The Things We Hold Dear

My three-year-old never ceases to have a collection of trinkets that accompany him everywhere he goes, whether it’s around the house, in the car or even when he goes to bed.  Today’s assortment included a magnetic letter “J”, a plastic yellow connector for a building toy and a customer appreciation card for a bakery chain.  And while these items may seem pretty trivial , they are the things he holds dear.  He cherishes and protects them, and is eager to show them off to anyone interested.

It got me thinking, I guess we do this as adults too.  Maybe it’s our homes, vehicles, jobs, pets or entertainment systems.  I personally love collecting a variety of memorabilia, and have a particular affinity for my ever-growing stash of Coca-Cola collectibles.  Like my son and his trinkets, we like to show off the things we are proud of and naturally want to share about the things that tend to define us.

All of this leads me to wonder, why am I not this passionate about the one thing that should be most important in my life?  As you may have guessed, I’m talking about my relationship with Jesus Christ.  If you are Christian, perhaps the same applies to you.  Instead of beaming with joy about the earthly things we’ve bought or collected, why don’t we take every opportunity to share the Good News?  I realize that in striking up a conversation, talking about your latest score on Ebay makes a better icebreaker than, “So, where do you stand spiritually?”  But how often do we go the extra mile to eventually talk about what really should define our lives?  Often times we never move past the idle chit-chat.

Maybe, like me, sometimes it feels like your life is being less defined by the Holy Spirit and more by every other distraction that comes along in our busy lives.  I believe that resolving this starts at home.  I know I am supposed to be the spiritual leader of my household, but it is a role where so often I miss the mark.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the things of this world and the busyness of life and put everything else on the back-burner.  Daily devotions in some capacity with my wife and son should be a priority, along with prayer, and too often it isn’t.  I can’t go out into the world and spread a message I’m not prepared to share.

This has just been weighing heavily on me, and maybe it’s something you’ve been feeling too.  As I write this, my son has long since drifted off to sleep, clinging tightly to his trinkets.  As usual, he cherishes and protects them, and will be eager to show them off again tomorrow.  Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if that was the way we all embraced our relationship with Jesus?

 

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Virginia’s First Birthday

On April 8, 2010, my wife and I received the devastating news that the baby she had been carrying since December had been diagnosed with two rare disorders, a cystic hygroma and hydrops fetalis, which would eventually take her life.  On April 21st my wife wasn’t feeling the baby moving and, as feared, the ultrasound revealed that there was no longer a heartbeat.  We entered our local hospital on April 22, and were discharged on the 24th, discouraged and angry that natural birth could not be induced.  We were told that an invasive procedure would be necessary, and basically we would never see our child.

We were persistent though, and by God’s grace a Christian doctor offered to give natural birth another try.  On the morning of May 3, we were admitted to Evanston Hospital and that evening our daughter was born.  It gave us a great deal of closure to be able to hold her in our arms and say goodbye.  We named her Virginia Rae,  a combination of her great grandmother’s and mother’s middle names.

In honor and celebration of Virginia’s 1st birthday, we are planning to make a visit to an organization which walked beside us from the diagnosis, through the birth, funeral and since.   The Haven Network is located in Rockford, IL and is a Christian perinatal hospice.  Though they are a couple of hours away from us, they spent countless hours talking to us on the phone, and helping us through the process.  They offer so many wonderful services for no cost, such as photography, keepsake items, bereavement literature, and spiritual support.  We have received cards and letters from them on special occasions since Virginia’s passing that have meant so much to us.

We are asking for you to partner with us as on April 21st as we will be bringing them donated items that they can use to serve so many other families who are experiencing the trauma of losing a baby.  Below is a list of items that they are in need of:

  • Handmade flannel receiving blankets approximately 20×20″.  Solid soft pink, blue, or white in color.
  • Photo albums—$10 donation in memory of
  • Ilford 5×7 Premium Photo paper
  • Gift certificates to local restaurants for the families
  • 1″ pink or blue satin ribbon (without wire)
  • Solid pink or blue gift bags approximately 10″x12″
  • Newborn scrapbooking items
  • Plain white photo storage boxes from Hobby Lobby
  • Forever Stamps

Above all, we ask that you will just pray for this organization, that they will be be blessed and be able to continue to be a blessing to so many families.  And for us, as the coming month will be very difficult.  Thanks so much in advance for your support!  For more information, you can contact me at tim@krooswykdesign.com or visit one of these other resources:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=180340232004931
http://cystichygromaandhydrops.blogspot.com/
http://www.thehavennetwork.org

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Identity Theft

When you think about identity theft, what comes to mind?  You might think of someone finding a lost credit card and taking it on an indulgent spending spree.  Or maybe it’s a hacker using a stolen social security number to open fraudulent accounts that can destroy an innocent person’s credit rating.  It might even be an individual physically masquerading as someone else.

While those are all good examples, I am thinking about another form of identity theft, the kind that occurs when you lose your job.  I recently found myself in that very situation, facing an unfair departure from the company I had worked at for nearly a decade, and from the industry that had employed me since 1998.  Like a thief in the night, they snuck up behind me and stole my identity.  For the first time in 13 years I am having an identity crisis and realizing how much of who we are comes from our job titles.  “Hi, I’m Tim and I’m the lead graphic designer for XYZ Company” sounded a lot better than “I’m Tim and I’m between jobs right now.”  I took a lot of pride in my career and in every project I worked on, and to have had it come to a screeching halt was agonizing.

But as I put it all into perspective, has this really left me without an identity?  Absolutely not!  In Genesis 1:27 we learn that God created us “in His own image,” and I have an ultimate identity as one of His children.  I am a husband and a father, and have enjoyed being a stay-at-home dad for my 2-1/2 year old son.  I have a new identity as a job seeker, searching for what might become another new identity for me.  I am still an artist as well, and whether I am designing full-time, part-time or freelance, God has given me a talent and I will continue to use it to the best of my ability.

Yes, I am a victim of identity theft.  But I haven’t forgotten who I am.  I have learned that identity isn’t about where we work, or the cards we carry.  It’s what’s inside that defines us, along with the relationships we forge, both worldly and heavenly.  I don’t think of this as this end, but rather as a new beginning.  It is difficult to bear right now, and it has been easy to get discouraged, but I have hope.  Hope that the future will be filled with more of God’s blessings and mercy than I could ever imagine, and an identity that is secure throughout the storms of life.

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Customized Photo Holiday Cards

Wow, can you believe it’s that time of year again already?

As you prepare for the holidays, maybe you have been thinking about all of those Christmas cards you need to send out.  This year I am offering a one-of-kind assortment of 5″x7″ holiday cards with your favorite photo(s) and message.

For just $0.97 a card you get your choice of glossy or matte 5″x7″ photo greeting cards.  Order over 30 and they are $0.89 per card. Envelopes are included.  Once a design has been purchased, it is no longer available, making you the only person sending out that particular style of card this Christmas.

Please visit my Facebook page for the styles that are available.  Then simply e-mail me the style number you desire, along with the digital image(s) and message/name(s) you would like on the card.  I will e-mail back a design for your approval prior to printing.

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re:Design Spotlight > The Gap Logo

Is it the result of a botched marketing strategy, or an ingenious marketing ploy?

That is the hot question as the Gap brand has unveiled a new logo on their website.  Yes, the iconic blue square with the simple, serif lettering has -  gasp – been replaced.  And not with something better.  “Gap” now stands on its own in a black Helvetica font with upper and lowercase letters.  The right edge of the letter “p” overlaps a small square with a blue gradient.

Gap Logo - Old and New

In an age where less is more and trendy often reigns over creative, their logo has retained its ability to “gap” the generations.  It is elegant in it’s simplicity, and easily recognizable.  If they move forward with this logo, it will be an affront to the brand.  It may be new, but it’s already tired.  It’s been done before, and it’s boring.  There is nothing memorable about this Gap logo, and it is way too average for a store that claims to be anything but.

But all hope may not be lost.  For better or worse, every brand loves attention, and the Gap is getting plenty of it (I’m no exception).  The Gap is acknowledging this attention on their Facebook wall, and it’s possible this whole thing might just be a fantastic marketing tactic.  Take a look:

“Thanks for everyone’s input on the new logo! We’ve had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we’re changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we’d like to… see other ideas.   Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project.”

Based on this, it appears that the Gap is offering an open design challenge to, well, everyone.  With crowd sourcing all the rage these days, this is actually brilliant.  They are going to receive hundreds if not thousands of submissions for logo ideas, all for free, and will only have to pay for the design they choose.  This is a lot less costly than going to one firm (which will pinch them for being a large company) and spending tons of money working with them to achieve the desired look.

So, good luck Gap.  It will be sad to see your iconic logo go the way of the dodo bird, but I have high hopes that this will be the start of a great new era!

UPDATE: Per Fast Company’s Co.Design site, apparently this was designed by Laird and Partners, who have worked with the Gap on many projects over the years.  Seeing their latest campaigns, the Helvetica font has been used often, and does a nice job of complimenting the current logo.  But if they want to implement it into the logo, they did a poor job of it.  It looks more and more like the crowd sourcing wasn’t a planned event until all of the bad press.  Yikes.
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