Sunday, October 18, 2009

Steve in Action

So what does Steve do now that he's in the Army? The girls and I got to see first hand this week when they had a "Family Day" out at their deployment site. It was very impressive.

Steve is a Battalion Chaplain and has 700 Soldiers (and their families) in his care. When he deploys, he sets up a chapel (a tent with cots as pews) for a central worship location, but also travels each day to the troops at all different work sites throughout the deployment area. It can be a location with just one Soldier or many, and he is there not just for spiritual guidance, but for encouragment of any kind.

He has his own jeep, which his assitant drives. He is not allowed to carry a weapon. At night, he generally "camps out" in the chapel or in a tent with other one-of-a-kind positioned people, such as executive officer, etc.

On this 18-day deployment that we got to witness, Steve's setting up a "no talent show" for fun and he and his assistant can be seen passing out granola bars and cookies everywhere they go. People smile when the Chaplain comes around. I know I did when I was in the Marine Corps. They always meant "fun and happiness," and isn't that what God wants us all to portray?

So, be proud of him friends and family. I know I am. God has him right where He wants him and Steve's allowing God to use him in the best of ways. Please pray that He always will.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Home Again

We're very happy to report that we're in our new home together in El Paso, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves!

Hannah loves her new school; Steve is very busy at work and enjoying his new responsibilities of caring for 700 Soldiers and their families; Cali and I are enjoying Mom's Day Out and getting the house in order. The Army doesn't expect our household goods to arrive until mid-October so in the meantime, we're camping out on an air mattress in our new home and spending much time enjoying the mountain views. The large picture shown here is at the end of our street. The pictures below are of our neighborhood. Yes, it's truly that beautiful!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Grader!

Time flies! Hannah's in First Grade -- oh my goodness!

Although we're still looking for a place to live (we have to find a place out in town because the waiting list for housing is VERY long), we got Hannah started at Fort Bliss Elementary. She has a great, very artistic, teacher and has already made many friends, of course. She also has to wear a uniform. Navy blue bottoms and a red, white or blue shirt each day. She looks so all-American cute!

Three Blessed Amigos

Although this is a picture from our first "Formal" and could have been in the previous "First Formal" section, I wanted to dedicate a section to this picture alone because it represents such a blessing. During school, Steve had the privilege of meeting two other Chaplains who were on their way to Fort Bliss, just like us. During the last week of school, a Wive's Seminar brought us ladies together and, immediately, we all hit it off. We have been great buddies ever since. We laughed because two of these three Chaplain families (us and the Wrights) had a car break down on the way from South Carolina to Texas. Ours died completely, with no hope of revival. Theirs was on its last leg but is now being repaired half-way across country for them to pick up at some much later date. The third family, the Pridgens, had only a flat tire and yet they had the oldest cars! Ed Wright said it seems some evil force didn't want the Chaplains here but God prevailed! Since then, we all got to live at the Lodge together and we're slowly finding housing and all are looking for cars to replace our old ones! In the meantime, we're having great times each time we see each other and our kids get along fantastically! The kids stayed back at our rooms the other night (8 kids altogether) while the six of us went out to a wonderful authentic Mexican restaurant and had a perfectly wonderful time! We're looking forward to years together, hoping we'll be stationed together many times throughout our careers. God is so good to give us such love and support!

In the picture above, meet Charles and Ada Pridgen (right), us (of course), and Ed and Shawn Wright. All but Shawn are former military. All have been pastors and pastor's wives and are now Chaplains and Chaplain's wives! All are truly blessed by God!

CH-BOLC Graduation

The graduation of Chaplain's Basic Officer Leadership Course 09-002, including Steve's 5th Platoon known as "First Team", graduated on August 28, 2009, with great pomp and circumstance! Mom and Dad (Zaremba) and Uncle Don and Aunt Ann all drove down to attend and it was such a wonderful time! The Platoons all sang "Soldiers of God," the Chaplains' Anthem, and their platoon songs, and it was so beautiful to hear all of those mens (and a few womens) voices raised in the auditorium. Unfortuntaly, my camera was acting up that day so I got few pictures; but I'll attach the few I did get. We were all so proud of our Soldier!

Our First "Formal"

Two days before graduation, we had the pleasure of attending our first, of what we've been told will be many, formal dinners. There was a receiving line where we were introduced, a beautiful procession of colors (flags), a fun skit by the graduates, singing by each platoon and lots and lots of food! We had a great time with our many new friends including Steve's Battle Buddy Tony and his beautiful wife, Marie, Ed and his wife Shawn, Charles and his wife Ada (pictured below) and a very sweet, sweet lady named Dextricia (also pictured below) whose husband will be the first Muslim chaplain in the National Guard.

When the girls first saw us, they both said I looked like a princess and that Daddy looked like a band leader!!! They proceeded to try on his "band" hat and act the part!

Love you, Sis!

It's been a while, so I'm going to try to catch up. Steve came the second weekend in August to take his family to South Carolina with him to see him graduate. We had to say good-bye to Aunt Deana, which was no small feat. I've always loved her as my sister-in-law, but now I have a chance to love her as my best friend! We had a wonderful summer together and the girls and I miss her dearly, but wouldn't trade the time for anything! Blessings, Sis! We love you so much!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

While the Cat's Away...

Between Hip Hop Dance and Tumble Camp, the girls and I took a driving trip to visit friends in Kentucky and Grandma and Grandpa in Tennessee. We had a great time, seeing people we love and enjoying all the beautiful sights of summer, but we still miss you and can't wait to see you, Daddy! All of this trying to stay busy while you're gone can be a pretty exhausting experience!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Army Chaplain

Well, I've now finished the "Boot Camp" portion of training and Phase I. I am in Phase II of III phases. All is going well but we're very busy. Currenty, we're learning about the history of the Army Chaplain. I'll add an excerpt from my latest paper for those of you who are interested (I think you'd like it, Uncle Don). It may be dry reading, but if you put it all together, the facts are very intersting. I'll also add some pictures I took recently of a trip we took to Fort Sumter. We performed a mock memorial service aboard an aircraft for fallen soldiers. It was very touching and, hopefully, will not often be a necessity.

I hope you enjoy the excerpt below. Blessing to all!

Army Chaplains have a dual role as religious leaders and staff officers. Their duties are prescribed by law, DOD policy, Army regulations, religious requirements, and Army mission. The chaplain is required to hold religious services for members of the command while facilitating a “free-exercise.” They do not exercise command, but exercise staff supervision and functional direction of religious support and activities. Chaplains are not allowed to bear arms. The importance of defining the duties of a chaplain is to give clarity to the murky waters that a chaplain may navigate.

The U.S. Army Chaplain has played an active role servicing soldiers for more than 230 years. Since 1775, approximately 25,000 chaplains have served in the armies for God and Country. Congress authorized chaplain service in 1775. In 1861 chaplains were issued uniforms and recognized in Army regulations. From 1920 and following, the Chaplain Corps has been a branch with a Chief of Chaplains.

Chaplains have notoriously gone to great length to fight a good fight of faith holding to a common valor that unites the troops as well the chaplain. George Fox, Clark Poling, Alexander Goode and John Washington are prime examples (google "The Four Chaplains" for a good story). A common cause brought them together: the desire to render service to their nation during the critical years of World War II. In a world where differences have all too often created conflict and separated brothers, the Four Chaplains found a special kind of unity, and in that unity they found strength. Despite the differences, they they had one unseen characteristic in common that overshadowed everything else -- they were brothers because they shared the same Father.

What paves the way for names to be both written and revered in history? Romans chapter five states: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus…and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; perseverence, character; and character, hope. Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts…” The chaplain has been sought by God and, therefore, must lead others into hope. This is impossible if attempted without the discipline of a soldier, the humility of love, and a longing for those distressed.

An Army Chaplain is an officer, a soldier, and a minister, called by God to serve the soldiers and the soldiers families of the Army. I believe a continuing ethical fight a chaplain must battle within self, as well protect outwardly, is that of religious pluralism. We are messengers of grace to those we minister to (Phil. 2:25-26). We are to be an example of that moral decision. We are to ask what determines right or wrong: character, values, and integrity. The continual consequence of our actions are also addressed. The Army Chaplain is to maintain a level of spiritual readiness by seeking to know God and self at a progressively deeper level. We are to be accountable to a higher level of morality than the normal officer. We should live/be the example. Religious leadership should be modeled courageously: We should stick to our convictions no matter the invoked stress level. Excellence is not meeting the norm, but rising above and doing all to the glory of God; simultaneously respecting the diversity among us.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July Surprise!

The girls had a surprise visitor for the 4th of July weekend! Steve is doing so well in school that he qualified for a "weekend pass"! We didn't tell the girls and they were SO surprised to see him! It was wonderful! On the Fourth of July, we went to the Sunbury Parade together and watched a beautiful set of fireworks from the lawn of the neighbors house. While the weekend did go fast, it was the best 4th of July yet! We love you, Daddy, and miss you again already!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hannah Got a Haircut!

Look, Daddy! Did you ever think she could get any cuter??!!! Grandma says she looks like Tinkerbell -- she does, doesn't she?!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day, Daddy! We love you and miss you and wish we could kiss you!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


"Hooah!" is the Army cry like Hooyah is in the Navy, and then the all familiar one for the Marine Corps (ooh rah!). It is stated usually after a question is asked "question, question, question" Hooah? (Meaning do you understand) And the expected reply is "Hooah." (meaning I understand). "Hooah?" It sounds more like a grunt and can probably be used a term of endearment. Hooah? Or not.

I hope you had fun with that little lesson. Now you should all go practice it.

Last week was a busy week in the classroom. We were learning field medicine (dressing wounds, signs and symptoms, etc.). One fun thing was IV training. We got to stick our battle buddy. Our battle buddy is the person we have been assigned to for accountability purposes. My buddy's name is Tony. He is an old guy like me.

This upcoming week, beginning at 4am, Monday, we will be heading out to the field. Early mornings and late nights. The fun part of the week is that we will be doing more obstacle courses, rappelling, and more. The bad part of the week is that while we are out in the field most of the week, we still have several homework assignments due throughout the week. I guess this will be sleep appreciation week. Friday we will culminate our work into tests.

I am going to try to take my camera with me, so hopefully I will have some pictures next week.

I thank our gracious God in the name of Jesus for His sustaining grace.

Please, keep praying for my girls (Amanda, Hannah, and Cali). If you happen to read this...I Love You.


Friday, June 12, 2009

On the Homefront

As part of his warm up before "boot camp," The Lieutenant wrestled an anaconda at Great Wolf Lodge, saving two beautiful princesses from its's no wonder he's so good on that obstacle course!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Week Two

Well, the beginning of week two starts tomorrow; Sunday the 7th. We have been cleared medically, issued our battle gear, and have taken our physical fitness diagnostic. Now the fun begins.

I will be attending services of 3 faith groups tomorrow. We are responsible for attending 9 services outside of our individual preference this summer. I am going to try to knock them out early so when my weekend pass comes around I will get to go. Of course, I really don't have any place to go, but if I did I could...

I am pleased to report my mile time was 5:43 (no, that is not 5 hours and 43 minutes). My goal was 7 minutes. The time doesn't count for anything because we get graded on a two mile run, but it did make me feel good. Well, kinda. I actually didn't feel very good at all when I first finished the run.

We will be pushed pretty hard this upcoming week. God has taken me through a lot. He will continue to provide the strength for this. I will let you know later how many times He had to help through the push-ups my sergeant makes me do.

As you follow the blog, please feel free to ask questions. I will try to answer them in my updates. Also, as you read, please pray for my wonderful family at home. They were unable to accompany me on this vacation.

Joking aside...God is my first love; they are my second. May the strong arm of the Lord wrap around my girls: mommy, Hannah, and Cali. May His sufficient grace drench them with Living Water.

Speaking of water, it is hot down here.

Because of Jesus,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hi friends and family!

Many of you have asked me to make some sort of blog so that you could follow Steve's progress in the Army...and check up on the rest of us once in a while! So, here you go!

Steve's ending Day 4 of training and, thus far, the biggest change is his hairdo...or lack thereof. He said they run about 3 miles twice per day but, otherwise, have just been doing inprocessing (dental checkups, ID card, etc.). He said they'll start "real boot camp" on Monday, so we'll keep you posted. In the meantime, isn't he cute?!!! Enjoy!