This year marks the 50th Anniversary of our State Park Police Officers doing the great work of keeping our Park resources and the many people from all over the world who visit our parks safe and enjoying a wonderful experience. I had the honor of sitting down around the table with some of our finest. They, of course, had wonderful stories to tell and memories of their time working with TPWD State Park Police Division. I think you’ll enjoy this podcast/blog as they seriously but lightheartedly share what serving in this capacity has meant and means even today.
If you watch Lone Star Law at all, you’ll know the name and face of Game Warden Mike Boone. What you may not know is how he feels about kids and “family.” He has been an inspiration to many new Game Wardens, as well, when they come out of the Academy.
It was a lot of fun sitting down with Mike and I think you’ll learn some interesting things about this “gentle” man!
This month, I had the honor of interviewing a dear friend, Assistant Commander Cody Jones. When Cody graduated from the Academy, he and his family joined the church I was pastoring in Austin. He was, literally, the first Game Warden I had ever met. But he and his family became dear friends of ours. Also, it was the dream of many that the Chaplaincy Program become a reality and that is how I came to be the Lead Chaplain for Texas Game Wardens and State Park Police Officers. Because Cody became the Administrator of the Chaplaincy Program as well as the CIT (Peer-support Team), I thought it would be a good idea for you to hear Cody’s heart to help and facilitate our officers with the difficult challenges our officers come up against routinely.
The podcast for this month is and interview with two wonderful Game Wardens who partner in leading our Critical Incident Team. Of course, these are also two very large personalities who make me laugh when I am with them – very gregarious people.
I wanted to hear from their hearts why they see leading our CIT is such a crucial area of service. But I also wanted each of you to know that there is this very important resource dedicated specifically to you and your needs in a time of crisis. We have about 30 CIT members around the state. This number includes Texas Game Wardens and State Park Police Officers.
I think you might learn something from them that will help you reach out to our CIT if you ever find yourself in a peer-to-peer need. They will explain about the privacy issues, as well, so you can feel comfortable knowing that your issues stay with you and your peer.
Please listen as they explain in great detail what CIT means for you when you need them.
This month I had the privilege of interviewing Major Brent Satsky of our LE Special Operations. Anyone that know Brent will know that he is a man full of information and someone who cares deeply about his Game Wardens and his Staff. I believe you’ll enjoy his interview and learn much more about our Special Operations work done on behalf of the people of Texas and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
As all of you know, we have a new Colonel, Chad Jones. I had the honor of sitting down with Chad a few weeks ago and finding out about his life, history with our Game Warden assignments and other issues close to his heart. I think you’ll enjoy hearing what he has to say – especially his love of family, job and what each of you do for our Law Enforcement Division and its future.
This podcast deals with “Stress” and will be the first in a series of podcasts dealing with Stress. Also, I had the opportunity to interview Chief Wes Masur of our State Park Police Officers. I know you’ll want to hear what this wonderful man has to say!
There are many things we can learn from our dogs! K-9 Ruger, our now retired K-9, is a dog we can learn much from these days in how to deal with so many of the issues of our lives. Listen to Captain Christy Vales as she describes Ruger and all he has to teach us over all the years of his service.
This month I had the honor of interviewing Colonel Grahame Jones just one month out from his retirement. I only wish I had done this with Colonel Craig Hunter! You have the opportunity to listen to his heart as he leaves the job he dreamed of – not being Colonel, but being a Texas Game Warden. We also deal with a little of the COVID-19 situation and how we are called to ” . . . be strong and courageous!”
There is nothing about “Greif” that we look forward to dealing with. However, each of us must deal with it sooner or later. We will all face loss, and with loss we will all face the emotion of “grief.”
Even if you are not going through Grief, or are just coming out of it, please forward this and the references contained in the podcast to those who are just now going through grief. What you can do to help your loved-one in this time will not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
With my very deepest love and concern for each of you,
Its that time of year – when stores are crowded, checking accounts get much smaller and some of us struggle with things that have happened through the year that make this year’s holiday season a little less than it used to be. But, there is good news! Listen, and see what I mean.
One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve travelled around the state and spoken to our Texas Game Wardens – now more than ever, Game Wardens don’t know each other like they did when there were even fewer of them. So, I want to spend a few podcasts interviewing Game Wardens so those of you who may know their names can now put a story to their names. This month, I interview one of the most humble Game Wardens I’ve met, yet. I know there are many who are humble, but let this Game Warden – Darrin Peeples – give you an example of what I mean. I hope you get some good information about him in this interview.
Retired Game Warden Raymond Custer was in the hospital recently (he’s out now and doing well). I ran up to San Angelo to see him and he started telling me about some of his stories from his old Game Warden days. What a hoot he is! Remember to tell your stories because they mean so much to those who will come after you. You are the past of their present and they will be the past to someone else’s future. Hope you enjoy him as I did!
This month, I have a great interview with a very charismatic man named TJ Greany! TJ is a friend of Carter Smith who introduces us to TJ before I interview him. If you are looking for a good program to get boys out into the outdoors while learning skills that, unfortunately, are being lost due to technology and staying indoors, then KOZ may be just the program for you. There are opportunities for girls out there, as well, but KOZ is specifically for getting boys, many of whom have no father or man in their life to teach them outdoor life skills, outside and learning how to do outdoor things while learning about God. If you’re looking for a outreach program for boys, you can’t do any better than this. Hope you enjoy!
In this final installment of “The Power of Story,” the final two lessons I learned while living in the back of my 1969 Ford Fairlane 500 is presented. 1) Without an Advocate, there is ultimately no one to stand up for us, and 2) God always presents a way for us to see us as we are. What is YOUR story? Who can benefit from hearing what you’ve been through and how they, too, can move forward in life by hearing your story? Don’t be silent! Tell your story and watch to see how far your influence can go!
Last month I talked about three life lessons God taught me in one of the worst times of my life. So, this month, I begin with the first lesson. Why? Well, we as humans learn from the lessons of others. Its one of the ways God has given us to not only teach us, but for us to use to teach and help others going through difficult times of life. So, I hope you get something from this because “as iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen each other!”
We, each of us, have a story to tell. That means that it is important and worth sharing. Beginning this month and for the next three months, we will share in the telling of a story and how God has taken a stupid, unruly, egotistical young man to a new place and how important it was for his life.
I hope you will enjoy the journey. Each story is a journey! Your story is a journey and one worth telling for . . . you never know who!
We talk a lot about heroes on this site because we honor our Game Wardens for the things they do – especially when they had no idea they were going to be put into certain situations.
This month, we interview GW Rob Frets just over a year after the horrific shooting in Sutherland Springs. Rob was one of the first on the scene after the massacre of so many people and we talk to him about how he is doing, how he’s coping and what strategies he used to get through this past year.
Listen in to his own words. We will all go through horrific incidents in our lives, but Rob gives us good advice about how those incidents do not need to defeat us in our minds and hearts.
Can you believe we’re already at Thanksgiving time of year? Don’t blink . . . Christmas is coming soon! This newsletter sets up some history of the holiday, some ideas for your kids to consider and some funny quotes from some of our best comedians and famous people. Next month, we’ll return to a Podcast. Happy Thanksgiving!!
October reflects the interview with one of our own Game Wardens. Aiden Deitz is a Game Warden for Starr County. He just returned, recently, from a 9 month stint as a First Lieutenant with the Texas Army National Guard as a Platoon Leader. He had 40 plus men and women under his command on the front lines and down-range. In this interview you will hear the difficulties of life deployed away from his loved ones, how he and his family coped with the deployment and ways to make it through crises, stress and the difficulties away from family, friends and a job he loves. After listening, please send him a “Thank you” for his service to our country and a “Welcome Home” email so he can know his time away is appreciated by all of us. A hearty “Well Done” to him and his family!!
Last month I indicated that the August Podcast would be nothing but jokes from the field and that there would be a competition for the best joke. Well, that joke was won by the seven-year-old girl, Hailey, the daughter of one of our own TPWD folks. I have included her joke, in her own words, which is “cute as the dickens!” I’ll be sending her an age-appropriate prize! Hope you enjoy the jokes and can use them the next time you’re out with friends. I’ve already used some of them, myself!
This month, I’m asking everyone to send me their favorite jokes and we’ll play them in August. Send them to me in an audio file (in your voice) or in text form (I’ll do my best to tell it for you) to email@example.com. Let’s see who has the best jokes. A reward will be coming to the one our panel has set up to judge. Remember to keep it clean! No person(s) attacked; no dirty jokes; no ethnic jokes; no culture jokes, race jokes, sexual orientation jokes, etc. Let the one in this podcast be an example of a clean joke.
We live in a world of social media. This causes us to feel like we’re connected to so many more people, including people we haven’t seen in a long time. The trouble is, perhaps we really aren’t connected as well as we think we are. The younger folks in our world have actually been recording that they are actually more lonely because their connections are mostly electronic. But we can’t lay that only at their feet. All of us have substituted true connections for short spurts of “connection.” The result is that we are feeling, as a society and as individuals, more loneliness, depression and anxiety as we search for true, meaningful relationships. This podcast aims simply to help us ask the right questions about ourselves, our families and our work-mates.
Each of us is so very different from other people. There’s not a one of us who is like another, even if you’re an identical twin or triplet. We’re just not made to be exactly like anyone else. This is GOOD news! Each of us brings a uniqueness to our families, our workplaces and the world that no one else can possibly bring. Everything you are, everything you’ve seen, learned, heard and experienced adds up to the person you are. Some of us spend a lot of time in life trying to be just like everyone else. Others of us try to be so unique as to become, though not a bad person, but strange to the rest of us. That’s OK, too, if you’re good with it and don’t mind being that different.
Ever been angry? Of course! Ever wonder how to deal with it or if it was normal? Ever wonder if you might have an anger problem? Well . . . you might, but you might not, as well. In reality, anger is a gift, just like all the other emotions. It’s what we do with it that makes it either destructive or corrective.
I’ve been talking with an inordinate amount of people about this issue, lately. And no wonder! Our world fosters, encourages and fails to discourage the emotion, even when it’s way out of control. If you or someone you know is struggling with anger or even how to deal with it constructively and not destructively, have a short listen or encourage them to listen. Can’t be fixed in 10 minutes, but hints and helps are here.
On the connection with the “Communication” podcast a couple of months ago, I wanted to look, again, at what it means to be and/or stay connected with the spouse/significant other you, as a Game Warden, may have. Its not the easiest thing in the world to make a connection with a Game Warden work. In fact, it could be argued that it is more difficult than making it work with someone who may be deployed with the military overseas. But, that doesn’t absolve anyone of NOT being connected. Listen to this podcast and maybe you’ll find something that will help you and your partner in coming closer through communication and relationship.
How are you doing with your relationships? Many philosophers over the centuries have postulated that it is “relationships” that have caused the most problems between nations, tribes, religions and people. What are some ways you can use to address being better at the relationships you have be they marital, familial, professional, etc.? This post gives some simple ideas that may help you map your way to better relationships in your life.
Fear is a natural part of the human psyche. It is also a gift! It’s one of those things given to us for our own protection and we know when it happens by the thump in our chest or the hair raising on the back of our neck. But fear can also be a crippling and entrapping element of our lives if we let it. Here is a short discussion of how we can keep fear from being that trap for each of us in 2018.
With all of the violence against Law Enforcement, these days, it would be easy to get jaded and down about what people who are out to do the good things are having to go through. Don’t get caught in that! You aim high because you were created to go high! Your calling in L.E. is important and we’re counting on you, have your backs and stand with you in the face of impertinence and foul-play! Have a Merry Christmas and know that we hold you in high regard!
Wait, wait, wait! That is probably the hardest thing to do. People want us to act and act now. The problem is, God may not be finished putting all the pieces together, yet. Big we jump in too early, we mess the whole thing up. Can you wait and see what will happen, or will you act first and watch how you mess the whole thing up for God? Hmmmm, what will you do?
As first responders begin to return from Hurricane Harvey, it is vital that we pay attention to their well-being. Large scale disasters demand significant physical and mental amounts of energy that public servants readily give of themselves. However, the recovery process for these amazing first responders is frequently overlooked. If you are a public safety professional who has deployed to the hurricane, a family member, friend or colleague, here are some things from Dr. Tania Glenn, PsyD and LCSW, to consider:
First responders take about half a second to ramp up mentally and physically. The fight or flight response is immediate and vital to the roles that first responders take on during dangerous and even life-threatening situations. Coming off the response however, is very different. Think of this analogy: launching into response mode is fast like a microwave, with immediate heat and energy. Coming off response mode is like an oven that has been cooking at 500 degrees cooling down, slowly and gradually.
During Harvey, all first responders utilize the fight or flight response, which involves the sympathetic nervous system and copious amounts of adrenaline, glucose and cortisol. In the aftermath of the activation, rescuers will experience the counter effect of the fight or flight response, which is a parasympathetic nervous system backlash. This means rescuers hit the wall. They get very tired and irritable. They sometimes catch colds or simply don’t feel well. At the same time, they also begin to deal with reality as the sights, smells and sounds begin to replay in their minds.
Please understand that human beings are not light switches. We don’t simply “turn off” an experience and “turn on” normal life. We ask that every first responder give himself or herself time to recover.
For First Responders:
- Specifically, please consider this:
- Get rest. Take plenty of naps if you are not sleeping well through the night.
- Stay hydrated.
- Take Vitamin C and zinc to help prevent or shorten the nasty cold you might have.
- Talk to your family, your peers, peer support or a clinician.
- Resist the urge to skip the gym. Yes, you are tired, but moving your body is the best way to get the fight or flight chemicals out of your system.
- Resist the urge to drink too much. Heavy intoxication will only make matters worse.
- If after two weeks you feel like you are not beginning to return to normal, get help immediately from a clinician who understands public safety.
For Family Members:
- It is important to give first responders the time and space to return to “normal life.” Try not to overwhelm them with requests in the first few days. They will need time to restore their resilience.
- If there were issues at home while your loved one was away and you are notifying him/her, be sure to include the solutions that are being implemented. For example, if your 10th grader is already struggling in biology, let your loved one know what steps are being taken for tutoring, etc.
- Understand that your first responder has seen significant human struggling. They will come home with a perspective that the little things in life that don’t matter REALLY don’t matter. It is likely that they will have little tolerance when the kids are arguing over what video game to play. They are dealing with a sharp contrast of reality coming from where they have been.
- Don’t be surprised if your first responder has no desire to go out in public for a few days. They have been over-stimulated by noise, people and chaos for several days.
- Understand that your loved one might not want to talk about it. It’s ok for little snippets to come out here and there, and also for them to be more inclined to share with their fellow first responders versus family members.
- Don’t take it personally if your loved one tells you that he or she wants to go back. This is normal. The work is very meaningful, much needed and ongoing in disasters. It is normal to want to return to continue to help.
For Coworkers and Supervisors:
- Be there for your colleagues as they return and allow them the opportunity to discuss what they have been through without judgment.
- Understand that they will view the normal workday as mundane for a while. Considering what they have been through, it is normal for returning first responders to be frustrated with the tempo, the paperwork and the protocol. They will feel restricted compared to where they have been.
- Encourage them to get help if things are not returning to normal.
- The main thing to remember is that it takes time and effort to restore your resilience after a disaster deployment. Also please understand that it is normal for all of the issues to crop up a bit later down the line. The delayed response is due to the fact that many first responders employ a healthy amount of internal numbing, and when the numbing wears off, the reactions occur.
Please take good care of yourselves and reach out to CIT / Peer Support Team or Chaplains if things are not improving.
Have you ever felt like the “new kid on the block?” It can be a pretty uncomfortable place in which to find yourself and your family when you’re the new folks in a new place and a new position. With all the new Game Wardens, people moving to new positions and new folks being added in different places, we probably have more than a few who are really looking to be wanted and “welcome” in their new place. What place to we have to help them? Do we have the responsibility to help make sure these folks feel welcome? Of course we do! Wouldn’t we want them to do that for us? Hmm.
“Loss is one of the hardest things we, as humans, go through and we seem to go through it quite often. Death causes the greatest sense of loss. Many of us have recently gone through the death of a loved one and can relate to the horror associated with it whether it be sudden or after a long, lingering illness. It doesn’t matter, loss is horrible even when we know the fate of our loved one. This podcast addresses loss and the words of hope found it a thousands of years old poem. What was true then is true now. There is One who walks beside us in the inky darkness of fear and loss.
Communication is one of the most difficult things we do in life, while at the same time, its one of the things we do more than anything else – like breathing. The problem is, we don’t do it very well, and because we don’t do it very well, we send out mixed signals and we misinterpret others’ communication we see and hear. So, what are the four things that become barriers to good communication and how can we learn to do it better? This short talk will give you some insights into good and bad communication. I try to “communicate” it in a short six-minute discussion. I hope it helps!
Believe it or not, there actually are people out there who would do you harm, psychologically. They want to make sure you believe everything wrong is wrong because of you. This article is about the tools and tactics of those who would choose to create within you a sense that you are the problem, not them and their way of thought.
Be aware, there are difficult words that are not culturally appropriate and may make you cringe. However, work through the article because the information contained within the article will help you to not be duped by those who would use these tactics to cause you to doubt yourself.
Whether they be friends, family or spouse, we need to all be aware of the psychological techniques of those who would choose to do us harm
Many parents today are asking the question, “I know my teenager is entering a difficult world. How do I help my teen continue to be strong and encouraged?” This article can help you with some suggestions for understanding what comes up in your teen’s life and ways you, as their parent, can understand and guide them in these difficult times.
What does it mean to parent with intention or purpose? It means making a plan for bringing up your child and sticking to that plan. This article is not an exhaustive study, but perhaps it can give you some ideas. Also, there are resources at the end that can give you further help in parenting with intention.
If you are a single-parent, you are to be praised. Most of us would be so intimidated alone that we’d probably go crazy. But you! You have been given the great responsibility and joy of raising a child or children alone while being given an enormous task. This article will help you find a way forward if you haven’t found one and give you some tools that will help you through this time, as well.Raising Children Alone
How do you prepare your child for the teenage years? For that matter, how do you prepare yourself for those years? This study will give you some helpful information to answer both of those questions. Fear not! These years can be great and fulfilling for both of you.
Our children are so precious to us that when they have a need or desire, we will bend over backwards to make sure they have the most helpful and best quality service. The spiritual life is certainly as important as any other part of life, if not the greatest since it is an eternal decision. As parents we sometimes don’t feel qualified or comfortable helping our children in this area. Nothing can be further from the truth. This article is a help to parents who are wanting to lead their children to faith.
So many of us have recently been going through grief for one reason or another. This newsletter is dedicated, mostly, to that subject. I’m praying that some of what you find in this newsletter will be helpful to you if you are going through grief, or helpful to you when you find yourself dealing with people who are grieving. This is certainly not exhaustive, but perhaps it can be a beginning to give you information in order to deal with grief.
Have you even wondered what a “Great Life” is all about? Is it about having all the money, fame, wisdom, knowledge you ever wanted? Perhaps that’s a part of it. But, is that what really makes a “great life?” I was watching Lone Star Law last night and watched as one of our Game Wardens took a shot of about 420 yards and dropped a Pronghorn with one shot! Impressive. That was a great moment, to be sure!! But I’m pretty sure that as great as that felt, he wouldn’t chalk that one moment up as making his life a GREAT life. So what is it, this “great life.” Take a moment and consider these thoughts . . .
We all experience a dark night of the soul at some point in our life and we also walk through others dark nights alongside them and experience it with them. How do you reach the dawn after a dark night of the soul? It takes growth…
Listen in to Chaplain McIntosh as he provides an insightful look at the Dark Night of the Soul.
A Discussion about Grace and Forgiveness with Chaplain McIntosh
Surprises come with the Holiday Season. Listen in as Chaplain Scott McIntosh discusses some of the Surprises of the Season.