What is this paying for: Critical home repairs, a new lawn mower (read full story below), debts incurred due to unemployment, payment of other debts to get us back onto a feasible budget (my new salary is noticeably lower, not that I'm ungrateful to have work). This will not be spent in any way on luxury or frivolity.
BONUS: If you give $50 or more, you'll receive a FREE digital copy of the St. John Paul II art below, at a resolution you can take to the printers. If my family reaches our goal by our son's due date, I'll release the artwork to EVERYONE.
My Family's Story:
(My amazing kids doing a little Halloween cosplay. My wife made all the costumes.)
Here I am reduced to begging, but let me tell you how it started. I want to take you back 9 months.
Finally, I'd made it. Life was good. I had a solid job working from home in Catholic media (web, graphics, video, marketing, etc.), homeschooling my kids, making enough money that I could finally make a real tithe of my income. Providing for the Church, caring for the poor, these things are important to me. It wasn't perfect. Nothing ever is. But it was good. At 31 years old, I had established my family security and could turn increasingly toward helping others reach theirs. My grandfather was a friend of Servant of God Edward J. Flanagan, a founding member of the booster club, fundraising for Boys Town. He taught me the importance of generosity and I like to think it's at the core of who I am. I want to help others. But now I need your help.
I thought a lot about generosity in the first weeks of my crisis. "Why, God? Why would you bring me to a place where I could finally contribute and then take that away?"
On October 29, 2016, after a happy day at the zoo with my kids, I returned home and checked my email to find a digital pink slip. Company issues beyond my control had taken my livelihood. My job was lost. My world was shaken. I looked at my kids and wept for them. What was I going to do?
My wife had a panic attack. She cried, she worried, she threw up from the nerves.
Jennie kept being anxious. She kept throwing up. A week later, we discovered the anxiety wasn't to blame. A baby was. Our fifth.
How do you handle losing the ideal job and then finding out you have another mouth to feed? The secular world would say, "Easy. Get rid of it." I refuse. I'm a Catholic. I'm pro-life. I have 4 other kids who are beautiful, intelligent little gifts from God. I know their lives are worth infinitely more than my troubles.
Still, I was ashamed. I knew what people would think. "You're jobless and thought this would be a good time to have a baby ... and now you want my help? Ha!"
God has always been faithful to my family. My firstborn was a miracle. He was born blue, his umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck and once around his chest. Worse: my wife had suffered - and I mean suffered - an abruption; the placenta had ripped away from the uterine wall and my son was starved of oxygen. If he had been born a minute or two later, he would have been dead or severely brain damaged. A few hours later, bundled up and laying in his hospital bassinet, that boy rolled over on his side, something that just isn't supposed to happen so early. I took it as a sign of strength. Today, that boy is well ahead of the curve, having taught himself how to read faster than we could, and at 8 years of age, he is reading middle school novels.
God is faithful.
If one miracle was not enough, we had another. My third child was considered a loss by the doctor. During a routine ultrasound, neither his body nor his heartbeat could be found any longer. We scheduled an appointment to discuss the miscarriage process. We went home and cried. Then it was that I remembered a student had given me a bottle of water from Lourdes. Without a word, almost as if afraid to jinx it - as if such a thing could bind Our Lady - I retrieved the vial and blessed my wife's belly in the sign of the Cross. We went to our appointment the next morning. There he was, our sweet little boy, with a strong heartbeat. That child now is a joy to everyone around him, a bringer of laughs, a jester and master of facial expressions and silly ideas. He is a blessing to all. God is faithful. Our Lady is merciful.
(My little buddy, pretending to be Fig the Fox from Tumble Leaf.)
(My daughters are tremendous blessings as well, but statistics will show you that boys experience more distress in the womb; for the curious, our kids are boy-girl-boy-girl-boy. Seriously!)
I know God will bless this new baby and us through him. God is faithful!
I was afraid, though, and I had to face the hard truth that I would have to do anything to support my family. By God's providence, I found a new job quickly, working at the local university. It's a good job, a pretty secure one, and He has blessed me in this position. Like Joseph or Daniel, I have been entrusted with far more than I was hired to do, and I take that as a very good sign. I praise God for His faithfulness.
I was thrilled to find a new job, but it didn't pay quickly. Two weeks into the job, expecting my first paycheck, I was told it paid monthly. We burned through all our savings - set aside to pay taxes - waiting on my job and my first paycheck. Home repairs, some of them critical, have had to be put aside. Our 1-acre lawn* has overgrown because our lawn mower broke. Living out in the country as we do, that's no so bad, but even our rural neighbors must stare at our lawn and wonder what's going on. I've had to mow the lawn - again, an acre - with the trimmer. And this is rural lawn, with thick weeds and thorny vines. It takes long hours in the hot Louisiana sun and air so humid you could swim in it. That comes when it isn't pouring rain, and after a full day of work and an hour and a half round-trip commute. Then I take care of the children because my wife has hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that makes her morning sickness all-day sickness for 9 months, and she just can't do as much.
Life is hard, but God is faithful.
My 5th child is due any day. He and our costs have grown together. We have struggled greatly these last 9 months. Your generous gift can help us make a better situation for him and for all our kids. We can pay our debts, pay off the taxes we couldn't cover at first, and recoup the money lost to unemployment. Then, we'll finally be in a better place to continue paying that generosity forward.
We know there are a lot of needy people out there. We're grateful to God to have a roof over our heads, but we're still struggling. Please look kindly on our needs and help us in your generosity. God bless you always and in all your endeavors.
*My wife corrects me: "It's two acres!" So here's the thing, we actually outright own 1 acre. We have partial ownership of another 9.5 acres around our house, shared with extended family who live elsewhere. The part that I mow is around 2 acres.