#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-

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: Be Our Guest


It isn’t that I forgot about writing a blog entry, it is the fact that humorously since school has ended for the summer; I haven’t had time!

School let out for the summer nearly two and half weeks ago. I kid you not; I have been doing something nearly every day since that moment.

I apologize in advance because there is so much to catch up on; I’ll easily divide this entry into a subsections with the beloved “***” type. With that random intro out of the way and a glass full of fresh pressed black cherry juice on the nightstand, let’s get started!

***

How to survive teaching:
A. Enjoy the eight months and three weeks of absolute delight with your students. Create ideas and innovations, open doors for creativity, and dare your pupils to dive into the unknown.
B. Hang on for dear life on the last week of school.

I had no idea. I almost say this rocking in a corner in my bedroom. I had no idea. The final week of school is a delight, and at the same time it is absolutely, easily one of the most stressful times of a young teacher’s career. Students are ready for summer…teachers are ready for summer…administrators are ready for summer…the community is ready for summer. The last week of school was truly a blur in which I believe I lost both ten pounds and nearly ten years off my life. Kids were hyper are they said their goodbyes; there were movies, field trips, field days, and more selfies than I could have possibly thought would be feasible.

All in all; I made it through my first year of teaching. It wasn’t perfect, I made countless errors, and at the same time…man…I had a lot of fun. I did receive a nice surprise for perfect attendance; Darco and I were issued tickets for the local Major League Baseball team for July due to myself not missing school this year (truly, a blessing). Make no mistake, I absolutely LOVE teaching. It is one of the coolest adventures that I have ever been on. With that said, a three month summer break is so desired, just so I can refresh and restart for next year.

***

Upon the completion of school, the attention inside our house immediately turned to the first weekend of June. If you’ll recall past adventures; Darco and I have found ourselves exploring Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on more than one occasion The journey always revolved around a couple that I had known since the fall of 2005; truly some of the oldest friends that I have (especially from college). This summer though, the tables turned and for the first time ever…ever! Darco and I were about to be hosts for people staying with us for an extended weekend. Needless to say; plenty had to be done around the house in order to prepared…

I praise God that I grew up in a house with parents who compulsively spent time outside. Gardens, construction, fishing, hunting, etc…MC and Jim always (to this day) can be found outside. Some of this rubbed off when Darco and I started working on some of the repairs needed for our house.

Make no mistake; where we live is amazing! It’s a blessing that I’ll go into detail some other time when I’m not already pushing 3000 words. However, there were a few bumps that came with the property. Mainly, a collapsing retaining wall and front garden area that needed some serious landscaping. With Darco working, the world discovered if indeed I was capable of replicating anything that my parents had done without struggle for year.

First, repairing the retaining wall (with huge assistance from Jim…ok…mainly Jim with my assistance).

Second, pulling up an insane amount of tarps that were ‘preventing weeds’ and replacing them with mulch, transplanting a few plants, and utilizing a pretty sweet ‘Welcome’ sign that MC had hand painted.

The images also do not show the fact that Darco and I constructed a guest bedroom downstairs, she cleaned the house like a feigned, and at least vacuumed up cat hair on the carpet twelve times. While this isn’t necessarily listed as “Favorite Things To Do This Summer”; I’m glad we did it. Several times Darco and I were working on the yard that it came across my mind, “Two…three years ago I would have never imagined that I’d be in this position.” The work was a nice reminder of the blessings that God continues to provide for us.

***

Honestly, the work in the yard and in the house truly took a solid week at least. Factor in track practice, Darco’s work schedule, and just doing laundry like normal people and time flew all the way up to June 2, 2016. This was the evening that our friends were arriving from Pittsburgh. I’m not sure if I’m speaking on behalf of Darco or not, but I was absolutely terrified of hosting people in our home*. Recall, Darco and I both are only children and neither of us are from households that were frequented by house guests

The whole experience over the following four days was pure, exhaustive bliss. Unlike Pittsburgh, where we live, we’re not locked in geographically by mountains or rivers. Meaning, to drive thirty miles to get to a restaurant is not completely unheard of. Seriously, that’s what Darco and I grew up. We dragged (I’m still apologizing) this couple for over 300 miles throughout the urban and rural areas of our lives. We’re talking it ranged from tractor pulls on Friday night to the new streetcar on Saturday to BBQ near the lake on Sunday, and sushi on Monday. Yes, we scheduled our events and adventures around where we were going to eat. We witnessed massive museums, really cool food markets, and even an old psych ward in the mentally insane from the 1900’s. I’m typing like a tourist because I wasn’t even aware of all of these things throughout the region that I call home.

There was local fudge that was found, organic, handmade soap that was purchased, and ice cream was enjoy not once…but twice in these four days. An art museum that we walked logged us at two miles, just to see all the exhibits. Ty, one of the folks with us, nearly died from satisfaction eating burnt ends at one of our restaurants. Amy, the other half of the couple, could have made off easily with half an antique store (and did drive home with antique fencing, hummingbird feeders, and an old window frame for their home).

One thing that was amazing through this entire experience was having a four day weekend packed with events, without a single local sports team having a home game. Yes, no soccer or baseball in the entire region. I’m rather certain that has never happened before.

True story though; one of the coolest things that i’ve done in my life definitely occured this weekend when we road the new 2.2 mile electric streetcar in our downtown.

We have a street car, and it is actually pretty sweet! #kcstreetcar #transit #streetcar #pittfriends

A video posted by Shawn (@overcoming_ace) on

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Circa Summer 2016

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Circa Fall 2015

Sadly, even like the streetcar line, all events have to come to an end. At 5:30 this morning we said our goodbyes and they embarked on their journey back home (which they safely arrived early this evening). I’m grateful for these friends. Even though they have a few ‘new’ things going on in their marriage compared to ours; they’re very similar. We’re all near the same age, all still finding our dream jobs or we just found them as of late. We’re paying bills, learning budgets, keeping with the faith, and exploring new adventures. I can be honest in saying that my marriage, even with just four days worth of activities, is stronger with Darco just by being around another couple in our generation that fights the same battles we do every day.

***

I suppose, in conclusion through these random events, there is something that can be taken away from these experiences. The takeaway is simply that we’re adults living ‘adult lives’. We talk about taxes, we work on our houses, stain our decks, and imagine larger families in the future. I’m still not a huge advocate for the ‘American dream’ when it comes to family size, house, job, etc…but two weeks into this summer I can see a few glimpses of what a peaceful life is worth dreaming about**.

-D-

*Spotted! I found Darco watching YouTube videos on how to fold towels into the shape of swans for guests staying at your house!

**Darco and I have four days to clean our house, do the laundry, etc…and then we’re leaving town for another eight days!