My Angel is a Soldier

When I saw this picture today, my heart swelled up with pride and my eyes swelled up with tears. My daughter Sarah is a Soldier the U.S. Army. She’s a platoon leader and before she left I told her that she was a leader, not a follower. I’ve always been proud of her but seeing her in this picture, in army fatigues, and with the flag of the United States on her shoulder just put me in awe of her. The other kids in that picture are not mine but I’m proud of them too. I can’t speak for those other kids (adults really but they’re so young) but I know what my Sarah is made of. She’s fearless and brave. She’s a defender of others and she always has been. She has a heart of gold and it’s filled with fire when she sees a goal in front of her. She’s a fighter and nothing will defeat her when she sets her mind to something. 

I sat in my car for a little while and sent that picture to several family members. I was about to go on my evening walk at the bayfront and the feeling of pride was overwhelming. As i walked along the waters edge i asked a man that was fishing if he had had any luck, “just little bites” he told me. I talked with him for a brief moment and he asked how my day was going. I told him, “it couldn’t be better.” He said, “that’s good” and I couldn’t resist but to show him the picture and tell my daughter is in the army and I got this picture today. He smiled and said, “God bless her. I know you’re a proud daddy.” I told him I sure was and I wished him luck and I was on my way. I feel so grateful that Sarah was given to me as a daughter and no matter what difficulties I’ve faced in life, I’ve been able to feel that feeling of being proud of not only Sarah but my other kids, Allie and Isaiah, as well . They’re the best kids and I know they will all be successful. 

They will all have their shining moments and I know that although Sarah may not realize how I felt about her today, today is the day I felt I was going to burst with pride for her. My heart aches a little because I miss her so much. My Angel is a soldier. I love you Lulu. 

Medals

I was working on a project tonight and something triggered a memory of an album that I used to have. The album was called Medals by Russ Taff. Russ Taff used to sing in a Christian group called The Imperials. When I was a small child, I would listen to my father’s Imperials records and one of my favorite songs was called The Eagle Song. I was just a kid but as I got a little older, Russ Taff split off from the Imperials and my brother bought the cassette Medals. I was 15 when the album came out. I remember coming to Corpus Christi one summer and I had one of the old Sony Walkmans that played cassettes. I went to the beach with one of my cousins and her friends and I went for a walk down the beach and was listening to music. I remember, even at 16 years old, how I felt walking down the beach, listening to the album. I remember feeling so secure in my feelings that God was in my life, watching over me, protecting me, involve with me. A friend of my cousin named Darlene, walked up next to me, tapped me on the shoulder and asked if she could listen to what I was listening to. I handed her the earphones  and she put them on. She listened for a few seconds and then took off the headphones and said, “you’re a different kind of 16 year old boy.” She was 17 years old. I didn’t really pay too much attention to what she said and I went right back to listening. I remember the song I was listening to. It was called “Here I Am” These are the words to the song.

Here I stand
Just a child of my time
I’ve opened up my heart
Let me come home
Home to where my life will be strong
Am I standing alone
Just a verse without a rhyme
Or could it be at last
A final journey home
The place that I have searched for so long
I can take it or leave it
But the time has come for me to receive it
Listen to me call
(I’m calling, I’m calling)
I can let it go or keep it
But the time is right for me to surrender
Watch the shadow fall

Chorus:
Here I am (Because you love me)
Willing to be broken
Here I am (Because you love me)
Coming closer to you
Giving you my will

Here I stand
Willing to become as new
Send me out prepared
Covered in your love
Ready to be a light to the world
I’m not standing alone
You are with me all the time
And we now begin
Our final journey home
I’ll be yours and you will be mine
I can’t take it or leave it
But the time has come for me to receive it
Listen to me call (I’m calling, I’m calling)
I can let it go or keep it
But the time is right for me to surrender
Watch the shadow fall

That was a long time ago. I hadn’t heard that song in probably 26 years until I thought of it tonight. As I listened to it and I was working on my little project, I felt my eyes well up in tears. I was so touched and it took me back to that place where I felt so secure. I remember feeling the embrace of God around me. It’s a feeling that I haven’t felt in a long time. Over the past 25 years, I’ve felt progressively more detached from my Creator. Ive made decisions in my life that have drawn me further away from the love of God. Those decisions have dragged me away from the protection of God. I have let that relationship fade.

My 18 year old daughter moved out of the house a week and a half ago. She is upset with me because of selfish decisions that she has made and she doesn’t want to deal with the consequences. I texted her today and told her that I loved her and told her she could come home and I would always provide for her but she would have to live by the standards I expect in my house. She has chosen to stay away from the house. I miss her terribly but I stand strong in my position that she will be safer, happier, and more secure if she will follow my direction.

This is the first thought that came to mind while listening to this song again tonight. I sat at the dinner table and thought how easily it has been to drift away from my Father. He has, on several occasions, shown me that he will take care of me if I will come home. I have a nice home and nice things. I’m comfortable from a monetary standpoint but I am tormented by some of my memories and past actions. I could easily live in a shack if I could just have peace of mind. If you read my other posts, I’ve made plenty of good choices that have allowed me to provide a loving home for my children. I’ve protected them. I’ve been fortunate by having a father that is 84 and healthy and easily has 20 years left with us. I’ve been fortunate having a mother that is always willing to provide wise counsel and direction, even at 80 years of age. I’ve been fortunate to have a brother and sister who have become successful. From the outside looking in, I’ve lived a healthy and productive life but as I sat at the dinner table tonight, I felt like a huge part of my life had been left behind on that beach, sitting in the sand, with that Sony Walkman with that Russ Taff cassette inside.

To my Heroes at The Hot Pepper

I recently started a new hobby of growing hot peppers. Now, when I say hot, initially, I thought, Habaneros and Serranos had some heat. I’ve always enjoyed spicy food. When I go to a barbecue joint, I reach for the spicy sauce. When I go to a Thai place and the waitress says, “one through five,” I boastingly say, “make mine a six.” So, to try out my hand at growing peppers, I began with the basics; jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, and some thai chili. About a month into my new hobby, I stumbled across a website called “The Hot Pepper.” I thought it was amazing to see all these people who were almost fanatical about their hobby. They really know their stuff. Every bit of information you could possibly want is on this web site. The peppers are works of art. The knowledge runs so deep with the people on this site that they should be teaching at Universities! I was amazed. They have the best recipes for hot sauce. The forums are always interesting. I could go on an on.

Well, after a few weeks, I ventured off into the realm of making my own hot sauce. I did pretty good. I made dozens of batches. People were asking me for more of my sauce. My neighbors loved it. I was making everything with Habaneros; mango habanero, peach habanero, pineapple habanero, pineapple mango habanero, pineapple coconut habanero. You have probably guessed that I like the heat of the habanero and I like fruit flavored hot sauces.

I decided that the next step is to try my hand at growing some of what the aficionados call “super hots.” These peppers have names like “devil’s tongue”, “Yellow 7 Pot”, “Trinidad scorpion”, “bhut jolokia” (more commonly known as the ghost pepper). The names go on and on. I started watching the Youtube videos of these people sampling these super hot peppers and wondered, “I wonder if I could do that?” Needless to say, I made contact with a “THP” member and bought some of these peppers with the intention of getting the seeds, trying to grow some, and to make some hot sauce. Many people have asked me for something hotter than what I had already so I figured, “what the hell, I’ll make some super hot sauce with some of these super hot peppers.”

I followed the lead of some of the pros on the website and got out my surgical gloves. I got all my ingredients together and me and my 13 year old son jumped right in. Halfway through the process, my son put a cut pepper up to his nose and next thing I know, He’s bent over the sink, coughing, hacking up a lung, yelling and telling me, “I DIDN’T EVEN TASTE IT BUT IT GOT ON MY LIP AND IN MY NOSE!!!” For the next couple minutes, I attended to him and he downed a few glasses of milk and ice water and eventually, he was able to pull himself away from the ice machine. I put all the cut up peppers in a foil and put them over the burner. They were going to get a little roast on them and then go into the blender. Before I knew it, both me and my son were coughing and gagging. It was like a dozen police officers had come into my home and pepper sprayed both of us!

 

 

 

“OPEN THE DOOR SON!!” I yelled to him. He made his way through the haze and opened the back door.  We had come too far. We had to push on. We had to complete this mission of making this super hot sauce. I wouldn’t allow the peppers to beat me. I have been watching young girls eating these peppers on Youtube and I thought, “If they can do that, I can do this!” As I dumped everything into the blender, the fumes hit me in the face and almost knocked me into the cabinets on the other side of the kitchen. At this point, I started asking myself, “Are these people Super Human???? How the HELL do they do this!!!??” I pushed on. My son had made his way into the backyard and avoided the cloud of fumes that had overcome my kitchen. My two dogs that are typically waiting at my feet for any bit of morsel to drop, had already headed out the doggie door and were at the back fence. I blended this deadly mixture to a consistency that I thought was suitable for the mutant that would be able to put this stuff on a taco and took the blender into the back yard and told my son, “When I tell you, run into the kitchen and get the jars out of the hot water and bring them out to me.”

My son quickly replied, “I’m not going back in there!” as he held an ice pack to his nose and mouth area. I put the blender down on the outside table and took a deep breath and ran back into the house to get the jars. As I hit the threshold of the open back door, I felt like Nicolas Cage in “The Rock” running into a cloud of poisonous nerve gas and all I could think about was that I might go into a seizure if I took a deep enough breath. Needless to say, I completed my mission and I filled up four jars of this nuclear waste that I was going to call Super Hot Mango Hot Sauce. The reality is that if you put this stuff on any food you plan to eat, it will eat right through it and then burn through the glass plate and the wooden table underneath. It will probably look like a clip from the movie Alien Vs. Predator when the aliens get cut and their acid like blood splashes onto the people and burns right through to their bone marrow.

I want to close by saying one thing. “You people at The Hot Pepper that eat this stuff have stomachs made of Unobtainium and my hat goes off to you!”