Music Monday - 20080630

For the past two weeks this song has been playing over and over in my head...

Life is a Highway
by Rascal Flatts from the Cars soundtrack

Life's like a road that you travel on
When there's one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend and sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There's a world outside ev'ry darkened door
Where blues won't haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won't hesitate
To break down the garden gate
There's not much time left today

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you're going my way
I wanna drive it all night long

Through all these cities and all these towns
It's in my blood and it's all around
I love you now like I loved you then
This is the road and these are the hands
From Mozambique to those Memphis nights
The Khyber Pass to Vancouver's lights

Knock me down get back up again
You're in my blood
I'm not a lonely man
There's no load I can't hold
Roads are rough, this I know
I'll be there when the light comes in
Just tell 'em we're survivors

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you're going my way
I wanna drive it all night long

Gimme gimme gimme gimme yeah

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you're going my way
I wanna drive it all night long

There was a distance between you and I
A misunderstanding once
But now we look it in the eye

There ain't no load that I can't hold
Roads are rough, this I know
I'll be there when the light comes in
Just tell 'em we're survivors

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you're going my way
I wanna drive it all night long

There's been a few reasons why this song has been coming to mind of late... or least they seem like reasons... ;-)

1) Life is indeed a journey. We never sit still for very long. Our journey is more like an ocean voyage than a trek across country. Even when we sit still long enough to "fold the hands" our lives are never still. Time marches ever onward, thus when we are idle it is more akin to moving along with the tide than sitting still under a shade tree.

2) As a Christian our purpose in life is to glorify God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Why shouldn't we go through with a joy in our hearts, and a zeal of purpose, when this is our 'mission'?

3) There is a part in the middle that talks about a distance between the singer and the 'audience', but now that gap has been closed. Can we not help but sing with joy about such things?

There are a lot of songs that can be 'twisted' to say things that the original artists meant - both for good and bad. But communication is a two party event. A 'sender' and a 'receiver'. If God is moving in my mind and heart to teach me something is there anything that He cannot use to mold me into the image of His Son? Praise God that He does indeed use ALL things for my good, and His glory.... \o/
Verse for today:
1 Corinthians 10 : 23-33, ESV
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.


So what to write about today...

I don't want to keep rambling on about my AT. I mean, it's interesting to me... but I don't know how interesting it is for everybody else. Besides, the pictures will not be ready until tomorrow night (I didn't want to risk taking the digital camera so I bought a set of those one use type deals). Two things I am looking forward too.

1) The brand new lieutenant did some video taping at AT. He has some really incredible shots. I am looking forward to seeing those.

2) While returning to the firing point late one night (I had to run a soldier to the rear so he could head home to see his mother in the hospital... very sad... please pray for him, and for her). Since it was near impossible to see my "slot" to park the truck in the wood line I pulled into what I thought was a clear spot. In the morning I saw that I had knocked over a small tree. It had thorns all up and down the bark, and leaves shaped like the spade on a deck of cards. There was no way this thing (IMO) was going to recover. Since I had managed to scape a section of the bark off I used that as a hand hold and practically pulled it straight out of the ground. The bark practically peeled right off, and when i took a knife to it the bark was real "pulpy". I set it out in the sun to dry and this helped. The next day the wood was incredibly hard. At least compared to what I was expecting. I whittled the bark all the way down I really liked the texture and grain of the wood. Once I got all of the major nicks out of the wood I then took some of the sand paper we had sitting around (it is used to sand rust off of the howitzers) and smoothed it even further. I also cut it the length of my armpit to the ground. Very nice. I still have some work to do on it, but it is going to be my retirement walking stick. LOL

When it is all done I hope to tap in the regimental crests of the three units I've "belonged" to over my career on one side. On the other side I want to tap in the three branch insignias to represent the three different MOS's I've had as well. Over/under this I will have the dates and the respective units burned/etched in. On the front, the final piece, will be a miniature set of Air Assault wings. Once this is all done I will get it shellacked to help seal it all in.

Wow, I wasn't going to talk about it... and I did anyway... LOL. God taught me a few things... 1) I cannot help everybody. My best efforts fall flat. Sometime its me tripping over my own two feet, and others the help is not always recognized/received. 2) I have to rely on Him. Meaning (and this is tied into item 1), there are things I just can't control. I can worry or fret, but in the end I have to trust in him. No matter what is happening in my perception of things, it is all for the good - and ultimately for His glory. 3) I have had a good overall career in the National Guard. There have been many a time when He has spoken to me when I was in the middle of nowhere. I have often felt very close to my Savior when I am the most isolated, in the most unusual of circumstances (a certain sunset in Central America, and a rain storm while I was on active duty come immediately to mind).

I would encourage everyone who is struggling to hear God's voice to get out of your respective "comfort zone". Get out to a park. Go for a walk in the rain. If you are not into the nature thing, go to a nearby town and sit in a small resteraunt, and get into His Word and reflect upon the things He has revealed to you about Himself. Even if it's "just" that He came and walked on the Earth.

P.S. - If any of you who stumble across this humble blog, and happen to have a set of regimental crest for the 1-115th Infantry... drop me a note... thanks. :)

Verse for today:
1 Kings 19 : 9-12, ESV
There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. [1]


My latest diet

Ok, I just want to say here an now... the first three letters in the word diet are DIE! :) So when we diet, we die. ;)

While I was at my two week deal this year I resolved myself to not eat a single MRE. It has nothing to do with the taste, or the selection available. It had everything to do with the sheer number of calories. Without verifying , those things have like 1500 calories a piece! What I did instead was I hit Wally World before we left and filled up a little Tupperware tote thing with: Cold Brew Lipton Ice Tea bags (family size), Nature Valley Granola Bars (Honey and Oats), Dole Jello Fruit Cups (Black Cherry and Peach), and some of those new cookies on the go. I can't remember who makes them, I'm pretty sure it's Keebler, but I couldn't find it on their website. But I love cookies, and these little packages have like four cookies per, and it was perfect. No cookies went to waste. ;-) LOL

The diet helped me lose 3-5 pounds! Although that was not my overall goal, it did help. I don't know how much my food choices helped, but I know the lack of sodas, specifically Dr Pepper, helped. :)
Verse for today:
Luke 12 : 22-24, ESV
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!


Day 1 of returning to 'normal'

What is normal anyway? :D

What a crazy eighteen days. For fifteen of them I was on the last two week annual training of my military career. I tried to relax and just enjoy them (all the while making sure I performed the duties required of me and the position I held - that of First Sergeant). And for the most part I did.

The first week was brutally hot. Heat indexes routinely over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A day on the rifle range here, preparation for section certifications, etc. Except for the heat it was a pretty good week. Some disappointment came when the Captain and I were informed that we would only be able to certify two gun sections and not the three we had hoped, and pushed, for. We firmly believed we could have done it, but when the Battalion tells you that they are uncomfortable with your proposal... there's not much you can do. Still, we were the first battery to certify a section, first gun to fire, most number of rounds fired... it was very satisfying. There were two minor, and one major, downers. The two minors were fairly minor injuries (one ankle, the other a nasty gash to a finger that got caught in the breech of a howitzer), and the major was a UCMJ type deal. I won't elaborate on the latter.

I have taken a couple of rolls of film, but it is going to take me a few days to get them developed. I plan on getting them put on a picture disc as well (because of the number of requests from others in the unit to share), so it will be easier to post them here to share later.

Well, I am going to wrap this up for today. I hope to catch up on all my blogging friend's blogs later today.
Verse for today:
Psalm 118 : 19-24, ESV
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone. [2]
This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.


I'm Back!!!

Well, I have made it home safe and sound... well, maybe not 'sound'. ;) The pictures have not been turned in for development yet, but that will be soon. More to follow... P.S. - Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.


Thank you America, and good night

Well, I am not signing off forever, just for the next 19 days or so. I am getting ready to head out on my last National Guard 2-week annual training. With the additional day to load, and giving myself an additional day at home reuniting with the family, it will be a little while. ;-)

This will be at least my 22nd two-week stint since I joined back in July of 1986. I plan on picking up like 10 of those disposable cameras! But as I am preparing to go I can't help but remember some of the past stints.

My very first AT was in August of 1987. We had a fly away out to "Death Valley". Why is it that the Air National Guard goes to places like Puerto Rico, and the Army goes to "Death Valley"?!? I had volunteered to go out on advanced party for the extra money. When we arrived the barracks were literally WWII era - but it didn't matter. I was only able to stay there for a few nights until the main body caught up. Once they arrived me moved out to the training area. I remember training in a placed that had been exposed to heavy amounts of CS (think tear gas) and my nose ran like a faucet. I thought I was going to get dehydrated right there. But the best part was when I was given the opportunity to perform an 'air mobile' operation for a visiting VIP. My first exposure to Air Assault operations. What a rush! My adrenaline was pumping. We flew pretty low, landed and the three of us in the anti-armor team jumped out and ran across a ground hog heaven. I must have tripped three times. Each time the computer module for our anti-tank system slammed into the back of my helmet. We got in position, did our thing, packed up, the helicopter came back and picked us up. I was so excited I didn't even feel me tearing both deltoids! The next day I couldn't lift my arms past my waist! Still - it was a great time. By my third week my platoon sergeant came up to me to ask me the last time I had "taken care of business". I thought that an odd question, but as I did up the math in my head I realized it had been about 13 days! He hands me a cup of MRE (meals ready to eat) hot chocolate (and it was welcome, because those mornings were chilly). I drank it down, then he hands me another, and another. Thirty minutes later I was running to the "portapot"! Ah memories. I could go on and on, and that was just about my first one. I have at least twenty more such stories.

Well, I hope to have some pictures to post when I get back. Please bear with this old soldier as he remembers the "good old days".
Verse for today:
1 John 5 : 13-20, ESV
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God [1] will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.


My how time flies

I can't believe I totally lost Tuesday! I blinked and it's now Wednesday! What happened!

My last summer in the guard is heating up and all of a sudden I am dealing with a flood of "soldier issues". It's just amazing to me. I have one soldier who re-enlisted last summer on condition of him being transferred to HQ. No problem, BUT, he needed to pass the APFT before he could go to the school, which is required before he can transfer. That was almost a whole year ago now, and the kid has yet to pass the APFT! He is now complaining and all of a sudden has an excuse not to go to our annual training. I'm pretty sure he is blaming us for his transfer not being completed yet. We have similar issues with other soldiers... it just frustrates me. These guys would not have these "problems" if they just concentrated on taking care of the things they can control, and not complaining about what others are "not" doing for them. Life is so full of things that are not "free". Maybe I am seeing a shift from my generation that struggles with the concept of grace, to a new one that will be struggling with license...

And now for something completely different. I have been saving my pennies for an elliptical machine but it is painfully slow. For sometime I have been wanting to get back into some form of martial art. Not to become the next Van Damme or Steven Seagal, but to improve my overall health and flexibility. After reviewing several Christian resources I think Aikido will be best in line with my Christian faith. It is predominately a defensive form, and seems to flow along with how I handle myself as it is. After reviewing my finances I think I can afford the monthly fees (the group I am looking at is a non-profit, and thus less expensive), and by some (possibly) working of God - I already have gym mats at home in order to practice. I am also considering asking DS1 if he would come with me (the instructor will not take students under the age of 12). I am hoping it might be a good way to bond and enter in good discussions about Christianity and other world views.

Well, I need to run for now. May the Lord richly bless all who come and read this humble little blog.
Verse for today:
Psalm 18 : 28-30, ESV
For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
This God—his way is perfect; [4]
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.


Music Monday - 20080602

Since I was a little behind last week I wanted to make sure I got my choice in for this week...

Voice of Truth
by Casting Crowns
Lyrics by Mark Hall and Steven Curtis Chapman
Music by Mark Hall and Steven Curtis Chapman
Song based on 2 Cor. 12:7-10 and 1 Cor. 1:20-2:4

© 2003 Club Zoo Music / SWEC Music (Admin. by Club Zoo Music) / BMI / Sparrow Song / Peach Hill Songs (admin by EMI Christian Music Publishing) / BMI. All rights reserved.

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
From on top of them lookin' down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

From their "Casting Crowns" album

I know there are a ton of times I feel like this. "Did I hear you correctly Lord?" I will say to myself. Too often I am looking at the mountain, or the people grumbling, or the waves and wind crashing. I'd like to say that songs like this help me steel myself for action, but in truth I am the same man as before.

I've taken those "Spiritual Gifts" and "What color is my parachute", and "What is my Love Language", but these are not really good measures of where I am going - only of where I am now.
Verse for today:
James 1 : 22-25, ESV
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.