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my life in my words


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Atlas: Eight

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Dear Faithful Readers,

I have a bold confession to make. It’s been a long time coming, and I hope you will stick with me and follow along with care and understanding. It’s something that I don’t think anyone had known for quite a while. You might think it’s no big deal, but some people I’ve met along the way have heralded it as an essential thing to talk about. So I figure now would be as good a time as any to clear the air, bring the truth to the table and have some space to speak out in authenticity.

*wipes sweat from forehead* Oh man, I just never thought this would be so tough to get to  . . . but . . . well . . . here goes . . . 

 

I’m an Enneagram 8. 

 

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I know. I know . . . What do you mean you knew it the whole time?!? Well, if you didn’t, you would’ve guessed it sooner or later. (I’m sure it would be sooner.) I’m a loud and proud 8. And look, if we’re being fully transparent, I’m actually an 8, wing 2

You might be asking yourself: What in the wide world is an Enneagram 8? Well, let’s start here—the Enneagram spectrum represents nine distinct strategies for relating to the self, others and the world. It’s another approach to personality type analysis. Each Enneagram type has a different pattern of thinking, feeling and acting based on a deeper inner motivation or worldview. 

6bimq8ksuawboxjgvh4x_screen_shot_2019-01-09_at_2.05.54_pmLike any personality tests, the Enneagram has a distinctive way of ‘typing’ people. While I appreciate the insights, I hope you realize that a lot of them are ‘true, but‘ insights. I actually prefer to be known by my Meyers-Briggs Personality Type (ENFJ thankyouverymuch) instead of my Enneagram Type because I feel it more accurately describes me, and once people hear that I’m an 8, it’s typically met with a grimace and an, “OH, an Eight? Yikes! I guess I need to stay away from you, huh?” Here’s the thing, friends . . . Being an 8 is tough stuff. Not just because we tend to be seen as tough people to be around/work with, but because as an 8, this toughness is often misunderstood. As you can see from the Enneagram symbol above, the 8s are known as The Challengers. According to the Enneagram Institute:

“We have named personality type Eight The Challenger because, of all the types, Eights enjoy taking on challenges themselves as well as giving others opportunities that challenge them to exceed themselves in some way. Eights are charismatic and have the physical and psychological capacities to persuade others to follow them into all kinds of endeavors—from starting a company, to rebuilding a city, to running a household, to waging war, to making peace.”

 

However, on first glance, you might interpret “THE CHALLENGER” as a scary, dangerous, offensive moniker. We tend to be seen on the surface as these aggressive, intimidating, unwavering monsters out to crush everyone around us. Personally, that’s not the truth I walk in. I am not the type of person who wants to crush everyone around me. I want to see others around me rise to greatness. Don’t get me wrong; I do get aggressive when I see a challenge in front of me. I can seem intimidating when advocating for people I care deeply about. I am unwavering when I step in to stand up for someone being bullied or treated unjustly. But if people were willing to look past the outer layers and take time to get to know me, they’d find someone with deep compassion and love for people, who wants to help others win, who wants to hear life stories of others and celebrate life alongside them. I think a lot of the misconceptions and stereotypes about 8s come from a lack of being willing to get to know us in a deeper way.

 

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When Bingo is pretty BINGO . . .

 

Eights are often considered ‘control freaks.’ It’s true that I like to be in control of my life, but I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t want that in some capacity. I suppose it’s possible that I have a stronger sense of what I think is right and wrong for myself, but I’d like to believe I’m not the only one. I’m also not the type to back away from conflict resolution or a crucial conversation—I seek resolution, restoration, and forward movement. I am the type to get things done, and I thrive when I feel I can improve a situation. I do struggle with trust issues (partially related to my personal history) primarily because once I feel you’ve earned my trust, I can be my 100% unedited self without fear of offending you in any way or that you will use my trust against me. I’m not afraid to trust; I’m just mindful of who I trust with the many layers of who I am. Even with caution in vulnerability, I have learned a lot about myself and how to move into healthier zones within relationships. Though finding balance in my ‘Eightness’ is something I’ve struggled with for many years, I am getting better at focusing each trait of my personality towards positive forward motion. I don’t always succeed, but as I am my own biggest critic and harshest judge, I am very aware of where I fall short and do everything in my power to make it right.

 

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Art by @theoceanking on Instagram | Martin Luther King, Jr. was also an Enneagram 8

 

As an Enneagram 8, I ask that you please be patient with us. Ask us questions and check in if you need to. My Intern once told me that she was afraid that I was going to yell at her about something she was working on, even though I have never-not-once-ever raised my voice to her or gotten angry at her. We had to have some honest conversations early on where I let her know that my silence does not equal anger. That I’m not thinking about how much she might be failing—in fact, most of the time, I’m thinking of something completely unrelated to what is even going on in the moment like debating what movies are coming out soon that I’m dying to watch. I told her that she was going to have to proactive about unapologetically asking me, “Are we okay, because you seem kind of irritated.” I won’t lie, and I won’t be offended. I’ll check myself and give honest feedback. I also realize I have a very dry sense of humor, so there are plenty of times that I need to clarify that I’m joking around. Same goes for when I agree with an idea. I might say, “I like it, go with it. Just be sure that you think about _______ before you finalize your plans for that project.” but because I’m not fueling it with emotional excitement, it can seem as though I don’t think you can do it or that I’m waiting for you to fail. The truth is, I 100% believe you can do it and I just want you to keep something in mind so that you have a better path towards knocking the project out of the park (so to speak).

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Like you, I’m a work in progress with so many unique elements that make up who I am now and who I am becoming. If you know any other 8s in your life, please don’t dismiss them, or fear them, or tell yourself stories about them without taking time to get to know them. We are just like you—seeking meaningful connection, grace, wisdom, and authentic friendships. To those who get to spend time up close and personal with me—THANK YOU FOR STICKING AROUND! Thank you for getting to know me and all my complexities. Thank you for letting me show you that I do have a soft side and that I’m not as ‘put-together’ as most assume. Thank you for laughing with me through my dry sense of humor. Thank you for putting up with my tunnel-vision and bossy stress when I’m facing an important deadline. Thank you for not judging me based on a title, position, or my appearance. We 8s need more of you in our lives!

Sincerely,
An Enneagram 8

So now you know and the secret is out! 

What is your Enneagram type and how have you seen it play out in your relationships?


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I Woke Up Near The Sea | Welcome to 2019

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Happy New Year to you!

. . . and you, and you, and you . . . 

Are you ready for 2019? That seems to be the off-hand question I’ve gotten for the past month, and my answer is always the same: “As ready as I can be!” I tend to approach the year with an open hand and an open mind—I’m TERRIBLE at predicting the future. Still, I can safely say that my tradition of focusing on one word each year has proven a faithful lighthouse through the tides of each year. This past year my word was RISE, and I truly did. I rose above some personal, familial, romantic, and ministry-related challenges. I leaned closer into a freshly developing tribe of local friends that are family. I set even more healthy boundaries and found that I could empower my heart and mind better to rise further and faster from doing so. I rose above ghosts of the past, fears of the future, and learned how to rise in present circumstances. And now I look ahead to facing a new year secured in hope, truth, wholeness, and love. That is why I’ve decided that my word for 2019 is ANCHOR.

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As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have stepped into a new leadership role in a fresh context that can easily push me to lean into doubts, fears, insecurity, and hopelessness. Ministry is hard, y’all. Not only that but trying to maintain a healthy personal life in the midst of ministry can be a difficult endeavor. Still, I’m determined to keep paving the way for it! I’ve been blessed through the years to have trusted friends remind me who I am and whose I am on dark days. I’ve been blessed to have a strong faith that guides me to ‘the rock that is higher than I.’ [Psalm 61]. I am looking forward to carrying those relationships and truths into this next year. 

I want to focus more this next year on finding things and people to anchor myself to in a way that will help me to be a better, even more authentic, person. I know that my main anchor will always be Jesus—He’s been the anchor that’s held me for so long, and I know I can trust Him to continue. Even as I was thinking about this word for the year, my first look went straight to scripture, and I chose a verse in Hebrews 6 to guide me through the waves ahead.

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What I love about this translation of the verse is that it creates an image in my mind of a scene from THE WIZARD OF OZ. It’s the part when Dorothy and her crew peek behind the curtain to discover that the “Great And Powerful OZ” is just an average dude using a voice modulator to sound bigger and stronger—a facade that crushed the spirits of those seeking a great and powerful leader. This verse reminds me that my hope in Jesus, which is safe and secure, is the same in front of and behind the curtain. He’s the real deal—no farce, no facade. I also love what the Matthew Henry Commentary mentions about this scripture: 

Here, we are in this world as a ship at sea, liable to be tossed up and down, and in danger of being cast away. Our souls are the vessels. The comforts, expectations, graces, and happiness of our souls are the precious cargo with which these vessels are loaded. Heaven is the harbour to which we sail. The temptations, persecutions, and afflictions that we encounter, are the winds and waves that threaten our shipwreck. We have need of an anchor to keep us sure and steady, or we are in continual danger. Gospel hope is our anchor; as in our day of battle it is our helmet, so in our stormy passage through this world it is our anchor. It is sure and stedfast, or else it could not keep us so.

First, it is sure in its own nature; for it is the special work of God in the soul. It is a good hope through grace; it is not a flattering hope made out of the spider’s web, but it is a true work of God, it is a strong and substantial thing. Secondly, it is stedfast as to its object; it is an anchor that has taken good hold, it enters that which is within the veil; it is an anchor that is cast upon the rock, the Rock of ages. It does not seek to fasten in the sands, but enters within the veil, and fixes there upon Christ; he is the object, he is the anchor—hold of the believer’s hope. As an unseen glory within the veil is what the believer is hoping for, so an unseen Jesus within the veil is the foundation of his hope; the free grace of God, the merits and mediation of Christ, and the powerful influences of his Spirit, are the grounds of his hope, and so it is a stedfast hope. Jesus Christ is the object and ground of the believer’s hope, and so it is a stedfast hope. 

 

I believe that this will be a year of experiencing crashing waves, low tides, high tides, sunburst stillness, and watching life thrive around me. I am walking into it with a positive outlook and the reminder of what and who I’m anchored to in the middle of it all. I know it won’t be easy (is it ever?) but I’m walking through it with head and heart held high, clinging to truth and believing for the best. I hope you’ll join me on the journey as I continue embracing this word and learning through it along the way. Here’s to a brave new year!

 

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A Million Dreams

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When you embark on a road trip or journey to anywhere, you’re likely to keep a map handy so that you know where you’ve been, where you’re at on any point along the way, and where you’re going. As this year comes to a close, I think of the ministry journey I’ve been on up to this point. I think about where I’ve been and how I’ve grown through the ups and downs of days gone by. I take note of where I’m at right now—physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. As I prepare for a new year and a new season of life, I have so many big dreams ahead, and I’m looking forward to soaking up the moments as they come and go.

 

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My first launch into NextGen Ministry was on this day in Seattle where I became not just the Youth Pastor, but the Children’s Pastor as well!

 

The map for this specific journey begins years ago in Seattle when I was serving as a volunteer youth pastor, helping a local church to build their youth ministry. I knew as I began to develop the youth ministry that I wanted the ORANGE STRATEGY to be the foundational piece. I had seen it done well and I had grown in ministry experiencing it personally. As the youth ministry continued growing and thriving, I was asked to step into the role of Children’s Pastor and join the staff part-time. Having never done Children’s Ministry at that point, all I knew was that I needed to build it with the same strategy and in a way that I could help these younger kids become more easily integrated into youth ministry. Three years into making that ministry and watching it grow and thrive, I decided that I wanted to pick my passion for leading and mentoring young adults back up. I had previously worked in Young Adults Ministry in Austin at my home church (GT AUSTIN) leading small groups and participating in media design + community connections. Since my Kid Min and Youth Min teams were embracing the strategy and values of those ministries at that church, I decided to start leading small groups geared toward Young Adults and continued building relationships with those in that community. I loved it, and I wanted to do more with it.

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Graph originally featured on thenextgenblog.com

It was at an Orange Conference in the middle of those years that I met Kenny Conley, the NextGen Specialist for Orange, through a mutual friend. He asked what I did at the church, and I explained that I was the volunteer Youth Pastor, the part-time Children’s Pastor, and I also led a Young Adults group. “Oh, so you’re a NextGen Pastor,” he said. “Sure, I guess.” was my response. As he explained more in-depth what it meant to be a NextGen Pastor, I realized that YES, that’s exactly what I am! I’m sure you’re wondering what that means as well, so let me share something from Jim Murphy (whom I think says it best), a NextGen Pastor in Minnesota: 

“Most NextGen Pastors oversee multiple staff and multiple age groups, some of which can include college and young adults. He/she can be a primary communicator in one or more age groups but still supports all areas of ministry equally. The NextGen Pastor is strategically minded, administratively skilled, aggressive with recruiting and team development, has a pastoral heart, and values relational ministry with an emphasis on the relationships between kids/students and their small groups and small group leaders.”

There are 6 roles of a NextGen Pastor:

  • CHAMPION EVERY AGE GROUP
  • ALIGN LEADERS
  • GUAGE EFFECTIVENESS
  • ASSIST IN MINISTRY
  • EXPAND LEARNING
  • PARTNER WITH PARENTS
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Our Eikon Youth Small Group Leaders are amazing! I love this team so so much! [Photo by Payton Morey]

Through the years, I’ve seen God use people, roles, and community connections to build me up to become this type of a leader. From the moment I had that conversation with Kenny at Orange, I began to think, research, and pray about the trajectory of the journey I was on. Was this the right direction to move in? I shared my thoughts and dreams with some of my trusted friends and knew that this was, in fact, the direction I needed to move in. As I empowered more of my ministry teams in Seattle to lead so that I could do what only I can do, I began to build myself into a NextGen Pastor. While I wasn’t allowed to continue moving into that role at my previous church, I didn’t lose hope or sight of the purpose-driven dream in front of me. As I mentioned before, an opportunity arose for me to pursue this route by making a move from Seattle, WA to Kyle, TX. My role started here as Youth Pastor at Eikon, with the promise of eventually growing into a NextGen Pastor role. Fast forward a year of serving on staff as Youth Pastor at Eikon and I’ve successfully rebuilt Eikon Youth to a healthy, thriving and community-driven ministry with an INCREDIBLE team of leaders championing the phases, students and families they lead.

 

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Hanging out with friends at one of our Eikon Young Adults Small Groups

 

In March of this year, I was invited into a discussion on helping to develop and build a healthy, sustainable Young Adults Ministry at Eikon. I sat with our Lead Pastor, Executive Pastor, an elder, and one of our previous Young Adults leaders through a series of meetings to help define how this ministry would operate and tie into the central values and mission of the church. After we wrapped up that series of meetings I was asked to take over leadership of our Young Adults Ministry. It has been such a great experience bridging the gap and providing opportunities for spiritual growth, missional living, and multi-generational mentorship for the young adults in our community!

 

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Adults, young adults and students all playing their part to help lead this growing generation!

 

About four months ago, I was pulled into an even better meeting. It was a meeting with our Lead Pastor, and he told me that he was ready for me to step into the role of NextGen Pastor at Eikon! In this role, I provide oversight and leadership for all of our family ministries from birth through young adulthood. It’s a total dream come true! Not only is it amazing to be empowered to do what I feel most passionate about, but it’s refreshing to know that I have the full support and encouragement of my teammates and leaders to move full steam ahead. I have their trust, their love, their confidence, and it’s all I could ever ask for. It’s a great challenge—but oh how I  do love a challenge—to oversee all of these ministries on such a larger scale, but the more I’m able to develop and lead the teams guiding us forward the more I see the fingerprints of God all over this. The announcement was made onstage a couple of weeks ago that I am taking on this role and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to chase this dream and empower the people entrusted to my care as we invest our best in the next generation!

 

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Grateful for this journey and this team that help me become a better human being and Christ follower. These folks are 100% pure gold! [Eikon Staff

THANK YOU to every single person who has supported me, prayed for me, and offered me wisdom and encouragement along the way. I’m ready for what’s to come and I am excited to help connect this growing generation to onramps for stronger faith and community development. Please continue to lift me up in prayer/positive thoughts and check in as the journey continues—I know I’ll need it!


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I Spend Too Much Time In My Room

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There is something so special about a blank canvas set in front of a creative person. Since I first joined the team at Eikon Church, I’ve been able to create some beautiful spaces and let my creative flag fly. When my Pastor presented me with the opportunity to design classroom environments for our eKids, a sense of joy and anticipation overcame me—what a fun canvas to work with and a great end in mind to work toward! I sat down with the Children’s Pastor and asked her what she had in mind for these spaces. She gave me some basic parameters and then said the magic words, “Really it doesn’t matter to me, you can just make them look the way you want them to look.” Boom! I’m on it!

As I thought about the kids that would be discovering faith and community in these classrooms, I knew I wanted to create distinctive environments that would play to their heightened sense of imagination and wonder. We had decided to use a scheme that matched the colors I had previously designed on the entry doors to each class . . . So now all I had to do was find the scenes to match the schemes. Part of the planning process involved the understanding that the current ages represented in the rooms would change over time. Currently, our eKids classrooms serve kids from 2 years old to 5th grade. However, we are in the process of building out a new eKids wing on the other side of the church dedicated just to our Elementary-aged kids. Once that project is complete, all of these current classrooms will be dedicated to our Early Childhood kiddos. (We also have a Nursery connected to our lobby that I needed to design out.)

I started with a blank canvas . . . kind of. I took pictures of each of the rooms and proceeded to design the spaces quickly with Photoshop layers on top of the original images. Once all the designs were submitted and approved, our Children’s Pastor organized a team of volunteers from our church to come in and transform the classrooms one coat of paint and one sheet of foam at a time. For three months we all worked hard to complete a project we could all be proud of. As a designer, I still ooh and ahh at the beautiful way my art has come to life in these classrooms. Here are some snapshots and stories from along the journey:

DESIGNING THE NURSERY

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I took these original photos after the base baby blue coat was painted.

Let’s start at the end, shall we? This was actually the last room that we completed and oh was it a process. Each of the rooms started with a taupe base and I knew I wanted to go with a brighter but softer color for the nursery. Since the other rooms were already claimed by the colors red, purple, yellow and green, I went with a shade of blue . . . baby blue, that is. I originally thought of going with clouds and stars, but I just felt like I should add more pops of color. I wanted it to look like a fun confetti party so I mapped out a pom pom swag to paint on the walls.

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My first design involved white painted swags with circles of color added like confetti

Since we had spent so much time on the other rooms, we were kind of painted out by the time we got to the nursery. Instead of painting more, my Pastor suggested going with white wood slats adhered to the wall and pom poms of some sort connected to them instead. So he purchased the wood, and I worked with my Intern to create some pom poms made of yarn—and it was a total disaster. We spent 3 hours working on winding yarn onto cardboard spools to make the pom poms, and they ended up being a bust because the yarn wasn’t tight enough and the tie wasn’t holding in the center. All in all, we got one done after hours of work—ain’t nobody got time for that, especially when we needed about 30 total! We landed on the option of buying tissue paper pom poms and unfolding those to use instead.

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The pom pom saga

Then came the process of adhering the wood slats. It was suggested that I use Liquid Nails to attach them, so after tying and stapling the pom poms onto the wood slats, I lined the backs with Liquid Nails and held them to the wall for a bit to set. As I continued sticking them to the wall, the ones I’d already put up started falling. So I did what any other clueless person would do . . . I Googled “How long does liquid nails take to dry on wood?” It turns out you need to hold it for at least 10 minutes before it starts to cure. (Ugh!) So we did that, and they still kept falling. So I found another solution—I went to one of our staff members who is a hardware guru, and I presented my dilemma to him. I suggested just screwing them into the wall, but he had a much better idea. He suggested I use his Brad Gun to hold the wood in place long enough for the Liquid Nails to dry. That way I wouldn’t waste the Liquid Nails I already purchased, and I wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of trying to screw each board individually. His solution worked wonders, and I’m so glad I asked him for help!

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Decorate the nursery, they said. Use Liquid Nails to hang the wood, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. 😫

The Brad Gun worked wonders and cut our work time significantly. FINALLY we had a finished project that made my heart so happy! Here is what the room looks like now that all is said and done!

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DESIGNING THE 2s & 3s CLASSROOM

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My original idea for this classroom involved painted brick and bright foam gears so that I could play on the red scheme of the paint chosen for the room. I had previously worked on a similar set using foam board insulation on the Maker Fun Factory VBS set at my church in Seattle, so I knew how cool it could look.

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However, once a few more eyes were on the designs I started with, we decided it would be better to go with simpler objects that preschoolers might connect with more. I went with fun foam flowers instead and played on the brick red shade to be the background of a large garden wall.

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Our volunteer crew worked so hard to bring those designs to life and now our 2s and 3s get to learn and play in a great big garden of fun!

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DESIGNING THE 4s & 5s CLASSROOM

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This classroom took me the longest to design because although green is one of the more comfortable colors to design for, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted the kids to be surrounded by in this space. One of the earlier suggestions was to focus on geometric shapes, so I started with squares and got bored before landing on pinwheels instead. Though it got a lot of good feedback, I still wasn’t personally sold on it. So I kept going back to the drawing board and coming up with other options. Circles? Stars? Stripes?

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I took a step back and after downing about my 50th cup of coffee, I asked myself, “What do preschoolers love to do for fun and how does it make them feel?” That question led me to see things from a different angle. I thought, “If there’s one thing preschoolers have a lot of, it’s feelings.” I joked around as I designed their space that I was going to create a Forest of Feelings.

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I played around with the idea of making mountaintops cut from reflective silver and even bought the materials, but in the end, we went with white snowcaps instead. I mean, I guess I did stick with geometric shapes . . . I just kicked them up a notch. The bonus fun to this room is that every time I walk into it, I’m reminded of the tall trees that I miss from the Pacific Northwest. Now I have a little bit of ‘there’ here with me!

 

DESIGNING THE 1st-5th GRADE/ELEMENTARY LARGE GROUP ROOM

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Our largest room in the original eKids wing is used for both our Elementary Large Group setting where all kids 1st-5th Grade gather together for praise & worship and the weekly Bible Story. After those elements of the service are done, the 1st-3rd Graders stay in that classroom, and the 4th-5th Graders go to a different room for their Small Group activities. Right away, I knew I wanted this classroom to have the look and feel of Monsters, Inc. I had seen a similar version somewhere on Pinterest, but decided to switch up the color scheme and style a bit.

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I added skewed foam squares and rectangles to resemble the doors used in the movie and went with skewed lines to mount them on.

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Our lead pastor gladly jumped in to help paint the classrooms

The tricky part was tying in the projector screen on the main wall. This is the space they use to watch their praise & worship and Bible Story videos. I decided to give it a bold skewed border to make it stand out. In my first draft of the design, I put two other elements on the stage wall. They were going to be chalkboards painted with shapes around them to represent the scripture verses and bottom lines that they focus on each week, but as we got to work on that wall, I realized it would look too cluttered. They neither added to or subtracted from the design on the whole, so I just scrapped them in the end. 

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DESIGNING THE 1st – 3rd GRADE CLASSROOM

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(Feel free to put on some sunglasses if you need to.)

This classroom was actually kind of tough to design an environment for this one. The room is yellow—bright yellow. You can see the bright yellow peeking through the connected ceiling panels in the main hallway. That’s the kind of bright it is. I wanted to try to subdue the brightness by bringing in some bolder yet still complimentary colors. My original idea involved a honeycomb design, which both kept a geometrical shape theme and a creative environment.

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However, after submitting the designs, I was brought back to reality and told (in love), “That looks amazing! It would be so cool to do that, but there’s just no way that we could make it look that good without paying thousands of dollars for actual artists to come and paint it.” They aren’t wrong, and I wasn’t super bummed, I was just left racking my brain to figure out what else I could make it look like.

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After even more coffee-fueled thinking and listening to Disney songs, I tried a different idea. I decided to go Under The Sea. I thought it might be cool to contrast the bright yellow with a strong blue and make a chevron design that could resemble waves. I still have yet to get the netting to drape from the ceiling and the push lights to attach to the wall, but I think it’s a vast improvement!

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FINISHING TOUCHES . . . 

Another church inspired one of the other finishing touches I put on all the rooms. I visited LifeAustin Church when I attended the Orange Tour with our Family Ministry Directors a couple of months back and noticed a handy system they were using. Each of their early childhood classrooms had numbered racks with a whiteboard that had corresponding numbers listed on them. These were designed to keep diaper bags, artwork, etc. organized according to each guest in the room. Leaders would write the name of a kid on a certain number and hang their belongings on the corresponding rack number. I knew that was something that we were currently struggling with so it was a no-brainer to add that sweet system to our classrooms as well. I even designed the numbers to match the classroom themes to pull in some extra fun!

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It felt so good to see all of these rooms complete and ready for the new year! It was such a fun experience to help create these unique spaces for our eKids to grow and learn in. Even more exciting is that I get to do it for our new eKids wing as well! Our Pastor met a while back with another designer for preliminary ideas on how to design out the new eKids Elementary wing. This designer that he spoke with had previously worked on designing spaces for The Walt Disney Company. My boss showed him my designs for the current spaces to see what would be good for the expansion and the designer told him that my designs were amazing and that he should stick with having me dream up and design out the new spaces! (That totally melted my heart in the best way!) 

I’m looking forward to the new few days where I’ll get to take the photos of the newly built space and design out the environments to turn in to our main painting crew. This new year ahead already holds so much promise and excitement. Onward and upward!

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Future eKids Spaces are ready for a fresh paint facelift!

 


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The original For Our City wall before I began the new display project . . .

 

There have been many fun design projects in the works over the past few months, and while most are wrapping up, one of my proudest is done and ready to show here on the blog! This particular project was unveiled in a strategic series of weeks as part of a Capital Campaign message series at my church, called FOR OUR CITY.

One of the things I love most about Eikon Church is that we are truly dedicated to being a church that is FOR our City—well, Hays County to be exact. We do our best to reach out to people in our community to serve them in love—not expecting anything in return—simply because we truly love where we live. We partner with our community through partnerships with the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, CASA Kids program, IDEA Kyle Charter School, Center Street Trick-Or-Treat, San Marcos/Kyle/Buda Fields of Faith, Day With God Prison Program, City of Kyle’s Pie In The Sky, and many more. There are so many more ways we would love to partner with our local community, but in order to do what we are dreaming of doing, we needed a way to:

  1. Promote visibility of our passionate priority.

  2. Provide people with easy ways to invest in the Capital Campaign that will help us make those dreams become a reality.

 

Months ago, as I sat with our Creative Team and brainstormed ideas of how to creatively display those elements, I took on a design project that would reach beyond the screen and create physical spaces to help us be and do more for our neighbors. The project involved repainting a wall with a fresh look and style, creating pledge cards that would be easy for people to use, designing a visual mural sticker to adhere to the inside front entrance of the building, and designing a window panel piece that would tie it all together. As the project neared its end, we realized that the initial FOR OUR CITY window panel piece actually needed a back piece for the other side of the window so you wouldn’t be able to see the adhesive. We decided to make a second window piece that would serve as an additional welcome to people as they walk in.

 

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Computer generated concept art for the new FOR OUR CITY mural.

 

You can see the original wall display in the photo at the top of this post. Right above this paragraph, you can see the initial design concept for the new For Our City wall redesign. Here is the process my amazing Youth Intern and I went through to make it all come together:

 

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Since the original wall was painting pitch black, we needed to apply two coats of primer to start with a fresh blank canvas.

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Then we covered the wall back up with two coats of red paint that matched the color scheme of the FOR OUR CITY promotional materials. I also wanted red to be the background color for the wall so that it would stand out more and wouldn’t just become white noise so easily.

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I used a projector that was balanced on a stack of books on top of a bistro table to sketch the logo and lettering for the words on the wall. Then my Intern and I hand painted them with a coat of primer and again with white paint. [ Just tracing the letters on the wall took about half a day! ]

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We recruited some of our eKids and Eikon Youth students to help get more paint on the walls and work on lower wall touch-ups.

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My brave Youth Intern scaling the ladder to do upper wall touch-ups

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After adding a coat of primer and a coat of white onto the box templates of the wall, we were ready to move on to adding the pledge cards to the mix.

 

And then we added pledge cards to the wall that people could peel off, fill out, and turn in to our Info Center team. I color-coded the cards in various colors so that people could tell there was a difference in the amount and so that they fit in with the overall color scheme + style used in the campaign promotional pieces.

 

BluePledges

RedPledges

 

And after many hours invested into the wall, we have our finished project!

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I am in love with the final project and it’s really cool to see pledges already coming down as people contribute to the FOR OUR CITY campaign!

 

The next phase included designing the mural to go above the inside entryway. I sat down with our Creative Arts Pastor and we decided to go with a collage that would feature photographs taken in the various cities represented within Hays County. I roped in two amazing photographers that attend Eikon to snap some of the shots featured in the mural:

 

NATHANIEL ROSALES PHOTO

and

PAYTON MOREY PHOTO

FOC Mural3

After editing the photo mural in Photoshop, I sent it off to press and LUCKY SKY GRAPHICS installed the mural. Here is the final design of the mural.

 

They also installed the two window pieces I designed. The first window piece was created to tie in the FOR OUR CITY look and informational/promotional piece. It features text from the original vision statement for the church that our Lead Pastor, Dan Matlock, created before Eikon even launched. The second window piece was a welcome graphic that would share our inclusive culture as people entered the building. It includes the words that are hand painted on a featured wall in our lobby—those words are frequently repeated in our language on and off the stage because it’s the culture we promote at our church:

EVERYONE IS WELCOME
NOBODY IS PERFECT
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

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The FOR OUR CITY Window Panel design (left) and the Eikon Welcome Window Panel design (right)

 

Here is what the final pieces look like after installation:

 

FOCMural

ECEntrance

 

It was by and far my most intensive project to date, but also one of the more deeply treasured ones. I LOVE being a part of a church that is so dedicated to being a blessing and a benefit to our local community and seeing these pieces reflect those endeavors is like a warm beam of light to my soul. I’m grateful to be part of a team that truly allows me to use my gifts and talents in such a beautiful way to move the heart of God front-and-center inside and outside of the church!


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Golden Hour

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So proud of this dude and all he’s accomplished!

Sometimes you just need to take a break from life and rest easy in the peace that comes from a change of scenery and joyful moments with faraway friends while keeping your past connected to your future. Last year when I made the move down from Seattle to Austin one of my youth students (J.Money) accompanied me on the journey. On the road, he read me his college application letter—which included a sweet paragraph about how I was a primary positive influence in his life—and he asked if I would come to his graduation at the end of the school year. I thought it would be a great trip back to take and would be a fun way to celebrate such a special milestone moment in his life. So I told him I would be there and a couple of months later, I booked my flight back to Seattle for the summer of 2018.

In the past month, some family circumstances came up that could have potentially held me back from going on this trip, and I actually considered just canceling the trip altogether. However, thanks to the support and wisdom of my close friends, I decided to go ahead and make the trip happen! Shortly before leaving, I had some difficult conversations with people I loved and their response was not what I anticipated. The whole situation left me feeling weak and defeated. I felt so lost in the muddy mess, and as I boarded the flight to Seattle, I hoped and prayed that God would bring peace and light to my wounds and discouragement. I knew I needed some saturated free time around my Seattle family of friends and I clung to it during my stay.

Each day I got to spend time being refreshed and supported by at least 4 different friends, not to mention my amazing friend Allison, her husband and son, who opened their home for me to stay while in town. I also had opportunities to wander casually around the city I love so much and remember some of my favorite times. The cherry on top was watching J.Money graduate! He was just starting Middle School when he started attending my Youth Ministry in Seattle and as he grew in faith, he became one of our best Kid’s Ministry Small Group Leaders + live storytellers + kids worship leaders. It was an honor to help him navigate faith + life, especially helping him share his ‘coming out’ story to his family, and being able to walk through life side-by-side with him and his family each step of the way. I cannot wait to see all that God does in his life as he pursues faith and education to become a teacher!

My trip to Seattle was definitely needed and it brought new dreams, goals, and a reaffirmation that I am exactly where I need to be in my life and career. If you ever get a chance to get away from your daily routine and just surround yourself with people who breathe life and joy into you, do it—you won’t regret it! Also, if you ever get a chance to hop a flight to Seattle, you’ll be blown away by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest—the tall trees, the stillness of water everywhere, and a wonderland at every turn—you won’t regret that either!

Enjoy some snaps from my trip: 

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Opinions Around Town

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Let is never be said that Seattle is short on words . . .

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Congratulations to J.Money! The principal at his school gave one of the best graduation speeches I’ve ever heard. I wish they had recorded it so I could share.

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LOVED teaming up with my wing girl/best friend Heather to surprise my Bestie mom, Patti for brunch! // The only downside to the trip is that while closing the trunk of my friend’s SUV, I didn’t realize how heavy the door was and didn’t step back far enough. The result was the trunk coming down hard on my nose! Not sure if it’s broken, but it hurt so bad!

 


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Delicate

Can we go back to Easter? Alrighty then, let’s . . . 

EatE

Many might believe that my job is all about pastoring youth—for the most part it is—but it also includes an array of other roles to fill. For instance, I also have the opportunity to participate in our Creative Team Meetings and contribute designs used for message series on Sunday mornings. (In fact, I designed the mosaic pattern used in our Easter message graphic seen above.) I also design supplemental promotional items for events and ministries used inside and outside the four walls of our church. From time to time I get to take on special creative projects that stretch my heart and mind in all the best ways. This past Easter’s creative project was no exception. When our lead pastor explained his message focus for Easter Sunday, he brought up an ancient art form I had never heard of before—KINTSUGI. Kintsugi is a Japanese art form where broken pottery is repaired using gold to highlight the broken pieces, teaching that broken pieces are not meant to be hidden, but proudly displayed in all their beautiful brokenness. 

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When a bowl, teapot or precious vase falls and breaks into a thousand pieces, we throw them away angrily and regretfully. Yet there is an alternative, a Japanese practice that highlights and enhances the breaks thus adding value to the broken object. It’s called kintsugi (金継ぎ), or kintsukuroi (金繕い), literally golden (“kin”) and repair (“tsugi”). This traditional Japanese art uses a precious metal – liquid gold, liquid silver or lacquer dusted with powdered gold – to bring together the pieces of a broken pottery item and at the same time enhance the breaks. The technique consists in joining fragments and giving them a new, more refined aspect. Every repaired piece is unique, because of the randomness with which ceramics shatters and the irregular patterns formed that are enhanced with the use of metals.

— STEFANO CARNAZZI (LifeGate.com)

The focus of our Easter message was about how the Resurrection of Jesus repairs what was once broken and gives us a new opportunity to repair some broken pieces in ourselves to shine the glory and goodness of God. We wanted to use the art of Kintsugi to illustrate the beauty of Jesus’ restoration. I was intrigued by this art form and decided to take on the project, not knowing how it would heal my own heart and mind as I invested time and energy into it. My first task involved tracking down 7 identical ceramic pieces. We needed 5 of them in original condition so that our Pastor could display and break the ceramic onstage in real time during the message. We needed 2 others that would be broken beforehand and have Kintsugi applied to them for a big reveal toward the end of each message. (I made two just in case one of them got broken during transition onto the stage.) So off to Hobby Lobby I went and after cleaning out the stores in San Marcos and some in Austin, I finally found 7 of the same gray ceramic pitchers on sale! After the pitchers were broken, I realized just how difficult this art form was—like putting an intricate puzzle of broken shards back together. The large pieces were pretty easy to tackle, but once you go to the smaller pieces, the level of difficulty increased.

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In the week that led up to the services, I worked hard to creatively repair the broken pitchers through this beautiful art form. (Thanks to this great DIY blog post! and a gold leaf substitution) As I glued pieces back together, I prayed that God would use this illustration to speak truth and freedom to those in the services. I asked God to repair some broken pieces in my own heart as well. I asked God to help me to find beauty in all of my broken parts—and He came through time over time over time. I was able to have some heart-shaping discussions with trusted friends and take brave steps to embrace difficult moments of life. After spending hours and hours of meticulous glueing, epoxy application around each edge, holding pieces to set, and filling in each line and hole with gold leaf, I finally had two beautiful displays of restoration. The patience, perseverance, and dedication finally paid off!

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Was it time consuming? Yes it definitely was. It was also very empowering to discover a new art form that spoke to my creative soul and inspired me to embrace Easter with a renewed hope and joy. Was it difficult? Yes it definitely was. It also gave me a better grip on patience and perseverance. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! As I sat in each of our Easter services and saw the illustration in action, the message came to life more and more. After each service, I was able to have meaningful conversations with others who were deeply impacted by the message and the visual reminder of the hope and restoration they can walk out in their own lives. Through tears, smiles, and wonder, we all embraced the Resurrection story with a renewed sense of grace and truth. One of the final pieces rests on the bookshelf in my Pastor’s office and each time I walk by and see it, I’m reminded of the goodness and beauty of faith in Christ. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to step into this project and create something that revealed God’s goodness to people in our community seeking healing, hope, and acceptance—brokenness and all. 

Here is a video of our Easter Sunday message.
I hope it inspires you as much as it did for me: