#getyourpraiseon


No school.

Even though the students have been back for only a few weeks, I won’t lie in confessing that an extra day off during Labor Day weekend has been appreciated. Primarily so that I could take care of all the other things around the house that take the sideline through each week.

Time flies.

Teaching a ‘current event’ led course causes me to become immersed in the current trends of our culture, both locally and globally. Frequently it reminds me why I turn myself off to so much of it when school isn’t in session. The world is full of complaints, bitterness, and someone that is always upset with someone else. Someone still wants to build a wall, someone does not want to stand during the national anthem of a money-grabbing sporting event, and the world collectively either freaks out or rolls its eyes.

No wonder so many people struggle to find things to be thankful for in their day-to-day, or just plain forget about what joys are around them.

Driving with the windows rolled down in my truck this morning, while picking up supplies for this upcoming weekend, I was reflecting on what was and what is in my own existence on this planet. When not grading papers, tripping over rocks, or spending time with my wife this is a common place for me to be found. I have come to find enjoyment of seeing where life’s journey has led me in the recent years It continues to remind me how much praise I have yet to give for my time on this planet.

Last night Darco and I started budgeting out costs for carpet replacement in our house. I just brought in a new chair for our entertainment room downstairs, and I think finally we will be going on legitimate vacations during Christmas Break and Spring Break this school year. While I do get tired of listening about Starbucks over and over and over, I do have to admit the blessings that, that company has been in my wife’s life. She will be receiving another raise this month, she will receive a bonus this month, and a few months ago we learned that she will be receiving a brand new store to manage in 2017 (humorously it will be located 1/2 mile away from the school I teach at).

School is always teaching me something new. I have new sets of diversity within my classes this year. While students are still rather innocent, they still arrive with so much baggage and so many questions. I’m blessed because they always keep me on my toes, and I’m always curious as to what adventure we will tackle next in order to make the world a better place. A new year of education has proven to be a stronger year in terms of interaction with peers. I’m trying to work better with my colleagues and do a better job of giving praise in abundance. These folks know so much more compared to myself, and it is a crime if I don’t show them that I am grateful to be able to learn under them.

I didn’t think that running could get better compared to where it was, but somehow, someway it has. Darco joins me more often out on the trails, and she even attends a strength class every Wednesday night. The miles are becoming easier and easier for me. I’ve switched shoes, ate different food (donuts are the answer by the way), and have shown up for more group runs. It just does not hurt nearly as much. My next race is 16.6 miles in the woods of central Missouri next month, Darco is running the same race at a different length, and I’ve gone ahead and signed up for our local half marathon the weekend after that race. It is hard to describe, but the miles just melt by these days. Sure, I still have off runs and I still trip and I still have to fight spiders and mud, but all of that is just a little bit easier. I can feel myself getting faster, being pushed by my friends, and that brings me joy in ways that few things ever have.

Our church journey still isn’t complete. Over the past month Darco and I tried three other churches and sadly left unfulfilled and disappointed. Both for our own reasons. We have arrived back at the church we have been with for a few years now, but I’m still lacking ‘something’. I don’t know what it is, but it is something that burns in my heart throughout the week. I wish I had answers, but I know guidance will come along in its own unique form. I wish I understood more about why I struggle with the church setting. While I wish I could blame all of it on the university that I attended, I know that isn’t the case. It is a mixture of stereotypes, sheep, and my own foolish pride. Make no mistake; God still has so much work to do on me. I’m still convinced that I’m the Christian that people should never want to be.

Work, play, grace, family, home, and so much more. When I take the time to look at the internal works of my own life it becomes so hard to be wrapped up in the hopelessness around me. I don’t say that with pride, but I don’t say it with guilt either. I cannot save the world, but I can fulfill my obligation and responsibility to give praise when it is due.

God has blessed me with a life that I would have never imagined I would have ever had. I did not do a thing to deserve any of it, any of the joy, any of the friendships, any of the grace. That is the amazing thing about how God works; I do not deserve this life because of something I did or did not do, I have this life merely as a testiment of what God’s love looks like.

-D-

I Am Found


My body is tattooed.
My hair is long.

Due to the insane amount of rain that we have received in days past, the typical running routes have been closed. Because of this, finding places to run has become a bit of a challenge. Primarily, this is in part to my disdain of running on asphalt highways. A concept that I never thought I’d actually accept as my running philosophy.

However, after spending the week teaching and sleeping off a sickness, I had to stretch out my legs. I had to run.

Visiting my parents, I brought clothes to run in, in the event that I had some time to take off. When the moment arrived, I laced up my shoes and took off along a familiar path that I had ran so many times in years past. In fact, I’ve ran this route since 2001; so fifteen years now.

It has been two months since my feet had touched blacktop. I was curious as to what the sensation would feel like after spending eight weeks in the woods, along the dirt, through the mud, and on top of the rocks. I started at my parents house, moved past the local post office, up the slight hill at the post office, clearing the Christian Church, and eventually turning at the softball fields. I ran past the cemetery, around the corner of corn fields, and up the hill that a girl named Amy lived on and always had water waiting for me during the summer. Past her hill, I turned left and continued down the road. I passed the farm that was our ‘turnaround’ during track practice in high school, and down the hill to the bridge that was replaced in 2011. I climbed the ensuring hill, carefully turned along a blind corner, and down a slow decent surrounded by trees into the river plains just west of the town that I once called home.

I wasn’t breathing hard. My legs did not ache, and I was able to converse with myself without a shortness of breath. I was living in an entirely new world. I ran and I didn’t grow weary. I took a few photos, shot a little bit of video, turned around, and began my journey back to where I began.

The one benefit of running on the road is the repetitive nature of your leg movement, you can easily get lost in thought. Yesterday, while on this run, similar to my legs, I unlocked my mind and just let it wander for two hours I spent outside.

While I physically passed foreign memories, my mind focused on the journey that I had, had since first witnessing this route. I thought back to familiar faces, school time, small town events, and first kisses. I transitioned to college, mistakes, bitterness, and heartache. I finished while remembering the beginning point of so much of this. Papers at my doorstep, an officer informing me of the dramatic changes coming to my life, and am emptiness of not knowing what to do.

Cooling down in the final two blocks, God was loving in reminding me of the new life that I currently live. Mentoring young minds, loving an amazing wife, and trying to figure out how to live in accordance to what is right. Friends have left, family members have passed, and times have changed. However, only yesterday can I say that I found myself smiling for the duration of an entire run.

Within ten miles I charted out my life from beginning to present, connecting dots, giving thanks, and on occasion running down the road with arms extended; as if I were envisioning myself flying with the newfound life.

I’m grateful.
I’m blessed.
I’m found.

-D-

#getyourpraiseon


1 person says they want to run; 23 show up…

Somewhere around 6:00 AM I left the house. By 7:00 AM I was trekking through mud and rocks. I continued to repeat that process for two and half hours.
Welcome to my playground.

Welcome to my friends.

I’ve made note in the recent past that I’m finding myself around unstable trail runners. The addiction of this isn’t just from the insanity of running through mud and rocks, but because of an answered prayer.

For months, really years, I’ve been praying for friends. They’ve come and gone, but nothing really long lasting. It has hurt because it is something that I desire, but really struggle at creating.

My cup now overflows.

What started as being part of a running group for a local business has now turned to outings to run on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, Thursday’s, and now even random Saturday’s.

There’s laughter, beer, running, stories, and smiles. No one gets left behind due to their speed (or in my case, the lack thereof), and everyone encourages each other. Today I ran 9 miles with these people, they stayed with me, made humorous comments, and didn’t give up on me.

That’s a friend.

The reality for me is that God, one usual, was faithful in hearing and answering prayers. I’m smiling, I tell stories, I grab food afterwards, and I laugh. I laugh like I never have. It isn’t about running a fast race, it is about moving with good friends.

I’m happy. God is good.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Mudout Part II


Update…

For the record, I checked the breaker box downstairs prior to thinking the refrigerator had finally found peace.

However, I remember moving into the house and finding a reset outlet in the half bathroom between our kitchen and garage.

Surely not…

Surely…

Sure enough the reset switch had been flipped in the bathroom, knocking out the electricity to the refrigerator.

I’m not sure what flipped the bathroom outlet, but at least our refrigerator isn’t dead, and it gave me an excuse to deep clean that monster with bleach, wipes, and baking soda.

Nope. Natural disasters did not train me to look at the switches around me.

I can hear my wife laughing at me twenty miles away…

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Mudout


Praise God for natural disasters. Seriously. Working at relief sites through the years really helped when moving into my own home.

Including “mudouts”. These were events that took place after a flood. Kid, sludge, and everything else would be scooped out of the primary floor of homes and businesses. Freezers and refrigerator, that in some cases hadn’t had power for weeks, would be opened up. That unleashed Pandora’s box of death, diseases, and maggots. Cleaning out these containers still proves to be the worst experience I’ve ever had with cleanup. However, today I’m grateful that I did it so many years ago.

I stepped into our garage today to put away a few tools, and I noticed a crimson liquid pooling at the bottom of our refrigerator that we kept in the garage.

It was dead.

So, I’ve spent the last hour discarding rotten meat from our freezer, spooled fruit in our refrigerators, and also cleaning up the pools of blood from the entire unit.

Needless to say, I’m grateful that I had the prior experience to stomach today’s events.

-D-

XXXI: Political Science


War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

I received a degree in Political Science because I wanted to seek out ‘truth’. At the time I had no idea what that looked like, how it could be used, and why it even mattered. Through lectures, textbooks, essays, and forums I spent my time trying to understand concepts such as rhetoric, manipulation, persuasion, and politicking.

Several years through college and several after, I still seek after that ‘truth’. I’m still curious as to the functionality of humans when it comes to interaction with each other, unspoken hierarchies, and the systems of which we have decided to govern one another.

Truly, there is no better time to be alive like today in order to witness all these questions unravel before your own eyes.

Receiving a degree in Political Science, as I’ve joked with my students, allows you to go one of two ways in life:

  1. Jump in over your head in the enjoyment of politics and the study of it
  2. Realize how unstable the world is and run away

…I’m still in the process of running.

My Facebook friends list is getting shorter by the week; pro or con arguments against political enemies or corporate conglomerate actions are enough to cause me to step away from the social media world. Reality is, everyone is upset about something or someone, and they firmly believe that their viewpoint is the dominate view compared to any other opposing thought.

There is a reason I do not speak much when it comes time for politics at the dinner table. In the past year I’ve witnessed teargas in Missouri, I’ve studied riots in California, and tried to understand economic sabotage by business both local and abroad.

I do desperately wish I had an answer that would explain the way that this world works. I’ve seen churches divide, and Christian’s step away from their faith, I’ve breathed in hypocrisy and on several occasions witnessed that a physical church building does not indeed keep the devil away.

I’m not overly sure which is harder to be in today’s world:

  1. One who holds a Political Science degree that tries to avoid political conversations
  2. A Christian that tries to avoid political conversations

In several instances I’ve come to believe that my social anxiety doesn’t stem from struggling to communicate with other sentient creatures. It stems from trying to understand that one election, one riot, one building on fire, or one country at war doesn’t describe our world as a whole.

The truth is far more painful to accept I’ve learned.

We are ruined.

We live in a global society that is dictated so strongly by the ways of which a secular culture breathes; in many instances the faith…a faith…is hardly recognizable. The reality is understanding that this world is so messed up, and personally from my education, I was taught that concept a long, long time ago. Additionally, if we’re thinking that the action by the masses is something new, we’ve obviously lost grasp of what history has taught us.

I can’t take a stand on political matter. I can’t examine and explain racial profiling and reactions that so many have towards one another. I can’t determine the cause of inflation, oil prices, or self proclaimed terrorists and their actions throughout the world.

I can only explain the fact that our world was ruined from the beginning (give or take a few days and one piece of fruit). I can examine and teach that in many ways, most likely, global life will continue to struggle. Masses will die, dynasties will end, and civilizations will collapse.

History tells us that.

I can also use historical text and ancient religious scholars to condemn the acts of so many; especially those who claim to be of one faith…or another.

Finally, I can take note that through my own religious teachings and upbringing, that my job isn’t to condemn, to judge, to execute, or to reject. I’m only supposed to love and protect.

Life is not a battlefield between…
…Hillary & Trump
…white & black
…USA & Mexico
…Christian & Muslim

It is simply about…
…love & hate
…good & evil
…ignorance & truth

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Raccoon Trials


It’s 12:30 AM. Neko and Oliver (cats) are hissing, spitting, and swatting at our patio window.

Why?

I turned on the patio light to see a large grey puff ball staring at me. Behold! The American raccoon.

Two unique reasons to observe this creature:
1. There is no stairs to our second story patio. That boy pulled a straight-up Spidey move.
2. Due to finding a tick after my afternoon run, my running shoes were left on the patio. Within reach of the raccoon. 30 minutes away from a severe thunderstorm.

I’m grateful to report that our cats are trustworthy (I almost typed that with a straight face), I won the battle of the shoes, and MC’s suggestion for ridding ourselves of these creatures?

Just throw some cheap dog food out in the yard.

-D-