Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Count Your Blessings

During the Civil War in 1863, President Lincoln first proclaimed Thanksgiving an official national holiday.  It was to be a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.  In early history, the Pilgrims celebrated their “First Thanksgiving” in America after their first harvest in 1621.  Colonists regularly celebrated such thanksgiving for days at a time with prayer and praise to God for their many blessings, for the end of droughts, for bountiful harvests, as well as military victories in the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607. 

In my family, the week of Thanksgiving was the time when immediate and extended family came to share Thanksgiving together.  It was a time of great joy and anticipation awaiting the arrival of loved ones.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, would fill the house and the longer they stayed the better!  We would huddle together and spend time sharing the happenings in our lives since the last Thanksgiving and stories of old would be shared with us kids.  As we reflected on times of the past, all could draw on the blessings we had from such times.  Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday because this was usually when we got to see most of the family.  They would come from the east and west coasts, Louisiana and around Texas.  Some would just stay the day or maybe through the weekend and the families from the east and west coasts would often stay as long as two weeks.  I cherished those times together and would always be sad to see them leave, knowing it would be another year before I would see them again. 

The last Thanksgiving we were all together was in 1992.  In the summer of 1993, we lost my grandmother, a cousin, and three of the great-aunts.  With the losses, all were home during that summer for funerals and time with the family.  My dad had been sick since 1986 and the losses and further health complications had an irreversible affect on his health and he ended up bedridden until his death in 1997.  Our house was always the gathering place where everyone always knew they would be “welcomed home”.  After Daddy’s health deterioration our Thanksgiving gatherings were never the same as the pain was palpable and the last gathering was when he died and everybody came home to bid him adieu.     

In our times of loss and changes, we have more reasons to be thankful for we have been so richly blessed in life with family and friends.  Even with their loss, we are still richer for having had them no matter how short the time.  Dr. David Jeremiah was talking about Thanksgiving this week and said “it is a time of reflecting, a time for rejoicing, a time for commitment, and a time for praise, and a time for sharing.  He said to “let this be a time that we truly are thankful and remember how blessed we are”.  It only makes sense that the longer we live, the more gratitude we should hold in our heart, for His blessings are heaped on us every single day.

With the passing of time, traditional observances have evolved into different celebrations to fill our day of Thanksgiving—our bountiful banquets, parades with balloons, floats, and marching bands, football games and extravagant halftime shows, cruises and travel to exotic places, marathons and 5K runs, and this year Thanksgiving will be another day dawning for everyone to shop the Christmas sales.  It seems we all are getting further away from Thanksgiving’s original intent of showing gratitude and not leaving us much time for reflecting, rejoicing, committing, praising, sharing, and remembering how richly God has blessed us.  

I pray that this Thanksgiving will be the very best you have ever experienced as you take time to reflect, rejoice, and praise Him for all He has richly blessed you with!   I asked Dwight to read this before I hit the “publish” button and he began humming and singing this very old hymn written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman, Jr. from 1Thessalonians 5:18.

Count Your Blessings
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

*Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.*

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

In the Sleet of the Moment

The transition from summer to fall and fall to winter happens to be my favorite time of year.  As I write this, we are experiencing our first winter storm watch and the peppering of sleet is ever so slight.  The brisk cold is wonderfully exhilarating and energizes me like that Eveready bunny.  Like a small child, I don’t want to go to sleep and miss anything that each hour may promise.  This has to do with my love of the season, but also knowing how short time is as I approach the winter solstice of my life with the physical battles I wage.

Several weeks ago, Dwight and I had a three day trip planned to Arkansas for the Autumn Talimena Scenic Drive, a 54 mile drive from Mena, Arkansas into eastern Oklahoma.  We were to stay in Beavers Bend State Park and planned to attend the 20th Annual Beavers Bend Folk Festival and Craft Show in Broken Bow.  We would have been two of the expected 17,000 attendees at this wonderful festival.  Unfortunately, I got sick and we did not get to experience the awesome glory of that drive and our much needed break.  I regretted it for Dwight, as he had never taken this drive before and I so wanted him to experience all the glory and beauty of fall in the Ouachita Mountains.  

Last week, Dwight planned an east Texas scenic drive that offered the same autumn brilliance to be enjoyed along with lots of charm in towns along the way.  We discovered some awesome little towns as we explored areas not too far from my family’s farm.   Of course there was not the majestic prominence of the Ouachita Mountains, but this girl was just as thrilled to see the brilliance of our rolling hills of foliage along the winding country roads close to home. 

If you want some real eye candy, next fall consider scheduling time to go to Daingerfield State Park, Lake Bob Sandlin, Lake Cypress Springs, and Lake Winnsboro along the Big Sandy Creek drive and/or any of the three scenic drives recommended by the Winnsboro Autumn Trails Committee.  And discover Winnsboro too!  Two years in a row, this little town of 3,300 was voted “Best Small Town Downtown by County Line Magazine.  Another thing about Winnsboro that really got my attention is that it is strategically located within easy driving distance of seven popular lakes and I love being around the water.  We definitely are going back to spend time exploring this quaint little historic town.  It is a magnet to lots of out of town folks and their large downtown was certainly hopping the Wednesday that we were there.  When we stopped at the Chamber to pick up the scenic drive maps, the folks in the guest book right before us were from our neighboring Murphy, Texas.  At our days end, our only regret was that we did not have at least two more days to explore and enjoy more of autumn’s majesty and the sights and charm of the little communities surrounded by His shimmering glory. 

The earth is filled with the Lord’s glory.  Habakkuk 2:14


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Trades to You!

There is a new Trade Days that opened this weekend on Highway 205 across from County Road 485 in Lavon.  Jim, one of the facilitators of the Trade Days has been a business owner in Wylie for 20 years or more.  In the past year, he began selling his businesses and properties in Wylie, opting for new ventures.

Having heard of the closing of the Wylie Trade Days, Jim and another property owner in Lavon, decided to partner to bring the 205 Trade Days to Wylie’s neighboring community of Lavon.  They are hoping to provide a location for the displaced vendors, artists, crafters, and friends of the Wylie Trade Days and The Crafter’s Co-op.  He indicated that Lavon was very receptive to the idea of the 205 Trade Days. 

For details and information on upcoming event dates for the 205 Trade Days, you can contact Jerry at 903-375-2644 or Jim McKee at 214-616-3596 or 469-698-8161.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Prayer\prer\n. Words that move the nerve that moves the hand of God

Several weeks ago, Dwight and I were guests at the wedding of a beautiful young woman that I have known since she was a small child.  We were invited to “share in the celebration and heritage of their families”.  Everything was absolutely beautiful and the pledge and promises in their vows were written by each for the other.  Lane’s father walked her down the aisle and Glynn, her stepfather performed the beautiful ceremony in English and Spanish.  It was lyrical, it was magical, and a true blessing to witness. 

Stepping back in time, not too long after my own cancer battle, Dwight and I had three people on our prayer list that had my heart aching as each were battling cancer for the second time in their lives.  The days turned into weeks, then weeks to months and I was not seeing answers to my prayers for them.  I was praying for the Lord’s will, but of course wanted His complete healing for all three. 

Lisa G was fighting a very aggressive cancer that had metastasized to most of her organs and she was regularly experiencing one major setback after another.  She was the only one that I actually did not know.  She was young enough to be my daughter.  A friend in one of our prayer groups worked with Lisa, a teacher for autistic children.   She had asked us to please add Lisa to our prayer list and said we could get daily updates on Caring Bridge, a site for those battling catastrophic illnesses.  Lisa’s constant prayer for herself was “for God’s will”.  She and her family daily shared their incredible faith with all of us that were “warriors on her team”.  They shared their Bible readings each day and Lisa’s words of encouragement for those on “the team”, her ever-changing prognosis and updates from the doctors,  facility moves, details of surgeries, testings, and treatments.  It was exhausting for the many months of daily trials, victories, fearless fighting, and waiting. 

Mike M. was fighting brain cancer.  He had battled brain cancer when he worked in Pasadena.  Dwight and I had prayed for months to bring Mike and his wife Tammie to the City of Wylie—not them specifically, but people of their integrity and faith.  We felt so incredibly blessed when they came to Wylie and we felt Wylie was blessed to have them.  During their time here in Wylie, Mike went regularly to MD Anderson for his checkups and during one visit, tests revealed the reoccurrence of his brain cancer.  Mike underwent months of testings, surgeries, complications, and treatments.  Their resolve was strong throughout their time in Wylie and they were a blessing and testimony of faith to us all.    

Glynn M. had two bouts with very aggressive melanoma.  I was absolutely devastated for Dorian when she first told me of Glynn’s cancer.  They were still newlyweds and I was so incredibly sad that she was having to journey through this fearful battle of loss.  She had experienced a very painful divorce and afterwards was an incredible and dedicated single Mom to Lane.  When Glynn came into their lives, he was an answer to prayers—their “shining knight” of a husband and father.  I had hoped and envisioned Dorian’s life to be a joyful one exempt from anymore pain.  They faced their battles with grace and calm that I believe can only be a result of a great and deep faith.  Glynn was light-hearted and encouraging that all would be well when I talked to him and his concerns were always for the family, not himself. 

Over a period of months, these three remained on our prayer list.  And over the months, there was more intense intercession in my prayers for them.  I often would be weeping as I prayed for them and their families.  Eventually, I could see the Lord’s hand in it all, even though not quite like I wanted.  Glynn has recovered and is well.  He looks great and he certainly can perform a beautiful and moving wedding ceremony!  The Lord continues to bless him and Dorian and those that know Glynn by allowing everyone to witness God’s grace and glory through him.  And Mike is in remission and doing well.  His doctors advised that he take “early retirement” and we are thankful that the City of Wylie was gracious in allowing Mike to move back home to Alabama and finish out his tenure under a “bridge contract for phone consults on an as needed basis” until the time he was eligible for his retirement.  He and Tammie are back home where all the family lives and are doing well. 

Little Lisa lost her battle and went home to be with her Lord after many, many setbacks and battles.  She and her family were a huge testimony of faith to all of us that were blessed to have been in petition for Lisa and her family.  I honestly believe there was more ministering to us through them than we for them.  I grieved the loss of this young woman for months, for I truly believed she would get well.  She had so much to share and was so loved by so many and it had become a personal battle for us all.  I felt as if I had lost a close family member as her fight was a shared journey that I had walked with her for many months.

Months later, on a Saturday, Dwight and I went to an all day conference on “Caregiving for the Ageing Parent”.  It was at a church in Rockwall and started very early with a breakfast.  The day’s agenda had three breakout sessions for each hour.  There were many different topics to choose from and between each session everyone met in the sanctuary before advancing to the next group of topics.  In the sanctuary, they would introduce the speakers of the next session’s topics and have drawings for two door prizes.  After our lunch break, we went back into the sanctuary and as we were waiting for the introductions and door prize drawings, I leaned over and whispered to Dwight.  (NOW I have to explain before I tell you WHAT I whispered, that I tease a lot and can have a “smart mouth” when teasing Dwight and others I know well. And what I whispered to him I did not do and did not seriously mean I was going to do it at all!)  What I whispered to him was “Ya know, they have had some really nice door prizes….I am going to pray that we win”.   Dwight turned and gave me a withering look to my silly and teasing little shrug.  Once they made the introductions for the next session, they made the first draw for the door prize AND it was Dwight’s ticket number!  He turned to me in disbelief and I was so embarrassed---so hoping that no one had heard what I had teasingly said about a “prayer”.  But wait, there was another drawing and again, I was so bad.  The next ticket number drawn was MINE!  Now there were probably at least 300 people at this conference and the odds of Dwight and I both winning 1 of 12 of the day’s door prizes was certainly not expected!  When he again looked at me in disbelief, I again could not control my mouth and whispered “Well after all, I did say for US to win not just YOU”! 

Immediately, I knew what had happened.  I looked at Dwight and I asked him, “Do you realize what just happened”?   He laughed and teased me right back saying “Yes, I just won a huge basket full of wine and all the accessories, and I’m a Baptist”!  I told him then that the Lord was showing me what I knew, but what I had lost sight of and had lamented those months since Lisa had died.  I had kept seeking answers to my prayers for Lisa, Mike and Glynn—His will, yet what I truly wanted, was my will—for them all to receive His perfect healing.  It was at that very moment of dawning, that I was able to “let go” of the grief I had been experiencing over Lisa’s death.  At that time, God was showing me that “YES”, he had heard all my prayers, just as He had heard my silly, teasing little statement about prayer just minutes before.  He had answered my prayers for Lisa, as she was NOW WELL--made whole and perfect, was now home and no longer suffering.  

…..in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…..Philippians 4:6           


Saturday, November 9, 2013


What may be Billy Graham’s last message to America premiered Thursday, November 7 and is scheduled to run through the 30th of November.  In THE CROSS, his new My Hope America program, there are real and powerful stories intertwined with his message to us all.  In this recently recorded program from his home in the North Carolina mountains, he states “With all my heart, I want to leave you with truth”. 

In Reverend Billy Graham’s message of THE CROSS, that started airing the week of his 95th birthday, he is speaking of the truth that he first began sharing with America in 1947.  Since the beginning, he has lead more than 400 crusades in 185 countries and territories in six continents.  Though the Parkinson’s that he has battled since 1992 has stolen the strength and power of his once majestic voice, this gracious southern gentleman’s delivery is still filled with the love and truth of Christ in a message he believes “God has given me for people in our nation today”. 

My Hope America THE CROSS
  • Local TV stations in many cities, November 8-10
  • Christian cable channels, November 7-30
  • Watch online anytime, November 7-10
For the latest updates on broadcast times and channels, or to watch THE CROSS online, visit www.myhopewithbillygraham.org

Monday, November 4, 2013

Part Three....C/O Straight Up, With Sugar Coating or No C/O

In Parts One and Two, the subject of controversial Certificate of Occupancy issues in several of the downtown businesses was introduced.  I shared some of the mystery and subterfuge regarding some of the businesses operating in the Q Office Suites and Art Center Building…A’Vouloir Apothecary, Wylie Art Gallery, and Keller Williams.  What is still not understood, is WHY the Mayor, City Manager, Assistant City Manager, some other City Officials, Lynn Grimes of the Wylie Art Gallery & Keller Williams and others in the Q building collectively created such webs of deceit for the purpose of causing Dwight’s job loss and to close down The Crafter’s Co-op.  As I shared in Part Two, Dwight first became aware of the February 12th Special Called Meeting when the ACM came into his office placing him on Administrative Leave 4:00 p.m. February 14th.   He informed Dwight he had already started investigations into the serious accusations Lynn Grimes claimed to be true.   

During the duration that The Crafter’s Co-op was open, the Mayor made two visits into the shop.  His first brief visit was not long after the shop opened for business.  The next visit was made February 13th, the day AFTER the Special Called Meeting.  His stated  reason was he “wanted to stop and say ‘hello’ on his way to see Lynn at the gallery”.  I was really surprised to see him as I had seen him countless times going into the gallery during the 17 months the shop was in business and he never felt the need to “favor” me with his presence those times.  He was very gregarious, acting like my new BFF and said that he wanted to make sure that Dwight and I came to the “State of the City” Chamber of Commerce Luncheon to hear his speech as he was going to talk about all Dwight had done again to help retain Wylie’s ISO-1 rating and he even planned to mention the shop when he talked about Wylie’s downtown.  We had an article coming out in The Connection that very day about Robyn B., one of the crafters and her ministry “Faith Like a Mustard Seed”.  I told him if he did talk of the shop, to please tell them about the 98 awesome artists and crafters and 28 ministries represented in the shop.  He left and went next door smiling that “I LOVE WYLIE” smile.  I had no idea what he had just done… painting me a huge rainbow BEFORE the biggest storm in our life was to begin.  Why was our Mayor so incredibly deceitful?  Did he want me to think he knew nothing of what he and Lynn had done and the plans of their meeting the very night before?  Did he want to make me think that he was on our side for the fateful meeting he was planning to set us up for the following Monday, February 18th?  These are questions that still make no sense to us.  But of course, the duplicity of people never does make sense.

As I shared in Part Two, it was not until 4 p.m. on the 14th that I was first aware of anything amiss when my landlord’s son came into the shop very upset demanding Dwight’s private numbers.  And I later found out that at that exact time, the ACM was in  Dwight’s office placing him on Administrative Leave.  It was that evening during our Valentine dinner that Dwight told me he had been placed on leave and the few details  that he knew of the accusations and the investigation.  We stayed up all night trying to make sense of what had happened and believed there was no other choice other than to close the shop.  Since The Crafter’s Co-op was a ministry that Dwight helped me fund, there was no way that I could fund the shop without some financial help that Dwight’s job had afforded me.  In the meeting with the ACM, he had NOT given Dwight encouragement for a positive outcome and the options he gave Dwight that afternoon painted a bleak future.  To stay in the shop, meant that we would be spending money we would need for our living expenses as our income was going to be reduced by 80 per cent.  I also had more than seven months left on my lease and it was clear that Lynn Grimes would never give up until the doors of The Crafter’s Co-op were closed for good.

Friday, the 15th after a long night of crying, talking, and planning, we decided to go to breakfast before going to bed.  We put a sign up at the shop to let everyone know that the shop was closed until further notice.  We then went to Taste of Home for a late breakfast.  We parked in the front, curbside on Ballard Street.  When we left, Dwight opened my door and walked around opening the driver side door.  I immediately heard an engine roar and the screeching of tires as a car came to a fast stop and the driver had used a police type “tactical block” nosed in where we could not move our car without backing up.  Dwight turned and leaned over into the passenger side window of the “blocking” car.  Minutes later, Dwight got into the car and said “Well that was no accident”.  He then told me that it had been the Mayor and he set a meeting up for both of us to come to his “office outside of town, so we would not be seen”.  Dwight said the Mayor acted as if we would be able to “put this to rest” on Monday, February 18th.   
Saturday evening, February 16th, I sent an email out to all the artists and crafters telling them we were closing the shop and needed to vacate by the 28th of February.  I hoped to be out in order to avoid the March rent IF my landlord would let me out of my lease.  That evening, Alicia White (Councilman Rick White’s wife and an artist displaying her photography in the shop), called me after getting my email.  She was very upset and did not want me to say anything other than YES or NO to her questions.  I had thought all the council members were in the Special Called Meeting, but she informed me Rick was not and knew nothing about the meeting.  To this day, I believe that Rick and probably all the council members (except maybe Mayor Pro-Tem Kathy Spillyards) were OUTSIDE THE LOOP of this group, and probably only know the same stories that the Mayor told Dwight and I that fateful Monday “that everyone would be told”, which were their own lies of deception. 
On Monday, February 18th we went to the meeting to “put this to rest” so Dwight could get back to work.  We arrived early for our 10:00 a.m. meeting at Cottonwood Church of Christ where the Mayor is Pastor.  The Mayor was definitely “in character”.  The first 20-25 minutes he “primed” us, making us feel at ease in the company of an “ally”, a “friend”.  We settled in for the kill as he told us about how he had been painfully shy as a child, all but paralyzed to speak until his parents bought him a clown costume.  Behind that face of a clown he became the person he is today.  That very costume shaped the direction of his life as he became a clown performing at parties, an early career choice as Ronald McDonald with his own “driver” taking him to events.  He talked about the various clown figurines in his office, the clown book he authored, and probably all the honors he has received lifelong.  He shared his demise at the hands of Hewlett Packard and said he “understood” just how Dwight felt to have had something like this happen to him as his own job loss was still a fresh wound, but people had helped him as he was now a pastor…….the warm and fuzzy Eric Hogue did a very fine job of completely disarming us.  We did not see the attack coming and were truly annihilated before we even woke up from the warm and fuzzy scene he created for us in his office. 

It was like we had been slipped Rohypnol into the water, as we came out of the dream into the reality of the set-up.  As the Mayor shifted the gears from his own story to ours, it was unbelievable how masterful he was at accusing and twisting things to his favor.  He was no friend, but a man bent on our destruction.  His anger was so alarming yet very real as his indignation towards us was disclosed with the unveiling of his mask.  He was crafting the story before our eyes of “what everyone would come to know”.  He said I had caused a Wylie View implosion by sending the email of the “closing” to my artists and crafters.  He threatened us that if we did anything else, talked to anyone, he could promise that everyone in town including all my crafters would hate us.  If Dwight was to ever work again, we had to go along with all he was saying OR else life as we had known it would never be the same for us.  When we tried to correct his diatribe, he would always interrupt, not allowing us to voice the truth into the scenarios that had been fabricated.    The very few explanations we were actually able to express were met with his contempt, insults and ridicule and again were told “what everyone would come to know”.  The Mayor even looked me in the eyes saying “Who will everyone believe…you or a Pastor?  Everyone knows Pastors don’t lie.”  At the end of the meeting, Dwight was chastised for coming to talk to him AND accused him of violating the chain of command in addition to everything else he accused us of.  The Mayor had literally cornered us for the sole purpose of setting up this meeting.  He arranged the date, time, and place of the meeting for BOTH of us to appear.   It was done in such a way that Dwight did NOT feel like he had any choice but to go and Dwight did want the issue put behind him “so that he could get back to work” as The Mayor indicated.  If Dwight had refused the Mayor, it would have been an act of insubordination.  But by Dwight’s acceptance and going to the scheduled meeting, the Mayor deceitfully enabled the City to charge Dwight with insubordination for breaking the chain of command. 

Months after the Mayor’s meeting, one thing has come out that brought some sense to the Mayor’s accusations of Dwight “turning the Certificate of Occupancy debacle into a POLITICAL ISSUE”.  In the June 5, 2013 Wylie News paid advertisement……”ERIC HOGUE:  REAL ESTATE AGENT…REAL-LY?” and the June issue of  In and Around  LOOK WHO’S JOINED THE TEAM!”  shows the Mayor on the Kathy Spillyards Team.  He started his “new career path” back in January 2013 BEFORE they maneuvered Dwight’s job loss.  In our meeting with the Mayor, he kept saying what Dwight “did” was an offense because he made it a “political issue” because of Mayor Pro-Tem Kathy Spillyards and I guess that made sense to him, but certainly not to us.  What he did not say was that before ALL this Certificate of Occupancy mess started, he too was involved, thanks to his “long-time friend and real estate agent, Kathy Spillyards”.  If they were not having Open or Closed meetings at the gallery during those late nights, then he must have been studying and/or preparing for his exams.  Ssssoooo the Certificate of Occupancy ordinance requirement was EXCUSED because his friend Lynn Grimes did not want one….Kathy Spillyards being the Wylie Mayor Pro-Tem did not want one and was absolved as a politician from this ordinance requirement….and the Mayor, he too is absolved from ordinance requirements because he is The Big Kahuna or why?  Of course, he too denied that any real estate business was being conducted at the gallery, even though Lynn’s Keller Williams ad had run for four consecutive years 2010-2013 in the “Wylie Chamber of Commerce Community & Business Guide”.   To simplify things, it sounds like the ordinances are going to have to be re-written for “Wylie’s Exceptions To All Rules” so that good and innocent employees are not hung out to dry because of the whim of the day of the Mayor and all his BFF’s.  I definitely understand that these three individuals DID NOT WANT TO HAVE TO COMPLY WITH THE ORDINANCE, but I still do not understand WHY??  What is being hidden in plain sight? 

The Mayor was especially angered that we were closing the shop and told me to “take a week off and quit this emotional knee jerk reaction, but keep the shop open”.  We kept trying to explain that The Crafter’s Co-op was never intended for OUR profit, but a community ministry to help others during the economical downturn and without Dwight’s job to help fund it, we had no option but to close.  I also tried to explain that Lynn’s concentrated efforts to close the shop since the very beginning would not end IF we were even able to keep the shop open at that location.  The Mayor would not accept ANY of our explanations which made NO sense to us at all, as it was so obvious that they ALL had gone to painstaking efforts to close the shop down AND get rid of Dwight.  So why were they demanding that we keep the shop open when Dwight was NOT going to have an income to keep the doors open?   It was not until several months after the shop was closed that the Mayor’s and ACM’s “presumptuous orders” to keep the shop open began making sense.  Little by little, things Dwight and I had said to each other began filtering back to us and we realized that they had the shop “bugged” with audio devices and had been listening to conversations in the shop for some time.  Why were they doing this?  Obviously to find out what we knew, when we knew it, for the purpose of damage control before any exposure could happen.  After all, in the games they play, their best defense is a good offense.  And the best offense is to completely discredit anyone that could be a threat.  Our Mayor, former HR Director and CIO for EDS and Hewlett Packard knows how to exact character assassination so at our first cry of “WOLF”, nothing we could say would be believed.  And that further explains why this ‘gang of character assassins’ continue in their trumped up efforts with our friends, community pastors, business associates, the council and chamber members, etc., working to completely disarm us of all credibility and even our Christian witness.  Yes, they have hurt us tremendously, but the Lord is still in control and they can NOT change that.  Each day we see His Hand in it all, as things are being uncovered and so many people over past years are coming forward with their own stories.  Pieces in this huge puzzle are coming together and we all are seeing His light shining through each of our dark, dark tunnels now.  We know that the Lord is in this battle and those waging this war against His children will not continue to prosper.  His Promises are there for us and we shall remain eternally grateful that we are on this side of this battle—for even with all our huge losses, there is so much more to gain.

To be continued………..