Many years ago, I was in Baghdad, Iraq, and a musician who was visiting the troops asked me to “describe war.” Off the cuff and with little reflection, I replied, “War is like ‘normal’ life, full of highs and lows, except higher and lower. It’s just life…amplified.” I’d accidentally stumbled upon not only a fairly decent summary of the experience of warfare, but also a concept that would come to guide me in how I live my life, make decisions, and determine who I am going to be as a human being.
My wartime experiences made a distinct impression on me and were in some ways the defining and most impactful times of my life. The reason war feels like life amplified is because the stakes are clearer. The clarity of those stakes provide purpose, and that purpose demands we act with intent. Remaining committed to our purpose, and living intentionally requires virtue. Since the stakes are obviously high in war, it’s comparatively easy to recognize the stakes and remain dedicated to living with intentional purpose. However, the mundanity of “normal” life robs us of a sense of the stakes of a life poorly lived and, recognizing this, I’ve always tried to live my life in the same “amplified” state. That amplified state of being is where I find life at its most satisfying. So is the “being” in “Amplified Being” of this blog’s title a verb or a noun? Yes. Whichever you prefer and speaks to you more profoundly.
These general ideas of living with purpose, intent, and virtue, and discussion of my personal interests and thoughts are the topic of this blog.
So who am I? I’m a man, a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband, a father, a citizen. I was born and raised in Texas, the oldest of five children, and enlisted in the Army a year before 9/11. Over a 20 year career, I had the honor of earning the coveted Green Beret, and serving the majority of my career in the US Army’s Special Forces. I served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and numerous other Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries, conducting a wide variety of missions before culminating my career as an instructor of advanced skills at our school house. I count myself fortunate to have lived through historic events and tough times, which taught me a great deal about myself and given me a far different perspective than I’d otherwise have. I’m also tremendously fortunate to have served with some of the finest human beings I’ve ever known, who’ve provided me with amazing examples of courage, toughness, kindness, humility, wisdom, and selfless service.
Along the way I found a remarkable woman who honored me by becoming my wife, and together we are raising a large family and treasuring every moment of it. As a boy I discovered the grace of God and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and though oftentimes I find myself “chief among sinners,” I’m ever thankful for my religious faith and my relationship with my Creator and Redeemer. I am striving to be the best man I can be, the best husband, the best father, the best model of noble masculinity for my sons and daughter. My wife and I know that our children watch our example even more than they listen to our words, so we try our best to model a healthy relationship of the kind we want each of them to seek and expect.
Now recently retired from the military, I work as a defense contractor who does consulting and teaching related to my former career, and I also work as a self-defense and self-protection instructor. I teach safety and proficiency with firearms and other tools of self-defense, and more importantly how to develop the mindset and decision-making skills to solve the problems frequently faced by private citizens. I love helping good people learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones, and will no doubt be discussing my thoughts on self-defense subjects here frequently.
I am reluctant to begin blogging and am not entirely comfortable with the implicit premise that what I have to say is unique and interesting. That said, I’ve had enough smart people whom I trust encourage me to do so that I will acquiesce to their collective wisdom and see where this goes. I hope the journey will be worthwhile for you, the reader. At worst, I’ll leave some thoughts behind for my kids to discover one day in the form of a public journal, and given their priority in my life, that alone makes it time well spent. So buckle up, readers. I’m not at all sure where this is going to take us.