Thursday, November 21, 2013

I will overcome

11/21/13 Thursday
            Folks, I know I don’t post as much as I used to. Sorry about that. We have been busy for sure and the long hours I spend at the furniture store are wearing on me. Today I was home in time to watch the five o’clock news for the first time in a long time. Unfortunately the reason I was home was due to having one of the worst petite seizures I have experienced in years. It hit me, or caught up to me around 1:30, just as I was rushing to prepare a quote that is vitally important to the company. Today was one of those days where everything came at once, and to add to that our two new employees both failed to show up for work, or even call in. It was one thing after another and I suspect that is what triggered the seizure. Cherie called and could hear it in my voice so rushed to the store. She made sure I had some food because sometimes that helps, but not this time. It was so bad that there was doubt I should drive home but I refused to leave the truck at the store overnight. Cherie followed me closely to insure I was safe and I got home okay.

            That was nine hours ago and I am still feeling drained. I try so hard to get this company running smoothly but it sometimes seems like I am a one man show with little or no help. I have constant reminders that I am not the man I once was, that the damage from the car accident still slows me down, but I keep pressing on. I will succeed despite the difficulties. That is me. I will overcome these obstacles that make things harder than they used to be.

           I buried Rascal three weeks ago on October 22. He had gotten to the point he could not stand up and greet me despite trying when I arrived home. It was time. We took him to the vet and she administered the medicine that allowed Rascal to pass on as I petted his head and loved him. It was heartbreaking but in this there are spiritual lessons to be learned. There are many cancers in our lives. Some we can get rid of and some we cannot. All of them cause pain and death.

            I have a fire going now. It was in the 70’s today but a cold front is blowing in as I write. They predict it will drop into the 20’s tonight and be freezing for three or four days. There may be sleet, snow, or freezing rain so I pray for safety on the roads. There are so many new people in the area due to the oil boom that the traffic is horrible and it seems someone dies in an accident almost every day.

            We are trying to move forward and purchase that old store on the interstate. That is another project that has been neglected due to the long hours I am working. I need help in so many areas but people are busy with their own lives so there is little time left for them to spend on other things. I understand that.

            We finally connected with the widow we help. My weekly calls were unanswered for months and her daughter picked up the phone. We learned that Geneva had suffered a heart attack, then a stroke, then an allergic reaction to medication, so had been hospitalized for months. Cherie and I have visited her at the rehab nursing home she is recovering in and plan on making that a regular event. She was so glad to hear from us and then see us again. 

            I am tired. There is so much to do and so little of me to do it. Tomorrow is another day and I will rejoice and be glad, for every day I have is a gift from God. Y'all be good and be careful. Love ya and may God bless you.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hard to keep up

10/19/13 Saturday
            There is so much going on it is hard for me to keep up. We finally have legal evaluations regarding the title to that old store that instill enough confidence to go forward with purchasing the property. It has been ten long months working on this. Unfortunately the investors we had lined up were not all able to wait ten months so now I must once again put together an investor package to find the funds needed to put this project together.

            It was five months ago that I took over management of A-1 Office Furniture. I was asked if I would be able to work on getting the store project together and run A-1 Furniture too. I assured the person who asked that I can but it was a good question that I must honestly consider this. When I first took over the furniture store I was putting in 70 to 80 hours a week. I’ve dropped that down to about 60 hours a week or less and hope to get things running smooth enough in the future that I can work something that looks like a normal work week. I really have no desire to spend my life running that furniture business. My heart is to serve the Lord but I have to pay the bills too.

           This is why we hope to get something going with that old store. It would provide income while at the same time affording opportunity for me to tell about the Love of God. Add cabins and RV spots and we will also help provide badly needed housing for some of the many people who are coming here to find work.

            Rascal’s cancer has progressed rapidly. His quality of life is gone now so we made the decision that it is time to allow him to pass on. We have a call in to the vet and will have her help Rascal move on next week. It is hard to say the least. I am giving Rascal as much love as I can. Spending time with him during his moments of energy and sitting with him when he has a hard time moving. He gets lots of treats and morsels of food as we work to make his last hours as pleasant as possible. Once Rascal is gone there is much cleaning to do. We will have to paint walls and buy new sheets because of the blood from the tumors has stained much of the house. Then there is the smell. We love our Rascal and thus endure much that I suspect few would put up with. The tumors are full of infection so I wash Rascal daily and coat the many tumors with iodine and anti-biotic ointment. Then I cover the huge tumor on his back with a large abdominal bandage that Cherie found, using almost a whole roll of tape to secure it good enough to stay on twelve or so hours. By then the bandage is soaked through and falling apart.

            I am still managing to keep up with the prison ministry during all this. We are heading out for another four day Kairos event soon in Fort Stockton and today I drove to Lamesa to spend a day at the Smith Unit prison. Building the office furniture business is a challenge and brings a decent check along with the accolades of being successful but in my mind this pales in comparison to helping people find the Love of God. It is late and I am tired so good night folks and God Bless.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Comfort can be dangerous and lead to lazy

10/6/13 Sunday
        Rascal is having a better day today. Yesterday I had to carry him to the front room because he was too weak to walk. The smell emanating from the tumors has been getting hard to handle so we decided to keep him in the front room at night. This way we hope to get a better nights rest. What you see on the wall in this picture is blood from the biggest tumor. It is hard to watch your loved pet die for sure but we know people who have watched husbands, children, and others they love endure great hardship as disease took them away. The hard part for us is we will have to make the decision when Rascal no longer has a quality of life left to say goodbye and let him go on to his next life. I personally believe that we will see our pets in heaven. I’m sure some theologian will argue that point but I really don’t care.

            Heard a teaching that was disturbing. Seemed to suggest Christians don’t need to take responsibility and are not expected or required to do much regarding their faith. The idea was that God controls everything so we don’t have to worry about anything. There is a complacency in the church that is sad to watch, an ideal that says all we have to do is show up for church and say nice things and that is all God expects or requires. How far from the truth this is. What you really believe is demonstrated by what you do. Faith without works is dead, just a lot of empty words designed to impress someone without requiring any effort or sacrifice. It’s a comfortable Christianity, one that appeals to many, meantime I know of many who are being persecuted and killed because they will not deny their faith, even when threatened with death.

            It’s late and I am tired so goodnight folks. The furniture store is doing well but has much room for improvement. We are proceeding on buying that old store on the interstate now that we have gotten expert opinions on the title. So I will once again put the word out for investors. Been nine months since this property became available. Will be nice to get it done.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

been a while

9/15/13 Sunday
            Well it has been over three months since I posted on this blog. A whole lot has happened for sure. I’ve been averaging 60 to 70 hours a week running the Office Furniture company. Doesn’t leave me much time for other stuff and by the time I get home I am pretty worn out and sometimes hurting from moving and putting together furniture. But we are pulling the company out of the hole that the bad guy made though it is still pretty tight. I have been keeping the journal some but much of what is in it is personal stuff that I would not want to post on the blog.

            So let me write a little thumbnail of what has been going on the last few months. Taking of leadership of A-1 Office Furniture has been a challenge. The owners had some bad business habits that needed to be addressed and some people don’t change easy or quickly. Everything was an incredible mess due to two years of neglect. Lots of funds were embezzled and that hidden in poorly kept books. The reputation of the company had been purposely damaged by the bad guy and bookkeeper, who were working together to destroy the company so they could pick up the pieces.

            The employees who we had to help with delivery and general labor came with lots of problems, problems I am familiar with. This has been a reminder for me of where the Lord has brought me from and helps me be grateful for the freedom I now enjoy through Christ.

9/19/13 Thursday
            First day of Kairos at Smith Unit. When we got out around 7:00 and just arrived at the church I got a phone call from Steve Ausmus. First words out of his mouth were “I’m serving you papers. I’m suing the whole bunch of you for Slander”. My first reaction was to laugh. He went on to talk about how some lady had been in the office and that we had slandered him. I laughed more. Steve said I was a poor salesman, bragged he made forty thousand a month doing moves, and said we took 8 hours to put a desk together among other things. Then he went back to threatening me. I told him he would have a hard time making that kind of money in prison and he said he was paying some high priced lawyers and that the charges were already dismissed. I said “No they aren’t” and his response was a smug “are you sure”. When I said I was he replied that they would be and repeated the threat to sue me for slander. “In order to slander you I must lie. All I do is tell others the truth about who you are and what you did” I responded. I told him that he was all talk and until I was served papers I would not believe a word he said because he had already proven himself to be a liar. Then came the expected attack on my faith “Is that how a Christian should act?” I laughed more.

9/24/13 Tuesday
            I am sitting in the Dallas Fort Worth airport this morning. Flew up here to pick up the car that the Charles’ are giving to us. Have a two hour layover for the flight to Longview. God is so good. We were surprised when they said they had prayed and felt God wanted them to give us the car. On the way home from visiting them in Longview a few weeks back, after they said we could have the car, the tire blew on Cherie’s car and tore up the fender and much more. Literally ripped the front quarter panel off the car. We tied and taped it back on to finish the 5 hour drive home. This is so like God, who knows what we need before we need it. I suspect there will be more to it than that. That we will learn of a greater need for the car they are giving us than we know now. It leaves me wondering what God has in mind, what plans He has for us.

         Work is still a challenge and always will be. I must fire an employee who can’t seem to overcome his drinking problem. He isn’t trying and doesn’t seem to think he has a problem at all. The issue with him is that he keeps hustling for a few dollars and seemingly does so to get more money to drink and perhaps do drugs with. Part of my job is to protect Harry from those who use his good nature and gullibility to take advantage of him. The employee lied to our bookkeeper two pay days ago to get a check without taxes taken out and then lied again last pay day when I had made it clear he was not to get a check. I did not pick him up for work yesterday and he never called to ask why that day. He called this morning and asked if I was going to pick him up and when I explained why I wasn’t he called Harry and said he quit so demanded his check. Harry called me so I instructed him that the employee was not to get paid till Friday. It is always sad to watch people continue on in lifestyles that destroy, sad to see them refuse to take the path of life.

            It has been so long since I posted on this blog. I keep starting to write a post and always seem to have something come up that prevents me from finishing. Got a phone call yesterday from a reporter with the Midland newspaper. He is writing an article on the homeless in Midland and had learned I once was homeless so asked if I would be willing to talk about that with him. “Sure I would” I responded, saying that I would be glad to share my life if in anyway it helps others. He had lots of good questions and it gave me an opportunity to tell of how God had restored my life, mind, and marriage. He asked if I had much contact with the homeless in Midland so I shared that we had many homeless come through our doors at the furniture store and we are able to help a few. When he asked if there was a common factor I saw in what made people homeless and I said that often it was an addiction to drugs or alcohol that seemed to be prevalent.

            Our dog, Rascal, has terminal cancer with tumors all over his body. It is heartbreaking but we will spoil him rotten for as long as he lives. As I ponder his condition and wonder about it a thought keeps coming to my mind. Rascal’s condition is a good illustration of the condition of the church, especially here in America. There are many cancers in the church. Cancers of greed, apathy, envy, judgment, and compromise. These cancers are growing like the tumors on Rascal’s back and spreading rapidly. In the church there is a complacency that is reinforced by the large numbers of people who are all patting each other on the back saying “You’re doing just fine and look around, everyone else is just like you so we all must be right”. This self-deceit is like a contagious disease and is led by thousands of false prophets, who all preach a message of tolerance and compromise. In doing so these shepherds are leading tens of thousands down a broad and easy path to destruction.

            It is late. I finally arrived back home after picking up the car and checking out what will be offered at an auction in Fort Worth. Spent six hours on the road so I can use some sleep. Will be a busy day tomorrow. Sure wish I could find more time to write.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Finally. Big changes, I am manager of A-1 furniture after putting old manager in jail

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 

            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.