We don’t get to choose many of our family members: mom, dad, brother, sister, grandma, grandpa, husband, wife, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, cousin, in-laws, out-laws,

Add to the list of “extended family” some of our friends, neighbors, and coworkers. The understanding of what family means becomes diverse and robust.

In the Army, we add additional family members to include: our fire team, squad, platoon, 1SG, CO, as well as company and battalion.

A prominent 1st century leader once asked, “Who is my mother and my brothers?”  Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”  [Mark 3:33-34 NIV]

What this text identifies is that the strength of family is found in a shared commitment to those things which are larger than ourselves. All families experience both challenges and opportunities, disappointments and victories. What keeps us together is shared commitment.

(Word of the Day at 11JULY Yellow Ribbon Event) #WOTDseries #Drop7

Premobilization Prayer

hardshipShalomAs-salamu alaykum. Grace and Peace.

Please join me in a moment of silent reflection or prayer in your tradition, as I pray in mine.

Father. God.

The ancient proverb states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We have grown sharper together these past three weeks.

Thank you for our 2 Battalion family. It is a privilege to serve with these Soldiers.

Thank you for our Soldiers and their tirelessness and spirit.

Thank you for our NCOs and their diligent service and professionalism.

Thank you for our officers and their discernment and leadership.

Thank you for watching over our loved ones in our absence.

Provide us safe travel to our armories and our homes.

Continue to prepare us and bless our loved ones as we embark on the mission ahead of us. Bless each Soldier, NCO, and leader.

Bless the work of our hands so that we may advance your goodness.

Help us not only be better Soldiers because of the lessons learned together here, but also better people.

Watch between us while we are absent from one another.

We ask all this in accordance with your mercy, grace, and strength.

*Final formation prayer concluding Operation: Seminole War Paint (Premobilization/Annual Training 2015).


darkWhy does the Army train at night?  Training in the dark heightens our skills and makes us more capable in both the day and night.

Same goes for our Soldiers’ lives… Walking through the dark places in life can make us more capable to face and overcome adversity…if we’re not alone.

The book of Job teaches it’s readers of the importance f faith and trusted fellowship.

For many of our Soldiers, whether this is their 1st or 4th deployment, this deployment ushers a level of darkness into each of their lives, households, and friendships. Let’s not let our Soldiers walk alone or without faith – wherever they may find it.

(Word of the Day at 22JUN CUB) #WOTDseries #Drop6



Today, some of our Soldiers trained in the CS Gas Chamber. Breath was important. The word for “breath” and “spirit” is one-in-the-same in both the Jewish scriptures (“ruach”) and Christian scriptures (“pneuma”).

Breath. Spirit. The substance and very function of living.

From the word “spirit” we derive the words: inspire, conspire, respiratory, and esprit de corps.

Esprit de corps refers to a “feeling of devotion, loyalty, and enthusiasm in regards to a team or group.”

General George C. Marshall (WW2 Army Chief of Staff) stated, “Military power wins battles, but spiritual power wins wars.”

Our Soldiers’ spirit is an invaluable force multiplier. How can we nurture it?

(Word of the Day for 20JUN CUB) #WOTDseries #Drop5


Sling and five smooth stones used by David to kill Goliath on a white background

“Hit what you aim at” is one of our Battalion Commander’s key expressions. This is the most basic of Soldier tasks, and most crucial. “The Infantry owns the last 100 yards of the battle,” he reminds us.

New Yorker writer, Malcolm Gladwell, writes in his most recent book “David and Goliath” that the underdog, David, actually had the tactical advantage in the fight, not the giant. David may have been outsized but he was not outmatched. Slingers were always favored over heavily armored warriors in ancient combat.

David’s advantage was his courage through preparedness and faith, through which he defeated an oversized opponent.

The EXMAT (training plan) for our 21 days of training may seem like an oversized opponent, but 2-124 Infantry is not outmatched because of our preparedness and faith…**


**and the tirelessness of SGM Slingerland “The sling is mightier than the EXMAT!”

*(Word of the Day at 16JUN CUB) #WOTDseries #Drop4


crucible“A crucible for silver; a furnace for gold; but people are tested by their praise.” Proverbs 27:21 NLT

We enter our three-week premobilization training with high hopes and expectations. The training will refine our skills. Humility will refine our character.

*(Word of the Day at 10JUN CUB) #WOTDseries #Drop3



megaphone“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Proverbs 17:7 ESV

“Brevity is the Soul of Wit.” Shakespeare

Whoever controls their mouth, controls their life.

*As a Chaplain, as with all leaders, knowing how to say what needs to be said, saying it, and then sitting down is an invaluable skill.

*(Word of the Day at 06JUN CUB) #WOTDseries #Drop2

Vulnerable Soldiers

WordThese leaders are giving me valuable seconds of their time. They are among our nation’s best leaders. They are looking at me, their Chaplain. A few seem impatient while hearing the specific word I share. Perhaps, their wariness is the result of previous violence done to their faith, or the culmination of an intellectual process, or the adherence to a different philosophy or theology. I hold this in tension with the importance of what I’ve been asked to share. I don’t want to come across preachy.

The Commander’s Update Brief (CUB) is a meeting during which the key leaders of the battalion report the activities of their companies and sections to the Battalion Commander (BC). It is critical. As the Battalion Chaplain, I advise the BC on religion, morals, and morale of the unit as well as the coordination of Religious Support (RS) to the unit. At the end of each CUB, the BC has me provide a “Word of the Day.” This “word” is accompanied by a few brief thoughts which are intended to encourage these leaders and, subsequently, their units.

I care about each of these men and women. Any reluctance one of them may have to listen is important to me. They are important to me. God’s Kingdom is given to such as these. Christ built the church on men and women like these. I want these words to be received without seeming smarmy, preachy, or heavy-handed. I believe God’s Spirit is working through this “word” at varying degrees with each person. Therefore, I focus the “word” on our shared concern: our Soldiers and our nation.

I experience a personal sense of vulnerability and tension as I speak. I choose to let my guard down and accept indifference, skepticism, and rejection…as well as the chance for a breakthrough. That’s the nature of unconditional love; it’s vulnerable and strong. It often comes with the feeling of discomfort or the fear of seeming absurd to peers, subordinates, and superiors. Yet vulnerability is a catalyst.

Henry Nouwen states that the “…Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.”

This is what my calling is…to offer my vulnerable self to these leaders. I realize the fullness of our situation; I recognize that these leaders are offering their vulnerable selves to me, too. It is symbiotic. Our strength is through being vulnerable Soldiers.

I hope sharing the “Word of the Day” doesn’t get easier. I perceive that the more vulnerable I feel indicates the more on point the day’s “word” is. Isn’t this true for all ministry and leadership?

#WOTDseries #Drop1

Smart Worrier



**I apologize for any content which comes across as too raw, vulnerable, insensitive, crass or incoherent. Please extend me a large helping of grace as you read. I promise to be responsible and accountable. With this as the primer, allow me to provide this historical fact about me: I’ve been told that I “think too much” since before college. My fraternity brothers were regularly prodding me to “lighten up.” I take it as a compliment in an unorthodox way. I find vindication in a recent Slate article ( that intelligent people have more anxiety, hence the title “smart worrier.”

I balance this with Ecclesiastes 1:18 which prompts us to recognize that “…with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief (i.e., stress).”

I am a thinker. I analyze and reflect on possibilities and contingencies involving multiple players and variables of events that may or may not happen…also known as stress or worry or anxiety. I like to refer to it as “process.”  As I’ve learned in the Army and in ministry, as well as through my dad, father-in-law, and a few great mentors – “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.” Planning requires a ton of process if you’re part of a family or a team. Multiply that exponentially if you’re an introvert.

Stress isn’t to be avoided, rather engaged…positively and with a healthy dose of prayer. Admit it, then steal and convert its momentum.

Positively dealing with stress is a requisite for leadership… whether within our families, at our workplaces, or even something as simple as talking with a friend through a difficult situation. The worst thing to do is Catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is wasting critical energy ruminating about irrational worst-case outcomes which prevents you from taking purposeful action.

I recently confessed to the pastors with whom I work, that I am an iceberg of thought: there’s more under the surface than what is visible (aren’t we all?). One of the pastors suggested that these online journal entries could very well be a form of free therapy. The articles that follow will likely involve both positive process and unfortunate catastrophizing. So, again, I ask for your grace.

Everyday Feels a Little More Like Goodbye


May YHWH-God keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. (‭Genesis‬ ‭31‬:‭49‬ NIV)

I have yet to leave. We’re months away from deployment. However, this doesn’t assuage the mounting tension, sorrow, anxiety, and doubt of the looming goodbye.

I cherish each touch, every ‘off-to-work’ kiss, that hidden gaze that embarasses her when discovered, those few Saturday mornings where Gabe’s oversleep allows us to snuggle, and those evening drives to “help Gabe fall asleep” which we use as an excuse for a quick escape to Starbucks. These are momentos which I have too often ignored or shared without cognition. I will miss holding Katherine’s hand…so much comfort, nurture and confidence is there.

I make sure I drop Gabe off at preschool every morning, even if that means I’ll be 15 minutes late into the office. Lately, I’ve left the office early some days so I can pick him up. There’s nothing like seeing the happiness on Gabe’s face when I sneak in to pick him up. I try not to waste a day off when I get one, whether we go to the zoo just to play on the playground and eat a “hotgog” (in Gabe speak), or invade the beach in the big way in which Gabe enters the sand and water. I’ll miss his giggles.

“Compensation” is the term used by the Army Behavioral Heath experts to denote the efforts Soldiers and their family members undertake to make up for time that will be missed. This happens on both ends of a deployment. It can introduce it’s own kind of anxiety and pressure.

Don’t interpret me as bemoaning this deployment. I feel called to this role as my battalion’s chaplain. I embrace it as YHWH-God’s call on my life. I anticipated the potential of a deployment as an acceptable eventuality of being an Army chaplain. However, do not equate “calling” to “easy.” It’s usually just the opposite. 

I love God. I love Katherine. I love Gabe. I love my Soldiers. It’s not equal, but symbiotic. Calling is an integrated endeavor.

I can’t help but ask…what is God’s call requesting of you?