Cardboard Testimonials

This past Sunday, as part of the ongoing capital campaign, our church did “Cardboard Testimonials.” This is the 2nd time we’ve done them since we’ve been attending. This was also the 2nd time I’d been asked to participate. The last time was about 6 years ago, and I was still trying to figure out my place inside the walls of the church.  We were new members, new to the mens group, and still trying to connect. It was easy for me to see what message I needed to put out there, and what was on my heart. This time around was much different. We’ve been involved in just about every part of the church imaginable, know just about everybody, and have settled into our roles inside the walls.

When I was asked to do it, I didn’t really hesitate, I thought it would be so easy to put how crappy my life was on one side, and how great it is now on the other. As I spent the week thinking, and praying about it, I quickly realized I’ve had a pretty easy life. Sure, I’ve lost aunts, and uncles, grandparents, and a few friends, but I’ve not had to deal with anything like so many people have had too.

I kept going back to a 6 month period in my life that was truly the most difficult time for me ever. It was June of 2006, I was an Asst Mgr at Walmart. I had it all figured out, I was on the fast track to get promoted and take over the world. It all came crashing down on me June 8th, our 4 year wedding anniversary. I got the phone call that my job had been eliminated, we’d be getting severance packages, and we’d discuss it the next day when I went in. I was furious, what was I going to do, how was I going to survive without Walmart? Keep in mind at this point in our lives, we weren’t regulars at church, I worked almost every Sunday, so it was OK, I had a reason to not be there. I think for the first time in my life I truly hated God. I had lost all hope of a future. Little did I know that it would all work out, I quickly found another job, but it wasn’t the same. I was low man on the totem pole again. I was starting all over. It did free up Sundays though, and we started attending First Church again. It took 6 months for me to see that there was reasoning behind this happening. There was a plan laid out for me, I just had to follow it.

On Sunday, I was in the back of the line, so I didn’t get to read many of the testimonies that were in front of me. I just saw the looks, and tears on peoples faces when I stood there in front of 500 people holding a sign saying that I hated God because I lost a job, and that it took me a while to realize that it was a good thing, I’m back in church, and now have a better relationship with him. The thing I came to realize most though was that my little job setback is nothing compared to what others have had to endure. There were signs about people my age with cancer, lost children, drug addiction, abuse, etc. The fact that those people have overcome their issues and are here today to talk about it is amazing to me. We did it on Sunday to show how much God has blessed us, but what I saw was that I was blessed before I lost my job, and am more blessed now. I saw that the trials I’ve had are nothing compared to the trials others have endured. I saw that no matter how awful you think you have it, somebody else has it worse than you. I was doing it to show the congregation that we all have troubles, but I ended up finding out that my troubles are trivial and I’m blessed beyond words. I have a great wife, family, friends, church, and job. I have so many people I can lean on when I need it.

It just took standing in front of 500 people complaining about losing a job to realize it.

2013 in Review

I had some lofty goals in 2013, run the Hogeye Half, complete the Tough Mudder in Dallas, and lose 25 lbs. I completed 2 of the 3 and bailed on the 3rd to go to NYC instead. Here’s an overview of 2013!

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Disney World in January

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Hogeye in March

 

 

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These pictures were taken a year apart, Easter 2012, the first day I started running and April 2013 1 year of running and maing myself better.

 

 

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Color Run Tulsa in April

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Pig Trail Mud Run in June, busted knee and all. This one required xrays!

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Star Wars night at Arvest on our anniversary.

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Cancer Challenge 10K and 5K.

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Times Square in NYC

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Michael Symon at The Chew

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5th Ave Mile in NYC

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With Jeff Long at the Rutgers game.

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Steak at Les Halles

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At our hotel getting ready for a night out in NYC.

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Chilie Pepper Festival 10K got moved to a 5K because it was a little stormy.

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2nd in my age group at the Jingle Bell Jog.

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Turkey Trot with Seth.

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Merry Christmas.

2013 was pretty successful I guess. I ran a bunch, not as much as I wanted, but still a bunch. We lost our buddy Morgan. We got do do some cool traveling. Oh and I got promoted at work. 2014 will be new and exciting I’m sure. I’ve got 1 marathon, 3 half marathons already planned, and I’m sure more stuff will come along as the year goes on.

 

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Boston Marathon

I had planned on writing a blog post tonight about my experience yesterday running the Hogeye Half-Marathon. I had planned on talking about how awesome it was, how proud I was of myself, and how I can’t wait to do another one. That was my plan until the bombing in Boston happened.

I find myself feeling like I never have when a tragedy like this has happened. The fact that innocent people were killed and they  were there to support runners, family, and friends. I had a great group of supporters helping me get through the Hogeye. I don’t know what I would do if it had been one of them that this had happened to. All I can do at this point is pray for those affected by this tragedy.

In the days or weeks to come, I will write the post about my experience at the Hogeye.

Morgan

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Thursday we had to make the tough decision to put Morgan to sleep. We got Morgan shortly after buying our house in 2007. I’ll never forget the day Melonie picked him up. She sent me an email one night with a picture, and asked what I thought of this dog. I told her he was cute, but we already had Baxter and didn’t need another dog. She told me I was too late and she was picking him up in the morning. She picked him up at lunch the next day and he managed to get away from her and take off down the street. So imagine Melonie in her 6 inch heels chasing a brand new dog down the street.

I came home to find the sweetest dog I could have imagined. He would just sit there, wag his tail nonstop, and wait to be petted. Morgan definitely had more quirks than any other dog I’ve ever had. He loved to watch TV, hated car rides, and was terribly afraid of storms.

Its only been 2 days and I’ve struggled with it more than I thought I would. Thursday night it stormed and I didn’t even hear it until Melonie told me Friday morning. There hasn’t been a storm in 6 years that Morgan hasn’t head butted me, then jumped on top of me and laid on my chest until the storm was over. This morning I was flipping through the channels and Dogs 101 was on Animal Planet. That was 1 of his favorite shows to watch. I stopped instinctively like I have for the last 6 years. Each time a dog barked I could swear I heard him running into the living room and jumping at the tv. My Sunday morning routine will be completely different tomorrow as well. We always eat, then watch Too Cute on Animal Planet while Melonie is in the shower. We’ve done this every Sunday for years. Maybe Morgan was spoiled, or we’re just weird with our dogs, I’m not sure which, but it has been a very long 2 days. The house has been quiet, as Morgan was the one you could hear howling all the way at the end of the street when you left. You could also hear him as soon as you pulled in the driveway. Each time I’ve come home since I could swear I hear him howling at me.

I’m sure as time passes it will become much easier, I just didn’t think I could be this attached to a dog. Morgan is the first dog I’ve had to put to sleep since my dog Iggy when I was 16. I remember it being tough then, but Iggy was really sick and we knew he was going for a while. Morgan was fine just a week ago, and when the Vet said he needed surgery, I was sure that he’d be fine and I’d pick him up on Monday and we’d move on like normal.

It’s been really tough on Newton and Baxter too. Newton and Morgan were super buddies. Newton keeps going from room to room sniffing and looking for Morgan. Baxter today for the first time went looking for him. Newton and Baxter have never really gotten along great, and they’re trying to figure it out together now. I managed to get both of them sitting beside me earlier for the first time ever. Morgan was a great dog, who is missed immensely, we will never find another dog like him. If you got the privilege of meeting him, you understand what I mean. I’ve put a few of my favorite pictures of Morgan below from the last 6 years.

The day we brought Morgan home.Image

Morgans first ChristmasImage

 

Morgan hated costumes

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Morgan and Baxter

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Baxter and Morgan at Christmas, my favorite picture of Morgans attitude, just accepts Baxter.

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2013 Goals

I’ve always set New Year’s resolutions. They always fall apart by about January 3rd. This year I’m setting some realistic goals for myself. Lose 25 more lbs. Complete the Hogeye Half Marathon. Complete Tough Mudder in Dallas.

When I look back on 2012 it’s been pretty amazing. We spent 2 weeks overseas. I’ve lost almost 70lbs, and had to buy new clothes because of it. I’ve lost 3 inches around my neck, 6 inches in my waist, and I’ve gone from a 50R to a 40R in my jackets. I’ve run 4 5Ks. 2012 had its challenges as well, but those are under the bridge now.

I’m finally looking ahead for a new year not to put something behind me, but to look forward to something new, exciting, and challenging.

 

 

Running update

Fayetteville 5K 31:30.

Fayetteville 5K 31:30.

Turkey Trot in Siloam Srpings, 29:15.

Turkey Trot in Siloam Srpings, 29:15.

Run for the Grapes, Tontitown 32:00

Run for the Grapes, Tontitown 32:00

 

Here’s an update on my last 3 5K’s. My times have gotten better each run. I’m to the point now where it’s time to step up. So I’m going to do a half marathon in April. The Hogeye!

Italy, Germany, France

In September we got to travel a little bit in Europe. We went to Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Lichtenstein, France, and 5 hours in England. Here are a few pictures from the trip.

Brat in Heidelberg, Germany.

Brat in Heidelberg, Germany.

Bier in Lorrach

Bier in Lorrach

Amazing Brat in Lorrach.

Amazing Brat in Lorrach.

Meat and cheese tray at Funfschilling.

Meat and cheese tray at Funfschilling.

Beautiful vineyards in Riquewihr, France.

Beautiful vineyards in Riquewihr, France.

Amazing lunch in Riquewihr, France.

Amazing lunch in Riquewihr, France.

Macaroons in France.

Macaroons in France.

New wine in France.

New wine in France.

Eli was giving us rocks at our Vow renewal.

Eli was giving us rocks at our Vow renewal.

Vow renewal.

Vow renewal.

Cafe Decker in Stauffen, Germany.

Cafe Decker in Stauffen, Germany.

Cafe Decker.

Cafe Decker.

Duomo in Milan.

Duomo in Milan.

$100 grilled cheese sandwich.

$100 grilled cheese sandwich.

Lunch near the Rialto bridge.

Lunch near the Rialto bridge.

Bridge of Sighs, Venice

Bridge of Sighs, Venice

Venice

Venice

Rome

Rome

Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Shape

The sermon series for the fall has been called Shape. Today’s sermon was E for Experience, it hit me today with what some friends of ours have going on. David talked there being 2 versions of how you think God handles our lives. God is either a watch maker and set the world in motion and walked away, or he is a puppet master and pulls the strings on every move of every person in the universe. Most of us fall in the middle somewhere. I’ve always been a person who thinks that God has set us in motion, lets us have free will, but is always there to help us make the right decisions. He talked about how our experiences are like stepping stones and wether its a good experience or a bad one it has led you to be the person you are today. I know that I’ve made a bunch of “bad” choice in my life, they have however made me what I am. When I look back on them I see that if certain ones hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be where I am. I would have never met Melonie, moved to Fayetteville, met other people who are very important in my life.

We’ve got friends who have been on an experience roller coaster for a while now. They are in a position where they are about to make another milestone experience. It will change their lives forever.

I’m a guy who likes to fix things, if somebody has a problem, I just want to give them the solution. These milestone experiences can’t be “fixed” though. Its tough for me to sit back and watch people go through something and not be able to fix it.

I know that God has laid out a plan and that his plan will be carried out, but it would be much easier if I could just put some glue on it and it be done with. I want to tell them that one choice is the right choice and the one they need to make. I want to be selfish about it and do what is the better choice for me. I want to fix it the way I think it needs to be fixed.

Our experiences aren’t that simple though. We have to go through them and not understand most of them. God knows what he’s laid out for us.

I do believe God gives us signs for which experience we need to have. Yet another problem is discerning these signs. Does it mean this or that, should we go this way or that way? Now they have to decide if recent events are a sign for a milestone experience, or just a normal everyday happening. The experiences you have will shape who you are, where you are, and where you’re going.

It’s been a tough day today thinking about all the experiences I’ve had in my life and how they’ve shaped me. Thinking about how our friends experiences will change them and their situation. All I can do is continue praying for them and hope that they’re able to discern what God has planned for them. I selfishly hope that God’s plan and mine are the same for them. Again I wish I could just simply give them a solution for their problems, and tell them what to do, but it’s in God’s hands.

I know this post is rambling, but I’ve been struggling with it today and needed to get it written down.

First 5K

ImageToday I tackled what I’ve been training for since Easter. I ran my first 5K. It was harder than I thought it would be, we’ve been running 2 miles with ease. I thought I would be able to just knock the last mile out. I was wrong. I got through mile 1 no problems, then I saw the mile 2 sign, it hit me, the big mental wall. My body told me that it was time to stop because 2 miles is where we stop. I tried fighting through it, but I was just stopped. If Vaden hadn’t been there to push me the last mile I wouldn’t have made it. My entire life I’ve played team sports, if you failed somebody else was always there to pick you up. In running it’s all you against the clock. I’m struggling with that, I’ve never had to break through the mental wall. I learned valuable lessons for my next 5K. I had set a goal of 36 minutes, but I finished in 39. I was really disappointed in myself at first, but I shouldn’t be. On Good Friday I couldn’t jog to the end of our street without wanting to die. Today I ran 3.1 miles.

After the race I started thinking about why I’m tackling this whole process. I don’t want to go be the fastest person out there. I don’t want to have the perfect runners body. I want to be able to, in 15 years, play with my kids and nephews, Camden and Jakob. I want to be the uncle that is able to still run with them at 45 years old. My Uncle Ugly died at 45 years old, when I think about that being only 14 years from now it hits me that everything I’m doing today will pay off in the future. I may never win a 5K, I may never finish in the top 10, I will do everything I can to make sure I see Jakob, Camden and my kids graduate, get married, and have kids. I’ll run another 5K soon, a 10K in the spring, and tough mudder next winter. I’ll run them for my family not for myself!

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Bucket List

I’ve never written a bucket list down, I’ve always had an idea of things I wanted to see and do though. After I crossed off the College World Series this past weekend I figured I should put something down on paper(well virtual paper) so here it is.

Hear Rob Bell in person.

Hear Rick Warren in person.

Travel Italy.

Travel Germany.

Travel England.

Travel Australia.

Travel Israel.

Travel to outer space.

Watch the Hogs play for a National football title.

Skydive.

Bungee jump.

Overdrive hole 9 at Northshore.

Walk through the A at a Razorback football game.

Go to the night NASCAR race at Bristol.

Watch a baseball game at all MLB stadiums.

Watch a Razorback road game at all SEC venues.

Throw out the first pitch at a Razorback baseball game.

Complete Tough Mudder.

I think this is a good starter list. As I think of things I’ll edit it and make it more awesome.

 

 

 

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