Monday, October 13, 2008

Reflecting on the last 37 years...

I'm sure I'm not the only person that does this, but every year around my birthday I like to reflect back on my life. You know, the typical where have I been, what have I done to make a difference in this world, where am I headed type stuff. This year has been no different. I turned 37 last Friday and just really can't believe that I'm actually 37. I truly don't know where the last 20 years have gone? I can't believe I've been married for 15 years to the most wonderful woman in the world, who truly is my best friend and soulmate. Still not sure what I did to deserve her. I'm also amazed that I have 3 absolutely wonderful children, the oldest of which will be 13 in January. Thirteen? Are you kidding me? There is no way that I feel old enough to have a teenager. It feels like just yesterday that I was in college trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and now I have responsibility for 3 children, a mortgage, car payments, and a job where people actually come to me for my advice on business issues. Sometimes it all just feels like a dream and I'm going to wake up and be back in high school again.

Time really does fly by the older you get. In the last several months, however, I've really been trying to focus on enjoying every moment, especially with my wife and kids. This is something I have always struggled with in the past, always worrying about what's next on the agenda. I'm now realizing that before I know it my kids will be off to college and starting their own life and I don't want to regret how I spent my time as they were growing up. I was really struck this summer with how much they have already grown up. In July, I took my oldest 2 kids to Cornerstone Music Festival in Illinois. Cornerstone is a big 4-day Christian music and arts festival held every year in the middle of Illinois farmland. It's an amazing event that I've been going to since I was in college, but this is the first time I have taken the kids. Besides all the incredible music, it was amazing to have 4 full days of uniteruppted time with my kids. There were no schedules, no stress, just time to talk about what's going on in their lives. We had some wonderfully deep conversations about big issues and also plenty of just plain silliness and laughing with one another. I got to pray with my oldest daugher (9) as she took her first communion and was really moved by her compasison for those around the world who are suffering in poverty. And I got to watch my son (12) really begin to mature in his relationship with God. It was wonderful to truly delight in my children. I only wished that my wife and youngest daughter could have been there with us. That would have made it perfect.

I've been reminded again and again since then of what a wonderful glimpse of heaven that time was. I believe this is how God intended for us to live, in communion with Him and with one another. Enjoying each and every moment God has given us in this life and not worrying about what may happen tomorrow. Because whatever happens, God will provide. It's also made me really appreciate my children for who God created them to be as individuals created in His image with their own ideas, passions, and talents. They are no longer the little babies I once rocked to sleep at night. They are growing into young men and women. (Perhaps a little faster than I'd like) I am immensly proud of each of them and look forward to watching them continue to grow and mature.

So as I look back over the first 37 years of this journey, I realize that I have been extremely fortunate. I've been able to do and pursue many of the things I love. But as I get older the things I cherish most are my relationship with God and my family. Though the jouney has not always been easy, in fact, sometimes it has been quite difficult, He has truly blessed me. I am looking forward to the next 37 years (or more, hopefully) to see where God will take me. If the first 37 are any indication, the next should be pretty interesting.

God Bless.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The 2nd Presidential Debate

Well, that was disappointing. It sounded more like both candidates typical stump speeches. Nothing really new was disclosed and no real details were provided. I'm still a McCain supporter, basically because I think Obama's economic plan will only further drive the economy into the ground and because of Obama's position on abortion, but McCain did nothing to get me excited to vote for him. In fact, he seemed to drop a rather large bomb by implying that he would put forth a new plan for the government to buy up all the bad mortgages to the tune of $300 billion. The way he presented it was as if this would be in addition to the $700 billion bailout already passed. I thought McCain was the conservative candidate? He sounds more like a socialist to me on this issue.

As I've written in a previous blog, I am totally opposed to the bailout. It was supposed to prevent the economy from tanking, but, as I predicted, the economy tanked anyway. The last thing I wanted to hear was that we could expect more of those types of policies with a McCain administration. I still think McCain is the better choice, but this does concern me.

This election, as with all elections, is critically important to the future of our nation. We are on the edge of an economic disaster, we are in the middle of a war that has been mishandled from the start and have no clear way out, and government spending continues to grow out of control. We need a strong leader and I'm not sure either of these candidates really fits the bill. Perhaps our focus should be on the local and state level. We need people at all levels of government that are willing to tackle these issues from a common sense standpoint.

Hopefully the next debate will be a little more enlightening. McCain needs to strike a knockout punch if he hopes to win in November. He certainly didn't do that tonight and in fact he gave some of us, his supporters, cause for concern.

God Bless.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Bailout, Economy, and other Exciting Issues

Sometimes I don't recognize this country anymore. When did we become a socialist nation? When both Democrats and Republicans in the federal government are willing to back a bill that will "loan" $700 Billion to failing business and buy bad mortgages, we no longer live in a capitalist nation with a free market. I realize that the bill failed the first time around and am glad that there are some people in both parties that refused to vote for it, but we all know that it will eventually pass. Capitalism is not a perfect system by any means, but socialism has proven again and again that it does not work. It's a nice idea that makes people feel good, but in the end it only results in high taxes and government controlled programs that are inefficient and expensive. It not only fails to bring the poor up on the economic scale, but it brings everyone else down. There is no incentive to achieve, because it only means more will be taken from you.

I'm all for programs that help the poor. In fact I believe it is our mandate from God. But we need to help them by providing education and opportunities to get them out of poverty, not just giving them handouts. Or in the case of the mortgage crisis providing loans they cannot afford to pay back for houses they cannot afford. How does this help them? Within a few years the bank has to foreclose on their house and they are then worse off than when they started. They not only no longer have a house, but now their credit is damaged.

Because of the pressure from those on the left, the very poor business decisions of those that gave into that pressure, and those who invested in mortgage backed securities (which appears to be almost everyone in the financial industry) our economy is in complete disarray. I've never been one to push the panic button and I do believe the economy will come back, with or without the bailout, but this situation has gotten very serious and is going to be very ugly for years to come. In the long run I believe we will be worse off with the bailout. The only way to pay for this is to raise taxes or borrow more money from foreign countries, further increasing our national debt. Neither is a great prospect. If we would have just ridden out this storm, the market would have taken a hit in the short run and these companies that were run so poorly would have failed as the market dictated. But in the long run the economy would have come roaring back because these companies would have been weeded out of the mix.

As it turns out the economy is taking a hit anyway and there are apparently no consequences for those who caused this mess, only for those of us who had nothing to with it and are left to pay for it. Now, instead of the economy roaring back, we will be paying for this "loan" for years to come, not only in taxes, but in our 401(K)'s and other investments while the CEO's and corporations at fault will still be around making the same bad decisions and we will go through the cycle all over again at some point. In the meantime the federal government will own more and more private enterprise, slowly and steadily controlling more and more of our lives.

What country is this again?

Welcome to the Socialist United States of America.

God Bless.