No More Funerals. No More Goodbyes.

  • By Christopher Degenaars
  • 12 Feb, 2017
Ben Baker, Zachary Huggins, Josiah and McCann Utu, Nic Smith, Samantha Sacks, Lilly Davis 
Just a few names, of too many sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and family, that were taken too soon.

But these aren't just names. These were kids. Students. Loved ones.

When I heard the news that there was a car accident that took the lives of 2 girls, my heart stopped for a second, when I continued to read that they were 16, I couldn't believe it. When I found out who it was, I didn't want to believe it. 

Plano as an entire community has gone through so much over the past few years, mourning the passings of our friends who made impacts on our lives, who changed our lives. And every time, we come together. 

When we need each other, this city comes together like no other, when we feel like we are alone and that there is no hope, people come from all around the city to be there for each other. Even if they didn't know each other, they open their arms for each other. That is rare. 

I sit here, thinking of the people we have lost and the dark cloud that seems to come over us every few months, and I ask why? 

When I lost my friend Zach, I questioned my faith, and couldn't help but to question everything that was happening, and I found myself doing that over and over again. I wanted to know why, why God would put us through this over and over again, why he would put these brothers and sisters, these moms and dads, these friends in this situation. 

And I haven't found that answer, nor do I think I ever will, because it isn't for myself, or any of us to know. Because that isn't in for us to know. 

The only thing we control is how we spend our time with our loved ones, with the ones we hold closest to us, with our community.

We have the choice everyday to treat each other with love and respect. We have the power to show love and acceptance. That is up to us, how we live our lives is up to us. We don't choose when our time is over or anyone else's, that isn't our place to choose.

Who's is it? I don't know. Not yours or mine or anyone else. What is your choice? How you spend the time with each other and how you treat each other. 

Hug your sister. Tell your mom you love her. Tell your dad you miss him. Tell your friend how much they mean to you. Never let a positive word go unspoken.  
Isaiah 41: 10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Chris Degenaars

By Christopher Degenaars 03 Aug, 2017

“Alexa, add milk to my shopping list.”

“Siri, what’s the high for today.”

Just 2 of the phrases I have found myself iterating out loud to one of my voice assistants. Things I never thought I would genuinely say in such a conversational way to a device that has no one on the other end.

Many tech leaders have been saying for the past 12 months (ish) that voice was going to be the next big disruptor in tech . Rightfully so, consumer behavior has certainly shown that we are valuing our time more and more which means that those extra seconds it takes for me to come to a stop to, take out my phone, and add milk to my shopping list is too much of an inconvenience.

By 2020, voice is said to make up 50% of all searches . Which is a pretty big expectation for something that currently only makes up 20% of search  types.

At the end of the day though, as the quote says, time is money, and we are starting to value that money at a higher currency than ever before. Of course, not everyone will value it at the same rate, and tech companies recognize that.

Trevor Jones, an analyst at Adobe Digital Insights , a global leader in research and data trends of consumers, said that “…device sales [Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Microsoft Cortona, and others] are performing well but have not yet become a standard household purchase.”

Going to the common understanding that although sales have increased for these smart devices, it is not an expected item to be sold to consumers, yet. Even with that being said, it is suspected that there will be 21.4 MILLION smart speakers  in 2020.

Voice search, as of now, has been helping businesses rank on search engines because most searches using voice are longer queries.

Traditionally, text searches take a massive drop  after about three words (peaking at two words). Although voice follows the same trend, dropping around four or five words (peaking at three words), they have a fairly high search rate towards the six to seven-word query.

That is a little surprising that they both take a massive hit in searches around the same word count, but we are so used to getting straight to the point…even when talking.

But, let’s put it to the test. Try answering these two questions:

If you wanted to find out the weather today…

1. How would you type it into Google?

2. How would you ask Siri (or Alexa, Google, Cortona)?


The vast majority of people would answer with the following:

1. Weather

2. Alexa, what’s the weather for today?


We all do it. Without even ever realizing it, we have altered how we communicate based on if it is via text or voice. We even do it with texting versus phone calls, because texting means you’re not cutting into my time too much, so I won’t give you too much of it, where a phone call means I am already dedicating my time to you.

Whether the voice recognition industry will really be an $18 billion industry by 2023, I don’t know.

The one thing I know is, voice saves time, and at the end of the day, if I can save time on small tasks like finding out the weather, ordering food, or even updating my shopping list, I’ll buy into it.

Because of time. It is all about time.

By Christopher Degenaars 31 Jul, 2017

1.1 Million Americans  Attempt Suicide Annually.

Nearly 45,000 Americans Commit Suicide Every Year.

5 to 17 year-olds hospital admissions  more than doubled from 2008 to 2015 for suicidal thoughts or actions.

On average, there are 121 suicides per day .

Your Story Matters — Don’t Give Up The Fight
Call (1)800–273–8255

T hese aren’t just numbers; these are people. They are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads.

I have been fairly outspoken when it comes to my suffering of depression and suicidal thoughts/actions. I decided that this is how I wanted to live my life moving forward, I didn’t just want to be silent and let the world go on thinking it was just a “phase” or that those 45,000 lives were just statistics.

In the past five years or so, it seems that mental illness has taken a larger spotlight for discussion after many celebrities have taken their lives. However, we are still not talking enough about it. The discussions get loud for a week, two weeks, maybe even a month after a recognizable name takes their life, but then it dissipates, and we go back to pretending it doesn’t exist.

That is not how it should happen, that is not how we should be treating this situation.

Too many see mental illnesses as a phase, as a kid being “too sensitive” whatever the hell that means, or as a someone holding onto a grudge.

We ignore the signs. We ignore the cries for help. We pretend that none of it is true because it is easier for us to pretend that it isn’t our fault it is happening, that if something does happen to that “poor troubled boy” or that “sensitive girl” that it wasn’t our fault.

We see the signs, but we ignore them. We hate to admit that someone may be truly unhappy with their life, but we hate to have to inconvenience ourselves even more.

It is so much easier just to say “it’ll get better” than to stick by them till it does get better because one requires us to actually care and put in the effort to help.

It shouldn’t take someone who is in the spotlight for us to give a shit about the 1.1 MILLION lives that are affected on a daily basis by mental illnesses like depression and suicide.

And you know what, until we don’t just care for those few weeks after someone takes their life, it is going to continue to happen.

It is the time that we stop thinking of depression and suicide as a phase, or a fad, and start getting serious with how we see and help those who suffer from these mental illnesses.

It does get better , but it can be hard to believe it will, I know that first hand. I never thought it would; it seemed so foreign to be happy, but when I was able to see the world in a macro-perspective I was able to see how things may truly get better.

By Christopher Degenaars 27 Jul, 2017
It is true, not much has me more excited than Sunday night, knowing that the week is about to begin. Fridays aren't special to me, they aren't exciting, and in all reality, I hate them.

To get to do something you love to do, every single day, is pretty amazing, but to get to do it at 19-years-old is a whole different level of gratefulness and excitement for what the future holds.

I have worked at Long Drive Agency for a little more than ten months now, and in that time, I can whole heartedly say that I have not woken up in the morning wishing I didn't have to go in, or that I wanted to call in. It simply has not been something that has gone through my mind.

This feeling is something I wish for everyone to experience, that everyone in their life could truly love what they do so much that Monday morning beats 5 pm on a Friday.

I get that not everyone will get to and that it can be hard to think that happiness may mean living a little less fancy, but I am so anti-complaining about life. At the end of the day, this is your life, and in reality, you have absolutely no reason to complain.

It goes back to the thought that there are way worse situations that you could be in, from unemployed, health issues, family problems, the list goes on.

Ya, to do what you love to may mean cutting back on how many times you are going out, it may mean skipping happy hour today, or it may even mean downsizing to a smaller home or getting a less expensive car. You may have to sacrifice some of the material things, but do they outway your emotional happiness?

At the end of the day, that is what matters, and that is the question we all have to ask ourselves; what do we want in life?
By Christopher Degenaars 08 May, 2017

It isn’t a secret. There is no doubt in anyones mind that death will come, but the question I always have is what happens after?

Not so much spiritually, because I’ve learned that it isn’t worth questioning, because we will never truly know outside of what we believe.

I question what is said after, what is talked about, who says what about me, who shows up to my funeral that I hadn’t talked to in years, or who shows up that used to talk down to me. That is what I question, that is what I work for.

My biggest drive in life is my legacy, it is what I leave behind, what I leave for my friends and family to talk about. Not the money, but the actions.

There is SO much negativity in this world, and so many people spend their entire lives being negative, rude, hurtful, and are more focused on themselves than they are on helping someone else. So many people would rather talk about all the bad in the world than they would the good, and that is devastating to me.

One day, maybe soon, maybe a long time away, you are going to die. You may not know when, you may not have the heads up, and if you don’t, how will the world remember you?

You don’t get to come back and fix the relationships, or rebuild the bridges, or apologize for the comment that made that person stay up late crying. It is done with, you made your bed, and now you have to sleep in it.

The comments you leave on someones status, the messages you send to someone, the things you say in person or behind their back all matter. You don’t want to admit it, you don’t want to think it matters, but it does.

No body wants to think about the consequences to their actions because they know it wouldn’t be good, no one wants to listen to WHY it matters, because we are all too busy. We are all too tired. We are all too tired.

We are all too good.

But one day, you will die, and one day, people will be telling stories about the impact you left on their life, the time you made them laugh. Or the time you made them cry. Or the time you made them hopeful, or faithful, or thankful. Or, suicidal.

If I could challenge everyone to do one thing, one thing every day moving forward, it is to be aware. Be self-aware of what you say and do, and be aware of those who you engage with, what they say, do, or imply.

Every day we make our beds, and one day we will need to be able to sleep in them — will you be able to?

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