You Are What You Do

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Copyright © 1991, 2003 by Robert Alton Haines Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Upon the death of the 17th century French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, some friends found papers he had written and subsequently had them published with the title, Pensees, which is translated, “Thoughts”.
Many thoughts have entered my mind over the past years since serving God and Country in the barren desert of Northern Saudi Arabia and camped outside Kuwait City following its liberation. I focus here on some of these thoughts that might be helpful to you as you think in spiritual terms concerning your future.

What is life all about? When one is preparing to go into combat, he or she sometimes think such thoughts as that one. For me, as a chaplain, I cling to an old favorite spiritual I learned as a youngster: “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain.” It is not only who we are that counts, but what we do. That was never more true than during my time spent participating in Operation Desert Storm.
The dominant spiritual principle, or lesson, I want to point out is that it is no so much our status in life that is really important, but what we do in our life that has lasting value. I will share that lesson with you last.

First, in order to do something, you must have the time to do it.  To illustrate the fact that we have time to do what we really want to do, here is a prayer by Michel Quoist in his book, Prayers. It is entitled: “LORD I HAVE TIME”.

“There is always time to do what God wants us to do, but we must put ourselves completely into each moment that He offers us.
`Be most careful then how you conduct yourselves: like sensible men, not like simpletons. Use the present opportunity to the full, for these are evil days. So do not be fools, buy try to understand what the will of the Lord is.’
[Ephesians 5:15-17]

I went out Lord.
Men were coming and going,
Walking and running.

Everything was rushing: cars, trucks, the street, the whole town.
Men were rushing not to waste time.
They were rushing after time,
To catch up with time,
To gain time.

Good-bye, Sir, excuse me, I haven’t time.
I’ll come back, I Can’t wait, I haven’t time.
I must end this letter – I haven’t time.
I’d love to help you, but I haven’t time.
I can’t accept, having no time.
I can’t think, I can’t read, I’m swamped, I haven’t time.
I’d like to pray, but I haven’t time.

You understand, Lord, they simply haven’t the time.
The child is playing, he hasn’t time right now…Later on…
The schoolboy has his homework to do, he hasn’t time…Later on…
The student has his courses, and so much work…Later on…
The young man is at his sports, he hasn’t time…Later on…
The young married man has his new house; he has to fix it up. He hasn’t time…later on…
The grandparents have their grandchildren. They haven’t time…Later on…
They are ill, they have their treatments, they haven’t time…Later on…
They are dying, they have no…
Too late!…They have no more time!

And so all men run after time, Lord.
They pass through life running – hurried, jostled, overburdened,
frantic, and they never get there. They haven’t time.
In spite of all their efforts they’re still short of time.

Of a great deal of time.
Lord, you must have made a mistake in your calculations.
There is a big mistake somewhere.
The hours are too short,
The days are too short,
Our lives are too short.

You who are beyond time, Lord, you smile to see us fighting it.
And you know what you are doing.
You make no mistakes in your distribution of time to men.
You give each one time to do what you want him to do.
But we must not lose time
waste time,
kill time,
For time is a gift that you give us,
But a perishable gift,
A gift that does not keep.

Lord, I have time,
I have plenty of time,
All the time that you give me,
The years of my life,
The days of my years,
The hours of my days,
They are all mine.
Mine to fill, quietly, calmly,
But to fill completely, up to the brim,
To offer them to you, that, of their insipid water,
You may make a rich wine such as you made once in Cana
of Galilee.

I am not asking you tonight, Lord, for time to do this and then
But your grace to do conscientiously, in the time that you give
me, what you want me to do.”

Life is short. The Old Testament says that life is like a flower which blossoms but soon withers and dies. It also refers to life as like the morning dew which very soon goes away. Use your time wisely. What will you do with your time left?

On July 15th, 1990, I left my assignment at the Naval Air Facility in Washington D.C. for new assignment in Okinawa, Japan. At that time I had no idea of what my future would hold. (Those who trust God’s leadership rarely know their future outlook. They do, however, know the One that holds their futures). I departed for a 30 day leave of vacation time to spend with my family and getting them situated before I left.

On August 2 of that year, while I was still on vacation, Iraq invaded Kuwait. I still had no idea of my future. I certainly did not believe I would go to Saudi Arabia, since the mission of my new unit was to take care of the Pacific theater, including Korea and the Philippine Islands. Yet, in January of 1991, I was, in fact, called to go. I spent 2 ½ months in the desert, just prior to, during, and after the ground assault of Operation Desert Storm.
I learned – or was reminded of – many lessons. One of those was not to be afraid of the truth and reality that life is, indeed, short and thus, to take a second look at the time I have left and to use the time for God’s glory and others. “If I can help somebody as I move along, then my living shall not be in vain.”

What is reality? DEATH! That is the truth. Someone once said, “One never learns to really live until he faces the fact of his own death.” I don’t mean to sound grotesque or to dampen your joy of life, but I want to encourage you to think about your future in terms of the reality of death.

Within the next 10 years, some of you most likely will die. Shortly after my first tour of duty in the military as an enlisted man, I was in Community College and serving as a youth director in my small hometown church. One of my youth members was a young lady I had known since she was a small child. She was a talented and well-liked senior in high school. Unexpectedly and tragically, she died in an automobile accident shortly before graduation while she was out with friends, possibly celebrating her upcoming graduation. Her dreams of a grand and glorious future ceased that night.
I encourage you to live life in all it’s fullness, each day as if your last. Resolve to use it to its fullest. Make up your mind that you can do anything you set out to do if you use time wisely. You can solve any problem and do anything IF you are willing to take the necessary time.

We know we have time to do what we want to do. We simply have to take the necessary time. Dr. M. Scott Peck, in his well known book, The Road Less Traveled, (pp 27-28), illustrates this point well. He writes:

“At the age of thirty-seven I learned how to fix things. Prior to that almost all my attempts to make minor plumbing repairs, mend toys or assemble boxed furniture according to the accompanying hieroglyphical instruction sheet ended in confusion, failure and frustration. Despite having managed to make it through medical school and support a family as a more or less successful executive and psychiatrist, I considered myself to be a mechanical idiot. I was convinced I was deficient in some gene, or by curse of nature lacking some mystical quality responsible for mechanical ability. Then one day at the end of my thirty-seventh year, while taking a spring Sunday walk, I happened upon a neighbor in the process of repairing a lawn mower. After greeting him I remarked, `Boy, I sure admire you. I’ve never been able to fix those kind of things or do anything like that.’ My neighbor, without a moment’s hesitation, shot back, `That’s because you don’t take the time.’ I resumed my walk, somehow disquieted by the gurulike simplicity, spontaneity and definitiveness of his response. `You don’t suppose he could be right, do you?’ I asked myself. Somehow it registered, and the next time the opportunity presented itself to make a minor repair I was able to remind myself to take my time. The parking brake was stuck on a patient’s car, and she knew that there was something one could do under the dashboard to release it, but she didn’t know what. I lay down on the floor below the front seat of her car. Then I took the time to make myself comfortable. Once I was comfortable, I then took the time to look at the situation. I looked for several minutes. At first all I saw was a confusing jumble of wires and tubes and rods, whose meaning I did not know. But gradually, in no hurry, I was able to focus my sight on the brake apparatus and trace its course. And then it became clear to me that there was a little latch preventing the brake from being released. I slowly studied this latch until it became clear to me that if I were to push it upward with the tip of my finger it would move easily and would release the brake. And so I did this. One single motion, one ounce of pressure from a fingertip, and the problem was solved. I was a master mechanic!
Actually, I don’t begin to have the knowledge or the time to gain the knowledge to be able to fix most mechanical failures, given the fact that I choose to concentrate time on nonmechanical matters. So I still usually go running to the nearest repairman. But I now know that this is a choice I make, and I am not cursed or genetically defective or otherwise incapacitated or impotent. And I know that I and anyone else who is not mentally defective can solve any problem if we are willing to take the time.
The issue is important, because many people simply do not take the time necessary to solve many of life’s intellectual, social or spiritual problems . . .

The Point is, you and I can do almost anything we want to do, including, serving God & humanity IF we choose to take the time.

Now for the second lesson I alluded to before: It is not my status, social or professional success in life that is really important. The Jesus said that his followers were the “light of the world.” Being light means that it is more important to provide ministry as the light than to be some one based on status or position. Some excerpts from John Claypool’s, The Preaching Event (pp 68ff) says it better than I. He writes:

“I can still recall going to state and national conventions . . . and coming home feeling drained and unclean, because most of the conversation in the hotel rooms and the halls was characterized either by envy of those who were doing well or scarcely concealed delight for those who were doing poorly. For did that not mean that someone was about to fall, and would thus create an opening higher up the ladder?
. . . Do you have any idea how much energy it takes always to have to succeed and come out number one? I was also beginning to sense how lonely and isolated this way of living leaves one. How can you really relate openly and warmly to persons when you realize that at a deeper level you are competing with them and trying to outdo them? . . . There has got to be a better way to live than this. There has got to be a more authentic form of well-being than this relentless need to compete and out-achieve . . .
. . . [a speaker who was the personnel manager of a national firm remarked that]…the first thing he tried to determine about a new employee was whether that individual was intent on `being something’ or on `doing something.’ . . .
. . . I thought of the times I had gone to speak at a…meeting and had sat down after my talk thinking, on one level, `I hope I did what the people who invited me wanted.’ But at a deeper lever I would be asking, `I wonder if they were impressed. Perhaps there is someone here with influence who will remember the name of this young comer, and tonight will be a stepping stone up the ladder of success.’
I remembered the times that I had not really been able to reach out and identify with another’s need because my own need to be approved was so overwhelming…
. . . one morning, with all the courage that I could muster, I did something that I had never done before. I took off my mask . . .
. . . We need to hear the gospel down in our guts. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, `You are the light of the world.’ He does not say, `You have got to be number one in order to get light,’ or `You must out-achieve everybody else in order to earn light.’ He says simply, `You are light.’ . . .
. . . the truth was – I did have worth in me from the beginning. And it was worth that resulted not from what I had to make of myself, but rather from what God had made of me . . .
. . . the secret of life is not getting something outside inside by achieving and competing. It is, rather, getting what is already inside outside by acceptance and self-giving . . .
. . . I experienced transformation at a level of doing . . . that sharing out of the fullness that was already in me by the grace of creation was far more redemptive than needing to get something from people through competition . . . By the grace of God, I am what I am and do what I do! . . . ”
Your status and position in life will not ultimately give you real meaning or value. In God’s eyes, you are not what you are by status and position. You are what you do. It is what you do for others that really counts.

Go out into the world & do two things in the time you have on earth:

(1) Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and soul and mind;

(2) Love your neighbor as yourself. The word, Love is an action verb. How do you love?

I will conclude with the following story: A man, with a bird in his hand said to the wise man, “Is this bird dead or alive?” The wise man knew if he said “dead,” the man could let the bird go proving it to be alive. If he said, “alive,” the man could squeeze the bird to death and thus prove it to be dead. The wise man then said, “the answer is in your hand.” The bird in the story is the symbol of your life and the spirit of humanity. You can kill it or keep it alive. God bless you as your live for Him and for others.

(This message, edited, was delivered as baccalaureate addresses in 1991 at Umatilla High School, Umatilla, Florida and in 1993 at Paxton High School in Jacksonville, Florida)

Motorcycle Riding, Facing the Danger

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I wrote the following Facebook post on March 11, 2016 on my way through Jacksonville returning from a road trip to Maine in my recently purchased Miata and after my bike accident in December (2015) the previous year. I had not yet purchased my current bike and didn’t know at that time whether I would ever ride again.

I have been a biker/motorcycle rider in one way or another for about 50 years, starting out with a Bridgestone 90cc, working up thru a series of Hondas and Zuzukis to Harleys. As required for motorcycle riders on base, I went to biker training in the mid 1980s and always considered myself a careful defensive and watchful rider
I was careful not to be critical of either bikers or automobile motorists. Well maybe rice rocketeers LOL. There were times riding in groups when i would lag behind because of what I considered over zealous front runners and some in the group in too big of a hurry. And, reading and hearing of accidents I saw both motorists and bikers at fault.

I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday driving down I-95 from SC to south of Jacksonville, especially as traffic was crowded from north Jax down to about St Augustine. Biker groups speeding down the highway some seemingly in a hurry to reach Daytona making dangerous maneuvers in and out, changing lanes, some following dangerously close to semi trucks. In one instance I was in the center lane about 70 mph when a group passed, one biker came within a foot of my left side straddling the line. They moved up to within less than 10 yards behind a truck and obviously would have been a massive accident if the truck had braked. Don’t ever believe that motorcycle accidents are always the fault of others.

I miss riding and may never ride again, but if my doctor gives the ok, I will, but will definitely steer clear of the maniacs who give us a bad name after the bike accident in December the prior year.

Update, March 2020

As my friends know, Several months later (after the story above), I finally felt I was physically able to ride again and bought another Harley. Very nervous about riding after such a long time, I met the seller at my credit union as he was a member also. I transferred the money to his account, he signed the title and it was mine. I spent several minutes riding the bike around the parking lot before heading home on the back roads. I still didn’t feel as comfortable as I should for the next week but it was a joy to be riding again.

A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from the daughter of a retired Navy man who died asking me to perform his memorial service. He was a the husband of one of my cousins who had died a few years earlier. He had requested me to do his service not only because we were friends but because my father had performed his wedding ceremony when he married my cousin so many years ago.. The service was to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

To say the least this presented a problem. Should I fly, which at this stage of my life I don’t do as I detest the small aircraft cabins as well as the hassle of going through the in-processing at the airport. Thus I was prepared to drive the Miata and looking forward to the trip as I was due for a nice drive and I had not been to NM in years and was also looking forward to visiting the family members.
Then, I thought, maybe I should ride the bike. Yes it would be a long trip but it had been a while since a bike trip and I really wanted to do it. I decided to sleep on the idea and make a decision.

The next day I called and said I would ride the motorcycle and that they should have a back-up plan in case I didn’t make it. I spent the day getting ready for the ride. The next morning I left early in the morning and rode all the way to Memphis that day. It tood me 3.5 days to make the ride and I felt great. After spending a few days there, I rode to South Carolina to spend the weekend relaxing before heading back home to Florida. It was a wonderful trip and the beginning of the joy of riding again.

The following year I had a severe back infection and spent over a month in the hospital, almost checking out of this ole world. Once again I faced the prospect of not riding again, but with determination I got back on the bike. Now as I get older and my legs are no longer as strong I’m even more mindful of the danger of riding so I most likely will never take any more real long rides but as long as I can manage will ride as often as possible.


I see a short trip back up to the NC/TN area again soon. We’ll see. In the meantime daily short trips are a necessity.

Free At Last

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My Free-At-Last Story.

Being the cantankerous curmudgeon that I am, I’ve had several of those free at last moments and they never seemed to work out exactly as planned.

First there was high school graduation Yippee! Oops, get a job. So join the Air Force. Oh it was a great ride — 3 overseas and 4 great state side assignments. But follow orders. Then discharged. Free at last! And I’m my own boss. Right? Ha.

Read read read, write write write, and then that last paper, that last final exam. 8 long years and done. Free at last.

Ah, 2 years of working for the people and back in the service, the Navy and huge pay raise. Travel the world again, numerous assignments. Follow orders. Retire. Free at last!

Oops, kids still in school and starting college. Gget a job. Teach school Always someone to answer to.

Retire again and finally, finally, free at last free at last! Ride the Harley, see the unknown countryside. Freedom.

Oops, 1 doctor, 2 doctor, 3 doctor, 4.. Hmmm

Then tell them Facebook friends, my way, your way, this way, that way, da highway.

ONE DAY AT A TIME.. Ahh so that’s it! Free at last free at last!  Thank God Almighty I’m Free At Last!

do i have to put on airs?

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Do I Have To Put On Airs?

as i was posting and commenting on facebook, i was reminded of an anecdote a grad school professor once gave about him visiting in the home of a couple. he said that he was afraid to touch anything. his host was so very proper, well dressed, everything was so ordered and there were several antiques. well, i can’t recall all the particulars of the story, only that the prof was afraid to let his hair down, so to speak, and that he felt like a stuffed animal.

wondering what it would be like if it had been me in the professor’s stead. well, i’ve been there too and didn’t like it. the ice was broken one night when in Okinawa my CO, a very dignified colonel, invited me along with some other officers over for Thanksgiving dinner. oh man, i showed up too early. got to the door, his wife said he was running an errand and in a jovial manner proceeded to kiss my balding head, grabbed me by the arm and put me to work.

to say i was nervous was an understatement but, long story short, it turned out to be a fun evening with all enjoying the feast and relaxing atmosphere. here was my CO, a no nonsense hard corps Marine officer who expected the best out of his staff in a laid back manner philosophy of work hard, play hard.

oh yes i’ve been in the presence of very high ranking officers and dignified civilian dignitaries in some very uppity functions and i can say for sure that some of them went home wondering who the heck that guy was, while others went home disarmed of their stiffness by yours truly.
well now i can pretty much size up a person and i tell you that if invited to some folks homes at this stage of life, it would be thanks but no thanks. and if i were invited to a full dress formal affair, well i might attend but i wouldn’t hesitate to lean back and get comfy on the couch and pull out my phone for a selfie with the VIP host in the background or whatever to record the affair in all its glory.

here’s to a well earned retirement where this old man can snob his nose and say, thanks but no thanks.

~ Fawkham Hall.

© Feb. 2018 Bob Haines

Thank You

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Thank You for reading this. I hope it’s meaningful.

I was not reared up as a thank-you person. In other words we didn’t say it on a routine basis as a habit growing up. I don’t remember it being said in our home, in my grandparent’s home nor the homes of my relatives. I don’t know why. We just did what we did and everyone went about their business as usual and expected others to do the same.

Nowadays I hear a lot of thank yous. When I’m wearing my veteran hat, as I usually do, I get folks thanking me for my service and sometimes they come up to me and shake my hand. In the military service itself, both active and reserves, it has become a custom to thank the troops at the end of their tours of duty, often via letters of appreciation. When military people retire, they are afforded a retirement ceremony in honor of their service.

I think it’s good to thank people for things – for jobs well done, for doing a good turn, and simply for being a friend. I’m not sure that it should become a constant thing where it’s overdone so as to lose its heartfelt meaning but I do think it’s important to verbalize one’s appreciation for others. Sometimes it’s not done enough, especially when we recognize that someone has done so much for so many and hasn’t been recognized for doing so.

Every year during the Thanksgiving season we are reminded of the art of being thankful. There are some instances in the scriptures concerning a lifestyle of being thankful, notably the time when Jesus ministered to 10 sick people but only one returned to to thank Him. (Luke 17:11 – 19). I supposed the others just took it for granted.

My life has become much more meaningful since I’ve learned and practiced being thankful for others, especially those who are just doing their job. After a funeral last week we were at the interment ceremony at the cemetery where full military honors were performed. There were seven very young enlistment men and two NCOs who drove all the way down from Ft. Stewart, Georgia in a crowded van to do the honors. I made it a point afterwards to walk over the the van, shake the hand of the two NCOs and thank them. The others were already in the van so I opened the door and said, “I know that some people feel that they are just doing a job, just doing their duty, but I want you to know that what you did today was very important and that the family and friends of the deceased are highly appreciative of who you are and what you did for their loved one today.” I thanked them and wished them well on their trip back.

Brighten someone’s life today by thanking them, for who they are and what they do.

Military Awards & Decorations

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I don’t mean any ill will against patriotic young people, or to be negatively critical, but didjaever see one of today’s Jr. ROTC members, a high school student who is enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps — in a dress uniform?

Merit badges for young scouts are good, but getting a ribbon, for example, for attaining a grade of “B” or better in a particular class, be in good academic standing, actively participate in cadet corps activities, and participate in at least 50% of all unit service programs. (awarded once per year.). That’s it. Participate, do well, and here’s your ribbon.

Where’s my ribbon for surviving 2019? I need to add it to all the other yearly ribbons I’ve won for getting through the years without a major heart attack, and those for practicing enough safety to undergo the number of long motorcycle rides without incident except for the time I totaled one bike.

Now for active duty folks. The military will give you a medal nowadays if you’re breathing and show up for work on time. Geez, if you finished boot camp you get a ribbon. Whoopie! You did something that everyone else did.


It’s all well and good i guess for those who received team sports trophies for participation and graduated kindergarten complete with cap and gown. But it seems to me that awards and decorations have just gotten completely out of hand so the ones you really earned above and beyond the call of duty have little place beside those worn for serving a tour of duty overseas and does the same job as one who is stateside but gets no ribbon.

I never could figure out why i got a good conduct medal. I guess it means i didn’t get caught.

I served a couple of enlistments in the Air Force, 3X overseas including Vietnam, for a total of 7 years, 3 months, and 10 days. For my first assignment in a very remote area working rotating shifts for 15 months without a leave (vacation) I received nothing, not even a promotion, although the unit did get an outstanding unit award. Nowadays, most all units receive some type of unit award just for accomplishing their missions and members of the unit get either an achievement medal, commendation medal, or meritorious service medal depending on their rank. and, as all those who served in Southeast Asia, got the participation service medals.

I went back into the service, in the Navy, and managed to retire. Unlike many fellow officers who received a number of merit type medals, some at every assignment they served and reading their citation, sounds like they just did their job as expected. Allow me to let you on a little secret. I know some of those men who wrote themselves up for the medal, being the senior officer in their office, or had a friend do the write up, and in some cases the XO processed the write up simply because it was expected. In some cases it is expected that unless the officer fell on his own sword he got an end-of-tour award, usually a Commendation Medal or Meritorious Service Medal, depending on one’s rank. I know that in some commands today, someone is appointed to choose medal recipients and to write them up for the awards.

I did receive an Air Force Commendation medal for service in Vietnam. I was what was then referred to as a REMF, a rear echelon guy serving in a relatively safe zone working in an office doing intelligence work. There’s no doubt that the work I did was extremely important and probably saved lives, but it was nothing more special IMO than anyone else doing their assigned work. I noticed that it seemed to be for the Air Force REMFs of the Vietnam War, at least in my command, that for the rank of E-5 and below, one generally received a commendation medal and for those who were E-6 and above, a Bronze Star and they were automatically given at the end of one’s tour or at a commander’s call after they returned home. No heroics involved, just a job well done.

I served a number of different assignments while in the Navy, both in the Navy and with Marine Corps units. Reputation was a key factor in promotion in my profession, and other things in one’s career (getting one’s career ticket punched). I never had a great reputation. I was too radical in some ways, spoke my mind when I probably shouldn’t have, went outside the chain of command with suggestions and ideas, and in general never played the “game”, so to speak.

Just to relate one incident that will give you a better idea of dear ole Bob, at the end of one 2-year stateside tour of duty, I know I was being written up for an end-of-tour medal by the XO at about the same time a new CO was being assigned and a change of command ceremony rehearsal, which the XO was in charge of producing, was scheduled. I had had a super relationship to the old CO and had already established a good relationship with the new CO. The last week, I was in the process of cleaning out my office for a reassignment and told the XO that I would miss the rehearsal but I had done enough of them that I knew the procedure. I had never really gone through the XO much during that assignment, always going directly to the CO for various reasons concerning issues when they needed command attention. That was the second XO that I didn’t get along with well. In short, because I missed the rehearsal, he never forwarded my medal write-up, which suited me just fine. I didn’t need his or the command,s official rewarding compliments on my job. People who really knew me and my work knew my worth and accomplishments and that’s all that mattered to me.  (Thankfully, medals were not important in my particular field as to promotion boards).

I had had a couple TAD (temporary duty) assignments, including a deployment with deployed Marines unit to the Mediterranean and to the 2d Marine Division during Operation Desert Storm. Both of these assignments were very strenuous and demanding. Both times I left the units following their activities they were involved in and back to my permanent unit without even thinking of receiving any type of medal. I could have taken the time to recommend myself or have a senior officer, or even the command sergeant major with whom I had a cordial and working relationship, recommend me for a medal knowing full well that they would have been approved. Just not my thing and besides, at the times I never even thought about it.

So now I’m a veteran and member of various Facebook veteran groups. What I’m seeing now is some of the old farts who served back in the 1950s and 1960s are an entirely different breed from the guys who served in the late 1970s after the Vietnam War, and later, including Desert Storm and later Middle Eastern tours of duty of the 1990a and 2000s, who received so many ribbons on their chest they walk stooped over and since some of the new stuff is retroactive some veterans are busy having their records changed so they can get the stuff they weren’t awarded but are now qualified for. Then, there’s the “special” medals and participation certificates they are now eligible for by having “been there, done that.” It’s quite interesting watching the discussions on some issues, the difference of opinions between the old and the newer guys.

(Pet peeve, I never figured out why there no ground medals given to compensate for those serving on the ground while their peers received all those air medals for doing the same job but in a different environment).

I don’t understand it. Why not be satisfied with what you did and what you got when you did it and got it? And BTW, you know how to tell a real combat troop and hero? They never talk about it.

© Feb. 2018. Bob Haines

Christian Protestant Worship Services

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On general Protestant* worship services
I’ve been around the block a few times so I am aware of, have attended, and have even led several styles of Christian worship-ritualistic services. The services generally have been derived from two basic groups, free-thinking and authoritarian. The free-thinking are at liberty to put on whatever type they chose and are flexible. The authoritarian are usually pre-set at the behest of some given authority and generally will be the same from place to place although some minor alterations may be allowed. The latter class can be and traditionally have been referred to as liturgical because they follow a set program of liturgy containing a set pattern of leader-community response order of worship. The free-thinking class has been customarily referred to as non-liturgical because changes occur frequently in the order of service but are in fact liturgical in the normal sense of the word. A more exhaustive analysis can be made but you get the idea.

Here is a list of general types of worship services knowing that there are mixtures:
1. High Church, strict liturgy. It is the same basic format on any given Sunday in any area of the particular church where it is an institutionalized. It will normally contain a brief sermon pre-published by the church institution by which the priest or pastor uses as the standard for the week. The scripture has been pre-selected with some commentary and the priest or pastor may add some remarks, anecdotes, etc. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ accompaniment, with choir.
2. General liturgical. The same as #1, with the pre-set scriptures as per a particular denomination or sect or as used by a number of churches. The sermon may or may not follow the scripture text but will be more or less a topical sermon depending on a pre-set theme of the week of the season. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ and/or a piano as accompaniment, maybe an extra instrument and a choir.
3. Independent liturgical. A set order of worship, the same each Sunday but the pastor chooses his own selection of scripture and sermon topic. Traditional hymn with perhaps a more modern non-tradition song, an organ and/or piano and maybe a small orchestra.
4. Modern, non-traditional service with no printed order or worship. However it is usually the same every week as to the order beginning with praise songs and modern Christian songs with a traditional hymn or two with a piano and/or an orchestra or praise band. All music is non-traditional with a small contingent of voices without choir robes. You will not see many suits and ties if at all. It is very casual and members are free to move about, may check their cell phone messages, shoot pix or videos and even carry own individual conversations.
5. Strictly non-traditional. These are the Pentecostalists and free non-Pentecostalists but with an highly emotional tone, referred to by some as holy-rollers. No set responsorials but congregation members can respond as they see fit at any time with shouts of amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord and sometimes dancing about. The preacher will preach his sermon with fervor, There may be some traditional hymns but mostly choruses and modern praise type songs. The services will be the same each week however as the congregation will be in worship mode as usual. An extended invitational period and/or altar call will end the service, sometimes with the laying on of hands and praying with individuals by the elders. Some churches will have a period of anointing with oil for the healing of the sick and the repentance of the broken hearted. Sometimes the term, revival, is used as the members are revived each week with renewed spiritual energy.
6. Military, hospital, prison, and other institutional services may include one or more of the above depending on the chaplain(s) employed to lead the services. In most cases they are shorter and more subdued depending on the institution.
7. Services for INFPs. The service I fit in and prefer. I’ll let you known when I find one.

(*non-Roman Catholic, Greek & Eastern Orthodox, etc)

© 2018. Chaplain Bob Haines

A Coffee Drinker

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Although I am positive, but I must have drank it earlier because my mother drank it and my grandpa and uncle Alfred drank it — every morning, slurp slurp, whereas, my first vivid memory of have a cup of coffee was on the morning of March 15, 1960. It was in the coffee shop of the Alachua General Hospital — the day my world changed, the day my father was killed in a tragic accident.

On that memorable morning I was walking across my front lawn from the house headed toward the school bus stop when my father yelled out the door asking me if I wanted a ride as it was a slight chilly morning and I think a little misty. Of course not. I’d walk on.***
After the 15-mile bus ride to school, I was still in my homeroom, B-4, when an announcement came over the intercom instructing me to go to the office. I don’t remember my first thought on hearing that announcement but the feeling I recall, naturally, was hmmm, wondering why. Well, I got to the office and our assistant principal, Mr. Joe Hudson told me that there had been an accident and he drove me to the hospital. I was greeted by someone who informed me that my father was DOA (dead on arrival). Can you imagine a grown adult informing a 15-year old boy that his father was DOA. And then that person left and I was just there.
After a while a young man, but older than me, the ambulance driver who had brought my father in from the accident site to the hospital, invited me down to the coffee shop and bought me a cup of coffee. What I’ll always remember is not the coffee so much, but the act of kindness by someone who took the time to minister to me in a time of need. Everyone else was all about the business of the day. I have an idea of who the guy was, not sure, but he had an instinct about grief at a time before the current understanding of the process.

From then on I was a coffee drinker. I don’t have clear memories of the rest of my school days as to coffee but I know I drank it often. Nevertheless my next vivid memory of enjoying a cup of coffee was the early morning, before sunrise, when I arrived in the mess hall at Lackland Air Force Base along with other Air Force enlistees beginning basic training. I remember well walking up to the large coffee urn and getting a large cup of coffee in that old ceramic somewhat rounded coffee cup. I was the shift coffee maker in my first overseas assignments and we always had coffee pots in all the areas I worked in all my units. On road trips I always stopped for coffee and drank my fill on aircraft flights.

After leaving the military and beginning college my first act after my first class was to head to the campus cafeteria for a cup of coffee which I’m sure I did at least once per day throughout my 8 years of college and graduate school. I drank a lot of coffee on those all-night cramming sessions studying for a mid-term or final exam.

I continued to drink coffee after I went into the Navy and served about one-half of the remainder of my career with the Marine Corps, enjoying a cup around a fire during a field exercise. There was always coffee somewhere except on one flight hop on my way to Operation Desert Storm when there was no coffee on board. That was my first experience of withdrawal symptoms, a terrible headache until we stopped for re-fueling in India and I hurried to the terminal for a couple of quick cups. Then my first days in the desert when I collected instant coffee packets from the MRE packages from those who didn’t drink coffee until my family sent me a stove top aluminum 4-cup coffee maker and pounds of Maxwell house coffee. The only other “real” cup of coffee was offered by a company gunnery sergeant who had a drip maker in his LAV and could make it by firing up the generator.

Somewhere along the line through my years of retirement I have broken the caffeine addiction, per se, so that now I drink one, two or sometimes three cups daily. Such a delight when coffee time comes around.

***What is striking about this brief few seconds in time is the adamant fact that one moment in you daily life, one small decision, whether with much thought or just a reaction of something, can have a dramatic affect on your entire life and personality and change you for the rest of your life in all aspects of your future direction, decision-making, etc. Just one second, and the every second of the rest of your life may have a totally different fate and outcome.

© 2020, Bob Haines

Strike Out, Walk, or a hit

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(I first wrote this Sept. 11, 2016 when I was trying to decide whether or not to ride my new motorcycle to New Mexico to conduct a funeral not long after spending over a month in the hospital with a severe infection and almost a year after a motorcycle accident.  As it turned out I did ride it and everything went well.  Sometime you just have to take a chance to get back on your feet after being down and almost out).


“Life is like being up to bat in a baseball game. You never know what kind of pitch you’re going to get.”
~ Bob (Forrest Gump) Haines

True enough, I was up to bat Friday. All sorts of things were going through my mind concerning taking my first motorcycle trip since my 40-day hospitalization last year. I was working on making a short run up into the Carolinas for a few days and maybe a revisit up into New England. I needed to get my new 12V hot spot wired which I did and then a major bike wash. Then, of course pack up and hit the road.

Well, rather then getting the pitch I wanted, such as a fast pitch down the middle, or maybe even a walk which might have been better, I got a weird breaking curve winding up a little high but got the corner of the plate. I took the strike. The next one was an old-fashioned knuckle ball, also managing to hit the strike zone. “Man, I thought, I’m rustier than I thought.” I concentrated and sure enough, right down the middle, but I only managed to get on first base but I got there.

So, what happened was I got a phone call asking if I would do a funeral and grave-side service for my cousin’s husband, a retired Navy man who had just died. I knew it could happen anytime, but it seems always to come when least expecting, and sometimes brings with it a host of unforseen phenomena. The person making the phone call said that they had gotten on my cousin’s computer and found his obit and that I should do the funeral if available. Well, I thought, since my father performed their marriage ceremony, perhaps I should do the funeral. But, man I am so not prepared for this.

Well, the next guy got a walk, so i trotted on down the second base. I got the bike washed yesterday, so hot and humid, and got my GPS mounted. Had let myself run out of cigars so spent the day wanting one and finally gave in last night. Hey an old man needs a stress reliever even if it’s bad for the ole bod.

Hanging out on second base, I’m going to run into McDonalds for a second cup of coffee and chat with whoever shows up. Then, head back home and finish plans for the trip, and then pack u p this afternoon.

So, then, I’ll be ready to head to third base, Albuquerque, NM, for the funeral and burial in the national cemetery for a retired Navy CPO and one of the greatest guys who ever lived. Third base looks so far away, but I can make it if I don’t have to run too fast. Hoping for a nice carefree trip, and then visiting friends on the way back home with a detour through northern Georgia and down through the Carolinas and then I’ll get to home and score one for the gipper.

So fellow players, spit a little tobacco juice, or whatever superstitious method you use to wish me luck. Otherwise a prayer or two will work.

© copyright 2015, 2019 Chaplain Bob Haines

Providers, Dependents, & Bouncers

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Historically speaking, females were dependent on males, their providers. That’s just the way it was, and still is in some parts of the globe. In more progressive societies females have overcome and many now consider themselves equal to males and have also become providers, equal among men. With that said, there are some females, for whatever reason either cannot or will not pull their weight and thus are totally, or almost so, completely dependent upon males for their welfare. For some, it is a chosen way, but for others it is, again for whatever reason, an impossibile task.
Nowadays, the role has been reversed in some, and in fact many instances. For whatever reason(s), there are males who either choose to be dependent upon females, or they must because they cannot make it on their on. This is not to say that it is necessarily wrong or, religiously speaking, sinful. Some are, yes, bums. Others are good men and they may work hard, but there seems to be maybe some flaw within that causes them to fail, or if not totally fail, to fall short of being a provider. It’s just how it is. Not a problem usually, but it can become a huge obstacle in relationships.
Of course, the ideal is for both male and female to pull their equal weight as that is today’s status quo.  It doesn’t matter who makes the most money, or who works more hours. What matters is they both do their parts in providing for the welfare of themselves, their partners, and their families, if they have children.  (This is not to imply that a stay-at-home wife or mother is not pulling her own weight).
Now, for my point. If for some reason, either a female or male is the dependent type, there should be no cover up. He or she must recognize that they are the dependent one and admit it. Otherwise any relationship with a provider is, sooner or later going to turn sour. If there is some flaw or weakness, no matter, just own up to the fact that the other person is the primary bread winner and give him or her his or her due. Otherwise, a break up is bound to occur and it’s back to walking a rough road and depending on the gullible to provide, either the government or some relative who is going to take pity and provide a loan which will never be paid back, and that naive relative is going to keep giving until the indebtedness is so big that a payback will never occur.
So, now what? There is no now what. Just be honest about who you are and how you operate, appreciate the kindness and generosity of others and break out if possible to prove that you can overcome.
Finally, as to the dependents, some are, what I call the bouncers. Bouncers are those that bounce from one mate — relationship — to another and some are very keen to do it often. I’ve known some to bounce to and from 3 – 4 per annum.  I don’t know, maybe the provider isn’t providing enough and the dependent is in search of the best deal.
What’s really intriguing about some bouncers is that they think that somehow they deserve the good deals but when it’s a raw deal they want to blame the provider.
SMH, just when i knew all the answers to life, new questions pop up.
© copyright Aug. 2016. Bob Haines

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