Looking Back

Benita, Jimmie, and Kristopher Kepler 1977
Benita, Jimmie, and Kristopher Kepler 1977

Have you ever sat down with a cup of hot coffee and reflected on your life? Go ahead; raise your right hand if you have done it.

If you are looking in my direct, you will see I have my hand lifted high. I admit I have had many of those melancholy moments.

No, I am not planning my eulogy, but at sixty years of age, I look back from time to time.

What is the catalyst for my latest round of self-examination? I think it is a combination of various things. First, I turned sixty years old this past November. Add to that my wife recently had major abdominal surgery. Finally, it is the New Year, which all by itself causes reflection.

One of the first things I do when reflecting is thinking about where I have been. Growing up as a military brat during the Cold War and Vietnam War gives me a different perspective than many.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about my childhood. It really was fun and different. I lived many places. My laundry list of places lived before I reached adulthood include:

  1. San Antonio, Texas
  2. Bowersville, Ohio
  3. Greenville, South Carolina
  4. East Saint Louis, Illinois
  5. Greenville, South Carolina
  6. Glendale, Arizona
  7. Sequin, Texas
  8. El Paso, Texas
  9. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  10. Bebe, Texas
  11. Schertz, Texas
  12. DeSoto, Texas
  13. Arlington, Texas
  14. DeSoto, Texas
  15. Fort Riley, Kansas
  16. DeSoto, Texas

I also attended eight schools for my twelve grades of public school. The schools were in Arizona, Texas and New Hampshire.

The advantage was getting to see and experience much of this great country called the United States of America. The disadvantages were a lifelong feeling of not having roots and not having a true hometown. I even felt an outsider at my own high school where I attended from the middle of the ninth grade through graduation. I sometimes feel that way when some of use get together for a Saturday evening meal.

Other time I think back to winning the military draft lottery when we use to have such a thing. I was a one of those pivotal moments in my life. It meant I was going into the US military. I had the choice of going immediately or going later. I could have gone immediately by enlisting or just waiting to be drafted.

The Vietnam War was winding down at that time, but they were still sending combat troops. They would do that for another eighteen months after I graduated high school.

I selected another option. It was to defer my military service. I did this by joining the United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps is college. This lead to me being commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army upon college graduation. It guaranteed I would graduate from college on time and serve in the military.

It also leads to three other items. First, it took me to Fort Lewis, Washington. There I attended First Baptist Church of Lakewood. I accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at Lakewood.

Second, it provided me with the G.I Bill educational benefit that I used to get my master’s degree.

Third, it provided the G.I. Bill house financing benefit I used two purchase two homes. I doubt I would have ever been able to buy a house with the 20% down payment requirements in place in the 1970s and 1980s.

I think back about choice I made like marriage and the birth of three children. I reflect on attending, graduating from seminary, and serving five church over a sixteen years period.

I look at leaving ministry and retraining for work in the information technology field. I think of how I could have been a better husband and parent.

No, I don’t have regrets. You cannot change choices, so any reexamination isn’t a good thing to do.

I also think about the future. I‘ll write about that on another day.

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