David Drexler has his hands in many pies. It seems implausible that a husband, father of four, businessman, and musician can strike a healthy balance that benefits himself and his family, but he does. David credits a lot of this to his wife Annie and their approach to parenting. “So many people decide that because they have kids they have to act a certain way, but why? Babies need love and milk. They come into the world so easily, they are really not that complicated. We lived a life that was rich before we had kids and we still do.”
David and Annie began their relationship with a strong sense of identity as musicians. After years of touring with other bands, they joined forces and toured as The Drexlers, gaining momentum and pursuing record deals. However, after several deals fell through, it became clear that the Lord had other plans for them. David, having received his MBA, decided that instead of pursuing music full time, he would return to work with his father at the glass company that was started by his grandfather. Many of his peers criticized him as a sellout, walking away from art in favor of business, but David kept his eyes focused on family. “I kept one foot in the real world and one foot in the music world. The price I pay is that I’m not a “rock star” like a lot of my friends, but instead I have a beautiful family.” He and Annie continued touring as their family grew. Each one of their four boys has been on stage in utero. With that start to their family life, David and Annie realized that as parents, they did not have to change everything about their life. Rather, they could invite their children into it. The boys were used to falling asleep as babies to the thumping bass guitar coming from the basement. As David continues to host musicians, including his current band, the kids naturally understand the boundaries that arise from that.
Darling Norman is David's current rock band of which fellow City Church member Dan DeCriscio is the drummer. They are a "rock band sitting uncomfortably within punk and new wave," playing all over the Atlanta area and the Southeast. They enjoy performing at hole-in-the-wall venues that are dark and full of smoke where they take the opportunity to play anything they want, whether the audience recognizes it or not. It allows for the freedom to play every show like it is their last, "because it just might," David laughs. Although David is the band's guitarist and singer, he confesses that his true passion is for songwriting. On the subject of faith and songwriting, David says, “Of course every song is of God- God created everything, He is in every song. But, I like to write about weird, quirky textures and postmodernism and urbanism and pain and if God comes up, that’s fine. My own life isn’t about outright praising God all the time. I wish it was. It’s about trying to figure out how to be real. And my songs reflect that.”
The enthusiasm and joy that David radiates to those around him is a beautiful testament of what living for the Lord looks like and what it means to love His plan for your life. “None of it is of value without a faith life...I think my walk with God keeps me aligned so that every moment of the day is an opportunity to enjoy life. Whether you are a cash register person, or whatever- striking up a conversation can be the highlight of my day.” His work for Drexler Shower Door & Custom Glass keeps him in regular contact with clients and in many ways makes him the face of the company of which he and his father are now part owners. He jumps at the opportunity to work with architects and designers on challenging projects that stretch his creativity and open more opportunities for improvement and the expansion of their company. He and Annie often joke about his return to work for the family business, comparing it to Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. In his twenties and thirties, David admits that he had some regrets about his career choice, but over time has developed a deep love and appreciation for the lifestyle that his career allows him. He has enjoyed watching their small company grow into one of Atlanta's best known glass companies. Their niche is that they will attempt out of the box jobs that many other glass companies won't. They've worked on some fun projects throughout the city, including glass stairs and ceilings. Our City Church congregation can look forward to admiring some of their craftsmanship at our new Hilan Theater location.
David and Annie have been active in City Church since it first took roots many years ago. Originally part of another church plant that eventually fizzled out, the Drexlers were connected with Scott Armstrong to hear about his vision for City Church. Scott asked them to be part of the launch team, but with a growing family, they declined and reconnected with City Church when things settled. From there, the Drexlers have been active in many ways. They both are part of the music team and Annie was the curator of the gallery space when City Church was located at the StoveWorks on Krog Street. David was reluctant to start playing on Sunday mornings, “but God drew me in and softened my heart and now we have had amazing experiences there.” They have also been active in a community group and DNA groups over the last several years where they are able to engage with other families and work through life together.
Although deeply fulfilled by city living, David also admits that he and Annie sometimes joke about moving to the country with their family and working together on a farm. “Living in the city is tough with kids,” he shares. “Every day is hard and wonderful. How do you provide kids with an opportunity to grow? Letting them figure out a way to have freedom and use their freedom and skills to grow can be tough.” David also praises the advantages of growing up in a city and all the opportunities that it provides for his children. During our interview with David at his glass showroom we got to meet Storm, his eldest child. Over the summer, some of his boys tag along, they wash company cars or do other odd jobs around the shop to earn a few dollars. This is one of the opportunities that allows them to explore that freedom.
Along with the foundation being laid by their children's school, David and Annie are also actively involved in their education. Having four boys ranging from 6-12 years old (from oldest to youngest; Storm, Donovan, Marnix, and Bowie), David has described his home as a "beautiful chaos." They find ways to get outside as much as possible and value time spent praying and reading the Bible together as a family. The four boys are involved in all kinds of activities, ranging from taekwondo to baseball to triathlons to wrestling. They let each child choose one activity that they can participate in. Whatever they choose, the rest of the family comes to support and watch together.
After a conversation with David it is evident that he has learned how to see the beauty in all stages of life and truly finds joy in whatever his task, whether it is to be a good father, son, business owner, or songwriter and musician.
City Folk is a monthly series featuring the people of City Church Eastside and what they are up to! Story and photos by Catherine Godek. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured, email Peach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few extra photos of Darling Norman, courtesy of their photographer.