Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lenten Silence & The Credit Market Freeze

For the last twelve to eighteen months I have had a nagging sensation that I should make our family as self sufficient as possible. That I should work to take us off the grid as much as possible, that we should bring food animals onto our little farm, that we should jettison as much of the flotsam and jetsam of our lives as possible. I’ve never felt myself in the Chicken Little camp, but for some time I’ve just had a nagging feeling that the world may get very ugly very shortly.

Our world is wobbling. When I say our world I’m speaking collectively of the world we all share, and I’m speaking of the micro world of my family. We all know that economic times are challenging just now, but I’ve recently become aware of a trend that frankly has me very concerned.

It’s all about the banks. We have business acquaintances that’ve had their banks call in loans that are not currently due, we have ridiculously qualified clients that can’t get financing, we get nothing but smoke and mirrors from the banks we deal with. “Oh, yes, we have money to loan,” they say, but the money never materializes for these client’s loans.

They don’t have any money to loan.

They are calling in loans that aren’t due.

It is all smoke and mirrors.

As I was discussing my concerns with Hubby last night and we were game planning ways to do right by our clients and not lose our shirt he stopped in mid sentence and said, “What you are describing is a total collapse of our system, if the banking system collapses our entire financial infrastructure collapses, should we pull out some cash and keep it in the safe?”

“Maybe, yea honey, I know it’s extreme, but something’s not right.” “I’ve been dealing with five different banks, Chase, Key, First Federal, Huntington, and Level One Bank, and they all claim to have money to lend and then duck and cover when it’s time to close the loans.” “Something is not right.”

I’m not a trained economist; I’m a small business person with an absurdly qualified clientele. If these people can’t get loans to build, no one can, it’s a simple as that. If no capital is available to those who are extremely qualified whole segments of the economy cease to exist. If whole segments of the economy cease to exist the whole economic infrastructure implodes.

Images of the cold war build up between the US and the USSR keep coming to mind. We were able to outspend them and they collapsed, pretty much ran out of money and imploded. Have we outspent ourselves in our trinkets and trash gorging on material goods? Will our nation’s material gluttony cause us to collapse? Are we out of money?

I pray that what I’m seeing is short term, temporary, that capital will free up and that with a short period of bare bones operation, and a few self financing clients our little company will be well positioned to move forward when the recovery comes, but I’m concerned, I’m very concerned that we as Americans may have binged ourselves into a very deep, dark hole.

I’m logging off the internet for Lent. Off of the MSM sites, off of my favorite blogs, off all of it. I’m going to do my best to fast and pray, to call on the name of the Lord and to prepare my mind and heart for the coming of Jesus this Easter.

May God have mercy on us all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sanctifying Grace – The Protestant v. Catholic Perspective

My son is having a heck of a time just now. He’s been in hot water for the last two weeks both at school and at home. The consequences keep tightening up and I’m praying extra hard for guidance on helping him with the challenges he is having at the moment… and keeping military academy in the deep recesses of my mind as a fall back…. Just kidding…. Sort of.

Easter Vigil is just a few weeks away and I’m really looking forward to his baptism, first communion and confirmation. I’ve been wondering if some of his challenges are related to a subtle attack of the enemy of God his efforts to disrupt the lives of those drawing closer to the Lord. Perhaps, but if that’s the deal or not, I’m counting on Jesus’ healing to come into my son’s life in a new way with the grace of the sacraments. I’m counting on Jesus to open the boy’s heart and mind to God, I’m counting on Jesus to strengthen him with his supernatural life, the very life blood of God we receive in the Eucharist.

I mentioned this recently to a co-worker, a believer, a woman baptized Catholic, but now a practicing Pentecostal. Her reaction was interesting. She cautioned me to not have my expectations to high, since his “readiness”, as I called it, to be baptized would be ineffectual if he himself weren’t reaching out to God. Her viewpoint was typical of one of the common differences I’ve found between Catholics and Protestants. When I was in a Protestant church the emphasis was always in the human effort to reach out to God. As a Catholic we place utmost importance in God’s efforts to reach out to us, daily offering us manna in the desert of our earthly existence, offering us his body and blood in the Eucharist for our sanctification. I believe it’s an important distinction. The questions is, are we the agents of our salvation, are we saved by our efforts and our invitation to “accept Jesus into our hearts”, or is Jesus’ atonement the agent of our salvation, are we saved by the blood of the sacrificial lamb? Is salvation active or passive or both?

The topic is one for greater minds than my own, and I suspect that it’s been covered by one or another of the Saints, so I will simply rest. Trusting that God loves my misbehaving little son, and that he will use every means possible to bring the little punk home to heaven, and that one of the biggies will be the sanctifying grace of the sacraments of initiation he will receive in just a few short week.

Thank you Jesus for the gift of you. Amen.

Friday, February 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes – The “is Winter EVER Going to End" Edition

It's 7 Quick Takes time again, cruse on over and check out the fun!

1

MY WATER MAIN IS FROZEN. Frozen solid, as in we have no water in my house, as in we are living in a camp site, as in it may not thaw for weeks, as in ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! I HAVE NO WATER IN MY HOUSE…Oh this is bad, really bad. We have a silly garden hose strung from the barn to see if we can get water twice a day to the house for sanitary needs. Haven’t tried this McGiver solution yet mind you, but we bought the hoses after the well guys said sorry dude your out till spring. OK, winter just sucks, that’s all there is to it.

2

We are cutting back our staff’s hours across the board. This just breaks my heart; I’m getting a dear in the headlights thing going on when I’m at work these days. I have a post written about the topic, but I cry every time I work on it so it may take a few more days to get it out.

3

The boy has become a HUGE St. Patrick fan. He’s getting movies about St. Paddy, he’s got a cute little statue, we are praying a novena, and he pops off with “gee maybe I’ll be a Bishop some day too”. It’s really cute, I must say.

4

Speaking of which, he is determined to visit Ireland. What is it about the emerald isle that brings her children home with such a passion? Irish people make it a mission to visit Ireland in ways that other native sons simply can’t match. Sons of Erin long to see the motherland, even the little ones.

5

He has invited one of his friend’s families to the Easter Vigil Mass where he will receive the sacraments of initiation. They say they are thinking about coming. His friend’s dad is the head pastor at the local Nazarene church. That should be interesting. I always though it would be interesting to evangelize the local Protestant pastors, but I didn’t see it going down like this. Ah well, God knows what he is doing.

6

Every single group of kids I inquire about on the Mare.org web site have been placed.

I inquired about these kids this week, if for no other reason than to find them a home, since I have the “these kids have been placed” golden touch.


7
I read this today on Aimee Wilburn's blog

the state of the culture is a reflection of the state of the interior of the human soul, a reflection of the measure by which Christ is truly dwelling in the soul, changing and remaking it into His image, and so working it out into the world, or not. It is what the great Catholic historian Christopher Dawson means when he says, “the great cultural changes . . . are the cumulative result of a number of spiritual decisions – the faith and insight, or the refusal and blindness, of individuals.” So the more we submit ourselves to Christ interiorly, obeying the Church in all things, developing our prayer lives daily, frequently going to confession and receiving the Eucharist, the more impact we can have on the culture – because then we really are following Christ, because it is Christ inside of us impelling us to do what He wills in the world, and filling our works with His power. It’s not just us deciding on something to do, and doing it under our own steam – a something that, if we’re not really close to Him, might not even be what He really wants!

Food for though for the whole weekend!!



God Bless and have a great week!!

Dear Birth Mom Adoption Letter

We got a call from our adoption case worker about a seventeen year old girl considering adoption for her infant. We’ve never pursued infant adoption, so I’ve never written a “Dear Birth Mom” letter. Sometimes the letters I would read seamed so desperate and sad. I don’t think God will place this child with us, it’s just a feeling I have, but I wrote a “Dear Birth Mom” letter to her if for no other reason than to affirm her decision to choose life for her child.

Here’s the letter.

To the birth family considering an adoption plan:

Thank you for choosing life for your child. Our nation’s very foundation hinges on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, yet without life no other pursuits are possible.

As you wrestle with the decisions you will be making in the next few months, some of which may be very difficult, know that the decision to allow your child the opportunity to pursue all that life has to offer is absolutely the best possible decision you could have made and all other decisions you make stand on this excellent and rock solid foundation.

My husband and I have been married eighteen years (yikes). We’ve had a difficult time of it in the fertility department. I lost our first pregnancy in 1990 and two others a few years later. We considered a number of options and pursued infertility treatment for a while, but we simply were not comfortable with some of the technologies and decided not to go any further.

Losing my pregnancies was very difficult and I was a bit more hesitant to pursue adoption than my husband. I was hesitant wondering if I would love my adopted child less since he/she wouldn’t be my own flesh and blood. I wondered, would I be less willing to endure the hard times, and make the sacrifices necessary to be a good mom for “someone else’s child”? These are difficult questions and although my husband was certain I would love to pieces any child the Lord brought to our home, I was still a bit unsure. I would watch every Adoption Story episode on TV trying to gain insight into the process and learn from the experience of others.

Let me cut to today and allow me to introduce my son… (Photo Omited Since This Is The WEB)

As you can see he’s quite a cutie. We adopted him from foster care when he was nine and he is the light of my life. Don’t get me wrong he can be a little stinker, but I do love him to pieces just as my husband predicted. I can’t quite put it into words, other than to say this child is MY son. I didn’t carry him, I didn’t even get to hold him when he was little or help him learn to walk, but he is my son never the less. I love being a mom. My husband and I get asked quite often about the life changing impact of bringing a child into our family after seventeen years of marriage, and we often get well meaning compliments about helping out this child in need (our son has a difficult past and was not well taken care of by his birth family).

The truth of the matter is having a child in the house feels more “normal” than the first seventeen years of marriage without him, and even more important to me, we aren’t performing any great service to humanity by parenting this child, he brings joy and love into our lives that I can’t recall how we did without for seventeen years!

I believe this is the way when we choose the path of life. The love we have, the resources we have aren’t limited with a cap imposed that we’d best not exceed or doom and peril will befall us. No, love expands our resources, love expands our ability to love and our capacity and the resources to love grow as we stretch our hearts to make room for each other. So it is with families who ground their decisions in affirming life.

Our home and family life is pretty old fashioned. My husband and I own a business so we have some flexibility in our schedule. I work while our son is in school, but I’m with him in the afternoon, which makes me a semi stay at home mom. We work on homework or run errands in the afternoon, and I have a home made dinner ready every evening at 7:00pm when Dad comes home. We don’t watch TV during the week so that we have time for each other. We make an occasional exception for a sporting event that Dad’s interested in, but TV never comes before evening family time.

My husband and I are both college graduates and I have a masters degree. We’ve worked together in a number of businesses and have found that very rewarding, but my favorite roll, the one I consider most important is that of a home maker. It’s very important to me that our home be a gracious peaceful place, that it be a safe and soft place for us to land at the end of the day.

We are a Catholic family and we work to live Jesus’ commandment to love God and each other and practice our faith in word and deed in the very ordinary lives of a Midwestern family. We have learned to trust in God and his decisions for our family. My husband and I each have three siblings and our son comes from a family with five siblings. We love our sibs and again could not imagine life without them. We are hoping the Lord will bless us with more children, and we will accept and love whatever children he wishes to add to our family.

As you consider an adoption plan for your baby ask God’s guidance in making your decision, ask him to lead you to the right decision and to the right family. It is God that brings individuals together in marriage to make a family and God who brings children into that marriage, sometimes through birth sometimes through adoption, but always at the right time and in the best way.

If after asking God’s guidance you feel that our family is the right place for your baby we would welcome him/her as a blessing and raise him/her with love, discipline, and the same respect for life that you are demonstrating by the decisions you are making about his/her life today.