Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2 Ways to go on a Deployment

If you have ever been on a deployment, especially a deployment at sea, you know that people either come back in shape or fatter than they have ever been. The reasons for this a are a little different for each.
First for the the fat. 1) You are completely thrown off your routine of working out and eating right (but lets be honest it shouldn't be that hard to get back on a routine. I mean especially if you are on a ship. When you are out there you do the same freaking thing every single day so it should be easy to get on a different schedule). 2) The food! On the ship they would have healthy choices (kinda!) but they would always be quick to offer up cookies, cheese cake, brownies, and on and on. Oh yeah don't forget about the weekly ice cream social for the whole crew (we had an officer on USS Churchill that would eat like 7 bowls of ice cream each week. No joke we all thought he was going to die). 3) Stress. Deployments are stressful. You start working some crazy hours, you forget to go topside for days at a time and begin to forget what the Sun looks like. Your home life is all messed up because you aren't there, so the stress piles up.
Now for the in shape. 1) You can finally get into a routine. For all the great things about being home one of the bad things is that there are 47 things pulling you in 47 different directions (I don't know why I typed 47). 2) No family! I know this is kinda the same thing as #1 but it is more helpful. I love my family and I always want to be with them, so if I'm not at work I am racing home to hang out with them. What suffers? The workout then its "lets go out to eat" and there goes the diet. When you are a deployment and you have some free time all there is to do is work out. 3) Sometimes the food is terrible!!!!!!!! It is really easy to lose weight when you don't eat the food. On the table in the Wardroom (where the officers eat and hang out) there is always hot sauce and Texas Pete because the food is so bland that you have to pour hot sauce on it so that it has some kind of taste.
On deployment I became close friends with LTjg Bryce Lee and he turned me on to a new eating plan and a new work out plan and I am going to share that with you here.
For my eating I follow what is called the Paleo Diet or the Caveman Diet. Basically the idea is that your diet should consist of Fruit, Veggies, alot of meat (all different kinds), and a few nuts and seeds. Your diet should stay away from sugars, carbs in large amounts, and grains. Yep that's right no grains, no whole wheat, no cereals, no pasta, no nothing. And I know what you are about to say and I have heard it all, but it is working for me.
For my workout I follow a Paleo Diet, Caveman Diet as well. What does this mean for a workout? Well it means that I walk everyday (the idea here is to stay active and get your blood flowing). Then about twice a week I sprint or specifically I do row intervals (for this I do a concentrated all out row interval. I do 20 sec flat out and then rest for 40 sec and I do this for 5 rotations) Yep my cardio is 10 minutes a week. For weights I do a twice a week workout where I have three exercises that I do on a slow 10 count for a minute and a half. Yes again, my weight workouts total about 15 minutes a week.
That is the way I took the in shape route on the deployment. The pics are before and after the deployment.

Taking the Blog Back

Ok so over the past 10 months my wife has decided to join with me on this blog and then decided to take over this blog, well I am taking it back! Just don't tell my wife.

In all seriousness Annie has done a great job keeping everyone informed and keeping everyone up to date on what is going on with us and Bella. But as we have looked at the most popular searches on this blog they usually revolve around some of the blogs I have posted on entering the Navy Chaplaincy and my initial thoughts, so I think I will do a little more.

I have been back from the deployment for three months now and things are going ok. I say ok because family life is great. It is such a joy to be with my wife and my daughter. To see Bella improve and to be a husband and father again. But as a Chaplain it is hard to be back.

When you are in the military you feel as if you are not "really" in until you deploy, but for a Chaplain being deployed doesn't make you feel like you are "really" in the military but it does make you feel like you are truly doing ministry. When I am here in Norfolk, VA I cover a few different ships. I go to a different ship each day visiting each ship once a week. In this setup I try to partner with the command as much as possible but in reality all I really do is put out fires. I don't mean literal fires but counseling fires. A Sailor will get into some kind of trouble and then I will get a call and the CMC or XO will say I think you need to talk to this Sailor. So I'll sit down with the Sailor that I don't know, who I have never spent any time with, and I will try to make a positive impact upon his/her life. This is a difficult thing to do and is at the heart of why (at this moment) I don't plan on making the Navy a career.

On the deployment I was able to impact the lives of my Sailors every single day. I covered two different ships over 7 months out to sea; USS Winston S. Churchill and USS Oscar Austin. I was able to spend about 3 1/2 months on each ship so I was able to invest in who the Sailors were as people and not just put out the random fire that would come up every once in a while. So as I love being home because I get to be with my family, I also miss the opportunity to really invest in the lives of my Sailors.

Above is a pic of me and couple of the helo pilots from USS Oscar Austin. When I was on USS Oscar Austin I found myself hanging out with the pilots alot. The only problem was that the pilots keep vampire hours. They will stay up until 3 or 4 am and till sleep until 10 or 11am.


On the brink of deployment: Ode to our friends:)

I have been "moved" as of late by an "un-named couple" who will be experiencing their first military deployment soon. I will not name names because this couple knows who they are (wink) and I know for certain they read this blog (they are professed blog stalkers and we are totally ok with it). The husband is one of Josh's very best friends, someone I consider a brother, and was the best man in our wedding, and the wife (who is gorgeous inside and out) has become very dear to me as not only a sister in Christ but, as a fellow military wife! They both are clearly loved by us, which is why their upcoming deployment feels so raw to us as well.

Since we just experienced our first deployment and have come out the other end with awesome battle wounds (one was from a curling iron), we feel for this couple so deeply and pray earnestly for them often. To be away from someone who essentially "completes you" for a year, is a long time. When I look at this couple...into the eyes of their hearts, I see the fear of the unknown and the anxiety of now. I remember being at this point and just actually wanting Josh to leave (which sounds weird) but, it was so hard to think of the reality of him leaving us and seemed easier to rip the band-aid off completely. I'm sure Josh was feeling the same way, wanting to serve his country and begin doing what he had trained for...

So, this is post is for "that nameless couple"... but can really apply to all couples. Christ works the same way, even when you have your spouse sitting next to you. Sufficiency is found in Christ alone, do not place to weight of your spiritual needs on your spouse because it is a weight too heavy for them to bear...

II Corinthians 12:9
And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

From a military wife....

Wife (you know who you are my dear)- You can do this. God created you for your husband. He brought you together in a divine manner and intended for this very circumstance to come to about. He will gird you with strength my friend, and surround you with the love of his Spirit (through family and friends). You will feel it at night when you wake thinking your husband is wrapped in your arms... and he's not. You will feel His presence when he captures your tears and remembers your sorrows. I promise to remind you often that you cannot find sufficiency in your husband, only in Christ. Your husband cannot take away the dull ache. He cannot fill the void of himself, only God fills voids. This is a fact. Love your husband blamelessly and without pride. Look forward to your "talks" when you get them and make every word count. When you don't talk, pray for him. Remember that you represent Christ on the "home front" and people will be looking to you to see Christ through the struggle (as they have already done thus far in your life, and you have succeeded my friend). I know you want your husband around my dear, I want him around for you. Remember, he will come home eventually... never question his love for you. Your love will be so fresh and vibrant when he returns...what a gift!

Husband (you know who you are too)- You can and are doing this. God created you for your wife. He brought you through the struggles of life, and rewarded you with the beautiful, godly woman you now call your own. He inclined your heart to the military and blessed you with strength, wisdom, compassion, and grace. You represent Christ in every moment, now and when you are away on the front lines. Remember who you represent. Remember who loves you and pray for them as they pray for you. Love your wife in her absence even more than you do now in her presence. Speak compassion at all times to her, especially when you are away:) When you go to sleep at night, let your last thoughts be of her, then of Christ. Know that she yearns for your return. Never question her love for you.

Here are a few promises to cling to:
1 Thessalonian 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer..

1 Peter 1:6-7
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

We love you both and KNOW God will give you BOTH the strength you need.

The Earls (and Bella-boo).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Life is a juicy novel...

I have had numerous people tell me this week that they have been in a funk, as of late. It's the feeling of being "a bit off", a bit "less excited about life" or, feeling like "they have to work harder to be happy". I think life is like a really good novel. In the beginning it's all grassy fields and tulips, then the page turns and you are meeting your first love and feeling positive that your life is perfection because they are in it.... In the middle of the novel there is terrible heart break, loss, confusion and uncertainty. Later, life becomes complete again with true love (marriage), or family reconciliations, or maybe children come along and touch your heart forever (or never come along and this breaks your heart). But, the page must turn.... sickness, death, sin, pride, selfishness, divorce, lies, broken-promises, the list could go on and on. The funny thing is, life seems to have equally as many blissfully happy chapters as it does terribly heartbreaking ones.

It's good to know the author of my novel (which has been super juicy up to this point.... as some of you who have been in it have experienced) has got the ending figured out right!? I mean, I'm not sure how I would feel if my novel had an author who second-guessed the chapters of my life. I would feel so insecure about my past and maybe even regret it... which I don't. Friends, what is your novel about? Do you focus sometimes on all of the "tough chapters" and forget about the grassy fields and tulips? Even when God gives you heartbreak or huge mountains to climb, consider them a gift because I guarantee the next chapter will be really good because of it! So, juicy is good. That's the moral here....

Nothing like a hymn from the 1600's to put this into perspective for me....

Whate'er My God Ordains is Right
Samuel Rodigast

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate'er He doth,
And follow where He guideth.
He is my God, though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall;
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
He never will deceive me;
He leads me by the proper path;
I know He will not leave me.
I take, content, what He hath sent;
His hand can turn my griefs away,
And patiently I wait His day.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
Though now this cup, in drinking,
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
And pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need or death be mine,
Yet I am not forsaken.
My Father's care is round me there;
He holds me that I shall not fall;
And so to Him I leave it all.

Blogger Error... I am a blogger and I make errors....

I messed up,
I messed up bad
I wrote this ditty,
So don't be sad...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

If you are worried your child might be Autistic...

Don't be afraid of the outcome, even if it's scary.

I have had so many people approach me and congratulate me on pushing for Bella's early diagnosis of autism. It really was a push by the way. I felt like I was running against the wind sometimes. No one ever said, "No she doesn't have autism"...but essentially that's what they thought. I completely understand not wanting to "diagnose" too early, giving the child extra time to develop. Here's my concern, now that I'm half way through my Master's in Special Education, I have written many papers on autism (and lived through 2.5 years of it thus far) and a few things resound in my head/heart every time...

I don't care if you feel like you are just being a "worrier" because I cannot tell you how many times I've felt this or even been called it:) You are your child's number ONE advocate!

2. FIND A GOOD PEDIATRICIAN (who will REALLY listen to you)
They have to be on your side. If you really are wrong about something, at least they will take the time to talk through it with you and not just check you off the list:(

In a recent forum with Pediatricians, Parents, School/Medical Professionals on Dr. seemed that everyone had different opinions about most things but one thing they were all open to was the GLUTEN/CASEIN FREE DIET:) Here's my thing, no matter what, cutting out hard to digest/processed food is good for your kid. I've seen amazing results from the diet. In fact, the day I started it...Bella literally picked up a fork and spoon and started eating food off her plate (when before she would barely eat, let alone had EVER used a fork). She's had a few slip ups with the GFCF diet and within a few hours, she will have symptoms (including crazy diaper blow outs and insane tantrums). For now, we are sticking with this diet my friends:)

Starting your child in early intervention and ABA is ESSENTIAL. Bella is communicating 100% better. I used to just sit on the floor and cry with her when she would melt down for an hour straight. Now, she will come up to me and say "cup" "juice" "eat" "more" "outside" "apple"---I mean, it's amazing. I attribute this progress to diet, Josh and me and our hard work with her, and her ABA therapist. Oh and God of course. I pray for that girl all of the time, for a miracle.

So, look for these signs mom's and dad's with little ones...and don't be afraid. I had a sweet mom email me the other day that said that someone had thought her child was autistic but never said anything....he didn't get diagnosed until four. Think of all of the hours of therapy he could have had. Sorry, I'm just passionate about this:)


P.S. Before reading this, please know that a lot of these symptoms "normally" developing children exhibit as well (I see it all of the time)--- it's the combined symptoms that are more concerning :)

By Mayo Clinic staff (reference):
Children with autism generally have problems in three crucial areas of development — social interaction, language and behavior. But because autism symptoms vary greatly, two children with the same diagnosis may act quite differently and have strikingly different skills. In most cases, though, severe autism is marked by a complete inability to communicate or interact with other people.

Some children show signs of autism in early infancy. Other children may develop normally for the first few months or years of life but then suddenly become withdrawn, become aggressive or lose language skills they've already acquired. Though each child with autism is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior, these are some common autism symptoms:

Social skills

Fails to respond to his or her name
Has poor eye contact
Appears not to hear you at times
Resists cuddling and holding
Appears unaware of others' feelings
Seems to prefer playing alone — retreats into his or her "own world"

Starts talking later than age 2, and has other developmental delays by 30 months
Loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences
Doesn't make eye contact when making requests
Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
Can't start a conversation or keep one going
May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn't understand how to use them

Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping
Develops specific routines or rituals
Becomes disturbed at the slightest change in routines or rituals
Moves constantly
May be fascinated by parts of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car
May be unusually sensitive to light, sound and touch and yet oblivious to pain
Young children with autism also have a hard time sharing experiences with others. When read to, for example, they're unlikely to point at pictures in the book. This early-developing social skill is crucial to later language and social development.

As they mature, some children with autism become more engaged with others and show less marked disturbances in behavior. Some, usually those with the least severe problems, eventually may lead normal or near-normal lives. Others, however, continue to have difficulty with language or social skills, and the adolescent years can mean a worsening of behavioral problems.

Most children with autism are slow to gain new knowledge or skills, and some have signs of lower than normal intelligence. Other children with autism have normal to high intelligence. These children learn quickly yet have trouble communicating, applying what they know in everyday life and adjusting in social situations. A small number of children with autism are "autistic savants" and have exceptional skills in a specific area, such as art, math or music.

When to see a doctor
Babies develop at their own pace, and many don't follow exact timelines found in some parenting books. But children with autism usually show some signs of delayed development by 18 months. If you suspect that your child may have autism, discuss your concerns with your doctor. The earlier treatment begins, the more effective it will be.

Your doctor may recommend further developmental tests if your child:

Doesn't babble or coo by 12 months
Doesn't gesture — such as point or wave — by 12 months
Doesn't say single words by 16 months
Doesn't say two-word phrases by 24 months
Loses previously acquired language or social skills at any age

So, there you go. For my Bella, it was a variety of symptoms and things that "just didn't seem right".... I love my girl though and feel blessed to have her diagnosis and all of the support we have already (friends, family, and therapy)!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What does a woman who fears God look like?

This is a something I was reading today by John Piper. I can only pray earnestly that I even scratch the surface on becoming more inclined to this "woman". She is so beautiful on the inside that it radiates around her! Her fear of God is perfectly balanced with her faith of his best for her....

What is a woman like who fears the Lord? What sorts of things can we praise her for? I'll just mention four things that the wise man has chosen to celebrate about the woman who fears the Lord (and which I want to celebrate in my wife!). First of all, a woman who fears the Lord is not anxious about the future. Look at verse 25. I love this line, and I praise all you women who are like this: "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." Satan dangles in front of her the specter of tomorrow's troubles, but she glances up at the almighty God at her right hand (her magnificent German Shepherd!) and laughs at Satan's folly. She fulfills in her own life Proverbs 14:26, "In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge."

Her fear of the Lord makes her fearless of man. But it doesn't make her naïve. She knows that the Lord has appointed some means for our safety. For example, verse 21, "She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet." Winter is a fearful thing in Minnesota, and God has appointed that we do more than pray that our feet not freeze. Clothing must be made or bought. When a woman fears the Lord, she will not be anxious about tomorrow, she will do what God has appointed for her to do and trust him in everything to show her mercy.

Second, the woman who fears the Lord has practical wisdom. Verse 26, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." We've been taught from grade school on that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10), so it's no surprise that the woman who fears the Lord "opens her mouth with wisdom." And isn't there a very close connection between a practical, gracious wisdom and freedom from anxiety about the future. The wisest people I know are the people who hope in the Lord and have quieted their soul like a child at its mother's breast. But the people who are most anxious, most tense and fretful about tomorrow, are those whose counsel I bank on the least. Women, there is a wisdom that your family and friends and associates need which will only come from a heart that can laugh at the future because it fears the Lord.

Third, the woman who fears the Lord is strong. Verse 25, "Strength and dignity are her clothing." Verse 17, "She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong." She will be morally strong. Proverbs 23:17 says, "Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day." The woman who continues in the fear of the Lord will have power to resist all the allurements to envy, to desire what she shouldn't have. The fear of the Lord will also increase her intellectual strength. The fear of the Lord is the impulse to wisdom, and rouses the mind to search for knowledge as for hidden treasure. And the fear of the Lord will even increase her physical strength. One of the reasons we let our bodies languish and get weak and out of tone is because we are bored and feel no excitement or hope about the future. But the woman who fears the Lord is confident and hopeful and eager to enter the future with God at her side. This kind of hope always gives us pep and vigor and increases the strength of the weakest among us.

Fourth, a woman who fears the Lord will live not for herself alone but for others, especially her husband, if she is married. Verses 11, 12, "The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life." A woman who fears the Lord will not squander the family's livelihood on frivolous purchases, but will have the complete trust of her husband because she is for him and not against him. Wherever possible she supplements his earnings rather than wastes it. But, wives, far more important than this financial support is the moral support of your husband. Verse 23 seems out of place in a song of praise to women. It says, "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land." How is that a word of praise to the wife who fears the Lord? Proverbs 12:4 gives the answer: "A good wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is the rottenness of his bones." A wife who fears the Lord increases the esteem of her husband at the gates of the city. In twelve and a half years of marriage my wife has never done or said anything in public that would have caused me to be ashamed. She has my absolute trust as a representative of what our family stands for. There is no place I might go where I would be ashamed to take Noël. She is a crown to my head and a signet ring on my right hand. She is for me 100% because she is a woman who fears the Lord. And I pray that every wife here will, under God, give that kind of support to your husband.

Now one last mark of the woman who fears the Lord: whether married or not, she lives for the good of the needy. Verse 20: "She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy." God has drawn near and secured her future in his care. Now she draws near to those who need most help. This woman in Proverbs 31 is well-to-do and esteemed, but she does not allow her station to hinder her association with the lowly.

"Charm is deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." She keeps before her eyes the fearfulness of running away from God into sin and so stays close to God and his mercy. She should be praised by us all because that will strengthen her hand in God, honor the Lord, and make our own lives happier. And she can be recognized because she is confident and not anxious about the future, gracious wisdom is on her lips, she girds herself with strength, she brings her husband honor by her support, and she reaches out her hands to the needy. "A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised!"