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Today, I want to take the time first, to thank those of you that read this blog on a regular basis. I appreciate it so much and it motivates me to keep it up. Sometimes you are the motivation to open my computer and write—once it is open, and I get into the flow, I am happy that you got me off of the couch to write. So, thank you very much!

Many of you that read frequently, do so by going directly to the website—which is a great way to see the photos from Instagram and some of the notes from twitter. But, I would like to tell you about an easier way to read my blog. That easier way is by subscribing to the email list.

This list is a way to send you the update that I write through your email. The email is typically sent at midnight on the day I wrote the post and will look very much like the post on the page. An occasional format change may occur, but for the most part what you see on the blog will be what you see on the email. It is an automated feature that you can use simply by subscribing.

There are no future plans to do anything else with this email list, Of course I will not sell the list or give it away in any form. The list is simply for the purpose of sending out my blog posts and you having a convent way to subscribe.

In truth, I don’t read blogs on the web. I need to do more of it, but time prevents me from doing so. I read the blogs I read through an email list or through a system called RSS. If you have an RSS reader like Feedly—which is what I use; feel free to subscribe there as well.

Thank you once again for reading—no matter how you receive updates! Also, I always enjoying hearing from you through comments, twitter (@chaplainandrews), or email (chaplainandrews@gmail.com)–so feel free to drop me a line! I look forward to hearing from you!!

 

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Airport Snacks

As I spent the day in the airport, I went in and out of the little newsstands serving bags of candy. I have several thoughts about that.

First, who buys all of that stuff. Now, in Atlanta, there are enough people in that airport to make any one rich, selling anything. There are a lot of people in there. But, really, who buys that stuff? I never sit next to anyone snacking through the flight. I guess if it is an international flight—maybe. Most people I sit with sleep. It is just a thought—do you ever see anyone eat something other than the snacks the airlines provide?

Second, two dollar candy bars. Wow! I understand supply and demand—but I also get price strategies. I firmly believe that if they lowered the prices the more product they would sell. If the stores matches the outside market on snacks, I truly believe they would make a killing. People would actually buy there rather than making pre-travel purchases. But, they sell high—they seem to make money—and they seem like that will not change. The frustrating piece is bottled water. Three dollars for water. I don’t want to drink soda—the airlines will give me soda. I want water with me because it gets dry on the airplane. Problem for me is that the TSA won’t allow me to bring that in. So, three dollar bottle it is. (However, I did observe a technique of bringing an empty water bottle and filling up from the water fountain after crossing through security.)

Third, what do I snack on? Peanut Butter Crackers. I buy a package of peanut butter crackers before I fly and bring it with me. I store it in my bag so I have it ready when I need it. I wish I could do the same with water. I usually carry two packages in carry on with me, just in case I get stuck somewhere. Peanut butter has protein and the crackers make it easy to eat.

On the flight, the attendants offer peanuts, pretzels, or cookies. I always go for the cookies and the ginger ale. But, that’s just me.

Stillness

Stillness is an opportunity to hear the thoughts of the heart. It is the place where all the clutter is wiped away and the true desire of your heart are allow the freedom they deserve.

Our world is surrounded with so much noise. I am constantly reminded of this. Even in our churches, we cannot have those quiet moments—we must have some sort of back ground music playing to “enhance the mood”. Many people are even frightened of stillness, they get anxious and tremble. For some stillness opens up painful thoughts that they haven’t been able to deal with. For others, they are so consumed by the habit of constant noise that they become bored when they are still. We need to learn to be still.

Stillness.

I love to hike. I am always amazed by the hikers that pass me with their earphones in. I understand that some use this as a fitness workout for themselves and that is all they receive from their workout. But they are in the middle of a majestic mountain—nothing but the sound of the wind or a bird or two, and your footsteps. They miss the stillness by being entertained with music.

I have been away on a trip this week. I turned on the TV for no more than a total of 30 minutes the entire week. I was in classes during the day and had good conversation with friends in the evening. At night, it has been still. Today, I have spent the afternoon writing and reading and being still.

When can I do this again?

 

 

(Photo: Unsplash.com)

Reading More

I love to read, but I would love to read more. I think I read a fair amount, especially when you add the books that I listen to. However, I certainly would love to read more. And when I say more—I mean a lot more. I am constantly seeing books that I desire to read. But, those books must stand in line—a line that doesn’t often move forward because more pressing books “cut in line”.

I don’t read as much as I would like because:

1. I don’t have the time. Actually, I do have time. I have 24 hours like everyone else, but I let it slip away when I could be reading through more books. I need to make the time to read and stick with the plan.

2. I get overwhelmed. I see books that catch my attention and I add them to a list. The list gets longer and longer. I need to learn to be more selective of what is on that list and review it more often, taking off those book titles that a week later…aren’t really interesting.

3. I want to finish one book before starting another. I am learning that I can truly only manage about two or maybe three before my reading falls apart. Sometimes it is good to have two books going because of different interests at different times—but if there are too many…it is just that too many.

4. I get distracted. I have to be in a quiet spot. Preferably alone. I really get distracted.

5. I read slowly. I like to say that I gain more from the book that way. But, still—I read slowly.

Maybe if I fix some of these weaknesses, I’ll move forward on my goal.

(Photo: Unsplash.com)

The Army Cattle Car

There are funny memories sometimes to be found at museums. I reminisced with my children yesterday over Facetime, when I saw this 80 passenger “Cattle Car”. I remember riding on them to and from field training when I was in ROTC, maybe when I was in my Field Artillery Officer Basic Course in the early 1990’s.

I remember putting on my “Ruck Sack” or back pack on backwards with the load in front and getting in line. From there the Seargants would march us into tightly into the Cattle Car for the trip to the field for the typically overnight training. This training occurred in my memory in the summer time. What was already a warm day, was made even warmer by the cramped and crowded trailer, with little ventilation windows and no breeze. Many times, it was humid because the Leaders didn’t want the Soldier marching out in the rain. If you were lucky, you would have a seat on the benches. You would ride in comfort with the backpack on your lap. If you were not lucky, you would stand in the aisle, crammed into the trailer, flanked on all sides by bodies or ruck sacks. Then after the hour or so drive, you would do an about face and file out one by one.

I have thought from time to time about these Cattle Cars. It is obvious to me why we do use them anymore. It is amazing that we used them at all in the, now, very safety conscious Army. But, I never thought I’d see one again. So, yesterday, when I saw what it was, I enjoyed reliving the tales with my kids.

A Visit to the Shell of the Old Army

I’m staying, this week, in an old BOQ: Bachelor Officers Quarters. The Army has turned the building into “Temporary Housing” or more specifically hotel rooms. The Right next to the building is the old Officers club, the Golf Course, and the Tennis Center. Out my window, I can see the Field Grade Officers’ Quarters—that are thankfully still in use by Field Grade Officers. While we cannot go back to the “way things used to be”, it does leave me empty that we ever left in the first place.

Once upon a time, these areas were the center of social life and activity. In all fairness, part of that culture was alcoholism—so, that should be noted and condemned. However, the social aspect of Officer Life is something that we have strayed away from. Sometime after the 1960s, the Army and American culture began to chip away at what was considered “the high life”.

One of the arguments was that the federal government should not have to pay for the amenities. Interestingly enough, companies like Google and Apple are looking for ways to provide similar but generationally defined amenities to retain a higher caliber worker and to increase productivity through the enjoyment of their work. This so called “High Life” actually pays for itself through intangibles and contributes greatly to the growth of these companies. Much work is done on the golf course, at dinner, and in the lounge. The return on investment can’t be measured by a chart, but is measured through relationships. That is something the “Old Army” culture understood.

The other argument against maintaining these facilities and opportunities was the inequalities between the Officers and Enlisted. While we should make every effort to equally raise the quality of life for all and provide equal opportunities for all, there is a difference. First, many of our enlisted Soldiers enter the service at eighteen and get out at twenty four or so. If they finish their career, they are 38 when they are eligible to retire. It is a different crowd. They have different needs and desires, their amenities should be tailored toward those-in order to retain good Soldiers. In addition, an average Second Lieutenant has graduated high school and is around 22 when they enter the service, with a retirement age of 42. There is a different expectancy of benefits to retain these Lieutenants. There is the need for mentoring and relationship building. There is the need for polishing” and leadership development that also must take place in order to lead the Army of the future. The other difference is that these Officers need a place to share their burdens with others—the modern officer has signed for millions of dollars of equipment and hundreds of men and women. At the end of the day, they are the ones who will be speaking to the media when something goes wrong, they will be the ultimately responsible for everything that happens in the unit good and bad, and they are the ones to get up the next day and lead the unit forward. It is not an easy task, and it is even harder when tried alone.

It seems sad as I look out my window on a spring day, that the buildings sit empty and quiet. The trees are big and the flowers are in bloom, the landscape has finally matured to a beautiful state, but the culture has left it all behind in the name of progress.