Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dream, Hope, Be Grateful and Pray

It's gets hard doesn't it? Life can often leave us feeling like there's not a lot to be happy or positive about. Sometimes the burdens of food, shelter and employment can mix with rough relationships, family drama and cycles of ordinary challenges making each day a bit tougher than the last. If we're completely honest, some periods of time can feel like and often are an avalanche of personal agony.

I think we've all seen these times in our lives. Each person, in their own way has met the darkness of life and has endured the Devil's work. Yes, we have all met the Devil in one way or another. It could be through financial crisis, family troubles, personal demons or through meeting people consumed with evil. The Devil uses the hardships of life to destroy faith. His goal is to attack your soul and rip into your life, doing all he can to drive you away from faith in God and bring you into his family, his darkness, his hate. He uses the things that upset, get into and hurt us as a means to drive this awful wedge.

The Devil is often subtle, but make no mistake, he is a master trickster. So elaborate is his method, so deceiving is his veil, so often to catch us when we are down or beaten, he preys on the weakness of man and sets things in motion that will cause us to lose faith and others to lose faith in us. The stronger you are in faith, the harder he works to unseat you and drive you down. This is his job, one that he is often successful in.

However, once we know this and understand the workings of hell a little better, we can arm and guard ourselves with the truth. One of the best phrases I've seen on a Church sign in years is this: "When the Devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!".

This sign was in fact, a sign I needed to see on a very dark day. It reminded me of the 2 greatest hopes and how the future will be. 1, someday the Devil will burn for all eternity in Hell and have zero power and be shown for what a nothing he really is in terms of God's power. 2, Jesus will come back and take away all that we know and replace it with Heaven.

Jesus gave his life for all mankind and anyone who believes in him, trusts in him shall have eternal life with him. The greatest hope comes from this fact. Nothing that happens on Earth can ever compare to what is coming.

The Bible doesn't promise an easy run when you give your life over to God. In fact, it speaks in many places about just how tough it can and will be. The difference is that with faith, you will overcome what comes to drag you down. With faith, you are never alone, not even in the darkest days and nights when your entire life is shambles. Even in those days when your faith is muddy, tested and weak, once you have faith, He never leaves your side. It's much like that "Footprints" thing where only a single set of footprints is seen and that's the time that God carried us. I know this to be true.

This year has been a year of such agony for me that there have been months on end where the only footprints are God's in my life. Times when the money wasn't there to survive, when the wolf was at the door, when relationships were shatter, when faith seemed lost, those dark and ruthless days of the Devil's playground where even my life seemed a waste. Don't kid yourselves, I think many of us have had the days where death would be a welcome relief. It's in those hours, days weeks and months that God has proven his grace and power to carry me through.

How does God do this? He places little pieces of hope in your path. It could be the smile of a child you meet while out somewhere, it can be the people he brings into your life to prop you up at your weakest points, it could be the day your sitting at a stoplight and see a flock of birds go by with soaring wings and the little voice that reminds you that if he will feed and cloth those birds how much more he will take care of his precious human flock.

Sometimes he can send a messenger with what you need in terms of material things. He can take away a problem in an instant and yet you never saw it coming. He finds amazing ways every day to give you enough hope that this too shall pass, just hold on. We can be guilty of blaming God when things go badly, but he's a tough guy, he can take it and he understands and knows it's often just our pain coming out in a confused mass of humanity. He has a plan for everything that happens, and his work is ongoing in all of us. God knows that we fail from time to time, he knows we are weak in humanity and that the world we live in can take away your breath and leave you shattered. It's the very reason he carries us forward and steadies our walk so that when the darkness fades and the light returns he can be shown for his love, compassion and his mercy.

If you hold on to whatever faith you can muster in the dark days, and pray for God to give you your needs, help you to overcome and show you what to do next, he is faithful to be there and grant those prayers. It may not come easily to mind, but know that he hears you and that he is doing a work of good. Be patient and continue to hold on.

Dream big dreams and think of ways to use your talents to help others. Hope in God and hold fast to the knowledge that he will stay with you, walk with you, carry you. Know that God will do what he promised even when it looks like we are alone, he's just working out what needs to be done and we will someday see just what it all was leading to.

Be grateful that you have anything to hold onto as there are many that have less and suffer more. There are people in our community, our country and the rest of the world that have a far harder time than we here. If they have hope, faith and can hold on, shouldn't we be able to as well?

I am grateful that I have food, shelter, a job, friends and family that love me. All of these are gifts from God. While life continues to be quite a struggle, keeping the food, shelter and Job often a challenge, I have them and it's the grace of God that these things have proven to be enough to keep me going, enough to show me that God is still with me and enough to help me hold onto the promise. On my own, I can do nothing, am nothing, but with God, I have the world by it's tail.

We all do :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sloppy Police Work!! How does this man evade capture?

KARL JEFFERY JOHNSON has been a problem in my life for just over a year now. In August of 07, he assaulted my wife outside our home and left her with both physical and emotional scars that to this day present challenges to both our lives. His assault has changed our lives and even though she recovered from the physical assault, the emotional damage will remain with her for a lifetime. You never fully recover from your personal safety being violated. Sure, you take self defense classes, learn to use a gun and find ways to feel safe, but you never really are. Once that ground is breeched, you always look over your shoulder and carry a certain amount of fear that was never there before.

These links show the time frame of his assault, his capture and his trial and conviction last fall:

Bringing up to speed in July of this year is my post to that thread:

"July 16th, 2008 at 7:37 am
UPDATE: 7/16/2008

After the trial and conviction and subsequent incarceration of Johnson for the assault on Karen last August, I felt a slight relief as Karl Johnson would be in prison for at least a year. Also armed with a protection order that fully covers both Karen and I for 5 years to keep Johnson at bay until 2012, I felt a small amount of security, at least from this jerk.

The “System” is that once you have a protection order, when the convict is about to be released from incarceration, Karen and I were both to be notified in advance.

Yesterday, the reality that it was all a huge waste of time came crashing down. As is typical of Toledo and Lucas County, the “System” is a total failure and the inept wizards of our legal system are nothing short of complete idiots!

Karl Johnson was released from Stryker within the last 2-4 days(early release), and we were never notified. Karen was told by a neighborhood friend that he had be spotted in the area on Monday, she told me yesterday at 3pm that someone said he was out, and when I arrived at 5pm at the home we own, he was standing with his backpack just outside the fenced back yard staring at Karen and a neighbor that were in the pool.

Now, If I were a career criminal/drug addict/alcoholic, upon being released I’d want 2-3 things. My drugs, my girlfriend(who lives across the street from my home) and Revenge. Karl Johnson is a scourge on society. A man that has been in trouble with the law since he was a young teenager(he 50something now) and a very dangerous person in general. Clearly, the only thing his latested stay at Stryker has done for him is to help him bulk up in weight and gave him time to stew on what he would do when back on the streets.

When I arrived and saw him, I called 911, reported that he was there and chased him off. When the police arrived some 15 minutes later, they took a report, called it in and issued a warrant for his arrest. I am unaware at this time if he is in custody again or not, but it’s not likely. The TPD that responded were not in their usual territory and are not familiar with who he is. The Officers that responded stated that TPD was short staffed and that Officers are being sent into uncommon areas to cover shifts. The staffing problem with TPD is only 1 of the many problems here and secondary to the main issue.

The failures are that Johnson was released early even though he is a known repeat offender.

Johnson was released and NOBODY informed the Victim in spite of an order to do so.

Johnson was released and there were zero precautions taken to inform and take measures to secure Karen’s safety, and protect our home from possible revenge. I shudder to think what he may have done had I not showed up when I did and Karen was basically defenseless as it was her, and a minor in the pool, nobody else outside to see or hear what may have happened. Knowing Johnson the way I do, had I arrived a few minutes later I may have found her there dead.

The Prison system, The Court system, The Police system are are hugely flawed and from my point of view, nobody in Toledo/Lucas County is safe.

If you happen to be a resident of the Old West End, Beware! Karl Johnson is presumed to be on the lose and is to be considered dangerous.

I will be contacting the Agencies involved today and will be expressing my anger about all of this. Of course, it never seems to matter. I don’t think they will care or do anything and it will likely take deaths to get any hindsight work done in this case"

And this from the following day:

"# 31 Chad Quigley Says:
July 16th, 2008 at 10:15 am
OMG! So I talk to the various morons within the vast and screwy system and this is the conclusion: Opps, sorry, our bad. Please understand sir, with the over crowding, the lack of communication skill and the need to keep Officers busier than needed, this has yet again slipped through the cracks. It was everyone’s and nobody’s responsibility to inform you becasue we cannot line anything up prior to a murder.

That’s my summary of the various conversations, but the quote of the day comes from Toledo Municipal Court:

“I’m sorry Mr. Quigley, I don’t know what to tell you other than to say call the Police if you see him again. BTW, he’s also no longer on probation.”

Then this gem, “I see there is a new warrant for him.”

Duh!!! From last night!"

And now to bring in the most current events.

In fact his is on probation in terms of checking in and dropping urine to drug screen to which he has failed to show up for even a single check in since release.

He has violated the Restraining Order every single day since his release from prison by arriving at the home next to mine in the late hours of the evening or simply walking by as if a taunting and "see me, look, nothing you can do to stop me".

After nearly 2 months of keeping my eye on the situation and through conversations with local neighborhood people and by personal observance, Johnson has evaded capture and confinement by using his brother's Social Security Number and name to fool the apparently gullible and sloppy Toledo Police Department.

By several accounts and Johnson's own admission, he has been picked up by the TPD on several occasions in the last 2 months and released after he claims to have no picture ID and gives them his bother, Percy's" SSN. The TPD runs Percy's SSN and let Karl go, time and time again! Johnson so brazen laughs and revels in the fact that he gets away with it over and over. He walks down the street cocky and loud bragging to everyone how slick he is these days.

So here are some questions I have:

WHY do the Officers not push for positive ID?

HOW can the TPD believe that Karl who is much smaller than Percy, be Percy? Additionally, Percy has had several strokes and is not physically able in the same manner that Karl is.

Will Johnson have to assault or harm yet another person or even re-assault my wife to get picked up?

How can this one single individual evade capture and confinement so many times?

Why are the Police not carrying a photo of Karl to assist with his capture? Karl and Percy do NOT look alike.

Karl Jeffery Johnson is back to hanging out in his favorite stomping ground, the parking lot at Franklin and Bancroft. This area is known to the locals as "Club 102", it's across from a bar called the Club 101. There is a shopping plaza there with and IGA, a Church's Chicken and a Liquor store along with other smaller shops. This is an obvious and easy place to catch someone. In fact, it is where he was caught just before the trial.

I have already tipped the Police that he is known to be at this location from 12 noon till about 8pm nearly every single day. You'd think that with the nature of Karl's offenses and his drug and violent tendencies the TPD would be working harder to capture him and re-confine him. Must not be a big enough fish to fry?

If anyone happens to see Johnson in that area, please contact the TPD and give his location.

Shame on the Toledo Police Department for being so easily fooled and so very sloppy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's A Faith Thing

As the song goes, "ya gotta have faith..."

Faith in God is one of those things that is often confused with getting or not getting one's way. For me, faith has been easy in respect to believing in God, what he is and the Bible. Even as a child, I was taught and knew in my own right that there was in fact, a God and that he was in control. As I've aged, I've discovered that I'm not a big fan of the mystery of God and the how part of what he does. I'm often faced with having to try to understand the things in life that vary few ever do. Many days I pray that God would take a human form again and make time to help me understand what is going on in my life and what he is, and what I should be doing. Of course, this doesn't happen. Very frustrating as I am a weaker member of the God family and not always in tune with his desires and plans.

I must admit my relationship with God has suffered this last year as I have lived out my own nightmare and found that my faith isn't always what I would hope it to be. In a nutshell, my faith was shaken deeply this last year and though I still believe in God and that he has a plan for me, I am jaded from the pains of the year and not entirely sure that I can get back to trusting in God the way I had started to before the collapse of my life as I knew it.

I do know that even in my distress, God has given me what I must have to survive. I don't always recognize it, but even in these lean, tough months, I still have food, still have basic life essentials more than many and even though, much to my agony at seeing the gas light on in my truck nearly every day, I still have fuel to get where I have to be. So while I am not living posh or comfy, I am living and making it daily. This is a gift from God and I know it.

When I took on that old manor house and that neighborhood, I felt strongly that I was where I was suppose to be, doing what I was suppose to be doing. For a time, things went well and progress was made. Then, it all just stopped. My personal life took over and my ability to do that which I thought I was to do, just vanished.

Now, when I have occasion to be in that area, I am saddened by the apparent influx of even more trouble than I Had driven off while I lived there. The drug dealers are back in force, the problem houses are the same or worse, and the gang problems seem to be escalating.

Just a few minutes ago, I glanced through the real estate listings for the Old West End and discovered that many of the homes and apts. that were for sale a year ago are still and that the overall pricing structure is far below what it was even 12 months ago. Perhaps it's a little market correction, but by viewing the area, one can tell that it's not doing as well as it was a year or two ago.

So I look at the way life is, how hard so many in our area are struggling and realize it could be worse for me personally. I'm grateful that though times are not easy, that I still have time. When faith is rocked, battered and bruised, it's still there. Though faith is hard sometimes to maintain, as long as we do, there's still hope.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Earthlink Factor

When I first moved into my new place, I decided to give Earthlink a try for their DSL. I placed my order, waited for the equipment to arrive and installed it as directed. Right from the start there were problems with speed and dependability of connection.

After weeks of working with their support, getting ATT involved, getting rewired etc, still not able to make a connection. Turns out that I'm 500+ feet too far from the closest transmission point and that it is impossible for Earthlink to provide service at my current address.

So, the situation came to be that Earthlink would refund my first months fee and close the account. Great! They were also to issue a call tag for the equipment so it could be returned. Fine. All of this occurred in May.

I waited for the call tag, never came. I called and emailed several times and it never came, neither did the $35. I have the "confirmation number that the account was closed, but was unable to reach an understanding human being within their organization to figure out about my refund nor the call tag. When I'd call, I'd get transferred to several people and have to continuously explain the entire situation. Most of the people I talked to were clearly not American based and it was difficult to explain and have them understand.

In late June or early July, out of nowhere, Earthlink billed my checking account $149.95. No call, no email, just sapped the cash and without warning no less. This caused a series of events that were all bad in nature. The withdraw caused 3 checks to bounce and the associated fees at both my credit union and the businesses that had the checks.

To say that I was angry would be mild. I first contacted the Credit Union, told that it was an authorized debit, to which I responded it was not. I went in and filled out a form to reverse the charges/chargeback and it would take up to 6 weeks. Uhg! I contacted Eartlink and argued for days with them about the nature of the charge etc. I must have talked with 15 different people in a week and got nowhere with figuring out why the billed.

So I waited for the chargeback. In early August the money was returned to my account, though not the fees that were incurred as a result. Last Friday Earthlink challenged the chargeback and the Credit Union again returned to Earthlink the $149.95, causing the same set of problems again.

I was hotter than hell! I bitched out the Credit Union, then I called, emailed and chatted with Earthlink reps for the entire weekend and into the late day Monday. They were to issue a credit for the money and after confirming with the Credit Union that the action had been initiated, I was told that it would be 48 hours or so for the credit to take place in full. The week has passed and as of yet, the transaction has not taken place.

I called yesterday again to Earthlink and was informed by their corp office billing that the woman that I had spoken with on Monday was incorrect and it would take 7-10 days for the credit. Much to my chagrin, this is of little or no help as it has now caused 3 sets of bouncing in my checking account and it seems that it's always the utilities and car payment that are effected.

With my ongoing struggle to make ends meet, having money vanish and reappear in my account has been a terrible thing. Utility companies and Banks are never happy when payments are late or the check bounces. They charge you us the wawa and then they stop working with you. Life has been difficult enough this last year, I barely make it on what I make and when an event like this happens, life is far worse than unmanageable.

While I have had this going on, other events are also taking place and the crux is that it's been a tough summer. I have found the Earthlink reps to be difficult to understand, inform and work with. They are sloppy in their business practices and have several departments that seem to work in the dark of the others. They keep you on hold for long periods of time, they have no idea what you are talking about half the time and they are not working quickly to resolve the matter.

I am greatly disappointed in their customer service and will never use their company again. Earthlink has the same communication flap the Toledo Gov. does and that is unacceptable. It's bad enough I still have not received the credit for the 1st month's fee, but to have them bill me for equipment that I attempted to return several times is ludicrous. Just yesterday, I finally received the USP tag for the box. It's late September and this all started in May.

The short of it is, I have paid out over $600 dollars and have had much drama with various vendors for the DSL service I have never had. I will never get Earthlink to pay me for the series of bounced fees, and it doesn't look like they will ever get my 149.95 or the $35 back to me. Even if somehow I get those monies back, I am still out the bank fees and the drama. The experience has left me with a foul taste in my mouth for them and as a result, I will never recommend them nor will I ever attempt to use their service again!