The Wisdom and Wealth Podcast

Intangible Balance Sheet 49: Nelson James

September 28, 2023 Joshua Klooz
The Wisdom and Wealth Podcast
Intangible Balance Sheet 49: Nelson James
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome in to this week's Intangible Balance Sheet Episode with guest Nelson James. Nelson gives us the gift of his family story and how faith has sustained his family. You'll hear a story involving Percy Foreman, as well as personal growth and redemption. Lastly, listen in as Nelson shares with his grandchildren that the Lord never changes and will lead you regardless of your circumstances and guide your understanding. 



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JOSH KLOOZ, CFP®, MBA
WEALTH ADVISOR

Phone 281.719.0036
Text 281.699.8691
Fax 281.719.0156
jklooz@carsonwealth.com

1780 Hughes Landing | Suite 570
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Music by bensound.com




Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome in again to the Wisdom and Wealth podcast. I'm Josh Clues, the senior wealth planner for Carson Wealth here in the Woodlands, texas. Today is another of our weekend episode additions for the intangible balance sheet, what we call our intangible balance sheet, and by that, if you're a newer listener, what we mean is we believe that there are some things that in life are worth to us more than money, and typically those are our first principles, our value systems, and what we find more often than not, and even for myself personally, is that these principles are best passed on via stories from our life and in the chapters of our life, and today I have the honor and privilege of interviewing Nelson James and hearing a little bit more about his life story and intangible balance sheet. Nelson, thank you so much for joining us and welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 2:

Oh, thank you for inviting me. It's an honor to be a guest.

Speaker 1:

So, nelson, before we jump in, I think it'd be helpful if you just briefly introduce yourself to our listeners and tell us a little bit more about yourself, and then we'll dive into your story.

Speaker 2:

Well, my name is Nelson James. I'm a retired senior manager in the oil and gas particularly natural gas compression business. I was in that business for 30 years. I started out on the tools, fabricating pipe spooling, pressure vessels, structural skid bases, and rose through the ranks to finally be production manager for 20 years. And so I've been retired now for six years and I do a little consulting from time to time in my industry. And I'm a natural born Houstonian, born in St Joseph Hospital downtown, and my father was an engineer and my mother was a homemaker. I have a wife, we just celebrated our 35th anniversary, we have six children and nine grandchildren, and I guess that's a pretty good thumbnail of who I am.

Speaker 1:

You are a blessed man, to be sure, my goodness, and congratulations on 35 years. So one of the ways that we jump off I've found in the past is that some of the stories that are on our intangible balance sheet come to us from even our grandparents or great-grandparents. Are there any stories that stand out to you from your grandparents or great-grandparents?

Speaker 2:

Well, as far as my grandparents my grandparents on my father's side lived in a little tiny shack in the backwoods of Kentucky. They didn't have paved roads. I think it was 17 miles to the nearest paved road and it was where the pavement stopped. The power line stopped also and there was no electricity back there in those hills and I spent every summer with them and it made a huge impression on my life seeing the way they lived. They were very, very poor, but they did not consider themselves poor. My grandfather was a welder but, not having any electricity, he did all of his welding with gas and he did all of his metal preparation with files, chiseled hammer. He had heart condition and what we now call COPD and it was a struggle just for him to breathe, but he worked in that little shop on their three acres. My grandmother, of course, cooked on a kerosene stove and did the laundry and a wash tub and close out online. My job was to draw the water for her from the well. They had a well. I'd draw a bucket after bucket of water for her to heat up on the stove Awesome. Pour into the wash tub to wash the clothes, and so it was. It was a hard life for both of them, but they were very content people. My grandmother had a beautiful, beautiful yard. She she'd order seeds and plant flowers and she's very good landscaper. They had a beautiful little place back there in the hills and people would always slow down, drive slowly and as they went by to look at that little nature's garden there as they grow by. So that was the biggest influence as far as my grandparents, that that was one of the biggest influences on my life hmm, did you ever ask your grandpa where he learned to weld and when that that took off? he learned to weld back in I guess the 1920s and 30s, when the you know electric arc welding was was the first starting. He just picked it up. You know, he, that he's got a chance to get a job welding and he just threw in and learned how to do it. He needed to work it was during the depression and he just needed to work and he just threw in and learned how to do it.

Speaker 1:

So I think it's. It's funny we take it for granted that that was somehow, that you just easily did that, but that was cutting edge at the time. Like you know, there's a lot of risk involved in that. That and people that worked on power lines fascinate me. It's like you know you make one mistake and you, you pay for it. You know, definitively, always, always fascinated me. What about your parents, nelson? Are there any stories about your, your childhood, that stand out to you as formative to your intangible balance sheet?

Speaker 2:

well, my father and my mother, in my opinion, were both heroic people. My mother, when my mother and father met during World War two, my mother was a divorcee, a young divorcee with three small children. She had been in a very abusive marriage with a violent alcoholic and she had moved back in with her, with her parents. Yes, there's a very crucial story. My older brother, my half-brother Alvi his father kidnapped him from school and tried to use him for leverage to get my mother to come home, but she'd been too violently abused, and and so they she filed for court to get custody, and one of my aunts worked in the same office building with a very famous Texas lawyer that time named Percy Foreman, and she went and talked to Percy Foreman about my mother's case there, and so he said he would represent my mother. And so my mother was just elated to find out because they had no money. But he never showed up, and she was. So the court dates came and she had never seen or heard from him. And it was almost time for the trial and this big Cadillac limousine pulls up in front of the court house and Percy Foreman gets out and comes in and sits down with my mother about 10 minutes before the trial started and said now tell me about your husband. And she said I told him as much as I could, in what little time. And she said, whenever he got into the courtroom he sounded like he'd known my husband all his life. And he told the story for what he was, you know, and got custody back to my mother for my brother, and so that was a remarkable story. This was before my mother met my father, of course, and my dad was a soldier boy. He actually was in the Army Air Force and he wanted to be a pilot and because of his eyesight he couldn't qualify as a pilot. So they trained him to be an air plane mechanic and he made the highest scores that anyone had ever made in the school and so they kept him on as an instructor over in somewhere over in Southern Mississippi I forget the name of the town where the school was but on the weekends he would hitchhike all over the country as far as he could go, you know, and still be back for Monday's classes. And he was in Orange, texas, there, and hitchhiking, and my mother and her sisters, you know, back in those days it was patriotic to give soldier boy a lift, you know. And so my mother and her two sisters would call up in the car to pick up my father. In this car with three beautiful young women in it, and my aunt says which one of us do you want to ride with? And my dad looked in the back seat and saw my mother and she says what's your name? And she said Eunice. And he says I'm gonna sit with Eunice. And so from then on they were kind of inseparable anytime and he would always come to Orange. But when he was off but he wouldn't marry my mother on account he knew it was gonna go overseas and he was shipped off to Guam and Saupan and airplane mechanic over there. But as soon as the war was over and he was discharged, he made a B line down to Orange no-transcript Helm and my mother got married. My dad didn't have a job, they just released, married my mother with three small children and they started their life together and it, you know, he, my mother, had an eighth grade education. She was an abusive home when she was raised and Went out of the frying pan into the fire. As far as our first marriage, uh, but my dad quit school after the 10th grade in order to put his sister through college, because his father was an alcoholic, and, and, and, and so they started out their life penniless. When I was born in 1948, there was a terrible recession at that time and Uh, my dad took us back up to the Homeplace up in Kentucky and the first years, two years of my life, we had no electricity, no running water. Uh, my mother, uh, lived like the front frontier women, you know, and and from there they rose a little at a time. My father would, he wouldn't sit around watching tv, you know, whenever he got off work, he, he was studying and he was became a self uh educated engineer. He learned in uh pipe, uh, pipe pipe engineering and structural engineering on his own. And, of course, he, when he finally thought he knew enough to uh to apply for a job, that the man told him uh, well, you know, you've got to have a degree to be an engineer, and he's. My dad says I can do just as good a job as any degree engineer. He said I'll tell you what I'll do. If you will, let me work for a month. If you don't think I, I can keep up with everybody else. You don't have to pay me for that month. And it's a guy that looked at him and said, well, I'll take you up on that. And uh, my dad's career was off from right there and never looked back. He worked at, he retired from Bechtel corporation, uh, and he Worked as an engineer and piping superintendent all over the world. He worked in the Middle East and, uh, europe and South America, uh, so, uh, they came a long way in life.

Speaker 1:

This is such an incredible story, um, and you know, I've personally, I know of, uh, maybe a couple handful stories like that, especially with regard to engineering, but that is so, so neat and so incredible. Just to hear Um Nelson, I'm curious, you know, to learn more about your personal story um. Are there beliefs and principles, um, and experiences on your intangible balance sheet that you'd be willing to share with us? Um, today?

Speaker 2:

Well, uh, I'm a committed Christian. I, uh, I got off to a rough start in life. I guess my father's work. We were traveling constantly. I was 17 years old. We had lived in 17 different places. My freshman year of high school, I was in three different schools one year. So, as you can imagine, it became very hard for a skinny little kid you know, as always a new kid to make many long-term friendships. My father was an agnostic and my mother was a very committed Christian, and so I lived in a kind of a divided home in that sense, and so I didn't really know where, which side, I belonged on, and the first 10 years or so of my adulthood I kind of wandered job to job. It was in and out of bad romantic relationships and so on, and at one point, when I reached a point, basically I thought I was in a state of ruin I talked to my sister-in-law and I guess I was kind of crying on her shoulder. She said, nelson, your problem is you need to make Jesus your Lord and Savior. And I said once, sharon, I believed in Jesus since I was a little boy. She said that's not what I'm talking about. You need to ask Jesus to take control of your life. You need to make Him the Lord in your life. And I kind of argued with her about that and, you know, telling her what a good person I was and so on. But when I got off the phone and started thinking about what she said that long, I got down on my knees and I just prayed. I said, lord, I'm at the end of my rope. I don't know what to do or which way to go, and I need you to take control of my life. And the Lord was faithful to do that. And I, just immediately after that, I started getting direction in my life and I built a good life. A couple of years after that, I met my wife and we've been married for 35 years and I was able to get focus on my career and life has been good to us since then.

Speaker 1:

Now Nelson. How did you and your wife meet? I'm curious.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's an interesting story too. So I worked for five years on the construction of the South Texas nuclear project near Bay City, texas, and when we finished that job I was laid off. The construction was over and so, you know, all the construction workers were laid off, and so I was. In between jobs, I had two teenage boys. I was a single father, I had two teenage boys and a divorcee, and I went to a church in Katie, texas, faith west, and I kept getting this urge in my spirit to get involved in a nursing home ministry. And I don't know, I just had this feeling that our church needed that. And so I talked to the pastor about it and he said do you know Rosalind Harris? And I said no, and he said, oh, okay, and he said, yeah, we've been talking about doing that, but a few weeks went by and nothing happened. So I asked him again. He says do you know Rosalind Harris? And I said no, I don't know who you're talking about. He said, well, she's been after me also about a nursing home ministry. And so he said this week we'll get in touch with both of you, and so it was arranged for us to meet at the church building on a Tuesday or a Wednesday evening and so I walked in and the lobby of the church and a couple of minutes later she walked in and barred me and that just through me for a loop. I thought that was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen in my life. I really talk about love at first sight. It was love at first sight. We were both. So we met at a nursing home ministry at our church. It was love at first sight for me, but not necessarily for her. I did not consider myself to be a good catch, you know what I mean. But I asked her. You know, when the nursing home ministry was over in the evening, I'd always ask her to go out for a cup of coffee or something with me. She never would. She said my son's at home and I need to get home to my son. One day I was out for a walk in my neighborhood and I looked down toward a cul-de-sac and I see her car down there. She had a kind of a car that you can see that common. I said well, that's Rosalind's car. So I walked down there and knocked on her door. I asked her to go out for lunch with me. I think the second or third try that she did. So we've been together. We got married about three months after we started dating. As I mentioned, we had our 35th anniversary on July the 3rd.

Speaker 1:

That is such a neat story. I'm curious, Nelson, you mentioned coming to Christ and serving the Lord in the events and how life has gone for you and how the Lord has orchestrated those events. I want you to think like two generations from now. I'm assuming your grandkids have heard some of those stories. Are there any stories that you want to make sure make it on to your great-grandchildren's generation as you think back on your life Humorous, serious or otherwise?

Speaker 2:

Well, I guess you're kind of putting me on the spot there. I would just like for my great-grandchildren to know that life has a lot of struggles. They're probably going to have more struggles than I have. The society that we live in I don't think is as nurturing as it was when I was young. There's a lot of things in the world that they're going to have to deal with. When I was young I didn't necessarily have to deal with it, yet life was a struggle even then. I just want my grandchildren to know that we have a Lord that never changes. He will be there to lead you. If we're still here at that time, the Lord hasn't taken his people home. He said I am with you always, even to the end of the age. That, to me, is the most important thing to know. The proverb says that lean not onto your own understanding, but acknowledge the Lord in all things. He will guide your path. I have told that to my grandchildren. I've told them to remember that. I hope that when they face their trials and their crises in their lives which we all face that they'll remember that.

Speaker 1:

Wise words, to be sure. Nelson, thank you so much for this conversation. Nuggets of wisdom throughout. I really appreciate your time. I hope also that it brings to the top of mind other stories that you can share with your family. I found out from guests that after going through these conversations it'll trigger something in our memory and it's like a long-term file cabinet will come to the front. If any of those stories come back to mind, please let me know and for sure, let your family know. Thank you again for your time.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for having me on your podcast. Again, I feel honored. Thank you so much and enjoy talking to you.

Speaker 1:

It's an honor, a privilege, and we appreciate it so much. Again, as always, I wish you and your family nothing but truth, beauty and goodness on the road ahead.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, Josh.

Speaker 1:

Thank you.

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