Monday, February 24, 2014

A few more I've been able to peruse
Just a few more interesting volumes I have been able to peruse recently. Click the pic to learn more.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Yesterday, I sat down to brunch on the back patio with my wife and daughter, and we enjoyed some delicious orange juice. It was fresh squeezed from some oranges that my wife's grandpa planted on his property 3 or 4 decades ago.

I thought it was cool to think that something he did some forty years ago still brought enjoyment to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now great-great grandchildren.

I wonder if we are deliberately doing anything that will benefit those that follow us?

And, conversely, are we doing anything that will give our family troubles for some generations?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Gunny

Here is a deployment story: 

When we went to Saudia during the Gulf War, one of the Sergeants with us was a MSGT that I will call Dawes. Dawes is not his real name, but I don't want you to define the whole guy's life based on this one incident. 

We all called him Gunny "Dawes", cause he was very gung ho like some Marine gunnery Sgt. 

Before he joined our squadron, he was in a special squadron that provided security for the Ground Launch Cruise Missiles GLCM, pronounced like Glick-em). They went out in the weeds and did army stuff all the time, because these were forward deployed nuclear missile launchers, so they were serious about their security. Not that the rest of us were not. We were just a bit more relaxed when we were not on duty*.

In our Gulf War experience, we didn't have an overabundance of combat at our rear-ward base. We had some missiles blow up on base and a few dozen were killed by them, which was stressful, but it was not some sort of hand to hand melee or anything. And we had one overly concerned Sgt. that kept calling out gunshots that only he heard, and that sort of thing, but that is a different story.

Gunny "Dawes" was a bit stressed by being deployed and by the missiles that you could do nothing about (that may or may not have poison gas in them) and by the lack of hand to hand combat(Which I think he was really looking forward to) and from the lack of respect he got from us because we thought he was a funny man(because he really was amusing).

 One day, he got so angry at a couple of guys that he fixed his giant bayonet to the end of his M-16 and was threatening them with it inside of the 18 man tent where we slept. He was yelling and growling and waving that thing around in the small confines of our happy canvas home. He was lucky he didn't get himself shot. So, they shipped him back home.

 Some thought the commander was unfair to him, but it seemed reasonable to me. The man was about to snap, if he hadn't already.

 The moral is, don't be Gunny "Dawes" when things are getting difficult. Especially when you are in a group of people that are already getting bombed. 

 *Lest you think we were completely Air Force relaxed all the time, we did do some gung ho stuff too. 
In our technical School, we trained with the Marines, I did a ground combat course with the Army in Ft. Dix, Machine Gunners School, Combat Rifleman Training and I got an Achievement Medal that, if you read it, makes it sound as if I singlehandedly saved King Abdullah Aziz Air Force Base. I will be sure to share that with you sometime too.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Gunny and The Favorite Pastime

A preview of upcoming posts:

The Gunny and the Bayonet
A tale of The Gunny on our deployment, and why he went home early.
 My Favorite Nebraska Pastime
My favorite recreational activity in Nebraska, and why I only got to try it once or twice. And yes, it did involve a pay phone.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Heaven is For Real, On the Bigscreen

Imperial Nebraska is maybe an hour away from the town where I grew up. So, I am familiar with the the area. I think our 9th grade team even played them. It is smaller than my town, so our Varsity team does not play there, but I still know Longhorn Country when I see it.

A little over a week ago, I went to a screening of the movie "Heaven is For Real" with my daughter, which is set in Imperial, Nebraska. When the first scene popped up on the screen, I leaned to her and said "That is not Imperial Nebraska."

I thought that understanding would color my experience with the whole movie.

But, as it went on, I found it engaging. A movie is about, even in the midst of all the lessons and thoughts and potential for social change that we ascribe to it, entertainment. I think a big part of that ability of this movie to engage you is due to the director (Randall Wallace - Director of Braveheart, We Were Soldiers, Secretariat and The Man in the Iron Mask) and the actors. They included Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Hayden Church and Margo Martindale. If you don't recognize their names right off, you are sure to recognize their faces and some of the works they have been a part of.

Even tho the movie was not filmed in Nebraska, they began to bring to life what small town Nebraska is like in it's business dealings, community life, Diners, Churches, Church politics and atmosphere. While it didn't look like Nebraska, I think they were able to capture the feel of it.  And to the uninitiated, the rows of corn fields and small town downtown will look exactly as they always pictured Nebraska anyways.

Beyond that, they captured the feel of the book quite well too. If you haven't read it or are unfamiliar with it, it is the true story of a young boy that is hospitalized with a life threatening illness. After he pulls through, he starts to drop little tid bits about spending time in heaven, the people he met there, the experiences he had. While some of these things could be explained by the boys imagination and the lessons he learned growing up as a pastor's kid, some of the things he shared could not be explained. Unless the explanation was that he really saw what he said he did and the Heaven is for Real.

While I am sure that those who were a part of the events that took place will say "That's not how it happened!", and those that have been to heaven will look at the glimpses of it in the movie and say, "That's not Heaven!", I think both they and the rest of us can enjoy this movie and leave intrigued with the idea of what heaven will hold for those that go.

Oh, it is set to be released on April 16th. Why not plan on going?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

American Sniper

I didn't realize it until someone pointed it out to me a few minutes ago, but today is the one year anniversary of the passing of Chris Kyle.

I didn't know him, of course. But I was glad that I got to know about him a little bit through his books, American Sniper and American Gun.

I also got a glimpse of his personality through watching his bemused action in Stars Earn Stripes.

We are truly diminished for having lost him in our country and my prayers and sympathy to his family.

In a great tribute, Joe Namath will be wearing a bracelet to honor him at the coin toss for today's game. A fitting reminder that, while we admire our athletes, there are even bigger heroes that have walked among us.

American Sniper
American Gun
Starts Earn Stripes
Joe Namath

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bigger Than Us!

Emily overlooking the mountains(I am sure she won't like this photo, but I think it's great).

We have had a number of people wonder if we aren't frightened about our daughter heading off to Ecuador. They have ranged from pointing out that we love her too much to ever let her go to simply wondering if we aren't afraid for what might happen while she is there.

So, I will try to answer that a little here.

First of all, I see terribly things that happen to people here pretty much every day. If you think you are able to protect your loved ones from everything that can go wrong, you are in an illusory world. Yes, we can do things to mitigate danger, but often are attempts only make us feel comfortable about our preparations and lead us to ignore real dangers. I have no such illusions about how safe things are here.

But that is a minor issue. The bigger issue is that we are thrilled that she gets to be a part of an experience bigger than we could provide. When she first brought us the idea this summer of her going on this trip, I will admit that my first thought was that it would be totally unattainable. That was the wrong kind of thinking.

The more I looked at it, I realized that this was, not an insurmountable challenge, but an incredible opportunity, that I never even dreamed of for her.

The financial picture was much bigger than us. We did not have anywhere near enough to send her. But through her diligent efforts and a team approach from our family and favor from the Lord, she raised the money to get there. (By the way, we are still working on that to cover expenses. Feel free to help out...:>).

Trusting her care to some people we never met was bigger than us. But through a unique opportunity to meet the founders of the group and a stretch of faith, we were able to develop that trust.

And, the opportunity she has, as I mentioned, is bigger than us. She will get to see things, meet some great people, see ministry models, witness God's power, all in ways that she never would of here.

So yes, we are all very sad to see her go and can't wait to see her again. And yes, I have cultivated some contacts where she is so I can trick myself into feeling a little less powerless.

But we are so glad she is there.