ask your financial advisor if your portfolio is suitable and well diversified, and then ask them to explain to you how they came to the decision of your current plan.

As an advisor myself I must say that hiding when times are bad is never a good strategy and the more contact I have with clients the more confidence we both feel that they are properly invested and aware of what is going on. Communicating with your financial advisor is key. Even in this current market, not all investments are doomed. There are still a few safer-havens out there and it is the job of your financial advisor to be looking for them and finding them for you.

What every advisor should be offering for their clients is a well-diversified strategy. Remember, communicate, ask questions about your portfolio, and stay in contact with whoever is managing your money.

So, open those financial statements, call your advisor, and commit to re-evaluate your current positions and strategy. We’re all in this together and the old saying is true that “every adversity carries a seed of equal or greater opportunity.” Good luck and remember your life is much more than what you can see on a financial statement.

Tom Grimm is a financial advisor and investment consultant in Franklin. Contact him at 467-6368 or

Posted on: 2/12/2009