Thursday, December 28, 2006

canada's just alright with me

Finally over the stomach bug. Got out in the snow today and looking forward to going into town tomorrow or soon after.

Canada is kind of an unknown land to most Texans, and I guess most Americans. This is a fact that pisses off Canadians to no end. They'll get over it, I'm sure.

But seriously, Canadian's subtle biterness against anything American is kin to a Napolean complex, or at least that's my diagnosis. I got nothing against Canada. And besides, I grew up next to Mexico. Most Texans don't care what's north of Oklahoma

I was introduced to Canada the way all rock loving suburbanites from Houston were: by Rush.

I haven't listened to Rush in years, except when they come on one of the fair mother city's two classic rock stations.

Geddy Lee gave all of us high-tech bass players with goofy voices hope: that we too could become cool.

My life is not despised one bit. But if I could do it all over, I'd be Geddy Lee. I can at least play some of Rush's songs while immitating his granny-on-steroids voice. That's gotta be valuable somewhere.

Anyway, never in my youth did I suspect I'd marry a Canadian. Glad I did, though.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

it's a U.N. christmas

There were 21 of us at my in-law's house here in Saskatchewan for christmas. Including: my wife's Jamaican cousin, her brother's German girlfriend (now fiance), and a 24 hour stomach flu to pass around.

I was the latest casualty. Which really sucks because I never get sick and I was convinced I had super human strength to avoid this one.

Not to point out blame or anything...but a certain mother-in-law always seems to be a carrier of minor 24 hour bugs. She passed along one in Texas 7 christmases ago (I proudly survived that one). Plus, she announced to us on our first night here how she just got over a stomach flu. Great.

So...I blame her. Even though my 2 year old was the first obvious casualty at the dining table one night. Disgusting.

But honestly, it's been a great holiday. Wouldn't trade it for anything.

And I received the book Irresistible Revolution mentioned here earlier. Not that I was hinting for gifts or anything...but now I won't have to find a copy to borrow. You can borrow mine.

I also received some recorded music by Saskatchewan's finest: Joni Mitchell. Nice.

Hope all is well out there in the agent network.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

testimony #024

Our 8th anniversary was a couple of days ago.

Agent Wife's lil sis and husband gave us a huge gift: an day without kids.

They even got us a killer room at one of the best hotels in town.

Agent Wife and I went out to a movie and ate out at a hoity steakhouse. It rocked.

We haven't done anything remotely similar to this in three years.

Thank you CEO.

Monday, December 18, 2006


While in Saskatchewan, I am determined to hear the CEO on some issues in the life of my family and our mission. Before we left the fair mother city, I wrote down a short, four point list of things to pray and meditate on.

Everybody hears the CEO differently. And I mean "hear" as in...hear, I guess. Anything really. An audible voice. A relevant scripture. Who knows.

I usually hear the CEO while walking. By myself. On long walks. I haven't heard him much in the past year. And that's not due to lack of walking, because I walk everywhere possible. His last word to me was "wait". So I figure I better not expect much more than that. But I'm ready for another word since some things in my life are shifting around.

When I visit my in-law's acreage, I like to walk the perimeter of their property. It's long, lonely, seldom traveled, and I enjoy it. But I usually do this in the summer.

So I figure, what's the difference if there's over 2 feet of snow. I'll just bundle up.

Most of the time the CEO talks to me through my actions. As in...what I find myself doing ends up being the message. Weird, I know.

Saturday I started out on my acreage walk. I got maybe a quarter of the first side of the property and I wondered if was not the stupidest thing I've ever done.

The stupidest thing I've ever done was hiking behind that waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. The path behind the water was about 2 feet wide of slippery rock. And five stories down was the typical jagged rocked death that awaited me. Stupid, but fun.

But this snow trek counldn't be that stupid. It's not like search teams would have to go finding me. You can't get lost on the acrage. But I did see a coyote.

It was only -5C (22F?) and that's warm. But it was snowing and the wind was blowing against me. So it felt like...-90C.

Walking through 2+ feet of semi-soft snow takes a lot of energy. And you don't move very fast though it. I needed to help shovel a driveway after this walk and I wondered if I'd have the energy after this fool-ass trip. I trucked on anyway.

After about half way through I realized that if I do this everyday, it'll probably get easier, since I will have made huge tracks.

If it doesn't snow a lot, and if I keep at it, maybe there will be a huge trail that I can just walk through in the next three weeks.

...there's got to be a message in that somewhere.

Friday, December 15, 2006

testimony #023

In the airport at Minneapolis/St. Paul in route to Saskatchewan, Agent Wife and I met a young couple returning home after a semester in New Jersey.

They couldn't be older than 20. The gal struck up a conversation based on our squirming babies and we hit it off, I suppose.

They of course asked where we were from, going to, etc. Which led to how we met and what do we do in the fair mother city.

For some reason we actually told them without the secret agent lingo, but with more of an Uncle George-like description.

They asked what group we were with and we explained we weren't with anyone but the CEO and that he provided.

I didn't even know if this couple were christ followers or not. Turns out they met each other in some menonite youth group.

When the plane landed in Saskatchewan, they came up the AGent Wife in the baggage claim and slipped us a $100 support check.

Thank you CEO.

PS - we made it to Saskatchewan

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

adios, gringos

As some song says, I'm headed for the land of the ice and snow, where the something something and harsh winds blow. Hometown of Agent Wife. And folk singer Joni Mitchell.

This will be a long overdue break (three whole weeks) from the fair mother city (and Texas, and the US at that).

I don't plan to spend much time on computers, but I'll post agent reports as they come up. Vacation or not, agents are always on duty.

Please keep in touch...

Monday, December 11, 2006

irresistible quote

Throughout the agent network and its related blog reports, I’ve read many quotes of this Shane Claiborne and his book Irresistible Revolution.

This sounds like one of the many, many books I’d love to read, yet can’t afford now. And since it falls under our local library’s radar scopes, I can only hope a local acquaintance has a copy to lend. (Hint).

Here’s the latest quote I’ve read:

When people begin moving beyond charity and toward justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with folks in struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to charity. One of my friends has a shirt marked with the words of late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: “When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.”

Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get crucified for charity. People are crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping poor people. People are crucified for joining them.

Charity: good.

Love for the poor: bad.

I think I can definitely endorse these words without having read this book.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

so you want to be a secret agent (pt. III)

Try not to blow your cover.

When you’re out on the field and hear words like “shit, fuck, god damn, or ass hole”, don’t flinch.

You don’t have to embrace, repeat, or encourage words like these.

But flinching will blow your cover.

Mission over.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

so you want to...(pt. II)

So Agent B (if that’s you REAL name), I see that you don’t have a JOB. You are unemployed. Do I also have to be jobless to be a secret agent?

No jackass. Your job/career field could very well be the mission out reach that the CEO has placed you in. So go undercover in your work place by not waving your Christianity on a flag. Blend in with the scenery. Learn to love and befriend your coworkers.

My “unemployment” was a subtle transition into this secret agent calling. The ministry I was associated with had lost its funding over time. Eventually, I had no pay but the CEO continued to meet our needs somehow. And the ministry (izzy group) eventually lost its presence in the city and the CEO has been showing me how to minister amongst the poor without the confines of an institution. I do not know how long this assignment will last.

Hide my faith at work?!? Jesus tells us to be the salt of the earth and to let our light shine before men. How else am I supposed to tell my heathen coworkers that I’m saved and they’re not?

Aw man, I don’t even know where to go with this...

As a bonafide salt lover, I’d choose chips over cookies any day. Have you ever put salt on your food and have the saltshaker top fall off and dump the whole bottle on your food? Did you eat it? It tastes like crap, right? Salt is meant for small, consistent, reliable doses. Not a slap in the face.

I also see that you are not associated with any of our lord’s institutionalized churches. Do I have to leave my church to be a secret agent?

No. Your church could also be a place for your undercover activity, depending on your specific assignment from the CEO. Just be aware of the possibility that your church leaders may eventually place expectations on you that are contrary to the calling the CEO gives you as a secret agent. And in the end, it’s best to choose god (CEO) rather than man (church leaders) – Acts 5: 29. At least, that was my experience to a degree.

Monday, December 04, 2006

so you want to be a secret agent (pt. I)

The following series of blog reports will be a semi-serious attempt to explain this missionary schtick of mine known as secret agent, aka undercover operative for the CEO of the universe.

Not that I believe in wordy explanations for anything.

Like music, if the artist(s) have to explain their music with verbiage before and/or after an initial listening, then the music didn’t do it’s job.

Faith is similar. When jesus followers have to give verbose explanations and debates for everything, then perhaps their life as a whole is lacking in the faith they claim. I don’t know. Just a theory.

But the agent b files have been up and running for over a year. And it’s time for a somewhat clear-cut explanation, if possible. So as long as I’ve got time to waste, here goes…

Part I: definition

What is a secret agent/undercover operative? – There is no Webster’s definition that I know of. And I don't feel like googling a definition. But it’s basically a person masquerading as someone else in order to complete a task or extended mission.

I have real problems with that “masquerading” part. That word generally means faking or pretending. I like to be real, not fake. Movie actors who pretend to be someone else on film will actually go through real life situations before or during filming in order to not fake it. In preparation for Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg put Tom Hanks and crew in a real life army boot camp for six weeks.

I watched a TV program recently about an FBI agent who went undercover as a biker in order to join the Hell’s Angels to help bring some of their murdering members to justice. The FBI couldn’t send in some guy faking the biker life. He’d be exposed and killed instantly. So they used an agent who actually was a biker in his spare time and knew the culture. Some faking might have happened and some on-the-spot acting was necessary. But the agent could fit in with the Hell’s Angels without being noticed. Basically, the agent WAS a Hell’s Angel.

My particular missionary calling is to the poverty culture of the fair mother city. It makes sense why the CEO had me do this. I’ve been in this city almost half my life. I was born and raised middle class. But many key situations throughout my life have trained me for this moment without my knowing. Including a 4-year stint as a minister of benevolence with a food pantry and other offerings to the poverty community.

Now I am one of “them”. Embedded within their neighborhood and various life situations. No longer an us vs. them ordeal. I am them. But I am the CEO’s. I am one of them, but I am not. Confusing? Maybe.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

testimony #022

As a christmas gift, a family member decided to buy me and my family airline tickets for our Canada trip in two weeks.

This is a huge answer.

Everyone who hears this says something like, "good. I was nervous about you driving".

Yeah, no duh. How do you think I felt? Driving 1700 miles one way, straight north in winter conditions, with my two babies in diapers, in an aging semi-reliable car with 238,000 mi that's never operated in -25C before.

Guess I'm a Texas driver.

Thank you CEO.

Friday, December 01, 2006

1000 words #002

(circa: late 1930's)

This is Obi-Wan and, "...some woman I took to a dance." He can't remember her name.

But that hasn't stopped him from keeping this framed photo in his living room for over 50 years.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

rite of passage

A few weeks ago our neighbor Jessie Sanford, the 20 year-old daughter of Frieda, moved out of her mother’s house and got her own residence.

Jessie tried this once before recently with a former boyfriend and his family. It lasted about a week or so.

This time she not only got a new boyfriend, but she rented her own place as opposed to moving in with an established family. Jessie and her new boyfriend Juan will be sharing a small duplex with her 17 year-old homeless friend Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s boyfriend.

The four of them plan to live off Jessie’s $600 a month disability check plus whatever other income comes along.

Leaving the nest seems to be as taboo as family finances, or possibly sex. Sex is far less taboo than money, in my observation. Empty nest is as awkward for the poverty class as it is for the middle class. Leaving the nest involves change, and few people enjoy change.

I always wondered how the poverty class dealt with the empty nest since middle class kids usually have college enrollment as a way out.

I guess the poor’s empty nest dealings often involve some sort of temporary love relationship.

Middle class Christians would first shun Jessie for her decision to move in with a boyfriend. Then second, they would gasp at her flakey financial plan.

I’m not a fan of half-assed commitments. But thankfully that’s between Jessie, her boyfriend, and the CEO.

And I’m not excited for her financial support either.

But I’m proud that Jessie took her own initiative to move away from home, regardless of her method. Waiting for everything to be "perfect" before moving from mom and dad's is a goal that may never be met. Sink or swim cannot be all that bad.

My parents divorced when I moved off to college. I’ve more or less been on my own since age 18. It wasn’t easy and I made big financial mistakes. But I learned from those mistakes, which have helped make me into what I am now.

CEO – I request that you protect Jessie from any physical dangers of her new living situation and that you would strengthen her through any potential mistakes.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Testimony #020 & #021

#020: Before the family and I left town for the holidays last week, we received a support check in the mail.

This is weird because we’re missionaries, yet we don’t receive support of any kind.

Except from this one Canadian guy. He sends us a total of $1300 CAN a year in two checks. One in December and one in the spring.

The check is always in Canadian funds.

Texas banks are fairly non-cosmopolitan so they freak out when they see non-US funds. But since we’ll be in Canada when this check is dated (mid December), we can take it with us. And we won’t have to be totally broke and bumming off family.

Perfect timing.

#021: As of 11:30 this morning the Star Destroyer finally sold. Thank the CEO all around.

Over a week ago some local real estate big wig answered my ad for the car. And since his livelihood is based on haggling, I knew what I was in for.

He first made a ridiculously low offer. Then he bumped it up $1000. That was still lower than what I wanted, but nobody else had called on the car and our rent was over-due. It was Friday and I told him I’d think about it over the weekend.

After prayer, I decided to call him on Monday with a price slightly higher than his final offer. He wouldn’t take it. No sale.

But he called me twice later that week. He still wouldn’t budge on price. He wanted it bad. But I was out of town during his second call.

Then we get back from Houston and this 80 year old cattle rancher from Throckmorton calls. He was the real deal. He was friends with the late Watt Matthews so I knew he was one of those millionaire types that act real low-key.

In the end, Cattle Rancher bought it for about what it was worth, which was a little higher than Real Estate guy offered.

If I had been home to answer Real Estate guy’s call, I would have sold it to him for his low offer out of desperation.

Not only can we now pay November rent, but also rent through January. We can pay off the balance on the heat/AC unit we had installed 3 years ago. We can pay back dad for what was owed on the car. And there’s enough for food & bills through December or so.

And this morning the mortgage company called saying if we didn’t have the payment in by tomorrow, things would start getting nasty.

Perfect, perfect timing. Thank you CEO.

Monday, November 27, 2006

more Uncle George wisdom

The Autobiography of George Muller: A Million and a Half in Answer to Prayer is highly recommended here on the agent b files. I just found this book a couple of weeks ago at a local library. I was unaware that Uncle George had written an autobiography. And I was also unaware that this publication was recently made available (2003) as it’s been out of print since 1905.

It’s 700 pages long with small print. This makes Agent Wife laugh every time she sees me reading. I’m a very slow reader. But I’m gonna try...

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an entry that has rung true with my most inner fiber for years.

Long before the orphanages existed, Uncle George was setting off from his native Prussia (and eventually Germany) to become a missionary amongst Jewish people in England. He was therefore associated with a Jewish missionary society which had planned to ordain him and set the course for his work.

UG writes that he eventually had, “objections to being connected with any state church or national religious establishment, which arose from the increased light which I had obtained through the reception of this truth, that the Word of God is our only standard, and the Holy Spirit our only teacher.” [itallics by UG]

In other words, UG didn’t need an organization of man telling him when, where, and how to minister.

He didn’t need a denominational backing. He didn’t need a “covering” other than that of Christ.

Knowing full and well that there’s no salary outside an institution, UG made his needs known only to the CEO from then on.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

prophet without honor

I never fully understood what Jesus was trying to say with the words “a prophet is without honor in his home town” (not the actual verbiage, but close).

The family and I are in my home town of Houston for the holiday. And due to some kind of poor communication, we are now staying twice as long as originally planned.

I don’t like my home town. It's the suburbs and they seem to stand for most everything I am not. Plus, I feel so pointless here.

And it doesn’t help that Obi-Wan is in the hospital. Plus, I have two major handyman projects that are left undone back in the fair mother city. I don't rest well with unfinished business. Plus, I’m still trying to juggle out November bills and upcoming December ones. Plus, I’m trying to figure what auto maintenance prep work I need before traveling to Canada and just how exactly we are getting there, etc.

Plus, I hate Houston.

But it seems to bless my mother that we stay longer since she has so little time off from her job.

I’ve always found a fine line between honoring my parents and hating my own parents to follow Jesus.

It’s a kin to the fine line between a guy like me flourishing in a calling and identity outside of my home town versus the dozens of people I know who have done quite well living in the same place all of their lives.

All this to say...I am in Houston on extended Thanksgiving holiday and I wish I wasn’t. I’m trying to relax and make the best of it despite the TV, traffic, and materialism that’s shoved down our throats. I probably need a break from the fair mother city. But I don’t feel like I’m getting much of one.

So it goes.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back to the Hilton

Obi-Wan got word today that he needs to check in to the hospital tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

His legs and feet have been worse than ever. They keep him up all night with pain.

This will be his third stay at the Hilton this year. He was in for three weeks in February and two weeks in July/August. So I'm hoping he's due for only a one week stay.

I won't get to see him much this week since we're headed down south for the holiday.

For the last month, Obi-Wan has been talking as if he won't live through Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. He's been real antsy about getting some affairs in order and saying that the CEO gave him the idea to get things in order.

As selfish as it sounds, I hope he's not right about this.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


The other day I had the means to pay our water bill. This is a good thing. And the fact that I had the money before the bill was due is even better.

I always go downtown to pay this bill at the water department. It gives me a good excuse to go downtown and possibly run into old friends. And I’m too cheap to use a stamp if I can pay in person.

Our water bill has been paid like this for almost three years now. I think the ladies behind the cashier's desk are starting to recognize me. And I’d guess they’d refer to me as that guy who pays his bill early. They smile at me every time. I take it that someone paying a water bill early is a rare occasion for them.

Often times there will be other people there paying a bill at the same time as myself. And usually the bill they are holding has bright red on it. I think a red bill means their water bill is not only late, but it’s really, really late.

Once, I remember being at the water department and running into an old coworker of mine from the music store I use to work at. Elwood was a legendary blues keyboardist in the fair mother city. He was also a legendary alcoholic. I hadn’t seen Elwood in months and he looked worse than most of my homeless friends. Elwood had one of those red bills in his hand along with a bunch of wadded up cash and the cashiers had that “look” on their face. That emotionless, I don’t give a crap about you or anything look.

Elwood’s liver finally got the best of him and I saw him a month later in a casket at a funeral home.

When I went to pay my bill the other day there was a skinny, crippled poor-looking woman in front of me with one of those medical canes. The kind that’s metal with a grey hand grip and four little legs at the bottom. All I heard her say to the cashier was “My water just got turned off and I’m a little short this month”.

The crippled lady was directed to the customer service desks. She hobbled over to these desks and stood there for about a minute before being acknowledged by the service worker who could obviously hear the conversation and knew she was coming.

The customer service worker stared blankly at a computer screen with “the look” in her face. “...can I help you...?

The whole room could hear the crippled woman’s words again. “My water just got turned off and I’m a little short this month”.

I wanted to pay for the woman’s bill. But I didn’t have any more money after my own bill was paid.

I wanted to ask the customer service gal if being calloused was a prerequisite for her job or just a survival tactic.

All utility cashiers are calloused. It must be a chapter in their employee handbook: Look like you don’t care, don’t have a heart, leave your humanity at home.

I remember being the customer service person.

People came into the old izzy group ministry by the bus load asking for help with various utility bills. At first, I was compassionate. But after a while I couldn’t escape callousness and judgementalism.

Why couldn’t they pay their bills THIS time? What did they spend their money on now?

But now I know what that crippled woman goes through. Regardless of her story or excuse.

More and more each day I become closer to slipping into her shoes.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Uncle George revisited

My all time hero in the faith is George Muller.

Anyone who housed over 120,000 orphans throughout a lifetime and refused to ask any individual to flip the bill for the kid’s needs or his own needs is beyond A-OK with me.

Muller solely trusted in the CEO and thus remained in constant communication with him. He refused pay for the sermons he delivered in churches and he never used the pulpit (or any public forum) to announce the needs of the children or his own life.

He only went to the CEO.

Uncle George believed that the CEO of the universe was the same today as He was yesterday and beyond.

I try to live the same.


I’m currently watching miracles unfold in my life even though other blatant needs go unmet. But I trust that my needs will be met in a timely fashion.

Muller started the orphanage in his own house in 1836. For the first two years, all needs were met well. But the years 1838-1846 was a period of great trial. The finances for the orphanage were barely existent. The years were supposedly "...designed by the Lord to deepen Mr. Muller's faith and to show him that prayer is no vain thing".*

I think I’m in a similar period of great trial. But I know and trust the CEO is there.

…and I pretend to walk this out with “…scarcely a tremor.”*

*(p. 87 of George Muller: Delighted in God by Roger Steer).

Monday, November 13, 2006


We had kind-of a monumental event in our household recently. My 2-year old, Agent Offspring #1 prayed to the CEO of the universe by his own initiative.

AO1 was sitting alone at the dinner table with food before the rest of us joined. Agent Wife witnessed him bowing his head with eyes closed and mumbling some unintelligible 2-year old talk interspersed with these recognizable words:

momma (Agent Wife)
dadda (me)
mimi (AO2)
Saba (our dog)
snay-nay (our cat)
Bih-Buh (“Big Buddy” aka Obi-Wan)

I think AO1 was giving thanks for all of these things. I later asked him to pray at our dinner time and he thanked the CEO for more of the same.

Slides and swings: I forgot how these playground toys are some of his most favorite things in the whole world. I’ve rarely heard him mention these outside the playground.

I guess AO1 was praying partially because it’s what Agent Wife and I do. And AO1 is highly imitative at this age.

But somewhere Jesus mentioned that the kingdom is for people like AO1. So maybe I’m the one who should do the imitating.

I need to be more thankful for the slides and swings in my life.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Little Wing

A few days ago, I met Jack for coffee down at the Jedi Counsel Room. We need to enjoy that place as much as possible before the fair mother city’s newly proposed smoking ban makes it extinct. And that could happen in the next 40 days.

Thanks local voters.

While there, I ran into one of my new favorite homeless friends, Little Wing.

Most of the homeless folks I know go way back to the old izzy ministry days. Not Little Wing. I met him earlier this year when I hung out in the basement at the downtown Baptist Beach Head. We played a few games of dominoes and had a meal together there once or twice.

If you travel through the down town area of the fair mother city, you can’t miss Little Wing. He’s the effeminate black guy who looks like Jimi Hendrix.

I love it. All these hoity-toity folks walking the down town area pretending they’re real big-city or something, and Texas guys wearing starched shirts, decorative belts with little silver disc-thingys on them, and starched jeans (just what the hell are starched jeans?) along with a homeless guy who looks like my favorite dead rock star.

Little Wing is very well groomed. Especially for one who lives outside. He’s got a cool mini-dreadlocked afro and he wears a different funky, almost feminine outfit every day. Sometimes he’ll wear some floral-printed sports jacket with ruffles on the cuffs. I swear that jacket came straight from the Hendrix wardrobe.

I wish I could get away with wearing stuff like that.

Although I don’t know him real well yet, Little Wing seems to be one of the more non-threatening people in the homeless society. He’s a real sweet guy who wouldn’t harm anyone. Although painfully shy, he can still maintain his quiet, dainty ways in a cut-throat domino competition...which shows more than a bit of confidence.

Sometimes I fantasize that he’d walk the down town area, carrying a lefty Strat and, in that quiet feminine voice, ask those Texan hob-nobbers if they were experienced.

That would be funny.

I’m convinced that Little Wing is demon possessed. He talks nonsense to himself often. Butterflies and zebras. And moonbeams and fairytales. It’s all he ever talks about.

And he refers to himself as “we”.

I talk to myself too. But I call myself “I”. Maybe I’m only half possessed.

Most American Christians would say Little Wing has mental problems. Maybe mental problems and demon possession are one in the same. I don’t know. And I don’t care.

I admit: I usually lean towards the spiritual diagnosis of people and away from the medical diagnosis. But I don’t ignore the medical entirely.

All I know is that Jesus said to drive out demons in his name. Yet we Americans and Westerners seem to create and buy more and more pills for our “problems”. Is there a TV commercial break without a designer medication being pushed?

I don’t know too much about demon exorcism. But the CEO sent word and examples through his son to do it.

I’d bet believers in Africa, Haiti, parts of Mexico and Latin America, hell...anywhere that’s not the top wealthiest nations on earth...would know much about the dark spiritual realm of demon possession. And maybe they know how and when to do something about it.

But with Little Wing, I’m guessing that it’ll require a friendship with him. I hope that can happen.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Daze of our lives (Part IV - FINALE)

Misty was a terrible house keeper. Not only did she not do her job, but she’d come into Obi-Wan’s house and flip the TV on to whatever she wanted and talk on his phone all morning.

The one time her boss came around for Obi-Wan to sign some papers, Misty was there bright and early and doing her job properly. And that lasted about a week. Her performance would soon putter out. Some days she wouldn’t even show up.

Misty quit showing up completely about two weeks ago. And soon after we learn through Nurse Gollum that she got a new job somewhere else.

Nurse Gollum approached me about taking on that job. “You do it anyway. You might as well get paid for it”, she said.

Funny...that Nurse Gollum acknowledged my cleaning and errand running. No comment. Just funny.

I actually thought about it for a while. It made sense at first. Why shouldn’t I get a few bucks for doing something I already do? It only pays about $5 an hour for 15 hours a week. But that’s more than I make now.

But after thinking this through, I’d really feel like this would be selling out my calling, the CEO’s promises, and Obi-Wan’s friendship for 30 pieces of silver.

I mean, my true given vocation is to be an undercover secret agent for the CEO of the universe. And within that I serve those neighbors of mine who are ignored or forgotten about.

The CEO of the universe has promised me time and again that he would sustain my family through this desert period of our lives and beyond.

And furthermore, this friendship with Obi-Wan is real. We are friends. Period. This is not a paid job where in I “minister” to him and he goes on about his way. The ministry and friendship is a two-way street. And he knows this friendship is real.

And honestly, I can’t see making Obi-Wan keep his personal bank balance below $5000 just so I can have some pathetic pay through the government. I’d rather Obi-Wan do whatever he wants with his money and let the CEO continue to provide for my needs in weird ways.

The CEO is good that way, even when it doesn’t make sense.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Daze of our lives (Part III)

Around February of this year, Nurse Gollum and Misty ran into a minor snag in their system.

In order for Obi-Wan to qualify for a free house keeper through Medicaid, his personal bank account had to have a balance below $5000. And to everyone’s surprise, he had more than that. They didn’t realize this until after Misty had been employed for several months.

I don’t find it coincidental that a month before this event, Obi-Wan shared his personal financial information with me. I guess he trusts me with this information. The CEO’s timing, I suppose.

It was now obvious that Misty was going to lose her job and thus, Nurse Gollum would lose her second set of eyes on Obi-Wan’s daily life. But Nurse Gollum’s influence over Obi-Wan went into high gear.

I went to visit Obi-Wan one afternoon as he and Nurse Gollum were heading out the door. But this time it wasn’t for a doctor visit. He mentioned something about going shopping.

Before I knew what happened, the next day several delivery men were showing up to his house with various appliances and furniture. Nurse Gollum had talked him into purchasing the following:

- A new stove/oven. Granted, his old one wasn’t working to his liking. It could probably have been fixed, but too late now.
- A washer and a dryer. Obi-Wan has maybe one load of laundry a month (he wears the same clothes for 4-5 days. The ultimate bachelor). Nurse Gollum use to take it home with her and sometimes I’d bring it to my house. I can’t see spending the money on these machines at his age because he only has ONE load a month. And he can’t operate them himself. I told him I’d keep washing them at my house. Too late.
- A new bed and mattresses. He never complained about his old one, but he did have trouble sleeping at night. This wasn’t his choice, but now he likes it.
- Some mini-blinds and drapes. Again, he had no issue with his old drapes, but things look better with the new (Nurse Gollum recruited me to install them).

This is when it got real hard to conceal my eyebrow raising. Obi-Wan was convinced he was doing the right thing because, “Nurse Gollum has helped me for years”. So buying these things will get his bank account below $5000 and keep Misty employed. I found that loyalty odd, especially since he never liked Misty and he knew she wasn’t doing her job anyway.

All of these purchases have benefited his life somewhat in the last several months. So they weren’t a total waste. But they weren’t his idea in the first place and he never would have spent the money without her prodding. He never spends money on himself. I had to convince him once that it was “OK” to replace 30 year-old socks that ripped every time he pulled them up.

And the day after these items were delivered, Obi-Wan went into the hospital for three weeks. Thankfully, he made it home to enjoy his new stuff. But soon after, there was medical bills to pay, and not as much money in the bank to pay them.

And...when Obi-Wan passes on, Nurse Gollum will be the recipient of the majority of his estate.

Including these new purchases.

(part IV should hopefully be the end of this series)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Daze of our lives (Part II)

One of the sharpest and wisest people I’ve ever met is Obi-Wan. Equipped with an eighth grade education, this former farm boy and retired gas station attendant has more common sense than any upper level education crony I know. Yet Nurse Gollum has a subtle manipulative edge over him that he’s only beginning to realize.

Obi-Wan feels indebted to Nurse Gollum because, according to him, she really helped his late ailing wife in her dying days. And she also has done many personal errands for him long before I came around. So in a way, Nurse Gollum has free reign over his life and he does little to stop her. He trusts her. But he acknowledges that the dark side clouds his judgment.

About a year ago Nurse Gollum noticed that Obi-Wan had got to a place where he needed daily help cleaning his house, keeping up with his dishes, etc.

She noticed this because...I was the one cleaning his house. And I think this threatened her because until this point, she had always been the “hero” in his life. But I guess in her eyes I was some do-gooder who was one-upping her position. And Obi-Wan has things set up to where Nurse Gollum will receive most of his belongings when he passes on. So maybe she thought I might take over as lead inheritor or something…

Nurse Gollum has like 10 kids. Literally. Her oldest daughter Louise is also a home health care nurse who has occasionally worked with Obi-Wan. Louise is a lot like Nurse Gollum, but not as bad. Louise is also set up to receive some of the Obi-Wan estate when he passes.

Misty is Nurse Gollum’s youngest daughter. And like most babies of the family, I take it that she was spoiled and not taught to be responsible much. She is a former troubled youth with an attitude who is now in her late 20’s and raising 3 kids alone.

Nurse Gollum got it set up to where Misty was now Obi-Wan’s housekeeper. Technically, Misty was officially employed as a Personal Assistant to Obi-Wan by the same home health care outfit that employs Nurse Gollum. Misty’s job description involves cleaning the house & dishes, running errands, and other various duties that Obi-Wan might need assistance with. She was suppose to work for three hours, five days a week.

Obi-Wan didn’t like Misty because of her attitude. He didn’t trust her much and she wasn’t allowed in half of his house.

Misty may have run a vacuum and wash a few dishes for 30 minutes a day at the most. And that’s only when she showed up.

Basically, I was still doing the house chores and errands just like before. But the US government via Medicaid was paying Misty, who wasn’t doing much.

(part III to come)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Daze of our lives (Part I)

For months I have avoided writing reports about the nutty soap opera that is played out daily at the home of my dear friend and mentor Obi-Wan.

But I am facing a possible dilemma. Or a possible ethical reason for my being and thus, my secret agent calling could be in limbo.

So some background info:

Obi-Wan is old. He’s 89. And he’s a diabetic. So obviously, he has health issues. For several years Obi-Wan has had a home health care nurse visit him once a day. That nurse is Nurse Gollum.

And Yes, I gave her a Lord of the Rings moniker on purpose. She is very much identical to the Gollum character as Obi-Wan is to Frodo. And I guess I’m Samwise. (Agent Sam for short).

Obi-Wan and Nurse Gollum are both African-Americans (black for short). They have a long history together as Obi-Wan has known her since she was 10 years old which was over 50 years ago.

For over two years or so I’ve kept a suspicious eye on Nurse Gollum. My agent instincts tell me that she’s not 100% evil. She does her nursing job fairly OK. But I’m not convinced that she has Obi-Wan’s best interests in mind at all times. There’s too many conflicts of interests here.

And although she’s given me a few evil Gollum-like stares just out of Obi-Wan’s sight, I’ve been reluctant to share her story here because it would be a one sided story. And there is some good that comes out of her. Some.

Basically, my presence threatens her. It’s a careful juggling act of keeping my eye on her but not dragging Obi-Wan into this and thus not badmouthing Nurse Gollum behind her back.

To be continued...

(insert cheesy organ here)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

waves of hurt

It’s been kind of a rollercoaster ride of emotions at our house for the last couple of days.

Agent Wife’s sister up north (and occasional commenter as “lil sis”) lost her baby that was to be born today. She had a completely healthy pregnancy for nine months. Even an A-OK doctor visit and sonogram last Friday. She went in for a scheduled induction yesterday and was told there was no heartbeat.

We’re devastated, as I know she and her husband are too, along with many family and friends up north. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. We’re probably going up there for Christmas and our 2 kids and her baby were all supposed to be together for a big grandkid bash.

So many people terminate pregnancies at will. Why does this seem to happen to young couples who actually want to raise a family?

Then, my next door neighbor Frieda Sanford’s best friend Delia passed away this afternoon. She was talking to me this morning about hospice and wondering what that was. I asked why she wanted to know and she told me of her sick friend being put in there. I told her she better go visit right away because that’s where people go who are dying and probably won’t make it.

Frieda and Agent Wife went to see her and she passed an hour later.

We’ve met Delia several times. Sweet woman. She absolutely destroyed her liver with alcohol. It’s sad.

On the encouragement side…

Frieda found a two-seater stroller at a garage sale for a killer price. We’ve been wanting one for months but couldn’t afford one. She hid it behind her car and called Agent Wife over for a surprise early Christmas gift.

Thank you for the blessings amidst the hurt, CEO.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

4th time's a charm

Tonight was our 4th Halloween here at this undisclosed location we call home. Which also means this is our 4th Halloween outside of the church culture. Thus, four years without fall-fests, Halleluiah Nights (I called them Halleluiah-weens) and all the other ways to churchify the event that’s still Halloween in the end.

Agent Wife’s Jesus mummy porch display made it’s 4th comeback this year. She said that nobody gets it. And after four years I finally realized why: Jesus defeating death doesn’t make sense to non-church people. Or at least to kids looking for candy. They all think it’s Osama Bin Ladin in some wishful mummified patriotic porch theme. Maybe the Jesus mummy is a hang-over from our church mentality. So it goes.

However, the Sanfords next door did it right. They had some kind of fun little scary-looking setup in their car port that they gathered in and passed out candy and cooked hotdogs. There were laughs and screams coming from their house all night.

I found a spare hockey mask laying around their house so I joined in the fun.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

It's a weird-ass life

2006 has been one of the weirdest years of my life. We have had no normal income and no budget to operate under. But we’ve made it.

And I credit all to the CEO.

Agent Offspring #2 was born in July and we had nothing. But AO2 was born fine and has made it.

Nothing makes sense on paper or even on these blog reports. But we’ve made it.

We’re broker than we’ve ever been, but we have a ridiculously new luxury car in our driveway (which thank god it’s finally for sale).

I rarely have $5 in my pocket and my jeans are getting so faded and ripped (ehh…so what) yet I sometimes wear a $250 watch my uncle gave me. It’s the only trustworthy timepiece I’ve got.

All this stuff reminds me when my wife and I officially joined the agent-hood in 2000. That year I reported to the IRS our earnings of $8000. Which is like way below poverty level. But that year we traveled more than we ever do: Atlanta, LA, and even on a 4-day camping/canoeing trip in remote northern Saskatchewan. We were so broke but we did more than we’ve ever done in a year.

And I had always wanted to attend a 10-caliber seminar like the ones they host in California and New York. But I could never afford to go. So in 2001 I hosted my own in the fair mother city. Our seminar teacher was one of the most well-known 10 caliber players, who has recorded and toured with the Dave Matthews Band. The seminar was a huge success.

This year it’s starting to look like we may visit family in Canada for the holidays. They are generously offering to flip the bill for our travel expenses. This may be a real juggling act since I’m trying to sell the one reliable car (Star Destroyer) we have access to. But if it doesn’t sell by then I guess we’ll take it there. However, the Millennium Falcon may make it fine. She’s got 237,000 miles and can still outrun the empire. But who knows if she’ll handle –20C temps.

And then there’s the dozens of jobs I’ve been applying for as part of my new fishing gig. I’ve had a few interviews and so far nothing’s panned out. But if the right one comes my way soon, I’m sure leaving the country for 3 weeks around Christmas time would not be an option.

It wouldn’t surprise me if we end up in Canada two months from now. Expect the unexpected.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve chosen the right path in life.

We’re not anyone’s hero or savior. But I wonder where everything would have been had we not lived on this street, in the fair mother city, operating undercover.

What would have become of Obi-Wan, The Sanford’s and their network, the Valdez’s and their extended family, Sebastian and Jenny, and dozens of others.

What would my life and everyone else’s life have been like had I joined the rat race trying to make a buck?

CEO – I’m willing to stick this out, even if it doesn’t make sense. Show me where to cast my net.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

the man (Samaritans #002)

I’ve been dwelling on the good Samaritan story for a few days.

In case you missed it, the last report was a vague attempt to compare Frieda Sanford and her family to the good Samaritan.

A small amount of research, on my part, shows that in Jesus’ day Samaritans were considered “half-breeds” to the jews both physically and spiritually and therefore, less than human.

I guess Samaritans didn’t adhere to the same life and customs to the “chosen ones” (jews). Much like how today’s poverty class have a very different life and value system than the religious people that make up the middle class.

In Jesus’ parable, I assume that “the man” was a jew. Makes sense because Jesus was telling this story to a jewish leader.

I would also assume that because “the man” was a jew, he would not care much for Samaritans. He probably argued with them and mocked them.

For purposes of reflection, understanding, and self-indulgence, I, Agent B, can identify with “the man”.

I was once fairly religious and in a position to make judgmental comments if not mock those who obviously lived outside the christian lifestyle.

And yes, I was once robbed and beaten up and left on the roadside of life for dead.

And yes, both the religious leaders and laypeople sailed past me. They probably didn’t want to get involved or get their hands dirty or scar their own image by being associated with the hurt and wounded.

Only the Samaritans of this day and age would have anything to do with me. They aided me and gave of their all. To me...the guy who least deserved their attention.

Still trying to figure out where to go with this...

Monday, October 23, 2006


Unbeknownst to them, the poverty culture often takes Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 literally. Wow. What a concept.

My next door neighbor Frieda Sanford has a 20 year old daughter named Jessie. Jessie has tried to make a clean break from home once or twice by moving in with a boyfriend or something. It lasted like 2 weeks so she’s back next door.

Somewhere, Jessie ran into some 17 year old homeless* girl and made friends with her. She soon invited the 17 year old to come live with her and her family.

I’m serious. For like two months, Frieda and her family treated the 17 year old like a daughter. They housed and fed her, etc. She went where ever they went and did what ever they did. And their house has to be about 850 square foot with five other people dwelling there (not including The Tiger’s backyard den).

The 17 year old recently moved off with some boyfriend.

If middle class church people saw the Sanfords, they’d probably judge them by their appearance. Or at least the way their property looks and the way they live.

We in the middle class have an unwritten rule in life to protect ourselves. Protect our property, space, time.


I don’t even know where to go with this one…

*I use the word “homeless” loosely as this 17 year old is technically home-less... in no home, abandoned by her mom, sleeping on friend’s couches, etc. This is opposed to being homeless, as in sleeping outside in a camp by the tracks and dining at a local shelter/mission, etc. There’s probably not much difference in the two definitions.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

minor scare deja vu

Much like an incident that happened a year ago, Obi-Wan was rushed to the hospital yesterday due to extremely low blood sugar. But thankfully, he was back home within a couple of hours.

Obi-Wan's home health care worker, Nurse Gollum, found him sitting in his chair and mumbling nonsense. She called 911 then came and got me.

It was almost 6pm. And we gathered that he had not eaten all day. I last saw Obi-Wan at noon when he was cooking soup on his stove and talked about making corn bread in the oven. When I arrived with Nurse Gollum, the burner was still on and the soup was all dried up. And the oven was on with a burned up corn bread blacker than a tire.

So my guess is that he hadn't eaten breakfast, than he fell asleep while his lunch cooked. Good thing his house didn't burn down.

He had a little sandwich at the emergency room and he was back home with some fried chicken by 9pm.

Thank you CEO.

Friday, October 20, 2006

pull the string on my monkey

A few weeks ago I was at Obi-Wan's an he was fiddling around in a drawer.

"Hey B. Come over here and pull the string on my monkey."



Then he shows me this ancient-looking toy of a monkey the has some pulleys within it and string. You're supposed to hold the string up in the air, then pull downward on the bottom string and the monkey climbs up.

It was funny.

Anyway, Obi-Wan gives it to Agent Offspring #1 today for AO1's birthday. But soon after, AO1 messed it up by dragging it around the house and I can't figure out how the string went. So it goes.

It's also Agent Wife's birthday. half my family...Happy Birthday! Pull the monkey.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

marching sermon

I grew up in the vast wasteland of unimaginative edged yards, cookie cutter subdivisions that replaced farmlands, and the birthplace of product marketing and materialism all rolled into one. Yes, the Houston, Texas suburbs is where I sharpened my teeth on the file of life.

However, my high school had an incredible history dating back to the 1800's with a one-room school house in rural farmland. By the late 1980's my school was the well-known centerpiece that anchored the 10th fastest growing district in the entire US. This growth was fueled by Houston's sprawling economy and no-zoning laws.

Although my school was very suburbia-ish with all of its MTV, pop radio and shopping mall influence, it still hung on to its farming roots. Out of the whole city of Houston, our school had the largest FFA (Future Farmers of America, for you city slicks) program in town. Back then, half of the school's population came from the rural farming community and the other half from the suburban nightmare.

I always referred to my school as "the place where city folk and country folk come together and learn in perfect harmony".

I was born to be a musician. I think. Music always came natural. Unlike most kids who were forced to take piano lessons, I begged for piano lessons. But my parents were as musical as bricks, so there was no hope in getting a piano in our house. Then there was church...a church of christ for crying out freaking loud. They just sing goofy songs with no instruments. And I never liked singing much. So I had no outlet to discover music until the 6th grade when I joined band. And from there, marching band was the next step once high school begun.

Marching band is a big deal in Texas because football is a really big deal. And the two go hand in hand for some reason.

Back in the early 1900's marching bands were pretty serious entertainment for people as there was no radio, TV, laptops, etc. Over the years marching band has de-evolved into entertainment for other band nerds. Few real people listen to them seriously, and I don't blame them either.

Our high school marching band, like all others in the state, played in big competitions. Everyones goal was to get "to state", the superbowl of Texas HS marching band euphoria.

And every year a certain school in our region was so good that they'd not only go to state. They'd win. Their show was just asininely ridiculous in Spinal Tap levels of lunacy. One year they played a custom arrangement of Holst's "The Planets" (a well known orchestral piece that served as inspiration for much of the Star Wars score). It was so over-done and arrogant. BTW - my college rock band played a freaked out distorted version of "Mars". But we were cool.

But the biggest surprise in my marching band experience came from the last place band in our region: Smiley High School from the inner city Houston area.

Smiley was an all black school. And they kicked ass.

They didn't march like all the white suburbia schools. And they received the lowest, most embarrassing ratings at the contest because they didn't follow the rules that the marching band trends had created over the years.

Instead, Smiley followed the true calling of the marching band: they entertained.

It was THE most incredible thing I've EVER seen. Smiley's drum major was like James Brown on steroids. He had this 4-foot gold scepter and was throwing in in the air to the beat while doing back flips and cartwheels and gymnastic stunts all while blowing a whistle to a hip rhythm. Their band was small, but mighty. Like an extended Tower of Power horn section doing unison moves of a black church choir.

You couldn't help but cheer for them. They rocked!

Our HS band played some cheesy medley from "Fiddler on the Roof" or something stupid like that. Smiley was playing "Shaft", "Shake Your Booty" and other hits from Soul Train.

Our band: moved in unison like some rigid teen aged military. Smiley: moved like they were from the dancing-est hemisphere on earth.

Our band: excellent ratings.

Smiley: failing ratings.

Smiley didn't follow the official rules and traditions of the craft and paid the price. But they did what I thought was the original point for a band. And that is to entertain people.


Dear church of Jesus Christ and the great CEO of the universe,

Don't forsake your true calling for the man-made rules of your tradition. Quit whoring yourselves for the high ratings of man and the approval of your politically-run denominational heritage.

Return to your roots. Heal the sick. Raise the dead. Give to those without. Restore sight to the blind. Heal the crippled. Share the good news of the TRUTH by serving those outside your walls. And encourage one another.

And for those inside your walls: there should be none among you in need. KNOW each other and pay attention to someone other than your own naval.

Less talking. More listening.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Today I discovered that I am a whiner.

I don't like this. Both the whiner part and the discovery part.

Why do my plans not materialize? Why are things not going my way?

I have no right to be a cry baby. The CEO has always made things happen in a different space/time continuum than anything I could half-ass construct. help me brace myself like a man.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Testimony #019

I must thank the CEO for our week and our excellent weekend.

At the beginning of the week, Agent Wife and I had three bills due and no money whatsoever. Plus, there was a family reunion in East TX that we wanted to attend. But there was no way we could travel to it on good intentions. And family reunions on my side of the family are unheard of. They haven't happened in over 30 years. And 2006 seems to be this healing/renaissance period in my life as I'm meeting and befriending family I never knew I had.

Agent wife prayed for what seemed impossible (reunion attendance) while I prayed and tried to find ways to pay bills.

Due to three highly unexpected blessings, we not only have all bills paid now, but traveled to the reunion, enjoyed it, and have some money left over.

And oh yeah...caught up on an amazing amout of sleep last night.

Still casting nets. Still listening.

CEO - thank you for showing me that your agendas aren't like mine.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

destiny or dying

Fact: I don't own a TV. We don't have one on purpose. It's not due to some asinine religious boycott. There's several reasons we don't have one.

1) I use to work for a local NBC affiliate as a master control operator. And when you spend 3 years of your life getting paid to watch 40 hours of network programming a week, it makes you never want to own a TV again. For the rest of your life. Ever. Kind of like people who work at Long John Silver's never want to eat fish again.

2) I got tired of always wanting stuff. And I discovered that by not having a TV, my personal materialistic desires lessened dramatically. If you never see TV ads, you never know what's out there. Thus, you never want stuff.

3) In marriage, I discovered that I pay more attention to the people around me when there's no TV. That's a good thing. But now I have to re-learn discipline with this damned computer...

But all of this is thrown out the window when I visit Obi-Wan's house. I figure watching TV at his place must be OK since it's his and I don't live there. His TV is on maybe 40% of the time anyway.

Obi-Wan's is where I fell in love with Criminal Minds on CBS. It's probably a lousy show by most people's standards. But it fuels my fascination of the agent investigative and psychoanalytical world, I love those characters, and I'm a sucker for a predictable crime plot.

Through some mishap turned blessing, Obi-Wan recently got rid of his cable TV and now uses rabbit ear antennas. This means he now gets the religious channel TBN, which was never on cable for some reason. And TBN comes in the clearest so he usually watches it the most.

I've never paid attention to religious programming. My parents never watched it when I was growing up. And I sure as hell didn't watch it in college.

TBN seems to have many different preacher-type shows, all of which seems to follow a charismatic/pentecostal or non-denominational vein.

And so far, every one of these shows I've seen has one primary message: financial prosperity. Or maybe just prosperity in general, but an emphasis on one's money is usually hinted at.

Surprisingly, I don't have an aversion to money. I like money OK. You can do things with it. Like feed and house your family, travel to see distant relatives, use it as seed to generate an income, give it away to those without, and maybe buy one of those cool Warwick fretless 5-string basses.

But seriously...I find it a great irony to sit in Obi-Wan's dilapidated house, on 35-year old worn out furniture, watching a preacher on a small TV talk more about prosperity than waiting.

More about receiving than giving.

More about destiny of self than dying to self.

Monday, October 09, 2006

better off dead

As always, I'm fascinated by all of the biblical prophets. And I'm by far not a biblical scholar. Very far from it. Maybe studying these prophets would give me motivation to become a scholar.


Last night I got out of the shower and for some reason I thought I heard the word "Nahum" in my head. "Nahum? What the hell's that? Is that a bible guy?"

More than that, I discovered. He's a whole old testament bible book. Actually, a whole three small chapters.

So I looked up Nahum. I had to actually look up the page number in the table of contents. I don't think I've ever used the table of contents before.

Anxiously, I read it thinking the CEO had told me something when I got out of the shower. And maybe this something would solve all the mysteries in my life.

Nahum didn't solve jack.

But Nahum precedes the book of Habakkuk, which I never would have read had I not stumbled upon it. And Habakkuk had something in the CEO's reply to his second rant (chpt 2) that was good for me to read.

Something about this revelation in my life that I seek will come at the appointed time. And although it lingers...wait for it.

"Wait". There's that word again.

But my main point here: I love reading the words of and writings about prophets because they're nuts. I mean, they're freaks. These are the kind of people I love hanging out with in real life. Especially people who are not religious in any way, but their life somehow demonstrates a story that the CEO is trying to tell me.

I always wonder how people related to these biblical prophets back in their day. I'm sure few took them seriously. But they had to be viewed as freaks by the rest of society.

And somehow their words and/or story was recorded and passed down to us over 2000 years later. And these words were probably incomplete and/or exaggerated in some areas. And there's now 5000 translations, etc.

And yet today...we read them (Isaiah, Micah) like it's something sacred. But I'm sure their friends and acquaintances at the time thought they were freaks that needed a good Texas ass kicking.

Back in the late 90's I worked as a sheet music salesman in a local mom-n-pop instrument shop. I'll never forget in late 1997 when John Denver died, how insanely popular his music suddenly became. The day he died people started calling me to see if I had this song or that song by John Denver. The few sheets we had in the library were instantly cleared out. Within a few days there was not a damned John Denver printed song in the country. All of his music was back ordered through the publisher. So the publisher rushed out some high dollar greatest hits music book that sold like hot cakes during christmas.

But just a few weeks earlier nobody gave a crap about John Denver.

My dear late friend Willy Klink was like a prophet. He became a follower of The Way while living in his drug den apartment across from the church that the izzy group once operated from. We use to have studies in The Book at his apartment with beer cans, hidden drug paraphernalia, playboy mags, and cigarette ashes all over.

One day I asked Willy about this huge burn spot in the carpet. "Ohhhh," in that classic West TX drawl, "That was the night Roger hit the candle on the floor".


"Yup. You know, the guy who walks around in that Howdy-Doody looking shirt?"

"...You mean...CRAZY Roger?!? The guy that talks to himself non-stop? You had him here?!?"

"Yup. was cold out that night."

Willy never let go of his drug habit and it killed him a year later. He's been dead five years this month.

But he's the only one I know that had the heart to invite Roger in, which seemed stupid at the time.

But now it seems sacred.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Outpost reflections

Had a brief event happen yesterday that served as a reminder of just why I'm here. Not just HERE here, but here in this place in life, here on this street in the fair mother city, here on this planet, etc.

We have a new neighbor on our street. This is a rarity as our old neighborhood surprisingly has few rental properties.

Anna is a single grandmother raising two or three of her grandchildren. She moved from Anson, a small town 30 minutes north of here. Her grandchildren are still enrolled in Anson schools and Anna works as some sort of housekeeper in Anson. So, she's gone from about 7:30a until at least 9p every weekday. Agent Wife and I got to meet and talk to her briefly on her driveway last weekend.

She's living in a house next door from the Sanfords and across from Obi-Wan. Some redneck dude and his family lived there and still owns the house, but recently moved to the outback near Clyde. So he's renting to Anna.

In my 3.5 years on this street I never had a chance to connect with the redneck dude. I met him once, but the CEO never seemed to have us cross paths much. So it goes.

On Thursday, The Tiger and his mom Frieda Sanford witnessed a city code-enforcer official leave a warning note on Anna'a door telling her to mow her yard or get a fine.

What a crock. I mean, redneck dude lived there for four years with un-mowed grass, scraggly bushes, and junked cars in the yard and never got harassed by the man. This single grandmother, who has barely moved in and works all the time, gets a citation.

Welcome to the fair mother city.

So, The Tiger's telling of this injustice in great detail. Probably with dramatic exaggeration and so forth. So I ask, "You got a mower that works?" (mine hasn't worked all summer).

"Yeah. I got three that work...and two weed eaters". The Sanfords are are notorious junk dealers. They find lawn mowers at garage sales for $2 and The Tiger somehow gets them running. They may be crappy, but they do the job. Sometimes.

"Well, we ain't doing nothing. Let's get on it".

The Tiger...agent jr. in the making.

Of course he had no gas. And neither did I. We borrowed Obi-Wan's gas in the killer ancient 3-gallon metal can with the cool mechanical cap.

Somehow, we managed to get the three mowers to work through the front yard before they all crapped out. We never got the backyard. The Sanford's equipment can usually get the job half-assed done. Better than nothing, I guess.

So, I don't exactly know what to make of it all. It was a half-assed neighborhood effort. The front looks nice, though.

But somewhere in the midst of all this soul searching and job hunting and net casting...

...the CEO seems to be whispering that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

However cornball that sounds, and how little sense this makes, and how this doesn't pay my bills...

It's relieving to know the CEO has not abandoned me to this outpost in the West Texas desert.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Testimony #018

Thursday September 28 - title for the Star Destroyer was transfered in my name. No small feat whatsoever. What seemed impossible was now a reality.

Today at 4:30p - open mailbox to receive the following letter from the tax assessor office:

Dear Agent B:

This is to inform you that the Affidavit of Heirship for a Motor Vehicle that you turned in at the time of a [sic] Title Application has been rejected [sic] The reason is that these a [sic] copies. We can not [sic] except [sic] copies of any type of paperwork theirfore [sic] your transactions has [sic] been canceled [sic].

We need you to come AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. As of now your Lic plates as well as your Application for a Title is [sic] cancelled. Should you get stoped [sic] by the police you may get a ticket.

A clash between ineptness and legalism. This was going to be tough.

Basically they were saying that two different forms I turned in were no good because I had faxed them to the people who needed to sign them.

But I specifically remembered the woman telling me that it was OK to fax the document, but the signature and notary had to be real. So the signed copy had to be mailed back to me, which they both were...with real signatures and notorized.

Agent Wife prayed for favor while I left for the tax assessor office. This could have been pretty tense. But I have a weird trait about being ridiculously calm in tense situations. It's come in handy several times in life. Especially when I've had to call 911. Or tell my mom that my finger was half cut off due to a knife mishap when I was 11.

I showed up and explained all this to the same woman. She showed me the forms in question. Turned out that it was not the "sellers" signature in question. It was I had signed both documents before faxing them. My signature was a copy.

"So...", I said, "...I'm standing right here. Could I just re-sign them right here in front of you?". As opposed to having my Uncle in Wyoming and some guy in Dallas re-sign and notorize a new form and go through all this bullshit again.

She and two other women had to get on the phone with an official in Austin to see if that was OK. Gotta love legalism.

Meanwhile I prayed a LOT and muttered a few jedi mind tricks under my breath. "These forms will do just fine." "You don't need any more original copies".

The official in Austin OK'd me re-signing it in front of long as I was writing with a blue pen.

Well hot damn. Give me a blue pen. And get me out of here.

Then she discovered that last week she over charged us $10 for the licensing fees and etc. So she had to write out a credit form so a check can be mailed to me.

Which I later learned Agent Wife was praying that something good, if not better would come out of this.

Long story short: I thought I was going to have to do this whole title nonsense all over again and instead I'm getting $10.

I may go buy some beer.

Thank you CEO. And thanks for not forgetting about me.

Testimony #017

I would be a total fool, or ungreatful swine, if I didn't report on the obvious good things in the life of this embedded agent family and instead exclusively dwelled on the bad.

The good things are too numerous for me to report. Or I'm too lazy to recall all of them. And negativity is always the easy way out. So, forgive me.

Example: my family has excellent health. We have not been sick ever since going undercover. Not that going undercover ensures good health. But it's an odd coincidence I don't take lightly, especially since we have no financial health coverage to speak of. And Agent Wife has had two excellent pregnancies during this time of our life.

Thank you CEO.

We have never had a bill that hasn't been paid one way or another. Although lately, I've had to eat double doses of humble pie for some of those bills to be covered, etc. So it goes.

And there are the many other reports
(16 or so) of these testimonies that can be found in the file archives of this blog.

But yesterday...during one of my lowest moments in the undercover agent ranks...after frantically driving around town dressed in professional clothing that's highly unlike my usual undercover daily digs...and fruitlessly searching for employment that doesn't exist or wouldn't be fitting to my skill level (or lack of skill level) or, dammit, I just can't forsee the CEO telling me to throw a net there*...

..we received not one, but two unexpected blessings.

And although these gifts won't fully cover our bills (not that I'm ungrateful, by any means) nor keep me from fishing for financial opportunities... say the least, these blessings were a cool drop of water in this dry desert.

And a huge reminder that the CEO has not abandond me on the field**.

Thank you CEO.

* yes, I know. Please save your smart-ass comments about how beggars can't be choosers and all that crap. I ain't asking you for anything. And I know good and well I could probably flip burgers and/or sack groceries somewhere. This is a very humbling experience for me and a difficult one in hearing the CEO. If I am to support my family as a grocery boy, then I will be the best damn grocery boy in the fair mother city. Just give me time to feel this out...

** The Bossman, who's a retired federal agent with 20+ years profesional experience, once explained to me that sometimes in order to protect the life of an on-duty undercover agent, the headquarters will completely cut off all lines of communications to him as well as erase all files of his existence and thus issue a "persona non grata" (a non-existent person) status on the agent. This is how I have felt much of 2006. Seems to also be reminiscent of "why have you forsaken me" jive as well.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Bills are due. Getting close to "past due".

No money. Zero.

Still looking for work. About to start grabbing anything.

The good news: a valuable car is in my name. It can be sold. But not yet as the title will be mailed to me in the next week or two or three.

But I need money now. Bad.

My "break in case of emergency" last resort is starting to look like a reality: sell the 10 caliber (music instrument).

And if I sell the 10 caliber, which could probably fetch a great price fast, I might as well sell all related accessories and my trusty 4 string bass.

I actually tried selling my bass a couple of months ago via local paper ads. No action. So it goes.

Will this be my Isaac? Is my former (and once beloved) musician identity to be sacrificed?

I don't play much these days. Not really my choosing. Just the season I've been in I guess. But Agent Offspring #1 loves it when I play.

This really sucks. I don't remember it happening to George Muller this way.

I hate these decisions.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Hung out with the Sanfords tonight. Frieda and family had another one of their trademark backyard parties. This time the occasion was Frieda's hysterectomy...scheduled tomorrow.

There weren't many people there. Just seven of us plus my two babies.

The Tiger was manning his usual posts: 1) at the grill burning all the meat, but making it taste good anyway and 2) as the under-aged bartender, anxiously passing out beers before you could say "no thanks" and finish the one in your hand.

Frieda and her boyfriend Manuel have a couple/friend that's just like them: a bi-cultural couple with a language barrier. Both women speak English only and little Spanish. But their men speak Spanish exclusively.

Manuel and the other guy, Paco, work together clearing mesquite fields with chainsaws and selling the wood for the land owner. Paco's woman, Kay, works and manages a convenient store putting in 60 hours plus a week. That's got to be the worst gig in the world. I feel for her.

I asked Kay how things were going. "Work and sleep. Work and sleep", she said.

Kay drinks a good bit. It's her escape from the daily empire and doledrums of her life.

Frieda was throwing the party because she can't eat anything after midnight tonight due to her surgury tomorrow. So, might as well eat like there's no tomorrow on the day before.

I can relate to both women right now.

These days I can use an escape too. I keep one foot firmly planted in reality as I refuse a total escape. But for the first time ever, I can see what drives a person to drink.

Kay needs an immediate escape. Frieda wants to celebrate because who knows what life will be like tomorrow.

I have hope in the CEO's provision and promises.

But...I can relate.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

one small step for man

Had a breakthrough event today. It may seem like nothing to most, but it's huge for me.

After jumping through about 400 legal hoops, sending and receiving documents via fax and overnight express, getting notarized signatures from distant uncles, and wine-n-dining step brothers we never knew...

My dad and I finally got the title transferred for the Star Destroyer.

This is huge. I mean...when this thing entered my life almost 3 months ago I thought it was going to be a financial rescue for me. Yet I couldn't sell it because the title wasn't in my name. We assumed it was in my late grandfather's name. Then we discovered that the title was not only in the name of one dead person but in two. And the second name (my late grandfather's late wife) isn't even a relative of mine. So getting her estate to sign over this car seemed damn near impossible.

This whole ordeal was a mere picture of how most everything in my life seems to have gone in recent months: impossible.

I am claiming this title transfer as the first miracle of many to come. Thank you CEO.


In other interview this morning went well. Don't know if/when I'll find out anything. But I'm real confident about it.

It's for a government (state) job, so the interview was pretty cut-n-dry and to the point.

It's out of my hands now. If it's meant to be, it'll be.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Gone fishing #004

Nothing really new to report. Still throwing nets out. Still fighting off depression. Still questioning self worth, yet knowing the truth of who I am. But just questioning it since all looks impossible from where I stand these days.

The Handy man gig appears to have been a temp deal. Bill could call me again if he has a big enough job, etc.

I forgot to mention that the organization founded by legendary agents William & Catherine Boothe sent me an official letter two weeks ago letting me know "thanks, but no thanks". Not that I didn't already know that. But they were decent enough to mail me and state so.

I have a job interview this Thursday with the state. It's a potentially good paying gig with actual benefits, etc. But it involves being in the vicinity of hundreds of convicts. Should be interesting.

Just throwing out nets and spitting on demons. That's all I can do now.

Multi thanks for everyone's encouragement during these dark and confusing times.

Friday, September 22, 2006

on the pulse (an ode to Mr. Berry)

The fair mother city lost one of it's better citizens to a tragic train accident yesterday.

Mr. Berry (who's first name rhymes with his last) was killed by a passing train though town yesterday afternoon. Police released his name this morning and I'm shocked.

Not to get sidetracked on the suspicious subject of this being the fourth train/pedestrian death since May which coincides with the train speed through town being raised from 30 mph to freaking 70 mph...

Mr. Berry was infamous in the fair mother city for wearing super high, tight denim shorts...year round. Along with his trade-mark shorts, he sported knee-high tube socks, smooth & tanned legs, and mirrored "cop" sunglasses.

He brought a touch of Austin, or even a flair of the California Bay area to West Texas. We need more like him.

Mr Berry could be seen walking along the N1st and S1st corridor most afternoons.

Just last Saturday my dad and I were waiting for a food order at a N1st restaurant and I spotted Mr. Berry across the street and realized I haven't seen him in months.

I've watched Mr. Berry for almost 10 years from a distance, starting back when he daily walked in front of the music store I once worked at. I never had a chance to meet him, but I've waived while I drove by. He once stated in a newspaper article spotlighting him that these drive-by greetings made him feel like a movie star.

An acquaintance at my former church said that Mr. Berry started attending services a few months back and even got saved. But I think he left because they started giving him flack about his dress. Go figure.

Mr. Berry & I have more in common than I knew...

I always dreamed that he'd come hang out at The Table. And since he had his thumb firmly planted on the pulse of the fair mother city, we could have learned a lot from him.

Mr will be sincerely missed by me. The streets of the fair mother city will not be the same.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Agent reports of late have pretty much been downers. That's understandable I suppose. These last three or four weeks have really sucked. I've really tried to make the best of it though.

I've been going through a panic of sorts...trying to find money to live on because it seems that the CEO ain't delivering though any subversive avenues these days.

Times like these can really jack with your head and emotions. Yet I still trust the CEO and believe in his promises. Some would ask why, yet I wouldn't know how to answer them...with actual words.

So it goes.

Exactly Two years ago I went through the exact same panic season. And I hammered through town looking for full time employment. One such opportunitiy was a sales gig at a cell phone company. I jumped through multiple application and interview hurdles all to receive a one sentence email stating "we regret to inform you..."

So it goes.

The funny thing about that deal was...during my initial phone interview (which was with some guy in Chicago late one Sunday night...I loved interviewing for a job wearing nothing but boxers) the guy asked about my current "employment". So I told him about the izzy group ministry and how it lost all funding and I really didn't want to leave it at all, but I needed an income.

He paused. Then he said, (knowing full and well that our interview was being recorded for his superior to hear) "Well Agent B...I am a christian. And I will pray that you won't have to take this job so you can continue ministering".

That was funny.

I didn't get the job, and I picked up odd jobs and weird provision along the way.

Thanks for your prayer, interview guy...where ever you are.


I'm not usually a big fan of laments. Yet I recognize that I'm in a lament season, and the happy, clappy, joy, joy jesus and prosperity message from my charismatic background is now bullshit.

I have happiness & joy in places. Ie: My wife and kids are the greatest. But I've long identified with Isaiah in the 6th chapter: "Whoa to me, for I am fucking ruined. I have hung out with the dirty people of society and therefore I have seen the CEO"

So I'm in a lament phase with a take no prisoners bent. I'm tired of coming across so self-absorbed on these reports. Forgive me. This phase will pass someday. I promise.

I am a big fan of Fletch's (the construction guy) post on Psalm 121 and a recent church experience and his wrestling with the CEO. I think it's healthy to question and bitch about the CEO on occasion. That generally shows you acknowledge his existence and plan to grow towards him and refuse to be complacent.

Some in the agent network have said I'm a "prophet". That's really funny. I'd never call myself that. Just like if I called someone an asshole doesn't mean they are one. Just means I think they're one.

My coc upbringing doesn't even acknowledge the existence of prophets. And in my charismatic background, prophets were weird ass older people from out of town that pulled people from out of the crowd and said "a word" over them, usually something santa claus-like.

Agent X says something about my life is living out a "proph-o-drama". I now understand what he means, but I'm still digesting it. That sounds different than the santa word gig, therefore I can probably buy it.

And Jack tells me that prophets are rarely happy. That is, rarely happy with the church and the way things are going. I think I can buy that too.

...and with recent observations like my handy man boss Bill and his view of the poverty class ("he can just go down to the christian service center and get clothes and food instead of smoke them cigarettes")...

I don't know. Lamenting away...


I would be on the verge of prophetic meltdown. But yesterday some dear friends of ours, who happen to be the sister and spanish-speaking mother of my across-the-street neighbor Juan Valdez, came over to pray with us and give a word to me.

Normally I'd be cautious about that. But this timid, sweet, Mexican woman has no agenda in life other than to minister to the CEO. And I trust her. Even though I can't speak spanish.

And ever since yesterday when I woke up, I've carried an unexplainable peace with me.

I've just felt better than I've felt in a long time. Thank you CEO.