Moments in the STORY

I left Nashville last Tuesday headed to Chicago for STORY. Wednesday was set-up with the sponsors and getting last minute details ironed out. The event started on Thursday and my expectations were high, but what I actually experienced blew me away. It was truly an experience, not just a conference. Helping out with this year’s event meant I didn’t catch a lot of what happened in the auditorium but I did catch some and all of it was incredible.

I’ve been trying to find words that seem sufficient in describing the experience but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not possible and maybe that’s okay. So, I decided I would share some of my favorite moments in hopes that they paint a small picture for you of what STORY is all about.

#1 (Favorite program moment): Letting in the Light
It was late Friday afternoon, clean-up had begun, and I was racing around looking for someone to get a question answered. I stepped into the auditorium at Park to look for that person and Princess Zulu was just finishing her talk. I stopped to listen as she challenged me to think about when my story and her story would intertwine. After she prayed in her native language (one of many spoken in Africa) Sons & Daughters went into their last set. If you haven’t heard their song “All the Poor & Powerless” go to their website and check it out. A couple of minutes into the song the music swells. At that moment the curtains behind the stage in Park’s worship center opened up and light flooded the room. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it now. 500+ people singing “Shout it, Go on and tell it to the masses” with their whole hearts as we were all looking at the Chicago skyline that had just been unveiled behind the curtains…powerful!

As someone who has a passion for the visual aspects of worship it was incredible to see the power that simply opening up the windows can have…it far exceeded anything that could have been put up on a screen at that moment in time. I’ve been struggling lately with the fact that I find it hard to worship with complete abandon in corporate worship settings. That often isn’t the place where I’m moved to tears and my heart feels like it’s going to explode in awe, wonder, and worship of my God. At that moment I was worshipping with complete abandon with 500 other people and it was incredible. God was glorified.

#2: Friday Clean-Up
The volunteers that gave their time to help with STORY were incredible!
The event ended at 5:00pm on Friday afternoon. I was fully anticipating being at Park cleaning up until at least 9:00. By 6:15 we had three fourths of what needed to be done done. It’s always powerful to see a group of people united by a common vision and focus come together to make something happen and the STORY volunteers did just that! If you were one of them, THANK YOU!!

#3: Working with the STORY team
The team that Ben Arment put together for this event was stellar. Not only were they all extremely talented but we had a ton of fun working together. Sitting around dinner Friday night and sharing highlights from the week along with lots of laughs was a great moment. I am truly blessed to know each of them. At the end of the day, a team is only as good as it’s leader and I was honored to follow Ben this week. He embodies the heart of a servant leader. Check out his recap here.

Beyond the amazing program moments of STORY the people are what took it over the top. It felt a bit like a large family retreat of creatives from all over the Church. I left Chicago with deeper friendships, new friendships, and a very full heart. I also left encouraged as an artist and with a deep sense of hope for the Church. For that I am incredibly grateful.

Were you at STORY? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. – Check out the STORY photostream on Flickr to see what went down at STORY.

A Month in Pictures (and a few words)

Today marks a month since I left Wisconsin with my life in my car and moved to the beautiful state of Tennessee. For those of you who are curious as to what I’ve been up to, I thought I’d try to recap it in some pictures and a few words.

My car was literally packed. No room left. But, I was successful in my goal to move to Nashville with only what fit in my car! I drove straight through on Saturday and arrived late Saturday night. Church Sunday morning and jumped into life. The biggest transition so far has honestly been the weather. SO happy that fall seems to finally be arriving here!

The sunsets here are stunning. Beautiful hill country as a backdrop helps I think. So long to the flat fields of the Midwest.

Seriously beautiful country!

The early morning sun isn’t a bad sight either :)

I’ve been spending much of my time in coffee shops. Starbucks is my friend :) Many long days drinking too much coffee and getting ready for STORY is what my first three weeks in Nashville looked like.

Love me some time at Crema when I feel like driving downtown. So many great local coffee shops here!

Drove out to Lieper’s Fork one Saturday afternoon. Love that the country and quiet space isn’t far from the city here.

Have I mentioned how beautiful the skies are?

Last week I hit the road for Chicago for STORY 2010. Great road trip and incredible experience at STORY!

I LOVE skylines…especially from several floors above the city.

Spent a day exploring downtown Chicago. Love being in large cities but I’m also always happy to leave.

It was a chilly fall day in Chicago but couldn’t resist a trip down to the lakeshore. Definitely miss being close to a large body of water that I can’t see the other side of. The water and the waves are good for my soul.

Seagulls…reminds me of my favorite place in Minnesota…Duluth!

The clouds were beautiful! The picture doesn’t do it justice.

That’s it…a month. Wow! It’s still surreal to me that I’m actually here. It occurs to me at least once a day that a year ago Nashville wasn’t on my radar at all and that I didn’t even know my friends here. God has dropped me into an incredible community here for which I am deeply grateful. When we are faithful and obey, He takes care of the rest, He really does. I feel like I’m as close to home as I’m going to get this side of Heaven. I start a new job this week doing tutoring in Nashville public schools…really looking forward to pouring into the lives of kids in the city again, I’ve missed that these last couple of years. I’m bouncing around the idea of doing some freelance stuff which I think is crazy but I thought the same thing about moving to TN, so maybe it’s what I need to do :) I’m moving on Thursday closer to downtown. I LOVE Franklin, where I’m living now, but it’s just a little too far from everything else.

That’s really a wrap. I moved here for life and life is what I’ve found. The transition has been incredibly smooth so far and God continues to affirm that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I am beyond excited to see what He has planned in the months ahead.

100 Words

I’m trying to condense the STORY experience into a few favorite moments of blog post length instead of a book. In the meantime, I thought I’d share last Tuesday through Sunday in 100 words…

Epic music
New friends
Indiana windmills
Rainy city
Night skyline
World’s colliding
Great leadership
Rock star team
Not enough sleep
Well worth it
Creative family
Old friends
More new friends
Mexican food
Sons & Daughters
Lots of laughs
Chicago coffee
Chilly fall day
Chicago Skyline
Downtown Chicago
Cozy sweater
Exploring the city
Afternoon tea at The Drake hotel
Seagulls at the beach
More Mexican food
Golden comfortable silence
City Community Church
Sunrise in my heart
Perfect lazy Sunday afternoon
Louisville skyline
Life’s soundtrack in progress
Nashville skyline

I love the random that is my life! :)

VWRT Chi-Town

I’m counting down the days until STORY in Chicago next week. It’s going to be an inspiring two days. I’m also getting excited about a post-STORY Visual Worship Roundtable (VWRT) in Chicago.

VWRT is a space for intentional conversation and a time to build relationships among the visual worship tribe. If you believe that visual media can be an integral part of corporate worship gatherings then you are part of that tribe. And we would love for you to join us in this dialogue.

A few details:
: Friday evening September 24th and Saturday September 25th from 9am until around 3pm (Friday night we would love to grab dinner someplace and hang with everyone. Saturday we’ll dive head first into the visual worship conversation)

Where: TBA (follow @vwrt on twitter for the latest)

Cost: Free (No cost for this VWRT, but we would love to know if you are planning to join us. You can register here.)

If you are attending STORY and sticking around Friday night or if you live in the Chicago area, we hope to see you there!

Space to Take a Breath

Great music. A drive through the country. Stopping to take a breath.
Doing something you love.
It’s amazing how the creativity flows when we create space for it, isn’t it?
The next time you’re feeling uninspired step away from the computer screen and walk out into the world. Create space to do what you love. I think you’ll be surprised how quickly the creativity comes rushing back.


“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

A great conversation with a friend that gets to the heart.
A stunningly beautiful sunset.
A good cup of coffee.
A kind though unfamiliar face.
Showing love to a stranger.

I’ve had several of those moments in the last two weeks. And I am deeply grateful for every one of them. They are the moments when all seems right with the world and my heart smiles unable to contain the joy.

What are those moments in your life? Do you recognize them? Do you savor them?