Twenty Fourteen.

It’s been over a year-and-a-half since my last post. In the ensuing 18 month typhoon, I’ve learned much about myself, my family, my friends and my community. I didn’t intend to write a year-end recap (or year-and-a-half-end), but as I sat at my favorite coffee shop, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the sweetest memories from this unusual period of my life.

Honor

When we left SoCal in September of 2013, we were loved, cared for and blessed on the way out the door. I had resigned my position in nonprofit leadership and church leadership within a two-month time. Leaving Rooftop 519 and Desert Foursquare Church were stark contrasts: Rooftop was a painful learning experience, and Desert Foursquare was sorrowful and honorable. With each day that passes, the memory of being honored by my church family and denomination becomes more meaningful. Thank you to all who welcomed and loved us.

Gratitude

About once each month I sit down with one of the kindest and most discerning individuals I’ve ever known. I call our meetings “thermals”, the updrafts that help birds and hang gliders travel to higher elevations without much effort. He asked me about my time in the Coachella Valley, with full knowledge that we had some real struggles during our three years. “I’m very grateful for my time,” I told him. “You can’t be grateful and bitter at the same time,” he replied.

I hold onto that, and I’m so glad for my experiences, great and sad alike.

Ashes

When things fall apart, God can do something even better. It is nearly impossible to reconcile this against present and pressing pain, but I believe it to be true. God does his best work in the ashes.

I wish I could list each person who has meant so much to me during this time. From my cigar buddy to my employer, and my denomination to (especially) my wife. I am exceedingly glad for each person who helps me through this broken life.

Looking forward to an amazing 2015,

Shawn

The single greatest experience in 2014 was the opportunity to travel with Elijah to meet his family. This lead to an opportunity to help my Liberian friends during the Ebola crisis and recovery.

The single greatest experience in 2014 was the opportunity to travel with Elijah to meet his family. This lead to an opportunity to help my Liberian friends during the Ebola crisis and recovery. My sincerest gratitude to all who have helped during this time.

This is a Christmas present from my 17 year-old son, Andy. He took a picture from about 14 years ago and recreated it for his mom and me.

This is a Christmas present from my 17 year-old son, Andy. He found a picture from about 15 years ago and recreated it for his mom and me.

My favorite picture from 2014, a shot from just above Mowich Lake near Mt. Rainier.

My favorite picture from 2014, a shot from just above Mowich Lake near Mt. Rainier.

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Justice 2013

One week from today I will be in Philadelphia at the 2013 Justice Conference. Rooftop 519 and Artists Inspring Action have teamed up to create Justice Does, a huge, interactive mural that will engage people in stories and themes of Justice.

See the wallpaper on my blog? That’s a tease of the artwork we’re creating for this experience (credit to Jacob Herring and Pope St. Victor for their work).

This vision started one year ago at the 2012 Justice Conference. Now is our opportunity to use beautiful, meaningful art to depict our growing theology of justice. We have the chance to inspire more people to serving the poor, widows, orphans and strangers.

Biblical justice will never be boiled down to a description, a soundbite or tweet. It is a holistic experience and understanding of the compassion, complexity and beauty of the heart of God is bending towards those in need. Thousands of us will push together at the Justice Conference. Would you please push with us by telling our story? #JusticeDoes

Justice Does

At the end of this month, I have the very rare privilege of co-leading a team of artists and dreamers in one of the largest installations ever created. This mural will be constructed at the third Justice Conference in Philly on February 22 & 23. It is large in size (30′ x 24′), scope (art inspired by multiple themes of justice), and participation (we are hoping to equip over 5,000 people to participate in the mural’s creation).

One year ago, Rooftop 519 was preparing to participate in the 2012 Justice Conference. This is our birthplace. Our first patient, Exodus, went home to Liberia just days after the conference in Portland, Oregon. When our team of volunteers showed up, we were overwhelmed with the incredible response the conference leaders and attendees gave us. We were inspired to action, and we experienced an awakening of our theology of justice.

Artists Inspiring Action was there too. They experienced a similar sense of awakening.

Jacob Herring from Artists Inspiring Action creating "stretcher art" for Rooftop 519.

Jacob Herring from Artists Inspiring Action creating “stretcher art” for Rooftop 519.

While I was at the conference, I began dreaming about a way to engage people in the beautiful and inspirational art we created together. The founder of Artists Inspiring Action, Shane Kalai, was struck with the idea. We had to wonder, “Would the Justice Conference leaders be crazy enough to support this artistic act of worship?”

Ken Wytsma and Erin Lytle are the brains behind this growing collective of dreamers and Jesus-activists. When we set out to share this idea, I never made any assumption that they would give us anything other than their blessing. They have exceeded nearly every hope, even giving us the largest space in the center of the conference.

A video that explains the #justicedoes project is on our indiegogo page. I would love your help in spreading the word. Please consider making a gift to support this mammoth effort. We need your help to do this.

Here is a sneak peek of the touch card featuring art from Jacob Herring andPope St. Victor. I hope to see you in Philly!

handout

The Long View

I just put an appointment on my Google calendar for March 1, 2023. That’s the furthest I’ve ever planned anything. It is my 10,000 day anniversary. I don’t know why I looked it up, but it sounds like a reason to celebrate (thanks interwebs – your calculators are great!).

The older I get, the longer I see into the future. People in their teens rarely look past tomorrow (except for vacations, birthdays and graduation). People in their twenties usually see the next several years. At 38, I’m wondering what kind of grandparents my kids will be.

In October of this year I celebrated my statistical half life. Events like these help me to think about planning and vision, as well as success and achievement. Although we can never count on tomorrow, we should be able to count the success of tomorrow, should God grace us with one more day.

Some things that excite me about 2013:

  • I have the privilege of being in Portland in a few weeks with some of the most gifted minds in Christian stewardship.
  • February will bring the Justice Conference. There are some truly ground-breaking things happening here.
  • Keep an eye out for Ryan and Selena Frederick’s blog, Fierce Marriage. I’m so grateful to minister with these two people.
  • Desert Foursquare is hosting Nations Films in Palm Desert four a premier of their newest movie.
  • August may find me doing a multi-country tour for Rooftop 519.

To all who allow me to share in life’s adventures, my sincerest thanks for a great 2012. Thank you for everything.

Shawn

2012 Review Part 3 of 3

Here is the first post in this series.

Anyone who knows me even a little, knows that I like to be prepared. I have been a first responder to people in traumatic medical situations over a half-dozen times. From choking to seizures to a horrific band-saw accident, I believe good training helps more than good intentions every time. At Desert Foursquare, we’ve made it a commitment to be prepared to people in their time of need.

CPR and First Aid training for our Desert Foursquare Church volunteers.

Another kind of preparedness is making sure the church is being the church. To grow in my pastoring and leading, I spent two days in training at North Coast Church. The team at NCC really helped me to grow in our ability to facility small groups at Desert Foursquare Church. Small groups are coming to D4S in 2013.

Small group training with the great people of North Coast Church.

Small group training with the great people of North Coast Church.

Another kind of training happened when I volunteered to coach my daughter’s volleyball team. I love coaching & helping the girls to grow in many ways.

Hailey's volleyball team celebrating over ice cream after a dominating performance.

Hailey’s volleyball team celebrating over ice cream after a dominating performance. For the record, the  blonde girl is wearing her fancy wig for fun.

Our faith family at Desert Foursquare Church loves to eat together. We gathered for a post-service lunch together on several occasions this fall.

After-service lunch. I love our church family!

After-service lunch. I love our church family!

We can work the chow line!

We can work the chow line!

Our kids are super-cute.

Our kids are super-cute.

Not all of our kids can make it through the whole party. That's ok because we have lots of awesome kids' helpers.

Not all of our kids can make it through the whole party. That’s ok because we have lots of awesome kids’ helpers.

These are some of our awesome kids' leaders. The mustaches are fake, but the smiles are real.

These are some of our awesome kids’ leaders. The mustaches are fake, but the smiles are real.

Love these young ladies of Desert Foursquare Church.

Love these young ladies of Desert Foursquare Church.

Our 17 year anniversary was October 14. Here are a few pictures from that wonderful time in our lives. Cheryl – I love you more today than ever.

A photo of the wedding invitations we sent out in the summer of 1995.

A photo of the wedding invitations we sent out in the summer of 1995.

Here's the inside of the invitation. It means more today than ever.

Here’s the inside of the invitation. It means more today than ever.

Two kids who are still crazy for each other.

Two kids who are still crazy for each other.

These pictures are evidence of my wife's vicious chubby bunny marshmallow attack when we were dating. I think this was my 20th birthday party.

These pictures are evidence of my wife’s vicious chubby bunny marshmallow attack when we were dating. I think this was my 20th birthday party.

My 1953 Willys. I would love to have another Jeep someday.

I bought my jeep, got a job at Costco & had my first date with Cheryl all in the same week. Cheryl is the only one I kept, and the only one that really matters. 17 years later & she still likes me.

A recent picture in front of Desert Foursquare at Palm Desert High School.

A recent picture in front of Desert Foursquare at Palm Desert High School.

In October, Cheryl, Ryan Frederick and Selena Frederick and I went to a Foursquare Chaplaincy training for Disaster Response Teams. We learned critical skills for responding to the emotional and spiritual needs of people experiencing crisis. The night before our training in Anthem, Arizona, we went out for dinner to celebrate my statistical half-life. Don’t ask me how I found out, but sometime earlier this year, I looked at an actuary table that put my age expectancy at 77 years. October 25 of this year is the half way point. I expect to blow the curve, but it does give me reason to pause and reflect on my life.

Celebrating my statistical half-life with my wife & the Fredericks.

Celebrating my statistical half-life with my wife & the Fredericks.

Ryan and Selena Frederick are both going to become licensed Foursquare minsters in 2013!

Ryan and Selena Frederick are both going to become licensed Foursquare minsters in 2013!

The chaplaincy training was incredible. During our trip, I asked the Fredericks to consider becoming licensed Foursquare ministers. They’ve recently agreed to go through the process in 2013! Ryan is one of the most incredible worship leaders and Selena is an awesome discipler. They have incredible hearts to serve and love others.

Ryan Frederick is preaching at Desert Foursquare Church. He is an amazing man of God.

Ryan Frederick is preaching at Desert Foursquare Church. He is an amazing man of God.

During our training, superstorm Sandy pummeled the Eastern Seaboard. By Monday we received our first call to respond to a disaster. Although none of us could make the trip to New Jersey or New York to join the teams, it helped me to prepare for the next time disaster strikes.

We partnered with a church in New Jersey to send supplies.

Some of the blankets, clothes and batteries that we shipped to the victims of Sandy.

Some of the blankets, clothes and batteries that we shipped to the victims of Sandy.

Rooftop 519 is preparing to launch our online store. We decided to do a photos hoot in LA. Thanks to Ephemeral Youth and Fluxhzrd for the photos and hard work.

Photo shoot on Venice Beach.

Photo shoot on Venice Beach.

Our church hosted a couple of events in the fall. One of these was the Pumpkin Carving Party.

Many pumpkins lost their lives that night.

Many pumpkins lost their lives that night.

The crazy pumpkin carving party.

The crazy pumpkin carving party. There were pumpkin guts EVERYWHERE.

We have a really artistically talented group.

We have a really artistically talented group.

Many pumpkins died that night.

The  carving skills were amazing.

One of my favorite things to do in the desert is hiking the trails.

A night hike with my favorite 13 year-old girl. I love you Hailey!

A night hike with my favorite 13 year-old girl. I love you Hailey!

A recent hike with my wife on a day off. She found out that hiking is hard work.

A recent hike with my wife on a day off. She found out that hiking is hard work.

In mid-November I made another trip to Seattle. I got to spend a half-day with Doug Bursch, which was an incredible treat.

On air with Doug Bursch in Seattle.

On air with Doug Bursch in Seattle.

Wednesday of that week brought me on an all-day adventure with Artists Inspiring Action to meet with The Justice Conference founder Ken Wystma. We are creating a large mural at the 2013 Justice Conference in Philly.

On Friday of my trip, our Rooftop 519 board met for our anual retreat. We had an incredible time together, continuing to map our principles and strategy.

Rooftop 519 board members Ryan Hart and Dr. Chuck Power during our lunch break.

Rooftop 519 board members Ryan Hart and Dr. Chuck Power during our lunch break.

Our church hosted an event for international students at College of the Desert (COD) in our home. We had students from China, Belgium, France and more. After we tore into the three turkeys, nine pies and dozens of pounds of potatoes and jello, we played a game called box hockey. It was a blast. I’m very glad nobody got hurt. The highlight of this event for me was when we went around the table to share what we are thankful for. A young girl shared, “I am thankful for a church that accepts me and is welcoming to everyone”.

international dinner

Our team prepares Thanksgiving dinner for College of the Desert Students.

Our team prepares Thanksgiving dinner for College of the Desert Students.

Students played box hockey until they'd burned more calories than they consumed.

Students played box hockey until they’d burned more calories than they consumed.

We did a family photo shoot with Cheval Photos to make our Christmas cards this year. These pictures make my pictures above look really bad.

Getting ready for Christmas cards.

Getting ready for Christmas cards.

With my little girly.

With my little girly.

And my big girly.

And my big girly.

And my young man.

And my young man.

The finished product.

The finished product.

Paradosi came back to Desert Foursquare recently to share with our community their Christmas program. It was incredible.

The Paradosi dancers sharing the story of Christ in "Commissioned".

The Paradosi dancers sharing the story of Christ in “Commissioned”.

Mary and Joseph putting Jesus in the manger.

Mary and Joseph putting Jesus in the manger.

The best baby Jesus ever, backstage getting ready for the performance.

The best baby Jesus ever, backstage getting ready for the performance.

Our church supports the work of Younglife and Cru. In our partnership with Palm Desert Young Life, we have recently helped to arrange the YL students to meet at a store front that we use for Rooftop 519 storage. Last night I went to see the final club for 2012, which is their “Mr. Christmas Tree” contest. It was loud, crazy and five kinds of awesome.

Young Life students singing, playing and eating at the Mr. Christmas Tree contest.

Young Life students singing, playing and eating at the Mr. Christmas Tree contest.

I wish I could share every story. Every day is filled with truly incredible interactions with people. We had at least two dozen people live with us at some point this year (either passing through or staying for several months). Just today I’ve been able to disciple three people, two of whom are experiencing the most wonderful times of their lives and one who is living his most difficult life challenges.

This is an incredible year. I am deeply grateful to all who are partnering with us to minister. These stories would not exist without the financial support we receive, both through the church and through my salary at Rooftop 519. I am really grateful for all who are praying with us. I predict that 2013 will offer us an increase in opportunities to serve and impact people. Please pray with us.

Serving Christ in 2013,

Shawn

P.S. – a bonus… I recently found this picture of my daughter at the Duris Farm. It fits chronologically into part 2, but here it is:

Hailey working at the Duris Cucumber Farm this summer. She represents the 5th generation to farm this land.

Hailey working at the Duris Cucumber Farm this summer. She represents the 5th generation to farm this land.