Thursday, July 28, 2011


The footfall on the deck outside the door to the office caught my attention as I sat at my desk putting price tags together for my antique business. I wasn’t expecting it yet…Lee usually doesn’t return from lunch until about 1:30 and the clock was reading just after one. A moment later, the door opened and Luann walked in…visibly shaken. I wasn’t expecting her either. When they had left for lunch an hour earlier I thought that I had heard Lee say he was taking his wife home before coming back to the office.

I glanced up at Luann as she closed the door. She took a couple of steps and stopped. Her hands shook slightly. “My purse was just stolen while we were at Starbucks.” I sat there, looking at her as she took a few more steps and paused. Before I could even comment, she added, “and I had just taken $5,000 out of the bank.” I could hear the pain in her voice as it cracked…and as she turned away, I could tell that she was on the brink of tears.

All I could say was “oh, Luann!!” What other words are there? I could feel my stomach knot up as I watched her walk around the cubicle to her desk. Why did this have to happen? Of all people to be faced with this, Luann should have been on the bottom of the list. Both she and Lee have faced so many changes and obstacles in the past year or two.

Just a few months ago, their home was broken into and robbed. Beyond of the loss of valuables were electronic photos of family that can never be replaced. When I met them almost four years ago, their net worth was in excess of $12 million. Today, they are on the brink of bankruptcy as a result of the real estate market crash. No one is building houses so no one needs the work of our site development business.

Lee and Luann are an amazing couple. Old enough to be my parents, they remain active and vibrant. Even in the midst of all they have lost, Lee maintains one of the most positive attitudes I’ve ever seen in a person. At nearly 77 years old, his mind never stops. He reads voraciously and in his mind he creates constantly. Unafraid of technology, if we had the resources in the business we would have the latest and best that money would buy. And he would be looking to upgrade next week.

But aside from his intelligence and creativity, the attribute that I admire most in Lee is his resilience. It seems there is nothing that can keep him down. A strong believer, his faith keeps him going each day. The loss of $5,000 is significant but he knows that he serves a God who provides. Even though we have submitted bids on more than 25 projects this year alone (and come up short on every one), he keeps a positive outlook and simply encourages me to keep looking for new work.

These people are one of God’s blessings to me in the four years since I’ve been out of prison. When no one else would give me a chance to work, they did. In a business that two years ago had a payroll of more than 100 employees a week, today there only two of us. Only Lee and I remain. And I’m here because I was the only one that he wanted to start over with.

There are days that are difficult for me. Days that I wonder if I will ever be able to move completely beyond this season of my life where it seems I am reminded daily of the cost of a poor choice. But I am also reminded daily by this energetic man who holds a big place in my heart that today holds new possibilities. Reminded that even in the midst of all the negative that life can throw at us, we have a greater purpose that we may not see. He reminds me to simply maintain my faith.

As a side note, Luann’s purse was returned…minus the $5,000. All of her personal items, including her driver’s license and credit cards were still there. The sheriff deputy took the report, but told Lee that there is so much of that type of thing happening today that they won’t assign an investigator to follow-up. The case load is simply too great. But even as he gave me the update, I could hear strength in his voice…not defeat at being robbed. The vacation plans for next week are still intact. It just means that they won’t spend as much. Once again, his resilient spirit denies the enemies attempts to discourage him.

1 comment:

Deb Shucka said...

My heart just aches for Luann. This is an incredible tribute to two people whose light shines into the hearts of people who hardly know them (like me). I watch them get knocked down, and still keep moving forward again and again. I see the amazing love and support they bring to your life and know they truly represent the best of God's love. Not sure what God has in mind with all that's being taken from them, but I will continue to pray for them both.

You are a real story teller, my brother. You need to do more of it. :-)