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The Christian Artists' Resource Center
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Postscript Re: Print Sales
Have you ever had an iron anvil dropped on your head? Neither have I, but I think I have a pretty good idea what it would feel like, because I've felt that way a number of times in my life, and I feel that way now. I'm writing this blog article in order to explain why that is the case.
Now, you may be from the "cut to the chase" school, and you may just want to know what the main topic of the blog is all about. Well, that's why they make scroll bars and internal links and anchors. You don't have to read this entire blog post if you don't want to do so.
You can scroll to the bottom of the post right away (or click "the chase") and you can get all of the basic information you need without bothering to get any background information which would help you to put this urgent plea into its proper context.
I'm providing preliminary background information for the sake of those who are inclined to be skeptical about pleas for help, and who feel that they need to know a lot more before they will donate anything to help a person in need.
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If you've read all of the other blog posts on this site, then you know that my primary passion in life is using my artistic talents (as a musician, writer, poet, photographer, pen & ink portrait artist, digital artist and more) as a means of doing the best I can to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, achieving the goal of making a full time living pursuing that passion has been much easier said than done. Consequently, I have struggled with finances for a substantial portion of my life, and I've often found myself working at jobs which paid poorly and which had little or nothing to do with my passion.
For the past nine months, I have been working about 30 hours a week as a telephone surveyor. It is hardly what I would describe as my dream job, but I desperately needed a job when I was hired there in the middle of February 2006, and I couldn't afford to be very choosy. Since losing my job as a legal assistant in the middle of October 2005, I had been unemployed, with the exception of a couple of very brief temp assignments doing office work.
I'd been very active in my job search, particularly in terms of responding to classified ads I had found at CraigsList, but I hadn't managed to find an office job despite my numerous job skills, which included a typing speed of 65 to 70 wpm, as well as fluency in Microsoft Word and Access (with more limited knowledge of Excel and Powerpoint).
What's worse, my former boss had successfully challenged my application for unemployment insurance benefits, and I'd never made a huge amount of money at that job to begin with, so I had very little money to live on. I was beginning to get desperate.
I might have been evicted from my apartment for non-payment of rent if it had not been for a monetary gift which I received from the church I was attending (and still sometimes attend). But that money only went so far. I didn't want to have to go to that church and ask for similar help a second time, partly because I didn't want to be an excessive burden on any individual or church, and partly because I wasn't sure that they would have said "yes" if I had done so. (Not that they aren't generous people, but their financial limitations had been apparent to me from the time when I started attending that church.) I hated having to accept charity from my church, but I would have hated being thrown out into the street even more, so I was grateful that my pastor saw my need and responded to that need.
Nevertheless, if I hadn't gotten the job I have now, it seems likely that I would have been in serious trouble. After all, it's not as if I was living in luxurious digs to begin with. When you've been evicted from an inner city YMCA because you can't pay your rent, you know that you've gotten pretty close to rock bottom, and you know that the chances of finding another landlord willing to rent to you are extremely slim.
My phone surveyor job does not allow me the option of working a full-time,
One reason was that the person who taught the training class I took told us that she highly advised that we limit our shifts to 30 hours a week initially. In my experience, it was good advice. The job can be pretty intense in the sense that it requires one's full attention from the moment one clocks in to the moment one clocks out.
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It didn't help that I went through a period of several months last year in which I was experiencing a lot of dental pain which made it much harder to concentrate on the job. That front tooth still needs work, although the pain eventually diminished considerably after at least a couple of months of constantly dabbing Anbesol on it whenever the pain became almost unbearable.
During the past week, I've experienced additional dental issues as a result of the fact that a crown put in by a dentist some time ago recently fell off. The remaining part of the tooth is so sharp that talking on the phone has recently been very uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful, for me.
Dental insurance? What dental insurance? The company I work for provides virtually nothing in the way of job benefits such as health insurance or paid vacations. Having had jobs in the past which did provide such benefits, I definitely wish that my current job offered such benefits as well. But one takes what one can get when jobs get scarce.
This fall, not long after my dental pain had begun to subside, I caught a cold which seemed to be going around. I've finally gotten over that cold, thank the Lord, but it took a very long time to do so. Despite the ample use of sanitary wipes when starting every work shift, a large room full of roughly 100 telephone surveyors is a place where colds are easily spread from one person to another. A cold may seem like a trivial thing, but when one makes one's living talking on the phone, constantly coughing and hacking and sneezing can be a real trial.
And of course, there have been issues pertaining to high blood pressure and to the fact that I've been need of a hernia operation for several years now.
Now, I don't want to leave the impression that I spent all of 2006 suffering from various ailments, because that isn't the case. And I certainly ought to acknowledge that my health issues may seem trivial to some people suffering from life threatening or debillitating health problems far worse than mine. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that I have inadequate money with which to deal with these issues, the health issues I'm experiencing might seem relatively trivial.
As a conservative Christian, I generally tend to vote for candidates who oppose legal abortion and other things I consider to be bad for society. But I admit that I am inclined to support the idea of "universal health care" (provided that some of its shortcomings are addressed), for obvious reasons.
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MY OTHER BLOG (NOW DELETED)
Another thing that occupied my time during the first half of 2006, after getting my new job, was that I set up a second blog at a site hosted by LifeWithChrist.org. Unlike the blogs I've written at this site, I got a lot of traffic and comments on that site. I'd begun to feel that I'd found a loving community of fellow Christians. The positive feedback I got about many of the articles I'd written made me feel very good. Previously, I'd felt pretty cut off from the Christian community (even when I was regularly going to church). The blog gave me the chance to communicate some ideas I'd been wanting to share with others for a very long time.
Eventually, things went kind of sour for me, to the point that I deliberately deleted my Life with Christ blog and washed my hands of it, but I don't regret the time I spent on that blog. I like to think that I planted some seeds of good thoughts which will eventually bear positive fruit.
The time I spent working on that blog was motivated by a number of factors. One of the primary factors was that I hoped to be able to establish connections with people in order to communicate my vision for an ambitious Christian ministry of the arts to be known as the Christian Artists' Resource Center.
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THE CHRISTIAN ARTISTS' RESOURCE CENTER
There isn't adequate space here to describe my vision for the Christian Artists' Resource Center, so if you're interested in the idea of a comprehensive Christian ministry of the arts, I invite you to open and print and read the following PDF files (if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader or another program capable of opening PDF files):
Proposal re: the Christian Artists' Resource Center
To Do List re: the Christian Artists' Resource Center
I believe that once I am able to implement my plans for the website for the Christian Artists' Resource Center, I can begin to make at least part of my living by selling a variety of products I have created (such as full-color flower & garden photos to be sold in the form of fine art prints, greeting cards and other projects), as well as products I'll create on commission (such as pen & ink portraits based on people's photographic portraits), using an e-commerce website I have been planning to set up for the Christian Artists' Resource Center.
(To see an online gallery of my flower & garden photos, please visit this web page. Keep in mind that the web hosting for that site is free, and I don't have any control over the contents over the banner ads on the site.)
I've registered the domain name www.artisticchristians.com, and I've paid for hosting services which won't expire or need renewal until August 2006. That's the address (or one of the addresses) which I plan to use for the website for the Christian Artists' Resource Center.
My plans for that web site go far beyond merely meeting my own material needs by selling my art and photos on the site. I also hope to develop it into a web site (and, eventually, a far more comprehensive ministry) which will benefit many other artistically talented Christians as well.
If you take the time to read the preceding "to do" list, you will soon understand why I say that setting up such a web site and doing the many other things I felt needed to be done in order to turn my vision for the Christian Artists' Resource Center into a reality is and will be a very time consuming project. (And I've added many more items to that "to do" list since that time, as a result of things I've learned via my ongoing research into the project and its requirements.)
I still feel that that's a goal I need to pursue. I've gotten some very positive feedback about the project from some very well-known and talented Christians working in the arts.
In helping me in my time of temporary crisis, you will also be investing in the possibility that the vision expressed in the "first draft" PDF files listed above will come to pass.
MORE ABOUT ME
If you still feel that you need to know more about me in order to persuade you that I am a person who is sincere about serving the Lord, I would invite you to read earlier articles in this blog (such as this article about drinking water and Christian missions), and to visit my other website at www.markpettigrew.com, and to write to me if there are any things which aren't answered in the process of doing so.
Back to Introduction
O.K., either you're the type of person who has a short attention span and/or very limited time (in which case you probably skipped most of the previous paragraphs), or else you've read the preceding information. Either way, the bottom line is this:
Tonight, I reached into my "fannie pack" and discovered something that really shook me up: My wallet was gone, along with all the ID cards in the wallet at the time and approximately $600. Ouch!!!
Was my pocket picked? Did I inadvertently lose the wallet in some other way? Frankly, I'm not sure. I've tried retracing my steps, and thoroughly searching my apartment, but so far, I haven't been able to find the wallet or its contents.
To some people, $600 is a small amount of money, but not for me. My take home pay for two four-week pay periods is slightly less than $1,000, and that's assuming that I qualify for the bonus my company offers for extra productivity on the phones. (I have good reason to believe that I won't qualify for that bonus when receiving my next paycheck.) In short, I'm pretty much living from paycheck to paycheck, with only a small amount of extra money with which to pay for an occasional luxury such as a cappuccino at McDonalds. I haven't had a working TV set in 2 years, because replacing the broken TV just hasn't been my highest priority.
Fortunately, I do still have my ATM debit card, so I don't have to worry about a thief using that card to access the money I do have in my checking account, but that money is very limited. It should keep me fed for the next week or two, but it won't do much more than that. And rent is due soon.
What I need is to raise some emergency funds, fast. I don't want to ask for exhorbitant amounts of money from anyone. But if I could get a one-time donation of just $10 from 60 different people or churches --- preferably from people who share my values and goals --- that would replace the lost and/or stolen money.
Now, I know what you're probably thinking: Hey, dummy, what were you doing carrying $600 or so around in your wallet? Well, I'd just cashed my paycheck recently at the bank down the street, and I hadn't yet gotten around to depositing the money in my own bank. Ironically, right before the incident happened, I'd been planning to do just that, because it occurred to me that losing the wallet could create major problems for me.
As for the question of any "carelessness" which might theoretically have led to the loss and/or theft of my wallet, please don't go there. Believe me, I'm probably going to be beating myself up over this for a long time, so there's no need for anyone else to remind me that I might possibly still have the wallet if I'd been more careful.
If you're wondering why I provided the preceding background information about myself prior to adding this section, it's simply that I felt that it was necessary in order to help readers to better appreciate why I am in the position of needing to ask for help, and why I feel that I deserve such help (to the extent that anyone deserves charitable help).
Of course, if you're the type of person who doesn't share my interest in achieving the goals stated here, then you would have no particular reason to think that I deserved help any more than anyone else. It's all a question of what's most important to you.
Back to Introduction
MY CONTACT INFORMATION
30 W. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60610
(773) 509-8126 (Voice Mail) or (312) 643-1336 (Home Phone)
(Those are underscores in-between the first name, middle initial and last name.)
Back to Introduction
SOME CONCLUDING COMMENTS ABOUT FAITH (and the LACK THEREOF)
It would be wonderful if we Christians had all reached a state of perfection where we walked in perfect obedience to the Lord and perfect faith in the Lord. The reality, though, is that we're all works in progress.
In many respects, I think I've lived a morally exemplary life. I've never used illegal drugs. I've never been drunk. And believe it or not, I'm still a virgin at age 50. (Fun? No, not especially. But then again, I don't ever have to worry about STD's or AIDS or unwanted pregnancies caused by my actions. I like to think that my obedience to God in that area will eventually prove to be a blessing for me in other ways as well.)
So do I think I've achieved perfection? What, are you kidding? I know my weaknesses all too well.
Having trouble trusting God to provide me with my needs in stressful times such as these is very close to the top of the list of my imperfections. I still become fearful when it looks as if I may lose my home or be unable to pay for essential living expenses or be forced to resign myself to never achieving my career goals. In times like these, I want to have faith, but it isn't always easy.
So regardless of whether or not you respond to this plea with any type of financial help, I would greatly appreciate your prayers. I've survived worse crises than this one, but I'm tired of dealing with setback after setback after setback. I want to make a real positive difference in this world, and it would be much easier to do so if I had adequate material resources with which to meet my needs and with which to invest in the attainment of my goals.
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POSTSCRIPT: If you feel that you ought to get something in exchange for your donation, I'm willing to discuss the option of selling you one or more prints based on the flower & garden photos shown on this web page. I have digital files on CD-R disc for all of those images, and I can easily take them next door to Wolf Camera to make prints from those files. I can easily make 8x10 photo prints of those images and then send out the prints in standard Priority Mail envelopes ($4 for shipping and handling) at the post office.
If you would like a print of one or more of those images, just send me an e-mail message to that effect and let me know which image or images you want to order (specified by the number shown beneath each image). Then as soon as I receive your money order in the amount of $25 for each print, I'll have the print made from my digital file and I'll ship it to you. (The price of $25 would be so that I can make somewhere between $10 to $15 from each print sale after deducting the cost of making the print and the cost of the postage).
If you're thinking that this is a pretty amateurish way for me to sell my photo prints, well, you're right. Believe me, it isn't the way I wanted to do things. I have much more professional plans in the works for the future. But right now, I really could use some help.
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