Jan 30, 2012

Week 4 of ODS

Week 4 (Jan 22-Jan 28)

Finally, a sponsor with the 3rd Marine Division!  I made contact with my command, and found out some details about my ultimate duty station!  From the sounds of it, there are no plans to deploy (YET)!  I will most likely be participating various short term exercises in several Asian countries (We’ll see)!  I haven’t been assigned to a specific battalion, but I should know where I will be assigned to in the next few weeks.  I haven’t had much contact with my sponsor, yet, but I did receive a very encouraging e-mail from one of the chaplains in Okinawa whose lifestyle and beliefs are very similar to ours!  I can’t wait to meet him and the other chaplains already serving “The Fighting 3rd!”

Week 4 was pretty uneventful.  We started the Division Officer Leadership Course (DOLC) this week, and the class was informative at times, and not so informative at others, but overall it was good.  It was nice to sit under new instructors who allowed us to relax a little.  They allowed us free reign on the coffee pots, (not that I drank any in case you were wondering) and were not so rigid and formal as the other instructors we’ve had up to this point.  One of them gave the class a great method for keeping shirt stays attached, and it actually works!  I was amazed and will continue to use it as long as I wear them, which won’t be much longer.  I’m buying a shirt lock as soon as I can!  The highlight of the class was our discussion on the Navy’s “diversity” policy, and watching the “Curahee” episode of Band of Brothers!  After we watched the episode, discussed Captain Sobel’s leadership style and how we needed to adjust our leadership style depending on our situation.  We pretty much spent all day, every day in DOLC.  Friday we got our briefing on the NWU’s and we will finally get to start wearing them in week 5.  I believe we will have an inspection sometime tomorrow.  I can’t wait as the NWU’s will be easier and more comfortable to wear than the Khaki’s.  Plus my wife already told me she thinks I’ll look hot wearing them!  It’s like killing two birds with one stone!  She said she’s going to jump into my arms when she sees me, and I can only hope I’m wearing NWU’s when it happens!

The only other thing we did this week was take our final PRT!  It is good to have that out of the way.  I really sapped for energy, and didn’t perform like I wanted to in curl-ups and push-ups.  I did fewer than the time before, but still passed.  I did cut my 1.5 mile run down to 10:37, so I was proud of that!  I also noticed that I have lost about 5 pounds while here, and that I can start to see the beginnings of 6-pack abs.  I haven’t seen anything like that since high school! 

There have been a few noteworthy events outside of class!  One of which was my battle with the seagulls.  When standing watch as the rover, I noticed trash everywhere behind one of our buildings.  The seagulls had drug a bag out of the overflowing dumpster, and they (with the help of the wind) had scattered it everywhere.  When I arrived on the scene, they were still picking at one of the bags, so I decided to run them off.  They held their ground until I was within a yard or so and then they split!  I never realized how large a seagull really is.  I thought they would be about the size of a pigeon, but they are much larger.  I ran them off, and then cleaned up the trash afterward.  I felt silly picking up trash in my Khaki uniform, but I bit the bullet and did it anyway!   A small sacrifice compared to what others have done!

Besides my seagull battle, I had the privilege of educating one of my friends in Midwest slang!  He had never heard the term “ganked” before, so I filled him in on the details!  He made fun of me by telling me somebody had “Ganked his corn!,” and I had a good laugh!  He’s a great guy who always brings a smile to my face with some sort of joke or harmless ribbing.

As a class, we were authorized to go on liberty anywhere within 100 miles.  A majority of the class headed to Boston for at least a day.  I had plans to go, but decided to cancel them at the last minute.  I was ready to crash on Friday afternoon, and thought it would be best if I stayed in Newport for the weekend.  I had a great time here on my OFP.  I pretty much did whatever I wanted, except when I had watch.  If I wanted to go somewhere with somebody, I did.  If I didn’t want to go, I didn’t.  It was great!  I’m hoping to make the trip to Boston this weekend with my beautiful wife in tow!

On Saturday, I had a couple experiences I may never have again.  My roommate and I decided to see the new Mission Impossible movie that was supposed to be playing at 10:30 am in Warwick.  The time seemed odd to me, but I thought maybe that’s how it’s done in New England.  Needless to say, we showed up to a theater with an empty parking lot and a movie that didn’t start until 4pm.  So we went to McDonald’s where I had breakfast, and a McFlurry (sweets have been officially authorized!).  Then we headed home when my roommate decided he wanted to stop by the Mercedes dealership. . . because he wanted to purchase a new Mercedes.  He didn’t buy one, but probably will soon!  Needless to say, it was my first trip to a Mercedes dealership, and probably my last with somebody who actually has the money to buy one.  After the stop at the Mercedes dealership, he decided he wanted to stop by the Harley-Davidson dealership to buy a custom part for his Harley!  The Harley dealership was a pretty cool place to be.  There were about fifteen bikes on the show room floor, and I enjoyed looking them over.  I was going to purchase a t-shirt as a souvenir, but the cheapest one I saw was $25.  I took a business card, and a free sales brochure instead.  While there, I met a Vietnam Vet who showed me the scar left over from when a NAVY CORPSMAN saved his live when his Huey crashed in Vietnam.  It was great visiting with him, learning about the “Jesus Nut,” and thanking him for his service to our great country!  Although we didn’t get to see the movie, it was still a great morning!

I also had colors detail on Saturday,  and once again it was a great privilege to raise and retire our national ensign.  We were authorized to use the big flag on the 130+ foot flag pole.  I carried the flag to the flag pole, and held it as it unfurled and began its ascent.   Our CDO (Command Duty Officer) told us that people can see the flag from all over Newport, and that was humbling.  Particularly, I thought about the symbolism of the raising of an American flag.  Perhaps seeing the flag going up reminds the people of Newport of the moon landing, their time on Iwo Jima, or merely of their own service to our country.  What a privilege it is to raise and retire a flag that means so much to so many people!

On a more somber note, I am starting to miss home and it stresses me out at times.  This weekend, Lincoln showed me his “Ninja Moves” over Skype, and it was kind of depressing.  I didn’t realize how big he was getting and seeing him run around the living room with some semblance of coordination reminded me of what I’m missing at home!  I hate that, but realize that it comes with the calling.  I just keep telling myself (and others who will listen) that nobody ever said you could follow Christ without sacrifices.  When I get stressed out because I miss my family, or my room gets tossed, or for any other reason, I’ve started imagining myself walking into our home and entering each room!  I see my wife (man she looks good), and my kids in my mind, and it puts me at peace!  The stress leaves, and I’m ready to carry out the Plan of the Day!  It reminds me of what Maximus did in Gladiator or what CPT. John Miller did in Saving Private Ryan.  They removed themselves from the situation at hand for just a few moments, reflected on what was truly important, and then took care of business!
Today at Bible Study the OTCN chaplain spoke on “Loving your enemies, even though you were literally killing them.”  He specifically addressed the OCS students, but lumped us chaplains in as part of the United States “War Machine.”  It’s been said that at the end of the day, it’s ultimately about, “Dropping warheads on foreheads,” and that came out in the chaplain’s message.  Ultimately, we minister to sailors and marines so they can go out and “Drop warheads on foreheads.”  He based his message on Romans 13, and I agreed with everything he said, however, I know I still have to wrestle more with this issue before I fully come to grips with this new ministry and its ultimate results.  I wasn’t alone, but as we walked back to King Hall, we all agreed that we had all experienced a clear cut call to this ministry, and God wouldn’t have us here if he didn’t want us here.  Regardless of what our sailors and marines end up doing, they need spiritual care and many of them need to know Christ as their Savior.  I pray God will continue to have his hand upon me as I undertake this ministry!

Monday starts week 5, and I can’t wait!  This week we get to do a lot of fun things.  On Monday, we are going to do damage control drills on the USS Buttercup.  These drills simulate a sinking ship which we get to try and save.  We will also get to put on firefighting equipment and learn how to put out fires, and we are headed back to the combat pool for some kind of training I have heard nothing about.  I just know we are going!  We graduate on Friday at 9am, and I can’t believe it’s almost here!  The last 4 weeks have flown by, and I’m sure this week will go just as quickly.  Amy is coming in on Tuesday, and I think I will be able to see her Tuesday night if it gets cleared.  If not, I should be able to on Wednesday, and our Class Chief said we should be able to check out of King Hall and spend Thursday night in town with family after Himoms at the O-Club (We’ll See!).  I can’t wait until Amy gets here!  I get so excited when I think about it, my heart beats a little bit faster!  She is the love of my life and the best woman I know!  We’ve talked about heading to Boston together, but we may hang out in Newport for a couple days!  There is a lot I haven’t seen here!  It really doesn’t matter what we do because we’ll be together! 

I still count it a privilege to serve God and Country in the World’s Finest Navy!  Hopefully the next time I update this blog I will have graduated and I’ll be writing from South Carolina!  God bless you, and I hope you Have A Fine Navy Day (HAFND)!

Jan 27, 2012

Led Here By God

*Post from Steven*

January 22st, 2012

I wrote this last weekend, but didn’t have time to post it.  I’ll try and write another and post it this weekend.
Week 3 is over, and we received off-base liberty this weekend, which is pretty cool considering the students at OCS are locked down for the entire time they are at Officer Training Command.  We had to stay on Aquidneck Island this weekend.  There are three bridges and maybe a ferry, and we were ordered to stay off all of them!   I spent Saturday at the Liberty Center, and then we went out on the tizown!  We ate at the Brick Alley pub, ran a few errands and came home.  The food was expensive, and I couldn’t bring myself to spend $25+ for seafood or steak.  I had a bacon cheese burger, my favorite!  I almost tried one of my shipmate’s sushi, but then logic took over.  I’ve gone 33 years without it, why try it now?
We have heard rumblings of overnight off-base liberty in civvies* next weekend.  There is a 100 mile travel radius, and everybody is talking about going to Boston.  I have mixed feelings.  I want to go, but now without my bride.  It just won’t be the same.  I’ll probably do it because most accommodations are better than staying in KH 5407.  It’s not bad, but at the end of the day, it’s just a place to sleep.  We have a desk, dresser, and bed.  The room is so hot that neither me nor my roommate need a blanket.   We get on our PTU’s and sleep w/o covers.  We tried opening the window for relief, but the room stayed hot!  As I’m typing this, it’s 32 degrees outside, the window is open, and I am literally breaking a sweat because it is so hot.  I can’t complain, though.  I’m still sleeping well, and am much more fortunate than those on our floor who have lost heat over the last few nights. 

This week was quite eventful.  We had our Mid-PRT, and I improved!  I cut nearly a minute off my 1.5 mile run by finishing at 11:00, added 7 pushups, but my sit-ups stayed about the same.  We also took our final exam for the first half of our training and I passed that as well with a 91%.  I wanted a 100%, but couldn’t pull it off this time.  Monday starts a new unit called the Division Officer Leadership Course.  I’m not sure what that is about, but it sounds more interesting than the “Death by Powerpoint” we have been experiencing.
We also got our immunizations on Tuesday and Thursday.  I had to get six shots (3 each day) and one flu-mist.  In my opinion, the shots are better than the mist.  There is some manly pride in taking a shot without wincing, but there is just something wrong with another human being spraying liquid up your nose!  It’s almost degrading!

The big event for the week was the Service Dress Blues inspection.  I passed that as well, but I haven’t seen the final score sheet so I don’t know what or how many I missed.  I’m sure I took a few dings as my grader did point out a few minor flaws like smudges on my tie clip, and officer insignia,  and  that I forgot to tuck in my shoe laces, and trim my excess belt to less than 4”.    The inspection was pretty intense for a group of newly commissioned officers.  We stood at parade rest outside our hatches (rooms) from 1445 until 1500 and then the “fun” began.  The graders entered, and “Attention on Deck” was announced. We quickly moved to the position of attention and waited for our graders to square off in front of us.  Once they did, we were to give them the greeting of the day and do whatever they told us to.  Mine had me walk into my room (using proper facing movements with 90 degree turns) and get my ruler.  He measured a few things on my desk, and then I stood at the position of attention, and he began asking me questions from my gouge pack.  I knew the answers to his questions, and passed that part without much trouble.  It was difficult because as I was rattling off information, he would interrupt me, point out mistakes in my uniform, or ask any other questions he thought pertinent.  Once I answered him, I had to start where I left off.  I did stumble a few times, but we are able to ask for “Permission to Correct” if we recognize we made a mistake.  At the end of it he asked me if I was stressed during the inspection.  I said “A little bit, sir!” and he said “Just so you know, a naval officer doesn’t need to yell and scream to intimidate people; all it takes is our presence.”  I would agree after our inspection, but I’m not sure how the “intimidation factor” works as a chaplain.  Before he left the room he “complimented” me by telling me I knew my knowledge “pretty good.”  At the end of the inspection, my roommate who has 23 years in the Army, and others who heard my inspection said I did awesome.  It didn’t feel that awesome, but I must have done better than I thought!  When it was all over, we were given time to “recover our uniforms,” (put on our jackets and straighten up everything they messed up (like my excess belt he pulled out and left), and then we were supposed to go back outside our hatches and stand at parade rest.  I was one of the first ones, and forgot what I was supposed to do after being inspected, so I just stood in the room at attention until another grader ordered me to get outside at parade rest.  Then I stood by as everybody else was inspected.  It was interesting hearing the other inspections, they were all a little bit different.  Some people failed, and had to go through another inspection on Saturday at 0800.  Everybody who failed the first inspection passed the second one!  This is a tribute to Delta Company as a whole!  Friday night after the inspection, and Saturday morning before it commenced multiple people were helping their shipmates study their knowledge and get their uniforms together.  We are learning that life in the Navy is not about individuals on their OFP (Own Friggin’ Program), but about working as a team to accomplish the mission.  We stand together, we fall together!

There are also some other good things happening in our company.  You may remember that I was nominated for a Bravo-Zulu award for tearing off a piece of my gouge for a shipmate.  A couple people have told me they were very impressed and amazed with what I did.  I have also seen various other shipmates following my lead.  Several times at chow you’ll hear gouge being ripped apart to help out a shipmate. It’s pretty cool to know that you were the one who started it all!

I also had the opportunity to call “Attention on Deck” for the commanding officer at OTCN.  Anytime he walks into a room (which is very rare) or across the quarterdeck (also very rare) we are to call “Attention on Deck, move to the position of attention, salute and give the greeting of the day.  Our instruction was to follow this protocol even if he was in his birthday suit.  So. . . I was standing watch as Officer of the Deck on Thursday night when he exited through the quarterdeck in his civilian clothes.  I called “Attention on Deck” and saluted, but forgot the greeting of the day.  He gave it, I responded, and the he told us to carry on.  As far as I know there is only two other people who had to do that!  Fortunately, they put up with our errors as they train us to be Naval officers.
Today I had duty which meant me and my duty section are responsible for the security of King Hall and a couple other buildings nearby.  This duty section was much different than those I had been on before.  The other times I was on duty, my watch was as Officer of the Deck, or Rover, but today I am responsible for colors.  I was part of the detail responsible for raising the flag at 0800 and lowering it at sunset.  It was a great experience to help raise Old Glory here at Officer Training Command.  Because of the wind conditions, we’re unable to use the large flag on our 100+ ft flag pole, and we had to settle for a smaller flag on a shorter pole.  It was still a privilege to stand at the position of attention in the blowing snow while our national anthem is played and our colors go up! 

The other new thing about my duty section was the snow!  Apparently the Navy doesn’t need to pay for professionals to remove snow from the sidewalks here.  They have students (us) to take care of that for them.  It snowed hard yesterday and several inches of snow and snow drifts covered all the sidewalks.  Because we were on duty, it was our responsibility to shovel it.  Other than a brief respite at chapel, and lunch, my detail and I shoveled snow from 0800 to 1430.  We shoveled drift covered sidewalks at King Hall, Callaghan Hall, the combat training pool, and even shoveled around the Commanding Officer’s government vehicle.  Believe it not, it was great fun!  Our shoveling group was filled with lighthearted, fun-loving people who embraced the mission and carried out with great gusto.  We joked, laughed, and told stories as we worked.  There was a great espirit de corps, and the time flew by.
Other than that, I miss my family like crazy, and it’s only 9 more days until Amy is here!  I can’t wait until she is in my arms again, even if it is for only a couple days.  I hate that it may be the end of March before I see the kiddos.  (I’m hoping Amy will bring them out for the weekend halfway through if possible.)  They are each amazing in their own way, and missing out on their daily lives is killing me.  Fortunately, I receive a daily log of activity from Amy.  It always brings a smile to my face and makes me miss them more and more.  I generally think about them each morning at breakfast and walk to and from chow with a smile on my face!  Being apart from them is difficult, but as I explained to them, nobody (not even Christ himself) ever said following Christ would be easy.  As I think on that, I am taken back to our Biblical Leadership Study last weekend when the base chaplain taught from Romans 8:14.  He reminded us that we were led here by God so we could lead others to him.  That’s why I’m here, and I have had several opportunities to visit with people about Christ and his role in my life.  Keep praying the seeds I am planting will grow.  Pray I will keep focused on the real mission as the busyness of training is always a distraction.  Other believers in our company have the same problem, so pray for them too.  Eleven days and a wakeup, and we are out of here!  God bless you all! 

*civilian clothes

Jan 16, 2012

The first two weeks (of ODS). . .

*A Post from Steven!*

 If I could sum up the last two weeks here in Newport, I would describe them as both amazing and difficult.  On the amazing side, I am truly loving life here and our training.  I am learning a lot and have been challenged mentally, physical, and emotionally.  

The first week was the most difficult.  On Tuesday, we went to the uniform shop and purchased our uniforms.  If you know me you know that spending any amount of money makes me cringe, (although the amount my wife spent for her trip here didn’t bother me at all, I must really love her!) and I dropped a lot of money on my uniforms, and there is more to spend!  Wednesday was our first official day and we were woken up at 4:30am by chiefs yelling that we had two minutes to get dressed and get on the line for PT.  This courtesy wake-up call continued throughout the week! Of course, nobody was able to make it in two minutes, and the yelling continued!  We spent the rest of the week in briefs (sidenote: he's not talking about underwear, ha, ha) and in-processing into the Navy.  Nothing fun except for getting to know some of the amazing people who have chosen to serve their country in a time of war!

The difficult part was getting used to the packed schedule.  We get up at 4am and go to bed around 10pm (or later depending on the night) and we are working practically the whole time.  If we are not in briefs, we are doing laundry, cleaning our rooms or deck, and studying for exams or inspection.  

On the night before our Khaki inspection, I was notified that I had to switch my entire room at about 8pm.  Couple that with getting my Khaki uniform clear of “IP’s” (extra strings), wrinkles (I don’t really know how to iron), and adding the appropriate creases and it made for a late night for me. I was not alone.  Saturday was another full day of briefs which ended with the Khaki inspection.  I don’t think I “failed,” the inspection, but I did not do as well as I wanted to.  It was kind of a train wreck as a company, but definitely a learning experience.  

Another difficult task was my attempt repair my PTU uniforms on my own. We have to stuff our watchcap (stocking hat) and gloves into the pouch on our hoodies, and both of mine ended up getting ripped.  I took the initiative and purchased a sewing kit at the NEX and attempted the repair.  Having never sewed before, I did my best, and it held up pretty well!  One of the other ladies in our wing didn’t think it would suffice, and offered to repair both of them for me.

Week two was much better.  No longer do we get yelled at for our wake up call. We are allowed to wake up when we please as long as we are ready for PT by 0425.  We now have a chain of command within the company, and our chief is slowly releasing the reins and letting us run our own company.  He told us he’s only a tour guide, and what we do is really up to us!  

We are now wearing the Khaki uniform every day.  It’s great to get out of the PTU’s (smurf suits) because people recognize you as an officer, and you receive salutes!  It’s a pretty great feeling to be saluted when you walk around the base.  I don’t mind wearing the same clothes every single day of the week, but I get the impression that it bothers some of the ladies in the company.  The only thing I dislike about the Khakis are the “shirt stays.”  If you don’t know, they are pieces of elastic which attach to the top of your socks from the bottom of your shirt.  It keeps your shirt wrinkle-free and looking good.  However, they tend to come off from time to time and you have to dig them out of your pant leg and make it to the head for a repair.  The first day they all came off, day 2 three of them came off, day 3 only two came off, and I’ve been able to keep all four of them on today. Experience, I guess.  That being said, it is still an honor to wear this uniform!  The Khakis represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before us as naval officers. 

I did win our Bravo-Zulu award for helping out a shipmate.  We have to have our gouge pack at every meal to study, and if we forget it, we have to read a condiment bottle instead.  I saw one of our company without his gouge, and just as he reached for a ketchup bottle, I tore a page off mine and handed it to him!  Apparently our chief saw it and just walked away instead of accosting us for not having our gouge.  Because of my generosity, I had first dibs on a washing machine for the night.  It was a pretty awesome feeling. 

Week 2 was filled with more briefs, studying, and getting ready for another Uniform and Room Inspection which takes place this Friday.  Week 2 was also our first experience of Liberty while here.  We were given liberty around 5pm on Friday, and several of us booked it down to the Liberty Center for the Night.  I spent my time skyping with Amy and watching the festivities.  Some of the younger officers played Wii and others spent time watching TV for the first time in a couple of weeks.  We were able to watch the NFL playoffs in our lounge as well!

Spiritually and emotionally, ODS has been taxing.  The packed schedule leaves very little time for spiritual matters.  I went from being a pastor and spending hours in the word to being a LTJG and spending 10-15 minutes if I’m lucky.  I definitely miss my regular quiet times with the Lord.  Week one was the worst in this regard, but things are getting better.  I have found a regular routine, and another Christian to pray with every night.  Attending chapel and Bible Study on Sunday has been a life-saver as well.  Going to these services puts things in perspective.  The staff at ODS continually reminds us that we are naval officers, but chapel and Bible study remind us that we are much more than that!  In ODS everything seems to be so performance based, and we must strive to be the best!  Chapel reminds us that everything is grace based, and God loves us no matter what!  An amazing paradigm that can only be truly appreciated by going through it!  I treasure my time on Sunday mornings!

Liberty is almost over, and we are getting ready to head back to King Hall for the night to start preparing for week 3.  Before I go to bed tonight I still have to wash my uniforms, prep them for tomorrow, shine my shoes, study my gouge, sit through a brief on our inspection, and finally climb in my rack!  Week 3 should be exciting.  We have our second PRT, firefighting and damage control training, our NOW exam (necessary to pass the course), vaccinations, and our Service Dress Blue’s inspection (this inspection determines our status for Liberty next week.  This week will be hectic and packed with activity, but I’m looking forward to it!  Missing Amy and my family like crazy, but only 15 days until she’s here!  I can’t wait!  I hope I am able to spend time with her before Hi-moms and graduation!  As our chief would say “We’ll See!”  More later!

Joshua 1:9


Jan 13, 2012


Steven called while I was at church on Wednesday night. I dropped what I was doing to answer it. He was checking to see if I had been working on my paperwork and what the status of our No-Fee passports was.

I asked him how his room and uniform inspections went. He said he failed both of them. When they arrived, there was a document about  how to keep your room while there, with no further instructions. The list had about 60 things on it, he said. Joking or not, I'm sure they have to be meticulous. Anyway, he said when they came back to their rooms, their beds, bedding and any gear out was tossed all about. Apparently, they (he and his roommate I guess) didn't fill out the room inspection sheet correctly.

Then he said he also failed his uniform inspection. His belt wasn't straight, the officer crest wasn't on correctly, etc. He also said everyone except one person failed it.

He had to order military grade glasses for chaplaincy school.

I had to overnight some information to him yesterday so that he could get us enrolled in DEERs.

When I spoke with him last night, he said that they have what's called a gouge pack (scroll to the bottom to see a link to a pdf of the gouge pack). It's about million things they have to have memorized. Anchors Aweigh, Chain of Command, Officer Rank Structure, etc. Anyway, when they go to eat, they are supposed to have this with them to study. If you forget it, you are supposed to grab a ketchup bottle (or whatever's on the table) and begin reading that instead. The chief petty officer will see you reading that bottle and know that you made a mistake by NOT bringing your gouge pack. The guy next to Steven began reading a ketchup bottle, so Steven ripped out a page of his gouge paperwork and handed it to him. The Chief Petty Officer saw this whole thing and then walked away. I have no idea what Steven was thinking at this point. I would be thinking that I was in trouble. But apparently, the Chiefs go on and on about helping your shipmate, etc.

At the end of the day, you can nominate anyone for doing something exceptional. All these are read out loud later. Steven's lunchtime act was read aloud. Then, they put all these nominations in a hat to draw for who gets a special privilege. Most of these acts are done by 2 people, so since Steven did this all by himself, he was chosen to have the privilege of doing his laundry first.

He said he's doing fine, but still a little tired. He is eating well and excersizing but is staying under 180. They get liberty on Sunday and Monday.

The kids and I are doing well. We are keeping pretty busy really. I only seem to miss him in the early morning, when I write my daily letter to him. Thanks for all who are praying. We need it and we notice it!

Jan 10, 2012

Paperwork On My End

Steven has still been calling frequently. I didn't talk with him on Monday or Tuesday night though. When he called, he gave me a few tasks:
1. Call Ft. Riley's Travel Office to check the status of our No-Fee Passports.
2. Call Forbes and ask about getting our I.D.s done there (Addie and me)
3. Get the Overseas Screening Info Taken Care of

I did call Ft. Riley-- not in yet. I called Forbes and they need Steven to fill out an 1172 Form. I believe it's a form that has something to do with us being in the DEERs system. DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System). Taken from the DEERs website:

"DEERS is a worldwide, computerized database of uniformed services members (sponsors), their family members, and others who are eligible for military benefits, including TRICARE. All sponsors are automatically registered in DEERS.  However, the sponsor must register eligible family members. Family members can update personal information such as addresses and phone numbers once they are registered in DEERS." 

I spoke with all the dentist and doctors and am waiting to hear back from them. We have to be current with our dental exams and have the doctor look over our records. I believe this is all to make sure we aren't going to have a health/dental emergency in the next 12 months. Even my 2 year old has to have a dentist look at him. Good luck with that!

Mix all of this in with being an only, stay-at-home-mom of 4 kids and I'm feeling a little busy right now! Actually, 2 of my kids are at Grandma's, so I'm getting a little reprieve. I am just really missing my husband being AROUND. It's not that I am feeling overwhelmed by doing all the cleaning, cooking, laundry, bedtimes, baths, etc. I did that anyway. I'm just feeling lonely. And this loneliness is from not having my best friend within reach.

I asked Steven how I could pray for him and he said spiritually, they just don't have time for much Bible study. He does go to chapel on Sundays and last I knew, he and his roommate were reading and discussing what they read. He said he's lucky if he gets one chapter in per day. When they aren't busy with PT/admin/classes, they are ironing their uniforms or doing laundry, etc.

He also said he's pretty tired. I suppose that's to be expected. He mentioned that they all go to bed late (11pm) and get up around 4am for PT. So please pray that the Lord would sustain him through this. I have full confidence that He will!

I made arrangements to go to his ODS graduation in February since he can't come home inbetween ODS and Chaplaincy school. So I'll be flying out at the end of  January for a few days...by myself. And renting a car...by myself. I will get used to this kind of thing I bet!

On a positive note-- I haven't put Steven in the poor house like he thought I might!  I'm doing fine and not spending all his money. :)

Jan 6, 2012

Almost a Week Later

I have gotten to hear from Steven almost every day so far! That's quite unexpected. He is settled in and has begun official training. He passed all his fitness tests (which I knew he would). He bought his uniforms and has NOT sent me a photo of him in them yet. When he does, I'll post it. He's busy learning tons of stuff and being "indoctrinated" into the military.

The kids and I are doing fine. One of them was sniffling in bed last night and said that he didn't want his dad to be gone for 3 months. I told him to wake up every day and say, "I can get through one more day." I hugged him and kissed him and told him to pray and ask God to help him through it. What else can I do? I feel the same way!

I had some information emailed to me for our oversees screening. Our doctors and dentists have to fill out information that says we aren't going to require medical/dental emergency care while we're in Japan. As in, we won't need "special" care while over there. I have to get a doctor to fill out a form that my children aren't "special needs" either. Apparently, it's more difficult going oversees if you have a special needs family member. The military calls it "exceptional family member." So, I'm working on filling out all that information and sending it to our doctor and dentist.

Yesterday, it got up to 70 degrees, so I took the kids to the zoo and the library. We did our work in the morning and headed to Topeka for the day. I love being a homeschooling family. We practically had the zoo and the park to ourselves. I totally forgot my camera! This was Lincoln's first visit and I couldn't even document it.

Thi sweekend, we're going to spend some time with family for a day or two. Not looking forward to the driving, but am glad to be with family in the end.

Jan 1, 2012

The Countdown Begins

The night before he left, his family came to dinner. Then, my family stopped by later that evening. They asked him questions and joked around. I don't know how it felt for him, knowing he wouldn't be seeing these people for 3 months, but he said that he had a good time. They gathered around us later and prayed for us. Okay, so I cried a little.

The morning of his flight, he started saying that he would miss me and I started to cry again. Then later, he said something again and I started to cry AGAIN. Ugh!

I know this is perfectly normal and in a way, I feel like I should be crying more. But I'm afraid that if I do cry, then I won't stop. I don't want my kids to see me crying like that. I have to show them that yes, it's sad, but it's also going to be alright.

My oldest son cried a little before we left for the airport, which surprised me. He doesn't usually wear his heart on his sleeve. In fact, his feelings are usually a mystery to everyone.

As you can see, my daughter had a rough time yesterday at the airport. She and I haven't really talked about how she felt about her dad being gone for 3 months. I figured she didn't really grasp that concept, but it must have hit her all of a sudden. Or else, like me, she was trying to put off the tears as long as possible.

I did cry when he and I hugged. I wanted to stay in his arms all day and not let him go, but I also wanted to get on with it-- the separation. The sooner it starts, the sooner it gets over!

He called when he landed in FL and then again when he was in a taxi on the way to the school in RI. When he got there, the taxi wasn't allowed on the premises, so the policeman offered him a ride. When he got to check-in, they told him that they had just sent someone to pick him up. Oh, well. They also didn't have his name on their roster, but he showed them his orders and that was cleared up quickly. He called one more time later that evening and told me that he met some people already. One was a baptist chaplain like him, so that was good. Also, this guy had the same experience as far as not being on the roster. How we have known for 3 months that he would go there and the Navy hasn't known is beyond me. I'm sure I should get used to that, huh!

In the past few days I've received encouraging words, texts, and offers of help. I just want to tell you all THANK YOU! I take great comfort in knowing that people out there are praying for the both of us. I know that I can't get through this on my own. As far as offers of help go, I don't really know how you can help me yet. Since I've never been here before, I'm just not sure.