Monthly Archives: November 2016

Adventures 

I had outfitted the Olds with a hitch and purchased a tow rig which attached to the bumper of the Mazda pickup via bolts. 

Like I said previously, the truck was packed!  

So off I went to Philly for the first leg of the journey. I don’t remember just how long I spent at each place, but it was great to see my family members. 

I then landed in Erie Pennsylvania to visit my folks. Upon checking out the connection of the tow rig to the truck bumper, the bumper was bending and tearing under the stress of being towed. It wasn’t going to make the trip! It had to be replaced with something much stronger to withstand the stress. 

I found a place that sells steel and purchased a rather thick piece of steel that was a little wider than the original bumper and just as long. I also bought pieces of steel and angle iron in order to bolt it directly to the frame. 

The idea was great, but I didn’t have the tools for the job. Fortunately, I had a neighbor, where I grew up, who was a machinist and had what I needed. He was a great help and it came together perfectly! 

So everything was replaced that needed to be and I was back on the road!  

Next stop Pittsburgh, onto Knoxville, then San Antonio!  

Remember my buddies 73 Mustang, well, though a fun little car, it had its issues. I don’t remember specifically what happened, but we needed to pretty much rebuild the entire front drivers side suspension. We were able to find the parts and a repair shop close by was willing to let us borrow what tools we needed. So there we were along the highway in Texas, tearing down and then rebuilding the suspension of his Mustang. 

I didn’t see Him then, but I see Him now.  God was with us the entire trip. That is just how great He is! The trip wasn’t without its troubles, but the solutions were never hard to find. 

Now to get my son and it’s Cali here we come!  

Coast to coast

The absolute crazy things we do.

I had my orders to go from Cherry Point North Carolina to Camp Pendleton California.

Google maps has this as 2,693 miles at the quickest route. But do you think that’s what I did?  No way! The military will pack and ship your stuff as well, but do you think that’s what I did?  No way!

I traveled and visited every close family member between the two coasts.

I started from Cherry Point and headed to Philly to visit my brother and family. From there to Erie Pa to visit my folks, then to Pittsburgh to visit my sister and her fam.  I then went to Knoxville Tennessee to visit my sister and family, then onto San Antonio Texas to pick up my son.

Mileage to now travel, about 3,931 miles.

Now did I mention the military didn’t ship my stuff!  I had purchased a 1973 Olds 98 to make the trip. It cost me 500 dollars. No joke.  Behind it I towed a friends Mazda B2200 pickup truck that had a cap which was filled to the max with all my stuff and some of his things. He had the same orders I did and needed a way to get his truck out to Cali.

There was a third friend who also had the same orders I met along the trip, I think I meet him outside of Pittsburgh . He had a 73 Mustang II.

The back seat of the Olds seemed to be the size of a full size mattress, and the trunk, massive and packed!

So we not only went coast to coast, but from the top to almost the bottom of the country as well!

It was crazy, but tons of fun and very exciting.

My family was instrumental in helping me make the trip financially. As, well, if you read my previous blog post, I’m really good at figuring dollars and cents.

Have wheels will travel, and travel we did. 

Let no man separate

In my past, this has not been a scripture I have lived well. More on this later. 

I’ve come to realize the importance of being part of the solution and not part of the problem. I know it takes two, but I  now know what a marriage represents and my responsibility in helping to make it successful. 

Husbands love your wife as Christ loves His Church. 

I filed for divorce and in the process got custody of my son. In the spirit of transparency, I felt a lot prouder about that fact then, than I do now. There are NO winners in this horribly painful experience. 

Life as a single dad in the Marine Corps was anything but easy. Yes, I had some really good friends, but I didn’t have any family close by. 

As I write this, I think back to what I wrote about my friends while initially going through the separation process. How they were very helpful in keeping me upright, and they were still there, but the responsibility is now different. My son is my responsibility and though they still helped, their help didn’t relieve the great amount of responsibility I felt. I was now experiencing a new level of real. 

Father and son…learning to live life. 

Life

The one thing about life is, that it stops for no one! And we were no exception. I still needed to work, and learn about child care, cooking, cleaning, and playing!  

Did I mention learning how to spend money so that you had enough to make it through the pay period, making sure there’s food on the table, electricity to light, heat, and or cool the place? 

Transportation was a whole different experience!  Making sure the car functions, and functions safely, insurance, gasoline, maintenance.  And still making sure that there is play and fun in there somewhere!

Yes, I had done some of this before, but the addition of a little boy ups the ante quite a bit.  He is depending on me and rightly so. 

There were so many things I took for granted as a child growing up and I had no idea what it took to make things happen.

Society is structured really to take advantage of those people ignorantly struggling, such as myself.  What I mean by this mostly pertains to credit cards and the like.  I never knew anything really about balancing a check book or budgeting my money.  If I had checks I had cash and if there was still credit left on my credit card, it was no problem to spend it!  

We had needs, right? 

The nice part about living in Cherry Point was that we were really pretty close to the beach. So, in the nice weather months, we had ready access to fun. 

It didn’t seem to take long before I got orders to go to Camp Pendleton California for my new duty station.  That was an adventure within itself!

PS: Life as a military police officer:

I remember getting an alarm off at the PX, which is nothing more than a “Walmart” for the base.  We found an open door and began doing a sweep of the building.  I was walking down an aisle, with my weapon out, thinking we may have had a potential burglary, and was turning to the right to enter the next area to check, and that’s when I saw him.

It was a life sized poster of the Marlboro Man and I almost shot him, thinking he was the burglar! 

Fortunately all parties survived without trauma!

On another incident I got a call for a disabled vehicle stuck in the ditch at a particular intersection. 

It was me trying to figure out how to get out. 

Now that was embarrassing!  

 

 

Blood

When disaster strikes at the very heart of your life, you discover quickly who your friends are. 

As my family was falling apart, there were key people in my life that really helped hold me together. 

Doug, for instance. My brother from another in the Corps. Would literally drag me out so I wasn’t a hermit and alone. John, we were bunk mates and got along very well. If I had a need he readily helped if he was able. 

Though my family didn’t know the depth of my pain, they were instrumental in helping me get back on my feet and putting my life back together. 

The blood that runs through our veins doesn’t always determine who our family really is for I had friends that stood by me closer than a brother. 

And then there’s Jesus, in that though I know I wasn’t following Him, He never left me nor forsook me. 

Something I came upon as I processed this season of my life. 

The blood of Christ

Voices…

John 10:27-30 (ESV)

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, Is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Sometimes I think we don’t give enough attention to what we hear throughout the course of our day. 

If Christ is speaking to us, might there be other voices trying to influence our decisions and behavior? 

Scripture tells us to meditate on His Word both day and night. Might this be so we can better hear the voice of Jesus and be able to dismiss those other voices?

How about the promises that follow? 

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

The promise of eternal life. He tells us that our Father is greater than all and that no one is able to snatch us out of His hand. He tells us this twice!  

Might there be someone out there telling us different? 

So we doubt?  

So we don’t live in confidence about who we are and who we belong to!  How about our God given potential!

And then we get a picture of 2 parts of our triune God. 

“I and the Father are one.”

Clean out your ears and be careful what your listening to. It could be keeping you from the greatness and happiness our Father has for you. 

Broken

So, here I am. 

I felt alone. 

I felt scared. 

I felt…pain. 

There were banks of phones in the hallway of the barracks. I cleared the hallways with the manner in which I dealt with conflict on the phone. When I’d hang up, my friends would come up to me and say “don’t go AWOL!” In the military, AWOL means absent without leave. They saw my stress, they saw my struggle, but no one really knew the true depth of my pain. 

I was working the midnight shift on patrol.  We had marked patrol cars, wore camouflage utilities, and full gun belt with all the tools of the trade. Back then it was magazines, gun, handcuffs, and maybe a nightstick, or a PR24. We may have even had CS spray. 

It was a slow night. I had done my checks and had patrolled and was feeling at the very pit of depression.

At just about the break of day, I drove myself to the headquarters building of the Marine Corps Base Cherry Point North Carolina and parked underneath of the flagpole at the very front of the building.

I began inspecting my weapon. It was a Colt 1911 45 caliber semiautomatic handgun. It held 7 rounds in the magazine with one in the chamber. The bullets where a full metal jacket round and I do not remember the number of grains of powder.

I emptied my weapon and inspected it. I inspected the ammunition. I tapped the full metal jacketed round against my skull.  I looked closely down the barrel of my Colt 45. 

I completely and fully contemplated ending my life.

In a rage of tears and depression. In a state of utter confusion and fear, I sat under the American flag, in front of the bases headquarters building, contemplating suicide. In a marked patrol car while in full uniform. 

But God…

I was the only person in the car. We didn’t have side partners. There was no one else. I heard it as plan as I would have if I were sitting next to a person: “She’s not worth it,” the voice said. 

I heard it once. Nothing more. Nothing less.  I put my weapon away and completed my shift.

Though I was still in pain and depressed and scared, I had something I didn’t before; A strength I hadn’t felt before and I didn’t have a clue where it came from. 

I had experienced a brokenness I never knew was possible.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.                         Ephesians 2:4-7 (NASB)