Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Ten years ago today I flew a helicopter for the last time. I logged 2.8 hours (1.4 hours each as pilot and co-pilot, as was customary practice) giving me a total of 873.2 hours in just over four years as a naval aviator. It was a functional check flight (FCF), required to OK the aircraft to full-mission status after corrective or routine preventive maintenance. I guess we “upped” the bird because I distinctly remember coming in pretty hot (intentionally) for my final landing at NAS North Island and doing an aggressive sideflare over the landing pad. It was pretty sweet! Maybe even bittersweet. I knew when I showed up that day that I had decided to resign my flight status. No one else knew, including my HAC, Kyle Taylor. For the rest of the crew it was another day at the office. For me it was a little surreal. I remember being acutely aware with each action that it would be my last ever…engine start, takeoff, taxi, checklist, log entry, radio call, etc. When I walked away that day, it felt a little anticlimactic. I had a gnawing ache in my stomach knowing that the next day I would announce my plans to my fellow detachment pilots, my det officer-in-charge and later our commanding officer. I had no doubts then and I have had no doubts since that it was the right decision for me, but until it was all behind me, it was stressful. For the next year or so, I felt pretty self-conscious every time I was in uniform. When anyone in the Navy sees those gold wings, invariably their first question is “So, what do you fly?” And the answer, “Well, I used to fly…” often began a conversation I felt awkward having. But eventually, I grew used to that part of my story.

The decision to resign from flying initiated perhaps the biggest change of life direction I’ve experienced so far. That moment has been on my mind recently; partly due to the anniversary, partly my recent high school reunion, and partly I think the fact that I’m facing another change in direction in the near future. This one (from youth ministry to seminary) might not be quite as radical a change in trajectory as that one was, but momentous nonetheless. High school, college, navy assignments, MCYM…I felt restless to move on after each chapter of my adult life. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever find something I’m content doing for more than four or five years in a row. I think I hope so. But maybe God’s just given me a sojourner’s heart that will keep us on the move as longs as we’re able. We’ll see. It’s been a pretty great flight so far.


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Next week I’m attending my twentieth high school reunion. I’m interested to see what this event is like for me. I have many good friends from high school whom I’ve kept in close contact with. These are the guys I’m going back to see. Here are some of them at my wedding ten years ago (Aly, Dylan, me, Bruce, my brother J.J., Kerry and Rob):

I’m curious to see what it will be like reconnecting with other people whom I haven’t kept in touch with. Will it feel odd and uncomfortable? Will it be interesting? Will dormant friendships rekindle? Will I remember anyone? Will they remember me? Will it feel real or artificial? Will it feel like now or like I’m back in high school again? These are the questions that are swirling in the back of my mind. Not the front of my mind though; I’ve been too busy to really think about this trip much.

So one of the things we were supposed to do for this reunion was create a biography / memory page. It was quite a project trying to sum up a little over half my life on one 8.5 by 11 page. And as I did it, I also had to reflect a bit on my motivation for spending so much time trying to “get it right” and make it look good. How much is my pride driving this project? Do I just want to make myself look impressive for a bunch of people I don’t really even know anymore? Shannon wisely reminded me as I agonized with formatting pictures and margins and so on, “All the people who really care already know what’s happened in the last 20 years of your life.” Certainly good counsel. On the other hand, I do look forward to seeing other people’s pages, folks I haven’t seen since 1988, and I do hope that many of them took the time to really effectively give me some sense of where life has taken them these past two decades. So I’m at least telling myself that I really did all this work for them, not for me. You can opine for yourself about that rationale. Anyway, here’s what I came up with (if you find any typos, please don’t tell me):

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I got to speak at the baccalaureate yesterday for the AFNORTH International High School Class of 2008. For the students, I think one of the highlights of that ceremony is the senior slide show. Each student makes a powerpoint slide with a montage of photos of themselves and friends. Since I am approaching my 20th high school reunion, I thought it would be fun to make my own slide too. This slide actually doesn’t look anything like what I would have put together 20 years ago when I was a senior. It’s mostly stuff I scanned from my yearbook that I thought the students might find amusing for its cheesiness. Here it is:

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The last few years, I’ve let my beard grow out from spring break through to the end of the year and then shave it all off for summer camp (Beach Break). So last Wednesday for our last Club meeting of the year, I announced that the winner of the mixer game would get to choose how I would wear my facial hair at our last First Friday, a monthly pizza party at the base gym. Here’s what he chose:

I didn’t think it was so bad except for the half mustache. The next morning I shaved that off. I might have kept the stripes except that I was speaking at the baccalaureate today. Didn’t think that was quite right for the decorum of the occasion.

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We visited Margraten Cemetery today, about 30 minutes from our house. There are 8301 World War II soldiers are buried here. Each of those crosses and stars of David represents about that many more people killed during that war, or 72 million people total. As I imagined what it would feel like to lose one son, the immensity of that grief multiplied that many times was overwhelming. Remember their sacrifice and pray never again.

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Chastain Family - Easter 2006The picture is from Easter 2006. I think Resurrection Sunday will always remind me of cancer and chemotherapy – and the new life that came through that time of “death”.

A couple weeks ago, Shannon and I were reflecting on our personal testimonies. By that, I don’t mean simply “when and how did we become Christians?”, but what are the events, people, and circumstances that have most directly and profoundly impacted our spiritual formation? When (and why and how) did we each feel like we had grown the most, or experienced the deepest transformation? We discovered something interesting. Although going through chemotherapy in 2006 was certainly a huge life-defining landmark, that experience didn’t jump out to me as one of the most formative parts of my spiritual testimony. For Shannon however, those months clearly stood out as the #1 factor in shaping her testimony. She has such clear memories of her feelings, thoughts, prayers, grief, hope, fear, desperation, loneliness, peace and joy. I have some of those memories, but mostly I recall those days being a time of just putting my head down and “getting through it.” My comment to Shannon as we processed all this stuff was that looking back two years later, I feel like chemotherapy was something that happened to her, more than it did to me. Can any of you relate? Does anyone else out there have a testimony that is deeply rooted in someone else’s significant experiences? Has a crisis you’ve faced personally faded away, while remaining forefront in the minds of your loved ones?

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Welcome to Logomanikos

Hi there! I’ve been blogging for a couple months now, but I finally feel ready to invite the world to my little corner of cyberspace. You may be here because you were on my “email everyone I know” invitation. I promise that will be my only spamming – no mass “hey check out my new post” emails ever. If you enjoy this site, please subscribe (read the “new to blogging” link below). For those single digits of folks who’ve already been reading – uhh, welcome to you too!

Here’s a quick orientation:

  • Click here to learn what Logomanikos means
  • Click here if you are new to blogs or blogging
  • Click here to find out a little about me

Then if you want to catch up on other random stuff I’ve been writing about the past two and a half months, click on the links under “Archives” in the bar on the right. You could probably read the entire Logomanikos archive in about an hour if you were so inclined. In case you didn’t visit the above linked posts, let me emphasize: blogging is a two-way conversation. Please feel free to share your thoughts on anything you read here. To join the conversation, just click on the words “No Comments” (or “2 comments”, etc.) at the bottom of a post.

Thanks for stopping by! Come again soon – and invite a friend.

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