XXXI: Running Fuel


What gets you around the track? To lift the weights? The go the distance?

Fuel.

Not just the physical food context, but the mental drive to overcome the shortcomings that our mind places before us.

What is your fuel?

I try to envision the future, I try to dream of the impossible, and keep my feet moving one step at a time. However, eventually I grow tired and I begin to reach for hidden cheats, the known pieces of life that can drive anyone beyond the pain threshold.

Anger, bitterness, hate.

Using negativity to fuel the drive to overcome will merely place your name among those who have failed to ascend above God, Himself.

I still hate. I’ve covered it up, masked it the best I could, but it still sits there. Knowing that I’ll explore that dark world when the miles begin to add. Broken promises, bad relationships, failed marriages, and manipulated moments…I’m still a broken man that struggles with hatred. It’s not just the context of being frustrated, it’s the dark area of the soul where you swear by things unknown that you will rise over those who ridiculed, yelled, and walked away.

Only God could accept a man still struggling with hatred. Only God would allow a man to run, knowing each mile he’ll have the option of fuel.

Will destiny, faith, and humility ever guide my way? Am I too broken to get past what’s been destroyed? Will the hatred ever go away?

I don’t know, I really don’t. Darco knows my demons, and demonstrates patience each time they’re brought up. I can only pray that this is an assistant coach training an athlete to become self disciplined in the soul, as he is to be on the track.

-D-

O: Jim’s Factory


I once heard a story, about a boy who got into more trouble then he knew what to do with. He fought with his brother, avoided his mother, and watched his father in the garage. As years past the boy sat in class, mastered his skills, but rarely interacted in the rooms. He knew the pot dealers, held his own parties, and even found a way to charge admission with his brother. He was a gear head, a grease monkey, always trying out a new idea. Unfortunately, like every other soul in the world that wishes to move on he too had to find employment.

At 16 years of age he started sweeping paper. Just scraps, pieces of paper cut from massive machines, something his father had worked on. Tireless, without complaint, he made his money, swept his scraps, and kept working day to day. As he grew older, the company of paper continued to expand and he increased his involvement within the company. He worked as a die cutter, a pressman, and even in the glue room occasionally. He joined the Teamsters Union, not fully getting what the point of that was, and made friends with those who came and went with this company, but he always stayed. Sure, there were other job openings, new beginnings around each corner. From church cleaning to box packing; there was something always available, but he always stayed with the company. In recent years, with economic woes, he took the hits, watched his friends leave, but kept his family his priority. He continued to work. In the building with no air conditioning, the building that smashed his fingers, and even caused him to fall off a stage onto the concrete floor, he always worked. He took his friends fishing once a year for several years, just a weekend on the lake. As the years passed, one by one those friends disappeared, but even without them or even the fishing, he kept working.

Thirty years and more passed, his loyalty never waved. His wife laid in the bed with cancer, and he made it a priority to work in the factory, drive sixty miles south to the hospital, stay with her all day, and head back to work the next day, for months. His family came first, and he stayed with the company to ensure it.

As age came, so did changed, the company switched ownership, new clients came in, and the presses kept running. Every so often there’d be a hiccup in the financials for the plant and paychecks were hit, but that never stopped him from working. 8 hours, 10 hours, even 12 hour shifts ranging from five to six to seven days a week; he never stopped working, always followed orders, and would get up no matter what hour of the day it was.

33 years since the boy brushed the papers along the floor and he still stands there today. He’s a pressman, running one of the massive machines in the plant. He’ll do it for 19 more days.

It was announced last week that June 7th, 2013 would be the last day the company existed. Many clients outsourced to the state of New York from the new owners of a couple years. Everyone would be let go, pensions are practically gone, 401k’s are non-existent and retirement is out of the question. Severance packages would exist, but that massive box at Leonard Road and Easton-Saxton will not make a noise again once that day passes.

With 30+ years of experience, technical school training, but no college degree, where will he go? What will he do to ensure his family stays number one?

Sometimes in life I really do wish that soccer was the only stress that I experience. I’m sure everyone else would agree to have that one item to stress them out, but for everything else to run smoothly. I’ve been thinking over the past several days about this post, and the anger that comes with it. I was informed last Tuesday that Jim’s plant; Climax Packaging [St. Joseph Packaging] is closing on June 7th, 2013 for good; leaving Jim without a job. It has been eating at me for days, even causing a lack of sleep in several instances. I’ll brag on him in this post [because he’d never do it himself], he is one of the hardest working blue collar individuals I’ve ever met. When I first met him [when I was 5] he had a black beard, cut-off black t-shirt, overalls, and carried his lunch in what used to be a tool box. He was one terrifying dude, and to this day that unspoken respect still stands in my mind at a level I didn’t even know existed. He tied my shoes before my first ‘competitive’ mile, made my breakfast nearly every school day for six years, and was the person who took me to every single recreational soccer game as a kid [MC had to work on Saturday’s at that time, so don’t judge her]. Rather quiet, he unintentionally made  a impact on my life of what a God fearing leader looks like. They don’t always have to be loud with words, because their actions easily make up for them.

The story of Jim and the company, which is very real, translates directly into my approach of soccer. Jim is quiet, from the inner section of St. Joseph, Missouri, wasn’t born with a lot of money, never had a lot of money, never complained about not having a lot of money. He sacrificed so much to put up with a high school brat, while his wife…who he loves unconditionally…was dealing with her body trying to fight cancer; three years before being diagnosed. Those hours he worked, noted above? He worked second jobs throughout the seasons to cover expenses and try to latch onto dreams of a better future for him and MC. He never gave up, was never intimidated by the white collar world, rich jerks, or anything else of the sorts. He is Phil from Duck Dynasty in ways that appear frightening.

I’ve felt gut wrenching awful since hearing about the plant closing. A few days later he was moving my girlfriends car to get his motorcycle out, and the car slipped off the jack and wound up denting the radiator. He called me, explaining what had happened and he’d find a way to buy a new radiator for her. I mean…that poor man felt terrible. After already being crushed with my divorce [he took it worse then MC did], he’s careful with my current relationship [he has no reason to, she love him]. So, I tried to calm him down, she tried to calm him down, MC finally got him calmed down and my heart broke that much more. The world of this man, outside of his family, was spinning out of control and it wasn’t his fault. I mean, he stopped smoking cold turkey just because MC asked him too before they got married. He has his flaws, like all of us, but I’ve never met a human to give so much, sacrifice so much, and believe so much in people…period. He knows very little about soccer, but he loves the Kansas City Shock. He talks about, which just about puts me in tears every time, because I know I’m making him proud.

The Kansas City Shock is in many ways a gift to Kansas City, that was the idea, but it was also a gift to my parents. They’ve watched this thing, they’ve seen the errors, misfortunes, and heartache, but they still believed in me. I work hard, and I lose sleep, because I learned from the best. I learned that you work hard, complain little, and try to help as many people around you as humanly possible. Jim’s behaviors and lessons are dotted throughout this program. Everyone is welcome, he’d never turn someone away. Sleep is lost getting work done, because Jim would do the same thing. The program, unlike so many other soccer programs, isn’t catered to the rich, soccer elite of the area [there, I finally said it]. It’s designed for the hard working, back breaking people who believe that they’re never noticed. They’re like Jim, getting tossed around, but trying to better their lives and those around them. Many of our players would relate well with Jim.

I guess I’m proud to say that I’ve cried through the typing of this entire thing tonight. I could barely keep myself together at MC’s and his house tonight. Why? Because it hurts. Because this guy gave me so much, and the one time, the one time he needs help; I can’t do anything. I can’t save the plant, I can’t buy the company, and I can’t even find him a job. If there is anyone that deserves vacation it is him and MC. I’m not overly sure how to do it, but I’ve got to give back to him. He deserves the attention, recognition, and the peace. Is it alright to say that I just want to help? That one day I just want to present a massive check to my parents and say, “Enjoy the relaxation. It’s taken care of?” Doesn’t Jim deserve to breathe a little easier? Laugh a little more? Actually go fishing again?

I thought this piece would go in the direction of anger; lashing out at the stupid company that outsourced the jobs in Jim’s plant, closing the place down. I am still angry about that; especially on the business side of things. However, thinking back to all of it; I made sure that I was free tonight after work to relax at my parents house. No matter how old I am, or bad mood I’m in, I know I’m safe there. I know that Jim will reheat his coffee, he’ll sit in his chair, and Scamper [his cat] will hop up on him and go to sleep [affectionately referred to as ‘sweep-sweep time’]. That’s comfort, that’s home, and I don’t want the stupidity of someone else put any of that at risk.

I just want Jim to be happy, happy, happy.

-D-

O: Unspeakable


I’m just in awe.

I mean…mind being blown doesn’t even describe.

I’ve been searching for words for this post most of the day. The home opener for the Kansas City Shock is May 25th, 2013 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. There have been several bumps along the way, especially as of late, but in the past week…God is just doing something…amazing. Something only He can do. The nice part about my life is being able to sit back and knowingly not be able to take credit for what is taking place. From sponsors, to airfare for players, to practice fields, to things that I never even dreamed up…this week has been incredible. Unbelievable I even had someone tell me, “We’d like to work with you, because we believe God is doing great things in your program.” I mean…wow…mission field? Found!

As I stare out the window this evening, watching the lightning flash all around it is the most comforting feeling in the world to know you’re exactly where God wants you to be. There’s no denying, no describing it, you just know…and it never gets old. I think God almost enjoys thinking, “Alright, he is waking up. What can I do today that’ll just blow him away?” I’m pretty sure that’s how He works, and He gets a kick out of it too.

The Kansas City Shock is rocking and it’s been a blast. Honestly, today was one of those days that I even forgot the concept of how or why this website was ever created. Unfortunately, that realization was short lived this evening. My girlfriend is known to wander throughout the Facebook world [no, none of us are safe], and had looked up my ex-wife. Now, due to the restraining order from a few years ago, I stay out of it and away from any of it. That, and really, I don’t care. However, as my girlfriend said tonight, “I was just curious on getting an idea of who you were before we met” [she’s curious like that]. Repeatedly I had asked her to stay off my ex-wife’s Facebook page, but I quickly learned that if she wasn’t sharing information with me [that I didn’t want to know], other people around me were doing so instead.

She beat everyone else to the punch tonight. There we were, heading to dinner after church, she had brought up the Facebook page. That turned into an argument, she left it alone, and then she started crying. Now, my girlfriend, as special as she is…is not a crier. That’s not her style, so this had me confused.

She had a seizure. I just feel really, really bad for her.

That was the only phrase that could come out of her mouth while traveling down the interstate. My ex-wife’s mother has had a neurological disorder for some time, resulting in seizures and even a few strokes…at a very young age. I’m speculating, but it sounds as if that neurological issue has been passed down. My girlfriend went on to explain that it happened in the school lunchroom where she taught. From the education background, I can’t imagine how fearful that must have been for everyone.

The car was quite while I mulled over this information, trying to think about my reaction to this news, and that’s when I blurted it out:

I. Don’t. Care.

Harsh words, and sadly I meant them. I didn’t care. The anger and bitterness from years past came flaming back into life as I went on a small fit asking if she cared that I was homeless, if she cared that I was broke, broken, and worthless, if she cared that I was absolutely nothing. Frankly, they were the childish rants expected from a bitter individual [though not necessarily Christ-based]. We remained silent until pulling into IHOP. Hoping to drown the thoughts in the most awful tasting iced coffee I’ve ever had, my girlfriend and I talked about every other topic under the sun…myself trying to ignore the knowledge that I had gained in the past hour.

Finally, after the evening was over, working some business angels and watching the storm roll in; I just sat, quietly. Trying to understand my stance, my anger, and bitterness. How could I rationalize it? Why would I rationalize it? I have the right to be angry right? I have the right to harshly and unfairly think “that’s what you get”, right? With the falling rain I was remembered of the phrase that started it all.

Dare to be different. Shock the world.

If I allowed myself the pleasure of enjoying the heartfelt struggles of those who passed me by to my own demise, how is that being different from our societies standards? How is that different from our cultural norms? It isn’t, and if it isn’t different from the standards of the world then it isn’t within the realm of what God expects from me as a loving, Christ-centered, individual. Jesus, no matter the person, would never act in such brash, boastful ways. What would dare make me think I was better then Christ?

I claim it as human pride, a serious error on my behalf, but I’m still upset about being hung out to dry. I’m upset with being abandoned and condemned. It’s a hard pill to swallow. However, that doesn’t allow me to view a hurting person in any different light then compassion that is expected.

So, though this information and these thoughts go in places that I’ll never understand; it’s worth noting that while I’m still conflicted with bitterness. My heart still aches for her, her family, and yes…her husband. I can’t imagine the fear, the heartache, and the unknown that they all must be encountering. I’m not sure if God counts it, but while I still struggle, somewhere in the rolling thunder tonight I’m still praying for my ex-wife’s recovery and healing.

-D-

 

 

O: Idolatry


Idolatry 

An absolutely horrific word; tends to bring about the ideas of Biblical times, statues, prostitution, and all sorts of weird things.

Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about that.

Right?

My thoughts exactly.

Time for some bitter truth:

God has been silent.

My prayer life, while not ceasing, has been insanely driven one way; I haven’t heard from God in some time. Even my days at MoVal feel…distant. My girlfriend and I were discussing this tonight over a plate of tacos. Times with the Kansas City Shock are hard right now; there’s been a lot of struggle and stress as of late, both within the program and personally. I couldn’t put my finger on it, it was literally driving my girlfriend to tears to see the amount of stress, and finally tonight she asked, “How’s your prayer life?” I responded honestly by stating that it’s been steady…but then for the first time that I could recall I paused and looked at her and said:

God’s been quiet.

We’ve learned through history that any time God is silent; something big is about to happen, whether that person [or people] is in sin, or His might is about to be shown, or the temple is about to go through an earthquake…God’s silence should always be a red flag.

I missed the red flag.

Since the silence from the creator the struggles with the Kansas City Shock have been numerous and far outside the power of my sole being. It’s been hard, frustrating, and saddening in every way you can imagine.

While sitting on my couch tonight, after my girlfriend had left and the tacos had settled; with the distraction put away I simply asked to the blank room and empty sky, “So, what’s going on?”

After some random talking, confessing, and random confusion this incredible, sorrowful, humbling realization hit me like a ton of bricks:

Idolatry.

I’m guilty. It’s on me. I committed idolatry, and told God to take the back seat because other things in my life were more important then Him.

More specifically: The Kansas City Shock was more important then Him.

How could I have been so warped? Every time stress hit me, chaos ensued, and argument broke out…it was all about the Kansas City Shock. So what did I do? Every night I’d go to bed practically yelling at God, “Do this for the Shock, show me this for the Shock, let the Shock do this, etc…”

Where was the thanks? The praise? The hope?

Nowhere. It was all about business.

Tonight has been a humbling, troubling night. Going to the roots of my beliefs of confessing, asking for forgiveness, and repenting. I feel dirty, soiled, and a mess. How could I boldly proclaim the faith I live by, when I wasn’t even living by it? Honestly, in my mind this equates to the dorks who decided that making a golden calf because the crazy dude went up on the mountain wasn’t coming back. The result? This bitterness that I’m facing is my calf destroyed and placed in the water.

I sat in the dark for some time after realizing this concept, and understand the error. It was following, understanding the concept of forgiveness that I wondered what exactly I should say. What could I do to get back on the right path, and move forward?

I asked God for one thing tonight:

Hope.

Does this mean that everything is fixed, and the world is realigned and spoons of happiness and peace await me? No, probably not even close, realistically it’ll probably get even worse. However, no matter my position in life I will always stand by this. I would rather have a life of chaos with the connection to my God, then have the perfect life on earth all to myself.

-D-

O: Fighting Words


I just spent thirty minutes yelling in the car.

To no one.

Seriously, if you looked at me yelling in the car while driving to grab some iced coffee for the night, I was yelling at no one.

Reality is though; I was yelling at God.

I’m so sick of fighting.

I expressed this poorly to my girlfriend tonight. I’m sick of fighting. Today was one of the more stressful Friday’s that I had incurred in some time. The more I thought about it, the more I realized…everything I do is about fighting:

  • I’m fighting for business
  • I’m fighting for love
  • I’m fighting for my faith
  • I’m fighting for my dreams
  • I’m fighting for my health

I’m just fighting. Everything in me revolves around fighting, and guess what? I am tired. I’m exhausted. I’m done with fighting. That’s exactly what I yelled at God tonight; I’m sick of not getting rest and I’m sick of fighting.

Don’t judge me…and don’t tell me none of you have thought something similar…

It started from this morning; I woke up in a horrible mood. Business things have been stressful and it showed in the mirror. The whole day I felt tension between myself and my Master, and tonight I finally snapped. It’s been brewing for a while, and I’m yet to see where actually becoming angry with God gets you any further advancement, but tonight I didn’t even care. I was/am irritated, upset, heartbroken, and just plain mad. Sure, nothing in life is free and you have to work for the things you have, but man…it feels like there isn’t anyone even in the corner with me. Where’s my Father? Where’s my God? Where’s the Creator of the universe? I know He’s here, I know He’s listening, watching, and probably pondering in thought [I wonder if He does that], but tonight…like a spoiled child, I’m just angry with God.

I’m simply angry because I’m sick of fighting, but guess what? It doesn’t stop. The fighting never stops, not on this earth at least. The daily battles of good and evil rage on throughout the days and nights. I once read where it says, “I will give rest to the weary”, but I think I’m not weary enough. It’s hard to express it in words, but even in the ‘real world’ the fighting is insane:

I fight businessmen who throw me under the bus every chance they get.
I fight for the sake of our soccer program; pushing and convincing people that we’re real and we’re going to be great.
I fight in a relationship because I’m fighting for the relationship [I’m just terrible at showing it].

Even a month ago this anger issue saw its boiling point when I was threatened to go outside of a Steak-N-Shake with a fellow customer, so he could show me how to talk like a man. I’m taking full blame for that. I was so sick of seeing the waitress being treated so poorly that I just outright called out a family of six who were being jerks. Turns out papa bear wasn’t thrilled with this notion and through some interlaced cursing made it clear that if I didn’t shut it he was going to force me to. My arrogance got the best of me, but before a blow could be landed, his family left the diner. Was I the hero? Nope, I was just a hot head who was sick of seeing people treated so…horribly. That’s all I am, a fighter.

I’m going to try to fall asleep and actually rest, but judging by the spat I just had with God; I doubt rest comes easily.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Humanity


My body feels like death.

Anyone remember the ‘truck stick’ from football video games via Play Station? If you do, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I feel like I’ve been mowed down. Last night I went in for my running for the day, as conducted via the schedule. The first two miles were alright, but kind of boring. I’m trying to follow instructions by running at a pace that I can carry on a conversation. However, by the end of mile two I was so desperate to go to bed that I cranked the mother up and run a sub-6 third mile.

I. Hate. My. Life.

It hurts to walk, sit, move, type, breathe, think…everything.

Thankfully though; some time as being a human, mid-20 adult is due up this weekend.

Double date tomorrow night [after a three mile run and work]. Saturday has some Peeps Soccer in action, a few stores, a two mile run, and then Sporting on the television with MC and Jim, with my beloved girlfriend cooking some wonderful dinner. Then Sunday…by Sunday I’m done with work for the month, it is an official ‘rest’ day on the training, and I will relax.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Turning Tides


It’s been a fascinating past seventy two hours. I’m not sure what the case may be, perhaps a home field announcement, scarves being released, or perhaps something else…but the tides are turning; I can feel it.

The business side of life is promising; God is doing great things. Naturally, per usual it requires me to hit close to rock bottom as a nice reminder that I cannot control all aspects of life; in fact the reality is that when I let go of control and let God control me…then great things start to happen.

And great things are happening.

I’m just going to leave it there, but I can already tell you next week is going to be a busy, exciting week. I can feel it in my bones [soul].

On a fun side note:

A few weeks ago my girlfriend landed a 50″ television for a great price, and it wound up in the apartment. Tonight I broke down and get a HDMI cord. Now, we have a laptop connected to the television in a dual screen. Meaning I can work on my laptop, while running shows, movies, and soccer matches on the television.

Needless to say, in a very rare nerd moment…I’m pretty pumped.

-D-