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.
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!
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.
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!
For years now I have considered myself to be an out of the box thinker. After working with several organizations over the last 15 years I have had to adapt my creativity to the boxes of where I was. It often felt like the box was smaller that what I was used to and that my “out of the box” thinking was not a good fit for my current box. Looking back I realize that even though I call myself an out of the box thinker I have my own box. Think you don’t have a “box” let someone challenge your view on something that you are passionate about and you will quickly find the sides top and bottom of your box. When challenged by what you view as someone’s small box thinking it’s often a reminder that you need to step back and check your own view point. I got to a place where I loved the art that was created when people on my team had a different view point than I had. What was created was far bigger than the sum of it’s parts, it was exciting to step back and see life breathed into a project.
If you are working with someone and you never figure out how to get your ideas to connect then maybe that’s God saying it’s time for you to move on. Don’t hang onto a position out of fear, there is someone out there that is waiting for you to move on so they can find their perfect place.
I have been thinking about shape a lot lately. I am trying to introduce more organic shapes into my design. I was looking at this tall vase full of branches in my living room the other day and was inspired by the lines against the art. I started photographing the branches and came up with a great image that really is inspiring me. I love the shallow depth of field that leaves some branches blurry and some crisp.
What’s inspiring you?
As the rest of the world looks back in memory this weekend, I think back to the many hours preparing memorials over the last decade. The many hours sifting thru footage, having to walk away because I could not take in any more, and sitting in the edit suite with my face in my hands as tears stained your face.
By the time my 9-11 memorial video played and hundreds were wiping tears from their face, I was numb to the effect of the imagery and the sounds. My heart beating fast, I glanced around the darkened room and saw the light from the video screens reflect in the glistening tears on peoples faces. Each processing the moment for themselves.
Years had passed and, unfortunately, a numbness had set in to the disturbing footage. So for the 5th anniversary, I told a story of hope.
This is that video.
One year ago today we laid my Grandmother to rest.
One year later…
In many ways it feels like the wound of loss is healed.
Yet it is just as fresh as it was one year ago.
Few moments pass that I am not reminded of her.
Her love for her family.
Her love for her friends.
Her love for flowers.
Her love for life.
A couple months ago I was on a train. A few seats ahead of me was a group of older women. They were a group of friends headed to a flower show. They so reminded me of her and her friends, and her love for flowers. I sat on the train with the strangers around me and was unable to hide my emotions. I wiped my eyes and looked out the window. I used all my will power to regain control, but my attempts were futile. I just hid my face the best I could. When I got off the train it only got worse. I was walking in the cold winter air sobbing uncontrollably. The tears felt like they were freezing as they slipped down my cheek. After several failed attempts of trying to reach my wife, I called my mother. After the soft tone of her hello I proceeded to tell her the story through the raw emotion of the moment. Barely able to speak, and with a tear streaked face, I told her the story. I had to tell someone; it seemed the only way to bring the unbridled emotion back into control. I pulled the phone away from my ear and pressed the tear soaked end button. And with that I was able to dry the freezing tears from my face and continue to my office.
There is something comforting knowing that the pain of loosing someone you loved is still so fresh. To me it means their memories are still part of your every day life. It also means that life is even more precious.
My thoughts on processing grief in the moment.
This weekend marked the end of a chapter in my life. Sunday was officially my last day working with the team at Park Community Church.
This decision did not come easy. Much thought and prayer went into the decision. My time at Park has been an invaluable chapter in my life. The team at Park has been amazing and have truly impacted my life in a way that will always be remembered.
The photo was taken only months after I started at park. I was part of the opening service of the Park Near North campus and has served as a strong visual reminder for me over the last couple of years. God has been faithful.
It has been a joy to serve with the men and women who make up the Park team and I will very much miss serving with them. I have joined the design team over at Church Solutions Group. CSG did all the audio/video/lighting installation at Park. During that time I became friends with the guys. This relationship has developed over the years. I am looking forward serving churches all over the nation with an amazing group of people that call CSG home.
A couple months back we started redoing our loft. Our new furniture is eclectic but leans towards mid century design. Since starting the process I have literally coveted the Eames lounge chair and ottoman.
I found a couple of used ones – I had to go used due to the fact that a new one costs anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000. I had read everything about the design and history of the chair. Charles Eames said his goal for the chair was that it be “a special refuge from the strains of modern living.” I loved this.
I visited ‘Design Within Reach’ to sit in one. I had built this experience in my head. I walked in, found the chair on the showroom floor and proceeded to sit down. As I leaned back in the chair, I sat back much further than I had anticipated. I was shocked, this chair would not work – it would be awkward to watch TV from, and it sat back too far to be able to work on my laptop. It would not even be comfortable to read in.
As I walked out of the store and thought about my experience, the quote from Eames came to mind. The chair was to be “a special refuge from the strains of modern living.” It really made me think that often I think I am relaxing when I am trying to watch TV or work on my laptop or even read a book. I seldom just let myself relax.
I think we need to focus on just spending time relaxing; let everything fall away and just be.