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    Part comedian, part teacher, and part pastor, Dugan is a traveling speaker who loves to speak at a variety of events. If you're interested in finding someone to speak at your next retreat, conference, ministry night or leader training, you're at the right place! Dugan has experience speaking to students, adults, men, kids, and more! Whether you're looking for something powerful and moving, or light and comedic, Dugan offers both (as well as everything in between)! Check out Dugan's newest book "Never Alone" and shoot him an email 72,69,82,69,46.EREH

I Like (Whistle Solo) Birds

I hate running.

Not, like, running to catch a plane or to the center line when playing dodgeball or when you hear a dry leaf skid across the asphalt behind you at night and you think there’s some sort of zombie about to jump you and so you sprint to your front door.

I mean for exercise.

I hate it.

I actually like to exercise and work out and I know cardio is really important, but I just hate running! And I know its an extremely popular mode of keeping in shape. Millions of people over the globe do it everyday by choice, my wife being one of them. People train for months on end and run marathons ranging from a few miles to hundreds of miles. And I think that’s awesome!..for them.

I don’t know if it’s the monotony of the same exact thing every second for minutes on end, or the fact that I’m winded after only a few minutes, or that I’m bored even before I’m winded, but whatever it is, I hate it.

I trained once for a 5k to help raise money for some friends of ours that are adopting from Ethiopia. They’re good friends of ours and I really believe in them getting a child, so I did it. And honestly, I liked everything about it…except the running. I trained for a few months and when I crossed that finish line, I sat down, drank some Powerade and haven’t run since.

All that to say, a while ago I decided to try swimming. I’m proud to say that I decided to get into it before the whole Michael Phelps/Ryan Lochte craze hit America. I just knew I needed to do something for cardio and thought I’d try swimming.

And I loved it.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t swimming just as monotonous as running?

And yes, you might be right. But for whatever reason, I absolutely loved going to the gym (in the winter) or my friend’s pool (in the summer) a few times a week, putting on my jammers, swim cap, and goggles and swimming for 10 or 20 minutes. My sister-in-law even bought me a water proof mp3 player with water proof headphones so I can listen to music or podcasts while I swim (seriously, so awesome).

I’m sure my stroke isn’t all that great and I’m not really going for time or anything like that, but I really swimming.

Well, the other day I was swimming in my friend’s pool. It’s not that long of a pool (I have to swim 4 lengths to equal 1 Olympic lap) but it’s a nice in-ground one that always seems to be bathed in beautiful sunlight.

I had swam for 15 minutes or so and had finished and decided to just float for a while with my sunglasses on and my headphones in. I was listening to “Codes and Keys” by Death Cab for Cutie and had my eyes closed.

The song “Monday Morning” came on, which is one of my favorites and always gets stuck in my head for no reason, even when I haven’t heard it in weeks. One of the lines of the song says

I am a bird that’s in need of grounding,
I’m built to fly away, I never learned how to stay.

And right at that moment I opened my eyes. And directly above me, way up in the air, there were about 8 or 10 small, black birds that were slowly gliding and circling. The sky was this perfect shade of blue with a few small patches of wispy, white clouds nicely spaced out. And right in the middle of this beautifully colored painting were these birds.

I was struck with how beautiful they were.

A beauty that couldn’t be captured by a picture or a writing, that I got to experience . Floating in a pool on a beautiful, sunny, summer day, with good music in my head and oxygen in my lungs.

And at that moment, I just felt like God was there with me. I mean, obviously I know He was with me all along anyway, but for some reason my spirit just skipped a beat as I took in this scene and I had this sense of His presence around me.

And it was funny because right away I began to think: Okay, so what is God trying to tell me through this moment..? What do the birds represent, what does the song mean, what does that cloud stand for..?

But then I stopped and just decided to appreciate the moment and let my heart worship God within it. Not to try and decipher something deep out of it, but just let it be what it was and soak it up.

I closed my eyes again and took a deep breath as the cool water lapped against the side of my head and torso. I thanked God just for being Him. For being so intimately involved in the almost-lost moments of my day. 

I opened my eyes and the birds were gone.

I smiled.

It made me glad I hate running.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” – Matthew 6:26

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Sitcom Men

I like sitcoms a lot. For some reason it feels like I should be embarrassed by that. I’m not sure why. I mean, I liked Lost and still watch CSI and sports and stuff. But for some reason, I really, really love sitcoms.

I used to watch an episode of Friends on my lunch break almost every day for at least a year, I would sneak down and watch The Simpsons before I was allowed to (even though my parents knew and just let me think they didn’t), and I own and have watched every episode of Seinfeld AND all the DVD extra features.

In addition, I absolutely love and watch The King of Queens, Family Guy, and Home Improvement.

But I began to notice something.

All of the men were morons! I mean, they’re obviously very funny, but it seems like across the board the men on sitcoms are immature, frequently bad husbands, usually bad fathers, irresponsible, terrible employees, destructive home owners, poor members of society, neglectful neighbors, and so much more!

Granted, it’s all with hilarious results and by the end of the half hour, everything works out alright, but looking at characters like: Tim Taylor, Homer Simpson, Doug Heffernan, and Peter Griffin, they all have these immature, irresponsible personalities that just require their understanding wives to clean up and still accept them for who they are.

And I love all these shows and all these characters so much! They make me laugh!

But I began to notice that subconsciously, they were subtly affecting my behavior. Me being a husband became more about being funny in the face of irresponsibility, rather than owning it. I became more focused on the punch line or making Lindsay laugh or acting stupid and ridiculous, rather than focused on honoring her or making her feel loved or special. Or simply accepting responsibility or doing the right thing.

I mean, obviously I wasn’t being abusive or cruel or blatantly ignoring her or being a terrible person. But I found myself just wanting to be the funny, dufus husband who got the laugh, instead of truly embracing what it means to be a husband and father and the man of the house.

So, I don’t think I’ll stop watching these shows, necessarily, but it did help my perspective to realize this and make sure I focused on the man/husband/father that God made me to be, and not the one that comedy television tells me to be.

That, or maybe I should start watching 24 on my lunch breaks now instead.

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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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