O: Banana Pancakes


I told myself that I’d never do anything to any cheesy effects of Jack Johnson, John Mayer, or Train…

I went two for three.

I find it fascinating that this time last year I was wrapping up the first volume of FilingThePapers; the section well known as “X“. The primary focal point about the immediate recovery of divorce and moving on in my own life. With the adventure of Guatemala really making its mark of a year from the divorce; I started over with volume two, labeled “O” [Get it yet? X’s and O’s?…hehe…]. The second volume really emphasized growth, it wasn’t aimed so much at reflection as much as it was moving forward; most notably the theme tended to unintentionally revolve around the creation of the Kansas City Shock and seeing God’s hand do marvelous, inexpiable things with the program, including the kick-off of this sports team just a few weeks ago. I never really thought about where “O” would end. With “X” I had a game plan, a blue print, an idea of how to wrap it up. How do wrap the continuation of ones life? I think my girlfriend answered it without realizing it.

It’s been a crazy, crazy week. On Monday, after ten years of service, I stepped away from Subway for good. It wasn’t planned to be this prompt, but it was coming. There were several factors adding to the eventual moment that took place on Monday, some on my end some on my employers end. Insanely “Mobile Minutes: Equipment Check” really was a key for me. I went into Monday’s meeting knowing that there was a strong likelihood I’d leave without being employed with Subway. Because of that it really didn’t hurt when the truth came out of what was taking place. Now, in this process I did lose the company car and the ultrabook [laptop] because they were company property. I’ve been adjusting, but am already looking for own ultrabook because I like my eight year old laptop…but it is just that…eight years old. Thankfully, God has blessed me with a truck that won’t die. Seriously. It was over 268,000 miles on it and I witnessed my family [MC primarily] put each one of those miles on the truck. It’s been good to me, and in the worse case scenario, it gives me transportation. Now, if I need to go down south, to the city, or a business trip I’m further blessed with my girlfriends car in those instances until something else gets figured out. Unlike being jobless a few years ago, I do have money to get me through comfortably the next 90 days while I work on additional employment. I really, really wish there was a way for the Kansas City Shock to be my full time job, but currently it’s a new business and because of that, the money isn’t there yet. That’s alright, because also unlike last time, I know God has my back and He has something incredible in store for me. Some applications I’ve put in I’ve already started to hear back from [whether that employer knows it or not]. I will confess that I’m strongly aiming at the soccer market. Because of the Kansas City Shock, my calling, ministry, and life…that’s where I know I need to be. Now, we’ll just see how God wants to plan it out. It was kind of sad to see my supervisor off from Subway, she’s a God fearing woman who has known me most of those ten years. However, outside of her and a few others, there wasn’t much of a connection with that company so stepping away wasn’t too hard. As I explained to MC over lunch on Monday, Subway did exactly what it was supposed to do. It moved me from Point A [divorced, alone, stuck down south] to Point B [the city, a family, and a new life]. When you see what God has done with a job, and how short life is compared to eternity, it doesn’t sting as much [aside from the car being gone]. The staff with the Kansas City Shock knows that I’m gone from Subway, but I’m very, very fortunate that my earnings from Subway were not the direct ‘lifeline’ of finances for the Shock. This assists in knowing that, that program isn’t negatively affected by this transition and it continues to move smoothly.

Obviously in this process my girlfriend was caught off guard with me leaving the company. She’s working her tail off at Starbucks trying to move up the career ladder [and kicking butt in that process mind you], so it stemmed all sorts of questions of immediate panic that have calmed down. While many people didn’t know the exact circumstances with my job, she was aware, so while there was some direct panic; it wasn’t overly shocking. However, even Monday night I did find myself questioning what was going on with life and what to do next [I hadn’t started the resume/application process yet]. My girlfriend, knowing me so well, started sending me links to YouTube videos of hedgehogs [she wants one desperately], and then a random video of the song “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson. Turns out, her not being a yuppy, she’d missed that song a few years ago. It was cute, light, and loving. It only makes sense that come Tuesday morning I wound up eating banana pancakes at the apartment with her [she made foster too…and it was excellent], and we started to talk about what our next move should be [several times over we’ve made the comments that it is us vs the world, the beginning of week helped solidify that]. I think really this is where the true insanity of the week started. The conversation, while not 100% accurate, went something like this:

D: So, now what?
Girlfriend: I don’t know, what do you think?
D: Not sure. Want to get engaged?
Girlfriend: Really?
D: Sure. Why not?
Girlfriend: I wonder if Kay’s has that ring I like in stock.
D: We could grab it today. Let’s go look.
Girlfriend: Let me call first.
[calls four different locations in the area]
Girlfriend: They don’t have it in stock, and it would require at least three days to get here.
D: Want to go see if there is one that you may love more that’s in stock?
Girlfriend: Are we seriously doing this?
D: Absolutely
Girlfriend: Alright. Let’s go!

Now, I’m not going to say that conversation is extremely accurate, but that was the overall gist of the moment. We got in her car and drove to the local mall and walked into Kay’s. Then the fun began. She started looking at rings, and of course the ladies at Kay were top-notch [as always], and then ‘it happened’. You know, she saw that ring and that was going to be the ring. No matter what. She sat there in Kay’s holding this ring, and just paused for a while thinking on whether or not this moment was really happening. It didn’t take that long before I heard, “We’ll take it!”

At the register, processing the paperwork, the lady asked if I would like to put the ring on her in the store. Naturally, I declined the offer and just had it boxed up and placed in the sack. Incredible, through all these ‘reckless’ moves, I did have a plan.

When I was little there was a spot next to the Missouri River that I loved going to. No docks, no houses, nothing, out in the country right next to the giant body of water [I even had senior pictures taken there]. It was my secret spot, even at the age of 25 I rarely took anyone to that location. It was a place, in Kansas, that meant the world to me and I could escape everything. In my girlfriends case she has a undying love of rivers and bodies of water; reasons of which I’ll never understand.

It only makes sense that we took a short five miles jog across the river to this secret spot. There was no candles, no cameras, in fact I was in running clothes and she was in mismatched work/comfort clothes. Honestly, we were a humorous mess that anyone could tell that the day before took an unknown toll on each of us. In that mess and near the body of water that both of us relate to so well, I got down on one knee and just asked her to marry me [not as easy as it sounds, because understand this…those who never have…you will get nervous]. Insanely the ring didn’t need to be resized at all and it was a perfect fit. Afterwards, we went and worked out [true story] and then surprised my mother at her house. Somewhere in the mix of this Facebook went nuts with a photo and congratulations galore [thank you all!], and we just entertainingly laughed the night away because we did something unpredictable. I can safely say at least 99% of the people who know us would not have seen that one coming, and that’s fine with both of us because through this whole crazy process we made sure that we were doing something that we orchestrated not dictated by anyone else. That is more liberating then even walking away from a job.

What’s next?

Well:

  • Restructuring FilingThePapers…again
  • Meeting with our pastor from MoVal tonight
  • Job applications and such
  • Kansas City Shock season is in full tilt
  • Engagement photos
  • Really…the list could go on and on…

For those of you who’ve just now discovered this page you should do some digging, and see what this was all about. For those of you who have been with me since day 1, thank you for the support, prayers, and for humoring me on my careless adventures.

 

That is one happy chica!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FilingThePapers isn’t going anywhere, I’m definitely not ending the site [it’s far too fun], and I’m already knee deep in the first draft of “X: Dare To Be Different”.

Let’s see what comes next!

-D-

Note: If anyone ever got confused, I would like to clarify that my girlfriend is indeed the same person that is referred to as Darco throughout these posts. What’s even more incredible is I’m marrying the same girl that I had the honor of leading to Christ one night in the parking lot of Starbucks.

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RECOVERY: yOURSELF


To the fans, the followers, and the friends. Thank you all so much for the past year! You are huge, wonderful, and so loving! My growth and advancement one year later from the moment my wife left, would not have been possible without each one of you! As I finish this letter, I am getting ready to board for Houston, Texas on our way to Guatemala!

Respectfully,

-D-

RECOVERY: rEBUILD


re·build

   [ree-bild]  Show IPA verb, re·built or (Archaic ) re·build·ed; re·build·ing.

verb (used with object)

1. to repair, especially to dismantle and reassemble with new

parts: to rebuild an old car.

2. to replace, restrengthen, or reinforce: to rebuild an army.

3. to revise, reshape, or reorganize: to rebuild a shattered

career.

It was nearly six years ago when I found myself standing among weeds and death throughout the 9th Ward of New Orleans. ‘X’s’ covered the houses, making sure that all life, or lost, were found and documented. The Walmart was gone, the gas stations vacant, and the homeless were running the French Quarter.

There was nothing ‘easy’ about the Big Easy.

For a week in 2006 and again in 2009, I was able to spend time assisting in the recovery of New Orleans after the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was painful, including a very nasty eye injury that almost left me blind, and the crawdad’s were fresh…as always, but it was hard to believe the progress that had taken place each time I visited the city. In one trip, nothing but death littered the roadway, in another trip the buildings had paint, the weeds removed, and traffic was…well…traffic. New Orleans was rebuilding itself, slowly, but surely.

In 2012, the population and economy of New Orleans isn’t what it was in pre-Katrina days, but the steady process of the devoted few have paid off; with Superbowl Titles, city unification, and an overall idea of pride in what they went through in order to become who they are today.

As I’ve watched the clock throughout the day, getting closer to midnight this evening, packing up items for my departure to Guatemala tomorrow; I can think of no better way to sum up the challenges of the past year, aside from comparing it to our beloved down south.

Each day I woke up, it was a struggle from the git-go. Some days I wouldn’t get out of bed, even when I relocated up north, it was guaranteed that if I had a nightmare of the past; I wasn’t going to work that day. However through friends, family, and connecting to the rest of the world; I found reason to move on, on a daily basis. Whether it was an activity of MoVal, or working with a bunch of U-8 kids on the soccer field; I had a reason to live, I had a reason to succeed, I had a reason to rebuild.

It’s when we overcome the reality of the pain that we must go through, that we can finally begin to do amazing things with our lives. No matter the pain and frustration; death, divorce, taxes…whatever the case, when we choose to move forward; anything is possible.

Similar to ‘E’, and encouraging those around you with your unique story, rebuilding is the same. How can a person justify a man being homeless, broke, and divorced; in one year would be content, compelled, and the owner of a professional sports team?

Exactly.

As I continue to move ‘dirt’ and build up what God desires my life to be, I accept the idea that the rebuilding process of my life, it never ends; it keeps moving. If I’m desiring growth, then like my beloved cities in Simcity; the game never ends, the goal is never reached, and my life will never be enough.

And honestly; I’m OK with that.

-D-

RECOVERY: eNCOURAGE


en·cour·age

   [en-kur-ij, -kuhr-]  

verb (used with object), en·cour·aged, en·cour·ag·ing.

1. to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence: His coach

encouraged him throughout the marathon race to keep onrunning.

2. to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.: One of the chief

duties of a teacher is to encourage students.

3. to promote, advance, or foster: Poverty often encourages

crime.

Truly the most useful tool I’ve discovered [that the rest of you knew about already]; encouragement. Not just the, “Go get ’em tiger!” encouragement we hear soccer moms and baseball dads yelling [and I do mean yelling] on Saturday mornings, but providing evidence to your encouragement.

There are several times in the recent year that I’ve attempted to motivate, to encourage those around me.  I mean, why not? When you go from homeless and borderline hungry to…this? You have no excuse not to encourage. However, that is where I found the catch to be in the encouragement process.

People don’t just want happy words, they want evidence to support it. That’s when I decided that frankly, I’ve got a fun story to share. In many ways I’ve got the ‘rags to riches’ Disney movie in the making going on [that is mainly tongue and cheek, of course]. However, there is some fact behind telling people a story. Many in our culture still enjoy an oration from time to time, and I can also tell you this; when you vow to some honesty, and tell it as it is, and be honest with your experiences; not only do you shock the world, but you make a world of difference to them.

To this point, I think out of the entirety of the past year; the story with Darco stands to be the testament of what encouragement is like. This very day if you met her, and you had met her once before even last year; you would not have been able to place the two together. She doesn’t look the same, act the same, even talk the same. It is a 180 difference in the fullest extent. And watch this pattern:

I encourage Darco:

Darco encourage _____:

_____ encouraged _____:

The list goes on, slowly but surely there are more and more people rocking the pews at MoVal. How can you not be encouraged? How can you look at a Christian who is divorced, another Christian with a questionable background [best way to word it], and see that they’re just encouraged at the new life they’ve been given.

Isn’t that what it is all about in the end? Sharing with people the difference between then and now? Being able to share a message of encouragement, getting people to ask what changed, and then being able to just look at them and say:

I rebelled against my selfish desires, then I eliminated the stumbling blocks of my life. I started connecting to the people of this new life. I started to obey the guidelines of a life in which was humbled, by practicing areas such honesty and vowing to set the life straight, and then I started to take my message, my story, and encourage the masses.

Are you encouraged yet?

-D-

RECOVERY: vOWS


vow

   [vou]  

noun

1. a solemn promise, pledge, or personal commitment: 

marriage vows; a vow of secrecy.

2. a solemn promise made to a deity or saint committing oneself

to an act, service, or condition.

3. a solemn or earnest declaration.

It quick to look at the term ‘vows’ and instantly assume that this is directed towards the correlation of wedding vows, marriage, and everything else deemed holy in the eyes of God.

Yes, and no.

While I could go and stress the importance of vows directed towards the one you love, in hopes of taking the steps forward to not only promote dedication, but also safety and security; I believe that the idea of a vow has a far more deeper potential towards not just matrimony, but humanity.

We live in a cultural surrounded by lies and deceit, it’s a business model. We lie to get our way, we ‘persuade’ others to see our view point so that they can ‘buy in’; face it, our commerce and industry revolve around the idea of low-balling in order to increase revenue. I know this; I deal with it every, single day.

I was in a store, not too long ago, and several of the stores in my area had changed their pricing scheme to reflect their competition. This little store had not. In fact, they had actually lowered their prices. Now, their sales had been ok, and slightly above, but as you can imagine; in my little world, they could be better.

So, I decided to implement a business tool that is unheard of by so many; honesty. I told the staff that they should boast about their honesty, the fact that whether they meant to or not, they had the lowest prices in the area. Be proud of being different and advertise the idea their they are vowing their livelihood towards the betterment of their town and business.

Who knew that honesty could be profitable?

It took me a year to finally understand that concept. I didn’t hold tight to my vows, while I will always deny the idea of cheating on my wife, there were other areas that I wasn’t faithful, I wasn’t honest, I didn’t understand or respect the importance of the vow that I had taken.

How does that affect the present?

Simple. I cannot handle dishonesty.

Part of the beauty of owning Kansas City Shock LLC, is being able to guide the ethical value of the business. Part of that stance means that I run an ‘open book’ policy, meaning that people can see where our [their] money is being spent any time that they wish. I refuse to allow my legacy, my belief, and my history to be tainted by the idea of being dishonest. You wouldn’t believe the heads that turn when people understand that you are genuine and passionate about what you believe in. That you’re willing to lay it on the line, because you took the vow, made the dedication to promote and exult whatever it may be that you follow.

If there is one major key that I’ll be taking with me, heading into whatever the future may hold [as we know, this could literally mean anything], it is understanding the detrimental importance of any and every vow that I make.

I vowed to lose weight, fifty pounds were gone. You vowed to eat healthier, your body feels better.

What if we vowed to protect one another?

-D-

RECOVERY: oBEDIENCE


o·be·di·ence

[oh-bee-dee-uhns]

noun

1. the state or quality of being obedient.

2. the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive

compliance: Military service demands obedience from its

members.

3. a sphere of authority or jurisdiction, especially ecclesiastical.

A moment of silence for my ego…

*pause*

I’m not one to enjoy following directions, at all. I’ll read a map, I’ll read installation information [take note ladies, I learned…], but when it comes to advise from those wiser and older than myself; I’m a failure.

Sure, I could shove it off on human nature, being inherently evil, etc…but the fact of the matter is that I’ve thought that I was always smarter then the rest of the world [I didn’t say I was right for thinking that]. What became even more dangerous was placing myself in a position where I was tempted to seriously think [stupidly] that I had more wisdom then God. Once again, I didn’t say I was right in thinking this, but for several years following college, I had this arrogance about me. I had my five year plan; I graduated from a baptist college with a girlfriend, that meant we would get married, two story house, white picket fence, and 2.3 kids…ish. The stage was set, I just had to get the comfy teaching job that I’d retire from as a bitter, old prune that the school wouldn’t be able to afford to get rid of.

My plan. My way. My success.

I listened to no one. I had a chip on my shoulder, I had to prove everyone wrong, and I had to succeed with life on my own, without assistance.

My goodness how quickly mindsets can change.

When you’re stripped of everything, minus the shirt on your back [except when I didn’t turn on the A/C because I couldn’t afford the electric bill], you do tend to listen to the voices and suggestions around you, because of the fact you have no choice but to look at your own choices and think, “My plan isn’t working.”

I will quickly say that there are two groups that I listened to, that I had not listened to in the past.

  • Parents: While MC and Jim were just heartbroken, I didn’t argue with them. I argue with MC most days of the week, but when push came to shove and my life was absolutely wrecked. I didn’t second guess a single thing they suggested. There is something about being the child and recognizing parental protection, embracing it, and running with it. It took me 23 years, but I figured out that you’re obedient to your parents because in so many moments [don’t quote me on this], they do know what is best for you, and in the end; they will do anything to protect you.
  • God: If you’re getting tired of hearing about the whole “God-thing”; I don’t care. I truly don’t, because I can personally testify that the moment I stopped trying to figure out life on my own and just sat down in that dark, empty bedroom and just said, passionately and whole-hearted, “Ok God, you know so much? You figure it out!” [I didn’t say I was happy at the moment]. Since that moment, when I finally decided to listen, obey, and stop challenging authority, His authority…well…I suppose let the last year speak for itself.

People have asked, repeatedly, from weight loss, to the Kansas City Shock, to even Subway; what was the secret to myself getting into these moments. How many all-nighters did I pull, and what did I have to sacrifice? What and who did I know?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

There is no secret recipe, answer to how everything came together, it literally came down to one simple idea:

Putting myself aside and just learning to obey.

Trust and obey, for there is no other way, To be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey…”

-D-

RECOVERY: cONNECT


con·nect

   [kuh-nekt]  

verb (used with object)

1. to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind: to connect the

two cities by a bridge; Communication satellites connect the

local stations into a network.

2. to establish communication between; put in communication:

Operator, will you please connect me with Mr. Jones?

3. to have as an accompanying or associated feature:

pleasures connected with music.

4. to cause to be associated, as in a personal or business relationship: 

to connect oneself with a group of like-minded persons; 
Our bank is connected with major foreign banks.

5. to associate mentally or emotionally: She connects all telegrams with bad news.

I am one very arrogant individual [I can hear you nodding your head in agreement to this stated fact]. It isn’t very useful, this arrogance issue, not even in being the owner of a company [a myth that has now been debunked], but it is a haunting feature that follows me throughout my life. Part of the arrogance issue it the mind block that you can do anything and everything on your own, that you don’t need anyone else to assist you…

I’ve got this…

I cannot explain to you how many times, in between making sandwiches and stirring tea pots that during the month of June last year I would walk into the backroom of my little Subway, shaking, and just whisper through the whimpers of my voice,

I’ve got this…

Of course the harsh reality is that I didn’t have it, in fact; I didn’t even have a clue on what was going on, let alone what I was going to do with my life as the roof collapsed and the heart dried up.

History tells us that I wound up moving, relocating to my ‘roots’ after a six year exile. I had to start over, and I started over by doing the one thing that I refused to do while living down south; I connected.

I started to check out businesses, stopping in as a ‘usual’ customer at several stops; most notably the Starbucks in town. I started attending and began to pour time into MoVal, and the byproduct of that was coaching the U-8 Peeps soccer program, in turn being partly what spurned the development of the Kansas City Shock. I didn’t refuse a single opportunity that came my way; I watched soccer games in Columbia, Missouri; Kansas City, Kansas. Met Hope Solo, and wrote reports after reports. I spent hours in Subway’s [still do], and I limit how much time I spend in my own home.

If I connect to as many people as I do via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn; then why can’t I do the same in real life? What’s more powerful? Technology is always on the hinge of the next great thing, but truthfully it’ll never be as great as communication and connection through ways of the human face. I spent time and money going to the movies, out to eat with friends, and while it wasn’t always the smartest financial choice; I started to fall back in love with the human element.

I was bitter, angry, and spiteful towards humanity; far before the divorce. Bluntly, I had placed myself on a thrown above the rest of humanity [go ahead and laugh], trying to convince myself that I was smarter, more charming, and just overall better than anyone else. I find this mindset ironic considering how much I claimed to be a Christian [Jesus said something about humbling yourself and being last…just saying…]. I was a mess, and I removed myself from humanity.

How can I call myself a follower of Christ, one who can love, one who can demonstrate compassion; if I don’t even interact with God’s creature?

In the past year it’s become evident of how important it is to continue to interact with everyone I come in contact with. Whether that be wisdom from Texas with K8 down south, or flying in from Maryland to take Darco to church, or humoring Dur over a cup of coffee. When you connect, similar to eliminating yourself, you instantly deny yourself of importance. When I’m meeting with anyone, for whatever reason, my life, my excitement, my “story” is all on the back burner. Let’s face it, I know my story, and I’m kind of bored of having only that story in my mind. I want to know the other stories. I want to know about the couple who built a house together, nail by nail. The kid who grew up paying the bills because her parents wouldn’t, and the orphanage in Guatemala that started as a vision in the mind and soul of one man in the sticks of the Great Plains.

Those stories would never be known if I had refused the concept of connecting to the world around me. Furthermore, anyone knows that this past year hasn’t been easy street at all times, there have been several demons that have crept up to mess with me throughout the months, and the true test has been, when the chips are down, when the wallet is empty, do I have the humbleness to lean on those I have connected to? Am I mellow enough to place my pride aside and just say, “I need help?” My record isn’t perfect, and I haven’t scored 100%, but it is getting better.

Throughout this painful, fascinating recovery; without connecting to those around me, discovering a new world untouched, I would have left myself to rot in my own quickly degrading grave.

How beautiful are those who cling onto hope, stretch out their hand, and dare to believe in the impossible.

-D-