A little of my history
In 1962, I was born, the second son, in a family that now had grown to five, as I had three older sisters, and an older brother. In 1969, our Mother died from a Brain Tumor, I was 7 years old. My Father, my sisters and brothers, were grieving the loss of my mother but cared for me as best they could at the time. They each did their best, but they couldn’t replace my mother.
On March 19, 1971, I celebrated my 9th birthday and the very next day, my father died, unexpectedly. He had an aneurysm on his heart that burst while he was asleep in his bed. I can still remember hearing his death rattles. We were numb and at a loss as to how we were going to go on, where we would live. Here we were, totally alone in the world, with no certainty of our future and with the only security we had ever known, gone.
I could not understand why, it seemed as if God had abandoned me. For the longest time, I resented and hated God for it, what I had assumed, was His abandonment. Everybody else had let me down, why shouldn’t I think someone, I could not even see, be there for me? I wasn’t worth His time, I surmised.
I lived with a cousin for a time, but there were three of us kids still home, myself and two older sisters and they had split us up. Eventually, there was contact made with an Aunt and Uncle in Oklahoma that was willing to take all three of us kids in.
Little did we know that we were walking into the fires of Hell?
Oklahoma wasn’t exactly, the home we had been promised!
My Uncle was an abusive drunk, which happened to be, a Sheriff’s Deputy. He was a mean one when he was drunk and if he wasn’t working, he was drunk! When I came home with mud on my pant legs from playing at school, he beat me across the back with his big buckle end of his belt.
We left there but we returned a time later. After few weeks, he again attacked, but this time he went after my sister that is three years older than me!! He pulled a large handful of hair from her scalp, and once again we left, only to return for round three.
My Uncle, being a Sheriff’s Deputy, kept several handguns in the house. My oldest sister knew how to use them and where they were hidden. She was his target and when he drew back to hit her, he froze. Hearing the double click of the hammer on a .38 Special being drawn back has that effect even on a drunk. She calmly told him to go ahead and hit her because she would be the last person he ever hit on this earth, he left. We all left, including my aunt. We changed towns, we changed schools and everything seemed fine for a while.
After about 6 months, my Aunt went back to her husband, leaving us younger kids in the care of my 17 year old sister. Now I have to say something here, my sister was not ready to take care of a 10 year old and a 13 year old but she gave it her all!! We were kicked out of the house that we were living in because the landlord’s son wanted to move home. Next thing we knew, we were living in a house with no electricity and no water. Our former landlord had one of his rental houses come open and he quickly moved us into it. We lived there until my sister lost her job a few months later.
We moved to Eagle Town, Oklahoma. My sister found she could get a job at the local Chicken plant, but she had found a boyfriend and he kept drinking up every bit of money she made. He even tried to get what little Social Security and Vet benefits that we drew from Dad.
Eventually we ended up living in a 2 room shack with 2 light sockets and 2 outlets and cold running water and an outhouse. It was summer so we did alright. We literally lived off the land. We fished and hunted and picked wild vegetation to survive, but by fall, we had to move again. The winter would have been too cold in a shack that had no insulation. Additionally, by this time, my older sister’s boyfriend had turned abusive, as well, so my younger sister and I ran away.
This quickly landed us in foster care in Oklahoma. This wasn’t the ideal situation either, as my foster parent’s son was a bully. He resented us foster kids so much, that he beat me up on 2 different occasions. When I discovered that I would be returning to Kansas, I returned the favor.
By now, it was 1975. I was 13, and once again headed back to Kansas. But this time, I was alone! I moved in with my oldest sister, her husband and her 2 little kids. She tried hard to give me a home but I was 13 going on 40 and she wasn’t equipped to deal with that, and neither was her husband.
Two years later I was back in Foster care, a young man of 15, but having a great education in survival, street smart and would do whatever it took to survive. I was still sure that God was no friend of mine, any more than other people were.
I was placed in a group home that was, at this point, no better for me.
Over the next 3 years, we had a revolving door for the house parents. We had 7 different people come through as house parents. There was no stability, for anyone in the group home. The last ones were a great couple that did try their very best, to give us some stability, but by then I was 18 and hell on wheels. I was a real disaster, looking for a place to happen. You learn quickly not to trust anyone or anything.
Whether it was family (kindred care) or foster care, I was a very disillusioned and angry person. Not a lot of fun to be around. I trusted no one and nobody. My ultimate goal was to survive, no matter the cost, as long, as it wasn’t me that paid that cost. I was becoming very much aware that there was always someone else to blame this event or act upon. I did not want to hurt any one person; it was simply a defense mechanism. One lesson that a kid learns about very fast, in the foster care system, is to not allow one’s self to feel anything. It is dangerous to trust any person with the possibility of breaking through your defense of: “If I don’t care, feel or trust,” I cannot get hurt any more. Foster children learn, every time you let your guard down, you can and will get hurt. Be it moved from a familiar setting, to another setting to which you have no idea what the rules are or a foster parent that you had started to trust, quits and you’re devastated, by the loss, all over again to making friends with other foster kids and have them sent to live elsewhere whether home or another foster care facility. Had one young man that I had gotten close to, as a brother, was sent home and a few months later, I heard he had been murdered.
It was at this time I discovered Drugs and Alcohol. I was happy to find, these chemicals would numb the hard job, of working stubbornly to not feel any emotions and allow me to escape, however brief, the disappointments and loneliness. It also had a nice side effect of making me sleep.
Finally, at the age of 18, it was thought, by the forces that be, that I was able to work and care for myself, so I left the system, not one day too soon for me.
I tried to find some kind of job to support myself, but to get a job, you needed skills. Skills in surviving and in just staying alive weren’t much in demand and I was still so sullen and angry, that it didn’t scream “Prime Candidate Here” Even worse, was the fact I was carrying a big chip on my shoulder and felt the world owed me!
I smoked my share of pot until I smoked one joint, that had been laced with something and I took a really bad trip. After that, I stuck with alcohol and man, could I put it away.
I had a friend and his dad let me live in their basement for $15 a week. That is all that kept me from being homeless. Dad’s SS pay, kept me from starving.
On Friday and Saturday nights, a local bar, had a $4.00 dollar cover charge and all you coulddrink.
By the time I was a senior in High School, I only had 1 class the second semester and I had a cooler in my car with beer on ice waiting for me.
I joined the Army Reserve, looking for something, structure, family, I didn’t know at the time but I was looking. Basic training was awesome and I loved it. Right before I left for basic training, I met this girl and man was she something!! I was smitten and fell head over heels in love with her. While in Basic Training, I asked her to marry me! It wasn’t a romantic way to do it but, I asked her over the phone from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to be my wife and she agreed!
When I returned from Basic Training, we were married at the end of August, 1980. We were blessed with 2 precious daughters and enjoyed our life, working and raising them.
In 1990, I had been classified as disabled due to an injury to my leg while in foster care, again while playing football and then a shoulder injury that happened in a car accident. These injuries took me out of the working and Army world, as the wreck finished what the abuse and injuries had done to my back.
I began going back to school, to train for something I would not be disabled from, so I could continue to support my family, but jobs weren't out there, at least not any for me.
I met my Lord and Savior in 1994, when I was 32 years old. His hand had been on me for a long time, guiding me, protecting me, long before I finally surrendered my life to Him and his Mission.
Physically, my limitations are small and through my Faith, I have gotten much more functional than even the doctors thought I could be.
In 2008, I started having dreams about a ranch in Texas.
When I shared my dream of Rockin’ Lazy J Ranch Inc, with my wife, she let me know that was not her dream.
In 2009 I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management, at the ripe and more mature age of 47. Previous attempts, prior to 2001 had been in Automotive Technology and Computer Electronics.
Once again I told my wife of my mission and that God was calling me to this. My wife, although she loved me, just could not see how important this mission was to me, so she filed for a divorce in March of 2013, after 32 years of marriage. I was a man knocked down, with a 2X4, but not broken. This time I wasn’t alone, I had God to get me through this and I trusted Him to do that. He did.
King James Version (KJV)
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
Over time the dreams became more vivid and detailed and it became clear to me, that I was to start a long term foster care facility, on a ranch.
Over the next few years I wrote and rewrote business plan after business plan but none seemed to be the correct way to write them.
My background was in, For Profit business, so it is a product or service that you are selling, but for a Non Profit business plan, you are selling an idea, not to investors or bankers, but to donors. This plan had to take a much different approach. Finally, I found the right form to write it in and soon had the ranch incorporated in Texas and had our Employer’s Identification Number, and the next step was to file our 501C3 application.
In April of 2013, the application was filed, only to find out 2 months later, that there was a 42 month waiting period. I was then convinced of the certain death of this dream. In October, after exhausting several avenues, I was directed to my Congressman. He had Rockin’ Lazy J Ranch Inc assigned to an IRS Agent and by 1st of February; the ranch had a 501C3 in place. This was a sign to me, that this was God’s hand on this whole endeavor, no other way to explain the drop from 42 month wait, to having the Non Profit Status in place within 120 days.
People ask me, why is this ranch so important to me? It is my calling, my mission in life, to help others that are walking this wretched journey. I have walked the path that these kids are on and I have seen the hopelessness, in their eyes and once again, I know that I am the one, who can help them. I have walked in their shoes, living the same kind of life that they are now enduring.
God has a plan and I have a part in it, no other way to explain how this all came about.
ROCKING Lazy J Ranch
Many want to turn these kids into victims and this does neither child nor society any good. What they need is structure, safety and security, but they also need personal responsibility, life skills and survival skills to be able to stand on their own when they enter the adult world.
The ranch environment is a place where outside influences can be limited. The children can focus on developing the skills that they will need to prevent them from becoming homeless or committing some action that might land them in prison. While Rockin’ Lazy J Ranch Inc intends to teach these kids, we need to know where they are in their education. Therefore we will be an education specialist that can evaluate each child in order to develop an educational program, tailored to each child. This specialist will additionally, work with the local schools, to make certain, that these children are on a level with their peers and age related, ranks.
From here on we will refer to the Rockin’ Lazy J Ranch Inc will be referred to as RLJ for your ease of reading.
RLJ believes education is KEY to success in life.
RLJ will provide Individual Counseling. The majority of these kids have experienced horrific trauma. They will require counseling to assist them, to overcome the emotional problems which will eventually develop.
RLJ will offer Occupational Therapy, in order to aid, many of these kids, in the development of skills that were missed or neglected, often due, to a myriad of different reasons.
RLJ has a plan to use Animal Therapy, to reach the harder cases, as well as, teaching children the responsibility to care for themselves, as well as for others.
RLJ has in its plan, an In-house Counselor. This will facilitate recovery, much faster, than those children, out in the system that must wait, for periodic counseling and when they do, it is seldom with the same person.
When a child ages out of Foster Care, they are usually handed a sum of money and sent out into the world. Most often, they are severely unprepared for what the world, has to offer them.
RLJ will develop an ageing out support system, with mentors for each child, this mentor will step in where a typical child’s family would be.
RLJ will continue to lift these, now much more mature young people, to keep them on the straight and narrow.
RLJ will continue to counsel them on more positive ways, offering to assist them in learning, to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.