17 JULY 2015 :: Financial preparations

Every day is filled with its own needs. 

I suppose there is a Bible verse that addresses this idea, but it wasn't one I memorized and I'm not energetic enough to go looking for it right now.  It is just about 5:30 am...and I wanted to get this task taken care of before I go through the rest of my day. 

What can you say at 5:30 in the morning?  :-)  World problems seem a bit much, nothing has happened in your own life yet  (except a cup of coffee), and I shut the radio off after the Christian music program finished so I could have silence to think. I haven't read the Bible yet.

I do have a letter getting ready to mail to my son in prison today.  It is filling up with some pages of a book I am going through again, looking for details that will matter to my life.  It's the 2007 version of Dave Ramsey's workbook for his financial program.  In looking for details to share with my son, I remembered it was published right before the recession and the housing crisis. I had to add some notes about the changes I have heard about since that time.

The main one I am referring to is the suggestion to have 3-6 months of living expenses saved for unexpected problems.  Since the recession, I think that went up to 2-3 years.  Jobs became hard to find, older workers and younger workers had a harder time finding opportunities.  Houses were lost because savings ran out.

In listening to the details on the news about the current Greek financial crisis, GOD is allowing us to see how the government control of income creates very different issues than we are use to.  I believe the word they use, austerity, means the government's level of provision is decreased because they have no funds to pay the "wages" that were previously received (promised) for your work or your retirement.  And there's nothing you can do about it.  It is like having your hours cut, or losing your job.  Everything changes in your life and you have to deal with it.

BUT, if the government is the only company you can work for, what can you do to compensate for your own economic crisis?  I would suppose that bartering, moving in with others, and theft, are your only options.  In the US, bartering is considered taxable income.  I'm not sure how that would figure into your survival efforts. 

Since I am now receiving early retirement income, and it is my only cash income, the concept of government dependence for your survival is even more significant to me.  I continue to receive food stamps and now receive mandated health care, so I have returned to my own form of government lifestyle.  The main issue now is that I am too old to do a lot of things to change my income level, which makes that dependence much more critical.  (Unfortunately, my online sales efforts haven't born any financial fruit yet.)
The main issue now is that I am too old
to do a lot of things to change my income level...

In the Greek crisis, and other government bankruptcy events, we can see that payment levels are the first thing that happens.  Retirement funds are often the first to get absorbed for other uses.  Watching Greek banks being closed, accounts being restricted, businesses being suspended or ended, and the value of money being reduced, creates a whole new level of fear about the future.  Our money systems are global now, not just national.

I have shared one of my memories about the value of money before, but it was a long time ago, I think.  I am talking about a history lesson from my youth, about the end of the confederacy during the Civil War.  I remembered that it became worthless, that a barber used it to paper the walls of his business as a political statement about its value.  I don't think I ever imagined that money could become worthless before that.

As I studied the Bible later on, I began to see that putting your faith in your wealth is foolish.  It can become worthless in a very short time... like stock values in the Great Depression.  The Bible also talks about a time when people would be willing to trade their gold and other valuables for food.  All of these references made me see that there is no guarantee that anything we do to prepare for unexpected events will work.
... there is no guarantee that anything we do
to prepare for unexpected events will work.

That doesn't mean we don't prepare, just that we don't put all of our faith in their ability to "save" us from what can happen.  I am currently building an emergency plan for natural disasters, including food and miscellaneous items like flashlights, batteries, a medical kit, etc.  It could turn out that the disaster I am preparing for will make that effort worthless by destroying it.  I don't know that right now, so I will keep preparing for a possible problem -- just in case I need it.

I don't know how we can prepare for what lies ahead, but I still hope to do something.  We know that persecution creates a lot of hardship, and the government isn't going to be the one that wants to help us.  My prayer is that we can find a way to prepare for what is guaranteed to happen, and begin to gather to help and protect each other through the process.

16 JULY 2015 :: Have to wait on this one.

Today is a day with other priorities... I will try to write later, but may have to wait until tomorrow...

I hope that GOD will watch over us all.

15 JULY 2015 :: Starting the day with prayers...

I stated my online duties early today... and actually was able to open my Bible for reading again.  I wound up in Deuteronomy 5/6 where there is another passage about the 10 Commandments.  It is always a difficult reminder of how far we have fallen from what is best.  I was looking for a good verse to share at my Etsy forum thread for Bible sharing... and wound up summarizing the ten big concepts plus a few verses that follow it.

When I went to my Facebook page, there was a need for prayer.  I have taken to writing prayers as I go... the best I can, for all to see, so that the prayer is actually made.  It is too easy for me to say I will pray and then not follow through.  I do the best I can.

When I went to my Twitter account, I decided to add some short prayers... and wound up with more than one.  I think Twitter may be the place I do this more often.  I have been trying to decide what to do at each site... I already add daily "Today I am thankful for..." posts at Facebook and another Etsy Team thread

I am finding these all help me keep my focus going in the right directions, especially when I am more homebound than I have been in the past.

It is hard to keep our lives in touch with GOD and all that He is.  We can fill our days with a lot of activities, and many of them have no meaning in the global sense, or deepen our spiritual levels, or affect either us or others.  Household chores have to be done, we have to eat and sleep and shower and shop, and there is always some kind of "work" to do for our money needs.

When I remember to start the day with reading the Bible, it is a totally different kind of day.  My time with the Bible reminds me of my relationship with GOD, the expectations we have for each other, and my commitment to what is right and good.

A young person came to the door the other day, sharing the gospel of OSPIRG (currently antibiotics in our food supplies).  In talking to this person, I mentioned that the real issues is morals.  If people were governed by a moral code (Biblical standards), they wouldn't be doing the things that are causing havoc in our world.  The rest of the world has no moral code or a different moral code than the Bible.  What standard is the best?  How does a government operate without some kind of moral code?  (It becomes the moral code of the dictator if it isn't a separate document, but we can see that documents are subject to interpretations by the current populations -- so they don't guarantee success, either.)

I came across a Facebook post last night that was also focused on how we make our decisions, and was prompted to enter a comment about how our beliefs create our behavior. I found it and have pasted it below ::

Your beliefs create your behavior... and peer pressure, running with the crowd, and gang affiliations, all create your behavior because they become the way you think.... People who believe in the Bible strive to discover what GOD thinks and make it part of their lives, and it translates into their behavior. --- I think your beliefs come before your behavior.

We become like the people we are surrounded by... no matter who we are, where we are, or what we are trying to accomplish... work, play, school, prison, family, neighborhood, charity, and all the activities that we become involved in.  That can be a good thing or a harmful thing...

I made a decision to follow the influence of GOD, the words He has shared with us in the Bible, and the boundaries they present.  It has changed my life and helped me in ways that cannot be explained to either believer or non-believer.  We each have a personal relationship with GOD even when we are sharing the same Bible. 

I have tested GOD, tested His Words, and I would challenge anyone to do the same.  GOD is GOD, He doesn't lie, and we can depend on Him, even when we don't like what is happening in our lives.  Once we understand that HE is the authority, we can begin to interpret the words that we read in the Bible for ourselves. 

This is important because each man is at a different place in the learning process and has a different task in the Kingdom... we see the "elephant" with different eyes, so our sharing with the rest of the world becomes based on what we see at that time.

I am not saying that any part of what the Bible says is wrong... I am saying that GOD is the authority, not the men we sometimes put in a place of authority.  You need to test GOD for yourself and make sure you know what is true and what is not.

14 JULY 2015 :: Looking ahead...

Today was a day of getting ahead of the messes... doing laundry, cleaning my dishes, etc.   I wrote a letter to my son in prison.  Prayed for all of my sons.  Ate too much.  Had to rest.  and then hit the computer to get to here.

I write a message of thanks every day now... and I have expanded the posting of it to both Facebook and my original Etsy forum thread.  This was today's entry.

Tuesday, 14 JULY 2015
Another day filled with fun!  :-)
Today I am thankful for ... I'm not sure...I did a lot of household chores today... so I guess I am happy I have running water, access to a washer and dryer, a shower, shampoo and soap and toothpaste and a toothbrush...  I am very thankful I am a Christian and see the world through the eyes of GOD because it changes everything...  I am thankful for little furry animals that think they are fierce when they attack anything that moves... and I am thankful I don't have much left to get done and will be able to go to bed soon.   :-)

I am trying to rebuild my website, but there are issues preventing me...so I keep trying to plan what it might become.  I will make a section somewhere with links to all the places I am connected with, like Facebook, Twitter, my thankful posts, all of my blog topics, and Etsy, Fiverr, etc.   Once I have them all in one place, and listed at Working Together, I will feel like they are connected and accessible.  Right now I haven't figured out how to do that, so writing blog posts seems to be futile.  My website will have new links to the things I want to sell through/for Working Together to provide for its income needs.  Waiting is hard, but GOD is big enough to deal with all the issues I am praying about.

I watched an old movie about a Los Angeles earthquake, but I am wondering about the theme... it was definitely low-budget, and it had a "subway" -- I don't remember a subway in Los Angeles.  Nothing in the film seemed to identify the location, and the transit name was "CTA" -- City Transit Authority.   :-)  I kind of recognized some of the characters... long time ago people.  I have no idea when it was made.  I was laughing at some of the old film techniques, like a fire in a closed tunnel that doesn't eat up all their oxygen... and breaking open a water main that they think will somehow stop flowing on its own (it doesn't)... and a lot of angry characters that make peace with themselves and the world by the end of the movie.  :-)   I suppose a new version would have a lot of computer-generated "reality" and be... I'm not sure, I have seen the new movies.

It was hard for me to believe that Pluto has a heart shape on it.  Is that like the cheese the moon is made of?  :-)  I think it is great something is leaving our solar system... I hope it sends back some really great photos...and we finally know what is out there.  I don't know how it lasted this long.  I would have thought an asteroid or space debris of some kind would have destroyed it by now.  How does it stay out of the path of everything???   The spaceship Enterprise is probably being built right now, we just don't know it yet.  :-)

On Iran... I wonder who believes they will actually honor their agreement...

I may have to start making more comments on what I hear in the news... I may end up with ten pages of text!  :-)

See you tomorrow, GOD willing.

13 JULY 2015 :: What does the future hold?

It is hard for me to watch TV anymore because of all the "trending" references to same-sex marriage, fully illustrated.  I might be watching a favorite program and then all the commercials seem to be the same offensive content I can't bear to hear or see.  The information sources I use to seek out have become politically enthusiastic about the issue because it seems to be winning in the US and, now, the well-financed same-sex troops seem to be heading out toward all the other countries in the world.  I think they "win" by being so offensive... I think it's called "in your face" tactics, but I have other theories, too.

My response to all this has been to turn off the source of the offense. It has me trying to decide how to get my news and information when I can't watch commercial stations, listen to the radio, or visit some internet sites anymore.  This may seem like a radical statement, but it is true for everyone that disagrees with the same-sex theology.  We are heading into a cultural divide that will create separate worlds of people, activities, and I am wondering what else.

I suppose my turning off the radio and TV has its good side  ---  it has made life less cluttered, and helped me to focus on my thoughts, work, and rest.  I am less aware of minute-by-minute reports of the same topics on all the channels.  I don't know about all the crime and death and mayhem that is just outside my door, or in another place.  And the noise level is really down.  I really, really love being in the silence again... it is making me move toward a steady diet of no media.

I have lived without a TV voluntarily for many years in my past - for about the same reasons.  When I was homeless, the only media access I had was at a mission (if they had it) or somewhere else it was accessible. I have never had the "luxury" devices that others seem to have... that music thing you listen to with your earphones, a reader, a tablet, a DVD player... and whatever else there is.  When I lived in regular housing I would usually have a radio to listen to Christian programs, but didn't always have a TV.  It's been an sporadic adventure.  I would try to live with the world for awhile and then get so disgusted by all the misery, I just didn't want to participate in the process anymore.

I can't recall all the details just now, but I lived in a van for a long time, drove long distances in it, and didn't have a radio or tape player or CD player. I have tons of fond memories of those days.  Maybe I need to live in the middle of nowhere --  with a satellite for access just in case.  :-)

In those days I sometimes thought about the fact I was off the news grid.  I wondered what I was missing.  I seemed to be able to function fine as long as the world didn't end... well, I guess if the world ended, it wouldn't matter anyway.  :-)  When you are homeless, life is in survival mode.  There isn't too much you can do about the problems in the world even if you wanted to.

I guess I should say I didn't know about 9-11 for several days after it happened.  I wrote "America" after finding out what happened.  I didn't see any of the videos until many years later when I found them on the internet.  I cried when I saw the towers crumble. 

These are the facts of homelessness.  Your life is in survival mode when you are homeless, for as long as you are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless again.  You can't do anything about the state of the world even if you wanted to, so you don't really care about all the happenings on the news, you just want to find food and a safe place to sleep.

Whenever I did get back into the news loop, the media love-hate cycle begins again.  I haven't been able to find a good solution to this problem.  What is the right balance?  Where do you find out what YOU need to know?

All these emotional reactions to the same-sex issue has me wondering what the Church is going to do about this same problem.  How will we find the information we need, without all the offensive presentations of the facts and increasing attacks against peaceful people?  It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by those who can do something about it.

The Bible tells us that the day will come when we will have to separate from the world in order to live with our faith.  I think that time is now.