Me and Abilicious

Me and Abilicious

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cheyenne! I haven't been there for a week and a half. I don't miss it very much but, now that I'm headed back there, I realize I have no negative feelings for it. If I were going back to Columbus I would be accompanied by a feeling of dread and negative anticipation.
            I'm on my way back from Pensacola, FL, where I had water survival training with the Air Force. Just like it sounds like, they trained us to survive in the water should we have to bail  out over the ocean. It included parachute training (via parasailing!), rafting skills (how to float good), what to eat (fish (but not the spiky ones)) and what to drink (not the ocean (however, it did come up that, in a pinch, you could use a rubber tube and a very, very, very good friend (or perhaps someone you hope to never see again) and filter saltwater through an orifice other than your mouth)). Mostly we waited our turn to do the next thing. 
              Everyone in the military is very good at waiting and, incidentally, very good at complaining about waiting. You could say we are professional waiters (not to be confused with anyone in the food industry). We wait for food, we wait for jobs, we wait for flights, we wait to be shot at. And any training event, alongside with the actual "training objectives" (which never officially includes waiting) is especially good at making you wait for hours for a 30 second training drill, thrill or beating, thus preparing you to wait for an official drill, thrill or beating. Each training event has a special irritant to make the waiting even less enjoyable. In land survival it was being cold, in water survival it was having to wear a parachute harness the entire time that was especially snug in all the wrong places.
              Besides the waiting, the training was fun. The highlight was definitely parasailing. We sailed 500-700 feet above the ocean before pulling releases and floating down into the water. The emphasis on the way down was running through a checklist to ensure we are prepared to land. The emphasis on landing was to not drown and release your parachute. Would love to do that again sometime. Wish I had pictures but we weren't allowed to bring any phones or cameras.
              The last day we spent about 1 1/2 hours in a one man life raft in the middle of the ocean. Just floating, and I guess surviving. There were no special requirements or checklists to run through, just floating. So I brought a powerade and granola bars, consumed those, then took a nap. And that was the last day. Lessons I learned from that week: a tight, wet harness next to wet, salty clothes will likely end in chaffing.

Monday, September 2, 2013


I finished studying II Corinthians and started doing a study in the Bible on peace, not because I felt like and expert or was interested in studying it but because I felt a lot of anxiety and depression in October and a little hopeless. This study felt like the only good thing that came out of this month.

Monday, 3 October 2011
                        John 14:15-31
            In talking about peace one must realize it has different associations. One association has to do with a lack of worry, in that the “peace of God” (Philippians 4:7) guards our hearts and minds from the troubles the world presents. It’s Paul’s secret of being content in all situations.
            Peace is also associated with a lack of contention in a relationship, whether that relationship be between persons or nations, especially when there is cause for strife or war.
            This passage is Jesus talking to His disciples during the last supper. He promised them the Holy Spirit then said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ promise of peace.
            Usually when a close friend leaves in a crisis we feel abandoned, confused and scared. Anything but peace. But Jesus isn't like the world. His gifts last and sustain. After Jesus left the disciples were up against the world, but not alone and not without peace.
            The Holy Spirit comforts us with the peace Christ gave the world. Jesus did say peace was a gift, though, so we must accept it to know it. When we turn to our Comforter in times of trouble we are promised and receive the peace Jesus Christ gave to the disciples. “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” “for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you should go.”

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

                        Isaiah 9:6-7
            Jesus Christ, the “Prince of Peace.” Is there any doubt who reigns over peace? He counsels, He protects, and he is forever, The theme of this passage is that Jesus rules and He does so forever. “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.”
            The peace of Christ is a nuclear deterrent to anxiety. It’s guaranteed by the Lord who can. Shalom Hashem. Shalom Hashem. It is not only a social peace but the peace of God! It’s His! Shalom Hashem cannot be manufactured or reproduced. We can build walls and load guns for life and always be at unrest. Shalom Hashem is a gift.
            And I need it now, Father, in my relationships and my job. There are worldly reasons to worry but giving in to them delivers misery. I cannot satisfy my soul. I cannot produce my own Shalom. Father, I need Shalom Hashem.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

                        Romans 5:1-5
            This is the peace that matters. Peace with God. It’s a relational peace; and social peace should stem from it. Formerly, between us and God there was enmity, sin. He removed us from the garden, we lost the Spirit. When someone puts faith in the saving work of Christ, though, we regain peace with God. We regain the Holy Spirit. We have a Father.
            What then is suffering when we know the outcome? God will not allow me to be destroyed. Our suffering ultimately produces hope. Think about that. Suffering usually produces misery and despair but for us we gain hope! Because we have peace with God. We cannot have the peace of God – Shalom Hashem – unless we have peace with God. This comes through Jesus.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

            Not having a constant encourager here is difficult. There are plenty of people around but none to pray with., This isn't an unusual situation, though it is for me. Many, many have come before me – and many will follow- that lived among an unfamiliar people. For some it was cannibals and a language barrier. For others it was a harsh government. And me, I simply live among people I am  not praying with No one is after me, no one is trying to kill me, I receive no persecution except what I give myself. My mission is easy, yet it is no less important than John Patton’s, David Livingstone’s, Martin Luther’s, Nate Saint and Jim Eliot’s. Jonathon Edward’s or the Apostle Paul’s. it is the same mission, only a different place and people. My discouragement comes when I forget this mission Christ gave me and purpose instead on my own fruitless endeavors.
            I don’t expect to have an all-inclusive life just because I think often about the mission of Christ. But I do expect joy and peace.

                        Ephesians 2:11-22
            There is no longer hostility between God, His people and I. He has named me one of his own children and declared me as chosen. Again, Christ is our peace. Jesus bridged that gap on the cross. His message was peace: :He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.”
And it’s the Spirit that manifests this message of peace in us. God’s spirit dwells inside of us. Right now! We have access to the Father, our Father, at anytime. In times of trouble and times of rest we are never along and always have access to peace. Wear peace like a fleece jacket on a cold morning for so does the Lord comfort us when our heart is troubled.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011
                        Haggai 1:1-6
            The Israelites were living comfortably in their own homes while the Lord’s house was naked. They said it wasn't time to rebuild the temple so God jested, “Is it a time to be lazy and get fat?” (paraphrase). Part of the truth God exposes to us when we’re lost is our own deceitfulness. Israel convinced herself that there were more important things to get done than build the temple. But they were doing nothing of worth.
            Through his Word God revealed that for all their work they had accomplished nothing. The Israelites probably thought that they were doing many great things but just because you’re busy doesn't mean you’re producing anything of worth. “You have planted much, but harvested little.”
            It’s always important to ask yourself if you are doing the Lord’s work or your own work, especially when you’re busy. It is God who determines the harvest of my hands and feet, not my hands and feet. I can only be obedient. I can try to do more but it’s useless. God does the work and we can rest in that.
            Israel tried to do more. They worried about hunger so they plowed fields, they worried about thirst so they drew water. They worried about the winter so they made clothes. But none of those things carried lasting satisfaction with it. They did all that when God’s instruction was, “build m house.”
            “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” – Matthew 6:25-34
Christ is sufficient and so is his work!

Monday, 24 October 2011

                        Haggai 1:7-8
            “Think about what you’re doing,” God told the Israelites. Don’t mindlessly wander around trying to only to satisfy your desires. They weren't thinking. Had they forgotten? Jerusalem was being rebuilt because it had been destroyed. The people were returning because they had been exiled. All that took place when Israel forgot God. They turned their backs and rebelled, so God gave them over to their sins.
            The problem in Haggai seems small, even unproblematic. It’s good to build a house and have shelter. But God must be the preeminent priority. He said, “Give careful thought to your ways,” because he could see how quickly His people were going to return to their old ways. “Don’t make the same mistake!”
            “Give careful thought to your ways.” Are you treading down paths you've walked before? The best thing we can learn from mistakes is how to avoid them the next time. What areas do I commonly put on higher priority than God’s commands? I’m not wondering about sin. That’s obvious. But what am I so worried about that makes me want to fix it before I turn to God? That was a poorly worded question but whatever.
            It’s certain that God can, and often does, cause change without human help and it’d be silly to say he needs us. But even with His divine nature he has chosen to accomplish work through the obedience of his people – “Whom shall I send?”
            There are many reasons why God chooses to work this way. God desires to have a relationship with us, “I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory…” So God gives us decisions. Love is action, and a healthy relationship is love. We should love God (and can) because he first loved us. A relationship is a two-way street, although love doesn't have to be. Is there a relationship between a girl her teddy bear?
            Israel was being a teddy bear. Each was doing his own thing thinking someone else will do God’s will, and still they expected great things. Many people ca n argue a good life without God, but an abundant life can be found only through Christ. No one was building God’s temple, therefore, he said, “God…so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored.”
            Thinking we don’t need to do God’s work since someone else will or because He doesn't need us is foolish. God wants to be glorified, but he has voiced throughout the world that he wants a relationship with us. Love is action.

The rest of September

I started SUPT in the beginning of September. I was living in a small studio dorm (see original posts from September 2011) and had not yet gotten involved with a close-knit community. The first month or so of SUPT was academics - lots of classroom time couple with simulators. The pace was much slower than what followed in Phase II - the flight line (actually flying airplanes). Reading through a lot of these old entries, it was obvious I was depressed and was always fighting anxiety. I experienced a lot of difficulties in the rest of pilot training but September through October of 2011 was the most draining and darkest part of my experience in Columbus.

Sunday, 18 September 2011
                        II Corinthians 7
            The comfort God gives me He gives so that I might comfort others, as well as be comforted. Every good thing my Father gives me is like fire; it should spread. A fire brings warmth and comfort but it also destroys. The light of the world, Jesus, brings love but also destroys sin and evil.
            Paul’s intention in writing Corinth the first time was twofold: to expel immorality among them and to encourage them in love.
            How am I spreading this fire? There are a lot of people around me. None that I’m close to have fire, the love of Christ, that I know of. In what areas am I trying to share His love with these guys and in what areas am I letting Christ us me to love them?
            I don’t talk like them, I don’t love the same things they do, I don’t look at people in bars the same way they do, but I’m beginning to think like them and that scares me. I don’t want to use my lack of fellowship as an excuse to lack in spiritual fervor. I need You know more than ever. You’ve given me tools. I pray I use them.

Monday, 19 September 2011
            Father, I want You. I’m never as close as I want to be. Trying to get there is tiring and impossible; always seeing never arriving/ I want to be there now. I’m so tired of fighting for it. My flesh is continually tripping me up, turning me around and throwing me back to the beginning. I’m exhausted and alone. It takes little to depress me spiritually. The lack of community, friends and family is enough to floor me. Why are you so far away?
            Why are You letting me do this on my own? It sucks. I tell you I need you but I’m still solo. I can’t quit this and let you do it unless you tell me how or do it for me. Please do it for me, Father. I’m worthless and tired. I don’t need a Barnabas or Jonathan, I need You.
            Don’t be far from me. Don’t let me stray. Yank me back before I fall beyond where I can get up.
                        II Corinthians 8:1-15
            What we do in this life echoes in eternity. Yet, still, I’m selfish. I say, “look at what I give!” but look at what I keep.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011
            Yesterday was a much better day spiritually. Emotionally still not that good. Lately, I’ve only turned to God after my face makes contact with the ground. His “A” plan is for us to turn to Him first. Anything else and we can expect disappointment.

                        II Corinthians 8:16-9:5
            Paul is really pressing the Corinthians about this gift. He says again and again that he’s not pressing becase of need or to judge, bnut so that the Corinthians can prove what Paul’s been boasting about them to others. The Corinthians probably had a bad rap from what I can tell in Paul’s previous letter to them. Now, he’s giving them a chance for redemption among the other churches.
            Corinth was already redeemed in the syes of our Father. He saw their hearts. But even Paul said in 8:21; “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men,” it should be our first mnotive to please the Lord but also to be at peace with all men, If the world sees me as a sinner how can I be any witness to the righteousness of Christ?
            Again, Christ is the preeminent priority. I’m going to do everything to please Him through obedience. When I am confident in the Holy Spirit that I am in His will and in a right relationship with Him then I should seek out ways that I can be right before men.

Thursday, 22 September 2011
                        II Corinthians 9:6-15
            Whatever we sow we reap. And if we receive a generous gift we should sow it generously. If we sow generously, we will reap a generous harvest. God has given us an abundance of many things. We’re not to build a castle for ourselves with them or, even worse, do nothing. We are given in order to give.
            Lord, I feel there are so many things You’ve given me that I’m squandering right now. I’m so self-focused on my own problems I can’t even see other people.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

            The next test we have covers some cumbersome material. A lot of it relates to the operation of the avionics and environmental systems. Turn this, pisj that, pull here but only when you’re on this page and want this thing. I don’t know how to study for this.
            Even the tiniest bit of hope can make an impossible outcome seem like an imminent destination. So, in human relationships we must be careful with hope. With God, however, we can let hope run wild.
            I’m a little discouraged, Lord. Encourage the downcast (me) and give me a joy for this job.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

            Today was short. We had a reviw session from 8-9:30 and that was it. I have a UTD tomorrow and then the Systems 2 test. This academic portion can be tedious but it’s not very stressful. Don’t want to get lax and fail a test though. There’s usually time in the day to take a long nap. Wish phase II would be like this as well but those 12 hour days are already looming.
            I’m starting to feel comfortable around these guys. This is when the clown side of me usually rears its head but I want to show Jesus. I only have a year here with them.

            Peace to you, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Be at peace. Don’t try to find it. Have it. It’s already been given to you.

22 August - 5 September 2011

After IFS I had a couple of weeks before SUPT started. Some of this might seem "preachy" but it was really a pep talk to myself. With my experience in IFS I knew SUPT was going to be incredibly difficult and, if I wasn't careful, very depressing.

Monday, 22 August 2011

            II Corinthians 1:1-11
            In Paul’s greeting he updates Corinth on what has happened to him. Sharing is part of teaching. The NIV uses “comfort” a lot in this passage but I don’t’ think this is the same as “comfortable”. Rather it refers to comfort in sorrow. Paul just returned from great hardships I Asia but was comforted by the Holy Spirit. Paul desired to share that same comfort with the Corinthians.

            What has God given us that He didn’t intend for us to share? Everything the Father gives me should be given back in praise or shared with others to His glory. What am I keeping to myself? If I am supposed to share my sorrow with others then how much more joy and salvation!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011
            II Corinthians 1:12-2:11
            Whatever God has promised Christ reaffirms with a “yes.” We should have confidence, then, in what is written and live like it. Health cannot be claimed because it has not been promised, but joy we can claim at any moment, and should, since it has already been given to us.
            Lord, prepare my heart for this next phase. Don’t let me be discouraged as before. I don’t live to flu like I once thought I might. Because I endured hardships I realized I live for You and that Your will guides me, not my own. How true are the words, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth, These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
            God has led me here. I could not have gotten here alone and I don’t know how to go from here. But I don’t have to know! God has promised to lead me. The way seems hard but He promised to make the rough places smooth. I am insufficient – I think I’ve sufficiently covered that – but Christ gives me enough!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

                        II Corinthians 2:12-17
            The question I’m thinking this morning is, “do I speak before God with a sincere heart of for profit?” The former is desirable but often I slip into the latter because OI think if I am talking to God then I am in righteousness. That’s a lie. Satan talks to God.
            To talk with someone in sincerity means, in this context, there must be a sincere, loving relationship, How can I have a sincere conversation with someone if I don’t care about them? Do I care about Jesus and what He’s done for me or do I merely use His sacrifice for profit? If someone died for me is it not appalling to use what they did to make money? What cause am I living for? Mine or Christ’s?

Friday, 26 August 2011
                        II Corinthians 3:1-6
            This is what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, This is why I am here. I am Christ’s letter to those around me here in Columbus. Not that I have anything to boast about; my confidence is in the Lord. My mission is very clear and it has little to do with pilot training. The Air Force is a vessel for Christ’s letter. Jesus wants those around me to read His letter to them.
            My mission is to show these what the letter says. The easy prt is that the letter has been given to me and written on my heart. I know the letter whether I’m aware of it or not. How can this be? This is possible because the message is Spirit filled, not engraved on stone, and I have the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the letter written on my heart for ht world to see. I have no reason to boast because I myself am not the Spirit not did I write the letter. Can the paper take credit for the Author’s work? I am merely parchment.

Saturday, 27 August 2011
                        II Corinthians 3:7-18
            There are very few people who radiate with the glory of God. Moses had to wear a veil and that glory came from the ministry of the law, death, which was temporary. Why are we not shining with the glory that comes from the ministry of the Spirit which gives LIFE and lasts forever?
            We veil Christ’s glory because a) we are afraid the light might offend others or b) Christ is not a priority and the veil is made out of worldly coverings. Either way we blend in with the world. It is impossible to read a letter without light. How can you expect to live in darkness and have the world read the letter written on your heart? Can’t do it. That’s trying to serve two masters.
            Take the veil off. Don’t be afraid of different. Love in the light. Enjoy seeing the path ahead of you!
            The Lord takes pleasure in you and I. He desires joy for us, joy that lasts. And He wants us to have confidence in Him. Today, I lack that confidence. Maybe one day I will stand before the Lord and know. Today, though, it’s merely mine to be obedient.

Tuesday, 5 September 2011
                        II Corinthians 4
            “We have this treasure in jars of clay,” and that treasure is the light of the glory of Christ. We are the jars of clay and the only way light can shine through is if the jar is broken. “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our body.”
            Our death, like Jesus’, then brings life. The more the world sees us suffer and respond in a Christ-like manner the brighter that light is. “Perplexed, but not in despair…struck down but not destroyed.” Yes, we are often broken like clay jars, but that only serves to show more light. That light brings warmth.

IFS: 29 July - 16 August 2011

This was from my time at IFS in Pueblo, CO. It was definitely a struggle for me. I struggled with the actual training greatly, but also wrestled with feeling very unfulfilled flying, wondering if being a pilot in the Air Force really was what God had for me. I didn't enjoy what I was doing. Eventually made it through the training with mild success but, to this day, the whole IFS experience is a blur and I couldn't tell you what I learned there. I was just grateful to be done.

Friday, 29 July 2011

            This is my first significant time outside in three days but it feels like more. Days are filled with classroom lectures from 7am until 4:30pm with a lunch break in between. I’m trying to absorb everything but it’s a lot and usually overwhelming. Don’t even have time to think about how I feel about all of this, or if I’m enjoying it. Just do it.

            II Timothy 3:10-17
            I feel like Timothy and I come from similar backgrounds. We have a lot to be thankful for that we cannot take credit for having. It’s just been given to me. I don’t have to read the Word to know what it says because I already know it – not because I was born with knowledge but because I was born into a community and brought into a church that inundated me with incredible Biblical knowledge and wisdom. That was a gift!
            Even though I know this Book well it is not overused and worn out in my life. It will continue to inspire forever, so that God may be glorified and me equipped

Saturday, 6 August 2011

            II Timothy 4:9-22
            “[S]o that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”
            This is my chief end; it’s not being successful. Here at IFS my sole purpose has been perfection in flying planes. It’s exhausting and unfulfilling. The reward for doing well is so small in comparison to the preparation you have to go through for the rest of the day. I don’t want to spend time investing in an airplane. I want to invest in people. I want to pursue the Lord.
            Father I confess that You’ve been an afterthought while I’ve been here. I don’t want my life to be that way. You are my first love, and greatest endeavor in life. My life, my training is Yours. It’s not mine to own. I give up my right to do what I want. Please use me for Your Kingdom’s sake. That’s the only thing that gives me lasting fulfillment.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

            The Word of the Lord is encouraging. Reading it, hearing it, just knowing it’s there is enough to comfort. These have been hard days and I’ve struggled and been beaten down in ways I’ve never experienced. The end is closer but I still have no confidence in my abilities. It’s Christ in me that succeeds. If you could read my thoughts while studying and know my temperament in the plane you’d agree, too. It’s the Holy Spirit that comforts me.
            “My hope comes from above.” My confidence in the Lord is such that the results from this program will not have an effect on my joy. If I strive to please Christ while I’m here I cannot fail (in spiritual terms (in human terms I absolutely fail)); and I’m not talking about becoming a pilot. My goal is to bring glory to God. If that means being screened (cut from the program) then so be it. If it means passing my check ride then even more so be it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” even bring glory to God and have joy in the midst of human failure.
            “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” I pray for this. When it comes, though, my joy often turns to depression because my focus is on my circumstances and my wants. But if I turn to the Word in depression I find joy. The Word points me to Christ, and there is where my focus turns. I am Christ’s, and He never fails me. When my gaze is fixed on Jesus I see how big He is and how small my situation is. In affliction I find how sweet Your Word is, sweeter than honey.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

            Mark 12:28-34
            The only thing of worth we can bring to others is love. Wisdom and knowledge are great but can be found in the world. The love of God, however, is shown to the world through His children. Love, is the greatest commandment. Love remains. There is no love like the love of Jesus. When I become unsure of what love is I have only to look to Jesus and what He did for me. Love is action.
            I soloed today. One week ago I didn’t think I’d make it. I don’t think I’ll make tomorrow by myself. The only way I’ve made it this far and the only way I’ll make it through tomorrow is the Spirit’s intervention. I am not confident of my skills but I have great confidence in the will of God to get me where I need to be. If I become a pilot it will be because my Father made me a pilot.
            If the Lord wants us to go somewhere we are going to end up there. The only choice we have is how we travel. We can go unwillingly like Jonah or run there like Abraham and Elijah. Run.

            Seeing how I got through college, seeing how I’ve made it this far and looking at my talents, abilities, lack of talents and abilities, loves, passions and interests it’s obvious I am where God wants me. He loves me.

11 July - 25 July 2011

Monday, 11 July 2011

            Sometimes I’ll feel good about life. Headed in a good direction. Purity on the brain. Really have a good hold on my situation. Then I fall and realize how far I’ve been from “good” all along.
            I’m struggling here in Columbus. Met some friends but no one I can go deep with. I need that accountability on the ground, not only close air support. My sin shames me. Never have I been so unsure of life as this. It will improve, I know. I just don’t’ want to feel so alone. I wish You would write me letters with my name in them. So tired of this struggle. Lots of questions.
            Reading your Word I want you to yell at me for my rebellion. Then I read II Timothy 2:13, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” And that hurts worse. You’ve claimed me as your own and I see no good thing in me. I can’t understand why me. My attempts to be good and loving are always selfish. Please send help.
            I keep saying when I get this, or when this comes, or when I’m there, or here or when I’m with her or talking to this person it will be better. But those things only point to the next thing. If I can’t have joy and contentment now I never will. How do I get there, Jesus? Take me to Eden.

            If you plan to take me out of pilot training eventually, please just go ahead and do it now. It’s boring as all get out right now. The things I’m turning to for security and satisfaction leave me feeling empty. Each day it becomes more difficult to fulfill those desires.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

            II Timothy 2:14-19
            We don’t need theology to die (that is, to see heaven). That would imply my salvation depends on me. But, “The Lord knows those who are his.” He won’t require anything of me when I reach him. He already claimed me. “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord,” though, “must turn away from wickedness.” I do need right theology for that.
            “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” So handle the Word, but know right theology so you handle it correctly. That only comes by spending quality time in the Word: you, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
            If I don’t know right theology I could be led astray by people like Hymenaeus and Philetus. It happens every day. It happened to some of my friends. But the opposite can also happen if we correctly handle God’s Word. There is power.         

Monday, 18 July 2011

            Shame never brings me back to the Lord; neither does fear of retribution. The love of Jesus draws me back. When Jesus died on the cross ALL of God’s wrath for me was poured out on Him. On Jesus. That means no matter how far away I drift I will never taste the wrath of my Father. Are there still consequences for sin? Yes, but wrath? No. Rather, I will always ever only know His love.
                        “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

            II Timothy 2:22-26
            From verses 20 and 21 I might ask how to cleanse myself from ignoble purposes. Paul answers with. “Flee the evil desires of youth.” But he doesn’t stop there. Once we remove evil we become naked, so we are to clothe ourselves with, “righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
            If I am naked I will do anything to cloth my shame. Even if it means putting on something dirty. That’s why Paul urges us to not stop at ridding ourselves of sin. If we do not cover our nakedness with righteousness sin will naturally creep back in. We cannot stand to live with insecurities visible. They must be covered up. So cover yourself with righteousness.
            Humility is a true mark of the Lord’s servant. Do not worry about winning. Quarrels always lead to division. Better to lose an argument and keep a friend than win a live alone.

Monday, 25 July 2011

            II Timothy 3:1-9
            “Always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” Everything Paul lists is true of today’s culture, but this sentence is loudest. We have so much knowledge but so little acknowledgment of Christ. And it’s not just “pagans.”
            I was just listening to a sermon by Scott from First Pres Opelika on James. He said those who rely only on their words and right theology lack truth. Ignorance isn’t only for the godless. Too many who call themselves Christians have so much knowledge but lack faith. Just because a jury has all the right facts doesn’t ensure they’ll come to a right verdict. In fact, it’s popular today for the “educated” to oppose the truth (not just spiritual) to come up with a new idea of what is right, even if it’s false.
            It is right to challenge ideas to know if they are true. And I acknowledge the difficulties associated with accepting Scripture, but I know it is truth. Its truth has been present in my life in ways that make me weep. Test the Word against something solid and you’ll find that it is true. By something solid I mean a thing you can garner results from, not simply a hypothesis. It’s true not because it works. But it works because it’s true.

3 July - 8 July 2011

Sunday, 3 July 2011
            II Timothy 1
            Why would Paul have reason to be ashamed? He wouldn’t say, “Yet I am not ashamed,” unless he had a good reason. It’s because he’s suffering, he’s in chains, he lost his high position. Those he used to work with scoffed at him. He used to put people in prison. Now, he’s in prison. So what reason does Paul have to not be ashamed?
            Assurance keeps Paul from shame. But I’m confused about what he’s entrusted Christ to guard “for that day.” Life? Eternal life? Death? And he says Timothy has also been entrusted to guard a deposit. The gospel? Community? Communion crackers? Money?
            Whatever it is we are not alone. I have the Holy Spirit’s help. Fortunately, He knows. Lord, show me what it is.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

            Coming here by myself, living alone, I knew there’d be ample amounts of temptation. I thought, though, that desperation would keep me from giving in and instead draw me to Christ. Now, it’s come again to a daily struggle. I want this to be a place of peace.

            II Timothy 2:1-7
            How can I expect a right mindset if I’m not striving for it? It won’t just happen. A strong Christian only becomes so through hardship, through the struggles. God gave Timothy the Word of God and the encouragement of other Believers like Paul to help him grow strong in Christ. Those things were put in Timothy’s life on purpose for him to use purposefully.
            Paul illustrates this with an athlete. The athlete won’t “receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” He also says that a farmer will receive his share of crops if he works hard for it. I can’t expect to arrive in a place sold out to Jesus on accident. If I want to be there I must set a course for there and study and pray to know how to get there. No one has ever stumbled upon sanctification. We are sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit when we listen and obey.

Friday, 8 July 2011

            I’m thinking about going out and buying a computer game to alleviate the boredom. I won’t, though, because laziness always accompanies boredom. Splinter Cell is in one of the boxes I put in storage. Not sure which one. Might bring that up here. Kind of glad I don’t have internet right now. I’d just be wasting time on facebook and reddit. Wouldn’t mind some TV though.

And so it begins

This was just two days after I arrived in Columbus, MS for pilot training. I spent a month doing nothing before they sent me to Pueblo, CO for Initial Flight Screening. Some of this might be a repeat from posts early on in this blog. If so, then twice as nice.

29 June 2011

It’s times like these when real growth happens. When I feel alone and desperate and reach out for the one thing I know is certain, God’s Word. He is solid. He does not falter. He does not fail.
            Hold me close, Lord. Let me know I am in Your presence. This world, my job doesn’t matter. It’s You, Lord. Have pre-eminence in my life. Have Your way with me. Shine your favor on your child. Bring light into my life. Let me know for sure I’m not alone.

Today was good but didn’t go as planned. I went to the transition office at 8am to get an early start but no one was in there. I talked with two other Lt’s who were also waiting. Like an idiot I didn’t get their names.
            The office didn’t open until 10am so things started later than hoped for originally. I got a couple items checked off at the OG building then went with another Lt, John (got his name this time) over to MPF. Filled out some paperwork and was then told I would be called when I needed to come back. Didn’t get the call until the end of the day so I’ll need to return tomorrow.
            Afterwards I went to Housing and saw Mayer (I knew he was working there). So excellent to see a friendly familiar face even though I’ve been here less than two days. Lots of nerves I guess.
            Tomorrow I can move into a dorm. It’s actually smaller than this hotel room but has more amenities. And the bathroom light is inside the bathroom. I don’t understand hotels’ propensities (and my old apartment) to put the light switch for the bathroom outside the door. Also, we’re being given a four day weekend for the 4th so I’ll get to go to the lake! Sweaty but fun.
            The gym on base sucks. It’s probably great for most people but unconventional for a crossfit workout. No free weights anywhere, just machines. So I did a workout with the trees and the side of a building today. Still got me tired.

            Had a heavy snack before I drove off base to look at the downtown area and the Tombigbee river. The downtown area is similar to Opelika’s but a little more compact. Lot’s of churches. I thought the city would be on or at least closer to the river but they’re a good distance apart. The river’s just the river; nothing on it. It’s like the founders tried to build the city on the river but missed.

Stuff from Before

The next few posts are from my time in Columbus, MS until now that I wrote in a journal. A lot of them are just some reflections on what I was reading in the Word but a lot of it covers pilot training. This is for Chloe and my mom, who check this periodically and will, hopefully, be surprised to find multiple posts. Also because Chloe convinced me it's more fun to have this stuff somewhere online than stored in a book in a closet.

Lord bless 'em, they can't cook

                  I walked into an antique store downtown in Cheyenne looking for some furniture: coffee table, end table, some kind of chair. As I walked past the register I greeted the lady who was running the store. She returned my greeting, paused for a few seconds, then got up and said, "Well, you're new here and from the South. How long have you been here?" Taken aback by her knowledge of my life I told her I had, more or less, just arrived (I never asked her how she knew I was new and from the South and it still puzzles me) and introduced myself to her. Linda (that's her name) is from New Orleans and moved here almost 30 years ago. I asked her why she moved up here. "Well the Lord just brought me here - probably brought me here to meet you! Now, let me tell you, the people up here are fantastic, wonderful, nice people but, Lord bless 'em, they can't cook! If you wan't anything worth eating you'll have to drive down to Fort Collins or cook it yourself."
                And here I am, Cheyenne: a sweet tea lovin, Auburn football havin, still wishin I was in Arkansas livin closer to that girl, Southern boy. The reality of being way up here (over 6000' above sea level) still has not sunk in. I've been too busy in-processing to my new job at the 30th Airlift Squadron, getting settled into the house I'm renting and spending weekends away in Denver or the mountains. When I talk to people back home I'm still referring to the South as "here," even though Dixie is so far, far away.
                I can already tell I'm going to enjoy working with the guys at the 30th. Everyone seems at ease and even though the deployments are busy there is still a relaxed feeling around the squadron. All the single officers I've gotten to know well are deploying tomorrow morning. Kind of a bummer. But there are plenty of cool married folk to go around. It's hard to say much more about work than that because I haven't gotten settled there yet. I know I will be working with the Stan/Eval guys (and I only say that for people who know what that abbreviation is (if you don't know then explaining would only leave you more confused)). It's one of the better shops to work in (so I hear) and the other guys in it are all very experienced pilots that will hopefully grace me with some knowledge.
                Like I said, weekends have been busy, but not in Cheyenne. The first weekend I was here I spent in Leadville, CO, crewing for a friend who was running the Leadville 100 Trail Race. It was brutal. Starting at 4am, going all day, all night and finishing at 6:30am the following morning. Sleep called out at every corner, begging you for just a little nap. The terrain was rugged at best, often jaw rattling. Exhaustion teamed with the altitude to make any physical activity arduous.It was also hard for the runners. But, seriously, the course was a lot more difficult and demanding than we thought but the landscape was gorgeous.
Runners ran down this hill to the final checkpoint before heading over a 12,000 foot peak. Once on the other side they turned around and did it again.

This was the last aid station we had access to as crew members. About 2:30am Sunday, and about a half-marathon left.

               The next weekend I asked my cousin, Aaron, who lives in Denver, what he and his wife, Minette, were up to. He said, "we're gonna hike a 14er. Interested?" Having absolutely no idea what that involved I said yes (and learned, about 24 hours after I committed, that a little research might have saved me regret). We camped out at the base of the mountain Friday night, got up early the next morning and started the "hike" around 7pm. The base was around 9500 ft. I took maybe 15 steps and realized I was already exhausted. The next 4000 ft of my life was, put bluntly, hellish. It could be seen as a scientific endeavor, realizing the effects oxygen (and the lack of it) has on ones' body. Basically, I didn't have as much oxygen as I was accustomed too and my body tried to stage a revolution over my mind in order to turn me around and just make it stop. Unfortunately, you can always take one more step, or shuffle, as it may be. The first 2000 ft were difficult but manageable. And this made it worth it:

 However, the last 2000 ft was just a shuffle, knowing that if I stopped, I would more than likely stop for good and turn around. I think I blacked out  because I don't remember much except switching back a lot and legs burning and quads cramping and wondering what I would do if I ever made it back down. Somehow, though, the shuffle got me to the top:
Not a great perspective, I know, but I was sitting down (possibly in a very reclined position
The rest of our group was on the top about 45 minutes before I got there so they were ready to head back down. Someone asked if I wanted my picture taken. I said no for a few reasons: I didn't want to stand up, it was really cold and windy, I just wanted to eat my sandwich, I was incredibly tired and, mostly, I didn't want to memorialize or remember that moment in any way. To our (my cousins' and my) surprise the group decided to take the alternate route back down rather then head back the way we came. We quickly learned that "alternate" route means much, much more unbearable and unpleasant and devilish route.
                The first 1500 ft down was loose gravel and rocks just big enough to twist your ankle, all at a slope so steep that tilting your head forward slightly would cause you to get down the mountain very, very fast and probably for the last time ever. We were following a ridge line (note to self: never do that) down that was formed by Satan the Deceiver. We would get to a flatish dirt spot and think, "whew, finally done with these awful rocks and steep descents," only to walk to the ledge and see you were horribly, horribly mistaken. On the way up all I could think about was that, maybe, one day, I'd get to go down hill. Once headed downhill, though, I started praying to go uphill again. But then we would go uphill for a bit and I would immediately regret that prayer. This was after we actually got done with the rocky descent, looking back:
Don't mistake the joyous expression on my face. I was not happy about what we had just accomplished

Finally below the treeline.

So fast forward a few more hours and we finally made it back to the car. And I was out of oil. I don't want to talk about it. Overall I have a greater appreciation for Sam and Frodo and what they accomplished on their way to Mordor.

All in all I've been having fun up here but still missing home, people and sweet tea (also Sweet Tea). I'm flying down to Arkansas this weekend on my way to Pensacola, FL for water survival next week. Looking forward to being around my Little Rock people again and to be within hugging distance of this one:

And I'll leave you with a picture of this truck we saw on the drive up to Wyoming:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

On the Spanish Inquisition and Big Red Trucks

               Understatement: I've been working a lot. True Statement: if I work more than three days a week it's a horrible week. And usually I'm not at work more than six hours. That's just in the Legacy C-130 school house, though. The guys in the J (newer) C-130 school house seem like hardworking people compared to us. They get excited when they hit the flight line, not because they get to fly, but because it means they have 5 day work weeks opposed to their regular six days a week. And on our side I was supposed to be in class today for 7.5 hours. Instead, 3.5 hours after class started I was already home and eating lunch.
                With that said, it feels like I have not been doing anything work related at all, but we have accomplished some actual work in the last month. We just finished a round of simulators covering flight with Night Vision Goggles (NVGs, of course). Aside from looking like a goob:

they are fascinating to fly with. It feels a lot cooler than it looks. Before the sim starts we pick up a "night kit" along with our NVGs (regrettably we are not issued our own pair) that contains a bunch of glow sticks and tape to cover incompatible lights in the cockpit. Yes, military grade glow sticks. I haven't found it necessary yet to use a glow stick but crack one open every time because I can and usually pocket one or two also just because I can (gotta take what you can get in this sequester environment).
                  The most recent sims have mostly been opportunities for the instructors to play pilot while we sit in the copilot's seat and raise and lower the gear and flaps (press a couple of buttons). They have years experience flying the 130 and it shows. Sometimes they get so drawn into the sim they forget they're supposed to be teaching and we end up watching aimlessly and trying awkwardly to somehow contribute. It's like "helping" your dad fix the car when your 5 years old.

Dad: "hand me that screwdriver."
Me: "here."
Dad: "that's a hammer."

But actually I'm getting really good at pressing the buttons and, as night simulators have proven, can usually find those buttons in the dark (with the assistance of a glow stick).
                   Night sims are over now, sadly, and we've moved on to flying formation in the weather, i.e. you can't see the other planes you are flying with. We do this by utilizing a piece of equipment called SKE that more or less uses radar to track the other planes in your formation. SKE is short for Incredibly Convoluted Process and is technologically fascinating but is more tedious and less fun in real life.

               The main topic of conversation around work lately has been whether or not any of us will have C-130 flying jobs in the near future. The Legacy C-130 Active Duty units are all being phased out and, with them, so are many of the Legacy C-130 pilots. Obviously this has an impact on the training classes. Many of the guys in our class received emails towards the beginning of our time here saying that they might be pulled from the middle or end of training and reassigned to a different job. One of our fellows was supposed to be stationed at Pope AFB in North Carolina but he got a call last week saying he won't be going there any longer. They didn't tell him where he would be going.
                Another fellow we know completely finished C-130 training then received a dream sheet (a wish list of potential jobs) from his commander, which means he definitely will not be flying the C-130. And that was AFTER he had already become a brand new, fully qualified C-130 pilot. There have been other stories of guys being pulled from the middle of a simulator into their commander's office and told they aren't going to be happy with what is about to be said. It feels somewhat like the Spanish Inquisition of C-130H pilots. We are all afraid someone's going to come banging on our door in the middle of the night and drag us out into the public square and force us to fly RPAs (remotely piloted aircraft). RPAs are the bane of every pilot and pilotdom.
                 Telling a qualified pilot he's going to be "flying" an RPA is like clipping a pilot's wings. It's like turning a stallion into a gelding, It's taking away a cowboy's horse, gun and hat, replacing them with a laptop, a tie and a nice pair of slacks and telling him, "Good news! We've implanted microchips in all our cows' brains. Now you can herd them with this laptop from the inside of this windowless cubicle. Don't worry, you can still wear your boots. Just make sure to take off the spurs."  

               On a fun note, one of my friends, Brandon, is a firefighter and let a couple of us play on the firetruck:
Deploying the ladder anchors. Who doesn't love a firetruck?

From atop the 100' ladder. 

Room for three in the bucket plus a cooler. Would've stayed up there longer but I didn't have any sunscreen.

360* of ROTATION!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grey Hairs and More Hiking

I don’t often drink coffee so when I do (as I just did) I get incredibly jittery and cannot type fast enough. Unfortunately that means a lot of backspacing because my fingers can’t keep up with the jitter demand. Uncorrected it looks like this: and thishtsei ywhwyehth I diecided to tkekerp tbackaosohfodndniong.

I came to Little Rock with no expectations but lots of excitement. I couldn't nail down why exactly I was excited to get here and, now that I am here, I still can’t express why I love it so much. A great deal of it was the first impression - granted, coming from Columbus, the standard for a “fun” city (considering only what the city has to offer (not including the people)) was pretty low - which went something like, “hey! There’s stuff to do here!” Little Rock offers an abundance of running trails and runners to go with it. On even a marginal weather day it would be unusual to see anything less than a horde of people on the trails running, walking, biking or, occasionally, sleeping (but usually that occurs slightly off the trails beneath an underpass close to sunset or just after dawn).

My parents came to visit and we "hiked" (mostly climbed) Pinnacle Mountain.
Mama didn't bring her shirt.

When I moved here I did not consider myself a “runner.” After hitting the trails a few times, though, and reading the book Born to Run, by Christopher McDougal, I caught the fever. Now, on a weekday I go for 6ish miles a pop and on a Saturday I’ll run 13-15 miles - that’s roughly 10 times as many miles as used to run in one go (as in the mile and a half during the yearly Physical Fitness Test) and approximately 13-15 times more than I ever wanted to run. I’m surprising myself. After reading Born to Run my goal was to simply enjoy running. I think it’s working.

Amidst the funtivities I still manage to fit some C-130 training in. Our class is nearing Phase 1 completion and our schedule has started slowing down. Training here has been immensely more enjoyable than at SUPT. There are no weekly EPQs or humiliating shotgun questions. I am also more motivated to know the aircraft systems and performance on an intimate level since this is the plane I will be flying for the foreseeable future (unless it gets sequestered, too). Unlike SUPT, we are encouraged to work as a crew and not trained to do everything solo. Back in Columbus if I as the pilot made a mistake and the other student sitting co-pilot caught the mistake and tried to fix it we were both chastised. I for making a mistake and the co-pilot for not letting me make the mistake. Here they say a crew save is a good save. It takes away a load of stress and encourages the team environment, which I thrive on.

These are the C-130 simulators we use.

This is what it looks like from the inside

And this is what we pretend we look like

The instructors here are mostly all salty, salty Vietnam veterans who have been flying the C-130 for over 20 years and instructing on the simulators for another 15-20 years - obviously a wealth of experience and knowledge. 

He's probably laughing at a dirty joke
After one simulator profile my flying partner, Ross, and I were corrected by the instructor pilot, instructor engineer and instructor navigator for descending in the weather during part of the mission. The details are not important but I found myself wanting to quibble then it hit me that all of these guys had grey hair. Stress might cause grey hair but you never get old by making fatal mistakes and dying young. When three grey haired, salty Vietnam vets tell you what you did was stupid and dangerous it pays to listen (their opinions on how to best work an iPhone or iPad, though, can usually be disregarded).

One of the few drawbacks to having an experienced instructor is that sometimes they can talk for, like, ever about the C-130 and take up the whole 3 hours slotted for a mission prebrief. You can often gauge how long a prebrief will take by the number of “war stories” told. Want to know about how to deal with an engine fire or throttle control cable failure? There’s a story for that. Have a question on the alternate gear-extension method? There are a few stories for that. Want to know how stupid and useless the Temperature Datum Control System is? Better believe there is a story AND a long soapbox dialogue on that. Want to hear how to solve the debt crisis and save the Air Force $300 million a year on C-130 training? There is a whole story and even a slideshow with videos for that. Oftentimes a student will bring up one of those political rabbit trails on purpose with the full knowledge it will take the next 2 hours to fully discuss because, frankly, my ability to learn ended with my patience about 10 minutes into the brief.

Anything to do with politics is always a winner but every instructor has a hot button they love to talk about: remodeling a yard, classic cars, motorcycles, guns, basketball, grandkids, college football, what a pain his son-in-law’s dog is. If you know you will have the same instructor for more than one simulator mission the goal is to find his hot button the first go. Keep prodding until you find it then never let it go. When he says, “Well, that’s enough about that,” counter with, “what other pieces of your furniture has his dog destroyed?” This saves mileage on the brain cells down the road and will help preserve your patience which, trust me, will NOT last for a whole three hour lecture on how the prop feathers (THOUGHT BUBBLE: “Ok. He’s pausing. Nod your head and say something like, ‘that makes sense.’”). Or you could spend an hour showing them the wonders of their iPhone.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A City with a View

             As I saw Columbus Air Force Base disappear in my rear-view mirror all I could think of was which type of hand towel holder I would put in my new bathroom. Not that I consider Columbus a zit on the history book of my life. I was fortunate enough to meet amazing people and form incredible relationships in just a year and a half that will have a lasting and positive impact on the rest of my life. I cannot express how thankful I am for those friendships and I look forward to fostering them as time goes on. It's just that Columbus is a zit. Flat and swampy. I love hiking, and I knew of trails in Columbus. But the visuals of tree, swamp, tree, tree, swamp and tree can discourage even the heartiest of outdoors-men. We often drove 45 minutes to Starkville to have fun. Stark-ville.

a : barren, desolate
(1) : having few or no ornaments : bare <a stark white room> 
(2) : harshblunt <the stark realities of death>)

Whoever named the town was brutally honest. 

           Little Rock is a breath of fresh air. There's more than one main road and they have multiple Targets and Starbucks - neither of which do I adore by any means (Target is too red and I only drink coffee on the occasional weekend), but they are signs of even greater things. My apartment sits next to the Arkansas River and on a road that's part of the River Trail that makes a 15 mile loop. The trail stays next to the river throughout the loop, but on the north side there are some single track dirt trails that run along the bluffs that overlook the river and downtown Little Rock. I found the trails on accident when I went running earlier in the week. They make running enjoyable:

                 Of course being in Little Rock means I've started doing something again. Classes for the C-130H program began last Tuesday. The first test is this Tuesday. They waste no time in turning on the firehose of information. Which means we got these,
along with CDs of extra information and study guides. But we also got some new fun stuff like a heavy duty backpack, flashlight and safety belt (for being safe).

                 Since we all came from SUPT (Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training) this schoolhouse can be considered a graduate program. The benefit is that you are no longer treated as a newb student pilot (sadly it feels like I brain dumped everything from SUPT so that might still be a regretfully accurate title). There's no hand-holding through the program so you don't get babied as much. Unfortunately that means there is no hand-holding in the program so you don't get babied as much. Through SUPT we were told what we needed to know, how to study to know it and given constant tests and quizzes and embarrassingly public shotgun questions to ensure we were learning. It entails zero fun and little free time. Here they only tell us what we are responsible for knowing and the learning is left completely up to us. It's freeing but a little intimidating at the same time.

                   The first day the instructor jumped right into painfully detailed information about the engine and propellers. Things like Temperature Datum Control Valves, an assortment of fly-weights, pistons, springs, back-up systems, back-up system back-ups and Turbine Inlet Temperature (which, given the Air Force's proclivity for acronyms, offers an endless supply of jokes and cautious laughter (it is a PC Air Force after all (but all of our instructors are crusty old retired dudes so they don't care))). 

                Overall, it seems a little more laid back than SUPT but with an extra dose of responsibility. There's no formal release here so, once academics are over, there won't be any mandatory 12 hour days. Not to say there won't be long days. To save money (and probably lives) most of our training is accomplished in simulators. We become fully qualified C-130 pilots before we ever touch the airplane. There are only 4-5 simulator machines, though, and with multiple classes vying for those sims all the time that means they run 24 hours a day. Most sims require a 3 hour pre-brief followed by a 3 hour sim and topped with a 1 hour debrief. That means your show time for a sim could be 9 pm and you wouldn't be headed home until 4 in the morning. It's dastardly but necessary.

                 If you're reading this then pray for dedication to things that matter. Obviously I am here to learn how to fly the 130 and I want to do that well - better than I did at UPT. But I'm only here 6 months and it would be too easy to shove aside things that matter always, regardless of where you are, in the name of, "I've only got six months to learn this stuff so I can sacrifice anything else for that long." Mostly that's relationships, whether with people or with the Lord. "Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much." This is mostly related within the context of talents and material possessions but I think it can also relate to how we use our time. If we are dedicated to fostering friendships when we are busy then how much more will we be able to foster those same relationships and others when we have more time? Not sure how to end this poetically so I'll just stop.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What's to talk about?

And then a year passed. Not much happened. And right now I'm stuck in the less enjoyable Air Force. It's not the Real Air Force, or so I'm told. I often hear rumors of The Real Air Force and how where ever I am at the moment is not it ("Ya this place is frustrating but don't worry. It isn't the REAL Air Force"). Some friends of mine have gone to places they heard was the Real Thing only to find that, alas, it was actually somewhere else. Maybe it's mobile. I hope I get there one day because it sounds rather like heaven. Everyone loves their job all the time and things are much, much simpler. Things like out-processing. Which is all I'm doing right now.

I'm supposed to start C-130 training in Little Rock on January 22nd. I'm supposed to PCS to Cheyenne in August. I have the orders to go to one of those places. Apparently, if this were the Real Air Force, I'd have the orders in hand which made more since chronologically. Alas, this is not the Real Air Force. Out-processing from a base involves taking a checklist around to a variety of offices to get stuff signed and retrieve paper work. Some of these offices require orders. Some of these offices won't let you out-process until you are 3-5 (or fewer) days away from your final out-processing date (the day you leave the base). The only way you know you're final out-processing date is by looking at your orders. Here in-lies the rub.

I was, at first, going into these offices and when they asked for my out-processing date I'd say that I didn't know because I didn't have my orders but that I was sure it was soon because my class starts in a couple of weeks. This got me no where. But I'm a quick learner - these instances. Now, when asked the same question, I reply confidently with a satisfactory date (after some quick mental math). It might be lying but it could also be the truth. And that's been 2013 so far. Also I moved a sleeper sofa out of my house onto a moving truck all by myself. As for 2012...

I feel somewhat guilty for not conveying what this past year has been like so, even though it will be impossible to report everything, I'll give it a go. Firstly, I distinctly remember 2012 as being a year in which I threw-up considerably less than 2011:

This past year has been the busiest and most trying year of my life. All the way through college I became accustomed to succeeding well at anything I applied myself to do. Pilot training, however, has been a great lesson in humility for me. A good lesson but a hard lesson. Overall it felt like I was running a hurdle race and knocking every hurdle down on the way to the finish. It's not how anyone dreams of racing. I finished, but it wasn't pretty. In fact at times it was Ugly vomited into sick bags (literally; and lots of it).

Like I said, though, it was a good lesson. I had to separate myself from my pride because really I had no achievements of my own to stand on. I've been able to hide past failures but these were very public and embarrassing. I couldn't hide from them. Those around me were encouraging but sometimes that made it worse. I dreamed of being lauded for my excellent skills, not of being patted on the back and told, "it happens to everyone. Shake it off and don't worry about it." It was quite frustrating. While coming up short I can't ever remember thinking, "well God's just trying to teach me something," but looking back it's always obvious He was.

It's always good to be brought low. It makes you realize that you always have been low, you just thought you were a big deal. It's not as if God thinks, "ooh, well this guy's getting way too good at life. Time to chop his legs out from under him before he gets any better." It's more of God drawing the curtain back from our eyes, revealing how inadequate and self-insufficient we are and always have been. And in addition to that God often keeps us from our selfish desires in order to give us what we really want. It would be a long, tedious explanation if I tried to go into details into the selection process the Air Force has for pilots (it actually wouldn't be that bad; I just don't want to do it), but if pilot training went how I pictured it (leaping gazelle-like over every hurdle and finishing in first place, all the while holding a gorgeous girl in one arm and an unspilt glass of scotch in the other) I would have ended up somewhere I didn't want to go, flying an airplane I really did not want to fly. But since I completed the race the way God desired I'm heading someplace I really want to go and will be flying an aircraft I am very excited about. That's the big picture of this past year. The details are fuzzy, though. 

Pilots are professionals. Professionals at finding something to complain about, and I could go on and on if I wanted (unless, of course, I was in the Real Air Force). But we really are incredibly fortunate. Just in the past 1 1/2 years I've been allowed to do things only a select few get to do in their lifetime - and get paid to do it. The risk, the pain and the vomit were definitely worth it (the vomiting, though, at the time, was not worth it). Back in Febuaryish of 2012 my wingman (as in the an actual wingman, not as in the guy who helps you pick up lady-friends at the bar) and I finished our required maneuvers quickly during a daily ride in T6 formation training. There were towering pillars of clouds in our practice area and we had 15 minutes left before we needed to head back to base. Our IPs took control and started playing chase in and out and around the pillars. Yankin-and-bankin and splitting the uprights. I was having so much fun I couldn't stop laughing. No way in the world I was getting paid to do that. Every retired Air Force or Navy pilot I talk to always, always tells me they would give up everything they have just to go back to the beginning where I am. The beginning where you know so little and only have everything to learn. I didn't understand that when I was throwing up and coming up short. But it's the days you can't stop laughing that you remember. It's those days that make them want to come back. I'll probably be there one day. For now, though, I'm grateful I don't keep a sick sack in my pocket all the time - just in case.