This morning at 9:45, I stepped out of the prayer room and looked beyond the balcony. I am used to shuffling my feet from one place to the next, but this time I decided to stop. I took in as many sights and sounds as I could in my three minutes of spare time.
I really looked.
Do you know what I saw? I saw plumeria trees with missing leaves, jet skiers in the ocean to my right, palm trees taller than any Lego tower ever created, and window panes reflecting the sun at the perfect angle.
And what did I hear? I heard birds warbling, a speaker passionately teaching a class of missionaries, and lawn mowers chomping up campus grass.
Getting to sort through the different scenes around me was a blast.
While taking in my surroundings, I began to silently cry. I know you have seen Sissy shed tears many times so it probably does not come as a surprise to you.
I don't appreciate what God has created nearly enough. You and I have been given senses—the ones you learned all about in a homeschool science class—and they are a real gift. They allow us to enjoy people and food and nature and much more. I think we forget that many times.
I love getting to hunt for beauty around me and hold it closely.
I am sure it is different for ten year old boys. But I know God cares so much about you that He has created things for you to enjoy, too. What are those things for you?
On my walk to the coffee shop where I am writing this, I was thinking about the timeline of your life so far. You've already moved five times in your ten years here. Unlike some other kids your age, you've been exposed to a constant change of surroundings and surely have felt the impact of transition.
This has caused you to see a lot, and that is really special.
Jacob, you see things through God's special glasses. Think of them like hi-tech spy gadgets. You see the good all around you—in people and in situations. For years now, you have been telling me how beautiful I am no matter how I feel or what I think I look like. My roommate April would call that "calling out the gold" — something you do really, really well.
Don't stop looking, buddy.
Whether you're detecting cumulonimbus clouds on a Tuesday or listening to Bible verses playing on my purple boombox, keep learning. Keep track of what catches your eye, what you want to know more about, what you hear and what means most to you.
At ten years old, go wild in your dreams with God.
Use those eyes to look around for the people who need a friend. Be the one who knows their favourite trading card and frozen yogurt topping from Menchie's because you're the one who pays attention. Believe the best about others and give them that high five when you sense they need one.
Our surroundings change, but there is always something we can do, learn, say, see, or enjoy.
You know that I sometimes struggle to remember things. It is a symptom of the sickness I have. So I tell people I collect memories and I hold everything closely by writing and photographing. On the hard days, it helps me remember what I have seen and heard and been surrounded by. It reminds me that God is a good, generous Dad.
He gives us many opportunities to find His blessings. It's like a lifelong scavenger hunt that we've been invited into.
We will always find the good as long as we are seeking after Him.
So keep looking, J. Look long and hard.
You have been given special eyes to see the way bugs crawl and Legos interlock and people need love. And in my opinion, they are some of the coolest eyes you can have.
I love you always,