I am thankful for a dramatically different life than I had until about 11 years ago. I am most thankful for the means by which that change came, namely the person and work of Christ. I am thankful for my wife and daughters, in that order. From there, it’s family and friends. You guys are high on my list of what I’m thankful for because really, it’s all about relationship. Quick side note. I will be posting a blog answer the question whether you should be high bar or low bar back squatting and what that even means. Look for that soon, and then look for a lot more squatting, at least in the short term. Now back to Thanksgiving:
If you have only known me as a married man, then you don’t have the same perspective as the large group of high school friends I ran into last night. Though we had kept up in Facebook, this was the first time I’ve seen these people since high school as I had an abrupt move halfway through my senior year. I had to give my humble testimony, and I will give it to you here now. I had burnt every bridge, I couldn’t be trusted with anything, I was emotionally unstable and volatile, and was facing 8 years in prison. I was offered services at Wheeler Mission as an alternative, which is another long and interesting story in itself.
A couple years after that I was married (almost 9 years ago now) and we moved to Costa Rica where I worked with crack addicts helping them be fully restored to productive life. I still have several friends from down there that I keep in close contact with. This is also when I found CrossFit on the internet and began doing WODs in the small gym there. CrossFit obviously being one of the things I’m most thankful for.
Fast forward to today and my life is completely unrecognizable from the trajectory of my life then. And I remember thinking what my life might be like if I made it to 30, but it was nothing like it actually was. I know that many of you may see me as odd or however you want to put it now, but again, with some perspective, it’s really no comparison.
Thinking about the Thanksgiving season especially during this divisive time in our nation has also caused some unique introspection. The problem with this past election cycle, I think, is that it represents us too well as a people, and I don’t think we like what we see in the mirror. Lies, corruption, selfishness, vain conceit, unbridled ambition. The problem isn’t that the candidates don’t represent the people well, the problem is that they do. In our own brief history of a country you don’t have to look too far to see hate, animosity, oppression, racial superiority, etc.. And I’d love to say that we only have a bit more of that bitter harvest to reap from our forefathers before it’s over but the problem is that these seeds continue to be sewn today.
We have tolerated these divisions for too long. We have become complacent and accepted the status quo. We must work for peace and unity. Work for it, it doesn’t just happen in cruise control. Yet we resort to anxiety and fear, and we sometimes give into weakness. We talk a big talk but are rattled quite easily. And what is fear but the manifestation of pride. We pretend justice but seek our own ends. We have loved money and used people, and it’s time for us to stop.
But real change happens when we stop pointing the finger and look at our own side. I can only clean up my side, but when I do, people tend to be more apt to clean up theirs as well. We must realize that we cannot force someone to change by direct action. But when we change ourselves, people around us tend to be more open to change. We all have something we can work on, and if we each focus on that, more would get done that spending an entire life trying to change someone else. Trust me.
As most of you know, I also pastor a small Baptist congregation on the near west side. And it was my great pleasure to join up with a congregation near 35th and Fall creek and share a message of unity the Sunday after the election. It was actually a very awesome time of coming together even though our churches come from different sides of the tracks.
As we met early that Sunday, we caravanned from our church’s neighborhood on the West Side. It is a neighborhood where Confederate flags wave on every other house, and here we were getting ready for full gospel worship with the Hammond B and everything. People coming together to share love and hope not just despite our differences but because of our differences. I can’t pretend to understand anyone else’s plight, but I have been fortunate (and I say fortunate because of the opportunity to learn so much) to live in places where I have been the minority or outsider. Both of my daughters are Costa Rican. No matter how good my Spanish got, I was still an outsider. I know what that feels like, and there are people all around us who feel the same. I lived on an Island in Alaska where there were 70 natives and I was the only white man. In Alsaska, especially along the Aleutian chain, there is a lot of racial tension because of what happened to the natives at the hands of the Japanese during WWII while the US basically turned a blind eye. It’s so easy to think you’re better than someone else, or to think the opposite, that someone else better than you, but I believe that we were all created in the image of God, and as such all have equal dignity and deserve impartial respect. There are truths that I hold to be self evident.
Although I’m sure most of you think I voted Trump, I went with Gary Johnson on Nov 8. I’m also quite fond of many of the libertarians views regarding limited government interference with the lives of citizens. At least Gary Johnson will push to legalize marijuana which for me is one of the most disgusting examples of governmental overreach and corruption. It was illegalized in the first place in order to be able to round up Blacks and Mexicans, and to this day the enforcement of marijuana laws is ridiculously unbalanced along racial lines. The prison justice system, which I’ve been able to see from both sides, is so discriminatory it makes me angry.
This doesn’t even take into account the millions of health benefits for cancer patients, chronic pain, increased focus, energy, sleeping issues, and other literally hundreds of other ailments that the herb bearing plant, which was given to us by God for our stewardship, can help with. So for me, this legislation represents a lot to me considering it’s discriminatory origin, nature, and implementation and the infringement on our God-given rights. You cannot even grow hemp (almost 0 THC, you can’t get effects) in this country legally. Hemp is my favorite fiber for clothing, but because of beurocratic oppression I must but clothing that has its hemp shipped from overseas. We gon have to get up, stand up. Speaking of hemp clothing, check out these hoodies. It’s an old friend of mine’s company out in LA, and he’s been lobbying hard now for a while to change laws in California so that he can grow his own hemp and produce a clothing product done start to finish in the USA.
I’m thankful for you guys. It’s obvious but bears repeating again, without you, the gym wouldn’t exist. CrossFit is unique because it’s so much more than a physical exercise regimen. Yes, it’s constantly varied, functional movement, executed at a relative high intensity, but the lessons learned in the box translate to every other aspect of your life. It’s been great seeing you guys outside of an exercise atmosphere, and I look forward to our Holiday Party where will definitely have the 3rd floor Lounge.
I’m thankful that our small church was able to provide 20 Thanksgiving meals to needy families in our community this Holiday. I’m thankful for the outreach we do at the Relax Inn, grilling food and offering hope to people who were in the same situation I used to be in. It was Christ who saved me, and any good thing at all, though they be few and far between sometimes, that I might be able to do to help anyone else at any level, I cannot take one bit of the credit. I know where my best efforts got me, and I’m thankful for a new way even if I’m still stumbling forward on a daily basis.
Obviously, this is stream of consciousness so probably could be much better worded and organized, but it’s a lot of thoughts, and I’m thankful. Boom.
Tomorrow, Classes will be open at regular times, but workout may take longer than an hour, so please feel free to plan on sticking around if you like. I’ve done this one several times. It used to be my New Year’s Day workout.
Run 2 miles
Rest 2 minutes
135 pound Squat clean, 20 reps
20 Box jump, 24″ box
20 Walking lunge steps with 45lb plate held overhead
20 Box jump, 24″ box
135 pound Squat clean, 20 reps
Rest 2 minutes
Run 2 miles
If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.
U.S. Army First Lieutenant Daren M. Hidalgo, 24, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, assigned to 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany, died on February 20, 2011, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Two weeks prior to his death, he was hit by an earlier improvised explosive device. Despite his injuries, he stayed in country and on patrols rather than return home. He is survived by his father Jorge, mother Andrea, brothers Miles and Jared, and sister Carmen.