SPIRITUAL HEALTH ARTICLES

Remaining thankful through holidays

December 4, 2015

We passed another Thanksgiving and are now into the official holiday season. We see Soldiers traveling from overseas to the States to visit their Families and friends.

The holidays are about Families as they bring people together. Sometimes, this season even gives the opportunity to meet new Family Members who have been added during the year such as a new baby, adopted child or a new spouse in the extended Family. On all occasions, we can find reasons to be thankful and giving thanks certainly doesn’t end with Thanksgiving weekend.

The Bible talks much about Thanksgiving. As believers, the primary person we give thanks to is our Heavenly Father.

David started his Psalm in 1 Chronicle 16:8 with these words: “Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name.”

David had a personal relationship with God. While being successful, he knew that his success was in the Lord. Sometimes, we can forget to give thanks to God after we received his blessings. Remember, it is the Lord who gives, and it is the Lord who can also take. He can give you wisdom, wealth, good health, good kids, good this and that; yet, he does have the authority to take it away or allow it to change.

Daniel was an Old Testament prophet in captivity, but still could proclaim: “To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for You have given me wisdom and power...” Daniel 2:23.

So, with God as the primary person to whom we should give thanks, does it mean that we should not give thanks to others? No! We can give thanks to our spouses for being patient with us. We can give thanks to our parents for the care and support they have given us. We can give thanks to the kids for their good grades and the work they do in the house. We can give thanks to teachers, policemen, government workers and the list goes on and on. At any time, we can give thanks to others simply because they have allowed themselves to be used by God around you.

Despite the fact that the Thanksgiving holiday is over, it does not mean we should stop giving thanks to people.

Whether you are a believer or not, we need to always render thanks and appreciation to people who we engage. And, when I write “always,” I mean anytime and anywhere. When you express gratitude to others, you empower them. When you express thanksgiving to your kids, you motivate them. When you say "thank you" to your Soldiers, you inspire them. By the way, thanks can be a two-way street; you can express it up or down your chain of command.

So, remain thankful, and remember that kind words to people can make a difference. We should always express it.

--- Capt. Emmanuel Woods, 703rd BSB, 2nd IBCT Chaplain

Maxing out your marriage

November 18, 2015

“Deployment ruined my marriage!”

This is a comment that is said often in the military. The last decade has been particularly rough on Army Families. Many Soldiers attribute marital problems to multiple deployments and significant absences from home.

While these claims are valid, I think that it is important to recognize that deployment is not automatically detrimental to your marriage. Although it is hard for many to believe, a deployment can be a time of great growth and maturity both personally and relationally. The key to this positive experience is being INTENTIONAL.

A marriage is like an ATM card. When things go well or you do something positive, you make a deposit. When things go poorly (you argue, you hurt your spouse or you forget her birthday), you make a withdrawal. The goal of marriage is to keep a positive balance.

Sounds simple, right?

The problem is that the Army requires a Soldier to make huge withdrawals. Deployments, Temporary Duty Station, field exercises and Permanent Change of Station moves require withdrawals on a marriage the likes of which are unknown to most couples. This can only be overcome if we are INTENTIONAL.

As a Soldier, I have a responsibility to make more deposits in order to compensate for the Army’s cost. This must be done through long-term, intentional work. A flower here, a date night there, it all adds up. I can honestly say that I am a much more intentional husband now than before I joined the Army. I realized that I had a responsibility to my wife and children to invest into my Family and relationships.

A score of 300 on the Army Physical Fitness Test does not just happen. While it is easier for some than others, the only way to get a 300 is intentional hard work and discipline. However, with enough work and discipline, every Soldier is capable of a very high score (barring injury). This is similar to marriage.

There is no such thing as an easy marriage. If you know someone that has a strong marriage, it is because he or she has invested tremendous energy and work. It also means that every marriage has the ability to be great if you are willing to make enough deposits (in this case the “barring injury” becomes things like affairs and addictions).

The Army does not have to be detrimental to your marriage. You may be surprised to know that the divorce rate in the military is not significantly different from the civilian divorce rate. If you take full advantage of every day that you have together, share in the experience and are intentional in your relationship, your spouse will still be there after the Army is no longer in your life.

--- Capt. Drew Billingsley 63rd ESB Chaplain

Failure to plan is planning to fail

September 28, 2015

As a chaplain, I have all kinds of things come into my office. I see Soldiers and Family Members go through depression, pain, addiction, injury, grief and just general dissatisfaction with life.

One characteristic that I see in many of those whom I counsel is a failure to plan for the future. Many of us spend very little time focused on where we are going. I counsel people daily who are so overwhelmed with their current situation that the measure of success is simply to finish the day.

For many of us, “react to contact” becomes how we regularly operate. This reactionary living leads to a state of no direction or goals. We then wonder why we feel like we are just spinning aimlessly through life.

If this sounds familiar then I encourage you to take two steps.

The first step is to establish a destination. Ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in 30 days? 90 days? One year?” If those are hard questions for you to answer then you are just “reacting to contact” every day. Once you make these goals, does this mean that you are committed to those destinations? Of course not. We always have the flexibility to change course; however, it is not a course change if there was no course to begin with.

The second step is to start walking. No, this is not a reference to the need to do more exercise. Much like Bill Murray in What About Bob? We need to take baby steps. The problem is that in order to take any steps at all, we must know where we are going. We must also look for easy wins at first. Set a course and then ask yourself, “What is the first step toward this goal?” If you want to get a college degree then maybe applying to a school is your baby step. We spend so much time panicking about the college algebra class that is two years down the road that we never even start walking.

I counsel Soldiers who want to go to ranger school, but they admit they never told their supervisor. Baby steps.

A spouse who wants to get a job, but they did not update a resume. Baby steps.

Today, set a course, and start walking. Remember that more important than the speed of your progress is that you always know what direction you are traveling.

The apostle Paul wrote, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize.” Use this fall to establish some goals and then start walking.

--- Capt. Drew Billingsley, 63rd ESB Chaplain

How will you bounce back after challenges?

August 18, 2015

What is resiliency? The simple definition is to return to your original position or, more succinctly, to bounce back.

In today’s Army culture, it seems that the answer to all of life’s difficult circumstances is summed up in one word: resiliency. Some simple questions have to be asked. How does one become more resilient? Is it through easy or hard experiences?

I submit to you that we become more resilient as we endure hard experiences. I encourage you to face and not flee these situations.

What are some of the hard experiences that all of humanity faces? It tends to be in the areas of relationships, health, work and finance. Have you ever had relationship issues? I have. Do you or someone you care for have health issues? I’ve experienced that. Have you ever had someone you love die? I have. Have you ever had a bad boss or bad subordinates? I’ve experienced that, too. Have you ever been broke? More times than I care to admit. The point I’m making is I’m sure you had issues in these previous areas, too. That’s life, and these hard experiences are something that we all have in common.

When we face hard experiences, we should know that these experiences can have a purpose. They can make us stronger and better people. They can make us more resilient. The best life lessons I’ve learned are from those experiences in which I failed. Failure has a purpose. Failure can be a great teacher. Failure can produce more resiliency.

Of the two definitions that I previously gave on resiliency, I prefer the latter. I think a person is resilient when they can not only bounce back from something hard, but when they learn and grow from it. To me, resiliency isn’t just about returning to the status quo. It is about returning to a new and improved position.

So, when you face difficult circumstances, I encourage you to know that these circumstances are common to everyone. They are making you a more resilient person. They are making you a stronger person. They are making you a better person. So, don’t flee from hard situations. Embrace them.

---Capt. W. Michael Oliver, DIVARTY Chaplain

Prayer: The Antidote for Anxiety

July 17, 2015

We live very busy lives, we are constantly on the move, we try to meet every deadline within our professions, we try to meet every appointment and meet our Family needs within our personal lives. We may get overwhelmed by just trying to manage life’s load, but what I want to share with you from a spiritual stance is the antidote to combat stress, anxiety or worries. The antidote for these is prayer. Prayer may not always be answered the way we want, and I often wonder, "What is the point of praying?" Well, prayer allows me to acknowledge that there are some things beyond my control. Secondly, it allows me seek help beyond my power. Thirdly, it allows me to calm down, focus, and be patient.

The apostle Paul experienced many anxious and stressful moments in his life, but he always prayed and looked at the opposite side of the issue, problem or challenge. He stated in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 , " We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed ".

When I think about it prayer allows me to be able to look at challenges that may cause anxieties in our lives from different perspectives, especially when they seem overwhelming and it also allows me to trust God in the process of my situation. So I invite you to pray when you are overwhelmed by life’s challenges.

--- CH (CPT) Lelys Miller, 87th CSSB BN, 3rd SB

Summer of Change

June 4, 2015

Every summer is full of transitions around the MEDDAC and the Army. That means change. Some people would rather die than change. John F. Kennedy said, "Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."

The challenge is "not to be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:34) None of us can see the future in the way we want. I think it is because we could not comprehend it, more than one day at a time. Christ and His kingdom are the one sure and solid foundation we can count on in the world of change. Jesus brought it all into existence and will finish it victoriously. Those who trust Him will not be disappointed.

So my prayer for all in transition:

May God arm you with the wisdom of the past; God, strengthen you to act decisively and efficiently in the present; And God, open your eyes of faith to envision the future.

---Chaplain (CPT) Robert Bryan Hensley, USA MEDDAC, Ft Stewart

Reconnect to Find Resiliency

May 11, 2015

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens… you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28

Trauma breaks connections within self, with others, and with God. In that simple scripture, I see many ingredients for healing those connections: reconnection, recognizing the pain, humility, and a willingness to accept support from others. Reconnecting produces rest and comfort. God invites us to: Turn Inward, Slow Down, Embrace Pain, and Accept Support.

Turn Inward.Pain tempts us to look outward- to blame, to rationalize, or to avoid. We must learn to look inward at the painful memory from an ‘adult’ and compassion-filled perspective, rather than blaming others or tying to change our external world. We must recognize, acknowledge, and experience emotions associated with the pain that we buried deep inside. The burden is on the inside. Turning inward puts our attention where it should be.

Slow Down. The process of inner healing demands a conscious recognition of the triggers of past trauma with a healthy dose of compassion. We must learn to say, “I am not going crazy. Right now I am feeling overwhelmed, threatened, and very nervous. I know I’m safe even though my body is telling me something different. Slow down, breath, and relax…” I cannot help how I feel. But if I choose to slow down, I can make a choice about what to do in light of how I feel.

Embrace Pain. Our temptation is to isolate the pain of our inner world, stuff it down, and run away. Combat drills condition Soldiers to turn toward the enemy. The same applies to the pain of trauma. With courage, we must turn toward the pain and process it. We embrace pain by grieving and mourning. Western culture is uncomfortable with grieving and mourning; those words seem like weakness. They are not signs of weakness. Humans are designed to process pain through grieving and mourning. Failure to embrace the pain will produce many dysfunctions that can destroy us.

Accept Support. Accepting support from others often triggers shame, especially for men. It feels like we are a failure, we are not good enough, or we are incompetent. The fact is we need each other. We cannot process pain alone. A mature leader is surrounded with wise counselors, competency in the areas they are deficient, and men and women who can spur them on toward strength. Similarly, we must connect with others who are on the healing path, who are able to handle pain well, and who have our best interests in mind. Wholeness and resiliency demand reconnecting to a grace-filled community.

I encourage you to walk the path of wholeness by intentionally reconnecting with self, others, and God. If you are not on the path, I encourage you to find it and begin the journey of reconnection. You are not alone. You don’t have to live with emotional pain. You can find healing. Reach out and connect to the healing community now. Contact your unit chaplain, your doctor, or a counselor today. May your journey bring you rest, peace, and strength.

--Chaplain (Major) Dan Hardin, 4IBCT Chaplain

Gluttony

March 26, 2015

Runner's World Magazine (April 2015) printed a concise and helpful article called, "A Weight-Loss Manifesto." The author tells us the bad news: "More than two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese, costing $210 billion per year, 21% of all health-care spending. Obesity is placed behind smoking and war as the planet's most expensive bad habits." The author goes on to discuss alternative solutions, both the old and the new. The author argues that "calorie reduction is not the answer." I will let you discover the rest if you are interested. (I'll give you a hint: the article is in a "running" magazine.)

The Word of God is no diet or fitness manual. But it does tell us what is necessary to live a life honoring to God. Here are three quick notes from 1 Timothy 4:

1. Food is not the enemy. "For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving..." (Verse 4) 2. Exercise can be useful, "for bodily training (physical exercise) is of some value."(Verse 8) 3. Godliness is better than being fit and sculpted. "...train yourself for godliness; because godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."(Verses 7-8).

For further thought: The article in Runner's World Magazine says there is "scant evidence" that gluttony is the problem. What do you think? Yes we could all run more or exercise more, but is that always going to be possible? If you can't exercise like an athlete, then what? The author suggests that we must only eat what we need to live. So if we are regularly consuming more than what we need, isn't that the sin of gluttony? And if gluttony is the problem, we have a spiritual issue. Spiritual issues must be dealt with spiritually. If gluttony is your sin, then battle it until you kill it. As one preacher said, "Cast your deadly doing down!" In this case, it may be your fork.

--- Chaplain (CPT) Robert Bryan Hensley, USA MEDDAC, Ft Stewart

Follow Me

March 12, 2015

In the rotunda of the National Infantry Museum, FT Benning, stands the "Infantryman," a statue also called "Follow Me" because of the spirit it epitomizes. (Some refer to this statue as "Iron Mike," but FT Bragg claims the "Devil in Baggy Pants" statue is the real Iron Mike.) The 1950s-era Soldier is moving and leaning forward, with helmet, bandoleers of ammunition and grenades, M1 rifle in the left hand, right hand raised providing the visual signal for "follow me" since the sound of a voice would be lost in battle. It's inspiring.

What I find interesting is the face and direction of the eyes. The infantryman's head is slightly turned to utilize peripheral vision - to see what's going on behind him. The "follow me" is looking for the "followers".

There is a fine illustration on leading. "Leadership is nothing without a following. The mark of a good leader is followers. Leadership is influence." The "follow me" has "followers".

Proverbs 14:28 (NKJV), "In a multitude of people is a king’s honor, But in the lack of people is the downfall of a prince."

Where did the Infantry motto of "follow me" come from? I like to think: Jesus. He said that when he called the disciples and to everyone in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

So final take away: The call of "follow me" must have "followers". Honor is found in obeying the "follow me".

May God bless you,

--- Chaplain (CPT) Robert Bryan Hensley, USA MEDDAC, Ft Stewart

What is this thing called love?

February 7, 2015

For at least half the month of February, there are many who focus on the topic of love. Much of this can be attributed to Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated in many countries around the world. The symbols of Valentine’s Day range from red hearts and white doves to Cupid’s arrows of affection as well as the traditional greetings cards. Some people go on a hunt for love, so that they can fit in with those around them who are supposedly “in love.” But, what is this thing called love? People have been trying to define this idea through out history, but has anyone really shown that love actually exists? Can we see it? Can we touch it? Does true love exist or is it just a cheap thrill that lasts for a short period of time? I think that rests upon how we define love, and how those we love understand love.

The word ‘love’ has been created and recreated in countless cultures and languages over time. It appears, at least in our society, that we are heavily influenced by what comes across the media airwaves. Our media sources define love in many ways. The most popular version of love we see on our media is some form that leads to sex. Unfortunately, I see this definition of love used by individuals in my counseling office all too often. When I see this definition of love being used, I try to relay to the individual or couple that sex is only part of the whole cake that makes up love. I use the analogy that sex is the icing on the cake of love. If you eat a cake that is all icing, it may be nice for a while. But, eventually, you will become unhealthy. There must be more to the love cake than just icing. When baking a cake, I like to go to the cookbook and follow its direction. The cookbook I like to follow to make my cake of love is the Bible. The scripture I draw my direction and ingredients from is John 3:16,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Here I see the ingredients of selfless sacrifice for others mixed with commitment. Without these two basic ingredients our love cakes will fall apart. What makes up your love cake? Are your ingredients healthy enough for a long lasting meaningful relationship? Is your love cake falling apart and nothing more than tasteless crumbs? Maybe talking with an unbiased chaplain or counselor can help you once again find some healthy sustenance to create a meaningful and lasting love cake.

--Chaplain (Maj.) Herman Cheatham, 2nd ABCT Chaplain

Loyalty

February 2, 2015

Mark Twain said, “Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.”

Let's put that one out there.

One reason I enjoy coming to work at MEDDAC, Fort Stewart: I get to work around very loyal Soldiers and Civilians. The kind of loyalty not solely based on a paycheck. But often I run into this situation: When the loyalty one gives -is not returned, what then? That hurts. That is rejection. We respond by pretending devotion to that individual or organization, passive aggression, open strife, transferring allegiance or quitting. So when the loyalty given -is not returned back, there is but one path to take: Loyalty with no limits. Proverbs 3 says, "Let not steadfast love and loyalty forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart; so you will find favor and success in the sight of God and man." That simply is loyalty with no limits. There are caveats to this kind of loyalty: a relationship of abuse, the immoral, or the illegal. Obviously, we have to be careful to who and what we devote ourselves.

But it's tough to keep loyalty without limits when your boss expects only more, only better, only quicker; you face separation; you are asked to retire or endure an MEB. Loyalty without limits becomes a spiritual battle, and in the spiritual battle God reveals Himself. God showed us through His Son, loyalty with no limits. Unto death, Jesus displayed his loyalty to the Father and to those the Father gave Him. By shining God's light on true loyalty, we find that our loyalty indeed HAS limits, and we are undeserving. God shows us this by putting us in conflict where the loyalty given is not returned or rewarded; when we feel "they are not worthy of my loyalty." But "where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved."-Martin Luther. This is a battlefield where courage, discipline, and patience win the day.

May God's grace inspire you to loyalty with no limits and forgive you when you retreat from faithfulness.

--- Chaplain (CPT) Robert Bryan Hensley, USA MEDDAC, Ft Stewart

Culture of trauma, loss, grief

January 16, 2015

The modern American military is very resilient; we’re still training and in the fight. But, another quality of military culture must be understood. We are a culture familiar with trauma, loss and grief. From the beginning of our training, we are separated from Family, friends, and all that is familiar. We lose some of our personal rights and freedoms for the greater good and mission. When we move to a new duty station, we leave comrades, brothers and sisters, with whom we served in combat. We go to a new duty station and start building relationships all over again. We train hard and long and leave our Families for extended periods of time. Service members routinely miss anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, reunions, funerals, weddings and worship opportunities. When the military deploys into combat, we lose buddies and sometimes we leave part of our soul on the battlefield.

The Army knows this. So, it provides programs, services and professionals to help lighten the burden. It makes covenants with Families. It invests money in events like Strong Bonds retreats to help us mature and strengthen our relationships. But, our path toward growth and resiliency isn’t the Army’s responsibility. It is our personal responsibility.

Like physical training, our resiliency depends on personal discipline and conditioning of many areas of our life: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Given the reality of the culture of trauma, loss and grief in which we operate, I argue that the mature Soldier must have and execute a plan that addresses every dimension of their being. The plan must be intentional, resourced, put into practice and externally assessed. Like physical training, we have to put it on our calendar, we may have to invest money in things we need (books, classes, materials, apps), we actually have to do it, and we need an assessment periodically. Often, it helps to have an experienced coach.

Your unit medical professionals, behavioral health professionals, chaplain, and master resiliency trainers have many of the solutions to comprehensive Soldier fitness. Engage them. Make an intentional plan for growth. You can count on trauma. You must plan on growth through the trauma.

---Chaplain (Maj.) Dan Hardin, Brigade Chaplain

A Chaplain's Christmas Message

December 15, 2014

In the old Christmas tale, a “Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, we find Ebenezer Scrooge overwhelmed with fear and trembling when Jacob Marley’s Ghost appears to him late on Christmas Eve. A steel chain, cashboxes, padlocks and heavy purses enslave Marley and symbolize his lifetime of material greed and coveting thoughts. Marley’s ghost came to warn his old business partner, Scrooge, to expect three ghosts that evening: the ghosts of “Christmas’ Past, Christmas Present and Christmas’ to Come.”

Not seeing reason for Marley’s punishing despair and anguish, Scrooge replies, "But you were always a good man of business, Jacob." Upon which the Ghost cried out in lament and commentary on how he SHOULD have lived: “Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” Scrooge’s “Bah Humbug” is later silenced by the ghosts, and his life is changed for the better.

Like Scrooge, no matter what our occupation, our “business” is “mankind,” OUR PEOPLE. If we as leaders forget this, we too will regretfully be bound by the ghosts and chains of “opportunities lost.” But if we keep people as our business,-starting with our own (Soldiers and DA Civilians) and flowing out to our Beneficiaries, we can look forward to real satisfaction, and in part find God’s will. And as Tiny Tim exclaimed, “May God bless us, every one!”

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14, King James Version

Merry Christmas!

--- Chaplain (CPT) Robert Bryan Hensley, USA MEDDAC, Ft Stewart

Trust is Basis of Integrity

November 10, 2014

This is a pleasant time of year as fall begins to make its mark on nature. Fall tends to set in somewhat later down here in southern Georgia, but we are beginning to see a bit of color in the leaves and feel the nice cool mornings that it brings. Our jobs are in full swing and school is just reaching the half-way mark in the semester. Before we hit the fast pace of the holiday season, now is the time to make sure that we are representing ourselves well at work, at home and in our social lives.

What does that mean? Does it mean to represent ourselves well? It stems from the Army value, integrity. What is the basis of integrity? Trust.

Trust is a key element of leadership. Each day we make a decision to trust in those around us. For instance, we trust those in our homes, in our schools and in our workplace. Our children trust us as parents to take care of them, to provide food, shelter, to lead and guide them in order to succeed through life. Our spouses trust us to stay loyal and supportive through the struggles and changes of Army life. Our commanders and leaders trust us to get the job done with excellence and integrity. Ultimately, we trust in God for our provision, our direction and His aid.

Psalm 37:3 is a favorite of mine, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.”

What happens when trust fails between individuals? When trust is broken, whether between adults, spouses, friends, Families or children, it means that someone has failed in their integrity. They have crossed moral and ethical boundaries. Until there is repentance and forgiveness, the relationship cannot be mended. Moral courage is the key to rebuilding trust.

Oftentimes, trust becomes a learned behavior and a habit rather than a representation of who we are. The habit of distrust usually starts in our childhood. When promises are broken, our most trusted authority figures and heroes fail us. When our trust is violated as a child, it is hard for us to trust as an adult. It becomes difficult to start any relationship with an open heart of trust when experience has made it plain that people will fail you. At that point, we have to be careful to understand that through the midst of the failures of people around us, God will never fail us. To place upon God the expectation that He would fail us as people have failed us is to assume that God is not God.

However, God is not a man to fail us as others may fail us, “He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God will be with you always, through your brightest days and your darkest nights. He is faithful. So, “trust in the Lord … and feed on His faithfulness.” As we rediscover the value of trust, let us be careful not to break down the trust of those around us. Walk in integrity. Walk in moral courage. Leave a legacy of trust!

--- Chaplain (Capt.) Anthony A. Turpin; 83rd CBRN Bn. Chaplain

911- Leadership in Agony

September 11, 2014

While my wife and I were waiting for the President's speech last night, she flipped over to the National Geographic channel. They were showing the 911 story chronicled by then President George W. Bush. We watched, and I was being "moved." I was struck by my own emotions welling up within me. I was on the verge of tears, but trying desperately not to get noticed. I wanted to flee the room, but all the while in silent conversation with myself, "Why am I so sad yet so angry?" I could even feel the hate in me. It was all so fresh.

I remember probably as you remember -exactly where I was. I was on the tractor, pulling a wagon, after feeding the cows. My family and I were on missionary furlough from Ukraine. We were at home with my parents on their dairy farm. I was enjoying the fresh air and helping out a little. My Mother came out of the house and told me a plane hit a building in New York. I shut off the tractor and went in to see what she might be talking about. The images were shockingly horrible and enraging.

Last night I felt overwhelming sorrow for those families who lost loved ones. I felt pity for those who spent their last seconds in terror or pain as their lives were cut short by murderous violence. For all those that responded, how exhausted they must have been both physically and spiritually. These were reasons in part why my tears wanted to run.

But something else was hurting me...then I knew. I heard it many times, in many places, from many people. It was hearing President Bush in agony. His voice and tone reflected the heaviness of his heart as he watched Americans suffer and die. Then I heard his anguish as his "internal leader" turned on and had to start making decisions, managing the unknown, a new war and himself all at the same time. (Laura and his family resided in his thoughts throughout.) I understood my heartache was for the leader in agony.

Many of you lead, and you lead very well. Thank you. You understand the agony of leadership and maybe even have tasted the rare sweetness of satisfaction. If you are a new leader, you will start to understand very soon. Leadership is not easy, and if done right -will cause you more pain than you ever imagined. If you are not a leader, consider holding back judgment on those who do. God will handle the reckoning with a far stricter judgment than yours. If your leadership is not what it should be, consider "stepping it up" or stepping aside. God sees everyone and holds leaders and followers alike, accountable.

May He bless you with strength and joy in the agony of leadership.

--- Chaplain (CPT) Robert Bryan Hensley, USA MEDDAC, FT Stewart

What is dad? Learn meaning of fatherhood

September 10, 2014

If you watch TV or go to the movies, you might think you know what it means to be a "real man." The entertainment world has painted quite a picture of this guy! He is big and burly, totally in control. His money and his "things" define who he is and how others see him. His morals are questionable, but they are right for him - regardless of how they hurt or offend others. In today's world, the good-looking guy on the Hollywood screen is the personification of a "real man." But if you really want to be a "real man" — and a great dad, too - turn off the TV! Stop using the entertainment world to define what it means to be a real man. Instead, look to God and use His perfect character to help shape who you are as a man, husband and father.

For example, God is: Slow to Anger. Psalm 103:8 says, "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy." Over and over again in scripture we see God extending grace to His people, even when they didn't deserve it. Yes, God gets angry at sin. But He puts up with a great deal before reaching his boiling point. Why is this? Because God wants to give us every opportunity to turn from our sin, seek His forgiveness, and obey Him.

Dad, your children will benefit greatly if you are slow to anger. Discipline is necessary.

Boundary setting is critical. However, giving your children a chance to learn from their mistakes without "blowing up" makes a world of difference. Practice patience. Develop an attitude of mercy and grace with your children that will help them understand the love of God through your actions, words and responses to their mistakes.

Quick to Forget. Psalm 103:9 says, "He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever." God does not hold a grudge! Psalm 130:3 tells us that if God kept a detailed record of our sins, none of us would ever be able to stand before him. Thankfully, when we seek His forgiveness, He does just that. He forgives. And He forgets.

Dad, what a wonderful characteristic for you to develop when dealing with your children (and your wife, too.) Don't "drudge up" the past and constantly remind your children of how they failed you last week ... last month ... or several years ago. Teach your children the value of wiping the slate clean. By doing this, you will help build their self-esteem; foster security and show great and abiding love.

Filled with Great Love. Psalm 103:11,12 says, "For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." The psalmist tells us that when we ask God to forgive our sins, he removes them as far as the east is from the west. God loves you so much He is willing to forgive even your greatest offenses. He wants to fill your heart with abiding joy and freedom in Him. He wants to rid you of guilt and shame. His heart of love for you is immeasurable.

Dad, this is how much you should love your children. They should never doubt your sincerity and devotion to your Family. They should know where you stand by your actions of love and commitment. You should show love to your Family in the same way God daily displays His never-ending love to you.

You can be a dad who defies the world's expectations of a father. Simply look to God, the ultimate example of the perfect Dad! And don't forget that it is never too late to make the necessary changes in your life to become the dad God wants you to be.

--- Chaplain (Capt.) Greg McVey 42nd Fires Brigade

PWOC offers inspiration, fellowship

September 2, 2014

Military wives call it their safe place— a place where they can be honest, accepted and real as well as a place where they can grow in their relationship with God and each other.

That’s the intent of the religious support group at Hunter— Protestant Women of the Chapel made up of about 30 Spouses from the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, who kicked off their new year at the Hunter Chapel on Aug. 14.

The Protestant Women of the Chapel is a resource network that unites, trains and encourages women in the military chapel community in their spiritual growth, according to its mission statement at www.chapnet.army.mil/pwoc. Protestant Women of the Chapel is God empowered, Christ centered and Spirit led; exists as an extension of the chapel; encourages women to grow spiritually within the body of Christ through prayer, the study of God's Word, worship and service; is sponsored by the Army Chief of Chaplains and is recognized by the leadership of the Air Force, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard Chaplaincy.

Protestant Women of the Chapel provides the environment to nurture a spiritually enriching community that enhances personal enrichment and Family readiness. During times of deployment, the Soldier, Airman, Sailor or Marine can be assured that PWOC will be a close, caring group who will be there to support his spouse and provide a helping hand when needed.

Everyone has a place at the table, according to Pam Kesling, PWOC president. That includes different generations studying God's word, praying for one another, and growing in Christ together. At the kick-off, Kesling announced this year’s theme— ‘Loving Others Like Christ,’ as commanded in Ephesians 4:32 – 5:2.

"All women are welcome here regardless of their husband’s rank," said Julie Broam, a 3rd Combat Aviation spouse in charge of PWOC’s newcomers, participation and publicity. "This is a wonderful way for like-minded ladies to support each other."

Childcare is free; however, children must register with Child, Youth and School Services. Membership is also open to civilians and retirees.

"We haven’t worked out the details yet, but we do plan to have a spring retreat and periodic night out event so we can get to know one another better," Broam said.

If you wish to join or visit the group, meetings are held at the Hunter Chapel in the Religious Education Center 9:30 a.m. to noon, Thursdays, and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays for praise and worship, followed by bible study and refreshments. For additional information, go to PWOC’s Facebook Page or call Kesling at 301-712-8411.

---Nancy Gould, Hunter Public Affairs

Love Thy Neighbor

August 13, 2014

G.K. Chesterton shared this thought, "The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people." It is a horrible thought, but so often true. None of us has to look far to see just how prevalent strife really is. Enemies can even be found within families.

On the international scene, can we even keep up with which neighbor is killing the other? I know I fall behind just staying current on world events and violence. We can look in our states and counties and see the results of neighbors becoming enemies. People living close to one another, yet these neighbors absolutely despise each other.

You may be asking, "Chaplain, where are you going with this?" (I am not starting a discussion on "just war" or the morality of violence and decisive action. There is a place for it. I am a paratrooper for goodness sake!) As the Chaplain, I hear plenty, and there is plenty I do not hear. But I do know this, even within our superb and committed organization; there is a very regrettable amount of strife among coworkers, both civilian and military. There are literally enemies within departments and sections. Somehow, the mission gets accomplished despite these broken relationships. This is a testament to the perseverance of some people. But there is often a tremendous personal price for such perseverance. Productivity, quality, longevity, and satisfaction also inevitably suffer.

It is wrong to continually harbor ill will and hatred toward another human being. God's truth turns us from hating our enemies to loving them. Each of us must be turned from this hatred. God has shown the way, by embracing sinful mankind, who fights and rails against the holiness of God. In Christ, God loves us into His family and provides the righteous standing for us to be at peace with God. Jesus absorbed the eternal wrath of God to bring us into love. The rest of the Christian life is about gratitude and extending that love to enemies. Call on Christ and reflect on his sacrificial death for those who hated Him. Change the battlefield that is your neighborhood.

---Chaplain (CPT) Bryan Hensley, MEDDAC Chaplain

What is it in our lives that lets us bend rather than break?

July 30, 2014

Life is hard. This is a fact we each know all too well. There are events and circumstances in life that shake us to our very core. There are times when everything we know and believe is challenged. The question is, ‘how do we go on from here? How do we pick up the pieces and move forward? It’s a sobering fact when we see people we care about who are unable to recover from a crisis and whose lives are quelled by crippling depression, fear or anger.

How is it that two people can experience the same catastrophic or life-changing event and have polar opposite responses? What gives one person the ability to recover from a crisis while the other is trapped in a quagmire of despondency?

While I was in Afghanistan, this is something I saw too often. I’ve met with teams of Soldiers who were hit by the same explosion. They engaged in the same fire fight or witnessed the same casualties and death. I noticed how varied their reactions were. There are people who lost close Family Members, who’ve had relationships crumble or who are dealing with a loved one with a chronic illness. In each instance, there are a myriad of responses to each crisis. Some people want to talk about it while others do not. Some relive the moment over and over while others try their best to forget. Some display aggression, agitation, fear, sadness and numbness. Some rely heavily on Family support while others try to shield their Families from the realities of their situation. Some Soldiers look to their faith to sustain them while others seem resentful of a higher power. What is it that brings us back from the edge? What is it in our lives that lets us bend rather than break? What do we latch on to in times of trouble? What is your lifeline when life doesn’t make sense? Each of us has to figure out the answers to these questions for ourselves.

I do believe there are a few common responses to a crisis that help us through an overwhelming difficulty. First, realize what just happened. Realize that what has happened has affected you personally. Acknowledge all the various facets of your life that are now changed because of this event. Be true to yourself. Allow yourself the freedom to grieve and express your emotions. No one can walk through a tragedy in life and be unaffected.

Second, don’t move too fast. Do not expect things to be better tomorrow. To be resilient means you can still function; it doesn’t mean you bounce back to ‘normal’ immediately. Take the time needed to sort through your thoughts and feelings. If you try to rush yourself to construct a new normal, you may actually do more damage than good.

Thirdly, and most importantly, get help. Find someone you can talk with who will listen to what you’re going through. Find someone who will put their shoulder next to yours and walk through this difficult time with you. It’s very cathartic to say what you feel and to tell your story. This is where your chaplain can make a big difference. We are more than willing to walk with you down the rough road of life, so don’t go through your next crisis alone.

--- Chaplain (Capt.) Travis W. Hairston, 4-3 BSTB, 3rd ID

Your Values and How They Affect You

July 16, 2014

“Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” - Luke 6:44-46, New International Version

Values are those things we believe deeply that influence our conduct in life. What we experience and let into our lives shapes our values. Our deep-seated beliefs influence our behaviors, our close relationships, and society.

Our most common behavior is speech. How we respond in word and deed gives a clue to our deep-seated values. This past weekend I listened to iTunes ® Radio’s top 50 pop music channel. I studied the lyrics. Most of the songs had an obvious theme. They used phrases like “I want,” “I need,” and “give me”. One male sang about a hook-up with a woman, not because he loved her, but because he needed her sexually. Another song spoke of exploiting women and using them for sexual gratification. The values were clear: I, me, and mine… give me… and I don’t love you, I just want to use you for my pleasure. The values of selfishness, pleasure seeking at the cost of using other people, and self-love while neglecting others were obvious. Some may say, “It’s just a song. I don’t really listen to the lyrics anyway. They don’t affect me.” I would respond, “Consider the crisis of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and the exploitation of women in the military and society and explain to me from where those behaviors come.” Behaviors come from our beliefs and values. Our values come from our experiences, upbringing, training, the media, the Internet, popular music, places of worship, institutions, and more. Be careful what you let into your soul for it can affect what you think and how you behave. This is why the Army cares about values training, moral leadership, and leader development. What we believe shapes how the Army behaves.

Scripture says good things come out of the good that is stored up in our hearts. Bring good things into your soul. It may change what you believe about yourself, others, and God. From that change of belief, your speech and your behaviors will change for the betterment of yourself and others. What we believe deep down motivates us to change. Personal transformation can influence and shape society. We will see change in the negative trends that affect our military when we let good stuff in, allow it to change our thinking, and allow good behaviors to come out.

I encourage you to work on your moral and spiritual fitness. It really does matter and it really can make a difference in our community.

Daniel W. Hardin
Chaplain (Major) US Army
Brigade Chaplain
4IBCT, 3ID
Fort Stewart, Georgia

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