Genesis 50:20

Genesis 50:20 - You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Missing home. Thankful for a good unit and command.
Tired of ILE. Glad to have my own space.
It rained all night.Brisk cloudy and wet outside, but thankfully not dusty. Good visibility. Muddy. Glad for electricity. Don’t feel like running today, but feel lazy for not running.
Thankful for hot coffee. That is all.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Simple Times

There are a few things that are unique to deployment that I have found over my last several. This evening I was reflecting on how simple life can be on deployment. Now I don't mean simple as in "easy", but rather as in "not complicated". I know this only to be true to my role as a surgeon prepared and waiting for my expertise to be employed. Many other soldiers here have vastly different experiences and would hardly classify their deployments as simple. But for me life here is simple. I have one purpose, to prepare myself and my team to take care of the injured. Now that purpose has many manifestations: training my medics, upkeep of the FST physical structure, checking equipment, and checking refrigerator temperatures for blood products. But all of these things are singular in focus for one mission objective - take care of the injured. But there are other things that some would consider intolerable that actually help simplify life here, namely the austerity. There are very few options here. There is no time spent standing in front of a full pantry wondering what I "really" feel in the "mood" to eat. Likewise the closets aren't full of choices of clothes to wear. There is no determining where you will go or how you will get there or when you need to fill up the gas tank. You will always be with the team on the FOB. And if that FOB happens to be only 200 meters by 200 meters, then there is not much decision of where you will be at all. (Its like a kid deciding where in the classroom he wants to sit). And the list of stripped away complexity goes on and on. All of this simplicity by many is interpreted as suffocating and intolerable. Those people are very unhappy. The byproduct of this simple or austere lifestyle is time... the most precious commodity. I was reminded this week with some somber news about a family friend that time is never a guarantee. Some people who seem to have plenty of time get none and those that seem on deaths door occasionally get more than expected. What am I doing with my time? Am I loving my wife, kids, family..... God? Often, I find myself not even thinking about how I am spending my time. Like someone running through a mall and just sliding my credit card through random credit card readers while not even thinking on what I am actually spending my money. The only reason that I am able to take time now and ponder on all this is because of the forced simplicity that I am living right now. And while my life is increasingly simple, my wife's life is increasingly complex. And all this time here just adds to the debt that I already owe her for the 3 other deployments where the same happened. Meanwhile, the kids are growing. They are getting bigger every day. Each day I pray that God would guide them toward himself and that His Word would be written in their hearts. Before I left, my 3 y.o. son told me after having been spanked and put in his room for open defiance of his mom and dad, that he talked to Jesus and Jesus would make him feel better. My heart burst open! My Savior loves my son. He loves all my kids! In the afternoon and evenings here, after getting ILE (Intermediate Level Education for the Command and General Staff College) stuff done, I have been reading the book Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, while drinking hot cider (thanks for the cider mix) and listening to classical music. I thoroughly enjoy that experience! Not only is it a great book about a great man, but I also get TIME to reflect on my life and my life's purpose. I think about how I fit into my family and my extended family. I think about lost opportunities for connection and strategies for regaining those connections. And in those moments I also recognize my own failings. I realize I don't pray enough, or read the scripture enough or meditate on them enough. Those are the things that will keep me on course and help me navigate through difficult times to come. If I am granted the blessing of time to come.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

One More Time Into the Fray 2016-2017

Well, here I go again. One more Christmas and New Years in Afghanistan. This will be my first deployment to a region I have already been. However I am sure that things will be much different. 5 years ago, I was over here and now I am back. The process of getting here was familiar as ever, but I had blocked out some of the more unpleasant aspects of preparing and then leaving. The two hardest things were the packing the night before leaving knowing that these were the last hours I could spend with my beloved wife. All we both wanted to do was pause time and allow us to celebrate our anniversary without a deployment hanging over us. So instead we drank champagne while I packed my duffle bags. Happy Anniversay....
I had clearly forgotten how long the flights to get to the Middle East were. That was completely blocked from my memory. However it is strange how I could dislike something so much yet find comfort in the familiarity of it once it was again experienced. For many of my travel companions, this was their first deployment. These were all new bewildering experiences that were contently disrupting any sense of normalcy that one may have had, like waves crashing against a poor soul struggling to get up and out of the ocean surf. But for me, the comfort of knowing what to expect (even if it was knowing to expect suckville) and the assurance of knowing that God had me at the center of his hand, allowed a relatively smooth and even fun transition to deployment. At times I even felt like a tour guide..... "and now ladies and gentlemen, in a few minutes we will stop and off load all our gear for no apparent reason just to load it back on again for some reason.... happens every time....oh yeah and there are no bathrooms at this stop so please pee in a bottle or hold it." At least I knew what to expect and it helped others not get so bent out of shape when those ridiculous things came. And I was very pleasantly surprised when for the first time in all my trips we stopped in Ireland! I had heard many of my friends talk about stopping there, but I had never experienced it before. And now .... at 3 am, we were in Ireland. So cool! Even if all I saw was the airport. It was so neat to hear their accents and fortunately there are some pretty cool pub owners in the airport that kept there place open all night for us.... which is where I had the best burger I have ever tasted in my life..... it even had a fried egg on it and some sort of sweet jam and sizzling bacon....oh so good!
The one rookie mistake that I made was forgetting my power converters....darn those European plugs.... fortunately some of my battle buddies remembered theirs and I powered up all my devices for the next 6 hour leg.... ugh. From there it was on to Kuwait and then another flight to Afghanistan and a few days wait in a major city before taking a puddle jumper to my new home. see the pic from my puddle jumping window....
The further and further I went out, the more body armor I noticed everyone wearing...we are definitely not in Kansas anymore Toto. At this phase it began to sink in that we are really still at war. And guys are really fighting and bleeding and dying for the cause. And it is my job to make sure the latter two are stopped short. Then after a week of travel the day before Christmas eve me and my ortho buddy arrived at our new home...
And met our new team, facilities, and a few interesting people....
The we learned that inorder to get into the DFAC (Dinning facility) you have to do pull ups...
And that the only place to "do you duty" was ....
.... I literally had to stop someone from going in just so I could snap the picture. But all in all I is a great place and has a nice gym and obviously internet connection (since I am able to continue this blog). So on Christmas the guys of my FST tried to make it as much like home and they cooked gingerbread pancakes and bacon....the XO is an awesome cook from New England....
So that's about it for now..... I will leave you with just a funny story that happened to me today in the gym. Every day I run about 3 miles to try to stay in as good of shape as the warfighters out here....each of them is like a college athelete! When they aren't on a mission, they are either eating sleeping or in the gym. So anyway, here I am in the gym running with these guys. And they like tough-guy music....Metallica, SlipKnot, Alice in Chains....etc. So we are all in there together tough music playing and heavy lifting of weights and the whole bit..... and as I am running and listening to my music, I smile and laugh a little cause they can't hear what I am listening too in my earphones.... I know that everyone assumes I too am listening to tough guy music. Little do they know that I am jamming out on my 5th mile to Amy Grant's "Lucky One". Well, that's it for now from Helmand.....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Random...the home stretch

Here are a few random shots .... home is coming soon!!! Praise GOD!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Seasons Greatings

Hey there everyone!

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have sent me care packages for Christmas. The weather had been bad recently so a lot of the mail had got stuck in Kandahar, but today I got a bunch of boxes from friends and family. Its like a late Christmas. I was busy in my room this morning opening all these boxes filled with thoughtful gifts and cards. I love you all.

Christmas here was good. I tried to pack as much in as I could. I played the piano and sang at the Christmas Eve service at the Chapel (see the pic below). I stayed up all night on Christmas Eve and manned the TOC so that the people who normally do could have a night off. I called home. Then the next morning (Christmas Day), again I played for the praise and worship team for both the 11 AM service and the 9AM Service and I preached at the 11 AM service. Then I crashed for a few hours. Then I woke up and manned the TOC again all night on Christmas night. Needless to say, by Monday morning I was exausted. But I felt that I had given all I could so that Christmas could be special even in Afghanistan.

Merry Christmas everyone and may God bless all of us as we seek His will this coming year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Christmas Season

It can be hard sometimes to get in the mood of the holiday season when you are surrounded by rocks and dirt and can only wear a uniform. But I am not letting those factors get in the way of me celebrating this awesome Christmas season. In fact I have never been geographically closer during the holiday season to where it all went down 2000 years ago. So thank you to all of you that sent care packages for Christmas. From candy canes, stockings, baby Christmas trees, fudge, truffles, gum drops, Christmas Coffee, and the like it has all served to brighten my days and the days of my fellow tent mates. So here are a few shots of the Christmas joy around my Middle East World.... I love you all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Here I sit at half past 2 in the morning, listening to the playlist on my sister’s blog. Tears come to my eyes as I listen to the music. Aim so blessed. I look over the pictures on her blog and see the smiles and the kids and warm embraces. The family that I grew up in is now grown. We are scattered all over the globe. Christmas will be different this year. I see the smiles of my own kids in my mind. Life has taken the innocence of a little boy and in its place left sweet memories of growing up. Now I see the wonder of innocence in the eyes of my own son and daughter. And I pray that I can be as good a parent to them as were my parents to me. I dream about my family at night. I can hear my wife’s voice. What did I do to deserve such abundant blessings? Life is frighteningly short. From swaddling to crawling to walking to running and falling it all passes quickly. This war reminds me that some things are worth dying for. But some die too soon; life slipping through my hands and my heart. Like a broken glass, Lord, fill me.