Saturday, October 30, 2010

YouTube makes me laugh…some of my favorites!

Ok, this post is from me (Annie). Yes, I am not embarrassed about my obsession with YouTube videos. I feel like I'm desecrating the blog but seriously, I needed a good laugh:)


(take time to listen carefully at the end)

...don't know what he is saying but we have all had this problem… ok, well I do all of the time:)

…and this one is just for good measure…

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Historical Chaplains...

Since Josh is a Chaplain and an avid lover of history, I thought this story was appropriate:


In November, 1942 four young men "found each other" while attending Chaplain's School at Harvard University. A common cause brought them together, the desire to render service to their Nation during the critical years of World War II.

Between the early days of May to late July, the four had entered military service from different areas of the country. Reverend Fox enlisted in the Army from Vermont the same day his 18-year old son Wyatt enlisted in the Marine Corps. During World War I, though only 17 years old, Fox had convinced the Army he was actually 18 and enlisted as a medical corps assistant. His courage on the battlefield earned him the Silver Star, the Croix de Guerre, and the Purple Heart. When World War II broke out he said, "I've got to go. I know from experience what our boys are about to face. They need me." This time, however, he didn't enlist to heal the wounds of the body. As a minister he was joining the Chaplains Corps to heal the wounds of the soul.

Reverend Clark V. Poling was from Ohio and pastoring in New York when World War II threatened world freedom. He determined to enter the Army, but not as a Chaplain. "I'm not going to hide behind the church in some safe office out of the firing line," he told his father when he informed him of his plans to serve his country. His father, Reverend Daniel Poling knew something of war, having served as a Chaplain himself during World War I. He told his son, "Don't you know that chaplains have the highest mortality rate of all? As a chaplain you'll have the best chance in the world to be killed. You just can't carry a gun to kill anyone yourself." With new appreciation for the role of the Chaplains Corps, Clark Poling accepted a commission and followed in his father's footsteps.

Like Clark Poling, Alexander Goode had followed the steps of his own father in ministry. His first years of service were in Marion, Indiana; then he moved on to York, Pennsylvania. While studying and preparing to minister to the needs of others, "Alex" had joined the National Guard. Ten months before Pearl Harbor he sought an assignment in the Navy's Chaplains Corps, but wasn't initially accepted. When war was declared, he wanted more than ever to serve the needs of those who went in harm's way to defend freedom and human dignity. He chose to do so as a U.S. Army Chaplain.

One look at the be-speckled, mild mannered John P. Washington, would have left one with the impression that he was not the sort of man to go to war and become a hero. His love of music and beautiful voice belied the toughness inside. One of nine children in an Irish immigrant family living in the toughest part of Newark, New Jersey, he had learned through sheer determination to hold his own in any fight. By the time he was a teenager he was the leader of the South Twelfth Street Gang. Then God called him to ministry, returning him to the streets of New Jersey to organize sports teams, play ball with young boys who needed a strong friend to look up to, and inspire others with his beautiful hymns of praise and thanksgiving.

Upon meeting at the Chaplains' school, the four men quickly became friends. Their close bond might easily have marked them as "The Four Chaplains" long before a fateful night three months after they first met, when their actions would forever make the title synonymous with the names of George L. Fox, Alexander D. Goode, Clark V. Poling, and John P. Washington. The differences in their backgrounds and personalities could have been easily outweighed by their common calling to ministry.

The U.S.A.T. Dorchester was an aging, luxury coastal liner that was no longer luxurious. In the nearly four years from December 7, 1941 to September 2, 1945 more than 16 million American men and women were called upon to defend human dignity and freedom on two fronts, in Europe and the Pacific. Moving so large a force to the battlefields was a monumental effort, and every available ship was being pressed into service. Some of these were converted into vessels of war, others to carrying critical supplies to the men and women in the field. The Dorchester was designated to be a transport ship. All non-critical amenities were removed and cots were crammed into every available space. The intent was to get as many young fighting men as possible on each voyage. When the soldiers boarded in New York on January 23, 1943 the Dorchester certainly was filled to capacity. In addition to the Merchant Marine crew and a few civilians, young soldiers filled every available space. There were 902 lives about to be cast to the mercy of the frigid North Atlantic.

As the Dorchester left New York for an Army base in Greenland, many dangers lay ahead. The sea itself was always dangerous, especially in this area known for ice flows, raging waters, and gale force winds. The greatest danger, however, was the ever present threat of German submarines, which had recently been sinking Allied ships at the rate of 100 every month. The Dorchester would be sailing through an area that had become infamous as "Torpedo Junction".

Most of the men who boarded for the trip were young, frightened soldiers. Many were going to sea for the first time and suffered sea-sickness for days. They were packed head to toe below deck, a steaming human sea of fear and uncertainty. Even if they survived the eventual Atlantic crossing, they had nothing to look forward to, only the prospects of being thrown into the cauldron of war on foreign shores. They were men in need of a strong shoulder to lean on, a firm voice to encourage them, and a ray of hope in a world of despair. In their midst moved four men, Chaplains, called to put aside their own fears and uncertainties to minister to the needs of others.

The crossing was filled with long hours of boredom and misery. Outside, the chilly Arctic winds and cold ocean spray coated the Dorchester's deck with ice. Below deck the soldiers' quarters were hot from too many bodies, crammed into too small a place, for too many days in a row. Finally, on February 2nd, the Dorchester was within 150 miles of Greenland. It would have generated a great sense of relief among the young soldiers crowded in the ship's berths, had not the welcomed news been tempered by other news of grave concern. One of the Dorchester's three Coast Guard escorts had received sonar readings during the day, indicating the presence of an enemy submarine in "Torpedo Junction".

Hans Danielson, the Dorchester's captain, listened to the news with great concern. His cargo of human lives had been at sea for ten days, and was finally nearing its destination. If he could make it through the night, air cover would arrive with daylight to safely guide his ship home. The problem would be surviving the night. Aware of the potential for disaster, he instructed the soldiers to sleep in their clothes and life jackets....just in case. Below deck however, it was hot and sweaty as too many bodies lay down, closely packed in the cramped quarters. Many of the men, confident that tomorrow would dawn without incident, elected to sleep in their underwear. The life jackets were also hot and bulky, so many men set them aside as an unnecessary inconvenience.

Outside it was another cold, windy night as the midnight hour signaled the passing of February 2nd and the beginning of a new day. In the distance a cold, metal arm broke the surface of the stormy seas. At the end of that arm, a German U-Boat (submarine) captain monitored the slowly passing troop transport. Shortly before one in the morning he gave the command to fire.

Quiet moments passed as silent death reached out for the men of the Dorchester, then the early morning was shattered by the flash of a blinding explosion and the roar of massive destruction. The "hit" had been dead on, tossing men from their cots with the force of its explosion. A second torpedo followed the first, instantly killing 100 men in the hull of the ship. Power was knocked out by the explosion in the engine room, and darkness engulfed the frightened men below deck as water rushed through gaping wounds in the Dorchester's hull. The ship tilted at an unnatural angle as it began to sink rapidly, and piles of clothing and life jackets were tossed about in the darkness where no one would ever find them. Wounded men cried out in pain, frightened survivors screamed in terror, and all groped frantically in the darkness for exits they couldn't find. Somewhere in that living hell, four voices of calm began to speak words of comfort, seeking to bring order to panic and bedlam. Slowly soldiers began to find their way to the deck of the ship, many still in their underwear, where they were confronted by the cold winds blowing down from the arctic. Petty Officer John J. Mahoney, reeling from the cold, headed back towards his cabin. "Where are you going?" a voice of calm in the sea of distressed asked?

"To get my gloves," Mahoney replied.

"Here, take these," said Rabbi Goode as he handed a pair of gloves to the young officer who would never have survived the trip to his cabin and then back to safety.

"I can't take those gloves," Mahoney replied.

"Never mind," the Rabbi responded. "I have two pairs." Mahoney slipped the gloves over his hands and returned to the frigid deck, never stopping to ponder until later when he had reached safety, that there was no way Rabbi Goode would have been carrying a spare set of gloves. As that thought finally dawned on him he came to a new understanding of what was transpiring in the mind of the fearless Chaplain. Somehow, Rabbi Goode suspected that he would himself, never leave the Dorchester alive.

Likewise Reverend Fox and Father Washington stood out within the confines of an unimaginable hell. Wounded and dying soldiers were ushered into eternity to the sounds of comforting words from men of God more intent on the needs of others, than in their own safety and survival. Somehow, by their valiant efforts, the Chaplains succeeded in getting many of the soldiers out of the hold and onto the Dorchester's slippery deck.

In the chaos around them, life boats floated away before men could board them. Others capsized as panic continued to shadow reason and soldiers loaded the small craft beyond limit. The strength, calm, and organization of the Chaplains had been so critical in the dark hull. Now, on deck, they found that their mission had not been fully accomplished. They organized the effort, directed men to safety, and left them with parting words of encouragement. In little more than twenty minutes, the Dorchester was almost gone. Icy waves broke over the railing, tossing men into the sea, many of them without life jackets. In the last moments of the transport's existence, the Chaplains were too occupied opening lockers to pass out life jackets to note the threat to their own lives.

In less than half an hour, water was beginning to flow across the deck of the sinking Dorchester. Working against time the Chaplains continued to pass out the life vests from the lockers as the soldiers pressed forward in a ragged line. And then....the lockers were all empty...the life jackets gone. Those still pressing in line began to realize they were doomed, there was no hope. And then something amazing happened, something those who were there would never forget. All Four Chaplains began taking their own life jackets off....and putting them on the men around them. Together they sacrificed their last shred of hope for survival, to insure the survival of other men.... most of them total strangers. Then time ran out. The Chaplains had done all they could for those who would survive, and nothing more could be done for the remaining...including themselves.

Those who had been fortunate enough to reach lifeboats struggled to distance themselves from the sinking ship, lest they be pulled beneath the ocean swells by the chasm created as the transport slipped into a watery grave. Then, amid the screams of pain and horror that permeated the cold dark night, they heard the strong voices of the Chaplains. "Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done."

Looking back they saw the slanting deck of the Dorchester, its demise almost complete. Braced against the railings were the Four Chaplains...praying...singing, giving strength to others by their final valiant declaration of faith. Their arms were linked together as they braced against the railing and leaned into each other for support, Reverend Fox, Rabbi Goode, Reverend Poling, and Father Washington. Said one of the survivors, "It was the finest thing I have ever seen this side of heaven."

And then, only 27 minutes after the first torpedo struck, the last vestige of the U.S.A.T. Dorchester disappeared beneath the cold North Atlantic waters. In it's death throes it reached out to claim any survivors nearby, taking with it to its grave the four ministers of different faiths who learned to find strength in their diversity…

This is copied from: (some parts omitted due to length)

Reverend George L. Fox
Rabbi Alexander D. Goode
Reverend Clark V. Poling
Father John P. Washington

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Who will pull you from your pit?" -- Deployment is not always super fun….

If you've had a rough day, or week, or year... consider that you are not alone:

This is the experience of King David in Psalm 40:1-3:

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my step secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord".

David is in despair spiritually. He is looking forward to the new mercies or the "song of praise" to come. He writes about being in despair more vividly in Psalm 69:1-2:

"Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters and the flood sweeps over me". Clearly David is not physically drowning. He's drowning spiritually and emotionally like we do today when we are stressed, or sick, or lose a loved one. We feel there is no where to turn so we turn to God.

John Piper (author/pastor) comments on David and these verses by saying,
"Then comes the king's cry: "I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined and heard my cry." One of these reasons God loved David so much was that he cried so much. "I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping" (Ps. 6:6). "You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" (Ps. 56:8). Indeed they are! "Blessed are those who mourn" (Matt. 5:4). It is a beautiful thing when a broken man genuinely cries out to God. Then after the cry you wait. "I waited patiently for the Lord." This is crucial to know: saints who cry to the Lord for deliverance from the pits of darkness must learn to wait patiently for the Lord. There is no statement about how long David waited…Oh, that we might learn to be patient in the hour of darkness…We fight for joy. But we fight as those who are saved by grace and held by Christ." (When Darkness Will Not Lift, by John Piper).

I read all of this and feel like I have nothing to complain about in my life. Still, I am human and I do get down sometimes. On that note, I think it's amazing how my husband seems to know when I need to hear his voice.

Many of you who know me always comment, "Annie, are you always so positive?" or "Do you ever get frustrated?"… well, if you would have seen me a couple days ago, you could have answered those questions for yourself. I have the occasional breakdown or "pity-party for myself" every so often. This last one included a little bathroom cry session. You know, the crying that you hope no one hears or sees because you just can't seem to compose yourself (and your face gets all swollen like you just got punched). Yep, that was me the other day, then Josh called. He has a "husband radar" that I don't quite understand but am fully thankful for…

It was a day where I was really suffering from terrible back pains (which seem to be in full gear during this deployment). I was also feeling like a failing mother. After being slapped, had yogurt thrown in my hair and all over the walls, and dealing with a little girl who could not be pleased, I just felt like I was doing "motherhood" all wrong. I love my Bella more than I could ever describe but, I think the reality of being without Josh just hit me that day. I don't want to fail him as Bella's mommy. Bella is developing a little slower than most her age so she doesn't quite understand everything I tell her or ask her to do… OR she chooses not to listen;) I feel like Josh's calm presence could solve all of my problems sometimes. But, then I realized that God gave me all of the tools (within myself) to get through this time of being without Josh. After all, he equips us each morning with new mercies. I believe these mercies are real and I consider then little miracles… if I didn't, I'd still be crying in the bathroom right now:) The next day, Bella woke up laughing and smiling and seemed to listen to me ALL DAY LONG. For those of you reading this who don't have children… prepare yourself to be humbled DAILY! It's amazing and worth it I assure you.

Moral of this story: Everyone gets down. Some over big stuff and some over little stuff…the question remains, "Who will pull you from your pit?" I can tell you, no one can really dig out from your sorrows besides God.

Gosh, that was a happy post! ;)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Time to tell the story

As some of you already know, a little over two weeks ago one of the ships that I cover, USS Winston S. Churchill (WSC), was involved in a tragic situation.

On Sunday Sept. 26th WSC was tasked with towing a stranded skiff (small boat) to Somalia. The skiff had about 85 refugees, 10 Somalis and 75 Ethiopians, who were trying to make their way across the Gulf of Oman in order to get to Yemen. They were fleeing the rising hostility in Ethiopia.

The skiff's engine broke a few days before WSC arrived and they had been drifting without food or water. Our ship is pretty big so to tow the skiff we used our Rigged Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs). One would be used to tow the skiff while the other would be used for look out, protection, and as transport to get food and water to the skiff. One Monday Sept. 27th one of the RHIBs came along side the skiff to give them food and water. Some of the passengers in the skiff rushed to the side where the RHIB was approaching. This caused the skiff to tilt to one side and it began to take on water. A panic ensued and in the chaos the skiff capsized throwing all 85 refugees into the water. Tragically most of the refugees could not swim. The two RHIBs immediately made their way to the refugees bringing as many on board as they could (they more than doubled the recommended capacity for each RHIB). In the process of doing this some of the WSC Sailors had to witness some difficult things, women and children being pulled away by grown men so they could get in the RHIBs. Some of the Sailors were holding on to anything they could to try to save the refugees, one Sailor had a handful of a women's hair but as she was pushed under the hair ripped out.

The RHIBs were able to save 61 of the refugees. When they went back they brought 13 bodies on board and the crew performed cpr on them until they were pronounced dead by the medical corpsman. 11 refugees were lost at sea.
The next day, Tuesday Sept. 28, I helod over from USS Oscar Austin. As soon as I got on board I was sought out by at least 7 Sailors who were weeping over the emotional trauma they had been through. This insane counseling load continued for about a week, I think I had around 47 counseling sessions. They ranged in focus from emotional trauma of seeing people die right in front of them, the trauma of a previous event (like a friend dying) being brought back to the surface, the stress of the event pushing their stress threshold over its limit, to anger and guilt that more refugees weren't saved.
Now for all of you who know me personally my personality is not one that is overwhelmingly caring and loving. Before you start thinking I am a heartless Chaplain, what I mean is that while I care about and love people deeply, I am not always consumed by the idea that I need to rescue them from their sorrow or fix their pain by carrying their burden. I have found that this is actually a great asset as a Chaplain. When I counsel Sailors I am emotionally present and lovingly attached to what they are going through, but after we are done talking I am able to set that emotional attachment aside and continue on in my everyday activities. Ask anyone who counsels alot, this is a hard thing to do. But counseling the Sailors on WSC the past few weeks has been completely different.

To be able to help my Sailors, and they are my Sailors, I have to meet them where they are at emotionally and over and over again it has been people who are emotionally devastated because they lost a grip on someone and that person died, or they were performing cpr on people who had blood coming out of their noses and mouths and their eyes were rolled back in their head, or they were tasked to move dead bodies to a different place on the ship. Every single counseling session I am dealing with these young Sailors who are devastated and they look at me with tears in their eyes and say (with their body language) "save me!" It isn't enough to simply say Christ will save you, I must show them the path of how Christ will meet them where they are at in their pain, where He will take them, and how He can redeem their pain. So you can imagine the emotional and spiritual toll this begins to have, and let me tell you it has been a heavy toll. But as the Chaplain you begin to look around for your support and .....who are you going to talk to on the ship....."hey Captain let me tell you how messed up I am right now", no that doesn't really work. Hours of prayer on my knees!!! God will be my strength and support!!! Tearful conversations with my wife on the phone!!!!! I know I have said it before but it needs to said again, that woman is amazing! I had the stupid notion when we got married that I would teach her a thing or two, she has taught me!

I don't write all of this so you can say poor Josh, but I want you all to have a real understanding of what it is like for a Navy Chaplain, and more importantly I covet your prayers. We have a little over 2 months left in the deployment, pray for healing, pray for the Spirit to powerfully move, pray for revival on WSC, pray for the souls of lost Sailors that I am in contact with everyday, pray that I would preach and live the Gospel faithfully.

Thank you

Here is a link for some more details

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top 10...


10. I miss the way that it takes him like 13.5 minutes to wake up fully. He walks around in a drunken sleep stupor, running into things, grunting, and itching himself. I miss that.

9. I miss the way he smells. This is sad but sometimes I go to the mens cologne desk to smell "man smells"… loser. I know he doesn't always smell like cologne, but I miss that too… his smell.

8. I miss the way he loves on Bella. I literally cannot look at other daddy's with their girls, I start tearing up. I miss him for her.

7. I miss the way he holds my hand in the car and kisses my forehead.

6. I miss us being the "Earls"….When you get married, you begin to find that your spouse is your other half, your partner in crime, your passion and joy lies in the intricacies of them….

5. I miss the way he runs outside to grab groceries when I pull up to the house… (it's the little things)

4. I miss his sweet face and the soft part of his cheeks….

3. I miss holding him and burying my face into his chest when I'm sad or happy… or anything

2. I miss the way he always points me to rely on God at all times

1. I miss my husband more than I could put into words… more than he will ever understand…

Love you Josh!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Alpha Women's Center

This post is dedicated to reminding people of the needs of the unborn and their mother's. I also hope to introduce you to Alpha Women's Center which is run by my mom, Carolyn Koole (or Kiki as most of you know her).

2005 was the last year abortion stats for the country WERE ALLOWED to be shared:
According to the American Life League, Planned Parenthood released the following statistics on abortion in the United States
Total number of abortions since 1973: 48 million +
Abortions per year: 1,200,000
Abortions per day: 3,288
Abortions per hour: 137
Abortions per every 4 minutes: 9
Abortions per every 26 seconds: 1

Alpha was founded in 1985 with the mission to reduce the increasing number of abortions performed in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their services began with free pregnancy testing and mentoring women who were considering an abortion. Over the years as a community women’s and children’s center they have added services, such as, the ultrasound program, Earn-While-You-Learn parenting program, abstinence education program, sexual integrity program, a teen and young adult buiding awareness and self-esteem program called Step Up that includes preparing to take GED testing, etc. They also host a variety of community activities focused at building stronger family realtionships.

The Earn-While-You-Learn educational program supports women (and sometimes men or grandparents who are primary caregivers of children) in their decision to parent successfully through meeting with them at least once a month, offering them prenatal, parenting, financial responsibility, and spiritual/personal development classes. Through this program, they are also able to earn the material items they need for themselves and their children.

Alpha was blessed to have been able to move into a new building this year which is located in downtown Grand Rapids off of Division. This neighborhood is rough and has a lot of poverty. Alpha has already been broken into and tagged with graffiti because of their presence. It makes me sad because the organization is there to serve those same people who seem desperate for money and food. To service their women.

Here's where you come in… Alpha has many needs. First and foremost, they need prayer to keep their doors open to be able to provide physical and spiritual support to the community. Second, they need funding. It takes at least a $1,000 a day to keep their doors open (and with today's economy) this has been nearly impossible. God has somehow allowed them to continue their services despite the lack of donations they receive. Third, they need the necessary items to give the women who walk through their doors: diapers, wipes, food, clothing ect. (imagine if you had so little money you had to go to a center to get food for your newborn baby…. then imagine if that center ran out of food)… yah, breaks my heart too!

I just thought you all should know about Alpha. It's an amazing place that daily helps point women away from abortion and towards Christ. If you would like more information about the center visit: (you can make donations online or just learn more about them)

They are also on facebook:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I assure you, you will let yourself down…

Holy is the Lord God who was and is AND IS TO COME.

Have you ever thought about eternity and our eternal God? Do you ever sit and think about this life and wonder, "What have I been doing here that has eternal significance?"….or maybe even, "What happens to me when I die?"….If you don't know God and of His offer of salvation from this life, please consider…

God sent his son to this earth in human form (Jesus). He suffered what we suffer, died for our sins (though he was perfect in every way), but rose and lived again and is coming to redeem us from the pain and toils of this earth. Do you believe that? Do you believe Christ died for even you? Some may call me crazy but they called Him crazy too….please understand, this life is a breath…you may not wake up tomorrow. I offer you assurance that a life spent living for God is more meaningful than a life lived for yourself. I promise you, you will let yourself down. God will not let you down…not EVER.

This song inspires me, I hope it inspires you too...

Revelation Song

Worthy is the,
Lamb who was slain
Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song, to Him who sits on
Heaven's Mercy Seat

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And I will adore You…!

Clothed in rainbows, of living color
Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength and
Glory and power be
To You the Only Wise King,

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come, yeah
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And – I - will - adore You!

Filled with wonder,
Awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your Name
Jesus, Your Name is Power
Breath, and Living Water
Such a marvelous mystery

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come, yeah
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And – I - will - adore You!

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come,
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And – I - will - adore YOU…

Come up lift up His Name
To the King of Kings…
We will adore YOU Lord…
King of heaven and earth
King Jesus, King Jesus
Aleluya, aleluya, aleluya!
Majesty, awestruck Honor
And Power and Strength and Dominion
To You Lord,
To the King, to King
To the King of Glory

(Singer: Kari Jobe)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Being a daddy through DVD's...

Bella cannot get enough of her daddy on DVD. Josh recorded a new video for her on the ship that is literally the sweetest most loving thing I've ever seen...