I went where to get what!?!

Christmas is why I do what I do so it should be easy right?

In the late 80’s I sat in my church and was blown away at the lights, sounds and spectacle that was a David Carpenter production. I found my way to the sound booth and asked how I could get involved. The rest is history.

I had mentors like Gary Houk, Al Hornung, Orlando Juarez and in later years, Richard Foster. They taught me about the technology and the flow of a production. Over the last two decades I have lived to do Christmas productions.

The last three years I had not been on staff at a church so I just got to sit and watch everyone else do Christmas productions. I went through some depression over it, but was cheered up when I would get texts and tweets of pictures from people across the country who were inspired by sets I had designed. I felt like I was still in the game.

This year I am back at a Church. Our pastor came to me and said “Let’s do a production this year!” I was very excited. I sat down to plan and….. NOTHING!!!

Every aspect of this show was super difficult to come by. Every logo, every font, every song…. nothing was right. There were some inherent challenges. I now work for an African American church so I had to nail the cultural aspects of music, family, dancing, and such. Also this church is not a production culture so no one had a framework of what it looked like to do a major production. I would talk about it in meetings and small gatherings and people were excited but also had that “He’s so crazy” look in their eye. I knew I had to go the extra mile and just make it happen and then the body as a whole would get it… hopefully!!!

In October we went away to Branson, MO so my kids could spend some time with my dad. I had to clear my head on this trip and get direction for Christmas. I had gone to the middle of the country, where I only encountered 3 Black people on my entire trip, to try to create a production for an urban Black church…… GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!!!!

One morning Simone and I had a slight disagreement and thought it best to spend some time apart for the day. I found myself in the corner of a Starbucks. I sat there for the next 5 hours. I scoured the internet for music I felt would work. I am not even sure what led to it but I found 3 albums that had some of the coolest Christmas music I had ever heard. I sat there and wrote treatments, designed costumes and came up with dance styles for every song. I was super excited. I loaded the playlist onto my phone and went off to do some fishing with my kids and Simone. I listened to the songs over and over for the 10 hour drive home the next day.

Every song I chose that day in the middle of the country made it to the show. It was humbling to see the manifestation of my coffee shop scribbles as it caused my church family to laugh, cry, sing, dance, and see the heart of God in the Christmas story. In doing so, the production instantly won the hearts of the people whom I serve.IMG_5505

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The Bridge

The Path

A New Chapter

In November of 2010 I left Church staff for the first time in over a decade. This move in my life was not one I wanted to take but one I thought was necessary due to differences of vision. I have much respect for the men who had differing vision and still call them friends today.

I spent the next year in a consulting position where most of my weaknesses were very vividly paraded in front of me and the people that surrounded me. My weaknesses overpowered my strengths for the first time since I was in my early 20’s. That role ended in November of 2011. I spent the next year doing freelance and consulting work.

In my early career I learned many lessons about leadership and vision and how important it is to have strong vision from the top of an organization. The last two years I learned, what felt like, harsh lessons about what makes me tick as an artist and person. At times, these were the darkest paths I have ever walked. Occasionally I would feel the warmth of light on my face from the end of a long dark place. I would have to guard myself every time from being too optimistic because I did not know if I could withstand the darkness if the light went out. There were several lights over the last year and when they were extinguished, it was hard to keep walking but my family deserved nothing less. Not to say I walked tall all the time. Sometimes it was a crawl and a couple times I got kicked while I was trying to pull myself up.

Recently I took a job, simply because it was a job. I met people there that I will call friends for the rest of my life. But the bulk of my coworkers were only out for personal gain, they had no concern for the people around them. It truly is a dog eat dog world they live in. My time there proved to me that at my core I am a good person and have a value system that loves to see people around me succeed. This made me feel grounded in a way I had not felt in a long time.

Over the last couple months a light started to get brighter and brighter. With guarded optimism I walked towards it. There were a couple of obstacles in the way but with the ever increasing light I could navigate around them.

I am very proud to say that this weekend I joined the team of Charles Jenkins and Fellowship Chicago. Charles has an ever-expanding vision that I am excited to be a part of. Looking forward to many awesome things coming in the near future.

Go Big or Go Home

I was helping out Daystar School with the decor for a fundraising event. The silent auction was being held in the school gym. I borrowed some source 4 par cans and a source 4 leko from my friends over a Park Church. We had borrowed large glass vases from someone in the school. The plan was to purchase some silver branches to place in the vases. On the way into the school I noticed a tree blooming in the parking. I climbed the small tree with a saw and cut down some branches. The center piece for the room ended up being over 12 feet tall. I placed small branches inside the glass vases around the room on the surrounding tables. This stunning, larger than life decor ended up being totally free!
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Make Something Out of Nothing

I did a short promo for Daystar School, where my kids attend. This was down and dirty project, I did not have a camera to use at the time so I shot the background image (the desktop) with my iPhone and a manual camera app. I was in my loft which has huge windows and no way to block the light. The only place with controlled light was the bathroom so…. I set up a makeshift studio. I picked up some peel and stick wood grain floor tiles and applied them to a piece of poster board. I used my coffee table that is on wheels for a table. I created a holder for my iPhone from an old case, velcro, and a modified light bracket. I downloaded a couple vector drawing and then drew the rest by hand. I created the video in Motion which allowed me to move the camera around so it was not just a static shot of the desk.

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Grateful

This time of year always finds me in a sentimental state of mind. The struggles with infertility and the redemptive power of adoption all vividly rush through my mind as I prepare for the birthdays of my children. I still stand amazed when I look back at the process. We felt so lost. The path was not clear. We felt like every step was unstable. We questioned ourselves at every turn. We clung to our faith and at the same time felt like it had abandoned us. Eleven years later, we look back and see the perfectly orchestrated path of our journey. The path was always there. We had just been blinded by our fear and grief. I find myself in deep gratitude to our adoption agency director and all the friends we made along the way in the adoption world. I am beyond thankful to Jazz and Paris’ Birth Mothers, who entrusted us to parent these two amazing children. I am honored to have traveled this journey with an amazing woman. 
 
I am grateful.

Saving Space

Instead of going the traditional furniture route for Jazz’ bedroom furniture we purchased the black metal shelves from Home Depot. We purchased small sheets of thin plexiglass to lay on some of the shelves so smaller objects would not fall thru. Instead of purchasing a separate desk for the kids computer I purchased a piece of MDF routed the edges, and drilled a couple of holes. Then I bolted it to the existing metal shelf. I attached strips of RGB LED’s that was purchased at IKEA to the back of the shelf. This has been a great space saving solution and it look great too!
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Holy Transition Batman

The CSG team joined with the Leadership of Crossway Christian Church in Nashua, NH to envision a re design of their worship space. These Changes made better use of the space, reduced awkward sight lines, and increased the over all production potential of the space. In the near future they are planning on launching a new campus in the area these changes set them on a course to succeeded in that vision.

I worked with the Crossway team to design a set for the space. We went thru several design revisions and landed on three towers center stage and small set pieces that set under the screens. We were tweaking the design until the very end the creativity was flowing.

We built the towers with a 2X4 frame and finished the bottom and top sections with pergo laminate hard wood flooring. We trimmed the sections with a trim that counseled strip lighting that creates the glow.

The church sits on wooded property so we headed out to the back forty with a chainsaw and cut us down some trees. (I said that in a think Oklahoma accent…) Putting 15′ trees in boxes was more challenging that I expected, but the end product was worth all the work.

I’m excited to see what God has for Crossway in the future!

Light Inspiration

I was walking past Armani Exchange this weekend and noticed this amazing florescent light sculpture in the window. This is a custom build piece but would be easy to construct. The color is just gel tubes cut in sections. This could be a fun addition to any space.

People make the difference

A couple of months ago I worked with the team at Spring Lake Wesleyan in Spring Lake, MI to build a set for their newly redesigned space you can read about it here. Last week they sent me some photos of the set during service. I love seeing how the stage comes alive during a service. The energy that comes from having people in the shot makes all the difference in the world. A reminder that it really is all about the people.