Are you crazy?
Wow, just wow!
Don’t you have enough kids already?
Don’t you ever want it to be just you and your husband?
These are just a few of the comments I have heard over the last 4 years that we have openly been talking about adoption. I usually don’t even try to answer them when someone asks. Later…later, when I am alone in the car or as I am falling asleep and the last thoughts of the day leave my head one of these questions will rattle through my mind.
“Are you crazy?”
A doctor asked me this half jokingly when I was in for an appointment. A doctor who promises to first do no harm. A doctor who heals the sick, who is with a patient as they take…
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Is your church facility designed to be functional? That sounds like a good thing and most people would probably answer affirmatively. But I want to rephrase that and ask two other similar, but vastly different, questions and see if your answer changes. Is your church “only” functional? Is your church “truly” functional?
So what’s the difference? The picture above is a “Tug”. If you’ve been to an airport you’ve seen these. They are used to pull the baggage carts from the plane to the terminal. Pretty simple. If you look at the Tug you might also say pretty ugly. The Tug was obviously designed by an Engineer instead of an artistic and creative Designer. Everything about it screams “utilitarian”, but it’s “functional” and isn’t that most important? For pulling a luggage cart you may be right, but it really wouldn’t have cost much more to manufacturer a Tug that was designed by someone creative who could provide something visually appealing and not just functional.
Taking it up a notch, you could translate the same utilitarian, boxy design used on the Tug to create a “Tug-like” minivan. It could be completely functional at getting you and your kid’s soccer team to Chuck-E-Cheese after the big game and it could have a DVD video system and cup holders and all the other “functions” you need. It would probably still be a little cheaper to buy than the latest Honda Odyssey (but maybe not after you include all the functional bells and whistles). So why doesn’t Honda sell a Tug-like minivan that is only functional? Simply because nobody would buy something that is so ugly. Yeah, it could get you from point A to point B, but design and creativity matter to people. We are made in the image of the ultimate Creative Designer and we are wired to appreciate the beauty of good design even if sometimes it only registers subconsciously. What makes good design, or what makes something beautiful? Most people who haven’t been trained in design can’t tell you the “school book” answers you learn in those settings, but they usually “know it when they see it.” Nobody needs a degree in automotive design to look at a Tug next to a Ferrari (or a simple Honda Odyssey) and know which is more visually appealing.
So now let’s take it up another notch. If your church building is used as a tool to reach those far from God and share the ultimate Good News of Jesus, and if we serve the creative God of the universe are we happy with a Tug for our church building? But, it’s functional, right? Here’s where we unlock the answer to the other two questions. Is is “only” functional? If your building looks like a Tug and no unchurched person driving by would ever give your building a second glance, let alone ever consider entering it because it is a cheap ugly box that is completely out of context with the rest of their community, then congratulations your building may qualify as “only” functional.
Now for the hard part to hear. That church building that you were just coming to grips with as “only” functional may not even be that. Why? What is the core function of your church facility? I’ll give you a hint: the primary function is not to serve as a place for the “holy huddle” of people who already know Jesus to meet on Sunday morning. It’s core function should be as a tool to reach those in your community who are far from God. And guess what, people who are far from God are often superficial. They live in nice houses, drive nice cars, shop at nice stores, go to nice restaurants, and hang out with their nice friends in other nicely designed community spaces. They don’t usually choose to spend their time going to functional Tug environments. So take a look around next Sunday. Your building doesn’t have to look like the Crystal Cathedral, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it does need to be a place that is visually appealing to your community if it is to be “truly” functional.
A good designer can do that for you, even if all you have right now is a Tug. Good designers can transform a Tug into a thing of beauty. In fact Visioneering Studios just won another Solomon Award for the Best Church Design for their renovation of Red Rocks Church’s campus in Lakewood, Colorado (see photo below). Visioneering repurposed a Tug (an empty grocery store in an underused strip shopping center) into an active center for the community utilizing simple and cost-effective materials. Utilizing good design, what was once a Tug has essentially been “overhauled” (a la Chip Foose) into a classic hotrod that is now truly “functional” in its main purpose of drawing people who are far from God through the front doors. So, is your church facility “truly” functional or is it just a Tug?
What room in your house, your office, your church, or other building is dark and uncomfortable to spend time in? It might be a basement space, an interior room, one with small windows, or one with no windows at all. What if you could put a skylight in that room and bring the look and feel of a bright blue sky with warm sunshine streaming into that space? How much more appealing would that space be to you? As humans we all crave natural light, but the reality is it’s just not available in all of our spaces. CoeLux has developed an artificial skylight that looks so real it will fool the human eye and the camera. Check out their video and see for yourself.
But, before you run down to Home Depot and ask for one for your basement, it’s not yet that readily available and to get one installed will set you back about $70,000. However, like any new technology as more uses are found, efficiencies in fabrication are realized, and competition from other vendors enter the market, the price should come down. Anyone remember when the first flat-screen Plasma TVs came out for a cool $15,000 not that long ago? Can you think of a space that could use something like this? I’m betting most everyone can and I would keep my eyes on this product. What uses and locations can you think of that would benefit from this amazing invention?
Will your next building be made of LEGOs? No, not those tiny bricks your kids leave all over the house that you step on in the middle of the night and end up screaming like a banshee about. I’m talking about a new patent-pending concrete brick system called “Smart Bricks” from the folks at Kite Bricks Ltd. that looks just like giant LEGOs. They are stacked in interlocking layers with internal cavities to run piping and conduit and have snap-on panel systems that can be used for interior finishes. These bricks can be used for floors, walls, and ceilings and the manufacturers are making some heady claims that their system will reduce construction times, lower costs, and be much stronger than other materials.
Will Smart Bricks change construction as we know it? Check out the video below and let me know what you think in the comments. Personally I couldn’t imagine anything cooler than building a life-size LEGO set with my son? In fact I think we could use a cool fort in the backyard. Anyone else with me?
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you might remember this post from almost four years ago, “Solar Roadways – Driving On Glass?” I was a bit skeptical, alright a lot skeptical, but it was such a cool concept. Well, now the cool concept has advanced to a more developed prototype, the inventors, Scott and Julie Brusaw, have figured out how to create excitement with a viral marketing video, and the Solar Roadways team has gone down the crowdfunding route to try to turn this into a reality. Check out the amazing potential for this system in their viral video:
Sounds so Pollyanna right? Maybe it is, but it would be really cool and a big boost to the economy, not to mention that it potentially takes care of so many problems with this one solution. I mean come on, it: generates free electricity; prevents snow/ice buildup; allows all power/phone/fiber lines to run underground; collects storm water runoff; and uses LED lights for lane markers, warnings, and parking striping. Oh and let’s not forget it still functions as a road/parking lot/sidewalk too. I’m all for letting the private market sort this out first through crowdfunding, capital investors, or IPOs. Let private individuals and companies install this in their driveways and parking lots if it is cost-effective and provides a good return on investment. If it works this invention will change the world. If it doesn’t the private market will sort it out and relegate Solar Roadways to a footnote in history about this couple and their wacky idea. Either way I’d rather go that route before the government dumps trillions into it, artificially subsidizing it and then eventually killing it through mismanagement and corruption (does Solyndra ring a bell?), leaving the taxpayer (or in reality the taxpayer’s future grandchildren) holding the bill.
What do you think about this idea and whether you think it will work? Would you install it on your driveway?
Who are you…really? It’s an interesting question, and it probably seems to be a simple one, but only on the surface. If someone asked you that question you might say that you’re a man or a woman, your age, your race, or what you do for a living. But that’s on the surface and that’s superficial. Even superficially though you are many things. You may be a father, a son, a brother, a husband, a friend, and a businessman all at the same time. You aren’t any one of those things, you are all of those things.
Being all these things might make one tend to feel schizophrenic if you stop to think about it, but really with all of these things they are just your parts of your public persona, because whether you are interacting with your kids, your parents, your siblings, your wife, your friends, or your coworkers and clients, you are still allowing people to see the “you” that you want them to see. Some people, like your closest family and friends might see more “sides” of you than others, but only you and God may know the real you…who you are when no one is looking. If the public persona and the private persona don’t match then you really will feel schizophrenic.
If you smile at people face-to-face but then gossip about them when they leave…you are who you are when no one is looking. If you’re in sales and you tell your clients that your company’s products or services are the best in the business and exactly what they need, but then when you get a better offer with a competitor you change your story…you are who you are when no one is looking. If you’re all smiles with your family in public, but at home you’re verbally or physically abusing them…you are who you are when no one is looking. If you’re sitting on the front row at church every Sunday, but the rest of the week if someone from church saw what you were doing they wouldn’t even recognize you…you are who you are when no one is looking.
But you don’t have to stay that way. You can stop being schizophrenic by becoming consistent. It won’t be easy, especially if you’ve been schizophrenic for a long time, but change can happen if you desire it, work at it, and pray for strength. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Are you ready to ask yourself the question, “Who are you…really?” And even more importantly are you ready hear the answer?
When was the last time you went ALL IN on anything? Do you even remember? What was it that got you so excited that you put all of your heart, mind, and soul into it and went ALL IN? Was it calling in sick at work, hopping in the car, driving 12 hours across the country, paying hundreds of dollars for a ticket, and painting your whole body to cheer for your favorite team during March Madness? What happened when they lost? You didn’t stop being a fan did you? No, you’re disappointed, but you’ve been ALL IN for years and nothing is going to change your loyalty to your team.
Or, maybe you’ve never been ALL IN for anything. You go through life driving from home to work to home again without much interest or effort being expended at any point along the way…you’re just going through the motions. What will it take to catch your attention, to get you to wake up and go ALL IN for anything? Ultimately going ALL IN for a basketball team will accomplish nothing of significant value for anyone except the school, coaches, and players (one and done…just sayin’) who make their money from their ALL IN fans.
If you’re looking for something that can excite your soul and is worth going ALL IN for, and can actually change the world, look at helping others. Wow, that’s it…that’s the pay-off for reading this far? Help others? I can barely take care of myself, why should I care about helping others? Most of us have a warped view of our own situation. If you live in America and make over $34,000 a year you are in the top 1% of income earners in the world, and if you make over $70,000 you are in the top 0.1% of income earners worldwide. If that fact doesn’t change your perspective I’m not sure what will.
My wife and I have an ALL IN item that we are currently pursuing with a passion. It’s something that excites us to our core, makes us laugh and cry, and we know without a doubt that our life will be changed for the better through this. What is it? Adoption. We are ALL IN for adoption. Not just one kid, and not just a cuddly baby, but possibly sibling groups, older children, and minorities, all of whom are some of the hardest in the system to place. What craziness would make us look into adopting multiple kids when we already have three other biological children? To put it simply we are just putting our faith into action. We’ve been blessed and we’ve seen the power of adoption to change the lives of both adopted children and the parents who adopted them.
It is a travesty of the highest order that there are children in this world who are in need of a forever home and there are millions of families right here in our neighborhoods, churches, and social groups who have more than enough resources to take care of every one of them, if only they would open their eyes to the need, see the potential life changing impact, and go ALL IN! Won’t you join us in making adoption as natural a choice as having biological children? If you have questions about adoption, leave a comment, contact me, or check out the Adopt US Kids website.