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“Will You Leave?”

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Walking Alone?

I was a pastor for about 11 years before joining the USAF as a Chaplain. That is a little over a decade. Not a short time to be somewhere.

My first year as a pastor, I hired a a youth minister that lasted about 6 months. He got a better job, making more money at a bigger church. I will always believe that the new church was where he was supposed to be.

What made me sad was the feeling of loss the kids were going to experience.

I knew the transitory nature of ministry. The average youth minister lasted 18 months, the average pastor lasted 2.5 years. The average minister got out of ministry after 5 years.  It was the nature of the beast.

I was told that we tend to make great salesmen.

There was a young girl in our church, a 4th or 5th grader at the time we lost the youth minister. I had gathered the group around me the next Wednesday night, and she asked me a pretty tough, but understandable questions. “Are you going to leave?”

My answer has become blurry through the years. I think I started with, “In ministry, we go where we are called. I can not promise that I will, or will not be any place for a set period of time.” You get the idea.

But, I did finish with this… I looked straight at her and said, “You know, I’ll probably be here longer than you.”

That sounds horrible. I remember thinking that I would see her graduate, and then she would be off to college or something. Well, it didn’t work out that way. She ended up dropping out of the church. I remember it was shortly after her daddy died. It was a hard time.

Well, I’m connected to her on FaceBook, and saw a post. She was holding her brand new baby girl, and promising to never leave her. To never leave her, just like her mother had left her.

I don’t know why I’m writing this. It could be a story about breaking the chains. How someone who had suffered much separation is doing her best to stop it with her family.

I like to think that is it.

Maybe it is a story of someone just trying to make it. She never did college. She ended up moving in with a guy and getting pregnant. Not exactly planned, yet not unwanted either. She is living in the same basic area that she grew up in. That could end up being a sad story, or perhaps one of “blooming where you’re planted.”

Whatever it is, it just is. It is life.

Now, I find myself in a very transitory job. I’ll move bases every 4 years. I’ll deploy every now and then, for 6 months at a time. People will be coming and going all the time. A tough situation when one wants deep relationships with others.

Life is transitory. We must make it count.

WoW can be lonely, and it can be very social. That depends upon us. If you don’t like people in your guild, then join another one. Life is too short to spend it with people you don’t like. People count. You count. Do something that counts.

Make a choice, break a chain.

Love hard, love deeply. There are people around you, or at least there could be. You don’t know when you’ll have another chance.

See what happens.

Z

“Hope is our weapon against the darkness.”

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Work That Matters

b/c BUUURRRRTTTTT is my favorite sound...

b/c BUUURRRRTTTTT is my favorite sound…

I’ve been thinking about “work that matters.”

I’ve even come to a conclusion that all work matters. Please, let me explain.

First off, every morning when I pray, I thank God for giving me work that matters. What I mean is, I’m thankful for a job that has me caring for other people. In particular, I get to care for men and women of the armed forces. I get to see Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen every day! I get to sincerely inquire as to how they are doing. I get counsel them. I get to provide for their religious needs. I get to be a listening ear, when they don’t think that anyone else is willing too. These are the men and women that keep my wife and kids safe at home. In this case, they are taking care of things in Central America before they reach our US southern border. I serve them out of a sense of thankfulness.

For me, this is work that matters.

There are some jobs in the USAF that people may assume has no meaning. For instance, new Maintainers may have to literally count bolts. I’ve seen them do it. This is an accountability issue. Based upon previous needs, they carry enough parts (including bolts) to fix the planes when they need a repair. While at home, if they don’t have a part, the plane will be grounded until it comes in. Sure, the pilot may not get his/her flight hours. The plane may not fly, and in that case will have to have extra maintenance done to make sure it can fly later. But, nobody loses a life because of it not flying. However, in a deployed environment, that may not be the case.

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My favorite plane is the A-10. Part of its job is to provide support for Soldiers that come under fire. So, when our guys are pinned down, the A-10 comes in to blast the enemy; saving the lives of our Soldiers. If that plane is unable to fly because we run out of bolts (or some other part), then those lives will be potentially loss.

You see, the work of a Maintainer is essential to saving lives; even if he/she is just counting bolts.

Now, what about those folks who just can’t seem to find meaning and significance in their jobs?

Maybe you are a Vegan, and the only job you can find is as a burger flipper at McDonalds.

Every time you look at those delicious fries, you just see hypertension in a box. When you look at the kid joyously ripping into their Happy Meal, triumphantly raising their new toy into the air…all you can think is, “choking hazard.”

First, please find a new job. But if you can’t, I have a question. What does that job allow you to do? Hopefully, it allows you to survive, and your life matters. I hope that it allows you enough money to hang out with your friends and families every now and then. Our relationships matter. Maybe it allows you to provide for that age appropriate toy for your own kid, and his/her smile matters.

You see, work matters because we all have meaning and significance. Work matters because we matter. Even the most mundane of jobs enables you to participate in other things that matter.

I will continue to be thankful for work that matters, regardless of how I may feel at the time. I hope that you will as well.

So tell me, what do you do that matters?

Z

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Life intrudes, its what it does.

RIP Jeremy

RIP TSG JeremyCross

The world lost someone this past week, though you’ve probably not heard of him.

I hesitate to call him a friend. You see, he was enlisted while I’m an officer. We aren’t allowed to get to close, lest favoritism cloud our judgment. That is a serious thing, and people could lose stripes and bars over those sort of things. Still, if things had been different, I know that we would have been friends…even close friends.

http://www.dyess.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123467937

Though information is scarce on my end, it looks like a suicide.

You see, the Jeremy that I knew was a joy to be around. More than not, he always had a positive – “can do” attitude. He was always willing to help. Something that I benefited from on numerous occasions.

You see, as a Chaplain I was an “insta-Captain.” I joined the USAF with that rank, which others tend to need 4-5 years to earn. One of the things they told us was to find a SNCO, and let them mentor us. I was blessed to be assigned to a Group, and a have my office in a Flight that was filled with good mentors. Jeremy was one of those.

While he helped me, mentored me on more than one occasion; one thing in particular sticks out. You see, I was having problems with my PT test. That is one thing you don’t want in any military branch. Jeremy took me under his wing, and worked out with me for 2 months – 5 days a week, every afternoon so that I would pass that accursed test.

He didn’t just tell me what to do, he did it with me. He walked through it with me, every bitter-painful-step. And, because of him I got one of the best scores on my PT test that I had ever had.

We talked a lot. I got to know him really well, and was aware of some of the struggles he was dealing with. I know that I have a responsibility to not share what people tell me. It is one of the core responsibilities of Chaplains. We  guard the private information of those counselled  behind an iron curtain of confidentiality. But, even knowing that I wonder. Could there have been something, over 4 months ago that I could have done to mitigate against this day.

Four months ago…the last time we spoke. He was moving to Dyess AFB, and I was getting ready to deploy.  My heart now breaks for his son. He won’t be able to spend time with his loving father any more. I can only hope that one day someone will tell him how much his dad cared for him. I also pray that his means of death won’t diminish the memory of his love for his son.

Folks, our time together is short, make the most you can of it.

We lost a Good Man, a Good father, a Good Airmen this past week. We are lesser because of that loss.

Live with Hope. It is our weapon against the darkness.

Chap…

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Hello all!

It’s been way to long.  I’m glad to say that I’m still alive and kicking.  Let me take this time to update you on what has been going on.

1. I survived my 5 weeks at COT (Commissioned Officer Training).

That was an experience. Yes, there was a lot of yelling. There was a lot of anxiety, fear and frustration. I spent my first week there sick to my stomach. I threw up more than once, had no appetite to speak of.  It isn’t something I would want to repeat.  I was told that the first 10 days to 2 weeks would be the worse part of it, and that is the truth.  If you can survive the first 10 training days, then the rest is cake.

Not pie… Cake.

I might tell you more about that later.

2. I’m at my first assignment.

My family and I have been here for a week, on the nose.  This has been “in processing,” which included a list of folks to find and get their initials. At times I had to turn something in. Other times, I had to get some computer based training done (aka CBTs). Other times, it was some sort of briefing (some with power point displays, some without). I only need two more initials to complete my list, and should have those by Tuesday or Wednesday.  I don’t know where I’ll be assigned yet, but I’ll be happy wherever.  Everyone I’ve met has been great. The Chapel team is exceptional, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

I still have one more training to complete to really start things off. I’ll be gone for “Basic Chaplain’s Course” some time in August thru September.

3. In our house!

We sold our old home and signed a lease on a really nice home a couple of days ago. Timing was wonderful. The only problem is, our household goods won’t be here until July 17th.

Yeah, the 17th.😦

So, we are camping out indoors for the moment. I’m writing this from a cheap card table that we bought at Walmart a day ago.  It, and a couple of borrowed inflatable mattresses are all we have in the way of furniture.  It’s ok though. We’ll be alright.

We did get our internet! I mean, we all have to have priorities… Amirite?!

4. So, when is Z gonna be back in WoW?

To be honest, I’m not sure.  I think that I might be back sometime this month. However, that might be just in time for me to then leave for my next training. I’m fairly certain that I’ll start playing again once I get back from my training. WoW is still one of the best values you can find when it comes to hobbies.  I’m looking forward to resubbing and goofing off with the Frostwolves.

One thing I do know is that my play times will be different. I was able to play at least a couple, if not three mornings a week before. That will definitely change. Now, I get up for PT and then head straight into work. The nice thing is that the schedule is 7:30 am to 4:30 pm (most of the time). Sure, there will be times when I get out way later, but that seems about normal. So, it looks like I’ll be heading back to the 9pm-11pm play time.

This makes me sad, because that means I won’t be able to play with some of my Aussie friends in those early mornings. But, there is still a group of folks from down under who are on around my evening times, and I’ll be able to contribute to the guild as I had been able to do in the past.

So, I’m looking forward to getting back into things. If not before my next training, then afterwards.

5. I missed y’all.

I don’t want to be all sappy, but I did miss y’all. I have much in my Feedly to catch up on. So many blogs, and so many weeks that I wasn’t able to read your wisdom, insights, and WoW related ramblings. I may not comment, but know that I’m using this time to read all of your previous posts!

Z

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WoWScrnShot_042514_142347

I want a new title. I want:

“Helper Zwingli”

Now, the title I’m wearing “Farmer Zwingli” is highly appropriate.  I can honestly say that I spend most of my time farming up veggies, hunting up the meat, and making the Pandaren Treasure Noodle Carts.

Now, for those interested, there are purely mercenary reasons for doing this. The Frostwolves use an ELPEKGDLP…Some sort of thingy that allows raiders to gain points. Based upon their number of points they have access to special items AND they can use spend these point on LOOTZ!!!  One of the way you gain these points is by getting raid materials together, and the aforementioned carts are one of those items that we can turn in to gain points.

There’s only one problem…

I’m not a raider!

I’m sitting here with the most point of any person in the guild, and I’M NEVER GOING TO TURN THEM IN!!!

“What a waste of time,” you may say.

I think not.

You see, here’s the thing.  We all play for our own particular reasons.  Some play to raid. Some play to rp. Some play to socialize in /gchat.

I would guess that there are as many reasons to play WoW as there are players.

For me, it’s all about helping.

I’m not saying I’m being altruistic. It doesn’t mean that other’s aren’t helping.  It means that this is the way that I’ve found that I can add the greatest value to the guild that I can.  While I’m a solo player, I really want to be a help to my guild.

What do I get out of it?  I’m glad you asked.  I get my strokes from it.

1) It feels good.  Please understand, this is a pretty nice reward in and of itself. I feel like I’m adding something positive.

2) I get a kick out of Navi mentioning it in vent. I’ve asked about giving my points to other raiders, but she put the ka-bosh down on that idea quickly.

3)  It gives me a reason to log in, even if it is just for a few minutes to harvest my crops.

And, 4) if by some random chance RNGesus allows me to raid, get a normal Garrosh kill, and that beautiful BOA Bow drops (heck, I’d be happy with the Flex version)…I’m sooooooo spending all of my points on it!

Again, I think we all have our reasons why we play. For me, I want to help out my guildies as best as I can, given the play time I have.

What about you?  Why do you play?

Z

P.s. Please send your prayers and kind thoughts my way. It’s only a month before I report to COT for my 5 week introduction *cough* to USAF life as a Chaplain.  I’m giving my 4 weeks notice at my job (yes that’s a thing), selling our house, trying to get into better shape (10min mile, here I come!) Things are winding down here at an atomic pace.  This will be the first time I’ve been separated from my family for any length of time. I just want everything to go as smoothly as possible.

Thanks…

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Air Force Wings

tl;dr

OMGOSH GAIS I MADE IT IN!!!!

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For those wondering what actually happened, here is the slightly longer version.

As most of you know, I’ve been trying to get into the United States Air Force for over a year now. I’ve faced more than a couple of “hiccups” along the way.  As of a month ago, things began moving relatively quickly.

I finally passed my medical!  Remember, the big thing holding me back was some dental work. Well, after about $13k worth of work and healing, I made it through.

Next was a back ground check. There was a little bit of misunderstanding between what my local recruiter was supposed to do, v. what my regular CO recruiter was supposed to do.  On top of it, my CO recruiter was out of office, which left a TSgt responsible for collecting my documentation.

Well, it turns out that when my regular recruiter got back, the TSgt left for a week of prep-work to get ready for a MSgt exam!  Oh, and all of those pages and pages of documentation that had been sent his way?  Well, it was locked up tight on his computer! My local recruiter had to send it all back to my regular CO recruiter. Thankfully, things got done in a hurry.

Now my packet had to “get signed by the general.”  Granted, I didn’t know who this general was, but I was under no illusion that my packet would be at the top of his things to do.  My CO recruiter said that it might take a week or two, if no hiccups came along (see: TSgt away at exam prep).  Still, that put the two week limit in the middle of the week my family takes off for vacation.

You know those vacations, don’t you?  They are the kind where you go see grandma, and grandma doesn’t have any wifi set up at her house. You know the one. The one where your fancy-pants iPad becomes useless, because of the said lack of wifi. The one where all you have is two out of five bars on your smart phone, unless you hold it up at the right angle to get 2.5 bars.

Surely, you’ve been on those vacations!

I find myself having some “ETT*,” when I get a call from my CO recruiter late on Monday afternoon!

“Hey, Z!  I’m going to email you the Letter of Acceptance right now. You don’t have to return it immediately. Tomorrow would be ok.”

Me – “Wait, what?  I have to print it out and mail it back?” Hoping that my mother (grandma to my children) has ink in her 10yr old printer.

COr – “No, SCAN IT IN, and email it back to me tomorrow sometime.”

Me – Did I mention the 10yr old printer?  “Sure thing. I’ll get it done, and emailed off to you tomorrow!”

I’m thinking to myself – surely there is a Staples, Kinko’s or some kind of office supply/printing shop in this small town?!

And the answer is?

No.

No there isn’t.

You know what there is?!  There is a library with a very liberal computer policy, and a laser printer.  Yeah…and it closes in 30 minutes!

My phone dings that familiar “just got an email” ding, and we are all heading off to the library (and ice cream at the local DQ afterwards).

Get there in time to print the bad boy out…and stare at it for the next hour. I forego the ice cream for some water-downed lemonade. I gotta get in better shape!

You see…THAT was it.  That single piece of paper.

It had three _________ places for me to write things down. The first being, “When are you able to begin your active duty? ______”  The second being, “Sign your complete name here: _________________, and Date: _________”

Three little blank, underlined spaces and my life is signed away to Uncle Sam for God and Country.

My wife and I spoke to some length that night about when I could reasonably go on active duty.  This was a real choice for us.

Actually, my CO recruiter had mentioned that that was the last real negotiable thing I had. That I could take as much time as I needed to finish things and end well with what I’m currently doing.

My wife and I have spoken about this quite a bit, but now the paper was in front of us.  It was real. Paper and ink, right in front of me.

By 10:00pm Monday night, I had placed the preferred starting date, and signed and dated the document.

That was my contract. That was the agreement. That was my “name on the dotted line.”

Woke up the next day. Got back over to the public library, where it cost me $1.00 for them to scan the document and email it back to me.

A quick save to drop box, and I’m emailing the signed document back to my CO recruiter. By 4:00 that afternoon I received a congratulatory email from my recruiter. He informed me that my packet was over at placement, and that I would be hearing from them at their earliest convenience.

So now…I get to wait some more.🙂

But, that is ok. I know that the slots are open for me to go active duty during this fiscal year. I know that they desire to have me on board.  Now, I’m just taking the time that is allotted to me and finishing well.

One thing I’m looking forward to is my “swearing in.”  For enlisted, it is done at MEPS. For me, it seems I get to put that together on my own.

I know, weird.  Still, it gives me the chance to have significant people in my life as a part of the ceremony.  As far as I know, all I need is another Commissioned Officer (of any branch) and a US flag, and I should be good to go.  Instructions concerning the ceremony should be coming with my eventual paper work, so it isn’t anything to have done right now.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll point you to an eventual video.🙂

If things go quickly, I could be going to a COT at the end of May.  While that would be nice, I’m not holding my breath.

Z

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CO – Commissioned Officer. Only a Commissioned Officer can recruit another person to be a Commissioned Officer. But, they get an enlisted recruiter to put us through MEPs, and finish up some paper work. Oh, and the local recruiter gets NO CREDIT for doing all this work on your behalf!

ETT- “Effective Toilet Time” (TMI?) I first heard this used by @The_Koltrane on the Convert to Raid podcast. The idea is to use that 10-15 minutes of potty time to read up on raid information, or watch the lates youtube video about a boss fight.

COT- Commissioned Officer Training course.

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This is my first WoW influenced hardware purchase, outside of a computer.

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That’s right, I’ve gone ahead and bought a PC headset (Turtle Beach Ear Force Z11)!

I’ve had the cash to purchase something for a couple of weeks. I took some time to look in the different stores in my area, to see what they had. I checked prices on Amazon, and considered purchasing online.  I looked at online reviews.

But, my biggest consideration was cost. I didn’t want to spend more than $40 if I could help it.

I’m a dad with two small children in the house. These will be broken within the next six months! I can count on it.

One of the places I looked at was Best Buy. They tend to be a bit more pricey than say, Walmart; but they also tend to have a better selection.

We’ve bought other things from our local Best Buy, and even had things break.  We’ve bought the 2yr insurance from them, and sure enough; we’ve had to use it.  They replaced the products without any questions…both times.

Did I mention that I have two small children.

So, I’m one of those guys that buys the “useless” insurance…because it isn’t so useless in my house.

So, I found these for $39.99, which was a bit more than I was looking to pay. I knew that the insurance and taxes would put it over the $40 mark.  It was going to cost me around $55 after taxes and the insurance.

Then, one of their sales reps walked up to me and asked me if he could help.

This is usually when I say “no thank you,” and move on. But, for whatever reason, I told him exactly what I was looking for and why.

I wanted to purchase my very first headset for playing WoW. I have two small kids in the house, and I know it will be broken sooner or later; so I want to keep my purchase around $40.

I had that item in my hand, and he pulled out his smart phone!

He said, “With this, I can see what my competitors are selling for. We price match.”

He smiled as he said it.

It turns out, he’s a WoW player as well!

He found another store selling it for $27.99!  I was able to purchase it (tax and insurance) for $40 exactly!

My next move will be to take the online Best Buy customer service questionnaire and give him great marks! He went out of his way to save me money, and get me exactly what I wanted; all within the guidelines that Best Buy had set out for him.

I’m a happy boy!

Z

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