Tag Archives: gratitude

Christmas Present to Me

So NaNoWriMo is over, and I have another 50,000 words down on my future military / psychic reconnaissance novel. A few middle and ending scenes need to be filled in, and it’s all a disordered jumble in one document at the moment. But I’m happy to have completed my 2nd NaNoWriMo event.

I learned (or re-learned) a few things along the way, which I’ll post over the next month. 

But more importantly (to me), this frees me up to focus on revising and publishing my fantasy novel that I finished in late Spring. Thanks to several very helpful and thoughtful first readers, I have some solid suggestions on fixes and changes.

I’m going to start posting the first few chapters as a lead-up to the book being publically available online–which should happen by Christmas. It’s my present to me… and maybe to some of my friends who are already after me to work on book 2. 

If all goes well, this year’s group of Okinawa NaNo participants will also form a monthly writers’ group–something we wanted to do last year but couldn’t due to various military commitments and obligations. I’m ecstatic, since I maintain that’s the absolute best way to grow as a writer. I enjoy it so much I wrote a book about it, called Elements of Critique

And sadly, when I look at the news out of my hometown Chicago and other places around the States, I see very little has changed from the stories dominating the headlines last year. When I completed my first NaNoWriMo, racial tensions and community relations occupied my mind. More importantly, I could not ignore the wide gulf of animosity I saw on social media between people holding opposing viewpoints. And I wondered if anyone really considered the hurting families and broken lives in the aftermath of Ferguson and other flare-ups of racial tension. My book, Not to the Swift, is my effort to understand and empathize as a fellow father, husband, human. Seeing or considering what others go through reminded me how much I have to be thankful for. 

I hope Thanksgiving and the oncoming holiday season find you well and give you the chance to count your blessings. Maybe that can be another Christmas present we give ourselves. Gratitude and contentment seem truly counter-cultural in the West, so this is our chance to be ironic hipsters and go against the flow.

Grateful always for your time and attention,


At Least

Packing a bag again for a few days away from home. At least it’s not months.

Explaining to my 4 year old that I’ll be gone for a little while. At least I’m leaving when he’s awake and I get to say bye for now. 

Cancelling my leave that was scheduled for six months in advance because “we don’t have the bodies.” At least I didn’t spend any money on it and it’s not use-or-lose leave that might disappear on October 1st.

Stepping onto a plane for the 11th time in 13 days. At least I’m supposed to get some down time later this month.

Hitting my maximum allowable flight hours within a particular period and then got the waiver to just fly more. At least they’re still paying attention to the rules. At least we’re not in a situation like combat where dire and urgent need trumps the regulations for routine missions.

Flying several days for questionable reasons with little chance of accomplishing the mission. At least it was with a good crew that is in the same frustrating circumstance with me, so our individual miseries have great company.

Landing each day with enough time to get home, sleep, and go do it again the next day. At least the schedule changed so I usually see my kids’ faces for a few minutes before they go to bed or before I leave for work.

At least I am coming home each day (usually). At least I am not in a combat zone, threatened in the air or hunkered down on the ground. At least my family is well taken care of, and at least my wife is unquestioningly supportive and undeservedly patient.

I often joke that “I love my job” when there are reasons to complain. At least there are parts of it that I really do love.

Not all our servicemembers can say the same. Not all of them can claim the “at leasts” that I can. My heartfelt thanks to my brothers and sisters in arms in crappier places working longer hours doing harder jobs in worse conditions. Much appreciation also to the family members, friends, and loved ones who provide that support to the men and women wearing America’s various uniforms. You all make me proud.

I raised my right hand and swore an oath of my own free will. At least I serve a nation that–while admittedly imperfect–rewards honorable service in support of lofty ideals instead of demanding subservience to the whims of a dictator or ideology.

I’ll settle for these things today.

Thanks for Your Service

Bangor, Maine is a popular stopĀ on the itinerary forĀ various trips I’ve taken around the world.

The best aspect of the trip (to me) is that every time I’ve come through, I’ve been warmly greeted by a small assembly of retired military members, veterans and just plain folk with a firm handshake, a smile, and a “Thanks for your service.”

But tonight we showed up after 11 PM, figuring the airport would be closed.


Applause and cheers echoed down the hall as my companions and I made our way to the waiting area. Probably a dozen plus men and women stood at the door to catch us as we came in.

After 11 PM.

I’m old enough, even I want to be in bed after 11 PM.

I answered each of them with “Thank you for your service.” Because some of them served–probably at times with harder challenges and more demands placed on them than rest on me. And all of them took the time to come out and show some gratitude to men and women currently serving the nation.

That means something, and it’s worthy of thanks.

There are still grateful people in America, and it's appreciated.
There are still grateful people in America, and it’s appreciated.

The picture is blurry, sorry.

My eyes were a little blurry too.

"Prosetry" Piece 2

I’ve forgotten what it meant

that You reached out to the leper.

You saw the need and You responded.

I’ve forgotten what it meant that You ignored the condemning cries

and told the sinner, “Go and sin no more.”

I’ve forgotten what You came for.

Sitting with the wicked,

yet separated by Your virtue…

I separate myself by venue.

You reach down into the gutter

and lift up the one in need.

I’d be afraid to get dirt on my Sunday best.

My Christian tie could get ruined.

And You loved those You saw

as You traveled by foot from city to city.

I try not to get caught speeding,

since someone might see the fish

or the church bumper sticker on my car.

Miracles followed You.

They don’t seem to catch up with me.

You did all You could

to make the message known,

while I get scared someone might ruin

the gold edge of my Bible as I witness,

armed with a leather-bound book.

You were armed with a heart of love,

and You died innocent between two thieves

to heal the one who was sick but never knew it.

I’ve forgotten what it meant

that You reached out to the leper,

but now I remember Your touch.

And though nine others forget,

I’m coming back to thank You,

And I’m bringing some of my sick friends.