Monday, February 25, 2008

My Life as a Sermon

Reading this morning from Deuteronomy chapter 6, the Lord impressed on me the importance of teaching my children about what really matters:

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

To talk about the Lord constantly with my children. Not just talk, but also show them in everything I do just how important the Lord is in my life, that I love the Lord with all my heart and will all my soul and with all my strength. It all begins at home. When it comes to teaching a child, I believe that no Sunday school teacher, no matter how good, can take the place of a parent who is truly living the life of a Christian. A very great responsibility, no? But it is also a rich and rewarding blessing to watch the fruits of that effort take root and grow.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Very Busy Week and a Few Random Thoughts

I gave my friend George a hard time for being delinquent in his blogging. I mean, who is going to let something like WORK get in the way of letting the entire internet world know what you think. Looking at the gap in the post dates from this blog to my last, it would appear that I have.

In just two short weeks I've gone from being a crusty Lieutenant Colonel line pilot helping out around the office to the Director of Operations to, the deployed commander. I get called in and told this latest little juicy piece of information last week. I was told, "Steve, you're the commander for the remainder of the deployment," but heard instead, "Steve, step up to this firehose and take a biiiiigggg drink after I turn it on full blast and then give you a kick in the junk." Now, our deployment will only last for another couple of weeks, but it's certainly more than I bargained for. You can rest assured that a flurry of prayers have been rising skyward. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me..."

Those of you following the kilt and the acorn story: My son had his history fair and did a great job as Sir William Wallace. My wife said he regretted not painting his face blue a la Mel Gibson, but was overall satisfied with the endeavor.

I realize now, despite a noble effort to force myself to be, that I am not a fan of miniseries adapted from western novels. I watched the miniseries "The Streets of Laredo," adapted from the Larry McMurtry novel of the same name. I sat through it but found the characters a bit stereotypical, something that happened again when I tried to watch "Lonesome Dove." The main men characters are the silent, strong type. Their partners are a tad whiny but nonetheless faithful. Indians are a bit quirky. The women characters are either pitiful victims or practicing or recently reformed prostitutes. Not my cup of tea.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Marrying Man and The Scotsman

I love to talk about my kids, mostly because there's always so much to talk about.

My wife passed along some news about my 8-year-old son, Benjamin. Apparently Benjamin is ready to get married and have children. It's true. He decided that the other day. I talked with him about it two days ago and received confirmation. He says he's ready.

"Well son, do you have someone in mind you'd like to marry?"
"Is she in your class."
"Is she nice?"
"Have you talked with her about this?"
"Well, son, that might be a problem."
I guess I'm going to log this off as marriage counselling, though I don't think much will come of the incident.

The other story concerns my 12-year-old son, William. He has an upcoming history project where he's supposed to dress as a famous historical figure. We've had the opportunity to travel to Scotland on several occasions during our assignment to Germany, and he's become quite taken with the country and the culture. The fact that I have Scot ancestry through my mother pushed this over the edge for him. He decided he was going to dress as William Wallace, of "Braveheart" fame. We ordered him a kilt (though Wallace probably did not wear a kilt in reality--a fact he is choosing to conveniently ignore) which arrived several weeks ago. Yesterday was the big dress rehearsal and rather than hand-carry his costume and change at school, he chose to wear his kilt all day. He got lots of attention and faced the inevitable giggles from the girls in his class ("You're wearing a skirt!") with bravery and much fortitude. Not only did he wear it to/from school, he wore it after school and to piano lessons and for the rest of the day right up until bedtime. His mother had to intercede at that point as the kilt was dirty and would probably chaff him during the night.

Two acorns that didn't fall very far from the tree...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Calling and the Fire Within

Probably the best part of this blog stuff is getting reacquainted and staying connected with old friends. My friend Martha recently had a posting discussing her husband's efforts to come back into the Army following 9/11. This was very interesting to me and helped shed some light on my own situation, though from a different vantage point.

I've had many situations like this in my own Air Force career when I was called (and continue to be called) to go in harm's way. My wife would, of course, be upset--she doesn't want to see anything happen to me. What she had the hardest time understanding was WHY I wanted to go and would do everything I could to go. If I was picked to go, that would be fine. But why fight to go? Most guys I work with are this way. We're all itching to "get into the fight" and go do what we've been trained to do. Why would I want to leave my family and the safety and comfort of home and risk my life halfway across the world?

I believe that I've been called to do what I do. I believe that God created men with this innate desire to be part of something larger. To have a dream, a vision of something better, of what could be. When a man does something he's been called to do I believe there's a fire that burns in him. I believe this fire makes him a better husband and father. This calling can be in the military, in the church, at whatever job he does. What a blessing to do what God has called you to do! John Eldredge wrote about this in his book Wild at Heart. It's a great book that takes a look at what makes up a man.

So, even though I'm away from my wife and children right now, they're never far away in my thoughts. It's not that I don't want to be there with them, it's that I feel I have to be here. When I am back together with them, I know they'll see that fire inside. I think my wife has learned this and understands more now. She says it's one of the reasons she loves me--it's part of the man that I am. That and I love to cook...

I hope this helps, Martha. Thanks for sharing and thank your husband for me for his service.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Thirty Days and a Wakeup

Flew again today, a mission into Mosul and some other place that I can't spell. Talking over some brats and saurkraut at the chow hall, someone mentioned we've got less than 30 days until our deployment is over. It's hard to believe how fast the time goes by when you're busy like this. I celebrated with a plate of french fries and onion rings. I'm so full I feel like a bloated tick.

I'm back in the office tomorrow. I have a feeling the brakes are going to get put on my flying. Much to do and not much time left to do it.

I watched "The Godfather, Part III" last night. I was mildly interested, but this movie fell far short of Parts I and II. The night prior I watched "Cool Hand Luke" with Paul Newman. That was a much better movie--I don't think I'd seen it all the way through before. Well worth it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

It's All in the Name

My friend Alan just posted an article in his blog on the challenges faced by those who go by their middle names. His article reminded me of a fairly common tradition among some in the Air Force (mostly fighter pilot) to go by "callsigns." Now, if you've seen "Top Gun" you know about callsigns. "Maverick," "Goose," "Iceman," are world-renowned callsigns--that's why you'd never see anything like that in the Air Force. Fighter pilot friends of mine let me into their world (only briefly, mind you) to explain a few of the callsign rules. To boil it all down, a callsign should poke fun at some character flaw or physical trait of the person with the callsign. My brother-in-law's callsign is "Pokey." If you knew him you'd know that is a perfect callsign. I love him to death, but that man is so slow; we're always waiting on him. Another personal favorite of mine was the callsign "Worm" given to a guy who, frankly, could pass for a girl if he had long hair. "Woman OR Man," thus the callsign "Worm." Others I've heard of were "Pyro," "Screamin'," "Wrut-row," and "Rock." While this last one seems a break with the "disparaging" rule-of-thumb, this name was a play on the man's last name...Bottomlee. Pretty funny. He's a good man, by the way, and takes it all in stride, as most do. If you don't, the creative juices really start flowing resulting in a name much, much worse than the first.

So, taking these basic callsign rules into account, let's revisit "Top Gun" and consider for a moment what callsigns these characters more likely would have had. Tom Cruise's character "Maverick" would probably have been called "Sweaty"--the man sweated through the whole movie. The "Iceman" character would probably have been named "Flamer." The locker room scenes still make me a little uncomfortable. "Goose?" I'm drawing a blank.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Congrats to the Football Giants

I'm not a Giants fan, but I have become a tremendous Patriots hater over the past 4 months. They were painted by the sports pundits as this unstoppable juggernaut. It was great watching the under-appreciated Giants win.
I'm a little worried about the Patriots fans around here now and how they're going to react to the loss. It was a bit like talking to cult members--"The Patriots are the best team EVER," "Tom Brady is the best quarterback EVER," "Randy Moss is the best receiver EVER." Just like Jonestown. These folks are going to take it hard.
My wife and kids stayed up to watch the game. They're in Germany, so the game didn't even start until after midnight, ending at just after 3 a.m. My wife and oldest son managed to stay up. My other children didn't. Arlene said Isabella woke up at the end and saw Eli Manning getting the MVP award. She smiled at my wife and said, "Oh, I love him." He's a little old for you Isabella (she's 5).