This is my official announcement that I am retiring from the WordPress community as a WordPress designer. I have accepted the position at my church Hill Country Bible Church (HCBC) as their in-house graphic designer, and I couldn’t be happier.
This may seem rather sudden, but trust me it’s not. This transition I believe has been beautifully orchestrated by God many years ago.
Passing the Torch
My torch is being passed to my good and dear friend Katie Rosebraugh who will be taking over my current clients and any future projects coming in through my website. Katie is an up and coming WordPress designer whom I have gotten the pleasure to know very well in the past few years, and I am so pleased she is the one who is stepping into this role.
Let me start at the beginning
In 2011 my husband Ryan and I signed up for a pre-marital course by way of Austin Stone. The couple we were assigned to were members of HCBC. When they asked if we were church members anywhere we explained we hadn’t committed to one church yet, but they suggested we visit HCBC. It planted a seed, but we were still checking out other churches.
A situation in my life between a family member and I led me to seek support. I was browsing online and saw a class for NAMI ( National Alliance of Mental Illness) which so happened to be held at HCBC. I signed up for the class which was 12 weeks long. As the class was beginning to wrap up one of the women leaders there told me about Celebrate Recovery (C.R.) which meets every Monday night right there at HCBC. Celebrate Recovery encompasses any hurt, habit, or hangup.
I am a fan girl of self-improvement. Always have been – always will be, so I decided that once the class I was taking was over I would check out C.R. It is comical to me that this is the order of events that unfolded, because isn’t it true you typically seek out support to help you fix the other people but wind up in recovery for yourself? Codependency, ha the struggle is real.
The first night I attended C.R. I was so nervous. This was amplified by the fact that they announced after the large group meets we break into small groups. My fear of public speaking ensued…hands clammy, heart racing I walked out of the large group and picked out my small group to attend which was Codependency.
After the small group ended I immediately signed up for a step-study. Which if you haven’t done one and even though we learn not to give advice DO IT. It will change your life…seriously. I met my most treasured friends there. Girlfriends I will never ever forget and who today are my closest friends. It took 9 months of meeting every Wednesday for several hours each time to get through it, but it was well worth it. My husband Ryan completed one too. Now we can speak C.R. talk to one another. It’s pretty cool.
At the same time I was attending C.R. I figured since I was already attending C.R. regularly why not go ahead and visit on Sunday. The first time I attended a Sunday service at HCBC I instantly thought how cool their graphics were. I thought to myself almost jokingly how cool it might be to work at a church, but not just any church THIS church. Another seed had planted.
During this time I received a few Facebook messages from Katie Rosebraugh. She had seen my interview on CodePoet and told me she really liked my interview I think mainly because I had my dog Foxy in my photo. We exchanged some messages and she let me know she was attending WordCamp Austin in 2012. We met up during a presentation and hung most of the day going to different workshops together. I instantly thought, dang this chick is cool. We stayed in touch and casually chatted online.
The next time we met again was almost a year later at Circles Conference 2013. Which, if you haven’t attended also DO IT. We met up again hanging out the whole time. Katie did the name badges for Circles that year, and knew some other folks that were volunteering. We had a blast again and I could see she was really picking up steam in her designs. She was obviously hungry and a life long learner and fan-girl of self improvement. Great minds…
The Tipping Point & Present Day
At the end of January this year my Father, Rick Butts lost his battle with cancer just weeks after his 60th birthday. Luckily, my husband and I had taken our brand new daughter Stella who was 3 months at the time to visit him a month before this happened. I am so grateful that we decided to travel from Austin to Idaho to see him before he passed, and that I did not have to see him at his sickest, because I probably couldn’t have taken it. I think God protected me in that way.
Our last days together were light. We watched football, went to breakfast, and stayed up late talking. Not about life and death, because we really didn’t know it would happen so fast. We all just really hung out.
When we said goodbye at the airport which was the last time I saw him. I didn’t even hug him all that hard. It was more of a see ya later kind of goodbye. Ultimately, that is what it is anyway. I will see him in heaven again, and he will be healed and maybe even have hair!
If you don’t know me too well my Dad is/was the most important person in my life. He is/was my best friend. Losing him was equal to losing a huge piece of me. It was a major blow to my identity. In fact, he is the one who got me into WordPress. He was always ahead of his time. Thankfully my husband, friends, and therapist were there to see me through this. I still haven’t been able to do all the things I want to do like scatter Dads ashes, but I have learned it is ok, and I can do that on my time. Dad told me a few years ago he doesn’t care what I do with his ashes because he will be partying in heaven and that any ceremony I do will be for me because he won’t be here anymore. I envision him playing lead guitar and singing in a praise band up there.
I had planned to return to my work in March due to a planned maternity leave. Another blessing from God since I didn’t have to work during my time of grieving. I redesigned my site before returning, and quickly settled in on client projects. I easily transitioned back into working and it was a great distraction. Something felt different though. I didn’t have that same fire and passion that I previously had brought to my work. What had changed? Was I depressed? Of course I was sad, but I had changed.
Losing Dad had brought me to a place of taking an honest look at who I was as a person, and what I wanted my life to be about. No longer the girl who spent hours at the skatepark everyday, and living a carefree life. I was a new mom, a wife, and I had been thrown into leaving and cleaving. I didn’t know it at that exact moment, but I know now this was God’s plan for me.
At this same time I have struggled for over 7 years with my health, in fact I still do. I am still pursuing the cause of my illness and more tests will ensue in July. Because of my health, being a new mom, losing Dad, and honestly not quite sure what to do with my loss of interest in making WordPress websites I spoke with my husband about it and we came to the decision to sell my business. This way I could focus on my health, focus on my family, and just leave myself completely open to what God might have planned for me.
It Happened So Fast
I spoke with a few friends about my interest in selling my business. I got some great advice and surprisingly a lot of support. I thought my friends would think I was nuts quite frankly, but everyone single person I spoke with told me they thought this would be really good for me. They thought I was very blessed to be able to take some time off and just focus on my family. I took these as all signs. There was no roadblock. There were no doors closing on me to not do this.
I really only ever had one person in mind when I decided to sell my business and that was Katie who was still that cool chick I met at WordCamp Austin. Sure, I could sell out to a company, maybe get more money and even do less work after the fact but what greater way to watch something you’ve built continue to grow and bless someone else’s life than to sell to someone you genuinely like and care about succeeding.
You see, God placed Katie in my life years ago. Little did we both know what would eventually come to fruition. I contacted Katie and within a few days we decided to move forward. I spent the past weekend in Dallas where she lives sharing my process and helping guide her. I didn’t need to do much because she really does have what it takes. I really believe in this girl and I know she is going to do great things in WordPress.
In fact, after I returned from Dallas I let a few people know before this announcement. One being Brian Gardner. I told him I had sold my business to Katie, and suggested he take a look at her portfolio because she does a lot of Genesis customized themes, and is now doing custom Genesis themes. He said he already knew of her and plans to replace me as a recommended developer with her profile. How’s that for God’s timing?
I was able to get a few things of Dads mailed to me after his passing by this amazing man who I never have even met that Dad briefly knew. I hadn’t had the courage to open the box but the day I travelled to Dallas before I left I opened it up. One item I knew was in the box was Dads backpack that he travelled all over Europe with. I packed up my laptop in it and took it to Dallas. As I was driving I held the top handle said out loud, “Ok, Dad…here we go”. Dad pushed me to start this business so I felt it only fitting he be included in the end of it. We also enjoyed some breakfast on the way back. My backpack to the right in the of me in the booth as I ate a big ole belgian waffle. We had some of our best conversations at breakfast.
If That Wasn’t Enough of an Angel Squeak for You
My friend Rosey and I have a little saying called an “angel squeak”. It’s how we know God is working, and we say to each other, “Oh, an angel squeak”.
In an effort to continue self discovery I started casually looking online. I was looking at my churches website and was quite surprised to see a job opening for Graphic Designer. Maybe it was the lingering pregnancy hormones, or maybe I just really am too much like my Dad in the way I can’t sit still, but I decided to contact them. They called me in for an interview the next day.
I openly shared my story about my Dad, the sale of my business, and how many years ago I sat in the audience during a Sunday message and thought to myself how cool it would be to make some graphics for them. We all knew what was happening. God had all perfectly orchestrated this very moment (insert angel squeak here) -this moment in which I would be able to take on this role, and there would be a role to fill. The position was for full-time, but I explained I was interested in only part-time so I could still work on my health, and be there for my family and daughter. They were very flexible and I was able to be accepted for part-time work. Not to mention, we moved recently and are only a few miles from the church. I can literally ride a bike there. Angels squeaking very loudly now.
What about little Stella and who will take care of her? If that wasn’t a big enough angel squeak. My in-laws who live in Durango listed their home and within one week received an offer. They will most likely move to Texas at the end of July which ironically is the exact time I will begin my new job.
Accepting the position at the church will allow me to still have a creative outlet all while using my talents to serve. I don’t think I could have asked for a more perfect situation and way to transition out of freelance.
I plan to use this site as a space to share my writings, creativity, and designs from the church. I’m actually really excited to have the freedom to just rock a default WordPress theme for the first time ever. It will probably only last a week before I start designing it, but for now I will relish in its “defaultness”.
Thanks to all my family, clients, friends, and peers that have inspired me and helped me actualize my freelance design dreams. Let’s see what this next chapter has to offer for Ryan Stella and I.