Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


For as long as I’ve known Mark, he’s been telling me that he wanted to put a tree house (read guest room/office) in his tree in his front yard. For as long as I’ve known him, I wanted to join him in this crazy idea. Finally, this last Christmas, while Shannon and I were having breakfast with Mark and Kathleen in their home, it came up again.
  • I said, “I want to fly up for a weekend and help.”
  • He said, “Name the date this spring and you’re on. I’ll buy your plane ticket.”
  • I said, “Are you serious?”
  • He said, “Dead serious.”
  • I said, “Carve it in stone. I’m on booking a flight.”

Then, for almost 4 months, on my calendar have been three large words spanning 3 days in April: “BUILD TREE HOUSE”.

And last Thursday, it happened. I cannot even begin to describe the level of excitement I had for this project. I think it was only surpassed by Mark’s own. He’s been dreaming this idea for like 40 years he says- since he was 4 years old. Ever since then, he’s been reading books and drawing sketches and day dreaming of this project. He’s been saving old redwood beams and such for 4 years. He’s been talking and praying and staring every day at a giant black acacia tree in his front yard for 15+ years- all the while thinking, “I’ve got to put a house in this tree.”

When I arrived on Thursday morning about 9am, I found 4 steel poles – 7 feet in the ground in concrete and standing some 24 feet off the street level. There were piles of lumber and old doors and windows and tools and rope and pulleys and a few random ladders leaning here and there and 3 other guys ready to help.

Mark gave me a hug and said, “It’s good to see you brotha.” I said, “You too. Let’s do this.”

12 hours later, day 1 was over and we stood on the ground looking up a crazy staircase leading to a 9 foot walkway to a deck… all surrounded by bare posts that would soon hold the hand rails for both the entrance to the house and it’s side deck. 4 large ones would eventually become the corners of the building.

Day 2 began at 7am with breakfast. It ended at 9pm with a beer and a euphoric conversation, still mesmerized by the fact that the deck now had a 4 walls, a vaulted ceiling roof with double dormers, and almost all the hand rails… including an amazing copper pipe railing up the staircase that one of Mark’s friends and co-workers, Jaime, had made. It was truly a sight to behold.

Day 3 began just as early, but due to a plane flight, would end around 5pm for me. But when it was all said and done- before I left- all the windows where installed (including 2 operable dormer windows, a bay window and 2 side sliders), the front french door was in, and the back double french doors leading onto the observation deck were completed. Final bolts were drilled and a skirt was added to the bottom. And believe it or not, none of it touched the tree, but instead just gracefully wrapped around it and rested on the almost ignored steel beams below. All that was left was some trim and for the cedar shingles to be added as siding and on the roof. It was and is a pretty awesome sight.

I’ll make you wait no further. Here’s a before and after pic, somewhat sheltered from view by the tree itself.

Here’s a progress collage.

Here’s my lifes 2 big life lessons/learnings as a result of this grand project. I could write a book on it really… but for the sake of your time… I’ll limit it to two lessons:


Hands down, my favorite parts of this project happened on 3 occasions.

  • The first was the successful installment of a HUGE 4×10- 20 foot long beam right up and through the saddle of the tree like 30 minutes into the build. It must have weighed 500 pounds and when it went up and into the slots prepared for it, like we knew what we were doing and with great ease, it was a huge rush. I screamed “YES. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.” I knew this project was going to be a rush.
  • Second occasion was later that day: 2 workers had left, the sun had already set and all that remained was a few final rays of light and 4 of us pondering a 20 foot 2×12 staircase that was built but still needed to be installed. We couldn’t leave it on the ground. It felt too much like defeat. 2 ropes. 2 pulleys. 4 guys pulling with all their might. Some crazy ideas. And eventually, the tug of a tractor… we finally got it into place. It gave me my second opportunity to yell, “YES. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.”
  • Third was the end of day 2, staring up at the tree and realizing that just a few days ago, it was empty and now, was very clearly…. a house built for a tree. It was amazing. Especially since I know that mentally… 2 or 3 times in the weeks before, the project was almost called off due to fear of the risk and the impossibility this project had looming all around it. To see it have a form was beyond words.


  • I love building people.
  • I love building dreams and visions.
  • I love building stuff with my hands and wood.
  • This project inhabited all three of those things. It was for a great friend and brother in Christ. It was ALL about a dream and a vision. It involved my hands and wood. I think it was heaven. I absolutely loved it. In fact, I loved it so much I felt guilty that maybe I shouldn’t love it this much. It was pure, 100 %, uninhibited fun-filled joy. It was my sweet spot- literally what I would do every day in one form or another if I could. Every swing of the hammer. Every lift of the board. Every decision. Every problem to solve. Every conversation. Every ounce of sweat poured was worth it. I LOVED THIS PROJECT.


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