Monday, September 29, 2014

Gimme those details!

I bet some activity, something very specific to you, sounded incredible to you today. My something was writing this piece while it rained outside my window. It sounded pleasant because there is quite a lack of rain here. So since the rare opportunity presented itself, it had to be taken.

Here's my view, leave envious comments below.

I have a bitter dislike for the phrase "the devil is in the details". Now don't judge me, I try very hard to be a positive person and do not enjoy starting a piece with such a harsh negative. I never want to be considered a cynic. Cynics are rather annoying, no one wants to be around a critic of everything. And who wants be called a cynic anyway, the sound is even unpleasant.

You see, I want and try to be a detail-oriented person, something I am terrible at. I am not numerically, not a numbers guy at all, or in a scientific way, world geography was my most difficult science course in college. If you want to put me in a category then go ahead and put me with the dreamers. Details, to me, become flippant and casual when they are being laid out in front of me. I know, it's something I'm working on. But what I'm saying is that I want to be detail-oriented when it comes to seeing God. Noticing Him all around me.

For example, I want to be very visually aware. Taking pictures has become more of a hobby and pleasure than I ever thought it would be. Through this, details stand out stronger and longer for me. I stay positive, and focus on Him. I enjoy this so much. I'm giving Him more credit than I usually do.

More credit for how incredible He is. Proximity feels closer. I know Him more fully, and reap the blessings.

As a reader finds the underlying heart of the author in his words, and in part gets to know the author more personally, I like to take pictures, getting to know better the Author of life.

I want to notice the even the small things of God. Because despite the size, they still are monumental.

And so now to get back on the original point. Here is my beef with the phrase claiming the devil resides in the details. Being first that it is totally inaccurate, because he is not the Author, and that it is a horrid way to look at life. He is only in these details when we allow him to be.

My thoughts go back to a specific moment last summer:

Children were running in front of the three of us. The buckets we and several of the little ones carried would bring clean water to the families and households they ended up in. The kids smiled and laughed, grabbed a free hand when possible, said they loved us in their tongue. We said it back and kept walking.

Most of the houses we went to that day were nearer to the small square, but this one was down the road a bit. That was no problem though. We crossed the canal with the dozen or so little ones at the bridge leading to the home. We found the residents and talked to them about how this system was going to work, what the clean water could then be used for, and set the buckets up properly in the kitchen. Smiles broke and many thanks were said. We all hugged and chatted before heading out.

I turned out the doorway of the house, and saw something small on the outer wall. I stopped, smiled.

And read His name etched into the paint.

Do not expect the devil to be hiding in the details, because that is exactly who you will find. And he is a nasty fellow to continually discover.

Let yourself be surprised, seek the Lord and you will find Him. He is woven throughout everything small and big that sits in front of you, waiting patiently for you to dive in.

"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, September 22, 2014

Another reason for the writing

For my friend Nick, a quote from one of his friends to encourage you in the second week of this challenge. 

- So I can't say I'm surprised when I read the words of Martin Luther, author of those ninety-five theses nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, but he did say, "If you want to change the world, pick up your pen." ...He says it too, John Piper- the things I am discovering with a hunt pen in hand-that moving the ink across the page opens up the eyes, that he may not understand  how it sheds light, focuses its lens, but he knows "that there are eyes in pencils and in pens."
      -Ann Voskamp, one thousand gifts

Lots of thoughts went up this past week about what was going to fill my next post. I struggled with a few topics, tried to write others, and will continue to wrestle with some throughout the weeks. Some thoughts worked, I just didn't know how to put them into writing. I wasn't happy with others once they were on paper. And with some I just stared at the first line on the page for thirty minutes, listening to the words of that sentence vibrate off walls in my brain into nothing. 

I don't want to mislead you though. I love writing, love doing this blog alongside my friend Nick. If I had the chance and the material to write a book someday, then I would do it. Now if that ever happens, we will see. But what I'm saying is, I love this process called writing. It's thrilling having something to share, and exciting to see it all form in front of you as fingers fly across keys. I know that I am an amateur at it compared to some, but I don't care. 

Last summer was the time that I first got really into this. Sure I wrote lots of papers in college, over many irrelevant topics, and was okay at it, even got a smidgen of enjoyment from it, but writing never really clicked till that summer. 

In that time, myself, my cousin Case, and a classmate Alex, spent eleven weeks in Peru working in mango fields. We spent our time swinging machetes alongside locals, traveling and helping out those communities of the farmers by giving them means to having clean water. All of our endeavors fueled blogs we wrote over the summer. And we all grew in the process. I can still now look at Case and see the change in him, that his faith climbed mountains through that time, through that writing. We are different people now because of it, I know this. Those moments and those words were life changing. They still are. 

And that may not touch anyone like it touches me, or I hope it makes Case smile. But seeing that picture and others, knowing the story we lived that summer, how we changed personally in the Lord and in ourselves is why I see writing the way I do. 

Because we did live an incredible story that summer. 
Because I now have a restored relationship with, and a near-brother in Case.
Because God did change us through that time. 

And He will continue to change me, as I continue to examine and write. 

I want you to have something like this pushing you, experiences to look back and reflect upon. If you have the want and the time, find someone to do this with. Write with each other, read and encourage each other. If you don't have anyone interested, allow our blogs to push you. Location is not a thing when it comes to this, you do not have to be in the mountains of Peru for this type of experience. He does not care where you are. 

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."
- C.S. Lewis

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dueling Blogs

Last Thursday, I found myself on a plane Chicago bound for the first time. I was travelling there to meet a dear friend, spending two days with him taking in all the "windy city" has to offer. It had already been a long day, with an early start at work to make up time for the flight that afternoon, but being in the air with a good book and seeing painted clouds pass by were perfect therapy. As the skies grew darker, the glue that keeps your eyes stuck to the pages became more dense. The great distraction of the clouds diminished, and my nose pointed to my book. 

I enjoyed several hours of turning pages, while the darkness swirled outside. All until a glimmer of orange and gold in the foremost corner of my window emerged. My book dropped. The light grew, and continued to grow till there was no more darkness. My sight was full of the radiance. All clouds were illuminated, and soon it was as if the plane was swimming through glorious heavenly colored clouds. The city was upon me.

My friend that I met in Chicago was Nick, a near-brother, that I would do anything for. He loves Jesus, is full of the Spirit and allows himself to be lead by Him. Let's say that if I had a group of people in my mind that I especially love and cherish and keep up with, he would be in that group. Of course, only hypothetically speaking...

The man, the legend:

Over the two days we walked miles upon miles all over downtown Chicago. We gained a few pounds from the incredible food, saw historic buildings and architecture, took all the touristic photos possible, and even got a chance to squeeze in time for a Garth Brooks concert. Cloud Gate, Navy Pier, Portillo's, Giordano's. We saw it all, and ate it all.

Most meaningful to me though, were the conversations we held during these endeavors. Our words were full. Meaningful. Centered on the things that count. We saw Jesus in the small things, took pictures of them, and talked about them. 

Over pizza on our first day, we were going through dreams and aspirations, what we wanted to do and enjoyed doing, all while taking glances at the Cubs game. Mentioning that I wanted to do more writing, and then looking at the game, Nick then had a brilliant idea which made my head quickly turn back. 

A blog challenge. With both of us having kept a blog in the past, he suggested for a year, that we each post a blog a week. 

I smiled quickly. 
We both nodded. 
Our arms stretched across the table, above our pizza. We shook firmly. 

We quickly finished our pizza due to monstrous clouds growing outside our restaurant window, paid and left. We had much to see and do with our time left in Chicago, all while excitedly talking about rules of the challenge and what our first few posts would be about. 

And it was done. The challenge was made and accepted, and this is the result, the first of a minimum of fifty two blog posts to be made this year. Nick, thanks for being the kind of friend that'll think of and do something like this with me. Thanks for being a friend that many dream of having. 

This is going to be fun, and challenging, which makes it all even better. The best of luck to you my good friend. I can not wait to read your words through this journey of creating. 

**if you find yourself reading my blog at times during this year, please read Nick's as well, it will leave you nothing but encouraged and inspired in all ways: