Welcome Home

It was a beautiful day in East Texas today as friends and family welcomed Andy home with salutes, hugs, well-wishes, gifts and lots of love and respect. A line of flag bearers formed outside the church just before Andy arrived--members of the East Texas Military Families "Welcome Home Soldier" Project and members of The Patriot Guard made this event fantastic! It's estimated that there were 200-300 people here today...and it was completely amazing.



There's going to be a concert by several bands, including *LUMINATE* at the Central Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, beginning at 7PM on Friday, February 6, 2009. Tickets may be purchased at the door. This is a benefit concert for Army Specialist Andy Burnett.



I'm so very happy to have the pleasure of writing this post--to announce the details of Andy's Homecoming Celebration in Tyler, TX!

You are cordially invited to share in the joy of
a Soldier's Homecoming Celebration
in honor of Specialist James Andrew Burnett
United States Army
of Tyler, Texas
Saturday, January 31, 2009
from 2 to 4 PM

Reception to be held at
First Church of the Nazarene
3700 Old Bullard Road
Tyler, Texas


My West Wing Moments

Sorry. Another tv post. But there is a point, I promise.

So you've probably picked up on the fact that I have been on a West Wing kick since about mid-November. I didn't watch the show when it was on the air, but I've been catching it in syndication and currently there are about 15 episodes waiting to be played on the DVR. I watched all of Season 2 a few weeks ago, while Joal was away. My laptop plays DVDs so I take it up to my room and lay in the bed and cut paper things out and watch West Wing. For 5 hours straight, starting at 9pm. It's the life, I tell you.

The writing of The West Wing is brilliant. Many times over. In light of the brain-mush that is current reality's positively invigorating. There's depth and qwerk and brilliance laced throughout the show. It moves briskly and with great humanity.

Anyway, today I turned it on in the afternoon and it was episode #153 out of 154, called Institutional Memory. The key players in the Bartlett administration are winding up for the hand-off to the newly elected president. The moment that struck me is between CJ, the President's Chief of Staff and Danny Kincannon, a White House reporter with whom CJ has been fighting a shared attraction to for years because of their respective positions. CJ is entertaining two prestigious job offers and in her quandary, she neglected to even mention the 2 offers to Danny before she basically had her mind made up. She casually offers up her decision--announcing it to him as a done-deal, not realizing and then misunderstanding the depth of his feelings for her.

Danny is stunned that it did not occur to her to consider his opinion in the matter and he wonders if they are going to have a relationship without their jobs. In the end he's reassuring CJ that in their new old relationship they will learn new things and work things out if only they choose to talk it out.

The pair retreat and then meet again later, when Timothy Busfield delivers the most fantastically romantic little speech--well now that I've gone and written it all to shreds, I found the video on Youtube. Should have looked there first. Anyway, watch for yourself.

The best part starts at 7:04 in the video.

"I want us to talk like we are going to figure it out together. I want us to talk because I like the sound of your voice."

I like that.

Before ER there was EMERGENCY

Before ER there was EMERGENCY.
Before George Clooney and Goren Visnjic there was Robert Fuller and Randolph Mantooth.
Before Maura Tierney there was the magnificent Julie London.
Before County General there was Rampard Emergency Hospital.

From 1972 (a remarkable year for many things) to 1977, NBC aired it's first medical/emergency drama--a show called *Emergency*.

Julian was with me a few weeks ago when I went in Blockbuster to pick up Season Two of The West Wing. He spotted a DVD case with a fire engine on it and declared that he *needed* to see this DVD. It was EMERGENCY. It looked old--I didn't think it would be very exciting...but knowing how he is, I agreed to get it. It was Season One, including the pilot.

Don't watch this if you are looking for modern cinematic smoothness. This show is ripe with the cheesiness that we associate with 1970's television but it is filled to the brim with drama. There is no swearing. There are no adult scenes. They don't actually show any "procedures"...but there's plenty of implications. There is heavy use of dramatic music. There's some conflict but it's handled well, without nastiness. It's clear who the bad guy is and most importantly, the good guys--the doctors and the paramedics always win the day.

It's slightly educational in spots. It's filled with interesting story lines, great rescues and plenty of bravery. It also has lots of beautiful California scenery.

In short, it's great tv for a 12-year old fire fighter enthusiast, such as the dude who resides at my address.

So we watched the DVD about 9 dozen times and he wasn't too happy to return it. I looked on ebay and found it for about $30 a season. Joal said he would keep an eye out for it in his used CD store shopping.

And then, I discovered!! And one of the many cool things offered by HULU is a bunch of episodes of EMERGENCY!

What a goldmine!
Simple tv. I like it.

Happy Innauguration Day.


More of the Stories

From Dad, on Sat 1.17

Dear Andy's Family,
OK. I know I am in the "Dog House." I wish I could find someone else to blame, but I can't. I have waited far too long to get out this update on the boys. I am afraid real life has taken over again at our house including a regular work schedule, fixing stuff, and completing a book that I have been working on for some time. The latter has taken every spare minute for the past several weeks. But, it is finished now. It goes to the printer next week. Praise the Lord!!! So, how about a long overdue update.

The boys are in good spirits as they wait for the last few details to "click" into place to complete their transition back home to Tyler. The final big issue was the conversion of Andy's new truck. The truck is now on site in Florida and the conversion parts are ordered. They should take about a week to arrive and a couple of days to install. Then Andy wants to drive it around for a couple of days to be sure that it all works right. Then, shortly after, it should be off to Tyler.

By the way, I have been officially invited to go out and help with the drive back. I knew they'd call.

Good things are also happening while we wait. A 3 star general came by the other day to visit with Andy - just to chat. Andy mentioned in passing that his "med board" was still ahead of him and that he still had a lot of unanswered questions. Andy said the general smiled and acknowledged his concerns and the conversation moved on. But, apparently the general's mind did not.

The next morning Andy's sergeant major sent her liaison to help answer Andy's questions. Meeting with the "med board" is a pretty important process. Essentially, this is the means by which Andy will be medically retired from the Army. This board determines the details of that retirement, including pay and benefit levels. Obviously, pretty important stuff, so the sergeant major jumped right on it.

However, that was not all that took place. We understood that Andy was supposed to return to Ft. Stewart in Georgia after 30 or so days at home to meet his board. However, the general made other arrangements. He changed it so that Andy's board will be in Little Rock, AR. And, they told Andy that he would not have to go there. Rather, the reps would come to him. Again, Praise the Lord!!!

I told Andy that I was appreciative of that general's care for him, but that I was more appreciative of the prayers that translated into this turn of of events. He agreed.

The furnishing of Andy's apartment is coming along fine. Thanks to so many of you who have made this big job so manageable.

And thanks for your continued prayers for the boys. Please continue to pray especially for Daniels transition back into "real life" with their return to Tyler. Donna and I found that transition very difficult after only a month at Walter Reed Hospital. Daniel has been immersed in this circumstance for 6 months now but, I am sure that your prayers will translate into the same kind of success for Daniel that they have for Andy.

Daniel remarked the other day that Andy had gone through a rehab regime in six months that should have taken more like a year. Obviously the divine energy has been at work. God is moving in an amazing way. Thank you for those precious prayers.

Love in Christ
for our entire family.

Notes from Sarah:
A few facts (because I looked it all up, I figured I would share it...)

*Fort Stewart is in southeast Georgia, about 45 miles from Savannah.
*Savannah is slightly less than 1000 miles from Tyler TX.
*Little Rock, Arkansas is 275 miles from Tyler, TX.

*The original plan for the med board would have taken Andy more than a thousand miles from home--for an indefinate period of time. We were originally told that the med board could take from two weeks to eight months. So as you can see how monumental this altaration to the plan is!


A Note from Daniel

A note from Daniel from Sunday night...

I must admit that I have been planning write this little letter for a while now and after much pushing, prodding and gentle complaints from more than a few people, here is the latest. We are both still alive!

I have learned in the last few weeks that it is not always a good idea to speak for someone else, so what follows are my ideas, opinions and accounts of the things that have been going on. I will start with the ID. It is very hard to prove your identity to someone who doesn't know you or care who you are, without some sort of paperwork. After his injury Andy didn't spend much time in his pants and with the pants went his wallet. With his wallet, went his Texas driver license, Social Security card and military ID. Come to find out it is very hard to re-integrate back into the real world without documents like these. Oddly enough, it is easier to get replacements if you still have the originals. Go figure.

After a visit from a SS Administration rep and a day trip to the closest military installation, the Social Security card and military ID were taken care of. Fun fact for you, in the state of Florida a military ID is a secondary form of identification and can't be used to get a FL drivers license. A driver’s license is a good thing to have when you go to buy a vehicle but more on that later.

With the near unstoppable combination of military ID, (photo) Social Security card, FEDEX-ed birth certificate, (that's another story) and a passed disabled drivers exam, Andy is now (finally) a licensed driver... again... in the state of Florida.

So the truck was it’s own little adventure. The man was shot in the neck—so I can't really blame him for wanting what he wants in this one area in which he can indulge. So we started looking for just the right truck for Andy. His requirements were rather simple-- black, four-wheel drive and leather interior. Not that big a deal, right. The rub came with the lift system. The system that would work best for Andy would only fit certain vehicles and that's to be expected.

The difficult task was getting the dealerships, the VA reps, the lift manufacture and lift installer to all agree on what vehicle would work with the lift system. On two different occasions, I was actually in the dealership, pen in hand, ready to sign on the dotted line, when I received a “cease and desist” call.

Finally, after much deliberation there was a general consensus and we found out that there were two trucks on the entire east coast that filled the bill. Perseverance won the day and there is a brand new truck—black, 4x4 with leather interior in the parking lot of the building where I am staying. Man, is it nice! That truck made for a nice Christmas as Andy took posession on Christmas Eve. We celebrated the day with Sonic foot-long conies and a honey bun.

This was my first Christmas away from most of my family. I have to admit, I didn't really like it. Andy and I read the Christmas story and drove the new truck around the parking lot and that made it ok.

The next hurdle is actually getting the lift system here and installed. Three weeks ago we were told that it would take seven to ten days to get the parts shipped and one day to install them. We both got rather excited as it seemed that home was finally on the horizon. They forgot to tell us that the approval process and paper trail is about a mile long. Everything has to be right in order for them to spend a rather large amount money and that's ok. I just wish they would have said something about that detail three weeks ago.

What I have learned through this is that Andy is something of an over-achiever. A lot of guys that come through here spend about a year in the system; Andy is coming up on six months post-injury. For us, the work has been very compressed. Our drive to put as much time and distance between us and the events of July 17, has not fit in very well with the established system. Andy's drive to get better and my drive to help does not stem from ether one of us being super amazing people. It is because this is how we cope.

This is how God intends for us to survive and survive we will. Not always with style or flare, but through answered prayers offered by many wonderful people, God is seeing to it that we survive. Really, it's more than just survival, we both have had opportunities to do things and meet people that we wouldn't have had a chance to otherwise. I think I'll attach some photos. The fact remains that both Andy and I are rather ordinary people that God has put into a rather extraordinary situation.

Throughout Biblical history, God has done the same thing with many other people and like them, I for one, have felt small in my own sight. When the giant bureaucratic system and the rage of useless legs are bearing down, it is easy to throw up your hands and say, "Woe is me, from where will my help come from?"

And, just that easily the answer comes, "all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to his purpose."

We believe that.. It is what carries us.

I wish I could say that we have a date set for leaving Florida—unfortunately we do not. When it comes, you will know. Getting the truck outfitted is the last major hurdle before we can leave.

If you are reading this you have likely offered up a prayer for one or both of us at some point. Those prayers are valued by us and rest assured, they are being answered. Thank you for your compassion, faithfulness and generosity.

God bless you and keep you.
In Him,
JDaniel Burnett


Six things I Love

Six {Random} Things I Love

1. Darius Rucker's {new} album - learn to live.

2. Nabisco's Mini-Premium Saltines - have you seen these? They are regular old saltine crackers...that got shrunk down to about an inch square. Crackers should not be this cute, but they are.

3. my fresh, unmessy calendar for 2009...all the months are still so clean and uncluttered.

4. Krylon's Brushed Metallic Satin Nickel spray paint...I could paint everything with this stuff. It's the perfect color. Silver but not too. So far I have painted about 15 snowflake ornaments (on sale at WM for 50 cents), a small boat-load of pinecones, a frame, a candlestick...lots of stuff. It's beautiful.

5. Red Hots. (don't eat too many. you won't be able to taste anything else. don't ask me how I know.)

6. Pretty punches, all in a row.


The Sonic Adventures

Time just flies on by, doesn't it.

It's hard to grow up living in a different state than your grandparents. I wish it was possible for my boys to live closer to both sets of their grandparents, but it's just not, so we try to make it work as best we can.

Our local Sonic Drive-In is our rescue place, mostly in the summer, but with odd regularity in the winter as well. It offers inexpensive refreshment and contained calm. It's a thing I have done hundreds of times with my sons and will probably do hundreds more before they flee the nest. The boys have come to spot Sonics everywhere they go and they know that I have a particular weakness for Diet Coke with Cherry. They play the Sonic card often. I admit it.

My mother knows how much my boys enjoy Sonic drinks so a few days ago they both got cards in the mail from her containing a couple bucks earmarked for a trip to Sonic. They wouldn't have been more thrilled if she's gotten them rides on the space shuttle.

I wish I could say that they each have a favorite drink (or even drink combo) and that they are consistent, like their mother, who gets the same drink at every visit. Not happening. That would just make things too easy. Julian is very motivated by whatever picture is on the menu or the board hanging in front of our parking spot. He chooses based on color. He begs for a size that's bigger than any grown man should consider consuming...and he complains mildly when relegated to a medium. He's placated when I remind him that if he sticks with a medium drink, he might have enough money leftover for another trip in a day or two.

Grey must know what his brother is ordering before he can decide. He does what my father would call "hems and haws" for a while and changes his order at least 5 times. He wants a cream slush. He wants a regular grape slush. He wants a lemonberry slush. He wants a Sprite. No. Wait. Don't order yet. What's Bubba getting again? Can't get that.

He's well-trained, tho. He knows that once I roll down the window and start ordering, there will be no more changes made to ones order. He even composed a little rhyme for the occasion, a few trips ago.

"You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit."

"Last call." I say. "I'm ordering."

"OK ok ok ok I want a um er um...a blue coconut slush." doing a little victory dance in the back seat that makes me think he might need to use the boys room.

Finally, I place our order.

One large Diet Coke with Cherry.

One medium Grape Creamslush (like on the sign).

One small blue coconut slush.

No, thank you, we don't need cheesesticks or upsizing, although if you have a shot of tranquilizer, you could add that to the Diet Coke. Do they charge extra for that? On second thought, a shot in each cup would be nice.

Thank you.

Sonic. The business built on ice pellets and roller skates. And Tuesday night "burger night". As if every night aat Sonic isn't burger-based. I think there's some mysterious addictive property added to that ice. And yes, my children are totally hooked. As am I.

Have you ever seen a Sonic carhop on skates fall?

Oh my, I have.

And it was so horrible.

I thought perhaps the earth might tip off it's axis. I cried for her. How embarrasing. But no, she didn't spill the drink on her tray.

I digress.

All this to say "thanks mom!" We really did have a fun time. And we know just where we want to take you when you come for a visit--we might even eat at the tables on the patio.