Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lessons Learned While Dining With the Troops

Hello fellow moonbats,

My wife's brother, Cliff, is a retired Army guy. He now works for the State of Oregon helping vets find jobs when they get out of the service. A while back he stopped by our house and picked up some stuff to take back home for his daughter. As we were loading up his trunk he handed me an MRE pack. For all you civilian types, these are the ready-to-eat meals that our young soldiers eat in the field when they are out on missions away from their bases. They are what many of our young soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan experience every day. I promptly stuck it away in a closet and forgot about it.

However, recently my wife, Ramel, was gone for three days to a pastors' wives retreat so I was baching it at home (that's short for "bacheloring," by the way, and has nothing to do with Johann Sebastian Bach). The first night I ate some old dried out fried chicken that I found in the refrigerator. I had a can of chili the second night. But on the third night, while poking around in the pantry looking for some grub, I came across that MRE. I decided to check it out.

It turned out to be kind of a weird experience for me. As I slit open the heavy green plastic packet with my tactical knife I began to remove the items one by one. It gave me a strange sensation. All of a sudden I felt like I was looking at the scene through the eyes of a hungry young soldier. All of the individual packets inside were Army green. There was one that said, "Crackers." To go along with those there was a generous tube of creamy peanut butter. There was another packet that claimed to be, "Western Beans." To be honest the first thing that came to my mind when I read that was the campfire scene from the movie, "Blazing Saddles," but let's not go there. They turned out to be very tasty. The entrée packet claimed to be, "Steak With Mushroom Gravy." That sounded promising indeed.

In among the other things was a special plastic bag with a chemical heating agent in it. The instructions said to insert the entrée packet and then pour a couple of ounces of water down the side. Then you are supposed to fold down the flap and insert the whole thing into the little paper box provided. The instructions suggested propping the packet up against a rock while waiting for the food to heat, but I made do by laying it on the bread board. What happened was quite amazing. It started heating immediately and got very hot. Within 10 minutes the food was ready to eat. While I was waiting I mixed 8-ounces of cold water with the beverage packet that said, "Grape Drink." The instructions advised me to use only purified water from my canteen but I took a chance and used tap water.

The whole meal was surprisingly good, and my stomach was full when I finished. There were even two medium sized Tootsie Rolls for dessert. I sat there alone, thinking about the brave young men and women who might have been eating the very same MRE off in some forgotten corner of Afghanistan. It gave me a strange feeling.

But there was something else, too, though I'm not sure I can do an adequate job of explaining it. I began to think about how I looked forward with excited anticipation as I opened up each one of those silly little food packets, unsure what I would find in them. I was amazed at the little chemical "stove." I enjoyed every bite of the steak and finished off every drop of the gravy.

I got to thinking how I go through so much of my life, day after day, without noticing or appreciating little things or looking forward to new experiences. I've become sort of jaded; nothing much surprises me anymore. Life has few adventures left for me. But that is not really true, is it? That is a messed up perspective. Life, every day, should be an adventure. Certainly, with God in the picture you never know what is going to happen. He has a funny way of upsetting your apple cart. I think He has to do that sometimes just to wake us up to smell the roses.

I want to live life every day the way my little granddaughter, Natalie, does. She sits and watches everything, with big brown eyes that grow even bigger when she sees something new. She smiles all the time and laughs a lot. I want to be more like her, because I think that when we lose the wonder of life, the joy of living, we become poorer in spirit, indeed.

The Bible says that real life is to truly know Christ, "...whom to know is life eternal." We were created by God to enjoy this life and to look forward to the next.

Dear Lord, please help me to see every day as an adventure, a blank page. Help me not to grow old in my mind and in my attitudes, but to always be like little Natalie, looking at the world around me in wide-eyed wonder, always excited about what's in the next package. And help me to always remember that the best is yet to come.

Hoping for a great dessert in Heaven,


  1. Nicely written. So many people chase that rainbow over the next ridge convinced that when they finally get there, they will at last be happy. So often all you really need are the small and simple things that are already closest to you. A pity that too many people chase those rainbows and never really experience the gift of being content with the simple (but HUGE) things they already have.

  2. Hi Jeff,
    I couldn't agree more. It's easy to become so myopic that we only see the problems at hand and totally miss the bigger picture of the good things that we already have, and the fact that we have a good Father who is still in charge and wants the best for His kids. A long time ago I heard someone say that "Attitude determines altitude." It's true. Our attitude toward God, toward life, toward ourself, and toward other people in large part determines how high we will be able to soar in this life. It is sad to observe how much time many of us spend crawling in the dust instead of soaring with the eagles. Thanks for reading my blog.

  3. You do a good job writing, which makes it easy to read, even if I don't agree with you. Although, most of the posts I've read have been smooth sailing.


    As for the one I don't agree with..... gotta keep you conservative guys stirred up a bit too :)


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