Heather L at MarineCorpsNomads.com MilitarySpouseBlogs Proud Marine Wife  Pray for Our Troops

Stay Connected

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Subscribe to Marine Corps Nomads RSS Feed Follow Marine Corps Nomads on Facebook Follow Marine Corps Nomads on Twitter Follow Marine Corps Nomads on Google+ Follow Marine Corps Nomads on Pinterest Follow Marine Corps Nomads on Instagram Follow Marine Corps Nomads on YouTube Email Marine Corps Nomads

Categories

Looking Back

Character Interview: Meet Ronie Kendig’s Vvolt

This post is part of the Conspiracy of Silence Tour of Duty. I received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher. This post may contain affiliate links.

The Tox Files

If you haven’t read the free intro to The Tox Files – The Warrior’s Seal, you need to go pick it up on Amazon. It’s a kindle novella that you can read on any device, so there is no excuse not to be spun up on the team before you dive into Conspiracy of Silence. Fair warning, once you start reading, you will not want to put the books down. I got sucked in and ended up getting a little less sleep than I should have with both of these books.

The Tox Files - Vvolt Character Spotlight

Fictional Vvolt Character Spotlight

  • Name: Vvolt N629
  • Birthplace: Lackland Air Force Base
  • Breed: Belgian Malinois
  • Age: 8.5
  • Coloring: Brown and Black
  • Unique Skill: Scent Detection
  • Favorite Treat: Kong
  • Tours of Duty: 3
  • Handler: Sergeant Drew Keogh

Vvolt, the military working dog featured in The Tox Files, was based upon the real life Vvolt. For those who don’t know, it’s pronounced Volt not vee-volt. Vvolt adopted Ronie and her family as his forever family once he retired from active duty. Special thanks to Ronie and Vvolt for taking the time out of their busy lives to do this interview.

Vvolt posing at the WWII Memorial

Vvolt Interview

1. What kind of training did you go through to prepare you for your job as a military working dog?

My training started when I was just a little pup. I was with a foster family that would take me out to all different kinds of places for socialization. I learned the world was a fun place to explore full of people that loved me.

My foster parents taught me to be bold and courageous, and that if I was unsure of something I could count on my handler for guidance.

Once at boot camp, I learned to recognize odors my handlers wanted me to find and how to best search for them. I also learned how to look big & scary & bark in a deep, loud bark to intimidate bad people. I also learned how to protect my handler from harm & to trust him to do the same for me.

2. What would you say was the most difficult part of the training? Were there certain aspects of the training that were more difficult for you than others?

The hardest part of training was the shock of going from living in a home with my foster family to going to live in the DoD kennels at 7 months old, when I went off to “puppy boot camp.” I no longer had my nice comfy couch to laze around on. I was in a kennel with hundreds of other dogs around me and was expected to start training with a new handler. This makes or breaks many dogs. Some cannot adjust and just want to go back home to their family and won’t work for the trainers.

3. When did you first get assigned your handler? Did you connect right away?

I went to my first duty station around 2 years of age & was paired with my 1st handler then. In puppy school & DTS I had a couple of different trainers during the time. Despite what is seen in a lot of movies, a working dog often has more than one handler. Most military working dogs aren’t assigned to one handler forever. Even after my deployment, I had a couple of handlers.

4. What is the hardest thing about working in country?

**Classified**

5. Did you have a hard time adjusting to being back home when you returned from your deployment?

I did one tour overseas, but then I spent the next couple of years as a training dog for handlers at my base in Florida, so that wasn’t too bad, though I worked hard training and tearing up bite sleeves. My last handler said I was “a lot of dog,” and I think that was a great compliment!

6. What’s your favorite thing to do in your down time?

I love swimming, but there aren’t a lot of places around here for to me to dive in. Next to that, I love playing Keep Away with the Kong. Mostly, I dare my family to get my Kong before I can bite their hands off. Just kidding. Mostly.

7. Is there anything else that you’d like to add…

Mom might not appreciate me saying this, but I accept all donations of bully sticks and Kongs. #truestory #noshame #servedmytime

Also – we are thankful to Lora Harrist, a foster mom with the DoD Foster Puppy Program, for helping VVolt remember the details when he was more interested in sharpening his razor-sharp teeth and going a million miles an hour.

Connect with Ronie and Vvolt

Ways to support military working dogs

Military Working Dogs

A wonderful organization that supports retired military working dogs is Combat Canines: The DDoc Foundation, and their namesake is DDoc L258 (ret). This foundation gives back through financial aid, transportation, education, and adoption. The DDoc Foundation has helped my adoptive mom with some of my bills, too. They are a wonderful, reputable non-profit.

ALLK9Stuff shows support to K9 Teams and supporters. They make some great products, and some of their profits go back into supporting K9 teams/ supporters.

Side note: If you love reading about military working dogs and their handlers, you won’t want to miss out on the Breed Apart Trilogy by Ronie.

Scripture Doodle by April Knight

Special thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of these books for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links.

Scripture Doodle Coloring and Devotional Books

Taking a Look at Scripture Doodles by April Knight

I find coloring to be very therapeutic, so combining a devotional with a coloring book makes complete sense to me. Scripture Doodle and Scripture Doodle God’s Promises are both six-week devotional books. Some devotionals have coloring pages while others have a place for your own doodles which makes these books a little different than some of the other coloring/devotional books. You have the opportunity to be a little more creative or do a little journaling with the devotionals.

Throughout the Scripture Doodle books, you’ll receive tips and guidance on sketching, drawing, and doodling. The art tips help both those who are just starting out and those who want to improve their artistic skills. Sometimes you’ll be completing art tasks in addition to doing the doodling/sketching that goes along with the devotionals. Some devotionals call for completing partially drawn doodles while others call for just coloring or even creating your own doodle from scratch.

The books are well made with heavy paper that is nice for coloring, sketching, and doodling. The covers are sturdy and clean up nicely if you have the occasional spill or mess.

The devotionals are simple, so they’re really just little tidbit type devotionals. They can be a springboard for further study or just something to encourage you during the day. They’re a nice addition to the normal adult coloring book. In many ways, the Scripture Doodle books are a great way to start with scripture journaling if you’re not comfortable journaling in a Bible.

Scripture Doodle Coloring and Devotional Page

About Scripture Doodle

With inspiring exercises and prompts, this unique interactive guide introduces readers to a creative connection between Bible study, artistic expression, and worship.

Often, in the busyness of life, Christians forget that God created them to enjoy creativity. With guided instruction and completed examples, this beautiful book invites readers to draw closer to God through their own art.

More than a coloring book, ScriptureDoodle is a combination of Bible study, creative expression, and artistic community with artwork shared online at #scripturedoodle. Exploring topics such as being generous, finding rest, and facing grief, ScriptureDoodle gives the heart the creative space it needs. This book stimulates the reader’s imagination and helps integrate God’s Word into everyday life.

ScriptureDoodle God’s Promises refreshes believers who are feeling burned out or stuck in a rut in their relationship with God. Each of the creative worship prompts in this interactive guide includes biblical encouragement and ideas for worship through art. Artist April Knight includes creative lettering tips, color ideas, and completed examples to inspire readers to respond to promises in Scripture related to trust, faith, and the power of God’s Word in all circumstances.

This unique blend of Bible study and creative expression provides the opportunity to connect with God as Creator in a new, life-changing way.

April Knight

Meet the Author

April Knight is a worship artist based in Asheville, North Carolina. Knight’s work includes live worship painting and leading ScriptureDoodle workshops online and at conferences and retreats around the country and internationally. Her family of four is her greatest joy, along with serving alongside her husband at their local church.

Connect via Social Media:

Finding Your Voice by Natalie Grant

Relaxing and reading Finding Your Voice while listening to Christmas music

Finding Your Voice

When I started to do what I loved to do, what God had created me to do — operating fully in my gifting — I began to understand more clearly God’s call on my life. ~ Natalie Grant

I think we have all, at some point in our lives, wondered what the Lord wants for us, from us. What are we supposed to be doing with our lives? Should we take the easy path, the safe path? Should we follow our dreams or plant our feet firmly on the ground?

As I watch my teenage daughter try to figure out what to do with her life, I am reminded of the constant struggle that takes place between reality and dreams. What she wants to do vs what she feels she should do. Trying to balance the profitable against the passion. Listening carefully for what the Lord wants but not being sure. I’ve watched her go back and forth between two very different directions for her life. I listen to her as she struggles to decide which path she should take.

In Finding Your Voice, Natalie Grant takes us through her journey of self discovery. Her path wasn’t as clear as some may think. It was filled with ups and downs, trials and triumphs. It wasn’t until she lost her voice that her true calling began to unfold as she took a trip that, in many ways, changed her life.

Obviously, her focus is on singing, but the truths and guidance she shares as she tells her story are applicable to all walks of life no matter the profession. The book is not preachy. It’s a down-to-earth presentation that is meant to help others seek their calling in life by setting aside outside expectations and listening, truly listening, to the Lord.

Finding Your Voice by Natalie Grant

Book Description

In a culture that praises blending in over standing out, productivity over purpose, and noise over truth, many women find their God-given voice compromised, quieted, or even mocked. We all long to live out our divinely designed passions and unique talents, yet too often it becomes so much easier in the face of opposition to stay silent altogether. What if God is calling you to so much more?

As a working mom, wife, artist, and abolitionist, Natalie Grant has struggled to live on purpose while battling the worldly demands of keeping up the appearance of perfection. Emerging from her own dark spiral of suffocating inadequacy, Natalie found fresh hope in the truth that God has already given women everything they need to live out their God-given identity, passions, and calling. Finding Your Voice offers the heart-rallying, life-giving truth that a woman’s voice is not an uncalled for interference to be silenced, but a gift to be used for God’s Kingdom purposes. In voice lessons as in life, a strong vocal identity requires us to first stand firm, breath deep, and finally, go for it—loud and clear.

With rich scriptural study and personal stories infusing every chapter, Finding Your Voice reveals how to discover your own unique talent, train it according to God’s Word, and start using it for the good of others—without guilt and apology.

Natalie Grant

Meet the Author

Since her 2005 breakout RIAA Gold certified album Awaken, multi-Grammy nominated artist Natalie Grant has remained one of the top-selling Christian and Gospel artists with over 3 million in sales.  The Gospel Music Association has named her the Female Vocalist of the Year five times, and she has had multiple songs and albums on the Billboard charts. More important than accolades, her passion is to help people across the globe discover their God-given calling and encourage them to live it out to the fullest potential.  An outspoken advocate for victims of human trafficking, Grant cofounded Hope for Justice International a multinational organization that rescues and provides complete restorative care for victims of trafficking.  Grant makes her home in Nashville, with her husband producer, and songwriter, Bernie Herms, and their three children: twins Grace and Bella and their youngest, Sadie.  Follow Natalie at www.nataliegrant.com

Gluten Free Stuffing Muffins

Thanksgiving Meal

A large turkey, several pounds of mashed potatoes, a large batch of stuffing, gravy, and lots of veggies grace our Thanksgiving table every year. Of course, there are usually plenty of baked goods including pumpkin pies.  I enjoy putting together a big feast for my little family. It makes me feel good to provide a delicious meal that they enjoy.

Now that we’re on the west coast, we’ve already watched the football game for the day, so meal time is all about relaxing family time. Our Thanksgiving traditions include starting our Christmas movie marathon while eating our Thanksgiving meal. Munchkin was told by a classmate that watching the same movies in the same order each year sounds boring, but we all enjoy it. Of course, watching the movies that many times means that we can quote lines from the movies as they play. It can get quite entertaining.

Even though it’s just the three of us, I like to make extras because we enjoy the delicious meal. While we love eating Thanksgiving dinner more than once around here, it’s always nice to be able to change things up a little when working our way through the leftovers.

Gluten Free Stuffing Muffins

So often I hear about people who get sick of their leftovers or who don’t enjoy turkey. I don’t really understand this type of thinking. If you and your family don’t enjoy turkey, maybe it’s time to change up how you make the turkey or just do something all together different that your family enjoys. If you’re tired of eating a turkey dinner many times over, I recommend getting creative with the leftovers, so you’re having a completely different meal while you’re not letting anything go to waste.

Gluten free stuffing muffins are a good way to use up extra stuffing, and they are easy to pop into a lunch box. They are great paired with the individual gluten free turkey pot pies.

Gluten Free Stuffing Muffins

Gluten Free Herb Stuffing Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb loaf of Gluten Free Herb Bread or gluten free sourdough, cubed and dried
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4-5 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1/4 C butter, unsalted
  • 2 C vegetable stock

Directions:

  1. Place butter in pan over medium low heat.  Once butter is melted, add veggies.
  2. Cook veggies until onions are see-through and other veggies are soft.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Place bread cubes in a bowl.  Add veggies to bread.  Carefully stir to combine.
  5. Add vegetable stock to the bread-veggie mixture.  Stir slowly until bread is coated.
  6. Place mixture into silicone baking cups or .
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until golden on top) at 350 degrees F.

 

Gluten Free Stuffing Muffins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Use your leftover stuffing to create these easy on-the-go stuffing muffins.
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Thanksgiving
Ingredients
  • 1 lb loaf of Gluten Free Herb Bread or gluten free sourdough, cubed and dried
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4-5 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • ¼ C butter, unsalted
  • 2 C vegetable stock
Instructions
  1. Place butter in pan over medium low heat. Once butter is melted, add veggies.
  2. Cook veggies until onions are see-through and other veggies are soft.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Place bread cubes in a bowl. Add veggies to bread. Carefully stir to combine.
  5. Add vegetable stock to the bread-veggie mixture. Stir slowly until bread is coated.
  6. Place mixture into silicone baking cups or .
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until golden on top) at 350 degrees F.

 

 

Thanksgiving: Staying Connected Across the Miles

Staying connected across the miles with Shari's Berries

One of the difficult things about being a military family is that we’re often away from family for the holidays. It’s always nice when you can find a little ways to stay connected across the miles. Shortly before Thanksgiving, I was contacted by Shari’s Berries to see if I would like to share one of their cheesecake collections with someone as a way to show that I’m thankful for them. There was no obligation to write a review or blog post. I picked the fall collection of chocolate covered strawberries and cheesecake bites for both my family and my sister’s family. It was cool thinking that even though we were on opposite sides of the country we were still sharing the same yummy Thanksgiving treat.

Thanksgiving Memories

Growing up, Thanksgiving was all about family. My sister and I would climb into the backseat of whatever vehicle we had at the time, and the trip to Grandma’s house would begin. Dad was behind the wheel on our journey through the states and over the mountains to gather at Grandma’s house with the rest of the uncles, aunts, and cousins. We never knew what the weather would be like on the mountain pass as that time of year could hold anything from clear skies to rain to sleet to snow. We looked forward to the mountain tunnel as it was one more sign that we were getting closer to our final destination.

Trips to visit Grandma and Grandpa always meant spending time with family, playing outdoors, exploring the mountain, lots of food, football, and games around the table. I have so many wonderful memories of our Thanksgivings at Grandma’s house. I’m grateful that our family was so close and that we enjoyed these times together. I know not everyone has that with their families. It was always a special time even if it did get a little crazy at times with all of the people.

Helping my sister at the waterpump when we were little

When I was younger, I’m pretty sure I took a lot of that time together for granted. These days, I treasure those times and those memories. While we don’t make it back to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving anymore, many of my family members still get together to celebrate. The faces have changed over the years as some people have moved away, others have gotten married, and lots of kids have joined the celebration. We may not be there, but I still enjoy seeing the family continue the tradition.

Shari's Berries Autumn Cheesecake and Berry Package

As we enter this holiday season, I look forward to making more memories and treasuring those memories from the past. I’m thankful for social media, cell phones, and text messaging as it allows us all to stay connected even when we’re separated by many miles. I’m grateful that I have such a good relationship with my sister and her family. I miss her dearly, but I know that she’s always there for me when I need her. I don’t take for granted my family or the special times that we have had over the years. When we are able to get together, we treasure every moment.