Monday, August 31, 2015

johnboat ride through my head

As I sit here with time for quiet reflection, I'm trying to come up with some profound idea or interesting 'thing' to write about.....  No luck. I've got nothing.

So, with that being said: everyone hop aboard this johnboat as we slip down the stream of consciousness rambling incoherentness.

Scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw a link to an article from some paper (WSJ or The Guardian, I think) comparing Donald Trump to Hugo Chavez. No,  I didn't follow the link but the comparison seemed to have some merit on the surface. I thought about posting a short essay about Trump and his army of "Trumpsters"; about how I  found it all amusing especially since I have divorced myself from the political process. But then I thought better of it because that just sounded too condescending and frankly it is. I'm no better than your average Trumpster and I'm in no place to lecture another about how their energy seems to me to be misguided.

It does seem to me that these folks are letting emotion take the lead rather than rational thought. I'm not saying this in an attempt to say those that strongly support Trump aren't intelligent or less intelligent than others, but in reading various articles and blogs (esp. the comments) It just seems that most of the supporters have some sort of emotional blinders on. I'm not saying this is a bad thing or a good thing, just making an observation. Today's Trump supporter seems very similar to an Obama supporter eight years ago. I admit that I was caught up in the "hope and change" bit and voted for President Obama in 2008. I still think it was a better choice than the other guy...

So we have emotion vs reason. The heart vs the mind. (Interesting tidbit here: in biblical times, the heart was where thinking was said to come from while emotions and feelings came from the bowels or "gut". Ok, don't quote me on that last part but I'm pretty sure it's true. I'll fact check it and update this post if I find out otherwise.) We see this in all sort of areas in our life: politics, religion, sports. I'm pretty sure I would have a much better record picking bowl game winners and basketball brackets if I could eliminate emotion from my picks. But there's no way I'm picking Duke, A&M, or KU to win anything...

We see it in our churches and "churches"  as well. People get up before congregations all over and use emotion and feeling to preach while leaving out the teaching and admonishing parts. Some of these people are doing so not from a place of malice or evil, but simply because they don't know any better. Others do it for reasons that are sinsiter at best... I'm not saying that a church service should be emotionless and boring, but it also shouldn't be a feel-good rock concert either.

So what's the solution? How do we make the right decision when choosing a president, a church, or a RB for our fantasy football team? The one thing that keeps popping up in my head is, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth." (2 Tim 2:15) We should be like the Bereans who studied the Scriptures to test and see if what Paul was teaching them was correct.

(Isn't it funny how all of life's answers are in one place? It's sort of like there is something bigger than all of us going on...)

I believe we can use this same basic theory to politics, fantasy football, just about anything. It IS hard and definitely not the easy way out. Emotion is the easier path to follow but in a lot of cases it leads to disastrous results, whether in elections or my March Madness brackets. Take the time, do your homework, study all of the options/angles, make the right decision. Listen to your gut but don't let it lead your decision-making process.

Well,  I hope you enjoyed the ride around inside my head. I wouldn't blame you if you jumped out somewhere and made for the bank. I do it quite often.

God bless and keep your powder dry.

Proverbs 21:9

Proverbs 21:9 ESV

9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

a small fail

My big plan to schedule my time so as to make more time for writing didn't work out so well. 

I tried to set aside quiet time and it worked for a day or two, and then life got in the way. Football practice, summer Rx burns, and other stuff took up time into the front end of my schedule which made me push everything back.

Well, I suppose it's on to the next strategy.  Although I'm not quite sure what plan B is...

We did get a much-needed Rian shower today. We could use a lot more, but any little bit will help. On the way home from the office I drove by two lightning strike wildfires that had just started from strikes along the edge of the storms. The FD's were already on scene and it felt kind of weird just driving by and not responding.

Oh, and on an entirely unrelated note: having an autistic child (even though "mild" or "high-functioning" in youth football can be a struggle. More on that to come.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

another LODD in the wildland fire community

I heard last night via Twitter that we lost 3 more firefighters  in Washington state. This morning we learned that they were US Forest Service firefighters.
As far as we know right now, they were involved in a vehicle accident while being overrun by the fire during a wind shift. I'm sure we'll learn more as the accident investigation unfolds, but I'm sick of losing brothers and sisters to fires and I'm not sure what we can do to prevent it.

After we lost the Granite Mountain IHC, it seemed like there was a shift in the way we did things and last year was (relatively) LODD-free. I guess it was really just a pretty tame fire season. I don't have the stats in front of me right now so maybe this year is "normal".

The wildland community is a fairly small one, so we always know someone who worked with a crew/engine/district where a LODD occurred or where the person was stationed. It seems that social media has also brought every incident closer to home. As an admin on the wildland firefighters group on FB, it seems that for every fatality or near miss there is someone (usually several someones) personally affected in the group. It always seems to make it more personal to me.

And I think that's a good thing. It can happen to any one of us out there on the line. For all of those out there fighting the fires: keep one foot in the black and your head on a swivel; no tree or house is worth your life. Keep safe and God bless.

Thoughts and prayers to the friends, families, and coworkers of the 3 in WA.

God bless and remember your LCES.

Monday, August 17, 2015

working from home

I worked from home today for the first time in several months. I'm not sure how productive I was, but it seemed to be pretty close to when I'm in the office.

It did help me stick pretty close to a similar schedule  as I wrote about here.
Plenty of time for quiet reflection to clear the minds. Unfortunately, the time was verses free.

Perhaps I need to try something else.

Maybe some time spent with Service, Whitman, and Kipling will do the trick...

God bless.

a shift in my way of thinking - love of country vs. love of God

In the process of cleaning up this place (and getting rid of the family of raccoons in the back), I reread many of my older posts. While they were all from the heart and I believed everything that I wrote or reposted from elsewhere; I have noticed that my position on several things has shifted over the past year or so, and especially in the last few months.

For example, stick a fork in it. While the ideas posited in this post are still valid and I still feel generally the same way, I no longer lament it as I once did. I don't lay in bed at night wondering how to fix it or how we can get the country back to the way it once was (or as our memories fondly remember it, whatever "once"was).
For better or (more likely) worse, the world we live in has changed quite a bit recently. I can't fix it. We can't fix it. Things are happening exactly as they are supposed to and it IS hard to kick against the pricks.

A couple of months ago, this idea was crystallized in my mind and it has been hard for me to accept - that I no longer think of myself as an American. I'm not saying that I am going to renounce my citizenship and move to some other country, but I will no longer be as concerned with matters that have no immediate bearing on the well-being of my family. Gay marriage, foreign policy, Donald Trump? Not my concern. As a Christian, I'm to be in the world but not of the world - a stranger in a strange land whose citizenship is in heaven.

This has been difficult for me to come to terms with as I'm just a good ol' country boy who has been raised to say the pledge of allegiance, to love my country, and to believe that anything less in unpatriotic at best and detestable at worst. But as I look at it on a deeper level: how can I can I pledge allegiance to a flag of a country that has very few, if any, of the same values that I have? How can I love a country that has no love for God?

The more I think about it, the more simple the answer becomes: I can't. God must come first. Period.

This past week I heard a term for the first time while listening to talk radio, the Benedict Option. It was coined by Rod Dreher and is (I'm no student of Catholic history, so I apologize if I get this wrong) based on St. Benedict and his founding of monasteries as a way to escape the evils of the world. Mr. Dreher writes on the Benedict Option from a Catholic point of view, but I think it should apply to all Christians.  He is not advocating a removal of Christians from the world in monasteries or separate villages/towns, but rather a separation from the secular world. Here are a few articles from Mr. Dreher and others:

I think the best option for me and my family is not withdrawal into some tiny, secluded community apart from the rest of the world; but rather a detachment from the secular world. This fits with being " not of the world" (John 17:14,16). We are to be separate from the rest of the world and setting our minds "on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." (Col. 3:2). I'm not sure how this will work, but it will be a struggle. 

I think we have made a step in this direction, albeit inadvertently, by not having a TV for almost a year. We moved into a small house temporarily that didn't have any sort of television service in October of last year. We have yet to hook up any service in our new home since we moved in 2 months ago. The TV is still here, but only used for watching movies. It was initially a financial decision not to get some sort of service, but I think we may keep it as it is as a Benedict baby step.
Do I miss it? Only during football season... 

There will undoubtedly be more on this topic in the future.

God Bless and keep your powder dry.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

too many minds

As a sit here with some sort of writer's block,  I'm trying to figure out exactly why I haven't been able to write a poem for over a year.
I want to write, but there is no fount from which the words flow. I see things in my day-to-day life and think, "that would make a cool basis for a poem" so I jot the idea down in my notebook and there it sits, occasionally leering at me.

So what's the problem? Well, I'm not quite sure, but I have a theory - too many minds.
I borrow the phrase from the Tom Cruise/Ken Watanabe flick The Last Samurai. In a scene where Cruise is being taught to sword fight,  one of the samurai tells him he has 'too many minds'. Basically,  he's thinking too much and allowing everything going on in his life and around him to interfere with the sword.

Ok, I apologize for using a Tom Cruise movie reference - but it's all I've got right now....

I think what's up with my lack of writing is all the other stuff going on around and inside me (basically, my life) is leaving me with way too many minds. Kids, a new house, work, daily Bible study, Facebook, Twitter, games on my phone, fantasy football, and whatever else I get myself into have created so many minds that the writing, and esp. the poems, aren't able to develop like they should. And now I've gone and started with this blog again...

So what's the solution?
Well, as much as I'd like to sequester myself off in the boonies somewhere Benedictine-style, I'm pretty sure that's not a viable option.
I'm thinking I need to cut the clutter and make some time for quiet thought. That might be easier said than done with two small children. I also feel that the age of smart phones may be in some way sapping the creativity right out of me. There are so many mind numbing apps out there that do nothing for the mind but are so very fun...

Or perhaps I'm just overthinking this whole thing? That is a common occurrence in this melon.

Let's try an experiment next week and see what happens. Next week should be a normal week work-wise, so I'll make a little schedule and try to stick to it to give me time for writing and reflection. Maybe it'll look something like this:
1730-1800 wind down time and chores
1800-1900 family time and supper
1900-2000 Bible study
2000-2100 apps/games
2100-2200 writing/reflection

I'll let you (yes, the one person who might read this and be interested in the outcome) know how it goes. Maybe I'll add a mid-week note.

Until then, keep your powder dry and God bless.

Friday, August 14, 2015

it's been a while...

Man...  It's been a while since I've been here. There's dust everywhere; and I'm pretty sure a family of raccoons are living in the back over there.

Give me a few days to clean this place up and I'll be back at it, posting things that hopefully is interesting to someone out there.

I'm not sure where this iteration will lead. Most likely ramblings and ruminations. I will admit that I haven't written any new poetry in at least as long as I've been away from here. I'm in the process of getting back on that horse as well. I'll keep you posted.

God bless and keep your powder dry.