What Gives Me Joy

(originally written November 25, 2013)

Yesterday at church, the sermon was about Joy. I’ll stop capitalizing it now. I thought about that sermon all day. I’ve had a rough year with depression and feeling lost due to my injury overseas last year. I’ve pulled out of that hole but I have my moments. The initial shock of being limited didn’t sit well with me. Not being able to go back to work and do the things I once did have really torn me up. Some people have a weak mind and strong body. I’m just the opposite. I won’t accept the “getting older” bit because I feel that it’s an excuse to accept failure. That just won’t fly with me. Sure, I’ve got a hitch in my gittyup but I ain’t done yet.

 I think the most joyful thing for me is knowing that I can die, today, a happy and fulfilled man. Why? Cause I have worked my dream job, have great parents and sisters, married the woman of my dreams and have created 4 awesome children. My in-laws are what most men hope and dream for as well. I’ve even gone on a vacation with my mother and father-in-law to another country and we had a ball. I feel completed. I told my school counselor, in high school, I wanted to “travel the world and carry a gun”. I’ve done that numerous times. The job I had working overseas was very fulfilling to me. The exact job is not open to just anyone. Now, you have to have a very specialized skill set to “get in”. It is not waiverable. When I tried out for it in 2006 I had to request it. They kinda laughed at me and said, “Sure, we’ll send you but you probably won’t make it”. Out of the 13 people trying out for it, only 2 of us made it. I trained hard and I wanted it very badly. I worked that job from 2006 to the spring of 2012 when I got injured. I’ve been home since then.

Since my injury I’ve had my ups and downs. I know many times my wife has been at her wits end with me. I’ve been whiny, unhappy and, generally, just unpleasant to be around. However, being home has allowed me to work my business. I had this wild idea to open a gym. Back in December of 2010 I returned from one of my trips to Afghanistan. I got in the car and told Jill, “I’m gonna open a CrossFit gym”. I mainly wanted to open it for my own place to work out. Going to The Y was driving me crazy. Most the time I just worked out in my yard and around the house or while on deployment. So the next month I opened my joint. I went to take my certification test and failed the first time. I’m not a test taker or a book worm. I can set the head space and timing on a .50 cal Browning machine gun faster than work out some equation. So I studied harder to retake the test and passed. I wanted it, bad. The first year was rough with all my deployments but we made it. Year 2 was a little better then I got injured. The injury forced me to be home. Today the business is thriving. I guess being here full time has paid off.

Being around large crowds of civilians has always driven me a bit crazy. They just don’t think the same way I do. Sheeple, as I like to call them or Grass Eaters. Now, here I am teaching them. It has forced me to adapt and grow. Not one day goes by; I’m serious, that I don’t think about being with my brother warriors somewhere “over the pond”. I hate it. I hate sitting here wasting away. But, I have dedicated myself to my members to fill them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.

The one thing that I still have is the outdoors. Hunting for food knowing that I am going to kill one of God’s creations to feed me and my family helps to fill that void. I take hunting very seriously. I’m armed and I’m going to kill something. I believe in the spirit of hunting. I believe in harvesting what God has placed on this earth to fill my family’s belly. I believe in being a good steward of the land. My heart races as I sight in on a deer or snag a fish on my line. It’s satisfying to me. I miss the rush of a butt puckering situation overseas but this will suffice for now. I feel complete peace when I’m in the woods. I use that opportunity to talk to God. I don’t try to figure out problems, I just want to visit with him a bit. I have a saying that my wife hates, “Just live”. If I plan too far out and take the “Fixer” approach I start to get a bit crazy. Yes, I’m a bit lazy too. I just really want to sit and enjoy the moments to think about things. Seems like nowadays, running the rat race of life makes life fly-by too fast.

So, I can say I’m filled with joy when I’m outdoors, when I kill a deer, when I’m spending one-on-one time with my kids or wife. Jill and I did a project in the yard on Saturday. That really filled my joy tank. She makes me laugh and I love figuring out projects with her. She’s so incredibly smart. She’s very tough too. All 4 of my kids are different and unique. They each have “something to bring to the table”. That gives them worth. I am so content with life right now. Finances are finances, whatever. I don’t let that stuff get me down. I know the Lord will take care of us as long as we do our part. I feel that I’ve made an impact on someone’s life. I don’t know who exactly but I feel that I have. I want to leave behind a legacy and example for my children to follow. Love God, love family, love country and love our neighbors. That last one is a challenge for me but I’m working on it.



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