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Hey, everyone.

Well, I made it home on December 24th, 2004. All is well in JBville. The new house on the lake is gorgeous <my wife has great taste>, my truck was painted about a week before I arrived home, my kids are doing well in school, my wife's job is better than ever and my new job is locked in. We'll be making over $90K per year in Mississippi. Go figure.

I've been asked by several groups to come and speak of my experiences in Iraq. I was asked by a church to make a public pronouncement of my faith and of how my faith kept me alive and brought me home. I went to each engagement and spoke at the appropriate level <ie, my daughter's 6th grade class, my son's 8th grade class, > each time. I was warming applauded and thanked for my service and welcomed home by people from all over. Then came the invitation for the pronouncement of faith.

I went. I spoke briefly of having no fear and of not worrying about my wife and children being taken care of should I have met my demise. I spoke of consoling others who were frightened and of how my wonderful relationships helped to keep my going. I spoke of how my daily conversations kept my heart full and a smile on my face. I spoke of how low I felt on the days I didn't <or couldn't> take the time to have my daily devotional. I spoke of a complete and unalterable faith in my personal relationships. I spoke of how proud and honored I was to serve others. I spoke of how great it felt to "know" all is well in your life.

Then, I said, "Most of you may think I am a Christian. All of the attributes I have spoken of can easily be linked to a Christian lifestyle. I stand before you today to say my public pronouncement of faith. Of all these things I have spoken of, I have no fear, for I have lived my life to the fullest each day. I don't worry about my family being taken care of, because I am well insured and we have plenty of money saved. Also, my wife is an uncommonly strong woman, who will raise my children properly and proudly should I ever die. I could console others, because of the strength of my relationships with my wife and family. My daily conversations were with the people who matter most to me -- my wife and family. The lows I felt were from not hearing their voices. My complete faith is in my wife and I's relationship with one another and my relationships with my family. I am proud and honored to serve my country, my state, my town, my family and anyone who needs help, regardless of their race, religion, creed, color or political ideologies. I feel great, because I "know" I have done all I can do to make everything I my life right with others. Now, I must stand before you and tell you a truth that will surely ostracize me as thoroughly as Christians throughout history have suffered until the present. I am an athiest. My public profession of faith is there is no god. There is nothing but this life and what we leave behind when we deal with one another. There is no greater thing in this world but truth, love and service to one another. I can no longer allow the lie that you all have perceived of me to linger in this world. In truth, I am an athiest, and my heart is at peace. Should any of you who were my friends five minutes ago no longer wish to have me in your lives, I do not understand, for I have been but truthful to you. I will, however, honor your wish and long cherish the memories of great times, good conversations, and unfettered friendships. But I will no longer live the lie that is Christianity. Thank you for allowing me to speak today."

Of course, you could have heard a pin drop. As I walked out of the front door, I realize, now more than ever, how disconnected I am in this state, at this time.

It's good to be alive and at home, with the people I love.


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