Category Archives: Musings

talking points.

Somewhere along the line, I made the inner determination that I would find a way to make anyone and everyone talk to me – whether they wanted to or not. I was determined to find that secret weapon – that one question or process that would open up the tightest closed mouth and unleash the personality within.

After an undetermined amount of study, I realized a few things about getting people to open up. The odds are in your favor if: 1) You can quickly find something in common that you and the other person can nerd out about. 2) Conversation can be pulled out of the unwitting subject with a bout of competition. 3) People will talk when topics are brought up that are a) common as heck, b) polar in popular opinion. 4) You have stories on standby should your subject not want to talk.

I found the secret ingredient topic: Pickles…But before you write me off, hear me out. I’ve tested this. It has a decently high success rate.

Think about it. Pickles are super common. Basically everyone knows what it is. And popular opinion is usually polar: People typically either love or hate pickles.
I, personally, do not enjoy pickles. I have a traumatic experience behind them that fuels my dislike. When I ask people what their opinion is on pickles, they either side with me and we have an alliance against all things pickles, or they switch to defense and find themselves clarifying – all pickles? Some pickles? What about bread and butter? Dill? Oh my goodness! You really don’t like all of them?

And that, friends, is how conversations start.

Then from there, it’s sometimes fun for me to take the discussion to the next level of potential absurdidy: Have you ever known someone, or personally experienced non-life threatening electric shock? I have. And it was a dumb mistake on my part. Haha!
Once that discussion dies out, the next logical topic stems around if you or anyone you know has had an almost drowning experience? I have. And it’s a tale that goes down in history as how not to tell your mother you almost drowned.
Usually, by that point, people are loose enough that conversation flows naturally. So. Good luck with that. 🙂

Ok let’s be real. You’re probably wondering what my pickle trauma and near death experiences are.

Pickle trauma: My best friend throughout middle school loved pickles. One day, my friend Emma came over and mom prompted me to ask her if she wanted a snack. Of all the things I happened to say as I browsed through the cabinets, I mentioned that we had a jar of pickles. Emma decided she wanted pickles. So, being the good friend that I am, I went to open the jar of pickles. As I opened it, the worst thing ever happened. I spilled it all over myself. I spent the rest of the day smelling like pickles…even though I changed my shirt. Smh.

Electric shock: Apparently when I was a young’un, I stuck keys in an electrical socket. Which explains my hair.

Almost drowning: I’ll write about it in another post. This one is long enough!

sword skills and hiccups.

What I’m about to tell you won’t surprise most of you. I was an avid church attendee growing up. We were there often. Actually – more than often. During some seasons, it felt like we almost lived there! Being there as often as I was allowed me to become skilled at a specific set of repeating events – specifically Bible sword drills.
For my friends reading this who didn’t grow up in church, Bible sword drills were an intense, quick competition geared towards helping kids learn the books of the Bible and locations of those books. The competition began when the on-stage teacher would yell out a reference. Everyone who brought a Bible would then rifle through the pages to find the reference as fast as possible, then stand and yell out the scripture.
Let me tell you. I was amazing at Bible sword drills. When it comes to competition, I will do almost anything it takes to figure out a faster way to win, which in this case, meant memorizing Bible book milestones…and/or having a tabbed Bible. Burgundy leather, red-letter New Century Version. ✌🏼 I’ll be honest. I only used the tabs when I didn’t already know the ballpark of where it was.
Here’s some insight into my psyche. I have a huge need to win. But when it compromises my need to be liked, I will do whatever it takes to try to attain both, even if that means I may not win or that I will curb my skills. This came into play often with Bible sword drills.
All of that being said, I won Bible sword drills often. Whenever we won, we got to pick a prize or piece of candy from the “store” at the back of the room. I decided to go on a streak of acquiring the giant pixy sticks every time I won. The next question then was how to best use these giant sugar troves when I had a sugar averse mother. Naturally, I cut them open and put them in a glass peanut butter jar. Somehow, some way, I figured out that pixy stick sugar powder can be used to cure hiccups.
So, there’s that. I haven’t tested it recently, but it could be a thing.

a great gift.

My sister Janine used to play keyboards in the band at church. As little siblings do, I wanted to do what Janine did…but differently. Because after all, I’m the youngest and am experiencing the world fully at the ripe age of 11. In my clearly (not) rational mind, the whole world revolves around me (even though mom tells me differently quite often). I found my mom’s old classical guitar in a basement closet. I brought it upstairs and showed it to mom, who helped me understand how to read a chord chart. Then I picked up some of Janine’s sheet music and started trying to sound it out. I remember getting so excited about what I was learning that I wanted to stay up late playing. Much to my chagrin, my playing just wasn’t quiet enough to fly under the radar of superhuman parent hearing (I’m still not sure how they managed to hear everything all the time. Maybe it is one of God’s gifts to parents?).
Not long after getting the guitar bug, we went on a family skiing vacation in Colorado. We made a stop at a friend’s house on the way. My parents were so proud of my playing progress that they brought it up during our visit. Janine had played in the band with the oldest son a few years before, so when the guitar topic came up, he was listening. To be honest, I was probably in the “oh goodness, my parents are talking about me again…this is awkward” phase, so I don’t remember what was said. The one thing I do remember was that before we left, something happened that took me utterly off guard. One moment, I was hugging everyone goodbye. In the next moment, the oldest son put something in my hand that rendered me speechless. It was one of his electric guitars. He looked me in the eyes and said that he believed in me and wanted me to have the guitar so I can continue learning.
That one gift – so freely and graciously given, propelled my love of music forward. It led the way to so many experiences that I couldn’t have imagined otherwise.
That guitar is off living its next life at college with my cousin. A gift that good must be passed on. Thanks for believing in me, Jason!

Just below the surface. 

On a recent trip to Germany, I learned something new that has held my fascination for the past few weeks. 

The region I was visiting at one point of my trip was heavily bombed in WWII by the allies due to its industrial contribution to the German war effort. At first thought, I was amazed at how the region has recovered since then – granted they have had a few decades to rebuild. What shocked me more was that I learned that there are still live bombs hidden underground. Every time there is new construction or reconstruction, the ground is searched for these explosives. Unknown bombs are found quite often and have to get diffused. It was and is so hard to fathom that the implications of a past war are still a current reality for many. 
This got me thinking. I’m sure most have heard the phrase, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This quote kept coming up in my mind as I learned about the hidden bombs. Everyone around me is on a journey of change and growth. Every day provides new ground that may be safe or may contain an element of danger. 
I am continually grateful for those who have dared to bravely walk into my construction zone with me – knowing that it may contain danger. Time after time, I have been met with love, understanding and grace. This combination has been key to diffusing the remnants of wars leftover inside of me. I can only hope that I am able to pay forward the gift given to me of safety, grace, and love. 
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. 

more than one way.

Hannover Leitungskongress 2016

Hannover Leitungskongress 2016

One of the things I love most about traveling abroad is seeing another way of life.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 5 years since graduating college, it is that there is always more than one way to do things.  I have found this to be especially true as I see how production is done in different countries.

This past fall, I traveled to the Dominican Republic with some members of Willow’s production staff.  We traveled throughout certain areas of the country and held mini tech conferences in churches that we partner with.  In one of our evening team debrief sessions, one co-worker mentioned that before leaving for the trip, he assumed that we would see many churches with a resource gap – lacking the fundamentals to do what is needed.  As the trip went on, he realized that it is instead a knowledge gap – not knowing how to fully use what resources they already have.  I’m finding this to be true not just in production, but in life as well.  I have always had exactly what I needed right when I needed it.  Sometimes it just takes a challenge to help me realize what I already have in my hands.

LK16 Stage Crew

The ever-ready LK16 Stage Crew!

I walked into Willow’s German Leadership Summit this past week feeling like I had both a resource and knowledge gap.  For someone like me who seeks to fully understand as many things as possible before walking into a situation, the fear of the unknown overcame the thrill of adventure.  As has happened so many times before, instead of being overcome by my fears of the worst-case scenario, I found myself able to discover another way to do things.  I was given a crew of motivated and able people, who offered a new perspective and were always ready for action.  Together, we truly were a team, and we achieved more than any of us thought possible.

When I try to explain what the inner workings of my brain look like, I usually end up saying that it is like a room with lots of boxes, shelves, and filing cabinets.  Every time something happens, I have a file for how to react – how to make sure I give the right response.  This week expanded my internal filing system.

Some of the crew ready backstage for one of our biggest stage moves - bringing out 14 signs on large fishing poles to set into bricks that help them stand. All in under a minute or so.

Some of the crew ready backstage for one of our biggest stage moves – bringing out 14 signs on large fishing poles to set into bricks that help them stand. All in under a minute or so.

For example – at the beginning of the conference, I was scared that we couldn’t execute stage moves in under a minute.  There were times when we had to bring out more props than we could handle, get them set, and disappear in what felt like less time than it takes to blink.  But somehow, we began to rely on each other to find new ways to make our job happen.  We had so many shining moments as a team – and it was all due to us figuring out together that there was more than one way to do things.

Long Overdue Thoughts

It is time.
It is time to write again.
It is time to blog again.
It is time to live free.
It is time to adventure again.
It is time.

The past two years have been the hardest two years of my short life so far. On the flip side of that, they have also been two of the best years. For some reason, the saying that “out of hardship comes the greatest growth” is true of where I’ve been.
The hardest parts of the past two years have paved the way for great growth…but it is all inside. On the outside, I look and sound like the same person – but I am a softer version of myself. I have by no means arrived at any finishing points – but rather am in a place of rest for this present time period. It is enough of a breath to be able to pop my head above the waters, look back and reflect on how God has been with me through thick and thin.
Slowly, surely, God is working in me. Though my hands still desire to clench control, God is asking me to come instead with open hands. Though I have had a shadowed past, God is asking me to venture back through doors of hurt into a land of healing as He holds my hand.
The Day I got my License.  Such a happy day!

The Day I got my License. Such a happy day!

Many situations over the last few years have felt like learning to fly. There were times when my mom (my instructor!) would put me under a hood – essentially a 12-18″ brim – that would constrict my view of everything but the instruments directly in front of me. She’d ask me to close my eyes, then she’d put the airplane in an odd position, say go, then using only the instruments, I would right the plane. Much of this journeying with God is like this. It is a trusting of the instruments He has placed in front of me – His Word, my hands, my talents. Every time something goes wonky and I feel off kilter and can’t see anything outside of my immediate view of the instrument panel, it is another opportunity to trust. Another opportunity to prove that He is who He says He is, He can do what He says He can do, and that I can do all things through Christ. Even when it feels like I am alone in the cockpit, the truth is that He is sitting right next to me.

In the past two years, I have made the intentional decision to dive deep into my story. It has been a hard, tear-filled journey. I can’t say that I am on the other side, and unfortunately, I don’t think I will ever be. But the good news is that every time I go down (because it feels like descending into a dark cave) into what I have experienced and who I have considered myself to be, I somehow come up better than when I went in.
I have been blessed with people who are willing to take the journey with me. I have a fantastic counselor who has been walking alongside me for the past year and a half – through intense hurt to a state of okay, to ambiguity and pain all over again. I am surrounded by a steady stream of support from my Aunt and her fantastic friends from Willow and Listen to My Life. I have been blessed with deep friendships, empathetic ears, and a heavy covering of prayer.


Part of the reason I haven’t blogged in a while is that I wasn’t in a place where I could be positive in writing. It was akin to being in the pit of despair in The Princess Bride…only I didn’t wind up being half-dead and in need of a Miracle Max cure.

But anyways…
I want to thank each and every reader who has prayed for me through this hard time, listened to my angst, and supported me. I am not out completely, but I sure am on my way.
In other news…I am officially the Technical Director for Student Impact at Willow Creek Community Church!! It has been a long time in coming, and I am so grateful. Two and a half years out of college, I finally have a full time job…at the place I have been wanting to work at for a long time. God is good.
Up next: running a cable camera for the Gaither concert at Willow, my first Christmas on production staff, Christmas with family, my first year in the TD chair for Blast (Willow’s high school winter camp), and who knows what other adventures will abound.
The view from my Sunday desk :)

The view from my Sunday desk 🙂

It’ll all work out…somehow.

The past three weeks have played directly into my newest mantra: “It’ll all work out…somehow.”  The world of church production is constantly walking the line of knowing what’s going on, and running with changes.  There isn’t a single Sunday where earlier plans are always followed to the T.  Changes are expected.

When it seems like an entire weekend happens like that, the stakes go up a bit.  When it happens for two weeks in a row, a pattern starts emerging.  When it happens again for a third week, the pattern is vastly clear.

In the midst of ambiguity, somehow, some way, it will all work out.

A year ago, this wasn’t even on my mind.  Since then, it has been crazy to see the path i’ve been on towards growth in areas of ambiguity and change.  Through the help of trusted friends, family, and my favorite counselor, I am able to turn around and see where God has brought me.

A year ago next week, I had one of the most horrible weeks ever.  I accidentally ran over the basketball hoop with my car (long story with a $1200 ending), I lost a friend in a tragic plane crash, attended his funeral on my birthday, and to top it all off I put in my notice at work.

Since then, i’ve been blessed to have been surrounded by support and love as I am re-calibrating areas of myself that are in need of repair.  Days like today allow me to turn around and see that work has been done.  I am not who I was.

It has been the most odd thing….going through these past few weeks with the “It’ll all work out” mantra running through my mind.  I am believing it more and more as God continues to prove Himself.  In the midst of chaos, it is a reminder that I can’t do it alone, but He can do crazy awesome stuff with me.

Looking ahead to the next couple of weeks, I have a lot of ambiguity facing me.  Somehow, some way, I know it will all work out.  As my grandma told me yesterday, “God’s got your back.”

I am beginning to believe it more and more each day.  Do you?