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my life in my words


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Golden Hour

HappyGrad

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 . . . 

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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:


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Goodside

Easter season has come and gone, but I still wanted to share a couple of my recent Easter season projects with you and give some insight into things that have been sparking life and hope in me along the way. Let’s start with GOOD FRIDAY, shall we?

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Full Disclosure: I didn’t grow up celebrating GOOD FRIDAY, and even in the beginnings of my faith journey, GOOD FRIDAY was not on my list of prioritized religious events to participate in. In fact, before this past year, I would have vehemently stated (like the kid in The Polar Express), “Good Friday just doesn’t work out for me.” Granted, every experience is what you make of it, and I’m sure a deeply emotive, heavily dramatized, somber, silent GOOD FRIDAY really helps to reinforce the faith experience of some, it just isn’t so for me. I only began coming more aware of the ceremonial aspect of it from the church I previously attended in Seattle. My past GOOD FRIDAY service experiences in these recent years has left me feeling confused, apathetic, and kind of freaked out. Having lived most of my early life surrounded in despair, hopelessness, and darkness, I personally don’t choose to continually surround myself in experiences that herald such emotions, especially in a season of new life like Easter. Again, “Good Friday just doesn’t work out for me.” At least that was the case until this past year when I got to see it from a different perspective and shared a different, more hopeful experience with others.

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Good Friday Stations set up in the auditorium

Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in creating and organizing a collaborative GOOD FRIDAY service at Eikon Church. For a month or so, I sat at a conference table with our Lead Pastor, Creative Arts Intern, and two other Lead Pastors from local churches. Together, we combined our minds, hearts, and resources to host a special service for all of our faith communities to participate in. We decided to focus on The Stations Of The Cross and to make it an interactive experience. There was a lot of brainstorming on how to help each station ‘come to life’ and what those attending would do at each station to interact with the truths we were presenting at each of them. We leaned into supplemental artwork in a collection called Stations In The Street by a very talented artist named SCOTT ERICKSON to illustrate the guiding posters at each station. Each Pastor submitted write-ups and instructions for the stations that their churches would ‘host’ (Read: were in charge of creating) and I used those to create a unified look for each of the posters, our community offering signs, and the Station Guide card that was handed out to each person at the beginning of the service. As I prayed over each design element and allowed each element to speak to my own heart in the process, I discovered deep gratitude for the sacrifice that Christ made to give me a hope and future.

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Station Guide Card provided to each person, along with a pen to write down thoughts from their experience as they moved from station to station.

What I loved most about this interactive experience was that we intentionally created stations that people of almost all ages could participate in. (We did provide childcare for those 2 years and younger.) We felt that it was important for this to be a family experience where younger kids could be a part of the story of redemption that Jesus lived out all those years ago. We started the service with a time of praise and worship, continued into time for folks to visit the stations, and ended with communion and another worship song. All those who attended said that it was a refreshing take on GOOD FRIDAY, and many were moved to tears at the beautiful gift of Jesus’ sacrifice. They loved sharing the experience with their families and friends and were able to have discussions around how the stations came to life for them.

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A woodworker in our church handcrafted our new communion trays and they are so lovely!

As I walked through and experienced the stations on my own, I felt more connected to the redemptive narrative of what GOOD FRIDAY is. Journeying from station to station allowed me to meditate on each step that Jesus took and to personally seek His truths and promises to apply to my life in the here and now. I left the service more hopeful, with a more vibrant faith, and a strong sense of unity shared with others in our local community. Maybe GOOD FRIDAY is for me after all!

HERE ARE SOME OF THE ELEMENTS USED IN OUR EXPERIENCE:

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Our community offering went to support efforts to be a blessing and benefit to Hays County in a greater capacity.

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Living With A Fire

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Last month I had the opportunity to host a series at Eikon Church called “THROUGH THE FIRE.” The series focused on what to do when God doesn’t show up like you thought He would. It opened conversations to how life can be full of struggle, challenge, and obstacles of all kinds and how to walk through it together to get, well . . . through the fire.

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Hosting this series was special for me because each and every message resonated with me. I didn’t personally move to Texas to be close to my family, but God has definitely used this move to bring me closer to my family in ways I did not anticipate. I would have never imagined that I’d be taking my mother to the hospital a mere 3 months after my move, to discover that she has a series of critical care medical needs. The thought of stepping into the role of Power of Attorney (PoA) for my mother never even crossed my mind. Though taking on that responsibility has stretched and pressed me at every level, I can now see why it was necessary and how God is using it to refine my heart, mind, body, and soul. Each message in the THROUGH THE FIRE series found me tearing up and clinging to the truth of who God is in the middle of my stress-filled mess.

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As my mother’s PoA, I’ve had to make so many stressful and important decisions. I’ve had to make a decision as to which Assisted Living facility to move her to, manage her finances on all fronts, and schedule appointments with a bevy of medical specialists. I’ve had to move her out of an apartment she’s had for years and move her into a new place (which she’s not too happy about at all, and lets me know every chance she gets). I’ve had to serve as a liaison between my mother, her previous employers/employees, my siblings, my relatives, doctors, and the Assisted Living personnel. On top of it all, I still have a job to do—which is very extensive but also allows me to do what I truly love to do. During the months of December and January, I was also taking on the role of Interim Kid’s Pastor at Eikon while our awesome Kid’s Pastor was on Sabbatical. Now that that season is over, I’ve been managing life as PoA for my mom along with continuing to train my assistant in youth ministry, tackling creative team tasks, and strengthening our youth ministry team as our church grows. I’m grateful for the ability to be refreshed by the ministry and doing the creative things I’ve been allowed to do on the Eikon team—creative arts and social connections breathe so much life into me. The biggest blessings through this ‘fire’ have been the prayer/emotional/verbal/actionable support of our Eikon Church staff, the Eikon Youth leadership team, and my amazing housemates! These beautiful people have been pillars of strength for me to lean on and into.

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I’m grateful for the opportunity to have hosted that series because it gave me a platform to not just connect visually with the people in our church, but it also opened doors for conversations after service from others who had/were facing the same struggles or were moved by the words I shared in reflecting how the message was affecting my spirit. It also provided me with a stronger sense of community and faith connection to our Eikon Church family. This series was a game-changer not just for myself, but also for so many in our congregation who had been struggling through some of the circumstances presented in the messages. It also introduced me to one of my favorite songs: LIVING WITH A FIRE. The words are powerful truth and helped me to connect with God on a deeper level. I loved singing along at the top of my lungs with our worship team each Sunday!

If you feel you are in the middle of a fiery situation and need some hope for navigating life THROUGH THE FIRE, I encourage you to check out these messages from our series at Eikon. And if you want to hear the original recording from Chase Wagner of LIVING WITH A FIRE, scroll to the end.


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Rise Up | Welcome to 2018

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The past few days have pretty much been a nightmare due to all that’s going on with my mom’s health and family dynamics, but if it’s taught me anything, it’s that we can always seek and find hope in the darkest situations. My Word(s) For The Year in 2017 were Seek and Find and I certainly did just that. Through my seeking, I have found:

  • How to show up to situations, be brave, and not back down in fear
  • A strong trust in God when it comes to walking away from toxic relationships
  • A redefined tribe of people that are consistently willing to get down on the ‘Arena floor’ and stand beside me through life’s toughest battles
  • Ways to own and appreciate the ways I’m uniquely wired
  • A deeper passion for foster/orphan care and becoming an ally to those in the trenches
  • A greater understanding of healthy boundaries and how to set/live by them
  • A deeper love for poetry, photography, and other art forms
  • How to lead my family in a greater capacity
  • A trusting team of co-workers who inspire me to greatness and will stand beside me through the many twists and turns of life.
  • That your heart can break into a million pieces and heal into a stronger person as you let God help you pick up the pieces.
  • How to embrace true belonging

This year has brought much change, and though I wasn’t expecting it to change in the ways it had, I don’t regret the journey I’ve taken from January 1, 2017 to here. A couple of months ago as I began seeking God for my ‘word’ to live by in 2018, I was led to a word that made next to no sense at the time. Now having walked through the rest of this year after a lot of reflecting, soul searching and dreaming, it all makes sense. My word for this year is RISE.

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These are all things that I am believing God to do in and through me: mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally as I pursue 2018 with an intention to RISE. As I sit here typing this up in my mother’s hospital room after overwhelming and stressful circumstances, I am hopeful for greater things to come. There were many pieces of my life + heart that had both a literal & figurative death this year and I am looking forward to rising from those ashes. I want to embrace opportunities this year to take up arms with people, organizations, projects, and pursuits that continue to fuel the passions that God has placed in my heart this year. I am endeavoring to respond even more warmly and listen more to those around me that are different, hold different views and values than what I typically lean toward. I desire to develop a deeper relationship with God that helps me to see Him in the horizon of whatever circumstances may come. I believe that this will be year for me to become more hopeful, joyful, more passionate about people, and leverage my life to making even more meaningful connections. I pray that as I walk in true belonging that I will come more into being my whole self with no regrets. I am also ready to embrace new challenges and to walk with God through each of them. I am looking forward to 2018 being my year to RISE!

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Game Plan

Shortly before moving, I made a trip down here to Texas to attend the Eikon staff retreat. I had already accepted the position and it made sense that my pre-planned once-a-year visit should be used to meet the team and learn more about the role I was stepping into in an up-close-and-personal way. While we were at that staff retreat, we sat down as a team and brainstormed some ideas around what we value as a staff. It was a brilliant conversation that allowed me to see the beautiful heartbeat of the team I was joining. After all was said and done the ideas from that brainstorming session were grouped and streamlined to culminate into six key values, including explanations and challenging questions for each, that we as a staff could adopt and abide by.

About a month ago, I was asked to design some posters surrounding these values that we could print and hang in our conference room to serve as visual reminders in each meeting. Each and every one of these values resonate with my heart and generate gratitude in me for a team with clear values and direction to operate in a healthy manner while overseeing the people that God has entrusted to our care. When approaching the design concept, I knew I wanted a clean look that also had a hint of playful art to it. I decided to start with a chalkboard background and use lively white thin-line sketches with varying color additions to contrast the dark canvas. I spent some quality time picking through a variety of chalk-like fonts so that it complete the look while still giving each a different feeling. What resulted were these similar but individualized posters that make me smile each day I walk past them:

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In choosing the design for MAKE IT BETTER, I wanted hands involved—hands that are willing to contribute to a larger vision. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted them lining the top sides or all over the top edges but eventually landed on the hands raising out of the banner. Originally I was going to keep the hands cleared out but then decided the contrast of full and clear added an extra flair.

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The imagery that immediately popped into my mind with STICK TOGETHER was actual matchsticks. I chose to create a row of them and set the two center sticks on fire so as to symbolize the start of the spark that would in turn light the others.

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FIND A WAY was all about innovation to me and I toyed around with a brain, a bulb, and a kite in the beginning before landing on the light bulb. I knew it would connect folks directly with the imagery of thought + innovation without needing further add-ons

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My original idea on START WITH ME was a pair of running shoes on a sketched out track but then I thought more on the descriptors provided and leaned more toward personal investment. We can’t give out what we don’t have and that’s what START WITH ME is all about. At first I was tempted to color the piggy bank and coins gold with white text but then I realized I really wanted yellow on FIND A WAY so I went with green, which would evoke more feeling toward money which I hoped would reinforce the investment concept.

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We had recently attended the Orange Tour in Austin where Virginia Ward shared a story about different leaders who gave physical keys to young people that would open doors to possibilities for them to pursue their dreams/destiny. It signified the passing of trust and resources to the growing generation looking for leaders to empower them to do bigger and see further. Naturally, I had to use the keys in this one!

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This one was my favorite to create! I love having fun and brining playful concepts to life so when I tackled this one, I knew I wanted a swag banner with either flags, bulbs or both. I ended up liking the look/feel of the swag bulbs best. When I found the bike, it was a bonus and it fit so perfectly with the whimsical feel I wanted to convey with this value. 

This was such a fun project and I love that I get the opportunity to use my abilities to contribute to this team. I’m very grateful for this team that doesn’t just talk about values, but also puts them into practice. It’s invigorating to move into another season of life where I can use my gifts while simultaneously pursuing my ministry passions!


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Wonder | HBD 2017

This past year has been a wild ride with many twists, turns, highways, byways, landmarks and glorious views! I never would have guessed that the journey through this past year of life would lead me to such an incredible destination back home in Texas. I am very much looking forward to growing more in my faith, relationships, and passionate pursuits this next year of life. Even the things I’ve been able to be a part of these past 3 months have given me a glimpse of some beautiful possibilities moving forward. Some of the notable things I’ve been able to be a part of here so far are:

SERVING ALONGSIDE THE AMAZING EIKON STAFF

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Last Sunday, my niece sat in the Eikon Church lobby and said, “That wall is my favorite because it says, ‘Everyone is welcome, No one is perfect, and Anything is possible.’” That’s not just how I feel about being part of Eikon Church, but also being on such an incredible staff. I feel it every Monday when we grab lunch together, every week during Staff Devotionals, and while we are hanging out at Staff Family Night. I also feel it in the way we interact during staff meetings to build a safe, caring, and faith-shaping church where truly everyone is welcome because no one is perfect and anything is possible. I’m also deeply grateful for the opportunity to team up in a more focused way with my great youth assistant (Daniel) and my intern (Zach). Since joining this team, I’ve been trusted to do some pretty big things and given opportunities to try new exciting endeavors—I LOVE it!

LEADING AND LOVING THE EIKON YOUTH FAM

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Some of our awesome EY High School Leaders

Being surrounded by a team who owns their role and shows up to consistently invest in the next generation just lights the biggest passionate fire in my heart. It’s a blessing to lead, know, and love these incredible leaders.  Equally as awesome is the opportunity to lead, know, and love these beautiful Eikon Youth High Schoolers on a weekly basis. They are hilarious, adventurous and watching them intentionally pursue a growing faith brings so much joy to my heart. I love this crew! 

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EY HS Fam!

SPEAKING AT THE SMHS FCA FIELDS OF FAITH EVENT

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If you were to tell me I’d have an opportunity to speak to a group of over 200 Middle & High Schoolers on a public school football field, I would have just thought you were retelling a dream to me. Then October 11th came around and I got a chance to see a dream become reality! I am looking forward to all that God will continue to do through the FCA and all the other local churches as we endeavor to influence faith and discovery in the lives of teens in the San Marcos/Kyle area.

REDESIGNING AT EIKON CHURCH
I’ll definitely post more about this specifically with another post soon, but one of the first projects I was entrusted to tackle once I moved down here was to redesign the entrance spaces to Eikon Church. That included the new Mission Coffee Shop (where all proceeds benefit Eikon Missionaries), the eKids space, a Parent Resource Wall, and the Info Center. It’s been such a joy to see how those attending are being blessed by all the work we’ve put in to creating fun and inviting spaces to make meaningful connections.

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FALL FUN WITH EIKON

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A big passion in my heart is to be a part of a church family that is FOR the community, and Eikon is that plus more. This was their first year hosting a Fall Festival and participating in the City of Kyle’s Center Street Trick-or-Treat, and I got the opportunity to run point on both events. As a team, our staff put in so many hours of hard work and planning to provide our church & local families with these fun community events, which made facilitating them a great experience!

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SATURDAYS WITH MY NIECES

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When I first moved back home, I made it a point to establish a rhythm where I could spend more meaningful moments with my nieces so that they could have a wider circle of positive influence and I have not regretted one moment of it! Saturdays are our days to get together and create memories that keep us laughing and building a stronger relationship. Each moment spent with them feels like Heaven.

HANGING WITH AMAZING HOUSEMATES

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This photo of my housemates dressed as Joyce Byers and the Wall from Stranger Things is only the tip of the Awesomeness iceberg that David and Kat live on. I love them so much and treasure all the fun moments we get to share. From dance parties and sing-alongs, to design talk and housemate dates, this dynamic duo makes my life much more vibrant!

Again, these are only a sampling of the things that have kept me going since the move back to Texas. I’m looking forward to even more opportunities to grow spiritually, mentally, physically and relationally as I follow God through this magnificent journey called life!