Welcome to The WatchCat
Thursday, November 23 2017 @ 06:43 am PST

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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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Creed

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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Unpacking

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.
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Community

General News**As I write, reports are coming in regarding another shooting at Ft. Hood. Prayers for all involved**

I recently returned to my church after a rather complicated hiatus. The warmth of the welcome took me by surprise. I remembered that friendships had changed but by no means dissolved. But two things particularly stood out:

1) When I was isolated from the community, my attention very naturally focused on my own concerns. I came back and realized that I had friends who were in the midst of some terrible battles. Shaky marriages, new grief... we're meant to bear each other's burdens and I was falling down on the job.

2) A friend told me: "It is good to see you back in your place again. When you were gone, your place remained empty." It was a lovely double entendre about both a tangible place and my position within the community.

We need community. When we're tired and hurting, it's too easy to think we're a burden. So we slink away. We top up our most pressing need with superficial interaction like a tired mom soothing her hunger pangs with a mocha. ;) We sit in a quiet house or have the TV on nonstop, and then we wonder about those thoughts that come into our heads. Or eventually, we just believe them.

Community shouts down the thoughts and turns us away from the TV. Community teaches us to pray when we can't put our own troubles into words but make the effort for our friends' troubles. Community...real, not utopian....changes the equation to one in which our life is more than our individual success.

Today, success is a friend persevering in her marriage for another day.
Today, success is making wise choices about hospice.
Today, success is a card written to a grieving friend.
Today, success is another day of choosing life.

Whatever the means, success is making sure no one is truly alone.
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Close Call

General NewsOn a personal level, the blog is for days like today. For those days when there are warning bells in your head and you still don't know how you made it through what unfolded next. For those days when you feel guilty for what might have happened even though you did everything reasonable to avoid it and then some.

In short, we were nearly in a car accident today. My son and I. It would have been purely the other guy's fault; I had the right of way and he turned left into my left turn. I veered right and took every last scrap of road I could to get out of his way, and he missed the driver's side doors by inches. If I'd have stopped or stayed on course, we would have been hit. I'm sure of it. And so I still ask myself if I should have put my turn signal on earlier, and of course I'm mad about the wrong turn that put me on that particular road in the first place.

Thank God for our survival. Thank the angels and the saints. And I'm also thankful for the Muscovites and Cairo taxi drivers who influenced my understanding of what is possible on the road.

It's a lesson in gratitude for all those things "which we know and which we know not." Life is saved or lost by a thread. Remember to be thankful for even the threads we don't understand.