I was born on December 8, 1985, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I'm an only child, and my parents are awesome. They have always been there for me, and are true inspirations in my life.
I'm a computer geek, but also an artist; a theologian, and a scientist; a comedian, and a deep-thinker; a thoughtful listener, and a public speaker; Type-A, and... nope, I'm Type-A through and through. But in all other areas, as much as possible I strive to break out of boxes. Most importantly, I am a beloved child of God.
I've considered what succinct labels might best describe my "personal brand" - the areas of life that are most important to me and who I am. I came up with four:
When I die, I would be humbled if my friends and family remember me as a minister, as someone who was always there to listen, or simply sit in silence when there were no words to say. While I do plan on pursuing seminary, I know I don't need a diploma to be a "pastor".Watch my sermons
My 2nd grade teachers sparked a passion for story-telling, and after high school I waded into the world of independent filmmaking. I produced my first short in 2006, and have worked on dozens of movie sets since then.Watch my movies
In the aftermath of my first break-up, God Called me to buy my first acoustic guitar. Learning and playing became a time of worship. I know I am again Called to some form of music ministry in my future, and I'm still discovering what that might be.Read more (and listen)
On April 1, 2013 I started as a "real employee" at Cray, The Supercomputer Company, following a year working there as a contractor. The simplest explanation is I "work with computers," but if you want something a little more technical, I work in the Data Center as a full time sysadmin. As of April 2012 I no longer work at Minnehaha Academy (my previous full-time job before Cray), and I sold my casting company, Samaritan Casting, to my good friend and mentor John Hawkins, effective January 1, 2014.
In my 2010 Christmas letter I announced my plan to move to Los Angeles, and at that time I thought I'd be there by now. That obviously hasn't happened, and I'm grateful. Although I probably could have survived, I don't believe I would have thrived. Not yet. Years from now, maybe I'll look at moving again, but for right now, I feel my Calling in the Midwest. I have no regrets over this.
In February 2012 I began my application process for candidacy within the ELCA Minneapolis synod, and planned to apply to Luther Seminary in St. Paul. In June 2012, my committee entranced me for candidacy, opening the doors to apply to seminary itself. Shortly thereafter, I decided I need to hit "pause" on my journey toward seminary; the experience deserves more time and energy than I'm presently able to devote. I am sad, but also at peace with this decision.
In late 2012 I started also attending evening services at the Upper Room. I used to describe this dual-church-going as: "I go to Jacob's Well for the sermons, and Upper Room for the worship experience," though that's no longer true (UR's sermons have become more meaningful to me, and my definition of what it means to "worship" has evolved a little bit with regard to JW). Both are a home to me, and serve their own roles in my relationship with God.
When I'm visiting friends in Los Angeles, I love going to Mosaic. Worshipping there makes me feel so absolutely alive.
Finally, when visiting friends in the Des Moines/Ames area, I'll go to Harvest Vineyard.
It's true. From 2008 to 2012 I was involved in AWAKEN Ministries, a touring mime drama ministry based out of Des Moines, IA. We tell the Gospel story through a one-hour performance, that really needs to be experienced rather than described. We use Christian and secular music as a backdrop to the action happening on stage and in the aisles. This action might be a sword fight, angels flying around with flags, Pharisees gesticulating in frustration, Jesus leading His disciples to and fro, doing miracles, etc. The drama is very physical, and not at all what you probably think of when you hear the word "mime".
After the 2011-2012 tour, AWAKEN took a year off while the leadership team shifts. My friend Beth and I applied for leadership roles, but were not accepted. After talking with the Board about their decision, I agree that our vision and theirs were different. I am praying and hoping they find someone(s) to step up into leadership positions. AWAKEN is very dear to my heart, and like many others on the cast and crew, I'm not ready to see it end.
I hate politics. But, if it's of interest, here are my historical political compasses, from politicalcompass.org
I grew up with Christian parents who brought me to Church every Sunday, instilling me with a belief in God and Jesus. High school marked the changing point when I actively chose this faith as my own, rather than simply following my parents' choices. More specifically, my awful schooling experience during ninth grade turned me toward church as sanctuary in my life.
For a number of years I thought I knew exactly what was right and what was wrong. I attended church every Sunday, and I even read the Bible off and on. Then I grew up, and shades of gray crept into my formerly monochromatic life.
In my junior and senior years of college (2006-2008), my faith saw dramatic shifts. First: a closeness to God I'd never felt before in my life. This spiritual high gradually dissipated into a deep valley of emptiness, depression, and loneliness. God had disappeared from me, and I could no long hear His direction in my life. This allowed me, or forced me, to start asking the really hard questions - the ones I'd always been too scared to ask.
Finding peace with uncertainty was a long journey. Well over a year passed, living in the unsure. Mother Teresa's private journals about her own faith struggle came out around this time, and those were an absolute inspiration. Finally, in a single moment in the summer of 2008, I had my moment of clarity. It's hard to put into words, but it goes something like this: I was driving home from leading worship at a church in my college town, and I was praying for a friend of mine who I knew was going through a rough time. I prayed, "God, if you can take her pain, and put it onto me, then please do so." In that simple prayer, it "clicked" for me that, if I could agape-love another human being so much to ask that, how much more does the character of Jesus portray a God who loves us to an even deeper extreme? At that moment, I accepted that I would not have all the answers. Even more importantly: I accepted that I did not need them anymore. My faith - my tattered and bruised and questioning little faith - was, and is, built upon a solid relationship.
You might wonder where that leaves the Bible. Truth be told, I'm still sorting that out. I read it every day. At the same time I'm unable to give a 2000-year-old, human-written book ultimate authority in my life. God-inspired, absolutely. But it's also filtered through human minds, hands, scribes, redactors. And then there's science. I reject unequivocally the notion that science and religion must oppose each other - that's simply not True. Science answers "how", religion answers "why." It is my view, therefore, that declaring the Bible must be and can only be 100% historically true, puts this Holy Book into a box and robs it of the richness its authors intended. At the same time, I've experienced a miraculous healing first-hand, so declaring that the Bible cannot have any place in a modern scientific world, is equally not True, and robs God of the possibility to speak Truth into our culture. I believe God doesn't like being put in either of these boxes.
So what exactly do I believe?
That's where I stand today (September 2014). Faith has not been an "easy" journey, and God and I still have issues we need to work through. I know I'll never have all the answers. That's okay. I'm in this for the long-haul, and my faith is more authentic now than it could ever have been without this incredible journey of doubt and discovery. I've learned to live with uncertainty, and, more importantly, accept the love and grace that are offered me from the Cross.
It's my friend Kate's fault from college, though she says she doesn't remember this story. One evening I was expressing my appreciation for Hannah Montana, when Kate cut me off, saying in so many words, "No. If you're going to listen to any teenage pop star it can't be Hannah Montana; the only one I'll approve of is this new girl named Taylor Swift, her stuff's pretty good."
This was before Taylor's rise to superstardom, somewhere between her second and third albums. I started listening, and loved it. Of course I think she's adorable, too, but looks aside I legitimately love singing along with Taylor's songs. I also have always appreciated that, in this day of seeing so many corrupted teen pop stars in the news, Taylor has remained relatively unscathed by her fame. Granted, she has had terrible luck with her relationships, but I'm pretty confident that's only because she hasn't met me yet .
Lastly, yes, it's true I have a Taylor Swift calendar at home... and in my cube at work. Stop judging me, please.