(Any photos you see were added only after all letters were put on this web site.)

From: Tom Cook
To: Recipients
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008 5:36 PM
Subject: Tom's praise/prayer update - Feb/Mar 2008

Dear prayer friends,

If you've kept up with my letters, you know that my health issues are radically improved, for which I'm extremely grateful to God and to you all who've prayed for me.

A year ago at about this time, there was constantly a rotation between a set of ongoing severe crises, several of which were terribly weighing me down at any one time. They were (basically) health, work/career, housing, car, and storage. A dear friend told me that anyone with severe uncertainty and problems in 2 or more of the first 4 items would surely be having panic attacks. But with my poisoned brain chemistry, anxiety attacks were even more severe and common place. And I was always dealing with not 2 but 3 or more major crises at any one time! As you know from my Aug/Sep/Oct update in which I explained how faith is impeded in those with severe brain chemistry problems, I so often felt extremely terrified, helpless and abandoned by God and the universe.

I've never felt fully settled as to whether the fears pressuring me to kill myself were more due to the terrible circumstances (seemingly irreversible) that I had allowed myself to slide down into over the years, or more due to the chemically-induced terror and confusion from the fluke and parasite excrement (and indirectly the interference fields) of which I was unaware. In the months before my initial QRA exam, I often believed that anyone facing the rare combination of dead-end circumstances would seek to end it all. But now I know that, as Dr. Heise said, a significant chemical imbalance causes stressful things to seem even more severe "and you lose direction or hope for a solution, creating even more neurologic episodes". I guess this is a mystery I'll learn the answer to only when I meet the Lord in person, which I am happy to say I now have NO intentions of causing by my own hands!    :)

Here's where things stand in those other areas.


I haven't written much about this, but those involved know that last winter, spring and summer, as the financial pressures were mounting, I was facing up to my decades-long well-intended bad habits of orderly accumulation of seemingly good things. There wasn't (and still isn't) enough time to properly weed through the collections, saving what might be worth saving and discarding or selling the rest. But in stages, I was able with a bit of help from Chip and other friends to partly shrink it enough to fit it all for now into some spare storage areas of my dear friend Beth, who is also my part-time employer. I'm hoping this will buy me time til I can get back up on my feet. I'm grateful that this matter has been off the stove since about June.


The emergency exit at the end of Feb. '07 from that "mansion from hell" I had foolishly moved into 5 months earlier, into Dave's broken-down condo, has turned out to be blessed of the Lord in spite of many terrible hardships for me in the early months. It has been relatively stable for months, and Dave and I are getting along rather well. There are still great abnormalities to life that will be here indefinitely, but God's given me the grace to adapt and continue here.


(Making car decisions has always been a weak area, so when car issues were being added to my set of crises, it felt like one of the worst things that could happen to me.) My old '82 Dodge became permanently disabled in June just as I had lost that part-time data entry job. The '83 Lincoln given to me was a great disaster such that the small amount I was able to eventually get in salvage was small compared to the extreme stress it created during those many weeks. (Granted, the stresses were magnified within me due to the brain poisoning by the infections.) Then the '90 Mercury wagon lent to me by my brother was a partial blessing, but had it's own set of uniquely stressful mechanical and personal problems. That led to a strange event involving my roommate Dave.

I was supposed to be done with the gas-guzzling wagon by 12-31-07, meaning I'd have to acquire something of my own by then. Dave, who worked for a state agency, had a former client, a mildly-retarded woman who was going to move out of state and wanted to sell her '99 Ford Taurus. Dave strongly suggested I consider it, saying she wanted to sell it by Nov. 15th. I said I was open to it. '99 initially seemed too new, as I was considering something more affordable like '92 for Crown Vic or Taurus. But I agreed to think about it, and maybe look it over when convenient.

The stresses of tolerating an extreme gas-guzzler such as the semi-broken down Mercury wagon were high for this very poor fellow, especially as a broken (and economically unrepairable) odometer disallowed easy figuring of gas mileage, which I estimated to be a bad 14 MPG at best. (There were numerous other broken things on it that collectively made it additionally stressful.) So I had strong incentive to consider any deal on a smaller, less broken-down car. I was still willing to heed my brother's advice and go for a '92+ Crown Vic/Grand Marquis. But he felt the Taurus/Sable was also a good long-term choice. (All 4 cars are bought in fleets evidencing their good durability records.)

I had told Dave that maybe by Nov. 15th, I'd have enough saved up to buy, if it checked out as good. But early in October I got distressing news that the date had been moved up to Oct. 15th! I said, "Dave, that's impossible for me to meet!" He urged me to consider asking friends for charity loans, as our check-out showed it to be a rare opportunity. It led to hand-writing the following letter Sunday 10/7 to share with a few of you: (And I prayed hard immediately and later on about who to share it with.)

A Car from Heaven?

An amazing opportunity to acquire a used car thru a former client of my roommate has presented itself. This car is in extremely good condition, has been well cared for, has a blue book value of at least $2400, and is available for under $1800 (plus fees).

Before we got confirmation of its good shape & value, we were told it would be available on 11/15. I believed I could come up with the money by then. The seller has had to change her plans and sell by 10/15. I have only a fraction of what's needed. A close friend & my roommate are each lending several hundred as a charity loan. Would you please pray about whether you could lend similarly?

Chip has been monitoring every dollar I've earned & spent for months. I would not accept your loan without his review and approval of the whole deal. Seller has already gotten an offer of $1700. Please let me know your answer. Thanks, Tom Cook.

This Taurus is like mine

Through some of you (as reported in my Nov. update), I had numerous tears of joy, as not only charity loans came in, but $1200 in gifts! (One from a metro member, and one from an old college friend. You two know who you are; my heart aches with gratitude toward you when I think of your kindness to me back then!) Yes, I was able to acquire it and start working on the problems that needed immediate atttention.

Like everything else in my strange life these days, this car was extremely non-stereotypical. Everyone who was in a position to evaluate it, felt that it was very unusual but definitely worth getting if the funds came in in time. It was unusual, because it had strange pluses and minuses. The pluses were: The seller was a woman who had tried very hard to care for it as best she could. She openly said she LOVED her car and wanted to sell it to someone who would care for it as she did. Dave, I, and my friend Beth believed she was being honest. She was very faithful with oil changes, drove with little acceleration, and when she made major maintenance mistakes, she diligently paid to get things fixed correctly. She tried to keep all receipts and gave them to me where possible. Where she had lost them, she told me where the work had been done. (And being retarded, she had lost several.)

The minuses were that she, being retarded, didn't exercise enough common sense. For example, as she never used the trunk, she never bothered to notice that leaks had developed and she was carrying a trunkload of water around for months. This greatly rusted out (ruined) a lot of things. I was able to avoid spending high 3-digits for repairs/replacements by going to a junk yard (spare wheel, etc.) and doing some of the grunt detective work myself (hours of tearing trunk apart and using hose & flashlight). This brought it down to low 3-digits for critical repair, and more low 3-digits in the future (body work).

Another negative example: She frequently spilled root beer all over everything; it took professional cleaning plus literally HOURS of my own (including partial dissassembly) to get the upholstery and carpet clean enough to not get things sticky when transporting. It seemed no matter how much I washed or shampood things, there was always a little bit more brown stickiness coming up. Yuk! But eventually, my many hours of hard labor paid off; it's clean enough to set anything on the seats or floors without it coming up sticky. Important as I often have to carry around a lot of stuff. And I now probably know the interior better than any car I've owned.

Still another one: Because she was overweight (and drank little but soda), she thought the a/c wasn't cool enough and never used the heater. She even warned Dave and me during checkout that the air wasn't cool enough. We found it plenty cold (good), but only many weeks later found that the heater wouldn't heat at all. You gotta run the heater once in awhile or the coil gets clogged. (Just like you should run the a/c occasionally in winter.) She never bothered to do that, so the core got clogged and I've had to be without heat until I could replace the core just recently.

My sense of God's leading in this purchase became strong once enough funds came in to acquire, but changed it's nature part way in. I felt good enough about what Dave & I could check out ourselves, that I made the decision to buy it once the funds came in and defer the traditional $40 checkout until later. (Admittedly a bit risky.) I was to take it to a friend in Apopka, a former mechanic, who'd do a checkout (minus wheels) for free. I couldn't get it to him until after the purchase deadline. But in the meantime, there was SO much that was good about it. I inspected the visible inner body sides which showed no sign of post-accident body work. The engine looked clean and especially the transmission which had been recently rebuilt. It had receipts for new struts, tie rods, and rack and pinion. The air was ice cold. It sounded and handled real smooth. Even the stereo was great. And I already mentioned her willingness to give all records she had acquired since buying it from a rental agency. She even said I can call her cell phone after she moves to Oregon to share car news or ask questions.

I am so glad I waited on that checkout. The Apopka friend found it needed $400 of urgent repairs, plus at least that much in semi-urgent and even much more in non-urgent. I'm so glad I waited on the checkout because if I had known those results in advance, I might have had enough of a panic attack to abort the sale. [I was still in the parasite extermination process, so panic attacks were still possible.] I've gone to several places she had recent work, and they've been willing to transfer the warranties to me and honor them! (Very unusual.) When I would name and describe the woman, they'd all remember the woman, and say they'd work with me.

It needed a lot in various repairs such as, oil pan gasket, hoses belts & plugs, ball joints, sway bars, and p/s pump. And of course, trunk work. I was able to get the urgent things done in time, donating much labor myself where possible, as I've described. This month I've finally gotten the heater fixed, and soon the p/s pump will be repaired/replaced under warranty. The body work related to the trunk "ocean" can still wait, but with the leak fixed by now, I am able to store and transport stuff. I have lots of tech info on the car, and know more about this car than any I've ever owned.

So repeatedly (usually at least every 2 weeks), I've stared at this dark blue baby, reflected on the amazing circumstances of it and almost tearfully said, "Thank you God for the amazing way you brought this great tool into my life." It's much newer than any I would have hunted for myself, and has been already serving me well, both for personal use and for business! Around town it gets a poor (but expected) 18mpg. On the road, it surely gets over 25! (But I don't get to do enough high-speed travel to confirm how high it gets.)

A couple of the lenders have completely or partly wiped out the debt, and I'm over half-way toward paying back the rest! Having a reliable car is something that most of you probably find easy and stress-free. All the other problems in my life have made these car troubles so severe that for me, it's a great miracle to see the complex situation be resolved. Please praise the Lord with me for being with me as I've sought diligently to be wise while working out all these difficult matters. And I warmly thank those of you who so kindly helped me with rides during that long carless time.

Our twin Tauruses
Here's a little humor that God worked into the picture. Chip and I had been heavily interacting over the situation, but by chance I had not mentioned it was a blue '99 Taurus I was considering. I found out by accident afterward that that's exactly the car HE drives! What a laugh! If I come to church early enough, I park next to his, and you can't tell them apart without looking closely. Fun! (Especially for me who am used to old ugly clunkers.)

Our twin Tauruses


The infectious brain-wracking invaders were gone in November, but the work situation has been very weak, and as I said in May about a lot of things including reclamation of my career, "I've still got a long way to go."

In July, shortly before the Dodge blew its gasket, I started "granny-sitting" one or more days a week for my dear friend Beth, who has become almost like a sister to me in recent years. (I never had a sister.) Her mother has severe dementia and can't be left alone during the times Beth has to do consulting work for Lake Co. government. When my car died, she would come and pick me up before heading out. Once I got the Mercury, then the Ford, I was able to commute on my own again. This part-time work has been good for all 3 of us in so many ways. I can freely use the phone as well as use her computer to operate my own remotely! (Thank you Josh P. for teaching me about Remote Desktop!) In fact, parts of my prayer letters have been written while 5 miles away from home during granny-sitting! And if I can convince her mother to get dressed (and get dressed properly), I can even drive her around with me doing my own errands. (Getting her out is actually good for her.) She's even been sitting with me during one of my Heise Clinic QRA checkups! Of course, 5 minutes later, she sadly doesn't remember where we were.

Through the summer there were occasional odd jobs for my brother's 2 properties; mowing grass or helping w/construction.

By Thankgiving, the odd jobs had ceased and more importantly the granny work became significantly less through year end. Government holidays (her client) and other things kept her from needing me as much. I had earlier explained to Dave and Chip, in connection with how I planned to be able to steadily pay back my car loans, that once the Thanksgiving lull was to start, I'd begin looking for supplementary part-time work. I believed that if nothing else, I could do day-labor. Even though minimum wage, if I could get it for 8 hours each day that Beth didn't need me, it would bring enough in to supplement the thinned granny work.

I had arranged to apply at a labor pool Thanksgiving Friday about 11am, so I could start the next Monday. I had a rude awakening in several ways. I drove up in this nice Ford, got out and walked across the small parking lot toward the door with my nicer running shoes on. (I was trying to look tidy for making application.) There were 3 work-hungry guys loafing on the walk in front. I didn't expect guys there, as all the work is normally given out by 8 or 9am. They told me a number of things; "Do I have work for them?" ("No I'm looking for work like you are.") The office is closed early. And they started telling me how horrible it is to get work there. Stories about things like big guys shoving folks out of the 5am lines. Low pay, and other things I don't remember. I thought I ought to look non-ragged when applying, but it resulted in these guys correctly perceiving that I am qualified for skilled labor. One guy (a smarter one "down on his luck") even rattled off locations and websites through which I could find skilled temp work. I was so startled by all this that I couldn't remember any of the details he was spouting off.

This all took place in only a few minutes, but I remember driving away very soberly reflecting on what had happened. These guys were practically begging me (indirectly) to go away and not come back, so that I wouldn't compete with them for unskilled work, when I am able to do skilled work that they can't. This was very sobering. I prayed for them all the way to my next stop, which was looking for material to make something cheaply for the new car. While it was sobering, it was also very disappointing, because I suspected that skilled temp work would require commitment to working on days which would conflict with the granny work. Beth has been SO good to me these last several years, that I can't casually abandon her in her current situation, just to get steadier and lower paying work. It's good for her and for me that I continue with her. Day-labor would have perfectly allowed me to fill non-granny days with work with no notice; just show up at 5am.

So what was I to do?? I remembered Christian Help as a resource for job aide. I counselled with them, and when I explained my need for on-demand work (my demand that is), they said it would be hard to find that, assuming I'm looking for data entry work of some sort. In their office I saw a job rag featuring an ad for a new food place opening up in January, Mr. Pita. I did apply, but ultimately was rejected. I then remembered a kind of work my brother had urged me to do back when I was carless. Sign-holding on the roadside! Lack of adequate resources (esp. a car) made such an option impossible back then. But now, it seemed more and more feasible. I really did need something to supplement Beth's work, but without conflicting with it seriously.

About this time, I actually saw one or two such folks near Beth's apt. on Maitland Blvd. This was probably on a Friday while going to Beth's. I purposed to spend Saturday afternoon riding around the northern half of town looking for these kinds of workers and asking them what the pay and terms are, and of course contact info. I immediately found the yellow-shirted Gotcha guys wielding their plastic signs for an apartment near Beth's. I pulled over and the guy gladly gave me a phone number. I spent the rest of Saturday scouring the roads from Altamonte to Longwood to Winter Springs and W. Oviedo, but never found any other sign holders. This included the areas in which my brother and I had found several, months before.

Here's me in my uniform It turns out that Gotcha Media uses folks primarily on Fridays thru Sundays. Pays only $10/hr as 1099 contract work. Involves 4-5 hour shifts, 10 min. break each hour, and standing and moving around the whole time with this sign in your hands. It is VERY tiring, both physically and mentally. The trainer admitted there is high turnover. I see why they don't have shifts longer than 5 hours. You're about to go insane by the end of 5 hours. (Also a marketing strategy--it's the 5 hours when drivers are likely to be out and interested in what we're advertising.) So by mid-December, I started the grueling work up to 3 days a weekend trying to keep sane and safe. It has been helping me stay alive financially, but sadly at the expense of skipping the preaching part of Sunday church and any after-church fellowship. Fortunately, I can at least hear the message later, as Metro Life has it's sermons online during the following week.

Several days before Sat. Feb. 2nd, I got a strange call. The Christian mechanic friend in Apopka, who had done the post-purchase checkout and some major service (at a bargain price), had given my name to a friend of his who did special advertising. He needed 4 folks (and some backups), who had reasonably nice cars, to drive around town with a big sign mounted on top. 7 hours on Saturday; 6 on Sunday. I'd have to pay my own gas, but the pay (also 1099) was $15 for those hours! While this didn't include setup and teardown time before and aft, this was still a great deal! Better pay (even after gas-figuring) and certainly a better working environment! Sitting down, listening to quiet (if I wish) radio music, snacking all day, listen to old C.J. Mahaney messages by MP3, or whatever! I can even do brief errand stops. (Am supposed to leave the car parked close to the road.) The bad news is that it's only an 8-week gig. The good news is that it's been a wonderful supplement to the other work, and I still do the "human directional" work on Fridays. More good news is that after a few weeks' break, we may continue it for another 6 weeks! I hope for this as the pay and stress is good, but I also hope not for it as it means missing more of each Sunday church meeting.

So this all is what I mean when I tell folks I have 2 1/2 part-time jobs. I feel I need to be doing these things while Beth still needs me as a trusted friend and worker for her mother. Beth has told me herself that she doesn't want to hold me back from my career development. I have appreciated that, but don't feel any reason to abandon her at this point. (And her working conditions are great!) I'm hoping for and slowly working small steps toward the goal of taking computer courses to become "really" employable again one day.

Please pray for me for wisdom to navigate the various decisions about my future. Pray for better work to come along that properly fits with my current priorities. Of course I need the wisdom to see when and how those priorities should change. While I've learned to barely tolerate the rough human-directional work, I really want to get away from that when I can. Every Friday I get a strong reminder of that. (Another rough 5+ hours.) The car-driving is only a temporary respite. But it's another confirmation of God's work in bringing this miracle car to me. No car I've had in my possession the last 6 years would have been acceptable for this gig.

Thank you for reading this remaining catch-up of the non-health crises that God has mercifully smoothed out somewhat. I'm still poor, still living in cramped broken-down quarters for the forseeable future, but getting healthier every week.

Separately, I will shortly email to you all a report of an amazing discovery I made in January! It will give you an incredible resource that might make the difference between severe illness and great health for people you know (or even yourself).

Tom Cook
(407) 671-1224
TomCook @ TomsGoodFiles.com