Beyond Myself

A week ago I was outside in the early fall weather, watching people defy the odds of humanity. Many were running between 50 and 100 miles in one setting. This is indeed the strange life of trail running. I had volunteered to work at an aid station over the course of six hours, but that was partly due to wanting to watch people that I run with throughout the week, complete these insane adventures.


I am a jealous person. In many ways I qualify myself as “the world’s worst Christian” because of my thought process throughout the day. I am a messed up, poorly constructed individual who has a knack for being envious at people who go above and beyond what I could ever consider as ‘possible’. In many instances I have completely avoided contact with people after their grand accomplishments solely out of spite.

Yes, I can confess to you that I am that petty of a person.

It is awful. Along with the usual bouts of anger, hostility, etc…the jealousy aspect of my own life is truly a disgusting creature to deal with. It has assisted in ensuring that I am alienated from other people, it has helped in constantly coming off as an arrogant human, and in many ways it has aided in ensuring that I blend in with the modern Church.

That is why trail running is so, so important to me now. I watch people, friends, complete tasks that I know I never can. I saw a friend run by five times to complete 100 miles in less than 24 hours. Understand, they were running 100 miles in less than 24 hours. I saw another friend compete her first 100 through what I am assuming was gut-wrenching pain in her feet. I was able to congratulate one of the coolest ladies ever on her first marathon race on trail, leading up to her first 50K in October. I was fortunate enough to see someone who struggled with injury at a race in July, power through a 50 mile race this past weekend.

I am not jealous. I am in awe.

The truth is this: I have typed before about the unique situation of blending faith with fitness and what running has done not only for my physical life, but also my spiritual life. However, instead of it being an immediate fix, a quick hit of something intoxicating, this reality continues to linger as if it is a real thing. I have friends. Not friends of my wife, not people from church, not people from my childhood, not people with some past connection with me. These are true, 100% original friends that I have run into solely from running. Anyone ever reading this website knows what it means for me to report the idea…the notion…the belief that I have friends. That reality, that truth has led me to tears on multiple occasions. As a person who lives with his flaws on his shoulders, knowing that God has no excuse to bless him with anything; to have friends…that is an unspeakable grace that I do not know how to comprehend.

They are motivating. They are caring. They are kind. They are loving. I live for each passing week because it is another opportunity to be around people that causes me to want to be a better person. I am not jealous of them, their lives, or their abilities. I am humbled because they are so far above and beyond what I could even be, both on the trails and in real life.

It is as if, even after ten weeks of doing this, I just want to pen a letter to each one them; thanking them for allowing me an opportunity to be myself, to be a ‘terrible Christian’, to follow them, and to still be loved.

I am a jealous person. I deal with envy in the most horrible of ways. I am the ‘world’s worst Christian’. Right now though, in this split second of time, I feel wanted. I am beginning to see what I have missed out on throughout life because of my own failures of demonstrating grace.

I have happiness.

I have friends.

I have love.


XXXI: First Batch

Teaching is hard.

I have made so many mistakes.
I have created so many stressful situations.
I have said so many incorrect things.

Teaching is hard.

I was fortunate enough to go on a field trip with some of our students today. This landed me in an amusement park from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM on possibly one of the most gorgeous days of the year. However, as it turns out, we were not the only school inside the park on this day.

After releasing our students I sat at a table for 45 minutes; that was my job for the morning in the event something happened to one of our darlings. Nearing the end of my shift a man sat down at the next table. His shirt was blue and read the follow…

East Buchanan Bulldogs

I knew this man! He was the assistant basketball coach while I was in high school. I sat down next to him, incredibly he remembered my name after ten years, and we started talking. I learned that two individuals I graduated with from high school now teach 7th grade students in the middle school we grew up in. I found them all in the park today. The man I compared notes; I suppose like teachers do. We talked about expansion, testing, demographics, and just how times have changed.

Man, times have changed.

After speaking with him for a few minutes I wandered the park. I road five roller coasters, overcame my previous fear of going upside down, ate three cheeseburgers, and thanks to the air from the coasters, my beard is extremely ‘poofy’ this evening.

School ends next Friday.

Heading home this evening I watched my students. They were my students this year. I had to be responsible for instructing them about the social sciences for nine months. I attended countless meetings, several observations, training sessions, and many sleepless nights. I learned new languages, discovered different cultures, and researched just about everything I could think up about these strange 12-13 year old children.

Today is started to settle in that after next week…they’re gone. Now I do sound like a true teacher. Even though I gained wrinkles, lost weight and sleep, and they frustrated me to no end on several weeks; my kids are leaving*.

This is the part of teaching they try to warn you about, but you refuse to listen. You will be heartbroken when you realize that your students are growing up and they are no longer yours. From the selfish perspective that is a really hard pill to swallow.

Besides, they’re just going to 8th grade. They will all just be a hall below me next year. It is an easy thing to think until after the trip today I found an 8th grader standing by themselves, alone, waiting for their ride to pick them up. They were one of my cross country runners and they were one of the first students I met, when they were in 6th grade and I was a new substitute in the building. We spoke about their attitude, their brain, and the fact that they have such a bright future. What I didn’t realize, in such pathetic nature, was that my voice started cracking when I started talking about their future.

I already know that I struggle talking and interacting with my peers. It is so, so much easier to communicate with students. However, those students are leaving. and even though I get a new batch next year, that realization is so saddening.

Today was a hard day for me. I thought I was ready for the summer, I thought my mental countdown placed me in with all the teachers in the state, but at second glance…I want to be selfish. I want to hold onto my kids. I want to watch them grow and I want to be there to guide them. Is that the wrong thing to think in the month of May?

Tomorrow, in my classroom, will be the last ‘in class’ day as next week consists of field day, field trips, career day, assembly events, etc…This means that at 3:00 PM my normal class schedule is done for my first year of teaching.

In the normal, adult working world my brain couldn’t handle the day-to-day activities.
In the strange, student-centric world of education my heart is really struggling to the handle the realization of the end.

Is that fair for a first year teacher to say?

Teaching is hard.

I have learned so many new faces.
I have created so many relationships.
I haven’t said enough to show that I love my kids.

Teaching is hard.


*I’m going to be an emotional mess when I’m a parent.

XXXI: Hang Up & Talk

Growing up in a digital age, I can’t believe that even I’m to the point of disconnecting from our own, manmade cyber world.

Perhaps I’m the youngest one in this age,
The idea of hanging up, putting away the prepay
Unwinding fingertips crippled by chronic keyboards,
Typing away each final breath.

Maybe I’m alone,
This new advocacy for self-help in a digital plain,
Deleted, rewriting, and disconnecting ones image,
Easing away the physical pain

I ponder the amount of dates gone by,
Talking to him across tabletops,
Screens rolling past his vacant eyes,

How many times has he whispered to her,
In the midnights twilight,
Understanding she heard nothing,
Except the comedy routine from YouTube’s limelight

Twisted, dark deceptive life
Full of zeros and ones,
A binary cry,
Calculated cost of communication cut short,
We cut the cord,
But we never hung up

Curious cursors cruise across screens,
Imaging imaginary ideas,
Reality no longer desirable,
Photoshop, ragtag pieces of former cut, cropped, cropped tops,
Litter to the mind

Days erased and night now rotten,
Glassy eyed empty souls,
Twisted membranes of cellular display,
Underline the world lost,
The love forgotten.

Unplug the warped reality,
A cyber crime unwinding in the minds eye,
Take up a natural life,
Block out the screen,
Turn off the lie.


XXXI:Taste & See

It’s all because of Facebook and its memory feature. It, in some ways, can be that painstaking reminder of the life that you left and the life that you’ve currently chosen to live.

Curious of the random image from five years ago that came across my social feed; Darco and I dived deeper into the world of a time when we didn’t know one another. Through the past posts of five, ten years went by. Resulting in at least one prior post on this day from FilingThePapers.

The story revolves around one of my journey’s with Subway. I traveled deep into the southern part of our region. I went back into the town that I called home during college and enjoyed sushi for the first time since my divorce earlier that year. There’s so much to be thankful for, as illustrated in the post.

However the writing of the past doesn’t even compare to the undeserving manner that my soul currently resides in; in this strange euphoric realm that allegedly is referred to as ‘life’.

As strange as it sounds, I try earnestly to forget the world that once was. I purposefully try to forget about people, events, actions of the past in hopes of allowing scars to become hidden. I love waking up in the morning, forgetting that I’m divorced, that I had a life before this one. I’m not sure if that’s the Christ-like attitude to have, but the present is so much clearer, wonderful, and truth-be-told it’s so, so much sweeter.

I wrote in that post, from four years ago, a simple verse that I recalled at the time of biting into the most emotional piece of sushi ever…

Taste and see that the Lord is good…
-Psalm 34:8

Jobs have come and gone, apartments have disappeared with friendships, and lifelong connections have grown like the licking flames in this evening’s fireplace.

I have tasted.

He is so good.

Darco and I sat on our living room couch tonight, staring at our fireplace while the cats laid in front of the mantel. Toasty, warm, and safe. It was one of those moments where words weren’t even required, because everyone was at peace within the house. Last night Darco and I spoke more about the fact that there’s nothing deserving in the lives of ourselves that should allow us to be in this house. There’s no reason that we should enjoy a fireplace at night and the country sun during the morning. She shouldn’t have an amazing job that she loves in the coffee shop, and I shouldn’t be able to enjoy walking into a classroom every day.

Too many times we stare into each other’s eyes wondering whose lives we’ve taken over. I was alone and she was lost; how did we come to this moment?

There’s no equation, logic, or solid answer. It’s only God. How on earth could I stand before the multitudes and foolishly try to answer with any other key? How could I state that my hard work has equalled this moment of tranquility? I can’t!

Whether it’s sushi from four years ago, or a fireplace tonight, I will never be able to express how glorious my God truly is.



XXXI: Broken Judgemental Hearts

Tonight, with the internet finally running, I was planning on giving some details into the moving process that Darco and I just went through over the past week. However, something took place this evening that gripped my heart to the point that even the joys of moving cannot trump such an event.

I am an awkward individual. How I walk, talk, and even write, so please bare with me if something just seems…well…awkward.

This is new territory for me.

Darco and I were visiting with a family member of whom we love dearly. It’d be months since we had seen them, and Darco took some time to ensure that they saw our new living arrangement. When I got home from work (and later running), we chatted, ate, and just had a fun time sharing stories of the oddities that we conclude are indeed our lives.

Towards the end of the evening, they began to prepare to leave. It was about that time that Darco looked at them, and simply asked, “Well, aren’t you going to tell him?” I, stuffing myself with food, was curious as to what the conversation was about. I noted that they were holding a artistic illustration of a name that I assumed was associated with them.

They started to giggle.
They started to avoid.
They stated, “He’ll make fun of me”.
They said, “He won’t like it”.

It was about that time, thank you education world, that I started putting the pieces together. Our loved one is holding onto a drawing of someone’s specific name. They’re laughing, making comments such as, “But, we’re not yet, so I can’t say it…”

That’s when something came out along the lines of, “She’s not my girlfriend…officially…yet.”

In one unique way, or another…a child (younger than me) who I love dearly, frankly (to put into awkward, politically correct terminology) came out of the closet tonight.

My heart shattered.

Not because of the desire of the wanted love, relationship, etc…
Not because I was so disappointed in their “LIFE CHOICES”…

Because they were afraid of my reaction.
Because, somewhere, they were afraid of judgement.
Because I go to church. Because I’m the Christian. Because somewhere, somehow there’s this disillusion that I’m inherently going to condemn anyone who is gay, anyone who is a Democrat, anyone who votes wrong, anyone…well…period.

I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m spiteful.

That reaction, that reaction is exactly why I struggled in college. I didn’t want to be grouped, I didn’t want to be identified as “judgemental”. I look at Christ and the only judgement I see from Him tends to be towards religious hypocrites. If I’m to be Christ-like then how on earth could I justify that kind of condemnation towards a soul that I love dearly?

It makes no sense.

It’s an everyday reality.

This is what makes my blood boil. When Christian’s cause more damage for God’s kingdom compared to the glory that we’re to bring God. It makes me angry, a righteous zeal towards the religious elite. These are those moments when I’m happy that I’m divorced, that I’m a failure, that I’ve caused so much pain for my God. Because I’m able to look at the rest of the world and realize there isn’t a inch of my body that could justifiably be placed higher than any other human.

My life is forced humility. How could I dare bring myself to judge? What has that young child witnessed that’d cause them to ‘joke’ about being looked at differently because of a choice they’ve made? Where does it say Jesus would do that?!?! Where would it say my loving, caring Father would treat His own in that nature!?!?

Show me in the red text.
Show me the verse.
Show me where my God gave up.
Show me when my Savior told me to condemn those who are looking for hope.

Until I see that…
Until I hear His voice saying that…

I will love those closest to me. I will care for those who fear the rejection. I will house the lost.

I. Was. No. Different.


Mobile Minutes: Odd Flavors of Dreams

I just woke up. I had been asleep solid for six hours, that’s pretty good in my book.

Being trapped in a nightmare the whole time? Not so much.

Of all random dreams; one’s involving an ex-wife are just strange in today’s world.

Being on some mission trip with one and their spouse? Even stranger.

That was my nightmare. Along with being told by the spouse why I need to forgive, accept responsibility, and move forward in life.

You know the best part of that nightmare? Selfishly? Darco was in that nightmare, and she was gorgeous.

Waking up to her silent, sleepy body has never felt so nice.

I’m going back to bed now.