With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I would share “My Thoughts and Prayers” on what I am thankful for. I am thankful that I have a job. Last year at this time I was unemployed. I am thankful for my four beautiful children. I know that many times I am impatient with them and I lose my temper often, but I am truly blessed to have such wonderful kids. I am thankful for my wonderful and beautiful wife. I would not be the man that I am today if it were not for her. I don’t show her my appreciation as much as I should. She has stuck with me through thick and thin and for that I am forever grateful to her.

Most of all, I am thankful for my faith. God has truly blessed me and my life. I am grateful not only for those blessings, but also that I am able to see those blessings. In the society that we live in, where we are programmed to think that poverty is not being able to buy everything that you want, it is hard to see all that God has blessed us with. He has blessed me. Not only does God provide me and my family with everything we need, but He also showers us with His love. And that’s what life is all about–basking in the glow of God’s love and giving glory to Him for it in all that we do.

Thank you, Lord, for all of your wonderful blessings. Thank you for your Love, your Mercy, and your Graces. Please give us the insight to see how You have blessed us and the strength to carry out Your will in our lives.

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Poverty and Charity

Many of you know that I am a youth minister. I have spent the last three weeks speaking to the teens about the issue of poverty and charity. I held a food drive for them and I was amazed at their generosity. They filled two HUGE boxes of food for a local food bank. I did a lot of research on poverty, both in the U.S. and global, in order to prepare for my meetings. All of this had an impact on me on a personal level.

I mentioned in my last blog that my perspective is beginning to change and I think that both these meetings on poverty and the 7 months I spent in unemployment have had a role in this change. First of all, my time in unemployment was a big lesson in humility. I have never been a person to ask for or receive handouts. I’m just not comfortable with it. I never asked for help during that time, but our wonderful friends just kept giving. It was a truly wonderful experience. Unemployment also helped me realize that we can live with A LOT less than we had been living with. God always provided us with what we needed!

Then I start working on this task of helping the teens to understand poverty on a deeper level. Some of the statistics I came across were just astounding! I was deeply moved. I came across this statistic that said: “If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace…you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.” I was floored by this. I, my family, in the midst of all of our struggles, are richer than 92% of the world! Most, if not all, of you reading this are richer than 92% of the world. I also came across a quote by St. Ambrose:

“You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor. You are handing over to him what is his….The world is given to all, and not only to the rich.”

What we have is not ours to keep. We, all of us, need to be more charitable. If we can afford to buy things we WANT, then we can afford to give to those who are in need. It’s just that simple. And we need to trust. We need to trust that God will take care of our needs so that we can take care of the needs of others. Life isn’t about obtaining worldly goods. It’s about sacrificing ourselves for the needs of others.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Running…

I was a runner in my youth. I ran track for the Boys and Girls Club all throughout grade school and also during high school. During track season we practiced five days a week. Practice started in early spring when it was still cold in St. Louis and the season ran into early summer when it was hot and humid. I hated running. I hated the cold. I hated the heat and humidity. I hated going to practice every day. I never listened to my coaches who told me I needed to run outside of practice and during the off season. The only reason I kept up with it for 12 years was for the track meets. I loved the competition of the meets. That alone kept me coming back year after year.

What I loved most about the meets was the race. I was an extremely focused and determined competitor. As soon as the gun went off, I saw nothing else but the finish line. I didn’t see the crowds. I didn’t even see the other competitors. All I saw was that line. I didn’t hear anything else either. I didn’t hear the crowds cheering me and the other competitors on. Nothing could distract me from my goal of crossing that finish line. It didn’t matter how long the race was or how many trips I made around the track. All I was focused on was the race.

This is a metaphor for life. We are all in the midst of a race. What are we running for? What is at our finish line? I imagine myself on a track running a race with Jesus at the finish line. His arms are open waiting for me, to embrace me. If only I could be as focused and determined to finish this race of life as I was when I was on the track team. If only I could let nothing distract me from my goal.

Life is hard. Life isn’t always fun. It doesn’t always feel good. Sometimes life hurts. But we shouldn’t give up on it. We shouldn’t let all of the distractions of this world get to us. We should, instead, be like athletes in a race for our lives, literally! We should keep our eyes focused on Christ, on the finish line of eternal life in heaven.

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment