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Issue 7-17

Five Rules for Weathering Financial Blow-Outs

The business sections of our newspapers are filled with dire warnings: "Credit gets even tighter, costlier," shouts one headline. "Car sales are worst since '93." Perhaps even more ominous are the headlines beneath the fold: "U.S. turmoil churns up an ill wind worldwide." The inside pages are just as bad. "Manufacturing drops threaten global recession" and "Analysts say factor data show economy is contracting."

These unsettling stories are accompanied by charts and graphs where lines sharply fall off the bottom of pages. Two weeks ago, during the bailout discussions in the Senate and Congress, the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a record-setting plunge of 777 points, then rebounded +485 points the next day, only to fall again -348 and -157 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. This activity is what financial experts term "extreme volatility." Keeping up with it leaves the mind reeling. And as we all know, our nation’s financial state has become worse and worse.

Why am I paying attention to all this? Is it because David and I are heavily invested in the financial systems?

Well hardly. In 1993 David and I were falsely accused of being New Age and this precipitated a financial collapse in our own communications ministry. The truth is, we have nothing invested in the markets, nothing saved in banks, no reserves of any kind—on this earth, at least. We have spent the last 15 years running our ministries on faith and living daily in God's school of financial refinement. The only income we can count on is our Social Security checks. For everything else—food on the table, the roof over our head, clothes on our back, gas in the car—we look totally to God to supply. We are absolutely dependant upon His sustaining provision.

During morning prayers a particular refrain was used over and over. It is the psalm of our days.

Refrain: "Behold, God is our helper; it is the Lord who sustains our life."

We have learned a few rules that may be of help for you in these uncertain times.

Rule No. 1: Remember that most distresses are never as bad as you think they are going to be (some are worse), but most are not what you fear.

It is not knowing what is going to happen that exacerbates our anxiety. It is not knowing where this road is leading that overloads us with stress. It is seeing nothing but fog when we look into the future that haunts our sleeping hours. We ask the questions over and over, "What if we lose everything—our home, our investments, our jobs, our livelihoods, our security?" These thoughts, of course, are terrifying. Anxiety elevates when we watch people losing their homes to foreclosures, hear about whole communities wiped out by hurricanes or floods, know when friends' stock investments turn to junk, worry when our mortgage company WAMU totters on bankruptcy and is bought out.

Please listen to me closely. I've been in a place where we've suffered financial loss. You will never lose everything. You will never lose everything. In fact, often the things that are most enduring, most precious, are what last when everything else of material value vanishes.

How frequently David and I have said to one another over these last years, "Everything that is important—our marriage, our relationship with our children and our grandchildren, our faith in God—all the basic essentials for survival are intact. In fact, we possess everything—the very things others would pay huge sums to buy—happiness and peace of mind and purpose for living and love for God, for ourselves, for others. Except what we have are not commodities for purchase or for trade.

In the middle of uncertainty, we Christians who say we believe in a sovereign God need to throw away our future to Him. We must learn to throw away our future to Him. "I place my life and livelihood in Your hands. I choose to trust that You are working on our behalf, as a people and as a nation. Whatever path You appoint for me is the right path. I will walk along it keeping my gaze upward; I will stay focused upon Your directions.

Refrain: "Behold, God is our helper; it is the Lord who sustains our life."

Rule No. 2: Keep fear and panic from taking over.

How well I remember that wretched knot in the middle of my stomach during those years when we were fighting for our ministry's survival. Momentarily, it jammed against my lungs and like a sucking monster, attempted to do my breathing (and thinking) for me. Fear has a life and existence of its own: It will possess you if you give it the advantage.

Hard times are when we learn whether or not we really believe what we say (and often teach others) we believe. God is good (Really? Is He?) God is in control. (Really? How can you prove that?) God brings beauty out of ashes. (Oh, is that so? Where is the beauty in this dump heap?)

Fareed Zakaria, writing in his best-selling book, The Post-American World, tells us that disconnects often exists between global reality and newspaper proclamations. "First, it's worth looking more carefully at the cascade of bad news. It seems that we are living in crazily violent times. But don't believe everything you see on television. Our anecdotal impression turns out to be wrong. War and organized violence have declined dramatically over the last two decades. Ted Robert Gurr and a team of scholars at the University of Maryland's Center for International Development and Conflict Management traced the data carefully and came to the following conclusion: 'the general magnitude of global warfare has decreased by over sixty percent (since the mid-1980s), falling by the end of 2004 to its lowest level since the late 1950s.'"

We need to learn that violence can overwhelm the geography of a newspaper page but be a tiny blip on the geography of the world's face. Since headlines are designed to attract readers and sensationalism is essential to intrigue viewers, we must (for the sake of our own mental stability) develop the habit of going to the Source of all Good News to ask, "Dear Lord, what is really true?"

I have discovered by doing this during our own financial blowout that indeed, He really is good; He really is in control; He really is bringing beauty out of ashes.

Refrain: Behold, God is our helper; it is the Lord who sustains our life."

Rule No. 3: Do the hard work of praise and thanksgiving in the middle of the collapse.

OK, we all know this is a ridiculous response to life's calamities. Thank God when a child is dying? Thank God when flood waters stand four feet high in the living room, slurping up the plaster and leaving a trail of mold and gritty decay as they recede? Thank God when the savings have been wiped out and the economy of our community is destroyed?

Yes. I'm sorry; you see, I didn't create this rule. "Don't worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:5 RSV. Deciding to practice this perplexing, irrational behavior when the world is falling apart around us is a matter of obedience or disobedience—nothing more or less. God leaves the decision up to each of us.

I'm not sure I can explain how this works, but I will testify to the power of practicing the positive opposite; "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7 RSV.

Practicing the positive opposite frees us from the clutches of worry, terror, confusion and woe-is-me thinking. David and I frequently say to one another, "Considering the stress we've gone through over the last 15 years, it is amazing that we are still healthy." We give thanks for that to being obedient to scriptural suggestions we didn't often understand.

Refrain: "Behold, God is our helper; it is the Lord who sustains our lives."

Rule No. 4: Learn that every collapse (every single one) has an opportunity (or multiple opportunities) hidden in it.

I cannot tell you, nor will I try to convince you, what joy it is to live by faith! Yesterday I had $25.55 in my bank account (my Social Security check does not arrive for another two weeks) and $4.00 in my purse. Needless to say, the Mainses are hardly dealing in high finances here. Today, David filled my gas tank (I don't think he has much more money than I have) and shared $20.00 of the $40.00 he had in his pocket. My daughter sent her leftover Beef Bourguigonon, made with a delicious prune sauce, for our dinner, and I whipped together a tomato/feta cheese/basil salad from the gift of tomatoes Jane Rubietta shared from her garden. We took a cruise to Alaska this summer with two grandchildren; we leave for France with 15 pilgrims October 24. I am planning the Kenya trip in March. (I love to travel and have discovered how to do so without money!)

We have become wealthy in the knowledge of God's love and care. We rest content in the fact that we are children of a bountiful Heavenly Father. God holds the future (and the present) we have thrown away to Him. We have no retirement account—except the one He is preparing to surprise us with (I can't wait!). Indeed, having gained peace in the last 15 years, we are at peace regarding the next 15.

Refrain: "Behold, God is our helper; it is the Lord who sustains our lives."

RULE NO. 5: Financial blowouts can create the kind of community we have forgotten and yet long for in the deepest part of our beings.

I suspect that we Christians need to lead the way in breaking up our government dependency. We need to increase our God-given Body of Christ interdependency. We need to explode the myth that unless we have money we can't solve problems. What a deception that is! (My personal mantra learned during these years in God's school of finance is: We don't need money. We don't need money. We only need Him, the Provider and Sustainer.)

We need to brainstorm together all the ways we can solve our personal, city-wide, regional and national problems. Creativity and ingenuity are our best currencies. We need to develop neighborhood architectures for helping one another; we need to joyfully explore the alternate barter, recycle and trade economies. God is the original Community (dare I use the word) Organizer. His platform always includes pulling together a group of unlikely folk who are willing to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to make amazing differences in the world. What a wonderful thing—to create neighborhoods where we actually borrow a cup of sugar, chat over the fence, reinstitute the coffee klatch, and know one another's names.

Bad times may be ahead, but believe me (please believe me), good times are racing hard against the heels of what the headlines are calling disaster. I believe in the God-given human capacity to survive and thrive. And I am a lady who has been in the cross-hairs of the Enemy's target sightings. Take heart.

Refrain: "Behold, God is our helper; it is the Lord who sustains our lives."

Karen Mains

GOAL: 600 Global Bag Ladies Project shopping bags
to be sold

 600 bags @ an average of $20 margin each = an estimated $12,000
-135 bags already sold = $1,530 toward our goal.                                       
Goal to Go: 465 bags = $10,470 (!)

Have you considered giving GBLP tote bags as gifts? One of these shopping bags was recently purchased "in honor of" a person being celebrated, who really appreciated the donation in their name and the purpose of the GBLP bag. Other suggestions have been to fill a GBLP tote bag with shower gift items for an upcoming wedding, give these bags as Christmas gifts, or purchase several as favors for a women's retreat.

To receive your own Global Bag Ladies Project tote bags, click on this GBLP Purchase Order, print it off, fill it out and send it with a check made out to Hungry Souls/GBLP for $20-$50 to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187.

Annual Advent 24-hour Retreat of Silence
Wednesday and Thursday
December 3-4
Bishop Lane Retreat Center in Rockford, IL
(for details, click this link)
The Theme Is: Fear Not

Partly because Valerie Bell and I will leave for France with a total of 15 pilgrims October 24 to return on November 4, we are encouraging early registration for the Advent Retreat. The normal fee will be $120 for a single room or save $30 dollars if you bring a friend who has never before attended the retreat. The charge in that case is: $90 for yourself and $90 for the first time attendee. The cutoff date for registrations is November 25. We have registered 31 retreatants so far and have a private room with private bath available for 20 more. This early registration indicates we will be full this year; if you are planning to come, don’t hesitate to register NOW. Contact our volunteer registrar Melodee Cook ( ) for more details.

A New Listening Group Cycle for 2008-2009
Begins Week of October 13-18, 2008
We meet once a month in groups of three to four
for two and a half hours.
The groups will continue for eight months to June 2009.

If you are in the Chicago area and would like to be part of a Listening Group for the purpose of spiritual growth, register with . These groups are built upon the amazing discoveries science is making about what happens biologically in the brain when people feel heard, listened to and really understood. One actual result is that new “social circuitries” begin to be formed in the brain. Listeners and listenees (new word!) experience what the social scientists term “attunement”—a peaceful, wholesome, deeper communion with themselves, with one another, and with God. Listening prayer is the spiritual practice around which we have built the architecture of the Hungry Souls Listening Groups.

I’ve interviewed almost all of the members of the last Listening Group cycle. Unbelievably, many said in one way or another, “The Listening Groups changed my life.” These positive results seem to be disproportionate to the small amount of time allotted to listening to one another and to silent prayer: We meet once a month for about two-and-a-half hours. Most of us do not see one another between monthly meetings. If you are being nudged inwardly, I strongly challenge you to join a Listening Group. You may be ready for a remarkable journey

We are establishing the parameters for a qualitative research project under the supervision of Dr. Tom Altepeter, a Ph.D. clinical psychologist. To make this research project viable, we need 50 to 80 people to join (12 to 20 groups). Any one who has been in a previous group is welcome to start again. We also will need 12.5 (!) to 20 group leaders. If you want to start a group in your neighborhood, among friends, or in your church, Hungry Souls will be conducting a two-hour leaders training Saturday morning, October 11. Contact me at if you are interested. We have about six leaders who have gone through listening groups ready to lead their own groups; so we need six to 14 more leaders.

For those of you who are outside the Chicago area, I will be happy to set up teleconference training for group leaders. And for all leaders, in Chicago or across the country, I will be more than happy to be available for consultation and supervision.

A Meeting of Women’s Minds:
A Microenterprise Journey to Kenya in March 2009

The details and day matrix for the Kenyan Microenterprise Journey are complete! I am terribly excited about this trip. We will be meeting and dialoguing with many Kenyan women who are working to solve their own problems. The purpose of this journey will be to discover ways we can collaborate in these solving-problem ventures. United Nations and WHO (World Health Organization) studies have shown that the most successful grassroots projects in Africa, ones that are sustainable and effective, are organized and run by women.

We will be leaving the States March 25 and returning April 6. Interested?
I need to know by October 31 if you are intending to join us.
Follow this link for more details and costs.


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Karen Mains

Karen Mains

"You will never lose everything. In fact, often the things that are most enduring, most precious, are what last when everything else of material value vanishes."
The Mindful Brain

Comforting One Another: In Life's Sorrows
by Karen Burton Mains

Karen Mains considers herself a collector … a collector of pietąs. A pieta is any person or group of persons holding a broken body in death or near death. In Comforting One Another, Mains says pietąs are formed whenever we hold another person who is facing life's sorrows.

And in our troubled times pietąs are everywhere, from Michaelangelo's masterpiece of the sculptured Mary cradling the body of Christ to the picture of the emergency worker carrying the child out of the Oklahoma City bomb wreckage.

"Why have I been collecting pietąs?" Mains asks. "Because I need to learn better how to hold broken bodies: how to hold Christ's body broken in the world, how to hold His shattered church and the people who are the church."

Karen finds pietas in film, popular literature, in fine art, in real life. They blare the world's grief. And from each, I am learning holding lessons. Lessons she has learned from her own seasons of sorrow. Lessons in Christlikeness she now wants to pass on to you.

A powerful book for those suffering from loss. Order through Hungry Souls; $15 for the book and $5 shipping and handling. Contact .

Copyright © 2006-2008 Mainstay Ministries. All rights reserved.

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