Tuesday, June 18, 2013
6/15/13 Saturday (Actually the date is now 6/18/13)
We lost our internet on the farm so the only time we can get online is when we come to work. I looked at the blog and see the last post was made on May 12. Much has happened and then there was a lot of things going on that I could not talk about. Now I can. So here’s the story. I met an old couple at a prayer group and on my way out that night overheard them talking about how they were losing everything with their business. This caught my attention so I sat down and listened. They own an office furniture store here in Midland and had purchased it just two years ago. I later on learned more details but at this time they told me that the manager was stealing from them and the business was going downhill. “Why don’t you fire him?” I asked. “You don’t understand” they replied “We will lose everything and he can hurt us”. When I pressed for more information it became clear that they feared for their physical safety. In fact the revealed that the bad guy told them he could have their heads chopped off and bodies buried where no one would ever find them again. Ok, this got my attention. I could see the fear in their eyes and hear the despair in their voices. My heart stirred in me and without hesitation I found myself offering my help.
Most of you know that I am a follower of Christ, that my life is a gift and I serve my Lord when and wherever I can. Since I was raised from the dead and woke from the coma there have been no accidents in my life. Everything happens for a reason and there is little question in our minds that God’s hand directs our path. So I understand that this wasn’t an accidental meeting and would rather refer to it as a divine appointment. For one thing I am uniquely qualified for this situation. It’s almost like I was trained for this moment. My first company was Westbrook Marketing, where I provided marketing services and as a consultant would help others solve problems in their businesses and teach principles that ranged from advertising to how their companies should be structured. While that company was thriving I opened a second one called Corporate Liquidation when banks and others approached me to sell the assets of various companies. It ended up being a business that utilized an eighty thousand square foot warehouse to house and sell all kinds of business equipment and furniture. Needing and additional outlet for the business furniture I started Absolute Office Furniture.
The unique ways I have been prepared for this task go beyond my business experience. There are the spiritual and experiential aspects of the needs to be addressed. I agreed to go to work for Harry and Lola as a salesman in order to get a better idea of what was going on. For one thing they knew they were being robbed but really had a hard time proving it. The first day of work was quite an eye opening experience. The bad guy was quite a character. This man can quote the bible like no body’s business and evidently had been a pastor, according to his words. The problem is the man is a habitual liar so I can’t trust anything that comes out of his mouth. When the subject of my pay came up on this first day I said “I’m not worried about money. I trust in the Lord and He always takes care of me”. This simple statement elicited a twenty minute tirade from Steve (the bad guy) and he ranted loudly about how all the Christians stab him in the back. That was day one.
The next two months would reveal a man incredibly angry and unstable. He would fly off in a rage at the slightest provocation, or for no reason at all. Steve could be nice, smiling, gentle, and suddenly turn into a cussing screaming maniac, then calm down and be nice again. Pretty scary stuff. It didn’t take me long to see that the bookkeeper and Steve were conspiring together and they, thinking I could be enticed to join them, both approached me and confided their plans. It was a dastardly and evil plan. They told me that they were going to take over the entire business by destroying Harry and Lola’s credit, reputation, and ability to conduct business. I witnessed great intimidation and threats on the part of both of them against Harry. Lola had left the company months before in fear and not returned so Harry was left alone to bear the brunt of this intense psychological manipulation. I watched incredulously as the white haired 80 year old female bookkeeper would hobble over to where Harry was sitting and scream at him, declaring how she despised him and berating him for whatever the latest bone of contention with Steve was.
Poor Harry would just hang his head and not say anything back. The two years of damage to his spirit were very evident at these times and I so wanted to stand up and say something but that would not work out well regarding my need to find a final solution. That came when Steve attacked Harry physically during the intimidation sessions that were a regular event here. I walked in five minutes after the first one and took Harry to the police station. Had I walked in during the attack it would be different for I would not have stood by and watched. Perhaps that saved me from going to jail. The second attack came a week later. Steve did not know we had filed charges. He found Harry digging up evidence against him and grabbed the paperwork after throwing Harry to the ground. After Steve actually bragged to the laborers that he had “Pressed” Harry, evidently proud of his actions. The word “Pressed” is prison slang that describes intimidation a weak inmate until they give the predator what they want.
Steve Ausmus was arrested May 15. You can see the video of the arrest at KMID News or on their website http://permianbasin360.com/fulltext?nxd_id=266412
I can’t go into many of the details as it is still under investigation and don’t want to jeopardize that. Now I have the task of rebuilding this company. Nothing was done right under Steve’s “leadership” so I have a building and furniture. When Steve bonded out of jail he called our customers and told them we were out to steal from them all and were a bunch of crooks in an effort to further damage our reputation and destroy the company. Him and the bookkeeper purposely neglected our bills and worked to destroy our relationship with suppliers so there is a lot of damage to repair and overcome. That’s ok, God is good and what Steve meant for bad God will turn to good. Money is real tight so we are looking for investors to back a marketing campaign and take care of basic bills. I have cut expenses to the bone for now and come to work with two sets of clothes. Nice looking manager sales outfit and work clothes for when I do deliveries or warehouse work.
The adventure of life continues. The efforts to purchase that old store on the interstate continue as the last legs of clearing the title should be completed. Then we hope to create a place of ministry there along with an RV park that will provide a place for the many coming to the area to stay. We would love to put up a man camp or build cabins with kitchens on the 75 acres I have sitting here doing nothing. Because I now put in 50 to 70 hours at A-1 there has been little time to go to the jail and minister. I hope that when things settled down this will change for I believe that changing lives is much more important than making money.
Gotta go. Preparing for a big Chamber of Commerce Grand ReOpening ribbon cutting today at 11:30. All are invited so come on out.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
We are getting ready for church this morning. A man I had been ministering to in the local jail was released and called me Thursday of Friday. I am always grateful when this happens and it happens all too seldom. Many of those I give my number to promise to call when they get out of jail but few actually do. This one did and asked if I could find work for him. I was hoping to get him work at the job I can’t talk about but that is not available at this time. I asked if he had a church to go to but he didn’t so invited him to go with us to the church we attend in Midland. He agreed and his ex-wife/girlfriend wants to go as well. This is great news. Unfortunately he called this morning and the only clothes he has to wear at the moment are some gym shorts because all his other clothes are somewhere else. He asked if we could come over and do some kind of in home service. That I am glad to do so after church and after visting the widow we care for Cherie and I will head over there.
The widow, by the way, is not doing well. Her health is failing and the pain and swelling in her legs is increasing. When I called her yesterday you could sense it in her voice along with a great tiredness. So pray for her if you can.
The old store we hope to buy is still in legal limbo land as they work to clear up the title. Unfortunately the man who was handling this at the title company either quit or was fired. They did not volunteer why he was gone, just that he was “no longer with us”. So we were assigned a new agent who must reacquaint herself with the whole deal. Frustrating but all this is in God’s hands. One of the investors no longer has the funds so we must pray and seek a replacement for that. This whole affair has been going on since January. We hope and pray constantly. The job I can’t talk about is getting interesting to say the least. I so look forward to the day I can tell you all about this adventure. Meantime I had to refuse any regular pay and become an independent contractor to maintain my presence at this job. So I am basically working fifty or so hours a week for free but the end result will be good. This is where God put me and I am there to help an elderly couple who are being victimized. I have sacrificed the farm for this and don’t have the time to even plant the melons we had so looked forward to. But that is ok, because God has a plan.
We had a Kairos event at the Lynaugh prison last week, starting May 2 and ending Sunday the fifth. Kairos is always a wonder to me as I watch God work on men’s hearts and see how He can use imperfect people like us to accomplish His will. There were many lives changed and even a prison guard who was assigned to watch over the affair gave her life to the Lord.
The rest of what happened I’ll put on my private journal, which will be posted when it is safe to do so. Called my mom a moment ago. She was surprised to hear from me. We don’t correspond much so this is the first contact in a while. It’s a shame that I don’t hear from family often but they don’t hear from me much either. When I get the book published that will be more understandable for you. My cell phone is dying so we will have to get another one soon. Just another expense we don’t need.
After church we called the widow we help out. She wasn’t feeling good. I think she may have been hospitalized but we aren’t sure. Her daughter and daughters husband were over cooking food. The daughter has stolen most of the silverware and replaced it with cheap junk she brought from her home. We so want to get involved but it’s hard without clear approval and permission. There are so many seniors we learn of who are being taken advantage of.
This afternoon we visited a couple and had church at their home. They were going to ride with us to church this morning but he didn’t have anything but gym shorts to wear because all his clothes were at his sisters. I had met him in the Stanton jail and been ministering to him for a couple or three months. His girlfriend is also his ex-wife. She too has been to prison and lived a life that was unhealthy. They are a sweet couple and determined to live a life that God approves of, tired and understanding well the consequences of a life without God. She shared with us the difficulties she has faced in local churches, where her past is never forgotten and judgment reigns despite the friendly mask church people present. The longer we visited the clearer it became that God would like me to start a fellowship that focuses on accepting and loving all whom are rejected by the “religious” ones, who apparently think they are better than others.
Friday, April 26, 2013
There is so much going on I can't keep up. Unfortunately I can't publicly talk about some of it at this time. When I can reveal that part it's a whopper of a story. Meantime we did a Kairos event at the Smith Unit prison last week. Always an honor to serve God. I am selling Office furniture for the moment. Had plenty of chances to bless others and am always grateful when God puts that on my plate. Helped a homeless man move to a safe place in Lubbock, where he has found a job. Helped an 18 yr old get home to Dallas when he was released from the Stanton Jail. Someone from our church donated funds so I was able to get him clothes to wear and some food along with a few dollars to spend. The purchase of that old store on the interstate is finally moving forward. Found a survey company who had great difficulty identifying property boundaries but finally got it done. He said he was finishing up the drawings today. So things are moving forward and God has a lot for us to do. Love God and His plans boggle my mind. Sorry I haven't posted because working full time on top of everything else. No farm this year I guess. No time to plant. Hope to at least get melons out. Cya later
Thursday, March 28, 2013
I know I haven’t posted in a while. Things are busy for sure and God has put a lot on our plate. Unfortunately I can’t write about some of what is going on right now. Must wait till a situation gets resolved. When that happens I have a great story to tell but you will have to wait to hear it. Meantime let me fill you all in on what has been happening on the Westbrook Farm and in our lives. God is good and God is in charge, no matter how crazy things may seem. I have a new job, one I was not looking for in any way but I recognize the Lord’s hand when I see it. A sweet older couple bought an office furniture business and said they needed help. I used to sell office furniture back before the accident that killed me so feel comfortable helping them, and in the process we will get some badly needed additional income too. This will be my second week working for them.
Purchasing that old store is still in process. We just got ahold of a survey company that will determine the official boundaries of that property and in the process will provide the information the title company needs to warranty the deed. Everyone is busy doing oilfield work so we were lucky to find these guys. Actually the guy we are buying the land from found them for us as he is itching to get this deal closed. Of course I’m itching to get things going as well. I talked to the surveyor and told him our plans, that we hope to find partners to develop the 75 acres of land and he said he may know some folks looking to invest in that kind of deal. That would be great. What I know is that when all is said and done we will be able to say “Look what God did” because He is bringing things together for sure.
I may not get to plant much this year. From the looks of things I won’t have much free time. I do hope to get corn and melons planted but am already behind on that. I still get tired easy but not nearly as bad as before so with me working all day by the time I get home I am worn out and don’t have the energy to go work in the dirt. However in all this I recognize that my healing continues, that I am in much better shape mentally and physically than I was just a year ago. I am always grateful for any improvement.
I had the privilege of going into the prison dormitory that has been set up as the “Faith Dorm”. It is an area reserved for prisoners who have expressed their faith in God. The requirements are inclusive of all faiths so it is not limited to only those of the Christian faith. Through the Kairos ministry I was able to go there and we showed a movie on the Resurrection. It was great to be there in their “house”. I look forward to spending some more time with them, when the Lord makes that time available.
This happened last Saturday and boy was that a long day. I got up at 5:30 in the morning to catch a ride to the Lynaugh prison in Fort Stockton, where we had a great time of fellowship with the men in white. I also was able to renew my training with the Texas Department of Corrections that is required for me to go into the prisons. In the business of my life I had forgotten about that and learned the training date had expired in November.
I didn’t get back to the farm until after 5:00 PM and had to get to the Smith prison by 6:30 so Cherie fixed me a quick meal and I was out the door for the hour drive to Lamesa. By the time that was all done it was 8:30 before I could leave the prison. There was a sand storm that had blown in so the temperatures had dropped dramatically and visibility was poor. It wasn’t as bad as a sand storm I had driven home in last year but it was still nasty. There was a vehicle behind me that looks like the one the pastor that kicked me out of her church because she was jealous drives. I normally don’t like cars following me close but figured that whoever it was couldn’t see well so used my tail lights as a way of making sure they were on the road. Because of that I allowed them to follow me close without pulling over to let them go by.
We went to a great event that was held here in Midland on Monday. It was a 4 day event that brought people from many churches together in unity to pray for the city and for God to move in a dramatic way. I wished we would have been able to attend all four days but that wasn’t to be. I was amazed at how many people we met whom we knew. There was one person there who has caused many problems for us through her poison tongue and I went to tell her we still loved her and were praying but she scurried past keeping her head down and refusing to look up even though I called to her. It is so sad to see such things but in these last days we will see much more than this. There is a lot of deception in the church and many wolves in sheep’s clothing, who have all the outward appearance of good holy people but inside are ate up with great evil.
While at McDonalds, in line to order breakfast, a man saw my Vietnam Veteran hat and thanked me for my service. I appreciate that very much but the truth is no one shot at me because I was a crew chief on B-52’s so I don’t feel that I deserve much accolades because the ones who were in the thick of things are the ones who paid a tremendous price. I asked him if he would like to sit and talk as we ate breakfast and he agreed. He is an assistant pastor with a local church and also a war veteran, having done multiple tours in Iraq. There he was a chaplain assigned with special forces groups and would rappel down from helicopters with them into the fire zones. I enjoyed our time together and told him that there are no accidents in my life so suspect we will see each other again.