Seriously, I think I am a sheep.

FEW OF GOD’S CREATURES ARE MORE HELPLESS THAN SHEEP.

Untended, sheep will drink from the muddiest and filthiest, “urine and parasite polluted ” waters. They will eat poisonous plants or starve, instead of moving on to greener pastures when their own field is stripped of foliage. The Shepherd stays close to his sheep, watching over and protecting them as he guides his flock in the right direction to keep them safely out of harms way, to  the cleanest sources of pure, sparkling water, and a place to rest.

Manure, mud, leaves, and twigs mat a sheep’s fleece causing it  to become top heavy and “cast down” (rolling onto it’s back). Unable to regain balance and totally helpless, if not “righted” by their shepherd, sheep face a certain death.

Flies lay eggs in sheep nostrils, burrowing  in deep and causing severe inflammation and irritation.  Left untreated, the sheep may harm or even kill themselves as they butt into trees and rocks, in an effort to ease the pain. A mixture of linseed oil poured over the sheep’s head brings instant relief from the annoying flies.

Timid and fearful, sheep are quick to panic. When one begins to run others  immediately  follow,  without knowing what the danger is.  In eastern Turkey in 2006,  four hundred sheep plunged to their death after following one of the sheep that tried to cross a 15-meter deep ravine.

Straying from the flock, into an area that looks inviting, sheep are vulnerable to attack.   The enemy always looks for a lonely sheep that has strayed.  Isolated and helplessly lost  a lone sheep faces hunger, frustration, being hurt, scared and lonely.

1 Peter 5:8  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

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WHAT THE SHEPHERD DOES FOR HIS SHEEP

A shepherd ‘s life revolves around the care of his sheep, providing for the sheep’s every need for  survival – food, shelter and  protection from enemies.  Shepherds lead their sheep, always walking in front to face dangers in order to protect the sheep and willing to sacrifice his own life to  save one.   

King David, the best known shepherd of Bible history, describes the Good Shepherd, who watches over his flock,  provides for every need  and would literally sacrifice himself in order to protect and save his sheep.

 John 10:10-11 10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11″I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   Circumstances of life may make us feel like a lost sheep; isolated and all alone; timid and fearful without any support.

It’s no coincidence that  God likens us to sheep. We humans act like sheep: The weatherman mentions the possibility of snow, and in a panic we rush to the grocery store; cleaning the shelves of soup, bread, milk and toilet paper.

Just as sheep are unable to survive on their own, it is true for humans.  Like sheep we easily wander to what may at first appear inviting but is, in reality, dangerous and  leads to destruction. No matter how powerful, clever, sophisticated, and/or self-sufficient one may feel, there comes a time when one is faced with frailty of life and learn that our abilities are simply not adequate. When faced with the unknown and unexplainable, our first reaction is fear as we think we are in so deep that there is no way out. We feel helpless and hopeless and maybe realize how much we need a shepherd.  No matter how far we have strayed from Him, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Who was always been there quietly awaiting our request for His help hears our plea and  comes quickly to provide His guidance, protection and comfort.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”   Isaiah 53:6  

JESUS WANTS TO HELP US
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Once we make the choice to “look unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2), He will guide us safely home, as our Shepherd, never leaving us or forsaking us.

NO MATTER HOW FILTHY AND ASHAMED WE FEEL THE BIBLE TELLS US:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 NIV)

Just as sheep instantly recognize the voice of their shepherd and will follow him, Jesus is the Great Shepherd and his sheep (his true followers) recognize his voice and follow Him. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 In the same way, Christ’s presence “dispels the fear, the panic, the terror of the unknown”. When troubled and need peace, His sheep can draw strength from Him and experience His peace, because He is the source.

In the Old Testament, wool represented pride and selfishness. We may not even realize we are carrying and being  dragged down by “burdens ” of materialism, arrogance and self-reliance. Just as sheep are sheared  of hot, heavy, matted wool* to get rid of  the heavy burden they have been carrying around God can clean all the manure and other nasty, stinking filth that we have been carrying around from our lives. “He restores my soul”.

Like sheep we may be agitated and tense, highly stressed,  refusing to lay down and rest. A shepherd’s presence calms his flock by reassuring and relaxes them.   “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:2.

We are incapable to make it on our own  to heaven yet through the strength of Jesus, we can overcome anything in life, including death. Through Jesus, we even overcome death. He bequeaths the gift of Eternal Life to those who follow Him, according to His teachings.

The first verse in  Psalm 91, says, “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” In order to be under the shadow of something, we need to stay close to it. John 10 (NIV)   When we stay close to the Good Shepherd, daily seeking Him and faithfully following Him  He can provide a safe place to turn for wisdom and help; protecting us from being preyed on by the enemy.  Only Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd can fill the empty space in our hearts and give us both hope and peace as we face things that are too hard to handle alone.

Misunderstandings, unforgiveness, hurt feelings, and the ordinary irritations and frustrations of daily life are like the “flies” that torment sheep.   Just as a mixture of linseed oil poured over a sheep’s head brings instant relief from the irritation and annoyance….to  humans oil represents the power of the Holy Spirit. Since the beginning of Christianity it has been customary for Christians to be anointed with fragrant oil for healing from serious or life-threatening illnesses, and at baptisms, confirmation and ordinations. During difficult times God graciously pours out the gift of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, infusing us with wisdom, perseverance, peace and generosity, to transform our penchant for intolerance, envy and  insecurity.

In the Bible, sheep are used as metaphors as the followers of Christ, (gentle, quiet, innocent animals that do not give their shepherds a lot of problems).  31 “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.  –Matthew 25: 31-33

Prayer:  
Lord,  Please help me to realize that  I am helpless and cannot do everything on my own. Thank you for helping me to remember that what makes me strong is the understanding of my need for You and that leaning on Your strength is not weakness at all, but power beyond measure. I ask that you  help me surrender total control of my life to you, allowing You to lead me and be the Shepherd of my life.   I thank you for protecting, providing and guiding me in everything I do and for always being with me. Thank you, Lord that by Your wisdom I am saved. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we pray. 
Amen.
“The Lord is my shepherd!

 

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Are Churches Failing the Widow?

As death is inevitable for each one of us, many of us will be the one left behind to walk this lonely road, alone.  Yet, the impact of grief and widowhood is not something for which one can prepare, even when the death is anticipated.

Studies show that widows lose 75 percent of the  people they believed were friends when their spouse passes. No longer part of a couple the widow is not included in couples events.   When she runs into a friend they may insist they will call her to get together, but they never do.

The loss of friends seems insignificant compared to the huge loss of a husband. However, losing long time friends is unexpected and widows grieve the loss of friends while grieving the loss of our loved one.

A widow’s identity and role change when she went from wife to “widow”.    The loss of her partner, compounded by this loss of identity (where she no longer participates in activities in the role of someone’s wife) has a profound effect on her sense of self-worth and can trigger  low self esteem.   Widows hate the label of widow, which  carries an awful stigma all its own.

Strange noises in the middle of the night is nothing compared to the emotional pain of feeling alone and forgotten. When faced with the greatest darkness she has ever felt, everything seems broken and friendships gone. The pain is overwhelming and she doesn’t want to be alone.

FEELING LIKE A MISFIT: Social loneliness is experienced due to one not feeling like they are a member of their community and/or no close friends or family to rely on. A person can be either emotionally or socially lonely, or both.  Widows are likely to have more friends if they belong to a church.

From the moment of her loved ones death the widow starts the slippery slope downhill.  One pastor described widows saying they move from the front row of the church to the back, and then out the door.

On forums where widows can post anonymously, time and time again we see these sentiments:

  • We move from serving and singing in choir to solitude and silent sobbing, and then on to find a place where we belong.  We were very involved in our church. Now when I go,  I sit on the back row near a door so I can escape as most of the time, I just  have to leave.
  • We may think that in a community of believers, we support each other, but I haven’t heard from anyone from church in many months.
  • Church members said that they would come by in the beginning and check on me but no one has. I haven’t been there either since my husband died. It’s too painful and I know I’ll fall apart.  I haven’t lost my faith but I do feel abandoned sometimes.
  • I am legally BLIND and would so appreciate a ride to church if anyone lives near me.

James 1:27 says that true religion is to take care of widows in their distress.

Widows tell us:

  • If you aren’t a widow you cannot not understand what a widow is going through.
  • We wish churches would have for widows only groups; not an organized grief
    therapy, not a dating service or gathering for Senior citizens, but a support group,
    made up just of widows and one for widowers just for widowers.   We have found that the greatest support and compassion is not from churches or a therapist but other widows.
  • We don’t necessarily know who the other widows are in our church. We’d love it if our church would just help us make a connection to other widows. Our self esteem is low and we don’t want anyone to reject us.  Even a shy person can be helped by a small group.  If the church would simply give us a place and time for widows to meet, we could take it from there.  “Small groups” where widows and widowers meet are volunteer driven; minimum time is required from pastoral leadership. (Widowers chimed in that they need a widowers group made up just of widowers.)

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PRESERVING THEIR DIGNITY. WIDOWS WANT THE OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE BACK

One widow said she believes that everyone should always be given the opportunity to do something in return for receiving a “hand up”, because otherwise it is a “handout”.  Please let us be and encourage us to be involved, instead of making us feel that we are to be pitied and that our life has no meaning anymore.

2 Thessalonians  10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.[a2 Thessalonians 3:10-12English Standard Version (ESV)

~~~

Further, doing something in return allows them to feel they are a part of something and are needed.  When anyone, including a church member, does something to help her (such as working on her house, giving her groceries or looking at her car; saving her money) she said ALWAYS does something  in return, even if it is small.

“People’s most basic need in life is relationship. People connected to other people thrive and grow, and those not connected wither and die.” (From the book “How People Grow”)

EMBRACING THE WIDOWED A church that embraces widows will find that widows, who may seem fragile, at first, have a whole lot to offer, including time and knowledge. The widowed can be a real help to the church if they are encouraged to be a part of something which gives them hope that their life isn’t over.

The church helps them; they help the church.

Most of us want to help when we see someone in need but we often don’t know how.We tell the widow, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” In shock, struggling with deep grief and overpowering waves of loneliness and confusion, a widow doesn’t know what it is that she needs….Friends stopped trying when she didn’t answer the phone, not realizing that she was in the middle of a crying jag and simply could not talk. Assuming that she didn’t want to hear from them. Feeling like they must be bothering her  they gave up trying to stay in touch.

A widow believes she must be strong so others aren’t forced to cope with her pain and sorrow, she puts on a big act to appear normal. She stays busy to fill the void convincing everyone with her wide smile that she is doing great.

HOW A WIDOW WANTS YOU TO SEE HER
Bumping into them at the grocery store the widow forcing that fake smile, she declines offers of help by reassuring that she is doing just fine and keeps the pain inside.  She doesn’t want to be a burden or whine or complain or have anyone know that she still continues to grieve. She doesn’t want to appear weak.”Taking her at her word that she is doing well  and doesn’t need help, offers of help are few and far between.

THE REALITY: When she is alone she says she  is often sobbing in a heap on the floor. Every day is a struggle. Only another widow might realize the excruciating pain she is in. that leaves her unable to even clean her house or cook.

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There are more than 100,000 widows in Oklahoma. 800,000 in the US become widowed each year, making widows the fastest growing demographic in the United States. Almost half the women over 65 years of age in the United States in 1997 were widows and nearly 70 percent lived alone.

Does your church currently offer a widow support group made up of small groups (4-6 in a group) of widows?

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KUDOS TO: Stand In The Gap Ministries  It is a Christian ministry, not a church. Their findings from extensive research on how to help the widowed has been compiled into a manual and is available free of charge to Oklahoma churches to enhance what the church is already doing to help widows!  Over 25 churches in the Tulsa area alone, have received the Stand in the Gap information on Kindred Community for Widows. NOTE: There is contact info on the Stand in the Gap website allowing you to find out when their next informational meeting is.

Posted in Blessings, Inspiration, Military families, Neighbors, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Tulsa, volunteer, Volunteer work, Volunteering, volunteers, Widowed, Widower, Widows | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Looking for a job (or a job promotion)?

We have all heard that it is not what you know, but who you know. That means that
your connections are important to your success. Many companies identify potential
job candidates through referrals from their employees.


How do you get the opportunity to make those contacts and build strong relationships,
while allowing others the opportunity to see  your talents and  enthusiasm in action…. 
your initiative and willingness to get things done…..your
ability to work as a team player?  

In the past, people would attempt to bond by taking someone to lunch, drinking at bars or
playing golf. Some would try to make connections  at networking events, where the purpose is to meet as many people as possible. However, strong relationships are built slowly .

OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND TO GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR SECRET SHARED BY HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE IS VOLUNTEER WORK. (Click link to read what all they shared with us.)
Posted in Baby Boomers, Career, Getting ahead, Inspiration, Jobs, Neighbors, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Things to see and do in Tulsa, Tulsa, volunteer, Volunteer work, Volunteering, volunteers | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Starving Widows in Oklahoma!

HOW  COULD  OLDER PEOPLE IN OKLAHOMA BE STARVING WHEN THEY GET A SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK EVERY SINGLE MONTH?

40% of women in Oklahoma over the age of 65 are widowed. At the death of a spouse one Social Security benefit goes away.  Most people aren’t aware that there is no minimum Social Security benefit amount, which means that some recipients could actually receive as little as $1 a month.

Yet, one in three Oklahomans rely on Social Security for their entire income. Many widowed do not qualify for food stamps even though after paying rent, utilities, medicine co-pays their Social Security income does not stretch enough to purchase food.

Even though they may not have enough to eat, a hungry widowed person receiving the average Social Security benefit does not qualify for food assistance, from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  They are left alone to figure out how they can eat if they pay their other bills. The number of senior women living in extreme poverty jumped by 18 percent from 2011 to 2012.

  • Between 2007 and 2012, there was a 49% increase of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger. Nearly four million seniors are now malnourished  in the United States
  • Oklahoma ranks as one of the ten states in the nation for senior hunger.
  • One in three Oklahomans rely on Social Security for their total income, yet  there is  no minimum Social Security benefit amount and some recipients could actually receive as little as $1 a month.
  • At the death of a spouse one Social Security benefit goes away.
  • Among the most pronounced increases for food insecurity were  the widowed and the near poor. The majority are white and have incomes above the poverty line.
  • The widowed are the fastest growing demographic in the United States and nearly 70% of widows in Oklahoma live alone
  •  40% of women in Oklahoma over the age of 65 are widowed. The number of senior women living in extreme poverty jumped by 18 percent from 2011 to 2012.
  • A hungry widowed  person receiving the average Social Security benefit does not qualify for food assistance from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), even though they may not have enough to eat. They are left alone to figure out how they can eat if they pay their other bills.
  • Most older folks, ashamed and embarrassed by their situation,  don’t want pity or sympathy. They don’t want anyone to know that they don’t have enough to eat!
  • Many factors, not just poverty, contribute to hunger.  Life circumstances that prohibit or inhibit an individual’s ability to obtain healthy food include:  limited mobility, lack of access/transportation, living in a “food desert”, where grocery stores are located far and few between,  a poor health condition, isolation (both social and emotional),  poverty or even dental problems that make it uncomfortable to eat as  Medicare does not pay for dental care in Oklahoma. (SIDEBAR: Nor, hearing aids or glasses)
  • Many Oklahoma seniors skip meals in order to purchase the medication that needs to be taken with food, to assure the effectiveness. There are others who resort to using credit cards with high interest  or payday loans  with  Annual Percent Rates of 391% or higher. Oklahoma is No. 1 in Payday Loan Usage – NPR StateImpact If a credit card company does not receive the minimum payment by the due date they may add a late fee of $35 and the APR may be increased to the variable penalty of 29.99%!  This puts them further in debt.
  • Hunger affects health as health is heavily  determined by what we eat. The health  of our older population is suffering.  Enough food, and adequate nutrition is important  in order to  reduce the rates of obesity,  diabetes and other chronic diseases and the accompanying skyrocketing health care costs.     

Read whole story here, to get a better picture of this problem. Also take a few moments to look at some of the comments below. If you do not see the comments when you scroll down just a little ways, then click:  HERE to allow the page to reload, then look again for comments.   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Posted in Baby Boomers, Diabetes help, Elder Hunger, Food, Foods for stabilizing blood sugar, Foods for the heart, Healthy eating, Hunry Older folks, Making Changes, Memory, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Osteoporosis- Food to reduce risk of, Prescription Drugs, Senior Citizens, Senior Hunger, stress, Stroke-Food to help reduce risk, strokes, Tulsa, Widow, Widowed, Widower, Widows | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

A Simple Act That Can Touch a Widow’s Heart

Many friends and family tell the widow, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” In shock, struggling with deep grief and overpowering waves of loneliness and confusion, she doesn’t know what it is that she needs.

Her whole world has drastically changed.  Many mental-health professionals gauge the death of a spouse as the number one most stressful event a person will face in their lifetime.

She misses her husband terribly. Everyone is careful to not mention his name, for fear that will make her cry. Yet, that is the very thing she wants to hear; to know that people remember that he was alive and that he hasn’t been forgotten.

Fast forward a few short months, when the casseroles, the cards and the phone calls have stopped. Those who told said, “let me know what I can do” never called. Others stopped trying when she didn’t answer the phone, not realizing that she was in the middle of a crying jag and simply could not talk.

When faced with the greatest darkness she has ever felt, everything seems broken and friendships gone.  The pain is overwhelming and she doesn’t want to be alone. Her heart is begging friends to not give up on her. Please don’t stop trying to reach me.

Widows usually experience thoughts of…My world will never be the same….This is forever….Is this all there is?…Why bother getting out of bed when there is nothing to look forward to?…Why am I even here? Where do I fit in?

Instead of letting on that she desperately needs something as simple as a phone call or a bit of advice on how to change the AC filters, the widow forces a brave smile, says she is fine and keeps the pain inside, so she isn’t a burden to anyone.

The day of his passing, his birthday and hers, their anniversary and holidays are extremely hard days. Valentines’ Day can be the most painful of all holidays as television and even the pharmacy bombards her with reminders of this special day. She realizes this is yet another day where she will be left out, feeling alone and forgotten.

FACTS:

  • As death is inevitable for each of us, many wives will face this lonely road, alone.
  • More than 100,000 Oklahomans are widowed.
  • Stress and depression, caused by deep grief and loneliness may be misunderstood by those who have not been affected by the loss of a spouse. Only another widow can understand the excruciating pain that can last for years.
  • A widow, in shock, doesn’t know what she needs when friends first ask. Yet, support from friends and family drops off significantly, as the weeks pass. It has been that 75% of the friends they had as a couple will drop her.
  • Many mental-health professionals gauge the death of a spouse as the most stressful event a person will face in their lifetime.

A SIMPLE ACT TO LET SOMEONE KNOW THEY ARE REMEMBERED

Maybe you know a widow– your grandmother or mom….. a friend, neighbor or someone at church? One simple act of kindness, no matter how small, can mean the world to someone who feels alone.   A homemade Valentine card and some candy kisses on Valentines Day (February 14)  is a simple way to warm a heart, put a smile on someone’s face and make someone’s week.

Some churches have begun having a widows luncheon to honor the ladies in their church.

Widow Recognition Day 2015 Proclamation signed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin

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READ MORE ON THIS SITE ABOUT WIDOWS 

 

Posted in Baby Boomers, Elder Hunger, Finances, Inspiration, Making Changes, Neighbors, OK, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Parenting, Prayer Changes Things, Senior Citizens, Senior Hunger, stress, Things to see and do in Tulsa, Widow, Widowed, Widower, Widows | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

When My Grandmother Became a Widow….

Widows tend to suffer in silence. Not wanting to be a burden, it is typical for a widow to put on a brave smile.  A strange noise in the house that awakens them  2 a.m., keeping her terrified and unable to go back to sleep,  is nothing compared to the emotional pain of feeling alone and forgotten. Most widows will not mention that people stop calling after a couple of months. Widows won’t hint that they desperately desire something as simple as a phone call, but when asked directly about it many, with tears in their eyes, will nod. 

When my grandmother became a widow, we were all there that day, for the service.  Grandma had lived through the depression. She was tough and she’d get over it.
When my co-worker became a widow, we took up a collection and bought a ham. Her husband had been sick and now we figured, she will be free to go and do more things.
When my neighbor became a widow, I didn’t know her well, but I saw some cars at her house and knew that she had some friends.  I bought a card, had some of the other neighbors sign it and then dropped it off.

When my mom became a widow, lots of people came to Dad’s celebration of life service. Hugging Mom, several people told her to let them know if she needed anything … so I was sure that she’d be just fine.

When my sister was widowed early, her husband had been such a people person that lots of flowers were sent. Surely some of those friends or someone from the church will check in on her, from time to time. 

 

IS THERE ANYONE WHO WILL SPEAK UP FOR THE WIDOW?

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It is a real possibility that a married woman will become a widow.  Every year, in the US  251,000 men  become widowers and 600,000 women become widows . Currently there are 100,000 widows and widowers in Oklahoma. If someday,  you are widowed, wouldn’t you like to know that there will be someone there for you?

Google this string of keywords: loneliness is a silent killer

WHERE TO FIND HELP: After 18 months of research  Stand in the Gap for Widows offers, at no cost to churches, an implementation manual with simple training for widow helpers within the church, to help supplement the church’s current outreach to widows.  The Stand in the Gap for Widows program, which has already been adopted by 25 Christian churches in OK, brings widows together in small groups and guides them in prayerful, honest conversation.

The video in this link: Stand in the Gap for Widows, though just a few short minutes long, explains the program well.

There is an informational luncheon each month at Stand in the Gap, 3939 South Harvard.  Please call  (918) 585-6112 to make your reservation. This will give you the opportunity to see if you think your church can benefit from  the Stand in the Gap program.

If you feel like your church could benefit from the information, then please contact Stand in the Gap Widows (at the number above) to have the program presented to those who oversee and provide widow car in your church.

Isaiah 1:17 Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do Right; Seek Justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the Fatherless: plead the cause of the widow.”

 READ MORE ON THIS SITE ABOUT WIDOWS 

Posted in Baby Boomers, Blessings, Great ideas!, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Senior Citizens, Tulsa, Widows | Tagged | 5 Comments

Why You Need to Beware of Reverse Mortgages

Numerous TV commercials make a reverse mortgage sound simple. As more and more people are qualifying for reverse mortgages it is important to consider the large number of pitfalls in taking out a reverse mortgage, which can end up being  harmful both financially and emotionally.

ARE THERE ANY DISADVANTAGES?  Yes! It is important to evaluate the reverse mortgage disadvantages before taking out one. Proceed with caution. Many financial consultants believe that not only do reverse mortgages have definite disadvantages but that lenders for these types of mortgages don’t fully disclose all the terms, or  tell you how high the front-load is.  HUD estimates that several hundred seniors nationwide have been cheated by unscrupulous lenders and third-party “estate planning” firms that take advantage of consumers’ relative lack of knowledge about reverse mortgages; enticing them to agree to unfair or illegal contract terms. A woman in Norwalk, California alleged that she paid $5,571 to an America’s Trust, Inc. in return for a visit from an agent, who came to her home and simply referred her to a reverse mortgage lender. She also alleged that America’s Trust never informed her that she would be charged 10% of her loan amount for that service.

WHO GETS REVERSE MORTGAGES (which are considered a loan-of-last-resort for seniors without any other options of getting the capital they need in any other way).   Many people have a strong distaste for reverse mortgages, as they feel that it is the poorest people, who will take out a reverse mortgage while banks take a massive cut of everything these people have worked all their lives to acquire. Reverse mortgages have been described as a way for wealthy to scoop up the poorest families homes, while the poorest families become poorer.

REVERSE MORTGAGES HAVE SEVERAL OPTIONS BUT THEY ARE ALL STILL A MORTGAGE THAT MUST BE REPAID!  Reverse mortgages are a mortgage. There are several options to receive money in a reverse mortgage: lump sum, a line of credit or monthly payments for a specific period of time or for the remainder of your life.

Just as with a traditional mortgage, you borrow money and that loan must be repaid to the lender at the end of the reverse mortgage term. The “end of the term” is when you move out of the home for 12 months or if the home is sold (whichever comes first) or at your death.   The lender has an agreement to take possession of the house to satisfy the balance owed. Typically this is handled by selling the home and using the proceeds from the sale to pay off the reverse mortgage balance.  The bank takes the portion of the sale that it is owed, plus interest. The lender gets a premium over what they lent as payment because the loan amount does not go down; it goes up!  The loan you receive on a reverse mortgage is worth less than or equal to the value of your house and interest is accruing each month on the amount you still owe, thus the amount you owe increases each month as  payments are distributed to you or when you take out money on the line of credit. ) This is why it has been referred to as selling ones house slowly, because the equity in your house is lost over time.

PROBLEMS WITH REVERSE MORTGAGES

READ THE FINE PRINT It’s imperative to read the fine print, ask lots of questions and make sure everything you are promised is actually in the contract! (Have the loan company highlight in the contract, each point they tell you. Read it over carefully or have some other person, such as an attorney take time to read it, to make sure that is exactly what you were told, before signing anything.)

FEES FOR ESTABLISHING A REVERSE MORTGAGE ARE VERY EXPENSIVE
You may be told:  There are no income, credit or medical requirements to qualify and no other qualifications like there are with a regular mortgage (RED FLAG!)

REALITY: While it may be true that your income and credit are not a factor, the fees associated with establishing a reverse mortgage are very expensive, while promising an uncertain amount of benefits. It is important to understand that on a reverse mortgage, interest is accruing each month on the amount owed to the lender. That  means the amount you owe increases each month as tenure/term payments are distributed, money is taken out on the line of credit, etc.  For example, a typical reverse mortgage borrower receives approximately $300 per month from the lender with a monthly compounded interest rate of 1%. Over the course of ten years, you will receive $36,000,  in total but by that time you will owe almost $70,000. This means that you are repaying close to twice the amount you are receiving PLUS the bank receives a limited ownership claim in your house in exchange and will eventually own your house!   A reverse mortgage works like a credit card in the respect that if the payments aren’t made it goes into default, damaging your credit and most likely you get sued,  but the difference is you also lose your home.

UPFRONT FEES
What you may be told by the loan company:  Some lenders claim that the homeowner doesn’t have to pay anything upfront.
REALITY: RED FLAG BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN ANYONE TELLS YOU THAT!! Many lenders simply add the upfront costs into the loan so while you do not pay them upfront you certainly do pay them. Lenders, of course, love not making you pay the fees upfront  because you will have to pay the loan company more interest. This is because, in reality, you are borrowing the extra money from the lender to pay the fees it costs in order to get the reverse mortgage from the lender!   This is extremely profitable for lenders. Ka-Ching! (Guess who is the loser!)

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN UPFRONT/FRONT LOADING FEES THAT THE LOAN COMPANY WILL ADD INTO MY LOAN?

Front-loading encompasses the upfront costs which will be paid out of your home’s equity at closing and will include interest, origination fees, points, mortgage insurance premiums, closing costs, appraiser fees, servicing fees, shared equity or “maturity” fees, and shared appreciation fees.

HOW MUCH HIGHER ARE THESE FEES IN A REVERSE MORTGAGE THAN A TRADITIONAL MORTGAGE? 

  •     The origination fee will be double compared to the amount you pay on a normal mortgage.
  •     The interest rates and fees are all determined based upon home value and what loan you decide to go with. Reverse mortgages often have very high fees and interest rates.

Bottom line: You will  pay an excessively large price for a reverse mortgage. (You will be paying a higher interest rate than on other loans, have less equity in your home, and you may run out of the money sooner than you think.)

ARE THERE ANY OTHER FEES FOR A REVERSE MORTGAGE?
Numerous other front-end and back-end fees can quickly drive up the cost of a reverse mortgage. The case of the San Mateo County Public Guardian v. Commonwealth Life Insurance illustrates how some of these fees generated allegations by a class of 1,505 borrowers that they were charged tens of thousands of dollars in artificially inflated loan fees.

CONFUSING AND COMPLEX TERMS OF A REVERSE MORTGAGE  Reverse Mortgages are more complicated and have more  confusing terms and conditions than a traditional mortgage. These complex contract terms of a reverse mortgage can greatly impact the overall cost to you, the borrower. There can lead to serious repercussions to borrowers, when lenders or third parties involved in arranging reverse mortgages do not fully disclose a loan’s terms and fees.

A lawsuit filed by the San Mateo County Public Guardian alleged that Transamerica Corporation  charged Berta Gray, an 83-year old woman what was in effect a shared appreciation fee. This fee gave Transamerica an automatic 50% interest  that automatically paid TransAmerica  50 percent ownership interest in the difference between the base value of the home when the loan was established and the appreciated market value of the home when the loan terminates, even though the fee bore no relation to the amount she actually borrowed.

The cost of her reverse mortgage soared when TransAmerica also required her to purchase an annuity, financed out of her home’s equity to provide monthly payments to TransAmerica immediately and that interest began compounding on that fee even though she was not due to receive any payment on the annuity until six years after the loan began, at age 89. Under this arrangement, if Ms. Gray died before the six-year period ended, her estate would see no benefit from the annuity purchase, although she had paid in full for it.

WHAT ELSE DO WE HAVE TO PAY TO GET A REVERSE MORTGAGE? Don’t forget that you are still responsible to pay not only the loan but also the annual real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, all home repairs and other maintenance, HOA fees and mortgage insurance (which covers the lender – not you-should the property value decrease, or if the mortgage is held over a very long period )

HOW MUCH CAN WE BORROW AND WHAT IS THE INTEREST RATE?
The amount that the homeowner can borrow depends on the age of the youngest borrower, the current interest rates being offered, & the value of their home.
Payouts to the homeowner are based on actuary tables  The bank estimates how long you have to live & how much your house will be worth to them at that time of your death.   A person age 90 can borrow more as a percentage of equity than someone aged 70. The older you are, the more your home is worth, and the lower the interest rate – the more money you can get.

CAN ANYONE  TELL ME WHAT THE TOTAL COST WILL BE FOR A REVERSE MORTGAGE?
No. It is impossible to calculate the true cost of a Reverse Mortgage, without predicting how long you will live and what future interest rates and home appreciation rates will be.

All reverse mortgages are going to have different costs, based on whether there’s any monthly repayment and the ages/health of the people requesting the loan.

COULD A REVERSE MORTGAGE KEEP ME FROM QUALIFYING FOR MEDICAID, IF I NEED IT DOWN THE ROAD?
Red Flag It is a very real possibility and this should be a serious consideration before you decide to do it. The proceeds from a reverse mortgage could prove to be a serious barrier to allowing you to qualify for Medicaid because your proceeds from the loan are counted as an asset! Each state differs, however, any untapped equity you currently have in your home will not be considered an asset when determining your Medicaid eligibility so long as you continue to live in your home. Make sure you speak with a Medicaid specialist before obtaining a reverse mortgage, as you do not want the cash proceeds prohibiting you from Medicaid eligibility.

MY LENDER WANTS ME TO GET AN ANNUITY. IS THIS A GOOD IDEA?

NO! BIG RED FLAG: NEVER take out a reverse mortgage specifically to buy an annuity. An annuity is a type of insurance, in this case, using the equity in the home to pay out the monthly reverse mortgage payments to the borrower. This means that the borrower is charged the cost of the annuity immediately, with compounding interest even though the annuity is not due to start making payments for a certain period after it is established.    For example, if the annuity is set up to start paying out after a six-year period, if the borrower dies before the six-year period is up, the estate of the borrower would not benefit from the annuity even though the borrower had already paid for it in full.

WE WERE TOLD THAT BEFORE WE SIGN ANYTHING THAT WE SHOULD  OBTAIN REVERSE MORTGAGE LENDER REFERRAL INFORMATION FOR FREE FROM HUD  

A session with a HUD certified counselor, who is supposed to explain the disadvantages of reverse mortgages to you, might not help protect you.
During the process of obtaining  a reverse mortgage the senior borrower should attend a counseling session with a HUD certified counselor, who has no financial interest in if the senior borrower gets a reverse mortgage or not.  The counselor should explain the disadvantages of reverse mortgages, as many are really bad deals for the borrower.   However,  there have been  situations where reverse mortgage counselors are affiliated with the lender. Thus, in reality, that counselor in not a neutral party. Unfortunately, this practice is encouraged by the fact that Fannie Mae will purchase reverse mortgage loans from loan originators who themselves provide “counseling” to prospective reverse mortgage borrowers.  The current system of reverse mortgage counseling is not enough to protect potential borrowers against financial fraud and abuse. There needs to be  established consumer protections that explains the current pitfalls and hazards for consumers.

Lastly, remember, that the deal you make may not be directly with the lending bank, but with someone planning to profit on your home’s rise in value.  

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