Thursday, April 18, 2024

ALL PACKED UP & READY TO ROLL!

ALL PACKED UP & READY TO ROLL! ...IGNITE KICKS OFF TMW AFTERNOON!!

We haven't had a chance to build all the shelving in our new trailer (from last year) so we are still using "Ole Grey". We take off tomorrow morning to head to Word of Life in Hudson for our annual IGNITE Camping Retreat... we have about 50 people looking forward to a God-awesome weekend!! Can't wait!!! Yip! Yip! 
 
 
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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

IF YOU GUESSED "CRACKED PEPPER" THEN YOU NAILED IT!

  
Our new paint color for the formerly known as "Green Monster" is the BEHR 2024 COLOR OF THE YEAR >>> Cracked Pepper 😀

This color is nothing to sneeze at! As the age old saying goes, "If you're getting a little salty with your old faded paint then spice it up with some cracked pepper!" Who would have thought that this 3000 year old sage advice would come in so handy in this season of our ministry when selecting storage container paint in 2024?!?! It's such a flavorful play on words I can almost taste it!

We still have more to add to this awesome 40 ft storage container (including a new name), but this project is moving forward every few weeks 😀 ... GREAT WORK BY OUR YOUNG GUNS!!
 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

SOMETIMES YOU'VE GOT TO "SHED" SOME THINGS IN ORDER TO FLOURISH!

  
In case you haven't noticed we have a lot of projects going on over here at GTD Central Command. This week the young guns and I are getting sh(r)edded assembling sheds, building shed platforms, and leveling the ground for proper shed placement. Thankfully with all the shedding going on we haven't shed any blood! Today we placed 8 sheds (four 3'x5' slimline metal sheds and four plastic "half" sheds) behind the storage container. The big challenge over here is that I've got a ton of GTD adventure gear, my own stuff, my Dad's stuff, and a couple of friends' stuff with no room to renovate... in other words, I can't progress on all the office and home renovations until I've got a place to put all the stuff that's in the way... so our medium term solution is 8 storage sheds that can be concealed behind the GTD 40' shipping container to hold whatever we can. These kids are so fun and great to work with! Each week we are making solid progress, and having fun while we do it!
 
 
 
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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Any of Jim's friends want to go visit him with me tomorrow???


I'm driving up to Ocala (2 hrs away) tomorrow morning to visit Jim Butski if any of Jim's friends want to join me. I can take 3 more people. We will stay for 3 or 4 hours then drive back home. I'll be departing from Pinellas Park around 8a and should be back around 4 or 5p.

Jim can use some love, support, & encouragement if you're able to go.

Jim will be in Ocala for about 12 days and then will possibly be going up to Michigan near his family for more aggressive physical therapy.

Let me know if you want to jump on the party truck and go visit Rock Star!
 
 
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IGNITE IS 1 WEEK AWAY!! (APR 19-21)

  
One of our most popular events of the year is only 1 week away!! GTD's IGNITE Camping Retreat is going to be so much fun! And at only $55/person it's less expensive to go to IGNITE than it is to stay home! 
 
Simply register online to lock in your spot(s)!
 
IGNITE Details, Link & Registration:
https://gtdbullhorn.blogspot.com/p/ignite-camping-retreat-2.html?m=1
 
 
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Friday, April 12, 2024

THE 2024 SOLAR ECLIPSE TOTALITY IN 1 MINUTE!

 


THE 2024 SOLAR ECLIPSE TOTALITY IN 1 MINUTE! Wait for it, wait for it ...Gotta love that time-lapse!!
 
 
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Thursday, April 11, 2024

LAURIE SAVES THE TRIP!! ...OUR SPONTANEOUS ADVENTURE BECAME THE AMAZING RACE!

    
Laurie & I had a spontaneous quest to go see the totality of the eclipse. We threw this trip together in a few hours just a few days before the eclipse. We could have gone to many locations to be in the path of totality. Laurie picked Memphis because she has recently become a big Elvis fan and wanted to visit Graceland. I've never really been into Elvis, but always appreciated his reverence for God & humility with all his fame. So with all the movies & documentaries that Laurie has been watching about Elvis in recent months I've been turning into a late blooming mini fan... sooooo I was all for buying some blue suede shoes and visiting the mansion & museum of the OG American super mega-star. We used our free flight miles (take-off on Allegiant and return home on Southwest), booked 2 hotel rooms, and RESERVED & CONFIRMED a rental car. We were setting out on a 48-hour Spontaneous Adventure to see the totality of the Solar Eclipse and visit Graceland. The forecast wasn't looking too good for the eclipse as we got closer to departure so we picked a few locations in northern Arkansas & southern Missouri where the cloud forecast was better... and all of which were 2-3 hours away from Memphis. The forecast kept changing so we were going to be flexible with a mobile mentality and keep moving based on the day-of forecast. We were dependent on our rental car! I had never rented from Thrifty, but we got the best rate from them and reserved a mid-size car to be picked up at the airport when we landed. Our flight was scheduled to land around the time that all the car rental agencies were scheduled to close so I made a 2nd reservation for the next morning at an Enterprise about a mile from our hotel in case we missed our Thrifty rental. Sure enough we got caught in some bad weather and had to circle the airport for 45 minutes before we could land in Memphis. We had a gameplan... Laurie would get the checked luggage and I would run to the car rental in hopes that someone stayed late at the Thrifty counter. Did I mention that we found out before our flight that there were no more rental cars available at any car rental agency at the airport. But still we were hopeful since we had a reservation. So I took off for the rental car section of the airport which was waaaaay on the other side of the airport. To my surprise there was still an employee working at the desk! I showed her my reservation, and she said, "Sorry, we are out of cars." It wouldn't had mattered if our plane was 4 hours early... they had customers with reservations waiting for several hours and most of them didn't get a car. As Jerry Seinfeld says, "You know how to take the reservation, but you don't know how to hold the reservation." With no cars left at the entire airport we got a cab ride to the hotel 20 minutes away in Olive Branch, MS. Laurie's room was on the 2nd floor and my room was on the 3rd floor. I put all of my clothes in a duffle bag inside the only piece of checked luggage that we brought. It was close to midnight so I took my duffle bag of stuff & went to my room with the plan to get up early and jog about a mile to Enterprise (who we have always successfully received our car rental from). According to their website they opened at 7a and our RESERVATION & MULTIPLE CONFIGURATIONS was set for 7.30a. But just to be on the safe side I was going to arrive at 6.45a before they opened. But I forgot my running shoes in the suitcase that was in Laurie's room. I didn't want to wake her up so I used another pair of shoes not great for jogging and decided to leave earlier and walk instead of jog the mile to Enterprise. It was a crazy busy commerce road with no sidewalks so I walked along the busy traffic and it had rained throughout the night. I got to Enterprise at 6.45a where they had plenty of cars in the parking lot. The sign on the door said they opened at 7.30a (their website said 7a) so I sat outside for 45 minutes. By the time they opened up a small crowd of customers had formed a line behind me. Not a problem since I had a RESERVATION & SEVERAL CONFIRMATIONS on my app, emails, & print-outs. I approached the counter with my reservation & confirmations to only find out that there were NO MORE CARS AVAILABLE!! According to the staff there were 50 other reservations before mine that they had to fulfill before I could get a car!! Well, why give people a reservation & multiple confirmations if that's the case! I would have spent my available time looking for other options instead of putting my time into this ultimately useless "reservation". He said he may have a car for me in the afternoon. Well, if we had any chance of seeing the totality of the eclipse we had to leave our hotel in the next 2.5 hours. Disappointed with Thrifty & Enterprise, but still optimistic and resolved to find a way to see the eclipse I sent a text to Laurie about the situation and called Enterprise while walking back to the hotel. The Customer Service Department told me they were going to find me a car and drop it off at my hotel, but each branch they set up a car reservation with called me to inform me that there were no more cars available. We were running out of time. I was considering an Uber for the long ride there and back, but could we arrange that in less than an hour?? Then I got a text from Laurie!! She reserved a van from Uhaul!!! It was the last van in the area available (but was it really available??? Or was it like the rental car agency???)... we wouldn't know for sure until they opened at 9.30a. So we got an Uber and took off for Uhaul 20 minutes away. To our amazement and joy... upon arrival we saw possibly the only rental vehicle in the region was in fact there, and it was available!!! PTL!!!! Laurie did it!!!!! She thought outside the box and came up with the best idea that saved the entire trip!!! It was going to end up costing about $100 more than a rental car, but who cares, we had a solution literally with no time to spare!!! That van was gross with slime all over the steering wheel, cup holders, & dashboard... it smelled like smoke & wet dog... it was a mess... and yet it was the most excellent vehicle I had ever seen because it was hopefully going to get us to our destination!!!! It was our vehicular salvation!!!! Our Spontaneous Adventure became The Amazing Race to Totality... and by the grace of God and Laurie's BRILLIANT IDEA & INITIATIVE we now had the needed vehicle just in the nick of time to set out for our quest for Totality!!! But would we make it in time??? What was the traffic going to be like??? Could we find a location without thick cloud coverage??? Would the van actually make it 3 hours away without issues??? The answer to all those questions is >>> Wowwww, we did it! We made it to the area of totality for the eclipse just in time!!!! It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen!!! We found a remote spot on farmland in Pocahontas, Arkansas with clear blue skies!! We spent the next 3 hours relishing every second of the eclipse... and when Totality happened it was all worth it!! We experienced 4 minutes of Totality and it was absolutely amazing!!! It was worth every ounce of effort and we are so happy we didn't give up!! We went the distance and got to experience a rare gem of a site... I'll never forget! I'd go again in a heartbeat!! We checked out the cool nearby small town, ate at a delicious Mexican restaurant, got ice cream, then hit major traffic jams on the way back to Memphis. It took 3 hours to travel 2 miles! But we made it back to the hotel by midnight. The next day we used that same most excellent Uhaul van to go to Graceland. We had a blast! A few hours later we dropped off the Uhaul and got an Uber to the airport just in time to catch our flight. Traci dropped us off at the airport on Sunday night and Carson picked us up on Tuesday night. It was a jam packed 48 hours of go, go, go... and it was an unforgettable Amazing Race that we won... we stuffed so much into 2 days that it felt more like 2 weeks. Way to gooooo Laurie!!!! You saved the entire trip!!
 
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Sunday, April 7, 2024

SPONTANEOUS ADVENTURE!!

  
SPONTANEOUS ADVENTURE... A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART MEETS BLUE SUEDE SHOES!

Laurie & I had a lot of flight miles built up over the past 5 years so we threw together a quick 48 hour adventure to fly into Memphis and go see the eclipse & swing by and say hey to "the king of rock'n roll". Flight departs at 7p... Memphis & north Arkansas here we come!!
 
UPDATE: Our Spontaneous Adventure is turning into The Amazing Race LOL... Our plane couldn't land on time due to heavy storms so we flew around the airport for about 45 minutes... by the time we got to the rental car agency there were no more vehicles available (in the entire airport) even though we had a reservation (can you say Seinfeld!!)... we knew it was iffy that we would make it to the rental car agency before they closed so I made a back-up reservation at a different rental car agency about a mile from the hotel while we were in Florida... we took a taxi 12 miles to our hotel... Laurie is on the 2nd floor and I'm on the 3rd floor... I'm planning on jogging 1 mile to get the rental car agency tmw morning... I'm so glad I've been doing cardio 2-3 times per week for the past 6 months haha... then eating breakfast and driving about 3 hours to hopefully see the eclipse... potential for cloudy conditions, but we are going to do our best 😀 ... nighty nite 😴 
  
  
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Saturday, April 6, 2024

A TIME OF REFLECTION... INSTALLING THE RADIANT BARRIER!

  
Another project we've been working on is installing a radiant barrier as our first line of defense against the radiant heat that makes it through the roof. Radiant barriers on average reduce heat gain by 40%, and reduce your heating & cooling bill by around 17%. Once it's installed it is virtually maintenance free for the life of the product... which can be many decades. Maneuvering in an attic is simple, but challenging... unless you are about 5 feet tall or less. Our teenage work crew loved this project, especially since they got to climb around the trusses like a jungle gym for several hours 😀 
 
 
 
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QUITE BAFFLING!! ...ATTACHING THE ATTIC BAFFLES 😀


One of our projects over the past week was stapling up all the attic baffles to ensure a free flow of ventilation up to the ridge vent so none of the future insulation accidentally blocks the passage of air. We also sistered up (repaired) 5 rafter tails that had some old dry rot. Our pack of teen wolves devoured the task!
   
   
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Friday, April 5, 2024

THE HOF VOLUNTEERS FOR 2 DAYS!

 
Big thanks to my great friend Josh Hofstede ("The Hof") who came down from Brooksville for 2 days to help with the home improvement projects!! He helped us remove old insulation, prep the walls for termite prevention spray, assemble a couple small sheds, and install attic baffles! Josh has been an incredible friend to me & GTD for over 20 years... We've shared many God-awesome adventures together... and last year he hiked 7 miles with a broken foot (in a boot) on our Swamp Thing Backpacking Trip all with a smile on his face! You can't stop this guy! Thank you "The Hof"! You helped us get a lot done and made it even more fun!! The journey is way better when we do life together!
 
 
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Thursday, April 4, 2024

6 MONTHS INTO MY TAKEback ATTACK AND I'M 20 YEARS YOUNGER!

  
I haven't shared much about this in a while, but I've been quietly on the attack in Jesus name. Over the past 6 months there has been a lot of healthy gains in my life since I started my TAKEback ATTACK in Jesus name. One of those areas of healthy gains is my "feels like" age. As I wrote back in October, for the first time in my life I felt older than my actual age (see excerpt below). I'm very happy to share that my consistent daily devotions, consistent daily declarations of God's promises, and my consistent regular workout routine has been a fountain of youth for me. In fact, I'd say I've easily knocked off 20 "feels like" years off of my age... in October I felt like I was 64... today I feel like I'm 44... and I'm continuing to trend younger & younger each week by the grace & power of God... my former Pastor used to refer to me as the oldest teenager in his church haha! I loved that! And I aim to return to that fun-loving "19 year old" "teenager forever" zeal for life... not in an immature irresponsible way, but in that unjaded zest for life "got a million dreams to live out" and "let's win the world for Jesus" kind of way. I'm not there yet, and I'm still in a somewhat fragile state, but I'm way less fragile and rock-bottom than I was 6 months ago. As someone once said, "Rock bottom is a solid foundation to build upon". I've been rebuilding my life upon the solid foundation of God's promises as I attempt to R.I.S.E.&.F.I.G.H.T. my way back to the abundant life (John 10:10). I used to laugh a lot, and I'm starting to laugh again. I used to dream a lot (as in have endless Godly ambitions), and I'm starting to dream again. I used to be playful, and I'm starting to play again. These are significant signs of life to me. Can a person actually get younger? With God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!! I believe it... I receive it... I proclaim it... and I declare it over my life! ...The thief comes only to kill, steal, & to destroy, BUT I (Jesus) came that you may have life, and have it to the full (abundantly). That's a big BUT hahaha! I can rebuild my entire life upon that big BUT lol! Thank You Jesus!!

This is a picture from our swamp hike in February... that was the best I've felt doing that hike in 5 years - PTL!
 
Excerpt from Oct Facebook post:
"Since I was 24 years old every birthday from that point on I've always felt like I was still 24 years old. That is until this year. For the first time in my life I feel older than I actually am. I feel more like I'm 64. Over the past 5 years I feel like I've aged 40 years. It has been very ugly physically, mentally, and emotionally. Caregiving was always the right thing to do. It was never even a question. And the sacrifices that my Sister and I made for our parents don't come close to comparing to the amazing & loving sacrifices they made for us. How many things and aspirations did they sacrifice in order to have us and raise us?!?! Countless. But Caregiving has been exhausting and brutal. The toll it has taken on us physically, mentally, & emotionally is hard to put into words. The best way I can begin to articulate it is that the entire overwhelming & exhausting journey DECIMATED me (nearly utterly destroyed me) in every tangible area of my life (health, church life, close friendships, finances, sleep, fitness, nutrition, consistent prayer life, missed opportunities, ability to be on top of anything, taking care of my responsibilities, being effective in anything, being behind on everything, watching almost everything in my life fall apart, watching our parents [who we dearly love] slowly die each day, crisis after crisis, emergency room visit after emergency room visit, prolonged hospitalizations, and the list goes on). In my mind I want to write a book titled, "How Caregiving Almost Killed Me". A Cautionary Tale of sorts. I'm actually very surprised I'm still alive."
 
 
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IGNITE IS 2 WKS AWAY!! (APR 19-21) ...IT'S GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!

   
One of our most popular events of the year is only 2 weeks away!! GTD's IGNITE Camping Retreat is going to be so much fun! And at only $55/person it's less expensive to go to IGNITE than it is to stay home! 
 
Simply register online to lock in your spot(s)!
 
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- IGNITE Camping Retreat
- April 19-21, 2024 (Fri night - Sun afternoon)
- Word of Life (Hudson, FL)
- Costs starts at $55/person
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INCLUDED ACTIVITIES:  
- Camping
- 2 Morning Devotions
- Climbing Wall
- Zipline
- Team Sports (such as volleyball, ultimate, basketball)
- Camp Games
- Swimming Pool
- Nightly Campfires, Bible-Based Messages, Smores... a perfect combination!
- Outdoor Movie (with family friendly editing)
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ADD-ON OPTION (EXTRA COST):  
- Bunkhouse Cabins (Optional Add-On).... Add $40/person ($20/night per person)
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IGNITE Link & Registration:
https://gtdbullhorn.blogspot.com/p/ignite-camping-retreat-2.html?m=1
 
 
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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

THE POST OFFICE MESSED UP... MISTAKENLY RETURNED MAIL SENT TO US IN MARCH =O


Well, this is a first, and a little weird. For reasons that not even the personnel at the Seminole Post Office can understand or explain they sent back ("RETURN TO SENDER") all mail sent to us for 2-3 weeks in March. That means that many of our Monthly Partners (including myself), our vehicle registrations, our usual State & Federal & US Census March mailings, our junk mail (LOL!), and any other mail that we have no way of knowing that may have been sent to us was all RETURNED TO SENDER. I'm not sure if this will trigger a domino effect of future missed mailings because the entities that sent mail may not try to re-send it because, as far as they know, they think we no longer use that address... so we are trying to track down and fix this problem. If you sent mail to the GTD PO Box and it was returned it was a human error by the Seminole Post Office... we are paid up for our PO Box for 12 months... they did not close our PO Box... the best guess to what happened is that they think an inexperienced employee or an employee from another Post Office helping out at the Seminole Post Office thought our PO Box was closed because the PO Boxes near & around our box are closed and perhaps the employee mistakenly thought it was our box that was closed??? They are baffled at how this could have happened for 2-3 weeks. They have placed a big sign on the worker's side of our box to let employees know not to return our mail to the senders. Going forward we have signed up for "Informed Delivery" so that we receive an email showing a picture of mail that has been sent to us. Ironically we can't sign up for this service until we first receive a 4-digit PIN that is being sent to, of all places, our PO Box... the very PO Box that someone is sending our mail back to the senders (LOL!!). Unfortunately we can't see what was sent to us retroactively so we may never know what was missed during that time. It has created a little bit of a mess that we hope doesn't snowball into a bigger mess. Jan will be reaching out to our Monthly Partners that usually mail in monthly donations that were not received in March as well as trying to track down our vehicle registrations, etc, etc. Best wishes Jan LOL!! =O 
 
 

Monday, April 1, 2024

LIQUID WAS SOOOOOO REFRESHING!!!

  
We had a fabulous time on our annual FREE Day-Before-Easter LIQUID Paddling Trek this past Saturday at Weedon Island!! The weather and participants and trail were absolutely PERFECT! Aaaaaaaaand we even "threw in" a few fly overs at no extra charge (hahaha!) from the US Air Force Thunderbirds who were performing at the Air Show across the bay at MacDill Air Force Base. We had squishy ball & water blaster wars as well as our annual kayak race. Our Easter devotions were from Hebrews 12:1-2. It was a fantastic and refreshing day!!
 
AND for a brief moment it looked like the event may not happen... with all the kayaks & lunch prepared and ready to go the Weedon Island Preserve parking lots were completely full so none of our participants had anywhere to park and the Park Rangers were out in full force ticketing anyone not in a parking space. Well, our participants showed up and started solving the dilemma quickly... one mom had a mini van and said she could shuttle people to the kayak launch... another participant drove off campus to find a local park that people could park at for a few hours... I was working the phone & texts to coordinate with our shuttle driver & participants... and everyone was working hard to make sure no one missed this event!! It was awesome!! In the end we were able to get everyone in a parking space & at the kayak launch with only minimal time lost. I love the caliber of go-getters that go on our events... it was a total team effort, and it was so worth it... we had such a great time PTL!!
 
Thank you to all of our supporters, volunteers, staff, & participants who make events like this possible & a blessing to so many!!

Click here to see all the LIQUID 2024 pics & vids:
https://goingthedistance.smugmug.com/2024/2024-Day-Trip-LIQUID-Paddling-Trek
 
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1-2

OUR NEXT PUBLIC EVENT IS APRIL 19-21, 2024: Our annual spring IGNITE Camping Retreat at Word of Life in Hudson (click LIQUID link on left side menu for all the details & to register)

Going The Distance Adventure Ministry
God-awesome Adventures Since 1996!
 

Sunday, March 31, 2024

HAPPY EASTER!! He is risen!

 
HAPPY EASTER!! He is risen!

Enjoyed a beautiful Easter service at Mahaffey Theater presented by Calvary Chapel Fellowship... great job CCF!

Then enjoyed lunch with Dad 😀

But as for Easter >>> Thank You Jesus!!!!!!!!
 
 
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Thursday, March 28, 2024

All packed and ready to go =)

 
All packed and ready to go for Saturday's annual LIQUID Kayaking Trip! This year we are returning to Weedon Island 😀 😀 😀

Special thanks to Cocoa Kayaking in Cocoa Beach, Florida for their AMAZING donation of 15 tandem kayaks to GTD last year!!!! We've been getting so much great use out of them!! You guys rock!!!!!!!!!

Going The Distance Adventure Ministry
God-awesome Adventures Since 1996!
 
 
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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY TO THIS PRECIOUS SOUL!! ...50 NEVER LOOKED SO YOUNG!

  
Happy Birthday Laurie!! You're an amazing, precious, caring, loving, kind-hearted, adventurous, beautiful, Godly woman! You are one of God's greatest inventions!! Over the past 16 years we've worked together and done a whole lot of life together... We've traveled all over the U.S. and to a few countries together running all kinds of adventures, mission trips, recon trips, personal vacations for my parents, and even a few of our own fun getaways... We've had so many ups and plenty of downs... We've been engaged twice & called off the engagement twice... We've been on the same page many times and had plenty of disagreements and our fair share of arguments through the years... We have no idea what we are or how to describe our relationship when people ask... sometimes we are a well oiled machine and sometimes we are a train wreck... but through it all we have always remained authentic close friends who genuinely care for one another and wholeheartedly want God's best for each other... through it all our commitment to God and our love for Jesus and doing things His way has covered our long journey to nowhere with grace, forgiveness, Godly love, mercy, and a whole lot of special moments, cherished memories, and treasured experiences. And along the way I've had the honor of watching you grow more & more into the beautiful Godly woman that you are today. Welcome to the 50's club!!! Nifty, nifty, look who's fifty!! No one will ever believe it!! You'll have to be carded to prove your age! I hope today is full of all kinds of special moments, and I pray that the year ahead becomes one of your most cherished years ever!! Happy Birthday "Sporty" "Friend-of-the-animals" "Number 6" "Powder" "Sunshine" "Crazy Cat Lady"!!!! I hope it's unforgettable!!!! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ 
 
 
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Monday, March 25, 2024

UPDATE ON JIM (ROCK STAR)... IT'S BAD... HE NEEDS A MIRACLE & HE NEEDS HIS FRIENDS.

 
Yesterday Laurie, Traci, & I visited our dear friend & former Costa Rica Mission Director - Jim Butski - and his family at Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville for several hours. It was wonderful and awful at the same time. I'm not going to sugar coat it. Here's the update:

- Jim had a massive and severe stroke on Jan 31, 2024. As of today he has been in the hospital for 55 days. If I remeber correctly, the first week or two he was on a ventilator and unresponsive.
- On Jan 31st Jim felt the stroke coming on and called 911 as he was getting into his car (I believe before his 3rd day at his dream job with FWC in Gainesville) and when the ambulance arrived they found him collapsed on the ground unresponsive next to his car.
- His first stroke (about 6 years ago) affected about a golf ball size of his brain while his 2nd stroke affected about a grapefruit size part of his brain.
- it has left him severely debilitated
- he does understand & comprehend
- he wants visitors and needs our love & support
- he needs a supernatural miracle
- his 2nd stroke has affected the "good side" of his body that was not affected by the last stroke.
- the surgeons removed the blood clot from his brain, but the part of his brain that didn't receive blood because of the clot has died.
- he can't talk
- he can't write
- at this time he can only say "no" and nod yes and move his "bad" arm and move his eyes as forms of communication. You have to figure out what he is trying to say almost like playing charades with very few hints.
- he can see like he was able to see before the stroke, but the part of the brain that has learned how to read has died... so he can see, but not read.
- he cries & sobs at times (both when sad & when laughing)... the stroke makes his emotions very raw
- he can eat, but has to be fed and is on a feeding tube at night as an added supplement
- he rests a lot and can fall asleep easily when there isn't something keeping his attention, but that has always been Jim hahaha! He has always either been on a wild adventure, coaching, teaching, or taking a nap LOL!
- he was engaged almost the entire time we were there as long as we were engaged with him and telling stories (laughing and crying at times)
- he seeks and makes good eye contact
- he has some facial and right side "droop" ... his right side is paralyzed so that side of his face & body drops downward slightly, but not nearly as dramatic as we expected.
- he looks very healthy
- his mom & dad have been there daily since Day 1, and are staying at a family member's house an hour & 15 minutes away so they commute back & forth each day
- his mom was a nurse for 50 years and demonstrates great motherly love, care, & empathy as well as helping stretch his muscles and give him basic physical therapy
- he needs aggressive physical therapy, but isn't getting it at this hospital.
- he loves hearing from friends & family. His family is reading all the comments on FB to him. They sometimes have to show him the picture of the person's profile before they read the comment because he doesn't always know who it is when they only say the name.
- they are trying to find a good rehab facility for him in Charleston, SC near where his parents and sisters live.
- we brought pictures from past times with Jim (great job Laurie!) and relived the stories with him. It made him laugh & cry at times, but he really loved it. Traci brought him a birthday card & I brought him a blown up poster of him with a group on one of our adventures
- as you can imagine he has many new limitations that are very hard in and of themselves, but visiting him brought him (and us) great joy... and when another friend from high school showed up to visit him his face lit up.
- I highly recommend going to visit him, bring pictures and retell stories, love on him, pray with him, and tell him how he has impacted your life.
- Jim is in a private room at Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville (currently on the 5th floor). Address is 1600 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, FL 32608
- If you are not able to visit right away then make a video and send it to his phone!! We made a video from my Dad and he started to cry because it touched him so much.
- His 53rd birthday is Thursday March 28th

We serve a God that makes dead things come back to life. My prayer with bigger than mustard-sized faith is that God would resurrect the parts of his brain that have been declared as dead... in faith, we declare them alive again. That's my prayer & declaration of faith.
 
 
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Saturday, March 23, 2024

Soooooo, Dad's trip to the ER last month wasn't a false alarm after all...

 
Soooooo, Dad's trip to the ER last month wasn't a false alarm after all. After having a nuclear stress test done his Cardiologist found that Dad's chest pain & "heart attack symptoms" were due to a moderate (60-70%) blockage in one of his heart arteries. Since it's a moderate blockage Dad was given the option to do another heart catherization to possibly place another stint or try to address it through medication over the next month. Dad's pretty tired of surgeries and hospitalizations so he chose the medicine. Just wanted to update everyone about that ER scare last month and his follow-up tests. Thank you Sista for taking him to his heart Dr and for taking such great notes!!
 
 
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Thursday, March 21, 2024

PRAY 4 ROCK STAR!!

  
I'm so saddened to share that our dear friend & former Costa Rica Missions Director - Jim Butski - has suffered a severe stroke. This is his 2nd stroke in about about 6 or 7 years. We are just learning of his 2nd stroke that evidently occurred at the beginning of February right after Jim moved to Gainesville to take a new position with FWC. We are learning about the severity of this 2nd stroke, but it appears to be very severe. Jim has been one of my best friends since meeting him 22 years ago. He worked on staff for GTD for a couple of years and lived in Costa Rica helping to develop our CR Mission Program. Before & after working on staff, Jim was one of our most frequent volunteers dedicating many summers and weekends to helping us run camps and cooking up a ton of delicious meals. He has lived with me, cared so deeply for my family, been a faithful supporter of GTD year after year, and we have traveled plenty of places together as part of GTD as well as several trips with our group of friends... we have biked across Florida, hiked the Everglades, kayaked the 10,000 Islands (and many other places), rock climbed & rappelled in GA, caved in TN, and other countless adventures together... he loves Jesus and we've shared many conversations about our faith and what God was teaching us along the way... he is a great great friend full of selflessness and a huge heart to serve... I gave him the nickname of "Rock Star" back around 2005 when we were at a restaurant eating lunch and the waitress handed me the bill and handed him a note with her phone number... the note said, "I think you are so hot! Call me!"... being an average looking guy I obviously had never experienced this before LOL... I've only seen things like this in the movies haha! I was slightly offended that I had never received a note like this from a waitress at a restaurant (they were probably just too shy to ever tell me - that's the lie I tell myself - haha!), but I was more amazed than offended that I was in the presence of someone who does receive such attention LOL!! I said, "Wow, Jim, have you ever received a note like that before from a waitress?" Expecting him to say no, I was jaw-dropped when he humbly forced the words out, "Many times." I was like, "Say what?!?! Bro, you are like a Rock Star!!" I had one good looking year of my life when I wasn't too repulsive looking and I think I got a love note from a "secret admirer", but I've only heard of things like this when watching documentaries of rock bands hahahaha!! While I saw it as AMAZING! Jim saw it more like a nuisance. He didn't want the attention I was relishing him with, but I couldn't stop. From that day forward I called him "Rock Star"... I don't know if I was happier for him being a Rock Star or happier that I had a friend that is a Rock Star hahaha! Jim has been my right hand man helping run many many adventures through the years - sacrificing his time, treasure, & talents to help me run God-awesome adventures for 15+ years. In fact, if you were on a GTD Trip between 2002-2017 there's a great chance you've met and been blessed by Rock Star! He has always helped me, always... he always goes on the trips and says, "Doug, what can I do to take as much off of your plate as possible. I'll do all the cooking and help with anything else you need." In the picture above you can see Jim CARRYING 2 BACKPACKS three miles up a mountain to help run a rock climbing trip!! He was and is a Rock Star on many levels! One time he was riding his bicycle (not a motorcycle! a bicycle!) from Florida to Michigan and biked over 100 miles OUT OF HIS WAY to help us run an Adventure Trip in Tennessee!!! All I can say is if I was biking from Florida to Michigan I would be looking to cut off any miles I could and wouldn't add miles on my trek!! That sums up Jim Butski "Rock Star"... he is an extra mile kind of friend! He has been battling for 6+ years to overcome the devastating effects from his first stroke... and just weeks before his 53rd birthday he suffered a devastating severe 2nd stroke. I'm so saddened to hear this and ask my friends to lift him up in prayer - mountain moving faith-sized fervent effectual prayer!! Rock Star needs it! We are planning to go visit him in Gainesville in the next 3 days. Thank you dear friends 🙏 🙏 🙏
 
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UPDATE (March 23, 2024): 
Thank you all for your prayers for Jim! Traci, Laurie, & I are going to visit him tomorrow and we will read him your loving words. I talked to one of his family members yesterday. They were so helpful. While trying to honor the family's privacy & needs, and at the same time also keeping his cherished friends updated, informed, and best equipped to pray all I can say is that our dear friend Jim desperately needs our prayers, love, and support. His 2nd stroke greatly surpasses his 1st stroke. He needs lots & lots of love from his friends, mountain-moving faith sized prayers, and he needs God's supernatural intervention... he needs a miracle. Thank you again for your love & prayers! I will keep you updated.
 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

IT'S PRIME TIME!! ...WHAT COLOR DO YOU THINK WE SHOULD PAINT THE STORAGE CONTAINER???

 
We are continuing to make good progress each week on our construction projects PTL! Jan & Faith did a great job priming the GTD Storage Container (formerly known as "The Green Monster"). We are prepping it for paint. What color do you think we should paint it (hint: it won't be green this time)??? Can you guess the color I'm leaning towards???
 
 
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Monday, March 18, 2024

MORE MINISTRY PARTNER GIFTS MAILED OUT!! ...IF YOU HAVEN'T GOTTEN YOURS LET US KNOW!

 
We have been getting caught up with mailing out & delivering Ministry Partner Gift Packages to our AWESOME SUPPORTERS from the past 5 years (& beyond). If you have EVER donated to GTD a $100 or more then you qualify for some free GTD swag!! If you did not receive your GTD shirt(s), knit cap(s), etc at our last banquet (or have not received anything in the mail - recently or EVER) and would like some GTD merchandise then let us know because we want to get our slick & comfy shirt(s), knit, cap(s), etc out to you asap!! Jan has been working diligently to follow-up with everyone, but please let us know if you haven't received your swag yet... or if want some more!!

GTD office phone: 727-394-9483
GTD email: info@goingthedistance.org
Or comment below 😀
 
 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

HAPPY 2nd HEAVENLY BIRTHDAY MOM!!


Happy "St Annie's Day" to my extraordinary Mom whose birthday falls on St Patrick's Day each year! This is a long distance birthday as she spends her 2nd birthday in Heaven in the majestic presence of our Savior (it's hard to top that venue & that guest list!). Mom, you are my hero! Thank you for every ounce of love, laughter, and sacrifice you poured into my life!! As selfish as it sounds, 91.75 years was not enough... soooooooo I'm overjoyed knowing that God actually makes our future reunion last for all eternity (with a slight separation in-between). I'm at peace and greatly comforted knowing you are basking in the fullness of joy, fullness of health, and fullness of love in your eternal mansion surrounded by a great Heavenly host of amazing people and cherished loved ones. Not gonna lie, I'm kind of jealous hahaha!! Enjoy your absolutely divine birthday cake & endless ice cream that never melts!! HAPPY BIRD DAY BIRDDOG!!!! I LOVE YOU ❤️ ❤️ ❤️!!! ... or, as you would say, I LOVE YOU MORE!!!

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“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” - 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
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"In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." - John 14:1-3 (NKJV)
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