Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The future is bright, hope is renewed

1/30/13 Wednesday
          Today is a wonderful day, as is every day I wake up. I understand deeply that we live in a world where evil is rampant and spreads like a dark fog, ever growing and infecting all it touches. But I also know that there is light which shines brightly and where the light is darkness can’t abide. It is my desire to be a light in this darkness and to help others come into the light of the love of God but to do that I must fight the darkness. Jesus said “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

          There is much to do, as there always is here on the farm and in the other areas of life we have. Gracie kitty just crawled on my chest as I lay here with the laptop and decided to start “grooming” my beard. Makes typing a challenge. We love our animals and they love us. The heartbreak of losing our puppy, Maisey, is still raw and I miss her every day, as does Cherie also. The other three dogs we now keep very close at hand and they spend much more time inside.

          We had another West Texas blow yesterday so I will go see what has come and gone with the wind. There are already things I found uncovered that had been buried. One area of my garden had not been disked up and when I drove in from town I could see the sand/dirt blowing away from there. I had not disked it because we had just buried drip irrigation hose there so I didn’t want to risk cutting up what I had so carefully put a foot underground. Eventually I hope to build a device I can put on the back of the tractor that will allow me to put drip tape underground deeper and much easier. It would be easy to build but I don’t have the steel or tools to make it. We know someone who has a nice shop where I could build it but my relationship with him is…awkward I guess would be the word to use. We could do so much with just a little help and much of what we have came through the love of others. In the perfect world, the ideal one I strive to achieve, everyone would help everyone else but in the real world people are…human. Some good, some bad, some wander from good to bad and I’ve seen bad people do good things. Oh, and I understand well that I am right there with them, not always doing the good I want and sometimes doing the very thing I don’t like. But I strive to be better and hope to encourage others to do the same.

          We talked with the attorney yesterday. I am constantly learning and in learning will understand better and correct ways to do things. It was to be a half hour meeting but in reality  we talked with the attorney for almost an hour and a half. Great conversation that helped me understand what we need much better. I had the concept that what we needed to do was create the corporation and then sell stock to investors. Wrong!!! If we created a class C corporation that had a public stock offering then it would work that way but the last thing we want is a C corp. What I understand now is that I need to get investors lined up and then we create the corporation with them as partners or shareholders. I’m not sure that the word shareholder is appropriate. The corporation will either be a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or what’s called an S-Corporation. They both cost about the same to set up and the main difference seems to be in how taxes are done. Even after talking to the attorney I’m not totally clear and he said that this required an accountant to explain and set up. We won’t be selling stock like a corporation on the stock market has, the investors will be sharing in the corporation as partners.

          The one thing that both attorneys suggested is that I don’t want a lot of investors, that it would be better if I just found 2 or 4 big money guys to do this with. The consensus is that the more people we have involved the more likely we will find a “sour grape” who can make life for all difficult. Patrick (the first attorney we saw) used the term “unsophisticated” in reference to the small investors. I have many thoughts regarding this and will share them with you along with inviting everyone to tell me what you think.

          First thought is this. We live in a world of imperfect people and thus will always have problems. Nothing goes smooth as glass, especially when money is involved. Greed is an evil that can poison the purest heart and of course greed revolves around the acquisition of money. We have had “friends” who are wealthy. These friends helped us in many ways but when they looked at our oil well lease tried to get us to sign over the mineral rights and give them full authority over the well. It caught us by surprise and when I refused they suddenly became very unfriendly. (That’s putting it mildly)

          We have watched a show called “Shark Tank” where people petition a panel of millionaires to invest in their ideas. The name “Shark Tank” is entirely appropriate and one of the investors glories in his greed, bragging about how greedy he is as he works to convince those asking for help to surrender most or all of what they have to him. The rest of the panelists are less aggressive and more willing to help the petitioners profit along with them. The point is that they all enjoy making money and there is nothing wrong with that but I have seen much in life and wish to avoid the pitfall of having an investor who is more concerned about himself than in helping everyone to succeed. We just watched a program on PBS about Henry Ford and saw there the problems that came from investors and greed.

          So does that mean I am going to worry about it, to allow fear to rule? No, not at all, but it does mean that I will work hard to make sure that we are all on the same page, that we all understand we are in this together and that success comes when we work as a team. Our prayer is that God will bring in the right people, the partners who will be an asset instead of a liability. I choose to trust in the Lord in this but also understand that I play a key role here. My job will be to organize, coordinate, and make sure everything is done. I am the planner, designer, and will be the cheerleader too. Communication is the key. A big plus is that this role is one I am familiar with. My first successful company had a telemarketing room with 25 stations that ran several shifts. Telemarketing can be a depressing and frustrating occupation so I worked to create a positive upbeat atmosphere and also tried to stay on top of the internal politics that always exist when a group of people stay together. The corporation will be a little different from that but the principles are the same.

          Thought 2 – While I understand the concept of keeping the number of investors small to reduce the possibility of conflict and strife there is another side of this coin. I have been poor and I have been worth over a million dollars, and now I am poor again, according to the standards the government use to rate such things. Even though I no longer have all the material things that came with success I consider myself to be one of the richest people in the world. This is because I am alive after being dead, I have my mind back after the severe brain injury that left me like a child, and I have my faith in God back. Most of the people I minister to are poor folks struggling to make ends meet. The investors who have $25,000 or more to put into a project like this are not hurting at all. While it will be nice to find just a few people who can finance this entire operation the possibility exists that this might not happen. I told the lawyer that one way or another I will do what it takes to make our dream a reality, even if that meant I had to find thousands of small investors.

          But regardless of how that works, what I know is that for those who are living life on the tight side of finances the opportunity to invest seldom comes along. The lawyer suggested a $25,000 threshold to invest, that if someone can’t come up with at least that much to not accept their money. I understand where he’s coming from but my heart is to help those struggling, to make available to them the same opportunities those who are well off have. Considering that the attorney needs to draw up an investor agreement for every person who hands us money I can see the problems and expenses that would come with having hundreds of them to do but there is a way we can do this. One of those ways is to set up a trust and the trust is seen as a single entity even though it may be made up of hundreds of small investors. The trust then would purchase and own a percentage of the corporation. The corporation pays the trust a percentage of the profits earned and that is divided up to the participants in the trust based on the size of their investment.

          I’m not going to worry about people getting upset, I am aware that this can always happen. All of this is based on trust, and this is the key. You, the investor, have to trust and believe in me, my ability, the RV park concept, and the soundness of the business plan in order to hand me a check. Then I must trust you, that you understand the risks involved and that you will work with us all as we do what it takes to achieve the goal of creating a viable, and profitable, business enterprise.

          We will have an accounting firm to audit the books on a regular basis. There will be a board of directors who will take part in and vote for all major expenditures and activities. I plan on releasing a weekly or monthly newsletter that details what we did, what we spent, and what we plan on next. I will always be available by phone and you can drop by and see what’s happening anytime you want. Both lawyers said that I would need to become a paid employee of the corporation and my rate of pay would be determined by the board of directors.

          Part of what needs to be understood, especially by the small investors, is how the money will be handled and how you get a return on that investment. For the small investors I am aware that a thousand dollars is like a million. For those who don’t have much life is fragile and something like a car breaking down can be catastrophic, putting them in a position where they might not have food to feed their family. Then they are suddenly scratching to survive and if they had money invested in this project they would call to get it back. This is the kind of situation Patrick warned me about so here is how it works. I regard all who are in our life as family. Jesus said we are to love our neighbor as we love our self. The money our investors send us is not going to sit in a bank drawing interest, it will be spent building this business. If we can help those who have run into dire straits we will but legally that money is tied up in the corporation and if it paid for a backhoe to dig a hole we can’t fill in the hole and get the money back. When we get things built and start renting out spots to RVs then there is cash coming in. That cash goes to pay the bills first. There will be operating expenses, electrical bills, insurances, and other things. At first there won’t be much profit but once things are all built and spaces rented that will change. Then we will start paying dividends to the investors.

          How long will that take? With the old store and property on the interstate I estimate we can have it up and running in two months, and maybe even sooner. How long till you get your money back? That is harder to answer. Let’s say you invested one hundred dollars. We plan on two phases as we build this business. Phase one is to get the property on the interstate and have it up and running as quick as possible. Phase two is to build the bigger and better park on the farm land. Much depends on how much money we raise. If it is only enough for the first phase then we will focus on that and work to find investors for phase 2 after it is up and running. Your hundred dollars buys you part of the company so the cash is now converted to real estate. The dividends are a percentage of the profits made that will be issued probably every quarter. The board of directors meet and will decide that.

            I have to go now. There are people at the jail who need to hear that Jesus loves them and then I need to fire up the tractor and do some work with the dirt here. After that I must make lots of phone calls as we work to make this happen. Remember, God is good and life is what you make it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Is it wrong???

This mornings sunrise

1/24/13 Thursday
          Internet is coming and going this morning. Quite frustrating. Things are progressing with the corporation. The lawyer appointment was moved to Friday so there are always little delays. We met with some people from church who are interested and wanted to look into it deeper. The response was positive and that is encouraging. One of them is a successful businessman who has extensive experience and he not only was interested for himself but will contact his son, who is successful in business as well, and his daughter too. The other couple are retired and don’t have much experience in stuff like this but he asked some great questions that revealed areas I need to dig into deeper. One was “How long will it take to set up the corporation”. It’s a minor detail that is important as we have a deadline to meet in order to purchase the old store. But things look good and it will be exciting to accomplish this with the Lord’s help. When all is said and done it will be something God did.

          We got the pickup truck and drove it home from the mechanic’s shop. Stopped by and he wanted more time to flush the transmission out saying “I’ll have to do it the way you said”. I’m done with that. He’s been dancing around with the truck for months now. It appears that the battery I bought a year ago has been switched out as the one in it won’t hold a charge and is dated April 2009. The rear tire now goes flat in a matter of 2 hours so that has me wondering. We managed to get it home before it went flat again but it’s flat this morning. The power steering was fixed by another shop but was sure making noise on the way home so that’s another issue to deal with. The mechanic wanted more money as he whined about how much the transmission fluid cost, apparently forgetting he told me that Autozone gave him fluid for free. So I’m done.

          The diesel I have to work on so it can pass inspection. Took it in and they let me know that the tail lights and dashboard lights don’t work. When I lifted the hood I found this remnant of a pecan shell on the top of the motor. It has clearly been eaten by mice, who probably carried it up there because the motor was warm during the freezes we had. Nuts. That means there is probably some wire somewhere chewed by a mouse. These rodents have caused all kinds of problems. Once they chewed the spark plug wires on Cherie’s old car. There was a dead mouse in the other truck we just brought home and all the vehicles have shown evidence of mice in them. I’d put poison out but we don’t want the dogs to get poisoned.

          Today is warm. Supposed to hit 77 degrees. I need to go cut firewood as more cold is coming. Will make some calls regarding the business. It’s uncomfortable to call friends and ask if they would like to be a part of this. Just awkward for me. It’s not like I’m begging for money, for a handout, because we are highly confident this will make everyone money. But we need help, can’t do it alone. With that help we will create a company that will boast a 20 to 30 % profit margin based on what RV parks do nationwide. I think that a share of stock purchased at $100.00 would be worth double that in two years, on top of providing a yearly income based on the profits the corporation makes. The math is pretty easy on this. It will be so nice to not be poor anymore. And it will be a great public display of what can happen when Christians work together to help someone. With the business running then I can be in better shape to help others and it would provide the place I need to have bible studies and minister to all those I meet who have been not accepted by the local churches. 

           I meet them in the jail every week. Just met another man yesterday who is looking for a place he and his family can be comfortable in. He has tattoos all over and that probably didn’t help when it comes to people accepting them. Jesus hung out with the prostitutes, drunks, and the ones society shunned. When the religious people put Him down for it Jesus said “The people who are well don’t need a doctor. But the ones who are sick do so I go to them” (Bob paraphrase) Jesus’ harshest words were for the “religious” leaders, the ones who thought they were better than others. 

          If we get the business going I will be able to work on this house and start fixing the many things we couldn’t afford to do. Things like this window. There are many parts of this old house that are rotting away. Just replacing windows will go a long way in helping us not freeze or bake, plus reduce the amount of sand that blows in. It would be nice to be able to afford to have our vehicles fixed instead of relying on the gifts of others. 

            Is it wrong to desire these things? Is it wrong to be tired of living this way and being embarrassed to let someone visit? Is it wrong to want to earn an honest living? Is it wrong to ask friends for help? The answer should be it is not wrong but why do I feel so uncomfortable asking those we know, who are in much better shape, for the help to be self-supporting. I guess part of that is the experiences we have had in the past with some who were judgmental. It makes it hard to risk incurring more of that from others. We love our friends and don’t want to lose them. I guess when you have had the rug pulled out from under your feet by someone who would say “We love you guys” every time we met, people we had trusted and confided in, you get a little gun shy. But I will choose to trust our friends and choose to pursue this chance we have of doing something good. The rest is up to God.

Monday, January 21, 2013

All hail king Obama

1/21/13 Monday
          All hail king Obama. The savior of…? What? We can only get ABC, Fox, and PBS here on the farm though sometimes there is a religious station that comes in. As I listen to the adoration, the idolization poured out by the obviously liberal newscasters of ABC it brings home how far this country has fallen. Diane Sawyer just said “One nation, indivisible” as she gushed about the hopes they have in their reelected savior of all that liberals stand for, notably leaving out “Under God” as she misquoted our pledge of allegiance. This wasn’t a mistake. It was calculated and repeats what Obama has done ever since he became president.

          The news (perhaps propaganda would be a better way to put it) stories run as a part of this whole charade of pomp and crowning the king talk about how Obama will be the fourth of the “great” presidential fomenters of change. There was Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Don’t remember the other one but the newscaster said they pushed a great social agenda, which was a socialist agenda as they tried to reshape America.

          Liberals are progressives and progressives are socialists and socialism is a less authoritarian form of communism. At the core of their belief system is the idea that there is no God and that those who believe in God are backwards silly superstitious people who are intolerant because they have a moral code. For liberals there is no right or wrong, it’s all relative. What’s wrong today could well be right tomorrow. So it was no accident that Diane Sawyer left out “Under God” for the liberals find God and those who believe in God as repugnant.

          I am confident that God put Obama in office. “Why?” you might ask. Why would God put such a man in office, a man who is a master of lies and deception, a man who wants to mandate abortion and force those who, for moral reasons, because they believe in God and life, don’t accept abortion to pay for it? Why would God want a man who seems bent on bankrupting this country, to making it weak by gutting its military, who funded and encouraged the “Arab spring” that has placed radical Islamists in power. Why?

          For the same reason God raised up Nebuchadnezzar and made him king over Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was there to bring judgment on Israel. Israel had fallen from its relationship with God. Idolatry, homosexuality, robbery, the taking advantage of the weak and poor had become common place. I can almost hear what some are thinking “We don’t have idols. We don’t worship little statues of gods like they did in Israel”. Understand that an idol is anything you make more important than God. Greed is idolatry. The love of money is idolatry. A house or a car can be an idol. And someone we adore, be it a movie start, musician, or president, can become an idol.

          Who do you trust? What is it you place your faith in? Is it a man in the office of president? Is it the elected officials in Congress? Or is it God. There is a reality we must recognize, that judgment is coming. There was a time I did not believe there was a God, there was a time I wandered lost, but I have come home, I have learned there is a God and God’s hand is on us all. God knows the future and has revealed that future to us in the Bible. It is a future filled with turmoil and difficult times, a future of war and famine as things progress to their final chapter. It is a future where what you think is right and wrong will be challenged, where you will face choices that are telling, choices that reveal what you really believe. We will be asked to compromise our standards and in that face pressures to betray our God and the moral codes God gave to Moses centuries ago. Often the truth of that choice thrust on us will be disguised, camouflaged as something it is not in an attempt to fool us, like a magician fools their audience through distraction and sleight of hand. Jesus said we are to judge carefully and to judge according to the fruits, the results of an action. What causes division is not of God for God’s desire is for us to be united with Him, of one mind and one accord. There will be and is division, because there are always those who decide that what they want is more important than what God wants, and thus become their own idol, like Lucifer did, placing themselves as being higher than God.

          It’s cold out. There is a brisk wind blowing from the East. I started a fire with the hope of taking the bite out of that cold here in the house. Because the house is so porous the wind blows the cold right through. I must go cut more firewood as what we had is long gone now. There is always much to do. I finished disking the cleared farmland and hope to put Rye grain and vetch seed out today. Must go to Midland and give the business plan to an attorney. Perhaps the truck will be ready but I don’t have a lot of hope there because past performance is a good indicator of future behavior.