I’m a West Coast kid, born in Oregon and raised in Seattle and Southern California. My wife Michelle and I have been in an epic love affair since we were teenagers and laugh/cry almost weekly about the good fortune we’ve found in one another. We have four children and one VW Bus which you can find us in at a few music festivals every summer.
Professionally, I spent much of my early years as a minister. (Although I was classically trained as a subway sandwich artist in the 1990s.) My wife and I founded EastLake Church in 2005, just east of Seattle, Washington. I was 25 years old and had a lot of growing up to do. I’m so thankful for the container EastLake has been for my ongoing transformation. It’s funny that I started the church so that people could find a safe place to do their spiritual journey with authenticity and to follow truth no matter what it cost them or where it led them. I had no idea I would end up needing exactly that, myself.
In 2009, following some significant grief and loss, ever deepening relationships with ‘non-believers’, international relief work, and plain old education, my worldview began to deconstruct. It was a painful, lonely process. But it ultimately led me to make some significant changes in the structure, policy and teaching at the church. In short, I walked out of Evangelicalism and into what I would simply call, The Mystery.
In 2015, Time Magazine featured EastLake as one of the first Evangelical Megachurches to make a formal statement for the full inclusion of the LBGTQ+ community. Truth be told, I had been teaching us slowly away from Evangelical theology for a year previous, but as soon as that announcement was public, we lost a few thousand people in a matter of months and millions of dollars.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure my marriage would survive my deconstruction and I was confident the church wouldn’t make it. But, to my amazement, my marriage is stronger than ever, my life more fulfilling, and EastLake, for some bizarre reason, has hung in there and continues to offer a unique place for those who are seeking a more just and generous way to live out a life of meaning outside of dogmatic religious exclusivism. Since that time, EastLake has evolved into more of an interfaith spiritual community with a deep appreciation for the life and teachings of Jesus, as well as other great teachers of the Way of Love.
It wasn’t all easy and I spent my share of time in therapy and other healing modalities to cope with all the turbulence. In late 2015, I was so beat up and hurt by all the anger, betrayal and even death threats that I enrolled for a week long deep dive into my heart called The Hoffman Institute. This was life changing for me and in many ways was the hinge that swung the second half of life into gear. Since that moment, I have been deeply committed to my ongoing awakening and inner work. I have found that without much effort from me, I seem to be contacted often by people whose worldviews have crumbled and who (much like me from 2009-2013) are seeking a way to rebuild their lives after the loss of their old way of organizing reality.
In early 2017 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and after spending the year in chemotherapy and taking time off to rest, I was officially cleared in October. At the risk of sounding too cliche, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Cancer was a huge gift to me, in that it forced me to let go of the few things I was still clinging to after my experience at Hoffman. I finished my treatment with a renewed sense of purpose and direction while at the same time having less answers than ever before. The only thing I knew for sure was that life is precious and I had distilled my personal life philosophy and all my beliefs into the phrase; ‘Life is a Gift & Love is the Point’.
As you can tell, in so many ways, it’s my own journey that has led me into the work I do today. I am passionately convinced that the ultimate social justice is the work of healing human hearts. Most of us adults are just wounded children walking around trapped in reliving traumatic memories. We simply don’t see that we are running old programs we learned in childhood and because of this, we simply pass along our trauma to the next generation.
In my coaching and guide work and spiritual direction, it is always my hope to assist people in dis-identifying with their childhood patterning. This is done as we mindfully wake up to the way those robotic responses run our lives. Then we have to express and grieve the pain that created those patterns as well as the pain we’ve caused ourselves and others by carrying them into our adult lives. After that, we can move into empathy and forgiveness and compassion which help us connect with the creativity and imagination that will assist us in creating new lives of connection, freedom and joy.
If I can help you with any of these kinds of things in my work, it would be my honor.