Archive for April, 2011

28
Apr
11

These are times that are trying many souls

Over the course of the past year or so, we have witnessed catastrophic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, New Zealand and Japan.  We have seen a tsunami suddenly kill thousands of people and cause turmoil and anxiety even unto this present hour due to the problems at a nuclear power plant in Japan.  We have seen volcanoes erupt in Iceland and ice storms in places that rarely see them.  Through it all, the United States of America was basically unscathed.

Over the past few weeks, the forces of nature have unleashed their fury upon the very heart of America.  Through wildfires burning in Texas, flooding along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and the current incredible outbreak of tornadoes; there is no longer any feeling of invincibility in this land.  As if the current situation were not bad enough, a very active hurricane season looms just ahead.

In due time, all the damage being done by all these natural disasters will act as a financial stimulus as people will find jobs rebuilding houses, businesses, churches and other facilities.  But, in the short term, the current situation is too much for many to bear.  Losing one’s home or business is a traumatic experience that leaves deep scars in someone’s hearts for years to come.  Obviously there are many hurting people around right now.

The frustration people go through dealing with insurance companies, government agencies, financial institutions and employers is hard to understand unless a person has lived through a major disaster or worked with those who have.  People can talk about “trusting God” all they want, but when your home is a pile of debris, your place of employment is demolished and your creditors want payments NOW; the pressure many times literally breaks people and demolishes families.

In 2006 I took a very long and difficult trip to Cameron, a little town on the coast of southwestern Louisiana, which had been utterly destroyed by hurricane Rita the previous year.  The area was a ghost town as it had been literally forgotten due to most of the emphasis being placed on Katrina damage.  As I trudged through the sand looking at the destruction I came upon a few very haggard people hanging around a white tent.

When I inquired as to what was going on, I was told of how there used to be a church ministry that brought food to that tent twice a week but had run out of resources and had to stop.  My heart ached for these poor people who received no aid from FEMA, the Red Cross, Salvation Army or any other group except one lonely ministry who could no longer find the resources to get food to them.

I was not able to do much but the pictures I took of the people and their plight did make their way to some agencies which in due time were able to get some resources down there.  The town had literally fallen through the cracks due to all the other needs.

As people attempt to put their lives back together in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Virginia; I pray that those of us unaffected by the current onslaught of floods and tornadoes remember those whose lives have been turned upside down.

These are very troubled and turbulent times and many of our brothers and sisters are hurting right now.  If ever they needed a friend to lend them a hand or a shoulder to cry on it is NOW.  If there was ever a time to redouble our prayers and “stand in the gap” it is NOW.  If there was ever a time to intercede on behalf of those who are struggling to stay sane and alive, it is NOW.  Truly this is a time to pray for and reach out to all those engaged in the worst battles of their lives.

26
Apr
11

There is plenty to be nervous about

I would not say that I am afraid, for I am not; but I will readily admit that the incredible things happening with the weather and economy make me very nervous.  There is a huge difference between being afraid and being nervous.  One is counterproductive and the other is the natural reaction to uneasy situations.

Just four years ago I would have been working 20 hours per day finding relief supplies for tornado victims in the St. Louis area and flooding victims in southern Missouri.  I know my days of trying to “save the world” after every disaster ended some time ago, but I am still deeply impacted as I see images of destruction and hear reports of catastrophic flooding soon to cause untold problems in many areas.  Throw into the mix some of the worst wildfires Texas has ever seen and you have a truly troubling situation building.

I study weather and I have seen from multiple sources that the upcoming month of May will be MUCH COOLER than normal throughout much of the USA except along the Gulf coast.  The last two times this happened were 2005 and 2008 which were years that produced hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma; and 2008 which produced hurricanes Gustov and Ike.  Many experts are already warning of the imminent possibility of multiple strikes by huge hurricanes along the United States coastline this summer.

For a very long time I used to study and try to understand economic concerns.  What is currently happening is so distressing that I no longer have the desire to try and figure out what is happening and about to happen.  Contrary to what media outlets are saying, there is a period of hyper-inflation just around the next bend.  We are already seeing it in the constantly rising prices for gasoline and food.

It is estimated that nearly 15% of all Americans have had to raid their retirement accounts to find resources for emergencies.  I know this is true for I am one of those 15% and am not proud of it.  But, when all other sources of income are removed, and expenses pile up; there is no place left to go but to the IRA or 401k that was supposed to provide income for 25 years or more after retirement.

Recent studies have indicated that the housing market for super expensive properties is rebounding and doing fine.  Those with plenty of money are spending it on lavish homes that cost well over a million dollars.  Those homes in foreclosure are also being purchased by people with money and then rented out to desperate people who have lost their homes.

Meanwhile those homes in the $100,000 to $600,000 range just sit there.  No one qualifies for a loan and no one has the money to pay the huge down payment to move up or down.  Most of us live in these kinds of homes and are stuck in them for many years to come.

I cannot do nothing about the weather or the economy so all I can do is pray for wisdom for those deeply impacted by both.  May God grant us all great patience and understanding so as to make the right decisions and have the means to help our neighbor, brother, parent or child in need.