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All Things Are New

A new city. A new home. A new car. A new job (almost). And a new look for 1twentyeight. While I liked the previous design for my site I felt it was time to take it in a new direction. I’ve decided to move to a tumblog type format, with longer weekly articles, and more frequent updates with photos, quotes, and links to things I find interesting. My hope is that this prompts me to update the site on a more regular basis.

My family and I moved to Portland 2.5 weeks ago. We have embraced the city and have fallen in love with her already. We live in the Sellwood neighborhood and are now expert antiquers. We have toured the city. We have eaten its’ food, and drank its’ coffee. I’m already shopping for a commuter bike. The boy already has a Portland Timbers jersey. We think we’re going to like it here.

And I have things I want to write about. For the first time in quite a while there I things I feel like saying. I don’t pretend to think that they will be profound, but it will be me…all me.

So stay tuned. And if you’re in Portland let me know. I’d love to meet you.

Cheers.

Moving Sale

We’re moving, and we need to get rid of some of our things. We’ve posted everything on Gumtree. Here’s a listing and links to the Gumtree ads.

  • Denon AVR1906 Receiver — £100 £80 — Gumtree
  • IKEA Ektorp Sofa Bed (includes a beige slipcover & brand new white slipcover) — £250 — Gumtree
  • Krups GVX231 Expert Burr Coffee Grinder — £20 £15 — Gumtree
  • IKEA Jonas Desk with pullout side desk/shelf — £30 — Gumtree
  • IKEA Pax Corner Wardrobe — £75 £65 — Gumtree
  • IKEA Pax Wardrobe — £50 £40 — Gumtree
  • Girls Bicycle — £15 — Gumtree

We’ve got more coming, and will update the list as we add things to Gumtree.

UPDATE

  • Weber E210 Spirit Classic Barbeque Grill — £165 — Gumtree
  • Samsung DVD Player (DVD-HD860) — £40 £30 — Gumtree

UPDATE 2

  • Panasonic SCPM32DB DAB Radio — £40 — Gumtree
  • Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home – Camera Bag — £15 — Gumtree
  • Carlton 10 Cup Coffee Machine — £8 — Gumtree
  • IKEA Bookshelf — £10 — Gumtree

On the Move

Earlier today I sent an email to family and friends, primarily in the US, about a decision I (my wife & I) have made regarding our future in Cardiff. I thought I would re-post parts of it here — for posterity and for those that might be curious.

Chaucer said, in 1394, that “all things come to an end.” Sometime later someone added the word “good”. In either case, so it is with our time living in Cardiff, Wales. I have resigned my position as Director of CommunityOne and at the end of July we will be moving back to the US.

We’ve enjoyed our time here. It’s been a wonderful experience learning & attempting to understand a culture and a people that are not our own. We hope that our efforts to befriend those around us and show them Jesus has made an impact but only God knows for sure. We are confident in knowing that God has had us here for a season and yet are also confident in knowing that it is time to move on.

We have already started telling our friends here, and those I was helping through CommunityOne. And, we have started the process of selling the things we can’t bring back with us and prioritizing the things that will be crated up and shipped back to the States.

If you’re curious, we will be flying back to San Antonio to use Julie’s parents home as a base. But we will most likely be moving from Texas to Portland, Oregon in August. We feel it’s time for a new adventure and Portland is the setting for our next chapter. Currently I have the opportunity to do some contract work for an organization I have been a part of the past couple of years called the Upstream Collective. It’s a part-time position so I will looking for other opportunities as well.

With Love,
Brad, Julie, & the kids

I’ve enjoyed setting up and running CommunityOne. The charity itself and the services it provided will end in July. I am looking to turn Cardiff Connect over to someone that shares the vision of what it was attempting to do. If you’re interested get in touch. I’ll keep you updated with how that’s going.

And if you know of anyone in the Portland area that is hiring let me know. And send them to my HireMePortland site.

Cheers.

Making Ideas Happen

I was cleaning out an old notebook and came across a few notes I jotted down at a conference a couple of years ago where Scott Belsky from Behance was talking about Making Ideas Happen. I only caught the last half of his talk, but I thought the notes were worth passing along.

MAKING IDEAS HAPPEN {COMMUNALLY}

  • Share Ideas Liberally
  • Share Ownership of Ideas
  • Seek Competition
  • Fight Your Way to Breakthrough
  • Don’t become burdened by consensus // find sacred extremes – compromise on rest
  • Overcome the Stigma of Self Marketing. Make sure others know what you’re good at.

MAKING IDEAS HAPPEN {LEADERSHIP}

  • Leaders talk last (silence the visionary)
  • Develop Others through appreciation
  • Reduce your amount of ‘Insecurity Work’
  • Seek Restraint
  • Judge based on Initiative (Not experience)
  • Value Chemistry Over People
  • Unique is Opportune. Defy the status-quo. Shunned before celebrated.

“Nothing Extraordinary is achieved through Ordinary Means.”

Recommended Reading

In the past few months I’ve tried to increase the amount (number of books) I read. One, it helps with this problem. Two, it increases knowledge – both specific and general. And three, it gives me something to talk about with others.

I thought I would share with you the books I’ve read. I recommend all of them, otherwise I probably wouldn’t share them with you. But obviously I recommend some more than others, so I’m including the official 128 Star (★) Rating. One ★ means you might not want to read it unless you’re just really bored. Five ★’s means “Don’t miss this. Go buy it right now.”

In no particular order:

  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years — Donald Miller. ★★★★
  • Outliers: The Story of Success — Malcolm Gladwell. ★★★★★
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference — Malcolm Gladwell. ★★★
  • Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit — Francis Chan. ★★★
  • Counterfeit Gods — Tim Keller. ★★★★
  • The Prodigal God — Tim Keller. ★★★
  • Seeing God in the Ordinary — Michael Frost. ★★★
  • HTML5 for Web Designers — Jeremy Keith. ★★★

Outliers is a game changer. It will cause you to look at the world around you very differently. The HTML5 book has a limited audience, but the others are suitable to anyone really and can be found on Amazon.

The Buggles Were Right

The Buggles were right, way back in 1979, when they sang that videos killed the radio stars. As a child of the 80’s I can remember watching MTV waiting for the next “cool” new video to come out. Videos drove music sales, not the radio. We may have come full circle…I don’t know of many teens today that sit around and watch music videos, but that’s beside the point. The point is, we shape the tools and the tools shape us.

Social media has changed the way we view and interact with the world around us. From Twitter to Facebook to micro-blogs we have shaped tools that allow us to get information more quickly, more succinctly, and more frequently. Unfortunately, these tools that we have shaped to “help” us are now shaping us…with consequences we have yet to fully know and understand.

There are those vices, those addictions, whose consequences are easy to recognize…especially after years of observation. The smoker faces any number of cancers and/or respiratory illnesses. The gambler faces loss of career, possessions, and even family in some cases. The drug addict faces…well, you get the point. But what about the person who, in a quest to know more, read more, and learn more through the tools that power social media, is spending copious amounts of time in front of his/her computer? What happens to, and in, the person that is addicted to Facebook, Twitter, etc.? Even now psychologists do not how to label this type of addiction, much less how to treat it. With smokers you take away the cigarettes, with gamblers you take away the ability to gamble, and with drug addicts you take away the drugs. But what do you do with social media/computer addicts? Can you take away the computer? What will the person do to communicate (email), to book travel reservations, to do research? I’m being a little facetious, but I think you understand where I’m going with this. The computer has become such an integral part of our lives that it is almost inconceivable to contemplate a life without one.

Several weeks ago I came to the conclusion that it was time to honestly evaluate my use of the computer, and more specifically my use of social media. I loved Twitter and the 500+ people I “followed”. I found it extremely useful to find out more about the city I live in, to track releases of software, to understand more about web design. I loved Facebook…the perfect tool for keeping in touch with friends and family around the world. Flickr, Gowalla, blogs, they all had their use and I was engaged with all of them. I knew that these “tools” were impacting me more than they should when I began to feel that I was going to miss something important if I wasn’t monitoring them. When I worked from home I had Tweetie (my Twitter client) up and running the whole time. I checked email and Facebook from my iPhone right before turning out the lights at night and as soon as I awoke in the morning. It all became too much. Honest evaluation led me to realize that my marriage was suffering, my parenting was suffering, my friendships (now that’s ironic) were suffering. A change had to be made.

Here is a sampling of the changes I’ve made:

  • No computer before the kids leave for school, except to check the weather forecast.
  • No computer from 3PM to 8PM (kids get home at 3PM, go to bed at 8PM).
  • No computer on Sundays (it’s a day of rest and family).
  • I check Facebook no more than 3 times a day (morning, lunch, and bedtime).
  • I dropped the amount of people I’m following on Twitter from 570 (2 months ago) to 182 today. I will probably drop another 80 or so within the next couple of weeks.
  • Dropped my RSS subscriptions (blogs, etc.) down to 68, from well over 100.
  • I only sit down in front of the computer when I have a task to accomplish. Editing a photo, replying to email, filing an expense report, etc. No more pointless browsing and fiddling.

Is social media evil? No. Are these tools evil? No. I think great benefits can come from the use of these tools. But have we as a society jumped head first into something with little consideration for the long term consequences? Yes, I think so. And while my solutions for handling my time on the computer may be a bit extreme for some of you, I would still ask you to consider, honestly, are the tools shaping you, or are you using them effectively?

Community What?

I get asked from time to time what I’m doing here (Cardiff, Wales), especially as soon as someone recognizes that I’m from America. So I thought I would take a second and tell the story. Don’t worry, it’s not a long story.

From the time I graduated from university (1997) to early 2006 I worked for a major telecommunications company in America. It was a good job, especially if you wanted to take the opportunities to climb the corporate ladder and make a name for yourself. I taught courses for our internal training department. If you were a software engineer and were looking to move jobs, or gain new skills, you came to us. I traveled a little (in the States) and taught a lot. And like I said, it was a good job.

But I wasn’t fulfilled. I had no interest in climbing the corporate ladder. I didn’t see how that would have any sort of impact on the world around me. So my wife and I started asking questions, to ourselves, to the God we follow, to friends, etc. We wanted to get to the end of our lives and not feel as though we had wasted the opportunities we had been given. And with that, we sold our home, our two cars, and some of our stuff, packed up the rest, and moved to Cardiff. I am unapologetically a follower of Jesus. My relationship with him motivates me to do the things I do and say the things I say. I’m not the guy that’s going to cram my beliefs down someone’s throat, but in order to be true to my beliefs it’s important that you know that our main motivation for coming to a place and culture not our own was that we felt like this is where God wanted us. And I’m here doing what I do because of my love for others…not to save them, not to convert them…but because I’ve been loved, I’m to love others.

Once here I established a charity (non-profit) called CommunityOne. I won’t go into all the details about CommunityOne, you can check the website for those. Essentially we offer services (teaching, business training, web/online assistance) to people that need them. No strings attached. No “you need Jesus” speech. Just assistance where we can provide it. I truly do believe that communities can be transformed through the simple act of helping others. As an initiative of CommunityOne we launched Cardiff Connect in the middle of last year. Cardiff Connect was established to promote individuals and organisations in Cardiff that are doing good for the community. We put up two organisations last year and have a couple lined up for the next couple of weeks.

CommunityOne will be getting a makeover in the coming weeks. We just got back from a six month break in the US and a new start means a new look. Here’s a teaser:
small_logo.png

That’s me…and that’s how I got to Cardiff. If you’re curious about anything let me know.

And if you’d like to support CommunityOne you can shop at Amazon.

Reminders From Woods and Chandler

Two things have caught my attention in the past several days. One, the bizarre story of Tiger Woods and his meeting with the fire hydrant and tree. And two, the news that went out on Thanksgiving that Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, had a seizure and was found to have a small mass on the frontal lobe of his brain which will require surgery this coming Friday. These two stories, on seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum, I can’t help but compare and contrast as I go throughout my day(s).

In Tiger Woods we are reminded yet again that excellence does not mean perfection. He may be the greatest golfer to ever walk the earth, but he’s not a perfect man, nor a perfect husband. We hold these types of men on pedestals that are so high they can’t help but fall. We put our kids in golf camps at the age of three in the hopes that they become the next Tiger. We cheer for his wins and we groan in his defeats. But what he showed us in the early hours of the morning is that he is fallible, that he has issues, that he, just like you and me, is normal. I’m not too concerned about the details of his marriage. I’m not even concerned about what actually happened the other morning. I am concerned that the media, and by default you and I, put so much stock in his life. Why do we care so much? Why is this a story? Because we’ve made much of a man…a normal man.

In Matt Chandler we are reminded that life can change in the blink of an eye. We are reminded, that in all reality, we aren’t guaranteed our tomorrow. In fact, it’s not even ours. I’ve read with great interest Matt’s Twitter updates, Lauren’s (his wife) updates, and the updates given on Facebook by the elders of the Village. What I read in their words is what I’ve heard in Matt’s sermons time and time again. I am of the opinion that Matt is one of the best speakers in America today. He brings passion, and conviction, and compassion, and best of all, the Word of God. If you listen to Matt long enough you’ll come to understand that He places the glory of God above all things. He places it above the church he pastors, the children he has, Lauren, and even his own life. He knows for certain that when Paul says in Romans that God works all things together for our good that the all means even the bad things. Matt knows that this mass in his frontal lobe is there so that he can bring glory to God. Why do we care so much? Why is this a story? Because Matt has made much of God…a great God.

I’m not sure what will happen in the lives of these two men in the coming days. The Tiger story will grow faint and may, someday, be a tiny little asterisk on a fabulous career. The next chapter in the Chandler story will be his upcoming surgery this Friday. I know which story has me on the edge of my seat. It’s not the one that makes much of man, but the one that makes much of God.

The Story of Bako

Every family has their funny stories, the kinds of stories that make each family unique. Most of time however, these funny stories are only funny to the members of the family. And so it is with my family and the story of “Bako, Bako, Bako!”.

As a child, my wife Julie, would participate in church Christmas programs. These simply consisted of children memorizing lines, and at the appropriate time, walking up to the mic and saying what they had memorized. Most of the time these kinds of things work out just fine, except for the occasional mis-step, which is usually repaired by the nice grey haired women helping out.

Julie went to church with a friend named John Britain Churchill. John was a year older than Julie. John and Julie had their lines memorized, along with all the other children, and when it became John’s turn he walked to the mic and instead of saying something to the effect of “Jesus was born in a manger and came to save the world” boldly stated “Bako, Bako, Bako!” Of course, this was not the line John was to quote. In fact, to this day no one even knows what it means. But we’ve adopted the line and have used it at will in our home. When one of our children asks a question we don’t know the answer to, or don’t want to answer, we simply respond “Bako, Bako, Bako”. When we’re asked what we’re doing for the day…Bako, Bako, Bako. When they want to know what’s for dinner…Bako, Bako, Bako. You get the idea.

When Julie and I planned a recent trip to Chicago I knew that I wanted to take advantage of getting a t-shirt made at the T-Shirt Deli. I also knew that I needed to work Bako, Bako, Bako into the design. And so, I give you the John Britain Churchill inspired “Bako, Bako, Bako” shirt.

In another post I’ll share with you the details of getting a shirt done at the T-Shirt Deli. Very cool place, very cool people, and a very cool process.

bako_print_white_600.jpg

Compassion and Vision

I recently attended the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the highlights was the meeting that took place between an African, Jimmy, and his Compassion International sponsor of 19 years. I’ve included the video below. If you’ve never considered sponsoring a child through Compassion International, or World Vision, I’d like to ask you to think about it.

Several years ago my family began sponsoring a little girl through World Vision that is the same age as our daughter. This year we’ve started sponsoring a little boy the same age as our son. For us, it’s a great way to be involved in the life of a child in need, for our children to get a sense that the world is a very small place, and to live out our call to be Jesus in all spheres and domains of life.

More information: Compassion International // World Vision