Friday, January 30, 2009

The True Heros

I got a phone call this week from my oldest son, he just got orders, he will go to Iraq in the fall, he was in Afganistan 2 years ago. Yesterday, my neice left her less than 1 year old baby to go off and prepare for war. She will be in training for a couple of months in California and Wisconsin and then on to Iraq for 15 months (this is her second tour there) she will miss her daughters 1st and 2nd birthday. Thanks Liz, don't think it goes unnoticed - I get it, so do many others. Thanks Chris, I know how hard it is for you to leave your family, your reason for breathing in and out everyday. You are my heroes. Following is an article by Ben Stein - one of those high faluting guys that always has the "right answer" - sounds to me like he has learned some things along the way. The article will take a couple minutes to read, but it is worth it, all the way to the end.================================================================= Even if you don't like Ben Stein, this is worth the read. Ben Stein's Last Column... For many years Ben Stein has written a biweekly column called 'Monday Night At Morton's.' (Morton's is a famous chain of Steakhouses known to be frequented by movie stars and famous people from around the globe.) Now, Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things in his life. Reading his final column is worth a few minutes of your time. Ben Stein's Last Column... ============================================ How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World? As I begin to write this, I 'slug' it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is 'eonlineFINAL,' and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.. It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton's, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again. Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to. How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a 'star' we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit , Iraq . He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad . He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordinance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded.. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad . The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die. I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject. There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament...the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards. Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of a real hero.. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin...or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them. But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms. This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York . I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human. Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will. By Ben Stein

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Well, finally we will be off to Africa! We are headed to Guinea, in North West Africa. We were planning to go last spring, but we were prevented by paperwork not being processed in time, but not this year! We have our passports, our visas, our shots and we are excited! If you look at the map on the top of the blog you will see Conakry, we will fly from St Louis to Chicago to Paris to Conakry. We will travel by car to Kamsar and then get in a boat and out into the ocean unto the Baga people. Pray the Lord will guide each step, each word, and that His Spirit will touch the hearts of these dear people who desperately need Him. I have a feeling, I will be the one most changed!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2 weeks down.

Well I just finished my second week in my new job, I like it! Huge change from the hospital, slower pace, calm setting - lots to learn, and I'm still working on the bookkeeping skills, but I think I will have it down before long. This old dog can learn a few new tricks! The winter chill is going to let up today, we are going to get out of the single digits and teens. But it is still just gray, no snow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New year - new job!

Well, after 20 years in healthcare, 17 years at our local hospital, I have made a move! The Administrative Assistant (secretary) at the church we are attending decided to retire after 31.5 years (wow!). I was approached to see if I would be interested in applying, I was kind of in shock, what - no - I worked at the hospital, not the church. I started praying about it, what does God have to say? I weighed all the pros and cons: 17 years seniority, good pay, 4 weeks vacation, not to mention I was working part time - 2 or 3 10 hour days a week. The pros - ....... Well there are a million pros, but not weighed out against the worldly list I have of cons. God reminded me that I had been asked to work at every workplace I had been at in the last 25 years. 25 years ago, the pastor at the church we were attending asked me to come and work in the church office to replace a retiring secretary. I later moved to work in the school office within that church and was there 5 years. When I decided to leave that position, my good friend Dr Fox, a surgeon, asked me to come work for him - as a surgical assistant, a job he would teach me to do. I worked for him for 3 years and quit because of some things going on at home. Several months later I received a phone call from the manager in the surgery department to ask me if I would be interested in working for them. That was 17 years ago. I moved to 2 different positions in that time, finally arriving at my part time position. Then out of the blue - an invitation... God has something new in store for me. So here I go, my first day of the new job - I'll let you know how it goes, I am looking forward to the blessings in store!