A New Season...

The Windy City

It was nearly 7 years ago that I was getting ready to start working at the local Apple Store here in Memphis. I'd moved here 3 months earlier to help my uncle and his family build their new home in Mississippi. He'd called me on a Monday with the offer to pay me while I oversaw the contractors who were working on multiple aspects of the house and to perform a variation of work getting the house constructed. I loaded my car in Canton, OH and was in Memphis on Friday. Digging trenches, sanding and painting what seemed like an endless amount of walls and installing pillars to hold the porch overhang that wrapped most of the house were only a few of the tasks that come to mind while I was working on the house. My uncle is a firefighter in a surrounding suburb of Memphis and has weeks where he couldn't be there to oversee the construction process. Our goal was to get the house into livable conditions to house our tradition of Thanksgiving at their house. Once we'd rounded into October and were where we needed to be, it was time for me to figure out what I was doing next. I applied at Apple, got called in for a group interview and was in core training by the end of the month. It was at Apple that I first met some of my longest friends in Memphis such as Stephen Hackett. I also met Courtney within 3 weeks of working at Apple. She was part of the batch of new hires right after me. Over the next two and a half years I moved through nearly ever role within Apple Retail with the exception of management, began my relationship with Courtney and asked her to marry me.

From Apple I moved to Securas Consulting Group and managed the Apple side of the business. I started with Securas after a series of unfortunate events had occurred within the company. We were starting small with the intention of keeping it small. We moved offices from Collierville to North Memphis and started with the handful of clients we carried over. I was responsible for the Apple services side of the business which included repair work. I can remember replacing hundreds of displays, bezels and top cases that plagued the non-unibody MacBooks over the summer for our education customers. Stephen and Jake Graves came in to help perform repairs. We'd work late into the night from the auto garage turned repair room that was the Securas Office. Courtney and I got married about 6 months after I'd started at Securas. It was an amazingly perfect day in October. It's hard to beat Memphis in the Fall.

One of my clients with Securas Consulting Group was Power Center Academy. PCA is a charter school here in Memphis that had seen so much success it was being approached to replicate the model of the school across the city of Memphis. This led to the formation of Gestalt Community Schools and to an offer to become it's IT Director. I accepted the opportunity and the challenge that was ahead of me. Being responsible for taking a single school with an emphasis on technology in the classroom and planning to scale it to multiple campuses with a standardized model within budget was a lot of responsbility. Being the lone IT support for 450 people at the same time made it daunting. I was yet again calling on my friends to come help me with the overwhelming work that has to be done in the minimal two month summer window in preparation for the new school year. During my time at GCS I found myself heavily dependent on High Point as my release and rejuvination to continue pressing forward during some of the most stressful weeks and months of my career. As GCS started to even out into a more normal 40 hours per week I started serving at High Point and have been doing so for a year now. I've made so many new friends that are walking through the same aspects of life as I am.

When Gestalt went through some layoffs earlier this year which included my position I was anxious to avoid going straight into another tech job. I needed to figure out where I was going from here. I decided to expand my side business and see if I could build it into something that we could live off of. We listed our home with the intention of using the equity to pay off all of our debt and make a down payment on a house in Memphis proper. Over the last few months we've been challenged in so many ways with both the business and the house. Adding new clients is incredibly difficult, especially when you're trying to build sustainable income from month to month. Our house has had 30 or more showings with no offers. We've burned through the little runway we've had and are running on blessings and prayers at this point. Even with all of this, the last few months have been an amazing learning opportunity and test of our faith in God to carry us forward. He's provided enough to keep us afloat and we've been happier as a family.

It's been almost a month since my grandfather passed away at the age of 97. The 12 hour trip to Ohio gave Courtney and I a lot of time to talk. It wasn't long before we were talking about what we wanted for ourselves as a family and we kept coming to a place where a big change was crucial to the mix. I brought up the idea of moving to Chicago (a favorite place of ours) and it was as if I'd just taken Courtney's dream directly out of her head. She told me she'd avoided bringing it up in the past because of how engrained I am in Memphis. It showed me that my focus on so many things has blurred my vision for what Courtney is thinking, especially as we've grown into parents and our decisions have a larger impact. It was a near instant agreement and release of tension when I brought up moving to Chicago. We were both in agreement that it was what we needed to do. For me it felt like the first time we were walking together, in sync, as a family. Uprooting our lives from Memphis to Chicago might sound exciting (and it is) but it's not easy. We'll be moving away from our support system of family and friends and starting fresh in a city that neither of us is familiar with. We've been spoiled to have lots of free babysitters and the ability to accomodate our schedules without much issue with Riley. Moving to Chicago means we won't have any safety net. Ultimately it will make us better parents and it will force us to grow. I've spent the last three weeks applying and interviewing and am happy to be joining the team at MXOtech next week. As soon as the house sells, Courtney and Riley will be coming to Chicago. Our new season of life began months ago and we just weren't attentive to it. It's astounding to me how easy it is to resist what God has for us through our own vision of what our life should look like. If you're in a similar situation, try to let it go and see what God has for you. I guarantee it will be the right path.