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not too long ago, i spent 2 years with no a/c. not because i didn’t want it or the temp didn’t warrant it, but because it was not available. i complained. i was hot. i went & bought a crazy industrial fan. one that blew the pillows off our sofa. i sat 2 feet in front of it as much as possible. i complained still.

we moved back to texas and had a record summer with like 100 straight days of triple digit temps. it was ridiculous! i complained. I sat in my a/c closed the windows & complained.

now, it is approaching mid-august & we’ve hit like 10 days of 100+. this is the coolest summer i can remember in texas. and, earlier this evening, i complained.

my son’s bible story tonight was about the israelites walking in the dessert for 40 years. they complained.

as i sat there & thought about this, i felt like a pansy. here i am, things are getting better & i still complain. i kinda pushed reset & decided to be thankful.

leaving my son’s room, i hear the rain outside. rain in august in texas. i go to the living room, draw the curtains, and watch the rain. under a fan. in the a/c.

i do not complain.


heroes or villains

the other day i found a movie i hadn’t seen in a while. it’s one of my favorite stories. it’s one of my heroes. it’s about a guy who becomes an outlaw. he is hunted by the government he believes to be corrupt. he becomes a thief. he kills wrongdoers along the way. he gives the people power to rise up and fight for hope.

that’s right. robin hood. i like the cartoon with the fox. i like the old errol flynn. i like kevin costner. i was skeptical, but really enjoy the new russell crowe telling. i even like men in tights (the movie. not actual men wearing tights).

i also remembered a quote from another movie.

A toast? Yeah. To high treason. That’s what these men were committing when they signed the Declaration. Had we lost the war, they would have been hanged, beheaded, drawn and quartered, and-Oh! Oh, my personal favorite-and had their entrails cut out and burned!

– ben gates, National Treasure

what would have happened if robin hood hadn’t won? he’d have been remembered as a villain (after all the winners are the ones who have written history).

in my journey to find life in the stories of the bible and seeking new application, i’ve begun to really examine the characters. not just the heroes or main characters. often the passers-by and the nameless.

since i was a kid, i’ve wondered why did the crowds in the bible do what they did. why did the masses act these ways. as i focused on the passion and preparing myself for easter, i started asking why the mob turned on jesus. why did they want barabbas? or rather why were they willing to ask for his freedom over jesus’s. he was a theif, a murderer and a rebel. why on earth?

i’ve heard people state mob psychology and how the jewish leaders could have spread out in the crowd to try and motivate the others. but, this still is a huge shift from common logic. people don’t just shift this easily.

i started a comparison to figure out why they were willing to free barabbas. i decided to forget everything i “knew.” i put myself in the situation and pondered it for days.

i realized barabbas prolly looked like all other prisoners did. i remember one time looking at the felt people in sunday school and thinking barabbas and john the baptist looked a lot alike. maybe he wasn’t typical sinister grizzly guy i’ve always seen him portrayed (as in The Passion). maybe they were all dirty.

the study notes in the ESV bible say there were several bandits that would take from the roman government they believed to be corrupt. they would bring the treasures back to the jewish community. these bandits would get people together and rial them up and give them power against the government.

i now wonder if barabbas was seen as a dirty criminal. maybe he was a hero among commoners. maybe he was their robin hood. all the sudden, if i’m in their shoes, the decision is a bit more convoluded.

sutler to scallywags

I’ve had a couple people ask for some work in progress shots. So, i’m gonna walk you through the stages of a recently finished illustration for an ultimate team in the dfw area.

The team name is flying dutchmen. they have a pirate theme and wanted something pretty tough looking but cheap to print. instantly i thought of my SED art.

as with any illustration, i start with doodle style pencil sketches. they would be unidentifiable to anyone but myself. they are really just a mental map or visual notes of what could be.

from here, i create a tighter pencil sketch. this is still not in the final style, but it allows others to understand where i’m headed.

now it’s time to hop on the ol’ apple. i pull together what visual references i need, drag some photos of my sketches into photoshop and begin to build what i call a digital sketch.

I then bring this digital sketch into Illustrator and drop the opacity way down.

now that the research and planning are done, it’s time for some fun. i turn the music up and let the mind wander while i click away.

i begin with the basic structure of the skull and add a couple details for reference.

at this point, i decide to toughen up my sketches by adding zombie style eyes. i think just letting them sink back into the skull and be kinda tissuey will hit the mark. i decide to leave out eyeball and retain the skull nature. now i’m thinkin only a wuss pirate would wear an eyepatch with a string holding it on. i mean seriously, how is he supposed to have sword fights while swinging from ropes and dodging pistol shots if he’s got a chintzy little ocular covering? i think hey, let’s hex bolt that sucka on there. that’s what chuck norris would do! (no offense john wayne)

now it’s time to give it some character. i would assume he’s gotten some scars and stuff from these battles so let’s carry that into the bones. after getting the scars, cracks & details worked out, i gave him some hair. yes, i know a skull wouldn’t have scars and hair…but who wants a pretty pirate? (aside from mr depp.)

now it’s time to wrap this thing up. i give him a dutch style sailor hat (i mean they are the flying dutchmen) and cross 2 banged up buccaneer swords behind him.

well, ther’ she beeee…..

that’s pretty much how my process works. it’s pretty close to how i sketched before going digital.

take a sec and let me hear back from you.

something that holds books

after returning to the states, we finally settled down. this means purging the storage unit. it was a lot like christmas…only it was regifted stuff back to ourselves.

this presented a small problem. it actually became a large problem in our family. z is bookish. before we left she sold a LOT of books to 1/2 price books. i won’t tell you how much she made…but, if you’ve ever sold them books, your jaw would drop.

so, we have the remainder books. the ones that made the cut.

our little problem

now we need a place to store display these. budget $0. i was given a deadline and the instructions “something that holds books.”

when you are poor, everything seems so much more valuable. when the guy down the street leaves an old rusty toolbox out for the trash, you ask him if you can have it. when you drive past a house that is remodeling, you look at the old doors and say, “wow, those are nice!”

trash can be very impressive.

at work we had hundreds of pallets we couldn’t get rid of.

so, one evening i borrowed my sister-in-law’s truck and claimed a couple.

that green toolbox, yup, that's the one i rescued from the trash

after some planning, a bit of sweat and some sanding…
i turned my $0 budget into “something that holds books.”

front view

side view

well, i’m pretty stoked with how they turned out!

there are 3 for now .i might make a couple more…we’ll see.

lemme know what you think!

Family Business

after almost a year of unemployment, and 3 years without a home, our family has plans to settle down.

i spent a lot of time thinking about what i what i should do. should i change careers? what was i designed for? i started thinking about how easy it would be if i had a family business to move into. my dad once mentioned having a family pizza place (pizza king or noble romans).┬ásince i was a kid i’ve been intrigued by the idea of a family business.┬áthe idea of a legacy passed on. you might have a new take on something, but you were working for something much bigger than yourself. it was there before you. it would be there after you. it would be for a cause. if would be for the family.

i hoped to find this same idea in a new job. i was ready to give up and just take something. anything to pay the bills. one day i got a job offer. over the next 24 hours i received 3 more. i’m was sitting on 4 offers and the weekend to decide.

i weighed them. 2 would not be challenging and would require us to move 1 hour away. one would be challenging, be around fun people, have no cause and take a lot of time from our family. as i began to weigh the 4th, it hit me. everyday i would put jeans on, go be jesus and lead others to be jesus.

the thought was loud. the thought was clear. it was as if God said, “son, this is the family business.”

so, as of September 1, 2011 i am the communications director of 6 Stones.


while in texas, my family attended a large church. being a teenager, i had my own circle i ran around with and did not meet many of my parents’ friends. later, my family moved and i stayed. a couple years later, i had a meeting with a guy from the church. i don’t remember what triggered it. maybe i worded something peculiar or made a face. but he stopped mid-sentence and said, “you’re al brown’s boy, aren’t you?”

i was filled with pride just like a little boy. “yes sir, that’s my dad.” i said with a smile.

i am currently reading and working my way through the book of Ephesians with a group of people.

Ephesians 5:1 says “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.”

imitate God…because you are his child. i’m trying to imagine growing in my relationship with God to this point. imagine being so close, admiring and longing to be like God that your speech, actions and personality begin to imitate God. imagine someone seeing it and stopping mid-sentence and saying, “hey, you’re God’s kid, aren’t you?”


the other day, i was sitting with ash-man on my lap and he fell asleep. suzanne went to the gym and us boys just sat there. i was reading a book. ash was sleeping.

a while later he opened his eyes. he began to scream. i turned him around to look at him and he instantly stopped. he grinned. he stared up at me. nothing else happened. nothing else needed to. all was ok.

i’ve been thinking about that moment since. for a while i’d been feeling like i was alone. like God wasn’t around. like he was taking a holiday. this day i was reminded. just because i can’t see God, doesn’t mean he isn’t there. just like my son cried out when he needed to see me. i needed to cry out to see God.

choosing a seat

i’m on my way from rome to napels, riding a train watching as the beautiful landscape passes. on my left, open fields. on my right, the sun coming over the mountains. i can’t help but feel i am missing something. you see, i’m facing the back of the train. i can’t see things ’till they are here and pass. they get further, smaller and less detailed. usually i try to face the front. i like to see things far off. i can anticipate them. i can enjoy as the details becomes clear. just as everything is clear, when the moment is at the highest, it is gone and i anticipate what will happen next.

i don’t like facing backwards.

i have to question, do i spend my life focusing on things passing by or excitedly awaiting things to come?