Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It's the Little Things in Life

Our Truck

Today marks one month that I've been in Iraq, so I figured it was about time I started learning my way around in the truck. Kristy and I were supposed to pick up Jd from the airport this morning, but he is stuck in Jordan. So, instead I took the truck to the clinic to get some more bandages for my smallpox scar (this thing is taking way longer than I thought it would to fall off) and then I drove to the palace. I was quite proud of myself...lol

Monday, February 27, 2006

Blessings of Brokenness Nuggets

I finished reading "The Blessings of Brokenness" by Dr. Charles Stanley last night. Here are a few of the lessons I got out of it:

God is in the process of changing what we desire, far more than he is in the process of giving us what we desire.

God's purpose is to lead a believer to confront, remove, or change those habits, attitudes, and beliefs that keep the believer from growing into the full stature of Christ's likeness.

We may not be responsible for what happened to us, but we are responsible for our response to it.

That one hit me from both ends b/c I am responsible for what happened, so my response is definitely my responsibility as well.

Four important questions to ask in times of brokenness:
1. What is happening in the spiritual area of my life?
2. What might God be desiring to do in my relationship with Him?
3. How might God work in this time of brokenness to restore me, renew me, remake me, and remold my relationship with Him?
4. How might God work in and through this situation or circumstance to bring me to greater wholeness?

All very good questions to ask and ones I'm asking. I look forward to God's answers!

God breaks us to mature us spiritually! Spiritual growth is marked by increasing dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimate spiritual maturity is a state of total dependence upon the Holy Spirit to govern, guide and guard our lives.

When God breaks us, our brokenness affects others around us.

Definitely a major truth! We do not live in a bubble. Our actions always have consequences on those around us. The message at Church yesterday said the same thing. Isn't it amazing how when God is teaching you something, He uses several avenues to make sure you get the point. I definitely got it loud and clear!!!

Three calls on every person's life:
1. Call to salvation
2. Call to sanctification or separation
3. Call to service

Every instance of brokenness is meant to increase one of those area's of our life. If you haven't accepted God's salvation, brokenness is God's attempt to get you to the point to realize you need Him. After salvation, most instances of brokenness are to get rid of areas in your life that aren't honoring to God. The remaining instances of brokenness are for those who are resisting a specific call of service God has placed in their life.

Brokenness is the pruning process God uses to produce more fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

More self-control and patience are definitely at least two of the fruits that are being produced in my life during this time of brokenness.

Five great blessings come from our being broken:
1. Understanding of God Better
2. Understanding of Ourselves Better
3. Increased Compassion for Others
4. Greater Zest for Life
5. Increased Awareness of God's Presence

I look forward to those blessings in my life as this period of brokenness works in my life.

These are just a tiny few of the nuggets in this very powerful book. I highly recommend it to anyone who is experiencing brokenness, has been broken in the past, or will be broken in the future...yeah, I know that covers everyone =)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Don't Be Deceived

The message today in Church was from Gal 6:7-9. The main point of the passage is that whatever you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow good seeds you will reap a good harvest, but if you sow bad seeds, you will reap a bad harvest.

The Pastor gave four lessons from the passage:

1. Wise sowers sow with a harvest in mind.
-we to often just sow seeds without ever considering what harvest the seeds will produce

That was definitely true in for me regarding the sexual sin in my life...it was all about the pleasure for the moment

2. You will reap exactly what you sow.
-there are two harvest times, here on earth and after death
-on earth you will reap what you sow on earth be it good or bad
-after death you will reap your eternal harvest, whether spending eternity in heaven or hell will be determined by whether or not you let Christ sow His seed in your heart before you leave earth

3. You harvest more than you sow.
-true no matter what you sow, you will always reap more than you sow

4. Innocent people will reap the seeds we sow.
-we are still reaping the seeds sown by Adam and Eve that let sin enter the world
-our kids will reap some of the seeds we sow into their lives
-those around us will reap some of the seeds we sow

The last one of part 4 really hit home because due to my sowing bad seeds, Cheryl and others are now having to reap some of my bad harvest.

My prayer is that I make it through this time of reaping the bad seeds I've sown to the harvest of the good seeds I'm sowing now!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Elections Bring Results

If the SD Gov signs this bill into law (all indications are that he will), it will be the first major test of the new Roberts/Alito Supreme Court on how they will view states' rights and Roe v Wade. Look for all hell to break loose from the pro-abortion crowd if he signs it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Blessings of Brokenness

After the engagement was broken off, two friends in DC (thanks Becky and Lori), recommended a book by Dr. Charles Stanley, "The Blessings of Brokenness."

I went to B&N in El Paso to buy it but they didn't have it in stock. So, when I got here, I ordered it online and it arrived on Tuesday.

I'm really looking forward to reading it. The subtitle goes even further saying, "Why God Allows Us to Go Through Hard Times." This qualifies as a hard time, probably the hardest I've yet to face, so I'm looking forward to Dr. Stanley's insight and hearing from God through this book.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Coulter Unleashed

My earlier post about Jacoby nailing my feelings on the cartoon issue has just been trumped by Coulter's article on the issue!!!

Port Compromise

This whole Port issue is really touching lots of cords. When you have former President Carter supporting President Bush and Republican Maryland Governor Ehrlich agreeing with Democratic New York Senator Schumer you definitely have an issue that is anything but clear.

Transferring ownership to the Dubai company only transfers the financial handling of the ports and all the security from the Coast Guard and the Americans working the port stays the same. So for that reason I don't have a problem with the deal.

That being said, I don't see the problem with Congress being allowed to give the deal further scrutiny, especially when you have Frist and Hastert leading that way I have confidence that it will be a fair inquiry. If they pass a bill to do just that with a short (4-8 weeks) review period, I think it would be a very dumb move for the President to veto such a bill.

If it has truly been vetted as he says, then after the Congress-critters see all the info, then all should move forward. However by vetoing such a bill that has major national security issues, all that will do is further his image of secrecy and give the Dems points on the national security issue being they will obviously try to milk it for all its worth and rightfully so.

So my compromise to solve the issue would be to allow the bill to go through as long as it has a short deadline. State that once Congress sees all the facts they will agree that the deal is a safe deal. That way you allow Congress members to do their due diligence and minimize the hit from looking weak on a very important national security issue thus loosing ground on your main issue to the Dems.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Here's Hoping

Bin Laden has vowed to never be captured alive. Hopefully he has a chance to prove this soon!

Jacoby Nails It

I've still been working through my feelings on the Danish cartoon controversy. I was pretty close to writing something on here about it when I was sent this article by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe. His editorial nails my feelings towards the whole situation and the events after it, especially the media's reaction and coverage of it.

Creature Comfort

New beds

My new bed!

Our cots were replaced by twin beds over the weekend. I never thought a hard mattress could be so comfortable =) You may also notice I bought a chair since my last pic of my space. More and more like home every day...lol

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hilarious Parody

I knew it wouldn't take long for stuff like this to come out. Here is an absolutely hilarious parody of Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun" with "Cheney's Got a Gun." I especially love the line, "Cindy Sheehan better run."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My Sentiments Exactly

"Maybe it's just me, but while Iran is trying to get its hand on a nuke; while armed and uniformed Mexicans are shooting at U.S. law enforcement personnel along our borders; while congress is spending us into oblivion --- I somehow find it hard to get worked up over how we learned that Dick Cheney bagged an attorney."

- Talk show host Neal Boortz

Monday, February 13, 2006

Was Al Gore in Town?

Two years ago when I was living in NYC, Al Gore gave a "major" global warming speech. It ended up being the coldest day in NYC history in over 100 years...great timing Al. So being NYC received 26.9 inches of snow yesterday, the most in the city's history, I was just wondering if Gore was in town again.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Four Pillars

In my quest to be the man God intends me to be, before leaving I bought a book called, "Four Pillars of a Man's Heart" by Stu Weber. I just started it a couple of nights ago and so far it has been really incredible.

The premise of the book is that there are four pillars that God intended every man to model to the world around him. They are King, Warrior, Mentor and Friend. If all four aren't present, then the man isn't being the man God intended him to be.

A key though is to have the proper balance in all four. To balance them Weber lists four adjectives that must be present along with the nouns: Servant-King, Tender-Warrior, Wise-Mentor, and Faithful-Friend.

At the beginning of chapter three, there is a great quote:

King. Warrior. Mentor. Friend. Four pillars in a manly heart. Every man is commissioned by his Creator...to provide, as a Servant-King; to protect, as a Tender-Warrior; to teach, as a Wise-Mentor; and to connect, as a Faithful-Friend.

A king who is not a servant is merely a tyrant.

A warrior who is not tender is only a brute.

A mentor who is not wise is just a know-it-all.

A friend who is not faithful is at best an acquaintance, or worse, a betrayer.

I can definitely tell already which areas were out of balance in my life that led me down the path I took, and I look forward to getting into the meat of each pillar in order to reinforce what I have already learned since and even more. It continues to be a great journey!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Team

Barbara: aka Boss Lady

Nancy: aka Deputy Boss Lady

Dan: aka D-vizzle

Jd: aka J-dizzle

Kristy: aka Blondie

Cultural Advisor: aka Big Pimpin'

Friday, February 10, 2006

First Iraq Pics

Camp Victory Tent City

Path to Tent before the storm

Path to Tent after the storm

Brand new boots (thankfully I received them the day before the big storm...thanks Barbara S.!!!)

Tent #7 - My home for the next 6 months

My rack


Bathrooms (way better than PortaPotties)

Grits in Iraq!!! (I can barely get grits in DC, yet I have them every morning in Iraq...who woulda thunk it ;)

Al Faw Palace (The Office)

History of Al Faw Palace (basically Saddam built it in honor of the troops who took back Al Faw port from the Iranians)

The obligatory pic in the throne!

HUGE chandelier from the first floor

Stairway to 3rd floor (all marble)

HUGE chandelier from 3rd floor

Traveling to Iraq

Luggage at Ft. Bliss

Ireland Layover

Kuwait Tent City

Like I said in my first post from Iraq, the trip from Ft. Bliss to Iraq took 55 hours, 19 hours of which was actual flying time. From Ft. Bliss we made two stops, one in Maine and one in Ireland. In Maine it was really cool. They had a group of about 50 people lined up shaking everyone's hand and thanking us for going to Iraq to help support the military. I forgot my camera on the plane so I wasn't able to take any pics there.

Both stops were only about two hours then off to Kuwait. We arrived in Kuwait in the middle of the night and had to report for Roll Call a couple hours later to see if made the manifest to fly to Iraq, so not much time to sleep in the assigned tents.

We were lucky and made the first Roll Call and after a 6 hour wait in the holding area due to maintenance issues, it was off to Iraq on a military jet (no food service or inflight movie ;)

Sty in the Eye

Nice close up!!! For the record, a sty sucks!!! Thanfully it only lasted 3 days.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Hadji Car Wash

Ok...three of us on the team had one of the most hilarious adventures on Tuesday. We were running errands and a jerk in a Suburban raced around us spraying the entire driver's side of the truck with even more mud. Now there was already lots of mud caked on it before, but this really made it nearly impossible to see.

So, Jd decided to find a car wash. While there are several on base, they are all mostly owned by different groups, none of which we apparently belong to. We went to the the Barn, a local Iraqi market, on Camp Slayer and one of the guys told us to take it around back.

The guy in charge said we needed papers from the front office, so we went and were once again denied. However when we got back to the truck the car wash guy just took our keys and started washing. This guy was on a mission. I think the level of mud inspired him as well as the $20 Jd promised him. He had finished the roof and driver's side window when his boss came and asked for our papers approving the wash.

Well we didn't have any papers and the wash guy knew we didn't have papers and just kept washing while arguing with his boss. He even gave the washer to another employee and made him keep washing while he went argue with the boss more. He was laughing and mocking his boss the whole time behind his back while continuing to wash. Well finally the boss won out, so he just quickly finished the windows and let us go on our way.

I know I didn't do a good job of capturing the complete humor of the event, but we were rolling.

Pics Coming Soon

Well, thanks to Tropical Storm Iraqi a few days ago, I've been told the wireless will be out at least until the weekend. So I guess I'll bring in my pics on my stick and post some tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

McCain Unleashed

I'm not usually the biggest fan of Senator McCain nor do I necessarily agree with the reform in the way McCain is advocating, but this letter he wrote to Senator Obama is AWESOME!!! He definitely doesn't hold back on the sarcasm to make his point that Obama is a sellout to the reform McCain is seeking.

Don't you just love DC politics!!!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Changed People Change People

That is the tag line for the Gospel church here on Camp Victory. It really hit home because the changes that are taking place in my life have already helped some and will definitely help change others to be more what God intended them to be.

I went to three services today to see which one to call home for the next 6 months. The Protestant and the Pentecostal were both ok, but the Gospel service was rocking.

I was only one of about a handful of white peeps in the service of about 200 people, but everyone was very welcoming. It was a great service about the hope we have in Christ. Next Sunday I'm going to check out their Sunday school and then decide if that is the service I will attend.

It was very weird to be at Church with 100's of rifles on the floor being the soldiers never go anywhere without them. That's the reality of being in a war zone I guess.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Great Article by H

Most of you know my friend and mentor in DC, Horace Cooper, from me talking about him. He, along with a couple of other folks, have been extremely integral in my DC adventures.

Here is an article he wrote on the Alito confirmation and the confirmation process that is well worth the read, especially by any of my lefty leaning visitors.

Speaking of lefties, in order to be fair and balanced, you may have noticed I've added a new section to my navigation bar on the right, "lefty blogs." The two I have listed, Leftist Southpaw & Ian McGibboney, are frequent visitors/commenters on the site and have interesting, albeit misguided, sites ;)

Friday, February 03, 2006

What the Heck is a Sty???

I guess I've lived a sheltered life because up until this morning I had never heard of a sty. For the benefit of others who have never heard of it either, here is the emedicine link on a sty.

Last night before going to bed my eye started to hurt a little, but I just thought it was a sinus thing and would pass. Then when I woke it felt like it was bulging out my head. I checked it in the mirror and my eyelid was a little swollen.

My first thought was that I might have rubbed my eye after changing my smallpox bandage. That would not have been a good thing. I went to the clinic and that is when I found out I had a sty. The doctor as well as my team thought it pretty weird that I had never heard of that before. Oh well...now I do...and I don't like it.

I have to put a heat pad on my eye 4-5 times and day and an antibiotic in my eye 2-3 times a day until it clears up which should take 3-7 days. Not really sure how I got it, but just another challenge to face with a smile =)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Details of Life

In my One Year Bible, the last few days have been the instructions and the building of the Tabernacle. I've heard before that the beauty of that part of the Bible is that God is intimately involved in the details.

Before now, that never really resonated in me. However, it really hit me this morning, especially when I got to Ex 40:34 which shows that God showed up in His full glory once His will was followed.

Last Saturday, before leaving for Iraq, was particularly tough. I wanted so bad to make a phone call that I couldn't make. I'm glad now I was obedient because the more I follow His will and the will of those I've entrusted at this time for direction, the more God's glory will fill my life. It is never promised to be easy, but only that His presence will always be there throughout the hard times. That is all I really ever need.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SOTU Thoughts

Being it aired live at 5am, I had to rely mostly on recaps of the speech last night.

He spoke better than normal (which I know the libs will say isn't saying much). He didn't fumble around as much as he normally does. It actually looked like he practiced a good bit for a change.

The two things I liked most was his tough words towards Iran. I bet they are starting to think more and more that they are next on the list of places to learn American justice. However I think Israel will take care of them long before we have to.

I also was surprised of his mention of the line-item veto which would give the President tremendous power to cut out-of-control spending.

All in all it was pretty much what was expected.

Poor Teddy and Johnny

It is a brand new day on the Supreme Court. We should finally have a court that follows the constitution and doesn't rely on foreign laws and opinions to make their decisions. This is thanks to Alito being confirmed 58-42 last night despite Kennedy and Kerry's attempt at a filibuster which failed 72-25.

The whole thing was just a political stunt to raise money being they knew full well that it never had a chance to pass. It was fun watching the highlights of Kennedy almost having a coronary on the floor of the Senate.

The NEW New Guy

That is my official title here in Iraq.