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Monday, November 24 2014 @ 04:12 PM PST

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No Regrets

Michael MonsoorI just got back from San Diego and it feels like I was away much longer than the reality. It was a great trip, lots of fun with friends, and I learned things about myself.

My favorite discovery is that I'm evidently a decent speedboat operator. It wasn't exactly a shock to anyone (except for the fact that I did it on about 2 hours of sleep) but I can navigate harbor waters pretty well. I can fly over someone else's wake, make tight or wide turns as needed, and outrun anyone in a similar boat. I'm also cautious enough to stay out of trouble, but flying through the water (and air, occasionally) didn't rattle me. Rather, it was a great adventure.

I also had the opportunity to visit Michael Monsoor's grave at Ft. Rosencrans National Cemetery. There were things I needed to say, things that will never be written here. But the simple words on the bottom of the headstone spoke back to me:

"No Regrets"

We don't know what may be in the waters ahead. But we have to move forward if we are to find our joy. If considering a choice, I have to ask myself what I'm likely to regret, and then I make the bold, no-regrets move.

Cut through the wake, fly over the waves, feel the salt spray on your face. Choose joy, full speed ahead.

Thank you, Mikey.
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Day of Remembrance

Michael MonsoorToday we honor the Gold Star moms, whose children gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

And today we remember Mike Monsoor, who sacrificed his life for his team seven years ago today. I'm also especially thinking of the mom who raised such a hero.

I know that some of Mike's teammates have since died, but he gave their families more time. More memories. Moms and wives and kids all got what we hunger for: a few more days. Another hug, another smile. No matter that one is never enough. Each moment is a precious jewel worn on our soul forever.

I just read a piece about how Gold Star Moms see the precious life in every soldier. I can't speak for them, but I suspect it's true. All I can say is that for me, being a good mom is a collision course with heartache. Because if you train them right, if they learn to relish a challenge and put other people first, there's a pretty good chance that you'll live worrying about that knock on the door.

I will support my son in any honorable vocation, but I have to confess that he already seems like a mini SEAL or PJ. My job is to support him with training and chances to exercise his natural gifts, and to give him the foundation of faith and character that will guide him long after I'm gone. I could spare myself some heartache and teach him to be a couch potato, but I can't do that to him. I'm too proud of him.

It's a day of remembrance. But it's also a day to gear up and embrace the people and life we've been given.
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USS Michael Monsoor

Michael MonsoorFuture USS Michael Monsoor Keel Authenticated
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St. Michael's Day

Michael MonsoorNever forgotten....

MA2 Michael A. Monsoor

Born: April 5, 1981, Garden Grove

Died: September 29, 2006, Ramadi

Awards: Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Combat Action Ribbon

From Navy.mil:

Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony at the White House April 8, 2008. He will receive the award for his actions in Ar Ramadi, Iraq on Sept. 29, 2006. On that day, Monsoor was part of a sniper overwatch security position with three other SEALs and eight Iraqi Army (IA) soldiers. An insurgent closed in and threw a fragmentation grenade into the overwatch position. The grenade hit Monsoor in the chest before falling to the ground. Positioned next to the single exit, Monsoor was the only one who could have escaped harm. Instead, he dropped onto the grenade to shield the others from the blast. Monsoor died approximately 30 minutes later from wounds sustained from the blast. Because of Petty Officer Monsoor’s actions, he saved the lives of his 3 teammates and the IA soldiers. Monsoor also received the Silver Star for his actions during the same deployment in May 2006, when he exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to rescue and treat an injured teammate.

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Act of Valor

Michael MonsoorMy best friend and I went to see Act of Valor this weekend. I was a little concerned about some of the negative reviews from the critics, but I wanted to find out for myself.

Verdict? It's in a class by itself but definitely worth your time and money.

Yes, there were a few flaws. A couple technical errors (probably due to the cutting room in at least one case) make good fodder for discussion with experts, and the first few minutes portrayed a DSS agent poorly, which I thought was unfair. Yes, it's a SEAL movie, and few people know who DSS is, but...sigh. Anyway.

Act of Valor is intense, but its emotion is warrior emotion, not the typical Hollywood blubbering. There are a couple of subtle tributes to Michael Monsoor, which just caught me in the heart. I have a feeling that the SEALs involved made sure that those finer details got into the movie.

It's an action movie, yes, and the terrorist plot seemed straightforward to me, at least. (Feel free to comment if you didn't think it was straightforward; I may have studied these things for too long.) I've read critics' reviews which have argued that the movie lacked deep plot or characterization. I could almost see their point, except for one thing: making the movie Hollywood-style would make it into a lie. And I have to wonder whether any of these "movie critics" have ever called a man in uniform their friend. The movie honors the SEALs, far less than they deserve. If you're not interested in SEALs, don't watch it, but that was probably the most valuable two hours I've spent in a movie theater in a very long time.
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Remembering

Michael Monsoor
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Hello again...

Michael MonsoorNormally I try to post during the Pascha (Easter) weekend, at least to encourage people to experience Easter the way we Orthodox Christians celebrate it. This year, that post just didn't happen. And it wasn't because of any change in my desire for you to do that. I got one email out to someone who I particularly thought should go, but beyond that, words failed me.

How does one speak of an undeniable encounter with God?

Recently I had wondered whether my priorities had been askew, namely, whether my blogging and other activities with the military meant more to me than God. It can be so easy to let ideals and friendships take center stage. And so I came to a place where I could offer it all back to God and be okay with whatever happened.

Life with God gets very interesting, however.

I won't try to fully describe it. But one thing became very clear to me: I know God better because of our PJs, because of Michael Monsoor, and even because of my grandmother's death. I want to thank many of you for being the face of Christ to me.

Coming out of this weekend is a story that needs to be written. I haven't decided which name to release it under, but if you email me I can probably share draft copies regardless.

For now I'll just share a video of a "flash mob" in Beirut. They decided to sing our Paschal song (in Arabic and in Greek) in a shopping mall. Watch the faces of everyone involved. The words: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life." Beirut Flash Mob