Monday, September 25, 2006

Prayer Requests: Possible (Much-Desired) Part-Time Job / Serious Health Matters

I rarely make public prayer requests, but hey, this is why we have the Body of Christ, isn't it?: to help each other with prayer and in other ways.

At the moment I have to wait - probably at least a week, and perhaps longer - , to see if I will be able to land a job working with a Catholic radio station, with a good friend of mine (doing research and helping in other ways; not on-air: though maybe occasionally I'll be doing that, too). I was told about a week ago that it would be about a "50/50" chance. It depends (probably solely) on the amount of budgeting dollars available, which in turn is dependent upon how much money was raised in a pledge drive on the radio (much like public television solicitations). My friend wants me to work there, without a doubt, and I would love it. It is simply a matter of the operating budget.

It's one of those things where you can't do anything (except, of course, pray) and simply have to wait it out. I've been through this so many times before: something is just within grasp; you can almost touch it, but yet it is infinitely far away until you actually do have it. Of course, this would be the perfect supplemental income, and would allow me to do things that directly use my abilities and passion for apologetics, evangelism, and larger Catholic topics that God gave me, while providing a great deal of stability or predictability in my income.

So it would seem to be "God's will", yet one never knows what twists and turns that mysterious thing will take. I've thought that a lot of things were God's will in my life, only to see that they didn't happen at all, or that they did much later or in a far different fashion than I thought they would. Other things happened that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams (being a Catholic, the Internet, being an author and a full-time Catholic apologist, marrying the best woman in the whole world, etc.).

I can only fall back in faith and obedient acceptance, on God's providence: if it is to be, and is what God wants, it'll happen; if not, it won't. I know: it sounds real easy in theory, but it is extremely difficult to live this out, when hopes and dreams and our own aspirations and desires are involved (I know most of you can relate in some fashion: this is life). Since there is nothing wrong with this goal and it is, I think, a good thing, to be a wise steward of the gifts and abilities that one has from God, and to be involved in the important outreach of Catholic radio, it is also good to ask prayer that this can come about.

And, conversely, if it doesn't, for some other job (heaven knows what) to come along (or more regular financial supporters, as the case may be, if that is God's will to provide my financial needs). But I know the power of prayer. I can feel the effects of prayer all the time, in persevering in my work (so many people tell me they are praying for me, and I can never thank them or be grateful enough for that blessing; it's absolutely crucial to have that backing in this line of work, since the devil is always up to his tricks trying to destroy or at least hinder it).

I've done the ministry / additional job balancing act for many years now (mostly following the "Pauline tentmaker model"). For ten years I worked full-time doing small package and payroll delivery, while simply adding another 30-40 hours a week of writing / website activities, for virtually no pay. That was the case during the first four-and-a-half years of my website. In December 2001 the delivery company I had worked for, for eight years went out of business, so I gave absolutely full-time apologetics a shot.

I managed to do that (by means of book and articles royalty income and generous support from readers) from December 2001 till June 2004, at which time I got a job delivering papers on a large urban route, with help from my three sons (who got paid) and sometimes my wife. We all had a great time being together (so many warm, fun memories that we'll never forget!), but the route switched to all-morning delivery in December 2005, and we determined that our kids wouldn't be able to handle getting up at one in the morning every day (we had done that on the weekends only). There were also other factors involved. So that ended right before Christmas last year (the very next day my wife Judy's father suddenly died).

Since then we have managed to make it on royalties, an advance for my upcoming book, our income tax refund, etc. Basically, my income consists of three parts: 1) royalties from books, articles, and e-books, 2) essentially unsolicited donations from those who feel so called to support this work, and 3) additional part-time work as necessary. At the moment, it is fairly necessary (financially and in terms of stress) to have some sort of stable weekly income. God provides, and He certainly has provided our basic needs (I can joyfully give that "testimony") but it can get awful nerve-wracking on a human level when you don't know what is coming in next or how much it'll be. So this potential job would be a wonderful blessing at this point in our lives. I ask your prayers (just a short one right now; doesn't have to be anythng elaborate or fancy!), and thanks very much for them.

The second big prayer request is for my father, Graham, who is suffering from lung cancer. First, some good news: the last scan indicated that the tumor stopped growing. Praise God! The bad news is that he is having terrible side effects from the chemotherapy: notably digestive but also aches and pains and extreme fatigue. Please remember him in prayer if you could, and also my mother, Lois, who is getting discouraged from the constant strain involved in caring for a spouse that is very sick. My dad's a fighter and an optimist (two of his best qualities), but he's literally in the fight of his life, now. My brother Gerry died of leukemia in 1998, and that was a long dreadful haul for the whole family. My parents have been through a lot, needless to say.

The third one (sorry for so much!) is for my wonderful mother-in-law, Joan. She lost her husband last December, six days before Christmas, and is still grieving and dealing with general depression, because not only that happened, but also two of her sisters died in the last year, too (one with terrible cancer). So she has been through the ringer. At the moment she is also deciding whether to live in metro Detroit to be closer to her six children, or to go back to near Alpena, 250 miles north (on Lake Huron).

When it rains, it pours, doesn't it? My wife Judy and I have been dealing with all this stuff, too, and I've had to also endure the usual personal attacks that you see me writing about here. That's about as common as the sun coming up, and I am well-used to it by now (it just goes with the territory), but obviously it is most unpleasant and it must take some sort of serious toll after a while (since most of it is sheer falsehood based on hostility or misunderstanding or both, which is extremely difficult to have to experience, especially for one like me who believes so much in the power of reconciliation and who is always optimistic that facts and truth can prevail).

I understand that my vitriolic critics have problems of their own. One (the greatest of all my detractors) has stated that he has had to experience the deaths of 22 of his family members or friends in the last five years, including his father, with whom he was obviously very close. I can't even comprehend that. It's been very difficult for me to endure the deaths of my (only) brother, his wife nine years earlier, and my favorite aunt, who was very dear to me, as well as my father-in-law. But whatever difficulties we may have to go through do not excuse trashing someone else's character (and publicly at that). It doesn't help grief and personal misery or insecurity (whatever it is) to run someone else down and invent (even if not deliberately, as I believe in this case) myths about them; it only makes one's suffering worse.

So please pray for and bless those who "persecute" me, too, as the Bible says. I do, and I do penance for them as well. In fact, I apply all the penance I have to suffer as a result of the falsehoods, to the people who send them my way. I'm more than happy to do so, because I know that they are far more victims of these sins than I am. May God help us all to live up to His high calling.

Finally, there is yet another serious problem so hurtful and personal that I can't even mention it specifically. This has been severely stressful and hurtful towards my wife in particular, and involves (what else, it seems?!) more lying and slander and completely unjust charges (nothing to do with the Internet or my public life, so you'd never guess it!) and almost complete unwillingness of the person (we've tried and tried) to work towards some agreeable, constructive solution. I ask for your prayers for that, too. It's gone on since March 2006 and shows no end in sight. Nothing has "broken" it so far, but it can't hurt to pray. Truly a supernatural miracle is required with this hideous thing.

I believe in healing: both physical and emotional (having been healed myself of very serious depression in 1977), and I also believe deeply in God's providence. I believe equally strongly that God answers prayer. And so I have requested these things. Thanks so much for lending your "listening ear". You'll never know how much I appreciate that, and your prayers, and how humbled and grateful I am for all of you here reading my articles (and my books, if you have read those). I hope they edify you and strengthen your faith. If you don't like something or other of my writing (as I cover many subjects), just skip it. I won't mind! But I'm here for you; to help you to better understand and defend and live your faith, by God's grace.

You can read more about my father and see a photo of my parents; also an article about my late father-in-law, with a picture of him and Judy's mother.

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