Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Episode 22 - Five Things We Do to Stay Close in Our Marriage

Olivia and I had the privilege and honor to serve as prayer volunteers for a recent Art of Marriage event at Bay Area Fellowship-Westside. The event was led by our friends Clem and Marvella Ortiz, and a great team of volunteers who served in areas like childcare, set up, refreshments, and production.

One of the women attending the event heard that I was a featured speaker for a men’s conference where I spoke about headship in marriage.

As soon as she made that connection, she put me on the spot and asked me, “What five things do you do to stay close in your marriage?” I stammered for a moment as I collected my thoughts, then answered her question.

It was then I decided to pay it forward by asking Olivia that same question in Episode 22 of Family Time Q&A.

Tune in to listen to Olivia’s response, and see how well her list matches with my own.

Olivia's question to Jerry: What have you enjoyed doing the most this Summer?

Jerry's question to Jacob: What five things do you think we do to stay close in our marriage?

Our question to you: What five things do you and your spouse do to stay close in your marriage? Share in the comments below. Thanks for listening.

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Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway

Friday, July 11, 2014

They Bet on Me to DIE?!

Most people think Army Basic Training starts the moment a bus arrives at an Army post, and a Drill Sergeant yells at all the "low-life privates" to get off the bus, heads are shaved, then you're in the Army now.

The reality is that isn't even the beginning! That's just in-processing. The next four days for me were spent filling out paperwork, getting measured for uniforms, immunizations, and paying for my first Army-regulation haircut. Yeah, those aren't free.

Finally, Day Zero!

Day Zero is what we referred to as the start of a training class. I was packed into a cattle truck like a sardine, bogged down with duffle bags full of my gear and what personal belongings I could keep. My arms were burning at the shoulders thinking, "When do I get to put this stuff down?" HA!

We came to a stop, the doors opened, and a pack of Drill Sergeants yelled at us, "Get off my cattle truck! Get off my cattle truck! Run, don't walk! That way, Private! Get off my cattle truck!" This was the welcome party. Training would start the next day, but the pain would start now.

Separated into four platoons of 64 men, we were introduced to our Senior Drill Sergeant for B Battery, 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery Regiment. The other instructors were introduced for each platoon, then we were acquainted with the "assist/insist teaching method" where Drill Sergeants would initially assist us in learning new skills, then insist we do it over and over until we got it right. After doing less than 40 push ups in the dry, summer heat of Oklahoma, I made the mistake of thinking we were done for the day. Nope!

Drill Sergeant Pinkley filed my platoon upstairs to give us a "tour" of our barracks. It was immediately clear that this was code for It's-too-hot-to-do-fitness-training-outside-so-we'll-do-it-in-air-conditioning-instead. Push ups, sit ups, flutter kicks, overhead arm-claps, and front-back-go! Drill Sergeant Abreau came in to share with us his favorite game of "Get Down! Get Up! Get Down! Get Up! Get Down! Get Up!" Two Reservist Drill Sergeants also chimed in. This was our real orientation before training started the next day. I was more soaked with sweat indoors with the air-conditioning than outside in the heat!

Best Motivational Speech Ever

My arms felt like two limp, wet noodles, and I joined the many people who mistakenly groaned when Drill Sergeant Pinkley took the lead again for more calisthenics. That's when I heard the most inspiring motivational speech ever [Insert sarcasm here.]

"Welcome to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the toughest basic training school in the U.S. Army! Every year, someone dies from heat stroke. We are already in June, and no one has died yet! So, I am going to P.T. you until someone eff-ing dies!"

To my horror, every head turned to look at me right at that moment.

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9 1/2 Weeks Later...

Looking back, Basic Training wasn't so hard. It was actually pretty easy compared to some of the stuff that came later in my Army career. I served as Platoon Guide (a student leadership position over the entire platoon), missed the Distinguished Honor Graduate position by just a few points, and was nicknamed by my classmates as "The Mighty, Mighty Dugan" for my tenacity, loyalty, and perseverance.

A weird thing started happening around Week 8 though. On occasion, a classmate would walk up to me to congratulate me, shake my hand, and even admit they didn't expect me to make it this far. It was when someone came up to me and actually said, "I lost money on you," when I started asking what the heck was going on.

On Day Zero, someone started a betting pool on who would be the "one guy" who died from heat stroke. I was the person identified as most likely to die. The stakes were even higher if you could predict WHEN I would die from heat stroke. There were even lesser pools on when I would wash out, fail my physical fitness test, shoot myself in the foot, etc. Many people placed their money on me failing the final physical fitness test. No one had counted on my buddies Dyar and Grimes running with me to make sure I passed that test. Dyar ran with me the whole way. Grimes came back for me after running his test, noticed we were running too slowly, then picked up the pace for us. I had barely finished that race.

Failure Was Never an Option

Had I known about the betting pool, it would have been easy for my mind to feed those doubts into reality for myself. Fortunately for me, I never knew about those doubts until people saw that I was succeeding. That was when people either shared their support for me, or their disappointment that I was not living up to their lower expectations of me.

The truth is that I succeeded and thrived in basic training because failure was never an option for me. I placed myself in situations where it was worse to go back than to push forward. Having Drill Sergeants "assisting" me aggressively even had me believe that it was worse to never try an obstacle than to take that obstacle full-on.

In my life today, I still firmly believe that inaction is the deadliest thing to your dream. Inaction is fueled by people telling you the odds are stacked against you, but it is ultimately fueled by you actually believing the doubts of your naysayers.

Make your own odds for success, and eventually you'll find that you shattered the odds people stacked against you.

When was a time you achieved an accomplishment despite having doubters and naysayers betting against you? Comment below.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Use It or Lose It - Inalienable Rights

Corpus Christi Hooks 4th of July game, 2011. Whataburger Field.
Happy Independence Day to you and your family! While I share this picture from a 4th of July Corpus Christi Hooks game in 2011, I hope you are able to enjoy a safe, fun-filled holiday. I am grateful we live in a nation where freedom is prized even though that does come with greater risk and responsibility than most countries.

On my blog this week, I re-posted an entry from May 2011 where I reflect on returning home from Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Read "My Own Replacement")

I remember clearly seeing video and news stories of people protesting the 2003 invasion of Iraq before our mission kicked off. Some soldiers were hurt by this, even angered, but I was grateful. Seeing those protests gave me hope that terror hadn't won in our nation.

By Unknown or not provided
[Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
We are still a country that embraces the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Protecting our rights to free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble is important to me, but USING those rights is even more important.

Much like someone who accrues too much paid time off at work, we have a "Use it or lose it" arrangement. The less we use our inalienable rights, the more likely they will be stripped from us gradually. If not by government directly, then by our own inaction.

With that said, Happy Independence Day, and never waste your God-given rights. Use your rights with confidence and responsibility.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Episode 21 - Favorite Holidays, Open Communication, Golden Rule, and Platinum Rule

Alternate Title: Why, Adela, Why?! (Jacob’s response to this episode’s question.)

Summer 2014
My son has reached that time in his life where he is branching out in his teen life, and he finds himself feeling more embarrassed about what he can and cannot share with us. Our hope is that he will come to us for every aspect about his life, share with us things that are troubling him, and come to us with advice.

For that to happen, we definitely need to foster a relationship where he feels safe coming to us. Fortunately, Jacob isn't worried about us being judgmental towards him, but he is concerned that we would embarrass him or make fun of him when he does come forward. This episode was a great reminder to me that the communication I have with my son has to be in such a way that it builds trust so he can come to me with openness and I can continue to guide him through the most difficult years of his youth.

Jacob's question to Jerry: What is your favorite holiday?

Jerry's question to Jacob: What do you wish your parents knew about your life right now that we may not totally get?

Special thanks to Adela Garcia from Corpus Christi, Texas for the question I was able to ask Jacob.

Our question to you: How do you keep the communication channels open with your child? Are there rules or guidelines you keep about how you respond to your kids so they continue to trust you? What are must-dos and don’t-ever-dos you have in communicating with your child or teen?

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Thanksgiving History facts from History Channel
40 Developmental Assets by Search Institute
Platinum Rule vs. the Golden Rule for customer service by’s Janet Carmichael @Carmich_J

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

8 Characteristics of Effective Teams - EdTechJerry

I want to share this post about eight characteristics of effective teams from my professional blog, EdTechJerry.

What are some must-haves for effective teams that you think this list leaves out? Be sure to post your comment on this blog, or on EdTechJerry. Of course, I’d be honored if you’d share this post with your friends, family, colleagues, educators, etc.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

My Own Replacement

Originally published on May 28, 2011
February 2003, Kuwait, Decontamination drill.
This vehicle would be my home for 3 months.
It was a bunk, a tent, an awning, an ambulance,
a command vehicle, whatever we needed it to be.

I served as a U.S. Army medic invading Iraq in 2003 with the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, 3rd Infantry Division. Like in the movies, I wrote my final letter to my wife letting her know how much I loved her. Unlike the movies, I actually mailed mine right before the invasion began. I was sure I would be killed in action. The experience was surreal, and today I often forget that I was even there. Once in a while, I get a powerful reminder of how lucky I was, or how un-deservingly blessed I am. In May 2011, my church, Bay Area Fellowship, had a Humvee on stage for the Memorial Day weekend. The configuration of the Humvee was the high-back, cargo-type similar to what I rode and drove into Iraq. I found myself getting choked up as I told my family that I rode in something like that. They had a glimpse into a life they have never really known, my life in the Army.

I made it to Baghdad in one piece and survived two fire fights where I almost moved into gunfire both times. We expected to have our worst casualties in the capital city. I'd definitely buy it then, I was dancing with death. We didn't take any casualties as a matter of fact.
Day 3 of Operation Iraqi Freedom outside of As Samawah.
My view from the back of the Humvee.

We occupied a barracks said to be the training grounds for the Republican Guard and it was next to a missile research & manufacturing facility. We experienced a drive-by shooting almost every night. The missile complex was always overrun with looters and I was part of a small, 3-man patrol without a radio that ran the same looters out every day. In a short amount of time, I was becoming a monster living in a hell of my own making. A Christ follower eventually challenged me on what I was doing, and I found myself praying to God for the very first time since I was a little kid.

I went into my room which doubled as the platoon aid station and prayed, "God, if you're listening to me, you better replace me with a man my wife deserves as a husband and the father my children need to grow up into good people." I had made that same prayer the day the invasion kicked off, too. Well, I obviously made it home. I recently had a conversation about how we surrender our lives, die to our own desires and self, to become who God planned for us to become, then it hit me. God DID replace the man who made that prayer. He made me into my own replacement!

Day 7 of Operation Iraqi Freedom after a nasty 3-day sandstorm that turned everything red by day and pitch black by night.

When I made that prayer in Baghdad, I was expecting to die a violent death before it was time to come home. It was only a matter of time that my 3-man patrol would be overrun by a hundred angry looters looking for revenge, but that time never came. The reality is that in a spiritual sense I did die out there, and God replaced me on the inside with a man who returned to his family in July 2003 changed to be the husband and father my family needed.

Seeing the effects of our artillery strikes as we enter Baghdad in early-April 2003.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Episode 20 - Double Standards, Teen Dating, and Ironing With Sprite

There's a time in one's life when one must iron with Sprite. Listen to this episode to see how that turned out. Plus, are there any double standards our kids experience from their parents, and my daughter wants to know why her brother can have a girlfriend but she can't have a boyfriend. Yikes!

Important note: Emma whispers something to me at 9:20 for a few seconds, so don’t panic! The podcast didn’t fail. It’s Emma whispering something to me.

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Emma's question to Jerry: What did you do to the iron the other day?

Jerry's question to Emma: Do you experience any double standards in how [Olivia] and I parent you and your brother? (Had to explain “double standards”.)

Our question to you: How would you, or have you, handled your kids dating? What boundaries would you set? What would you allow, and why?

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