Friday, May 8, 2015

Stop #2: Lower Antelope Canyon

Immediately after our venture to Horseshoe Bend, we made our way to the second destination of the trip: Lower Antelope Canyon. Less than twenty minutes away from our first stop and just inside the Navajo territories surrounding Page, Arizona, lie the Antelope Canyons. 

I feel as if I have seen many beautiful things. After visiting these formations, I believe I will never see anything else quite like them. 

"The Lady in the Wind"

Words don't do it justice (pictures don't either), so there will be less of them this time. Coming up next: Zion National Park. 

Hold on to your sense of wonder. 


Saturday, April 18, 2015

One Year

So a month break from writing made for Christmas and family turns into six months, and I find myself here, shaking my head. It happened so fast. I could have written twenty if not more times. It is what it is, and what has brought me back is, without doubt, something to write about. 

As of Monday, that would be April 13th, Candace and I have had this knot tied for one year. And just like the time flew where I wished I had been writing, we feel like we walked down the aisle, blinked and are now finding ourselves where we are now. 

But the blink of a year is bursting at the seams of memories, pictures, stories, adventures and laughs. To celebrate being happily together for a year, we decided to stuff a few more in before we began round two. So we decided to go to Utah. 

Before crossing the state-line though, our first stop awaited us just outside of Page, Arizona, and only miles from Lake Powell. The following pictures are from the highly visited, regularly photographed Horsehoe Bend. 

Our following stop, and my next post, is of Lower Antelope Canyon. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pictures from the break

Due to lack of words and time, the best way to make use of this weeks post is to tell you how great the Thanksgiving holiday was through pictures. We travelled from Phoenix to Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back. With many stops and talking and laughter, it was great time off and away with family. Enjoy! 

Stay humble and laugh a lot. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A new friend

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the fields exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes, 
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness, 
and the peoples in his faithfulness. 
-Psalm 96: 11-13

I have met someone incredible recently. His name is David. The son of a couple in the church we are a part of, David is one of a kind. He is the guy who makes the naturally pure, unforced type of smile come over anyone. Even now just thinking about him, I can't help but grin. 

David is a blessing in human form, a rarity in mankind today. Being challenged with Downs syndrome, some would say this is true, with thought only towards what they can physically take note of David. Allow them to spend just moments more with him, and they will see what I am talking about. 

Hopefully when you get to know him, you will see what I mean, or really hear it. David has a way with words. His speech is simple, yet deep. His voice is soft and gentle, but travels great distances. And the always following smile is contagious and warming. Since getting to know and be around him more, my ears are starting to automatically perk up every time I hear him speak. 

This past Saturday, our church family took part in a Homeless Banquet with a few other churches, and David was there. During the serving of food and drinks, and the passing out of sweatshirts, socks and Bibles, I brushed past David.

"Will," said David followed by a real long pause. "Looking good." He smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I had to give him a hug, and we kept serving. 

On Sunday, after a class discussing depression, David saw me and walked over. We made small talk about the Cardinals and what we were gonna eat while watching football that day. He then went on to the topic of class, and how one of his family members had battled depression for a real long time. The last thing he said stuck. 

"Giving thanks, Will...," there was a pause while he took a deep breath, "is the most important thing we can do, in the whole world." 

He caught me off guard and I almost broke down. I gathered myself and just barely teared up. I smiled and grabbed his shoulder. David smiled back. "You're so right," I said back. 

"One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations." -Saint John of Avila

"The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world." -Ann Voskamp

Monday, November 17, 2014

Complaining to God

Last week, I wrote on abstaining from complaining to each other, and instead focusing on the beauty of our Lord around us, in turn encouraging all other Christians. It was full of words pointed directly back towards me, about something I have been working on in my life. 

While editing and talking to a few people about the topic, something arose that I could not fit into last week, but have thought of further and want to write more about. 

You see, I still complain. I'm a sorry husband sometimes and heap all my complaints on my wife when I get home from work, or at times call my brother and grieve about this or that. And thinking more about the subject and looking inwardly, I believe I have come upon something. 

When I bemoan something to my wife, or brother or parents or friends, I don't feel any better afterwards. Nothing really changes for the better. If anything, I feel downright pitiful, and kind of embarrased for playing the "woe is me" card in that conversation. I end up hoping that our next talk can be a normal one without dancing around subjects I whined about previously or awkward pauses. 

Thinking further, I see when I do this, I am casting upon them something that they are not really capable of taking care of. I am putting these people in a role they are not able to fill. The shoes I am putting them into are too big, so to speak. 

It is because they are His, the role is God's only. He is the only one we should go to with our complaints. He is the only one that can handle them for us. 

In the Psalms, I feel like David went to God with many complaints, or at least with the intention of complaining. He talked to God of people trying to kill him, the bad situations he was in, how he wanted, even thirsted for more of God. Reading these in the past, I did not think of these words as complaints. But now, it makes me think when we come to God with our troubles, it does something to us.   

It turns them into a conversation.
And at times becomes thanksgiving. 
It provides scope to our situation. 
Brings everything around us into focus. 

That is why it does not seem as if David is complaining, because in the Psalms they have been turned into conversation, thanking, glorification, and requests for tools to stay the course. 

"Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hid not yourself from my plea for mercy! Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they beat a grudge against me...
But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice." Ps. 55:1-2, 16-17

Stay humble and laugh a lot,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Through the Days

Is there ever a time for complaint as a Christian?

I really wish there was sometimes. I wish that if my cat died, it was acceptable for me to complain. That if a co-worker is being rather a nag or today's humidity is not to my liking, I could grumble to whoever I please.

The answer is obviously simple, complaints are not a mark of a true Christian. And in just thinking about this, I know that they leave my mouth all too often. 

So here me out in this. 
This is not a complaint. 
This is not me whining. 

These words are for the Christian out there, in any circumstance. I do not care if you are in the perfect environment or in a horrible one. If you have your dream job or hate your current profession. If you just aced your exam or barely scraped a passing score. No matter who you are or what you do, the bad day will come in some form. 

And when the bad days come upon you, please be strong. Don't allow these to defeat you.

When we put loads of effort into our work and it goes by unnoticed or unappreciated, do not waiver. When you are the minority and you alone believe in Him, stand tall and stay the course. If people ridicule Jesus in our faces, say communion is practicing cannibalism, or the Bible is just another piece of fiction alongside The Odyssey, smile and keep loving them. When no one else is interested in knowing who Jesus is, persevere and pray. When the darkness feels tangible, boldly speak truth.

You do not have to read in between the lines to see I have had a few of these long days. I needed some encouragement. I needed to do some seeking. The result was my wife and I taking our new camera and going on a quick morning hike Saturday. We had fun and meaningful conversation, and the beauty around us was the perfect medicine.

Because every day from here on will not be perfect, let us encourage each other further by keeping firm in the faith. Seek the the beauty of our Lord. Glorify Him with me in both the tough and incredible days. Do not waiver, so that in days of trials we can look to each other, see Jesus more easily, and keep going on. Help me by living out our hope, shining like stars in our universes.

Showing all who our God is.

And everyone else their potential God. 

Stay humble and laugh a lot.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lakes and Ponds

Growing up, I spent very little time at the lake. I had friends who had lake houses, fast boats and were exceptional wake boarders, but still did not find myself at the lake often. Actually, I can count the times I've been to waveless waters on one hand. It's not that spending time at the lake is something I don't enjoy, I just enjoy the ocean more.

But on Saturday, I got one finger closer to two hands of trips to the lake. 

That afternoon, we packed up with some friends and drove up to Lake Pleasant, a body of water that can sneak up on you if you're not looking for it. Thanks to a dam on the Phoenix side, the lake seems to be cradled between the forming peaks of mountains, spreading through their various valleys. 

We unloaded, backed the truck up, and got on the water smoothly. And the rest of the day was just that, smooth. 

As we picked up and began to glide, I took a backseat, sat in the corner of the boat by myself, and looked down at the water as it passed by. I closed my eyes, thanked God for the peace I was feeling at that moment. Something I had been needing, but didn't know till right then. 

My mind wandered to memories. I started reminiscing about times. Began counting memories. Started to count them as blessings. The ones that surfaced were perfect flashbacks, of times where I would not change a single thing. My memories have become blessings. 

The most perfect memories that I thought of were in Millican, Texas, on a pond my grandpa would take the men in the family to fish. Some days in the middle of the week during college, I would get a text from him, and as soon as class was out, I'd grab a pole and hit the water with my grandpa. The best times were when he, my dad, my brother and I would all climb into the same truck and head out. We had two small boats. My dad and I typically went together, while my grandpa and brother took the other. There was the Texas heat, the smell of fish fresh on our hands, and lots of laughter going on between the boats. I can still remember the conversations I had with my dad, contemplating greatness while we cast hundreds of times. This pond would never disappoint, and there was never a day we did not each catch atleast ten fish. When the sun would set, we'd clamber out of the boats, and all be talking about how many we had caught and how humongous they were. 

These times were plentiful, and are blessings. They make tough times now easier, and help me to smile. I am more thankful now after our trip to the lake on Saturday. It was a good time, with good people. Reminded me of past times with beloved others. 

This is for sure, I need to get back soon for a trip to a certain pond in Millican.