Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Hand Salute

I found a old folder filled with a bunch of “journal entries” from an English college class I took back in 2001. I was still in the military and this class happened over lunch time. I really enjoyed the class. It was fun, interesting and I really liked the professor.

Every time class met, we had to turn in, what our professor called journal entries. It didn’t matter how long the entries were or what the subject matter was and best part, they weren’t graded.

If she liked your journal entry, she’d ask if she could keep a copy as an example she’d read to future classes.

I was honored she chose one of mine. So, I thought I’d share it with you all. I guess she found the entry funny and “superb”! At least, I think that’s the word she wrote. It’s a little hard to make out, but let’s just say that’s what she wrote. HA!

I’m going to type it out just as it appears on the original.

The paper is dated 16 Jan 2001 and the subject is simply titled: Salute

“I watched a show on television the other evening and caught myself scrutinizing the hand salute the police officers offered up in honor to one of their dearly departed. I can’t help but cringe whenever I see an improper salute.

I gained the right to do so, by making so many mistakes while learning the hand salute at Basic Military Training.

Staff Sergeant Garcia, an assistant Technical Instructor for our flight was given the dubious task to turn our limp spaghetti wrists into rigid straight arrows. Sergeant Garcia demonstrated the hand salute with clean-cut preciseness and then issued his instructions; knock on the closed door once, open the door, step inside, close the door, take 2 steps forward, stand at attention and render the perfect hand salute while stating “Airman Kettell reports as ordered.”

Simple enough was the phrase that came to mind, why any idiot could do that. Well, it embarrasses me to say, it took this idiot a total of 4 times going through the “simple” instructions.

For the life of me, I could not make my wrist into a straight line. It felt like I was doing the correct motion, but it wasn’t until Sergeant Garcia got up from his chair, cursing under his breath, grabbed my hand, and tried unsuccessfully for several seconds to bend my wrist into the correct position.

It seems, my arm was straight, but my wrist was bent at a 90-degree angle. He finally managed to straighten my wrist, but then my thumb decided to misbehave by taking on an angle all of it’s own.

He felt the only way to fix that was to have me bring my arm back down and carefully study his entire hand, which he had placed flat on the desk. He then decided it was best I do the same.

So, I placed my hand flat on the desk. I was then instructed to slowly bring my hand to the corner of my eyebrow, careful not to move a single tendon out of place.

Needless to say, I still screwed it up. My wrist went right back to the 90-degree angle and worse yet, my thumb decided to keep it’s awkward angle. It was very uncomfortable. I decided saluting was stupid.

Sergeant Garcia’s face looked a lot like my disfigured wrist and this time he stood up and imitated my hand salute, all the while screaming “does this look right to you!”

It was all I could do, not to bust out laughing. Knowing full well, I could not do that, I instead made some guttural sound and was asked to leave and stand at the end of the line until I could take this exercise seriously.

So, head hung low, cursing under my breath, I went to the end of the line.

It was my turn again, and this time, my hand actually was in the correct position, but now my head cocked to the side in order to meet the salute. This was not acceptable.

Once again, Sergeant Garcia stood up and imitated my salute and once again I had to keep from laughing.

I was given one more opportunity to render the perfect hand salute. I cleared my head, I begged my hand to stay straight and I did not move my head. It was not a perfect salute, but it was at least acceptable.

He then instructed me to hold the salute, walk into the bathroom, look in the mirror and memorize how my arm felt, which at this point was on fire, and never, ever, let him see me insult the salute as I had previously done. ” The End

It’s amazing how reading through this story makes it seem like it was just yesterday it happened. But that was many years ago. I can still visualize Sergeant Garcia’s face. He was so frustrated. I don’t know why I thought it was funny, but for whatever reason, it got me through it.

Sometimes in the face of frustration, laughter is the best relief. Maybe if we all laughed a little more instead of berating ourselves, we’d enjoy this one life we’ve been given more.

I know these days I’m far more serious than I like to be. Laughing is crucial to my well being. Maybe yours too?

So, if you have a chance to laugh, I hope you do. I’ll leave you with this quote:

Laughter is the best medicine in the world. A day without laughter is a day wasted. Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.

And who couldn’t use a little “cheap medicine” right about now?

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Flag Bearer

When I joined the Air Force, there were things about Basic Military Training (BMT) that my recruiter forgot to share. To be fair, I didn’t know what I should ask, so I’ll give my recruiter the benefit of the doubt in that he shared only what I needed to know. I wonder if I still would’ve joined if he’d had shared I would need to run? Things that make you go hmmm.

The first morning on BMT my flight was called to the day room. They referred all the trainees assigned to a particular group a flight. The temporary flight Technical Instructor (TI) had us all sit down around him and he led the “getting to know you” session.

All I remembered was my step-father saying before I left: “Don’t volunteer for anything”. I was cool with those instructions.

Question by question was answered by the raising of hands with no ramifications. Sneaky. Then the TI asked this question: “How many of you were ever in a marching band”? My hand shot up along with a few others and he pointed at each raised hand and said: “1,2,3,4,5.” you’re my squad leaders and my flag bearer”. He also pointed to another gal and dubbed her “flight chief”.

Wait! What? Seriously, what just happened? My mind screamed, I didn’t volunteer, I didn’t volunteer! Yet, there I found myself out on the “pad” standing in the front of the fourth squad. Awesome.

The pad was the slab of concrete where we formed up in the mornings or any other time we were called to form up.

The flag bearer was the shortest of us voluntold trainees. The flag bearer stood in front of the fourth squad. That would be me. Let me paint a picture. I’m 5’8. She was maybe 5’2′. The gal who stood directly behind me, well she was a giant. Okay, not a giant but she was at least 6 foot tall.

This gal who stood behind me came prepared for BMT. Her recruiter must’ve shared everything with her. Her hair was super short. She’d be training for months for the running portion of our government paid for “vacation”. She was tall, lanky, and had a bit of a southern drawl. I can still see and hear her as I type this. Crazy how some things stick with you.

The first time our flight showed up to the track we were told we would have to run in formation and go no faster than our tiny flag bearer. I was totally ok with that as running was in no way my thing.

Thank the Lord our flag bearer was a bit older and like me, didn’t consider herself a runner. Whew!

Tall gal behind me let it be know with every step she was not happy. She barked things at us, like, “move it,” and “go faster,” over and over. All her training, and all her barking could not make the flag bearer go any faster. But she got a lot of lip from me telling her to knock it off that she wasn’t helping.

Guess the recruiter didn’t share with tall gal that no amount of preparation could totally prepare her for the reality of BMT.

We eventually found our groove and tall gal stopped barking at us and most of us graduated BMT. In 6 weeks we went from a motely ragtag crew to a polished team. During those weeks, there was a lot of laying our former selves down. We had to learn to get along with many different personalities.

It’s not always easy following the rules and looking our for each other. Such was the case for those that got sent home. BMT was all about learning to become a team.

Back to my barking friend and the point of this story. While we were running the flag bearer had “control”. But, she wanted control. Hence the barking out of her demands.

I have to admit. I’ve done the same thing when it comes to the things I think are taking longer in my life that I’d like. So, I “bark” at God. It’s my way of telling Him, He needs to “move it” or “go faster”. It’s my way of trying to take control.

Just like the flag bearer wasn’t on my friend’s time table. God is not on mine. In fact, let’s look at what the Bible has to say about God’s timing:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

God’s time table is not the same as ours. His time table is infinitely more bigger than we could ever imagine. His time table is all about ALL people coming to Christ. However that looks like.

So, I can “bark” at God all I like, but in the end, He’ll still move at His pace and His timing. He’s my flag bearer and keeping pace with Him, will keep the peace within me.

Have an amazing day my friends. Please say a prayer for my Moose, he’s got something going on with his eye and while he’s still being all barky, he’s not himself. Much love to you!

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