Tuesday, April 3, 2012

One Tough Cookie

Camera: Nikon D80
Lens: 50mm f1.8D
Exposure: 1.0, f8.0, ISO 100, WB 3600K
Subject: HP 8GB V125 USB Flash Drive

I have been thinking about this shot for a while. I know the lighting is not the greatest, but I wanted the the scars on this wonderful piece of hardware to show. I bought this drive sometime in 2009 I believe, and it has barely left my side. Unbeknownst to me at the time, they actually advertise how rugged these drives are supposed to be. My dog had chewed my friends drive, and I found a double pack for a great price. I replaced his, and kept the second for myself. Since that day, this drive has hardly left my person. Carrying it in my pocket, It has traveled with me almost every where. You can imagine my horror when one day, I opened the dryer and found that my drive had been washed, and dried!!! Without any hope of it working, I put it in my computer to see if by any chance it had survived. To my amazement, it still worked!
Long story short, I washed and dried it several times. It has been with me in the States, Germany, and Afghanistan. In my pocket during training exercises, pouring rain, sand storms, and every other type of weather and living condition you can think of. I am truly amazed at it's resiliency. Thank you HP, for making such a great product. It still works perfectly, without a single bit of data loss [and somehow, I haven't even lost the cap Haha]. The case is scarred and bruised, but the insides are gold.

Jonathan Rhoads

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Parting

A commo blackout. All communication with the outside world cut off, isolating you to a world of uncertainty. Usually this happens when something bad has happened, and the military needs to notify the family members, rather than letting rumors reveal the painful truth to them. It is understandable, but at this moment, it sends a deep feeling of loneliness through me. I called my wife earlier today, and said I would call again later. Will she know we are on a black out? This has happened before, so I can only hope she understands, and doesn't think the worst. This moment only adds to the already tough past couple of days. It is Wednesday. Last Saturday I had to leave my wife after two wonderful weeks of R&R, and return to Afghanistan.

That dreaded feeling of the next few hours that are inevitable fill me as I wake up. It is Saturday morning. I wish this could be one of those days I kiss my wife awake, and then just lay in bed talking late into the morning. I know I am going to miss those moments. Today Nate will drive us to the airport, and I will say goodbye to my wife, and wont be home with her again for several more months. The drive to the airport is a blur, and the next thing I am doing is sitting with my wife on a bench, soaking in the last few moments I have with her until she boards her plane to fly back home. We talk, and hold each other, not wanting to let go. Nate is taking pictures, but we are almost oblivious. Nate has been such a great friend. He let us stay at his house, use his car, eat his food, and just live life with him. He is family. I feel I am ignoring him a little, but I know he understands that these last few moments with Kate are precious. Then, it is time to go through security, and we hold onto each other, not wanting to let go. How did the time fly so fast? I have loved every moment of being home with my wife, and don't want to let her go, but she must, or miss her flight. She goes through security. I and Nate stand by as she goes through, and then wave after she collects her things. I piece of me has left, and I feel almost empty. Now I have to get ready for my departure, and a goodbye to my brother Nate.

Nate and I grab breakfast quickly, and head to the terminal where I will finalize my leave, and sign back in as a soldier. To our amazement, the local USO and Fairmont Hotel have provided a luxurious luncheon for us. After I get my bags ready, it is the usual military slogan “hurry up and wait.” We spend about two hours talking and trying not to think of the parting that is inevitable. Eventually, I manifest for my flight, and surprisingly, I am allowed to bring Nate with me past security until I board. We spend another few hours together as weather delays our flight. Finally, It is time to go, and I give Nate one last hug, a wave, and I am off into the sky headed back to Afghanistan.

I thought I would be ok, especially with the hustle and bustle of travel. I avoid my emotions for a while. A lot of connections, stops, and places to get to. But then it dies down, and I can't sleep anymore. It hits me like a ton of bricks. Kate and I have probably spent less than three months together in person. This is including our dating and engagement, marriage and honeymoon, and now this two weeks of R&R. These last two weeks have been so wonderful, with almost all my time being spent with my wife, and some times shared with others. We really didn't spend much time apart at all. I got food poisoning the first two days I was home, and Kate didn't feel well either, but we got to spend time together. We aren't perfect, and it wasn't all a fairy tale, but it is us. I love her so much! Kate, the woman I thought I would never meet. The gorgeous woman who fell in love with me, and became my wife! All the memories of our time together, and the feeling of ache I didn't think would hit so hard are almost more than I can bare. I too miss my friend Nate. We have been friends for about fifteen years, and experienced a lot of life together, and even these last two weeks. Thoughts begin to go through my head. How hard it must be on Kate, and Nate to say good bye. I start to wonder what will happen these next few months while I am at war. Will I make it, will my whole platoon? What if I am injured, or worse? Is what I am fighting for worth giving my life? What of my wife, family, and friends? It takes me to a deep place of overwhelming emotion, and it is almost impossible to think about or process the horrible thought of not coming home. Then God brings back to mind moments where I thought I couldn't make it, or was confused beyond function. He always brought me through, always had a plan, always tried to guide me in the way. Immediately I turn to Him, pouring all my frustrations and doubts and wants and thanks in a prayer. It isn't pretty, but it is real. I really think God likes it when we just express what we are thinking, feeling, wanting. He knows, of course, but I think He want's to hear it from our lips. Anyway, I know God is in control, and has a wonderful plan. It didn't take away the feeling of something missing [my wife], or replace a friend that isn't near. In fact, I can't say that I am anywhere near being “over” my feelings of missing my wife passionately [and yes, sometimes to tears]. Is it not manly to cry? Well, if not, then I am not the most manly man out there :) I long to be near her side. To lay next to her as she falls asleep; to hear her restful breathing; to slip my arm around her for a moment, just to pull her close. I miss hearing her voice. Looking over while I am driving, and seeing her beautiful face.

I do not regret becoming a soldier. I believe God brought me here. If I hadn't, I may not have met Kate. I know God has many other reasons for what I am doing and where I am, though I can't say I completely understand it all. Being a soldier means you will spend time away from your family, and I understand that. I want to protect the unit I serve with, and be there watching their backs as they watch mine. I love our platoon, and pray for our safety every moment I think of it. I want to be a light that shines through the life I live, and when needed, in word.

I say all this just to share that even though you are doing what is right, it is not always going to be easy. It is not always going to make sense when you want it to. It is going to hurt sometimes. For you, and many times for others as well. Let God be your strength. You and your loved ones, look to Him, and let Him draw you closer and make you stronger. I have found Psalm 73 such a comfort. I don't remember how I found it, but it brings me calm.

Kate, I love you. I miss you fiercely. I adore you with every fiber of my being. I am praying for you every day, and asking God to bring us safely back together again. Thank you for your amazing love, and dedication and patience while I am away. You never cease to love me, and show me in so many ways. I am truly blessed to have you as my Mrs. Rhoads :D

I am a follower of Jesus Christ, bought by Him.

I am a husband, loving my wife every way I know how.

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. [COC Art 1, Sent 1]

Kate is my wife. We two are one. She is a soldiers wife. A soldier herself. Strong, but human, fighting alongside her soldier.

Jonathan Rhoads

Monday, January 19, 2009

Our own personalized god

Too many times we as Christians have created our own god to follow. In our studies of the Bible, God's Word, we are able to see a glimpse of who God is. We come to a better understanding of who God really is. It seems that as we do this, we formulate in our minds this image of who God is, what He does, how He acts, and begin in our finite minds (usually based on our own physical experience) to reason out the rest.

The Bible does teach us definites. We do know some of who God is. But we take things in our human reasoning and create a god that fits what we think we know, and then try to force everyone else to believe what we "know" to be true. We create god, and then worship and follow him.

We have but a glimpse of who God is. On this earth, we will never fully understand what He is. He was before us, is and will always be. We can't even grasp this in our minds, and yet we think we have God all figured out.

If you have God all figured out, you might want to check and see which one you are following, because most likely it is one of your own imagination! Read the Bible and stick to that, not man's reasoning!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A hole in time never filled

People say that we have a hole in us that only God can fill. Though this may be true, I have to interject my own thoughts.

The common belief is that accepting Christ will fill that hole. I lean towards disagreement with that. Though I do believe that He completes us, I do not think that it happens here on earth as so many wish to believe. No matter what we have or attain to, or what relationships we have, we will always have a sense of needing something more.

My standing at this point is this: If God did complete us to the point that we no longer sensed a need for more, we would be dead just on the account of His awesomeness! In the OT it talks about if someone saw Him fully, they would die. I think it would kinda be like that. When we reach for heaven, I believe we will be completed completely with no longings for anything.

So, what does that mean? I am not sure other than to just Keep following Him, and living towards the purposes I know He has for my life on earth, and look forward to the glorious day I will be with Him in Glory.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Leave it in His Hand

Just when I think things are going well, it seems something comes along that throws "my" balance out of whack. I have plans/ideas of how things should go.

In these moments, I find that this is when I need to Trust Jesus Christ even more. Instead of jumping at the plans I make in my head, I need to trust Him and go the direction I already know He has told me to God. God, give me strength. I believe, help my unbelief!

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Definition of Beautiful

My Definition of beautiful is two part.

1. I think that God has instilled in us certain things that we naturally find beautiful. I believe this is different in everyone. The beauty God creates something with does not change. Only maybe He gives each of us different perspectives to see it from. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

2. I think that our life experiences also have a large part in defining what we think is beautiful. Whether good or bad experiences, they shape our interpretation of what something is.

These two form what we perceive as beautiful. Of course I am sure there are millions of other things that could be added, but I think these are the two things that influence me.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Attitude about Family

You know, I always grew up thinking a certain way about my family. I always thought they were tough enough to handle whatever came their way. I guess my mentality was that IF anything should happen to one of them, I would kill for them if needed. I always thought that meant that I really cared for them.

I have been thinking (dangerous I know) and have come to a new conclusion.

My mindset should be that I should die to keep anything from happening to them. My care and love should go before them, not after them. I should if possible prevent rather than pour out pain.