Friday, December 31, 2010

An Interesting Idea


This was an interesting year for the Koeppel Family. For the first time in 10 years, we have had to apply for WIC and Food Stamps. While it has been humbling to say the least - it brought me to an interesting idea about something that would benefit the government.
I think it would be interesting to do a study on how people spend their food stamps. I stumbled on this idea while working on our monthly menu. This is something I've done for a while - albeit on a weekly basis before, now I know that $455 a month sounds like a ton of money to a teenager or a child, but to feed a family of five I need to make every penny count. So as I sat down and worked on my menu and on my grocery list - it looked a lot like this:
BAKING AND COOKING GOODS:
veg. oil; olive oil; flour (white and wheat) and sugars (brown and white); baking soda, garlic salt, bullion (beef and chicken).
DAIRY GOODS:
milk; eggs (6 doz); sour cream (4), cheese (sliced, grated, and block);
This continued on into meats; frozen vegetables; grains and legumes; beverages (TEA obviously, I must have hot tea); cereals, etc . . . All of the things on my list required me to cook them - thus allowing them to stretch further through the month - choosing to use my government assistance wisely. As I worked on this list (several times so I could refine it - even down to the aisles, since I know the commissary pretty well by now) I wondered how many of those on government assistance waste the money on convenience foods? Don't get me wrong I included goodies, like chicken nuggets and fries in my list, but they are a minimum. I realized that if you haven't grown up in a home where cooking was a priority, but you still needed to eat - that as an adult many people if they required government aid, were most likely continuing the trend - purchase convenience food - it doesn't last as long . . . I think you see where I am going here.
So here is my thought, why not do an audit or a study of those on food stamps - find out how they use them. If the study finds they use them for a lot of convenience food then send those to a class that teaches nutrition AND cooking. In doing this wouldn't it enable people to eat better, and make their money stretch further - thus helping in two ways. First, it would help cut down on the processed foods people put in their bodies. The occasional burger isn't going to kill you, it's when it is one of your main staples in your diet then it will cause problems. Processed foods have preservatives in them which we are finding are not helping us, they are higher in sodium, and as a general rule higher in fat and calories. In learning to eat better and implementing this into people's lives it would increase their health and quality of life. Second; it would make better use of the assistance the government is giving to them - saving money also by helping them have better health - thus decreasing the needs for higher medical bills (obviously this doesn't pertain to those who have disabilities or who have health issues that are non-weight related).
While it may not be an excellent idea - it's mine. It is in its infancy and I will continue to refine it and hopefully as time continues, then I might even be able to implement it. This idea also is for those who want to be healthy - who want to make their money stretch farther and who don't mind the work that goes into this idea.
I wish you all a happy 2011. May this year bring you a year of laughter - not tears; joy and only minimal suffering; may it be a great year of God's blessings for you all.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Honesty

I use my blog as a diary of sorts, but also as a way to raise awareness of what is going on in the world - child sex trafficking, those who are in need of help from the body of Christ, etc . . .

I haven't been as prolific in my writing lately for two reasons. Firstly, my laptop got Diet Cherry Pepsi spilled on it, and so I have to order a new keyboard - something that costs money. That is in very short supply with Chris being unemployed and even I have had a difficult time finding any work. Secondly, you know the saying, "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all"? Well I try to live by that and lately, I have been fighting the dulldroms big time.

The year 2010 has seen a lot of changes for our family. February 13, 2010 Chris returned home from deployment, which we all loved! Having him come home safe in body (although somewhat battered in spirit) was wonderful. Shortly after his return though we said goodbye to Ted Swetland - Chris' stepdad in March 2010. The irony of that is, this - the one thing Chris has always wanted. . . Ted told him he was proud of him. Chris had always hoped to hear that from his dad, but he got to hear it from Ted and it meant a lot to him. Sadly, he was there when Ted's heart beat it's last beat and it still haunts him months later, a lot of things about that haunt him, but it's not mine to share. In a burst of inspiration we were able to secure a flight for Chris AND his mom to join us on our family vacation in Orlando, FL. It was tough to convince her, but it was great to give her a small break before she had to head back into the fray of battles to be fought. We drove home and Chris stopped in Georgia and got to see some old friends from his stationing in Ft. Stewart, GA.

The year 2010 has seen more changes than just those mentioned above, it's been filled with goodbyes to those who had been ill for a long time, and goodbye to those who were close to our age - and it took it's toll on Chris and I both. It has been filled with job hunts and sucking up our pride to ask our government for help. While we hated having to do this, it meant our daughter's having health insurance, something that is necessary for children everywhere, but especially for Elizabeth with her asthma and allergies and amblyopia all which require us to keep her under a watchful eye of doctor's. It meant standing outside a government building and praying for the strength to walk through the doors. I understand now how pride buckling it must have been for my mom to have to ask for that kind of help for several years while raising us. And that was before you could get health insurance through the government; that was just for food assistance.

This year meant seeing maturity spurts in Sarah - who was already pretty remarkable, but she is now showing restraint over her tongue, much better than her early teen years. Elizabeth too is showing maturity changes, she can control her emotions a bit better, she is becoming more independent. It means she is able to walk to her bus stop (we can watch from the yard AND the dining room window to be sure she is okay) all by herself. She is discovering hair accessories, using deodorant, and I suspect before the end of next school year a trip to shop for bras.
Rebekah started preschool this year and has become potty trained (waiting until she was ready meant it only took a week or so to happen). She too is learning self control.
We also saw our picky eaters go down by one. The battle still wages on with Beka, but we are making great headway and she is eating burritos and chicken noodle soup with minimal fighting now.

These are my prayer requests for our family this year if you will please put us in your prayers.
1. Pray for Chris' spirits as he works to find a job. And please pray we have a decent tax return so that he can afford to get his A&P license which would make him much more marketable here in the U.S. AND overseas (Europe, Asia, etc . . .).
2. Pray that God continues to provide for our needs - He has been most faithful so far and while it's a little snug, it still meets our needs.
3. Pray that all of our girls continue to grow in Christ and developmentally as they should.
4. Pray for Lizzie as she works hard to learn to read - she struggles in this area a lot and it is taking a lot of hard work on our part, but we are seeing progress - her reading skills are improving.
5. Pray that God helps me as I prepare to go back to college in the Fall 2011. I have several things I need to do to make this happen and I know about them in advance, which will help, but I'd like to finish those last 19 hours and show my girls it's important to finish what you start.

I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year! God Bless you all.

Love in Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas



It's that time of year again - Christmas is here. For some it will be a day like any other day - due to a poor economy. For many it is a day where we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour.


The girls are home from school for Christmas break and we are enjoying snuggles and hugs and tons of kisses. I think their favorite part this year is that Chris has come home. Last year he got to watch us on the webcam as the girls tore open their presents. Last year was a year of plenty. This year is a year of remembering that Dad is home and that alone is enough to give great thanks to God.


I remember Christmas' with little under the tree, but I was thrilled that year because our cousins were with us to enjoy time with Grandma Taylor. My grandma could make a lot out of very little. She was very creative and talented and smart. She could make the most amazing cakes and cookies. She could take material that no one thought would look good and make amazing dresses or aprons out of it. Some of my favorite clothing were outfits that Grandma Taylor had made for me. Somehow she and Mom always made us feel like we had plenty. At least that is how I remember our childhood. As I got older and realized that we were poor, my mom always managed to give us some gift that was great - a set of tapes, or a pillow that was embroidered. I was 15 yrs old when I realized that while we were at school, Mom was working for her good friend Ginny Schwarz to earn the money she needed to give us a good Christmas. Personally, I think that means Mom should get Mother of the Year Award for several years in a row, but that is just me.


As I get older, I realize so many things, Christmas may have become commercialized, but it doesn't have to be this way in our body of Christ. This is the season of giving, and celebration - whether you are struggling or not. There are so many out there who have no Christmas at all. Let me encourage you this year to help those who need it, even if you are in need yourself.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope your Christmas day is a good one, filled with joy, laughter and family.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dinner and Battles


We have a battle going on in our house right now. It's a battle of wills between my husband and I against our 3 yr old Rebekah.
She's cute and adorable and doesn't kick and scream about not eating (unlike her older sister, Elizabeth), she just sits quietly in protest of whatever I cook.
Sadly I am to blame in this battle. When Chris is deployed we tend to eat out more often, because I don't feel like cooking as much. I might not have gone this route, but when it's only Sarah and I eating after a while, it gets a little old. Now that Elizabeth is eating what is put in front of her (albeit with some complaining involved from time to time) we have moved on to breaking this bad habit of not eating what she doesn't like, even if it means Daddy forcing her to eat.
So dinner time has become an interesting battle of the wills. While I have complete faith that Chris is much more stubborn than Beka and for the time being he is winning the battle, I wonder who exactly will win the war. It isn't that she is crying, screaming and yelling, it's a passive resistance. And for some odd reason she seems to be happy to just go upstairs and play in her room. This is obviously not the right answer, after all, how does she learn anything by playing in her room. And I hate the idea of reheating her food for the next day again and again until she eats, first because it's not so good for her and second, because I am not certain it is always the best idea. Although I have known a few kids who refused to eat for several days until they caved on the idea of only eating the item they were initially offered. I have found that offering a food over and over again does work to some extent. Beka now eats burritos and tacos - but she's going through a picky eating phase. The child who enjoyed eating spaghetti before doesn't want to eat it now. She'll eat burritos but not her former favorite spaghetti?!
I'd like to tell you she comes by that penchant for eating one food over the other on her own or from Chris' DNA. Alas, I must confess it is from me, I find a food I enjoy and I tend to eat it often. Sometimes I am on an italian food kick, sometimes it's mexican food - but I have found I do better if I cook the food myself and don't go out to eat. I tend to cook w/o a lot of processed items and so when I eat it tastes much better and it doesn't make me feel sick.
So here is our battle, and sadly tonight I resorted to bribery. For every bite Beka ate, I let her have one gummy candy. It's sad, but it worked. Does this make me a terrible mom? Do you have a battle you are fighting with your child? We all have some kind of battle, what is yours? Is your child a picky eater? Do they have problems working in school for their teachers? Do you struggle with getting your child to speak nicely to you and others? Whatever your battle know that you are not alone. Every parent and every child has something that they but heads over - whether it is control of the house or food or school. . . we all have something that makes us want to bang our heads against the wall. The trick is finding what is their currency (or what is important to them) and use it to your advantage. For Elizabeth it is TV time. If she is naughty and you take away her TV priveleges it is like death. For Beka it is standing in the corner and knowing that we are disappointed in her. For Sarah, it's her electronics - take away her mp3 player and you would think you have killed her. No matter what you find out about your child and no matter what you battle is, know you aren't alone and you are not the first parent in the world who struggles with helping their children obey.
Also remember it is a parent who loves their child who is willing to tell their child "no". It is easy to be a yes parent or a parent who is liked by their child by giving them what they want. It doesn't mean that your child respects you though and a parent who loves their child is one who is willing to not always be popular or liked and say "No, you may not go out to the party with your friends without parents there." "No you may not have free reign on the internet." I am not advocating only saying no. I think it's important to sometimes explain why you are saying no to your child. I have found that in explaining to Sarah it tends to go over much better even if she doesn't like our decision.
I hope you all have a good week. I hope you continue to look to God and His Word for guidance.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Monday, December 13, 2010

Parenting and ARGGGGHHHHH Moments


I love being a mom. I really do, but there are moments in every parent's life of raising their children when they toy with the thoughts of murdering their children. They don't formulate a plan, they just think, "my child is making me nuts and I may have to kill her".
Every child has those times when they make a choice that makes their parents want to scream at them if they are lucky and murder them at their worst.
Tonight my 3 yr old, the cute one in orange dress decided to squirt my face wash and my good shampoo in the bottom of my bathtub. Now this might not be such a big deal if it were the cheap stuff, okay who am I kidding right now with money so tight it would still be a big deal whether it was the expensive or cheap stuff. Let's just say I was less than enthusiastic about her choice of decoration. Although, on the bright side, at least she didn't decorate the walls with Aim toothpaste and muscle relaxers like Lizzie did at 3 yrs old. That fiasco culminated in a trip to the ER to have her stomach pumped to ensure she hadn't digested any pills.
So there you have it, the annoyance of the day at the Koeppel household. Doesn't this make you want to just run out and have children of your own? I love having children, I also equally love having a moment of peace and quiet. Someday I will have those moments back again, but until then I promise, I will let my children live.
I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas and Monkeys


I know, I know this technically isn't a Christmas photo. But hey, it is close to the holiday when you hit Halloween.
It's that time of year again where the kids are super busy and I am super tired. What is it about winter that makes you so sleepy and tired? And makes me want to bake? It's one of our favorite things to do when it's Christmas - we love to bake goodies for our friends and family.
This year I am attempting homemade - real from scratch banana and pumpkin bread. Although, technically can you call it from scratch when you use canned pumpkin pie filling? Just a questions.
For a while I will have to blog a little less than I normally do, because I am without a laptop. If Chris finds work overseas or if he deploys though I will invest in one as soon as I can so I can be more active.
This year though, Elizabeth has really been wanting to get involved with Christmas. This is the first year she has started talking about giving gifts to other people more than she talks about getting presents herself. It's been a nice shift in her, she's becoming aware of others and their feelings. Beka is all about the Christmas tree and I am pretty sure that Sarah is just happy that Daddy is home (all the girls are of course, but it seems to be more real for Sarah).
Some of the things we love about Christmas is just spending time with family and friends and hanging out. This year, we intend to spend the day in our jammies and eat good food. Last year, we had a good time at Aunt Nina and Uncle Ed's house. It was a nice change of pace for the girls to enjoy time out of the house. I did the meat and they provided other food items. This year, by popular demand, I think I might make a lasagna - it's a tradition that Chris' mom started when he was a kid and I thought it sounded nice and would be a nice change of pace after Thanksgiving gorgeous feast, but filling our tummies with too much food.
What are your hopes for 2011? Do you hope to find work, like so many others? Or would you like to see some positive changes in yourself? Whether it be weight loss, a new job, or trying to pay of debts, etc . . . no matter what I hope you make 2011 a year of seeking God and His blessing for your life. I find that when I seek Christ, everything else seems to fall into place.
I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Monday, December 6, 2010

The joys of after deployment


This past year has been a good year, a long one, but a good one. Chris returned home February 13, 2010 from serving in Iraq and Kuwait. It was awesome, we all have loved having him back even as mentally we prepare for the fact that he will have to return home.
One of the things that isn't so great is that after Chris gets home we all spend the next year getting sick. Even Chris who is normally Mr. Healthy, gets sick. If it's going around, we will catch it; everything from poison ivy to the flu. It's one of the reasons I had both Lizzie and Beka get the flu mist this year and I plan to go to Dillon's and get my flu shot very shortly.
The bad thing and the nice thing about this year is that Chris has been home and unemployed. On one hand this stinks, because it means we are very tight financially. However, him being home has it's perks. First, he gets to spend time with the girls and get to know them and their little idiosyncrasies. Second, kind of goes along the same lines as the first one - but he he's been able to really work on his relationship with Sarah. They had a pretty rocky relationship before and during his deployment. Third, I get some extra help, which is good, because when I'm the only one carrying the load, it gets to me after a while and burns me out. Finally, it means he gets to rest, talk to me about things that are bugging him, spend time working on his relationship with Christ and helping friends and family in need of mechanical services. It also has let him think about what he wants to do.
While we are looking at one more deployment before he is eligible to retire from the Reserves, we are also looking at the possibility of a job overseas. There are a lot of things that can happen right now and with the economy looking down for years to come we have to keep all our avenues open.
My husband was nice enough to set me up with an account on his laptop for now. Hopefully when we get our taxes back I can purchase a new laptop. Diet Pepsi on a laptop is a very bad thing and mine is most likely fried.
I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Worries, Prayers, and Trust


This is Matthew and I when I was 6 yrs old and he was 2 yrs old in Yukon, OK after Daddy had died.
Christmas is coming and all over the newspapers are tales of people whose unemployment benefits are running out. They are scared of what will happen to them and Christmas is a wishful thought for them.
In reading these, I find it awakens my own fears. My worries that what happened to families in the 1930's and prior to WWII will happen to my girls. We will have to separate our family and send them to live with family while Chris and I try to find work. Logically in my head I know there are programs to help prevent that from happening, but it is a possible reality for my family in a few months and I have to be honest, it terrifies me to think of our girls going hungry or crying because they have empty tummies.
I can easily imagine the heartbreak of those women in the 1930's who had to watch their children slowly dying from hunger and malnutrition or who sent them to family to live in hopes of giving them a better life or putting them in a state orphanage, because it was better than letting them starve. I work hard to not go there in my head and I know that I have friends and family who will help if we come to that, but with a Lt. who is making Chris' life extremely difficult and who refuses to let him deploy because she's a witch on a power trip and she's decided she doesn't like him - it makes those fears hard to allay for now.
In 1997 my family and I spent a summer struggling to make ends meet. Mom would buy groceries and Matt and Meg would eat them faster than she could put them in the refrigerator. I had a hard time finding work that summer, so I spent a lot of that summer hungry and looking for work. I found out a lot of things that summer. I found out I am not a good cashier - it just isn't a good job for me. I found out that years of making sacrifices for Matt and Meg didn't mean anything to them. I am sure that has changed now, but then they were at the peak of being selfish teens then and Matt was struggling with the aftermaths of the car accident that changed all of our lives in 1996. It also gave me an insight into how grateful I should be that in attending Southern Nazarene University it meant I was able to eat three meals a day. I may not always like those meals, but at least I had them there to eat.
Here we are in 2010 and we are fortunate enough to be qualify for food stamps. It istough walking into that building when for ten years you've been able to provide for your children with only a little assistance from parents (you know they buy clothes and fun stuff - and maybe the occassional tank of gas when we were short back in the early years of our marriage). But at least our girls have plenty of food and they have health insurance, we have a roof over our heads and know if push came to shove we have places we can turn to for assistance. I know that if push came to shove we could move to Idaho or other places - but I also know Chris will find the next available unit and deploy so we can keep our home and make sure that the girls and I are taken care of as long as there is breath in him. I also know that the time has come to bite the bullet and go back to college. With only 19 hours remaining, I can do it at a pace that will help the girls and myself remain sane. This would mean being able to find steady work and providing for Chris and the girls so Chris can attend college and get a degree.
These are the times when I remember the Casting Crowns song:
I will praise you in the storm.
I will lift my hands.
I know who you are, no matter where I stand.
I don't remember the rest of it, but these things I know. God has always taken care of my family and provided for us and I know He is faithful. So even when I am afraid, I will trust that God will take care of my girls and will provide our needs.
I hope you all have a good weekend.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Joy!


It took me a while to figure out how to do this one. But this is a video my mom took of Elizabeth performing in last year's Christmas musical.



This may not seem like a huge deal to some of you. Some of you have children who are fine, no disabilities, or torture to deal with for your kids, except the occasional kid stuff. But this was huge for us and for Elizabeth. I wasn't ever sure this day would come for us. And I know that a lot of it was possible because we have a great church who hired an amazing children's pastor - Lana.



Lana realized at practice that I was stressed and Lizzie was stressed out. So she came up with a great plan. She had a teen buddy for Lizzie. This lovely girl sat on the sidelines out of sight and when each song was over, Lizzie would go and sit with her buddy. This enabled Elizabeth to participate and still join the other kids in the music. Sitting during the talking part, was too much for her last year - I don't know if we can do it this year, but we'll give it a shot.


I remember sitting in the front row with Mom while she recorded this and other segments with Lizzie in them and I cried tears of joy. These milestones are incredible for us, and each time she meets one, I weep for joy, because not only is Lizzie meeting our goals, she exceeds them. We raise the bar higher and she goes for it with everything she has in her.


For us early detection was key. Having discovered Elizabeth's special needs allowed us to get her early intervention - it might have been even earlier had I been able to see it sooner. Thankfully, I had a great support system and great resources at my disposal (my mom has Master's Degree in Chapter One Reading and I have several aunts who are teachers - they were valuable information in working with the schools to help Elizabeth - even when it meant butting heads with the school to keep her in a regular class or to wait on medication). In many ways God was there, gently guiding us towards the right people in our lives who knew how to help us, or give us the support we needed. He sent women in my life who have children with either a similar diagnosis or who have a form of special needs, whether it is a physical special need or learning disability. It's amazing how through this journey God has sent just the right people to us at the right times. It is proof that God's grace is sufficient and his strength is perfect. Somehow thank you doesn't seem to be enough.


I hope you all enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed watching it.



Love in Christ,

Maureen

Thorns and Beauty


I have come to a conclusion this evening. I have concluded that children were created by God to see how well we can control ourselves. Well I have failed. In ten years of motherhood, I have sworn more times than I did prior to becoming a mom - and I'm about to turn 37 yrs old. Everyone has a vice/thorn they must contend with, mine is my mouth and the fact that when my kids tick me off, it takes all the self-control I have to not swear.
I love my children, I don't beat my children, I don't drink or do drugs or purposely endanger my children, but no one else on the planet can make me cuss with such vigor as my children.
Are they cute? Yes, I think they are adorable. Do they do funny things? Sure, all kids are cute and funny it's how they survive to see adulthood - they make you laugh at the most opportune times. However, they also can infuriate you to no end with their mouths, picking eating habits, and getting into things they shouldn't or refusing to quiet themselves when you've even pulled the car over several times and told them to be quiet.
And yet with all this infuration and aggravation comes the cool times too. The quiet moments when it's cold outside and you watch some movie, they love and they snuggle under the blankets with you. Or when they come out of the bathtub clean and smelling amazing - I love that beautiful clean baby smell. Or when you've finished nursing and they are sleeping contented and peaceful and smile in their sleep. Those are the things you remember when you are struggling to let your kid live to see another day. Odd I know, but true.
I share this with you because I do share my faith out loud, but I also think that in sharing it is important to be honest that I struggle. Outside, I look like the perfect church girl who has grown up in the church, but inside, I struggle with a need to be in control. I struggle to keep my mouth clean and to use it to glorify God, I too could throttle my child when they do something absolutely, insanely stupid, like keep running their mouth or making a poor choice on the computer. Everyone has a weakness, and the Bible assures us that in our weakness, God's strength is perfect. I love Steven Curtis Chapman's song, that states:
His strength is perfect, when our strength is gone.
He'll carry us when we can't carry on.
Raised in His power, the weak become strong.
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect.
Those moments when our children drive us to want a drink, do drugs, or swear at them - or even want to physically harm them, He is with us and He is there. Those are the times you sometimes put them and you in a time out and go sit somewhere and take a few deep breaths. I know sometimes this is easier said than done. Several times, I have enjoyed sadistically grounding Sarah for a month or longer only later to reduce it because once I am a calm and sane woman whose teen hasn't driven her to the point of yelling and actually being speechless - I see reason and I reduce the sentence. In part, because I think it is important that Sarah realize that no one is a perfect person and that parents are learning as they go and they will make mistakes. It's a part of being human, but also because I know it is important that I show her examples of grace and mercy.
What is your vice? What thorn plagues you? Whatever that thorn is, God knows it. It's no secret to Him. He sees the darkest recesses of your heart, soul and mind and He loves you still. Even if you think whatever it is will make you unloveable in His eyes. There is no sin too great He cannot cleanse it and make you whole.
Stacy Orricco (sp?) sang these words several years ago. I leave you with them.
As I rest against this cold hard wall.
Oh will you pass me by.
Will you criticize me as I sit and cry.
I had fought so hard and thought that all my battles had been won.
Only to find the war has just begun.
Is he not strong enough. Is he not pure enough.
To break me, pour me out, and start again.
Is he not brave enough to take one chance on me.
Please can I have one chance to start again.
Will my weakness for an hour make me suffer for a lifetime.
Is there anyway to be made whole again.
If I'm healed, renewed, and find forgiveness.
Find the strength I never had will my scars forever ruin all God's plans.
Is He not strong enough. Is He not pure enough.
To break me, pour me out and start again.
Is he not brave enough to take one chance on me.
Please can I have one chance to start again.
He took my life into his hands and turned it all around.
In my most desperate circumstance, it's there I finally found.
That you are strong enough, that you are pure enough.
To break me, pour me out and start again.
That you are brave enough to take one chance on me.
Thank you for my chance to start again.
Have a good weekend and God bless.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Joblessness, Christ, and Christmas


MSN has an article today about those whose 99 day extension of unemployment benefits are expiring this week and reading it, I know how they feel. Right now we are in the same boat. While our unemployment for Chris hasn't stopped yet, next year at this time, it will have been gone since July.
These are the days where we hold tightly to the promise in Jeremiah "I know the plans I have for you." And in Matthew when Jesus tells us that God takes care of the birds of the field and the lilies of the valley, so how much more will he care for his children (That passage is Matthew 6:25-34 if you want to look it up.). And while we are trusting God, we also realize that we in fact, very fortunate. While others are losing their homes right and left, we have a semi-manageable house payment, we don't have credit cards and haven't since 2006, there are a lot of reasons we could be in a lot worse shape than we are in right now. We also know that if it comes to blows, Chris will take a reduction in rank and will go back to Active Duty for the Military. I will finish my Bachelor's Degree next year, I plan to return in the Fall. We know that Chris will be deploying this next year, while it stinks and we hate that he has to consider volunteering for this, we also know that it is necessary to maintain our home.
Papers and new syndicates have finally gotten onboard and are calling this The Great Recession. I have to agree and I also have to wonder why did they wait so long? We have over 9% unemployment in our country right now - considering how many millions of people live in the U.S. legally, that number is staggering. Many families are looking to just keep a roof over their head, forgetting about Christmas all together, because they don't have the money to do anything.
This is my plea for those of you are still doing okay and still have a job. First, Please join us in prayer for our country and our leaders as they face very tough decisions right now. Pray they are able to work together to do what is best for the American people. Second, I urge you to pay off as much of your debt as possible AND DO NOT KEEP CREATING MORE DEBT for yourself.
As a Christian, we are called to be good stewards with our money. Never are we seeing the reasons why than now, when people are losing homes, have collectors searching for them because they owe thousands if not more in debt. Now is not the time to acrew more debt, it is a time to pay off your debts, if you lose your job, it will mean the difference between making ends meet and losing everything. Do you have a large house? Consider opening it up to those who need a home right now. There are families who are literally being moved out of their homes now.
I remember watching Cinderella Man, and reading as well as watching "The Journey of Natty Gann". The scenarios where people are being forcibly removed from their homes is a very real probability today. Your children probably go to school with kids right now who are only eating breakfast and lunch because their parents must choose between paying the rent to keep a roof over their heads or buying food and they may not have food stamps or seeing as it's at the end of the month, they are finding the food is running out. This is a time when we can show Christ's compassion to those in need. It isn't always easy, but in those small acts of kindness, we can show Christ to a hurting world to those who otherwise might not even consider God at all.
For years our country has turned it's back on Christ. For years, we lived in relative prosperity, as in the early 1900's our country enjoyed living above our means and buying extravegantly. As the 1920's ended in 1929 we saw the Stock Market crash in a way no one ever thought it would and the life of the Roaring 20's ended dramatically with people jumping out of windows or killing themselves because they were now paupers. The 1930's saw The Dust Bowl happen in Oklahoma and the midwest part of our country. It saw families moving in together, families seperating, as children went into orphanages because that was preferrable to watching them starve to death. The 1930's saw our country struggling just to put food on a table. Interestingly enough, America joining the fight in World War II saw our country begin to thrive again. Jobs became a possibility again and people were able to find work.
So today let's go to God in Prayer.
Abba,
You know the trials we are all facing. You know many are losing homes, becoming w/o homes, many are hungry and tired and are facing what they never thought would happen - they are losing all their material possession. Help us as we face these tough times to remember You are there and will meet our needs. Be with those who are looking at a sparce Christmas, if a Christmas at all. Watch over us all and help us find You in all of this. Bring our country back to you and help us all work together to be sure we help take care of those less fortunate. Please Lord, in all of this help us remember that You are the Reason we celebrate Christmas at all.
Help our government as they work together to find long term solutions to a problem that is going to continue happening. Help our country to learn from this Great Recession that spending your money isn't always what is best, to be smart with our money. Help our country find You and find that Your Ways are higher ways.
Amen
Have a good week and we are praying for you in our household today.
Love in Christ,
Maureen