Sunday, January 26, 2014

Back to Freelance Full Time

I started my new job 2 weeks ago today. Assuming that if you are reading this at all then it is Monday. 

I was hired to do art, learn separations and "help occasionally" in the shop.  Unfortunately occasionally was everyday. 
So one day I pulled shirts out of the dryer most the day. One day we counted shirts. Two days I put shirts on the machine for them to get printed. 2 days we went home early. Which wasn't a concern because I was still doing freelance so I was more than happy to go home. I only bring it up so you can see that I worked 7 day and about 5 of them had hardly any art in them at all. 
I didn't feel like I was learning enough to be ready when my trainer left for the National Guard. 

On the 8th day, last Wednesday morning I arrived at work and my trainer said we'd be out in the shop all day printing and cleaning screens as well as counting shirts into the various client piles. 

After about an hour maybe an hour and a half I went to talk with Matt the owner. I told him I didn't think it was going to work. 
I was spending so much time in the shop I told him that I just wasn't comfortable. Plus I just had no time for my family which was a concern. 
I was still doing freelance after work but it was going really well. That meant since I have church responsibilities on Wed, Thurs, & Sundays my freelance had to be done on the remaining days. 
So I was going full days without getting to spend time with the family. 

That was a big concern for me as well as a couple other things I'll bring up later. 

However I don't want it to sound like I'm making excuses. 
I left my job. I could have worked there basically as long as I wanted. Money wasn't great but since I was working in my free time, evenings and such the money wasn't too concerning. 

I left because I didn't want to be shop help. Yes there were other things I thought and worried about but it boiled down to that. I just don't want to work in a shop. 

Now the other things. Again not excuses just a look into what I'd been thinking. 

After my first week I was pretty tired.  Work and then freelance as much as I could before going to bed. No real personal or family time just work. 
I was working hard but it was paying off. Especially freelance. I made more money on Sun-Tuesday freelance then I was going to make at Digital Silver in a month. 

Sat night I found myself dreading church. That is something that literally hadn't happened in almost a year. 
I was trying to think of a way to miss. I ended up going and of course had a great day but after church I started dreading Sunday night small group with the youth. 

I was thinking about calling in and telling my team that I was going to stay home and work. I had stuff to do plus I honestly needed some down time. 

I ended up going again and again I had a good time and forgot about my worries. 

After church I went home and to bed early. Lin and the kids were at her parents for the weekend. 
I tossed and turned and couldn't sleep. I'd been sleeping really poorly the last week but the more I laid there the more I dreaded work. 

I went Monday and Tuesday night I was already starting to dread Wednesday night service because I had received a good number of freelance assignments again and I needed to get them done. 
Then Wednesday ended up being my last day and I felt a great weight lift. 

It might sound silly to some but. I don't want to go back to the way it was before C3 last February. When I dreaded church or didn't want to serve and help. 

When I got home Wednesday morning after leaving I sent my client an email. I told him that I'd be back working freelance full time and his response was a God send. 

He told me that the company was experiencing growth and that he needed me to take on more work. 

So that's what I'm doing. I'm now working full time freelance. For as long as it lasts. I'm trusting in God that the money will continue to come in. 
He's always taken care of us and I don't see that EVER changing. 

So now this is my day. 

I'm volunteering at the church 2 hours a day. I. Doing this for 2 reasons. 
1) I love my church and want to help. 
2) I don't want to go back to sleeping til noon so this way I will get up. Go to the church and help out a couple hours. 

So I'll volunteer, then come home and do something to help my wife for one hour. Laundry, dishes or cleaning. Just something to help Lin out. 

After that I will be doing freelance art. 

I'm excited about this. I'm excited to be back to where I can be a better tool. I'm glad to have some freedom back. 
I'm just feeling better all around. 

I know it sounds weird since I just started the job but there was no reason to keep going knowing that I wasn't going to be happy and do what I love to do. 

Thanks for reading. Now I'm heading to bed and it's not even midnight. 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Power of Prayer or The New Job

It's been 2 days and work is gonna be ok. Getting up early after two and a half years of sleeping til 11ish is kinda rough. I yawn a lot at work that's for sure. 

Tonight I've been thinking a lot about prayer.  How answered prayer strengthens our faith and boosts our witness. 

David Hutton is an answered prayer. Expectations were low after his stroke.  There was very little in the way of good news. I know people were praying prior to the prayer meeting at LifePoint but it was that night as I listened to people pray so earnestly for David and the family that I got an idea of how powerful it is. 
Later that night Dave pulled thru his surgery and has been getting better ever since. 
So much so now that I'm as confident that we are going to get our David back as I am that my truck is blue. 

In my own life just recently I had what I would have thought was an impossible prayer get answered. 

I'm not going to lie to you, I technically didn't want a job. I'm making good money freelance and I get to work when I want to. 

December was an oddity.  Due to Christmas, Bats new specialist, and a 15 day assignment for a client we ran broke. 

Real broke, flat broke, negative broke by the end of the month. 

Now the fact is God took care of us. So well that the kids didn't even notice that we were flat broke. We had everything we needed. We went 2 weeks on $5.  

 That's not the impossible prayer by the way.  That's just God being God. If you don't tithe folks you oughta start. Not only is it biblical it's ridiculously advantageous cuz God WILL bless your finances. 


So I knew I'd build a cushion up after the holidays. My main client took almost 2 weeks off and since they were closed they couldn't send me a check for my invoices. 
I had invoiced quite a bit and had December not been the perfect storm of weirdness we'd have been financially ahead. Still God knows what he is doing and we went broke. 

For about 2 months I had been praying that I'd get a job outside the house. Mainly cuz I knew Lin would like me to. She never said as much but I could tell she'd be more comfortable if there was a guaranteed paycheck regular rather than freelance money. 
Now if you take what I make as a freelancer and divide it by 12 I make pretty decent money. A little more than I did managing the theatre.  
The problem with that model is that I don't get paid monthly. I get paid by invoice. I might have a $300 month then a $3000 month. 
So I figured even though Lin encouraged me to stay working for myself I'd go ahead and pray for a job. 
The secret I thought would be praying for something that was unlikely. 
Little did I know God would take the unlikely farther to the realm of nigh impossible. 

A little back ground here. I met Matt my current boss 17 years ago before I was an actual artist. I was fresh out of high school and my friends Wes and Jason came to my house and asked if I'd like to work with them at Phizazz. 
It was a screen print shop owned by Anheiser Busch. 
They both worked there. Wes in the art room with Matt and Jason in the "screen room" taking care of the silk screens, film and what not. 

I was told I'd start out in the Screen room but I'd work my way into the art dept.  I was a decent artist as a young man. I drew constantly. Not just cartoony stuff to make people laugh like my friend did. I drew cartoony, I drew portraits, I drew wildlife I was pretty well rounded. Well I thought I was. 

Anyway, I started working there and I was introduced to their main artist Matt. He seemed nice but he was quiet. He and Wes worked upstairs in the art dept & I worked down stairs. 

After a few weeks I thought I'd take Matt one of my sketchbooks, impress him and make my way to the art dept a little faster. 
To my horror he looked at my Sketch book and said "pretty good, about 10 more of those books and you'll be about ready"
I was crushed. At the time I was pretty confident in my drawing ability. I thought I was better at drawing than Wes so I couldn't figure out how I was not even close to ready to do professional art and he was already at it. 

I was crushed and that day 17 years ago began the idea in my head that Matt did not like me. 
Armed with only that encounter I had been positive ever since of that fact. 

It was very shortly after that encounter that they hired another artist. Rather than giving me a chance they hired a new guy. Someone I knew & had went to school with.  It was just heartbreaking and maddening. That drove home in my mind Matt's feelings towards me. 

I felt self conscious from then on when I did get around him cuz he is so much better at the art. I had several dealings with him over the years. All were fine he never treated me badly but I always felt and even told people that he didn't like me. 

Eventually Phizazz closed, he and the guy who trained me started a business together called Digital Silver. Danny ended up selling out to Matt and going elsewhere to work. 

Wes started working there. I meanwhile was working at Walmart managing Automotive of all things. 

Years later I ran into Jason (who helped me get a job at Phizazz) he asked what I was up to. He got me a job at Results in the screen room. Again with the promise that I'd eventually get into the art dept. 

This time it worked out. Danny had been contacted by the owner because Danny had owned a screen print shop. 
Danny came and helped start Results. He recruited Jason who recruited me.  After about 6 months things slowed down. Danny and I had hit it off so he started teaching me photoshop and freehand. I'd go to his house once a week and he'd tutor me on his Mac. 

I eventually got my own Mac and got pretty decent at screen print art. 
We talked a lot back then about the future bad how he'd one day have another shop and we'd work it together just like him & Matt. 
That was an obsession for me for quite a while. He talked about this client they used to have called "the WildSide". It became my goal to eventually be good enough that the Wildside would buy my stuff. 

I ends up leaving Results for greener pastures at the newspaper doing ad layout. 

I was approached by the owner a year or so later after Danny left Results about coming back. I did go back and I was the artist there. I did everything there. From design to print. Danny came back for a while too. It's like we all got amnesia after we left there. We knew it was a terrible place to work. We knew you were treated terribly and that you were abused by the supervisors. They swore at you and berated you but we went back. I worked there 3 times and Danny worked there at least twice maybe three times too. I can't remember. 

All that time Matt and Wes were always at Digital Silver. 

Now I ran into Matt once in a while and he said hi and treated me just fine but I was still convinced he didn't like me. After all I was technically the competition. So I was even more convinced. 
I'd go visit Wes and Matt wouldn't say a word. Or it'd be really short. 

After the last time I worked at Results I went to work with Danny at his house. We were finally going to do it. Going to partner and sell art. We didn't have presses but Danny was convinced we could just sell the art. 
He convinced me to move my Mac and stuff in and we started working together under the name Danny Mac Studios. 
I was a little concerned that he asked me to do art under his name. I'd do designs and he'd sell them to our client. Our client had no idea I existed. 

Danny was also a landlord. He had several rental properties and he got tied up in those. Fixing things and doing that stuff. He wouldn't give me a key and the building was locked so there would be days I went to work & just couldn't get in. 
I'd call but get no answer. 
We got pretty far behind and that put a strain on us. 

That's when Wes quit Digital Silver after 13 years to pursue his passion of culinary school. He was replaced by Michelle. 

I started doing freelance by myself because Danny was busy being a landlord. 

Did that for the last two and a half years. 

Ok, sorry for that sidetrack but it really comes into play here in a minute. 

So now we are caught up to a couple months ago. 
I didn't want a job. 
I was making good money as  a freelancer. 
Still I knew Lin would be more comfortable. 

I decided I'd pray for a job but I'd make it a prayer that was extremely unlikely but still it was a prayer and that would keep my conscience clean about doing only freelance. 

So this was my prayer. 

"Lord please help me get a job. Guide me where you want me. I will not look for a job but if you bring me one, I'll know it was meant to be and I'll take it."

I figured that was pretty unlikely. I only go to the Army Surplus and church.  My church family know I do art for a living and the surplus has 2 employees and that's the owners of the surplus and Friendly Firearms respectively. 

I was safe. 

Then last Thursday I was at the surplus. I was behind the counter giving the guys the business and waiting to got to lunch with them.  

I heard the door buzzer go off but I didn't look who it was. I was too busy bugging the Jody, the owner of Friendly Firearms. 

I heard someone say "Is Alan here". I looked down the shop counter and it was Matt. He said that Michelle (Wes' replacement) was leaving and he was stressing trying to fill the position. 
He asked if I'd consider taking the job. 
There it was. Not only had God had someone find me and offer me a job it was someone I was convinced only talked to me because I occasionally orders shirts from him or sent my local client to him. 
Never in a million years would I imagine he would be willing to work with me. Let alone physically find me and offer me a job. 

I went in the next day. We hashed out the details. 

I still get to freelance in my spare time and I'm getting to do the art I love plus I'm learning to do color separations. A skill that will triple what I can ask for in my freelance life. 
Color Seps are the process of separating a design or picture into its individual colors that will then be screen printed on the garment. 

I'm looking forward to a long employment at Digital Silver. Their turn over for artists is nearly non existent.  Wes did it for 13 years. His replacement when he went to culinary school has been there 7 years. A few years as a printer and a few years as a separator. 

I'm happy to be there plus Matt and Nicole seem to be genuinely glad to have me.  I filled a hole that was stressing him out plus Michelle will be the first to tell you that she's not an artist. She's a separator.  So Matt is excited to have another artist around. It's nice to bounce ideas off each other and collaborate. Something that he's not been able to have since Wes left and Michelle started doing the seps. 

Michelle has a month or so to train me and since I already know the art side I'm catching on quickly. She's wicked good at seps.  She makes it look simple and she's a great instructor. If it wasn't for the fact I'd not have a job if she stayed I'd want to try and talk her into staying. 

Luckily for me she's enlisted in the National Guard so she has to go or they will come for her. 

Now I'm praying I get it down before she does have to leave but now I'm praying with a confidence of someone that has seen first hand in 2 weeks the power of orayer. 

So there it is. God does the improbable and whole heartedly answered a half hearted prayer.  Teaching me a valuable lesson. 

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever even remotely think I'd be working with Matt all because of an imagined slight from 17 years ago. 

I know it's not as impressive as bringing our Dave back from the edge of death and healing him. Still it happened to me. It's now part of my story. It's part of Gods story and I'm proud to tell it. 

Be careful what you pray for cuz God can and will blow your socks off. 

Thanks for reading

P.S. That company the Wildside I so wanted to sell a piece of art too back in the day. Well, I freelance for them now and they have bought well over 400 individual pieces from me in the last 2years. 


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dave Hutton is my Hero or Why I love the Hutton's

There was an empty spot today at the door of Lifepoint.   

For the last year nearly every week I get to stand by David Hutton and greet people as the come into the church.

David recently suffered a stroke and is currently recovering in the hospital. Today as I stood there and greeted people it hit me pretty hard that Dave wasn't there to make me laugh, to ask about my week and most of all to call people by name cuz I can’t remember them all.

I just kept coming up with ideas jokes and jabs and  I’d turn to tell Dave forgetting he wasn’t there this week.

No Kathy at the doughnuts either and while this is equally sad, i could gorge myself and there was no one there to stop me.  So that was bitter sweet.

The good news is Dave WILL get better and he will come back to us but in the mean time his shoes cannot be filled. God has heard out prayers and is working as we speak.

Enough of that, now I want to tell you why Dave, Kathy, Graham, Liz, Chelsea, Brandon  and the kids mean so much to me.   

Graham was  my neighbor for a short time.  Graham and Liz were great neighbors and great people in general. 
A few years later I was asked by Pastor Kelly whom I’d known for most of my life to do some art for Lifepoint.  I came in to meet him and to my surprise Graham was there.  We talked mainly about art but before I left the 3 of us had a good conversation about church and Lifepoint.
I decided that since I was going to do art for the church and since I didin’t have a church that my family would start at Lifepoint. Graham was a big part of what kept me at Lifepoint prior to God getting ahold of me again. When I wanted to leave and not come back Kelly, Graham, & Nathan kept me engaged.

So week one there was this dude at the side door that wanted to know our names as we went in. This was of course Dave but I didn’t know his name at the time.
Over the next year and few months Dave was the bane of my Sunday morning.  This was before God got back ahold of me (see my story here).
So seeing this guy smiling at me and wanting to shake hands week, after week, after week was just terrible.  All I wanted to do was sneak in the side door and hide tip church was over then find a way around him on the way out.
I mean how dare he share the Love of Christ with a stranger.
I found the best way to avoid him was to have the hands of my kids and walk briskly by so everyone thought I was busy.
I snubbed Dave a countless amount of times.

Flash forward to last years C3 Conference. Kelly Nathan and Graham had invited  me and basically wouldn’t let me out of it.  Thank you by the way guys.
Anyway, Graham not only rode with me out there so I wasn’t with all strangers but volunteered to room with me.  Something that I’m sure he regretted after hearing my snoring.
Graham made me comfortable and really helped me be less anxious about the trip.

So God gets a good hold on me while we are in Texas. He changes my life completely altered the course of my family and saved me from a devil’s Hell.
Next thing you know it’s Sunday and I am fired up and wanting to serve.  I arrived at church ridiculously early and figured I’d stand at the door and greet with the guy I avoided so often. I thought it might be a little awkward but I didn’t want to go to the front door so I sucked it up and headed over.

You would have thought David knew me forever from the way he treated me.  He joked and kidded me. He introduced me to people. He helped make greeting on Sunday the absolute high point of my week.  I look forward to seeing David every week.
Not just greeting either. I look for him and Kathy at every church event. 
Kathy worked the doughnuts and she immediately just accepted me as part of the Lifepoint family too. 
Now during the week I think of little turns of phrase and jokes that I know will make Dave laugh and store them away for Sunday. Also he laughs at my jokes no matter how many times he hears them.

Liz always intimidated me. I think its a teacher thing.  So I was kinda standoffish for a while at church. However I couldn’t stay away from Lydia and it didn’t take long to figure out that Liz is wicked great. When I started going on Wednesday nights I was super impressed by how involved Liz was with CR.  My wife and I were still trying to get used to the idea of getting plugged in, Graham and Liz were kinda our romodel ideal couple. 
Plus now meeting Liz and Lydia at their car is absolutely something I look most forward to on Sundays. 

Brandon and Chelsea are awesome. First Brandon has an array of huge dogs which at first is intimidating but once you realize they are trained it kinda takes the pressure off.
Brandon I got to know more durring 5th Quarter youth events at church.  His team dominated the scavenger hunt. Next year I think we are just going to give them the prize and call it good.
He also has a sweet bike.

Chelsea I didn’t really get to talk to much but she volunteered to work with Lin one night in the nursery. No arm twisting she just volunteered to work with Lin whom she hardly knew.  Lin got to know her and was a pretty big fan. Now that i’ve gotten to know her a little better I gotta say Lin is a great judge.

Then there is Deklan, this boy used to be the first kid to give me five. However now he likes to grin and refuse me completely. Just to be a stinker.

Eli, is new and she sleeps a lot. I assume she's gonna be pretty great too.

I said all that to say this.....  

David Hutton is my Hero and a Role Model
Dave raised and maintains a family that LOVES God.
Dave has a great marriage. 
Dave works for God in all he does.
Dave’s church is Crazy about him
Dave’s town is Crazy about him 
So well loved by so many all because he never ceases to show Christ’s Love to others.

When he first Got sick I remember praying and asking God to restore Dave’s body even half as healthy as his soul.

This is still my prayer even as God heals Dave and as his recovery gets rolling.

I love you Hutton’s  Your friendship has made a huge difference in my life.

I want to leave you all with one last thing about Dave.  A few months ago Dave posted something on Facebook that I think about at least once a week. I laughed til I cried the first time I saw it. Until that point everything I had seen from David on Facebook had been serious so imagine my surprise when I saw this……

Thanks for Reading


Friday, January 10, 2014

New Job

Haven't blogged in a while. 

I have a job. Not a freelance job but an actual job. Monday I will wake up at 8 am get around and drive to work where I will remain for 8 hours not including lunch and return home at 5. 

This is the first time in 2 years 7 months and 12 days that I have had a job outside my home. It's really both exciting and nerve wracking. 

For the last 2 1/2 years I have worked for myself and gotten by pretty well. There has been some slow points but for the most part it's been great. 

Well last month was decidedly not great.  It's not that I didn't have work.

It all started when I got a detailed assignment. I was asked to design shirts for the USMc in mid early Dec.  The problem is that while I'm doing the detailed work I'm not getting paid. 
They wanted 5 designs each taking about 3 days to do. So for roughly 15 days I couldn't invoice because I was designing. 
At the end of that assignment and talking to my client. I was told I'd be given several smaller jobs so I could start getting money and caught back up. 

So I had plenty of work however my client was closed Wed-Fri 2 weeks in a row for the holidays.  This meant that no matter how much I invoiced I didn't get a check. 

Meanwhile thanks to Christmas we were hemoraging money. Then Bat finally got into a specialist and we couldn't put it off so there went more money. 
I had quite a bit invoiced but nothing coming in. 

Next thing you know we are down to double and then single digits in the bank. 
Had it not been for Christmas & New Years it'd not have been an issue. 

I had been thinking about a part time job for a while. Something just to get me out of the house a little. Freelance even when I'm making full time money isn't a real full time job. 
For instance last week I received an assignment of really simple "type setting" style designs. 

For example.

I got 11 jobs like this on Sunday and that was a weeks worth of pay for a full time job all done all at once. I received another set on Wed & had them done Thursday. 

So I have quite a bit of free time. 

Anyway, I'd prayed about it and just asked God to send me something. I wasn't going to "look" I was going to wait. 
So I did for about a year now I did my work and just expected God to provide, which he did wonderously. 

Recently I was asked if I'd be interested in subbing for a good friend on his postal route. That seemed like it might be the answer. 
Then Thursday I was at the Army Surplus here in town and a guy walked in surprisingly asked to see me. He heard of me & offered me a job doing graphic art full time and said there would be no complications with my freelancing. So I'd still have that income too. 

I talked to Linda and a few of my friends and decided to take the job. 

So come Monday it's back to a daily grind. 

I'd appreciate some prayers. 

Thanks for reading.