About a month after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, two of us at Focus on the Family traveled to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Our goal was to determine whether or not open doors existed for Focus to minister to Iraqi families in that war-torn country. At 4:30 a.m., we piled into two GMC Suburbans and departed from Amman, Jordan for the 10-hour drive to Baghdad. Keep in mind, although the war had ended, Iraq was still very much a hotbed of violence.
Truth is stranger than fiction.
Take the case of a West Virginia mother who was ordered by a local circuit judge and a family court judge to share custody of her four-year-old girl—not with her ex-husband or other relative, but with two babysitters! It gets worse. These justices, who viewed the babysitters as “psychological co-parents”, also granted them full custody. The mother, in turn, was told she could only visit her daughter four times a week at McDonalds.
One of the six principles which guide our work at Focus on the Family is the Permanence of Marriage. We believe that marriage, as the basic building block of human civilization, was designed by God to be a thriving, lifelong relationship between a man and a woman. And since we live in a fallen world, all couples who are committed in the covenant of marriage will at some point face trials, sickness, financial crises and emotional stresses.
In the event you haven’t been following the story of the fires devouring thousands of acres in Australia, I’d like to share with you an email we received from Cate, an eye-witness whose family lost everything–their home, their family’s farm and, tragically, their provider: Dad. I share her story because the need for prayer for our friends in the southern state of Victoria, Australia is indeed great.
In short, the deadly firestorm consumed more than 1,800 homes and claimed the lives of at least 209 people thus far.
Last Monday night, an unidentified businessman allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, and then led police on a low-speed chase through several Southern California highways. Hours later, sitting behind the wheel of his $100,000 luxury Bentley sedan, the armed driver shot himself to death. According to published reports, the man was distraught over losing his business.
We’re not told why his business collapsed. Whether tough economic times, inadequate capitalization, or poor management skills were at fault, he had failed and that failure sparked a depression which drove him over the edge.
I arrived over the weekend in Sydney, Australia for a series of meetings. Moments after landing, I learned about a tragic, mind-numbing event during rush hour in Melbourne yesterday. According to eye-witnesses, Arthur Phillip Freeman, 35, was driving his vehicle over the West Gate Bridge when he stopped in the middle of traffic, carried his four-year-old daughter, Darcey, in his arms and then dropped this defenseless child 190 feet into the river water below.
Freeman’s actions took place in plain view of a host of stunned motorists who jammed emergency hotlines with frantic calls for help.
I’ve read that disagreements over money–how it’s earned, spent, saved, and invested–is the top cause of stress in marriage. Whether or not financial issues are at the top of your list, these tough economic times are enough to make anyone’s head spin. Between trying to invest wisely with the volatility of the stock market, the fear of a pay cut or job loss, and questions over how to reduce debt, it’s no wonder we’re receiving so many calls from families seeking wise counsel.
Jean and I were married August 24, 1986. We started with a bang—with lots of travel, the thrill of being newlyweds, and the dreams of spending a lifetime together. While I cannot pinpoint with any accuracy the date when we reached rock bottom, the dark clouds moved in sometime during our second year of marriage. I remember that night all too well. I had stepped into the bathroom to brush my teeth as we readied ourselves for bed.
Next Sunday is Super Bowl XLIII, the most watched football event of the year. And I’m bummed. I’ll be in Australia on business. Due to the time zone differences, I’ll probably miss the Pittsburgh Steelers going head-to-head with the Arizona Cardinals for the NFL World Championship. For a number of reasons I think it’ll be quite the game. Clearly the underdog, Arizona is hungry for the win–this isthe first time the Cardinals have made it to the big game.
Like millions of people around the world, I watched the inauguration of President Barack Obama earlier this week with interest. Whether or not you agree with his positions on the issues and there–are many that concern me deeply–truly the world witnessed history in the making. Scanning the faces of those in the crowd, I saw a joy and happiness that parallel something I witnessed in South Africa when Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, was elected.