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Thursday, July 31 2014 @ 02:35 PM PDT

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Burned Out Moms

General NewsMost of you are probably aware of the search that is going on for missing Oregon mom Jennifer Huston. It hits close to home literally and figuratively, so I thought I should add my two cents.

Disclaimer: I HAVE NO INSIDE INFORMATION. I'm not Jennifer, I don't know her, I haven't seen her. I wish I could help in the search but I have my own mom-duties. This is my own speculation based on regional knowledge, news reports and life as a mom.

She gassed up her SUV, bought trail mix, Gatorade and OTC sleeping pills, and got less than $100 from an ATM. This isn't suicide. This isn't a woman leaving her husband. This is a woman who just wants a little short-term escape. I get that. When the story first broke and she had only been missing a short time, I had a brief moment of cheering her on, because I imagined her getting some well-deserved sleep in a private parking spot somewhere. Now, of course, it's evident that something went awry.

Ever wonder about those "baby on board" placards on cars? Supposedly they're to remind other drivers to not endanger the vehicle, but in truth they are warnings that the driver of the vehicle is not in prime condition. With the kids in the car, the driver may be running on adrenaline, dodging flying objects and trying to block out screams. But when the parent is alone, the exhaustion hits. You're not directly responsible for another life at that precise moment. And both reckless driving (ah, the freedom!) and being drowsy at the wheel are distinct possibilities. Then you add the landscape in the area surrounding Dundee/Newberg. It's wine country and forests, with lots of roads to nowhere, deep gulleys, sharp curves and no shoulders to the roads. I used to drive that area a lot when WatchKitten was a baby and the constant turns would rock him to sleep, but it required both hands on the wheel at all times and constant vigilance. Reaching for a drink or snack on those roads could be deadly. It would also be highly possible to pull into the wrong person's driveway, and that's a scenario no one wants to think about. Family and friends have asked people to drive the back roads looking for disturbed vegetation, dented barriers etc, but unless they close the roads to non-searchers, those drivers could end up in a bad situation as well. You'd have to drive at a snail's pace in order to scan the area safely.

As always, there are questions for the husband and relatives. The husband has passed a polygraph, and to the best of my knowledge there's no reason to suspect that he harmed his wife. But I was uneasy about quotes of "he's the most patient person I know" and general comments about the perfection of the marriage. Perfection is pressure. And parenthood...the pressures in our culture are huge. But I suspect that the pressure got to her, not her husband. And whether it was an accident or a medical issue or simply waking up after her face was already on the news, a few hour's escape turned into something worse.

Jennifer, if you're holed up in some cheap hotel reading this, know that a lot of burned out moms understand your need to escape. We're hoping your sanity time just got a little out of hand. We'll pray and search, and we hope to cheer your homecoming too.
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The Ventura Idiot

General NewsWitnesses Rebuff Ventura's Assertion That Fight Was a Lie

After reading the various statements, I have a hard time imagining what Jesse Ventura thinks he's going to accomplish apart from dragging a bunch of good people through a miserable lawsuit. He was humiliated (deservedly so) and now seems to be seeking revenge in a petty, reprehensible manner that is consistent with the original behavior cited.

The article states that there is a discrepancy in the testimony regarding the location of the fight. One witness said patio and one said sidewalk. I've been to McP's. The patio area bleeds into the sidewalk, so unless there's a distinction of "inner patio" I don't see that as a true discrepancy. If anything, such minor variations are more consistent with individuals' memory rather than a made-up story. I also recognize enough names on the witness list to doubt that any of them would have used Michael Monsoor's wake as a context for a smear campaign.

Jesse Ventura is responsible for his own defamation. I wish I could hope he would man up and leave Taya Kyle alone, but his history suggests otherwise. I haven't yet read Chris Kyle's book. But Jesse Ventura has ruined his own reputation, and thus will never get my vote.

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My view of fog

General NewsIt has been...a storm.
And an almost peaceful week, the eye of the storm, is drawing to a close and I jump back into the fray tomorrow.

I used to think that gated communities were way too uptight for my taste, but I'm finding it a blessing to just exhale because I don't have to worry about who is driving by. While it's not true security, it's easier to relax here.

I met a Navy guy today who assumed I was a veteran. It's not the first time I've been mistaken for one, and it's always an odd feeling. I know I've done good work in my life, despite some missteps, but days like today make me feel like I missed my niche. And it's even stranger in these turbulent times when so many veterans are depressed and disillusioned by what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've always thought it would have been an honor to serve...but was I spared something?

I don't know what to make of this life. So many mistakes entangle us, yet the oddest things preserve us.

I'm getting ready to leave my new favorite place, and I'm trying to cultivate an attitude of patience. There's a life I want, but it's not yet in my reach.

One step forward in faith. Another day of endurance and looking hard for joy. Digging deeper, inside and out, for that first handhold.

There are circumstances and then there are choices. We mess up when we confuse the two.
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General News
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Belated Memorial Day

General NewsMemorial Day this year was only typical in that it was my usual float between the military and civilian worlds. The whole "Happy Memorial Day" and "Do you have any plans?" bugged me like it bugged many of you. I wished I could have taken my son to one of the services, ideally the one at the national cemetery, but the timing just didn't work out with a toddler schedule.

So I remembered names and read new ones in wordless sympathy as friends posted their personal remembrances. And it seemed that so many people were wearing their Army shirts or Navy hats that day, and I knew they were thinking of someone.

All in all, it was a day lived in front of the eyes of the fallen. Would they approve of how we spent the day?

And a strange, beautiful truth: how would they have spent the day if they had not sacrificed themselves for our freedom, for their brothers? Would they have felt it was too high a price to pay for life? A different choice would have made a different person. They gave us their best; we stop short at asking God to rewrite that history.

Then there are the shadow memorials. We remember those who lost something of themselves through service. We remember that innocence even as we hold on with white knuckles to every effort to build a new, stronger life.

This Memorial Day, my heart remembered, but my hands changed diapers and planted flowers and packed the garage in anticipation of the next adventure. We've been given life. But we do well to remember how we received that gift.
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Hooyah Admiral McRaven

General NewsExactly what I needed to hear today.

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Hey You

General NewsYes, you. That faithful reader who keeps coming back to see what I've posted, even if it's just "Wednesday Hero" for weeks on end. :)

But this isn't about blog readership.

This is a slap upside the head in a public place because I know if I call you out in private, you'll dodge.

I know you're in a bad place right now. You're cutting vegetables in the kitchen and thinking about what else that knife could do. You're starting your vehicle in the garage and hesitating just a moment before raising the garage door. You wonder if carbon monoxide is your friend. You wonder if your life insurance policy is good enough.

You wonder if there's a point where you've just made too many mistakes.

Been there. Done that.

But today, take a deep breath (and maybe a B vitamin) with that pot of coffee. Take one step toward life.

Accountability is a double-edged sword. The right people holding you responsible will pull you through. But if the people keeping you accountable specialize in reminding you how you've screwed up, they aren't the right people to lean on.

Our real responsibility in life is to make Christ present to the people around us. We all have to work out the meaning of this, but I'll give you a hint: it's not about the bank account. I only know a few people who do this really well; the rest of us are muddling through. And we need to know that you're struggling just as hard as we are.

There might be a beautiful sky out that window. Or a good joke that someone is just bursting to tell. You can give them 30 seconds of your day.

Because there's someone who loves you no matter how much you've screwed up, and they need you to choose life for another 24 hrs.

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AKA How to EARN Respect

General NewsSOFREP: 6 Tips to Succeed in Special Operations
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Train Right

General NewsSpecial Effects Training Helps Medical Students Prepare for Life or Death Emergencies

If life ever takes me to SoCal, I would love to work with this company.

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General NewsToday I walked into a Middle Eastern restaurant for the first time in probably eleven years. I've had the food many times since, but usually from a deli or brought by a friend. So I wasn't prepared for the emotional hit.

I walked in and heard Arabic spoken. And Arabic music. And by all appearances they might as well have airlifted the little hole-in-the-wall place I remember from the first day we were let loose in Cairo. Memory overload...long-forgotten Arabic came back to mind...and a bit of that person came back.

Good food, nice people... I left shaken but wondering why. I don't particularly have bad memories of restaurants. In months in the region, I don't even have that many nasty incidents to remember, not proportionately. Why, then, did I sit in my car afterward and wonder if the best thing to do would be to cry?

Because I'm okay.
Because I felt the memories fully instead of anaesthetizing them.
Because I made it.
Because the thought of brushing up my Arabic crossed my mind.
Because the food tasted good and I wanted to go back for more.

It only took me twelve years to unpack.