From: Tom Cook
To: Recipients
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 10:33 PM
Subject: Tom's prayer update - March 2011

Dear prayer friends,

I said in December, "Next month, as very strange twists in the road have come my way since my last letter, I'll fill you in on those. Definitely matters for prayer...". It will become clear why it's been 3 months instead of 1.


As always, all my prior letters are at my website, should you wish to review any part of my story of recent years:

In my September letter, I requested prayer about:
-- The P-T weekend "sign twirling" job is intermittent and inadequate;
-- No success in landing entry-level computer programming job, long after having finished "update" college courses;
-- An unusual, promising business project (computer software) has started but needs work before it can be launched;
-- Need additional P-T work to survive in the meantime.

By October, the weekend work was getting terribly intermittent, so in painful humility I asked my church a couple times for help with my smaller-than-average but critical bills. They were able to help me twice, which did barely get me through.


One Saturday that I did have work, I was approached on my corner (Goldenrod & University) by a man who owns a small chain of small computer repair shops. He said, "I've seen you the past 3 weekends, and I like the way you hold and move that sign. How would you like to work for me on weekdays?" Wow, I was impressed that he was impressed. (I was pleased that the Scripture teaches that if a man is diligent in his work, it will make a good reputation. I was thankful that my literal sweat and "suffering" had finally had this effect after 3 long years.) I called and met him later and found that it wouldn't be the step up I had imagined. If my current gigs involve my employer as a middleman and I get $12 or $15/hr after the middleman, what might I expect from this man without a middleman? He was only able to raise my rate from $15 all the way "up" to $8! Not exactly the rate increase I had hoped for. He explained he had others at this rate, plus it's all he could afford. So I felt we had to part ways.

But after a few weeks, no other jobs turning up, and counsel from home-group friends, I called him back, asking if he still needed someone. I clarified that at that low rate, I wouldn't be able to advertise with the same level of physical frenzy that $15 could pay for (via QRA-based super-food nutrients). He understood and said that was fine. So I accepted. 5 hours, 5 days a week; how could I tolerate that much forced music-listening?? It was always very rough physically, mentally, and emotionally doing just Fri-Sun. or any part thereof. I had constantly fought off feelings of hatred for being stuck in that work. Now 5 days straight? Ughhhhh... But I asked God to help me find ways to tolerate.

There were plusses. It was nice going to the same place, same client, and handle the same sign each day. And one pleasant surprise was that I found I could have adequate performances even when listening to a sermon (vs. music). I realized maybe I could start listening to those Proverbs messages I've been sitting on for 12 years. I tried it out, and over a few days, I established a workable system: 1st hour, a sermon (45 minutes max), 2nd hour, music, 3rd hour, sermon, etc. So by the end of each shift, I had listened to 3 great sermons, and had had 2 music-hours to break it up. Yes, the 2 types of listening each helped the other become tolerable! Yay! And as I knew 12 years ago when I acquired these sermons (see the prior two letters), they would all be really good!

So THIS is the circumstance that led me in December to divert attention from my struggling life to putting the Proverbs series (which I had already converted to MP3 some 9 months earlier) on the web for all the world to be blessed! (In case you were wondering.) Initially though, it was me who needed some good non-music audio material. It took that to remind me that I was now able to fulfil my 12 year old "buried" dream.


Now the path gets a bit hairier.

On Nov. 6, I started that new P-T sign work. On Nov. 10, I had an overdue meeting w/my V.R. (Fla. Vocational Rehabilitation) counsellor. For some time (without initially telling me), they had not been pleased that I had shifted my fruitless job-seeking efforts toward writing this software project (in C#, ironically the prime language that they had paid for me to take at Seminole College) for a business venture. They primarily want to help people get W-2 jobs. I told you in my Sept. letter of my painful past containing failed businesses and wrong attitudes, and that while I had become happily resigned to W-2 jobs forever, God seemed to want me to embrace another business venture!

The counsellor and I explored different options, all the while with this tension in the air a bit (I want to launch the business, but they want to help me get a F-T job). I had reluctantly agreed to let them apply me to some placement help through a partner agency that they contract with, when at the last couple minutes, she said "Oh BTW, A group of OJT jobs opened up in Sanford. Interested? At least it would be a job." I resisted my natural inclination to turn down a far distance. But God had provided me this "blue baby" of a Ford Taurus, nearly the best car I've ever had in spite of its problems (see past letters), so maybe He wants me to consider this option. I hadn't heard of OJT, but she explained it was a new feature of VR. OJT is "On the Job Training". You work up to 6 months for a company, VR pays the salary, the company can hire at the end. If they don't, then at least I have 6 months of experience that I can create a resume entry from. She said she had NO idea what they needed, as it wasn't out of her office (Casselberry). I thought, if it's at least $8, full-time and indoors, I don't care if I'm sharpening pencils all day; it's better than what I have! So I told her to submit me to it.

9 days later (Fri. Nov. 19), I got a call on the machine from the guy who owned the company. It wasn't a start-up, as they had been operating out of their homes for some time. But they were expanding to the point of needing a formal office, and needed personnel. He said they needed someone good with computers, and he liked my resume. The following Monday, I met with him. This was amazing... They needed exactly one computer guy, to set up computers, a network, build a website, and eventually (maybe) develop some programs in C#! Wow! They wanted me, and I didn't take too long to decide. It would be only $10/hr for awhile (far below what a programmer should make), but it's full-time! And somewhat connected with my field! And it turns out that while it's 25 miles away (boo...) it's mostly I-4 driving and against the bad traffic! Woo-hoo!!

But I had just started the $8 job and didn't want to be a disgrace by quitting without notice. One of my volleyball acquaintences, lived near where I was working (50 & Hiawassee) and needed work. I said to the boss, "I've gotten a desk job I feel I should take. I have a friend who would like to take my place. If I train him and am satisfied he can do at least as good a job as me, will you let me leave gracefully (on good terms) and let him take over for me?" He said "yes", and added, "If your new job doesn't pan out, you can come back here and I'll find a place for you. And at any time I'll give you a discount on our services." What a nice feeling! But I knew he'd only have me sign-holding, so I was happy to be free. I still see my volleyball friend, and though his hours have been reduced, he's still doing a good job in my place and happy for the work!

Yes, I started at Aqua Cops Home Energy & Water Solutions the day before Thanksgiving, and it's been a complex combination of being pleasantly challenging, hard, stressful, fun, discouraging, encouraging, and overall, a basis for optimism about my future! God is definitely at work in this in numerous ways. Please praise Him with me in this. And I'll tell you shortly what I wish prayer for.

Some dark clouds that were tending to hang over the picture are becoming less. One that appeared shortly into it (which I won't describe here) has to do with where the funds originated for OJT, which disgusted me once I learned of it. Made me glad I didn't know about it before accepting the job. But I have to trust God will work bad things into good things (at least partly). Occasionally there have been frictions, as with any group of people. But God's humbled me to apologize for my wrongs as needed (which has been a couple times I think), and given more insight into people so as to avoid the conflicts in the future. And there are other growth areas: The VR regularly interacts with both the management and with me, the client, to aide with areas of growth needed to be an effective employee. So that helps, too. BTW, I don't just do computer-tinkering holed up in my cubicle; I have to interact w/most of the people, whether rare training of them or (more frequently) asking them things about the business that I need to know to implement some computer support feature. So it is a relatively social job compared to some computer jobs. I'm enjoying knowing them, especially the several Christians there. Four of us even had a couple short prayer times recently for the company and for our manager's stamina with his big workload plus some added health problems. (You can pray for "Tom's boss" if you wish, as he strives to manage this complex operation during these difficult growth days. And the owner, too, as he's even busier.)

The company is small, about 10 office folks and about 7 in the field crew. For me, it was so neat that the 1st couple months or so was spent checking out used computers, parts, building systems, planning acquisitions, installing software, and making all the decisions necessary to set up a functional computer network for the office staff. Neat, because all the 15+ years of personal tinkering in PC and network building/maintaining I've had came into use while having fun and getting paid for it! (Yes, pay is low, but it's STEADY for a change.)

If you are one of the "survivors" of my Dec. '09 update where I reported about school issues...
...I said "But I felt a strange unsettled feeling upon finishing" the tentatively last course I was supposed to take in May '09. My letter details how I ended up taking a web programming course, and how it blossomed into the blessing of my own website, which is slowly become an inspiring source of healing info for ill people everywhere to learn that they can reliably get over their "whatever" (Alzheimer's, cancer, M.S., etc.). Now I see a further reason God enabled and moved me to take that course. I recently had to dredge up from memory and my textbook most of what I had learned in that course, in order to build and help design this company's website! Hey, you can see my handiwork (beyond what you may already have seen at the relatively crummy TomsGoodFiles). Visit:

[6/2011:  The site linked right above is now one built by a "real" web guy, hired after I was let go, and much better than what I can presently do. The one I built is offline to them, but you can see what it looked like by clicking here --> The ORIGINAL Aqua Cops website]

It's a company doing a very needed service... saving Orlando residents lots of money on their power bills, by finding and fixing costly electric leaks such as defective insulation, ductwork, etc. Check it out if you're in the Orlando area. (And OUC customers can get federal rebates!)

It turns out almost all the people hired to fill jobs have been V.R. clients. A good deal for the company as V.R. is initially paying the wages. (Remember, all V.R. clients have a disability of some sort that has hindered their ability either to work or to get a job.) In addition to a few of my co-workers being Christians (nice), so is our manager who is a retired late 40s preacher (and a really nice guy inspite of that, ha ha!) But Christian or not, everyone here is grateful for their job and generally works diligently at it. The owner is not only getting some of the labor temporarily cheaply, but he knows what it's like to come up from down under (of sorts) so he has great compassion on those with difficulties and wants to do what he can to help us get back up on our feet, whether with him or elsewhere. Cautiously, I came to a point during my interview where I believed I should tell him about the business launch I hope for eventually. He greatly affirmed a supportive attitude toward my growth in that area, should a change of hours be desired. And he affirmed that there will be times, as a programmer, that I can work at home! (Woo-hoo! Especially with the 25 mile drive.)

As for this job, it is unique. Instead of having someone mentor me to learn a new skill ("training"), they, who don't have anyone to do any kind of training of me, are providing the means (office, computers, internet, time) for me to train myself as needed. Furthermore, I'm encouraged to take whatever time I need, with no pressure, to research whatever I need to learn to accomplish the desired tasks. Whether hardware/Windows setup, web programming, or whatever, I've learned a tremendous amount of things I didn't know (nor felt a need to know) before. All will be helpful no matter what my future computer activities are. is already going through some changes because of what I learned about SEO (search engine optimization) when studying it recently for the company's sake.

Expenses have increased during this time. Not only heavy gas costs, but extra car repairs have tried to eat up the paycheck. I'm still being very frugal. But I'm nowhere ready for the Taurus's 2 major repairs needed (transmission rebuild and head gaskets). God has mercifully allowed those problems to be "limpable" so far. Yet it's freeing, both to be done with the sign work (yay!) indefinitely, and to have weekends off! (Double yay!)

So what can you pray for?? Why have I waited this long (4 months) to write you this increasingly good news? Well, like I've told many folks (including a few of you), "To squeeze a 40 hour a week far-away job into my already extremely full life, has been excrutiatingly difficult". So I haven't had time. In fact, when this job opportunity came, I wasn't sure I should take it. You remember I asked for prayer for a PART-TIME temporary job, just to keep me afloat while I race overtime to build my software project. But my partner said, "If VR will get this job for you and pay your wages, TAKE IT!" "Even though it may mean a GREAT delay in our product launch?", I asked. He said, "Yes". He said, "I'm full time in my own business, so our project is just gravy for me (even though I really need the software you are building), but for you, the job is your survival".

Even he does not know how severely full my life already was. Between a (now) 2-year backlog of work on just one important feature of TomsGoodFiles, personally helping and encouraging people from lots of circles in my life along the path toward perfect health from their diseases (serious or otherwise), working on my own health and vitality through renewing volleyball exposure (just a little bit) and other unusual endeavors I won't describe, I have barely time to breath. I've cut out some time-consuming church activities, and need to cut out more things in my life. I have not been able to touch the software project since about Nov. 16, yet I have to get to it, even if the business doesn't launch, simply to fulfil my obligation to my partner who needs it. Also many unusual events outside my control seemed to come up one after another requiring significant attention during these few months that greatly delay my multi-front catch-up.

So I guess my greatest need right now is this: Please pray for the ability to have balanced priorities and to use time much more efficiently and wisely. I really really need these. But I gradually grow in my gratefulness to God and to Aqua Cops Home Energy & Water Solutions for the chance to do work that is somewhat (or sometimes exactly) in my field. (I have struggled a bit with ambivelence at times, surprisingly.) My joy increased in recent days as I received an assurance from the boss that they do desire for me (and others) to remain on here after our 6-month "job training" trials are over!

Thank you for your prayers in the past for the various crises that nearly destroyed me, and for praying for my wisdom now as I seek to honor God in present endeavors and whatever future may come out of them. (And don't forget to learn about saving money on your power bill by visiting my "new baby",

Tom Cook
(407) 897-4063
TomCook @
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