My blog name “examine the lens” came from a phrase that I found myself rolling around in my head one day. I don’t remember where or when I first heard or read it, but it stayed with me. I am a good troubleshooter — it’s just how I think. My mom said that when she was pregnant with my younger brother I spent quite a bit of time on the floor by myself with Tinkertoys. She wasn’t able to get on the floor with me — Nature / Nurture? who knows, but for as long as I can remember I have enjoyed problem solving and math. I have found that often a problem is not where you initially thought it was. If you take a step back and gain some perspective, you find that the problem was something outside the problem, something like a presumption of how you perceived the reality about the thing. If you’re looking at anything through a faulty lens, the image is inaccurate to begin with. Remember the initial problems with the Hubble Telescope. It was the mirror that caused the problem. The problem often is about how we are looking at the problem. I like the thought of taking a step back and examing the lens you are seeing the world through.
A little about me: I am a husband and a dad of two elementary school aged sons, Max and Zach. I proudly served as the dad on the board of our preschool and of course the moms let me supervise the playground renovation. I am one of two team members in an endeavor my wife Celia and I share. Not everyone can or should work with their spouse, but WE LOVE IT! Celia sings and speaks, we write and create media in a variety of forms–currently they all include music.
A little about how we got here: Celia has sung for as long as she can remember. When she was three she began singing in the church that her father served. I will never forget the first time I heard Celia sing. It was in a Sunday evening worship service, she was wearing a yellow dress and I had never heard a voice like that. After we married (I’m skipping a bit), some time in 1988-89 an acquaintance passed through Dallas and asked Celia if she’d be willing to sing the female half of a duet on a demo. As lots of things do where art is concerned, that demo never happened. Celia was excited about the possiblity so we recorded a demo on our own and we began to explore, listen, learn and wrestle with what opening that door might mean. Regarding the demo, we consulted folks and the word we got was “showcase variety,” so we did that with three very different songs. As we played it for experts in Nashville, the word we got was “decide who you are.” So much for listening to folks you consult with. November 24, 1989 Celia did her first concert. It was at a church her dad served in Coushatta, LA. She was teaching public school full time, but she began doing as many concerts as we could schedule. Early on we were considering whether to attend a Christian Music training event. One of the titles of a workshop was “how to book a concert.” While we were considering the possibility of attending, we got offered a concert that conflicted with the training event. We took the gig and counted ourselves a step ahead. One of the biggest things we have learned over the years is that booking and subsequently singing engagements are the lifeblood of a working independent performing artist. In December of 1992 we made a decision to move to Nashville, Tennessee. After 9 months of searching, we found a position at a church in Franklin that would get us here.
My Background: I am the product of two junior high/middle school physical education teachers. My parents taught at rival middle schools and my dad coached football, basketball and track. I learned the rules of the game and was taught very early that how you play is as/more important than winning, but that winning is fun, too! I got very involved in our church youth group when I entered 7th grade and that has impacted me significantly.
- K – 2nd grade — A.C. Steere Elementary School Shreveport, LA
- 3rd – 6th grades — Cherokee Park Elementary School Shreveport, LA
- 7th – 12th grades — Trinity Heights Christian Academy Shreveport, LA – the school is now closed, but I still have my diploma. We receive absolutely no alumni donations requests. (The facility is now used by University Christian Prep.) We had small classes, lots of academic attention and great sports teams. Among other things, I was voted Most Likely to Succeed. I am enjoying both the life and the success that we are creating as a family.
- I earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Certificate of Endorsement from Centenary College of Louisiana. The Certificate of Endorsement came from the Centenary School of Church Careers, which is now called the Christian Leadership Center. I took several extra classes in religion, education, music and mathematics. Extracurricular activities included the Centenary College Choir, Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa, Student Government, Interfraternity Council, jazz ensemble (bass guitar) and wind ensemble (tuba). Celia and I met through the Centenary College Choir. During those years our choir traveled to Europe twice (Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Greece and Denmark) and Asia for three weeks (China, Japan and Hong Kong.) I also worked part-time in the youth ministry department at First UMC Shreveport from September 1981 – May 1985 during college.
Other travels: Through our work, we have visited the vast majority of the 48 contiguous US, In early 2006 we took a pilgrimage following the second Journey of Paul the apostle through Greece. We’ve attended the US Open (tennis) and Wimbledon – one of my favorite memories with my wife was dancing on the red carpet behind the stands to the music of Pavoritti accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Earl’s Court in London one evening after watching tennis all day.
Positions I’ve held: I have served as the director of youth ministries for 4 different churches:
- First United Methodist Church (UMC) – Shreveport, LA – this is the church I grew up in and was a member of until March of 1988. I feel fortunate to have grown up in such a visionary church. J. David Stone was a pioneer in the arena of Youth Ministry leadership and instruction. He also led a contemporary music group way before there was contemporary music. Our church had a closed circuit television system that played Sunday School lessons for classroom viewing and discussion in the 1970s. Dr. D.L. Dykes, Jr. was a visionary pastor who saw way past what was obvious and visible. Our associate pastor at the time and good friend James W. Moore is a wonderful example of benevolent and inspiring leadership. We had a swimming pool on the roof of the church! I knew my way around the church well. We worked hard to offer a program that would convince folks to drive past the local church in their neighborhodd to our downtown location. It was fun and challenging. My years growing up there have probably shaped me as much as anything else in my life. I worked there from the
- Christ UMC – Plano, TX – in March of 1988, two newlyweds left our home state of Louisiana and ventured to a northern suburb of the big city of Dallas. I started the job officially on March the 2nd because our church basketball team in Shreveport (we did not have a winning record) had our final game on March 1st. The biggest change over the church in Shreveport was that in the suburbs, adolescents were numberous. In October of 1993, our move to Music City, USA pulled us away from a thriving and fun ministry setting.
- First UMC – Franklin, TN – We searched for this church for nine months and then moved to Franklin in October 1993. Franklin is a county seat town and I was the church’s first full time youth worker. We conquered some facilities and program identity issues between the time I moved there and my leaving in February 1997. The life pace was a little slower in Franklin than in Plano and it took me some time to adjust, but Franklin continues to be our home and we love it.
- Brentwood UMC – Brentwood, TN – March 1997 – July 1998 – my time at Brentwood was brief. It was a time of leadership transition for the church and a time for transition for me as well. After I left there, I began traveling with Celia full time and devoting my working attention to this musical endeavor.
Social Networks: Celia and I both blog and twitter. We are both on Facebook, LinkedIn. Celia is on MySpace and Amazon. You can link to all things about Celia at http://www.celiamusic.net/. Her blog resides at http://www.celiamusic.net/blog/ You can find my links on the main page of this blog. Consider jumping into my conversation there. I also host and maintain a blog for my friend Tanner who is 6 and battling Leukemia http://www.tanner.celiamusic.net.
Closing thoughts about me: I enjoy a good laugh! I was extremely patient before I had children, now I’m just very patient. I love the beach AND the mountains, why settle? I enjoy people. I occasionally play a little guitar, mostly out of town–there are incredible guitarists here. I can read and write both the Nashville number system and traditional transcription/notation. I enjoy working with computers. I have constructed databases on Filemaker (we’re Mac people) that keep us on top of all of our work and schedule. I’m a student of the web and I’ve learned enough html, php and css to get around. We blog on a hosted wordpress platform that I set up and maintain. Early on I realized that the internet would provide an open and affordable window to the world and have spent some time leveraging that technology.