Tuesday, June 30, 2009

7 Seconds

Have you watched the movie "Seven Pounds" yet? I think it is a pretty good movie. Not a great movie by any stretch. I just think that it is an interesting movie about trying to right a wrong, guilt and not being able to forgive yourself. I think the most interesting line in the movie is when Will Smith is doing a voice over and says this:

"In 7 days, God created the world. In 7 seconds, I shattered mine"

That's a pretty profound statement to make.

Lately, I can't help but to think of that line with some of the events that have been taking place in our world. Senators and Governors who have worked extremely hard for years and years to get to a certain level only to see it all come crashing down around them. Don't get me wrong, I am not feeling sorry for them. A person has to deal with the situations that they created and they were the first people in line to condemn others only to give in to that same temptation later down the road.

It is interesting though, how a decision made in 7 seconds, can have an impact on you and those around you for the rest of your lives. So, the questions that come to my mind are these:

Am I surrounding myself with people that build me up? People that will hold me accountable? People that are not affraid to voice their opinions, even if those opinions are ones that I don't want to hear or are contrary to mine? Am I surrounding myself with people that have a firm foundation in their life? Am I surrounding myself with people that will be truthful? Am I putting guard rails and rumble strips up to keep me on the right path?

I feel that I am doing that. I have a wonderful wife named Kimberly. And some truly great people that surround me that I can rely on. How about you?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Borrowers Struggle To Get Help

Here is an article from the USA Today that I thought you might find interesting about "Loan Modifications". In my recent experience with the governments loan modification program, I find this article to be very accurate in that most people are having a hard time getting their modifications approved.

Getting help through the Obama administration’s mortgage-assistance program has been an impossible challenge for thousands of applicants.

Home owners who apply for mortgage modifications can expect to wait 45 to 60 days before hearing anything from their mortgage service company, according to a report from foreclosure-prevention counselor NeighborWorks America.

Here is some other basic information:

The refinancing option is available only for certain loans owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Home owners should contact their lender to see if they're eligible. Borrowers who are delinquent on their mortgage will not qualify.

To be eligible for a modification, borrowers must live in their property and be able to pay the mortgage after the modification. The first mortgage may not exceed 105 percent of the current market value of the property. The unpaid principal balance must be equal to or less than $729,750 for one-unit properties. The loan must have originated before Jan. 1, 2009. A borrower must have a payment (including taxes, insurance and homeowners association dues) that is more than 31 percent of the borrower's gross monthly income.

Consumers can find more information about these programs at FinancialStability.gov.

Source: USA Today (06/19/2009)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In The Aftermath

Earlier this week I posted a bible study that I put together on "Suicide and Judgment". Little did I know at that time that it was a prelude for something that I was going to have to deal with. Death is a fact of life, it is something that we all have to deal with from time to time. But when someone takes their own life, it's different. When that person is someone who sought you out specifically because they were contemplating suicide and they thought you could help them, it takes on even different meaning when it is still carried out. And the latter is what I have been dealing with over the last day or so.

In the aftermath, questions come up. How could I have let this person down? What could I have done differently? What did I not communicate to him? Why did he not see that he mattered? What is God trying to teach me? What is God trying to say to me? Is God trying to prepare me for something yet to come? Why was I chosen? What is my role in this?

In the aftermath, feelings come up. Hurt that I could not help him more. Heartbreak that this person felt that he had to this. A weird empty feeling that I had failed.

But then, I started to reflect on what WAS done and I realized some things. I realized that I helped introduce him to the church that I attend. I realized that I was able to get him connected to a wonderful counselor at my church. I realized that within the last few weeks he accepted Christ as his savior. I realized that I helped organize a support group for him. I realized that I got to know some people that I would not have known. I realized that I did reach out to a complete stranger in need. I realized that I listened to another persons problems instead of always concentrating on my own. I realized that I did seek help on his behalf. I realized that I had been praying for him and was able to get others to pray for him as well. I realized all of the steps that I have taken through the years to get to this point. I realized that it was not my job to be his savior.

After repeated attempts by several people over the last week or so, we got the fire and police department to break down a door in his house. He was found late in the day yesterday along with a note saying that he was sorry. It is just very sad and depressing.

Let people know that they matter to you. Let people know that they matter to God. If you know someone who is struggling, help them with their burden. Show your love and know that God has a plan. We may not always know what that plan is, but it is there, and we need to trust it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Friday Bible Study

I was not sure that I was going to post this because it can be a touchy topic, but here it is. Every Friday morning I meet with an awesome group of guys in a bible study at Honkers on Day Rd. Some of us are on a rotation to lead the discussion topic. This Friday is my turn to lead and I thought I would share with all of you:

Suicide and Judgment Friday June 19

With the recent events of some local high profile people, I feel compelled to have a discussion on Suicide and Judgment. I know this may end up being a touchy topic, but I have been thinking about it all week. I am not bringing this topic up to discuss guilt or innocence, as that is not for us to decide.

I only knew Dr. Gabriele and his wife in passing, which means that I served with them once or twice at the church that I attend, but I feel a little heart broken that members of my church chose this route. Further, it disturbed me to see some of the comments being made on news websites such as WNDU and WSBT about the Gabriele’s.

The sixth commandment is “Thou shall not murder”

1. How does suicide work into this?

2. From what I understand about Jewish and Catholics, suicide is an unforgivable sin. Is suicide an unforgivable sin?

1 Samuel 31:3-5 3The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely.4 Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.” But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king.

3. Why did Saul Commit suicide? Why did the armor bearer kill himself? What might they have feared?

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Matthew 27:3-5 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he declared “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”
“What do we care?” the retorted. “That’s your problem”
5 Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.

4. Sometimes it is not fearing that God will not forgive, but it is having to face those whom you have hurt, or their relatives, that is most difficult. What would you say to such a person to ease his or her burden?

5. Why is it so difficult to forgive oneself?

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

John 8:6-7 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

6. How do these scriptures speak to you? Is public judgment towards the Gabriele’s a righteous judgment?

Monday, June 15, 2009

St. Joseph County Numbers

Here are some numbers for St. Joseph county that are year to date through may.

# of Sold Units: 2008- 1,322 units, 2009- 972 units, which is -26% for the year.

Total Dollar Volume for 2008 was $141,712,752 compared to 2009 of $98,072,985 which is -31% for the year.

Average Sales Price for 2008 was $107,196 compared to 2009 of $100,898 which is -6%.

Once again, these numbers are from January through May of both 2008 and 2009.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Key Metric: Housing Foreclosures Fall In May

Here is an article from RealtyTrac that I thought you might find interesting:

Foreclosures declined 6 percent in May compared to April, but the number is still an increase of 18 percent compared to May 2008, reports RealtyTrac.

"May foreclosure activity was the third-highest month on record, and marked the third straight month where the total number of properties with foreclosure filings exceeded 300,000 – a first in the history of our report," says James J. Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac.

While defaults and foreclosure auction were down in May, bank repossessions were up 2 percent, RealtyTrac says, due in large part to increases in Michigan, Arizona, Washington, Nevada, Oregon and New York.

Nevada continued to have the highest foreclosure rate with one in every 64 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in May, six times the national average.

These 10 states account for nearly 77 percent of total U.S. foreclosure activity: Nevada, California, Florida, Arizona, Utah, Michigan, Georgia, Colorado, Idaho, and Ohio.

Source: RealtyTrac (06/11/2009)

Congress Weighs Buyer Tax Credit Expansion

Here we go again, Congress is looking at making adjustments to the $8,000 tax credit. We went through this last year with basically the only change being that it was not repayable. We'll see where this goes, but I would not get too excited just yet. Here is the article I found:

Legislation introduced in Congress Wednesday would expand the tax credit now limited to first-time homebuyers to any purchaser of a home and increase the maximum available to $15,000.

The tax credit passed earlier this year is limited to $8,000 and has income caps.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, introduced the legislation, and Senate Banking Committee Chair Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, quickly stepped up to co-sponsor.

The National Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of Home Builders have said they would like to see the tax credit improved.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Jessica Holzer (06/10/2009)


Have you ever had one of those times where you wake up and can't get back to sleep? That's what is going on here. It is 3:45 a.m. on a Thursday morning, I can't get back to sleep and I find myself thinking about Clint Eastwood so I thought I would blog about it. I know, kind of strange.

I have been thinking about the career of this great actor as I try to fall back to sleep and I keep thinking about all of the different roles that he has played throughout his career. He's played a TV cowboy on the show Rawhide, a cowboy on the big screen in movies such as The Outlaw Josey Wales and Unforgiven. He made movies along the way like Every Which Way But Loose and Honkey Tonk Man to others like the Dirty Harry movies, In The Line Of Fire, Blood Work, Absolute Power, Gran Torino and The Bridges of Madison County just to name a few.

Depending on who you are and when you grew up, you may think of the role on Rawhide whenever you hear the name Clint Eastwood mentioned. Maybe you are a bit younger and think of the Dirty Harry roles or even younger still and think of one of his more recent roles when you hear his name mentioned. Now, I don't know Clint Eastwood and have never heard him talk about his different roles, but my guess is that there are some roles that he is very proud of and others that he may have wished he passed on. But, for better or for worse, they are the roles that he has chosen. It would be a shame for people to think only of Every Which Way But Loose or Honkey Tonk Man when the name Clint Eastwood is mentioned, but it is a possibility that there are people out there that think about those roles when they hear his name because that is there only experience watching a Clint Eastwood movie.

My point, I guess, is that we have to choose our roles in life wisely. Looking back, there are roles that I wish I had not played and others that I am very proud of being a part of. To some people, I will always be thought of one way because that is their only experience with me. To others, I may be thought of totally differently because they know me from who I am today. I can't change the roles that I have had in the past, but hopefully I will choose wisely for the ones in the present and in the future.

I don't know if that makes any sense or not? I woke up early and thought maybe by blogging about what I was thinking that it would clear my mind and help me get back to sleep. For the record, when I hear the name Clint Eastwood, I think Dirty Harry.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Job Losses Dim Home Sales In Many Cities

Here is a quick little article I found on CNNMoney I thought you might find interesting (Make sure to look at #5 on this list):

Unemployment is the biggest reason why foreclosures continue to climb and the housing market isn't recovering more quickly, analysts say.

In 13 cities, most of them in California, the unemployment rate rose above 15 percent in April. Joblessness was above 10 percent in 93 cities, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The 13 cities where unemployment is the worst are:
1. El Centro, Calif., 26.9 percent
2. Yuma, Ariz., 20.3 percent
3. Merced, Calif., 18.3 percent
4. Yuba City, Calif., 18.2 percent
5. Elkhart, Ind., 17.8 percent
6. Modesto, Calif., 16.8 percent
7. Stockton, Calif., 15.6 percent
8. Bend, Ore., 15.6 percent
9. Fresno, Calif., 15.5 percent
10. Visalia, Calif., 5.4 percent
11. Redding, Calif., 15.4 percent
12. Hanford, Calif., 15.3 percent
13. Longview, Wash., 15.2 percent

Source: CNNMoney, Julianne Pepitone (06/03/2009)

May Foreclosures for Elkhart County

From the best that I can figure, there were 99 properties that went to sheriff's auction for the month of May in Elkhart County.

Here is the break down per city:
Elkhart 61
Goshen 24
Nappanee 6
Bristol 3
New Paris 2
Wakarusa 1
Middlebury 1

There were 7 properties that had less than $50,000 owed on them and all 7 were in Elkhart.

There were 3 properties that had over $200,000 owed on them, 2 were in Goshen and the other was a house on Simonton Lake in Elkhart.

Monday, June 1, 2009

May Foreclosures for St. Joseph County

There were 152 total foreclosed properties in St. Joseph County for the month of May.

City Break Down:
South Bend 102
Mishawaka 30
Granger 7
Osceola 7
New Carlise 2
Walkerton 2
Wakarusa 1
North Liberty1

There were 16 properties that were owed less than $50,000 with 13 of them coming from South Bend and the other 3 coming from Mishawaka.

There were 3 properties that were owed more than $200,000 with 2 from South Bend and the other from Granger.
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