The Kaiju in My Kitchen

This evening Laura and I were making s’mores and a chocolate chip dropped behind the oven. It inspired me to write this little story for my kids. This is unedited as of now and I may go back and try and smooth it out some later.

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I dropped one chocolate chip between the oven and the cupboard. Now there’s a kaiju in my kitchen. Well, that’s not quite how it happened. First I was helping my mom make s’mores and even though we were VERY careful I still dropped one chocolate chip. I didn’t think much of that little chocolate chip as we microwaved our graham crackers, chocolate chips, and marshmallows.

That night my daddy tucked me in and told me a story about a knight and a kaiju.

“Daddy, I want a pet kaiju!”

My daddy just smiled and kissed me goodnight.

“Maybe if you wish for one…” he said as he turned out the light.

That night I dreamed of knights and kaiju and knights with pet kaiju and kids with kaiju on leashes.

“Good morning! I’ve got a surprise for you!” Called daddy.

I thought about surprises. Marshmallow cereal? A toy? A trip to the beach?

A kaiju eating chocolate chips at the table? Apparently kaiju love chocolate chips so much that they climb out of their lairs in dark ovens and cobwebby cupboards to eat them.

Now there’s a kaiju in my kitchen.

Daddy and mommy said I could keep him as long as I take care of him.

So I feed my kaiju his favorite foods: chocolate chips and grapefruit juice.

I make sure my kaiju gets plenty of exercise and take him for walks at the dog park. The dogs don’t seem to mind my kaiju but the ducks don’t like it when he swims with them.

I give my kaiju a bath at least once a week. It is hard to keep him in the tub but if we feed him chocolate chips he doesn’t seem to mind my scrubbing and rubbing.

At the end of each day I read my kaiju a story about a brave knight who tamed a ferocious dragon.

Then I tuck my kaiju in and tell him goodnight.

Having a pet kaiju is hard work but I know that with a kaiju in my kitchen my best friend will always be close as he sleeps in the dark oven and the cobwebby cupboards.

The 4th From a Fort

I love long weekends on Army posts. Things are typically pretty quiet. People usually are hanging out at home, working in the little backyards, or making a day trip to any number of great places in SE Georgia or northern Florida. I’m sitting here in a quiet house as Liam naps and Laura, Ewan, and Aunt Sarah have yet to return from their trip to Savannah for some shopping. As we sat out on our driveway last night to watch the fireworks display on post, I was struck by how much different our circumstances are this 4th July versus the last one. I don’t really have much else that I wanted to say beyond that little observation. I’m so incredibly thankful. There are folks who desire to get to do this job but for one reason or another they never get the opportunity. For some reason God opened the door for us. My prayer is that we take full advantage of the opportunity that we’ve been given and that my family is able to show the love of Jesus to many soldiers and their families.

We truly are blessed to be where we are.

More Rights Less Liberty

It seems that the more rights we discover and desire the government to recognize that the less liberty we have. Every time society decides that something is a fundamental right, an aspect of life that to be deprived of diminishes human flourishing, it requires the government to step in and make sure that right does not get trampled. It means new laws, rules, and regulations. It means the government has to grow and has to get more involved in our every day lives because we demanded that this right be recognized.

Now don’t hear me wrong. There are rights that are necessary for human flourishing but they are far less than we imagine. Essentially what has happened is that we have come to view the privileges and comforts of modern life as fundamental rights. As in, “It is impossible for me to flourish without a cell phone Thus I have a right to one. Thus the government must make sure I am provided one” or “It is impossible for me to flourish unless birth control or abortifacients  are provided to me by my employer. Thus I have a right to these things. Thus the government must make sure that I am provided them.”

So it seems noteworthy to me that the more things we see and demand as rights that the less liberty we have to simply live our lives. Granted, there will always be a tension that exists in society between rights/law and liberty. A completely libertarian society will fall into anarchy and a communist/Marxist society attempts to make sure everyone is equal but only succeeds in making everyone equally miserable. As strange as it sounds, it seems like the path we are on right now is a combination of the two. We desire a libertarian government when it comes to our personal behavior but we also desire a huge bureaucracy to subsidize, reinforce, and endorse said behavior.

From a Christian perspective, there are three big reasons to push against the tendency towards more perceived rights and instead in the direction of personal liberty. Religious liberty demands a right to freely assemble, a right to proselytize, and a right to have religious ideas be a part of the larger philosophical conversation that takes place in society. Right now it is that last one that is taking the hardest hits. You’ll hear a lot of people talk about religion being something private and something to be confined to the home or the place of worship. You’ll hear people saying that religion does not have a place in the board room, the class room, the court house, or the science lab. Thus by marginalizing religious thought, the place of religion in the broader marketplace of ideas, and the rights of people to practice their faith outside of their homes and places of worship, we are truly trampling on the right of religious liberty.

But I’m a realist. I recognize that the right of religious liberty is not highly valued by the culture at large. That’s why we see new laws, rules, and regulations that are quick to chip away at religious liberty in service of whatever the perceived right du jour is. So then the real question becomes, are we mature enough as a society that even as we demand new rights we will craft laws in such a way that they respect those older, foundational rights? Sadly, I think we know the answer.

Adventures in The Chaplaincy- The First PCS

On Sunday morning I got up early and left Oklahoma City, bound for Georgia, to start on a new adventure. Unfortunately, the family was not able to come at the same time. Because of the short time frame between when I received my official orders and when I had to report the packers and movers were unable to come get our household goods before I had to be in Georgia.

A quick search on the internet will yield a plethora of horror stories about packers and movers. Thankfully, the experience on Oklahoma City end was very smooth. Even though our living situation was a bit complicated the packers came in and did a great job and between them and the movers were even finished a day earlier than scheduled. Hopefully things will go smoothly on the Georgia end too.

My trip to Georgia was largely uneventful. I made it just past Birmingham on day one. The only real hiccups were some construction slowdowns (largely mitigated by travelling on a Sunday) and a road closure that had me relying on the position of the sun and the moss on the tree to navigate rather than the GPS on my phone. I couldn’t resist a stop in Memphis for lunch. Originally I planned to eat in the downtown area but was quickly dissuaded when I discovered all the parking was going to cost $25. Sorry Memphis but I wasn’t that desperate for BBQ. I was able to find a local BBQ joint off the freeway that didn’t require leaving a toe for a parking fee and can now say I ate BBQ and drank sweet tea in Memphis.

The second day saw me arrive at Fort Stewart around noon and get signed in to the post. I was blessed to have the outgoing Chaplain reach out to me before I arrived so we met up that afternoon and he drove me around the post to show me where things were. He also took me to the building where my office will be and introduced me to a lot of the folks I’ll be working with. He introduced me to the Executive Officer of my new unit who also administered my new oath of office.

I confess to being a bit overwhelmed on the first day. A new place. New people. Trying to learn the best way to drive back and forth to different places on post. Plus, I was super busy meeting with the housing office to take possession of our home, getting sworn in, and then trying to lay in a few supplies so that I wouldn’t have to eat out every meal.

Thankfully, that overwhelmed feeling began to diminish a bit by day two at Fort Stewart. PT in the morning was a run with the Division Command Sergeant Major and he took us on a run around the post to all the memorials and monuments and explained their significance as well as some history of the 3rd ID. The history buff in me really enjoyed it and I appreciated the effort to make newcomers feel connected to the history and sacrifices the Dogfaced soldiers have made down through the years.

Day two also gave me the opportunity to connect with some other Chaplains on post. It was really good for me to get to connect with them because it made the task of getting integrated feel a bit less daunting because I know I can turn to them for help and counsel should the need arise.

Now, I’d be lying if I said there have not been some hiccups in the in-processing. Coming from the Guard to Active Duty has meant some delays in getting in the Active Duty system. That basically means that pay and benefits are on hold until I get in that system. Thankfully everyone I’ve worked with so far has been helpful and patient with all my noob questions. Hopefully next week I’ll be in the system and able to finish in-processing. Hopefully. You never know with the Army and with paperwork.

So that’s about it so far. A few other discoveries have been that I’m not 19 any more but I did manage to keep up with those fresh out of AIT soldiers in PT. Granted, I think I felt it more the next day but it was still nice. Another observation, I miss chairs. I’m looking forward to our stuff getting here just so that I don’t have to either stand or sit on the floor. Finally, I’m looking forward to the family getting here. In some ways I think it might have been good for me to come to the post ahead of them because I’ll be able to help get them acclimated since I’ve been here a few days longer and already know my way around a bit.

So with that, here are some pictures from our adventures this past week.

 

 

Goodbyes Don’t Get Easier With Practice

We’ve had a lot of moves in our married life. We have a lot more in the future. There are some things that get easier with practice. At least that is the mantra we are told from the time we are young and doing everything from learning to read to learning to drive. What about learning to say goodbye? Why doesn’t that get easier? Maybe it is something we should be grateful for.

When we said goodbye to Fort Worth we said goodbye to friends who had supported me through the dog days of seminary. They had encouraged Laura during a year long bout with a brutal commute. They prayed for us when we faced the prospect of infertility. They rejoiced with us when God provided a little boy. They helped us load moving trucks not once, not twice, but three different times. They prayed that God would provide me a job and rejoiced when he did. Even though we had not seen them for two years they supported us when things went south in Kansas with their generosity.

A couple of weeks ago we journeyed back to Texas and got to see a number of these friends again. Laura and I were reminded of how truly blessed we are to have them in our lives. Even though we said goodbye to them two and a half years ago it was still hard to say goodbye again. Maybe that’s a good thing. It means these people meant something to us. That they impacted us deeply. That we love them.

Sometimes you have friends that are steady and constant. They are the ones that we sometimes tend to forget about because they are always there when we need them. Because our ordeal in Kansas brought us back to Oklahoma City we have been able to spend time with a couple we have known since our college days (over ten years ago now). Even though we have spent the better part of the last decade living in different states we’ve always made time to get together when circumstances have found us in the same location. This couple came to visit us when we lived in Texas. They came to visit us when we lived in Kansas. We have traded meals multiple times over the past eight months.

When times were hard for us we would often receive encouraging phone calls or emails. They’ve rejoiced when we’ve rejoiced and wept when we’ve wept. They joined our families when we unloaded a caravan of vehicles following our stressful move from Kansas. Their steady friendship, constant encouragement and support, and willingness to make sacrifices here and there to spend time with us are all reminders of how truly blessed we are to call them our friends. It’s hard to say goodbye to them again. Maybe that’s a good thing. It means these people meant something to us. That they impacted us deeply. That we love them.

On Sunday most of our family made the journey to our church in Shawnee to celebrate with us as we took part in a parent-child dedication for Spock. Following the dedication we were able to meet back up with my siblings (minus one) and go have dinner together. We had fun. We laughed. We have history together, both good and bad,  because we are family. We have roots that run deep and that stretch from one corner of the United States and are soon to stretch to another corner.  It was hard to say goodbye to them again because this will be the furthest away I’ve ever been from my family. No longer just a half day drive away but rather a half a country away.

So as we loaded up the kids in our car and hugged in the parking lot of the restaurant where we were eating I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some tears. It’s hard to say goodbye to them again. Maybe that’s a good thing. It means these people meant something to us. That they impacted us deeply. That we love them.

There are still some goodbyes yet to happen. Those won’t be easy either. In fact, we are going to be repeating this over and over again for as long as we live. But I think those hard goodbyes are also the sweetest goodbyes. That the difficulty of leaving is a good thing. It means these people meant something to us. That they impacted us deeply. That we love them.

And so we do.

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