Created to Create

After 19 days of moving, loading, unloading, driving, sanding, painting, measuring, cutting, drilling, planning, thinking, sticking, folding, washing, scrubbing, hanging and sweating the second walk in love. store is officially open for business.  I am pretty exhausted.  My legs, feet, shoulders, back and neck are all aching.  It's hard to describe my feelings as I stand in the store and type this post but I wanted to try and write this now while the thoughts are fresh, or as fresh as they can be after 19 days. The other day I told Brooke to think of all the verbs that we had completed in the past few weeks, a few of which are typed above .  It's truly an amazing feeling to see something you've created completed.  The Bible says that humans were created in God's image.  That thought can be overwhelming because God is so big, unimaginable and well...God.  I can't handle it all at once so instead of thinking about it all I try think of different aspects about God.  A great place to start is the beginning and the first words used to describe Him.  "In the beginning God created..."  It's the first verb in the Bible - - Created.  So as I stand here reflecting on my creation and all the work and sweat that went into it by our team, friends, family, Brooke and myself I keep coming back to one tiny phrase - Created to Create.  If you ever come to one of our stores you will see shirts, jewelry, accessories, books, gifts, etc. but what you wont see is this.

You won't see Mike, Jeff and Tess unloading all the wood from the van to put on the walls.  You won't see Mike and I measuring, cutting and hanging boards.  You won't see Brooke planning out and building displays to make them both beautiful and functional.  You won't see my parents folding mountains of shirts.  You won't see Joyce and Leah hanging tank tops.  You won't see Brooke and I discussing the customer experience and what we can do to make it as good as it possibly can.  You won't see Tess. Brooke and Mike on their hands and knees scrubbing the floor.  You won't see me electrocuting myself while trying to move an outlet.  You won't see the million little creations it took to create the store.

In this day and age of instant satisfaction I think it's easy to just expect things to be completed and not ever think why or how it came to be.  We don't build our own houses, shops, sandwiches or furniture anymore.  Everything comes pre-packaged, built, created and even delivered to us.  I think we need to add some of those creating verbs back into our lives.  We need to create and realize the importance of every little job that it takes to build something.  I so often find myself annoyed by the lack of instant gratification, like I am the center of the universe but as I stand in my shop seeing all that my team and I built I can honestly say that there is not a feeling like it.  So I challenge you to create something with your hands, brain and a little sweat because we were created to create.

Busy, busy, busy

My wife and I are wedding and portrait photographers. Basically that means from May to August we are totally swamped with work. We also own and operate a clothing company. That means during the summer we hit the road and go to a few music festivals to sell our shirts. During the summer we are busy. This summer has been even busier than summers past. We have booked double the amount of weddings we had last summer and also doubled the amount of festivals we are going to. I just want to clarify something, I am not saying all this so you think that I am so awesome and such a hard worker. That is not the point of this post. The point of this post is this: Busyness comes, whether you are a wedding photographer or astronaut, busyness comes. I think that we have a very important decision to make in the face of busyness and that is "what matters to you?" I mean what really matters to you way down in your soul because it's now time to make some cuts. I've found that through this busy season I need to take time. Time to breathe, time to relax, time to love, time to pray, time to focus on how I can be my best. The tendency is to just dive into all the busyness and play catch up later.

I want to neglect a lot of things in the name of busyness. I want to neglect my relationship with the Lord. I want to neglect working out, relaxing with my wife, prayer, eating healthy, doing chores and I constantly have to stop and remind myself that I need to make time for what matters. I need to let God know that even in my busiest time of life that he is my center and strength. I need to love my wife through all the stuff we need to get done. I need to love myself, eat healthy and exercise because I want to live a long fulfilling life. I can't let busyness become my excuse. Busyness cannot become my idol.

One of my greatest mentors, Brian, told me one time that you don't want to be a frog in hot water. Here is what he meant by that: If you put a frog into boiling water it will jump right out, but if you put a frog in cold water and slowly heat it up the frog will sit in their until it boils to death. The point is that we don't want to slowly accept things we don't like in the name of busyness. We don't want to play catch up on the things that are important, because I think after all the busyness is over we will not be the person that we want to be. Take care of the things near and dear to your heart. Spend time with God, love your family, take care of yourself in the midst of busyness because if you can do it then you can do it all the time and if you can do it all the time your life will be better.

10 Ways to be more Productive

So this week Brooke and I have crazy to-do lists. You can see them here. I've been thinking a lot about how to get things done. I am a pretty productive person so I thought I would share some simple ideas that I use. Now I know that I am not the creator of these ideas but I do use them and can vouch that they work well. 1. Only check your e-mail 2 times a day. I picked up this little gem from Timothy Ferris's book The Four Hour Work Week. We get so busy with checking our e-mail every time it dings! Just turn of the sound and schedule two different times of the day where you only do e-mail. I do mine first thing in the morning and right after I come back from eating lunch, that works for me, but find what works for you.

2. Make a List. I make lists for what I need to do for the day, the week and the next two weeks. I think it helps you plan what is actually in front of you, but also keeping an eye on the future. I also recomend making lists that you have a place to check off. Doing things is so much better when you get to check off that little box afterward. Sometimes I will write things on my list that I've already done just so I can pump myself up by checking the box.

3. Start your biggest projects at the beginning of the week. I am a firm believer in getting the hard stuff out of the way first. You will be focused and your work will be better if you do the hard stuff first. If you wait till it's almost due you will rush and not do your best. Always do your best.

4. Research ways to do things faster. The likelihood of you being the first to do something is pretty slim. So, find out if there are ways to do something faster. There are youtube videos and books on how to do things faster, research them and teach yourself how to do things the fastest way. If it's something you do a lot it will save you a lot of time.

5. Stay off the internet while working on projects. This is a pretty basic one, but is so crucial to getting things done. Obviously if your task is on the internet then only stay on the sites you need to be on.

6. Do one project at a time. This is really hard for me to do, but I find that I do my best work when I am all in on a project. Your work will be better and you will finish faster.

7. Set a schedule (bedtime included). Schedules are so important. You need to give yourself time to do things. Also give yourself a bedtime, you will sleep better and have a lot more energy to do what you need to do.

8. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Look to friends, forums and blogs to find out how to do something. I remember when I started doing wordpress blogs I had so much trouble, but I just started watching videos and slowly chipped away at it.

9. Check twitter and facebook in the bathroom (sit down only). Now this one might sound silly, but when I use the bathroom, I check/update my facebook and twitter via my iphone. It kills two birds with one stone and you aren't constantly checking it while sitting at your computer. It seems weird, but it will save you time, plus everyone does it.

10. Just do it. This is the famous Nike tag line, but it's so true. If you just go all in and do something the best you can, you will get it done and people will probably love it. So just do it.