Ultra


I’m still working on a race recap to my recent adventure in Texas over the past weekend. Most often my writing in relation to those trips maintain themselves over on my running-specific blog. However, after the past week, my heart is so full that my passion and my life have truly intertwined into something beautiful that I feel compelled to share with the rest of the world.

Yes, this is a little emotional.

Two weekends ago my wife and I learned that her mother had passed away. Outside of the immediate sadness and comfort dedicated to my wife, it created some questions on what to do with the entire process. We’re both only children, my wife does not have a father to speak of, and her mother left this planet with no life insurance policy, estate, etc…Plus, Darco and I had already planned to go to Texas the following weekend.

First, I’m blessed to work in a school building with people that are genuine enough to care about your wellbeing, take over your classes, and help you fill out paperwork of bereavement so you can be with your family. I am so fortunate that my coworkers and supervisors were so easily willing to allow me time away from school in the middle of the school year. Only by God’s blessing did I wind up with substitute teachers that covered my classes, took my assignments home, studied them, and helped teach students while I was gone. I am indebted to so many people from this large brick building.

Also, my parents stepped up to do exactly what we needed them to do in such a tough situation: nothing. MC and Jim carried on conversations with us throughout this time acknowledging what had happened, but not dwelling on it either. In many ways, their house was a safe-haven for my wife to retreat to from the onslaught of emotion in regards to preparing the dead for burial. Additionally, both having lost parents over the years, were able to assist us in preparation pieces and expectations leading up to the ceremony.

My wife made a decision to ensure that the funeral was taken care of no later than Wednesday via the funeral home. This was not done in regards to expediting the process in order to head to Texas; it was done because my wife does not like to dwell on what was.  As her and her family met with the funeral director some information came out about funerals. They are not free. Now, take that reality and apply it with the above mentioned piece of Darco’s mother not having anything to take care of moments like this in the event of her passing.

Darco stressed out.

The funeral home, as it turns out, has a ‘crowd funding’ site similar to gofundme and kickstarter, but solely to help offset expenses of the funeral. While we were hesitant, we figured it was better than nothing.

We are fortunate that my wife is employed through the company that she is. They take care of their employees in incredible ways. Due to the financial strain of this development; two things were able to take place:

  1. Darco was able to apply for a ‘cup fund’ in which employees in the company donate to for partners that have moments like these
  2. She was also able to get an emergency loan against her 401K that she had been building since prior to being 20 years old

Being able to have these two pieces were massive in the ability to show the funeral home that funds were available, and the process could go forward.

Her mother passed away on Saturday, this was all taken care of by Tuesday. My wife is strong.

The morning of the funeral I found my wife checking the account that had been set up by the funeral home to accept donations. It was at this point that God’s grace began to completely overwhelm us in emotional, tearful ways. Almost half of the funeral expenses had been covered by people donating; literally throughout the entire United States. A huge chunk of them coming from the running community that Darco and I have become a part of over the past year. Even to the point that one of the runners, the owner of a local coffee shop, asked if they could hold a ‘latte art throwdown’ contest in order to raise funds to offset the funeral costs. All of this combined allowed Darco the ability to not worry about the money, and instead mourn the loved one that she had lost.

The funeral was Wednesday. The substitute teachers had been checking in with me throughout the day via email to ensure my students were following instructions. After the funeral, my wife and I came home to a house to start packing for the trip to Texas. At this point it was not about running, it was about giving my wife a chance to get out, breathe deep, and just recover.

By Friday night we were laying in our hotel room, alarms set to 3:45 AM, and with the funeral still fresh in our minds we also realized that the next morning started another adventure; my first ultra-marathon.

Several months ago I had decided to sign up for this challenge. I wanted to run 31 miles in the woods, on trails in order to become an ultra-marathon runner (any distance over 26.2 miles). I had been training for months to get myself ready for this event, and my wife had been incredibly supportive through the whole journey.

31 miles, 9 hours and 38 minutes later under the hot Texas sun I crossed the finish line with a random lady from Denver, Colorado. My wife and our friend were able to get my finish on film, photos were taken, and water was drank.

Facebook. Exploded.

The amount of congratulations flowing through my timeline looked like we had announced a pregnancy (no, by the way). My social media feeds were more active than my birthday. I had gone an entered myself into a statistic that places me with .05% of the American population. Truth be told; I accomplished something that I didn’t even know was possible.

More importantly though was recognizing the amount of people that were watching it happen. One of my coworkers went to get running shoes at the store that I frequent constantly for running gear on Saturday. When she walked in she noticed a group of workers surrounding a computer, while she was walking up to them, one of them yelled, “Shawn only has 7 miles left!” They were watching my race updates live 12 hours away from the race.

My heart has been so full as of late.

There is not enough to be said or enough to be done to thank so many people that have done so many amazing things for myself and my wife. From being with us in our lowest moments preparing for sorrow and mourning, to being with us from the happiness of accomplishing something I once thought was impossible.

We are blessed in ways that neither one of us could have ever predicted. This is a life that both of us can agree on, that we don’t deserve. God has shown us so vividly over the past week how vital it is to have fellowship with others around us.

Thank you, everyone. I wish I could do better to share my heart’s joy with you all.

16665352_913179001576_7771997107648600760_o

You have no idea how wonderful it has been to see her smile again.

-D-

Mutual Heartache


Reality is frequently unfortunate, and rarely kind to the heart. The atmosphere today was set at the point of waking up, something was off with the world I live in.

10 mile run in the woods was difficult, painful, and cold. Yet another forewarn of impending devastation.

While enjoying a cup of coffee my wife called me. We both know that if we’re calling each other instead of sending a text, something is usually off…

Hey, what’s up?

We knew it would happen someday, and it finally did.

Oh my gosh. Where are you? I’m on my way to pick you up now.

I hung up the phone and stepped back into the shop.

I’m sorry. That was Darco, I need to go. 

Is everything alright?

Her mother just died.

I never knew that you could love someone so much that their own heartbreak you could feel yourself. I feel so overprotective at the moment. She’s sleeping in our bedroom, and I won’t even leave the room.

I’m blessed to have this marriage. I’m blessed to be able to hurt with my wife in this saddening time.

-D-

XXXI: Cowboys Cry Too


Yesterday I received word that my grandmother was not doing well at her nursing home (she’s 93). Darco and I were going to meet a few family members there around lunch today.

At 9:30 AM this morning I was notified that she had been moved to hospice.

I’ll let you fill in the rest.

Today took me north to the land of my father, literally and figuratively. I was around truckers, drinkers, racers, and dreamers. I saw a family that has more strength in a single toe, fairly compared to some full scale countries.

I saw my childhood rendition of the cowboys of the Wild West.

…and I was humbly shown that those great cowboys can cry too.

Throughout the day it was emotional swings of laughter and deep thoughts. It was catching up on what was, while carefully thinking about what quickly could be. I saw heroes from my childhood eyes, resting on canes, crutches, and couches.

The cowboys are tired.

I saw misty eyes while talking about ’66 1/2 model cars that ran 12.5 pistons instead of 12.6.

I heard simple political conversations, end smoothly as any cowboy would have:

The day my second amendment is gone is the day I become an outlaw.

I witnessed a dying monarch that had known nothing but love, family, and faith, rest easy as her time here begins to pass. My heart hurt of knowing about the other wounds suffered by these rough riders, how fate dealt such cruel cards to the kindest souls that roam the earth.

Through days end and the sun’s rest; these riders disembarked on another sealed journey’s past.

My concept of these cowboys has changed since my childhood.

They are so much stronger compared to what my past’s minds eye could have ever comprehended before.

-D-

XXXI: Cheers Old Friend


I’ll be the first to admit that death really isn’t my thing. I’m the person who has the horrible reaction, awful timing, and is frequently thinking about what food will be served after the service has concluded.

Horrible human, right?

Death is just that; it’s death. Personally it’s merely a gateway from this fragment of life into something eternal. Therefore, it isn’t the easiest thing to accept, fret, or even try to stir emotions over.

Again, horrible human, right?

While sitting with friends this afternoon, enjoying lunch with colleagues of our house church, I received a notification on Facebook. The obituary for an old friend. I’ll confess; it stirred my emotions over the time of our existence, friendship, and overall presence in unison on the earth. Continue reading

Mobile Minutes: Numb Death


Death.
The context of it didn’t mean much to me growing up. I accepted the idea of death, but an individual dying didn’t play at my heart strings.

Truly, honestly it was until finding out this morning that a former supervisor (and a current friend) lost their spouse, that the truth of death really set in.

Finding the news made my heart hurt. I put Darco in the scenario, and the imaginary trip from that was enough to force me from bed to locate food.

It hurts. Death hurts when you embrace love. As a Christian I can speak of the peace associated with the first death, but as a human the reality is still haunting.

I’m going to squeeze Darco a little tighter tonight, and keep praying for my friend. I suppose all of this reminds me that I’m getting a little older, and my heart is finally getting a little softer.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Morning of Mourning


I woke up to a very tragic text this morning. A young woman (24) was killed in a car accident last night.

Sadly, she was a competitor against me in speech/debate in high school, my prom date, and even my girlfriend for a period of time.

Not really how I expected my morning to start, but…without sounding too “church-y”, I would at least ask to keep her family in your prayers.

Death is never easy on anyone.

Let Tuesday begin…

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Kori’s Victory


Dearest Death,
Where is thy sting?
Hidden upon this shroud of mystery,
I fear nothing.
Not the dark,
Nor emptiness,
Nor pain.
I tremble not at the unknown,
Instead grasp eternity.

Oh frightened Death,
You know not thy fight,
Exemplified strength.
Battling tremors of the night.
I shall not fall to thee,
Instead: arms reaching heaven’s height,
My Creator cherishes me,
As I slowly die.

Foolish Death!
There is no sting.
Conquered spirit,
You shall fear thee.

Peaceful future,
Fighting finally done.
Rest descends upon thee,
Thy battle with Death is won.

Mobile Minutes: Terror


Easily just woke up from the most terrifying, devastating surreal nightmare. Yes, it was during just a midday nap, but I woke up shaking and clinging onto my wife. I haven’t been that terrified from something in my sleep in a very, very long time.

I’ll just get the gist out: Continue reading

Mobile Minutes: Shipwrecked


It has been a week from help.

Quite literally.

There has been death, fighting, sorrow, grief, stress, frustration, and questioning…

That was covered by Tuesday.

In all reality I think back to a recent creation I found along the interstate. Someone has taken construction dirt, formed a hill, and dropped a wooden boat on it. In the middle of the prairie. Very humorous, and also describing personally.

image

The devil has been putting in overtime. There are serious events taking place at MoVal, things I haven’t witnessed since I was a freshman in high school. The founder of a ministry organization in the area of MoVal died today. Darco and I are maxed out of stress, and have been working tirelessly to not argue with each other. We’ve broken glasses and dishes by accident, killed the blender (again), and ruined a few meals. She’s injured from last Saturday’s fall and is heading to the orthopedic doctor on Monday.

The two of us are shipwrecked.

I’m blessed to have her next to me. You really can’t grasp the magnitude of this past week. Currently we’ve averaged five hours of sleep this week, not good for either one of us.

Thankfully, God is good. I’m exhausted because I’ve been working. I now have two schools that request me immediately, including five different teachers. In the month of September there were three days this month I wasn’t in school. These were due to Kansas City Shock work days. Talk about God providing. We have a fridge full of food, a great problem to have, and we are eating healthy and well.

It’s been several years since I’ve witnessed so many Christians attacked in such a short period of time. Darco is struggling at work due to the ongoing promotion attempts, while also attempting to grasp what is taking place within our church body. It’s the first time since she’s become a Christian that she’s witnessed the devastating torment of the devil.

Thank goodness God has already taken care of tomorrow. Tonight, we rest peacefully. We’re both getting a good nights rest and we have a date tomorrow night.

This is where life is hard. Dealing with stupid world driven issues is one thing, but when spiritual attacks take place you can’t protect anyone, you have to rely on God to protect you.

And stand firm in believing you’re not stranded alone on an island.

image

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Jo


It had been a surprisingly long duration since I had spoken to Jo. As you know she’s back in Sweden, and has been for some time. I grew concerned over the past several weeks and started to pester her, hoping for a response.

What I got, I wasn’t really ready for.

I few mornings ago, while I was still sick; she contacted me through my Skype program on my phone. She started talking about needing to talk to me, just needing something, and was trying to line up a time for me to actual be awake to communicate with her [seven hour time difference]. Finally, while coming back from my trip down south, I was able to chat with her a bit.

That’s when I learned that her cousin just passed away [close to her], her boyfriend left her [no comment], and she was completely alone, isolated, and really; without hope.

We talked for several hours, including me inquiring about why she hadn’t contacted me before. Here’s one of my closest friends, who had gone through who knows what with me and back again, and she’s just broken to pieces in a place that I can’t reach her except through digital communication.

I told my girlfriend about this [note: she is very, very full aware of the friendship I have with Jo, and very aware of the trials we have been through], and her concern was the same as mine; a hurting friend that we couldn’t reach.

Jo has been working on an e-mail for me, outlining everything that’s taken place over the past several weeks. I’m curious on the events and how they transpired.

I talked to Jo today while at work; she had just returned home from her coworkers funeral. She posed me a simple question, “What’s the meaning of this life?”

Simply; almost automatically I just replied with, “To praise God”.

This took us down a road that Jo and I hadn’t been on too often; Christianity.

Jo, from all accounts that I’m aware of, became a Christian when she moved to the States for college. A few mutual friends of ours guided her down that path. However, similar to myself; over the years we faded away from the truth, went into other styles of living, and overall; just lost touch with God. Add in a Swedish culture that itself tends to float more towards an atheistic/agnostic viewpoint and Jo is spiritually starving.

I spoke of myself and my girlfriend; the challenges we have, the changes we’ve made in our lives as individuals. The 180 degree turn around that my girlfriend made with her life, and the struggles that I faced and still face to this day. I was open and honest; brutally honest. Afterwards Jo just simply replied with, “I wish I could have that” [in reference to a romantic relationship that was built around a partnership striving towards the goal of praising God and not ones self]. She then got offline for the day.

My heart hurts tonight. I hate having such a close friend in such pain, being so confused, and no one there. As my girlfriend put it, “She just needs hugged”, to which I completely agree.

I understand the history of this site, and some things being stated on this site towards Jo and out friendship. I challenge you, all of you, to put your pride aside and try to understand her loneliness, isolation, and fear.

Can you too see the opening door?

-D-