Saturday, October 03, 2009

Welcoming Home a Marine

Lisa and Jeff returned home late last night from San Diego, where she got to go and see him graduate from Marine Corps boot camp. She said it was a wonderful experience, and I am even more jealous after she returned than before. I had to stay and take my NRC written exam. Rotten timing for me to have to do that, but there you go.
He looks amazing though, and it is so good to see him and hear stories about his experience. One of the highlights for me is reading a letter to Lisa and I from his Battalion commander. In it he is explaining the award Jeff received for high shooter in his platoon, and just how significant it is. First out of 91 men. Proud Dad talking here.
Marine training is not just about fitness and shooting though, and his demeanor and actions are all about honoring his Mom, me and our family. The Marine Corps truly produces men. And Lisa and I could not be more proud of our Marine.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Promotion Follows Testing

Tonight, or really tomorrow morning at 2 am, Jeff and his fellow recruits from Echo Company will begin their final test in becoming Marines. This is called The Crucible.The daunting test these men face is described below. This is not a gimmee, nor a formality. For a fat old guy like me it seems like an impossible task, but Echo Company is ready for this. They have been prepared over the past 12 weeks just for this test. Their mission is not an easy one, so their training and testing aren't either. And as we know, promotion follows testing.

(Jeff is in the back row, 7th from the left)

The Crucible

The Crucible is the final test in recruit training, and represents the culmination of all of the skills and knowledge a Marine should possess. Designed to emphasize the importance of teamwork in overcoming adversity, the Crucible is a rigorous 54-hour field training exercise demanding the application of everything a recruit has learned until that point in recruit training, and includes a total of 48 miles of marching. It simulates typical combat situations with strenuous testing, hardship, and the deprivation of food and sleep. A recruit is given three MREs and four hours of sleep through the entire 54-hour event. For this event, recruits are broken into squad-sized teams and placed under the charge of one drill instructor.

Throughout the Crucible, recruits are faced with physical and mental challenges that must be accomplished before advancing further. Teamwork is stressed, as the majority of tasks are completely impossible without it; each group must succeed or fail as a whole. The others will result in failure unless every recruit passes through together, requiring the team to aid their fellow recruit(s) who struggle in the accomplishment of the given mission. Also stressed are the Corps' core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Many challenge events are named after Marine Medal of Honor recipient or otherwise notable Marines, and drill instructors will often take the time to read the citation of the award and hold a guided discussion with the recruits to evaluate their moral development. Drill instructors are also vigilant for those recruits who succeed and fail in leadership positions.

Some of the challenges encountered during the Crucible are various team and individual obstacle courses, day and night assault courses, land navigation courses, individual rushes up steep hills, large-scale martial arts challenges, and countless patrols to and from each of these. Often, these challenges are made even more difficult by the additions of limitations or handicaps, such as the requirement to carry several ammunition drums, not touching portions of an obstacle painted red to indicate simulated booby traps, and evacuating team members with simulated wounds.

On the final day of the Crucible, recruits are awoken and begin their final march, known as the "Reaper". Immediately following this, recruits are offered the "Warrior's Breakfast", where they are permitted to eat as much as they like, even of previously forbidden foods, such as ice cream. Following this is the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor ceremony, where the recruits receive the eponymous emblem, and thereby cease to be recruits, finally becoming Marines.

A couple of my favorite Marine quotes:

"There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion." Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem." President Ronald Reagan

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Our Growing Family

In the past few weeks we added 2 more kids to the family. They came to us via a disrupted adoption, and make an even baker's dozen.

So, here is the gang, and down in front are Hannah, with the pretty purple bow on her dress, and Azariah, standing to her left.

The question I get asked most is "are you done?" The real question being, is He? Don't hold your breath.

Saying Good-bye To A Boy

Three weeks ago we said good-bye (for now) to our oldest son, Jeff. He is now 3/13 weeks through Marine Corps boot camp, and beginning a process of great change in his life. His recent letter to me said that it is the best thing that he has every done in his life. I have to agree.

I love you son...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Cup Of Sorrow

I read a couple articles at BBC News today about Ethiopia's food shortage.

We talk so much about the price of food and gas in the US these days, and I confess amidst my complaints that none of my 11 children has skipped a meal. We in the US are so privileged and sheltered from the realities of life in the world that I think we must be intentional to seek out information about what is really going on.

The world has gotten much smaller these past few years, but only if we choose to pay attention and open our eyes.

'For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.
I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' Mat 25:35-36

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Life in Pictures

A little glimpse of life at our house these days.

Jen Lemen

Last night I watched Hotel Rwanda for the first time. Wow.

This morning I was checking out blogs. Something I used to do on a regular basis, but with my new study schedule I rarely go there these days. Anyway, I found a new one that fanned long smoldering embers in my heart, and the most recent posts on that blog were about Rwanda. Hmmm...

Jen Lemen is the blogger, and while her story is about much more than just Rwanda, that is certainly a passion of hers. She just returned from Rwanda, and shares her stories of Goreth, Grace, Lillian, Innocent, Odette, Esther and others.

Go check it out, you won't be sorry. But don't just expect it to be a good read. It inspires tears, questions and action.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Worth It All

Wow. First post this year, and it is a stretch to even write anything. So many things going on to tell about, and I know there are people who wonder how we are doing, but I have had no desire to communicate with anyone about anything.

But, it is starting to feel like we are coming out of our post-adoption cocoon, or fog, or whatever works for you.

So many things have happened to us in the past 16 months - 6 new kids (only 3 new ones in the 18 months prior to that), new job in a new town that since the first of the year and for the next 18 months is nothing but study, an extra mortgage since original house in original town is still on the get the picture.

So, where are we. Things are going very good. So much better than we anticipated with the last 4 who came home in Oct/Dec, but even "going good" with 4 new kids in the house, older kids, is just plain hard. So much to work through with each new child. They come broken - aren't we all - with their unique baggage and history and wounds and distrust, so x4 has really been all we could handle for a while.

And then there are all of the other things that get stirred up in the midst of the newness. Everyone else at home gets a little salt rubbed into their wounds in the process, so while some of it gets easier with experience and wisdom, there is just so much to deal with on every front.

Did we bite off more than we can chew? No, not more, but as much as we could chew for the past winter. There were many days where either of us would have said yes, too much, but God's grace is sufficient, and His mercy for us seemed to only have one of us at a time at wits end, so here we are, emerging. The very late and slow to emerge spring in Eastern Washington is just like our fog lifting, slow but sure. And a very welcome thing.

Through it all we made some pretty drastic changes in our lives. After the holidays we really felt like it was time to expand our schooling options, so at the beginning of the year we put 6 kids in public school, and with our oldest in running start at CBC there are now only 4 at home. What a huge change in every one's level of sanity.

We have 2 in middle school and 4 in elementary. Next year I think there will still be 4 or 5 at home, and one in HS, one in MS and some others in Elementary.

Rebekah is playing soccer on a club team, and she is loving every second of it. Terefu and Marta are both on the middle school track team and doing well in many events. The activity and time away from home burning some energy have been good for them all, and keep us running for practices and games.

Song has really done well here with his braille and mobility stuff, and he is doing amazingly well.

The rest of us are doing our stuff, mostly food preparation, and sorting out what being a family of 13 looks like, in this house atleast.

So to wrap it all up, the past 6 months has been a really stretching, growing time for us ALL. Watching these kids break off old junk and start the process of coming into who they are is amazing and faith building, and makes all of the tears and hurts worth it all. Just like Rita Springer says in her song Worth It All that has been playing endlessly at our house this winter.

I don't understand Your ways
Oh but I will give You my song
Give You all of my praise
You hold on to all my pain
With it You are pulling me closer
And pulling me into Your ways

Now around every corner
And up every mountain
I'm not looking for crowns
Or the water from fountains
I'm desperate in seeking, frantic believing
That the sight of Your face
Is all that I needI will say to You

It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it all
I believe this
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it all

I believe this
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it all
I believe this
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it all
I believe this

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

Not being able to pull off a family picture this year, we went with a collage for our Christmas card photo this year.

The caption ought to be, "Whew! What a year!", followed by a deep sigh.

Thanks to God for His grace for us all.