Russ assures me that very soon he will have his website up. Then you can turn to him each week/potentially day for inspiration. In the meantime, I’m still making him come down to Florida and weed my garden for the webpostings. Hey, fair’s fair!
The Ask: to the readers, please see the tip jar links information after the devotion. Thank you kindly.
The Devotion: Do you feel limited, maybe constrained, or cramped like a foot walking in a shoe that’s a half inch too small? That is painful! The foot feels unable to walk in its full potential. Trust that freedom is coming
Your tight place, limited space, or loss does not deter God’s will and plan. After 430 years in Egyptian bondage, God liberated His people (Ex.12:41). In the Bible book of Ruth, Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, suffered through the deaths of spouses, but hope was on the horizon.
In their losses, by God’s providential hand, Ruth followed Naomi to a place of goodness and protection (Ruth 1:16-18).
When Peter was arrested and trapped behind prison bars, he was angelically set free (Acts 5:5-10). Prison bars did not stop God from setting Peter free.
The chick eventually hatches from the egg. The cocoon soon releases the butterfly. Your tight place is no concern or match for God. His power is limitless; His purpose is timeless. Press Forward, friends!
“For [what] the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Is. 14:27).
“But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:39).
The Action: if today’s devotion inspired you that freedom from harm, liberation from addiction, and being released from a dark season is possible, please help me help others by offering a donation to the tip jar links. Your donation will assist people locally as well as missionaries and elders internationally. Thank you kindly. God bless.
In 1980 I graduated from the Police Academy in Farmington, New Mexico. I was first academically, last overall – I may have been the worst runner they’d ever had grace the joint and, frankly, I annoyed the Lieutenant in charge with my mere presence. But I did test well on all the other stuff.
I would be anything but candid if I didn’t report this experience honestly. So, what I will report on is the program presented by the Sheriff’s Office, and not on the personalities I met there as students – except for Amy. Amy and I became good friends and went out for pizza each week in search of conversation and the best pie in Naples, Florida. I don’t think we settled the issue for sure, but my favorite so far in the region is the Twisted Sheep. Those folks serve an excellent pizza.
First, the people who ran the program each week were spectacular. I truly cannot say enough about their efforts to make things run smoothly. Unlike my first academy, which provided tea, coffee and hot chocolate but no snacks ( I think they were making sure we could sit for two hours with a full bladder) they made sure we were fed plenty of cookies, snacks, coffee, water and so forth each week. Range day meant donuts. 42 years ago range day just meant picking up brass for an hour after we finished shooting. I’ll take donuts.
But, back to the point: Sergeant Natalie Ashby, Lieutenant Rene Gonzales, and Erin Dever were inspirational. I’ve done my share of training over the years and can honestly say they were the most diplomatic, polite, and tolerant people you could imagine while herding the cats that are citizen recruits. My hat is off to them for representing the Sheriff’s Office with such grace.
Sgt. Natalie Ashby
Lt. Rene Gonzales
I spent longer in these two academies than I did in the one where I got a badge. Stretched out over the Christmas holiday, I was gone one night a week for about 5 months.
Each week we’d be introduced to a new set of speakers, new departments within the Sheriff’s Office, and a pantheon of spectacular professionals who were brutally honest with the citizens in the academy.
It’s not easy to snow me in this area. I might be old, but I can smell a dose of bull about a block away. Not once in the academy did I feel that we were getting a snow job. Now, needless to say, the instructors presented to their strengths and the things they knew best. That, my friends, is the amazing part.
I’ve been writing about, engaged in, or riding along with law enforcement since the 1970s. Never, in all my varied experiences, have I encountered a department that was so forward thinking, so emphatic about doing the right thing, and so focused on training as the Collier County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Kevin Rambosk.
Sheriff Kevin Rambosk
In every department we visited, during every presentation I sat through, and after every hallway encounter, I walked away impressed. One of the main reasons they won me over was that they really tried to educate the citizens about what law enforcement really means as a career. There are no magic 2-hour solutions on DNA testing, no just looking at a print at the crime scene and knowing who left it, or any of the other silly television tropes.
Instead, the professionals explained the way they worked. They put students into shoot-no-shoot scenarios and let them realize just how fast you have to think – and how rotten they were at handling it without a lot of training. Whether bad guys killed someone because we were slow on the draw, or someone drilled an innocent full of holes because they were trigger happy, it was a revealing experience.
Same said for time on the range. I’ve spent hundreds of hours shooting over the years, and so I watched for the most part. Good instruction. And a surprising number of people who had never fired a weapon of any kind. It was a great chance for them to get a sense of what it was like to really use a weapon as a tool.
This mantra of “hands on” extended to the Advanced Academy where a crime was committed in front of the class and then investigated over the next six weeks. It concluded in a mock trial. I was the juror who wouldn’t convict: they purposely made it ambiguous to make sure the citizens understood how little you accurately remember under stress. A valuable lesson.
In the intervening weeks we toured the crime lab, the county jail (an amazingly clean and well run facility with a very professional staff), saw demos from the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) teams and CERT (the jail’s Corrections Emergency Response Team), met with the aviation units twice for flight demonstrations, and had classes with drones zooming around inside the training building. I must also mention the K-9 units: they were a riot. Dogs have a sense of humor, as did their handlers.
What I witnessed was leadership from the top down. Each level understands what the mission is, how the boss expects it to happen, and what the standards are. Most importantly, if anyone can get a cop to trash talk their peers and bosses, it’s me. I tried very hard to wheedle out some smack, but there was none.
Perhaps that’s because Sheriff Rambosk has the streets’ back. He made it very clear that if you break the rules you will either be retrained or canned. Same if you commit a crime wearing the badge: you face the law just like any citizen.
Conversely, he wants the truth, and there will be more times that he tells the complainant to pound sand and backs his force than the other way around. Let’s be honest about what cops need: support. They all seemed to feel that the man in the corner office would back them as long as they did their best for the citizens. Truly, isn’t that what you want from your law enforcement people? It’s what I want. It’s what cops want. It’s what’s right.
My friend recently joked that “You’re damned near a deputy after all that schooling.” Nope. Not even close. I love training first responders in resilience and mental wellness. I enjoy doing a ride along now and then. But I’m not sure I’d be good enough to be a part of this department. These men and women are all impressive.
Thank you, Collier County, for electing a great Sheriff. Thank you, Sheriff Rambosk for putting on this academy.
I’m hoping that you’re asking the question that I first had: why would anyone attend a citizen’s academy?
In my case, I knew I’d validate my previous knowledge or find out I was a fraud. I came through pretty well. But for most citizens it will reveal a vital part of their government to them and let them see the challenges our law enforcement people face every day. It is also a great “put up or shut up” moment for fans and critics of law enforcement alike. You will find out the truth in an academy, and walk out with a rational foundation for your views. You might still be a critic, and that’s your right. But you will have an understanding of the human factor and perhaps work to improve the system versus just criticizing it.
My point? You should check to see if your local agency has a similar program. It will open your eyes to what really happens, how tough this job is, and how often the press gets it wrong. I only hope your department is as special and good as mine.
I keep telling Russ that he needs his own web presence. He assures me that he’s working on it. In the meantime, I rent this space to him every Wednesday for the price of a brand new Bugatti. I never cash the check, and Russ doesn’t actually have the money, so it works out.
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The Ask: to the readers, please see the tip jar links information after the devotion. Thank you kindly.
The Devotion: the biblical story of Jesus instructing Peter to cast his net again is a well known story. To refresh your memory.
“When he [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out [launch] into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’” (Luke 5:4). “And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.'” (5:5). “For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,..” (5:9). “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people. So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (5:10-11).
The most experienced Galilean fishermen knew that fishing during the night brought a choice [blessed] harvest from the sea. Yet, during the morning hours, when others were cleaning and repairing their nets, Jesus instructed Peter to stop scrubbing and mending his net and re-enter the water. Per Jesus’ instruction (and most likely having to ignore the teasing and snarky comments of other fishermen and friends), Peter returned to the water and dropped his net. In obedience, Peter followed Jesus’ instruction. In turn, the Lord provided an over-abundance of harvest. Peter and those fishing with him were astonished at the great haul they pulled in. God gave Peter instruction and Peter followed the instruction. It was Peter’s time to listen and trust God. In doing so, Peter witnessed a life changing moment in which Peter would do greater things for God.
Is it time for you to trust, listen, and go deeper with God into your destiny all while ignoring the naysayers? ♡
The Action: if you were touched by today’s devotion, help me help others by offering a donation to the tip jar links. Your donation will assist people locally as well as missionaries and elders internationally. Thank you kindly. God bless.
Last week, April 29th, to be precise, I was pretty danged mad about the speech/talk given by MCPON (Master Chief Petty Officer Of The Navy) Russell L. Smith. I’d followed the issues on the George Washington in the news the last few weeks, and realized that this was a ship/crew in trouble. So, when I read his remarks, mind you brief excerpts, I posted the item below on Facebook:
My opinion on most things is free, and worth every penny.
I have never been on a ship “in the yards” for overhaul or maintenance. Every sailor I’ve ever talked to said it sucked massively.
I have been on ships where there was little fresh water, the showers burned you they were so hot, jet fuel contaminated every thing made with water – coffee, baking, kool aid, etc. I’ve slept in berthing compartments that had poor electrical connections that actually killed a guy in my space when he grounded out a light.
I’ve gotten on board ships and subs from airplanes, zodiac rafts, whale boats, tug boats. I’ve left ships climbing down ropes and ladders made of rope.
I’ve been extended at sea with no reason. I’ve hated my life at times on those ships.
But never did I want to kill myself. Never did the deprivation go on for years as it has for the crew of the George Washington.
Yeah, they’re younger than me, and I chewed up nails and spit out bullets – at least in my memories. They, however, work hard as hell with a poorly maintained Navy and a lot of bullcrap woke stuff that tears up morale.
So, when the Master Chief Petty Officer Of The Navy tells them that it could suck worse and to butch up after they lose a handful of sailors in the previous months to suicide, and morale is in the bilge, I think it’s time for all of us old salts to admit that treating today’s sailors like crap because we had some crappy times, isn’t tradition. It’s not because they are effeminate, it’s not because they don’t know the value of work. I remember the Vietnam era guys accusing us of that, and they were accused of the same thing by the WWII sailors. Every generation talks that kind of smack.
Nope. It has to stop somewhere. This crew needs mental health help right now. No need for youngsters to die because we were tough in our day. We’re better than that. We should be reaching out to them right now.
The MCPON needs to go. He’s tone deaf at a minimum, a mean and insensitive bastard most likely. Sailors didn’t sign up to live in a partially built ship with no water for showers, no place to park, no decent chow on the ship and so on.
So, Big Navy, get your act together and take care of that crew.
I have to admit I felt the guilts a day later and wondered if I’d shortchanged the man because I merely read recaps of what he’d said. So I dug out the audio and listened to the whole thing. I also talked to some fellow enlisted friends and an officer I respect about the issues. We all agreed that a handful of Second Class Petty Officers and a couple of Lieutenants could have fixed this goat-rope right at the start and avoided a bunch of needless pain and death for this crew.
Whether we like it or not, this is the group of sailors that are in the Navy. I blame their parents and schools for not toughening them up prior to service. But it doesn’t change the fact that these young people (I’m older than the captain of the ship and the MCPON) have got to be taken care of right away.
I read the MCPON’s bio. This poor schmuck followed a really bad MCPON who happened to be one of my CT tribe. He got a raw deal. But he was an Intelligence Specialist. We used to joke that Intelligence Specialists were just CT wannabees that couldn’t learn Morse Code or another language. We did their job as well in some places. Now that I’ve gotten my snark on record, this guy has a great resume but he put his foot in it.
For one thing, his speech should have been an off-the-record talk with what we called the “Goat Locker.” The Goat Locker is the Chief Petty Officers group on a ship. The senior enlisted guys. You can give a “suck-it-up-buttercup” speech to them and they have the cultural context to put it to use and spread it out to the troops below. But there remain two other issues with the talk.
First, the Captain of the ship should never allow this kind of thing. It undermines his authority.
Second, you never go to a miserable bunch of people with huge problems and tell them it could be way worse, remind them of how much longer life is going to suck, and then badger them with your problems.
If you listen to this guy, he fields questions from the crew. Some crew members make pretty good suggestions. His response is essentially, “I’d like ice cream and a backrub as well, but I’m not going to get them so you aren’t getting hot water. No money for either one, don’t bother me with that crap unless you know a way to pay for it.”
Gotta tell you, if I was in that crew, even as a miserable, lowly Second Class Petty Officer I’d be a Third Class by the end of the week, because my mouth would have engaged well before my brain. How do I know? Because I don’t filter well, never did.
So, how does this story end? Today, Big Navy (what we call the monster that impersonally ruled our lives) decided to move the sailors off the ship. This means they get hot chow, showers, places to sleep away from the noise and filth of repair work. I also suspect that Big Navy is flooding the area with counselors and chaplains. They’d better. It is inexcusable that they let it get this bad, and they had to fix it.
Why? Because a ton of us old sailors were all speaking publicly about how much this sucks. Yes, there are some old sailors who still chant, “My life sucked, yours should too!” when this stuff happens. But the majority of us seem to get it. We would want to be treated better, and now the sailors who could be my grandchildren are in need of my support.
And that’s why I write this blog today. The MCPON has lost my faith. Time to retire. Let’s get a Master Chief in there who can fix the damage. I knew a whole lot of them when I was young that I’d follow through the gates of hell. There’s got to be one ready to take that mantle.
I pray that is the case. And I pray for the crew of the U.S.S. George Washington. Father, take good care of my shipmates.
If you or someone you know needs help, the Veterans Crisis Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-273-8255, press 1. Services also are available online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or by text, 838255.
I started nagging Russ week one that he needs his own platform. Why? Because my shenanigan’s will scare off the sheep of the flock who need him most. Thus, he’s building his own website and other social media links. I’ll trumpet them once they are ready. In the meantime, here he is!
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The Ask: to the readers, after the devotion, I invite you to please see the tip jar links for information regarding donations. Thank you kindly
The Devotion: Are you in a season in your life whereby your hope is fading? Is there pain in your spirit due to personal loss or anxiety because of the worrisome things in the world? You may be in a battle (e.g. financial squeeze, job loss, marital strife) that is causing emotional stress. You have thoughts that this current stress is never ending or you hear whispers that this current crisis will not improve. Well, spiritual warfare is real, but I encourage you to take heart; hence, do not lose heart! This is all temporary! Spiritual battles and turmoil are no surprise to God! Heaven is neither rattled nor shaking. More so, let us heed Paul’s concluding words to the church at Ephesus. Be aware that we are at war (Ephesians 6:10-13), stand firm in prayer (vs14), and raise your shield of faith (vs. 15) against the dark principalities. Amen!
Press Forward, friends!
The Action: The purpose of the tip jar: if you are touched by this devotion, please bless the ministry the Lord has given me to guide people toward spiritual wellness through spiritual counseling by contributing to the tip jar links below. A portion of your donation will go toward long term oversees missionaries I support. The donations also go to a Haitian elderly program to feed seniors, and counseling people through crisis,. You are best! God bless ♡ https://cash.app/$rdscot VENMO:https://venmo.com/code?user_id=2990460545007616942&created=1648327159