Get Beyond the Rut | Jerry Dugan

In this episode:

While Jerry Dugan was overseas as a soldier prepping for battle, his wife was back home asking God pleading for his life. And though Jerry claimed no belief in God, he was praying anyway, asking God that if something should happen to him in battle to please send his wife a better husband to love her and raise their children. What he didn’t know was that God would make him into that husband.

About Jerry Dugan:

Jerry is the host of Beyond the Rut, a show about helping you achieve your dreams without compromising your faith, family, or health and live the life you dream of living beyond the rut. Each episode brings inspirational stories and practical advice from those who have come before you. Jerry’s own life growing up through divorce, his dad’s attempted suicide, and combat have built within him resilience and the perspective that life is just too dang short to live it stuck in a rut. Today, Jerry is a Christ-follower, husband, and father living in Texas.

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Discussion Highlights from Get Beyond the Rut

  • Jerry grew up as the oldest of two kids. His mom was from Thailand, and his dad of American of Irish heritage.
  • He had a military dad, and they moved around a lot and were stationed overseas too.
  • His mom left when Jerry was 11, and his dad tried to take his own life. Jerry and his brother ended up in foster care in Germany for a bit, but it allowed an opportunity to see what a healthy family dynamic was like.
  • When they came home to the US, there was more family trauma with other family divorces. Jerry was bullied by some of his family for being bi-racial, but his dad finally stood up for him.
  • When Jerry joined the Army, friends bet on when he would die and how. But he was determined to move forward and be a success story.
  • Jerry gives insider secrets on why he chose the Army over the Navy, Air Force, or Marines. Spoiler alert: it was the uniforms. Go figure.
  • Leadership opportunities kept coming up. He was asked to be the Platoon Guide multiple times in basic training. The same thing happened in training to be a medic. He was selected to be the Class Sargent.
  • As Jerry suited up for the invasion of Iraq, he prayed, "God, if you're real, you better replace me with someone better than me who will love my wife the way she needs to be loved and take care of my children as if they were his own." What he didn't know was that thousands of miles away his wife was making a deal with God that if he brought Jerry home in one piece, she'd made sure that he would go to church every Sunday and the rest was up to God.
  • One of Jerry’s paths forward included learning more about his family name of Dugan. He found the Irish crest and the motto: By virtue and valor.

Quotes to Remember from Jerry Dugan

  • “What if I embrace a different future possibility?”
  • “My own family didn’t think I was going to make it through basic training.”
  • “The only way is forward. Go get some new ground.”
  • “Start with your why…and don’t be ashamed of it.”
  • “If I did go today, was my life worth it?...How do I make it worth it?”
  • “What would make your life worth it? Then go do it.”

Resources Mentioned

Jerry’s website and podcast:

Measure it to Make It download – Identify your why, your values and strengths, and your goals

Episode Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by the Life, Repurposed book.




Michelle Rayburn  0:00
Have you ever experienced a time when God was working out a whole lot of little details, but you had no idea that he was doing all this behind the scenes? Well, this week I talked with Jerry Dugan, and he talks about how, when he was overseas and ready to go into battle, his wife was back home asking God pleading for his life. And at that time, Jerry didn't have a relationship with God. But he had this moment right before going into battle where he said, "God, if you're real, you'd better replace me with someone better than me, who will love my wife the way she needs to be loved and take care of my children as if they were his own." He shares how God showed up in the middle of some difficult times as a child, even though he didn't know who God was at that time. And he's really open about his story. And so I really appreciate that. We also talk about goals and how on his podcast, Beyond the Rut, Jerry helps people get unstuck, and to set goals, and move forward. And so we'll share a resource that Jerry has for you that you can download if you're setting goals as well. This is episode number 124.

You're listening to Life Repurposed, where you'll find practical biblical wisdom for everyday living, creative inspiration, and helpful resources. Grow your faith, improve your relationships, discover your purpose, and reach your goals with topics to encourage you to find hope amid the trashy stuff of life. Thanks for joining me today. I'm your host Michelle Rayburn

Jerry Dugan is the host of Beyond the Rut, a show about helping you achieve your dreams without compromising your faith, family, or health and live the life you dream living beyond the rut. Each episode brings inspirational stories and practical advice from those who have come before you. Jerry's own life growing up through divorce his dad's attempted suicide and Jerry serving in combat have built within him resilience and the perspective that life is just too short to live it stuck in a rut. Today Jerry is a Christ-follower husband and father living in Texas. Here's my interview with Jerry Dugan. Thank you so much for joining me today, Jerry.

Jerry Dugan  2:24
Michelle, thanks for having me on. I'm excited to be here.

Michelle Rayburn  2:27
So we know each other through this Christian Podcasters Association that we're part of. And I won't share all your secrets about what happens like with the cats and the snacks and everything. Oh, I kind of let that I let that "cat" out of the bag already. Yeah, but there was this discussion that happened, oh, I think it was a few weeks ago on there. And it was intriguing because we're talking about personality types and Enneagram. And you shared something about somebody who really annoyed you. And it turns out I have that person's Enneagram profile. I'm a one on the Enneagram. And then the Myers Briggs, I'm an INTJ. And I'm pretty sure you were like an ESFP or ENFP.

Jerry Dugan  3:10

Michelle Rayburn  3:11
So Oh, yeah. My husband is an ESFP. And he's an Enneagram Seven, which is like the wait, is that what you are too? Okay, so that's the entertainer, right?

Jerry Dugan  3:23
I think so. I'm still learning in the grounds. But yes, we kind of go the flow creative. Keep the options open and type. Yeah.

Michelle Rayburn  3:32
So I thought maybe today that would be up, I looked up, you know, like, how can you really annoy somebody who isn't Enneagram? Seven? And then I'm like, No, I'm not gonna go there. I think it was like having rules.

Jerry Dugan  3:45
Oh, yeah. I guess if you get too rigid and structured.

Michelle Rayburn  3:48
Right? Because the the interesting thing is that my husband and I balance each other out really well, even though we're the exact opposite of each other. Like I'm the total rule follower. But I'm also a creative so I'm not quite the type a rule follower. I'm like, analytical and creative. And then my husband is a total extrovert. Always have to be sharing upon or something like that. So anyway, I appreciate the opposites. And I appreciate your sense of humor.

Jerry Dugan  4:19
Yeah, I mean, I went to a marriage conference once and the speaker said, ”If both of you in the marriage are exactly the same, one of you is redundant.” I latched on to that. So every time the opposites between my wife and I come out my age, remember, neither one of us is redundant right now.

Michelle Rayburn  4:39
Yeah, so how long have you been married?

Jerry Dugan  4:41
20 years in a couple of weeks. November 18. Nice. We're going to Walt Disney World, too. So I guess when people listen to this, couple months back November 18, like celebrated our 20th The happiest place on earth. Church. No, I Well, Disney World. So we're excited it Yeah. 20 years.

Michelle Rayburn  5:00
Yeah, congratulations. In our house, we call that a classic marriage. My husband and I have been married almost 32 years.

Jerry Dugan  5:06
Oh, wow.

Michelle Rayburn  5:0
So opposites really can work together.

Jerry Dugan  5:09
Yeah. That's a whole lot of forgiveness.

Michelle Rayburn  5:12
So that's just a little introduction. For those of you who are listening to get to know Jerry a little bit. Jerry, I want you to tell me about growing up and some of the milestone moments that you had in childhood.

Jerry Dugan  5:23
Oh, man, well, I was born in a place called Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to an Army soldier. He was a military policeman, was named Bruce, still is Bruce. And then my mother is from Thailand. So biracial kid in a very white part of America. And so, in doing that, I mean, being raised by a mom, who knew, I guess the Asian... basically was your stereotypical Tiger Mom, you got to get great grades in school, not just good grades, you gotta be like the number one score on everything. And that's not even good enough. You have to have like a perfect score on everything. And we were just talking about opposites. My dad was the complete opposite. He's like, man, when I was in school, I perfected like, forging my mom's signature to get the fact that he goes to class every day. That's amazing. And now you're like, pressuring him to get perfect scores, like, let him make a mistake. And of course, my mom would just be like, well, that's just being a lazy American. And I'm exaggerating the way they spoke. But essentially, that was their parenting style, their outlook on the world. So a lot of expectations on me being the oldest child. I have one brother, he's two years younger. And yeah, it's just like every day you're going to school. You're sick. Still going to school? Oh, your leg hurts... going to school.

Michelle Rayburn  6:48
All those perfect attendance awards.

Jerry Dugan  6:51
Yeah. Oh, man. I got them all until like seventh grade. I think I finally got sick. No, that was sixth grade. All right. But it was just so there was that. So just very strict for me a little bit more lacks for my brother. So there was some animosity there. And you know, he's still the favorite. Whatever. No. Sorry, Jimmy. I still love you though, bro.

Michelle Rayburn  7:10
Jimmy and Jerry. That's cute.

Jerry Dugan  7:11
Yes, apparently, our names came out of the books. My mom was reading to learn how to speak English. And so she liked named Jerry. She wanted very American names for us. So Jerry and Jimmy. She couldn't say Jerry, though, because of just the accent. Yeah, sure. Came out sounding like jelly. So, she just called me by my middle name for pretty much most of my life, like the first 20 years or so. So, I thought my name was Sam. It was school and people are calling me Jerry. I'm like that, that that's kind of grown up. Yeah. And being a military brat. I mean, we grew up in. Well, we live in Japan, Germany, different parts of California where my dad is from. And we visited places like Korea and Thailand. So, seeing more than just one town growing up, I think really broadened my horizons and allowed me to be flexible in life, to be curious about things around me. But at the same time, hard to experience when you have a very strict mom who wants you to study all day all night and get great grades. So there's, there's that so it was like that duality. They're like, Oh, well, I can see the world. Now I can't, I gotta do homework, you don't have homework you do in my house. So that was that. And then of course, it took a turn. So when I was about 11 years old, my parents split up, my mom had found somebody else and left us and took my dad to a tailspin. And during that time, we saw my dad attempting suicide. And it's a very, very dark time. I mean, I was 11 years old, my brother was nine. And here we are trying to save my dad's life. And at the same time, we don't want to go live with my mom. Because we just thought, if she was willing to leave us so quickly now, I mean, who's to say she doesn't leave us when we're in her house. So fortunately, my dad, you know, got some help. Something that happened where he just couldn't hide it anymore. And the Army just came in and said, We're gonna take care of you, we're going to take care of your kids, we're going to get you back together. So after about two or three months of that, my brother lived in foster care during that time, and, and that exposed us to a whole new world as well. So up to this point, I mean, all I knew was a strict mom, a very easygoing dad, my brother and I fought a lot because of the different ways we were being raised under the same roof. And here's this family that prays and every meal, they eat all their meals together, not on the couch, not where you feel like it. They're at the same table and they're sharing how their day went. And they're being authentic about this. And this just weirded my brother and I were like, What is going on here? Like they weren't okay with brothers. hitting each other. And so when my brother and I were fighting, they, they didn't spank us, they didn't get mad at us. They My mom wasn't there to yell at us. They talked to us calmly, and I'm like, what is happening? I don't understand any of this. And they took us on vacation with them, they made us feel like part of their family. And then it was time for us to reunite with my dad. And, you know, we went back to struggling and but that was there. That was a seed planted. And, Chris, when we come back to the states, the extended family is going through divorces left and right, boom, boom, boom. And so cousins are having a hard time coping, uncles are having a hard time coping with their divorces. And somehow I get the brunt of that. And so now 11 years old, just survived what I thought was hell, now you're going into another one, bam. And yeah, just getting bullied by my own extended family.

And I just remember it coming to a head, and my dad finally realizing what was happening and taking my side and saying, Look, sorry, I'll take you to your grandparents' house every weekend where you get picked on, you don't have to go there anymore. And he turned to his own family said like, Y'all are calling them all kinds of names like half-bred, goop, chink, all these just horrible names. That's my son. And you will respect that you will love him for that. If you love me, that's what you will do. And that was, I was about 14. And I remember just kind of looking up and saying, so you know, we're talking about life repurposed. And I'm looking at my own extended family. And you know, that the marriages just ending no matter what. And the cousins, just thinking, there's no hope you know, that the best thing they've got going for them is to get emancipated at 16 years old, and live off of Social Security or welfare the rest of their lives, the sooner the better. And, you know, being exposed to families like the O'Neill's that the foster family in Germany, being exposed to the homes of my friends in middle school, it just kind of helped me see that. There's other stuff out there, you know, there's a different way to live. In fact, my whole life leading up to the parents' divorce, way different than the hell we're going through right now. So there's got to be something different. And you know, on my show, I like to talk about the five F's faith, family, fitness, finances, and the outlook on future possibility. And so that was kind of that first moment of me saying, Wait, what is my future possibility? If I accept what my extended family is embracing? Same thing they've gotten, I don't want that. What if I embrace a different future possibility. And I just remember around Christmas time, getting cards for all the family members, I did like, and it was meant to be like, an encouraging word. Hey, you know, wherever we go, security follows us. People expect us to not do well, you know, when we're in school, and so on. My hope, my dream is that we change that direction. And then when people hear our last name, they think of hope, they think of safety and security and people they can count on. And people that will be proud to know. And I gave that out to the, again, the cousins, the aunts and the uncles who I actually did like, and I just found out maybe about 10 years ago that so my cousins held on to that. And oh, yeah. And that made me cry, too. It's just tears of joy that, you know, I was doing it almost out of spite. A whole sounded like, drawn a line saying I'm going that way you can come with if you want. But I'm not waiting for you. I'm going and to see that have an impact on others years down the road just blows my mind. Yeah, that was growing up.

Michelle Rayburn  13:47
Two things come to mind when you share that one. That's heavy stuff for an 11-year-old. Yeah. And to sharing what you are sending out with Christmas cards is, like, almost beyond what I would think today's 14-year-olds are thinking of doing about, like thinking about making a difference. Like, I don't know, like I had pretty mature sons who are now adults, and I don't think they were thinking about those kinds of things. So, um, you know, how has that shaped you as an adult then having that heavy responsibility as an 11-year-old and also thinking about changing the world already as a 14-year-old?

Jerry Dugan  14:22
Yeah. How do I want to word that it pretty much shaped everything. I mean, from that point. If it was something that would get me out of my comfort zone, I was going to give it a shot. If it was something new and unique to me, I was going to give it a go. So you know, high school, I take a playing football, you know, middle school, I took up learning how to play tuba, you know, just weird things like, you can't play tuba. Why? Because you're four foot 10. Like, all the more reason nobody will see that come in. It's so shortest kid in the band playing the biggest instrument the back of the room. And then same with football like well, I mean, there was a time You're leader and I wanted to impress her. And that's why I signed for freshmen team football. And they asked me what position I wanted to play, I have no idea what can be alignment. So again, shortest guy on the team playing the position that typically is played by guys four times your size when you're in ninth grade. So just put myself in situations where I could beat the odds. In, you know, college was something on my horizon, you know that, if for anything to inspire other people, my family, this could be done, we can send a Duke into college. And only that we can have a Dugan finished college and do something different with his or her life. And it just did. Then I joined the Army because I was broke, I didn't really get good enough grades to go to med school, into the Army as a specialist, because I have a college degree. And even there just yet, day one, there was a betting ... I found about this at the end of basic training, there was a Deadpool. And if you know what a Deadpool is, it's where they bet on who's going to die, and how. Turns out there was only one person in the Deadpool that was me. And the bet was, when is he going to die, and how?

Michelle Rayburn  16:06
SPONSOR: We'll be right back to the interview shortly. Do you have a book or a resource or a podcast or something that you're trying to get the word out on? I'm looking for sponsors for the Life Repurposed podcast. So, if you would like to have a spot in the middle of the podcast episodes here, you can contact me about placing your ad read right here in the middle of a show. You'll find me at Michelle

Jerry Dugan  16:41
Who put that betting pool together because I think that guy owes me a cut because I'm not dying. Sure enough, I graduated, and guys were inspired. They started calling me like the mighty mighty dragon at the end, which to this day, I'm like, wow, that kind of spotlight still weirds me out. But again, that impact that here's a guy, we expect it to not make it, he made it. And only that we're actually inspired by him. My own family didn't think I was gonna make it through basic training. And then they showed up to my graduation. And when they told me like, we didn't think we're gonna make it, then we got the invitation. And then we find out you're the platoon guide. Like, yeah, why I like the idea of failure wasn't even in my vocabulary at that point. I was like, there were days I felt like quitting. There are days I felt like why don't I just go ahead and die. But in the end, it was just like, No, the only way is forward. And yeah, go get some new ground. And I wasn't even a Christian yet, either. So this was just me just being determined to go forward every time. And even to this day, you know, earning a master's degree, still just progressing in my career progressing in podcasting, just doing a new thing, becoming a dad way back. Because my youngest, she's 18. And my oldest is 20, almost 21. You know, having kids also added that that need to keep going to keep changing the trajectory of the dog and name. And what I hadn't mentioned yet is somewhere in all of this, I learned about the Dugan name and Dugan crests, and that through the Dugan motto, and that just I added that to who I am, and the motto is by virtue and valor. And I was like that just sounds cool. I feel like a knight. And I started to learn more things about the Dugan family that if you go way back in Ireland, the Dugan name I mean, it's got a different route name, but it was a Celtic chieftain or an Irish chieftain. And they lead. They were leaders they were royal. But then these guys called the Saxon showed up and kick our butts all but annihilated us. So it was a good run for a while and then it stayed in the nobility arena, but as knights but just learning that was like wow, there is some history here to be proud of as a Dugan. And so that just inspired me even more and I would share that with my extended family. Then I also start to find out like the decline of the name really, depending on where you were in the United States of America. So now that I'm in Texas, in Corpus Christi, Texas, for that matter, there's a doctor Dugan and the town loves them. There's a doctor Dugan day and if you go to the local university, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the Wellness Center has his and his wife's name on the building. So when I show up and they asked for my ID in it, they say they see Dugan they're like oh yeah, come on in. And like why do they treat me like royalty? They see the name on the building like oh, they think I'm related to that guy. Oh, they want money from me got it. So it's just a different world and then I start tracing it back to other Dugans going further east in the United States and their doctors They're professors, they're teachers, they're anything but people collecting welfare. I just start sharing that with my extended family like, they, there's a whole different world of Dugans. If you go east if you just see what's possible and say, I want to try that, too. And then you go for it. And, yeah, don't be afraid to fail. That's, that's, I mean, that's just ever since

Michelle Rayburn  20:25
It sounded like a movie like Rudy or something like that.

Jerry Dugan  20:29
You think of me when that movie came out. Because it came out around the time of my junior-senior year. And, yeah, it's cuz I'm a short guy. For those who don't know, which is all of you. I'm five foot four. So I grew like six whole inches since I learned how to play the tuba.

Michelle Rayburn  20:50
Tell me a little bit about going into the military know that you served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And you were overseas? Thank you so much for serving our country. First off, and I'd like to know how your life changed during that time.

Jerry Dugan  21:05
Oh, man, some for the better, some for the worst. So I think I mentioned earlier, like when I went through my undergrad years, that the big win is that I graduated, I was a pre-med student. I had actually been recruited to be a tuba player at the university. And then I flipped the script. And I said, now I'm gonna go pre-med and the band director was like, Well, will you still play too before me? Yeah, sure. So four and a half years later, I get my four-year degree and a 2.3 GPA. So I started looking at what does it take to get into med school and just keep hearing over and over again, more than a 2.3 GPA? Oh, shoot, I think I squandered my four and a half years. So I started asking around and I think Stanford University had shared some insights with me that they consider folks who don't have, you know, 4.0. But the things they look at are, our is your MCAT score through the roof, like, Okay, I got some studying to do. And then on top of that, do you have real-world experience? Like, okay, good. What kind of real-world experience like, well as a medical professional, like a nurse, radiology technician, anything that's exposed you into the medical field, like, okay, great. So I got to go back to school and get one of these degrees. Yeah. What if I used all my money? I have no money for college. They're like, Well, can you find scholarships, and so all that led me to, ah, the United States military will pay me to get trained. Pay me, give me the experience I'm looking for. Give me some certifications in the process. And after my enlistment, I'll have the experience. Hopefully, I study. I'll be a doctor. So fast forward, I'm not a doctor. rewind back. So that's why I dove into the army. And so I looked at all the branches, and I didn't want to go Air Force because I didn't like the uniforms. Weird enough. I don't know. Looking back. I mean, everybody in the army is always jealous of everybody in the Air Force. The food's better. The pay is better. They treat each other better. And here I am not joining because I didn't like the blue uniform. I didn't join the Marine Corps because they have to run a lot. Like nope, not me.

And I didn't join the Navy because I had this fear of drowning or being eaten by sharks. And I just watched this documentary about the USS Indianapolis. And so I that's a no go. So my dad was in the Army. I was familiar with the culture already. And they were the oldest branch so they you know, who's got history and providing trauma type of experiences. It's the army. So that's the route I went in, and the weird thing was, is I just kept getting picked up to be a leader. So while I was in basic training, the drill sergeants asked me to be the platoon guide. They didn't ask me, they told me, and then they'd fire me and they put me back in fire me put me back in. But essentially, out of the nine weeks of basic training, I was a platoon guide for about three, maybe four weeks. And that was with them rotating almost everybody through 64 guys. I go on to ai t to learn to be a medic, and my plan is lay low. Don't stand out. Just learn how to be a medic, be a medic. Day one in class, one of the instructors of walking up and down the aisles, sees me tassel on the desk and says, come to the back. Bring your battle buddy. So we go to the back of the classroom and my battle buddies like what did you do? We just got here? I don't know. I kept doing I had to do a lot of push-ups in basic. I don't know why. It's on back there. And then they asked me a few questions about you know, how do I get my specialist rank which was an e4 rank, and I came in that way and I asked me where I went to college. What was my major? Where did I go to basic training? And after all these questions, they kind of looked at each other and said, This is the one yeah, this is the one they were talking about. Alright. And now my battle buddies really mad like, wow, whatever we did before it followed us here, man. Dang it. I hate you. He didn't say that. But it was in his eyes. So they decided you're going to be our class sergeant. And your goal is your job is to make sure everybody in your class graduates.

Michelle Rayburn  25:27
Oh, no pressure.

Jerry Dugan  25:29
Yeah. And my battle buddies, like what happened to lay low and like, I didn't say anything. I was just sitting there. You're right next to me, like, I had nice in the front, just like the drill sergeants back and forth. SILS told us and so anyway, yeah. Forgot how long the training was. But yeah, it had a lead there. Go to my first duty station in Germany. And as an e4, I'm getting tasked to lead smaller missions and be in charge of the day and like, I know nothing. And so I guess all this to say, if there's one thing the army taught me was leadership. So here I am at 23 years old, out of college. And as no matter how hard I tried to lay low, and just get some medical experience, I'm getting plucked up and plopped into leadership roles. Sometimes they're good experiences, a lot of times, they were Dukan got yelled at a lot to take the fall for everybody else. And somewhere in there, though, I met a this is when I came back from Kosovo, I met someone I thought was very cute. And she was another soldier in the platoon. But I found out that one she was in a relationship, and she was pregnant. So I'm like, well, there goes that. Well, couple months later, I find out from her that she's not in a relationship, but she is pregnant. And we start dating, and we become married. And 20 years later, here, I am not fired yet. So 911 happened while we were in Germany. We got married shortly after that. She got out of the army I stayed in. And around 2003 … It's my last year and our unit gets orders to prepare to go to Kuwait. So we go, and we get there. And we find out that there's a bit of an ultimatum given to Saddam Hussein. And he's told they surrendered to us or we're going to invade at a time of our own choosing. And we invade. So on the day of that invasion, we're preparing Scud missiles or flying overhead, we're on the border, get into my chemical suit. And up to this point, I'm not a Christian, I had a couple of moments where I had a brush with God said a prayer did some Bible study. But overall, I denied God, up to this point I still did in this moment. And I remember just looking around and people scared, you can see it in their faces. They're scared, I'm scared. But for some reason, I thought, I'm not making it back. I'm in the branch of the army that has the highest percentage of pasta or the highest per capita of PA posthumously awarded medals. So it just kind of hit home like that day, like, wow, I'm in the field that we get medals, but we do we get a matter of we die. And we get to because of how we die. And this is not going to go well for me. And I remember saying, God, if You're real, you better replace me with somebody who's better than me. And you better replace me with somebody who's gonna love my wife, the way she deserves. And lift her up. Replace me with a father who's gonna raise my kids as if they're his own, and they don't know the difference. That's what you gotta do. I didn't say amen. What to do. Now, what I didn't know, is that 1000s of miles away in Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, my wife had packed up our house in Georgia and moved back to her mom's in Texas. She's praying. And I mean, we weren't a church-going couple she wanted to be and I found ways to resist every moment of the way, every step of the way. But yeah, she's making a deal. And she's saying, God, I promise you if you bring him home, I will make sure he comes to church every weekend. The rest is up to you. But I promise you, you bring him home in one piece. I'll make sure he goes to church. And I found that out later on. The invasion happens. Everything you hear about like the thunder run, one thunder run to my unit was part of the artillery support for that. We hunker down in Baghdad.

And by about July, they pull my unit out. Because we just weren't geared for peacekeeping operations, we were too much of a razor's edge to fight war that they're like, now these guys, they can't police and get them out. So they pulled us out, they let us diffuse in Kuwait for about a month before they brought us back to the States. And it was around July, I got to meet my daughter for the first time, she was three months old. My son was about to turn two years old. And it's, it's on that drive back to our home. My mom, my stepdad, and my brother all came out to see me return home. But I'm driving back to the house with my wife separately from everybody else. And, you know, she's telling me about this deal that she made. While I was gone, she made a promise to God that if I came home safely in one piece, she'd make sure I go to church, and I can just feel the end here, the nervousness in her voice, she was worried I was gonna yell at her and just be mad. And I wasn't. And I just remember thinking nothing really just, you know, wow, she was so scared for me. She was so concerned for me that she made a deal with God. And so I just said something to her like, well, if, if you made a deal, we have to honor it. And I know in the back of my head was the Dugan motto by virtue and valor. And this was the virtue part. My wife made a deal. We got on right. And so there it was, every Sunday in a church, looking for a reason to get out like, Oh, hey, look, otters crying, and they just put our number up, I'll go. And I'd take off and my wife started to pick up on that. And she's like, Hold on a sec, my turn. Here you go. And she take the ticket and go, and I'm listening to the sermon. I'm like, wow, this is good. Man. I live out of here. This this. She's with Emma. Okay, got it. And so that was in Georgia. I separate from the army, we go back to Corpus Christi, fast forward a little bit. That was 2003. By 2005, we finally have a church home. The church, we're going to figure out how to keep Jerry from getting pulled out of service. And what they did, this is so cool. I mean, it's the power of serving, because you never know how you're going to impact somebody else. So what the children's ministry in our church wound up doing was only realized, this girl cries because she has separate separation anxiety from her parents. But more specifically her dad. Yeah, cuz she's a daddy's girl. And we're like, we're the exact person but split up by something years and totally different genders. So, but other than that, personality-wise, we're almost identical. So there's a bond there that my son and my wife don't have. And vice versa, my son and my wife bond in a way that I can't. But anyway, they figure this out at the church, and they get one volunteer to immediately pass a background check. His one job is to hold this girl, rocker, she's a baby. If you stop rocking, she cries. You got to rock her for an hour. And that was it. He was there ready to go. Here's baby Emma in his arms, and he sits in a rocking chair and he rocks for the hour. Before we come to pick her up, they take her out of his arms, they change a real quick, put her back in his arms back to rocking. And this went on for months. And it was just it worked because they never had to call us out. And one day, our pastor's wrapping up the service and he said, Hey, we're about to do our salvation prayer. And I just need to tell you, there's something on my heart to say, you've been shopping around for quite a bit. You've been dipping your toe in the water. But you already know what you're getting into. Now's the time to just jump right in. Embrace God, embrace Jesus, stop dipping your toe. And the way he said it stopped dipping your toe. It was almost like hearing a sergeant or a drill sergeant say, suck it up, drive on, dive in. And I was like, What do I have to lose? And I received Jesus as my Savior that day. And man what a whirlwind ever since that just leap of faith after leap of faith and it's whenever I tried to get in my comfort zone and stay there. That's when things start to fall apart. And it's you know, getting stuck in that rut and feeling that I'm off-center what I'm supposed to be doing. And that's when I really surrender to what is it God wants me to do? What is it I'm supposed to be doing in the moment but also in the long run? And wow, that scares the heck out of me and then going forward anyway. It's always been worth the journey. Always.

Michelle Rayburn  34:59
An amazing story. It's how God works all these little pieces behind the scenes in ways that we couldn't possibly orchestrate in that way. And yet he has it all planned out. Like that's one of the biggest things in life is learning to just sit back and trust that God has a better plan than I could come up with. Even though I think my plans are pretty awesome. Like, nope, I have a different one for you. So thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing that part of your story. You are transitioning really well into talking about being stuck in a rut. And for the listener out there. Jerry has a podcast called Beyond the right. I want to know Jerry, like why did you start a podcast called Beyond the rug? Did you get stuck in one? Or how did you? How did you start that?

Jerry Dugan  35:47
The funny thing is, I was the unpaid hired help on that podcast on this podcast. But it started, I had a previous show called Family Time Q&A. So you know, having become a Christian, realizing, you know, going back to Romans, I forget the chapter in the verse, but I was a new creation in Christ. Reborn, I was my own replacement. And so I remember that prayer, and I remembered, Oh, shoot. I'm the husband, my wife is supposed to have? Yeah, and I am. I'm the guy who's supposed to raise my children as if he were my own. They were my own. And that goes for my stepson. I mean, he, for all intents and purposes, I hate when I say stepson gets to me. I've been there since before he was born. And he is my son. He's my boy. He's way taller than me to which, oddly enough, one of my goals in life was to have children who were taller than me. They're both taller than me. A daughter beats me by an inch. My son, he's way tall. So I almost hate him for it. No, I'm kidding. I don't need my boy. Sorry, where was I? Man. Squirrel! I got I was doing so well, Michelle.

Michelle Rayburn  36:56
We got pretty far before a squirrel came into the picture here. (laughter) Yeah, so you talk a lot about goals. And I know on your website, you have a page that talks about goals, and you have a free resource that helps people with planning out their goals. And I'm gonna link to that in the show notes. It's called Measure It To Make. It's a download. But how did you get going with teaching about goals, then? Are you like super goal-oriented? Or is it kind of like what I do with my podcast, I kind of covered the topics that I need to work on myself. And how did you end up doing that?

Jerry Dugan  37:36
Yeah, turns I didn't realize how, I guess odd I am in the sense that I have written goals, and I have a written life plan. I don't read it every single day, I pull it out maybe once every six months, read through it, get some inspiration, and then I go back on the attack. But Brandon kept pointing that out. He's like, hey, Jerry, you've got written goals. And I'm like, Yeah, I do, don't you? He's like, no, like, Oh, weird. So just, I started to come across other studies where it's just such a small percentage of us who have written goals, but the ones who do have written goals, have a higher net worth, higher income, healthier lifestyle, healthier family, relationships, and so on. And as the, if all of the things are equal, the big differentiator is one of them has written it down plain on tablets. So it's, it's not just something nebulous inside our heads, but something concrete and tangible out in front of us, and my pastor that of the church, where I got saved, and you know, I'd attended for about, oh, boy. 15 years, attended that church. We're, we're in a new town now. So having to find a new church is so weird. Yeah. Everybody sounds different. It's not the hype or voice I'm used to. But anyway, he's he released a couple of books about goal setting and life planning. And I adopted that. And ever since doing that, I've seen my own career skyrocket my income. Gosh, doing the math, it's four times larger now than it was 10 years ago.

Michelle Rayburn  39:19
And you're not a doctor.

Jerry Dugan  39:20
I'm not a doctor.

Michelle Rayburn  39:21
What did you end up becoming?

Jerry Dugan  39:23
Well, I want I finally listen to my wife. I told her this was during one of our sermons, I was thinking through how I was a broke real estate agent, but a very pigheaded one who didn't realize I needed to get out of real estate as an agent. But I was just thinking through, how do I earn more income and my pastor had said something that the resources you need to get you to the next level are already in your possession. And it dawned on me, I have the GI Bill and I'm not using it. And I start doing the math. I'm like, well, there's this program. The GI Bill will bring in an extra nine $100 a month. That's exactly what we need to get through and get by it. So I turned to my wife, like, I need to go back to school full time, but still work because we need that money. And so because I was working as a community educator for a battered women's shelter, so that was the $32,000 a year income supporting a family of four, trying to keep a house from getting foreclosed on. And the GI Bill is gonna help augment the income to keep the house. So that was my motivation. But I told her I was going for a master's in business administration. And she had what I now know is the Holy Spirit look on her face like it's, it's her words coming out...

Michelle Rayburn  40:37
I've never heard that expression, the Holy Spirit look on her face.

Jerry Dugan  40:40
Yeah, it's just like, just He's usually very bubbly and like, Okay, go for that, or no, that's not a good idea. But it's like more. There's more consonants countenance. Like, there's, there's some discernment going on in that head, and at heart, and what come out came out of her mouth was, I don't think that's what you need to pursue. And I was about to be upset in church, like, she knows, let me know, I'm a businessman, I need to go get an MBA. And but instead of saying that, I just asked her, Well, what do you think I should go after she said something in education. You know, you're very good at teaching people stuff. And I was about to balk at that. And then I realized, wait a second 2.3 GPA in college. But I'm tutoring people to get 3.5 and higher. GPAs. And my professor saw, my faculty advisor saw that he actually encouraged me back then, when I was 20 years old, switch majors become an education major, there's no shame in it. And my pride said, No, those who can't do teach, and here, of course, he at that point, you just get out of your sign, go to class. And, but I mean, he recognized it though, when I had to go take a job, the one thing I could get was as a community educator for a battered women's shelter and teaching healthy relationships to middle schoolers, and high schoolers, and even adults. So my wife noticed that you got to get something in education. So yeah, I picked up a master's degree in instructional design and educational technology. That led into a job that doubled my income, more than doubled my income. Had that job for five and a half years. And then I got picked up for this current one, which almost doubled that income, actually, it will in six months. And it's just all that because I took a leap of faith, I looked at the resources I had in front of me, at some point I had written down on an index card, I just came across it the other day. And that was I wanted to earn a certain income by a certain date. And helping people live their best life, something like that. But I want to be engaged in my kids' lives, I want to be a chair, a loving husband, and just like, there were some parameters, it's not going to be at the sacrifice of my family, right? God's gonna be first it was like all these things all in a paragraph on an index card. And I kept that in my wallet for years. And when I came across that index card just the other day, unpacking boxes, it turns out, just a couple 1000 shy of that income. And I'm in a job that encourages others to live their best life, I have a podcast about living your best life into life, filled with purpose and significance. And I'm pretty much plugged into the lives of my kids and my wife. And I'm like, wow. So again, written goal, I only look at it once every couple of years. But by writing it down, it became concrete for me very specific. The path, there was really convoluted. But I got there. A little late, but I got there.

Michelle Rayburn  43:54
You know, maybe our timing. It's late. But in God's timing, it's right on time. Yes, yes. Pretty much this episode is airing at the beginning of January. And I want to speak to the listener out there who's trying to figure out what to do with 2022. What advice do you have for somebody who's processing through goals and perhaps wants to make that giant list of new year's resolutions? What do you want to say to that person about setting goals?

Jerry Dugan  44:23
Simon Sinek said start with why. And that's when things really changed for me. Why is it I wanted to earn a certain income? Why is it I wanted a certain type of job? Once I understood my why, you know, one of the income one because I needed to provide for my family. And I wanted to show them that there was a different path in life, that they can have some freedom to earn what they want to earn, they need to earn and not rely on other people. Like not on the government not on an employer that they're always employable. So that kind of thing. But it wasn't going to come at us sacrifice. So fatherhood, and being a husband, very important, being a Christ-follower, very important. So know your why do you want to be a giver? Do you want to travel a lot? What's your why? You know, at the end of the day, no matter how much money you've got, no matter what career you've got, what is your why? What's the impact you want to make on their world? What's that idea that just keeps pounding inside your heart, no matter how hard you shake it off, it's there. So all that to say, start with your why, why do you exist? When we answer this? It's your why you're not answering somebody else you're not showing off. And don't be ashamed of it. That's yours. And then from there, what are your strengths? Like, what do you have now that will get you there? You know, what is it that? The other thing is what do you need half to get there? So now you've identified that gap. So now, you got some goals? Do you pursue, like, now my goals are going to help me fill this gap? So I have all the things I need to achieve this purpose. And I just worked backwards. I mean, so like since 14, though, I had a preoccupation with death. Yeah. I mean, when you see your dad trying to kill himself at 1114, you're like, Okay, well, if I did go today, was my life worth it? And at that point, I was like, No, it's not. So how do I make it worth it? So I think now thinking about that, I'm like, wow, that's not what most teenagers think, you know, when they realize, is my work life worth it right now? And the answer's no, they're like, well, then, I ended now. And for me, it was just on my heart. Well, we'll make it worth it. And that started that journey for me. So just asking that one question, what would make it worth it? Get ask yourself that now like what would make your life worth living? And then go make

Michelle Rayburn  46:58
So, this is an episode of deep thoughts with Jerry Duggan.

Jerry Dugan  47:01
Yeah, yeah, you don't hear this in the podcasting group? D. It's me snacking on popcorn.

Michelle Rayburn  47:08
Well, I know that I could talk with you all evening because you have a ton of wisdom to share. But we've already talked longer than I usually do. So yeah, that and that's great. We only had one squirrel in there. So that was amazing. How can people find you? And where can they get the resource that you have to measure it to make it download?

Jerry Dugan  47:25
Right, so my website is beyondthe The show is also on Apple, podcasts, Spotify, I Heart Radio, pretty much everywhere, you can download a podcast, it's there. But all the blog posts, the episodes I also put on beyond the Now the tool, measure it to make it which will walk you through identifying your why from there, what's your God-given purpose? What are your values, your strengths, and so on. And then what's your 10-year goal, your five-year goal, and then annual goals and then breaks it down to daily habits? That tool is measured to make it and you can get that at

Michelle Rayburn  48:04

Right. I will link to that in the show notes too. So people can find that. As we wrap up. I want to thank you Jerry for joining me and for sharing a piece of your life and a piece of your heart and for also being brave and going out there and doing what God has called you to do. Thank you so much for being you and for being real. Also, thank you, Michelle. You've been listening to Life Repurposed with Michelle Rayburn. Check out tips, resources and inspiration at Michelle To get the show notes for this episode. Each week I share links to everything mentioned in the episode, graphics you can share and guest quotes. I also invite you to join the life repurpose Facebook community for weekly conversation with others on the journey of discovering the repurpose life before you go. Which friend needs to hear this episode. share a link with a note to invite them to listen and thank you for listening too.

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