Thank you to those who have talked with me and prayed for me through these several months of searching into what the Bible says about violence. I must say, I had read the passages many times, but chose to ignore them. Four months ago, I was of the opinion that if anyone wanted to hurt me or my family, they would have to pay dearly. I have a 9mm pistol beside my bed that is exhibit one in the case to prove that I was prepared to defend my homestead ‘unto death.’
Today, I am a changing man. I have accepted that when Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” He meant it. And the Bible doesn’t say it just once. The Bible repeats itself in Romans 12 and Hebrews 12.
I know that there are those who would say that there are many examples of warriors approved of God (David is the prime example). But it is important to note that these Old Testament warriors were warring on behalf of God’s chosen people; they were warring on behalf of Yahweh, who told them to go up and fight these people. But Jesus says in the New Testament, when talking to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” I will fight on behalf of Jesus’ kingdom, but His kingdom is not of this world.
There are others who distinguish personal commands from the authority given to governments. This is a much harder distinction to work through. For today, I will simply repeat that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. The prince of this world is Satan. And all the kingdoms of this world fall under his authority. And I will not be an officer of a kingdom of Satan.
So, I am firmly convicted that Jesus wants me to live a life of non-violence. Which conflicts with my status as a member of the United States Air Force as well as my employment as an administrator with a state prison. So I knew that I would have to leave both positions. But I was making excuses for extending my time with both agencies. Until I read James 4:4, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” If I am in an adulterous relationship outside of my relationship with God, I am sure He wants me to end it immediately, rather than make excuses for continuing my infidelity. So I ended my relationship with the Air Force and with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. May 29 was my last day with the Air Force. And June 12 is my last day with the prison.
And no, I don’t have anything lined up. But I will talk more about that next time.
I hit the 1/3-of-the-way mark the other day. It is a bit hard for me to believe. Have I always heard adults saying the same thing their whole lives and never understood it? I don’t feel much different from when I was half this age. Obviously, I move slower and have a bigger belly and work harder and longer hours and don’t spend anywhere near the same amount of time just goofing off. But, basically, I don’t feel any different.
Let me try again to catch you up. In August-September, my parents came to visit. My Mom made sure my lawn got mowed for the second time since we moved in a year ago!
My Dad celebrated his 59th Birthday.
We processed chickens (Caleb needed stitches), held our first annual farm day (no pictures), and put vinyl siding on the garage, finally.
Filed under Family, Farm, Work
I really don’t have anything to write about tonight, but I have time on the computer, so I might as well write something. I am finishing up my training in the prison this week — next week I will be on my own. I really like my new shift — I work 2pm to 10pm. Every day feels like a day off until about 1:15, when I leave to go to work. The days off feel even more like days off! The only thing we are having trouble with is me returning from work at 10:30 each night. That really infringes on my ability to get up at 4:30 each morning.
Gina is very pregnant and very ready to give birth. The due date is still nine days away and we think we have everything ready for our very first home birth. We even have a pool set up in our dining room! We can’t wait!
Work continues on the garage. 15 out of 16 trusses are up and I have started putting sheathing on the roof. I was helped out this evening for about an hour by my neighbors, Jacob & Elizabeth, and I anticipate that Jacob & Daniel will make it by tomorrow. I hope to get the roof close to finished tomorrow, which will require putting up the last truss, putting up another 24 sheets of 4×8 sheathing, and putting up the four ladders for the gable-end overhangs that Terry & I put together last weekend. I am always overambitious. The next step, I think, will be to roll out the roofing felt(?) and then start shingling, which is likely something I will work on alone. I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.
The chickens are doing quite well and are growing very big. We picked up more straw bales for them and I hope to buy some fencing to create a temporary run for them. They are eating about 80 pounds per week of feed, which is costing quite a bit, so I want to find another source of chicken feed. We hooked them up on a thermostatically controlled outlet, so their heating lamps will now only kick on when the temperature drops below 35°, and will turn off when the temperature gets back up over 45°. The chickens are now 5-and-a-half weeks old.
Still no new job offers and no new ideas or thoughts or discussions about starting a Bible fellowship here. I have been grappling with the thought of whether God is calling us to have a home-based Bible fellowship, perhaps meeting in the new garage with a wood-burning stove for heat. I also have been struggling with the meaning of my new job and whether it is what God has called me to or if there are just valuable lessons for me to learn there.
The truck was totally unloaded on Saturday, and Monday I went back to work. I started the Nebraska Corrections Training Program on 24 September. I have completed the first two weeks and I think I am the second-best student in the class, just one point behind the leader. On Tuesday we have another test and I will see if I can catch him then. The training on most days has been incredibly boring — just 8 hours of classroom lectures. But occasionally I am terrified by the thought of working in a prison, especially when we talk about deadly force assaults on staff and communicable diseases. However, we also get some very helpful training, including 8 hours of CPR, defibrillator, and first aid training last Monday. This Thursday will be my first chance to step into the prison since we have our first day of OJT. And next Monday and Tuesday (15 & 16 October) will be our days for learning personal protection techniques. I will spend the rest of next week (17-19 October) and two days the following week (23-24 October) back in the prison for more OJT. Graduation is set for 26 October.
Check out this sunrise:
Yesterday, my family & I turned and walked away from a great job. For the last six years, I have been an active-duty JAG in the US Air Force. I worked hard at understanding my job and I even occasionally called it my hobby. But over time I have come to realize that I want to spend less time in Iraq and more time with my family.
My family has had to make sacrifices. Everybody I worked with in the Air Force knows about making sacrifices, and my family is no stranger to the sacrifices. In my six years in, I have not been home for 3 of my son’s birthdays. On three of his birthdays, I was on a trip. For two of them, the family had come along, so we just celebrated in the hotel room. But one was in the middle of a nine-week training in Alabama. I missed my daughter’s birthday when I was in Iraq one year. My wife and I have grown stronger while in the Air Force, but it was in spite of the Air Force’s demands, not because of them.
I don’t want to complain about the sacrifices we have made when I know that MSgt Randy Gillespie and his family made the ultimate sacrifice for his country this past July.
I worked with too many great people to list them all here. I worked with commanders who were smart and understood their obligations and took the time to make sure they had the best advice they could get before they made decisions. I have worked with first sergeants who really understood people and I gained so much from their wisdom and insight. I got to work with federal agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations who were also very smart, hard-working, and wanted to find the truth; they didn’t just seek convictions. I thank God for the opportunity I have had to work with each of them. My Mom always told me that when I meet someone and then leave, I take a piece of that person with me. I am thankful for the opportunity to have met all of these people and made them a part of who I am.
I have even worked with great people from within the legal offices. I even met one person whose email address is ‘honestjag’ if you can believe that. Seriously, there are alot of honest folks out there working as lawyers in the Air Force. The lawyers and paralegals I have met are now scattered around the globe. Again, there are too many to list, but I feel that I have truly worked with some of the finest people in the world.
So much has changed in the last week that I feel I can only post in bullet format. I’m sorry for how this may look, but I hope you can forgive me.
- Today the ABF pup was picked up and is starting its long trek from Litchfield Park, Arizona, to Sterling, Nebraska.
- We packed the ABF pup from Saturday through Monday. On Saturday we had lots of help and got 90% of the trailer loaded. On Sunday and Monday I worked alone and finally finished the trailer. Where did all that stuff come from?
- We have moved out of our rental house and are now living in temporary lodging on base.
- We leave Arizona on Friday. There will be a going-away lunch at 1200 and the van will be loaded in the parking lot. Immediately after the lunch, we will run down to the van, pile in, and start driving, aiming to reach Gallup, New Mexico. Saturday we will drive on to Guymon, Oklahoma. And Sunday we will finish the drive, possibly taking a slight side trip to visit family in Lincoln on our way in.
- We have ordered chickens and expect them to be delivered during the week of 24 September.
- I still need to set up a personal email account. I have always used my work email account, but I think it is time I set up a personal account to keep in touch with folks.
- When I visited the farm Labor Day weekend, I found a letter addressed to me telling me that I had a writing assessment with Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) in Lincoln! The problem was that my test date was for the week before.
- I called CIS and asked if I could take the test in Phoenix or if I could wait until the week of 17 September to take the test. Thankfully, they agreed to allow me to take the test in Phoenix on 11 September 2007!
- I had an interview the first week of September with the Tecumseh State Corrections Institution. The interview was a structured interview with pre-written questions that were graded by a panel of interviewers. I felt like I bombed the interview. Most of the questions were pretty far outside what I normally experience, and they left me feeling like I didn’t know what I was talking about.
- Last Friday, I was offered a job as a Unit Case Worker at the prison in Tecumseh. One of the things I like most about the job is that it is very close to home, only about a 10-mile drive. After receiving the offer, I contacted my friend who is a warden and we set up some time to discuss Monday morning.
- After talking with my friend Monday morning, I accepted the job offer with the prison in Tecumseh.
- Today, I drove into downtown Phoenix and took the writing assessment for the CIS job. I told the kids we will just wait and see what God’s will is – will he extend a job offer from CIS? And, if so, how good will the job offer be? Hopefully, it will be clear to us what God’s will for us is.
- I have an appointment next Monday at the Johnson County Medical Center for my physical exam.
- I am scheduled to start the Nebraska Corrections Training Program (a 5-week program) the following Monday, 24 September.
- There is still very little movement on this front. Eighteen months ago, we were approved by CIS to immigrate two children from China. That was about to expire, so a few weeks ago we submitted a renewal application, and last week we went to CIS in Phoenix to update our fingerprints. The story about our experiences there is perhaps a story for another day.
Gina & I have been discussing the need to set up a new website. I am envisioning a website where we will have a homepage that might have some pictures and basic facts about who we are and what we do. There would be photos of the farm, links to how to find us, and a section on how we try to help others (I would want to call it uturnfarm.com or something like that). Then, there would be subpages where Gina could blog about her hobbies, I could blog about my hobbies, and a page for my solo law firm. Maybe customers would even be able to shop on this website for available farm products.
I don’t know where to get started with something like this. I have recently subscribed to two lists hoping to learn more — Macs in Law Offices and ABA’s solosez. Hopefully I will start to understand the technology soon.
Only 27 more days!