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    Part comedian, part teacher, and part pastor, Dugan is a traveling speaker who loves to serve any event geared towards middle school, high school, or college students. If you're interested in finding someone to speak at your next retreat, camp, conference, ministry night or leader training, you're at the right place! Check out Dugan's newest book "Never Alone" and shoot him an email 72,69,82,69,46.EREH

How Many Peppers Make Up A “Peck”?

I grew up never really liking hot/spicy foods. I don’t remember being revolted or truly hating them, I just never liked them much.

Then all of a sudden, about a year ago, my tongue took on a new identity and decided that I now crave hot/spicy foods like it was my job, which would be a sweet job.

I was suddenly dipping my chips in ‘hot’ salsa, putting a pea-sized dollop of wasabi on each piece of sushi I ate, and thoroughly coating my morning eggs in Tabasco sauce.

I have no logical explanation for it, except to say that it was delicious.

One thing I particularly enjoyed was having a friend of mine over, who comes from Mexico and, no joke, eats jalapenos like I would eat pickles , to teach me how to make salsa. We’d make a quick grocery run and spend the evening grilling, dicing, and seasoning various veggies and peppers to make our own salsas. Most of mine (and all of his) turned out great.

Then I (or maybe my wife…but I’ll take credit for it) had a brilliant idea: To grow a bunch of ingredients for salsa and make homemade salsa!

So one day Linds, Eva, and I made a family trip to a local garden center and I purchased seedlings for 3 tomato plants, a jalapeno pepper plant, and habanero pepper plant, 2 bell pepper plants, some garlic chives, and some cilantro (which died tragically after about a week). I picked up some organic potting soil later that day and that evening designated some areas of yard to be mini ‘gardens’ for my salsa plants.

Now for some reason, I figured once I planted them in the group, I’d be picking juicy, fist-sized fruit that my plants had yielded within a week or two. Ignorant was I.

It definitely took all summer for them to begin to bloom. And I wasn’t annoyed by the wait, as much as I just felt dumb for thinking that soil, sun, and rain was like some sort of Mother Earth microwave that would have me gathering bushels of harvest after a few days.

So all summer I watched my salsa plants. For those of you who live in the mid-west, you know that it was one of the hottest and driest summers we’ve ever had and definitely the hottest and driest in the last 100 years or so. So each evening I would water the plants with Eva in my arms, each day I’d move some plants around (those not in the ground) to make sure they were getting enough sunlight, and almost every morning I would sift through the leaves to see if I could find anything beginning to grow.

And after a few months, they started coming in. First the hot peppers, then the tomatoes, and finally the bell peppers.

It was so much fun! I definitely recommend it to those of you who like to cook with or eat fresh veggies.

I’m not sure why but there was just something so fun about going out in the evening and picking a few tomatoes off the vine for our salads that night. Or grabbing some hot peppers to then toss in the food processor for my next batch of salsa. I don’t know if it was because I did the work to grow them or just the fact that they were in my back yard, but it was very gratifying to eat something that was produced (organically, I might add) within 20 yards of where I sleep and eat every day.

Right now it’s early September and so far I’ve made 3 batches of salsa, each of them slightly different, each of them different degrees of hotness, but all equally delicious.

Therefore, I declare Summer 2012 as: “The Summer of Salsa!”

 

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A Flashlight in the Sun

Our high school pastor gave a message on being the light of the world (Matthew 5:16) last night and I had a thought about light that I’d never had before: Light belongs in darkness.

That might sound like a ‘duh’ thought to some of you, but it had never occurred to me in that way before.

Light is useless if it’s not in darkness. Its purpose is to illuminate darkness. If I just have a light surrounded by other lights, it’s pretty pointless. The difference it makes to turn a light on in a lit up room is minimal, at best. But a light lit up in a dark room makes a massive difference. Light was meant for darkness.

So that got me thinking about Matthew 5:16. If Jesus said that we are the light of the world, then that means we are meant to shine in darkness. We’re not called to shine among light, we are called to actually seek out darkness to shine there.

Meaning, if we only let our light shine, only live the Christian life, only get excited about God, only tell our testimony, only preach the gospel, only pray, only read the Bible, and only worship God among other Christians or at church or in our small group or when only around our Christian friends, then we are a light among lights and making a minimal difference at best and no difference most of the time.

Instead, where is the darkness in my life? In your life? The darkest relationships, neighborhoods, buildings, people. Where is there the most darkness around you that you are called to be a light to?

Because if we keep just being a light among lights, then our impact will be pretty useless. Just as a flashlight is useless in the sunlight.

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Creepy (but kind) Stranger

I noticed this trend in society a while back.

It happened when I was driving. For those of you that drive, you know about those awkward moments when you’re at a stop light or driving the exact same speed as the person next to you…and you catch their eye.

It usually ends with both of you staring deeply at each others’ souls for a moment before one of you quickly looking away to make it clear: “I have way more important things on my mind, like where I’m going, than to acknowledge you right now.”

And I noticed this trend everywhere. Whether it was driving, walking down the street, in line at the movies, or even sitting in church, there was this pattern among myself and strangers that involved accidental eye contact followed by a stone-faced breaking of the eye contact.

So I made a decision.

I decided I was going to be a kinder eye-contact-person.

I was going to look at this norm of society and spit right in its face! Well, not spit. Kind of the opposite actually. (no not drink saliva)

I was going to smile! I made a decision that when I made eye contact with a stranger, I was going to try and quickly as I can to make sure I smiled at them. And I did!

It didn’t go so well.

What usually would happen is that the split second it took me to notice the eye contact and smile was the exact amount of time it was for the other person to notice the eye contact and begin looking away. So then they do a double take and try to smile back at me (sometimes) but by that time my smile was dissipating (me thinking they were done looking at me) and so by the time they were looking at me again and smiling, I wasn’t smiling and basically just looking at them like a creepy stranger.

But that didn’t happen all the time. Every once in a while they would smile back at me. Usually their smile was also a little confused and was nice but seemed to say: hi…why are you smiling at me?

But whether I creep them out or make their day, I continue to smile at strangers.

Who knows, maybe a little smile amongst people who don’t know each other will make the world a better place.

…or just make people drive away from me a little quicker than normal.

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Dear Heavenly Twitter

I don’t know how many of you use Twitter or Instagram or FaceBook (I’m 2 for 3) but one of the coolest parts about any of these outlets is being able to talk about something awesome you’re doing, brag on someone you love, or show your followers something awesome you’re looking at.

Today I had one of those moments. I was in my house and realized that all of the following were happening at the same time:

– My daughter was playing adorably at my feet

– I was listening to 90’s music

– Golf was on TV

– I was drinking coffee

And the first thought that came into my head was: “This moment is so amazing…I should Tweet about it!”

The second thought that came into my head was: “This moment is so amazing…I should thank God for it!”

I would have preferred these thoughts to have come in the opposite order if I’m being honest. But it definitely caused me to pause and evaluate my own heart for a moment. Do I care more about people knowing how great of an experience I just had? Or about thanking the Giver of all good things for giving me the moment?

Unfortuately, more often than I care to admit, I’d prefer the attention of people than to give thanks to God.

D

P.S. I didn’t Tweet about it. I did thank God for it. And aside from this post, I’m going to start keeping more amazing moments between me at God…at least at first.

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