#getyourpraiseon


First snow day as a teacher. It was announced a few hours ago. Trust me, I love my kids. However, I’m blessed to be given one more day of recovery from the fall before going back to school. Mentally I need it.

Additionally, my parents amaze me. They braved the weather, came to our house, shoveled our drive, thawed out the cars, and cooked meals for us. Jim fell on the ice while shoveling, I nearly cried, just because seeing family doing work for my sake was humbling at the least.

I don’t deserve a life like this. I am blessed beyond reason.

-D-

Head Banger


After a long week of preparation and execution of a major project for my students; the weekend was a well sought attempt at relief and relaxation.

Entertainingly though, mother nature, ice, and my lack of coordination had other plans…

Disclaimer: This is a story about injury, humor, and a lot of firsts. Those with ‘squeamish’ stomachs have been advised.

For a few years now, we (myself) have complained about the lack of overall winter in the area. There hasn’t been ice, snow, or anything else that is conceived as fun. Only bleak, gray, frigid winter days. This year was set to be different with our first introduction to ‘freezing drizzle’ on Friday. As it turns out, the freezing drizzle quickly translated to black ice and allowed the entire metro area to plunge into an absolute disaster of epic proportions.

Saturday morning was our in-between period of weather; we had the freezing drizzle but the snow was a few hours away. Knowing this, at 11:00 AM I decided that I still had time to grab a cup of coffee from our local coffee shop and some salt for our icy sidewalk and driveway. I was bundled up, I stepped out the door, and I thought that I spotted ice-melt on our sidewalk. I thought that our neighbor had surprised us again (not uncommon because he is amazing). Sadly, as I took my first step down from our patio to our sidewalk I realized, too late, that the white little specks that I thought was salt…was sleet instead. Meaning, my sidewalk was straight ice.

Too late.

My feet shuffled three times, trying to gain my balance on this downward spiral of despair, and up in the air they went and my head came down right on the concrete ledge of our patio. Naturally, while laying on the sidewalk moaning, I immediately placed my right hand on the back of my head only because of the pain. Mind you, it was starting to snow and was a balmy 13 degrees when all of this took place. After trying to get my bearings, I stood up, and looked at my hand.

Bright. Red.

Blood.

My wife was at work. No one was outside in our neighborhood, and our doorway is tucked on the side of the house, so no one could see me. I grabbed my Mitscoots stocking cap, that I love dearly, and used it as a form of compression on my head with my right hand and with my left hand I grabbed my phone and dialed 911.

The first words out of my mouth was my address because as I sat down on the edge of the patio, my heart started to flutter, my breathing became weak, nausea was setting in, blood was running down my neck, back, face, everywhere, and I told the dispatcher that first responders needed to hurry because I was beginning to black out.

Selfies not to send to your wife…

Realizing that blacking out was coming, made me realize this fear of collapsing in the snow, in the winter temperatures, and not being found. I’ll confess, the concept of death crossed my mind for a split second. The taste of blood was in my mouth, I coughed, trying not to dry heave in the process, and sat on the line with the dispatcher. Ten minutes passed inside this freezing, arctic concept of my own internal hell, and I saw the local police pull up. They nearly fell walking up the driveway. An officer started talking to me, a dialogue that could demonstrate that he was originally from California with the “yeah man” and “dude” interlaced between his professional statements and questions. My hat got replaced with an actual compression cloth, and I was wrapped up in a blanket as we waited for the ambulance to come. 15 minutes after I fell the local ambulance district showed up, I thanked the police officers and apologized to them for being terrified of the police most of my life. Needless to say, in cliche fashion, my perspective was changed that day. The guys from the ambulance and fire department loaded my body onto a stretcher, slid down the driveway, and loaded me into the unit. Truly, I picked the worst day, to decide to try my fate with other people.

After being loaded into the ambulance, the gentleman talked to me about what was going on, looked at the back of my head, inserted a needle, gave my anti-nausea medication (I already get car sick easily, an injury just adds to the misery) and we started making our way to the hospital. We past, by my count, five accidents along the road trying to get into the ER unit. I was told that since there was no bleeding from my ears or nose, that brain damage was not a major concern. I also learned that not losing consciousness prevented me from needing a CT scan upon arrival at the hospital. My blood pressure was high when the first got me into the ambulance, but after another reading twenty minutes later, the comment that came from the medics mouth was…

Are you a runner? Your heart rate is incredibly low.

Shoutout to the folks I run with, with that comment I’m now one of “those people” who runs.

While in the ambulance I did decide to take a selfie; this was primarily for my entertainment of how I was going to break the news to my wife. I sent her the photo, but afterwards I decided to call her also. We have a system in place that non-emergency contact is done via text messages and phone calls are only used in emergencies. Needless to say, when I called her, her voice was a tad distraught. It escalated rather quickly when she discovered that I was in an ambulance, on route to the local hospital (I picked the hospital closest to her store). She informed me that she would be there after she got her shift covered. While she had a great front, you could still here the stress in her voice.

Once I was loaded into the hospital, they started the process of getting my shirt off (showing how much blood had ran down my chest also), and proceeded to clean the wound. I was so tired at this point. I stayed awake out of fear, but sleep and hunger were playing a pretty epic role on my body. After a head bath of room temperature water and soap, I was informed that I had a one inch gash across the back of my head, slightly to the left. The doctor came in, about the time my wife arrived, and said he would give me a localized painkiller, two stitches to pull the gap together, and finish it off with 6 or 7 staples. This is the first time I have ever seen my wife walk out of a room because she was getting sick to her stomach. What that tells me: though my wife is very strong, she does not handle her husband being hurt very well. Especially with the amount of blood that was involved.

I learned that ‘staples’ inside a hospital also equates to standard, school style staples. There is not some ‘medical staple’, it is literally a staple like you would find inside the classroom. After the two stitches were inserted (stitches, another first for me) and the staples were added (6), I was cleaned up and allowed to leave the hospital.

What I learned:

  • Police, fire, medical, etc…all those groups of people are so insanely amazing when you are in a state of panic. I was very blessed to have such kind, caring individuals around me throughout the day yesterday. The fact that an officer spoke with me about having a beer, him growing up being scared of cops, his jail time, etc…just really eased all the stress from the entire situation.
  • The whole process, from the fall to leaving the hospital, was nearly 3 hours in total duration. Thanks to my wife for actually knowing insurance information.
  • I’m sad the my hat was ruined, but I’m so, so grateful that I had my Mitscoots stocking cap to apply pressure with while waiting for medical attention.
  • Shoutout to all the first aid training I’ve had over the years; who would have thought the time I would have to use it would be on myself?
  • Insanely, truly a blessing, I made it out of this whole situation without an actual diagnosed concussion. Giving God the props for that. I woke up today without a headache, nausea, confusion, or anything else along those lines.
  • Head wounds bleed a lot; in fact I learned that medical people become more nervous if a head wound is not profusely bleeding. The amount of capillaries in the head is huge, so any wound can easily result in a blood bath; literally.
  • Unlike my original assumption; aside from the anti-nausea medicine in the ambulance, I received no medication, pain killers, etc…at the moment the only thing I have had has been two Aleve at 7:30 PM last night.

That is my scary story. It sidelined me for the weekend, I did not get my papers graded like I wanted to, and again I’m sidelined for a bit from trail running. However, all things considered, I can handle those restrictions compared to the fear that I witnessed sitting alone in the winter with a head wound.

Always grateful that God is watching over me.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Small Victories


Truth: Teaching terrifies me. 

That is one thing that hasn’t changed through all the time of these past couple years. Failure, mistakes, errors, missteps, etc…all the things I encourage my students to experience daily, is professionally what I fear the most. Ironic, yes?
These past few weeks have been laced with errors. One thing after another, I racked up an impressive list of miscues in the world of academia.

This is why I’m grateful for small victories. These last ten weeks I’ve experimented with developing a debate program at our middle school. I firmly believe competition exists outside of courts, gyms, and fields. By God’s grace I wound up with 23 sixth to eighth grade students on a roster for this past quarter. It has been an amazing experience. The students, personally, grew faster in content and comprehension then I had originally predicted. 

I took some of the data from these past weeks and sent it to our high school debate coach to analyze and review.

They were impressed. These middle school students impressed the high school coach! The coach offered to share their teams source material for construction of debates, asking how their students could interact with mine in the spring semester, and just overall gave a tone of excitement.

After a recent rough streak; this was such a blessing to receive. 

-D-

Sojourner


I have always been interested in the unique word sojourner. To understand what the word, not necessarily the historical name, actually means takes a bit of research and some creativity. Even in the Bible. a few translations make reference to being a sojourner throughout the land. Slowly but surely I’m beginning to have a better understanding of what this word means, and how it applies to me.

Perhaps, I should begin by offering a heart-felt apology to so many people. I feel guilt. Shame. Abandonment even. It may not necessarily make sense at the moment, but please believe me when I state my aim is not to create hate, but instead confess my own confusion.

I do not understand this world.

I do not understand this society.

I do not understand the people.

While not impossible, I do firmly question how hard it is to be a Christian within the society that I currently dwell in. Maybe that is too broad of a statement and/or question. Perhaps I have not tried hard enough to emphasize my thoughts, God’s will, or Biblical interpretations in relation to last weeks election.

I feel…nothing.

*crowd throws tomatoes*

I am sorry. This is where my heart hurts. I see one side of people thrilled about an elected leader who is going to ‘change the status quo in Washington’. I see another side that is full of fear, sadness, and anger. I’m stuck in the middle because I feel sadness for both sides. I cannot look at any person, any group of people, and suddenly feel threatened by their power. God is a lot bigger then what we measly humans can conjure up. That realization, that fact, that truth is what I hold onto on a daily basis. In fact, literally this is something I carry on me in the form of in on my left shoulder:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I did not get a tattoo just because I wanted one. I received one because I wanted that reminder with me. Originally, I thought it would serve as a reminder of what God has done to protect me coming out of a horrific divorce. However, five years past those tragic days I see that God’s message holds true in many uncertain events.

Reality is understanding that bad things will always plague this world. We have done this to ourselves. History demonstrates that to us on a daily basis. We will always have leaders that strike fear throughout the masses, and there will always be groups of people trying to rewrite the laws of society. This is not a situation within just the United States, this is a situation that resides within the global community.

I have watched friends, colleagues, people of faith, and people without, tear at each other for the past seven days. I tiptoe around every conversation I can, barely giving recognition to the results of the previous week. Why? Because I’m not spiritually swayed one way or another, there is no line for me. I follow the government as instructed, and I follow the God that created all of it. I try to keep my regulations and rules to a minimum, and simplify thoughts so that I do not become lost within ‘red tape’.

However, the problem with the information stated above is that it does not sit well with anyone within society anymore. I can say the things above because I am “a middle class, white, male who owns personal property”. I’m ‘entitled’ to live life risk free because of elements that I cannot control within my own identity. With that said, if I do choose to take a side, most likely either viewpoint will immediately conflict within the Biblical principles that I am to hold myself accountable to. I can gain the whole world, but in turn I can also lose my soul.

I feel like a wanderer, a person without a home. I feel the urge to apologize to every person I come across since last week because there is not a camp that I fall into. I don’t understand how Christian’s can take such polarizing stances on any specific political topic inside our society. So much of everything conflicts with the governing nature of God, Himself. I know what Christ said about government, I know what God warned about in relation to government, and I know that the direction is at all times to trust God, love like Christ, and endure the world that I currently live in.

Currently, I am not mad, angry, or frustrated with any group of people within the United States. Extremists, political groups, advocates, social media stalkers, etc…I’m sad because inside my soul; I can tell I do not belong. I feel isolated and alone because I did not take a side*, pick a camp, or reside with specific people that have the same political views. I chose none of it because none of it made sense compared to the teachings that I have immersed myself in. I do not need Church leaders to tell me who to vote for, who to be afraid of, or when to panic. I need a body that is willing to focus on what and who is important and recognize that the kingdoms of this world with come and go. Only one will forever remain.

In conclusion; I am sorry that you do not find me with a  safety pin, and I apologize that I do not join you in jokes about protestors, immigration, and racial charged groups of people. I apologize that I have very little share on social media, and my ‘political education’ appears to be turning up nothing of value for fuel of those looking.

I am sorry that this one time I will agree with former teachers, leaders, parents, and everyone else; I cannot resist but to go against the grain and not follow the standard norm. I am a sojourner; this is a land where I realize I will never belonged.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19

-D-

*Note: As a citizen within this society, I would like to go on record of stating that I did vote within the election. Should be stated just as an act of clarification.

Shoes Instead of Pews


Life continues to be a world of ‘firsts’ throughout the 2016 year. So much of it has revolved around running, friendships, and breaking away from the standard system that I had grown to accustomed to over the years. The truth is; I think I am growing, and at the least I am beginning to think on my own versus accepting a reality that has been preprogrammed into my soul.

Perhaps I will say the wrong thing, upset the balance of acceptance, or maybe just rub a reader the wrong way. I would apologize for such strange ideas, but in my life, that tends to just be the direction of which my heart flows.

I am happy and sad all in the same mindset and my soul struggled to comprehend such explicit emotions…

I had an interesting weekend. Darco and I traveled north to Omaha, Nebraska. We were traveling with a group of 14ish other people with the same task; run. My challenge was a 21 mile trail race Sunday morning. It did not go quite as planned. I finished, but I finished with a limp, a waddle, and nearly a crawl. My body gave out early and I truly struggled to finish the race. Afterwards, I was not in a good spot. My body hurt, my heart hurt, and the only thing I knew I did not want to do…was to run. That is how extreme the course was in my perspective.

After a rough night of trying to sleep, and lounging around in the classroom through the day, I decided to head back out to the trails Monday night. In celebration for Halloween, our running group had decided to have a ‘costume run’. Meaning, I was on a trail between a unicorn and a clown. I told myself, I told my wife, I told my mentor/coach that I was just walking for a mile. That was all I wanted to do, still slightly disgusted with myself on the day prior.

Something happened though; perhaps it was lacing the dirty, crusty shoes, or feeling the October evening breeze, or perhaps even just kicking up a little dirt, but even in my soreness I had to run. I started running, painfully, but I kept moving. It became fun, each step, each breath, each conversation with the people that I have grown to love. A mile and a half passed by and I finally stopped for a drink and to catch my breath. I felt better. I could discuss the chemical reasons and reactions for why I felt better, but honestly my heart felt better. Even walking the mile back down to the trailhead I sang to myself, walked in the dark, and just embraced the moment. I felt clean. I felt pure. I felt free of guilt and disappointment.

What a strange sensation.

Life taught me that being dipped in the water, raising your hands, and following the chords of a guitar was to bring about that feeling. Laying hands, eating crackers, and clapping to a 4/4 beat was to bring about joy. Ensuring that you were in your seat at 8:30 Sunday morning, not leaving the building until 7:00 PM Sunday night, plus Wednesday night from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM, that is what was to bring about glory and peace. Listening to speakers discuss fear and politics, and voting strategies because God doesn’t know what He’s doing was the norm to bring the mind under control.

I cannot be tied down anymore. I have to escape.

The biggest joy in my life is knowing that God is amazing, patient, and never gives up on me. It is so humbling, terrifying, and inspiring; it’s something that I do not deserve. It does not make sense, it is not scientific, and at last check it is not necessarily politically correct.

But it is mine, and mine alone, and my heart feels so light because of it. What a beautiful gift.

What a beautiful gift I almost lost. What a brilliant joy that I almost forgot. What a marvelous prize that I almost gave up.

I love God. I just can no longer stand the institution.

What I witnessed last night was the beautiful benefit of God’s love through the element of friendship. Friendship that is not tied to work, and not tied to the Church, but tied together with heartstrings. I could not walk into a church, complain about feeling down after a race, and expect to find grace. Instead the pain tends to get buried under budgets, and bureaucrats, and business transactions that illuminate stained glass like the office lights along Wall Street. I’ve searched, I tried, and I have torn my heart apart to find what is so wrong with me for the sake that I cannot seem to locate a building, an institution, a congregation that can put down the Facebook posts and ignore the campaign signs and just breathe life.

Likes, shares, and retweets aside…simply I ask, why did Christians choose to make being a Christian in this society so difficult?

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Maybe shoes instead of pews could change a lot of lives.

-D-

Heart


I received a hand written letter tonight after a hot, muddy run through the woods. It was an awesome, encouraging thank you letter from the previous weekend.

I did well reading the encouragement, all the way until the final sentence. Only then did my emotional state become unstable. In the cursive font I read the following:

You’ve got the heart of an ultrarunner the same way you have a heart of a good Christian.

It has been at least six years since anyone has ever said good and Christian when identifying me. This didn’t come from a preacher, choir leader, Sunday School teacher, missionary, theological professor, elder, or deacon. It came from no one within the Church. It came from a person that I want to match step-for-step with in the mud one day.

I was called a good Christian.

I was called a good Christian.

I whisper this to myself with a half smile; facial muscles fighting off sobbing or quivering lips. This is something I never deserved to read:

I was called a good Christian.

The jealous, lustful, divorced, cheating, spiteful, hateful, flawed, ugly soul that roams this earth…was called a good Christian.

I was given a compliment that I had assumed I would never hear again in my lifetime.

Even through the stress of today I’m going to bed with a happy heart. I witnessed God’s grace tonight, and my soul smiles because of it.

Cool handwriting!

-D-