Pray for the Score

The Command Cyber Readiness Inspection kicked off at 0800 on Monday morning September 19th. The months of preparing had come to an end but the lessons to be learned were far from over.

We got a great start on Monday, so I felt it was safe to remind the boss I wanted the Marines to get some time off for all of their hard work and efforts preparing for the CCRI. His answer remained what it’d been the last couple of weeks – “We’ll see what the score is. There’s still a long way to go.” His answer then, like it had before, infuriated me.

I didn’t care about the score. I wanted him to recognize how much work they had put into this inspection. The countless extra hours, effort and extra miles. I wanted him to recognize the Marines and Civilians went above expectations to ensure we would be successful. I wanted him to stop thinking about himself and recognize his staff. I went home yet again upset and disappointed.

I woke the next morning and one of my first thoughts reflected back on how I simply wasn’t getting through to the boss. I began my morning prayer and soon received a message from the Holy Spirit. I was being stubborn. I’m nowhere near as stubborn as I used to be, but I hadn’t realized my stubbornness had in fact struck again. I wanted the boss to see things my way. I wanted him to change, I wanted him get it. However, Holy Spirit told me “Stop being stubborn. Pray for the score. He’s focus on the score, so pray for God to deliver.”

The Holy Spirit lives in us to assist us in many ways – one major area where He assist is in showing us what to pray for. Romans 8:26 “26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

I began to pray for a score that would validate the Marines and Civilians for all of their hard work. A score that would ensure they got was they deserved for all of their efforts. My faith was put to the test when later that day I was briefed about 100’s of CAT IIs on the networks (SIPR and NIPR). I was in shock because there’s no way we had left that many enumerated CAT IIs on the network. I told all the Marines to stand by after the inspector’s hotwash that afternoon because I would be having one of my own.

At the hotwash, more details were uncovered about those CAT IIs and we began to build our case for the inspector. You see, those CAT IIs were actually CAT IV Info findings on Retina and didn’t even appear on the ACAS scans. Additionally, we had already captured documentations on the very issue that created these CAT IIs. On Wednesday morning, we pleaded our case with the inspector, who then said best he could do was to take it to the lead inspector for a decision.

As he walked out of the office to go explain the situation, I said a prayer. I had to run out of the office for a while so by the time I returned, everyone was coming by to ask me if I’d heard. We had won our case! I was so happy. I was so proud we had all pulled together to “fight” this issue. It once more proved what an incredible team we all were.

By Wednesday, things were looking quite good. I was at peace. I didn’t expect any bad surprises. I knew God had us in his capable hands. It made me realize that while I trusted God to ensure all things worked together for my good; I didn’t trust I could intercede on behalf of others. I just didn’t know if He would give me what I wanted for others. I have prayed for others before and some prayers have been answered but this seemed different. It involved so many people and I didn’t know if He wanted for them what I wanted for them. Of course once I received the message from the Holy Spirit it made it much easier to have faith He wanted to deliver what I wanted for everyone…well, almost everyone.

The score would turn out to be the highest Phase III score in the Marine Corps this year. The first 90 (NIPR) the inspectors had seen in Phase III. We had in fact Rocked It!! God delivered the right conditions for our efforts to shine and for all of us to feel super happy and proud of ourselves.

The boss got what he wanted. A score that allows him to show off. He didn’t bat an eye when he accepted the praises at the outbrief from the Deputy Commander who recognized his leadership as being key to doing so well. Many around the table awaited for him to give the credit where the credit was due and cringed when he didn’t. I was disappointed and upset not because I wanted the credit, but because I wanted the opportunity to pass it on to Marines and Civilians around the table and room. He robbed me of that but what I needed wasn’t from him or the Deputy Commander.

What I needed came later that evening from two of the Marines I worked with the closest. I wanted to know I made a difference for the Marines. Had an impact on them. They validated me when they told me I pushed them to be better, I motivated them to keep going and they would never forget what they came to realize they were capable of achieving thanks to me. I assumed I had made a difference but hearing it made my heart jump with joy.

It’s the following Monday now and I’m writing this post from the beach in Elounda, on Crete Island, Greece. The Marines are back to work…moving on to the new and latest issue and fire. They’ll each be taking their 96s over the next few weeks and many are getting ready to PCS. I won’t forget what I was blessed to share with all of those Marines and Civilians and how much they and the Lord taught me in the process.

Failing to Believe in the Women Marines

I was hit on Facebook yesterday by someone saying they saw me on CNN…obviously that caught my attention so I started Googling to find the story.  I found the news story along with a plethora of other headlines that have me extremely disappointed and saddened for the next generation of Female Marines who are trying to be trail blazers.  I have been disappointed too many times by Marine Corps Leadership and I’m too far along in my own career in the Marine Corps to feel personally hurt by these headlines:

” Most female U.S. Marines can’t do minimum standard three pullups amid debate over combat roles for women”

“The Marines Have Decided That Women Are Too Wimpy To Have To Do Pullups”

“Marines back off pullup requirement for women after many fail”

But it does break my heart for all the young women out there who are busting their butts to meet and rise beyond the standards, like the women who completed the School of Infantry.

When the ALMAR 046/12 was released announcing the change to the PFT for women; I was ecstatic but I know a few women who weren’t too happy about it, but they quickly rolled up their sleeves and started to get ready for the change.  It’s not easy to be a Female Marine.  We know what we signed up for…if you didn’t, then you aren’t going to make it – it’s just the way it is. Women Marines joined the Marine Corps to be challenged, to be part of the best and we don’t expect to be treated differently.  Don’t know how many battles I’ve fought in order to not be treated differently. Enough to be exhausted by it.

The fact that the decision was reversed based on statistics from Recruit Training is even more disheartening.  Unless those young girls did what I did and started to hit the gym as soon as they decided to be Marines, there is no way they were going to be able to do pull-ups in boot camp.  It is a fact that women are weaker in their upper bodies…it takes a lot of training to build the necessary strength but that’s doesn’t mean we don’t expect them to do it. Plenty have and are doing it!

I despise the flex arm. The stronger your upper body is…the harder the stupid flex arm becomes. I want to retain the option to do either or; flex arm or pull ups.  What better way to keep collecting data then to give either options and see what Female Marines in THE FLEET (actual women who have already earned the title) decide to do. I believe in my sisters in arms – I know they will rise to the challenge.  It’s the reason they became Marines – to be challenged, to do what’s hard, to be best…it’s not fair to take that away from them by dropping the standards.

I am disappointed but I also know the headlines will go away and Female Marines will keep fighting the good fight like they always have…this is a setback but it won’t defeat us.  The fight is definitely more up to the younger generations but I am totally here to provide the supporting fires!!

Solving my Identity Crisis for a Car

Keeping me hostage on Panzer Kaserne is the lack of a vehicle.  I have frequently visited the nearby portion of the PX parking lot where cars for sale can be found along with the Stuttgart and Ramstein Bookoo sites. Unfortunately, I’ve found myself a day late and dollar short more than once in my search thus far.

I’ve shared my pain and difficulties with the folks I work with and they’ve recommended I consider another option since I sold my vehicle back in the States prior to coming here.  They’ve suggested instead of buying an inexpensive vehicle and potentially end up with a lemon that will leave me stranded on the Autobahn; I should buy a new vehicle I will get to fully enjoy on the Autobahn and then have it ship back to the States (for free if it’s a BMW or Mini) for use back in the States.

I initially embraced this suggestion only to find myself smack in the middle of an identity crisis.

Almost exactly ten years ago, I was preparing to leave Okinawa to come back State side and found myself sitting in the Military Car Sales office trying to decide what kind of vehicle to get.  This was to be my first brand new vehicle and I wasn’t sure what to get.  However, the new Explorer Sport Trac had caught my attention.  I was getting stationed at Quantico and imagined I would start being more of an outdoors woman when I got back and an Explorer Sport Trac would definitely meet my needs!

In the ten years I owned my Explorer Sport Trac I never once went camping, hiking, canoeing, kayaking or did any other activity I imagined when I bought the truck.  However, I did move many times and found myself on many occasions packing my Sport Trac to the max.  It ended up serving me very well.  It slowed me down (it didn’t handle curves all that well) and it was a very reliable vehicle.  Selling it prior to coming here was hard but the time had come for something new…but what?!?

The purchase of a vehicle is a pretty big and important one.  I will carry a note for 4-5 years for it and I expect for the vehicle to last me 10 years with no major issues.

We buy vehicles to meet our needs, our preferences and our personalities based on our budgets…but what do you do when some of those are unknowns?

I don’t know what my needs for a vehicle will be when I go back to the States. Will I need a vehicle much like my last one where I can store all that I need to move around? Where will I be living when I get back? What will I be doing?

Aside from those unknowns, there’s also figuring out my preferences and personality when it comes to material things.  I’m a simple person.  I don’t buy expensive things.  Since pursuing my entrepreneurial endeavors, I’ve been broke and haven’t been able to enjoy, afford and take pleasure in nice things.  These last 12 months, because I’ve been making a good income back in the Marine Corps – I’ve slowly been indulging in some nicer things but with much reluctance. I don’t want to need nice things and be controlled by them. So many people make bad decision in the name of materialism and I don’t want that to be me.

I like convenient, comfortable, reliable…something that comes with great customer service and something I can believe in.  I would love to become a more conscientious consumer.  To be financially conscientious, environmentally and socially conscientious…however, much like my ideal of being an outdoors woman, what I’ve listed are other ideals I do a great job coming short of achieving.

My choices of auto makers run the gamut; Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volvo…to all the American made brands.  BMW will ship for free. Buying here means no payment of initial sales tax (depending where I register it back state side – I’ll probably encounter some sales tax).

A car, a truck, a SUV or even a Mini…what is Me?  I don’t know.  I’m 36, single, no kids and no idea of where I’ll live or will be doing a year from now.  God is calling me to the Foreign Service but don’t know how long it will take for me to make it through their whole process. If it’s quick – I could be in another foreign county this time next year not needing said car I’m racking my brain about now.

As I’m writing this post, what comes to mind is the saying “When in Rome” and what I did and enjoyed very much when I first moved to New Orleans.  When I moved to New Orleans I decided to live in the French Quarter in a luxuriously furnished apartment with a patio and really live it up.  It cost a few pennies but rewarded me with 6 wonderful months of excellent living that was outside of my norm.

I don’t know what the future holds, but it would appear that for the next 10 months I can afford a nice BMW and I would take pleasure in driving around Europe…therefore, it is well worth considering simply going with living in the moment…

The Desire to Yell and Scream

I’ll admit it – I have the intense desire to throw a tantrum, yell, and scream right now.  I have so many big plans, goals and desires burning intensely inside of me and so little progress taking place in seeing them come to fruition.

I have much to be grateful for and I take none of those things for granted. It just never fails that the pace, tempo and actual results of my efforts constantly lag behind my intentions, desires and vision.

It is the BIGGEST cross I carry each and every day. I struggle greatly with not getting angry and frustrated with God for keeping me in this slow pace momentum when he has placed so much greatness in my heart and soul.

Each and every day I do all that I can, I pray, and I lean on God to open up the way and to connect me with the right people.  I experience some progress here and there, but nothing so far that is anything close to what I envision. I keep trying to get creative and keep finding my hands tied. I can’t do it – God has to work through me and send me what I need…why isn’t He?  I just don’t know.

My dreams have pushed me to my limits so many times.  They have changed me into the person I am today and they have also left me completely clueless as to what they want from me.

Life is about following your dreams and living up to your potential.  Life is about growing, learning and moving forward. Life is about answering the call God placed on our lives. I don’t doubt that for one second, which is why I am left in so much confusion to the stagnant progress of my life.

It’s insane that with all the good things that have happened and the progress and growth that have occurred I still find myself knee deep in a struggle. The struggle is between the slow reality of my life and the intensity of my dreams.  The struggle is in my mind and caused by the burning desires of my vision.

To remain at peace, faithful and obedient at times like this is an immense battle. A battle I have not come to terms with completely. I absolutely love what I am doing – I want to be able to continue what I do and grow it to new levels.  Whatever is causing the hold up; I pray God shines a light on it so I can address it.

We all fight different battles and deal with our own struggles when we go into the full pursuit of our dreams and who we are meant to be. Some days are better than others – can’t quit, give up, turn back, digress, or do something stupid when the bad days come…the struggles are defining our character, testing our faith, and deciding what is waiting on the other side.

The Conflict Between Faith and Logic

Last Friday I had an emotional breakdown…I woke up filled with fear because my flesh, the enemy and logic were screaming at me to look at my circumstances and face reality. I spent the day in prayer and making sure I was not in fact going slightly insane, which made me realize just how much conflict there is between faith and logic.

Logic and Reality

It’s downright difficult to avoid and deny reality unless you are well…in complete denial and/or suffering from a psychological disorder. There’s nothing pleasant about my reality. My reality while applied to common logic would dictate that if I stay on my current path, poverty and homelessness are in my very near future; unless I take some sort of action to prevent what seems to be logically the inevitable.

It’s what I woke up on Friday consumed with – my head screaming at me TO DO SOMETHING.

Faith and the Spirit

When choosing to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and living a life based on faith and relationship with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit…you sometimes have to throw logic out of the window because Faith has very little to do with logic. Faith is based on what can’t be seen…while reality is all about what is seen, felt and being lived. This is a source of conflict for someone like me…someone just starting out in my walk with God who also happens to be facing some seriously dire circumstances.

My faith has grown in leaps and bounds over the last year and half and I definitely handle attacks against my faith and bouts of doubt very differently now.  I don’t experience anger, resentment, and frustrations towards God – I remain faithful, grateful and obedient.  However, I do experience fear, some pain and confusion.  Fear that God will not provide for my needs, fear and uncertainty about His promises and confusion about what is written and promised in the Word of God compared to what my life and circumstances are revealing.

Matthew 6:25-33 reads: Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sew nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is today alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious saying, ‘What shall we eat,’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

According to Matthew and many other verses in the Bible, I have absolutely nothing to fear or worry about. God is working in my life and will provide for all of my needs according to his riches.

The TOTAL IRONY of this situation is I didn’t use to be afraid when I was left to providing for myself because I would always hustle to make something happen or take on a job, billet in the Marine Corps…whatever I needed in order to have the money I needed. However, let me also be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR, providing for myself/making decisions based on the needs of my flesh vice the needs to my spirit lead me to extreme pain, depression and complete misery.

What causes me mild pain right now is how uncomfortable my flesh (body and mind) are with the situation and the fact God is not calling me to act in any kind of way!!

While it feels like my circumstances are worsening, God is not guiding me to do anything…as a matter of fact; He is telling me to hold steady and have faith.  I suck at doing nothing. I suck at waiting.  I mean I get it – God is asking me to show my faith by asking me to do what makes me the MOST UNCOMFORTABLE. NOTHING.

It’s different for different people. It’s what we struggle with the most that is laid in our paths. Over the last 2 years, God has laid a variety of opportunities to highlight my shortcomings, flaws and sinful nature; I addressed each and every one of them and He provided for me. I know the pattern, I know how He works, and I know what His Word says about my situation (Deuteronomy 28 is another perfect chapter in the Bible that addresses what I’m facing) so why do I still get effected by the attacks?

I’m weak.  We are all weak and the attacks are constant opportunities to keep turning, leaning and praying to God. His answer to what I’m going through remains the same – hold steady but He also provides me with the renewed strength to do just that.

What Logic Can’t Explain

My relationship with God, the certainty of the calling on my life and what I know awaits me according to God’s promises cannot be logically explained. My walk with God and obedience to His will for my life do not apply only when it feels convenient, makes complete sense and is easy to do; it’s a full commitment in order to continue to grow into the person God created me to be and fulfill His plan for my life.

I wouldn’t put myself into this insanely uncomfortable place I’m currently in and I certainly would be clueless how to survive, continue to get up every morning and function…never mind thrive in what seems like an impossible situation heading into inevitable disaster. It’s obvious God is at work in my life and providing me with the strength I require to keep moving forward towards what He’s got in store for me. While illogical, it makes perfect sense…FAITH.

Graduate School to the Rescue?!?

The last couple of weeks things have been “changing”… generally speaking, it’s been little changes in my reactions, thinking process, increase in interests and the most apparent manifestation has been in my comebacks and wittiness. At first I thought it was the additional carbs and calories in my diet that were providing more fuel for thinking power (it does sound ridiculous) but I know when I’m “different”, “off” or in this case “on”.

But then, I started coming up with too much “stuff”; like new ideas, questions, theories etc. And although I’m in the process of writing my first e-book that hasn’t helped negate what’s happening and in fact, might be making it worst.

Today, as I found myself entangled in various tangents, I realized what’s happening. My brain power is no longer tied up with school – it has been set free to roam.  For the last 18 months, I have been in school non-stop with a pretty heavy load; it was not straining but definitely occupying my mind. Now that the load has been lifted – I’m finding myself thinking, wondering, searching…tinkering – whatever you want to call it.

I have a very active mind and imagination. It’s why I’m entrepreneur; it’s why I body build in order to keep myself focused, occupied, “tasked”.  I don’t have ADD…well one of my sister’s would argue otherwise and may be she isn’t too far off…since I feel I have to keep my brain “loaded” in order to keep it from running rampant…

I might have to reconsider putting off Grad school until later.  I just might need to continue with school if things don’t pick up with the business.  Ideally, I’ll get rocking and rolling once my e-book is released and I’ll have a full plate to keep me satisfied – if not, I probably need to look into some classes again