Friday, March 31, 2006

Unresolved issues

Today the stealth field agent duo of Agent Wife & Grandma Nelly went out to visit a few of our friends from the old izzy group days. One of which is Missy Clampett (mentioned at the end of THIS POST).

She is the one who's husband of 2 and a half years died recently and I ran into her a few weeks back, thus, the instigation for going to see her. She has a sister, Sissy Clampett (their story is found HERE), who has acted very cold and distant to anyone involved from the izzy group ever since she and her brother and mama moved from living in a car parked at our church building's parking lot, to the apartment they're in now.

Background info: After the izzy group was secretly kicked out of its host church over 3 years ago, we temporarily set up shop in a small apartment community in the far north side of the fair mother city. The Clampetts became neighbors to the apartment we rented as the church not only removed the izzy ministry, but also this family who lived in their parking lot. Things went well at first. The small community, meals, and gatherings that developed only lasted about 5 months. I understand that the "organic church" guys say there's a limited life with home church communities. Well...our's didn't just die. It flippin blew up in an explosion and erased all memory of it from existence. A few people ran off mad with no explanation. One of those people appears to be Sissy Clampett.

Well, Sissy was seen outside of Missy's place when the stealth duo arrived. Sissy must have spotted them since she disappeared and hid in Missy's apartment and pretended to not be there when the stealth duo came in to say hi.

In reality...who cares. I mean, someone wants to be angry at another and give no explanation or attempt to resolve things then that's between the angry one and the CEO. And Agent Wife...she's amazing when it comes to things like this. She never carries any kind of offense, like water on a ducks back. So she's not bothered

But me...I want answers! I despise unresolved issues. If something needs to be made right, let's go for it, even if it involves something I need to repent of and be forgiven for.

I don't know if it would be right for me to investigate this 3 year old event just so some woman won't scowl when we come into her presence. I mean hey...I ain't losing any sleep over it. And I'm convinced izzy is mostly innocent of any wrong doing, thus, she's probably upset over something exaggerated in her head. But the key here is "mostly innocent". That means, I think izzy should repent for something. I just don't now exactly what.

I guess part of the reason I'm slightly anxious over this is...we poured our lives into the Clampetts. We walked though their wacky struggles daily for over a year. And then this...with no explanation.

This may sound cold hearted and ungodly, but it's the truth: often times, the people you serve the most are the ones who bite back the hardest. Sometimes it's a "what have you done for me lately?" schtick. Other times it's the result of unrealistic expectations.

CEO - please bring me answers to this. Am I not to waste my time on the Clampetts ever again, or should I go find out the issues in attempts to restore relations?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Obi-Wan nuggetts of wisdom

"Don't matter how good a person you are...some folks will never speak no good of you. It's best to hear the CEO and listen to what he says about you"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Endurance training

In preparation for an upcoming music gig (the dormant identity is resurfacing for good, I suppose), I came across an analogy for the life I've been in for the last 3 years.

In my practice time this week, I've entered into endurance training period. Like a long distance runner, they do not practice running, per se. They practice going non-stop. Currently, I am not learning how to play my songs. Instead, I know the songs and now I'm preparing for a marathon 3 hour gig. I've done hundreds of these before. They're fun but practicing the endurance part (playing the hour & 45 minute set straight through) is a drag. In the middle of my set I find myself thinking, "I know how to play these songs. Can't I go on to something else?"

For the last 3 years the izzy group has been in hiding and thus, Agent Wife & I have been pushed into deep cover with only vague communications from headquarters (CEO). The only words I ever get from the CEO in regards to this period in my life is "wait".

WAIT? That's a sucky word of instruction. Just when I think resources get as thinned out as possible, we have to stretch them even further the next month. And the next month. When will this period end?

CEO, we already know how to hang with the poor in our city. Can't we get out of this "wait" period and on to something else??

I know this "wait" period has produced many relationships and good fruit in our neighborhood. But, I just a whiner?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Louder than words

Today, Sebastian and Jenny came over. They are the 10 and 8 year old brother & sister who live down the street from us. Both of their birthdays were this month and their grandfather had bought them new bikes that they wanted to show us.

Sebastian and Jenny's mom works at one of the dollar stores a few blocks down from us. Her live in boyfriend Pedro works at a local service garage and I think he's learning to be a trucker.

Every time S & J come over, they act fascinated with our life as a married couple and as parents to Agent Offspring (and the yet to be born Agent Offspring #2). They are the ones to bring up the subject, not us. We've discovered that a large framed drawing of Agent Wife and I from our wedding day that hangs in our living room is a huge conversation starter for the young and unfamiliar with marriage. They were asking about fear because all they have ever heard about marriage is how people are afraid to do it. They are fascinated that Agent Wife and I have been together 7 whole years (a lifetime for them and longer than any boyfriend their mom's had). Their mom's boyfriend Pedro seems to be a decent guy. He's not abusive or mean to them. But as a father figure, he's pretty much just a male presence and a pay check. They think it's unusual, but neat that I actually hang out with my wife and kid often.

S & J are also fascinated and in love with Agent Offspring. They so deeply desire younger siblings to help raise. I find that unique and selfless for a kid since most kids want all of their parents attention for themselves.

Exactly one week after we moved into this house (about 3 years ago to this day) The Tiger was helping put up a chain link fence in parts of our back yard. He was 13 at the time and those were the days when he'd be hanging over the gate practically BEGGING me to make him do some manual labor or something. Now he works for a living and smokes cigarettes (which I'm not supposed to know about) so I rarely see him.

The Tiger and his family knew us from the old days at the izzy group's food pantry ministry. He just knew me as that white guy who worked there and I was "hooked up" with that "mexican woman". Agent Wife is not a mexican, though. She has dark skin and hangs out with spanish speaking people so often gets mistaken for one.

While building the fence, The Tiger was trying to "figure us out". He kept asking questions. How long have we been together. What was our names. What was our last names, etc. He didn't know anything about marriage. From his upbringing and world view, a man and woman just "hooked up" and lived together as long as they felt like, I guess. That's all he knew from his mom.

When I told The Tiger my last name and then Agent Wife's full name he paused. Silence. Then he said: "Wow. What are the chances that two people hook up with the SAME last name?".

All this to say...I never knew how to preach about the honor of commitment to others without sounding judgmental. And...I guess for now I don't have to preach with words.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Don't work, don't eat

Question: Why is 2 Thessalonians 3:10 the most quoted verse by Christians in reference to the poor? ("For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat.")

Question 2: Although cut-n-pasted out of context...would Romans 4:5 be the antithesis of the 2 Thes scripture? ("However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness")

Again, these are both cut-n-pasted WAY out of context. But, is there any validity to comparing the two of these anyway?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

US medical/insurance industry crock

Please note: I am not a nut. Yet it is no secret that I'm becoming less and less of a fan of the US's medical/insurance (they're one in the same) industry. I'm highly suspicious of them. And thankfully, I haven't had to deal with them much in my life.

But recently, fuel was added to my fire of dissent towards this country's medical/insurance conundrum.

Obi-Wan is a diabetic and requires special shoes. Or so his doctor says (no conflict of interests there). He gets some new shoes delivered to him. Actually, there were 2 pair. First are the main set: regular black loafer-looking every day shoes with thick soles. The second set are some kind of "sleep shoes" which are just some cloth that wrap around the ankles with velcro. I accidentally saw the receipt for the shoes.

Total retail price: $268.

What the fudge? These loafers look like $14.99 shoes at Payless. And the "sleep shoes" are just flimsy little pathetic slippers that some high school home ec student could have sewed together. If Obi-Wan had to actually PAY for these out of his pocket my tourettes syndrome would be in overdrive right now. But I'm halfway there anyway since our crock of a medical/insurance universe is what inflates these ridiculous prices.

A couple of years ago I thought my wife and I were sitting pretty good financially and that our ship was about to arrive in a big way. Didn't happen (that's another story). But anyway, for the first time in my life I researched health insurance for my young family and considered buying a policy one day. I was suckered into this kind of thinking by radio show host Dave Ramsey. Oh, his debt free crusade is more than what our materialistic western world needs to hear, I'm convinced. I'm a big believer in living within ones means and avoiding debt supported facades in life. Uncle Dave would be proud of my household...except faith based living doesn't mesh with his preachings. "Baby step #1: have $1000 in the bank at all times"? Yea...good one, Dave. What G7 nation are you a part of? Tell that $1000 minimum to my boss, jackass. I'm doing good to have $100.

One of Uncle Dave's golden rules is having health insurance. best as my research family of 3 would need to pay $450 a month to only be covered in a half-assed way. $450 a month my ass. Eff your "this doesn't cover everything, 20% deductible for surgeries, only one doctor visit a year with a 25% co-pay. Don't get me started.

I'm starting to eat crow with my Canadian wife and her family's pride in their nation's socialized health care, even if Canadian's are rammed up the rear with 29% income tax and 14% sales tax and XX% every other kind of tax. At least they're not funding the wealth of a few insurance CEOs and medical professionals. They're just idolizing their government (maybe). Sick Canadian's may have to wait five weeks just to see some medical school flunky from Moose Jaw, but they're not propping up an industry built on social injustice.

I know there's far worse injustice around the world (kids forced to fight in Uganda, AIDS orphans all over Africa, etc.). But this US medical/insurance thing is one huge crock.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

the music files

Made contact with the manager of the Jedi Counsel Room. It looks as though my dormant identity will have a steady gig at my most favorite place to play in the universe.

Although still keeping as low a profile as possible, I may be juggling 2 identities in the near future: Agent B and my musician side. Looking forward to it greatly.

Obi-Wan Tales Chapter IV: wise & wicked servants

(A continuing series of stories of my elderly neighbor)

Obi-Wan once told me a tale from his gas station attendant days. The owner of the shop was going out of town for a week and put Obi-Wan (the only black employee) in charge over the other 3 employees (white). And one of the others was the owner's son.

Of course, race was an issue with the 3 employees. That alone made it hard for them to respect Obi-Wan's given authority. Then the 3 employees just messed around on their job, showing up late and leaving early and what not. The owner's son didn't even show up one day.

Judgement day comes. The owner returned and wanted a detailed account from Obi-Wan on the week's business. The reports showed how business suffered because the other guys weren't doing their job. The owner fired his son and promoted Obi-Wan over the other 2 guys.

I was reminded of this story as I ran across Matthew 24:45-51 in The Book. The CEO's son relays an illustration about being prepared for the end whenever it arrives.

I'm guess many other lessons perspire from this same passage, like reaping and sowing honesty and perhaps diligence.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dry feet

The agent family and I spent some quality time with Obi-Wan today. He's back from a 3 week stay at the hospital. We're back from a family funeral. So's time for sacraments, bread breaking and such. We've missed each other.

On routine occasion, I ask him what has the CEO been saying to him lately. I'm a big believer in the CEO talking to us today in the "now", not just exclusively though The Book (although, I enjoy hearing him through The Book often). It's amazing what the CEO will tell you if you just ask and maybe...shut up long enough to hear him.

Obi-Wan always has great insight to the ways of the CEO. Hey...someone who's been walking with the CEO for most of his 89 years must have wisdom of some sort.

Today Obi-Wan tells us of a recurring dream he's had over the past few nights and weeks. He's walking along a beautiful field with lots of lakes or ponds (he's always enjoyed fishing and the outdoors). And in the dream he's walking with the health of his younger years (no walker or cane). And he gets up close to the water. Just to see it and stare at it. He spends the majority of the dream by the water, right at the edge of the pond.

And every morning he tries to figure out why in the dream his feet never got muddy.

That's it.

Friday, March 17, 2006


The Bossman has been doing a teaching with the izzy group on Saturday nights. We're studying the prophet Micah. More specifically, his mandate noted in Micah 6:8 (love justice, love mercy, walk humbly).

I've always looked at the word "justice" as sort of a "make right out of wrong". Sort of an eye for an eye type of thing. At least, that's what justice means in the world and out on the street. If you were wronged, somehow, the one who wronged must get what's coming too.

Three better and more accurate definitions for justice were brought up in the study. This one was my favorite:

the prescribed way

So...the question is, how does one bring justice into the social injustice realm?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Back home

We returned to the fair mother city late this afternoon. Really had a great time with my dad, aunt and uncle at Marble Falls' most infamous cafe last night.


Probably should have reported this earlier as "Testimony #007.5", but we were given a wad of cash by the izzy group just before our trip. That was a huge break since we were pretty much just biting the bullet on this whole deal. Then, as we get there both my dad and my aunt had reserved us a hotel room for 2 nights. Another huge break. Thank you CEO.


I have officially been given the monumental task of going through a large box of photos from my grandfather who past and scanning them and putting them up on the internet for family to view & comment. Any and all suggestions for which photo hosting platform I might use would greatly be appreciated. Please include pros & cons, etc. I look forward to doing this as family history has always fascinated me. I don't know what will become of these photos once they are scanned (which will take months). Guess I'll sit and wait for orders.


And last but not we drove back on our street we saw Obi-Wan's front door open which is the sure sign that he's back home. Thank you CEO. He had finally been released from the hospital Tuesday night. He made soup and cornbread for us to eat with him tonight. But the real celebration is tomorrow night with fried catfish nuggets. Can't wait.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lone wolf (no more?)

*live, on location: Marble Falls, TX...

The funeral was this morning. Short, simple, and sweet grave side service with about 25-30 people. Nothing more can be said. Also, a simple viewing at the funeral home last night. Probably about 15 of us were there.

My eyes are opening wider to the closed universe of my side of the family. I have enjoyed all kinds of stories and conversations these past 2 days:

1) Meeting Grandaddy B's 3 siblings. One of these, my Great Aunt May, told me of my Great Grandfather, who died long before I was born. It sounds as though I received some of my technical, record keeping personality from him.

2) Reconnecting with one of my favorite Aunts from my childhood, my dad's sister. I've always had good memories of her and have disliked that we somehow grew apart these last 20 years or so. That distant relationship will be no more.

3) Meeting 2nd, and 3rd cousins I never heard of.

4) Receiving an open invitation from my other Great Aunt and Great Uncle to visit them in the Teague/Mexia area and to see the homestead of my late Great Grandmother.

5) Military appreciation: I have many friends both in real life and the blog world who are pro-military/war and anti. I've tried to refrain from being on a "side" as I try to understand the mentality, politics, and spirituality of both. I've also had some hidden shame of being the only person on both my father and mother's family with no military background. Great Grandfather: WWI. Grandfather: WWII. Dad: Viet Nam, had a great uncle on my mom's side who died in the Pearl Harbor attack, cousin served in Desert Storm, and another cousin who's been a Navy SEAL for 10 years. All that to say...I'm very cautious to not be critical of military and war being that my entire family is involved. Grandaddy B helped liberate a concentration camp in Manilla and I'm proud of him for that.

Supposedly there were family reunions all the time just before I was born. Somehow, the branch of my family that Grandaddy B headed had become closed off from the rest of the family over time. Understandably, he was hard-hearted and cold probably due to his hands on WWII dealings.

But he's now past on, and as far as I'm concerned, so are the distant family relations.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Monday notes

Obi-Wan is STILL in the hospital. He's had various treatments for breathing and physical therapy along with his leg treatments. He's in better shape now than he's been in a long while. And although Obi-Wan's so desperate to get home, he sees how his stay has improved his overall health and he maintains a positive attitude about his extended stay (he was suppose to be released Friday. It now looks like tomorrow...maybe).

I, on the other hand, am ready to hunt down this doctor on whatever golf course he's wasting his patient's time on and hold his caddy hostage until he signs the release for Obi-Wan.


The family and I had dinner with te family of Jack-of-all-trades tonight at their home. It was a pleasure to join you all.


The family and I are headed out on possibly our last ever trip to Marble Falls, TX - homeland of Grandaddy B. The funeral is Wednesday morning with a viewing on Tuesday night. This will possibly be the largest gathering of B's in my lifetime. There's never been a family reunion on my dad's side (that I know of). I'm looking forward to it.

I may make possible reports from the field, if necessary as I'm told that the hotel we're staying at has wifi. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Grandaddy B: 1920-2006

Just got word that my last surviving grandparent (Grandaddy B, mentioned in part of this post) has passed on today around 4:20p.

I have no emotions as of now. I was not close to him. Attempts were made to have some semblance of a relationship with him for the last 3 years. I had even spent the evening with him by myself last August for the first time ever. I'm glad that trip was made.

My dad (from NY) is already there in the Austin area with the rest of his siblings. That's all I know as of now.

I'm sure I'll be there in the next day or so.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Testimony #007

(or..."Life without a paycheck - part 492")

I was really down-n-out about our financial universe this morning. Agent Wife opened up a piece of mail addressed to her this morning. It was from the TX medicaid office. They are reviewing our "case" in covering her pregnancy and wanted me to fill out various documents and forms proving that I am a "self-employed minister" and etc. And of course, they wanted signed letters from anyone and everyone who gives us anything. Yeah, good luck getting a signature from the CEO.

The first time around with Agent Offspring #1 went easy. We didn't need medicaid until like the 8th month of her pregnancy. We paid cash up until that point. And some angel of the CEO was working in the medicaid office that day who interpreted my faith babble into legalese that passed our medicaid approval.

But this time things look impossible. Good thing I work for the god of the impossible.

This afternoon we cry out to the CEO of the Universe for our needs to be met. Either bring finances to us in a big way or...drop an employment opportunity in my lap. We ask for an "encouraging sign"

Later, I open the mail. Surprise. A check from our unexpected Canadian source. And it's written to Agent Wife (not the izzy group), so we can deposit it in our Canadian bank and withdraw as needed from a local ATM (unlike the 6 week ordeal we went through last time).

We got our encouraging sign.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Outside of deep cover

Before my identity as "Agent B" came into existence, I was known as "(my real name here) - (my musical instrument type here) player". If there was a hoity-toity upper-crusty socialite affair in the fair mother city, I was most likely present providing background music or some other nonsense.

One cannot be a full time musician in the fair mother city. It's impossible. There's not enough jobs to financially sustain oneself. You need to move to Austin if you're going to take music seriously in Texas. But in Abilene, you can make a modest side income. I once did.

Two weeks ago, a local art joint called me to do a gig tonight. This was the first call I've had in ages. And it happened because I ran into the curator a couple of months ago at the jedi counsel room and said, "hey, when can i come play again?".

I was fairly nervous this afternoon before the gig. It had little to do with "playing in front of people". I think it was nervousness from...stepping outside of my undercover operation for the first time in about 3 years and back into a role I tried getting away from.

Coming out from deep cover was far more difficult than I thought. was hard for me to identify with the other side of life again. I feel like Isaiah in chapter 6: "Whoa to me for I am ruined". I've been with the people of unclean, foul-mouthed lips and I have seen the CEO.

Getting to the gig was our first scheduling conflict as a one car family. Agent Wife had her swim class to teach. Agent Offspring was going to a friend's house. So I had to be dropped off down town an hour early. I wasn't about to sit around the art gathering that long before a gig, so I sat in the library. I ran into a couple of homeless guys I knew from the Baptist Beach Head. It was great to see them. Then just 1 block away was a whole different social universe. One I was about to perform in, yet one I haven't been a part of in years. It took some mental deprogramming before walking that one block distance.

In the end, I think I made some new contacts this evening and rekindled some old ones. Most people thought I'd left town. Perhaps I can make some income doing the one thing I can do fairly well.

It's gonna take some more deprogramming.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Captive audience

I do not endorse the practice of making the poor jump through our religious hoops to get their physical needs met.

Jackie Pullinger, the Mother Teresa of Hong Kong's walled city, once said something to the effect of, "If food is the need, than give food. If a sermon is needed, than preach a sermon. But if food is the need, don't preach a sermon and vice versa."

In the fair mother city, there's something like 147 churches (not including home churches) for our population of 120,000. If a person wanted or needed to hear preaching, there's no shortage of places to get that need met. So, if a person is in some physical need, why preach? I'm not trying to be a jack-ass here. Maybe there's plenty of examples of Jesus preaching to people and asking if they were "saved" before healing or feeding them. Someone help me out with examples. I need to know.

We followers and ministers to the poor fall into traps of "assumed needs". We see a person is in need, like food, or shelter, or whatever. So we assume they need or would even want to hear our religious banter. Then we applaude the poor for performing for us. They carry on with churchy talk which makes us the ministers feel good. I've been to homeless camps where cussing and swearing is the norm. Then when they discover that the "church guy" is in their midst, they start talking as if they just walked out of seminary. It's sick. I wish they'd be real. We believers created this.

*Related photo is a simple nod to the blog of Jack-of-all-trades

Monday, March 06, 2006

Minor changes in life

The Sable sold today. It was actually easier getting money for it than it was to decide to sell it in the first place. I had told the CEO that if selling this car was the best decision, then let it sell fast with an easy transaction. And that I got. Some guy was buying it for his daughter who recently graduated from something and was now working and needed a car. They didn't even test drive it. Just asked a few questions, traded me the cash for the title and keys, and off they were.

Truthfully, I haven't been able to afford owning 2 cars for the last 6 months or so. We usually just kept one parked in the driveway at all times.


Uncle Kurt decided to move back to his camp for the time being. He's cleaning up the camp site in preparation for his future move into a residence of his own.

I haven't been very clear and direct about my dealings with Kurt on this blog for fear of breaking the Matthew 6:1-4 mandate of the agent b files. But I don't know how else to share my emotions that happened this morning...

Basically, he's been living with us for over 2 weeks. It started as a weekend getaway from a recent cold spell that turned into a genuine family member we didn't want to get rid of. It's no big deal, really. Kurt cleans up the house, loves to take care of our animals, and plays with Agent Offspring. He was the best house guest ever. And he provided for us on his own freewill. Everyday he brought home something he thought we needed (bread, coffee, batteries, etc). But Kurt's easy to love. And the more sacrificial part of the Jesus following life is loving those who are difficult. And there's nothing difficult about Kurt so we're not superheroes or anything. He's really been a joy to have around. I got kind of emotional when I dropped him off at the railroad tracks by a path to his camp. Just seeing him walk down that path through the mesquite brush with his backpack kind of hurt. It's been a tough day, but a good one too.

There was no incident that made him decide to leave or anything. It was mutual. He enjoyed his time here. I could literally write a book on the discoveries I observed while living with a guy like Kurt. Many of these observations were hinted at in posts from the past 2 weeks or so.

I look forward to Kurt not living in a tent by the tracks anymore. He deserves better in life.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sunday randoms...

Spent quite a bit of time with Uncle Kurt today (it's always good to be with family). A few months ago the folks at the Baptist Beach Head helped him get situated with a food stamp debit card. He hasn't used it a whole lot. We went grocery shopping at HEB today. He loves going to HEB because back in December, their corporate headquarters sponsored a huge free meal for the entire city down at the civic center. I think 5000 people attended or something. Anyway, Kurt was there that day. And he was very impressed and extremely thankful for what they did. So he figures, if he's gonna go grocery's gonna be at HEB. Today he stopped 2 HEB employees to tell them how appreciative he was for that civic center meal they had. He was serious.


Uncle Kurt and I visited Obi-Wan in the hospital. With the help of a nurse, we convinced him to let us push him around the building in a wheelchair and go outside for some fresh air. Nothing special happened. But I wish I had a photo of the 3 of us going down these hallways. We turned a few heads and received a few glances from hospital security. A 35 year old long haired white guy and an older weather-beaten, limping homeless guy pushing an elderly black man whose hair is now a cross between Don King and Bozo the clown. I'm sure we look suspicious.


Out on a walk a little beyond my neighborhood I ran into a blast from the izzy group's past, Missy - the youngest sister of Jed Clampett, mentioned at the end of THIS POST. All of her and her family's background is in that post. She is the one who actually left the family and got married to some handicapped guy she met at a nursing home. I had heard that her husband died this past January. He had a lot of health complications. They had been married 2.5 years. When I saw her on the street, she looked broken and defeated. Her car broke down the day after his death, so she's been on foot ever since. She had left her apartment by N. Willis earlier today to walk all the way to N 10th and Treadway (a long way) to visit his grave site for the first time. Then she walked all the way to United on N. 10th and Willis (another long way) to buy some supper. Then I ran into her. I invited her to walk home with me so Agent Wife & I could visit her and we'd drive her home.

I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a spouse and have your car break down and every little thing in your world crash around you all at once. She was so broken. Sometimes...the only way to minister to someone is to shut up and be a listening ear.


Looks like our Sable will sell tomorrow (Monday) around noon. I had my first call for the car today. The guy made an offer without even driving it. I'm very sad about this because again...I like this car. I don't want to get rid of it. And this is not the way I had envisioned getting rid of this car. I would have loved to give it to someone like Missy one day. But on the other hand. I'm excited that I'll have the means to pay some bills for a while.

Agent Wife & I are trying to reconstruct our lives to revolve around one vehicle. And that one vehicle is 13 years old with 233K miles. The Millenium Falcon...she's never failed me yet. We've been spoiled with 2 cars for the last 2 years...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Victory dinner

Uncle Kurt joined Agent Wife, Agent Offspring and myself for a free meal at a brand new steakhouse in the fair mother city this evening. It was some sort of promotional deal for the restaurant and gives their waitstaff and cooks experience with real customers before the grand opening. The Bossman alerted us to this deal. We had to call earlier this week for reservations.

All week, Agent Wife felt like this was going to be some celebration dinner for us. Yet I didn't know what we'd be celebrating since our financial realm looks worse than bleak. But just the fact of a free steak dinner at a restaurant is something to celebrate. And Kurt begins receiving his first ever social security pay this Monday. He plans to rent his own place soon (another reason to celebrate).

Uncle Kurt was excited about this dinner all week until today. He became mildly nervous about going out. He said it was because he didn't like crowds (neither do I). But I blame his nervousness on leaving his cultural comfort zone. Kurt's been homeless on and off most of his 68 years. Guys like him may visit burger joints for 27 cent coffee but they don't frequent $19 steak dinner joints in the posh, south side (aka Little Dallas) of the fair mother city. But thankfully, he toughed it out and decided to go.

The big moment for me tonight is when toward the end of our meal (it was great, btw) Kurt told the young waitress that he wanted to see her again before we left. I thought he was just being cutesy/flirty with some 19 year old chick. But when she came back he quietly reached in his pocket and handed her what looked like a few one dollar bills. It was probably all the money he made from selling cans, copper, and pecans from the street today. And dammit...before we made these reservations we almost didn't make the call because we didn't think we could come up with the money to tip the wait staff...

It's just like the CEO to give us a steak dinner when we have nothing in the bank.

And it's just like the CEO to illustrate how a man who has nothing can give his all.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

In case of emergency, break glass

An action was taken today that I've been avoiding for a long time. I engaged one of my emergency plans.

Pretty much our whole married life, Agent Wife & I had some sort of faith-type financial living. Well, sometimes we had steady income from somewhere. That was always nice even if it was magic beans.

Things started getting really risky looking since last September. I can't always remember how we got through one month to the next (wish I kept better records of the CEO's goodness. It's always cool to look back on them). But our needs have always been met and we've never had a bill come due without having the bucks to pay it. Until now.

We've got a couple of weeks until they tack a late charge on this bill. Then a couple of weeks after that before people start harassing me on the phone. I really believe the CEO will pull though. He always has.

But faithlessness taunts me on days like today. The world's system laughs at me. Am I just really an idiot? Has the whole izzy group ministry sunk around me like the titanic and I've just been playing the fiddle up on deck for the last 3 years? Or is this yet another faith test? Do I need to withdraw from the relationships I keep full time and go back to work in the middle class world? Do I doubt my calling as a secret agent?

I own 2 cars. Thankfully, I've never had a car payment in my life. They were both gifts. Agent Wife & I got by on one car for 3 years, so I'm sure we could do it again. Today, I put a for sale sign in the window of our Sable and parked it by a busy street where people sell their cars. I figure...if it sells, great. We can live off that money for a month or so. If it doesn't sell, maybe the CEO has something better in store.

I could also sell some music instruments. But ironically, I got called for a gig next week (my first one in a year). Maybe this will be my last gig ever.

I feel like a dork for saying this, but leaving that car on the sale lot made me feel like I could identify with Abraham lifting the knife over Isaac. Of course, there's a world of difference. Selling your car...killing your kid. But when that '94 Sable was given to us, it was a huge miracle and answer to prayer. We had this junker '82 Toyota that blew up on the freeway one day. That was our only car and we were sick of fixing it. Then the next day some friends drove this Sable up in our driveway and said "here". It was the nicest car we've ever had - 4 doors, and an AC that worked. We drove it to Saskatchewan and back one summer. I had always planned on giving that car to someone in need when the time came to get rid of it.

I refuse to use this blog as a manipulation or sympathy tool. I believe in only telling the CEO my needs, not manipulating people. But I write this to covet your prayers on what to do. There's too many good things happening (like the latest Table report) for this whole secret agent life to be a fluke.

Maybe the CEO will provide a ram real soon.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Just what the hell is lent anyway?

Please, my catholic friends. Don't be insulted. I love you. In fact, here in the fair mother city...the biggest, baddest, most effective and heart-filled food pantry for the poor is run by a catholic church. And nobody knows this. You know why. BECAUSE THEY DON'T ANNOUNCE THEIR GOOD DEEDS TO MAN. Hey, a benevolent machine that has actually read Matthew 6:1-4. Go figure. You catholics can keep your rituals, hail marys, and head/chest finger movements. But if these local catholics are a representation of your kindness to the poor, then you've got my thumbs up and I'll back you for life.

Really...I don't know if lent is a catholic thing or not. I know a lot of protestants who do it. That's fine and all. "Some people's faith won't let them eat meat" and all that jazz.

So, I guess lent is like some kind of late model spiritual discipline. Like a moderated form of fasting. Except instead of washing your face every day and avoiding somber faces, you let the whole damn world know your skipping beef for Jesus. Good for you.

I thought Jesus told us somewhere to avoid all those "new moon festivals and religious feasts" and etc. I assumed that meant believers are free from all that kind of crap.

I'm not trying to be a jack-ass here (key word: trying). I grew up in the coc (church of christ...with a capital "C" on one of the words. I forget which). The coc didn't do lent. They didn't do a lot of things, like play music instruments in church. And I got an instrumental music degree from a coc university. My college career was a huge oxymoron.

I understand a lot of folks are into lent now days. Maybe it's a new cool thing. Like those WWJD bracelets. I really don't know anything about lent other than you "have" to give up something you like until easter. Like coffee. Yeah, as if.

Come to think of whole freaking life is a great big lent. I haven't actually gone out and spent real money on a good beer in almost two years because I can't freaking afford it. We rarely get to buy breakfast sausage and bacon (my favorite meats in the world) because they're a luxury in our life right now. And going out to eat??? Yeah...right. Oh yeah, the other day I gave up my dignity when I walked into the bank with my jar of coins to deposit so a flipping utility bill could get paid. Actually...thank you lord that I have a jar of coins to deposit...

And now I'm supposed to give up, meat? Will this make god like me more? Or just impress religious people?