Category Archives: Faith

Thoughts on Thursday

A story turn is a moment in someone’s story when they pass through a door they can not go back through

-Donald Miller – Creating Your Life Plan E-Course

Love this. Teaching my students about character development in their films and this is being added to the presentation


The Rollercoaster Pt. 1


Third Place.

There I was standing on the podium getting my third place metal for a Crossfit competition.  Crossfit, a workout that I swore I would never do before I was introduced to it 7 or 8 months before the competition.  The picture hit Facebook, Instagram, and twitter… I posted it.  I was proud, I had gotten third place in a competition that forced me to do some things that I never thought I would be able to do… A PULL UP!

Here’s the truth:  There were three people in my division.  I knew that going in and I was OK with it. I told people that asked me about it that there were only three in the division, it wasn’t about that.  It was about being able to do three workouts without scaling ONE movement during the day.  If we were told to do pull-ups, I was doing full blown pull-ups.  If it asked for double-unders… GOT IT.  I was ready.

The emotions that went through my head that day, I think resemble the emotions everyone goes through during tough times or tough workouts.  The first being excitement.  I was excited when we were getting ready to start, and then once the timer started and I blasted through the first exercise in about 30 seconds and knocked out 12 straight pull-ups like someone who had been doing them since high school (I couldn’t do one 9 months ago)… I was on fire.  I was about to make this 12 minute workout look easy.

Back Story:  I knew going in that jumping rope was apart of the workout and it would be the part that would kill me.  I practiced everyday I went to the gym for 10 minutes before we would start.  I got better.  I did 37 double jumps in a row without screwing up…


Wasn’t laughing yet… probably cussing!

Back to the competition, time to jump rope… I am stud at these now, or so I thought. Started my first series of jumps and nailed 25 of the hundred I had to do.  Then everything came to a screeching halt.  One. Jump. At. A. Time. The second emotion popped up… Major Frustration.

Frustration followed by exasperation… It got comical.  After a few choice words that I won’t type on here, I finally just had to laugh.  After 5 minutes of trying to 100 double unders finished, my judge said I could move on.  So, back to the beginning.  Clear your mind, start at the beginning, second chance.  I told myself, out loud, and I am sure everyone heard it to MAN UP and get done.  Quick through the first exercise, fly through the pull-ups. Back to my friend the jumprope.  Same result.  Didn’t finish the workout, ran out of time.

Welcome anger to the emotions.  I walked out of the box pretty pissed off and not happy with myself.  My support group (wife, kid and father in law) came over and my father in laws first word were “DUDE, you murdered those pull-ups.  I am proud of you”.  That helped some.

All this was during the first hour. The first workout of the day, I had two more to go. 

I started this workout so excited and probably overly confident and that was shattered about one minute into the workout.  Where I went wrong was letting the emotion take me over and shut me down.  Once my head was gone, the workout was over.  Three steps to prevent this from happening again:

  1. Stop for a second, take a deep breathe and laugh.
  2. Think about why you are doing what you are doing, whether its a workout, extra shift at work, or anything that even remotely adds stress to your every day life.  My kid was right there on the ropes watching and even yelling GO GO GO as I worked.  I was too busy complaining in my head to look over and see the best cheerleader in the world yelling for her daddy.
  3. Cheesy as it is:  Go Finding Nemo on whatever it is and JUST KEEP SWIMMING.  Once you remember why you are doing what you are doing, keep your mind right and GO.

The first workout threw me off, the second workout wore me out, but the third workout lifted me up and made me feel like Thor again.  The last workout was one that I had done before and it literally left me on the floor in a pool of sweat and pain.  This time it killed me, but I killed it 45 seconds faster than I did last time.  I was back to that first emotion of excitement when I threw the bar down and yelled really loud.

I got my medal, I went to lunch with friends, and then I checked my world ranking to see where I ranked against all the other 30-40 males in the country… Tomorrow I will tell you about the emotions of realizing you were ranked DEAD LAST in the country.

The Bucket List

Over the last six months, I have been involved in a few different social experiments with author Jon Acuff.  The first was the Start Experiment, where for 30 days he challenged you to start pursuing whatever that dream you have been holding off on, then came Dreamers and Builders, which was the post-Dave Ramsey Era Start Experiment, and now I am in my second round of #30Days of Hustle.  Through these experiments I have gotten the opportunity to meet, chat and hopefully work with a ton of new people from all sorts of different walks and dreams.

One in particular posted a question on the #30Days site on day one and I saw 100’s and 100’s of response hit.  Ryan Eller, from, was talking about ‘what’s on your bucket list’ and his new #liveyourlist movement.  People were responding with travel to Italy, climb a mountain, produce a film worth seeing (that was me) and many others.  Ryan has already given the gift of crossing off a bucket list item to two different people and is working on more.

I thought about what was on my bucket list, or if I even had one for that matter and I realized I hadn’t ever written it out for someone to see.  I spent some time looking through Ryan’s site and found his post “Bucket List by Threes” and decided to post my list here for everyone to see and hold me accountable to.  I will add it as a tab at the top of this page and cross off things as I compete them, but will also continue to add things.



One of the best trips of my life.

  • Take my wife to Italy
  • Take Family to Disneyland
  • Baseball Tour with Dad and Brother (Fenway and Hall of Fame)
  • Chicago Baseball Tour with Dad and Brother
  • Visit my top 25 sports venues
  • Augusta on Championship Sunday with Dad


  • Ski/Snowboard a Double Diamond anywhere
  • Skydive


  • Learn to play the guitar
  • Certified in all Apple Editing Programs (FCPx, Motion, etc)
  • Master’s Degree in Communications
  • Cooking Classes


  • Coach K’s softball/soccer/basketball team
  • Run a 5k, 10k, half marathon with my wife


  • Shoot a documentary of a mission trip
  • Volunteer yearly during holidays with friends and family


  • Debt-Free
  • Kids Debt-Free in college
  • Buy a house that is perfect for family, church and friend get togethers
  • Own a motorcycle

Life Goals (need to work on these to make sure they are measurable and SMART)


  • 220 pound goal weight
  • 1000 pounds on Crossfit Total
  • Half Marathon in under 2:30 (I’m not a runner)



And these were FREE tickets.

  • Catch a foul ball at a baseball game
  • Sit Front Row, Courtside at a Dallas Mavericks Basketball game during the Dirk Era
  • Hang out with a Penguin.  A real live penguin.
  • Shake hands with Nolan Ryan
  • Hole in One
  • Make the Bells, Lights and Whistles go off on a huge slot machine in Vegas
  • Play in World Series of Poker


  • Eat dinner with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.
  • Take Batting Practice from a Major League Pitcher (Current or Former)
  • NBA Finals Game (Mavs Championship Run, Game 5)
  • World Series Game (Rangers First World Series)

Check out Ryan’s outline to building a list and DO IT!  Send me a link when you do and let me see it (Send it to Ryan also)


Character vs. Reputation

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” -John Wooden

What is your Super Bowl Ad?

The Super Bowl is, as much if not more, about marketing and branding than it is about football.  Dober-HuaHua, Doritos Time Machines, #BestBud from Budweiser and all the other advertisements either went for the funny or went for the heartstrings.  These brands spent a ton of money to get their names on the biggest stage.  It got me thinking about how I “market” myself and my family, and how people in general market themselves on their platforms whether it is everyday at work, on Facebook, in the gym or anywhere for that matter.

Everyone knows the guy at work that the first thing out of their mouth when asked how they are doing is “I’m exhausted”, “I’m barely making it” or the ever positive “wish I was somewhere else”.  I was that guy.  The tiredness was brought on by late night Call of Duty marathons before I was married and later was caused by sleepless nights with a newborn.  Also, I am known to have a bit of a dirty mouth when I get fired up or tired.  I hate it, but years of not caring what came out of my mouth has made it a tough habit to change.  Soon enough, even though I am trying, I know my kid is going to repeat something and I will feel like a huge idiot. What does it tell everyone around you if your go-to response to anything is immediate negativity or just simple profanity?

Going around the office, or looking through Facebook/Twitter, I have started to really notice a trend in how people are marketing themselves to the masses.  I can guarantee that I will see an anti-religion post, hard core republican post and posts about what food I shouldn’t touch on my Facebook daily.  Somethings I enjoy keeping to myself than trying to incite an argument with my “digital friends” that I haven’t talked to since 2006.  My wife has a a ‘friend’ on a social site that she graduated with and, as bad as it is, we have made a game out of reading their profile to see what insane thing they will say that day.  The topics range from wild stories about drinking, smoking and fighting to full blown racist tirades.  I have never met the guy but I am pretty sure I know who he does and doesn’t like in our country from a few simple posts on Facebook.

fitness-meme-crossfitSo, if I am going to talk about what everyone else is posting, I need to examine my billboard.  I could/have been labeled a Crossfit Addict, Advocare peddlin’ (that’s the nice version of that label) guy that takes too many pictures of his kid.  People have criticized me numerous times for posting about CF on my Twitter and Facebook, and I get it.  That’s a huge knock on people in that community is we like to talk about it.


One time I saw a movie, and I liked it a lot… but I didn’t tell anyone.

People talk about things they like/love.  Some people talk about it too much.  I may be one of those people, I can admit that.   When you find something, even as simple as new flavor of coffee, it is human nature to talk about it.

All I would say to anyone who see this is stop down for a few and look at your conversations, look at your online billboard and look at yourself and see what you are telling everyone about who you are?

The one thing you can label me as on any social site and I will never change, is the guy that likes taking pics of his kid and wife.  That is something I am proud to be.  If someone is annoyed by my kid’s goofy moment of the day, I gladly invite them to click the ignore button.  /soapbox

Preaching to myself

We live in a world where everyone is worried about where the next dollar is going to come from, what other people are going to think about you and if this short makes me look fat/un-athletic/like a loser.  I spent the early part of my life trying to be the cool kid, when that failed I worked on being the funny fat kid who copied what everyone else was doing in order to try to be the cool kid.

As I gained weight, I thought if I made fun of myself more than anyone else I wouldn’t have to worry about getting made fun of because people wouldn’t do it because I took care of that myself.  That plan totally backfired.  Everyone dog piled on because they didn’t think it bothered me.  This had an effect on the things I said, wore and did throughout high school and college.  Now that I have started to lose weight and become more active, I have come down with something my wife calls “Fat Kid Syndrome”.

I don’t buy clothes that fit because I am still worried about looking big.  I don’t accept compliments very well from anyone. I let myself slip with the diet and instead of immediately righting the ship and making the next meal perfect, I decide to just derail myself for weeks and regret it later.

Why do we worry so much about this?  What can we do to fix it?  I am working through my “syndrome” every day when I pick clothes, force myself not to go to get wings and instead eat my salad I made, and telling my wife thank you when she says I look skinny.

My wife say a quote that made her think the other day, “worrying is like praying for something you don’t want”.  It has been on my mind for a few weeks, as I try to unplug that machine that makes me worry about my image, my attitude and other areas I am working on.  It makes sense, spending your time worrying on something that doesn’t deserve the time helps it manifest into something bigger.

Stop worrying so damn much.


As mentioned, I have come to realization in this first year of parenting that I need three things to be clicking on all cylinders if I am going to feel like I am ‘well’.  Faith is the most important in my eye, but yet it is the toughest one for me.

-I have faith in a God that has made promises to me.  

-I have faith in a God that he will take care of my family and I when things get rough.  

-I have faith in a God that even when really crappy things happen is still in control.  

If say those things and I know those things are true then why do I stress so much about the amount of money in a bank account or freak out when my wife misses a few weeks of work when she is sick?  If I believe those things then why do I beat myself up still 6 months after one of my students took their own life because I secretly think I could have done something to maybe stop it.

I will be the first to admit that I have not done my part when it comes to making sure that my family, my little girl, and myself are in the word, at church, and fellowshipping with others that can build us up and help us out.  That’s where this blog and the people I hope to engage in conversation will come in.  One of my 2014 goals is to be more diligent about spending time with God.  The first week and half have been good so far, I have been taking a devo book in my truck and reading through the days reading in my car before I go into the school.

Do you ever find yourself wondering any of the things above?

What are you doing to keep true in your walk with God?

Is this thing on?

Hi, I am Justin.

The reasoning behind the creation of this little area of the internet is simple.  I have a story, and I am not sure if anyone anywhere wants to read it, but I want to write it just in case.  I don’t intend to make this place just a site about my past, present and future.  I have plans to write on different things that I am learning that I think may be useful to anyone who randomly stumbles upon the website.  As I mentioned in the “About Justin” section of the site, there are three areas of my life that I completely think that be firing on all cylinder to really assure that I am “living right”.


Usually two out of three are going strong and one takes a backseat or less of a focus.  I want to find a way to bring together, change the future of my family and if someone decides something I write is beneficial to their personal journey someday… then thats pretty sweet.


McGowanImages_DearingFam_34I am a high school teacher from a small town in Texas.  I teach numerous different Audio/Visual classes at a career center within the local school district.  I freelance weddings, corporate and various other video gigs on the side for some extra cash.  I have long time dreamed about doing something ‘great’ with film, whether that is write and produce a great short film, produce a documentary or just make something that people enjoy watching.  I am married to a hot girl who is my best friend and supporter.  She puts up with the crazy ideas I get sometimes and magically can bring me back down to earth with ‘logical’ questions.  For the Acuff’ers out there, she is definitely the “How” in our house, and I am for sure the over-the-top, super A.D.D, “Wow” person.  We have a kid, who turned one today.  K is the perfect mix of my wife and I.  Her little one year old personality is shining through.

That’s just a brief little glimpse at who I am.  I want to spend the next few days explaining why FAITH, FAMILY and FITNESS are so vital in my world.  I will share what my goals for 2014 are, how I am going about getting the goals knocked out, some of my biggest struggles as a young father, husband and member of the male gender, but most importantly I am hoping to get some real conversation going with anyone who reads this… So please take a second and leave a comment about, well… anything at this point!