Thursday, December 22, 2011


Having missed Halloween (which isn't that big a deal for me), Veteran's Day (again, not that big a deal), Thanksgiving and Ellie's second birthday (yep, these are some biggies), it's no surprise that I won't be home for Christmas (pretty HUGE holiday for my family). However, I'm happy to announce that I will be leaving tomorrow to begin making my way home for R&R.
Although it's going to take roughly a week for me to touch down in K-town, I'm pretty excited about the prospect of going home and seeing family and friends. Although I have a tendency to become impatient with the "hurry up and wait" mentality of the Army, it's going to be nice to not have to work this next week and then have 15 days to just focus on being a husband, father, son, brother and friend. It stinks that I won't be home to enjoy this time of year with many of you; however, I take comfort in knowing that it won't be much longer until I'm holding my baby girl and beautiful wife!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Baby Girl Turns 2

The song "I'd Do Anything (A Soldier's Lament)" by the John Butler Trio speaks EXACTLY to what I'm going through right now. Butler is singing from the point of view of a Soldier who's serving in Afghanistan, trying to keep himself together despite being in the throws of war and away from his most important possession, his family. There's even a verse where he says:

It's a little girl's birthday, and yes we are apart -
Ain't gonna make a big deal out of it, but it breaks my heart.

I bring this up because today is Ellie's second birthday. Right now, this day doesn't quite resonate with her the way it will when she's older. Nonetheless, it's a special day for her and I'm not there to help celebrate. I am very grateful for all the family and friends who are helping Leslie celebrate our baby girl's birthday; however, I still cannot shake the fact that I won't be not there. These are the times when it's difficult to accept the fact that I made the decision to go on this deployment. There is nothing in the world (aside from my relationship with Christ) more important than my family. I just hope and pray that this is the last time I miss any more of her special days.

I love you, EB!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

In The Bonds

In the Spring of my Junior Year at Maryville College, I pledged the Mu Chi chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon. Despite being in a national service Fraternity while at CNC (Alpha Phi Omega), I was in search of an organization at my new school that promoted both public service and brotherhood. I definitely got that when I pledged and became a Deke.
It's been almost 10 years since I graduated from college, and I am sorry to say that I've lost touch with many of my "brothers". However, shortly after arriving in East Paktika I found out that LT Patrick King, of the United States Navy, was more than just a co-worker and office mate. In 2005, Pat graduated from Virginia Tech, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha chapter of DKE!
These past few months have been somewhat tumultuous, but it's been much easier to bear with a fellow brother. Although we're from two different branches of military service, and frequently bash each other's chosen path, our relationship is eerily similar to those guys who I considered my family back in college. It's good to know that brotherhood can transcend stages of life.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Love Is The Road

As a kid, I probably had 10 different career ambitions. My mom likes to tell the story of when I told her I wanted to be a Cowboy when I grew up. Not a Dallas Cowboy, but an actual Cowboy. Not sure that's really an option any more; but, it didn't take long before I was on to something else, like baseball, football or (I'm embarrassed to say this now) politics.
While many of us might have a hidden ambition to do something on a grand scale, we easily get overwhelmed by the many obstacles that stand in our way. For some, it's the fear of failure, while for others it might be a lack of personal confidence. Either way, it's easy to dream about what could happen, but taking the initiative to make it happen is another matter.
Two of my very dear friends have just taken a very bold step and I'd like to tell you about it. Jason and Lena (Hood) Cox met in college at Belmont University. Both had a deep passion for music and both had dreams of launching a career in the music industry. Jason had been writing and performing songs on the Christian music scene for a number of years, and Lena released a solo EP a couple of years ago; however, they didn't feel like they were reaching their full potential.
Shortly after I returned from my tour in Iraq, Leslie and I started doing monthly double dates with the Cox's. Over many dinners and too many cups of coffee, Jason and Lena expressed a desire to start a country music duet called Ragdoll. Anyone in the industry will tell you that breaking onto the country music scene is a huge risk because it takes a lot of money, time, energy, networking, money, meetings, begging, borrowing, (did I mention money?) to record and promote an album.
After countless hours of writing and recording, Jason and Lena are proud to announce the release of their first album "Love Is The Road" on Tuesday, December 6th.
I don't want you to think that I'm writing this to help promote their work and encourage you to buy their album, which is being sold on iTunes, Amazon and other digital outlets. (Okay, that's part of the reason I'm writing this!) Rather, my main intent is to highlight their willingness to take some serious risks to pursue a lifelong passion. I admire their courage, ambition and desire to share their songs with the world. Moreover, despite going into the secular music industry, you will undoubtedly notice their undying devotion to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you are in to music from the heart and soul, you won't be disappointed with their album. It's got some great upbeat songs about being a Southerner (which many of your reading this are Hillbillies!), as well as some sweet love songs that will make you long for the warm embrace of your significant other.
I hope everyone will at least take the time to visit their website, or watch their first video "Rainshine" (a personal favorite of mine) on YouTube, and give them some positive words of encouragement as they begin this awesome journey. Jason and Lena, I love you guys and am so proud of this step you have taken. I look forward to many more two-steps and trifectas when I get home!