Journey to the Bay

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Journey to the Bay

It’s been a good, long while since I last wrote, but it’s not without good reason. I want to tell you a little about the big changes happening over the last several months in my family’s life.

I’m not sure how many of you know, but before my most recent job as the Director of Post Production in Nashville, I actually worked in ministry at a church in Asheville, North Carolina. Working in the ministry is amazing, fulfilling, and overall a blast, but it can be draining sometimes because so much of your heart goes into your work. After some major events in my family back in Nashville, my wife and I decided to look for a job there so that we could be closer to our families.

We spent about a year and a half in Nashville, and it was a season of rest for us: A fun job for me with great people, where I could go home and not have work still on my mind, allowing me to focus on my family. Great help for my wife, since we lived only about 10 minutes or less from her parents and my mom – this help came in especially handy as we had our second son, Jace, while in Nashville.

Jace, my second son.

Jace, my second son, was born while we lived in Nashville.

In January (New Year’s Day, actually), a friend from the church where I used to work called me and let me know that he had become the Worship Pastor at Venture Christian Church in San Jose, California, led by a great, well-respected Pastor who Audrey and I were big fans of (Chip Ingram, for those interested). Lucas told me that he was going to be looking for a Creative Director in a few months, and wanted to put a bug in my ear, as he thought I’d be a great candidate. At the time, I kinda blew it off – I didn’t really feel ready to go back into ministry, and ministry is definitely something that you need to have a calling to do. I was happy with my current job, and didn’t really think about it again for a while.

In March, he called again and said that they were now officially looking, and wanted to know if I was interested. My wife and I have a philosophy that we should at least consider any opportunity that comes up; we never know where God may lead us next or what doors he may open. We decided I should find out a little more about the position, the church, the city, etc. Lucas and I had several calls over the next few weeks, talking about my concerns and hesitations with going back into ministry, the type of environment at the church, what the position would entail, and what life might be like for my family in San Jose.

On my way to San Jose, California.

On my way to San Jose, California.

As we talked, I found myself opening up to the idea of returning to ministry, and unable to get ideas and excitement about the possibilities of the job out of my head. We continued down the interview process, and I found myself among the final four candidates. I flew out to San Jose to see the church, experience the city, and interview with several staff members. The weekend was a blast, and I felt like this was something that I was being called to do; almost every aspect of the job, even the big challenges, appealed to me.

The biggest challenge for this whole process was in being on the same page with my wife. She has a very close relationship and attachment to her family, and being so close to them had been such a blessing to her. Needless to say, she was very apprehensive about moving all the way across the country with no family nearby and only a few friends, basically starting our lives over again. We talked about it a lot, and were looking for clear direction from God that this was where he wanted us to be, even if it made us uncomfortable.

Less than three hours after I had gotten home from the airport, I got a call from the church offering me the position. Their offer exceeded all of the things Audrey and I had discussed about what would make the move work. The last piece of the puzzle was for her to go out there and see it all for herself.

Flying out there with the family.

Flying out there with the family.

We flew out there again, and this trip was the exact opposite of my first trip – it was a disaster. Our oldest son had a meltdown in the airport, our baby cried non-stop almost every time we got in the car (which is unusual for him), we had no luck in our initial scouting for housing, which was in itself very discouraging. Audrey left her wedding ring at our hotel and didn’t realize it until we got to the airport to leave (the hotel found it and mailed it back to us). Our flight back got cancelled, we were rerouted to San Diego (which is the worst airport I’ve ever been in) and spent a 4 hour layover there with the kids in terrible moods and absolutely exhausted. And that’s just the highlights…

Despite the catastrophe that was our family trip out there, Audrey remained surprisingly open. We had experienced moments of spiritual warfare before in our lives and marriage, and this felt like that: an attack meant to keep us away from where God wanted us to be. After a week of discussion and reflection, we decided that taking the job was the right thing to do, even if it meant having to give up being so close to our families in Nashville.

Packing up our place in Nashville.

Packing up our place in Nashville.

Saying goodbye to my fantastic friends at Snapshot.

Saying goodbye to my fantastic friends at Snapshot.

We made plans for the move, I turned in my notice and said goodbye to the amazing people I worked with at Snapshot, and started the hunt for a place to live in San Jose. That in itself was an enormous challenge (the rental market here is crazypants – there’s no other way to describe it). We made another trip out there to find a place to live with no success, but our friends Lucas and Jody came through for us, visiting all of the places we found online and shooting us pictures and thoughts. They ended up finding us a fantastic place south of San Jose in Morgan Hill, and it’s felt like home much quicker than anywhere else we’ve lived.

Our new house in Morgan Hill, CA

Our beautiful new place in Morgan Hill, CA

I flew out to start work before our place was available, and Audrey and the kids joined me about 2 weeks later. At this point, we’ve been here in the Bay Area almost 3 months. It’s been really hard, but it’s also been rewarding. We’re making friends faster than usual, we have more friends with kids (which we never really had in Nashville), and my new job is challenging in the best kind of way.

My new job as a Creative Director is a big shift for me. I’m doing less video directly myself (I get to pick which projects I have a major part in, which is awesome), and instead I’m doing more mentoring and coaching with the video producer that works under me. He’s got a great natural talent, a heart for service, and a hunger for learning. It’s amazing to be able to pass on what I’ve learned over the years. I’m spending more time guiding the visual direction of the church, from print to web to video (Pinterest, something I never thought I’d use, has become almost indispensable). Design, communications, social media, marketing campaigns – all of these are things that I get to have a direct impact on, and my goal is to make our stuff and our team the best in the business.

Worship here at Venture. The video on the center screen was a fun project I did not long after starting my new job.

Worship here at Venture. The video on the center screen was a lyric video I had a blast creating not long after starting my new job.

Working in ministry is absolutely a calling. I loved my job (and especially the people) at Snapshot, but I often struggled to find meaning in my work, with the exception of the occasional non-profit project that would come up. I feel like you should always be able to find meaning in your work, like it’s the only thing you could ever picture yourself doing. My time at Snapshot was incredibly worthwhile, and I learned so much while I was there, but it’s always been hard for me to imagine myself doing anything outside of ministry for an extended time. Filmmaking, design – they’re my passions, but my calling is to use those passions and skills for life-changing work.

I’m writing this down for two reasons:

First, I feel like I need to tell my story. Following God’s calling for our lives isn’t something people talk about much these days, and I want to be an encouragement to those that may be going through something similar. It’s not easy (it’s the opposite, actually), but the rewards are well worth it . I’m always open and happy to talk to those that may have questions, Christians or otherwise.

Second, this new job has a little bit of bearing on the direction that my site will be talking. The articles here have always been based on my experiences and things learned from actually doing work. As my work shifts to creative direction, you can expect to see a wider range of topics covered here. Filmmaking, editing, color grading, motion graphics – all of those will continue to be topics I cover, as they’re still passions of mine and I still exercise those skills, just not in the same volume anymore. You can expect to see articles pop up about graphic design, the creative process, creative direction, and probably a little bit of faith-based work too. None of us work in a vacuum, and the reason I do my job has huge bearing on the work I do.

I hope you get something from my story, and I hope you enjoy the wider range of topics that I’m going to cover in the coming articles. It’s gonna be a blast.

6 Comments

  • Matt Johnson (@whoismattj)

    20.10.2014 at 13:32 Reply

    This is great man, glad you’re following God’s plan!

    • Aaron Williams

      20.10.2014 at 13:37 Reply

      Thanks Matt! It’s scary, but good :)

  • Ron

    22.10.2014 at 09:28 Reply

    Congrats Aaron! Great to hear how God’s plan is always better then our own. Currently seeking Gods direction in my life and this is good encouragement.

    • Aaron Williams

      03.11.2014 at 18:35 Reply

      Thanks Ron. It’s been quite the journey and adjustment, but things are going great. I hope the same goes for you too!

  • Martyn J Bull

    03.11.2014 at 17:58 Reply

    Thanks for your honesty and freedom in sharing your story Aaron! I’m happy that things are working out so well for you and that you are settling in to life in San Jose. It was really nice to see this update pop up in my notifications. And do please share more about using video and design to share the work of the church and how it can affect the spirit of worship.

    • Aaron Williams

      03.11.2014 at 18:36 Reply

      Absolutely! I still like writing about craft, workflow, and other practical stuff, but those things will definitely be a part of it in coming articles.

Chime in!