Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sony Causes Veterans/Police Officers to be Concerned

I'm spontaneous, compulsive and addicted to these fee based MMO's. But I only play on PC and don't use consoles.

Console and PC users alike had one thing in common, a credit card. It was a required condition that you use to have the ability to access the online only games. Some game developers would allow the user to use a game card that you purchase online via a credit card or buy in retail stores like Walmart, Target, Gamestop, etc.

I've always assumed that these companies protected our credit card and personal information much as any financial institution would. The assumption was wrong!

On April 17th 2011, hackers bypassed Sony's security and stole all their customers personal information. The information included (but not limited to) name, address, date of birth, email address and credit card number. Some users even had their bank account information stolen. This information was required in order to activate a monthly subscription on both the PC and game console.

Sony violated the trust of it's users even further by not disclosing publicly what had transpired. It's in my opinion that people should have been notified immediately regardless of the companies reputation or loss of sales as a direct result of this breech. It has now backfired, and due to not notifying me and other users faster, I have decided to never again purchase anything with the Sony name on it's packaging or a company with any direct affiliation with them. I am furious that they allowed my personal information to get out in the hands of those that can only have malicious intent in mind. Who knows, perhaps their intent was to punch Sony in the nose and nothing more. Only time will tell. It's well known by many gamers that Sony could care less about it's player base anyway. It's all about money and everything else is secondary. Including thier reputation!

On May 3rd I received an email from Sony stating I had in fact been a victim of this breech. They went on to say my credit card info was not likely stolen and is stored in a different location. The letter states we should contact the three credit reporting bureaus and discuss option. They also recommend putting some sort of security block on our credit? I'm not sure how that work but whatever it is, I cant afford it. I have a small fixed monthly income (VA disability) and it doesn't allow for things like this. And I've already used my once a year free credit report so would have to pay for a new report. It's just bad timing financially. My car, this, that and the other prevent me from sinking hundreds of dollars into this... breech problem.

I should not have to do any of this!! I trusted them to keep my information secure.

I'm very upset that I'm being forced into a position where I have to not only worry about my financial security, but my personal security as well. They have my email address. A quick google search will result in the hackers knowing I'm an ex-cop. People like to kill cops. That's just how it is. So I fear for my personal safety as well and I'm considering moving as a direct result of this. If this information gets into the hands of organized crime, a lot of bad things can happen to a lot of people.

We're not talking about a few kids here. We're talking about 125 million professional working adults (very few kids). FBI agents, congressman, professional athletes, police officers and not to mention the thousand upon thousands of veterans. That is of particular concern. Veterans acknowledge serving and do so proudly (I have on many occasions). The SOE forums are FULL of veterans stating they kicked in doors in Iraq or Afghanistan. Vietnam vets included, all veterans now have a new risk. Another worry that we shouldn't have to burden! This information can be sold to the highest bidder. You must not assume the only valuable part of the stolen data is credit card numbers. A hit list could be generated like the world has never seen. With a little bit of effort and searching on line, this list can be easily generated via the stolen data. So it's in my opinion that SOE should erase all forum activity since 1999 and the launch of Everquest.

Terrorist organizations and perhaps foreign governments would pay millions for such a list! It would take 10 guys with minimal knowledge of the internet to find out much more about who you are or use to be. A list could be generated in less than a week. And if they had the ability to access Sony's security, what makes you think they cant access state databases (Dept. of Transportation, Treasury or Dept of Human Services for social security numbers) to support the information the already have? Name and date of birth do wonders when typed into a state computer!

Also, as a direct result of this breech, sites like AKO and other US military sites need to force members who play video games to change their passwords. Many of us use the same passwords on all our websites. It would be difficult for me to have a different password for every site I frequent.

Today something unusual happened in Lansing, Michigan. All the computer systems went down for some undisclosed reason. They said ".... statewide computer problem that has affected not just the SOS branch system, but other state departments including Corrections, Treasury, Community Health and Human Services."

If these hackers had the capability to access these databases with just the information SOE had, they could discover your entire life history and obtain your social security number. Department of Corrections is tied in to federal system used for background checks a.k.a. NCIC. I'm quite familiar with this system. A simple few keywords will give you all possible information on someone that you could ever want to know. Hackers logged into Michigan Department of Corrections would have full access to NCIC without anyone knowing until it's too late.

Sony should not have waited to tell it's customers about this. We should have known immediately and had the option of canceling our credit cards, deleting this or that, changing passwords, etc. Instead, they tried to save face and conceal it until there was no other option than to go public. So even if I had canceled my credit card immediately or not, it would have been too late. I've decided not to cancel it based on Sony's press release that they don't believe this card info got into the hands of the bad guys. But if something goes wrong and their wrong, I'm going to be in bad shape.

I want to clear up some stuff I read about "fault". Sony is to blame here, not the hackers. I trusted Sony, as did many others. They become a financial institution the second their trusted with our private information. There should have been sufficient security in place which would have avoided this from happening in the first place!

To make matters worse I discovered something interesting last night. A couple days ago SOE announced that EQ2 was back up and running and that all users were being granted free game time. So I logged on my account to delete my credit card info. What I discovered is Sony erased my last transactions as to make it appear I wasn't an active user or something. It still shows my entitlements granted by recent purchases, but the purchases themselves were deleted out of that part of their website. I'm not exactly sure why, but I got screen shots and receipts to prove I was an active user of SOE services.

Here are some screenies of one of my two accounts.

No Destiny of Velious or other subscription info for the previous year.

I have contacted an attorney and I have every intention of joining this class action suit filed in California. It's not for personal gain, but I believe they should have to pay for their users to set up some sort of "Life Lock" or security for social security/credit card protection. I also believe they should be held responsible for this breech in our personal security and welfare. I'm furious that we were not notified right away. It was over 3 weeks until I got that letter from Sony explaining I was a victim. THREE WEEKS!!! It's too late to do anything about it now. The list is already out there and the damage is done. We just have to sit back and pray that hackers wont steal what little money I have. Meanwhile, I'm shopping for a new place to live.

Notice "Destiny of Velious". It released February 22, 2011.

Gaming history has been rewritten this month. It will never be the same because of Sony's negligent misconduct while handling our personal information. Other things have changed as well...

This is how I found my account. No credit card number to delete.

Who would have ever thought my that bad and compulsive habits would turn into something like this? Perhaps it was the lesson I needed to think twice before being so quick to drop my debit/credit card on things I don't need. A moth drawn to the flame only gets one chance. I'm lucky to be able to say I have a chance to learn from this and grow as a man. I pray that none of the 125 million victims have any irreparable harm from this breech.

Here is the actual letter I received:

Sony Online Entertainment
Customer Service Notification
May 2, 2011
Dear Valued Sony Online Entertainment Customer:
Our ongoing investigation of illegal intrusions into Sony Online Entertainment systems has discovered that hackers may have obtained personal customer information from SOE systems. We are today advising you that the personal information you provided us in connection with your SOE account may have been stolen in a cyber-attack. Stolen information includes, to the extent you provided it to us, the following: name, address (city, state, zip, country), email address, gender, birthdate, phone number, login name and hashed password.
Customers outside the United States should be advised that we further discovered evidence that information from an outdated database from 2007 containing approximately 12,700 non-US customer credit or debit card numbers and expiration dates (but not credit card security codes) and about 10,700 direct debit records listing bank account numbers of certain customers in Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Spain may have also been obtained and we will be notifying each of those customers promptly.
There is no evidence that our main credit card database was compromised. It is in a completely separate and secured environment.
We had previously believed that SOE customer data had not been obtained in the cyber-attacks on the company, but on May 1st we concluded that SOE account information may have been stolen and we are notifying you as soon as possible.
We apologize for the inconvenience caused by the attack and as a result, we have:
1. Temporarily turned off all SOE game services;
2. Engaged an outside, recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened; and
3. Quickly taken steps to enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure to provide you with greater protection of your personal information.
We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding and goodwill as we do whatever it takes to resolve these issues as quickly and efficiently as practicable.
For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email, telephone, and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive information. Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking. When SOE™'s services are fully restored, we strongly recommend that you log on and change your password. Additionally, if you use your Station or SOE game account name or password for other unrelated services or accounts, we strongly recommend that you change them, as well.
To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we encourage you to remain vigilant, to review your account statements and to monitor your credit reports. We are providing the following information for those who wish to consider it:
U.S. residents are entitled under U.S. law to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. To order your free credit report, visit or call toll-free (877) 322-8228.
We have also provided names and contact information for the three major U.S. credit bureaus below. At no charge, U.S. residents can have these credit bureaus place a "fraud alert" on your file that alerts creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name. This service can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name. Note, however, that because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you, it also may delay your ability to obtain credit while the agency verifies your identity. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the others are notified to place fraud alerts on your file. Should you wish to place a fraud alert, or should you have any questions regarding your credit report, please contact any one of the agencies listed below.
Experian: 888-397-3742;; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax: 800-525-6285;; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
TransUnion: 800-680-7289;; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
You may wish to visit the web site of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at or reach the FTC at (877) 382-4357 or 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580 for further information about how to protect yourself from identity theft. Your state Attorney General may also have advice on preventing identity theft, and you should report instances of known or suspected identity theft to law enforcement, your State Attorney General, and the FTC. For North Carolina residents, the Attorney General can be contacted at 9001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-9001; telephone (877) 566-7226; or For Maryland residents, the Attorney General can be contacted at 200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202; telephone: (888) 743-0023; or
We are committed to helping our customers protect their personal data and we will provide a complimentary offering to assist users in enrolling in identity theft protection services and/or similar programs. The implementation will be at a local level and further details will be made available shortly in regions in which such programs are commonly utilized.
We thank you for your patience as we complete our investigation of this incident, and we regret any inconvenience. Our teams are working around the clock on this, and services will be restored as soon as possible. Sony takes information protection very seriously and will continue to work to ensure that additional measures are taken to protect personally identifiable information. Providing quality and secure entertainment services to our customers is our utmost priority. Please contact us at (866) 436-6698 should you have any additional questions.
Sony Online Entertainment LLC

SOE Privacy Policy | SOE Terms of Service
Sony Online Entertainment
Sony Online Entertainment LLC
8928 Terman Court - San Diego, CA 92121

Thursday, August 12, 2010


So, you enlist in the US military hoping to serve your country, carry on a family tradition, get college benefits, find a job or a number of other reasons. We all had a motivation of some kind. But whats important here is we volunteered. A draft has not been in effect since the Vietnam War. I had my eyes on a career in law enforcement. I knew the Army was a great stepping stone and time spent serving would benefit me when sending out future resumes. I would never have guessed it would steer me on my current path. Sometimes things don't work out the way you planned. You think the life of a soldier is hard? The life of an ex-soldier is 1000 times harder!!!

While carrying out your duty you are attacked. It's something we know can happen but never really think of the reality of it's consequences. It's a scary moment and one that you will never forget. Someone is trying to end your life. It's powerful! Man versus man in a fight to the death. The concept is something that's not new to our society. We watch it on television, on the movie screen or on the Internet. But when it happen s to you and it's real, that's a whole new ball game. It's in moments like this that one thinks about life in general. The small things that we take for granted seem like miracles in moments like that. What was once a heavy burden of a problem all of a sudden seems so simplistic and minute. The problems of yesterday come to light and you think to yourself how easy these obstacles will be to overcome in the future.

That was then. At a moment in time when nothing but survival was on your mind. Do or die! But over time these feelings begin to subside and you start slipping back into our cushy little society and the way of life as an American. Our technology and style of living has made us lazy and forces us to take for granted many things that the rest of the world struggle with on a day to day basis. We have it made! We have cars, good housing, public transportation, water, accessibility to food unlike anywhere else in the world, comfort in a peaceful society and freedom to do pretty much anything we want within the confines of the law.

So today I remember the small things in life. For 10s of thousands of years humans have struggled with things that we take for granted today. Health, FOOD, fresh water and shelter. Not to mention survival was dependant on your ability to hunt and locate fresh water. Then there were times that you were no longer the hunter, but instead became the hunted. It's primitive, but reality.

My chicken has been in the refrigerator for 5 days now. I'm wondering if I should still cook it. Wow, did I just say that? What about a hunter 5000 years ago that was LUCKY enough to find a chicken. Do you think he would throw away that chicken? Is it still good? Ya more than likely. Once baked it will kill most of the bacteria. I need to change a light bulb so I don't have to start a camp fire in my living room. I need to go buy some food so I'll get in my Mustang and drive to the store instead of walking 4 days to reach a trade market or hunt with a bow and arrow for a single portion of food. I need to clean the windows in my house versus living among flies, mosquito's, wild animals and rain showers. My shelter, although modest, all of a sudden takes on a new perspective. Hey wait, I am truly blessed! I have to put 1/100th the amount of effort that my ancestors had to in order to survive.

I wonder how many people out there know how good they have it. I don't own a garden. I don't have to feed my livestock on a daily basis in order to survive the winter. I don't have to tweed leather and make it into foot protection (shoes). I don't have to walk to the lake to get something to drink. I have a faucet, toilet, stove, refrigerator, bed with blankets, eyeglasses, medicine, lights and most importantly, I have food.

The problems of yesterday all of a sudden seem so small again...

I am now a civilian. There is nobody that wants me dead (at least I hope so). I have an income, shelter, transportation and friends. At one point in time I had motivations about where the military was going to take me. I wanted to be a federal police officer and retire a happy man. All my dreams were smashed with my disabilities. And for so long I have sought purpose, reason and motivation to keep living. The answers were so close and yet so far away. I'm actually happy now and realize that perhaps this is exactly where God wanted me to be and exactly how he wanted me to live. I guess in a way, I doubted Him and even blamed Him for taking so much away from me. But thru His mercy I have been blessed in so many ways. I believe that on the road to recovery, one must first determine his location before he can determine his destination.

As of right now I found my location. My destination is something that I believe will come with time. But my motivation and purpose have changed drastically. I know now that everything that was bad or good, has led me to this moment. What God has taught me I am sharing with you. It's perspective into the unknown. Why are bad things happening to you? Perhaps everything is working as intended. Take your hands off the wheel and let God drive for a change. Perhaps the road ahead is much better than you can imagine. One day your location will become evident. Then you can determine your destination from there. Until then, keep looking up and have faith!!

Monday, August 09, 2010

It's been a long time since my last blog update. A lot has happened in my life. I'll use this post as an update and the next to start blogging on a normal basis again.

Shortly after my last post I packed up my truck and started driving to Michigan (was in Dallas, Texas). When I left I heard something that made me get off the freeway and take my truck to a service station. I broke an oxygen line and it would take 2 days for them to get the part. So I booked a room at a local hotel (since I locked my keys in the house I was staying at). My truck was loaded to the hilt with my personal belongings. Well that night my truck was stolen out of the hotel parking lot. Till this day it has not been recovered. It was hard. I lost all my documentation, disaster relief equipment, computers, clothing, etc. The only thing I still had left was in my bag up in the hotel room. I stayed at the hotel for a week to see if the police would recover my truck. They did not so I spent a majority of what funds I had left on a Ford conversion van. I made my way back to Michigan and made it just in time for my cousins wedding.

I chose to not do disaster relief any more. I lost everything in my attempt to help others. There's a point where you have to take care of yourself before you can help others. There's also a point where others don't want your help. Texas was very unfriendly to me. Also very untrusting. They couldn't understand the concept of someone offering to help others without wanting nothing in return. They didn't trust me and suspected I was a thief of some sort. I even had a preacher in the Church of Christ tell me that he didn't trust me. After I helped provide his church with a truckload of appliances, furniture and food. That was really the straw that broker the camels back.

After the 9/11 attacks I hurt both of my feet at the Pentagon. I was called to a suspected package at one of the corridors and while en route, I ripped all the tendons and ligaments in both feet. They never healed. It made things that much harder. So I decided to seek some help after I arrived back in Michigan. It was much worse than I imagined. I actually spent a year in the hospital while dealing with that and other health issues. I lost my hearing in an explosion many years ago while serving in Europe. The VA completely rebuilt my right ear by removing the damaged bones and installing a complete titanium bone structure. So I can hear fantastic now. It's time to get the left ear done but I've been slacking off a bit. I also had problems depression and PTSD. The VA was able to assist me with those also. And while it did help, those are both things that will plague me for a long time. Guilt is a powerful feeling that has been something I've lived with for many years now. So talking with fellow veterans and knowing I'm not the only one with these feeling has greatly helped but understanding you have a problem is always the first step. Treatment for these ailments isn't as easy as one might think. My attitude was to "fix it" but there is no "fix" really. Just understanding and learning to live with it is the only way find solitude for me.

After the hospital I went to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. I did this to continue to seek help and to properly reintegrate myself back into society. Something I struggled with was how to come from 12 years in the Army and be a civilian again. It's a lifestyle and not a career choice. I discovered many soldiers have this problem. My stay at the Home for Vets was short lived. I didn't like how the veterans were treated. I didn't like how the facility was focused on money and not on the veterans well being. It's a business and should be shut down in my opinion. So I left the Home for vets and moved back up near my parents in Houghton Lake, Michigan. That's currently where I am. I don't do much these days. I have income that comes from the VA to compensate me for my disabilities. I take a ton of pain medication for my feet. They've gotten much worse in the past 5 years. I actually have to make my shopping list before I go to the store. I cant stand on my feet for long periods of time anymore. I will more than likely be in a wheel chair in about 5 years. The VA still wont recognize my injury at the Pentagon. Senator Levin's office could not even get the documents from the Pentagon. It appears to of vanished into thin air. Meanwhile I focus on staying out of a wheelchair. But that wont bring an end to my adventuring. It will just encourage me more. I'm planning on leaving Michigan sometime in the spring and heading to the east coast.

There's a lot more to this story. But for the meantime this will have to suffice. But it has been a busy few years since I last updated this blog. I'm hoping to get back into it and keep posting on a regular basis. I know from past experience that it doesnt always work out as I hope. But I'll try. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Influence: Who, what, when, where, how and why?

Another week, another adventure. That's right. I'm hoping to leave the Dallas area sometime within the next two weeks but I'm shooting for next week. I'm indecisive about where to go next. I wouldn't mind walking down the beach before I head to Michigan for Christmas. With that said I'm thinking coastal. It has been awhile since I've been to Ocean City, Maryland and I know the Sun Festival is coming soon so who knows. I have been wanting to see Charlotte, South Carolina for the longest time so I've considered checking it out for a week or two also. I could drive south to the Gulf in Texas and work my way across I-10 and hit LA, MS, AL and FL then work my way up the eastern seaboard. I dont know. So many things to do and so little money. : D I know one thing for sure though, Casting Crowns is on tour and I am 100% committed to seeing one of their shows. I have not heard their new album yet but their old stuff is all still new to me. I reach a level of bliss when I listen to their music. It completely engulfs me and my spirituality. Although I love music I can honestly say that there are not many bands out there that lift me up like they do. God is working thru their talent in such a way that new christians discover their faith daily while listening to Casting Crowns. I think that's just amazing that one group of people can have as much impact as they do. I aspire to have the same influence one day.

What does it take to influence people? Is there a connection between the right set of words and their desire to hear the right answer? What can I say or do that will help you? Or better yet, what can I say or do that will help you find your way into Gods arms? Do they have to be seeking the truth or are your words and actions powerful enough that they that door? It's hard for me to say. I have personally witnessed selfless actions that in turn have filled congregations with new born christians. The emotional loss of being a storm victim can be influenced in a dangerous way I think. Dangerous because if nobody is there to help them they will blame God for their losses and never consider stepping into a church as long as they live. On the other hand if a complete stranger enters their life and helps them rebuild and asks for nothing in return, it really makes them wonder why. There is a level of sacrifice that is indescribable that goes into selfless service. They see that although we do our best not to show it. But the fact is that the sacrifice was enough to make them wonder about our motivation and why we do the things we do. That's the magic of being a missionary. You can really see God working thru others in a tragic disaster. It's quite refreshing and strangely enough it's why I do what I do.

So if influence thru selfless service contributes to turning an atheist into a believer how come more people don't do it? Many claim to be Christians and claim to be born again but I believe actions speak louder than words. I don't say that to give some impression that I'm not without sin cause believe me.... I sin all the time. It's not always intentional but I'm still growing and I consider myself still a pup of a christian. I cant make decisions for other people, only for myself. While I title this blog "Adventure Book" I share with you my spiritual adventure as well. It's not just about going from one place to the next. Nobody can leave on an adventure and arrive at their destination one minute later. There is a distance to travel in between. There are experiences to be learned. It's the road less traveled that makes the adventure and adventure in the first place. It's a fantastic journey if you slow down and take a look around. Why would you want to be at the end of your journey without having an adventure along the way?

While adventuring around the world might sound appealing, I want to convey a strong come with a lot of hard lessons. It comes with hardships and sorrow. It's not all fun and games as television would make things appear. But that's the best part about it. God walks with us. He tells us things will be alright. He guides us but lets us have hardships because without them we would not learn how to serve him. Without seeing other peoples sorrows how can we learn compassion? Without compassion how can we learn remorse? It's the lessons we learn that make us who we are. So when times get tough remember that. God isn't doing this TO you, he's doing this FOR you!

Do we need to go thru massive hardships to be selfless? Of coarse not! But it's in my opinion that people that have experienced them tend to have more compassion when they see strangers going thru their hardships. So believe me when I say that I have LOTS of compassion!!! LOL : D

Where is your compassion and where do your priorities lie? This week on television they showed Africa in ruins. Flooding has devastated 1000's of miles in Africa. Over 100,000 people are homeless. The story would run for all of 60 seconds and then the next 59 minutes talk about the presidential election and the Iranian President wanting to visit the twin tower site in NYC. Have we lost our minds? Over 100,000 people are HOMELESS!! I'll save my media gripes for another blog entry. But how many of you dropped everything and jumped on the phone to donate 50 bucks to the Red Cross? Fifty dollars is less than I use to spend at Starbucks in a weeks time when I worked at the Pentagon. It's not chump change but if you didn't have it it's not something that would effect you that much. They live in mud huts and drink nasty contaminated water. Do you think your bills are bad? Thank God that you have bills! My point is that we all seem to draw a line at what amount of help we can give. But where does it end? You have to wonder what Jesus would do. I think we all know the answer to that.

Because you saw the story about Africa and didn't donate doesn't make you a bad christian. I use it as one example of opportunity that we have missed. There an old wise mans theory that says "If I gave a million people each one dollar I would be broke, but if a million people each gave me one dollar I would be a millionaire". The reason why this is relevant is because it's the collective that makes the most impact. So if you think that for one second your fifty bucks wont make a difference then you are sadly mistaken. If you think you cashing in on that vacation or sick time to head to the gulf and help tear out moldy drywall for 2 weeks wont make a difference then you are again mistaken. To make a difference is to be the difference!

When you contribute and see first hand how God uses your actions to make a difference in someones life, you will have truly discover who you have to potential to be. The whole point of christianity is to lead by example much as in the way Jesus did. To influence someone thru your actions will be one of the most rewarding things you will experience in this life. And once you've done it the first time, it will change you forever. I'm not talking about giving your spare change to the homeless man standing fifty feet away from your $40,000 SUV either. I'm talking about truly getting your hands dirty. Jesus said "the way to the father is thru me". When you have that conversation with Jesus what do you want him to see? Don't just be a christian, be a good christian! Lead by example and remember influence starts somewhere. Why not let it start with you?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Gingerbread Men

Well here it is September 8th 2007. For the past month I have been in Forth Worth, Texas. Just staying busy doing small roof repairs and handyman work for the time being. I've been working on my book a little lately. Sad to say it's been 6 months since I put a word in it but I hope to rectify that. I've also been knocking out a few drawings. Lets see, I've drawn the face of a woman, a still life with the bible, and empty glass and some fruit and I've also drawn a cartoon of disney characters (for the little girl next door but she dont know yet ). Thats unusual for me to do so many drawings in such a short period of time. I usually only do 2 a year or so. Not sure why, I just felt like drawing. Maybe cause the music. I've been listening to alot lately.

Yesterday marked the anniversary of a really bad day in my life. One that would alter it into what has led me back into church. But I still struggle after years of trying to recover. Guess I'm just not the tough soldier I always thought I was. Everybody has got something right? I think we all have a little chunk taken out of our hearts sometimes. Each person takes it differently. Some are unphased. I'm not sure which I would rather be as I think it's my affection thats one of my best qualities.

Anyway I have both short term and long term plans for myself. They involve me making it thru the short term so I can get to the long term. : D Just kidding its not that bad. I have begun investigating new roads to travel. I think I've found a great opportunity for more adventure. I am refering to the financial means to continue doing what I do. I cant seem to rally up enough strength to ask for help. I did twice during the Gainesville floods but it's an undescribable sense of failure and quite frankly it's one of the worst emotions I have ever felt. I'm a giver and have never been much of a taker. It's a little easier when people offer but almost impossible for me to ask for. And believe me, if I wasnt sleeping in my truck and eating ramen noodles I wouldnt have. I would rather sleep in my truck than ask next time though!

Thanks to Mike and Ed. If you guys read this I cant explain how thankful I am for your understanding and more so with your compassion and faith. Mike is from Ohio and has not only been a spiritual guide for me but he has been a friend to the people of Gainesville, Texas. Without his financial and moral support I would have left much earlier. I take things to heart fairly easily and I shouldnt. I was told when I did my first disaster that there is no room for emotion in this line of work. That statement holds true and I firmly believe that. Someone has to be in control of their emotions regardless of how bad things get. I cry like a 10 year old girl sometimes but the trick is to never let a storm victim see you cry. Your there to help their morale, not break it. Cant be much of a shining light if your bulb is burnt out. Understand? Anyway Mike thank you for changing my "bulb". I needed that and owe ya one.

Well this Texas thing is getting kinda boring. Theres a lot here Im sure but nothinig to do if your broke. It's really nice and it's amazing how low the cost of living is here. I can rent a 3500 sq foot house for $1200 a month!! That was my pet fee in my apartment in Virginia lol. My rent was twice that on a 2 bedroom apartment! So ya, it's cheap to live here and the area has all new homes around Fort Worth. It's a nice area but like I said, no money = boring.

Where to next? Well I have many ideas but think I'm going to try to get a little perspective first. I hated asking for help in my last disaster so I'm trying to plan the next one accordingly. What can I do to minimize my expenses and be more productive during the next big disaster? Wish I had a mobile home! I spent like 75% of my budget on hotel expenses in Gainesville. Normally I would be welcome in a church office or something like that but Gainesville was very unwelcoming to ALL outsiders. Theres no such thing as good people anymore so we must have an angle they think. :D But my point is I cant do that again. I have no issues sleeping in my truck as long as I had a bigger truck hehe. Showering and changing clothes would be the only challenge there. But next time I get a new vehicle the only 3 concerns I'll have is 1) can I sleep in it if it comes to that, 2) will it get me where I'm wanting to go and 3) can it pull a fifth wheel? That would be a God sent but maybe one day in like 2099 or so.

I have asked (yup you heard those three words come from my mouth) for a friends newspaper to help me an ad together so I can get some stationary and other office supplies. Things like business cards and embroidered polo shirt are items I would like to have by the time I go into the next disaster. I need to look a little more organized and professional I think. I dont mind furnishing info for a background check but references are a little hard to come by for someone new in the disaster relief industry. So I dont know, maybe if I look more professional they would welcome my imput a little more. If they dont know and the information I put out helps than thats fantastic. But if they dont know and dont care what I have to teach then the community losses out and we cant have that. This is a really dog eat dog industry and there are some really mean people in it. Even some church leaders can be really ugly at times. You can never be prepared but you can eliminate chances for it to happen. So thats my plan.

After a few more disasters I think I will be ready to put a team together. I wanted to after Katrina but noone took me seriously and thought I was just caught up in the moment or something. But I really do. I'm glad my invitations fell on deaf ears because it would have been a different ballgame if I had more to take care of. Perhaps it would be easier I'm not sure. What I do know is that a leader cant teach what he dont know. So even though I'm gifted in leadership and other areas pertaining to disaster relief, I have alot to learn. Perhaps one day between hurricane seasons I'll register for some disaster relief classes. I am a sponge for knowledge but I'm just not in the mindset or position to do it during or after a disaster.

How do we know what Gods calling is for us? As I peck away at this keyboard I dont know what I'm writing until it kinda flows from my mind into my fingers. Improvisation! Perhaps thats how it's supposed to be. Some in my family disagree with what I do. I have been on the road since 1992 and have traveled all over the world. They look at it as time away from the family but I look at it as opportunity. Hehe not opportunity to get away from my family. but opportunity for experience. What will happen if I do this till the day I die? I will have left nothing behind but when I died I had tons of knowledge. I think the meaning of life is to live free and love everyone and everythinig. No I'm not a hippee and there are not peace signs and flowers all over my truck but I understand their mindset and agree on most of their views. Back to our calling... there is no instruction book. The only thing like that is called the bible and it's meant as a guide. So if it's commonly refered to as the "social norm" why does that mean most Americans must do it? Who ever said 4 years of college, a 9-5 job, 2.5 kids, a mortgage and death? What a waste! Think I got it bad cause I'm broke? We I think you got it bad cause your wealthy! With leverage comes consequence! Money is leverage over personal posessions but in no way does it carry it's weight on a creative mind. An artists talent cannot be bought. It is a gift from God. Education has become more about sustaining personal posessions that it has helping mankind.

See a homeless man and call him a bum? Is he more free because he's not playing by societies rules? The bible says a man must work or he shall not eat. It does not say a man must work or he shall not have a 73 inch plasma tv. We've done it to ourselves and theres nobody we can blame. The real gift is seeing it! See how society is like a bunch of little cookies stamped with a gingerbread cookie cutter. They follow each other like ducks and walk right into the fire. WOW! They dont even realize it! So the man you just though a bum is smarter than you are because he realized it. It's harder once you do. It's like the movie the Matrix. Once you see the truth you cant live your life in the same way. Society is leading you and you should ask why. Every thing you do for the next 24 hours I want you to ask yourself this questions... "Who says I have to do this"? When you ask that you will realize all the things that your doing because the rest of society does it.

Anyway. Gotta go. Might go to hospital tomorrow. Been having problems with my right hand. God bless and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ok so around June 14th I drove down to Nashville in hopes of relocating there. I drove almost straight thru from Michigan. I got a cheap hotel room in Ohio but after I layed my head down my dog went nuts. Come to find out the field accross the street was hosting the 2007 police and firemans games for the state of Ohio. There were K-9 everywhere and Baxter wouldnt let me sleep. I finally got up anf loaded the truck and left. The hotel was $40 bucks and a major dump but the owner wouldnt give me my money back hehe.

So I got right back on the freeway and Baxter and I were Nashville bound once again. I hit an outlet mall somewhere in Kentucky so I could stretch my feet a little. I bought a new pair of running shoes in the Adidas store. They were the first pair of new shoes and as the matter of fact, they were the first real thing I've bought myself since I arrived in Mississippi for Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was a good feeling and I felt "free" for a moment. Not even a year before this I couldnt afford to buy deoderant so ya, it's a good feeling. It's almost impossible to get sponsorship for disasters if you have too much pride to ask like I do. I hate that about myself. I would rather sleep in my truck and eat ramen noodles then ask for help. I just cant do it. So ya, it was nice being able to buy something for myself.

So I get back on the road and I'm just pumped up. I love driving and more important, I love the adventure! Around 4am I arrive in Brentwood, TN. I knew the first place I was going before I even left Michigan hehe. Theres a small gas station there that sells the best, freshest banana chips I've ever had. So I dropped in there and bought a bag and a tall black coffee. I arrived at the hotel sometime around 5am. After checking in and unloading I took a hour long shower and just before I passed out from exhaustion I managed to slip into my bed.

The next afternoon I met some old friends for coffee. Tom and Rhonda are a fantastic couple I met when I was here before. We had alot to talk about and after decided to head to the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville. It was WAY too expensive to get in there especially for someone like me living on a small budget. But I sucked it up and payed the lady but she got the evil eye if you know what I mean! Anyway once inside I was amazed. The statues, wax look-a-likes and all the stuff in there made me realize why they charge so much. All I have to say is WOW! After another coffee I left Tom and Rhonda and headed back to the hotel to give my feet a break.

When I was there in December 2006 I loved it so much I wanted to move there. They have some awsome radio stations there also. I only mention that because it's hard to find good christian rock stations anymore. So I could just sit in my room or in my truck for hours and listen to all the best toons ever. I love that station!

Anyway I fell in love with Nashville and the Granny White Church of Christ. It's a fantastic church and reminds me of my father. He use to write songs and back in the 70's he wrote a country song called "Ole Granny White". I never understood the song and never put much thought into the song but I use to love it as a kid. One day I was driving down Granny White Pike talking to my father on the cell phone. He told me the song was written BECAUSE of Granny White and the historical significance she had on our troops in the civil war. It turns out Brentwood, Tennessee has quite the history and it inspired my father when he lived there long long ago. I thought that was pretty cool.

After calling a lady I made arrangements with prior to coming down here, I discovered I dont have a home to rent after all. So I went. I called and I called and I called. Man it seemed like everything was too expensive and if it wasnt it wouldnt allow a dog. I was having horrible luck. I went thru the papers every day and still had no luck in the area I was looking.

On June 20th I had been at the hotel longer than I anticipated at this point. I couldnt stay there much longer or I wouldnt be able to afford a deposit and first months rent on a house. So I had to make some emergency decisions here. Do I put my dog in a kennel till I find something more permanent? Do I get rid of my dog so I can get something in my price range? I seriously went back to step one and didnt know what I was gonna do. So I turned on the TV and poof, there was a story on Hurricane Katrina and Mississippi. I'm thinking to myself, should I go back down there for awhile? Should I go back to Michigan? What should I do and where should I go? I turned the TV off and prayed about it. I asked God to help me decide. I asked him to draw a map for me.

So I went to bed and woke up the next morning. I made a pot of coffee (if thats what you wanna call it) in the pot in my room. I flipped on CNN to see what was happenin and drink my coffee. What I saw was Hurricane Katrina again. Wait! Thats looks like Katrina but the wording said "Texas State Police" on the bottom of the screen. I kept watching and learned there was a major flood down in Gainesville, Texas. Man it looked just like Katrina from the pics. Choppers flying over and rescuing families and the whole shot. WOW! I never even knew there was a storm there.

I thought it out and jumped on my computer. I looked for a hotel or apartment for rent down here. I found it on the map and made some calls. It's a small town on the border of Oklahoma. It's about an hour north of Dallas and 2 hours south of Oklahoma City.

Anyway I've been here in Gainseville, Texas since June 25th. I'll write more later but gotta run.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Hi everyone! Long time no post huh? Well get ready to read becuase I have to cover the last 6 months or so.....

Well, I finally left Nashville in December. After a lenghty stay, I was ready for another move back into reality. Around December 15th I said good bye to my friends from Nashville. I have not officially thanked them but will post more later about each and every one of them. But for now I would like to thank Charles Jones. He was a God sent in my life and he is an inspiration to everyone around him. I will make an entire blog post about him later. But for those of you in the disaster relief business, I need not say what an amazing guy he is because if you've ever met him you already know.

So around December 15th I drove to Chattanooga, TN. to see my father. I have not seen him since 1993. While I was serving overseas he left and moved to Tennessee. It was an interesting visit. He looked nothing like the man I saw flinging refrigerators onto a 4 foot tall truck so many years ago. He is skin and bones and in a wheel chair now. He still has his same ole' sense of humor but alot has changed. The biggest change was his baptism into Christ. He can quote chapter and verse and has become a well read christian. He and my step mother Sue live on the side of a mountain in a beautiful village. Signs everywhere point to lack of house maintanence due to his medical condition. It's a sad picture and I know he is not happy. More on this in the future...

After my visit with my father and step mother I drove straight thru to Michigan. I arrived in Michigan just in time for a blizzard. It was nice seeing my family again and we spent days talking about my trip down to the Gulf coast.

Part of the reason I rushed to Michigan was my cousin Kevin was getting married. I can best describe Kevin as a giver and not a receiver. He will do anything for anybody. Those who raised their glasses and toasted him and his beautiful new wife Cherie, had only good things to say about their selfless acts. I respect and love both of them more than words can express. They really helped me out when I was in need. I wish them both an amazingly happy life together!

So I am currently in Northern Michigan and planning my next move. I have been working on my house and have not been nearly as productive as I would like to be. I will be relocating within the next 2 weeks back down south. I really cant say where right now because it's top secret. : D

But know that this is a much anticipated move. I'm not a huge fan of Michigan. I have many reasons for this but the biggest reason is the economy. There is no work here. The automakers keep outsourcing and down sizing and the economy reflects every ripple of that. Property is cheap but if you want to sell.... good luck. I hope your not in a hurry!

I am preparing for another hurricane season. I believe it is my calling and I have been educating myself quite a bit with the politics and behind the scenes area of a disaster. It's an ugly place. People and organizations fight and stab each other in the back for whatever resources become available. I learned the hard way that you have to watch your back. Even the in the church, they show their ugliest face at times. You have to watch your back and protect yourself to the best of your ability. But I have learned some valuable lessons with regards to operational side of disaster relief. It's VERY stressful and can eat you alive if your not strong. Emotionally, financially and spiritually!

I still keep in touch with my friends from Mississippi. I have spoke to them on a regular basis. They are still going strong and continue to serve Hurricane Katrina victims to this day! It's quite amazing actually. I guess some down there could flip a coin and decide if it was the best, or worst, thing ever to happen to them. I think they have an amazing relationship with God and continue doing his will as if to lead by example. Their sacrifice has not gone unseen, I'm sure of it!

Anyway, I will attempt to maintain this blog a little better. I was without internet for quite some time so it was difficult. Google took over this blog and this is the sixth time I've tried to log in and FINALLY was able to. They bounce you all over the place because of the merger so it was a pain. Now I understand why many of my friends changed blog sites. Sorry they removed the spell check. I will download a program and come back to edit later.

Have a good day and God Bless!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Well I hope everyone is well. I am still in Nashville and somewhat short on time so this may not be very long.

Today I will be making a move. When I first got here I made special arrangments with the manager of Candlewood Suites Hotel in Brentwood, TN. and I highly recommend this hotel for those of you that visit the Nashville area. This is very close to Brentwood Hills Church of Christ which is by far, the largest church I've ever seen or been in. Back to Candlewood, I explained who I was, why I was in town and that I had a small budget. He gave me an amazingly inexpensive rate and waived the fee they would normally charge for pets (I travel with my dog). The rate he gave me was based on the Hotels commitment to assist the people of the Gulf Coast in their devestating time of need. Over 2000 people stayed at this hotel free right after Hurricane Katrina. Well after taking a closer look at my budget I have decided I need to make other arrangements to accomodate my discipating financial means of staying here in Nashville. The hotel has saving me a substantial amount of money compared to what I would normally have spent in this area. Not to mention kennel expenses for my dog. So with that said I will be making a move into a room that someone has graciously allowed me to occupy for the next 3 weeks.

After 3 weeks I was planning on going home back to Virginia. I intend on going there, collecting a long time unpaid debt and going to see my family for the holidays. Unforeseen circumstances are more than likely going to change my plans. As of now I have spent a large portion of my time in Nashville sick. I dont have the same thing as I had a couple weeks ago but have been getting a massive amount of migraine headaches. This is something that has been an ongoing problem since I lost my hearing in the Army. They seem to intensify and get worse with age. But my point is I dont feel like I have done nearly as much as I could here. I am commited to filling the schedule at Central Church of Christ and hoping that they have so many volunteers wanting to come they have to recommend they come down but go to other areas on the Gulf Coast. With that said I think I might stay in the area longer than I initially planned. As with anything I feel this is what God wants me to do and I have the ability to do so.

I have prayed about this and have been juggeling with the idea for a week or so now. Last night I spoke to someone who convinced me this is what I should do. Something that I feel so strongly about has altered my plans for over a year now and I dont want to turn my back on the people down there. The need is great and I made a promise that I intend to adhere to.

After the new year I think I will be traveling back to the Gulf Coast for a short time. I have so many opportunities that I can basically pick and choose. Some job offers have come in from my former career in law enforcement but I think I will continue my path doing Gods work and helping those in need. I plan on creating a full time stormchasing team that will travel to natural disasters and help people recover from their hardships. I've always wanted to do something like that but never thought I would be doing it. So after this mission trip I will be seeking fiancial support or long term sponsorship for the CDRC (Christian Disaster Recovery Coalition).

My focus will be on setting up a team of christians that travels the continential United States and assists churches in disaster areas. I want to get a mobile home that can accomodate a small team (5-7) and gather some volunteers that also seek to do Gods will and have the ability to travel.

Anyway that kind of sums up my short term and long term goals as well as current happenings. Not a lot of success with recruiting but this time of year I dont see a bunch of churches picking a date to come down until that time comes closer and they have a better idea of how many can come. So John keep your chin held high and continue fighting the good fight. Hello to the Elders at Central CofC.

Where I'm going does not have internet. So I might be offline for a short time. I keep keep everyone appraised as best I can and when I can. Thanks for all the support and love.

Your friend, Jeff

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hello everyone! I know some of you have been disappointed not to see me update this blog lately and for that I am sorry. I have been very sick and attribute it to change in climate. It seems as if every time I relocate I get sick. This has been an ongoing issue ever since my first trip to Germany back in 1994. The problem is that it seems to get worse as I get older. I wont get into the details but those that know me well know that I hate hospitals more than anything. So going to a hospital is always a last resort and I would suffer until I'm actually dying and have no other choice. I almost went 4 days ago. I got dressed at 2:30 am, grabbed a change of clothes and began looking up directions on the internet. Just as I got all ready I thought about my dog. Where would I take him at 3:00 in the morning? What if they want to keep me in there? I couldnt just leave him here at the hotel. So I made up my mind, got undressed and took an ice cold bath. My fever was pretty intense and I was so weak I could hardly go from the bath to the bed without agonizing commitment to get there. So thats been an ongoing problem since I've arrived in Nashville. I got sick 3 days after I arrived and am just now getting better. I figured something temporary but I was wrong. I got sick quite often in Mississippi and those of my friends in Pascagoula, MS know that I when I get sick it's not just sick. When I do it I do it the right way and get full blown SICK! : D

So anyway, the mission was going great till this happened. I've spoke with some church leadership in the area and am confident the outcome will be very good. I've lost a week so have alot of work to do to make up for lost time. Presently I am tweaking my presentation and creating a better video that will have some info in it instead of just pictures. I speak to representatives but how they relay the message is something that might not give the full seriousness of our needs in Pascagoula. So I am adding a couple powerpoint slides that will describe what happened, what is happening and what needs to happen there on the Gulf Coast.
This is a good way to be productive while I'm getting rid of this sickness thing. I ask for your prayers.

John I read your blog about that guy that came into the church. Man o man was I disappointed. Let me explain.... I was sitting at my desk when I heard a knock on the side door of the church (door connects to our offices). I opened the door to find the same guy he described in his blog. unshaven, dress shirt with hospital type scrubs and boots. You could tell he had not showered in some time. So I talked to him but had a difficult time because I'm partially deaf and he was very soft spoken. I must have said "I'm sorry I didnt hear you" like 100 times during our breif discussion. What I could make out was he owed someone money, a drug dealer. He said they were going to kill him if he didnt pay. I told him he needed to talk to John Dobbs. This was not my area of expertise and I have seen hundreds of drug addicts beg for money and leave. As an ex-cop I can tell you that these guys dont care about anything other than their next "fix" and will do anything and everything they have to do to get it. So I never would give them any money but this was different so I got John on the phone. They must have talked for 45 mins it seemed like cause I desperatly needed to make a call and kept looking to see if he was still on the phone. Well the guy was talking outside by my truck (cordless) and I decided to go inside and work on something until he got off the phone. When I came out he was gone. The phone was sitting inside my truck on the seat and he was nowhere in site.
Later I learned he left and went knocking on doors in the neighborhood. He said he represented the Church of Christ and that he was collecting donations! MAN! I was upset to say the least. This guy is out there using our good name and trying to cure his drug addiction by soliciting the good will of the people of Pascagoula. Needless to say I wanted to call the police and describe him and hope they could track him down. Well in the mix of things I just shruged it off as just yet another disappointment in the soap opera of Hurricane Katrina.
To hear him come in front of the congregation and repent would have been interesting to me. I have a hard time with forgivness sometimes but have learned alot from my friends down there. As christians it is our responsibility to forgive. But when this happens over and over and over again you tend to seperate yourself from that element and begin to profile them in a way you shouldnt. So if they look like a drug addict and smell like a drug addict are they a drug addict? Are they true about coming to the Lord or are they just saying what they have to so they can get their last resort remedy? I know, I know! It's hard sometimes! These guys will do ANYTHING at desperate times. That includes getting washed of their sins and leading others to think they have changed even though it's not in their hearts. We call them "pretenders" in law enforcement. They have the ability to adapt and seed into any enviroment. They are the deadliest criminals of all.
But I ask myself what makes them different than us? Was there any doubts in your heart when you got baptized? Was there ever a time that you knowingly did something your not supposed to do? Well join the crowd! All of us have strayed at times. We all should be looking at these "pretenders" and welcoming them and hoping that somewhere in their time with us we can plant a seed. Something that will live in them forever. Something that hopefully one day will turn into true faith and perhaps they make a difference in someones life! How do we do this? By being christians and welcoming them as we would Jesus himself! Forgiveness came to us at the cost of Jesus dying. What would you do if someone killed your son? We must remember to forgive and forget the way God has done for us!
So I'm glad to hear you guys gave him refuge for awhile John. I hope that planted a seed that will change the outcome of where that man is heading and who he effects before he goes there!

Good job!

Have a good day everyone!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Today I've been blessed!

About a month ago I sat down with my Elders and told them about our recent decrease in relief workers. It was at that time that I began telling them some ideas I had about spreading some Hurricane Katrina awareness and recruiting some relief workers. They thought it was a good idea and that began my quest to go on a recruiting trip.

With the church being low on financial support the Elders told me ahead of time that I would have to do my own fundraising for this trip. I agreed and reassured them that it was possible. With a big smile and a confident speech I told them everything was gonna be alright. But in my heart I knew this would be a major obstacle that would make or break the trip.

I was formally a recruiter in the Army. I'm very confident of my abilites although this should be much easier than asking someone to lay their lives on the line, eat horrible food, wake up at 4 am, do pushups before breakfast and roll around in the mud for 8 years! ; D

It wasn't the recruiting part that worried me but the financial aspect of how I was going to be able to do this mission. So I have been grinding the phone and dropping birds in peoples ears now, for a month. I set out on a goal of $2000 to cover a multitude of things as well as give some emergency cushion if something went wrong.

Well today my prayers were answered and the final $1200 was donated by John McGuire of Woot! I'm a happy camper! Thanks John, you are a God sent! I appreciate you and your organization as well as your dedication to the people of the Gulf Coast. Keep up the good work and I'm sure I will be talking to you again very soon. God Bless You!


People ask me all the time why is there still a need for volunteers? Is it really that bad down there? Not as bad as New Orleans right?

My question to them is "What do you mean?" or "Isnt that all you see on television fron sun up to sun down?" or my favorite "Do you remember when we dropped Fat Man and Little Boy on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?"

Ladies and gentleman let me tell you that this disaster was devestating beyond comprehension. No its not cleaned up! No its not rebuilt! No I dont watch TV! No there are still one or two FEMA trailers here (38000 in Mississippi alone)!!! This is not like Hurricane Andrew or Hugo or other nasty hurricanes that have hit the US. This one wiped out the entire southern coast of the United States. From Florida to Texas! Louisiana and Mississippi both look as if many nukes were fired from one of our foreign enemies and completely demolished everything. No! Absolutely not!! It is nowhere even close to rebuilt!! Ask me again in 10 years!

The local newspaper today announced the government has decided to build 100,000 housing units in Mississippi within the next 5 years. Thats awsome news!! Finally!! These "units" are for displaced homeowners as well as relief workers. These are TEMPORARY and will serve as a substitute for those FEMA trailers and inadequate relief worker housing (so they say... pffft). I'll have you know our volunteers sleep in actual beds now (better than cots and floor space) and we have a restaurant and cook top notch culinary masterpieces! You'll work hard but will leave fat if all goes well. ; )

But back on topic- Mississippi has gotten ZERO attention compared to Louisiana and especially New Orleans. With that said, these people are in trouble. Nobody ever planned for something as destructive as this and as widespread as it was. This storm set a new standard! The reason we focus so much on Mississippi is because of it's lack of interest from the media and it's great need to be brought back to a civilized and livable enviroment.

This isnt just a few houses, this is the entire coast and miles and miles inland. And were not talking about minor roof damage, were talking near total destruction. So please dont think of Mississippi as a thriving economical resort because down here it is day by day survival in a destroyed and neglected community.

Want proof? Drive here! I could walk right outside of the church and shoot some pictures that would shock you. Better yet the church itself is in bad shape. The floor sounds like rice crispies and the pews are warped so bad when you sit on one end the other end lifts up and swings when you push your feet. If your late for church everybody knows cause it sounds like a symphony when you walk in. lol

I'm trying to emphasize that this is nothing like the movies. No quick happy ending for Mississippi. This is gonna take many years to rebuild. Hense the reason they are building so many housing units for the relief workers (five years to build them). So I encourage anyone and everyone to call us and ask questions. Get in your car and drive down here. Take that week vacation and rip out some sheetrock. Down here we need you! Dont take this lightly because these people are living in those metal boxes called FEMA trailers and are struggling with day to day things that most of us take for granted. What would God Jesus do if he were in your shoes?

What better place than here, what better time than now !!!

God be with you!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hi everyone! Funny thing is this this blog gets hits off google when people search for something thats listed in here. John taught me how to check some of that info and it's very cool. So I'm gonna add some random words to my post today that I think people will be searching for. Maybe just maybe they will like what they see and come back. ; )

Well yesterday was a very productive day. I talked with many people from the nashville area and get more excited about my trip the closer it gets. As of right now I will be leaving Sunday after church. That is almost certain! I still have not come anywhere close to my financial goal but I got a good feeling God will take care of me. Garth Brooks sang a song that said"One of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers" ; and I firmly believe that. Sometimes we have to play the cards we've been dealt.

I read something interesting this morning about a brother and sister that had been seperated during World War 2. Well somehow the sister (now in her late 70s) nephews searched the internet and FOUND the brother living in Canada. While most of the family has already passed on, they were the only two left from WW2. The nephews (both in their 20s) were able to reunite the brother and sister for the first time in 65 years when both fled Europe. The hugged and kissed for hours while the media had a field day shooting footage of the reunion. Needless to say it was a very heartfelt story and I hope you read it.
--->Here is the link <---

Emotion versus faith: Round 1

Sometimes our desires come at a cost. We can control it, but we fight Gods will and suffer instead of accepting it and focusing on more productive things. We feel so strongly about certain things that it is sometimes hard focus on what He wants and expects of us.

Philippians 4:6-7 "Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God's peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions thru Christ Jesus".

Throughout life we will be faced with hardships, challenges, obstacles and adversaties. So if every thing that happens to us drags us down, how can that demonstrate our faith in God? If we as christians believe there is a better future waiting for ourselves up in Heaven, why are we so focused on the happenings of today? Well the answer is hard for me also. Emotion is a gift that God has given us. It helps divide the barrier between right and wrong. It allows us to extend our hand and say "brother I am here to help you" as Jesus once did. Without emotion we would be like robots filled with a bitter hatred for everyone and in turn effect our relationship with Christ.

So emotion is without a doubt a gift. One that will define our conversation with Jesus at the gates to Heaven. This emotion thing can be quite painful. It allows people, pets and other things to enter our hearts. When we lose something that is in our hearts and dear to us, we cry, sob, weap, become depressed and sometimes angry. It's never easy and was never meant to be.

Most ethnicities around the world celebrate death. The reasons vary but for the most part they believe the passing of a loved one is their beginning of life in Heaven with God. As christians we believe the repenteance of sins, being baptized, believing in Jesus and living our life like the bible says, will get us into heaven. But have we ever stopped to realize that mourning a loss could be a sin? Wouldnt that be the same as telling God you disagree with his decision to do what he did? Why are we mourning if we believe that person is where we are trying to get to? If out belief and trust in God was true, why should we doubt his decision to take our loved ones? Why dont we throw a huge party and celebrate the passing of this person that was so dear to us?

Emotion and our faith can work hand in hand. Without one, the other will work against us. You will need both to get to Heaven! So how can we deal with emotion and maintain our faith? Whenever your challenged with either, look to the opposite one for guidence. Struggling with emotion? Look to your faith. Struggling with your faith? Look to your emotions. Search within your heart for one, and you'll always find the other!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Chrsit Jesus".