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Thursday, June 27, 2013

If You Have CDL, A Ticket Or Legal Issue Pending, In Another State, You Might Want To Read This

          Is your license in jeopardy? It could be and many of us would never realize it. The Federal laws have changed and states you do not even live in can now suspend your license. I discovered it totally by accident.  No pun intended.  When I went to the Indiana license branch to renew my license in December I was told my license had been suspended by the state of Massachusetts.  When I inquired as to what or why they informed me it was related to an incident from October of 2002.  This totally dumbfounded me as I thought the issue was settled long ago.

        It took me from December till May to get it all straightened out.  It was done with no help from Indiana or Massachusetts.  After many frustrating calls to both states I called the attorney of the company who had sued me and he, I meant she, the legal assistant of the attorney, got the matter straightened out.  If Lisa had not been so conscientious about her job I might still be walking.

      Here is how it happened.  In October 2002 I was delivering a load in the Boston area.  I had to make a left turn into my customers receiving area.  Because traffic was backed up I could not complete the turn.  A motorist going in the opposite direction decided to back up and let a person out of a parking space to his right front. He evidently did not see my trailer sitting crossways behind him. In the process he backed into the side of my trailer. Irony of it was he worked where I was delivering.  Anyhow we exchanged information and then he left the scene of the accident.  It did no damage at all to my truck.  Having taken pictures and exchanged information I thought I was covered and never called the police.

     Lesson learned by me was, no matter how minor the accident, call the police and get a report to protect yourself.  The gentleman who backed into me went to his insurance company and filed a claim.  Well they sued me to reclaim the $760+ dollars in damages to repair to his car.  I did not get this notice until May of 2004.  In January of 2004 I had a heart attack and was no longer driving. I had turned in my CDL in April or May. I wrote the State of Massachusetts explaining why I could not come to Massachusetts.  I later received a letter from the small claims court saying they had judged against me and I would be liable for damages plus interest. They also threatened to suspend my license.  I immediately sat down and wrote a letter explaining what happened and sent pictures to back up what I was saying.  I never heard anymore on the matter.  In December of 2006 I renewed my license in Indiana and had no problem.  At least I thought so.

       It seems the law changed, or gone into effect, between 2006 and 2012 and states can now suspend the license of another state.  Once that happens you are at the mercy of the system in getting it straightened out.  Had I not kept a copy of the small claim judgment I would not have had the name of the attorney of the company who sued me. In frustration after hours of sitting on the phone calling state numbers which no one ever answered I tried the attorney’s number. I figured with interest the cost would now be close to $1500.  After discussing the matter they decided if I would send half of the original $760 they would release the judgment.  I sent the money, but the nightmare was not over. I received a notification that until I paid a $100 reinstatement fee they would not release my license.  Being kind of over a barrel I sent the money. A few weeks later I got a letter reinstating my license.

     In the course of the discussions I had with Indiana, Massachusetts, the attorney, Lisa the legal assistant and several others I learned several things.  I definitely was not the only victim and it was happening pretty often. Any judgment for money, any unpaid ticket and any unsettled legal action can cause you to lose your license.  The state you committed the offence in can legally suspend your license under federal law.  I personally feel that somehow violates the Constitution, but if you want your license back you will settle the issue.  The lady on the Massachusetts help desk, while sympathetic, stated the law is the law and she had to enforce it as it was written.  Indiana told me that once an action is taken and a license is suspended under the federal law they have no authority to over ride or issue you a license. The irony of it to me is that there was no ticket or driving related charge.  It was strictly over the amount of the judgment not being paid.  Because I did not physically appear in court the judgment was decided in favor of the insurance company.

        If you are traveling and get a ticket and decide you can blow it off because it is not in your home state you better think again. They can make your life absolutely miserable and believe me you do not want to deal with any state bureaucracy.  Also beings you will have a suspension on your record you can be forced to pay high risk insurance for up to five years. If for no other reason, that is a good reason to get the matter settled and move on with your life.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Building a Hedge of God's Protection Around Yourself

       In the spring of 1982 I felt like I was getting ready to take on the world.  I had just finished my time at Vincennes University (VU).  Having left the Army after thirteen years in the October of 1978 I started my adventure at VU January 1979.  I finished with an AS in Business Management, an AS in Recreation and Leisure Services and quite a few classes in Commercial Art.  Being in my thirties I was much older than most of my classmates. Not bad for a high school dropout with a GED.

      Surviving school was and adventure.  I worked nightshift full time as a bartender at the local American Legion.  Days when not in classes I did yard work and landscaping. I bought ten new canoes thru the local boat dealer.  My fellow students had time to go on canoe trips over the weekends.  I dropped them off and picked them up when they were done.  It was not making me rich, but it helped make ends meet.  Having a family of six my obligations did not allow me the carefree college life of my fellow students.

       My goal had been to start a company making playground furniture out of timbers.  It got sidetracked by the reality of life.  I expanded my landscaping and started a mobile home repair business. Stumbled into residential tree trimming which paid well. I had the equipment and my partner had the talent to climb and cut.  He convinced me to quit my bartending job so we could go full time.  The next month he got called back to his union job and left me hanging. I expanded into building custom decks, which fit with the landscaping and mowing.  One problem I had was that all my businesses were seasonal or summer work.  I cut firewood and basically did whatever I could to survive each winter.

       In spite of all the hassle of trying to survive I felt truly blessed. In the spring of 1983 I was mowing a yard and the thought crossed my mind I should be giving some of my money to the church. I did not attend one at that time. As I picked up the paper before mowing I found an unsealed and open envelope with a stamp on it addressed to Oral Roberts.  I never cared for Oral Roberts, though my Mom did.  Feeling that it was a sign I started sending Oral Roberts money.  That lasted till I started getting calls at my home asking for more money than I had sent. Later sharing that story someone said it was probably just a coincidence and that someone had probably stole the original money.  That thought had never crossed my mind. If that was the case who was the blessed person, Oral Roberts or the person who’s money I replaced. Over the years I have found I am just as capable as the church at finding people in need and helping them.  If I do it more of the money gets to those with needs.  The church still needs help though. The problem I have with most churches is their focus on building programs. Yes we are to build the church, but it is a church of people, not stones and mortar.  When you look at all the money being spent on TV ministries, many with their feel good, get rich messages are leading people astray.  Read the 13th Chapter of Ezekiel and you will see what God thinks of false ministries.

       My ministry out on the road was simple.  When going into the truck stop to eat I would look for the person sitting on their bags.  Or for one who looked lost, or down and out.   There never seemed to be a shortage of them.  I would invite them to eat with me and that gave me a chance to find out their story.  I would always pay for the meal.  If I was moved or felt they had a legitimate need I would give them more than enough to pay for the meal and tell them to keep the change.  It was not much but it helped.  Lacking that kind of person to help I would look around the restaurant. If I saw a large family with well-behaved kids I would have the waitress bring me their bill and I would pay it.  It may not have been the perfect ministry but at least I was doing something.

       Getting back on track, things boomed for me the next few years.  It went well till my wife talked me into going to a family cookout.  I had grown to the point I needed part time help for a lot of the work I was doing.  At the cookout was a group of bikers. They had a club house and there was always someone who needed some money to either fix their bike or party.  I did not care which the case was.  I paid by the job and they got the same money if we worked two hours or five hours.  They were motivated, smart and hard workers.  The problem was I started hanging with them.  Work slowly became secondary.  The road to the bottom was starting down a long hill.

       It ended at the absolute bottom.  After spending six months living in a van in Fort Meyers, FL I came home and turned my van into the bank. I had caught up my bills while I was in Florida.  One bank had sued me and the court sent me a letter to be in court or be held in contempt.  So I quit my job and came back to Indiana.  Where I had no job and no prospect of getting one. 

        When I reached that low I was sitting on the bank of the Wabash River at a local park and made my peace with God.  I told him I had nothing but my time.  I restarted my life by giving ten percent of my time to studying His Word.  In less than three years I had recovered all I had lost and was starting over.  I went door to door looking for work. It led to a job as a warehouse worker for a local moving company.  From that I moved into trucking which is what I did until I retired.  I learned to drive a truck while I was running from God and in Vietnam. 

      This post basically covers the transitional years from when I left the Army till I started truck driving for a living.  It fills in a gap in my book and gives the basics of how I got from one part of my life to the next.  It had been my intent to drive a truck when I left the service.  I took a terminal leave and worked for a guy for sixty days for basically free to show I could do the job.  When my discharge was final his boss would not let him hire me because of my lack of civilian experience.  Later in time that experience would benefit me more than once. The guy who had given me the chance finally had his own company and he recommended me to one of his truck owners as a driver.  That job opened the door later in my career by giving me experience pulling a refrigerated unit. I was disappointed when I got out of the service and it did not work out to drive, it all did work for the good in the long run. God is always tending to the hedge around our lives.  Our walk with him determines how he trims it. It can be a hedge of protection, or a hedge of correction. If you look at my last post and read the scriptures listed at the end concerning hedges you will learn a lot about how God works in our lives. It is only nine verses or chapters.  If you read it with the desire to get understanding it will open your eyes. There is a verse in the Bible that says we reap what we sow. If you look back over your life you will see that what you have planted or given out is exactly what you have harvested.  If you have just come to know the Lord, start praying for crop failure on any bad seed.  Then pray it is not to late.

         It was not the first time, nor the last time.  God has often used experiences from my past to open doors in my life.  He has also kept doors closed in my life till he knew I was prepared to go through them.  In the Bible it says the steps of the righteous are ordered of the Lord and all things work together for good to them that believe.   Sometimes we will not even know it is happening.  At least not till we look back over a long period of time and see the whole thing in a different perspective.  The farther I walk along the path of life the more times I can see that what I sometimes thought were bad things actually worked in my favor.  As the country song says, “Thank God for unanswered prayers.”  He knows what is best for us and what we have need of.

       A lot of things happened in this short seven year period of my life.  Looking back I can see that my life was being rearranged to my benefit.  Many of my future experiences would be influenced by the events happening during this time period and leading up to it.  Even my last year in the Army when I was assigned to write stories for the command newspaper in Panama would play out and open doors for me.  It is opening writing doors because I can honestly say I have experience writing for a newspaper.  The experiences themselves are providing substance for stories.  Hopefully the stories I write are not just about me and my experiences, but examples that will help others to avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced and was lucky enough to walk away from.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Building A Hedge Of God's Protection

      Surviving in the world today is a hard thing to do.  Especially when you have no job, mouths to feed and the need to provide shelter. As the old saying goes been there and done that. It is purely by the Grace of God that I am here today.  God provides a hedge of protection that protects us from the evil in this world. Left to my own devices I would have starved to death.  At one point in my life I had my own business and was making what I thought was good money.  The problem was I lost sight of the source of my blessing. I had to get as low as I could go before I realized that I had turned away from the source of my blessing.  I had lost my business, my house, my car and my family.  In retrospect there was no need to have lost any of it.  The reason I did lose it all was by feeling that “I” was doing it all.  I was the master of my destiny and that I could do it on my own.  Looking back it is easy to see dozens of ways it could have been avoided, but God was letting me “do my own thing.”

       In reality I knew where my blessings were coming from. It was a willful choice to turn away from God.  It was not that I intentionally turned my back on God.  It got to the point I started taking for granted the blessings I was receiving. Slowly I stopped tithing, I stopped looking for God in the things happening in my life and worst of all I quit giving even verbal thanks to him. God simply removed his hedge of protection and let me see how well I could do on my own.  Having reached a point where I had virtually nothing and the only way I could look was up. I did.  I told God I understood the error of my ways.  I had nothing.  I promised to tithe 10% of my time to the Lord as it was all I had to give.  The next several years I spent at least two and one half hours a day in the Bible.  It was easy when I was unemployed, but it became a challenge when I had a job. It was a period that changed my life.  In less than three years I had my family back and had recovered all my losses and then some.  God is good to His Word.  My desire now is to return to spending that time with the Lord.  Notice there are a whole lot of I's in these first paragraphs.

        In the course of studying God’s Word many things became clear to me..  One is that God does work the same yesterday, today and forever just as His Word says.  He does provide a hedge of protection for us.  Just as Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  While that verse is in Matthew, Jesus was quoting it from Deuteronomy 8:3.  If you study the Bible you will find it says, “5Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” Proverbs 30:5  At that point a shield.would have been handy. The Bible gives us many stories as examples of how and how not to live our lives.                

        Hedges are mentioned several times in the Bible. The first is in Job 1:10.  God is having a conversation with Satan.  Satan wants to harm Job but he can’t because God protects Job.  In the course of the Book of Job we get to see what happens to a person when God removes his protection.  At the end of this post there is a list of verses that show what and how a hedge works. How it works is determined by our walk with the Lord.  In Hosea 4:6 it says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will reject thee.”  Notice it says my people.  It does not say sinners or heathens.

       God does not wish that any should perish. II Chronicles 16:9 makes that clear.  It says, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.  He makes it clear in Ezekiel 33:11 that he does not desire that the wicked die, but that they turn from their evil.  He also makes it clear in the next couple verses that trusting in your own righteousness will not save you if you sin.  It is cut and dried and as they would say in this day and age.  It is either God’s way or the highway.  He does not play let’s make a deal.

       Three verses in the Bible changed my life. The first was Luke 6:46 “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say.  That means I have to do what he said to do.  He told his Father to forgive those crucifying him.  In Matthew 6:14 he makes it clear the same is required of us.  The last commandment he gave as far as I can tell was in 1st Corinthians 11:23-30 that we partake of the body and the blood of Christ every time we come together in remembrance of him and what he did.  Will taking communion get me into heaven?  No I do not think so, but I do think it shows I am seeking to follow His Word as he proclaimed it.  Very few churches besides the Catholic Church; the Church of Christ which has two kinds, instrumental and non- instrumental and the Christian Churches actually do so.

        In Haggai 1:6 we are told, “You have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe yourselves, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it in a bag with holes. 7. Thus saith the Lord of host: Consider your ways.”  This was God’s judgment for failing to follow him and His Word.  God offered them a solution in Malachi 3:10-12,  10“ Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruit of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts 12. And all nations shall call you blessed. That is a pretty awesome challenge.

        America may have had a Malachi blessing, but we are definitely turning towards a Haggai curse. The 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy gives the blessings and curses that befall a nation that follows God and one that turns its back on God.  The first fourteen verses describe the blessings.  The remaining fifty-four verses describe the curses that befall a nation that turns its back on God.  Read it and make up your own mind where America is headed as a nation.

         Hopefully you will read the verses that I put at the end of this post.  You will see why you want to have a relation with God.  Especially one in which he puts a hedge of protection around you and your family.  If you feel you are walking with God may you be encouraged to look at the hedge you presently have.  Is it growing or dying.  I challenge you to spend some time in the study of God’s Word.  Especially if you feel you are coming up short in life and see if it does not fill the void.  All the blessings may not be financial, some may be doors opening and protection for loved ones.  You will see the difference if you just open your eyes and look for it.  

Verses dealing with Hedges 
Job 1:10         
Prov 15:19
Ec 10:8
Isa 5:5
Eze 13:5 Warning against following false prophets
Eze 22:30 Warns that there was no one to stand in the gap.
Ho 2:6
Mic 7:4
Mk 12:1