Monday, April 30, 2007

we meet again, old friend

Hello Italian-made commercial espresso machine. It’s been a while.

I miss you. Bad.

I remember well when the izzy group ministry purchased over $40,000 of commercial kitchen equipment for less than a quarter of that from some restaurant that was closing down.

You were part of the favorite part of the deal.

I was determined to become the best amateur barista the fair mother city has ever known.

And to our friends on the streets, I was. Lattes for the homeless was my new ministry.

You and me, we were a team...

...separated by church politics, religion, jealousy, back stabbing, and egos.

You were stolen from the izzy group. Lattes were robbed from our street friends.

I kept tabs on you from afar, curious to know where you were and who you were serving. Just curious.

Word on the street was that you ended up in a new restaurant in town.

It’s true. I saw you the other night, when I was gigging at your new home.

Somehow, your lattes just ain’t the same.

Things have changed, I guess.

Do me a favor please: if any of our old street friends stop by...give them a double shot. Thanks.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Happy 90th Obi-Wan

Turned out to be a great party.

Many of the neighbors came, contributed with the food and set-up, gave gifts, etc. Young Jenny, from up the street, made Obi-Wan a card and gave him a dollar bill that she got from "the tooth fairy" or something.

His son Lamont smoked a brisket and chicken, the best ever. I think he's worked as a cook in the food service industry most of his life.

And two of Obi-Wan's nieces and a nephew came in from Ft. Worth.

I think there's a lot of redemptive work happening between Obi-Wan and Lamont lately. This party has helped with that some.

Birthday boy...

...with niece, nephew, and son.

Friday, April 27, 2007

the fair mother city: part II

Every city in the southern US, both large and small, harbor the christian religious community in ways not found in the rest of the world. Church folks have their own radio stations, book stores, coffee houses, newspapers, even independently owned local Christian TV channels, and god knows what else.

And all of these southern US cities like to jokingly claim the title “buckle of the bible belt”. I’ve heard that about Tulsa, Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, etc. Abilene is no exception.

The fair mother city has some of its own unique additions to the Christian culture.

- Higher Education: To have three “liberal” arts universities in a city this size (116,000 pop) is rare. For those three to each be a) privately funded and thus b) religiously based, is unique, if not freaking weird. But such is life in these parts. The schools are (and here’s where the google traffic comes in): McMurry University (Methodist), Hardin-Simmons University (Baptist), and Abilene Christian University* (Church of Christ, or coc for short).

- Social graces: any culture will obviously bring out various social graces throughout the entire city. For example, in Abilene amongst middle class circles, it is very common to ask “where do you go to church?”**, usually followed right after asking a person’s name.

- Social standards: Each society has it’s own unwritten standards it lives by. One such local example is alcohol. Most Christian groups have a public aversion to alcohol. This is really funny since the first miracle of Jesus recorded in the book of John involves creating copious amounts of alcohol for a wedding party. As Obi-Wan can attest, old-time Baptists are convinced that the wine Jesus made “was different from today’s wine” as in, watered-down grape juice. I’m thinking, “Hell yeah it was different. No preservatives or man-made chemicals. Two sips and you were Drunky McDrunkard”. But that’s an entirely different agent report. It’s funny to visit big chain restaurants, like Chilis or Olive Garden and see so few people partake from the bar. Like they are afraid to be seen there. I guess I respect that in some sense (don’t cause the weaker brother to stumble, etc). But it still seems fake to a degree. Abilene has only allowed the legal sale of alcohol since 1978, a vote that passed something like 51% to 49%...

- Politics and government: If a community is mostly religious church-goers, and our nation’s political system is truly “of the people”, than it makes sense that our local policy makers would mostly be religious church people, complete with all of the social graces and standards like the few mentioned above. The fair mother city’s mayor and 2 of the 6 city counsel members are all from the same coc mega-church. It’s almost impossible to win a local election unless you’re a member of a large social club (church) within one of the popular local denominations (coc, Baptist, Methodist). ACU having 5000 students, plus (I’m guessing) 1000 or so faculty and staff, plus all of their family members, etc, it’s obvious why the coc has much political sway. Ironically, the Baptists far outnumber the coc’s. But their quest for power involves local businesses and economy over politics***. Exceptions abound, such as the counsel member who’s both a) Catholic and b) owns a small chain of liquor stores. My local voting procedure has always been to vote for the counter-culture candidate. And of my guys won!

Thanks for enduring this long report. I could get far more detailed and give way more examples as to what makes the fair mother city tick. Or you could just add that discussion to the comments.

Future reports in this series will be: Part III, a brief history lesson of the fair mother city and my theories on how it's religious culture came to be. And eventually Part IV, tying all of this info into together to the poverty culture and why I’m convinced they are squashed by the religious community and thus, why I feel like my calling exists.

* ACU is what brought me here as a young lad many moons ago. Yes, my spiritual heritage is with the Church of Christ. Although I haven’t been an official member of one for at least ten years.

** About a year ago I grew tired of trying to explain my agent life or give the easy answer of “house church”. Currently my standard answer to this question is now “I don’t”, followed by the questioner’s shocked silence. I figure: it’s an honest answer, I avoid sounding like I’m right and everyone else is wrong, and it shut’s them the-hell-up quick.

*** I’ve just begun digging into this discovery. Hopefully an agent report will follow someday, if not more smart ass quips towards Baptists, as I’m beginning to learn why I like them less and less daily...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

the fair mother city: part I

Recently I had to write a short bio of myself for a potential future project. In the bio I needed to briefly explain my life, mission, and location. And the readers of this bio most likely have never read these reports on the agent b files. So I felt the need to explain just what “the fair mother city” was.

The Fair Mother City (Abilene pop. 116,000) is a city known for its churches, religion, low wage jobs, three religious affiliated private universities, an over abundance of non-prof organizations, and its US military base. The local poverty is only engaged by the churches with multiple strings attached.

I usually try to avoid being cynical. There’s no fruit in cynicism. But I don’t know any other way to explain this city. It’s my point of view, 18 years in the making.

The agent b files have been written for a year and a half. But after this bio I realized I’ve never given a basic overview of the fair mother city (a nickname coined by a post-college room mate, one of the Tulsa Brothers I think).

Any of you locals, former residents, or visitors have anything to add or change about the above quote?

Monday, April 23, 2007

return of a jedi

My family and I had The Table at Obi-Wan's tonight. Agent Wife cooked some chicken, rice and vegetables which we brought over.

It's been a long time. Probably since November or something. We use to eat over there about every other night before he got real sick and had his marathon hospital stay.

The dynamic is a little different now with his son Lamont being there. But we're getting to know Lamont real well. And he's loosening up around us.

And of course, there were dominoes. Thanks to my training from the homeless regulars at the Downtown Baptist Beach Head last year, I kicked everyone's ass.

Friday, April 20, 2007

good news reports (friday ed.)

1) Welcome Home:

After nine weeks in the hospital, one less leg, and rehab, Obi-Wan returned home today.

He's in very good health and spirits. I haven't seen him appear this healthy since 2005. Amputation has its merits, I suppose.

I'm still impressed with the rehab part. He can hop from his wheel chair and into my car now better than when he had two legs. Amazing. We even went on a grocery excursion this afternoon and he was full of energy the whole time.

A week from today Obi-Wan turns 90. We're planning some sort of birthday/welcome home bash.


2) Travel prayers answered:

For some time I have wanted to visit Boston. A majority of the agent network (from abroad) reside there and I've developed good relations with them via the internet.

Two months ago my desire was upped as the Why Man announced his church's conference gig the weekend of May 4.

I can't stand conferences. I burned out on those ego-fests back when I expected to attend them while employed by a church. But I figure any conference called "God For People Who Hate Church" is worth traveling 1600 miles to.

And hey, one of the guest speakers is the son of Jim and Tammy Faye. That's got to be amusing, at the least.

I flippantly prayed for the funds to attend. Last week I prayed for a specific amount to show up in our lives if I am to go.

The next day a check arrived from a friend in Ontario. He's mysteriously sent us ministry support for over five years as a result of some embarrassing letter writing campaign where we begged people to support us as missionaries.

Agent Wife and I have long abandoned those begging and manipulative tactics.

Over the years we've informed this individual of the changes with the izzy group, and even our recent departure from it. But communicating with him is confusing. We only hear from him twice a year when he sends money.

His check was accompanied with a note: "Heard you left the izzy group. I want to continue supporting you."

Anyway, his check was in Canadian funds and unfortunately, written out to the izzy group by his book keeper. It was always impossible to cash it in izzy's name anyway, and Agent Wife & I have a Canadian account in our name. So we returned it and requested a different check.

So I figured I didn't have the money to travel. More like a vague promise for money.

But then today a group of folks made the funds available.

So I'm headed to Boston for the first weekend of May.

I'm soooo looking forward to this...thank you CEO.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

an open letter to Uncle Kurt

Dammit Uncle Kurt, I miss you.

Where are you? Are you still alive?

You have our phone number. I figured you would have called by now.

It’s been six months since we’ve seen or heard from you. Agent Wife said she saw you in November and you offered to house sit and watch the pets while we went to Saskatchewan.

Then we couldn’t find you.

Your camp was still set. But it’s obvious you haven’t been there.

The folks at the Downtown Baptist Beach Head hadn’t seen you. And they had good news: your name finally came up on the waiting list for The Windsor Apartments down town. Too late now, I guess.

The lady you did yard maintenance for hadn’t seen you either. She’s closing down her antique shop, by the way.

And of course, those Nazis at The Wishing Well Shelter wouldn’t give me any information on you. And unfortunately, my inside sources have quit working there. Good for them. I suspect the Nazis didn’t know or care where you were anyway.

I know “the system” was really making you mad. Believe me, you have no idea how mad it makes me. But bolting town without a good-bye or ‘see ya’ is just so...homeless.

Come on, we were family.

If I didn’t have a wife to love and kids to raise, I’d probably have joined you. The fair mother city has that effect on people.

Please come home Uncle Kurt. My wife, kids, and dog miss you.

Monday, April 16, 2007


My next-door neighbors the Sanfords hosted another garage sale last weekend.

This is a routine occurrence. Frieda Sanford lives off some small, monthly disability pay. So to make ends meet she holds garage sales about every 2 to 3 weeks.

She really is an entrepreneur from the poverty culture. She knows how and where to find really good deals on used junk and re-sell it for profit.

When we first moved in about 4 years ago, Frieda’s youngest son The Tiger asked why we never had garage sales, like having them was a normal part of life.

I don’t know. I guess we use everything we have. Or the things we have aren’t worth selling. Or perhaps I love my stuff too much.

The real lesson here is about possession: the Sanfords do not hold on to anything longer than they need it. Ever.

It works like this: they pick-up some free or cheap junk somewhere, use it for a month or so, then sell it for profit. Or sometimes give it to someone else in need. My favorite example is the time they found a practically brand-new above-ground swimming pool. It sells at Wal-Mart for $250. The Sanford’s found it at a garage sale for $30, set it up in their back yard, invited the neighbors over to swim for a few months, then sold it for $50 at the next garage sale.

Over the last four years the Sanford’s have taught me much about my unhealthy (and ungodly) nature to latch onto and hoard material possessions.

They are true transfer agents. Everything under their roof is always “for sale” or to be given away.

As a secret agent, I’m often asked by Christians how I go about “discipling” people. “I don’t”, is my usual answer. “People disciple me”.

Without being seminarians, having theological degrees, or even high school diplomas, the Sanfords have stumbled upon what I consider to be the true meaning or direction of Jesus’ words, “sell all you have and give to the poor”.

Everything is for sale or to be given. Always.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

various sunday reports

Testimony #029...

Agent Wife and I thought there was a funny water-running noise from the bathroom sink. To inspect, I had to crawl through a kitchen cabinet and remove a panel I installed 3 years ago after a different plumbing ordeal.

Turns out our bathroom sink drain pipe was leaking at a connection. It didn't look like rocket science to repair. But I'm not an expert butt crack plumber. So I wanted to call the jack-of-all-trades. But I didn't because I knew he'd be in the middle of home church.

Low and behold, Jack ends up calling me. Begging me to let him come over so he can skip church. Come on over. We'll have church in my kitchen cabinet.

We get something fixed for $7 of parts as opposed to a $75 plumber visit. I love it. Thank you CEO.


Tiger Tales...

Agent Wife and I wanted to grill burgers tonight. At the last minute we tried inviting 3 or 4 different friends, none of whom could come. So we took the advice of Jesus and invited the poor to our banquet.

But only The Tiger showed up.

It seems like years since I've hung out with The Tiger. He's almost 18 now. He quit school two years ago and works as much as he can.

He's still in that weird transitional phase of leaving kid-like ways behind and becoming a man.

Sitting at our table he asked a weird out-of-the-blue question: how long have Agent Wife and I been together?

He's not the first young person from the poverty culture to ask that. I think when a) you're married and b) you're married for more than a couple of years that the kids take notice. It's foreign to them.

The Tiger's mom, Frieda Sanford, has been with Manuel for at least 5 years. That's the longest she's been with anyone during The Tiger's lifetime.

But I think this "togetherness" subject is on his mind because his older sister Jessie recently moved back in. She broke up with hr boyfriend because he was cheating. But a few days later the boyfriend moved in with Jessie at Frieda and The Tiger's house (next door to us).

I've known The Tiger since he was 10 at the old izzy group food pantry days.


Before my shower tonight I discover that half of my body has broken out in some bizarre pink-ish rash that mildly itches. This has never happened to me.

I wonder of it has something to do with crawling under the cabinet

Friday, April 13, 2007

subverting the empire

This subject has been on my mind most of my life, yet I didn't know what it was or what to call it.

Claiborne's book was influential in my life as it gave simple definitions and action oriented examples for these weird life-long thoughts.

So did Colossians Remixed, that Agent X shared with me. But that book was too wordy for me. Kind of like a doctoral version of the Claiborne book.

And I still don't have any commentary on undermining the empire. Yet.

I think I can live it easier than I can explain it.

So I'll post a snip of some other guy's words on the subject, along with this link of links for his series on subversion:

...from Josh Brown:

They say nice big gas guzzlers are the way to go. So we get rid of a car, ride a bike, carpool, and walk. They say we should be left to ourselves when we pull into our suburban home. So we sit on our front porches with our garage doors open. They say we should buy what we want when we want it. So we cut up our credit cards and give micro-loans to videographers in Ghana and a medical clinic in Kenya. They say having a multi-million dollar building campaign and excessive utility bills is worth the 3 hour event on Sunday mornings. So we break bread with our friends 7 days a week and give our tithe away. They say the truest indication of beauty comes from the commercials, magazines and what you wear. So we say a child’s way of life is more important than any lotion, t-shirt, or luxury that a child can provide us. They say you should care only about yourself and do whatever it takes to get ahead. So we live together with other couples as family sharing expenses and resources. They say the only way to protect ourselves, ensure security, and live peacefully is by way of state of the art weaponry directed at our enemies. So we usher in peace by way of the cross for our enemies.

Undermining is a radical posture and extremely polarizing. It is a dangerous thing to suggest that there is another way to live. So much that it can get you killed by the empire.

So Jesus comes and talks to women. He touches them and they touch him. The host culture did not allow that. But he didn’t care. He was too busy undermining the cultural role of men and women.

So Jesus comes and washes the feet of his friends. The host culture did not understand this “lowering” of one’s self for the sake of others. But he didn’t care. He was too busy undermining individualism and pride.

So Jesus comes riding a donkey. A farcical and mischievous thing for someone claiming to be a king to do. But he didn’t care. He was to too busy undermining Caesar and Herod and every other political leader who ruled from position and not service.

Speaking of the empire Walter Wink writes, “The Domination System tenuously maintains the upper hand; shattering its hold at any single point threatens its stability all along the line.”

That’s why people dismiss us. That’s why people dismiss half of what Jesus taught. It threatens stability. It’s too true and too revolutionary to be safe."

Hope that makes sense.

testimony #027 & #028

In a determined attempt to not forget all of the small and seemingly trivial things of our weird lives, here are some recent testimonies that I’m trying to catch up on:

A) Yesterday I receive a letter from my mortgage company. They performed some new math on my monthly payment. Not only is my monthly payment going to be about $20 less each month, but they sent a check for $81 due to an escrow account abundance. Thank you CEO. The very bill I struggled paying for last month is now giving back to me. Weird.

We do not seem to have any $81 needs in our life at this time. I’m praying what this is meant for.


B) (I glossed over this last month, but recently saw some significance)

Last month I received an electric bill that totaled $8. I knew this was a mistake since our bill is usually in the $50-$60 range this time of year.

The previous month I never received a bill in the mail. So I looked up the account online, saw that $51 was due, and paid online via debit card.

I don’t like online transactions. I’m convinced some hacker somewhere can rob me blind. $8 bill shows that the total for this month was really $59, but that I had paid $51 online...TWICE. So now, only $8 was due.

Well, I panicked. There’s no way I could have been operating all month with an additional $51 less from my account. We were bare to the bone and would have overdrawn more than once.

I went to the bank to see if the electric company really took $51 from me twice.

Nope. Only once. But their bill says twice.

The electric company screwed my favor.

Since the universe operates on a “reap what you sow” principle, I figured I better call and straighten this out since it could come back and bite me in the butt. Had this mistake gone against me instead of for me, you bet I’d be harassing them and taking no prisoners. So I better “fess up” and show them their mistake.

After 29 minutes of phone tree mania, I finally reached a human. The electric company lady had a confused tone in her voice as I explained their mistake. Like maybe she was thinking, “You dumb-ass. Why are you calling? Take the money and run!”

So she explains that according to their records, I paid twice and there was nothing she could do to change that. She would leave a note on my account saying I called, but that’s it.

At the end of the month, we had just enough money to pay for all of our needs and not a penny more. Had that electric bill been $59 instead of $8, we wouldn’t have made it.

Thank you CEO.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

the garden files (reloaded)

The gardening season has showed up on my doorstep crying in a bassinet. I embrace it, although deep down I feel ill prepared. Whatever that means.

All year I dream of the next gardening season. Even at the first sign of green sprouts from the earth's pores, I'm mentally plotting and scheming three chess moves ahead:

"Next year I'll till in...SAND and MANURE."

"My garden is baked by the sun over 90% of the day...I'll construct some sun-blocking machine with fabric and tent poles and my neighbor's tree, giving at least 50% shade"

Last year's dismal failure of a gardening year sort of took the wind out of my sails. I was totally excited about last season, until the drought burned it up and made my garden a waste of time and water.

Then, as part of an inheritance package from Obi-Wan, I received his killer tiller. It was 35 years old, 5 HP Briggs & Stratton, and could reconstruct mountains.

Then a month ago it died. The motor quit and the pull rope can no longer crank. That usually means a thrown rod or bent piston.

That usually means buy a new damn tiller.

I've never been so let down. It's now added to the ever growing pile of yard machines of mine that no longer work.

"Change" is the theme this year. So is "I don't give a crap".

If stuff grows, it grows.

No longer am I doing the white-boy, internet research way of gardening via cardboard & mulch. I'm following the advice of Obi-Wan and bra-less feminists of the 70's: go natural. It will be much more work weeding, but that will give me an excuse to be in the garden daily.

And on this note, the garden files of 2007 begin. Maybe the CEO will communicate through it again.

Monday, April 09, 2007

randoms: monday april 9, 2006


My dear friend and mentor Obi-Wan was moved from the hospital to the rehab center about a week and a half ago. The rehab center is the Taj Mahal of hospital stays. Complete with nice comfy spacious rooms, flat screen TVs and what seems like a nurse to patient ratio of 19:1. He's well cared for.

And he's actually getting rehab'ed as opposed to doped up with IV's and lying in a daily daze watching Oprah.

Obi-Wan can do more things for himself now than I remember him doing a few months ago. All with only one leg now. Yay rehab center folks.

And rumor has it that he should come home soon. Possibly this week. Just in time for his upcoming 90th birthday.


Son and Dad Tree Service Inc:

I've been off since Thursday due to The Son's Easter travels and cold snowy wet weather in the fair mother city. Perhaps I'll work some tomorrow afternoon.


Uncle George:

It is no secret that I am a huge fan/admirer of George Muller (1805-1898). He lived only by prayer and faith in the CEO. Thus he told the CEO only (and no man or church group) of his needs and desires. The CEO delivered always. Through his lifetime (and well beyond) 120,000 orphans were housed, schooled, and raised on his prayers and faith alone.

I am in the midst of reading everything I can get my hands on about him. Most of which says the same as all books draw of his left behind journals and other eye witness sources.

Currently, I am reading his recently reprinted 700 page autobiography, that I started back in November (mentioned here). I couldn't finish it before our holiday travels. My alumnus' library, who's student workers are notorious for re-shelving books in the wrong place, lost it. I recently found it 100 Dewey Decimals away.

This book is the detailed daily activities of Muller as opposed to the numerous digest briefs published.

The orphan work started in 1835 and are still in existence today. It's reassuring to know that Muller went through the same faith struggles that I endure.

He was not superman.

1838-1945 were the greatest years of trials. Many of the details of his staff trying to pay rent on the orphan houses are kin to my own ordeals with the mortgage in recent months. And as I am still discovering, the CEO always delivers to those who ask. Nice to read of similar trials in others from 170 years ago.

On these reports, George Muller will continued to be affectionately referred to as Uncle George.

Friday, April 06, 2007

my $.02

In light of my wife’s recent report, as well as Organic Guy’s and Jack’s, here’s my input.

On living “outside the box”, outside of the cage, and losing a sense of weirdness...

At first, I didn’t like this outside-the-box life (that is...assuming we really are outside). It was thrust upon me due to circumstances beyond my control.

But instead of fighting it and trying to make my own destiny happen, I slowly went with the flow of sorts. Like the CEO was allowing me to slowly enter this hot-tub of weirdness one toe at a time, as opposed to diving in. I think I’m liking it more all the time.

It would be far easier to just have a career, save up for the future, join the local church, play "team", suck ass, and look forward to retirement.

But I would be miserable. Ever since childhood, none of those things have ever turned me on.

That would be a boring-ass life.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

pruning boy #005: discovery

I've been at this pruning gig for over a month now. I like it OK. I'm the bitch: the hourly waged gofer guy who's micro-managed at everything I do. And I'm OK with that.

My life the last four years has been all about pruning. Now I am a professional pruner. There's a lot of lessons in that.

But today while sawing up a big pecan limb, I finally realized who I work for.

The Son and The Dad are the real life inspirations for Homer and Grampa Simpson.

The Son's a great guy. He's not as dumb as Homer, but his "literalist" sense of humor annoys me enough that he might as well be Homer in some respects. (me, handing blue key chain to The Son: "here's your blue key". The Son: "It's blue? I thought it was silver"). God, help me.

The Dad is almost an exact replica of Grampa. He sounds exactly like him.

Often when The Dad & I are sitting waiting in the truck or waiting for The Son to settle up with a customer, The Dad will make a joke about how this sitting part is "the toughest work of the job" or something along those lines. It was funny once. But every two minutes?!?

Homer, Grampa, and Agent B. We're the tree pruning trio of the fair mother city.

Monday, April 02, 2007

pruning boy #004: a day in the life

6:15a – awake

6:16a – coffee, feed dog, etc.

6:30-7:30a – communications with the CEO and the agent network via internet.

7:30a – breakfast, kids, dress, stuff

8:57a – Arrive at the boss’s house (The Son). Weed-eat his and The Dad’s property while The Son checks on a potential future job.

9:35a – Assume my migrant worker seating position in the back of the van with various chainsaws, tools, and butt-loads of gasoline and other toxic materials that aren’t meant to be inhaled for long periods.

9:45a – Go to feed store to pick up a pallet (40 bags) of fertilizer for about 70 jobs. They only have 10. And the new shipment comes next week, with a new, higher price. The Son already quoted his customers a certain price for fertilizing and no one else has this formula in town. The Son is mad.

10:02a – Drive up North Treadaway. See Jack and possibly his long-lost daughter in passing, out front on their property.

10:15-11:45a – fertilize trees for one customer with various properties all over the north side of town. This customer owns the largest scrap yard/recycling center in town. Get an up close view of some fancy properties that few know of.

11:57a – Agent Wife & kids pick me up for lunch.

1:01p – back in my migrant worker seat. Off to various fertilizing jobs.

1:55p – Find myself asking “are we in Hollywood?” as we fertilize the hoityest-toityest house I’ve ever seen in the fair mother city. It struck me odd since it’s location is not exotic or a private acreage. The Son tells me that the owners had the original house demolished in order to build the current one. I’ve been in some nice upper level homes around here, but this was first class all around.

3:02-5:27p – mow & edge The Son & The Dad’s yards.

5:39p – home, shower.

6:03p – supper with the family

6:40p – clean a butt-load of dishes. Agent Wife baked muffins which caused extra dirty dishes. Worth the sacrifice.

7:05-8:30p Hang out in the back yard with kids and on the driveway. Sebastian & Jenny’s mom pulls over to talk. She’s having a baby in two months. Also, our down the street neighbor Amy pulls over. Tells us a story how she and her husband lost two cars in one day (a wreck and a blow-up). Then they received two cars by the end of the weekend. Her dad gave them a minivan that wasn’t being used. Then her church bought them another minivan as a blessing. Thank you CEO for the testimonies.

9:00p - kid’s baths

9:34p – email, more communications with the agent network, etc. Report.

Off to the home remodeling gig tomorrow.

Good night.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I’ve been in the desert, thus this coercive gig with the poor for over four years now. Only recently have I had a new perspective on things in the financial realm. Or perhaps, middle class versus poverty culture and their way of doing things.

On the pruning boy gig a few weeks ago, we started the day with a familiar scene: we entered the customer’s property, surveyed the upcoming work, serviced the equipment needed, etc.

Then the customer herself comes outside. It was a typical customer for Son & Dad Tree Service Inc: wealthy, elderly, widow lady with a lot of money and a son somewhere who calls in service work for his mother’s house.

My boss The Son turned on his good ole boy charm while kissing up to the customer as expected. But this woman had a subtle edge to her.

She acted like nothing was ever right. Complaints about previous service people working at her house and complaints about this or that, all which seemed trivial from my standpoint, are what spewed from her pores.

Meanwhile, here I was (two weeks ago) wondering how my own mortgage would be paid and having nothing concrete in my future to feed my family. And I’m thinking, “woman, what the hell are you whining about? You have a killer house, a nice car, and what not. And you’re sitting here bitching about dumb stuff.”

Then as the CEO would have it, I was reminded of how that was me merely four years ago. I remember it being easy to complain about trivial things the more comfortable I was.

I remember the Happy Days Community Church paying me (and wife) a salary of $300 a month and grew to $1450 a month for being their benevolent directors. And I remember complaining how we were so low on the totem pole of the church pay scale and how I wish we could have received more, etc.

Right now I’d be kissing someone for that kind of monthly income. $1450 a month is actually a stellar salary considering my missionary heroes Mother Teresa and Uncle George Muller made zero.

Guess it’s good to have some reality slapped into me once in a while. It can hurt, but in a good way.