Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ironman Arizona 2018: So Cool to Be Back Toeing The Line!

I don’t think I had ever been this relaxed at an Ironman start before, despite the Seinfeld episode I was heading for with the frigid lake swim. At 61 degrees and even colder air temp, it was gonna be a shock to the system with the “jump in and start swimming” format of this race. No warmup for us lowly age groupers. I seeded myself at the back of the 1:00 swim group in the corral, prayed, peed myself to get warm, and then poured some bottled water down the neck of Dave Mirra’s wetsuit I was wearing to start the warming process. A goodbye kiss to Angie and I was down the ramp and in the water, thinking how cool it was to be free to do nothing but be the greatest me I could today.

Rounding the first buoy I felt a sense of panic. The shockingly cold water and the roughness from all the swimmers just took my breath away and I needed to stop and tread. After 10 seconds or so I prayed and collected myself and pressed on but that was a scary moment for me. Even scarier than the time Angie had just cleaned the kitchen and I opened a fresh tub of electrolyte mix and spilled it all over the counter.

My swim sessions had been horrible and I just couldn’t touch the pace I was capable of in 2012/13, and I had resolved that a 1:08 swim was probably the best I could shoot for despite Brian Stover’s awesome workouts he fed me during my taper. They were the kind of workouts that looked fun on paper til you did them. I liked his workouts and believed they were helping despite my time trials not getting faster.

Swimming up the north shore I felt great. I was passing swimmer after swimmer and felt like a slippery, wet, neoprene Pac-Man chomping buoys. When I rounded the far buoys suddenly there were no swimmers around and only a few bobbing heads way in front of me. Where’d everybody go? I had one of those mysterious swimming moments where your throat suddenly produces a furball that blocks your windpipe so I stopped to hack it up. Then a few 100 more yards and I was on dry land and in 24th place in my age group. 1:05 out of the water. Huh, where’d that come from?

There’s a 1/4 mile run to T1 and my feet were numb and frozen. It felt like I was running on wooden stumps and I pounded my feet on the pavement as if to knock some sense of feeling in them.

I got to Dave’s bike and had to pee again so I stopped and took care of it first. I didn’t want to pee on his bike if I could help it. A volunteer asked if I was okay, cuz when you just stand there not moving with your eyes rolled back trying to pee you can imagine you look like medical attention might be a decent suggestion.

It was so inspiring to be on Dave's bike. His bike and me both back in an Ironman. Wow. I had gotten teared up racking his bike the day before, but now it felt like the three of us were flying and there wasn't any feeling in me but pure joy!

The bike out of town is a little rough with bumps and cracks and manholes in the road. I resolved not to take in nutrition til after I got on the Beeline highway where it was smoother. From that point, the road gradually climbs and the last 3 miles to the turn around are the worst. I was averaging 16 mph at 205-210 watts for this section heading outbound. Coming back I was flying at 32 mph and 130 watts. My goal was to average 180 watts, which I figured would be around 23 mph.

After lap 1 of 3, I saw Angie and she shouted that I was in 9th place in my age group. Coming in after lap 2 I was passed by two 30something year olds drafting off of each other. I followed them in, feeling sorry that they thought it was ok to cheat but also glad for the pace they were pushing me to keep. They also were paving the way through the slower riders that were on their first lap, which sometimes got a little dicey on the rough patches of road in town and so much bike traffic that comes from a short course.

All of my nutrition on the bike leg I had on board or picked up at special needs. I didn’t use any of the aid stations. I asked Ironman to refund me the cost of those aid stations since I skipped them but they charged me for asking the question. But I was a little bummed you had to stop for special needs. I much prefer when you can fly through without stopping, if not to save time then at least for the challenge of grabbing my gear without getting the drawstring of the bag caught in my spokes, but they weren’t set up that way.

On my last lap I figured the ride was really over at the far turn around at mile 94, since the downhill return was so fast and easy I would just cruise in for the last 18 miles and let my legs recover. I finished the bike in 4:50 at 22.9 mph and right on my 180 watt average goal, a little tired in the legs, and in 5th place in my age group.

Leaving T2 I had to pee again so I stopped on my way out and let it flow. The first lap of the run was lonely. I found my legs quickly and was around a 7:45 pace for the first couple miles, which was feeling easy but I sensed it wasn’t gonna last. I peed myself again at mile 2 and was impressed that I had left quite a puddle when I came back the other way. I thought of my dog, Kona, and how proud he would have been of the territory I had marked.

My goal was to run the first half of the marathon under 8:00/mi and then make decisions later as to whether it was sustainable or not. My Ironman theory is that I know I can pace for Kona contention through the swim, bike, and at least half of the run but what happens after that is where you just don’t know til you get there. And I would rather be on pace to that point and have to figure out a way to maintain it then to be behind schedule and trying to make up time lost. It’s a gamble but I like it.

It didn’t quite work this time and I resolved to walk aid stations around mile 11. At mile 13 I saw Angie and my parents and told her it wasn’t fun anymore, which is a dumb thing to say to someone who stopped having fun almost 8 hours ago when you started this thing.

I knew of at least 2 guys in my age group that had passed me, putting me in 7th place at best and out of Kona contention, so I just maintained my jog to the aid stations where I would walk and take on water, Red Bull, Coke, and Gatorade. I alternated salt and caffeine tablets at a station, then just fluids at the next, and a Maerten gel at the next, and then repeated the process.

Who’d my red “favorite volunteer” wrist band go to? Some buxom lady in an aid station wearing a Wonder Woman costume. It was either her or the one dressed like a taco.

I was a little pissed off at how many racers didn’t have their age on their calf, and for top age groupers I don’t think that’s inexperience or naiveté. That’s not wanting to share that info with your competitors. I asked one guy what age group he was in when he passed me since his calf was clean and he said “same as yours.” Whatever. I was out of contention anyway I told myself.

I still had a decent run despite all the aid station walks and crossed the finish line in 9:47, ninth in the 45-49 age group. I didn’t care I wouldn’t get to Kona this time. It was really just about proving to myself that I could still get back into Ironman shape after all the knee surgeries, the lack of fitness, the failure to toe the line at IM Maryland, loss of mojo, bike crashes, and other excuses I’ve been allowing myself since Kona 2013.

I thank God that He has given me so much through all this. I’m not saying never, but for now I’m good with how my 6 Ironmans have gone and I’m happy to close that book at least for a while. Well, maybe. I could probably get talked into one. I dunno.

Thanks to everyone that offered encouragement leading up to this, and for all the prayers and good vibes during the race. Best reason to pick Arizona as your Ironman race? No guilt feasting on Thanksgiving!

Cheers, thanks to all the volunteers, and congrats to all the finishers!

Brian Stover's 11th Hour Workouts That Changed My Race Day...For the Better!

(Note: I mostly wrote this to document the swim and bike workouts given to me by Coach Brian Stover of Accelerate 3 for my own future reference, but it turned into a blog post. Brian graciously is allowing me to share those workouts. If you want to skip to them they are at the bottom of this post, but if you use them it wouldn't be a bad thing to give him credit.)

Fun times with Brian before IM Arizona after he had helped me so much in my taper for the race.

So, one night about 4 weeks out from Ironman Arizona 2018 I was feeling behind on my training and under motivated. Just one week to go til my taper (that is, a 3 week run taper, 2 week bike taper, and 1 week swim taper) I felt like I was about to bring a fly swatter to a sword fight. So I texted my friend Brian Stover, coach for Accelerate 3, knowing he’d at least offer some decent smack talk. Instead what happened was a series of really challenging workouts that jolted me into better fitness and boosted my confidence the final weeks leading up to Ironman.


At that point, I had put in some not great but okay mileage – around 10,000 yards/week. A lot of the workouts were trash laps and I was just going through the motions. I reviewed a 4200 yard time trial I had done in 2012 (the year I PR’d at IMFL) and couldn’t come close to holding that pace (1:28/100) for a mere 400. I needed a shock to the system, and there was still time. I just didn't know what to do (this is why people get a coach). I had planned to increase both my swim volume and intensity throughout the taper anyway, but my workouts weren't cutting it.

This was shortly after Ironman World Champs in Hawaii and Slowtwitch had posted an article on their website about a German guy, Jan Sibbersen, that had broken the age group swim record. He said the most important length of intervals to prepare you for Ironman was 400’s, and though it was super boring a 10x400 main set was a typical weekly workout for him. So I gave it a shot, targeting my old pace from 2012 which, again, I couldn’t touch. The intervals in Brian’s workouts were in the range of 400-600 yards, so when he sent the first one to me I took it that he agreed with Jan. I felt like I was following a good path. I remember telling Brian after doing a couple of his sessions, “I like your workouts except when I’m doing them.” It was meant as a compliment. 😊

These are a few of the workouts below. Before committing to them I was looking at what I thought would be a 1:08 2.4 mile swim for Ironman. I was blown away to come out of Tempe Town Lake in 1:05:26.

The first 2 workouts are designed to make sure you’re not slowing down on the backside of your Ironman swim. Simple set, but once you commit to a challenging goal time for yourself you find you're in a position where, uh oh, I gotta cowboy up.

Main Set: 
2x500, 2x400, 2x300
Goal: Swim faster per each set with the first 500 being about IM pace, 400’s at half IM pace, and 300’s at oly pace.

Main Set: 
2x300, 2x400, 2x500
Goal: Swim the 500’s at the same pace as the 300’s.

Main Set: 
6x100 :10 ri
400 :20 ri
4x100 :10 ri
400 :20 ri
4x100 :10 ri
400 with last 150 fast
Goal: Maintain the pace through the workout with energy to up the pace in the end of the last 400.

Main Set:
2x(4x150 :10 ri, 600 :30 ri)
Goal: Round 2 to be < :01 slower per 100 on the 600.


My cycling workouts were the same story – mediocre volume and not much intensity. But the 5-6 hr 100+ mile sessions were there. I just was lacking creativity in my workouts and wasn’t motivated enough to put intense intervals into them. I had fallen into a rut where they were all at aerobic intensity. Brian urged me to keep the long rides long even into the taper but added some serious intensity. I did the following workout twice in the last 3 weeks as part of my 5+ hr rides, and it totally crushed me, but just like the swim workouts, it gave me some much needed confidence heading into the race. For reference, I included the power range that I worked in for each effort based off of my FTP.

45 min @ half IM effort (200-230 watts)

30 min @ aerobic effort (160-200 watts)

11 min @ half IM effort (200-230 watts)

1 min easy

11 min @ threshold effort (230-280 watts)

1 min easy

11 min @ half IM effort (200-230 watts)

1 min easy

11 min @ threshold effort (230-280 watts)

1 min easy

Thanks for reading, and again, if you find this helpful and try any of the workouts give Brian a shoutout on social media. He's accelerate3 on Instagram and Desert Dude on Slowtwitch.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Getting Frosty in 2018!

I have some “sweet” news! I’m racing with The Cupcake Cartel this season! This is the team’s first year, started by pro triathletes Callum Millward and Alise Selsmark. The name is an extension of Callum’s “Cupcakes With Cal” brand – a bunch of really entertaining interviews he’s done with some other pros, all involving cupcakes of course.

Putting together this season in my mind I feel like muffin could be better than making some changes to pump up the gumption. Not to sugar coat but The Cartel feels like a perfect fit - a fun group of triathletes that can be themselves, support each other, without taking themselves or their results too seriously……….or at least not as seriously as they take their cupcakes.

Oh yeah. The website is if you want to learn more. But if you do a Google search of “cupcake cartel” you’ll get a lot of images of women in bikinis who don’t look like they’ve ever tried a cupcake before. I’m pretty sure that’s not the group I signed up with. At least I think so. If it is I’m gonna look kinda silly in the kits they were modeling.

Anyway, more to come…….for now this is just the icing on the cake!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

God Blessed The Rains Down In Africa

Day 1: Sunday, August 6

You know that sinking feeling you get when you feel a nudge from God and you later realize you missed it - you didn’t move when he said to - and now that moment is gone? 

We woke up to our first day in Johannesburg, South Africa eager to church it up. On the edge of Zandspruit township’s “squatter camp” (government provided land where refugees live in shacks built of whatever scraps they can cobble together – no plumbing, electricity or running water) stands ZCC Community Church, a 3-sided lean-to constructed of a steel skeleton and aluminum siding. Before the service we met Pastor Siphlo - a humble, gracious man with the kind of Godliness you hope will rub off on you - who asked us for prayer, shared a little of his vision and then prayed it up for us before we all took seats in the church. Pastor Siphlo urged that we would get more out of it if we spread out, which is exactly what we did.

Wait. Didn’t he ask us to pray for him?

Church was just cranking up in this shot. That's Pastor Siphlo on the drums, while he let another pastor turn up the power with song and dance.

What a fierce power erupted out of that service! Unashamed praise, joyful music, and lots of dancing! My goodness, a congo line erupted in front of the stage! Ever been to church and seen a congo line form up? And for a brief moment I felt the urge to jump in and boogie with ‘em………but I didn’t. I told myself it might not have been appropriate. What a shame. Since when was I concerned about being appropriate?! I had missed the moment and not just that, it was God’s nudge that I had not acted on.

The afternoon was dedicated to training with the Impact Africa team. Tomorrow we would be in the squatter camps going door to door ministering for Christ. And they have a 3-step system that works: Approach (small talk, make friends), Assist (help with any chores), and Advance (share the Gospel). We were pumped and ready to lace up our boots for the coming week.

That night after dinner we reflected on the day and everyone on the team had felt the same nudge to dance in church. We all missed it. And we all had heard pastor asking us for prayer and we missed that to. We wanted a second chance…….(we’d get one too, so stay with me)

Day 2: Monday, August 7

Our first day ministering in the squatter camps! We broke into small groups and fanned out into the camp at Msawawa township. To describe how filthy the camp was with only words is not enough to do it justice. Shacks are built out of whatever scrap can be found – signage, trash, plastic sheeting - with bare ground for flooring and the occasional ragged, soiled rug to provide no more than the slightest suggestion of a barrier between skin and dirt. Children play barefooted among trash and flowing rivers of sewage down the maze of alleys within the camp. Rats move freely through the homes and alleyways, the only camp residents that seem to have all their needs met.

Kids sift through trash for anything of value in the center of Msawawa camp. Note the two story hut with the white garage door that stands out as relatively luxurious compared to others. The owner is sangoma, a witch doctor, and makes money off of the misfortune of other residents.

Raw sewage had eroded this alley so much that sheets of metal and siding had to be laid down to make it traversable.

A dilapidated camper makes for a usable addition to a shack while gray water runs freely down the alley.

I was teamed up with a pair of Bethany’s (one from Impact Africa and one from our Opendoor team) and Simon Peter, a dapper charismatic pastor from Malawi who is a rock star for Christ. He had a way of rolling off a “hallelujah” so smooth you couldn’t help but repeat it after him.

Our ministry team! Me, Bethany from Impact Africa, Bethany from Opendoor, and Pastor Simon Peter.

My first thought when we started walking the alleys among the residents was, “Why are all the men drunk?” It was only 10 am. And why is that kid playing with that sharp disk you’re left with when you open a can of food? 

Our first encounter was with a woman named Sandra who was washing clothes in a plastic bin. We all helped her wash as we learned about each other and talked about the Gospel, followed by a prayer for her and her family. We shared the Word with a shy Patricia and her friend, Blessing. I wondered how much second-hand smoke was I ingesting from all the guys smoking weed while somewhere else in the camp God was saving a drunk man through Jarod’s prayer and, just a few alleys away, a man was making an offer of one cow in exchange for Haley’s hand in marriage (clearly a rip-off intended to take advantage of us ignorant mulungus – she’s worth at least seven). 

Amanda laying down servitude for God's chosen!

It may not last as long, but there is also salvation in ice cream, no?

Only once did I feel unsafe when a fight broke out just as we had begun chatting with two nice ladies. Five drunk guys had leapt upon one, the first blow coming from a plastic crate slammed into his head. I sifted through thoughts of protecting our team, making a quick exit, or getting involved (whose side would I take?). We opted for the quick exit.

Felicia is a sucker for kids!

Day 3: Tuesday, August 8

This was our second and final day in Msawawa camp. We shared the message of salvation through Jesus with Precious and Evidence, two women that had journeyed to Johannesburg from Zimbabwe in search of a better life for their families. I met a devout Christian who’s only prayer request was to one day be able to make a trip to Israel. A boy in a “My Cape is in the Wash” shirt played peek-a-boo with me – his smile showing not a worry in the world though he and his family had so little, reminding me that it doesn’t require much to have a happy heart and winning smile. It’s when we think it does that we realize we’ve missed it.

Smiles and styles! Well, one wasn't quite feeling it anyway! Ha!

I think this guy has it pretty much all together.

Kerri and Haley sharing a Gospel of John moment. She gave her life to Christ that day!

Assist! Jared taps into his housekeeping skills, which may have landed him further chores at home now that they are exposed.

Felicia helps make pap, a South African maize porridge that's a staple in their culture.

The Impact Africa intern residence. We enjoyed a break from daily PB and J sandwiches for some heavenly meat and cheese on our bread for lunch!

So how do you bring up being saved to a complete stranger? Once a little small talk has been made and some trust established, a simple question like, “So, do you go to a church?” is enough to get it started. If so, what church? What do they talk about at your church? Ancestral worship? God? Do they say anything about Jesus? Can I tell you about Him? Most are genuinely interested and the more conversations you have like that the more natural it becomes.

Sydney and Chandler sharing the love with South Africa's future!

A word about the names of the Zulu people of South Africa. They all have a Zulu name but are also given an English name at birth. Many of them take names from what their mother felt upon seeing their new born – Precious, Evidence, Blessing, Joy……a boy even introduced himself to us as Problem. I’m guessing his mom wasn’t exactly thrilled at his arrival. Having children is a very important part of their culture, and the one occasion where I couldn’t avoid the question of how many my wife and I had I reluctantly shared that we had none. It was clear that this was not normal to them.

That night we had a bonfire back at the compound. We invited a group of African folks that were there learning about starting their own youth camp, and God led them to the fire just as we were playing charades of all things. The cultural gap made itself apparent when one of us acted out cranking a lawn mower and the Africans all yelled out, “Generator!” We were all in agreement, though, that Bethany deserved the win for her creative impression of “bookworm” involving doing the worm in the dirt by the light of the fire.

But that night something amazing happened. Games morphed into worship, and the African team led us with song………….and dance! We had been given a second chance at praising Him with dance after missing the call at church on Sunday. I can’t quite explain how moving that evening was by the fire, but the Holy Spirit was in and all around us for sure. It was a God moment and He showed off His power in bringing us all together. 

God lit a fire under us that night! 

Team Opendoor and the group of Africans we worshiped with after the bonfire. I'm amazed by the power God put in this moment and that His love won't just spread from us Americans, but will also reach Namibia, Zaire, and the other countries this group represented.

Day 4: Wednesday, August 9

This was our first of two days of ministry in the squatter camp of Diepsloot, which is Afrikaans for “deep ditch” and frankly that’s a pretty good name for it. Smack dab in the center of Johannesburg it is home to over 140,000 mixed Africans. Alcohol abuse, AIDS, violence, drugs, rape – they all have deep roots in the deep ditch. Our team of the two Bethany’s and myself were joined by a translator named Dennis, who was a welcome addition as he just had this cool athletic demeanor about him. I bought a Kaiser Chiefs soccer jersey on the trip just because he looked so cool in his, and I don't know anything about them! From Diepsloot himself and still a resident there, the kids knew him from school and it was obvious he was well respected. He had himself been a drug and gun runner when he came across a team much like ours from Impact Africa and was saved. So, he knew the hardships of those we talked with and wasn’t afraid to call anyone out that tried to make the same excuses he had used before his life was turned around. 

Pastor Simon Peter joins Chandler, Haley, Stephen, and Justin's group as they begin ministry in the camp of Diepsloot. 

Dennis and I! I very much look forward to seeing him again, regardless of how the Chiefs do in soccer.

Bethany reads a Bible verse to a resident of Diepsloot. Later we would witness this lady pouring over the Gospel of John she was given while huddled in a corner. A seed planted......and watered.

Chandler (middle), a sophomore at DH Conley HS, ministers with IA's intern Steven. The young man on the right heard the Word of God through them and chose Jesus as his Savior on the spot.

Any mulungu woman that can clean a chicken is worth far more than one cow. C'mon!!!

Just a bit about Zulu language and culture. I had studied a few phrases prior to the trip but when put on the spot it’s not so easy to spout them out. I didn’t venture too far from the simplest of greetings: 

Sawubona                       Hello
Sanibonani Hello (to several people)
Ngubani igama lakho? What’s your name?
Igama lami ngu Bruce. My name’s Bruce.
Unjani How are you?
Unkulunkulu uya kutanda. God loves you. But I preferred using Ujesu (Jesus) cuz it seemed a little weird to use a word for God that sounds like “oompaloompa.”

But nothing was more fun than sticking your thumb out and saying to a child, “Sharp, sharp (pronounced ‘shop shop’)!” They say it right back and press their thumb against yours with a little flicking motion. It’s kinda like saying, “Wassuppppp?!”

Impact Africa has an anonymous baby drop off station. Women are raped, pregnant, with no way to provide for a baby, and sometimes they opt for the unthinkable. This service is a far better alternative than the demise of God's children.

After lunch, we went back into the camp of Diepsloot and went door to door collecting the children for Jabulani Kids – a gathering for song and dance and some skits that the Impact Africa team had prepared. Think about it though. Going door to door asking if we can take their children somewhere to play with them. For an “advanced” culture such as ours we’ve unfortunately developed trust issues the African people haven’t yet been tainted by.

I was recruited to play Jesus for a skit during Jabulani Kids. Those are not easy sandals to fill.....

The cottage we stayed in at the Youth for Christ campus north of Johannesburg. Girls on the left, guys on the right. There may have been a prank one night involving scratching the girl's window with a branch and scraping at the front door, but that's off the record.

Day 5: Thursday, August 10

In the morning, the Impact Africa team took us to Diepsloot Combined School, a public middle/high school that allows them to insert the Gospel with their students (another unfortunate no-can-do here in the States). We sat in on a class where Genesis (one of the IA interns) and Gerald (aka Mastermind, an IA translator with his own story of being saved in the Diepsloot squatter camp) taught high schoolers about how they could improve their lives by making good choices regardless of their present circumstances. 

After class, we mixed in with the students on the school grounds. The kids were friendly and gracious, sharing their aspirations of becoming tomorrow’s forensic scientists, biomechanical engineers and surgeons. One boy with a vivid imagination claimed to be the grandson of Shaka Zulu. We had so much fun with the kids – the poverty that choked them daily at home lost its grip here on the school grounds where a hope for a better tomorrow seemed attainable. These kids were genuinely joyous and determined to succeed. We all wanted to spend more time with them but we had more ministry to do back in the camp.

Genesis laying down love and discipleship for the students of Diepsloot Combined School.

These kids are not held back by their poverty but are driven by their dreams! The intense one giving you the stare down is the one that claims Shaka Zulu blood. Be afraid.

That afternoon, back in the squatter camp, we sat under a makeshift shelter with a man named Godfrey and his friend. They were both drunk from something that looked like watered-down milk in a plastic container sitting on the ground between them. Godfrey had a sincerity about him though, and knew that the alcohol had a hold of him he needed to break free of. He reminisced about being a body builder in better times and seemed to have a good understanding about his creator but was just lost, and the drink wasn’t helping. I asked what he was drinking and he pointed to a white plastic sealed bucket sitting right next to me. The label said, “The South African People’s Beer” and “Do Not Walk After Drinking Or You Can Get Killed.” Godfrey had been robbed at knife point for one of these buckets before. 

Unfortunately, he wasn’t coherent enough to be born again but we left hoping a seed was planted. Many of the encounters go that way but some embrace the message so willingly you see the transformation right before your eyes. If that happens just once the trip is well worth it.

Felicia, Amanda, Haley and Vanessa from IA, Jeff the translator, and Jared feeling the love in Diepsloot! This photo sponsored by Coca-Cola. :)

That evening we got a second chance to pray for Pastor Siphlo at his church back in Zandspruit township. Haley and Felicia delivered an awesome prayer over him. It was a great way to close our week of ministry.

I want to say a big thanks to the others on Opendoor‘s #TeamAfrica17. This mission was a huge leap for me, and every one of you has made a big impact in my life by sharing this journey. I have no doubt that we all were hand-picked by God and meant to be joined by this experience for life. Thank you, Kerri and Bill, Jared, Felicia, Haley, Amanda, Bethany, Ashlyn, Chandler, and Sydney. And also Pastor Deana for watching over us from home soil.

I also want to thank all of you that contributed to making this mission possible for me to take part in, whether it was in prayer and encouragement or in a donation. When I was first asked if I wanted to join the mission I said there’s no way I could raise the funds. The problem with that thinking is that I thought I was on my own when in fact I was already being led. Thank you to all that heard that same voice telling you to step forward. 

And of course, a big thank you to the team at Impact Africa for their hospitality and sharing their experience with us so we could participate with them in this awesome service they are doing for God and His people. If you’d like to learn more about or donate to Impact Africa you can use this link:

Here are the stats from God’s work for the week:

In front of:
Adults: 200
Children: 158

Adults: 27

Children: 61

Healings: 7

Ministry Moments:
Prayer: 153
Scripture: 103
Discipleship: 98
Gospel of John Handouts: 37

We had a little time in the market on Friday. I got schooled by the salesman but that's okay. Those guys are intense!

We also had time for a safari to see another side of God's wonders, and man He sure delivered!

That night we had a fire side dinner in the wilderness of South Africa. We had come so far, given just a little, but shared so much.

Bill was the glue that held our team together. I don't have any pics of him showering ministry because while he was he had all his heart involved in carrying out God's work, and the camera took a backseat. This pic is from the safari bonfire dinner with one of the guards that was on lion duty. I asked him if that thing could really bring down a lion and he said he didn't know - he'd never shot one. But he was pretty confident that he was a good shot!

At the Lion Park. I want a cheetah. What could be a better running coach than that?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Free Dog Story, and Why It's All Angie's Fault

2:30 am, Monday morning, December 5, 2017

I abruptly awoke from a peaceful sleep to an immediate keen awareness of my surroundings with the distinctive sound of a dog wretching.  I was lying on my side on the port side of the bed facing outboard.  The source of the alarm was somewhere between 3-1/4” and 3-3/8” in front of my forehead.

“What the hell was that?!” Angie hollered.  Evidently her fight or flight mechanism had been triggered too.


And there staring before me on my pillow, so close that I could stick out my tongue and lick it, was a pure white slimy pile of dog puke.  If you took a serving ladle and glopped out a full scoop of Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, and then added one more full scoop, that would be about the size and shape of the goopy glob that shared my pillow with me when the light was flicked on.
This photo shows the perpetrator of the incident, aka Reese the Dog. Contents of stomach not visible.

We had just washed the sheets that evening, and as my wife will tell you the absolute WORST household chore you can ask me to do is put the fitted sheet on the bed.  No matter which way you start you always put it on 90 degrees off of the correct orientation, and as soon as you’ve fit one corner you can be sure it will come flying off towards you when you try to stretch the next corner on.  I absolutely hate it and will throw a temper tantrum every time the task is before me.  So having gone through that nasty awful process I was a little more vested in the state of our freshly cleaned sheets when I saw my painstakingly hard work from a few hours ago threatened by a festering white gelatinous pile of doggie upchuck.

And that’s why my instinct was to immediately plunge my hands into the puke and stop as much of the liquid within from seeping into the pillow case, the precious soft lusciousness of the pillow within, and the sheet and mattress directly below.  I saw it like that scene in Aliens, where they discover that the alien green blood is so acidic it eats through the metal grated floor, down to the next level and through its metal floor, and on and on burning a hole through the building’s never ending layers of structure.  If my hands melted away in fiery acidic doggie stomach contents, damnit, I would save my sheet and pillow case that I fitted all by myself and not without maybe a little complaining.

Bear in mind that one second before this my hands were comfortably shoved under my pillow, resting and dreaming of the amazing work they had recently performed from the arguably impossible task of fitting the sheets, so I think it’s important to describe the sensation from their perspective due to this instinctual yet poorly thought out move that was forced upon them.  Warm.  Extremely warm.  A lot of wet. Certified and definite kind of wet you’d expect from most any orifice of most any animal.  Really really soft but not in a good way like when you touch fleece or a baby’s foot.  Soft, like……….well, like whale blubber if you put it on pulse mode in a blender for about 30 seconds.  And the reason it was so soft, my eyes discovered as they looked upon the dripping horror that I had cupped in my hands, was that most of it was synthetic pillow stuffing.

I think I carried it to the toilet.  I’m not sure because now I was wretching.  I was making those disgusting dry heaving sounds, about to puke myself from the texture and the smell of the contents in my hand.  Apparently this was very amusing to Angie, who by now had yanked off all the sheets and was getting ready to throw them in the washer. (it's amazing how fast we can act in a dangerous situation heightened by the desire to go back to bed)

Now, I didn’t intend for this to really be a story about doggie puke.  I meant it to be a life lesson about the differences between a husband and wife, a man or woman, because I’m not saying this situation was the fault of anyone in particular but now that the event was more or less over it’s typical of me to rewind and analyze the root cause of the situation.  Here’s my logic:

Had there been no pillow to tempt the dog to partake in joyously ripping it to shreds and enjoying its succulent fluffy innards to begin with, this incident would surely have been avoided.  Upon further investigation of the scene of the crime, it was noted that the pillowy victim was found in the spare bedroom.  In particular, the type of victim is very interesting.  It was not a nice big feather filled pillow designed with a clear purpose of supporting a human head during its slumber, but was actually the kind of pillow that serves no purpose whatsoever other than decoration (if that’s a purpose). 

Now, the standard length of a king size bed is 80”, and depending on how much you fluff it, a standard head-supporting functional pillow measured longitudinally or parallel and in-line with the human body is about 16”.  If you use two pillows, one sort of nested over the other, that would probably take about an additional 10”, so that adds up to 26” and should leave 54” of bed exposed when it is properly assembled prior to getting in it.  This is what a man pictures when he thinks of a bed that is made.  Notice there is no decorative pillow stuffed with synthetic fluff, aka a large doggie treat, in this assembly.

Typical cross section of a “made” bed using “The Logic Technique.”

But this is not the configuration we have in our spare bedroom, because as the man of the house the layout of the bed is not my jurisdiction nor do I have any authority over the bed arrangement or any of its assembly components. This assembly by tradition must fall solely on the hands of the woman of the house.  So, without the helpful guiding hand of logic, it seems the new $150 comforter on the bed must be vigorously and entirely covered with $750 worth of pillows so as to conceal its pattern and decorations, however worthless they apparently are as they must concede to the amazing floral pattern and unmatchable joyous art of the multitude of pillows above.  Going back to the longitudinal dimension of the previously described inferior yet logical arrangement (which you’ll recall left 54” of useable space on the bed) this arrangement allows for a mere 8” of exposed, useable space on the bed.  It also requires that you set your alarm clock for one hour prior to your perceived bed time to allow sufficient time to clear the bed of decorative pillows and allow oneself ample space to sleep comfortably.  Therefore, it is clear that the root cause of the problem of being awakened by dog barf on my pillow in the middle of the night is in fact the decision to have a surplus of decorative edible fluff-filled pillows, which in turn caused temptation by the dog to disembowel the said decorative pillow, allow the stuffing to fester in its belly until proper digestion of the contents within could be regurgitated in a glorious manner at 2:30 am precisely in the location 3-1/4” to 3-3/8” from the forehead of the man of the house.  In short, it’s all Angie’s fault.

Typical cross section of a “made” bed using the “I Want My Dog to Eat a Decorative Pillow and Puke on My Husband's Head” Method.

Although no paw prints were found to suggest Kona the Dog had any involvement in the incident, it is strongly believed that he played a role as accomplice or perhaps even selected which pillow was to be "hit" and therefore masterminded the whole thing.