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Humiliation

Humiliation.

Not a very popular idea in this me-first world we live in and definitely not something for a prideful, arrogant man to experience willingly.  To have such a man debased and set aside by those who had followed and respected him was a blow that would crush his spirit.  Further, to not be able to find any meaningful work after over 450 attempts.  Oh, from the title you expected this would be about Saul of Tarsus, sorry but it is my own tale by which I by no means compare myself to my brother Paul, simply that it reflects how God does often work.

Being incarcerated seemed to me to be the ultimate in humiliation.  While rightly convicted, the idea of throwing away a career as a paramedic and nurse to spend the rest of my life (a very real possibility), becoming a plaything of those employed by the prison system was a rude awakening.  My first case manager warned me that there were two types of guards and officials in the so-called Department of Correction; those who knew I was in prison as punishment and those who believed I was in prison to be punished.  Sadly, he told me, the latter were in the vast majority, and they loved their job!  That was to be my experience for the next 23 years, 7 months and 25 days.

I did make a profession of faith and surrender to Christ within 3 weeks of arriving at Central Prison; my growth as a disciple was haphazard at best as I continued throughout my stay in prison to deny my guilt.  My fear was if I ‘fessed up’ my family and wife would abandon me as I had plead not-guilty and cost my family a significant amount of money.  This was something I wrestled with for the entire time I was in prison and for years afterward.  That refusal to ‘come clean’ kept me from much of what God would have done for me; “I” was still primary and on the throne of my heart as reflected in some of my behavior after coming to Christ.  Time and again I had people tell me that my story reminded them of Joseph (Genesis 30 and following) for my being imprisoned unjustly.  After a time, I actually began to believe this, and when reading Acts 9 and studying it, I began to feel that this was my time of humiliation.

Finally, the day came when I was released.  I had attended the Chapel Hill Bible Church for some time after getting out of the Navy, but my main reason was for the ‘target rich environment’ with all the coeds.  The pastor, James Abrahamson, sought to mentor me but much of what he shared with me went in one ear and out the other.  Seeds were planted that would come to fruition once I was in prison (well, at least my journey in Christ did begin even if somewhat haphazardly at the time.  I reconnected with Jim while in minimum custody and decided to start attending there even though Jim was no longer pastor.  When I learned why and how Jim did not attempt to ameliorate the circumstances of his fall, it stil did not move me to be honest with anyone about my guilt.

Jay Thomas is the pastor there and was a wonderful expositional teacher of Scripture.  I really felt this was where God wanted me and so my wife and I became members.  Sometime later, while Jay was teaching through the Gospel of John, he said something that pricked my heart about my continuing disavowal of my guilt.  After the service I spoke with him briefly, asking for a time in the coming week when we could meet.  At the same time, I knew that I had to speak with Jim Abrahamson as well, but most of all with Kathy.  I feared that she would be so angry with my lying over the years, that she would toss me out.  When we got home, we sat together in the living room of our home, and I confessed to her what I’d done.  She did not want to believe it at first; that was difficult as how do you tell someone you love deeply that you have lied to them for over 28 years?

Well, by God’s grace she did believe me and did not toss me out the front door.  During this time I began experiencing many symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress but did not make the connection with those same symptoms from after I got out of the Navy.  Even before getting out of prison, I had applied to multiple places for employment.  I’d earned an Associate’s degree in Computer Information Technology and was hoping that would at least get me in the door.  It did not; the one interview I had with an IT firm in the Triangle lasted well over an hour.  At the conclusion, I asked the interviewer what the next step would be.  He kind of laughed and then said he had no intention of hiring me, that my resume intrigued him and he just wanted to speak with me.

450+ applications using a variety of online and other services led to nothing more than the sound of crickets.  No one seemed to want to hire an ex-felon, even those companies that specialized in such gave me a pass.  It was humiliating to me not to be able to find work other than with Measurement, Inc., a company that had hired me as a reader while I was on work release.  The work there was definitely seasonal and not really enough to be a real help in making me feel as though I was ‘head of the household.’  Yeah, that pride thing was still working.  Once I passed the age of 62, a friend suggested I check what I could get from them if I ‘retired’ compared if I waited until 65 or 70.  Due to the time in prison, there was really no difference, so at the end of that month, I filed for Social Security.  That paltry sum I began to receive did help, combined with the episodic checks from Measurement, Inc., but still left me wondering if that was all I could expect.

It hurt me (still pride, but also something else) because my lack of income would force Kathy to continue working longer than she’d hoped.  I tried other ventures (Real Estate Broker was a flop as the NC Real Estate Commission refused to license me as a broker) but continued with my $600.00 or so a month.  The anger and frustration that I often took out on Kathy (or inanimate objects in our house) fueled more and more suicidal ideations.  I just wanted the suffering to end; both mine and the pain I was causing Kathy.  My attempts were often interrupted by a phone call or other such (one time as I stood on the Brewer Road overpass a Durham County Deputy just happening to roll by).

Sitting in this man’s car and talking about life, especially for those who have come out of prison, combined with a speaker at a conference I attended as a USO-NC volunteer, opened my eyes to the fact that I had PTS.  To say that the VA hospital was less than helpful would be putting it mildly, but with the help of Senator Burr’s office, I finally was not only diagnosed with PTS but given a disability rating that enabled me to receive over $1,000.00 every month.  Still, it wasn’t work and sitting at home everyday (when not volunteering somewhere) just made me feel all the more worthless.

In October of 2016, I attended the annual meeting of an organization affiliated with Our Children’s Place (I’d been a board member since my release from prison).  During a meeting with their board before the annual meeting, one of their management persons told me that while they did not have a position for me at that time, they would in the Spring.  Others of the board of OCP who overheard our conversation were elated; for the first time since being indicted in 1987, I had hope of meaningful work.  Kathy was elated, and since we had rented a place in town through Airbnb, we started looking for a place to live and a home church.  That search brought us to Windsor Park and, more importantly, to the Bridge Church on Market Street in Wilmington.  We moved in January 2017 to a rental from VRBO until our house in Windsor Park was completed (end of July 2017).

I checked the website of this company everyday (sometimes more often) and was elated when I saw the position listed.  Within an hour I had transmitted my cover letter, resume and other material requested; then I waited…and waited…and waited.  Later that month, the position was no longer on the website; apparently, they had filled it without even calling me in for an interview!

Humiliation.

It seemed that no one was interested in hiring me; despite our hopes, we were back to ‘normal’ with me the house-husband and Kathy working.  I was REALLY frustrated and angry but was at the point in my walk with the Christ that despair and depression did not happen…much.  Then this past week it was as if cotton wool had been taken off my eyes (nothing to do with my new Rx of glasses); if all I could do was serve others through my volunteer activities, then that is what I would do.  Today I was reminded by an old friend (Chuck Swindoll, Insight for Living) of something A. W. Tozer wrote some time ago that has been true in my life over and over.

 

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly unless He has hurt him deeply.”

 

Amazingly, as a result of this past week, I am content with being a professional volunteer with both the USO-NC (Jacksonville Center) and the Battleship North Carolina.  There are some things I do to contribute to The Bridge Church; these activities (along with cooking for my beloved) are enough.

 

I Was Wrong…Again!

There have been times in my life when I’ve felt strongly about something and just knew that those feelings were supported by facts; but then…
I’m not exactly sure when Colin Kaepernick first ‘took a knee’ during the playing of the Nkaepernick-colin040116-getty-ftrjpg_uud2ztbqm3ni1fqoqvm69pcsdational Anthem, but my reaction was rather visceral (especially when others began to emulate this behavior).  It seemed to go against all that I’d ever learned or known and I felt was disrespectful of our nation’s flag and those who have died to protect us.  That we do have problems still in this nation between ethnicities is all too true.  We have made great strides in establishing a more level playing field for employment and housing, but there is much more that needs doing.

Mr. Kaepernick felt this strongly and struggled with how to express his concern.  The average person can just yell, protest or even post to Facebook (enough surely do that, regardless of the veracity of their claims), but those protestations are usually lost in the din of life every day.  As a second-string quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, he perhaps had a wider audience than most.  He spoke with other players, including a veteran, and decided that ‘taking a knee’ during the playing of the National Anthem was a way to garner the most attention to his concern.  Unfortunately, in the furor following this, his remarks as a way of explanation were mostly ignored.  His previous work in the community to better the plight of the disadvantaged was overlooked as well as his continuing efforts on their behalf off the field.

In the weeks and months since that first time, others have ‘taken a knee, ’ and the NFL has taken a huge hit in its’ revenues as well as having some long-time advertisers back away from their commitments.  It seems that in all the furor and vitriol, we have lost sight of what the original concern was; it has become (to many) an issue of patriotism and disrespecting law enforcement. But is it?
A vast majority of law enforcement are worthy of the badge and responsibility they carry (witness the recent mayhem in Las Vegas where only Veterans and police were running to the gunfire to save lives); sadly, there are many within both the military and law enforcement community who are not so honorable.  The very real fear that any black person may feel, especially at night, when pulled over by the police we cannot ignore.  It seems what is lacking in our sound-bite centered news cycled world is empathy.  Can we not at least try to put ourselves in their place?  Is it beyond the realm of possibility to recognize that this is an issue that must be addressed?

Let me be clear; I hate that this has become a shouting match between two ‘sides’ when we are all Americans.  Our country was founded by disparate groups, speaking different languages, with different cultures, but they TOGETHER forged a new nation dedicated to the fact that ALL men are indeed created equal.  After serving in the Navy during the Vietnam era and having my uniform spat on by those who saw it as a symbol of evil I am very much offended by anyone who does disrespect our flag or those serving to keep us free.  It angers me (as Mr. Kaepernick’s protest), and most of the time I refuse to even listen to the reasons why someone would do this.  What is equally true, however, is that those doing so are exercising their First Amendment rights.  If we prohibit such, what other ‘free speech’ is next?

Colin Kaepernick’s action had consequences that he probably did not foresee.  Could he have done this in a better manner or forum?  I don’t know; I’ve never yet met the man and can only go on what I’ve uncovered regarding his motivations for doing so.  In that research, by no means comprehensive, he has my respect for using the forum he did to garner attention to those who have no voice.  I wish there had been a better way that was not so controversial, but then the Boston Tea Party must have caused a stir when the patriots of long ago carried it out.

​Those who have jumped on this particular bandwagon may have done so out of good motives; again, not having spoken with them or known any of them, I cannot and will not condemn them outright.  As a citizen of this country and Veteran of military service, I love this nation and all it stands for (that is all it can and should stand for).  My hope as a citizen of America is that we can get past the vitriol and LISTEN to each other.  This nation is more divided now than any other time since the Civil War; as one lady in our community group at The Bridge Church ILM put it, “We need to be kind to people.”  As a citizen of God’s kingdom, that is something that resonates deeply within me; we need to be kind to each other.

I am and will always be a patriot and proud of being an American, but this does not mean that I have overlooked those things in this country that need changing. We can be one nation undivided, but it will take work and, as my old friend James put it so succinctly, “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” (James 1:19 ESV)
 



The End of a Dynasty

It is a troubling time in our nation and the need for conversation rather than rhetoric is more important than ever before. Mister Mac points out how we, as a nation, seem to have lost our way and forgotten our priorities. Bravo Zulu, Mister Mac; you will NOT be alone in standing while life is in me. The MARINES say it best; Semper Fidelis.

My Professor of Theology

It is a wonder how God can use His creation to teach us, to lead us in His Way.  I have experienced this in a multitude of ways in the past; from a very early morning on the beach, to the majesty and power of the surf compared with a swimming pool, even to how a small cat who longs to climb onto my shoulder…

I have been taught different truths before by C.J., our somewhat brain-damaged cat, but this morning was particularly wondrous.

My mind awakened this morning running at warp 12; it just wouldn’t  shut up and let me get back to sleep.  Finally surrendering to the inevitable, I got up and went into the ‘reading room’ to spend some time just trying to calm my spirit.  C.J. normally follows me around in my morning ablutions and medicine taking, waiting (impatiently) for me to pick her up and hold her on my shoulder.  It had never occurred to me how persistent she was throughout the day in having me do this; yes, she liked it when I refilled the food bowl or put fresh water in the water dish (with some ice mind you), but mostly just to be held on my shoulder and stroked.  To be completely honest, at times it was rather distracting, even irritating to be pursued by this little creature.  She would not stop crying until I acquiesced to her demands and picked her up!

Then, finally, this morning…

Awakened by a multitude of worries and problems, I just couldn’t go back to sleep.  Getting out of bed and getting dressed, I wandered out into the ‘reading room’ and sat down to begin my daily devotions.  It seemed that something was bothering me deep down and it just escaped me.  Opening my web browser on my laptop, I connected to Bible Gateway and began searching for a study or devotional centered on the Psalms.  Not finding what “I” was looking for, I just started looking for what was there and found Eternal Words, a series that combined Scripture readings with music designed to, “…bring Joy to your heart and Peace to your soul…”  I opened the first one, and within it, a quote from Psalm 131 struck my heart as what I’d been looking for;

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

 like a weaned child with its mother;

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Psalm 131:2 ESV

Okay, but what does that have to do with my roiled thoughts and anxiety this morning, and how does that fit in with C.J. normally following me around and crying to be picked up.  Wait a minute; it’s been over 30 minutes since the bed spat me out and no C.J.  Then it struck me; she wanted nothing more than to be held and cuddled by me.  No treats, food, water (even ice!); she just wanted to spend some time being held on my shoulder.

 

A weaned child wants nothing so much from the mother other than just that thing. They may be hungry (especially once they are teenagers!), but the Psalmist is speaking of the desire for God’s presence rather than His presents.  Magically (stop your laughing!), C.J. appeared crying to be picked up.  We spent over 30 minutes with my holding her close to my shoulder as we both reveled in the time spent together.

 

That is what God seemed to be telling me; more than all that He has already gifted me with, He desires my heart to long to be with Him, to pursue Him and for that to be not only sufficient but to be completely satisfying to my soul.

 

Amazing how my little professor of Theology has once again taught me so much.

 

 

 

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In the Waters of Pearl – Building the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base 1918-1945

Went through there once (briefly), but that one station above all else has a special something to it. Glad to see the history of this magical place.

theleansubmariner

I spent a number of years in my youth living and sailing out of Pearl Harbor. The last time we were there was in 2003 and the changes even then were astonishing. Many of the old buildings were still there but a modern bridge attached Ford Island to the mainland. The Chapel at Sub base was closed at that time and the Enlisted Men’s club was on limited hours as well.

But no matter how long you are away, some memories come back and overwhelm you. The smell of the many flowers as you arrive at the airport. The breeze of the trade winds that mask the heat of the bright sun. And the feeling of an unstated collection of long ago spirits that traveled through these islands on their war to long ago wars. As you stand by the finger piers looking across at the shipyards, you can hear…

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Some traditions are worth forgetting – Real Submariners

Another great one from Mister Mac; those in the smoke boats (especially WW 2 sailors) would ride the newbies even after we had our dolphins.

theleansubmariner

The Old Navy. The ship in the background was my Grandfather MacPherson’s ship during World War 1, USS Amphritite. Grandfather Mac was old Navy. His ship however was considered New Navy by the men who sailed on wooden ships with real sails.

Each submariner’s journey begins when they finish all of their training and the hatch closes when the last man is down. For a hundred and seventeen years, submariners have steered a course unique to their own generation and their own type of boat. From the wildly dangerous gasoline powered boats to the sleek new nuclear powered leviathans, submariners have all pioneered their own form of warfare facing unique challenges. In my lifetime, I have watched the demise of the diesel boats and an entire generation of nuclear boats that had vastly different missions and capabilities.

The lessons learned on the early boats have been passed along in design…

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41 For Freedom – SSBN Memories 41 Years later

Psalm 107:23-28New American Standard Bible (NASB)
23 
Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters;
24 
They have seen the works of the Lord,
And His [a]wonders in the deep.
25 
For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind,
Which lifted up the waves [b]of the sea.
26 
They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths;
Their soul melted away in their misery.
27 
They reeled and staggered like a drunken man,
And [c]were at their wits’ end.
28 
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.

Many memories pass through my mind; I can smell the amine and hear the whine of the turbines once again. Men (and now women) are now at sea in various parts of the world beneath the surface, protecting our nation from the myriad of enemies who wish us ill. Bless ’em all!

Thank you, Mr. Mac for another visit to memory lane. Fair winds and following seas, sir.

theleansubmariner

Its funny how an old picture can bring back so many memories. Whether a boomer sailor sailed out of Scotland, Guam, Rota or Charleston many of the events they experienced were similar. I don’t know how many hundreds of ballistic missile patrols were made. I am sure there were a lot.

Since the 1960s, strategic deterrence has been the SSBN’s sole mission, providing the United States with its most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability.

The world’s first operational nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) was USS George Washington (SSBN-598) with 16 Polaris A-1 missiles, which entered service in December 1959 and conducted the first SSBN deterrent patrol November 1960-January 1961. The Polaris missile and the first US SSBNs were developed by a Special Project office under Rear Admiral W. F. “Red” Raborn, appointed by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh Burke. George Washington was redesigned and rebuilt early in construction from a…

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Memorandum Number 68: FUTURE SUBMARINE WARFARE – 1923 (How America almost lost World War II before it even started)

Had this decision gone otherwise, we would have seen a very different beginning and end to WW 2.

theleansubmariner

In the final days of the Great War, Naval planners had seen first hand the devastation and destruction caused by the modern machines of war.

The submarine was an example of one of the most destructive. As plans were being made for the peace, decisions about the methods for maintaining that peace would have to be made. One of the grand ideas at the time was to limit the offensive powers of the world’s navies. In this rarely discussed report from 1923, the future of the American submarine force hung in the balance. One can only imagine how the world would look today if the planners had their way. The plucky little submarine fleet that survived the devastation at Pearl Harbor on December 7th may not have been available to punish the Japanese while the nation rebuilt.

These records are held in the Naval History and Heritage Command. I am grateful…

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Still serving – More resources for veterans and their families

Once again Mr. Mac comes through; some great links to assistance for all Veterans.

theleansubmariner

Once in a while, I get emails from people who have checked out the web site and found one of the pages meaningful. I recently got this email and wanted to share it with my readers.

Our veteran population is growing day by day and the issues and concerns they will have to face do not stop when they hang up their uniforms. We think of them sometimes but the problems they face are real and exist every day. Overcoming a long term health issue can be challenging when facing it alone so any additional resources mean making the difference between success and failure.

The Leansubmariner will continue to do its best to bring connections to people still fighting the country’s battles, even the ones they sometimes have to fight in silence.

Mister Mac

Hi,

I’m writing to thank you for the resources here you’ve put together to help those…

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The Old Submariner

Mister Mac says it like it was (and still is for the unsung heroes who traverse the world beneath the waves).

theleansubmariner

The Old Submariner

I sometimes don’t know where I’m going, but Oh, all the places I’ve been.

Wrapped up in a hull made of steel, with a crew of fine sailors locked in.

The missions are lonely and silent, the dangers untold with no yield,

But we still climb down the steel ladders, the hatches above us are sealed.

The sunlight’s a far distant memory, fresh air just a dream from the past

The world outside comes in short little bursts, from a buoy or a wire or a mast.

Between drilling and watches and work, there’s no place to be secluded

Surrounded by lights and companions, and pressure is always included.

In sub school they taught you the stories, of boats that exceeded design,

And others that found ancient mountains, nearly ending before it was time.

Fires and flooding and things that exploded, in a hull that is closed…

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