God’s Tracks and Trails

I fear that I as I head back to school for another exciting school year, many people are going to inquire as to what I did with my three month. The fear derives from the reality that my answer will be rather…basic?

I ran. A lot.

Knowing that within the next few days I’ll be reporting back to school has given me an opportunity to do a mental recap over the summer, and truth be told, without shame, this summer really did revolve around running. I logged a lot of miles in the few months apart from the school year.

While some were difficult, emotional, and challenging, some, such as the experience I had this weekend, were soul fulfilling.

I’ve struggled for recent months (in some cases years) with the current condition of the Church that flies its banner within the political confines of the country that I exist in. Truthfully, the concept and questioning has come to a head over the past several weeks. Notably it’s been stated that running really can provide an amazing opportunity to experience worship. That may sound strange to those who hate running, but to those who lace up frequently, I feel that, that knowledge maybe understood.

Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to stretch out my mileage with some amazing friends early on in the morning hours. Originally I chalked up as just another run, and another chance to log mileage for myself.

What I, shamefully, hadn’t planned on was the experience with God through the miles of wilderness.


Imagine having to take the first mile in stride, seeing only a few feet before due to limitation of dawn’s light. Through mile two and three you begin to coexist with reality for the day. The sky has lightened, life has returned, and you are merely another creature moving about the planet. No talking, no noise, just the idle, repetitive footsteps through God’s terrain. Miles four through six show the ultimate event horizon, where your existence blends into the dirt that you’re attempting to cover. The overhead rocks show your small stature in the world outside of man, and the gentle breeze reminds you of how much you are loved. The final miles bring about celebration! A mix of adrenaline and grace streams through your presence; you recognize how small you really are, and yet how important your life truly is. Finishing eight miles in the woods on a random Saturday morning was not just about logging the required mileage. It was about the opportunity to reconnect to a place, to an entity bigger than ourselves.


So, when people ask what I did this summer. I’ll think back to my random journey’s through the woods and I’ll smile and simply say…

I worshipped. A lot.


XXXI: Ultras

I wanted to be fast.
I wanted to win.
I wanted to prove everyone wrong.
I wanted to prove myself wrong.
I accomplished none of these things.

Try to imagine this strange complex (some of you may be able to relate). You love a specific sport, soccer, football, baseball, etc…it is your life, it is your desire, it is something you dream about. There is just something about the event that just drives you. You play, participate, practice, train, etc…However, when the day ends, you are still too short, too big, too slow, or you just don’t ‘have what it takes’.

How do you accept that reality? Do you quit? Do you keep going? What is your exit plan when your dreams don’t always pan out the way you envisioned them?

For about a month, almost two months, that has been the life I have been living when it comes to running. I love running. I love everything about it. I train, I run, I eat well, I practice with others, and I run races. I just love to run. However, in a world full of statistics it turns out that passion doesn’t always equal results.

To be honest; I’m 6’5 and around 250 pounds. Overall I am just a big guy that towers over other people. There was not a lot of biomechanics that came with this physical package. Where MC and many other family members thrived in athletics; I looked good, but when push came to shove, I fell down. A lot.

I needed a change up. I didn’t want to vacate running because I still love the sport. However, I could slowly but surely feel the burnout growing within my own heart. I was growing tired of lining up for a local 5K race, running the race, and finding similar results. This year alone I’ve finished 4th in my age group in four different races. The ‘click’ just isn’t there, and now I’m starting to accept that reality.

Praise God for random strangers, stupid ideas, and foolish attempts.

Several weeks ago I wrote about making friends, trying out speed running sessions with random strangers, and even my involvement of being on a city running team for a local business. I needed all of those things, desperately. They were all the slight pushes I needed to move away from what was comfortable, but not fulfilling, and into something extremely uncomfortable yet incredibly fun.

Trail racing.

This is running on trails that are designed really for mountain bikes. A lot of rocks, roots, dirt, and the such. I’ve been out a few times, and each time I come back loving it that much more. Partly because of the technical challenge, partly because trail running people are a very special, close-knit group. Also, the distances for the races are a little different compared to standard 5K. They range from 7 miles to 20 miles to 50 miles to 100 miles, and everything inbetween.

I needed this. Road running was just becoming stressful, frustrating, and the love was really lacking. This is new, refreshing, and at the level of insanity that I’m comfortable with.

Because of all of this I’ve joined up as a volunteer for construction projects on our local trails (AKA: more friends), I run with a specific group each Monday (AKA: more friends), and of course our running team comprises of several trail runners (AKA: more friends).


Flyover Trail Racing (I have no idea what I’m going to do with this)

This has also allowed me to experiment with design and concepts for logos, brands, and marketing. I launched (for fun) a Facebook page, blog, and Twitter account really recapping my experiences in this new sport.

Personally, and this is not something I would have predicted, it is the support that is best part of this transition. These crazies all enjoy doing foolish things on the trails, and they don’t make excuses about it. I don’t have to go to races alone, I don’t have to talk to myself about my adventures, I now have a group of people that are all just as unstable.

I consider that quite the blessing.

Here’s to the ultrarunners. You untable, insane, awesome group of people that I can call my friends.


XXXI: My Declaration

I’m sitting in my basement. The sun is shining through two windows and the blinds are currently drawn on the patio doors adjacent to this entertainment room. Above I can hear our two cats wrestling with each other in the living room. The laundry is caught up, washed, dried, and put away. We’re working on a way to correct our frame for our new bed so that our cats will not destroy our box springs (again). The kitchen is calm, dishes are washed, and I’m thinking of cooking ribs tonight for dinner. I washed my truck for the first time in six year. Darco’s tomato plant is growing, and our new landscaping in the front yard looks great thanks to my wife’s hard work. Her dress is currently drying in the summer breeze out on our porch looking over our backyard. We just learned that my wife will be receiving another ‘promotion’ within her company in the next six months. Granted, if I gave details she would be all bitter towards me for sure.

Later today, time permitting, Darco and I will drive six miles down the road and explore the trails that surround the lake that we live next to. Tonight Darco and I will attend Bible study with a group of people that are relatively close to our age. We’ll laugh, study, and talk about our positions in life and what we think God is directing us towards. In a few days MC and Jim will come to our house and we’ll watch the fireworks display that is being set off only two miles away from our neighborhood. Tomorrow morning I’ll run from our house, across the dam of our local lake, into the small downtown of our town. I’ll grab a cup of coffee, eat a cinnamon roll, and then run back to our house. Afterwards I’ll meet MC and Jim and we’ll depart to the city 15 miles south of our neighborhood. We’ll ride the streetcar, shop through the open air river market, and explore antique stores through the city’s old industrial sector referred to as the West Bottoms.


Between the founding concept of this website and the world currently outside my front door, negativity is something that plagues the world around me. Someone is upset, offended, hurt, or dead it seems every minute (maybe even more). Social media tends to be toxic with people arguing over what is right and what is wrong.

This world is a shockingly hard place to live in.

If I get wrapped up in what is so wrong with the reality around me I’ll miss the blessings that have already seen set before me. The truth is God is good and has blessed me tenfold in the past five years. I have a loving wife, a pretty entertaining job, and I live somewhere that I would have only imagined living in, in my own wandering dreams. I have central air conditioning…and tile floors…and a garage! God has given me more than I should ever deserve. Biblically speaking I only deserve death, so there’s that. I’m only curious, and this is solely directed towards the ‘Christians’ of the world. Whatever happened to us giving praise for the life we have? The enjoyment that we should never have had in the beginning? It is so easy to rely on God when the chips are down, but what about the other moments.

One of my objectives since 2011 was to experience life to its fullest. That included a crazy marriage, moving, and many different jobs. However, guess what, God has stayed faithful through every single moment of my life. He never left me, never forsake me, never gave up on me. He ‘s still right here, and I can’t express how comforting that is.

Let’s be real; I’m a divorced Christian that remarried to a woman who wasn’t even a Christian when we first met. I watch anime from Japan, teach middle school students, enjoy tattoos, running, and electronic dance music. Sometime during the year my beard is dyed different colors, and sometimes I even wear headbands when my hair is getting long. There is nothing, I pray, nothing about my life that fits the criteria of being a ‘Christian’ in today’s society.

Even thinking back to the days of youth church camps, mission trips, etc…there always seemed this unspoken urge to be sad, broken, or devastated about this, that, or the other. Don’t get me wrong, Paul, David, John, Job, and many others all tore their clothes for the sorrows of their own life’s and that of others. However, they also danced, rejoiced, and praised the high points of life.

I don’t think God expects us to be stoic.

I think God expects us to live a life worth living, and to reflect back knowing that we gave it our all and we had a blast along the way.

I will declare my happiness, my joy, and my peace at this moment in my own life. Darco and I are blessed, and I firmly believe that as a Christian couple it is our responsibility to not only seek God throughout our days, but also to give Him praise when life turns out in ways we could never dream of happening.

We’re praising. We’re blessed. God is good.


Mobile Minutes: Rubber Bands

Here I am, two hundred miles from home, a race at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Primarily hills.

I went to warm up on a light mile this evening. Halfway through, heading up a hill, all I felt was a ‘pop!’ in my left calf.

I was done.

So, two hundred miles from home I’m trying to figure out how to keep my body together for 3.1 miles tomorrow morning.

Words can’t even express how absolutely upset I am at this moment.


XXXI: Prayers of Laughter

We’re laughing in the middle of a prayer; God is going to be so mad at us…

Here’s the truth: Darco and I struggle to come to a middle ground when it comes to church. I struggle with music, but love deep, theological ideas through a sermon. She enjoys music…and people. Needless to say, we’re not exactly on equal terms, but we’re trying.

In recent adventures, through way of Google Maps and Facebook, we found a church near our house that had a young adult group that met every Monday night. We had come to the understanding, and both of us agree, that one of our struggles is not being around people our age. Not the people that are currently having kids (no offense), but the ones that are starting their adult lives, not rushing into families, and trying to make an impression on the world before being whisked away in the world of…family.

That’s when, while visiting this small church, we learned of the small group of young adults that met each Friday night at the leaders apartment a few miles away from where we reside. Last Friday, against all social fears that I could dream up, Darco and I traveled to this strange little apartment to be surrounded by a handful of people…that we’d never met, and that we knew absolutely nothing about.

The group was inviting, relaxed, chilled, and…wait for it…focused on humor, relationships, and faith. There was a quick devotion, some time for singing, and just talking about the real, unique problems that face people our age. Interestingly enough Darco and I are the only married people in the group. That’s an interesting perspective that I never thought I’d witness.

It was warm, comfortable, and inviting. Honestly, it was exactly what Darco and I had been searching for. There were people from India, South Korea, California, Missouri, Kansas, etc…fascinatingly diverse, but still unified on the same grounds of concept; faith, Christ, God, love. Even more awesome to me was the fact that not all the people there attended the same church. Some attended the small church we originally visited, some from a church near my school, and others from throughout the city. They came from all walks of life, and were respected for the unique quirks, concepts, and ideas.

Doctrine wasn’t discussed; only exactly what the Bible had to say and the encouragement to do better, dive deeper, grow stronger as  Christian and to rely on one another. It was so mesmerizing that Darco and I inadvertantly were there for nearly three hours last Friday night.

It was so fascinating that we decided to go again last night. Again, challenged to actually read the Bible, listening to people confess their shortfalls was so humbling to witness, and to know that people supported and prayed for one another was just jaw-dropping. It was basic and simple; it was something that I was extremely comfortable with. I was able to speak thoughts with this group, to listen, and to discover more about all of these people that are so seemingly close to same point in their lives as myself.

Consider it a blessing; I know that I do. It’s incredible that on Sunday nights I can witness the maturity of people and families that are established that we spend time with. On Friday nights it’s comforting being around believers that understand the similarities that each other are going through within the age establishment of the group.

Finally, it is the overcoming sensation of speaking to random strangers. I’m not one to enjoy heading out, being with groups, and talking about faith. That’s a rather stressful point of conversation I’ve learned over the years. However, there is something that can click within the individual to where a suppressed sensation of “this is safe, take a chance” becomes apparent. I consider this small blessing a large victory. It has been nearly nine years since multiple days throughout the week involved multiple groups of people. Again, I consider this gain. The temptation is be quiet, isolated, and individualized…the truth is that I need the fellowship, the wisdom, and the support of those around me.

Overcoming so frequently can become eventual blessings.


XXXI: Failed Institution


Written in a form coinciding with political ideologies and humanities lack of conviction; I type this with sorrowful hands, a trembling heart, and a burning soul.

The institution has failed.

Perhaps one of the more polarizing pieces of publication written in the past five years churns alive on the screen. Trying to appropriately find the justification and words to transcribe the flowing thought of organic opinions is a struggle in these lazy hours of life. However, the truth needs to be shared with the public. The reality is that the institution has failed.

What is the institution? It isn’t a government, a system, agency or even a group of people. It’s a thought process, it’s a standard, it’s a form that has been recycled over the years in repetition without qualm of the people. Now, the cracks are showing, the people are vacating, and true images and colors are being displayed.

The institution…is the Church.

The institution has failed.
The Church has failed.
We have failed.

It’s troubling and nearly feeling sacrilegious in typing such troubling words. But, what else do you do when your heart breaks? When your soul is crushed? When the idea of love disappears, replaced with jealousy, rage, and hypocrisy? The truth is, the largest population in the land that I call home has left church…and they’re currently of no interest in returning.

Why are we ignoring this reality? I can walk into nearly any church today and get my fix of guitars, pianos, organs, and choirs. I can hear redemption, education, “three points and a poem”, and walk out the door. If this new generation doesn’t enjoy the comfort of fast food, why would they settle for the same of their spiritual guidance?

I’ve been in church of some sort since I was seven years old; I even went to a Christian affiliated university. I took courses on theology, studied my brain out of history of Christianity, argued nearly every denomination, and finally obtained degrees mixing sociology with a global faith. Yes, I am the person that sounds the bells when I see the failures of our past and our present. Out of twelve people inside a core youth group I was apart of when in high school, only two are currently active in their church (we’re all adults now). That was from a church in a town of 1200. What happened to the rest? Why did they stop, and why are we not going after them?

Currently, as reported by the Pew Research Center, Christians within my own homeland have decreased by nearly 10%. Much of this is being attributed to the Millennial generation not going to church, not seeing its importance, and not necessarily being reached.

From the person who struggles to step into the building each Sunday; it isn’t because of politics, it isn’t because of ease of access, it isn’t because of lack of coffee shops, it’s the struggle of feeling wanted, needed, and reminded that our objective it to rely on God and change the world.

That is my personal conviction, my sin if it’d gloss over the image a bit better. I can’t get enough of God. He guides me, He loves me, and man He takes care of me when I continue to screw up as some awful, trashy piece of human that I am. He picks me up, He cares for me, and He reminds me that I’m worth it.

The Church no longer does.

Can you imagine the strange sensation of being attached to your Father, knowing that God is the way, the truth, the life, the…everything. At the same time, nearly in a split personality, the idea of congregating with other people to hear about the political spectrum, reused candid terminology that establishes Christians similar to corporate jargon, and to repeat it weekly…really, what’s the point?

Yes, you cannot grow in your faith without the construct of the Church body (check out 1 Corinthians for a glimpse of that reality), but are we growing when we do arrive? That’s not just a corporate question, but a personal one.

I have seen cities created, societies manipulated, and hope delivered to millions. I’ve witnessed advancements in health and technology, assisting the people of this world. I’ve seen economies grow and cultures thrive. Now, why are the current leaders of those magnificent concepts no longer a part of the body of Christ? Why do we ignore the elephant in the room, and turn a blind eye to the fact that below our Sunday School/Small Group classes of 30-40 year olds; below that…it gets rather sparse in population.

I caution the Church. If you do not invest in the current fleeing generation, they will make no attempt to return. Additionally, understand that a return isn’t about their number in your box at your church; it’s about the return of understanding God’s love.

Perhaps we’re just a little too focused on us.
Perhaps we’re just a little out of touch.
Perhaps our arrogance has been called by the largest population on this planet.

We have nothing to show for these realizations except the opportunity to apologize, to ask for forgiveness, and to go forward and continue to reach this beautifully flawed world.