Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This is the story...

I want to use this to let everyone know "what happened" to me, or "why I am acting strange".
Let me begin with my background - I was born into a military family overseas ("Army Brat") and had some challenges growing up but nothing too difficult to overcome. My parents tried to raise me in a Christian (Lutheran) home but it just never took with me. None of it made sense or it seemed, well, weak. Nevertheless I was confirmed (kind of like first communion for Catholics) and tried to walk with God, or at least tried to live by His Word, whenever I thought of it. I never really committed in my heart and was mainly a “tourist” Christian at best.
At 17 I joined the Army and at 44 retired after two wars and quite a bit of anger and heartache (much of it admittedly self-inflicted). I went in the military with God and left without Him (or so I thought – read on and draw your own conclusions of whether or not God ever left me).
Timeline:  1982-1990
I signed up with the Army while still in high school and came in as an Engineer (Construction Surveyor).  My father suggested Chaplain's Assistant but of course I had my own plans (you will see this is a reoccurring theme with me, sometimes with disastrous results). If I remember correctly I laughed in his face because I knew better…
Basic training (boot camp)was easy, and I couldn't believe these guys were giving me a weapon, teaching me how to use it, giving me all kinds of cool equipment, camping with the guys, mock battles, and paying me to boot!  More money than I knew what to do with (all whopping $341 of it)!
My first duty station was Fort Leonard Wood, MO.  My father had been stationed there 5-6 years earlier and had accepted the Lord as his Savior at a Lutheran Church (ironic that I joined the Army to see the world and was sent to a place I had already been...).  Once settled in I attended that same church and after a year or so married a young lady I had met there.  Life was good...
After my first enlistment (3 years) I changed jobs to Cavalry Scout. This was a change in my carefully crafted (!) plans, as I had only planned on being in the Army those first 3 years, then going to college to become an Architect.  I took to combat arms like a fish to water, however. I rose through the ranks so fast I grew arrogant and disrespectful, never missing a change to show how superior I was. Heck, I must be the planets' most squared away guy - just look at all these awards that say so!  After nearly 5 years of the combat arms excitement I decided to get out of the Army (the Army was in the middle of a reduction in force and I figured I would do my part...).  I signed a college waiver, and set out to become an architect.  The year was 1990, date was July 18th.  Place was Colorado.  My Brilliant Maneuver would cost me and my family, but hey - since I was the smartest man on the planet (refer back to my awards...) what could go wrong?
Timeline:  1990-1998
Anyone remember what happened in August of 1990?  Besides the epic job/school struggles of the Worlds Smartest Man(me!), Iraq invaded Kuwait and the United States decided to enter the fray and launched what I call the First Gulf War (Desert Shield/Storm).  I remember thinking "SonofaBxxxx!  I trained all my life for combat and as soon as I get out they start a war!"  The USA was also in the middle of a recession and the World's Smartest Man was having difficulty getting a job. My father got an Army recruiter to contact me and I decided to get back in the Army.  Nothing else was happing and I had to feed my family.  Believe it or not, that was the best deal going.
By this time I spent very little time in church and with the Lord, kind of like a tourist, visiting once in a while on Easter or Christmas Eve and never bothering to really get to know where or Who I was visiting.  On my last post I mentioned I had gained a little rank - when I got out of the Army I was a SSG (E-6/squad leader) up for promotion to the next rank; when I re-entered I was dropped to SPC (E-4/hole digger, muck hauler, nerve agent tester).  Two ranks for 40 days...and my first big lesson in humility. I guess losing the rank due to my own stupidity and having to take orders from less experienced non-commissioned officers kind of made me angry and bitter.  I still, however, didn't blame God for my mistakes.  I don't even think it crossed my mind back then.
So – having made a complete mess of re-entering the Army - fast forward 4 months.  I left my family in the USA, went to Germany for a few weeks and then find myself in the deserts of Saudi Arabia killing flies and time, and believe it or not freezing my tail off.  Then in late February 1991 I find myself somewhere on the Kuwait/Iraq/Saudi Arabian border doing a massive drive-by attack on the Iraqi army.  Prior to the attack I became really close to the Lord, and then slacked off after.  Why?  My need for the Lord was even greater then, but I guess like most people once the crisis was over I went about my not-so-merry way, forgetting the Lord is not just some thing or somebody you call on when you need something.  Guess I was what is called "a fair weather friend".
After I got back together with my family (mid 1991) in Germany things were never the same with me.  I fought a long, angry, and bitter battle to get the rank back that I had lost, and in doing so lost sight on what was really important – my God and my family.  After returning to the USA in 1994 my family life continued to erode, and in 1997 my marriage started to seriously fall apart and in 1998 I was divorced.  In that year when my marriage was disintegrating I turned to the Army chaplains out of desperation (back to God when times are rough, you see) and they utterly and completely failed me.  One chaplain wanted to film the joint counseling sessions for training (NOT well received), one didn’t show up for a counselling session, one wouldn’t counsel us, and one told me to suck it up my marriage is over.  Because of the chaplains' indifference and incompetence, I became very angry at the Lord (saw it as a betrayal I guess) and I washed my hands of the Lord and religion.  Instead of looking at who was truly at fault (me) I blamed the church, the chaplains, and God.  Excellent move, that one...which set me up for a few more lessons.
Timeline:  1998-Apr 2011
In the 13 years between 1998 and 2011 I lived without God.  While I acknowledged His existence, I rejected His Presence, if that is possible.  I figured I would strike out on my own and live my life the way I saw fit, without the shackles of religion.  I decided I would treat others as I wanted to be treated, wouldn't lie, cheat, or steal and any other noble ideal I could think of.  No organized religion for me, heck, no worshipping at all.  I challenged everyone and anyone to bring me back into the fold or restore my faith.  The only ones brave enough to try were my wife and my father.
When I met my wife (about a year after getting divorced in 1998) I tried to drive her off by throwing my feelings about the Lord on the ground in front of her.  She didn't run away, as I figured she would.  No, she stayed with me through thick and thin, and I thank the Lord for sending her to me that night.  My father tried to talk some reason into me but he ran into a wall of rage.  I don't wear his failure to convince me (to come back into the fold) as a badge of honor - I consider it a badge of shame.  This isn't the worst thing I might have done, either.  Because of my position in the Army and my attitude towards God I probably gave several people all the reason they needed to stray from the Path.  Yet another badge...
After 9/11(changed everything, so I'm told...) everything just took off.  By that I mean my career was destabilized, with little focus and moving from base to base every two years. As I didn't have the Lord in my life I had nowhere to turn for comfort, especially when my only real friend was KIA in May 2004.  This lack of something, this void caused me to look in multiple places to fill the emptiness.  I got on this New Age kick of being "spiritual".  This didn't do anything for me but open doors to the Enemy, which he took full advantage of.  I became a mean, bitter, and lonely person, never having anything positive to say to anyone.  I spent most of my time prior to deploying mentally separating myself from everyone.  This made it easier to cope when I lost several soldiers to the enemy, but did nothing for my wife and I when I got back to the USA. I was dying and didn't realize or even care.  I just stopped living.
After retiring from the Army I came (or was sent) to Louisiana to work.  Things were good on the surface, but I was miserable.  I was separated from the only thing I have ever known (the Army), and now part of my new job is to be near soldiers but I can no longer be one.  In April 2011 my company was cutting jobs and firing people and I felt a little vulnerable and betrayed, so I opened myself up to the possibility of changing jobs.
That is where I found myself when the truly remarkable part of this story starts....and now you will see that this is not made up or being done for show or personal gain.
Timeline:  Apr 2011
So in April 2011 I was in a vulnerable spot (at least I felt so), with a new boss coming in and cleaning house.  Although I don't think I was on the chopping block during that time I had to come up with a contingency plan (Plan "B" for some of you) just in case things went south and I lost my job.  This plan set in motion a series of chess-like events that still amazes me whenever I sit back and examine them.
In late April 2011 I was out west supporting a marketing event and I met a group of people that had developed a unique armor product.  While checking out the product and talking to the inventor/owner he suddenly says he wants to hire me to "build his vehicles".  I'm thinking "Yeah right..." but he goes on about how he can tell by a handshake and blah blah blah.  He even calls up someone back in Arizona or wherever and tells them he's going to hire me.  I'm thinking "Does this guy know about resumes and references and hiring processes?"; he is busy calling the owner of some vehicle company he is in the process of buying and has me basically conduct a phone interview with him.  By now I am thinking that maybe this is one of those situations where some eccentric billionaire hires some lucky guy and everyone lives happily ever after and what in the heck is going on.  Only this guy doesn't know my credentials (and won't listen when I try to tell him) but I do and I know I am not qualified to manufacture toothpicks let alone armored vehicles.
Meanwhile his sidekick/bodyguard is telling me he was "given" the invention by divine intervention and that he has been blessed.  I'm thinking "Great, now I have to put up with this?!?" meaning, I don't want to hear any God stuff.  I walked away from that, remember? I mean, I am being verbally and mentally overwhelmed by the product, the people, and the possibilities this product could offer my current company and the possibilities the new position would offer me.  (these guys had was a "game changer", if it was for real) It was constant mass confusion around these guys (which is a theme that continues on throughout my association with them) so by the time I got back to the hotel I was mentally exhausted.  I couldn't help thinking that something just wasn't right and I told this to my wife when we talked that evening.  It just struck me that they are somehow tied up in the drug trade or something, like something sinister lurking under calm waters of a lake.
Day two with these folks was a live fire demonstration and the armor inventor/owner had issued a challenge to all the weapons and ammunitions manufactures at the event the day prior.  He challenged every vendor at the show to do their best to penetrate his armor with their newest products.  There were multiple vendors from separate companies that took the challenge so in my opinion he couldn't have staged it.  After it was all said and done the independent vendors shot over 100 rounds (bullets) into his armor at 50 or so feet with no penetration (this is significant).  After that spectacular event 4 .50 caliber (12.7mm) rounds were fired into the armor without penetration.  I was doing some frantic calculations in my mind --> 1 + 1 = 2!  OK,  OK maybe not that frantic, but 1) what he said about his product was true, and 2) I could detect no cheating or foul play in the demonstration, then 3) so what he said about hiring me must be true.  The next day I went back home thinking "This may be an option for Plan B, but something just isn't right."  Should went with that first gut feeling...but I had established a pattern of disregarding just about all guidance (discernment) from the Lord up into that point in my life.  This leads us to the next encounter...
Cursed is the Man...  
Timeline: Apr-Jun 2011
Once I returned home I didn't hear back from the armor/metal folks.  They had promised to follow up with me about the job after two weeks I wrote them off as a bunch of kooks. I wrote a trip report and included the amazing armor demonstration I had witnessed.  My boss at that time told me to get in contact with the armor company for a product briefing and a demonstration.  At this point I am thinking "Great, I am going to look like a fool now..." as I was sure their antics when they arrived to brief their product would reflect poorly on me.  Every time I managed to get in contact with them to make arrangements for their visit it was mass pandemonium and a very confusing conversation.  They wouldn't commit to coming and briefing, so after 2-3 weeks I gave up and quit making contact.  Fast forward a month or so and a colleague asks me about this miracle armor a friend of his saw at some police function.  I asked if he knew the name of the company and he named the armor company that had wanted to hire me!  I retold the story of the shooting demonstration, verifying what his friend had told him.  My colleague got excited and called his friend, who said he could distribute the armor globally, and to put him in touch with the armor company.  I am scratching my head, wondering how this guy can distribute armor just like that as it controlled by international law (hmmmm...).  You could cut the greed in the room with a knife right about then.
My colleague goes on to convince our boss that this is a great opportunity and that we should meet with the armor company.  My colleague wanted to be the one that brought this revolutionary technology (not to mention $$$ for him) to our company, our boss, however, selected me to go and set this meeting up, along with a product demonstration.  I call up the armor company owner, who tells me they are doing a demonstration in Florida, and to meet them there.  So, off to Florida I go, preceding my boss by a day (so I think).  After I get there I find out my boss is getting in very late the night before the demonstration and leaving immediately after the demonstration is over.  OK, not the end of the world but that leaves me alone with the armor folks for two and a half days.  The squirrely phone calls of the previous months were nothing compared to the mass confusion (Question:  Who is the lord of confusion?) generated by this group and the position-jockeying going on to gain his favor.  The main boss had promised everyone millions and the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars, all the while saying he wanted to make America great again and there were 250,000 Chinese soldiers off the west coast waiting to attack (no he really said this; said he had seen them).  Right about then I am not really believing him (refer back to the eccentric billionaire statement earlier) but am honored this “great” man is taking interest in me. (even if the chinese were about to invade…)
While I am in Florida waiting for my boss to arrive the armor company owner really tries to recruit me, but I am less receptive now as my work situation has stabilized and improved.  The promise of becoming debt free, however, appeals to me.  I began fantasizing about being debt-free and pulling our family and extended families out of debt, and everyone would live happily ever after.  I hoped and put my trust in this man who promised me the world.  Refer to Jerimiah 17:5....
Timeline:  June-Aug 2011 
Recap:  I am at a product demonstration for the “miraculous” armor, waiting for my boss to arrive. I am with the Armor People (AP), a group that is trying to recruit me.  The promises of power and wealth are starting to wear on me.  Because following and believing in this man is my next folly I will refer to the armor creator//CEO as the "Man".  
 My boss gets to the hotel late in the evening the day before the armor demo and leaves about two hours afterwards.  He sees the "Man" about 5 minutes or so and that is about it.  He did see the product demo and is impressed with what he saw (product wise).  I get orders to invite the "Man" and his entourage to our location for a meeting.  Both of us are scratching our heads at their erratic behavior but once again the potential for financial gain and the competitive edge the product will give us outweighs the zoo-like atmosphere we were subjected to.
A few weeks after the demo the "Man" summons me to his lair in Arizona.  People from the vehicle company he claims he is buying will also be there, and he wants me to meet them.  I am thinking fine, this should be interesting.  I took some days off and fly to Arizona.  The "Man" picks me up at the airport and takes me to his temporary facility.  I am stunned at the lack of, well, anything, but I think "Microsoft started in a garage or something like that..."  I see the operation where the body armor is made and meet about 15 or so of the entourage and crew.  There are definitely some shady looking characters but I am used to seeing rough characters, having been in the military and in some of our own facilities in my current job.  That evening he takes me to a nice hotel he says he is going to buy (reoccurring theme, that?) when "this takes off" and gets me the finest room.  Then he invites me to dinner and maybe a beer.  While I am eating he is studying me (I could tell and feel it) and is pleased I chose a steak for my dinner.  He is also handing out $100 dollar tips and tells me he wants all his executives to tip like that.  He hands me what I thought was a $20 and I pocket it.  I am thinking, “what’s he going to do for an encore - smoke a $100 bill?"
He convinces me to drink a beer with him and it turns into two and then three and then about seven.  Then come the tequila shots.  Lucky for me I just ate a steak and fries so I am not getting drunk.  Maybe I had the Lord on my side and he protected me...even though I was being a bonehead. The "Man" tends to call up all his minions when he drinks and he managed to raise his second in command, who came to the hotel where we were drinking.  "Number Two" has a few drinks and again tells me that the formula for the metal that is the core of the armor is a divine gift.  The "Man", meanwhile, has graduated to telling me what a super-ninja he is and that his past and background has been erased and if anyone checks on him they will get a visit from men dressed in black.  (I am thinking, in all my years and all the Spec Ops “operators” I know and have met in my years, nobody has ever made a claim like that…) He then tells me that I look like someone who would check on him and I say "Never crossed my mind, because I believe in you and what you are doing."
When I said that he stopped and got this stunned look of satisfaction, pleasure, and victory on his face.  I felt something leave me.  It was hard to explain that feeling, but a cry of despair or something like that happened in me.  Made me think, “This ain’t right, you might have messed up.”
After a few minutes of talking about his "military" record, the Man gets a call and says he has to meet one of his people, and he will pick me up tomorrow morning.  I go to my room and discover the $20 dollar bill is actually a $100 dollar bill.  I get a little panicked because I thought he wanted me to tip one of the waitresses but I couldn't because he was throwing money away faster than I could keep up ($600 in a couple of hours).  The next morning I had a $100 omelet because I figured he wanted me to tip someone there.  I just knew it was a test and I wasn't going to fail my new master or whatever he was.
The next morning the "Man" doesn't come get me as promised but eventually one of the minions comes and picks me up.  Apparently his late night meeting ran into the next day or it caused some sort of emergency secondary meeting that lasted until dawn.  I spent the whole day waiting for something to happen with nobody talking to me (turns out they weren't allowed to for fear of me finding something out) until late in the afternoon.  The “Man’s” late night meeting apparently ran longer than expected, and since he didn’t sleep that night he slept most of the day.  When he woke up about 6 of the armor group and I went off to get a tour of the facilities they don't own and aren't leasing, and then we link up with additional guest minions and we go out to dinner in town.  The bookkeeper asks me where I am staying and I tell him the hotel, and that the "Man" is going to buy it.  He just kinda laughed and said "That guy spent all his money."  I am thinking OK, but he is getting more right, because he is buying all this stuff and we have to set up a production facility.  He's the Man, right? Red Flag number two...ignored.
The next day the "Man" picks me up and we go and get breakfast for everyone.  We got about 30 pounds of breakfast burritos and a gallon of coffee.  When we got to the lair, people tore into the chow like they hadn't eaten in a while.  I felt kinda guilty as I had a $30 pancake for breakfast (charged to the room, they were paying for it, didn't feel right having a $100 burrito) and they acted like they didn't eat much.  I found out later on they weren't getting paid so they probably didn't eat regular meals.  I should have figured it out as they had a payday and everyone acted like it was the last time they would see any money.  I also saw one of them thanking the "Man" for his assistance in some financial matter.   Red Flag number three, also ignored.
The vehicle company guys arrived that day and we went out to see a couple of the candidate manufacturing facilities.  The first location they had allocated half of a building to build vehicles.  Now I have already stated I don't know jack about manufacturing - but it seems I knew volumes more than these guys did.  No Way was anything as complex as a vehicle being produced at that facility in numbers of more than one at a time.  I looked at the vehicle guys and can tell they are thinking the same thing.  The second facility was a little better but still didn't offer much in the way of mass production.  It was an old border patrol facility and had holding cells, interrogation rooms, the special glass windows, and isolation cells.  "Number Two" has a really panicked look on his face as we are walking through the interrogation room and the holding cells.  I am pretty much the only one who notices this.  Red Flag number four...
The vehicle guys and I are starting to talk in earnest now, as we have identified ourselves as the only sane people in this madhouse.  We talk about what we can do and how we are going to tackle it, and the "Man" sees this and is pleased.  He announces to all that I am the "Manling" and this why he is hiring me.  The vehicle guys leave happy they have an ally here in hell and my wife had arrived and was waiting out front at this time and all is well for now, except I have a golf course of red flags...

Timeline:  Aug-Sep 2011



  I want to also say that everyone associated with the “Man” was not bad; there were quite a few good people that were being fed empty promises and had dreams of riches.  Quite a few of them were working for free and were really struggling.  I suspected as much but turned a blinded eye towards it.



After a crazy fete(party) in our honor where the "Man" paid for everything but didn't sit at the table with us (he stayed outside smoking most of the time, his fan club adoringly hovering) my wife and I retired to our own time of exploring the area and looking for a place to live there in Arizona. (after all, I was to be the "Manling" and needed a suitable house)  After looking for two days we decided we had seen enough (an understatement) and were going to wait and see how things turned out.  Saturday afternoon "Number Two" and several other minions took my wife and I out to show us the town and to welcome us into the "family".  While we were driving around one of the minions told a story about the "family" going up to the mountains and swimming in a pool with a waterfall and how one of the female minions had the waterfall run over her body and how great that was.  For some reason my wife was very uncomfortable with the entire group and the situation after that....  I for one was thinking there was no way in hell I was going in any remote place with any of you people.  I figured I wouldn't be coming back and for a brief instant a stone altar flashed in my mind.  I am not saying what else was happening on that altar but it involved me in a scene from Mel Gibson's Apocalypto movie.  Great now my golf course has mine and my wife's red flags on it.  Gonna need a bigger course...

The last day of our trip my wife and I demanded to see the "Man".  I was expecting an offer or, heck, an audience with the king at least and both my wife and I were a bit irritated and felt we had wasted a lot of time and money for nothing.  So we call up the number three person of the bunch (Miss Minion) and had her set up a meeting at the hotel.  The "Man" shows up late with "Miss Minion" and another underling (don't know why he is with them because I suspect he is a good guy).  The "Man" is visibly irritated and begins to explain to my wife how important I am going to be in this organization and how she needs to accept it.  I am thinking "that's going to go over good...".   He asks how much ($) we would need to get me there right away, and when he hears the amount he loses his composure for a second and then his expression goes neutral.  "Miss Minion", however, looks like a Dingo just stole her baby.  The "Man" and I then go outside and he says, "That is a lot of money.  But you'll be getting a lot more than that later on."  I am thinking "What - do you expect me to work for free? (Yes)  I got bills to pay and oh by the way I already have a good job and I am not about to just up and leave it."  We go back inside and he tells us(well really just me, it seemed they didn't want my wife there because she had already seen through their smoke screens) to get ready to move there because when he calls me in two weeks he wants me out there ready to go.

While we were on the flight back home we were planning the move, all in a frenzy.  There were many things that needed to be done and not much time to do them.  The first week back I managed to fully pack and get everything pre-positioned, ready for the call.  Which doesn't come.  So I call several times over the next couple of weeks; there is always some funding or negotiation problem.  Finally, after a few (extra) weeks he calls me and orders me to come out for his manufacturing facility Grand Opening.  I fly out that night, along with my wife who is not going to let me out of her sight with "Miss Minion" and the crew loosed on me all by my lonesome.  By the end of this trip she is convinced our marriage will not survive this ordeal and she goes into survival mode.  I am just thinking "Whatever, she is just scared of change.  This is her normal M.O. so things will calm down after a while."  I did feel she was acting a bit different than her usual self…

We arrive and get picked up at the airport by a random fan club member (who we found out was "Miss Minions" son), who tells us how he lost everything (his family) working there but he is sure it was worth it since he is going to get his Reward soon.  As a matter of fact, everyone had a giddy feeling about the plant opening, as they could see a light at the end of the tunnel and all the money they had been promised would come to fruition.  To my limited knowledge this hasn't happened yet. I also don't want to know.... Anyway he takes us to the plant where we link up with the "Man" fan club and several of his minions.  The difference, by the way, in a "minion" and the "fan club" is that minions have a little bit of power and the fan club just does menial tasks and adores him.  You draw the conclusions.

 It is about 2300hrs (11 PM) and "Miss Minion" comes in from (I suspect) a bar to greet me and is surprised to see my wife accompanied me to the Grand Opening.  Some more red flags go up for my wife (probably not red flags, more like maroon with gold trim so they look pretty in our golf course of flags) in addition to the daggers already flying towards "Miss Minion".   I am, of course, oblivious to all this intrigue and then the "Man" comes in and the chaos starts.  The fan clubs swings into full adoration mode and various minions come up and give status reports.  I almost forget the special handshake and get caught up in a crushing bear hug.  After being told we would be picked up at a certain time (yeah right, I ain't falling for that again)(but I did)the next morning we go the hotel-that-shall-be-bought-in-the-distant-future for the night.

Morning rolls around and we pass up several rides to the Grand Opening because the "Man" is taking care of it.  At the last minute we catch a ride with the "Man's” relatives and I am thinking "I have had about enough of this crap."  I was very disappointed that I had trusted the "Man" and had been let down (again), and angry at the inefficiency of the whole group.  So we get to the Grand Opening just in time not to get introduced to anyone and we are feeling pretty isolated and uncomfortable, milling about trying to fit in.  I am feeling like a kurd in a punchbowl and I know it is going even worse for my wife.  After two hours of trying to fit in my wife overheats (late September in AZ) and leaves early with the "Man’s” relatives.  At the hotel bar she had a few cocktails with the "Man’s” Mom and gets some interesting info on the "Man".  Apparently he has been misrepresenting his military background and his past.  Once again, I had my suspicions but kept my blinders on.  I was holding out hope that the vehicle guys and I could carve out a little fiefdom and lock the other minions and the fan club out so we could do what we needed to do to start the vehicle part up.  All I can say is I am glad the Lord was watching out for me.

"The Lord Steps In" or "Somebody Slap Some Sense Into Him"

Timeline:  Sep-Oct 2011

I ended the last post with "All I can say is I am glad the Lord was watching out for me."  By the end of this post you will see why.  Or maybe not...

While my wife was sipping cocktails with the “Man’s” mom, the vehicle guys and I were attending a meeting consisting of the “Man”, the minions, and all the Armor People in the upper room of the armor plant.  The “Man” announced the new venture with the vehicles (even though he hadn’t come to an agreement with the vehicle guys yet) and I, then Manling, the chosen one, would be the one to make it all happen.  I felt like I had swallowed a cinder block or at least a brick, as I felt I was getting dragged deeper and deeper into this crazy circus or whatever it was.  There were about four of us in this circus that knew it was near impossible to set up a vehicle manufacturing plant with the "talent" available, let alone the lack of capital they were trying to keep hidden from me.  I had tried several times over the previous month to tell the "Man" that" I ain't the one" for the job and he said that he didn't care, he knew I could get the job done.  I was thinking this was a classic case of "He doesn't know what he doesn't know".  After this uncomfortable (for me) celebration the vehicle guys and I headed out to an off-road course outside town to demonstrate (at least that's what I thought) the vehicles to some investors or someone like that.  The others (minions, fan club, etc) were going to show up to what I thought would be some kind of controlled environment to watch the demo.  Wrong....

The "Man", all the minions, the fan club, and some new entities showed up about an hour later (after the vehicle guys and I arrived), and the carnival-like atmosphere started anew.  I was trying to fit in but was doing a terrible job of it.  As the afternoon wore on I just got angrier and angrier, as I had finally had enough of all the bull.  These people didn't know their head from a hole in the ground, and I was just plain tired of the games.  There were around 30 or so people all wanting to joyride on what I saw as company assets.  Come to think of it, the vehicles didn't even belong to the "Man"; he just claimed he was buying the company so he commanded the vehicle guys to take the vehicles out for a ride.  There were a million things going through my mind that afternoon, none of them pleasant.  I probably looked like one of those cartoon characters with steam coming out of his ears.  Suddenly I really felt like I needed to go back to the hotel with my wife.  I felt she needed me back there and I tried to get a ride with some of the minions that were heading out.  Strange thing is, they said they would give me a ride but then wouldn't leave.  Note to self, when the Enemy is trying to recruit you bring your own wheels so you can leave when you have tired of his prattling.

We (vehicle guys and I) finally left the course around dusk, and headed back to the hotel.  The vehicle guys were picking up their trailers, and were heading back to the newly opened facility to pick up their personal motorcycles, so I figured it would only be a few minutes and it would be a good opportunity to hang out with someone who a) wasn't deceiving me and b) wasn't completely loony.  I linked up with my wife and tell her I am going to go with the vehicle guys as I think they will only be 30 minutes or so and I promise to go to dinner with her as soon as we return.  Only I am trapped yet again.  They are going to have a business meeting with the "Man" and think that I know what is going on and will make my deal with him after they are done negotiating their deal.  Wrong!  I really thought this was a quick there and back trip, not another full-blown goat screw.  Now I am on my last nerve.  I just abandoned my wife at the hotel again, and am really worried about her now.  I just had a feeling.

While I am waiting my turn (to literally sign my life away), "Number Two" and another minion show up.  I have no idea why they are there but they have been drinking and are cutting up.  "Number Two" tells the other minion that the "Man" is finishing the deal with the vehicle guys and I would build them. Right about then something in me snapped.  "Look, man" I said, "I don't build anything!  I take vehicles like this and kill shxx.  Get it?  I kill and destroy stuff.  That's my area of expertise.  How to take stuff and figure out the best way to kill the enemy with it.  I keep trying to tell you this but you won't f-ing listen!"  Crickets.....then the other minion (law enforcement type) gets this look in his eyes.  First he was stunned then a sort of familiarity crept into his eyes.  "Number Two" looks hurt and then says nothing.  I stomp away.  I finally see the "Man" for about five whole minutes after about two hours of waiting. He tells me he will hire me when he closes the deal with the vehicle guys, which will be soon.  I leave, disgusted.

Back at the hotel my wife is angry, and justifiably so.  While I was over with the "Man" she was with "Miss Minion" and some of the other female minions.  They were sitting around talking and said that since I liked hiking and stuff they were going to take me up to the mountains and camp or whatever.  My wife got really mad and told "Miss Minion" that I wasn't going anywhere with them, period.  Of course they then tried to "help" her with her "problem" which only made it worse and by the time I got there the minions were warning me that my wife was hopping mad-at me.  Through the wonder of cellular technology I had already talked to her so I shrugged their report off. I go up to the hotel room and try to get my wife to come have dinner with me.  She refuses and asks me not to go down there.  I am really hungry though, and haven’t eaten since breakfast.  Plus I want to hang out with the minions to try and figure out who some of the new entities are.  My wife tries to reason with me and I disregard her so she goes to the room, upset.  I eat some supper and go to the room and pack to leave the next morning.   I was starting to see the light (I know, I know, sometimes it takes me a while) so I tried to get through this last part of the night and leave in the morning. (Ha Ha we were promised a ride to the airport but didn't fall for it again)

When we boarded the plane the next day "Number Two" calls and says he is concerned about me.  He asks to talk to my wife and proceeds to tell her that she needs to make me happy and blah blah blah.  Now when it comes to dealing with women I don't know much, but I do know that discussion was probably not going to have the desired effect...  When we get home I fly out the next day to a convention on the east coast.  The mood between my wife and I is strained as she is convinced if I go out there (to become the Manling) she won't see me again.  I am starting to have doubts about the whole shebang and am thinking the promised millions better be worth the crap I am going to be putting up with.  While I am supervising the vehicle setup, my wife calls me up, and tells me a fantastic tale.  There is a woman at her work that told her some incredible stuff about me and the current situation, and I needed to talk to her.  Why I chose to believe I don't know but I am eternally grateful that I did.

Timeline - Oct 2011
Recap - I am back at my day job and my wife calls me with a fantastic story.  I take her call thinking it is to make up (we parted on a sour note), but I hear the apprehension and panic in her voice and listen to her talk. 
She tells me while at work that morning she went up to the front of the building to either check her mail or welcome a new employee.  After doing one or both of those she headed back to her office and heard someone calling out.  She didn't realize the person was calling to her so she kept going and the receptionist had to call to her to stop.  She turned around and a woman she had never seen before came up to her and told her she really needed to pass a message to her (or something like that).  They go into a vacant office and the woman tells her that I will be in jail by the end of the year or within a year if I continue on the path I am on with this company.  She gave my wife specifics of the situation I was in, so my wife called me and relayed the info.  Now I am generally kind of a skeptic, and I usually dismiss stuff like this as a gimmick. I listen this time…
My wife asked me to talk to the woman when I got back (about nine days from then) and I asked if I could just call her now.  Might as well get this over with, and I have to say at this point I was expecting some kind of palm reader or something from Bourbon Street in New Orleans or something like that so I thought maybe I had to be present for her to "read".  (Hey, I don't know this stuff - I never called the Psychic Hotline...)  My wife hangs up, talks it over with her, and a few minutes later I am talking to the woman.
I was expecting, well, a voice like the little old woman in Poltergeist ("go to the light, all are welllcommm...).  She sounded like any other person to me as she explained that all her life the Lord has given her messages to give to total strangers, and most of the time she doesn't know what the message means but she can't rest until she passes the message on.  I am thinking "Well, what is the message so I can get back to what I was doing."  She tells me "They are trying to hire you for a position you are not qualified for.  The money he has promised you - you will never see.  He is trying to draw you in with greed.  The company he is going to put you in charge of will collapse and you will be the scapegoat and you will go to jail over it."  I am thinking now that this stuff is all true and how did she kn--HEY - I am not greedy, I just want to pull my family out of poverty and the struggles they are in.  She tells me that I need to read the scriptures she will send me every day so I am protected from the "Man" and his minions (my words).  A few minutes later my wife emails me Ephesians 6:10-19.  A few minutes after that Ephesians 5:1-21. In the second set of scriptures there are specific passages highlighted or underlined, or both.  It is a personal message to me...and I am to read them every day for protection.  I read them out loud then and there.
This is truly the first day of the rest of my life, when I heard the Lord speak to me through another.  (I have heard Him many times before but just didn't listen) I chose to believe that day and abandon the path I was on.  At that time my eternal life was still in the balance but at least I knew the Lord was on my side and that He is real.

Timeline:  Oct-Nov 2011


Some of you may think that my soul was never in any danger.  I know it was.  At this time I figure I had one foot in each camp, and was getting ready to move out of the enemy’s camp.  As you will see the enemy did not let go of me so easy...


After the initial shock of the message and the instructions to read the Armor of God every day, I noticed that when I didn't read the verses (OK, I was experimenting), the "Man" or one of his minions contacted me.  When I did read them, I was left alone.  I realized that everything was real.  It was all true.  I guess I always knew, but I didn't know, if that makes any sense. By everything I mean the Bible, The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit, and everything good.  That also meant Satan, demons, evil spirits, and all the bad was also true.  Can't have one without the other, and this battle became very real to me.  All of this came rushing in on me.  I remember thinking over and over again that “This is all true.  It’s all real!” 


Back at my day job… (yes, we're not done there yet)...the show starts, and by then I am feeling very much relieved and uplifted.  The Enemy's hold on me has been broken, and I am safe. Or so I more last ditch effort to get me back would be attempted.  On the second day of the convention my supervisor and I go to another company's booth to look at some of their equipment, and I notice a commotion out of the corner of my eye.  I see them first, and try to use a Jedi mind trick and disappear from view.  "Number Two" spots me and I go over and talk a few minutes with them, since not to talk with them would have made the situation worse.  The "Man" says he can't wait to hire me; I’m thinking "Not gonna happen...", for I belong to the Lord now.  I am, however, a bit confused as to why they are here since I put on the Armor of God that morning.  No matter, this is one thing I have to overcome.  I disengage from the conversation and go back to work, wishing I could disappear as their presence is so objectionable and embarrassing I don't want to be around.  The "Man" and his entourage head to our booth and take it over with the circus.  I had "popped smoke" (left the area) by then and figured it was all in Gods hands at this time (ok I bravely ran away by suddenly finding something to do on the other side of the convention center). By the time I returned to our booth the "Man" and one of the more prominent minions were busy telling my boss and a few others about what he was going to do with our vehicles and I was the greatest thing since sliced bread and blah blah blah.  My boss and one of our consultants looked at me strangely when I walked up and I just shrug and say nothing.  No need to - God's got it under control.  Here's where the Armor comes in - the "Man" discredited himself in front of my company and we decide not to work with him on anything.  After that episode I didn't hear from them anymore and didn't see them anymore, period.  It was like they vanished.  And I am loving it - the Power of the Lord (1 John 4:4).  


When I get back I get to meet the woman who talked to me on the phone and passed the message to me.  Although I am out of the fire I am still in the frying pan - she tells me the Lord has been watching over me for a long time, and has saved me through the wars and combat I have been in.  (when I think back there are quite a few times I was saved and I just figured it was dumb luck or fate.  Shows what I know.)   She tells me to find a church, as I would need it for what is to come.  I am just sitting and thinking "You got the wrong guy - I am just me.  I have never done anything right.  There has to be a mistake."  A few days later my wife comes back from work and tells me there is a book I need to read (message from the woman).  It is a book on Moses and now I am really scratching my head.  This book, however, got me back on the "wrong guy" track.  "I am not sure who I am anymore", say I, "but I know I am no Moses."  I read the book anyway and enjoy it thoroughly.  So do I think I am Moses now, after reading the book?  No.  But it made me think…Moses spent the first 40 years of his life in privilege, the next 40 years in exile, and the last 40 years leading the Israelites to the Promised Land.  Moses also said "You got the wrong guy!" (my words).  So, that tells me I need to shut up and do the Lords Will, instead of second guessing everything.


So I started looking for a church to attend.  I have not set foot in a church in order to worship for almost 20 years, and in the last 10 or so years had been very disrespectful whenever my duties took me into one.  Needless to say I am not going about this task enthusiastically.  This is just one of those episodes where you just have to laugh it off and submit to the Will of the Lord.  My search turned up several candidate churches but every Sunday morning I would roll over in bed and think "Yeah I ain't goin' to no church today."  So the Lord stepped in once again and made it so easy I couldn't ignore his Will.  My wife sent me a link to a local church and l listened to a sermon.  I have to say I tried to listen to several other sermons on other websites and either disliked them or was bored by them.  I listened to this Pastor's sermon from start to finish.  I also didn't see any links talking about money, links to give, or lectures on the importance of tithing.  This told me wealth was not the primary mission of this church.  (I know tithing is part of this but money is not the primary purpose of this journey - worship is.)  The last bit was too big to ignore - the men of the church met every Tuesday in a local eatery on the route to my work, during my commute.  It was Monday night...Now I may be a bit slow but I am not stupid (I hope).  This was put in front of me by the Lord, is the only way I can describe it.  If any variable were different I would not have gone to this meeting or the church, of that I am sure.  I didn't even know what denomination it was, I just knew I was supposed to go.   

Timeline:  Dec 2011


Tuesday morning (Dec 6) I walk into the local diner and ask where the church group is meeting.  I was early so there were only two people at the table.  I didn't know what to expect - would they reject me or ignore me or what?  They welcomed me and politely asked who sent or referred me.  I say I was sent here, and they ask by whom.  I hesitated a moment, thinking these guys are going to think I am out of my mind, and I then pointed upward.  He sent me.  They must have thought I was crazy.  Heck, I thought I was crazy.  Things are happening so fast and decisively in my life now that I sometimes feel like I am in someone else's life or like I am in a dream.  


The rest of the men arrive and the lesson and camaraderie begin.  At the end of the meeting the Pastor asks me who brought me to the meeting and I tell how I listened to the online sermon of his and then was guided to the men's ministry.  I recount who sent me and we set up a meeting for the next day (Wednesday).  I was surprised that nobody was really shocked or surprised when I said the Lord sent me, although there were some curious looks.  Funny how things play out - six months before this event if you had told me any of this would be going on in my life I would have laughed and aggressively told you where you could go.


Wednesday evening rolled around and I go to the church.  I am a bit apprehensive, as I haven't been to a church but as I enter I get the feeling that these people are here to worship the Lord.  I felt really comfortable and we talked for about two hours (double the allotted time I guess).  The Pastor was prior military and maybe that is why we connected like we did.  He lets me know he will train me (there is probably a more churchly term for this but my frame of reference is military-based).  I tell him he doesn't have a choice - he has been chosen for this task as I have been led here.  I don't know why I said that, but I said it, and I didn't mean it in a bad way or a commanding way.  It is what it is, as the saying goes.


That same week, or maybe it was earlier, I privately surrendered my life to the Lord.  That Sunday (11 Dec) after the meeting with the Pastor I publicly gave my life to the Lord.  I don't know how it works but I felt a push to go up to the altar and just went up.  That must have really made the Enemy mad because the following week, while the Pastor was out of town, they struck.  "They" are the forces of evil-and they do exist.


The attack started innocently enough - my wife had gotten several calls on her phone recently from an unfamiliar phone number from Junction City, KS.  As I had been stationed there at one time and several soldiers we had mentored at one time ended up getting stationed there, my wife and I thought little of it and waited for them to leave a message.  Monday after work my wife had me listen to a message left by the unfamiliar Kansas number.  What I heard chilled me to the bone.  It was a message saying they were watching my wife and were after her.  The voice was creepy and the background noises were even worse.  I knew immediately what was going on, even though I had never heard stuff like that.  The enemy couldn't get to me so they were going after my wife. My wife kept playing the message over and over trying to figure out what it was but I knew it for what it was. Evil, pure and simple.


We decided to let the woman who passed me the message listen to the phone voice message to see what she thought, so the next day my wife played it for her.  She immediately started praying and I think that is when my wife figured out this was serious.  She recommended we get with someone at the church to deal with the evilness.  She also mobilized her resources at her church to protect us.  My wife also had done her research on the phone number and found out it had been disconnected for several years and wouldn't be back in circulation for about two more years.  There was no way this number could have been reassigned or used by someone. This was according to the phone company, not some random internet site.  I texted the Pastor for a church point of contact (on vacation, remember) and he gave me the Associate Pastor's number.  We coordinated to meet after work, and when it was time to go home I was beside myself.  I was frantic to protect my wife, and as I got on the interstate heading home (at a high rate of speed, I must add) I had a sudden urge to pull over.  It was very strong, so strong I knew it was coming from an external source (gee, do you think the Lord is trying to get your attention?).  I got off the interstate at the next exit and pulled into a parking lot and started praying for the Lord to protect my wife as she is heading towards our rendezvous.  This whole episode set me back about 5 minutes, but it really put my mind at ease to know that the Lord was watching over my wife as she was heading home.  As I got back on the interstate about a mile or so up the road an accident had happened a few minutes earlier.  I laughed, as I knew the Lord was on my side and had protected me from this accident (I would have been in it, from what I could tell).  As I sped on, after about 10 miles I felt the urge to slow down.  I slowed to the speed limit (ok, I was really speeding) and lo and behold another accident that I would have run into.  I just laughed again - the Lord is on my side, who can stand against me?

My wife and I met up and go to meet with the associate Pastor and his wife at the church.  We get past the formalities and start with the business...only the associate Pastor is not moving fast enough for me.  I gotta say, looking back, it was kind of funny.  My military side had kicked back into high gear and I was out for blood.  These things had attacked my family and tried to get me twice just getting there to the meeting, so I wanted a counter-attack.  I don't know what I was expecting but I wanted the associate Pastor to yank that thing out of the phone so I could beat it's--well, you get the picture.  The associate Pastor started by listening to the message and trying to get to the bottom of it all.   I start fussing at him and he proceeds to agree to pray (I am thinking WT...agree?  I want to smash this...) and prays to bind it.  I am praying to destroy it and anyone associated with it and please let me be the instrument of their destruction and if someone dressed like the devil would have walked in he would have gotten a whuppin then and there (good thing it wasn't halloween or something).  We end our praying and talking after an hour or so and leave.  Turns out the associate Pastor did an excellent job and no more phone calls.

Timeline:  Dec 2011

In my last post I mentioned I had forgotten to mention something, due to the excitement of the counter-attack story.  This event may be what got the enemy all riled up.  Or maybe not – probably doesn’t take much for that to happen anyways.


The same day after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior I went off to Detroit on a business trip.  There was really no reason for me to be there, as the main purpose of the trip was another companies' product.  It was, however, being displayed on one of our vehicles so my presence was requested by the other company.  Initially I didn't mind going; although it was Detroit in December (freezing) it would be a full week of per diem (additional pay for traveling).  After I was saved I didn't want to go - I just wanted to stay in church and worship, or do something.  I remember telling my wife, somewhat annoyed, "Where's everybody going?  We have work to do!"  I was ready to do the Lords' Work, and couldn’t understand why everyone was going home.  I didn’t want the worship to end...


It is funny (not HA HA funny, but interesting funny) that the Lord started taking care of me right away.  Now I need to say He has always taken care of me, but now that I had awakened I could see much better.  I had been worried about driving in the snow, so the weather was unseasonably warm.  No ice was on the road, and the bad weather held off until I left.  I was also told it had just been bad weather a few days prior.  I don't know about you but I praised the Lord for that.  I also received a free vehicle upgrade to a luxury car.  Usually I get one step above a Smart car and look like an escaped circus bear in a clown car.  More praising...when I got to the hotel I was given free rein in the little shoppette by the front desk (reserved for platinum members of the hotel chain, of which I am not one).


Some of you may say "Well this stuff happens to me all the time - so what?"  Well the "so what" is these things DON'T happen to me.  So because of this I am riding high, and I stop to think.  The Lord has obviously blessed this trip, so what is His purpose while I am here?  What is His Will?


In the morning I link up with the guys from the other company and we go onto the military base where the product demonstration is taking place.  We get badged, and go over to the huge facility where the demo will take place, and wait.  And wait.  And now I want some coffee.  So I look at my badge and it doesn't say "escort required" and I go on a coffee quest.  After some wandering I find a coffee point, get my coffee and head back.  Trouble is I want a pastry or something unhealthy like that with my coffee.  On the way back I find a little store and go in.  Inside is a middle aged woman with extraordinarily clear eyes and a friend is sitting with her.  They say hello and I hear a frog croaking and comment that I didn't know this store was even in this facility.  The woman's friend gives me a sales pitch and I find the unhealthy food.  I think I picked the breakfast of champions, little chocolate donuts, and a bottle of water for later.  I go to pay and set the items on the counter.  The woman is staring behind me, and since I hear the TV I figured she is engrossed in her favorite show or something, and move out of her way.  I ask her "How much do I owe you?" and she says, "What did you put on the counter?"


Right about then I won the World's Smartest Man award, as a little light went on over my head and I thought "She's blind, styooopid!"  Gee, what an epiphany...that explains the frog; it croaks to let her know someone is coming in the store.  So I manage to keep my composure and pay for my items, and go back to my area tell the others where the coffee is, and think about what just happened.  All. Day. Long.  About 3:30 PM (1530 to us military types) I come to the conclusion she is the reason I was sent up there and go back to the little store to I don't know what.  Only thing is she is gone for the day.  I resolve to go back the next day.  First opportunity - gone.


That night I prayed about what I should do, and the next morning headed out to do the Lords' Will.  At the facility I head to the shop, full of purpose.  While walking down the halls I feel a power welling up within me, and radiating out towards my arms.  I am a bit surprised at this as I have never felt it. I have been in various combat situations and felt adrenaline rushes so I know the "fight or flight" feeling.  This was a different feeling, and I felt like I had power like one of those fighting video games where they launch flames or whatever at each other.  I almost tried it....  As I rounded the corner to the store my heart sank. There was a customer in there with her and I was too embarrassed (scared) to do anything.  I waited a couple of minutes and the customer never left.  I chickened out and went back to the vehicle demo.  As I walked back I felt about knee high to a grasshopper.  I said a silent prayer to the Lord and asked for forgiveness since I had failed Him.  A few hours later I head back, with the same scenario and the same results.  Only this time no power rush.  I head back feeling lower than a snake’s belly.  I had failed the Lord again.


That night while in my hotel room I prayed to the Lord, asking forgiveness and what is the course now.  I was given a message to pass on.  How do I know it was given to me?  I never stay stuff like what I told her.  Especially not to total strangers.  The next morning it was do or die - I flew back the next day, and would not have time to go on the base and try again if my nerves failed me.  At the facility I headed grimly over to the store.  The store was empty, except for the woman and her friend.  After some small talk her friend headed in the back to make some more coffee or something so I thought "OK, the Lord can't make this any easier."  I set my water on the counter and tell her what it is and the bill denomination (I found out during the small talk that people on that base are stealing from the blind shop owners by giving them dollar bills and telling them it was a 20. I told them the Lord would deal with them...).  As she is giving me my change I hold her hand with both of mine and tell her: “Ma’am, you have a special light of God in you.  May you receive all the Lord's Blessings."  There.  I finally did it.  I am expecting something to happen...trumpets, healing, clouds to part, angels singing, music, something.  What I got was a thank you, and come back and see us.  I also saw a tear stream down her face.


As I am walking away I am thinking "All you had to do was deliver a message and you screwed it all up."  I am praying silent prayers asking the Lord for forgiveness since I didn't or couldn't do what he sent me to do.  I am a bit disappointed, mainly in myself to not being stronger and am feeling a bit like Peter at the Crucifixion.  Kinda like I failed the Lord, three times.  I fly home, and later that weekend talk to the message woman about what had happened.  Only she called me to ask me what had happened.  I told her about church and all that had happened, and then mentioned the woman up in Detroit.  She tells me the woman was very close to ending her own life, and the message I gave her was exactly what she needed to hear, and that her situation would be improving soon.  I felt better after that, knowing that I had accomplished my mission, at least partly.


I do wonder how everything would have played out if only I had went in on the first attempt, full of that power or whatever it was.  Only the Lord knows.