Monday, June 20, 2022

We have returned from 2 non-stop weeks...

 
We have returned from 2 non-stop weeks of back-to-back Adventure Trips in northeast Georgia. God blessed us with 2 phenomenal trips jampacked with God-awesome fun that blessed and impacted a lot of lives! I can't wait to share with you guys some of the pictures, videos, & details over the next few days :)
 
 

Monday, May 23, 2022

SAVE THE DATES!! ...GTD'S PUBLIC EVENT CALENDAR UPDATED THRU MAY 2023!!

 
We are working hard to schedule our monthly PUBLIC EVENTS up to a year in advance to put our God-awesome adventures on your radar... and hopefully on your calendar. Our PUBLIC events are open to anyone who wants to come out and play in God's amazing playground. We try to have at least one different PUBLIC EVENT per month all year long, and we try to do it for FREE or at a greatly reduced rate to be a blessing to those who love to "GTD" (Get The Discount)!
 
Here's what we are looking at for the next 12 months:
 
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"SLAMMED" Adventure Trip in Tiger, GA (June 8-12) ... pretty much sold out, but may be able to squeeze a few more in
 
"REVAMP"... Part of GTD's Summer Mission Project in Pinellas Park, FL (June, July, & Aug)... more info to come!
 
"SHABANG!" Park Day & Cookout >>> recreational kayaking, touring kayaking, paddleboarding, group games, team sports, playground, cookout >>> The Whole "Shabang"!!! (Sept 24)
 
CAMPING RETREAT in Ocala National Forest (FL) >>> we are going to have a contest to name this event... more info to come (Oct 28-30)
 
"ANNUAL BANQUET" in Largo, FL (Nov 15)
 
<<< DEC OFF >>> No PUBLIC EVENTS in Dec as of now (due to Christmas holiday)
 
"SWAMP THING" Everglades Backpacking Trip (Jan 7-8)
 
"PADDLE PROWL" Kayak & Island Camping Adventure in central Florida (Feb 4-5)
 
"IGNITE" Weekend Camping Retreat in Hudson, FL (Mar 3-5)
 
"LIQUID" Kayaking Day Trek in Pinellas County Florida (Apr 8)
 
"SIDEWINDER" SUP Paddleboarding Day Trek in St Petersburg, FL (May 6)
 
***WE ARE ALSO HOPEFUL TO RETURN BACK TO PUBLIC COSTA RICA MISSION TRIPS & ADVENTURES OUT WEST (Grand Canyon, Utah, etc) in 2023***
 
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We have the dates for our PUBLIC EVENTS for the next 12 months so now we will move on to building / updating each link on the website with details, costs, registration, etc. Save the above dates on your calendar so we can go play together!
 
 
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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

SIDEWINDER PADDLEBOARDING TREK WAS QUITE ENJOYABLE!!

 
This past Saturday GTD hosted our 2nd annual SIDEWINDER SUP trek... and we had such an enjoyable time! The weather was perfect! The water temperature was perfect! And the people were okay! Haha, just kidding, they were perfect too!
 
Unfortunately we had 9 participants that had to cancel in the days leading up to the event, but that didn't take away from the 7 paddlers, 2 kids, & 1 goat that came out to play :) 
 
And my incredible Dad came out to prepare a delicious lunch for everyone! Aaaaaaaaand longtime GTDer - Jim Butski - came out to cheer us on & help pack up the gear!
 
It was a really good day and I can't tell how much I thoroughly enjoy paddleboarding!! 
 
Thank you to all our wonderful donors, supporters, and prayer warriors that help make these events happen!
 
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Monday, May 16, 2022

I WAS SOOOOO BLESSED TO SPEAK AT KESWICK'S CHAPEL FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL & PRE-K LAST FRIDAY!

  
I had the honor of speaking before 300+ kids, teachers, and parents this past Friday at the final Chapel of the school-year for Keswick Christian Elementary & Pre-K School this past Friday. I may have come to delivery a message, but I left there inspired by the enthusiasm & zeal these kids had for Jesus... not to mention the encouragement I received by getting a glimpse of the love & hard work the teachers are obviously pouring into their students. It was a wonderful morning!
  
My message to the kids was simply relaying how much God believes in a young person's ability and capacity through Jesus to make a BIG difference in this world and in other people's lives. Sometimes when you're a kid you think you can't make a BIG difference until you become an adult. BUT, God doesn't see it that way! In fact, God makes some of the BIGGEST impacts in this world in and through young people. 
  
Did you know that the youngest King mentioned in the Bible was only 7 years old?! 2 Chronicles 24 says that, "Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years... Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord... Joash decided to restore the temple of the Lord." WOW! A 7 year old King that reigned for 40 years, did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and took on the visionary ambition to restore the temple of the Lord - now that's impressive!
  
Consider how important Jesus says kids are in the Kingdom of God and the importance of maintaining childlikeness throughout your life: "He [Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:2-4).
  
Did you know that the older you get the less likely you are to ask Jesus into your heart? It's not because you get older and wiser and come to the "realization" that "God is a fairy tale" or an "imaginary friend". It's because you either get bad information, make bad decisions, and/or make friends with some bad influences. It's not that you become older and wiser; it's because you become older and jaded... which causes your heart to become harder & harder to the reality of God. That's not only true when it comes to salvation- it's also true when it comes to the quality & enjoyment of life. Many times as we get older we take on too much seriousness, heaviness, & no-nonsense not realizing that the abandonment of wonder, silliness, playfulness, and childlikeness actually makes your life more rigid, dull, boring, less efficient, less effective, unhealthy, and joyless. God's message to us is (and I'm paraphrasing here): Always stay a kid-at-heart.
  
Think of baby Jesus or Jesus as a kid... He was ALREADY changing the world, impacting the people around Him, and inspiring adults. Never underestimate the ability and capacity of a kid.
  
If all of that wasn't enough to illustrate the value and potential that God puts on young people then I leave you with this verse from 1 Timothy 4:12: "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." God believes in young people! God calls young people! God inspires us through young people!
  
I happen to run a ministry that works a lot with kids, teens, and young adults. I've beat this drum since Day One of GTD - we don't look down on young people. Some of our best volunteers have been kids! When young people show up for their adventure we expect them to help set up their tents, set up their cots, help make meals, help clean-up around camp, and so much more. It actually makes the adventures more fun and the overall adventure experience better and more satisfying. One of the biggest disservices of our culture in the past 50 years is pacifying kids with and addicting kids to entertainment, social media, and video games... then expecting them to be mature & responsible when they turn 18 years old. It doesn't work. Kids are so incredibly capable. Deep down they want to help in meaningful and constructive ways.
  
I could tell you countless stories about kids & youth that have come on GTD adventures and inspired us and even taught us as adults. There are times when I've learned more from a kid sharing what a Bible verse meant to them than I did from a theologian with a seminary degree. I've watched fearless kids jump off a cliff into the water be the inspiration to a fearful adult to have the courage to do the same thing. Never underestimate the ability and capacity of a kid.
  
I wrapped up my speech on Friday with this encouragement. I'm 51 years old. I've made a lot of decisions in my life, BUT the 2 BEST DECISIONS I ever made was when I was in elementary school. The #1 BEST decision I ever made was when I was 8 years old I asked Jesus into my heart. In the 43 years since that decision I have yet to make a decision that even comes close to how outstanding that one decision was. I'm 1000% sure I would have either be an alcoholic, addicted to something, in jail, or in hell right now. That one decision as an 8 years old kid changed the entire trajectory of my life. The #2 BEST decision I ever made came when I was 10 years old just a couple of years after asking Jesus into my heart. My Mom was going through one of the worst emotional pains a person can experience in life. She worked so hard to keep my Sister and I from knowing how devastated she was. But I would wake up at night and I could hear her sobbing in bed and it crushed my heart more than I could ever articulate. I would start sobbing from hearing my Mom and I would put a pillow over my face so she couldn't hear me. It was in that moment that I made the 2nd BEST decision of my life. At 10 years old and with a heart softened by Jesus, I decided that I would never do anything that would ever add grief or sadness to my Mom's life. My Mom suffered in silence for several years to protect us - her kids. From that point on one of my life's top ambitions has been to be a joy to my Mom. I'm humbled & happy to say that mission was accomplished. 43 years later her joy continues to be one of the driving forces of my life, and more importantly it was the greatest gift I could have ever given my Mom. I've never been married and I don't have kids, but I can imagine how much a wayward child would have burdened a parent's heart & mind for years. Likewise, I can imagine how much a faithful child would be an unending source of joy to a parent's heart & mind. I see that in my Mom's eyes. I see that kind of joy when she sees her kids. I wanted to build my Mom a mansion to live in. Unfortunately I started a non-profit (LOL!). Besides that, Jesus said that was His job. He builds the mansions. I found that the best gift I could ever give my Mom & my Dad was to live in a way that never added grief or sadness to their life. I'm certainly far from perfect, but I never did anything I'm aware of that gave them an ulcer, a migraine, or grief... even with all my practical jokes haha!
  
I made the 2 BEST decisions of my life as an elementary school aged kid. Don't miss that important fact. Don't underestimate kids. There is a capacity in young people that God does not overlook, and neither should we.
  
(Special thanks to Amanda Marie for making this happen!)
 
 
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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

FREE PADDLEBOARDING TREK THIS SATURDAY!! REGISTER ONLINE TO SECURE YOUR SPOT!

 
Join us this Saturday (May 14th / 9:30am - 1pm) for our newest GTD event >>> SIDEWINDER Stand Up Paddleboarding Day Trip!! THE COST IS FREE in celebration of 26 years of ministry! Aaaaaaaaaand it even INCLUDES LUNCH!!! You don't need to have any experience... beginners are welcome & encouraged... in fact, we are beginners ourselves... instructions and a safe practice spot will be provided before we paddle over to a nearby island. Come enjoy a morning of recreation in God's beautiful creation!
 

LOCATION: WAR VETERANS' MEMORIAL PARK 

Meet at Shelter #2 at 9:30am

Address: 9600 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg, FL 33708
 
 
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Sunday, May 8, 2022

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!

We were able to break Mom out of the rehab center and transport her away for a wonderful few hours of celebrating her & my sister for Mother's Day! It was a really good day :) 
  
Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there!!
  
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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

It's a loooong road ahead...

 
It's a loooong road ahead, but Mom has been making small steps of steady progress. She isn't able to stand up by herself yet, but with assistance she has been able to stand up and stay standing for 5 minutes, walk with a walker and assistance for 50 ft, and pedal the exercise bike for 15 minutes. Alzheimer's is a wild condition... 10 minutes later she has no idea that she went to physical therapy or that she fell and broke her femur or that she had surgery... but then again, some things are nice to forget haha. She's getting great care, and has physical therapy, occupational therapy, & speech therapy 6 days a week. (She gets speech therapy because they cover cognitive issues... I didn't know that.). Dad is also recovering well from his pacemaker implant. Thanks for praying for them!

 
 
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Monday, May 2, 2022

WHATZ "SUP" PEOPLE!

WHATZ "SUP" PEOPLE! 
...GTD ADDED 8 MORE SUP's!! 
....JOIN US ON OUR FREE SIDEWINDER SUP DAY TRIP MAY 14th!!!
 
Thank you awesome and amazing donors & supporters of GTD!!! Five and a half months ago you generously and lovingly donated to this ministry during our Annual Banquet (for which I'm still trying to properly thank each of you!!), and you enabled GTD to immediately acquire 8 more SUP's (Stand-Up Paddleboards) for which we (and our participants) are absolutely thrilled about!! Paddleboarding is a very popular activity and only continues to increase in demand. It's a fantastic adventure that GTD is so blessed to be able to offer to our participants. We acquired 16 paddleboards, paddles, leashes, life vests, & carry straps at the end of 2020 and added these 8 at the end of 2021 to bring our grand total to 24 complete sets!! That's an even 2 dozen and allows us to take groups of 20-22 people out at a time with 2-4 GTD guides. In addition, this allows us to add more activity options to our in-state weekend retreats. All-in-all this is a BIG WIN for our ministry and the people we serve! From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU SO MUCH AWESOME SUPPORTERS!!!!! You guys rock!!!!!!!!
 
Aaaaaaaaaand while I'm at it I may as well promote our upcoming FREE SIDEWINDER PADDLEBOARDING TREK coming up on Saturday May 14th at War Veterans Memorial Park in St. Petersburg, Florida. This event includes paddleboarding instructions, lunch, and a half mile trek to an island. For more details and to register for this event while spots are available check out the GTD SIDEWINDER website here
  
All our deepest gratitude and love to everyone who made this possible!!
 
 
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Sunday, May 1, 2022

Church at The Rehab Center

 
So many wonderful people at Belleair Health Care Center who serve the elderly with their whole heart! Mom & I got to attend a church service together today overseen by a minister who has been faithfully coming for 12 years. We were all blessed.
 
 
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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

WELCOME TO THE PARTY, PAL! ...KARI MARTINDELL JOINS GTD!!

 
One of the biggest and best news updates of late is that GTD has hired on one of our amazing volunteers as our part time Administrative Assistant!! We are overjoyed to welcome Kari Martindell to Team GTD!!!!
  
This is a position we've needed to fill for a loooong time, but with the most recent round of health issues with my parents it could not be delayed any longer. Our number one need right now is administrative personnel, and Kari is an Admin Rock Star!!
  
Behind every event GTD does is a ton of admin work. I'm a bit of a nerd so I've always loved doing the office work, but I need to move out of the way of the admin work so we can focus on the growth & expansion of GTD. Opportunities abound and I need to transition to walking through doors God is opening up to GTD. That's a much easier thing to do when you're blessed with competent, capable, driven, hard workers... as well as the reality before me that I'm unable to stay on top of anything in this chapter of my life. 
 
Kari will be like Sgt. Al Powell in Die Hard who shows up in the middle of the mess to help the injured & overwhelmed John McClane with capabilities & resources needed to overcome the situation at hand. Welcome to the party, pal!
  
I'll never forget when Kari went through our Volunteer Training a few years ago. She was moved to tears and felt like God was calling her into this ministry. Ever since she has been an amazing blessing to GTD and everyone who meets her. GTD just got waaaaay better with her addition! It's totally a God thing!
  
And it probably wouldn't have happened if I wasn't so exhausted and run down. This is one way that God is turning the iceberg I've hit into snow cones. I'm often reminded that God used persecution on the early church (read the book of Acts) to spread the gospel to the world. Maybe it's because our stubbornness or human tendencies, but sometimes God has to use rough measures to motivate needed actions. Thank you Heavenly Father!
  
Aaaaaaaaand more importantly, meet Kari Martindell:
 
“I’ve been volunteering since 2019 when I went on my first SLAMMED Adventure Trip! I immediately wanted to learn more about GTD. Doug’s passion for nature, fun, strong work ethics, and the Lord were unlike anyone’s I’ve ever met! Fast forward to 2022, and I’ve helped with 3 adventure trips, a few local public events, and I'm now helping in the God-awesomeness that is Going the Distance Adventure Ministry as the Admin Assistant!!”
 
"I was born in Pennsylvania, but grew up in Indiana. I went to Moody Bible Institute and graduated with my Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and Bible. I'm currently teaching 3rd Grade at Indian Rocks Christian School. My favorite verse right now is Jeremiah 31:35!"
 
Welcome to the party, Kari!
 
 
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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

ICEBERG DEAD AHEAD!!

 
ICEBERG DEAD AHEAD!! 
 
...WHEN AN UNSUSTAINABLE FORCE HITS AN IMMOVABLE OBJECT! 
 
...TURNING ICEBERGS N2 SNOW CONES!
  
We knew it was inevitable. We've talked about it for 16 months. We've strategized for possible solutions. But about 2 months ago we finally saw the inevitable iceberg dead ahead... we saw our maximum sustainability of huge amounts of caregiving hours. The past 5 months have been especially brutal. Unfortunately, starting on the day after our Annual Banquet in November our parent's health issues skyrocketed (multiple hospitalizations, multiple UTI's, multiple surgeries, multiple COVID cases, etc, etc). It has been relentless and nonstop for the past 5 months (not to mention the past 16 months). During this recent resurgence of around-the-clock care my Sister and I saw the inevitable iceberg dead ahead. We've been on a head-on collision course with an iceberg called "unsustainability". Everything in our lives has been suffering to very unhealthy points for quite a while. We had gone further than we were able to go. We had no choice; we had to start backing off of our hours caring for our parents. Instead of being there 24/7 we had to cut back to around 16/7 & 12/7. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than nothing. It was our new "best" that we could give. We've also had wonderful friends & neighbors that have come to be with our parents for 4 hours at a time to help lighten our load. We are forever grateful! With our reduced hours at our parent's house our hope was that Mom wouldn't fall during one of those times we could no longer be there. That lasted about a month. The day she fell was a day I would have been there. And the place she fell was a place that we prevented her from falling many times. I'm not struggling with guilt or anything like that. I understand that all I can do is all I can do, and we have done a good job of getting them this far. I jokingly blame my parents for not having more kids so those kids could be here now helping us too haha! So the long & short of it is that life is tough and growing older can be very hard. Exiting this world can be brutal. Mom is in a rehab center (nursing home) trying to walk again. Her Alzheimer's complicates every aspect of her new situation. There's a 100% chance that she will fall inside the rehab center during an unattended moment. Ironically she is now more vulnerable to falling than ever before. So I'm spending everyday at the rehab center trying to keep my precious Mom off the floor and on track to hopefully returning home... possibly in a wheelchair. But there are still times throughout the night that she will be unattended and has the potential of falling, breaking her hip, and heading back to the hospital. There have been 2 elderly patients that have fallen in the week that I've been there. And this is a fantastic facility full of amazing & caring workers. Another fall for my Mom right now would be a death sentence for her so we are doing all that we can to give her a fighting chance to come back home one more time. We are also scrambling to make whatever changes & adjustments we can to make whatever improvements we can in every area of our lives... including housing, wheelchair accessibility, and our own work & life responsibilities. I will be posting those updates over the next few days & weeks. As Albert Einstein once said, "In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity." Despite the exhausting aspects, this crisis is opening new doors of opportunities all around us. The hard part is having any time or energy to make the most of the opportunities. Still we press on to do our best to seize those windows of opportunities before us while they are open. Sometimes transformation comes through consternation. There are many good things that have been going on over the past 16 months that I haven't had time to share or post, but I'm going to be doing my best to share those good things. Keep your eyes peeled for some good news, good changes, and needed help with projects & opportunities that lie before us. We aim to turn ice bergs into snow cones!
 
 
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Friday, April 22, 2022

QUICK JAG UPDATE:

Dad's pacemaker implant went perfectly, and Mom had a great day of physical & occupational therapy (and yummy ice cream twice!). Dad returned home last night. Thank you very much for praying for them!!
 
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Thursday, April 21, 2022

DOUBLE TROUBLE... MOM STARTS REHAB TODAY... DAD GETS PACEMAKER TODAY!

 
Please keep our parents in your prayers today. Dad is scheduled to get a pacemaker implanted this afternoon (huge thanks to their neighbors Tom & Cindy for taking him for this half-day outpatient procedure!!). Mom starts her 2nd full day in Belleair Health Care Center (rehab center / nursing home). I was with her at the hospital all day Tuesday then went with her when she was transported to BHCC Tuesday night. I spent all day and into the night with her there yesterday and will do the same today and the foreseeable future. She is soooooo confused and has moments of great sadness. She wants so badly to just go home. The staff at BHCC have been wonderful and incredibly helpful. But one thing I learned when I was a Respiratory Therapist in nursing homes in the 1990's is that nursing home staffs have way too many patients to care for at one time so there are a lot of unattended moments when confused unbalanced patients can fall (out of bed, off the toilet, out of the wheelchair, or just wandering the halls). I was reminded of all of that yesterday even as helpful, caring, and hardworking as the staff was. One crazy major change from the 90's to now is that there are no longer side bed rails allowed on patients' beds because they are considered restraints??? My Mom falls out of bed. We have bed rails for her at her home. I signed some paperwork to allow for bed rails and they have ordered a "bed scoop" that forms a wedge on the bed to help prevent rolling out of bed. When I asked about bed rails on Tuesday night they told me that they aren't allowed to use bed rails, but they could put some pads on the floor for her to land on if she falls out. Do you know how asinine and unreassuring that is?!?! She has a broken femur with a rod and screws... falling out of bed onto a pad would be a one way ticket back to the hospital. So the nurses assistant and I shoved pillows up under the mattress to form a wedge. Thankfully my Mom's hip is so sore that the pain won't allow her to consider trying to get out of bed so I feel safe for now that falling out of bed is less of a concern as the other times she will fall if left unattended... so I'm going back everyday to stay with her... as self absorbed as this sounds I can't even put into words how much I don't have an extra 12 hours a day to do this... so much of my life and responsibilities are falling apart or have already fallen apart, but my Mom is worth it. She would do it (and has done it) for us, and it's an honor to be there for her... and that's the point of love right... it makes great sacrifices... like Jesus did, and like Jesus said, "For God so loved... that He gave..." I'm so thankful to have learned this type of love from our Heavenly Father and an earthly mother. Keep her & our Dad in your prayers... they continue on a very difficult road. PS: My amazing Sister would be here too if she could. She has mandatory training all month that has been scheduled for a loooong time... she has no option. Anyways, thanks for the prayers and I'm sorry I haven't had time to reply back to so many encouraging FB comments (text messages, FB Messenger messages, & voicemails) for several months now... I literally have no time. But the words of encouragement and the support mean more than I could ever convey in words. Humbly I say, thank you! 
 
 
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Monday, April 18, 2022

LIQUID 2022 QUEENCHED OUR KAYAKING THIRST!

  
God blessed us with a great group and beautiful day for our annual FREE day-before-Easter LIQUID Paddling Day Trip! 32 enthusiastic adventurers participated in this year's 4-mile kayaking trek through the amazing maze of mangroves at Weedon Island Preserves. The day included a complimentary lunch, all kayaks & gear, a squishy ball war, our annual kayak race, and a floating devotional message entitled "For God so loved the world that He gave" (a tribute to the selfless love my Mom gave to us growing up). It was a goooooood day!
  
Thank you to all of our incredible & generous supporters that have enabled GTD to purchase new kayaking gear over the past few years... aaaaaaaaaand for making it possible to provide free events like this... especially during these spending-crunch economic times.
  
  
Going The Distance Adventure Ministry
God-awesome adventures since 1996!
 
  
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