Birthday reflection.


Tonight as I lay here I reflect o my life. Where I have come from and where I am going. What have I done with the last 36 years? Not much I am afraid. Others may think differently, but I know me best and I can tell you I have squandered my tallents and my time for the majority of my life.
It wasnt until the last year that I really started working diligently for the Lord. Im talking 100% all the time. “Everyday I am hustelin” Sure, over the past 7 years I have had racked up thousands of frequent flyer miles traveling to far off distant lands and serving Gods people thru the works of my hands. Sure I have effected the lives of those people for good all in the name of and in obedience to my God. Sure, I have givin up money and endured hardship.
But it was temporary, it was part time. I could fly in, be on mission for 2 weeks, make an impact and egress back to the good ole’ USA. It was gradifing. It was simple. It was easy. But thats because it was part time.

Now God has givin me a full time ministry. It is exausting, it is complex and it is hard. And thats because it is full time all the time. There is no end of shift. No clock out time. But the military had prepared me for this.

I knew that with this ministry there would opposition. I knew the enemy would come for me.
In the Marines we have a term, Skyline… or don’t skyline yourself.
What does this mean? When on patrol you never want to crest over the top of a mountain or hill. When you do this, your silhouette is easily noticed against the stark contrast of the sky behind you. We are taught to Patrol below the skyline this way the enemy cannot see you behind the mountain and even if you are on the front face of the mountain in front of the enemy it will still be difficult for them to pick you up among the varied Terrain and foliage. But the moment you crossed above the skyline you become an easy target.

The same can be said with our Christian walk if we choose to live a quiet unassuming life we walk below the skyline and for most people this is their chosen path. But for some of us, Bold in or faith and strong in our convictions, we choose to walk Atop The Mountain skylining ourself for the enemy to see. When we choose to do big and bold things for God we Skyline ourselves and should expect constant and Relentless attacks from the enemy. So the way I see it you have two choices walk below Skyline and avoid confrontation or Skyline yourself and prepare for battle.

If God is sending you somewhere its because there is a battle to be waged. Some of you have forgotten that.
I had forgotten that!
When we go on patrol we are looking for a fight. When we step out our door we are looking for a fight. But we donot war against flesh and blood.
1.God says go pray for that person but we are afraid of embarrassment.
2. A friend criticized you and now you want to retaliate because you are wounded.
3. That secret sin overpowers your will power and now you carry the shame of sin like it is a ball and chain.

These are just 3 examples of how the devil is attacking you. Will you fold up like lawnchair, or fight back? Dont let the fear cripple you.

Marines when you are told to liberate a village, do you say no… there may be an enemy there? You know the enemy is there thats why they are sending you.
It is the same. If God is calling you to go pray for someone its because there is an enemy there.
I dont know about you but i have never backed down from a fight in my life, and I’m not starting now.

I dont care about what I did in the last 36 years. I care about what i do in the next 36.

Today I saw the enemy face to face. I heard his words. He was meer feet from me and I let him pass unabated. The enemy dressed as an old man interjected into a meeting I was having in an attempt to undermine what I was saying. I was stunned for a moment as I clamed my flesh. My flesh that wanted to tear his from his bones. Who was this old fool who thought it was his place to intervene in our meeting? To enter uninvited and cast stones? I sternly told him to have a nice day as he passed.
At the time I did not see it for what it was. It was a blatant attack from the enemy during a meeting or reconciliation. I should have rebuked him for the devil he was and his attempt to sow seeds of dissension among the group.
Be on watch my fellow warriors. The enemy is all around us. Take care of the Council you keep and the advisors who bend your ear. If it does not line up with the bible, dismiss it.


4 days out.

It is Sunday May 22. Four days until we deploy, and I am feeling it. Nervous anticipation, impending doom, total peace and complete turmoil. I have been on many missions before and led teams as well. But this one is different and yet still the same. This one is more personal for me. We are building in honor of my friend and fellow Marine Bryan Bertrand.  Six of his family members are joining us and so this ads an unpredictable element to the trip. Will I be able to lead effectively with this build so personal to me? Will I be able to honor Bryan’s in a way his family will understand and appreciate? These are questions I have no answer for. This team is also 2x the size of a normal team. The family, the camera crew, the team and my staff. This takes alot of logistics to put together and to top it off we have elected to teach classes our first day in country. These classes coincide with the book i have written, packed with lessons I have learned on the missionfield. 30 tickets, meals, billiting, tshirts, books, handouts, personalities. The normal team is 15 so this will be a true test of our infustructer and my ability to lead. Since leaving the military and batteling ptsd, I have lost alot of my self confidence. War does that to you. You start to second guess yourself. The people back home dont understand you so you isolate yourself even further. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store become overwhelming and you feel like more like a failure than a hero. It is easier to stay home and stop challenging yourself.

Why do I do it?
Why do I leave the comfort of my home?
Why do I stretch and set unrealistic goals?
Because this creates growth. This is how I test my metal. One of my previous blogs spoke about how you must put your metal in the fire to refine it. Today we will use another metaphor.
As I read the bible and now write this blog, I understand why Jesus spoke in parables. He wanted to teach them something new by giving them examples of something old in their daily life.

It is spring. Flowers are blooming grass is growing. New life is all around us. Some of us are planting gardens or flowers, or tending to our house plants.
I am sure at some point each one of you has done some gardening so these examples wont be lost on you.

The Garden
When I was young we always grew a garden. We would start by germinating the seeds. We would take a cloth or paper towel and fold it several times and put it on a small dish. We would then put the seeds in the folds of the paper towel and soak it with water. You then put the dish is a warm dark place and wait, checking each day to see if you needed to add more water and if the seeds had sprouted. Not all of them would. Some just wouldnt grow. Once they began to sprout we would plant them and wait. After a few days we could see them start to poke out of the ground. From years of gardening I know that as soon as the sprout came out of the ground its roots would begin to grow down and find  nutrients for the plant.


Now we can just leave the plant this way. We can just water it and it will grow. But if we want to super charge our plant. We add manure. By doing this it creates significant groth in the plant.
So what is manure?
It is processed organic material, manure is a natural choice as a garden soil enhancement. Farm animals are routinely fed the byproducts of plants either in the form of dried grain and meal or through the open grazing of live vegetation. Manure is thus not only the actual animal waste itself but a combination of waste and other organic substances such as straw bedding, liquid runoff, and spilled feed. Manure is a complete amendment in that it not only adds important nutrients, such as nitrogen, to the soil but also completely changes the soil’s structure.
As manure continues to decompose in the soil, microbes and bacteria absorb its nutrients, producing their own byproduct called humus, which attaches itself to soil particles. Humus separates the dense particles in clay soil, improving its drainage, and it fills the large spaces between dry sand particles, holding on to more water in the process. Manure supplies plants instantly with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients by warming the soil, which speeds up decomposition, and lowers the soil’s acidity level, or pH, less than chemical fertilizers. Manure also supplies energy to fungi and earthworms that help to further break down its components in the soil.
There are many benefits we see from adding manure to our gardens


Our seeds have been planted, our fertilizer add and we can start to see fruit fruit blossem. We could leave our plant this way and it will grow just fine. It will grow in all directions and bare fruit. But if we want a healthy plant, one that produces good  large fruit, then we must prune the branches and cut away the dead and dieing parts. This will redirect the energy to the remaining branches and fruit creating a more productive and health plant. Three benefits of pruning are:
1. Improves the overall appearance and structure of the tree, keeping it from developing broad or weak branches. Trimming prevents limbs from growing with weak crotches, or eventually crossing each other and competing for space in the crown.
2. Trimming your tree(s) will increase sun exposure and air circulation throughout the tree and underlying landscape, which will improve the tree’s health. Just be sure to watch out for signs of sunscald, which often affects leafless deciduous trees in the winter time.
3. Pruning fruit trees can actually improve the size and quantity of the crop.

Much like our own lives.
We are like the seed.
For us to grow, we must first experience darkness, isolation, heat and pressure. Water activates the seed to begin to struggle and change form. Just as the living water causes us to struggle againist our flesh and emerge in a new form. (2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.)
Just as the sprout gets its head above the dirt it sees a whole new world. The world had not changed but the perspective of the seed has changed. Just as our perspective changes when we accept Christ and live a God centered life.


Covered in crap!
The seed will grow just fine without fertilizer. It will grow and may even produce fruit. But when manure is added the plant struggles once again absorbing the good nutrients from the manure and growing stronger because of it. When manure is added more water is needed or the plant will burn and die. When we are faced with trials in our life, when we are neck deep in crap, look for the nutrients. It is because of the trial, the crap of life that we grow strong.But only if we add extra helping of the living water to our lives. Anyone who knows my story can tell you, I have been neck deep in crap on more than one occasion. But it has made me stronger because of my faith in God and not of my own strength. If we donot add an extra helping of God the the crap of life will burn us out and we can die.
(James 1:2-8
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.)


Pruning the tree.
As the plant matures parts of it get damaged or grow outside of where it should. With to many branches they all suffer and compete for valuable resources. We can see this in our lives. For us our branches are things we spend our time on. One branch for family, one for friends, one for kids, church,job, house work, fishing, hiking, serving, tv, movies, the club, facebook, and the list goes on and on. Each branch in your life is also competing for a valueable resource, your time. If you try to do to much, all areas of your life will suffer. Sometimes we need to prune out the things that are not healthy for our tree. What in your life is stealing resources. If you redirect that energy, what kind of fruit could you produce?


Each one of us produces fruit in our live. Is yours good or bad, small or large? When we produce fruit, donot let it rot on the tree. You must give it to others or it has all been for not. Each fruit you give away is a blessing you give to your fellow man. And in each piece of fruit… there is a seed.


In the Pit.


When I was in the Marines I liked to fight. This was nothing new. I had been fighting my whole life. I think I was 8 or 9 when I got in my first fight. It was at the bus stop. There was a new kid, fat kid who liked to push people around because he was bigger than all of us. He was a year younger but bigger than all of us. He thought it was funny to be a bully and push us down or pin us against the wall. He never hit us, but push us around or hold us down.
Now our bus stop was in front of a small cafe called the weekender. In the morning you would have a half dozen loggers and truck drivers getting their morning coffee and bite to eat. It was a small town and I knew most of the adults in the cafe. And if I didnt know them, odds are they knew my parents.
I think it was the 3rd day of being bullied that I had had enough. I knew he wouldnt stop unless someone made him. And today that someone would be me. I was nervous, not scared like the other kids that day, but nervous because I knew I would have to fight. I had never been in a fight before so I didn’t know what to expect.
As usual the bully walked up to the bus stop, a small covered area in front of the cafe that had a picnic table with an old coffe can half filled with sand and half filled with cigarette butts. He began his usual  routine and when he got to me he could tell things had changed. I wasnt standing there with my backpack on and my head down like everyone else. My backpack was on the table and I was looking him dead in the eyes. He paused for a moment, considering his options I figured, then shoved me. It was harder than before. I lost my footing and took a step back. (I would later learn this is what is ment by being “caught flat footed”) As I steped back with my right foot, I sprung forward and caught him with a hard right.  Well hard for an 8 year old anyway. I can still hear the sound of my fist smashing into his face, like the sound a fresh steak makes when you drop it on a counter. I think I was just as surprised as he was about what just happened. The look on his face was shock, dismay, disbelief, but it was quickly turning to anger. I knew I only had a split second to figure out what to do next. Fight, run, apologize and try to talk my way out of it? I chose fight. I knew if I waited another second I would lose the initiative and he could quickly over power me. I swung again and again, pummeling the fat-so. Now I could hear the other kids joining in yelling and cheering on the fight. They had all waited for this day, to see the bully get what was coming to him. I had worked him back against the wall, window to the right and door to the left, and kept punching. As I punched he began to wale and cry. Blubbering and screaming for me to stop. But I didn’t.
By now several of the locals had filed outside the cafe to watch. Standing there with their cigarettes and coffee they watched the bully beatdown. At one point one of the loggers told me that was enough and I stopped. If he hadn’t said anything I think I would have kept swinging until my arms fell off.

I hadn’t been scared until this point, but now I worried about how much trouble I would be in. I could hear the sound of the bus arriving behind me mixed with the heavy sobs of “el gordo.” The bus doors swung open and the bus driver asked what had happened. Before any of us could say anything the men from the cafe stepped in and told her that “gordo” here had been bulling everyone at the bus stop for the last few days, and today that ended. She looked down at him, the sobbing bloddy mess of a kid and said, “well did you learn something today?” He nodded his head that he did, still wimpering and sobbing as he boarded the bus.

Nothing happened after that. I never got in any trouble, and fatboy never picked on us again.

Become a Fighter                                       This was my first fight, and I learned a valuable lesson. That when you are faced with a bully. You fight. I toppled several bullies during my time in school so when I joined the Marines I was ready to fight. My unit saw that I liked to fight and to teach me a “lesson” they sent me to Close Combat Instructors Course. “So I could get my ass kicked every day” the XO had put it.

My first day they threw us in the pit. They called it the house of pain. It was a pit 10 feet by 10 feet by 8 feet high. It was lined with sandbags and smelled like sweat and blood. The floor was sand and stired up and stained from the battled waged before. 1 at a time we would enter the pit with an instructor. They would be geared up and ready for a brawl. You would have to gear up in the pit with them looking over you. The rest of the class would be above looking down. Waiting for their turn. This would be a fight unlike any I had before. I could not run, there was nowhere to go. I could not hide, there was nowhere to hide. I had to fight. That first day I got beat up pretty bad. But I showed up the next day. Others did not. You had the option to quit at anytime and go back to your unit and as the days progressed our class dwindled. Every couple of days they would put us in the pit and this is what broke most people. After a while you knew the ones who werent going to make it. They were the ones who quit fighting in the pit. They would just cover up and take the hits without swinging back. Those are the guys who wouldn’t be back the next day.

The pit was dark and small and stunk like battle… and you were alone with the enemy. You couldnt tap out, you couldnt run. You had to fight.

Isn’t that what ptsd feels like?

In a pit, alone with an enemy to which there is no escape.
Are you going to quit? Check out early? Or will you fight!

Some days you find yourself in The Pit, and on theses days you cannot run, there is no retreat. You must fight or you will die.

-Sgt Q

“Living with ptsd is a daily battle. Some days you win, some days you lose, but every day… you fight!”

Social Pressure.

The last few days have been full of stress and anxiety for me. We released the Operation Restore Hope fundraising campaign video and it took off like a rocket. We had over 20k people see the post and over 8.8k view the video in just 4 days. It was also reposted on twitter multiple times. It was exciting to watch happen, but the excitement quickly wore off as it became apparent that no donations were coming in. There was a buzz about ORH, people were sharing and resharing, but somehow I had failed to deliver the message in a compelling way. I sat back and watched as the numbers grew but the donations remained at $0. I had failed. My conversion rate was 0%. Yes I reached people but if there wasnt any conversion then did I really make a difference? An audience of 8.8 thousand people but I couldnt convert 1 into a donor. Everything I had worked so hard on had a sum total of 0 results. How disheartening. I went back to the drawing board. I had questions, I needed answers.
What went wrong?
Was the message not clear?
Was it to confusing?
Is there someone better as a spokesman for ORH?
How do I retool this thing to get results?

I have no answers.

60 days to raise 12k…. and I have no idea how to do it. Im exausted, confused, frustrated.
Why is this so hard?
Couldn’t God have picked someone better equipped for this mission?
Why me? I dont know what I am doing.

Ugghh If you are looking for a happy ending you wont find it here, because I havent found it yet. I am still in the midst of the chaos. But I know God is faithful. Pastor Matt just preached about this. *There is money in the box, and its been there the whole time.* So I cant stay here, in this place of discontentment. I must move forward. Keep marching to the goal.

Here is a lesson I learned early in my “social media career” I realized it last night. “I cant get obsessed over twitter numbers, checkin ours then comparing them to others.” -Andy Mineo
Now I dont care how many followers I have or video views…. but what I was consumed by my conversion rate. I tied my self worth to the amount of donations I raised. But I am sure God does not weigh me by the same standard. It is Gods mission after all, and I am just a lowly NCO. Bound  by my service to the Lord. He wouldnt bring me this far to leave me now. So I have to sit and wait for the Lord’s provision. It will come. It always comes. God is never late.

I must remember when I speak, no matter the size of the audience, I am speaking to an audience of one.