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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: 2 Corinthians 4

What Are You Staring At?

Joseph Castaneda



Focus seems like a lost art in the crazy world of information that we live in today. In fact, even as I write this blog post I realize how unfocused I am as I'm carrying on a conversation on Facebook Messenger with one friend on my iPad, using my phone to text with another, and responding to emails every time my laptop chimes. Apparently this was a timely word for me, too...

I recently read an article about how important focus is for the human mind, especially for young children. The author of the article stated that we are witnessing a new generation of social and psychological problems in children, that he believes, are directly related to the inability of kids to focus because of the constant need to be entertained by some sort of handheld device.

According to this researcher, it seems that we were designed (I would say, created!) for needing times of "white space." White space is a term usually used in design work, describing the space where no words or colors have invaded a page. White space is necessary in design work as it allows the human eye to focus on what's important.

Mentally, white space carries the same concept: it's the opportunity to have nothing calling for our attention (the phone is off, the door is closed, the office is quiet....whatever it takes!) so that we can focus on what's important. So we can, as Paul says, "fix our eyes on what is unseen."

And while it's easy to point to the kids, I'm not fooling anyone, because I'm just as guilty of filling my life to capacity with noise, and not leaving enough white space to stay fixed on God, who He is, and what He is doing in my life and in the world around me.

Do you need some white space today? In our house, we are beginning a new white space campaign, maybe you should join us! Most of our distractions come from screens, so here's a list of our family's plan for creating more white space:

1 hour a day with ZERO screen interaction (phones, laptops, iPads, TVs, watches...)
1 day a week with ZERO screen interaction (we are presently toying with Sundays, but also considering Mondays)
1 week every year with ZERO screen interaction (My daughter almost threw up when she heard that one. Ha!)

We're not sure how the time will be used, except that it's meant to be screen-distraction, free, for all of us, all at the same time. That time might be used for games together, might be used for rest, conversation, exercise, reading, praying, is just meant to be white space. For sure, it's a work in progress and we will keep you updated on how our family goal actually works out!

Do you need more white space in your life? If you're distracted by technology (my computer literally chimed as I wrote those words!) or by heartache, loss, or the worries of this world, than I encourage you to create some white space so that you can focus on what matters most.

I'm 40 and living in my friends' basement...


...and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Seriously. This morning I was thinking about how crazy life can be. At times, Traci and I feel like we’re the punch line to one of those Nationwide Insurance commercials: “Life comes at you fast.” It’s funny when it happens to MC Hammer, not-so-funny when it happens to you.

Last week we returned from a 6,500 mile road trip to Oregon, and began the next phase of our Michigan life by moving into the basement of a dear friend. Don’t get me wrong, it might be one of the nicest basements I’ve ever seen. There are four bedrooms (the places sleeps 14!), two full bathrooms, a full kitchen, a nice little dining area and to top it off -- it’s fully furnished including towels, blankets, sheets and all the kitchen utensils for our family. Did I mention we’re on a lake and have a beautiful view from large windows and have walkout access from our private entrance? It’s really a gift.

This is the view we enjoy each morning, from our new digs. Couldn't ask for much more!

Back in January, I was struggling to see the gift side of this situation. After all, I’m 40-years-old, I have a wife of 18 years, three amazing kids and I’m at the stage of life where I should be settling into my career. In fact, five months ago, I would have told you that I was settling into a career. I would have told you that I was in a job that I could see staying with through my “golden years.”

Then God turned my life upside down. He removed my job, income, insurance, house and basic comforts and securities. He clearly directed Traci and I to put ourselves full-time into Overboard Ministries and He lined up a partnership with another local ministry (Starwood Ranch) to help make that pursuit a reality.

So, in an instant, we moved from regular full-time income to having to raise our own support. We switched from having the comfort of an on-site house, to living on the kindness of others while we wait 7 months to settle in a new town (August/Sept). For the first time in my life, my insurance isn’t being supplied by my employer, and instead, we’re paying out of pocket for super limited coverage and I’m facing the expenses of an upcoming surgery. The kids will be changing schools again.

And I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. Seriously.

Over the past few months, as I’ve had time to process the series of events that has put us where we are, I can honestly tell you there’s no other place I would rather be. Sure, I would love to be back in a house, on someone’s payroll and enjoying the peace of mind that comes with quality insurance, but if I had to choose between that and the path we’re on...I hope I’d make the hard decision to hold this course every time! (Of course I’d take both if I could, but right now, God has said those two options aren’t available to us.)

The reality is that this journey has already stretched me further than I thought possible, and I suspect the stretching has just started. Already I’m experiencing a renewed energy and faith in the person and work of God, and I suspect He has some pretty amazing works to show us. Traci and I are enjoying a closeness and intimacy that only comes through facing obstacles together, and the bonding we’ve done with our kids has only served to strengthen their faith and push me to be a better dad.

Although this season has brought deep sorrow, challenging growth and difficult decisions, it has been filled with deeper joy, richly rewarding experiences and life-changing moments of being the recipients of God’s goodness and grace through others. The sorrow, growth and decisions don’t compare to the joy, experiences and goodness and grace of God. Not even close.

I feel a little hint of experiential understanding of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (NIV).

The Overboard Life requires an eternal perspective, in the good seasons and in the “bad” ones. When God has provided abundantly beyond our needs, and when it seems that He has given just enough to meet the current circumstances. When we have that eternal perspective, truly we are maturing in our faith and will be ready for whatever God has next.

I’m still maturing, and the season of life we’re in is part of the process of preparing us for a deeper faith and more profound expression of our relationship with God. If being a 40-year-old homeless husband and father is what it takes to experience that, then I’m ready for the journey. Yes, I’m praying for a little more certainty and comfort in the future, but even more, I’m praying I keep becoming who God wants me to be so that I’ll be ready for what He wants me to do.

And that’s why I can honestly tell you, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Seriously.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water.