#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-

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Mobile Minutes: Coffee Encounters


It’s always enjoyable knowing that nothing but strange things tend to take place at coffee shops.

Tonight was no different.

While making repairs to my laptop [it was due up for some spring cleaning] Dur and I saw a women walk in wearing a Minnesota Women’s Soccer shirt.

Now, the Starbucks up here is a snare of Kansas City Shock if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Darco mans the register, that’s the first hit. Likely afterwards you’re going to get me in the corner, and if you make it past me it’s only a matter of time before Dur gets you. That’s just how the store works up here in the north. We didn’t plan it, but we all three spend so much time there it only makes sense.

Anyways…

So, this woman walks into the store and Darco nails her; seeing the soccer logos on the shirt. That starts the chain reaction of sports, soccer, and the Kansas City Shock. Eventually the young woman sits next to Dur and myself and we start asking the ’20 question’ game. Through this process a question kept brewing in my head, she was new to the area, went through some fascinating troubling times, and was recreating herself [sound familiar]? That’s when she made note of the softball team at the church she’s going to, which gave way to the question I was begging to ask; church involvement.

“Oh, I go to Missouri Valley. It’s a really small church.”

Missouri Valley = MoVal

Somehow, someway, shameful to myself I’ve missed this woman over the past month. We spent some time sharing our stories of getting to MoVal, love for soccer, her unique love for cultures and travel, and some humor in between. The whole time I’m in disbelief that we’d been at the same church [of 70 people] and completely missed one another.

The story itself is absolutely fascinating, and made for some good laughs. However, personally it really helped as well. I was really, really dialed into MoVal today. I felt comfortable, directed, and alive. It was a great realization to be back ‘home’ after this weeks spiritual findings. More importantly, I had complained to my girlfriend earlier this weekend that I couldn’t hear God, He was silent. Since those moments; it feels like my ears have just now been unclogged. The passion of the people, the messages that I’ve received, the questions, the meetings, everything in the past 48 hours continues to show me that this is God’s plan, it’s His program, and He’s going to do amazing things. I’m just humbled to be able to be a part of it.

It was such a blessing to meet random people, and make random connections [especially if they can understand why soccer fans must have scarves] in His name. The coffee tasted that much better tonight.

This week appears to be daunting; it’s hard not to be fearful. However, God is going to do something amazing. It’s going to be big, insane, and awesome. I haven’t felt this alive in watching Him do His thing in months.

Let the sparks fly.

-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-

X: Walk To Remember


Personally…I hated that movie…it ranked down there with a ‘Beautiful Mind’ [there goes the rest of the subscribers]

However, if there was ever a terminology that could ever encompass the true beauty of a few moments in our rapid existence..

That. Would. Be. It.

Last Thursday I was up earlier than I usually am for work [that’s saying something], and I started driving [Disclaimer: using my own money in the company car] south.

Why?

Jo.

The lovely Swede had flown in a few days prior as a vacation from being a professional soccer player and was in the states seeing her boyfriend and other  individuals; including myself.

When I arrived, I had to walk onto the college campus that her and I had attended and awkwardly [because I make it awkward] I waited for her.

Out of the corner of my eye, walking through the cafe was this tiny, little blonde thing all decked out in this Adidas warm-up outfit, blue and gold with the name Hovås-Billdal across the front.

She looked so professional.

Without even thinking [nothing new] she walked up to me and I wrapped my arms around her and just hoisted her up in the air.

MY BEST FRIEND WAS IN FRONT OF ME!

And just like that, just like old times, we started walking. Out the doors of the athletic center, past the dorms that she was in during college, past the apartment that I lived in last year, past so many memories. Through the town square, by the art museum that only college students know about [those who take art classes at least], through a random cemetery where I found a very distant relative last year, into the park where I was chased out by a peacock, and near this small pond, surrounded by rabid geese, we sat down.

We talked about soccer, life, my divorce [including several ‘I told you, you weren’t ready’ moments]; it was like stepping back in life three years; until the geese attacked us.

She’ll be back in May to watch her boyfriend graduate from the same college both of us did [I in 09, Jo in ’10]. After that though, the harsh reality begins to set in:

He’ll go back to Spain.

She’ll go back to Sweden.

They’ll both go to Sweden.

They’ll both go to Spain.

I’ll be here.

Truthfully, it was a depressing realization to contemplate as she walked away at noon on Thursday.

Until I remembered her contract is only for one year.

Free agent.

-D-

X: Darco


I’m not a person who is known for ‘friends’ [minus Jo and a few other crazies]. I’m kind of a loner, and I designed it like that myself. I consistently put myself into a ‘pity party’ thinking, “No one wants me, I’m a ginger, etc…”

Frankly, do you know what that does to the Church and the people you’re around?

It’s toxic.

It can cause many to not even want to be involved with the idea of Church.

Enter Darco.

…you know how much I love switching names to protect people on this site from my own insanity…

This individual was met over a hot cup of coffee [Iced Caramel Macchiato]. Darco is a barista at Starbucks [such a bad ‘blessing’ for me], and through the past several months of myself being back in the area, has consistently attempted to drive me insane three shots [get it?] away.

Finally I got to just talk to this individual, trying to find out about them, what their story was; and frankly…it was kind of sad…

Naturally, I’d let them share the story, but I will say this month:

  • No father figure
  • Working over 40 hours, college full time, paying literally all the bills in the house…just to make it…
  • The list goes on…but that’s Darco’s story…not mine to tell…

It’s heartbreaking.

Darco was the individual that nearly caused me to go insane in Maryland, trying to get back. They’re the individual that after not being in church since they were seven, leaned over to me and said, “I think he is talking to me.”

This is the same person who admitted that they’ve lived a question lifestyle for the past few years is the same person that ensures that we’re going to MoVal together each Sunday. It’s becoming an addiction.

Best quote…so far…

I keep watching videos from MoVal. What are you doing to me?

I dare not take credit for doing anything to them.

Darco is kind of a nice package all wrapped up together [minus the bow]; I get my coffee fix, we played soccer yesterday, they’re all about getting into shape, being healthy, etc…, and it’s amazing…no that isn’t right…AMAZING…to watch God mold them and craft them into a wonderful individual.

As I informed them a few nights ago, they’ve assisted unknowingly in me coming out of retirement.

Meaning?

I remember slapping kids with Bible’s, telling my cousin he was going to hell because he was Catholic [true story, not truth], I was crazed and wreck-less, but I loved God.

I gave up.

Not because I said that there wasn’t anyone out there to work with, I just gave up because I got lazy. Frankly, when I got married; I got very lazy. Physically, spiritually, everything that required thought; I failed because I refused to try. Hence the destruction of my spiritual life, marriage, and time on this earth [dramatic pause].

Watching Darco grow so quickly, rapidly, recognize it and want to learn more;

I know I’m a slow learner, but I’m willing and eager.

That’s all anyone should ever need to hear to drop them to their knees with some praise.

Darco will be joining me down to Dallas this upcoming weekend; heaven only knows what that will result in [aside from Starbucks discount].

-D-

Fun Fact: This is the same kid who told me to go to the store one night and surprised me with a pound of coffee and mobile French Press

Mobile French Press

It's a French Press that you operate and has a lid on top so you can take it on the go with you. Took me a few failed attempts with a mouth full of grounds to properly figure it out.

X: Svenska


I’m awake way too early, but I can tell writing/typing is becoming a habit because I’m awake. I had an idea and I’m not going to feel relief until it is properly taken care of [that and the random 29 views in the past five hours is rather…odd].

At the beginning of the month, I spoke about Jo and some adventures in her life. In fact, it’s to the point that Jo actually has her own ‘tag cloud’ along this site. However, I don’t think you, the read, have been properly introduced to this strange creature and why those two letters tend to float throughout this site.

Go figure; it all revolves around relationships.

In 2007, the winter period of college, I was in a rather…intense…relationship with an individual. I worked in the athletic department, she played athletics for the university, and it was my first ‘serious’ relationship, meaning that I also had never felt the pain of heartbreak. I got to experience this horrid sensation for the first time following Thanksgiving of that year. I got dumped [via text message], as a younger version of me, I was completely devastated. I mean, I was a mess. I lost a chunk of ‘mutual friends’, and suddenly I found myself completely alone on this campus. I had few friends, no hobbies, and had just lost a chunk of weight [I know, I know].

I went to Facebook. I started looking through my Facebook friends to see if I could actually form a real friendship with any of them [admit it, you do it too]. That’s when I came across this kid who played soccer for the college, her status I didn’t understand on Facebook because I didn’t recognize the language. I started to work on translating it [Google Translate, not that great in 2007], and it was talking about how this kid was homesick.

I met Jo.

I sent off a Facebook message just to kind of poke at why she was homesick, introduce myself, you know…all those random [creepy] things. Amazingly she actually replied to these message and a HUGE thread developed through Facebook messages. A few months later I walked into the Cat Snak [campus eatery] and saw this blonde haired woman, rocking out to sweats and a hoodie [like all good college athletes], sitting by herself. I recognized her from work; this person was Jo. I stepped up, attempted to swallow my pride, and formally introduced myself. She smiled, laughed, greeted me [awesome accent], and then I got nervous and excused myself to do something ‘important’.

As the dark months of winter progressed I was still reeling from the pain of being dumped. Jo went back home for break, and for hours as the snow would fall back here, I would talk to her through IM and just Facebook messages. I was broken, complaining, and throwing stupidly huge pity-party’s. How she tolerated them [some she didn’t] I’ll never know. For Christmas that year I had to travel south to see my ailing grandfather. On Christmas Eve my Motorola Razr [don’t hate] went off with a text. Who would text me? I have no friends talk to me. The phone number 14 digits long and read, “Merry Christmas!”. It was from Jo, seven time zones away. Another form of communication was opened up that day; cell phones. Amazingly I was not charged extra for those messages. She kept with me while I had the flu that month, my grandfather passed away that month, a blizzard hit that month; December 2007 was rough. She never left my side.

That was four years ago, almost to the day.

Five cell phone and two college graduations later; in many way’s we are inseparable. Even the Atlantic has a problem working against us. We make long distance work, for the most part. We have a very unique friendship, for years I’d stand on the sidelines of soccer matches and just yell, “GO JO!” whether it be on campus, or during away games. She was alone out here, I wanted to be her #1 fan. In turn she listened and tolerated [with some crazy peace] with all my frustrations with relationships. She’d help me with biology and I’d help her with theological study classes. We utilize each other. Most importantly though; we walked.

That is our thing. Since college, we would start walking and talking about everything. Miles later we’d realize it was 1:00am, I was covered in sweat [out of shape], and we’d start our journey back. It was our ‘thing’. It even created some serious conflict [that I learned about much later]. One of the best moments was the night before my wedding. My ex-wife had agreed to let Jo stand as part of my wedding party for the wedding. I was stoked. The night before the wedding, I’m losing my mind because I’m so insanely nervous, I just looked at Jo and said, “Can we go?”

At midnight, the summer heat of June, I found myself walking with my best friend through the hills of an area near a large lake. We talked about the houses, our lives, graduating college, and what the future held. Finally, I looked at her and said, “I’m terrified.” Through broken English [but much better, when I first met her, I couldn’t even get through some of her typed messages], she replied, “You’re fine. This time you get to be happy.”

As this site has pointed towards several times, my ex-wife left me from frustration and the allegations that I cheated on her. She accused Jo of being that person. It turns out that my ex-wife had a serious issue with Jo. I had informed her from the very, very beginning that Jo was my dear friend, one of a very small number of people that have not left my side through some rather horrible ordeals, and I pleaded with her to respect that. She didn’t. She felt threatened by Jo, even though we double dated on a few occasions, and I had a ‘open-book’ policy to my phone, laptop, everything…it wasn’t enough.

Even you, the reader, may be struggling with the justification of this friendship. I’ve had some people tell me, “You shouldn’t be around such a drunk.” [the naive association of a individual drinking their life away], others assumed that I did cheat on my ex-wife with Jo, truthfully; they are some serious ‘haters’ out there.

Let me ask those people this…

Where were you when my world was crumbling to pieces?

Because she was standing by my side.

We don’t agree on everything, and we do get into arguments, and some days we do scratch our heads, wondering if the other was dropped as a child. That’s the expectations and realizations of a friendship.

Current rumors have Jo coming for a visit in January. Don’t for a moment think that I’m not slightly excited about this. It’s the first time I’ll get to see Jo since the divorce [needless to say, she was irate with that moment as well, especially her being one of the focal points of the whole incident].

It definitely must be noted that Jo, while not the ultimate answer for the worlds problems, is hands down one of the biggest blessings my life has ever experienced. It’s those chosen few that you have the opportunity to latch on to, and pray endlessly that you’ll never have to let go of.

…her text message this morning at 5:00am is actually the reason I’m still awake…[I wouldn’t want it any other way]

-D-