All posts by DC Gilbert

I am an author, blogger and an un-apologetically patriotic American. I enjoy martial arts, shooting sports and writing. I currently live in Asheville, NC with my German Shepherd named Sophie.

Thank God I Failed by DES

A Collection of True-Life Stories That Will Change Your life

Thank God

Thank God I Failed by Des is a moving, often poignant collection of stories about actual events in her life; events that many of us would not have the courage to share.

From the sometimes painful memories of early childhood through bad relationships, depression, and addiction to forgiveness, acceptance, and peace, this is a story of real Faith. The kind of Faith that can move mountains or simply change one life for the better.

This author courageously shares with her readers her stories of pain, depression, drugs, alcohol, and toxic relationships. She also shares stories about mental illness and even attempted suicide. Her story is one of sinking to the bottom and then, somehow finding the strength to climb up out of the abyss.

Today, Des lives as a happier, healthier, fulfilled woman, living a life about which she previously could only dream. While life may never be perfect, she now lives a life that is truly at peace with who she is and her place in this world.

It was her constantly growing Faith that gave Des the strength to change the course of her life. That same belief provides her with the courage to share her story with her readers in the hope that they too, can transform their lives. The stories contained in this book will touch readers, heart and soul, and they are a real example of the wondrous change true Faith can achieve.

When I read this author’s compelling book, I was struck by the brutal honesty and sincere feelings of pain, despair, hope and compassion in her stories … as well as the valuable life-lessons to be found within them. Des’ story is an amazing tale of redemption, forgiveness, and change driven by a deep belief in a loving God.

I believe this is this author’s first book and therefore it may not be as polished or smooth as something written by a more experienced or professional author. But it is that fact, that allows the author’s honesty and courage to shine through. Her voice has not been edited out of the narrative and because of that, this is not just another dry self-help book. This is her story as told by her. It is that raw, unfiltered honesty that makes this book unique and special, and therefore, very powerful.

Yes! Faith can indeed move mountains. And therefore, it can also transform a life for the better.

Walk a mile or so in Des’ shoes. Take a look into her life and perhaps you will find the hope within yours. You can check out Des’ moving and inspirational story on Amazon!

Award Winning Author Gives Serpents Underfoot Five Stars!

Award winning Author, Lee Boyland, says Serpents Underfoot is a good first novel.

Yesterday, I noticed that Serpents Underfoot had received another review, so naturally I went to check it out and discovered I had gotten another 5 Star review. This time from an award-winning author, Lee Boyland,  Lee has several books out on Amazon.com. Check some of his titles out here!

Award

Lee Boyland’s Review

I posted Lee Boyland’s review here in its entirety. It really made me feel good to get this review and I am certainly working hard to improve my style in future works. Thank you, Lee, for your honest review. It is certainly appreciated.

Award

The story begins in 1966 in Vietnam and fills the first six chapters, then moves back to the US. A young US Army lieutenant is thrown from a helicopter inserting a patrol, injured, and then rescued by a Vietnamese girl who returns to the US as his bride. At this point the story transitions to their son, a US Navy SEAL. The author does a good job of describing the real Vietnam war on the ground, the inhuman crimes committed, not by the US but by the Vietcong and North Vietnam army. Hope some of the flower children now running the country read these chapters.

Other reviewers have discussed the plot and in a couple of instances the books grammar and style. Monday morning quarterbacks who should attempt to write a novel. I am sure the author’s style will improve with future works. For me, the story is the important thing. Is the plot feasible? Are the characters believable? Is the action realistic? In this novel they all are.

Smuggling ten small nuclear devices across our border is possible, however, the “suite case nukes” in the story would not be 2 KT. Considering their source, a yield of .3 to .5 KT would realistic. This said, a .4 KT nuclear detonation in a city would be catastrophic. Such small devices exist and in the US are referred to as SADMs, small atomic demolition munitions for use by Special Forces behind enemy lines.

Isn’t that an awesome review?

You can get your copy of Serpents Underfoot (Kindle) here, or paperback here. I would love to hear what you think of the book!

It is also available online from Barnes and Noble as well as Books-A-Million

Water: How Important is it to You?

1 in 10 people lack access to clean water!

I was stunned by this discovery.

Last week I was attending the 2019 Symmetry Financial Group conference in Washington, DC.  A keynote speaker was Scott Harrison, a man I’d never heard of.  He turned out to be a man with an amazing story!

water

Scott was a young man with a gift. People loved him, loved to be around him, and loved to party with him. He made a living as a club promoter, hired by night clubs in New York City to promote their events … parties, concerts, gatherings, celebrity appearances, etc.

Let’s say there was a lot of wine, women, and song in his life. He got lost. One day he woke up and did not recognize himself. Scott decided he needed to change. He decided he would need to do something pretty drastic to get his life turned around. Applying for work at many charities, he was repeatedly turned down. Finally, he paid Mercy Ships $500 a month to let him work as a photo journalist on one of their hospital ships for one year. He ended up staying for two.

People dying from water?

During his two years with Mercy Ships, Harrison was exposed to the conditions of the impoverished people in Liberia. He saw people drinking water from murky swamps and rancid mud holes. He talked to women who made a 7-mile trek to crocodile-infested rivers for water for their families. These women recounted the many friends they’d lost to crocodiles.  Scott saw a little girl drinking dirty water from a plastic bottle. She would take a sip and promptly throw-up. Scott took the water bottle and had the water tested. The lab technician told Scott that water was literally alive with disease and bacteria! He decided right then and there to do something.

Charity: Water

Scott Harrison founded Charity: Water in 2006. The charity is a non-profit organization that works to bring clean water to people in developing nations by raising money through donations, which directly fund water projects such as digging wells and building water filtration and treatment facilities. Scott uses 100% of all donations to provide this clean water and hires local labor to do the work. This gives each village a sense of pride and ownership in their new clean water sources; some of which have been in operation for 12 years and are still pumping clean water.

water

$12,000 buys a well or filtration system including materials, equipment, and labor.

At the Symmetry conference,  there was not a dry eye in the place after his presentation, and I know several wells were pledged by agencies and these pledges were going to be matched by the corporate office. Symmetry is a big-hearted organization and one of its core values is to always do the right thing … even when no one is looking! And, this is one charity that I, personally, plan to become very involved with.

Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World

water

While I have not read this book yet, I plan to. I am sure it is an amazing read after hearing Scott Harrison speak. I will post a review of this book here once I have read it. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book go toward funding Charity: Water projects around the world.

It is available at the Charity: Water website as well as on Amazon.com

 

As we walk around carrying our bottled water, perhaps we should take a moment and think about the little girl in Liberia or Rwanda, or Honduras … drinking the poisonous water from her plastic water bottle.  Many of us have already dug in to help.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have bought wells and even went over to see them put in.

water

Rachel Beckwith was  a young girl who, on her 9th birthday, pledged to raise $300 to bring clean water to kids on the other side of the world. She raised a little over $200. Dismayed, she pledged to work even harder next year.

Sadly, a few weeks later Rachel was killed in a tragic automobile accident. Word of her pledge and what happened hit the news, and people began to donate in Rachel’s name.  $1.2 million was raised and in Rachel’s name … provided water for 37,770 people. Rachel’s story is one that will bring a tear to your eye and a swell of pride and admiration to your chest.  Take a look at this video! You will not be the same after watching. I promise!

Rachel’s Gift

Matthew 25:40  King James Version

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

For more great blog post, read on!

The Road Less Traveled

IMG_0832Today would have been Sensei Sherman Harrill’s 76th birthday.  I sometimes wonder how many folks truly realize just how unique a gift he left us with when he finally lost his battle with cancer in 2002.

On May 6th, Eddie Satterfield hosted Sensei John Kerker for the annual seminar in Maynardville, Tennessee. This seminar, in a loose way, carries on a Tennessee tradition started by me when I brought Sensei Harrill to Clinton, Tennessee in 1996.  We held that seminar the 3rd weekend in March each year up until Sensei died. (This did keep me in hot water with my family because often the seminar date fell on my daughter’s birthday. I guess I should have thought that through a little more.)

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Darren Gilbert and Sensei Sherman Harrill

Those seminars (as well as others I traveled to held in places like Champaign, Illinois … Carson, Iowa … Chicago, Illinois … Pontiac, Michigan) had a profound influence on me. When Sensei passed away in 2002, I think we went perhaps a year without a seminar. Then we started bringing in his senior student, John Kerker, to continue the seminar series.

Sensei Harrill had left his dojo and everything that entailed to John.  As is often the case, several “instructors” tried to move in and usurp that role … claiming that, since they had higher rank, or their own organizations, or special friendships with Sensei Harrill, etc., John should join their “group” under them.   But, what they did not have was the actual skill, knowledge or character to fill those shoes. They did not have the many years John spent in that dojo. Many of them just liked to hang around and have their photos taken with Sensei. John stepped up and assumed the task left to him by Sensei Harrill, and while those were very big shoes to fill, fill them he did.

Sensei Kerker has done a great job. When John took over doing the seminars for us, maybe in 2004, he might not have been quite at the same skill level as Sensei Sherman Harrill, but I think he was actually a better teacher. Sensei Harrill was not much on explaining things. He just did not seem to have the knack for explaining things that John has. Sensei Harrill showed you … it hurt … you tried it.  And you kept trying it until you figured it out. That was not bad! But, John added an additional element.  He shows you … it hurts dang near as much … you try it … John analyzes and explains what you were doing wrong … you try it again. For me, at least, that adds a lot.

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Sensei John Kerker and Darren Gilbert

Sensei Kerker has definitely come into his own over the years and I would now hate to try and say which of them now has, or had, more skill.

Sometimes life gets in the way and, unfortunately, I had to stop hosting the seminars, and I have since moved to North Carolina. Sensei Eddie Satterfield has picked the Tennessee seminar back up and has hosted it several years now. I am very glad he did … as are several other people. I hope at some time in the future, we can bring Sensei Kerker to North Carolina for seminars as well.

On May 6th, Sensei John Kerker gave a great seminar covering several techniques from kata … focusing on not getting hit, controlling the distance, disrupting your attacker’s balance, and proper timing in executing technique. It was excellent and, as always, I learned something new or was reminded of some important information I had forgotten. There is so much you can learn from Kata if you study them correctly and have the right teacher.  I been been in many Isshin-ryu dojos over the years, and what we do is pretty unique.

So, what is unique about the karate we do?

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Sensei Darren Gilbert and student

We do not spar in the common sense of the word. I once did.  I originally came up in an Isshin-ryu dojo where we learned the kata to earn belt rank. Then we put pads on and sparred in the ring for points. Self-defense was something we made up as we went along and most of it was pretty bad. Nobody knew what kata was really for. We knew kata taught us balance, coordination, timing, etc. And, while all that is certainly true … kata are so much more than that. They are essentially a physical encyclopedia of the principles and techniques of karate.

I was actually ready to quit once I get my 2nd Dan.  I read a lot … and had read about the history of karate and what the Okinawan karate masters were capable of.  I had seen none of that. Either the histories I had read were all a bunch of hooey or none of karate instructors I had yet met and trained with actually knew any karate!

Enter Sherman Harrill.  The first time I saw him give a real seminar my jaw nearly hit the floor. He was demonstrating what I had, until that day, only read about.  So, I started over. I traveled to many seminars and eventually became one of his students. For me, that was a real honor … the honor of a lifetime. I worked hard to change and improve my karate.

A critical moment came for me when I  tested for my 3rd Dan. I passed with flying colors, but there was one caveat. The testing board told me I had to undo all the changes I had made in my karate from working with Sensei Harrill. I though about that and decided I simply could not do that. That forced me to make the difficult decision of changing instructors. Telling Sensei Allen Wheeler I was leaving was also one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I always liked and respected Allen Wheeler very much. He was a good man and had been very good to me and helped me in many ways. I just needed my karate to take a different path. It was also one of the proudest days of my life when Sensei Harrill said “Welcome aboard!”

Not many will like or appreciate the way we train.  It hurts.  I have learned over the years that pain is actually a very good teacher. Notice … I said pain … not injury! Karate is, after all, a striking art.  So, you have to be willing to hit and to get hit hard enough to understand the mechanics of the techniques … why and how they work.  You have to understand what the techniques do to you and you have to understand the real results of the technique on your attacker. Your targets are very often the areas which are off-limits in sport karate. So, it is a rather small group … those who train like we do. I am sure there are other groups like ours training here and there in many other traditional arts. It does slowly seem to be growing as folks lose interest in the “Hollywood fluff” offered by way too many karate schools today.

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Darren Gilbert and Sensei Sherman Harrill

Folks, it is very much a buyer beware situation out there in the world of martial arts schools.

I am not really knocking sport karate. There are some good sport karate schools out there. It that is what you want to do, that is fine. It is certainly your interests and your choices that matter. I know some folks who are very good at it and they are tough competitors. But the keyword here is “competitor!” It is a sport … and there are rules (which sometimes do vary). Certain target areas are off-limits. For instance, no kicking below the belt, no attacking small joints, no head contact, sweeps only allowed on the front leg, etc. There are absolutely no rules in a dark alley way mugging, an attempted rape, during a vicious home-invasion, a terrorist attack, or on a battlefield.

For us, it is just a different flavor of karate. We just train more the way the Okinawan’s trained … you might say a more self-defense orientated approach. We study how to apply the basics and techniques from kata in real-life combat situations … focusing on body mechanics, timing, and developing our weapons with the makiwara.  The Okinawans did not spar … they studied kata. They trained with the makiwara. And, they were pretty deadly fighters.

I considered Sensei my teacher and my friend. He was a marine and tough as nails, but he was also a kind man. I will never forget when that fact was made very clear to me. My students and I had worked very hard to convert an old used-auto parts shop into a dojo. The building belonged to one of my students, Eddy Weaver.  Weaver’s Used Auto Parts had been an institution in Anderson County, Tennessee for decades.

kanpai
Calvin Parker, Darren Gilbert and Sherman Harrill

We actually finished all but the getting the mats down right before that year’s seminar, so we trained on the freshly painted concrete floor.  I had just gotten the gas heater in the day before the seminar and it ran all night, but that old concrete floor was still very cold that morning. There had been no heat in the building for some time. During the seminar breaks, we all took turns sticking our feet under the gas heater to thaw them out! A few months later some kids playing with fire behind the building, let the fire get away from them and our dojo burned to the ground. Sensei Harrill happened to call that next day just to chat. He would do that fairly often. I told him what had happened and he was genuinely saddened and concerned. He knew how much work we had put into that dojo. A few days later I started to get checks in the mail, boxes of training gear, etc.  He had put the word out to his folks! He was not even my instructor yet! That part came just a bit later.

I will end this post by saying … Thank you, Sensei Harrill … for your gift to those of us who had the honor to be your students. Happy Birthday and Kanpai!

And, … Thank you, Sensei Kerker … for continuing to carry the torch.  I am looking forward to that next seminar!

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2017 Maynardville Tennessee Seminar Crew

Filipina Heroine

A great post by GP Cox on his blog. It always amazes me how many unsung heroes America has … courageous men and women … from many different origins … who fought for freedom and the unique ideals that made this country great.

Pacific Paratrooper

Magdalena Leones Magdalena Leones

The Silver Star is the third-highest honor for gallantry in the U.S. Armed Forces. Previous recipients include Audie Murphy, Chuck Yeager, and Norman Schwartzkopf. But few people have heard of Magdalena Leones – she was a Filipino woman that served as a guerrilla soldier under U.S. command in World War II.

Leones was in her 20s when she joined the Philippine-American military effort. She is part of a small group of women – and is the only Filipino woman – to receive the award for her heroism. She died on June 16th in Richmond, California at 96-years old.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recognized her on June 28. “We are diminished by the passing of Corporal Magdalena Leones, Silver Star Filipina World War II veteran — the only Asian to receive this honor,” Supervisor Jane Kim said. “Corporal Leones has paved the way for many…

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The Non-Partisan Firing of James Comey

Fired_stampThe left-wing media are once again ablaze … this time with self-righteous indignation over President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Senator Chuck Schumer is already crying, “Why now?”

Come Chuck, is the timing truly all that suspect?  I mean … really!  Is this really a partisan act or just a president doing his job? I say Comey needed to go!

Maybe Chuck Schumer should ask AG Rod Rosenstein why he waited until he did to release his memo.  Maybe it was just because Rosenstein was only confirmed a little over two weeks ago.

In that memo, entitled “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI”, Rosenstein detailed criticisms of Comey leveled by “former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties,” including both Former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer and Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Those criticisms mostly involved Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which Rosenstein indicated was the driving force behind the FBI director’s dismissal.

I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the near universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes, it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.

Is that really a partisan statement? AG Rosenstein went on to say:

The FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.

Again, why is that a Republican or Democrat idea? It makes perfect sense to me! Then there is also the fact that many others have called for Comey’s firing!

12/14/2016 William W. Keller wrote:

But in all events, this is not a job for the president-elect. The task falls to President Obama because it should be performed immediately, and as president, Obama is the only one in a position to do it now. He should dispatch Director Comey for his poor judgment and his attempts to tamper with the democratic process.

What about Harry Reid stating he thinks Comey may have broken the law:

Comey needs to be investigated on all fronts. “I think he should be investigated by the Senate. I think he should be investigated by other agencies in the government, including the security agencies,” Reid said, before adding, “if ever there was a matter of national security, it is this.”

The main stream media pundits are all busily pontificating about how it is obviously a part of Trump’s effort to block the “Russian Connection” investigation. This is, of course, despite an almost year-long investigation during which, time after time, we hear senior security officials from both parties (including Obama administration officials), state that there is no evidence anyone on the Trump team colluded with the Russians.

I am sure there will now be calls for investigations,into Trump’s firing of Comey. There will be calls for a special investigator, etc.  I even heard Trump’s actions called “a whiff of fascism” and “presidential abuse of power” during yesterday’s new broadcasts.

Now that really is a bunch of partisan nonsense.

The FBI Director is appointed by the president for a 10-year term. The president can unilaterally fire the FBI Director at any time for any reason and Congress can also move to impeach the FBI Director. No whiff of fascism or presidential abuse of power … that’s just the way it is.

Some people have such short memories!  Do you remember the many calls to investigate James Comey … or for President Obama to fire him … or for him to resign?

  • The Wall Street Journal called for Comey to resign.
  • The NY Daily News called for Comey’s ouster.
  • Hillary Clinton blamed her election defeat in a large part on Comey.
  • Occupy Democrats called for Comey to resign or be fired.
  • Pelosi blamed Comey for Hillary Clinton losing the election!
  • Al Franken stated Comey should face Senate Hearings
  • Both Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch were extremely critical of Comey.

The list goes on and on ad nauseam!

You would think the Democrats would be thrilled. Trump just fired the man who they claim cost them the 2016 election! They should actually thank Trump for doing what they wanted Obama to do!

Do any of you remember on November 2, 2016 … when Chuck Schumer told Bloomberg News that:

he’d lost confidence in Comey over his handling of the Hilary Clinton e-mail investigation?

Maybe President Trump should simply Tweet this earlier Schumer’s quote and then add something like “I too lost confidence in Comey and had to act!.”

Book Review: Gallstones: Alternatives and Truths

Book_Cover_1Is gallbladder surgery lurking in your near future?

What about in your child’s future? Many younger people, even children, are having their gallbladders surgically removed. This is alarming trend … why is this happening?

Has the cholecystectomy become the surgery “de jour?”

I was contacted through Fiverr a few weeks ago by the author of this book, Olwen Griffin. She asked me to write a book description for her. We communicated several times during the process and she came across as very sincere in her efforts to share what she learned in her search for answers about her own diagnosis of severe gallstones.

Her book contains a great deal of good information about Gallstones, a condition that has become far too common today.  It also has good information on health conditions that are related to gallstones such as digestive issues, high serum lipids, leaky gut syndrome, coronary heart disease, Non-Alcohol Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and others.

The book traces the author’s personal experience and documents her extensive research on gallstones. It exposes the hidden truths about genetically modified food and other contributing risk factors to this problem. While documenting the author’s scientific research, this book also provides practical laymen’s guide to healthy living.  It contains extensive chapters on risk factors for developing gallstones, early signs and symptoms of the disease, creating a gallbladder healthy diet, and exploring the still controversial idea of gallbladder flushes.

Sources estimate 1,000,000 cholecystectomy operations are performed every year in the United States. Too many people believe the cholecystectomy is “minor” surgery … simple, quick and easy.  This author disagrees.  Griffin argues that, any time an organ is removed from your body, it is major surgery. And, like any major surgery … there are associated risks. While there are certainly many cases where a cholecystectomy is required, it now seems to simply be the default treatment for what may sometimes be a nutritional illness.

Griffin’s book contains indispensable information on gallbladder health, as well as links to great information about gallbladder surgery and possible alternatives. It is a fantastic resource for helping you make an informed decision.

Perhaps, with a diet change … you can keep your gallbladder.

The book is widely available in both English and Turkish. It will soon be available on Amazon.com.

 

 

Check out Serpents Underfoot and Adirondack Bear Tales on Amazon.com

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