Operation: Louisville


This year is turning into a busy year for Mercy Chefs. As always, we are torn because we want to serve others, but to serve others there must be a disaster. Ideally, our mobile kitchens would get lonely. The real world always has something else in mind.

This week we are in Louisville, MS. Last week’s tornadoes his this area pretty hard. I’m thankful that the damage isn’t anything like we saw in Moore, OK last year. Our rotation just started work this morning, and our plans are to stay until Sunday. Mother’s Day. It’s also my anniversary.

These deployments are difficult for my family to cope with. Here I am traipsing the world playing chef, while Heather handles everything. Two of my three daughters understand why I keep leaving home, but my four year old princess takes it hard.

I have a tough time remembering that my family is sacrificing a lot for me to serve. I’m not some one man wrecking crew. If I didn’t have a supporting wife who was capable and willing to shoulder all of this added responsibility, my small contribution would be impossible. I am so thankful I have her.

Today’s sunshine turned my neck a nice shade of red and I’m getting rested up for tomorrow. A local volunteer actually hassled me since I’m from Louisiana. It was all in good fun, but I’ve been craving red beans and rice since he brought it up. Unless the menu changes, we are serving Salisbury steak for lunch and pork loin for dinner. I believe we are preparing lunch and dinner for 500 each meal. We usually serve upwards of 800 per meal, so I may have some time to kick back and catch some rays.

Can You Get Too Comfortable?


My self consciousness used to invade my thoughts, and honestly, they still arrest me occasionally, but I pretty much operate as I would if I was alone at home. I know you are thinking that I prance around the house singing Devo hits. Wait, did they have another song besides “Whip it?” Let’s just put that pervasive rumor to rest. I don’t prance around singing Devo. I break into artistic dance while listening to the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

Operating with Mercy Chefs requires a certain element of stepping out of your comfort zone. You get used to it. Just being in my late 30s has made me more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve actually been the cause for mild embarrassment for those with me because I can’t match clothes. That’s such a stupid skill.

I have the same demeanor as my dad did. I thought he was a tool, and he was. He was always striking up conversations with strangers. I don’t always do it, but I will to be friendly or to amuse myself.

It’s amusing talking to people that appear uncomfortable. Perhaps I’ll have a chance to amuse myself. If not, I’m sure someone will get a laugh out of me.


Willie’s Duck Diner, West Monroe, LA


Called out on another Mercy Chefs deployment. I’m headed to Louisville, MS as they were hit with tornadoes about the same time as Vilonia, AR.

John and I are passing through Louisiana on I-20 and decided to try out Willie’s Duck Diner in Monroe. I didn’t expect much as I thought the restaurant is riding on the big Duck Dynasty reputation (and it is), but it turned out to be pretty good.

I’ve really been wanting some meatloaf, so I took a gamble. It was an easy choice because I was able to order jambalaya as a side. When I’m in Louisiana (of which I’m a resident), I have to have jambalaya if it’s on the menu.

I can see this establishment intimidates the customer with gigantic portions. There was at least a 3/4 pound of ketchup slathered meat on my plate. As for taste, it was pretty good. Definitely better than Cracker Barrel. And no, I’m not saying that Cracker Barrel is good by anyone’s standard.

The potatoes were real enough. They had a great consistency, but were a little buttery for my taste. That’s a surprise because I’ve been known to mash my potatoes with sticks of butter. Why use milk, right?

The jambalaya wasn’t presented beautifully, but it’s a rice dish. And this isn’t Emeril’s. It had a bold flavor. I really enjoyed it, but my palate was off, so I couldn’t identify the mélange of seasonings.

As a whole, the food was good. If I make it back, I’ll have to try the catfish and froglegs. I really would enjoy an onslaught of froglegs.

And You Thought Nothing Good Came From Ankylosing Spondylitis

Image courtesy of webmd.com.

For five years, I have been battling chronic pain. My issues began with a botched vasectomy and I seem to have picked up new aches along the way. I don’t know if all of these issues are connected or not, but does it really matter?

My damaged ilio-inguinal nerve has generally calmed down, but over time I have been enduring increasing pain in my joints. My lower back has been weak for years, but I never paid it any mind. As a matter of fact, I was diagnosed with mild osteoarthritis which led me to ignore my back pain. What can you do about osteoarthritis anyway? Take NSAIDs? I can’t because I’ve already had one ulcer. I don’t intend to get another.

Then came the gout diagnosis. My uric acid level was over 9. My understanding is you want it below 4.5. My ankles felt like crushed glass. It had to be the gout. Maybe my knees were gouty. I chalked all of my lower joint pain to gout. Allopurinol should solve that.

As I became more aware of the different pain sensations and from my internet self diagnoses (believe me, there were many), I learned that gout typically doesn’t affect the same joints on either side of the body. I had white hot stabbing pains in my flat feet, but my knees and ankles had more of a crushing, radiating pain. There was no relief from the allopurinol, either.

By now I was so flummoxed I finally decided to see a rheumatologist.

Probable diagnosis: ankylosing spondylitis. It has a nice ring to it. Plus, my first Humira self-injection a week and a half ago feels promising. At 38, I still feel like I have the body of a 70 year old, but the pain is much more bearable. It always gets worse at night, but I actually had zero pain in my knees this morning. I have also been able to get around with relative ease in the morning the last few days.

It’s normally a chore to get out of bed. Oftentimes, I wake up and watch television at least a half hour before I dare to put my feet on the floor. It’s as if I’m beset with rigor mortis. Then, I get up to brush my teeth and sit on the couch awhile. The rest of my day consists of a trip to the grocery store along with another errand or two, picking up my oldest daughter up after school, and if I’m feeling especially spry, cooking dinner. Leftovers have been common as I haven’t felt like cooking lately. If there aren’t leftovers, the kids can have a can of ravioli or a fried egg. Or even better–we can have yet another supper consisting of boiled eggs. Four or five are quite filling. And I love eggs. A lot.

It’ll be 2 1/2 more months before I see the rheumatologist for a follow up. I’m sure he will make the diagnosis official. I hope there is an ankylosing spondylitis ticker tape parade.

Why a parade? I finally have a diagnosis! I’m especially blessed because my autoimmune disease is treatable. It’s not some stage 7 chemical burn on my brain where there is no hope at all. (As a general rule, if your brain is chemically liquified and drains out of your ears, that is an unfavorable diagnosis).

I’m thrilled. My wife is relieved. My kids hope the treatment will keep the pain at bay so I won’t be so cranky. Ankylosing spondylitis is no chicken dinner, but I feel like a winner. I have a diagnosis and a treatment.

The Obsolete Man


Have you ever considered your impending obsolescence? Many societies revere the aged and the infirm, but America is a society that discards everything once it loses its luster. This is not confined to material goods. Old and sick people are shuttered up in homes. They are obsolete.

I’m reminded of an old Twilight Zone episode where a different kind of obsolete was dramatized. Burgess Meredith was “The Obsolete Man” because he was a librarian. Not just a librarian, but a bookworm who treasured his Bible.

His beliefs put him at odds with the State. He was to be liquidated because he served no purpose for the State. It’s chilling when he is sentenced to be executed for “serving no function.” It appears that this country is beginning to hold a similar view. That should be alarming even for the people “on the winning side.”

In this age of New Morality, promiscuity is encouraged and adhering to biblical values is not just considered old-fashioned. It is viewed as bigoted, narrow minded, and subversive.

Are we, as Christians, in danger of becoming obsolete? I think it is inevitable if we remain on this moral trajectory. We live in a world that is tolerant of all people except for Christians. That is a dangerous position to hold because the day may come where other groups are considered anachronistic.

Remember the conclusion of the episode where the Chancellor was declared obsolete? What if today’s accusers are denounced tomorrow?

This post is written in response to the Daily Post’s prompt Going Obsolete.

What is the Worst That Can Happen?

CC image courtesy of inmystrangeworld89 on Flickr.

It’s a common question I ask people when they are about to try something new. The question is simple–“What’s the worst that could happen?”

I have yet to find a situation where the question is inappropriate. There’s the first day of kindergarten. How about the first day in basic training? Your attendance at a wedding or funeral is a good time to pose the question.

It is an evergreen question. A perennially appropriate query to make a determination as to whether or not this activity is worthwhile.

So, what is the worst that can happen? You could die. If that is true, everything else is gravy.

Written in response to Worst Case Scenario.

If That’s What You Believe…

CC image courtesy of Waiting for the Word on Flickr.

It seems that there have always been people searching for reasons not to believe. Thomas was trapped in his unbelief. He told the other disciples,”Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25 NASB)

That same argument is espoused today. Some people discount the Bible as a collection of fables told by ignorant sheep herders. In my estimation, that is an argument adopted by many people who haven’t bothered to read the Bible. Can one make an informed decision without investigating all information available to them?

Others search scripture in order to disprove the Bible. That certainly isn’t being objective. I’ve heard the claims that there are two Isaiahs, that Jesus was not resurrected, even that Josephus’ account of Jesus was a forgery.

The truth is that there will always be people who reject Christ. Some would even reject Christ if they placed their hand in His side.

Our pluralistic society rejects Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) We want to be inclusive of all beliefs no matter how ridiculous they are. I could say I will live eternally at IHOP with the pancake god if I eat pancakes everyday for two weeks. “If that’s what you believe…” or “what is true for you isn’t necessarily true for me…” are the mantras today.

As a matter of fact, any belief is accepted as valid unless you believe in Jesus Christ.

In response to Daily Prompt.