Too little [but never] too late…

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I have always been a late bloomer, for my stature dubbed with nicknames that included ‘micro’ in them by classmates and stood only 5′-3″ on my first driver’s license.  In my class of over one hundred I was simultaneously second oldest and also, of the guys, the second smallest.  I was too light weight to even donate blood until my junior or senior years of high school.

Beyond that, I was also a little behind in motor skills and sorely lacking in coordination; it was as likely in my early teens that a football would hit me in the face rather than be caught by my hands.  It probably didn’t help anything that I didn’t grow up tossing a ball at home, my dad was equally undeveloped athletically, he did not follow professional sports and we just weren’t a sports oriented family.  It all added up to me often being close to last picked in gym class, which wasn’t much of boost of confidence to say the least and perhaps explains the antipathy I had towards athletic pursuits.  For the time I had concluded athletic competition was for big dumb brutes, not me.

Then, somewhat inexplicably, I became interested in the high school football team.  I do not recall what started it.  There may have been a combination of factors, I do not know for sure.  But, my junior year, I started to attend games (even hitched a ride with the team to an away game) and around the same time began to lift weights and imagine myself on the field.  Football, I discovered, was about more than one guy being able to run over another; football was also a chess match of strategy involving slight of hand trickery and all trying to gain an advantage or out smart an opponent with misdirection, formations and plays.  So, at 5′-8″ tall and 112lbs, I decided I would go out for the team despite my late start and my shortcomings of natural raw abilities understood.  I wanted to try.

Over the summer I practiced with the team, but the real commitment began with the ‘two-a-day’ practices and with the start of my senior year.  It was hard work physically.  I can remember a time in practice a collision that I had thought for a second had collapsed my entire spine like an accordion.  I also recall the sheer terror of having to occasionally face padded behemoths who were close enough to double my weight.  I have not forgot being ran over by a fellow senior in a tackle drill an act I imagine included a big grin on his face.  Had I known some of the bruises and pain beforehand I might have second thoughts about my decision to play, but once started I was determined to endure to the end whatever it took.  From the onset I knew I was not likely to play much due to inexperience and size, yet I was a competitor all the same and wanting to make the team better if only with a winning ‘no quit’ attitude.

There was plenty of reward.  After weeks of practice there was the proud moment of wearing your game jersey on Fridays at school before game night.  Football made me part of something when I saw teammates in the halls or got ‘good luck’ wished upon me by random students.  I was a warrior, a representative of my school and had earned the team colors that I wore on my back.  I was #13 (I figured an unlucky number fit an unlikely player and couldn’t hurt) and now called ‘Stoltz’ or ‘Stoltzy.’  Those nicknames were the chant of teammates on the sidelines when I stepped onto the field for those few last plays that iced a blowout win.  I belonged.

But the biggest reward was the handshakes and hugs of coaches at the end of the season.  It was after a disappointing loss that ended our season in the first round of playoffs.  We lost to a team we had beaten prior in the regular season.  It was a very emotional moment to be at the end of my first and last season as a player.  Nevertheless it was satisfying to have finished, having survived from the blistering heat and throbbing shin splints of preseason camp to outlasting the bone chilling *shivering* cold of late season practices.  I received a varsity letter for my efforts and with it memories to last a life time.

If I would have any regrets it would be declining my chance to play in the waning minutes of that decisive last game.  An assistant coach had tapped my shoulder telling me to go in the game.  But, because I knew my entering the game was a tacit admission of defeat and keeping the starters in would increase the unlikely chances of victory, I refused saying, “I don’t want to play, I want [us] to win!”  I regret my choice, but only because the sophomore who went in my place caught my favorite route (a deep post) and seemingly could’ve scored with just a bit more heart; he came up a yard short.

I graduated from high school, but to me there is still nothing like a crisp fall night under the lights and watching those bright green jerseys take the field one more time.  And now I have another loyal fan who often accompanies me, who also (less inexplicably) began to love the sport he once thought was silly and that fan is my dad.  We sit there, it is our yearly ritual, we share memories of past games, talk about life and cheer on the team…

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Writing is easy [hard] work…

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I needed a break.

My first post in this blog contained something about blogging being easier than writing a book, more intimate, accessible, etc.

It is since then, partially a result of my own thoughts produced in this blog, that a book idea came to mind in full force. The past week I have been consumed trying to get started putting this simple, succinct, but simultaneously big idea on paper.

The first couple days were exciting. I had a book idea that would seem to write itself was in my head for the first time. I was busy jotting the ideas as they flowed in and too distracted by it to enjoy anything else.
In two days I had a first chapter nearly complete.

Then I discovered editing. I sent the nearly completed work to some friends who I knew could give some good (aka: honest) feedback. I definitely got what I was asking for. I realized suddenly that I wasn’t even close to finished with anything.

I revised the first section of my first chapter several times with each of the various edits coming in. I finally started to feel I had something. I put it down. I came back later and scrapped it all to start all over again.

I am quite satisfied with the two thousand, six hundred and ninety-five words after a mentally grinding week of effort. I am ready to move on from that first section for now to the greener pastures of what comes next after.

Along with discovering editing, I also discovered I don’t know anything about writing and last week was a start on the path of relearning everything. My hope is that by the end of writing I will know how to write.

I started out with the idea of paradox of faith, I moved on to the loftier ground of paradox of perfection and now I am back to faith again. Faith to perfection to faith again, all in one week!

*whew*

Any ideas for this fledgling author?

The Mind of the Designer

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I spent my childhood in my own world of daydreams.  While some children have imaginary friends when I was a child I created whole planets far away and untouched by war, want and all the things I knew weren’t right in this world.  This perfect place was my refuge from the mundanity of school work and I would doodle pieces of this world inside my head creating stories and imagining rescue.  There were times in elementary school where I was actually disappointed when these grand designs didn’t come to life so that I could be swept away in front of my stunned classmates.

My dreamy ideals eventually began to fade into an interest in more practical designs.  I had spatial intelligence, in that I could easily imagine things in three-dimensional form and convert the thought with pencil to paper.  As I got older I became interested in computer-aided design, I learned quickly how to convert the ideas in my brain to keystrokes and with my fingers I would build things on the screen.  It was very satisfying to hold a finished work printed on paper to show friends or family.  I had assumed at that point that my future would be engineering, design was natural to me, but life and God had other plans.

For various reasons my vision to be a mechanical engineer never was realized and with that came a sense of something missing and potential unrealized in my life.  It troubled me not being who I was ‘supposed’ to be, it was a little humiliating too to watch friends and classmates sprint past me to their own goals.  And, it was this need to fill a thirst to build, design or create that eventually pricked my interest in writing as an outlet.  A writer is an engineer with words; an author is defined as an originator or the one who gave existence to something and I wanted to use words to create snap shots of the ideas flying around my head.

Since then I have had mixed success sculpting words into interpretable sequences.  Writing to be understandable to another mind is sort of like trying to write code for a smart phone except you don’t know if you are dealing with an iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows phone or even if it is a smart phone at all.  Writing depends on both the author and interpreter to ‘be on the same’ page.  If the writer misses a line of code in trying to explain or if the writer and reader interpret the code of symbols we call language differently then the picture in the mind of the receiver created in words will be distorted and sometimes lost on them completely.

Needless to say, the challenge of communication of ideas with words is both frustrating at times and fulfilling for me.  When I sense a connection with another person through my written creations it is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and especially when it encourages or inspires them to create new things in their own life.  In writing my ideas can live inside of other people, when I write the designs of my own mind are transferred to one or multiple others, thus a piece of me now lives in them and now has potential to grow to something more than I myself could ever have imagined.  Writing makes both the world of the reader and the writer bigger; the reader taking a part of the writer with them and the writer living in the mind of the reader.

To me that ability to build ideas makes the frustration of potential failures to communicate and the time spent drawing my thoughts out in paragraphs well-worth the effort.  I love to turn abstractions in my mind into appreciable designs, using words like my paint and dictionaries like a palette full of shades of color.  Writing is an art form, words give an author the power to create universes never seen before and the ability to live in the minds of those who are able to translate their work.  I write because I still like to create.  I write because I enjoy engineering solutions to problems and using words as a means to draw the designs put in my head.

Ideas change your reality so think of good designs and then build them with the means you have been given to express them.  Engineering is a field with endless possibilities, so build the good designs in your own mind and create the world you know should be.  So, bring heaven to earth one pen stroke, one act of kindness, one carried burden, one painted picture and one small step at a time.  Together, brick by brick we can build the world God intends.  If you pray “on earth as it is in heaven” with sincerity, then believe in it and make that design live through you; bring glory to God with the creative designer’s mind you have been given.

My writing is ultimately an act of worship to the Master Designer and Author of the universe; it is a means to love my fellow creation, to fellowship with them and to mirror my own Creator to them.  I write to love Master by loving the creation by expressing designs with the work of my mind, words and hands.  I create a new world with the ideas of my own mind, I am a child of my Father.  I, like God, am an engineer at heart.

Broken noses, mangled plans and perseverance

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“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Mike Tyson.

I believe most reading can identify in at least a small way with the quote above. If you have ever been hit so hard that you don’t know if you will be on your feet again then you probably understand completely. Hits come in many forms in life and can interrupt even the best of our plans.

I have not taken a hit from a professional boxer, but I have had my nose bloodied a time or two.  My list including the vicious hit delivered by my brother during a pickup football game; that an episode that ended with me being hurried to the emergency room having suffered a deviated septum.  I had caught a lateral pass, turned, then *WHAM* a shoulder smashed into my head and suddenly I am on the ground (still clutching the ball) dizzy wondering where all the blood was coming from. That day my immediate plans were altered as severely as my visibly mangled nose.

Everyone has hopes, dreams or plans and success does often depend on hard work, discipline and execution of a plan.  However, planning is easy but real life isn’t always and the truer test of resolve is when an effort is met with a unexpected and disorienting blow.  It takes courage and strength to stand back up again, after looking at the lights above the ring, having been knocked flat on your back.  Our plans and the realities we will face can be vastly different things.  I believe most people who live long enough will experience times where perseverance requires overcoming obstacles of pain, loss and fear.

I have withstood many setbacks or small disappointments in life and have usually been able to keep a positive attitude about it.  I have built up a tolerance for physical pain. But there are other types of injury other than physical that do not heal in weeks or months and those are the real trials of my faith.  There have been a few moments in my life where it seemed as if all hope was sucked from my soul and faith was nearly impossible.  It is only, by the grace of God, with the help of good friends that I have made it this far.

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one.  The death of a close friend’s child was on of the hardest hits of my life.  I felt totally helpless, I could do nothing to ‘fix’ the situation for my friend and my heartache lasted for years after. My hopes and plans built around that child died on a Thursday afternoon with a piece of me.  I got out of bed each morning, some days better and other days worse, but down inside was a deep pain of heart that I could not solve.

I have found peace for the questions that raged inside after the death.  Still, there are scars for each battle I have faced and some circumstances remain that I have no clear answer for.  It can be easy to be discouraged when past experiences haunt you and is tempting to give up when overwhelmed by an opponent seemingly too big or powerful to defeat.  Each blow is different, every day of overcoming is a new battle and each one requires new courage and fresh resolve.  We can only pray for the wisdom and for sufficient provision of hope to get through each day.

We all have obstacles to face, blows to our confidence and our faith to overcome. Things like a cancer diagnosis, the agony of a rejection, or death can continue to trip us up spiritually or emotionally and sometimes for years.  It is in those moments where character is formed; one can become bitter, cynical or jaded and otherwise defeated by the odds against them, or one can also keep faith alive, believe tomorrow will be a better day and live to overcome.

Real strength is not quitting when a harsh reality smacks you in the face. Faith begins when it seems like giants stand in the way of promises for a future and when hope feels quite delusional.  Plans change, life hits us in the face, but with God all things are possible, so do not wallow in despair; regroup and get back in the fight.

Life and faith require perseverance. That, and some appropriate protective gear may also help as well, and especially if you are up against Mike Tyson or younger brothers.

Take care!

Why Blog?

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Before I do anything new I tend to ask a multitude of questions and the decision to start blogging (again) is no exception.

Questions of why blog? > what will I blog about? > how frequently will I blog? > who will want to read my random thoughts? > swirled about asking for answers and I decided answering those questions would make a good introduction topic.

So here it goes…

Why blog?

It is easier than writing a book.  Blogging is an accessible medium; it is interactive, immediate and intimate.  I have been encouraged to write by various friends.  I enjoy writing because I enjoy ideas and sharing them.  I like challenging the status quo, encouraging deeper thought and gathering useful feedback.  I seek connection with people beyond just superficial interaction.  I want to be a better communicator of thoughts and my hope is that others may benefit in some way by my rambles.

What will I blog about?

Ask me a year from now.  I picked ‘ideation’ as part of the name because formation and discussion or communication of ideas is the goal.  I cannot come up with a specific focus for this endeavor so I guess anything could become fodder for thought here.  I hope the content can be both intellectually stimulating and practical value.  I do not have lofty credentials or a real specialty and particular expertise to draw from, so expect a smorgasbord of casual observations and non-expert insights.  In broad categories I do imagine my commentary will be on topics pertaining to life, love and faith.  Expect some talk of current events, personal experience, theological perspectives, spirituality, worldview, history, human nature and vision for the future.

How frequently will I blog?

It could be irregular in frequency.  Although I would prefer to blog frequently as possible without compromise of quality and hopefully at least weekly.  Expect my blogging to come in spurts as available time and available inspiration could constrain me.  I do not know what the future holds; I cannot know for certain what will demand my attention today let alone weeks or months from now.  I figure the more important step is that I get started while I have opportunity then leave tomorrow in God’s hands.

Who will want to read my random thoughts?

Who knows?  I hope someone other than me does find them useful.  I suppose it will be those who already have an investment in me: My friends and family and those interested in the topics I happen upon.  It would be nice to have some following.  However, in the end, this could be more of a personal journal of observations and my own experiences than anything else.

Anyhow, as one voice in the crowd to another and until next time…

God bless and good day!