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2 In Personal

On Sabbatical

I love my job. I guess I technically have two jobs–and my business, but my “job” job, the one I work 40hrs a week at, is as a minister at Sandals Church and I love it. Lindy and I have been a part of the church for nearly 20 years, and I’ve been on staff for just over eight. This year our leadership has given me the gift of a month-long sabbatical and I tacked on a week of vacation to extend it a bit. I’m smack in the middle of Week 1 and so far it’s been awesome.

I realize the concept of a sabbatical is fairly unusual, so I wanted to share what I’m up to this month.

Humility Through Pain

I’ve chosen the goal of humility through pain as the the theme for my sabbatical. This plays out in lots of ways, but ultimately it means I’m looking for ways to intentionally think of other people as more important than me.

  • I’m getting up daily at 5am and doing “my stuff”, which is everything from reading to managing our finances, from 6-7:30am so that the rest of my days are free for my family.
  • Unless we’re doing something special I’m sticking to a diet of mostly Lindy’s green smoothies as a way of saying no to what I want (and getting that tight body for our 10th anniversary!).
  • After several months off, I’m now back in the Jiu Jitsu game. This basically means I’m getting painfully humbled for an hour twice a week.

Shouldering the Load

I was doing the laundry last Sunday and Cosette was literally pulling every piece of clothing out of the baskets I’d sorted them into. I thought that was a perfect analogy for what it is like to be a parent of little kids: do something, and then right as you’re done undo it all and start over.

Because I work so much Lindy basically never stops working either. And while I get to accomplish things and see projects come to life in my professional life, she’s constantly marching a slow and consistent trudge caring for our kids.

I want to give the gift of rest to her this month. We actually mapped my entire time off on a printed calendar and intentionally blocked out times for her to do the stuff that’s is important to her. We’ve also blocked out time for her to just get away and by herself for 2-3 hours twice a week and catch her breath mentally.

She’s wrapping up work on six canvas art project this morning, our back yard is getting a little succulent corner, the boy’s bathroom and laundry rooms are getting a makeover, and whatever else she wants to do we’re going to make happen.

Switching Out Success

As much as I love teaching and my other work, it’s completely unfair of me to work seven days a week. I’m honestly really good at it so it’s easy for me to feel successful when I’m in that zone. It makes me feel great about myself because I can point to my calendar and our budget and highlight the exact ways I’m loving my family.

But I’m currently going through a process of redefining success. I want to give my best to my family, and the most valuable thing I have is time. So I’m dedicating as much of my time as possible to investing in the success of Home As Art and the vision we have for this blog.

I work for a church and we’ve chosen for Lindy to stay at home with our kids. I’m always going to have to work a lot, but what if all of my extra work could be with Lindy instead of on my own?

That’s some of what we’re laying a foundation for this month.

Praying the Hours

Here’s probably the most important decision I’ve made. Because I’m basically never going to be in meeting for the next month, I’ve got compete control over every minute of my day and I’ve scheduled six alarms to remind me to pray toward my goals:

  • 6am: Pray for Humility
  • 9am: Pray for Wisdom
  • 12pm: Pray for Our Marriage
  • 3pm: Pray for Wisdom
  • 6pm: Pray for Humility
  • 9pm: Pray with Thanks

Each morning I’m praying for humility and wisdom as a way of intentionally disciplining my thoughts and feelings. Humility is about the willingness to do hard things and wisdom is about the ability to see those things. Lindy and I are praying together at noon and then I’m repeating the whole thing in the afternoon and evening. Each night I want to be intentional about reflecting on the day and thanking God for what was good.

So there’s my sabbatical. What do you think? What would you do if you were able to take this much time off work?

0 In Life/ Personal

Discovering the Art of Feeling

So, this blog is about to get personal a lot more quickly than we ever planned. But I’ve discovered over the last few weeks that trying to write things down helps me process, recognize, and actually feel my feelings. –Justin

I work for a church and part of what I do there is hosting our weekend services. Over the course of an hour long service I’m up on stage about four times, guiding people through the experience.

Last Saturday night, as Pastor Matt was coming to the close of his sermon, I was sitting down in the front with my wife when I got phone call from my mom. I ignored it. A minute later I got a call from my dad, I ignored it again and texted back “I’m in church, what’s up?”. There was no response. Two minutes later my brother called. I ignored his call because I was about to jump on stage for the offering and, though I could sense something was wrong, there wasn’t time to send anyone else up there in my place.

My brother texted me: “Papa is being taken to the hospital.”

That is the most overwhelming text message I’ve ever received.

Lindy ran out the back of church to get our kids from class and load them in the van while I jumped on stage for the offering. During the prayer at the end of the message I asked our worship leader to cover me at the close, turned to the church to setup our offering, walked off stage, and sprinted to the van.

My dad has been a survivor of prostate cancer for probably seven years or so, but he hasn’t really experienced any medical issues like this before – this was so shocking.

I had no information, but I honestly assumed my dad was dying.

My Dad in an Ambulance

Lindy dropped me off at the ER and I ran to the security at the door asking to see my dad. The security guards told me my dad wasn’t showing up on the list so I needed to wait 20–30 minutes and check back in. If you ever work the doors at an emergency room, DO NOT SAY THIS TO SOMEONE WHO’S DAD HAS JUST BEEN RUSHED TO THE HOSPITAL. I wanted to slap that security guard.

My mom showed up and grabbed me and another security guard escorted us outside where my dad was being pulled off the ambulance on a stretcher. He had passed out at a church event and was highly disoriented.

This was probably the most personally traumatic thing I’ve ever seen and I’m pretty sure I’m still in shock.

My dad stabilized within a few hours and slowly began recovering memory. It was actually pretty sweet to see how concerned he was for my mom’s feelings even when he couldn’t remember her name, just that she was his wife.

Over the last few days, doctors discovered a blood clot in my dad’s brain and have been working on a plan to dissolve it.

Struggles & Strengths

During Pastor Matt’s sermon he was talking about nine types of personalities and each of their core struggles and strengths. I’m a Type 3: The Achiever. I get it from my dad, the most driven and hard-working person I’ve ever known.

The Achiever’s core struggle is deception. We struggle being honest because of a deep rooted need to succeed, or at least appear successful.

Pastor Matt is also a Type 3. Last night we were recording an episode of a podcast debriefing his sermon where he confessed that the first person he lies to is himself – and he lies about how he is feeling. I felt like I just got punched in the gut.

Right before the show Pastor Matt asked me how I was feeling. He said something like “I’ve been praying for you and thinking about you this week. I know this is an emotionally heavy time for you and you’ve been working so hard. How are you feeling?” I said something like “I’m good.”

Then we walked out into a room full of 300 people who all came to the first ever live recording of our podcast. No one saw it happen, but I got challenged to my very core last night.

I’ve been lying to myself about my feelings and I’m not doing ok.

I don’t know how to deal with that.

I’m Not OK

When we wrapped up the show I checked my phone and saw a text from my mom: “Your dad is going into brain surgery.”

So that’s what’s happening today.

I love my dad. I want him to stick around. Not just because I want him to see his grandchildren grow up, but because I want him around and in my life.

I want him to be ok. And I guess, right now I’m not ok. I’m tying to let that be ok.

4 In Art/ Marriage/ Personal

Opening Our Door

I am an artist at heart. As a kid in school I remember the best part of class was when the teacher said we could add pictures to our project. I was all over those colored pencils and I usually took whatever creative freedom I could. I even remember being home sick in the 3rd grade and writing a poem about it with a lovely drawing and asking the teacher if I could read it to the class the next day. Yeah, I was special.

Over time I learned that I was ok at a lot of things, but with art and creativity I seemed to excel. Art became a way for me to go farther than anywhere else and it made me happy in a way other things hadn’t.

In high school I started oil painting and loved it right away. My first big painting was of a single drop of water falling. I was good at breaking each color down into a shape and section and representing that on the canvas. Many art projects later, I started college as an arts major. Over those four years I learned a ton about art and felt both good at it and bad at it at the same time. Mostly, I learned there was still so much to learn.

After graduation, I apprenticed under an established and successful artist in town. She was doing faux art, murals, and artwork and I got to assist her. In the first few months she gave me a lot of freedom to be in charge of things I had never tried before. Months passed, then years, and I grew from trying to help, to actually helping, then to being totally in charge of certain projects.

After Justin and I got married I slowly I began doing art projects on my own. I was also doing art lessons for young aspiring artists in my free time. After a few years of this, Justin and I had our first baby, Titus. Since I had always planned on staying home with my kids, I stopped working and Justin started to fully provide for us.

I thought it would be generally easy to take care of a kid and I thought I’d kill it with the homemaking stuff.

That turned out to be only kind of true and with a really needy baby and so much housework, art began to fade away. I always thought that staying home meant I’d finally have a chance to cover our house in art and design that were ours. I wanted colors, paintings and life on our walls. But I couldn’t make those dreams fit into the long list of things I needed to do and our walls remained a simple cream color. I began to accept this new life and decided I was taking a break from all art and that it would be good.

By the time our oldest turned six years old, we had added another three kids to our party and I was still ok with being a non-artist. I was mostly just accepting it at this point because art simply didn’t fit in to my schedule and I had learned from many attempts that if I tried to make it fit it would be interrupted, incomplete and unsatisfying because I could never give it the time and freedom I needed to make it what I wanted it to be.

Although what I had known art to be had disappeared years ago, I realize now that it actually hadn’t stopped existing. That same feeling I felt when I used to paint would pop up here and there. I’d get that same satisfaction and fulfillment I used to feel except it would be in an unusual place or smaller measure. It was the same feelings, but the form was different.

I felt it as I collected a few of my favorite things and set them together on my dining room table with the light coming through the window just right.

I felt it when I was hanging out with my kids and machine-gunning photos on my iPhone, then choosing the perfect moment and editing it in my own way.

I felt it when I chose the perfect pillow and blanket combination for our bed.

Those things fit into my day. And to my surprise, I felt my art in them. I think it took me a while to accept that it was the same art, it just didn’t look the same. It was unrecognized, unnoticed and ignored for years.

Life is normal and all new at the same time. The same old things are starting to look different.

Now I see that I have never stopped being an artist, I just had to learn that art is bigger than the boxes I had put it in.

That’s what I’m learning, how to find art when it’s not obvious. And now art isn’t just something I do alone, because it’s not just my art, it’s Justin and my art. Together we’re not just noticing art, but looking for it. We’re opening our door and we hope you’ll step inside and see what we’ve begun to create together.