Who I Am
NOTE: This blog is in a series called “Who I Am,” which gives some biographical info on our church leadership. Now we understand that some of us have known each other for awhile now. It may seem that no introduction is needed. However, we wanted these blogs entries to serve as a reminder that even though we think we know others well, there are always things we don’t know. We also want those interested in checking out our church to have a way to peruse some quick information about the leadership. Enjoy!
Wood fascinates me. To me, it’s magnetic.
Maybe it goes back to one of the first tangible successes of my childhood. I became a Cub Scout in third grade, and of course in the spring of my first year in scouting was the Pinewood Derby. My dad helped me build my first car (which I still have, somewhere). He taught me aerodynamics and weight distribution. But mostly he taught me how to sand all the saw marks out of my car so it would be smooth and fast. It was not a lesson easily learned, but it paid off with a first-place trophy (which I also still have).
There’s something genuine and warm about wood. Watch a wooden boat pull up to dock, and people will flock to view the vintage vessel. Interior designers use well-placed wood floors to make a space warm and inviting.
As the years went on my father and I worked on a number of woodworking projects, many for an annual, statewide competition. My senior year project was really the culmination of all I had been learning. In 1991 I crafted a vintage-styled lowboy dressing table out of cherry. It turned out beautiful, and I gave it my mom for safekeeping. When I married eight years later I gave it to my wife Christy, and the heirloom has followed us to each of our seven homes.
It is paradoxical to me that the richness of natural wood doesn’t necessarily translate into the dictionary definition of “wooden” – “stiff and unnatural; without spirit: a wooden performance; a wooden smile; clumsy and awkward; ungainly.” Wooden people don’t give off the same vibe as wooden rocking chairs.
While in seminary in Kansas City the Lord practically dropped in my lap a job at a cabinet shop. That paid the bills and taught me even more woodworking tricks. It also allowed Christy and me to build the cabinets for our very first home, the proverbial fixer-upper. Man, that was a nice kitchen! And after taking one look at the prices for baby furniture at Pottery Barn I volunteered to make the nursery furniture too.
Maybe I’m drawn to wood because I sense myself to be a strange mix of genuine & warm but also stiff & awkward. Or maybe I’m just a typical human who feels comfortable in some settings and out of my depth in others.
Since moving to Bucks County I’ve had my own opportunities to teach my five children some woodworking. We’ve made more than a few Awana Derby cars (though I’m not as good as my dad since not a single child of mine has won a derby). We’ve made planter boxes for Mothers Day. We’ve fixed, refinished, and repaired a myriad of wood items – bringing back the luster and reclaiming the good.
I think it was sometime in high school that I read Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Believers in Jesus are God’s workmanship – His project! I had a picture in my mind of God picking out the lumber, cutting it to size, routing a decorative edge, gluing the pieces together, sanding it smooth, and hand-rubbing the varnish.
When it comes down to it, I feel like I’m just my Father’s project still being worked on. And when He’s finished I’ll turn out perfect, all because of Jesus.