Monday, April 4, 2022

Vacation and Life Plans - General Update

Northern Lights, taken while visiting Alaska Oct-Nov 2021

Like I said in my I’m trying to get back into blogging more regularly. Something that has been on my mind for a while now is what I have planned for life after the military. Well, I know one thing … I do NOT want to stay in some kind of military-related job after retiring from the military. I joke all the time that I want all my clearances and certifications to expire at twenty years and never do anything military intelligence-related ever again after these years of service. I don’t hate what I do, but I’ve been looking for something of more significance in my life and in the lives of those I interact with. I want to do something more ministry-focused. I don’t know for sure what that will look like and I already do some ministry stuff, but I want to make that my main career, not a side-gig. Michelle (my wife in case you didn’t know) and I have been looking into what we want to do once I retire from the military. Our current plan goes something like this: retire from the military (4.5 years from now), shop around Michigan/Kentucky/West Virginia and maybe Ohio for 15+ acres of land to buy, buy that land and start building a farm/house/homestead, find a part-time or full-time ministry job like pastor for me. Of course, all of that is subject to change. If I finish my seminary degree and can be a military chaplain and I love that work, I might stay longer than twenty years in the military. If we can find an already established small farm/homestead, we’ll buy and renovate rather than buying and building a new house. Our goal is not really 100% self-sufficiency; we just want a nice-sized farm that provides much of our needs. I’ve also considered trying to run a small resort someday and that is still on the table. Essentially, we’d tag it on to the end of that plan and once our little farm is established we’d build a few cabins on the property and post them on AirBnB or have our own website or both. How involved we get with that is totally up in the air. We could make the resort our primary business (hosting camps/retreats for churches, business groups, etc.) or we could just have that as a feature of the farm where all we do is keep the rooms clean for the next set of visitors. We actually visited a camp not unlike what we are thinking of, yesterday after visiting with my parents. It’s called Higher Ground Camp. It is so small and obscure I literally cannot find a website for the camp, that link is to the Google Maps entry for the camp. The photos on Zillow/Realtor.com look lovely, but when we drove around it yesterday it certainly didn’t look as nice as the photos! Also, it was (sorta) on the market for $2.2M!? It’s not worth anywhere near that amount! I was talking with Michelle after our visit and on the drive back to her family’s house (where we stay when visiting family in Ohio). We talked about possibly working some kind of camp like that after I retire as well. The pastor who performed our wedding ceremony, his wife was a director of a camp in Bellefontaine, Ohio. I think that would be a good ministry for our family. I could lead the educational aspects of the camp and be the maintenance guy, Michelle could lead the other activities of the camp. And, if our boys want to be involved with the ministry, they could fit right in with whatever activities their talents lend them to. These are the kinds of things I’ve been thinking about while on vacation/visiting family in Ohio. We have already looked at some properties for sale down in Kentucky and got an idea of where we do NOT want to live. It was annoying because finding the actual properties that were for sale was virtually impossible; they weren’t marked. But, we were able to scope out the region/counties and see that we didn’t like the other properties in the area and ruled out some areas of Kentucky. We also drove up through rural, southern Ohio and love that area, but properties in Ohio are generally over-priced and mostly out of our budget. I would like to check out some areas in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan because I loved visiting Michigan all throughout my youth and think it would make a great place to build such a homestead/farm/resort/camp. Michelle used to work at a Boy Scout camp up in Michigan, so clearly that is an opportunity, though I think our camp wouldn’t be reserved for just Boy Scouts, but rather be open to churches and various other activities. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us! Until then, I’m going to keep plugging away at that seminary degree and working in military intelligence. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Getting Back into Blogging

Night-time American Village, Okinawa, Japan 35mm film
Well, it's only been almost two years since my last post! I think it's time to get this blogging going again. I used to love blogging. I don't know what happened! So much has happened in the past few years! My last post was back in July 2020, written mostly when I was deployed. One of the biggest changes in my life that I haven't written about before has been the introduction of penpalling. I found a penpal-finding Facebook page. It is a page dedicated to just posting something like: "I'm ____ and I'm looking for a penpal that is ...". In fact, the rules are written such that those are the only kinds of things you're permitted to post. Every once in a while there's a generic post about penpalling, not just looking for penpals. Well, I started writing a couple strangers and my parents. It's been a wonderful experience. Essentially, it's like having a couple new friends from all over the country. Unfortunately, because of various delays it seems like most of my penpals have dropped out of the penpalling hobby. One of them has stuck through the delays (while I was deployed I didn't write much), and I'm glad he has. I think hand-writing letters is a fun pastime that has died off. It makes me sad that people don't put pen to paper much anymore. I don't think it'll matter, but I'd love to think that my letters and my journals might matter to someone someday. I'm reading the book A Severe Mercy and it entails some letters back and forth between the author, Sheldon Vanauken, and C.S. Lewis. I will almost certainly never achieve the level of C.S. Lewis, but I'd like to think that someone might like what I have to say and want to keep them and maybe share them with someone someday. Well, for that to ever happen, I have to actually write things! So, here I am, writing. Hopefully I can keep it up more this time. I only wrote five entries in 2020 and only one in 2019!

One piece of news that I do really think I want to share in this mini update. I sat with our unit's representative chaplain. He works with multiple units but he comes to our squadron three days a week. Well, today I had a chance to sit down with the chaplain and chat. Our chat reaffirmed that I want to finish my seminary degree and become a military (preferably an Air Force chaplain). I did find out an interesting piece of information today. Chaplains, when they gain their commission incur a four-year commitment. That's fine with me. And, if I really like the position I'll want to stay. If I stay over twenty years active duty I'll earn a better retirement. The chaplain I chatted with started his role as chaplain after he had served twenty years. The upside here is that if it doesn't work out for me to become a chaplain I will be able to retire. Hopefully, it's God's plan that I become a chaplain. I feel like that's what I'm called to do. I've wanted this for several years and I enjoy teaching and preaching. I just need to finish my degree and get some experience and then I'll apply.