Saturday, August 14, 2010

Physical Fitness

Soon after I started this blog, I was in a bad motorcycle accident that left me with a broken right ankle and badly shattered left wrist. I endured two surgeries, and many months of therapy to regain use of both limbs. For most of 2009, I was unable to do much physical exercise, as it hurt to run for any distance and my wrist wasn't strong enough for lifting weights.

Originally, my surgeon had told me that he thought I'd never be able to do pushups again, as the flexibility and joint stress needed to perform that exercise would probably be gone. I set out to prove him wrong.

I persisted at doing as many as I could manage - even if it was only 4 or 5 at a time while on my knees. Eventually, I worked my way up to 20, then 25. It hurt my wrist some, but not badly, and I knew that the bones were strong enough to handle it.

Running was another story. Every time I would go for a jog, I would get about 1/2 mile and then end up limping on my bad ankle. Instead, I began to use the elliptical machine at our gym, which allows you to run in a non-impact way. With Tamara's encouragement, I also enrolled in the "Boot Camp" class at our gym, which provides a solid cardio workout, which I desperately needed. I even did CrossFit for a few weeks, though it's a bit more expensive and I didn't have as much time to devote to it as I would have liked.

Then I came out here to Ft Jackson for their chaplain school. A week after I arrived, we had our first "diagnostic" Physical Fitness Test (PFT). I had a waiver for the 2-mile run portion, but had to do the pushups and situps. For my age, 34 pushups and 38 situps are considered a passing score. The situps were no problem, but my grader only counted 25 pushups - apparently, he thought that I wasn't going down low enough, despite the fact that my chest was touching the ground on each repetition.

Last Wednesday, we took the PFT again - this time for score. And, I'm proud to say, I did much better this time. 45 pushups, 60 situps, and a 2-mile run in 16:57. I didn't know how I would do on the run, and even though an 8:30 mile pace isn't too fast, it's much better than I thought I would do, considering that I haven't run in such a long time.

Praise God for allowing my body to recover to such a degree, and for continuing to provide me with the strength and stamina to push myself. I'm not yet where I want to be physically (who is?), but it's great to see some positive improvements in that direction.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Navy Chaplaincy update

So, here I am sitting at Fort Jackson, SC finishing up the Army's Chaplain Basic Officer Leaders Course (or CH-BOLC). It seems somewhat strange to be going through the Army's course when my sights are set on becoming a Navy chaplain.

I arrived out here on 17 July, having sent off my Navy chaplaincy packet a few days earlier. I knew that they had another Navy Chaplain Basic Course (NCBC) starting up in mid-September, but didn't know if they would require me to do the 5-week Officer Development School (ODS) as a prerequisite, or if they would waive it in light of my 16 years of experience as both a Marine Corps and Army officer.

A few weeks after arriving, I met the CO of the Navy's chaplain school, CAPT Langston. He's a chaplain, but was a Marine infantry officer for 7 years prior to putting on the cross. All of the services now have their chaplain schools co-located here at Ft Jackson, so I was able to ask him about ODS and switching over to the Navy. He told me to make an appointment to see him in a few days, and he would have some answers for me.

When I came back a few days later, he informed me that I would have to attend ODS, as only former Navy officers - or those Marine officers who attended the Naval Academy - can get a pass on going through the course. Then he dropped a bombshell by saying that if I wanted, he could get me into the next ODS class (starting in 10 days!) and then back down here for the NCBC class in September! To say that I was surprised would be a vast understatement, but I quickly agreed. I quickly began informing my Army chain of command of my intent, which was met with some good-natured jabs, but mostly with an understanding that this is what the Lord has called me to do.

A couple of days later, as I was following up on this new course of action, I was informed that the Navy had used up all its quotas for active duty chaplains, so there was no way I could be accessioned by the board this fiscal year. So, now I'm basically back to where I was before. My packet is all set to go before the board, but now it will have to wait until October, when the new fiscal year begins. Assuming I'm accepted by them, I'll be commissioned in mid-October, then will have to wait until early January 2011 to go to ODS, and then on to NCBC in February. After I complete NCBC I'll be assigned to a fleet unit - hopefully with a Marine battalion somewhere.

In the meantime, I'm somewhat relieved to not have to jump through a series of hoops in a short period of time, and glad that I can stay here and finish the class with the friends I've made. And, since the armed forces is moving toward ever more joint operations, I'm sure that I'll be seeing some of my classmates down the road at some point. And with two chaplain schools under my belt, I'll be about the best-trained chaplain out there!

Ordination + Graduation = Celebration!

I realize that this post is horribly out of date - that the events listed occurred several months back. In my defense, I must offer up the fact that I have been extremely busy over that time with making sure that these events were in fact going to occur, and have been diligently preparing for the life changes that will come about as a result.

That said, here's the skinny:

On May 22nd, an Ordination Council was convened at our church. I was fortunate to be able to select those individuals who would play a part, and so had a number of good friends there to evaluate me on my capabilities. I had prepared my Statement of Faith well beforehand, and a copy was given to the 12 council members. Then, for the next 3 hours, we went page by page through my statement, pausing after each section for them to ask questions of me. Somewhat surprisingly, there was not much in the way of doctrinal questions, as most of the queries involved the practical application of what I professed to real world situations. I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as talking about what I believe comes naturally to me.

After the questions were through, Tamara & I were sent out while the council deliberated and then voted. We were called back in a short while later to find that the vote had been unanimous - I was to be ordained as a minister in the Baptist General Conference!

Several days later, on May 26th (also my anniversary), I was officially ordained during the evening service at our church. Our pastor, Craig Harrison, explained the process of ordination and then called me up on stage to interview me. After this, I was given the mike and made some remarks of my own before being presented with my certificate. One of the most powerful parts of the ceremony came after this, when family and friends came up on stage to lay hands on Tamara and me and pray for our future ministry.

As thrilling as the ordination was, I was still busy with school and with finishing up my final round of classes. Those of you who know me know about the trials and tribulations that have come with my attempts to learn Greek, and this final quarter was no exception. I was in the middle of Intermediate Greek and it seemed as though I was just keeping my head above water. I eventually took my final exam, and even though I didn't score very well (I think I got a 55%), it was enough to earn me a C- for the course. Not one of my better grades, but as they say, "C's get degrees!"

I ended up with a 3.26 GPA, which is much better than I did in college, and no doubt expresses the seriousness with which I am undertaking my new profession as a chaplain and minister of God's word.

Finally, on June 12th, Bethel Seminary held its commencement exercise at College Avenue Baptist Church in San Diego. My folks flew out for the graduation, as did my oldest brother Tim, which was quite a welcome surprise for us. It was a great feeling of accomplishment, as it was the result of four years of hard work and sacrifice - both in terms of time and finances.

The day after graduation Tamara & I left for a well-deserved vacation while Mom & Dad willingly looked after Rachel & Dash. We took the train up to Santa Barbara and spent several days up there relaxing and sightseeing. What a gorgeous area! We had booked our stay at the Doubletree Resort, and due to a minor mishap were offered a free upgrade -- to a ginormous suite overlooking the beach! We were so thrilled with our new accommodations that we had to call back and see if we could have an extra day to enjoy ourselves, which was graciously given.

So, May and June will stand out in my memory as transformative months - from student to pastor, from struggles to success. We humbly give God the glory for the great things He has done, and we look forward with eager anticipation to see where He will guide us from here.