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Thanksgiving Top 5 (2015 edition)

One of the blessings of freelance work is the variety of jobs I get to do and the variety of people I get to work with. Each Thanksgiving it’s become a tradition for me to choose five projects from the past year that I’m particularly grateful for. This tradition gives me an opportunity to review my year, remember my work, and reflect on the good people in my life.

So, these are the…

Top Five
projects I was thankful to work on this year

Deer Creek Christian School branding

PrintDeer Creek is a small private school that had to re-think its identity in order to thrive rather than simply survive. By the time they contacted me, they had already done much of the groundwork—the key constituents had already been discussing values, vision, mission, distinctives, buy-in, and “living the brand.” They just needed help communicating it all. We started with business cards and then discussed the benefits and costs of direct mail, a quarterly newsletter, and social media. Their budget is small, but their dreams are big. Brainstorming with them was a reminder that a brand can succeed independent of budget, that investing in people doesn’t have to cost money, and that the process is as important as the goal.

Thank you Deer Creek!

Dying Like Jesus

It’s a real treat for me to work with someone who has his own ideas but also respects mine, because then a project becomes a true collaboration. Chris Spoor is an old friend, my former pastor, and a retired hospice chaplain. He began working on a book for people facing death, and he came to me for help editing the manuscript so he could submit it to publishers. We had many email conversations, but we also scheduled a number of phone calls—because Chris often wanted to discuss what I was doing to his book. Sometimes he disagreed with my editing choices. Sometimes he just wanted to understand my reasoning. And sometimes I had to re-think my editing when I heard what he was really trying to communicate. Through it all, because of our mutual respect, we were each able to contribute our best work, and no one’s ego got in the way.

By the way, the title is one example of how this kind of collaboration plays out. Chris did not have a title on his manuscript, and he was open to suggestions. I put Dying Like Jesus forth as a possibility. Chris wasn’t thrilled with it, but we used it on a couple of the submission proposals we sent in. Later, Chris suggested Seven Words for the End of Life as a title. I don’t think it has the same intrigue as Dying Like Jesus, but I’m willing to live with it for a while and see if it grows on me. Neither of us knows yet what the final title will be. Chris and I work well together because we both want what’s best for the book, and we both respect each other’s strengths. That kind of collaboration is rare, and I really appreciate it.

Thank you, Chris!

Living Springs sermon series slides

I maintain the website for Living Springs Community Church, and that gives me the opportunity to create banner ads for each new series of messages. Now, I don’t consider myself a “real” designer. That is, I don’t draw or paint or create my own designs. But I do like taking pieces of existing images and combining them to create something new, and I like choosing fonts that contribute to the message. The banners below are a few of my favorite creations from the past year:


I don’t often get a lot of lead time to create a banner, and sometimes the descriptions are kind of sparse. But Living Springs trusts me to work with whatever they give me and come up with something. (In fact, one of the pastors told me he’s always eager to see what I come up with!) There’s no routing process or approval committee, and I appreciate the freedom to just do my best to create a visual representation of an intangible concept.

Thank you, Living Springs!

Medi-Mex brochure

Brochure_MediMex_300When a friend and former co-worker asked me about updating a brochure for a nonprofit that provides medical supplies to impoverished areas of Mexico, she sent me as much resource as possible—their existing brochure, their Facebook page, a recent newsletter, and an explanation about the process their board would go through to accept and approve a new brochure. All of that, plus my own experiences in Mexico and with nonprofits, helped me write a brochure that uses story to connect donors and volunteers with the people who receive the supplies they bring.

I was given plenty of lead time, which is really helpful. In fact, the brochure pictured at right is only the first draft that I sent back in time for a December board meeting. I enjoyed the work I’ve done so far—playing with different type treatments, choosing compelling photos, and telling the Medi-Mex story in a new way that I think will be effective. Plus, it’s always fun to work with old friends.

Thank you, Michelle!

Oak Tree Leadership website

OakTreeLeadership_570Sometimes, it’s just fun to clean up code! When Jason Perry gave me access to his website, I could see that the code behind it was a mess. I spent a few hours sorting it out and cleaning it up, which I found strangely gratifying. Along the way, with Jason’s permission, I simplified and clarified his message by pruning duplicate information and organizing his many projects into logical categories. And I designed a less literal banner image (again by combining existing images and fonts) that conveys growth and leadership, with a new tagline that has dual layers of meaning.


(previous header image)

Working on websites is fun because the results are immediate and visual. Page by page I could see the difference I was making, and the end result was a clearer message via a more efficient website.

Thank you, Jason!

Other thanks

So far, my Top 5 list has never contained all the projects I’ve worked on in a given year. I hope you know that though my list is short, my gratitude is not. My thanks extends to all the interesting people who have requested my help with their interesting projects this year. I am grateful for the work, but mostly I appreciate your trust. Thank you.

I’m grateful, too, to all of you readers, subscribers, commenters, and friends who make up my online community. That community is very real to me, and I thank you for it.

My Thanksgiving prayer for all of you is that your tables will be filled with more than you need, your homes will ring with laughter and love, and your hearts will respond by blessing someone else even more generously.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!



Moment Case for iPhone 6

Review: <br>Moment Case for iPhone 6 thumbnail

A couple months ago I invested in an iPhone case made by Moment, the same people who make the Moment telephoto lens I use so much. I think Moment is a quality company, and I've had good interactions with them. The video and other information on the Kickstarter page for their Moment Case project intrigued [...]

Animated textbook covers

textbook covers

If you think looking at textbooks by academicians like Enrico Fermi, Max Planck, and Louis Ridenour sounds boring, prepare to be mesmerized by these animated versions of classic textbook covers: found on Digg video

Why don’t Christians
read the Bible?

Why don’t Christians <br>read the Bible? thumbnail

Most Christians do not read the Bible. At least not very much. That's what my own anecdotal experience tells me, and various studies (for example, the ones cited in this 4/4/13 HuffPost article) confirm it, though the exact figures vary. This is kind of surprising since the Bible has been the best-selling book in the history of printing, with [...]

Just sitting there


"People aren't taking time for mental reflection anymore...they aren't slowing down and stopping...they're not just sitting there. When you have no external input—that is a time when there is a creation of self, when you can try and figure out who you really are. And then once you do that, you can figure out how [...]

Book review: The Right Word

Book review: <em>The Right Word</em> thumbnail

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is a children's book, but I think it's uniquely crafted so that younger kids can "grow into" it and older kids can keep discovering new layers of meaning. The story told in the text is a sensitive and colorful biography of Peter Mark Roget—his childhood, his love of lists, his [...]

Cheap, easy photo editing: A short review of Noiseless

review noiseless

It's a small app that makes a big difference. Not just in my photos, but also in the time I have to spend on them. Noiseless is the name of a little program by Macphun that I recently bought, downloaded, and started using on the old grainy slides and scanned photos that were the main [...]

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