The Upside of Being a Vampire?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2012 by Big Dan

I’m a terrific sleeper.  It is certainly a skill that I possess.  And not only am I good at it, I enjoy it as well.  I love getting my 8 hours, and the older I get the more I enjoy a good nap.  Yet, tonight I can’t sleep.  I laid in bed for the better part of two hours with not a drop of shut eye.  And I hate it.  I don’t like not being able to sleep, and I know tomorrow is going to be a miserable day because of it.

Typically, there are 3 reasons why I can’t sleep: 1) I’m not tired.  Attribute it to too much caffeine, or too much sleep the night before, but sometimes people just aren’t tired. 2) Carey is snoring so loudly I can’t get my ears to stop bleeding.  Although I have to admit that her snoring has been curbed as of late.  3) Something is bothering me and I can’t let it go.

Based on the fact that I’m exhausted and Carey has been quiet as a mouse tonight, we can come to the conclusion that it is number 3.  Something is on my mind, and on my heart and I can’t shake it.  What’s worse is the fact that I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.  It’s intangible and the more I try to reach out and grab this thing the more elusive it becomes.  I sit here tonight in the hopes of being able to pin it down, the hopes that a little rambling might bring to the surface that thing that is hanging over me right now.  Here it goes….

I’m not who I want to be.

I’m not aging gracefully.

I’m not the husband or father I want to be.

I’m worried that my heart is a ticking time bomb.

I’m battling insecurities that a grown man shouldn’t be.

Okay, I think that about sums it up.  Somewhere amongst the garbled statements lies the issue/issues that can’t escape me.  In a former life, I made a terrific lunatic, and in this life, I wear the mask of sanity well.

The great Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.”  And when summarized like that, then I’m defintely off my rocker.  I continually make the same mistakes, exhibit the same behaviors, the same routine, and yet I expect things to be better, to get better, or to feel better.  It simply doesn’t work that way.  Life is what we make of it, and all I am doing right now is making it pass, and making it pass quickly. 

Tonight I pray:

Lord, offer me a renewed spirit.  Show me the path to become all that you want me to be, and all that I expect me to be.  I am imperfect and overflowing with sin, and I ask your forgiveness and forgiveness from those I love.  If it s Your will, grant me a clear mind, a loving heart, and the physical energy and desire for a new lifestyle.  I thank you, Lord, for giving me the foundation, my family, for this change, and for placing on my heart that the time is here.  Amen.

 

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Thanksgiving

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2011 by Big Dan

In all reality, I should be thankful for all the blessings in my life on a daily basis. I have my health, a job I enjoy, friends and family.  We are financially secure and want for nothing, and for all sakes and purposes have a very active social life.  We have a church we enjoy, our kids are in a school that is helping them to grow, and they are very active.  The blessings in my life, and in my families life are many, and we shouldn’t wait until the last Thursday of every November to remember these things.

But, if I had to be thankful for one thing, and one thing only, it would be the most obvious……Brett, Maci and Brandon.  My kids.

I must preface the remainder of this particular blog with this understanding: My wife and I are completely opposing people.  We are different in virtually everything we do, what we enjoy, and how we handle all that life offers.  Neither of us are right or wrong, but simply put we are different.  And these opposing personalities have become ever present in our 3 distinctly different children.

Brett is the oldest.  Physically speaking, he resembles both of us, and depending on the angle and lighting you can see both Carey and I in him.  He’s of average height, clearly not getting that from me, and is slim, but not necessarily skinny.  He’s shy at first, a trait he gets from Carey, and is very sensitive, which I have been assured is not a trait he got from me.  Schoolwork is not something that comes easy for him, but he works extremely hard at it.  He’s good at sports, and despite the shyness there is a competitive streak down in there somewhere that can be unbearable at times.  Yep, that’s me.  He’s a people pleaser and loves quality time with his mom and dad.

Brett’s a 50/50 mix of the two of us.

Maci and Brett couldn’t be more different.  Maci is tall, the tallest in her class despite being the youngest.  I think we know where that comes from.  She’s also one of the bigger kids in her class, a trait she unfortunately got from me as well.  But, she’s a spitting image of her mom, and you only have to look at a few pictures of Carey in her youth to see it.  Maci excels in school.  She’s usually at the top of the class, and is a very avid reader.  This is a point of confusion for us.  Carey was never the brains, and even though she always got good grades, it wasn’t exactly easy for her and she had to work hard at it (see Brett there?).  On the other hand, school came easy for me, but it wasn’t through effort.  I’m a sponge, and can generally remember just about anything once I hear or read it.  But I never tried, and my C average was evidence enough of that.  I suppose Maci gets the brains from me, she has just developed the ability to actually apply herself from Carey.  Socially, she more closely resembles Carey in that she gets along with most people but gets really close to few.  And in all sincerity, she’s a royal smart-alec and as bull-headed as they come, and I take full blame for that.

Maci is a 60/40 mix, with Carey leading the way.

But, oh, there’s Brandon.  We are often criticized as parents for making unflattering remarks about our youngest.  But here’s the facts: he is ornery, loud, obnoxious, defies authority, and will test every limit put in front of him.  You tell him no, and he wants to know why.  You tell him he can’t do something, and he will undoubtedly do it just because he wants to.  He has an ability to play Brett and Maci against each other, all the while making it seem like he’s on either of there sides at any given time.  He’s a genius, in an evil sort of way, and I will consider myself to be a terrific father if I can keep him out of jail someday.  He’s very social, plays well with everyone, but will no doubt be a bully someday if he doesn’t get his way.  He’s smart, but will only ever do what he wants to, and when he wants to.  The only incentive and fun is that he gets to play football, basketball and baseball.  Brandon is the anomoly of our children, and as much as it kills me to say:

Brandon is 100% me.  Not even the slightest hint of Carey in him phsyically or metally.  I’m the one to blame for him.

At the end of the day, I am thankful to have 3 unique children who make my life interesting.  And I’m thankful that Carey and I can laugh about there differences and be proud of how outstanding each one is in there own way.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

New Day, Same Problem

Posted in Uncategorized on July 19, 2011 by Big Dan

Getting older provides a tremendous amount of insight.  Over the years I have had to re-evaluate what I thought I knew, and often learn something brand new all together.  And this morning the thought occurs to me, that for as much as times have changed, they really haven’t.  The same problems exist, the same mentalities exist, and the things that use to be a struggle are still often a problem.

I always took little league sports for granted.  The option to play was always there.  Baseball, basketball, soccer, football, it didn’t matter the opportunity to play was always there.  I always knew I would have a coach.  I always knew we would have a sponsor to help pay for our jerseys.  I always knew my parents would get me to every practice and game, and I would have the proper shoes, shorts, hat or equipment that I needed to play.

It wasn’t until I got older, started having kids of my own, and started getting involved in their sporting endeavors that this thought occurred to me: it was always the same few dads that were around.  It was always the same few businesses that sponsored teams.  It was always the same parents in the stands over and over again.

About half the teams I played on were sponsored by Hummel Tree Service.  And they were coached by my dad and Russ Hummel.  Different sports, same logo, same dads.  The thought never occurred to me that this was weird or strange or unusual.  It was just life and how it was.  I may have occasionally been sponsored by Dustrol, Country Store, or another, and occasionally a sport would hit and it was my dad and someone else coaching.  But by and large it was the same two dads out there.

As I have gotten involved in coaching and at the administration level I have become appalled at parents.  The sheer number of times I have felt like I was begging dads to get involved, to take a couple of nights a week to coach, and spend that time with your kids is unbelievable.  People expect there to be an opportunity for their child to participate, and yet they are not willing to step up and take the time to facilitate those opportunities astonishes me.

Understand, I’m not the perfect father.  And just spending time with my kids during practice and games does not equate to a great deal of quality time for them.  But, I can remember the moment when I first knew my oldest son was on his way.  And the first thought I had was how much fun it was going to be to coach him someday.  Pick a sport, it doesn’t matter.  I couldn’t wait to get out there and teach him something, to help him progress in a sport and in life, and share that time with him.  Because that was the example set for me during my childhood.  And that was time I still cherish to this day.

What do you want your child to remember?

Life is a Highway

Posted in Uncategorized on May 11, 2011 by Big Dan

We are all traveling a road.  At times that road is desolute, unmarked, and barely a landmark can be seen.  During other times, it is well lit, heavily traveled, and crowded.  No matter what we do, we can’t get off the road.  It is our road, our life, and it continues from point A to point B, birth to death, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

The only comfort and solace we can take is that at times our roads merge with others.  Our dirt road becomes a two-lane road, and later a 4 lane road, and at the pinnacle of our life there are often more lanes than we can count. 

Meet my Grandpa, George Daniel Reed.  He’s pictured above with his wife Shirley, and his 3 daughters, Paula (My mom), Cathy, and Marsha.  This picture was taken in the early 60’s.

Long before I was even an idea in my parents eye, George was already well down his road.  Over time he merged path with his wife, and his daughters, and eventually his grandkids.

In January of 1978, my path merged with his.

For the next 18 years of my life, I had the privelege of traveling the road with George.  He was my hero, my friend, and the best role model a kid could ask for.  He passed just a few days before my high school graduation.  And while it seemed that for a time, I was now traveling the road alone,  I wasn’t.  He was still there, trying his best to keep my road intact, while I tried to take every curve and hill at top speed. Until eventually my road merged with someone else’s.

On May 11th, 1996, 15 years ago today, my Grandpa passed away.  His road has continued through me, through his daughters, and through all his grandkids.  And someday it will continue with my kids, his great-grandkids, and so on.  We are his road, his legacy, and we take great pride in that.

What if……..

Posted in Uncategorized on May 9, 2011 by Big Dan

While I was never an overly enthusiastic fan of the television show “Friends”, thanks to rerun’s over the years, I can safely say I have probably seen just about every episode they ever made.  I watched Ross and Rachael fall in and out of love a couple of times.  I remember seeing the start of a budding romance between Chandler and Monica, that would ultimately end in marriage and the adoption of a child.  And I could relate to Joey, not so much for his prowess with the woman, but for his love of a good sandwich.  But don’t get me started on Phoebe……she was just weird!

On a particular episode, Chandler decides he is unhappy in his current profession, and goes as far as to take a personality exam, an exam designed to unlock the perfect job for him that he should pursue.  Of course for comic effect, the results come back as the exact job he currently held.  Not great news for Mr. Bing.  And I wonder….what if I took that test?  What would my results be?  What is the perfect profession for me?

Theoretically, this is something we should all figure out by the time we hit our mid 20’s, and for the sake of opportunities to really advance in our field, it would be ideal to have set off in that path by that time.  Unfortunately, I may give the test a run for its money.  A rough guess for me says that the test results would state that I would be ideally suited for a job that involves about 1/3 playing golf, 1/3 fishing, and 1/3 drinking beer.  This encompasses the things that I enjoy, with little regard for my skill level at any of them, all though I would rate my skills as poor, fair, and too good for my own good, respectively.  I couldn’t even necessarily come up with any type of profession that requires this skill set, and therefore the test would be ineffective for me.

Interestingly enough, during my first few weeks on the Friends University campus, we were required to take a personality test.  The test was intended for us to learn a little about ourselves and our classmates, and give us a little further understanding into how we learn.  And the results……….I was an ISJT.  That probably means little to most of you unless you are familiar with the test.  For the life of me I can’t recall what the SJT at the end even meant, and I’m feeling a little too lazy to google it right now.

The “I” was perplexing though.  People scored either an “I” or an “E”, or in other words, introvert or extrovert.  And here’s me, Mr. Personality, the center of attention, scoring an “I”?  It didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Later in the week, I retook the test on my own time, assuming it was my mood, or I was sick, or just not reading the questions correctly.  Nope.  Same results.  Now, I should qualify this remark with a little understanding.  This is not to say that I am quiet (which I am not), or a recluse (nope), or even unpersonable (I don’t think I am).  But for the sake of the test, it was more of a reference to how I relax, to how I prefer to process things, or even to how much of me I like to share.

The reality is I don’t like to share much.  I keep things fairly close to the vest, and outside of me taking a little time to write out my thoughts on this obscure blog, I couldn’t care less if anyone ever knew what I was actually feeling.  I have no singular person in my life that I like to get particularly deep with, and I offer no answers sometimes even when asked.  That’s just me, and I surmise that this character trait is a permanent one.  Sorry if you don’t like it, but deal with it.

I am not to blame, though.  It’s genetic.  It’s a learned trait.  It’s how my father is, my grandfathers were, and how I assume most of my ancestors were before them.  It is what a man is, and how a man acts, and it is the model I have been presented for the length of my time on this earth.  And because of me, it is undoubtedly how my sons will act too.  And you know what?  I’m okay with it.  I don’t need to spend my evening rehashing the highs and lows of my day with my wife, and even though she may enjoy it, a simple “Fine” will do when she asks me about my day.  I feel neither the need or inclination to burden her with the aspects of my day, the things weighing on my shoulders, or the stresses in my life.  I am a man, I got this.

The reality is Jesus was an “I”.  While he may have had a public image, and seemed to work well in crowds, small groups or even individually, at the end of the day he often retreated to be by himself.  Now, please don’t mistake me for the Messiah.  Other than both of our enjoyment of wearing flip-flops, we have little in common.  He defied temptation while I give in on every turn.  He was a great teacher and I’m lucky to actually impart any kind of wisdom on anyone.  He was patient and kind, and I swing and miss on both.  He loved all people and I can barely stand anyone.  And yet, I take a small grain of comfort in knowing that we both were introverts.  We both retreat when we need to, and jump in front of the crowd when the time calls. 

Of course he turned water into wine.  I’m shooting more for a Octoberfest Lager.

Off The Beaten Path…….

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1, 2011 by Big Dan

I’m amazingly eclectic.  I happen to believe that I am not what most people think, and the cover of this book is of no real value when describing the meat and potatoes of the pages inside.  Or maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe some people, maybe all people, have began to discover that I am not what I seem at all, and my outward appearance and personality are simply a cover-up, a by-product of who I thought I should be so many years ago.  And maybe even that thought process is wrong, maybe I don’t even know who I am yet, and am still discovering how my mind works, what I truly want, and whom I want to be.

Confused yet?  If you’re not, you’re doing better than I am in trying to decipher a jumbled set of thoughts that I typed.  Heck, I wrote it and don’t even know what it all means. 

Here’s what I do know: God works in amazing ways!  This is a fact I was reminded of in the last 24 hours.  And a sequence of events that reminds me that a seed can be planted in your heart that can grow to exactly what you need to hear, and what you need to be reminded of at least on occasion.

So what happened?  Let me outline 3 simple things that have occurred in the last day that brought me to a startling conclusion.

1.  I was conned into teaching Sunday school for our class last night, and had to be ready for this morning.

2.  Through casual conversation last night a friend mentioned my blog.

3.  This morning a friend ran a half-marathon.

If you can find a connection between these three things then there is no real reason for you to continue reading.  Most of you, however, read those things and can find little to no connection to 3 seemingly random events and occurrences.  But there is a method to the madness.  There is an underlying theme to what transpired, though, and those things reminded me, not only what I am doing, but what I’m not doing.  So, here it is…….

I have had a horrible year so far.  Little to nothing has gone the way I wanted, and I have increasingly seen my mood become more and more foul over time.  My spirits have been damaged, and I can safely say that at this point I am grasping at the last few straws of sanity I have left.  I’m carrying anger and depression squarely on my shoulders, and have been for some time.  I’m still searching for a sign that the things that I want are going to be available to me, and that there is a reason to be hopeful of the future.  Bottom line: I’m no ray of sunshine right now!

While Carey was taking a small group of girls to a movie last night for Maci’s birthday, I ran over for an informal dinner and deck sitting session with a few friends.  Most of the fellow sitters were apart of my Sunday school class, and somehow I was duped into teaching the class this morning.  Now, this isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, I actually like a chance to do it once in a while because it forces me to spend a little time preparing for the class, spending a few extra minutes in the Word, and taking the time to dive deeply into it and come out with some level of insight that can be taught and presented to a captive (a term used loosely about my particular class) audience.  During the same session of deck sitting,  a random “The Mind of Dan” mention was made.  And this women, whom we will call Allison Patton to protect her identity, replied to a smart alec remark of mine (big shocker, there, huh?) with a comment of “Be nice or I won’t read your blog anymore.”

So, let’s tie these two random events together, and I promise eventually I will work the 3rd one in.  While studying a little from John 6 last night to prepare for class this morning, I was reminded about the sheer number of times that Jesus went off to be by himself.  Presumably, it was his opportunity to spend with God, in prayer, and time to collect his own thoughts and re-center himself as his fate was increasingly close.  I needed that reminder.  I needed the reminder that it is okay to need a little quiet time, and in fact it is important to have a little quiet time to yourself.  Every person needs an opportunity to shut the world off, to take a minute and collect or sometimes CORRECT their thoughts.  Through all the negativity that I have experienced this year, through the moments that I thought would end me and were feeding my anger and depression, I forgot that occasionally I need that time to re-center myself.  Occasionally I need an hour, a couple of hours, an evening or an afternoon to collect my thoughts and hand them over to God.  I wouldn’t have gotten that had I just been a spectator in class this morning.  God put in my path his Word, and it is what I need right now.  I needed a moment to take all that I was experiencing and put it out there in a way that made sense to me, in a way that was therapeutic to me, in a way that I could give it to God and let it be.  I needed to write it out.  I needed to blog.

Where I lack is in faith.  I struggle to know that God will provide for me in a way that is beneficial to my family and I, and that the path he has for me is still there, I just  have yet to shut everything else off and listen to him.  I lack the faith to purposely avoid running, avoid training, and to avoid preparing myself for a half-marathon, just to see if I could still run it.  That’s faith.

My A.D.D. is showing…….

Posted in Uncategorized on January 18, 2011 by Big Dan

In an effort to maintain my blog, and offer new information for whomever might think I have information to offer, I sit down to “write” tonight.  Oh, by the way, it is 3 a.m.  And I can’t sleep.  And therefore can’t form a continous enough thought to post anything that pretends to be cohesive.  But, for the sake of my fans (both of you), I offer a few ideas of what is running through this pretty little head of mine.

1.  I’m a little upset with KU fans right now.  Not all of you, but a select few.  Having been at the forefront of lecturing fans of other schools over the years, I sit back and watch the Jayhawk faithful pull some of the same stuff that I had complained about with other schools.  Thanks to Facebook for pointing it out to me.  Here’s the deal:  Cheer for your school.  If you can’t cheer for them without thumbing your nose at another program that is not living up to expectations this year, then you are no better than them.  It’s the Golden Rule……..treat others as you would want to be treated. 

2.  Do you ever find it weird when people you know show up at YOUR church and you don’t know how to handle it?  I’ve recently been faced with that, not knowing exactly how to treat these people, and knowing what the Christian thing to do is but not fully being able to live that out.  Every person in your life has a place, but it is tough when they end up somewhere that is out of place. 

3.  Since I have had an abundance of free time over the last few months, I have actually been studying some pretty interesting stuff.  I’m currently putting together some material for a Sunday school class that pertains to the historicity of the Bible, and some outside resources.  I might be the only person on earth who finds it interesting, but I find it to be valuable information for any gung-ho Christian. 

4.  I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut, but recently I even surprised myself by staying the “speak only when asked” course.  A friend recently posted something regarding their religious beliefs.  It was a nice, well thought out piece, and I could tell that it was something of value to them.  And since their point of view differed from mine, my first instinct was to point out perceived flaws with their thinking, and the information that I had to back up my point of view.  But I refrained.  This may seem inconsequential to some of you, but it was a huge step for me. 

5.  I guess I should give an ankle update as well.  I’m at the 9 week mark from surgery.  Pain is limited, but still slightly tender.  Physical therapy is going well, and boredom has yet to overtake me.  I’m hoping to go back to work in a few weeks.  That’s about it.

6.  There isn’t anything good on TV at 3 in the morning. 

7.  Surgery related news……..Knowing that I was going to be on crutches and in a cast through at least half of the little league basketball season, I elected to sit out of coaching this year.  This has not been easy and is testing every ounce of patience I may have.  It certainly isn’t helpful that both of my kids are on teams that are distinctly devoid of talent and experience, and both may well finish the season winless.  I will never sit back and watch again.  Except with volleyball.  I don’t know anything about it.

Honestly, that’s about all I have to say today.  I should probably be in bed, anyway.  Good Night!