LOVE Like A Child

The other day I was at Reno’s school/daycare picking him up and as I gathered his things, he was still dancing and playing with the other few children there, still waiting to be picked up as well. I love watching them all play and act silly with one another as they usually do at this time of day. We usually get there toward the end of the day, and only a few kids are usually left when we arrive, so it’s usually free time for them to dance and play.

When I grabbed his things I motioned and called to him, letting him know it was time to go. He walked over to me, still smiling from his play time. “Are you going to say goodbye to your friends?”I asked him.

He turned and waved and let out a little “buh-bye” as we walked away. But then he stopped, and turned around and ran over to them and gave each one a hug. Not one of them hesitated as he made his rounds to them individually. My heart swelled with joy.

And for the moment that seemed to slow down just a little bit I thought to myself, “What happened to that? What happened to that love?”

I honestly believe that their love is the love we should follow. There are no boundaries or segregation that they set for one another. The love of an uncorrupted child is as pure as it comes. What would this world be like, if we all loved that way?

It reminds me of when the disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in his Kingdom:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

-Matthew 18:1-4



I remember as a kid my father running in fun runs and we would join him as a family to help support him, but also to run in the kids runs. It was something fun and different for us to do, and to be honest I never thought anything more of it. It was just running. It was easy for me, despite not having the best respiratory system, I could just run.

Fast Forward About 26 years later…

November 14: The Night Before

We just got to my in-laws’ house that evening after celebrating my father’s birthday with my family. I was already starting to feel a bit nervous and it was hard not thinking about the next morning. This would be my first half marathon ever, and I had no clue how I would do. All I could do is stare at my bib and think, “What did I get myself into. I haven’t been training like I should have.”

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November 15: Run Day

5:30AM – A Little Over An Hour Till Start Time
I still remember my wife waking me up telling me it’s time. Of course when she told me at 5:15 I knew I wasn’t going to spring out of bed, that’s just not me. Finally I get up off of the sofa bed, thinking how I missed my bed at home. I sure hope it would affect me today, not sleeping too well. I look at the clock and think, “In a little over an hour my run will start.”

6:20AM – It’s Time To Go!
No, not start time, we were still at the house and we hadn’t left yet. By this time I was nervous I wouldn’t make my start time. Everyone else running was doing the 5K and had a 7AM start time. I told my wife I needed to go,  and started walking the mile and a half to the start line. I got a little down the road and I realized I didn’t have my shades. I texted my wife and see if she could somehow get them to me.

6:38AM – I’m Not Going To Make It
I felt like the mile and a half was taking so much longer to walk than I would have expected. At one point I started to jog a little, but I didn’t want to start running yet, I needed to save every step of that for the actual run, but I had no choice. A volunteer on the bike passed me as I was crossing one of the major streets along the way. He looks at me and my bib and says, “You better hurry!”

6:42AM – I’m Here! I’m Here!
The National Anthem has played, the talks were over with, and everyone was pretty much just waiting for the start gun. I stretched the little bit that I could. I was trying to get my headphones properly in and stretched as much as I could before we started.

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 6:45AM – We started?
I didn’t even hear anything, I just saw the crowd moving. So I hop down onto the road, find the pace that I felt I would stay with (12:45/M), and slowly walked up towards the start line. “I can’t believe this is about to happen. Crap, I don’t have my shades”, I thought as I hear the announcer say, “See you guys in two hours and forty-five minutes!” Then my thought went to, “Crap! I’m gonna be running for almost three hours!”

6:47AM – My Shades!
It happen to be by pure luck that I turn the corner and see Erin walking towards me along the side of the runners, looking for me. I waived at her and she handed me my shades. Perfect timing I might add, because it was around that time that I started to get a little emotional.

6:48AM – Santos, Allyson and Sgt. Bearden
As soon as I got my shades and started focusing on my run, I thought about these three and the people that love and cared for them so much in their lives. I dedicated my run to these three, special human beings who lost their battle with some form of cancer. My eyes quickly became watery, and it was hard holding back the tears. Their memories, and the memories their loved ones have shared with me, would help carry me all the way through this.

6:59 – 1 Mile Down
I’m feeling pretty good. I had to slow myself down a little because I was running faster than I wanted to be at. I don’t want to take the chance at tiring myself out. “Find a happy pace!”

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7:12 – 2 Miles
I decided to try and keep myself around the 13 marker. I’m thinking “No 14. We will not see 14!” Getting to two was a breeze, no worries, steady pace. Soon after this I get a text from my wife, “Your whole family is cheering you on, love.” It made my heart expand.

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7:24AM – 3 Miles
“Had I’d been running the 5K, I’d almost be done!” Yes, my mind was already here. I can’t help it, I usually think like that, and I’m sure it doesn’t help. Then I thought, “I have ten more miles to go. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

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7:37AM – 4 Miles
Still feeling good here, nothing too bad. Except for after I passed the three mile marker I had the urge to pee. I really don’t want to stop! Stopping is VERY bad for me.

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7:53AM – 5 Miles
If you look at the pic above of me seeing the fourth mile marker ahead of me, you can see two ladies, one in a lime green shirt. She was setting a pace for the lady in the gray shirt. But what she didn’t know is that she was also setting a pace for me. She kept me close to a 12:32/M which is about where I wished to be. I still felt okay at five. Not as great as I did the first few miles, but still good.

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7:53AM – My First Nike+ Cheer
And also my only one. I posted this run on my wall on Facebook, and I was hoping to get some cheers from likes and comments. But only one came through. It was my mother-in-law. I hope she realizes how much that meant to me. Thanks, momma!

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8:02AM – I Could Still Be Sleeping
I don’t know if I’m the only one who thinks about things like this, but this though happened to cross my mind at this point. 8AM, I could still be sleeping. But then I thought, “I’m ALMOST halfway there!”

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8:09AM – More Than Halfway!
I got this! I’m over the hum now! No turning back, right?

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 8:14AM – 7 Miles
I’m feeling okay. Still have to pee. Still behind my pacer. I’m thinking I’m gonna be okay in this.

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8:27AM – Leg Pain
Eight miles into it. My right leg is starting to hurt a little. This is not a good thing. Pain shouldn’t be happening this soon in my run. It hadn’t previously, so I’m a little confused where this is coming from. I also have to pee SO BAD! I see port-a-potties! I had to stop and pee. So unlike me, but I couldn’t take it anymore, it was just something more to have to worry about in my run, and I didn’t need it. To make things worse, I lost my pacer and her partner. No bueno.

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8:41AM – The Hunger Games
Mile nine and I was starving. “Dang it. Why? This hadn’t happened before. I ate a peanut butter toast in the morning, and I never eat!” Grrrr… a bit frustrating. But not as frustrating as the knee pain that started at this point as well. I still have four more miles to go and I’m in pain. I was a little deflated, but my wife’s texts kept my spirits up. So I changed my mind to think, you ONLY have four more miles to go. Let’s go.

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These signs along the way had been funny to read, so I took a pic of one, to share with you all. Whoever put them out, thank you, they kept a smile on my face. Photo Nov 15, 8 45 36 AM

8:54AM – Record Tied…… Record Broken
My previous longest run at home had been ten miles. I felt great that day, not very tired, not hurting. That was not the case today, but breaking that point helped me a little. Every step I took would be one more step breaking my previous record. Not long after the ten mile marker did I make the turn onto the long home stretch back to the high school. This was it.

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9:07AM – Run With Me, Santos
For four years, I marched along my good friend, Santos Herrera Jr. We marched mile after mile carrying the two biggest bass drums of the line. At that point, I was in the best shape of my life. Today, I talked to him and asked him to once again, run alongside me. My pace on my app weirded out a bit and not sure what it was, but I can tell you that I was NOT running a 21:32/M at that point. Maybe my friend was there with me and it was just catching both our paces together. I like to think that at least. It wasn’t too long after that mile marker that I saw the entrance to my in-laws’ subdivion. I’m close. Really close. I already walked this earlier this morning.

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9:19AM – Sweet Allyson and Sgt. Bearden
From eleven to twelve I thought of Allyson and Sgt. Bearden. Two warrior that fought so hard, and wanted to live so much. My eyes began to tear as I thought about them and their families.

Allyson is the daughter of an ex-coworker but still great friend, Pat Conner. Allyson kept a blog about her dealing with it all, and even though I’d never met her, I felt like I knew her. She had a foundation setup for her, which I think is pretty awesome, called Ally’s Wish Foundation.

Sgt. Wayne Bearden was a near and dear friend to my brother. I’d heard stories about the dedicated Georgia Bulldogs fan for quite some time. My brother only spoke great things about him and his family, and when he passed I could see the hurt in my brother.

Oh how I wished they were ALL here with me, running and about to finish this run right alongside me.

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9:32AM – 13 Miles
As I approached the thirteenth mile, I couldn’t believe that I was here. Just a little more to go. These streets, I drive them before visiting my in-laws and here I am running this. Finishing this.

The Finish
My feeling of being accomplished quickly got swallowed up by pain and tiredness. When I turned into the high school driveway I thought the finish line would be near, but see as my mileage wasn’t close to 13.1 I knew I had a little more to go. But if I could just catch a glimpse of that finish line, I know I would get strength. More curve after curve of road, and no finish line in sight. My body hurts. I’m tired. I don’t think I can make it. Yes, even after all that running and less than a tenth of a mile to go, I thought I would not make it. I’m past the starving stage, and the bottoms of my feet were hurting/burning like never before. I have to stop. I have to finish. Where is the line.

Then I hear it. The faint sound of the announcer in the near distance. There’s a turn up ahead, that must be it. I turn and there it is. The beautiful finish line. It’s right there. “Do you see this, Allyson? Do you see me, Sgt. Bearden? Are you still running with me, Santos? Because I’m seeing all you three at that finish line right now.” Tears are building up in my eyes right now. For them. As I approach the line I see a group of kids come around a corner like a heard of little deer running in a pack, running so fast. It lets me know how slow I’m running right now….. but I’m only steps away from the line right now. Doesn’t matter if my pace has dropped….. I’m about to finish this. Then I see my family, right to the right of me, cheering me on. I had pictured me blowing them all a kiss as I passed them, but I didn’t have much strength in me, except for a half smile and a half waive. But my heart smiled fully when I passed them as I was a few steps from the finish line.

And then it was done. It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t pretty, but it was done. And then the pain hit me. My legs felt like they’d been stung by a thousand bees, swollen and in pain. I had to keep walking. I don’t even remember being handed the finisher medal. Everything was quiet around me for those next few minutes as I slowly walked toward a secluded section behind all the crowd. I did it. I actually did it. Then here she comes. My #1 cheerleader. The one who helped me keep my head up when I was down on myself. I could see tears in her eyes, even with her shades on. “You did it! I’m so proud of you.” I hugged her and my son.

I did it. For Allyson. For Sgt. Bearden. For Santos. I did it.

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To my family for being there to cheer me on. Even though you could have went home, you waited for me. My family over the texts, cheering me on, thank you for encouraging me.

My wife, Erin, thank you. For those of you that don’t know, my wife was supposed to run this run with me. She trained harder than I did, longer than I did. She was meant to CRUSH this run. But a week before the run, she rolled her ankle. She was disappointed to put it very lightly. She wanted to run it. She was ready. More ready than I was. But now, she was sidelined and was limited to walking the 5K with her dad and my son. But what she didn’t know, was how much of a factor she played in helping me through it. I know she hates that she missed this run, but without her and her texts, I’m not sure I could have made it without stopping. She’s already signed up for the run in February in Katy, where she WILL complete her Half Marathon. And I hope that I can be the encouragement to her as she was to me. I love you, Erin. Thank you for helping me finish.


Am I Successful?

Tomorrow, I turn 34 and yesterday my wife asked me if I considered myself successful, as part of a bigger conversation we were having. I pondered for a few seconds and responded with, “It depends on what you define as successful.

Successful to me years ago doesn’t have the same meaning as it does now. When I was younger, success was measured by my bank account, social status or my possessions, you know society’s standard of success. I wanted to be rich, and travel and have the kind of job that others would envy and get paid big figures for it. Having not so good luck with relationships, I figured I’d probably never be married and just be happy that way. Heck, more money and time for me, right?

Success. A word that can have a different meaning coming from different people. A word truly in the eye of the beholder.

I don’t have all that money. I see people younger than me with money coming out of their ears and bank accounts. People with so much money, they don’t even know what to do with it, except buy useless things. And while I have traveled, it’s nothing the sort of what I had envisioned in my dreams for my future. I don’t have that dream job/career and I certainly don’t get paid loads of money for it. That successful story, never happened. It never came true.

That story, never came true, but God. God had a different success story for me.

I don’t have the money. Not like that. But I have enough and then a little left over. Sometimes I stop and just look around and see how AMAZINGLY blessed I am, because there are far too many people in the world that don’t have a tenth of what I have. And I surely can’t forget where I came from as well. I just cannot complain about my life and my wealth.

I don’t get to travel around the world. I’ve seen a few places around this region and that has been awesome for me. I still dream of going places, but it’s been great to see the little that I have. I still remember when we were too poor to go anywhere but to Mexico to see family or to the state park to enjoy a swim. So to me, yeah, I’ve come a long way in that area.

I don’t have, what most would call, a dream job. I work at a church, and sometimes it gets pretty busy and stressful just like other jobs do. I certainly don’t get pad big money working at a church, even though it’s a big church. But I have a steady job, that I enjoy doing. A place that I get to serve God while I work and I have an awesome team around me. I’m not out dealing, stealing and who knows what else, which was a path that was not only easy for me to take, but one that was offered to me a lot growing up.

I never thought I’d get married or be a homeowner, much less be a dad. And yet, here I am with an AMAZING and beautiful wife, and the most awesome three year old anyone could ever ask for.

I don’t want society’s success. I’m so happy with my success. And I just can’t help and smile because I know God’s not done with me yet.

Drive Smart, People!!!

Driving and dealing with traffic and dealing with “not so smart” people (trying to be nice), is probably my biggest annoyance. I wish I could telepathically go into every driver’s mind and say:

– Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of other drivers… AT ALL TIMES.

– Don’t drive like a psycho and don’t drive too afraid/cautious. You’re doing the same damage either way.

– Be courteous. Be civilized. Be respectful. (I could go on about these, but I’m keeping it short. We are mostly adults here, this is a no-brainer.)

– Stop trying to multitask and drive!!! Put your phone down, put your makeup down, put your dog down, put your food down, stop TEXTING and just drive. Focus on driving.

– Don’t brake just because you see flashing lights, a patrol car or an accident. If you haven’t seen an accident by now, I don’t think you should be driving. Focus on the road, instead of causing MORE traffic. You could become the next show that people are staring at if you’re not paying attention!!

I would love to see how much traffic we could cut back if people would just drive smart.

3 Things I Came Away With From Super Bowl 49 (Non-Sports Related)

1. Roman Numerals Are Confusing
The Romans did a LOT of things good, but numbers seem to have taking the backseat for them. What in the world is XLIX. Seriously. I’m having to do math just to tell what number Super Bowl we’re in. Just think when we’ve reached the 100th Super Bowl, it will be Super Bowl C. Like what? Well even next year will be Super Bowl L. Maybe it’s time to switch to regular numbers? Maybe they’ll wait till Super Bowl 4999 or should I say, Super Bowl MMMMCMXCIX as the Romans would call it. Anyway, here’s a tool to help you all out in the years to come.

2. WTH Happened To The Commercials?
I remember a time when the commercials were just as fun and sometimes BETTER than the game itself. We’d see commercials that we’d be talking about for days after the game finished. Funny ones, inspiring ones, super creative ones. Now, we’re depressed out of our minds when we’re not confused at what the heck we just watched. Nationwide, I don’t want to think about my child dying and what he wasn’t able to accomplish because he died when I’m watching the Super Bowl. I am aware at the millions of ways he CAN die. Yeesh. Had to hug my boy right after that thing. And stop with the teaser commercials. Don’t show me something that I don’t understand and follow with a website. We’re not in the 90’s anymore. At least put a QR code up or something. Oh wait, that never really panned out either, did it?

Here’s one of my old and all time favorites just to help cheer you up a little bit:

3. Halftime Shows
It seems like it’s turned into a competition now. I’m going to out do the person before me like never before! Oh, and I’m going to need the help of other artists to do that as well. Let me just tell all of you halftime performers and future performers, you’ll never beat Michael Jackson’s performance. Ever. Give it up. (For those of you who never got a chance to experience the awesomeness, here’s MJ in his SB Halftime Performance.) MJ set the bar and changed the way we look at SB Halftime in my opinion.

Also, how the heck does Katy Perry get dressed so fast? I mean, I know some of it was slight of hand, like “Hey look at these dancing and singing sharks! And here’s Katy again with a summer outfit that has beach balls covering the goods.” But still, that was quite quick. I’m assuming she does the whole “Peel-Away” thing. Whatever it is, I’m going to need her to teach this to all the other women in the world who say they’ll be ready in a few minutes. 😀

To All The Soon-To-Be Husbands

Not too long ago a family member of our got married. It was a great day, and by the smile on his face that whole day, I could tell that he was marrying the woman he most loved. No doubt about it. But on the morning of his wedding, I thought I would send him a little “advice” of what I’ve learned in marriage. Now, I’ve only been married for 9 years, but you can learn a lot in just a few years while married. I’m sure the learning never stops, but I figured a little advice wouldn’t hurt. And even though it was targeted toward him, I wish I could tell this to all the grooms and/or future grooms out there. Here’s what I shared with him in a message:

I know I don’t have a lot of years in the marriage game, but I just wanted to give you a few tips that you can chose to take or not.

1. Keep God first. In all that you do, no matter how big or small, HE is number one in your relationship.

2. She’s your #1 gal. She’s your best friend. She’s your partner in crime, so to speak. Don’t forget that. Love her like its the first day you fell for her, forever and always.

3. Don’t be to prideful to say I’m sorry. We all make mistakes and in marriage you will be learning to adapt to living your life as two. There will be disagreements, and maybe some arguments. But don’t be too proud to say I’m sorry, even if you’re apologizing just for the argument. I know it can be hard, cause this is a struggle with me.

4. Tell her you love her. Every day. Every moment you can. Tell her. Don’t let a day pass without telling her how much you love her.

5. Have fun. I often hear people say, “marriage is a lot of work.” I hate to say it, but maybe they’re doing it wrong. Marriage is not hard work. Marriage is fun. Now that doesn’t mean you won’t have to work at some things, but it shouldn’t be constant work. Laugh. Smile. Take goofy pictures. Don fun things with one another. Enjoy one another.

6. Talk to her. She’s your best friend. No one should know more about you than her.

7. Take lots of pictures. There will be several things you will forget but pictures and videos help. Trust me, in years to come you’ll be glad you did.

I wish you all nothing but the very best. We love you and if you ever need anything, even if it’s just to talk, you know where to find me. God Bless you guys.

So with that in mind, I pray and wish you future or new husbands, the very best in your marriages and new lives.

My 2015 New Year’s Resolutions

Every year we all do it. We think of the things in our lives and the things about us that we seek to improve. And for some reason, we fill the need to wait till a new year to try and start them. Maybe it’s the idea of a new year, clean slate? Not sure, but I do it as well. I have made lots of resolutions over the past few years, and some have been forgotten and some I’ve actually managed to hit. This year is no different in making resolutions, but I think what will be different will be my way of handling them.

God is my life. Period. Without God, I would not be here typing this post, and only he knows where I would be right this moment. Everything that I am now, is because of him. So why should I try to change my life and habits, without putting him at the forefront? I shouldn’t, and this year, I won’t. So with this list I say this, He will be at the forefront of all of it, no matter how big or small the task may seem.

1. Read
I used to LOVE to read as a kid. Stepping into a library was like stepping into a Best Buy or Fry’s Electronics now days. It was fun for me, and having so many books to be able to read was just awesome. And then High School Happened. Forced to read “the classics”, which I’m sure is great for a lot of people, but it repulsed me. Hated it. I turned my attention more towards video games, and that’s all she wrote. But now, I want to start reading again. I know most people are like, “Pffft! Big deal, so read more”, but I know if my wife is reading this, she knows it’s a pretty big deal for me. So I will try and make some time during my days to pick up a book and read. It’s already started happening a little but I want to really push on this for 2015 and hopefully beyond.

2. Study
No, I’m not going back to school. This past year, I felt God calling me. I feel like He’s calling me to be better educated in Him and His Word. I’ve had friends approaching and asking me questions about my faith and although I’ve been able to answer their questions,  I feel like this is the tip of the iceberg for this. The way this world is moving into darker days, I need to be studied up and ready to lead people towards the light.

3. Pray
2014 really taught me to pray. Now I’ve always prayed. Pray in the mornings, in the evenings, when I’m alone. I pray for myself, my friends, my family my co-workers, our homes, our pets, etc. But this year taught me to really pray. To get down on my knees, to pour out my heart, and pray into tears. To not only pray alone, but to gather my “prayer warriors” and pray together over situations. God has NEVER let me down. Not once. This is something I need to not only do, but submerse myself in. Prayer. It’s powerful, and I personally seen it happen.

4. Say No
I consider myself to be a pretty hard worker. I love to help people out, even if it’s not on my “ticket”. I feel like being a servant to others, especially when in need is something I’ve always been called to do. But at some point, you realize that some people will take advantage of this. In the past, I keep my mouth closed and happily oblige. But when it starts to take time away from my family and friends and the things that matter most to me, I reach a point where I have to start just saying “no”. I can no longer go out of my way every time certain people are unprepared countless amount of times, and I have to clean it up. My God, my family will ALWAYS come before my work. Always. And I plan on enforcing that in 2015. I can always find another job, but my family and my friends are irreplaceable.

5. Traffic Will Not Win
Most of my friends know I’m a pretty nice guy, regardless of my appearance. It takes a lot to get me angry or in a bad mood. But traffic, traffic is my weakness. It’s like I’m a different person. I have a low tolerance for stupidity and for selfish drivers who care not only about themselves while driving. Not only is it annoying but it’s dangerous. But I’m going to TRY my best to remain calm and not let it ruin my day or mornings. Sometimes it changes my mood, I find myself getting really angry at times, and I know it just needs to stop. I’ll never be able to change people and their selfishness. But I can change how I react to them.

6. Write
I used to love to write all the time. Short stories. Some of my friends have been lucky enough to be featured in some of those stories. Then I stopped. Not sure why. But I jus stopped writing. And it’s something I want to pick back up. Even if it’s just for fun, cause it is something I do enjoy doing.

7. Get Fit
This is the reoccurring one. Every year, I tell myself I’m going to do this. Some years I start, and start well and get close to my goals, and then I give up. But this year, not only will I put God first, but I have a group of friends that I will be going through with. I think this will be the year that it actually happens. No. I KNOW this will be the year that actually happens. No more excuses. No more giving up. 2015 will be my fittest year yet. And I hope by this time next year, I’m not eating these words. O_o