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Sunday, August 19 2018 @ 06:23 pm PDT

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The heart of the problem...

The PTSD DiariesSeveral months back I was asked to write about Frederica Mathews-Green's book, The Jesus Prayer. I was a bit skeptical at first due to the nature of the blog, but the author paid a visit to the website and asked me to do it, particularly as this blog has a different readership from her "standard" audience. After reading the book, I can see why.

Over the years I've read a lot of books on the spiritual life. They've varied in quality, and particularly in attitude. Too often I've encountered books that say the right things, but they say it with such arrogance and self-satisfaction that they tempt me to go and do the opposite just so I won't be associated with them. But The Jesus Prayer was the polar opposite. The attitude is simply, "here's what I know," and the author backs up her statements with both solid citations and her own, often difficult, experiences. It's very accessible. So, if you don't know what the Jesus Prayer is or why a whole book would be written about it, stick with me here.

If I had to pick one word to summarize the book, my choice might surprise you: "centering." To use a shooting analogy, if your shot is five inches off target twenty-five meters away, the cause isn't a five-inch error but a small mistake in the fundamentals of the shooter. This book isn't the spiritual equivalent of a sniper manual, but more like a session with the best trainer at your local range. If something in your life is off, this book, paired with the gospels and a questing heart, is a good place to begin.

It's been my privilege to get to know quite a few of the blog's readers, and one thing I can say with certainty is that we all have struggles: injuries, dark memories, schooling, career frustrations, being fed up with people...being fed up with ourselves... the things that jump into our minds threaten to destroy us at every turn. It's particularly piercing for those of us struggling through PTSD. What if what if what if... could I have saved her? what if that mistake hadn't been caught? what if that person flips out, what if he comes after me again, what if what if what if? Similarly dangerous is the "maybe if." Just small deviations in the course of our thoughts, but they throw us drastically off course downrange.

It's tempting to use the prayer as a bandaid, but the book has a way of taking us deeper, daring us to know something better. Another word I associate with the book is "truth." I loved this quote:

"It is hard to face truth when you feel alone in the universe, with a distant God who doesn't know your name and may be sulking over something you did years ago. You can feel brave enough to know and admit this truth only when you are sure you are loved, because 'perfect love casts out fear.' (1 Jn. 4:18)"

Do you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you're loved? I struggle with this, come up with all kinds of ways to try to earn and charm my way into people's hearts. A lot of reasons for this...but it's probably one of the biggest symptoms of the things that are broken in my life. But what's irresistible about The Jesus Prayer (both the book and the prayer itself) is that it's an invitation to encounter God's love as it truly is, not the way we've supposed it to be. And if that's not powerful enough for you, this might intrigue you:

"The hope of protection from your own vicious or self-hating thoughts is alone a strong impetus to persevere."

"Orthodox Christians believe that these prayers preserve the world, strengthen the remaining good wherever it lies, and fight alongside the powers of heaven against those that cherish cruelty and relish the suffering of the innocent."

The Jesus Prayer: The Ancient Desert Prayer That Tunes the Heart to God

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Women in combat...

General News"The main problem w/ women is that men want to sleep w/ them and will do so no matter what the rules are."
-Blackfive's Uncle Jimbo

So...the definitive statement is something along the lines of "women are capable; the problem is with the men"?

Yeah, I'm laughing.

But seriously... As you might guess, I have something of a unique perspective on this. With training and a bunch of PT, could I hold my own in combat? Absolutely. Can I earn the respect of male compatriots and fit in well with them? My track record says I could.

Would my presence change the dynamics of the group? Yes, without a doubt. That's not always a bad thing, with the changing nature of warfare. And admittedly many of the people arguing this topic are stuck in a "front lines" mentality that doesn't do the job any more. BUT intentionally putting women in combat does raise the probability that a soldier may be more concerned about his "buddy" (hehe) than the mission. It's not a guarantee, but it is a higher probability.

If we're looking at military efficiency/effectiveness, then I'd say that most combat units are not well served by the inclusion of women. HOWEVER, if a woman has skills that are needed (insert headslaps for about half of you here) no roadblocks should be put in her way or in the way of the unit that needs those skills. The big problem is rewriting the rules for efficiency rather than political correctness.

All of this, of course, assumes that we have sufficient men in the military to meet needs. But if the enemy shows up on American soil...look for the blue-eyed chick with the torn up combat boots and the .40 cal.
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Wednesday Hero

Wednesday Hero Blogroll
Capt. Ferris W. Butler
Capt. Ferris W. Butler

U.S.
Army

Capt. Ferris W. Butler, former platoon leader with D Company, 214th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain, 2nd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Drum, N.Y., talks to the Soldiers at Morale, Welfare and Recreation east Feb. 5 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Butler, a Port Tobacco, Mass., native, participated in Operation Proper Exit, which brings Veterans who were injured in Iraq back to the country to revisit the area and share their stories.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

Wednesday Hero Logo
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Team Rubicon video

General News
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training update...or at least a plan

General NewsI had something of a moderate panic this afternoon when I realized that I couldn't complete my prerequisites for the paramedic program in time without upending just about everything on my schedule for the coming year. The feeling was something akin to watching the vacuum starting to unravel your carpet... it felt unfair and out of control.

So I started looking at my options. I've made several commitments for the year, but by far the most important is being available to help a family member during the spouse's deployment. I'm taking a chance as it is by signing up for training, but I just can't stomach removing that family commitment from my schedule. Family plus military... bottom line is that I have to do what they need.

So...if I can get everything to line up properly, I'm going to have a brutal spring/summer. Basically I'm looking at taking an accelerated EMT class, overlapping with an accelerated Anatomy and Physiology course (a year's worth of A & P in four months.) Yeah, I know it's nuts. I know the horror stories; I've watched the class confound some amazing people. On the flip side, I've been complaining for a really long time that I don't have something that challenges me. And I also know people who have taken on bigger tasks and succeeded.

No pun intended, but it's going to be bloody. And I'm aware that I may go down in a fiery mess. But right now, I have peace about jumping off this academic cliff, and that's all I can ask.
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Monday Morning Scramble

ScramblesYou've all probably seen the main story right now but I found the Portland angle interesting. I know one of the Wackenhut contractors here, and the quote rings true for what I know of the people providing security for City of Portland. I have no doubt that they'd jump in if such a scenario happened here. Security Guards Stand By While Girl is Beaten

BentProp is gearing up to search for the remains of fallen heroes in Palau.

Law Barring Lies About Medals Is Tested

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Tonight's Fortune Cookie

General NewsI had to laugh:

"You could prosper in the world of medicine."
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Coffee and Carry

General News Group Calling for Weapons Ban at Starbucks Locations

I'll give cautious kudos to Starbucks for not immediately jumping on the bandwagon, although I'm not sure it's due to anything other than fear of a boycott.

The group is just acting according to its idiotic principles. (Although their comment about SWAT equivalency is laughable.) It's the coffee customers they cite who really annoy me. If Mr. Tall, Dark and Scary walks in, I'm going to be keeping an eye on him no matter what. And if he's carrying a gun, then I know what to expect if things go south.

If you want to talk about "untrained" then the sheep who are complaining belong best in that category. There seems to be an intelligentsia-induced narcissism that says that since they don't want to carry guns, anyone who does carry must be less intelligent.

I want my own "concealed carry welcome" coffee shop. It'd be great; I'd cater to cops, feds, military... it'd be a great place to conduct Craigslist deals, meet internet friends, etc... safest place in town! Yeah, I know I'm dreaming, at least for Portland. But I'm pretty sure I'm dropping Peet's from my list.

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Friday Scramble

ScramblesBritish Court Jeopardizes Intelligence Ties Between UK, US

More reasons why it's smart for women to know how to watch out for themselves...

Ads Prey on Unemployed Women

Florida Woman Denied Protective Order From Stalker Before Murder

And it's about time....Two Arrested in Cape Meares Vandalism

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Three steps forward and then...

General NewsGood news is that things are moving forward for me getting into the EMT program.

Amusing news is that the unofficial transcript I handed in was accidentally one that had been marked with a job title that I'm sure they don't see too often. I would love to be a fly on the wall when they spot that little sidebar...

And then there's the "now I know why there was an odd feeling about my gut" news. I really hate it when programs don't put all the relevant info on their websites, although I understand that for 99% of people it doesn't make a difference. But once again I'm in that 1%. Because the paramedic program starts in an odd month, under current scheduling I won't be able to fulfill all the paramedic requirements for Oregon before leaving the state. Granted, it's easier to get the cert in most other states, but from the looks of things I'd have to do significant coursework there because of differences in the programs. I still need to do more research on that, but that appears to be the situation.

I can still get my EMT Basic cert here, and I plan to do it. It's the right course of action. But there's also a part of me that's exhausted and fed up with opportunities being dangled in front of me too close to deadlines to actually make them happen. It makes me wonder if long ago I took some wrong turn that put me permanently off course. I know there's more to it than that; I know that the journey is important and things do have a purpose. But it's still tough. I don't ask that attaining my dreams be easy... but it'd be nice if once in a while they'd become attainable.