Friday, April 30, 2010

Whether the Weather

Has anyone else noticed this unpleasant trend of beautiful, sunny weekday weather, to be followed by rainy, sloppy-wet weekends? This seems to have been the pattern here in east-central Indiana for a few weeks now. And the pattern is supposed to continue, for at least one more weekend, with a high chance of thunderstorms rolling in this Saturday and Sunday. Last weekend I was excited about plans to drive off for a day to visit a state park in southern Indiana to go hiking, and was disappointed when the rain brought those plans to cancellation. The state park is in Versailles, and has some sentimental value to me. I was hoping to visit it soon, before life becomes anymore hectic than what it already is in preparation for our big upcoming move. But alas, it doesn’t appear this unfortunate cycle of weather will be breaking anytime soon. Autumn is my absolute favorite season, and I’ll miss watching the leaves change color after moving to California, so perhaps I’ll make a trip to Indiana in Fall ’11 to visit family, and then make a daytrip out of visiting Versailles with my parents. Whether the weather be fine, Or whether the weather be not, Whether the weather be cold, Or whether the weather be hot, We'll weather the weather, Whatever the weather, Whether we like it or not! -author unknown

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dry Bones Becoming As Flesh

Last Sunday, the worship team at FFC led the song ‘Days of Elijah.’ Somehow, the lyrics, “dry bones becoming as flesh,” have been echoing in my mind since. I was then reminded on Tuesday just how God has transformed ‘dry bones’ to ‘flesh’ right before my eyes; how God can breathe life and replenishment into a spiritually dead person. It would seem as though this happens often, but we neglect to recognize the miracle. Perhaps its at the frailty of our earthly minds that we fail to see anything other than instantaneous change. Transformation, in our own mortal eyes, can be distorted and hidden within the confinement and parameters of time, but to our mighty and eternal God, time is insignificant.

Yesterday at growth group, we coincidently discussed this same story, and a second important concept from it was brought to my attention. Although God could have simply commanded the bones to become as flesh, then flesh to be filled with life, He did not. He commanded Ezekiel to prophesy it. In man’s obedience to God, something miraculous happened. God did not require Ezekiel in order to bring death to life, but He chose to use him.

And so the Spirit speaks to me, bringing these thoughts together, and formulating questions I must continuously ask myself:

-Who is God commanding me to prophesy to; what dry bones will He call to be as flesh right before me?

-Will I hear His voice?

-Will I obey?

-Will I see beyond my own eyes and through those of the Spirit to recognize the miracles of God’s hand?

-And even if I’m unable to see fruition, will I continue to respond in obedience?

Ezekiel 37

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"What If?" Part 1: Looking Back Before Dreaming Forward

Recently, I’ve been encouraged to dream big, to ask myself what I’d do in ministry if I could do anything I wanted to. Usually, I consider how I might aide other people in the ministries they’ve developed, so dreaming big for myself is kinda new. As I search my heart for what God has placed upon it, I find a love for hurting people, a desire for community, a passion for music and creative expression, a drive for authenticity, and a push for growth. But, while asking myself, “What if?” the question has really become, "How has?" as I’ve ended up thinking back to things I’ve done in the past that have seemed to satisfy the desires God has placed in my heart and how I’ve served Him best.
  • When I worked as a direct care staff with emotionally disturbed youth, I was able to share Christ’s love through day-to-day interactions, and the impact of simply loving these kids was profound. I remember one teen in particular. He had been handcuffed to a bed by his uncle and raped eleven times by several different men. This kid had anger issues, and for good reasons. He was a terror to work with, violent and dangerous, but God placed it in my heart to ask him each evening, “I’m praying for you. Do you have any specific requests?” His response was always a string of creatively arranged profanities. Night after night of chairs flying, threats being made, and even the occasional physical altercation, God faithfully restored the mercy and patience within me to ask, “I’m praying for you. Do you have any specific requests?” The teen slowly began to understand that I really did, in fact care, and eventually he began making prayer requests. Each day as his prayer requests grew more detailed, his behavior grew milder. Then he reached a point where he asked me to not only pray for him, but with him. I brought him sermons on CD and worship music, and he devoured these things. The void left within him from experiencing such horrific abuse was being filled with the Spirit, and he eventually grew to be a role model for his peers.

  • I think of myself being in a leadership role, when managing the treatment program I ran. I often hesitate to consider myself a leader, but when I examine the accomplishments I made in that role, I see that God clearly used me there. I enjoyed helping my staff develop an understanding of their individualized skill-set and directing them on how to maximize their potential. I liked being a resource for them to turn to and tending to their needs, as well as providing some structure and discipline. I knew that God was using me in my staffs’ lives when their trust in me began to transcend the typical work scenarios; when they sought my discernment for personal matters and received spiritual guidance.

  • I think of songwriting and singing. I love sharing songs from my heart, the authenticity that comes from being vulnerable through music, and the way some songs can make us reflect on our own walk with Christ. I like how a collection of songs can take us on a journey through confession, surrender, worship and praise. Heart Song, for example, was a great experience. I enjoyed the community and fellowship amongst the musicians and writers, and the partnership with Nate C. in organizing the event and the many hours we put into fine-tuning Victory is Yours and other songs. I liked piecing together the graphics for slides, inserts, headers, etc., and conceptualizing the overall feel provided through the visual components. I remind myself of conversations I’ve had with people triggered by songs I’ve helped write, such as a man who came to me once to tell me that he starts every morning by listening to and singing along with Break Me, as a reminder to himself to be humbled and live for Christ alone.

So, instead of dreaming forward, I’ve taken a look back, and thankfully so. Now I’m able to examine these different passions and life experiences for characteristics God designed in me to bring Himself glory. And so far I see:

  • Constance and mercy
  • Supportiveness and guidance
  • Expressiveness and encouraging of others to express

These aren’t things within me to be prideful of, because they are not to my own credit, but to God’s alone. All that is good in me and in this world is Him. Hopefully, after this contemplation of how He has revealed himself to others through me, I’ll be able to prayerfully look towards future ministry opportunities with a more clear vision, and be able to answer the question, “What if?” To be continued . . .

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

on loop in my head

This is how it works It feels a little worse Than when we drove our hearse Right through that screaming crowd While laughing up a storm Until we were just bone Until it got so warm That none of us could sleep And all the Styrofoam Began to melt away We tried to find some words To aid in the decay But none of them were home Inside their catacomb A million ancient bees Began to sting our knees While we were on our knees Praying that disease Would leave the ones we love And never come again On the radio We heard, 'November Rain' That solo's really long But it's a pretty song We listened to it twice 'Case the DJ was asleep This is how it works You're young until you're not You love until you don't You try until you can't You laugh until you cry You cry until you laugh And everyone must breathe Until their dying breath No, this is how it works You peer inside yourself You take the things you like And try to love the things you took And then you take that love you made And stick it into some Someone else's heart Pumping someone else's blood And walking arm in arm You hope it don't get harmed But even if it does You'll just do it all again And on the radio You hear, 'November Rain' That solo's awful long But it's a good refrain You listen to it twice 'Cause the DJ is asleep On the radio, on the radio On the radio, uh oh, on the radio, uh oh On the radio, uh oh, on the radio

In Transit

I am not here. Or there. I am nowhere. But clearly, I am somewhere. I'm not trying to be clever. Not trying to sound artsy. Or emo. I'm just trying to answer one simple question; where am I? Indiana no longer feels like home. My heart has already moved on to Escondido, yet my residence remains the same. The church community I love and have belonged to for the past four years doesn't quite feel like it once did, and with only a couple months or maybe even just a few weeks left before its time to make goodbyes, readjusting doesn't seem like a realistic option. Although my employer hasn't changed, my position within the organization is in great transition as I'm phasing out in preparation for my departure, and within just a few more days, I'll be doing most of my work from home instead of the office. I'm becoming more and more removed from nearly every community I belong to. So here I am. Somewhere, in transit.

Colossians 3:1-3

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Its amazing how one situation, one circumstance, can pull me in a thousand different directions at once; how words, or a silence where words should be spoken, can trigger an array of emotions. So various. So hard to define. All shouting to be the loudest. I've never been a concrete, black-&-white person. For the most part, I've considered this a blessing. Viewing the world in shades of gray has allowed me to share a deep empathy with people, and this is how God has designed me to then share His light with others. But at the moment, within this circumstance, the only struggling soul is my own. And I'd love nothing more than to increase the contrast. To take this drab gray-scale photo, and add definition. 'Til its all just black-&-white. Clean. Cut. And simple.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I (heart) Liz!

Last week, Liz Hansen, International Director of Jamaica for CSI Ministries, visited the CSI headquaters in Muncie to prepare for a board meeting. Liz is such a pleasure to have in the office, so we wanted to do something extra special for her. We had "I (heart) Liz" shirts made and decorated her office, celebrating our love for Liz all day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. It was a blast! We took goofy pictures and laughed a lot. No longer working with Liz will be one of the saddest things about leaving CSI when I move to Escondido, so I'm glad we were able to make this funny memory. If you're interested in seeing what other silliness entailed throughout the I (heart) Liz festivities, you can see the rest of the pictures HERE!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What Is A "Calling?"

"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." - 1 Corinthians 7:20
If you have been in the church culture for a while, you have heard the term "calling" many times. You may have wondered what the term means. If you go to Webster's Dictionary, you will find there are fifty-nine definitions of the word, "calling!" Fifty-nine! They're as varied as receiving a call on a telephone or calling a hand in a game of poker. That's just two of the fifty-nine! But, what is the Biblical definition of calling? A "calling" is a summons by God.Those of you who were drafted into the military know what it's like to get a letter from Uncle Sam saying you've been drafted. That is a summons by the government for you to serve in the military. Well, God gives a summons. It's a summons to follow Him. It's a summons to trust Him. As a matter of fact, in all callings, there is a calling to serve, a calling of unselfishness, a calling of sacrifice. That's why military service often is referred to as a calling. The same kind of things are involved when you are receiving a calling from God - sacrifice, unselfishness, and service. But that's not all. There's also a calling to leave the familiar and venture into the unknown. And that causes us to feel inadequate and insecure at times about the calling. But this is good, for it forces us to depend on God. In the New Testament, when Jesus Christ calls, it is most of all a call to follow Him. Then, as we follow Him, He calls us to specific places of service. Have you accepted His call?
*Borrowed from HERE.

Monday, April 19, 2010

the illusionist

flashy fliers draw appeal
boasting feats of wonder, thrill
beckons, "leave your day to enter,
one free ticket, front and center"
the curtain opens, there he stands
could it be he's just a man?
defying all of nature's laws
beaming brightly at applause
but even this show, too, must end
and nothing will seem as it did
the grand finale? the last trick?
he disappears into a mist
just smoke and mirrors left behind
once a marvel, redefined
incantations, a wand's flick
just lies of the illusionist

Practice What You Preach: Why Chick-fil-A Rocks

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." - Matthew 6:33
Chick-fil-A has grown to be the second largest chicken chain in America. Some would say it is because the food tastes great. Others would point to its clever advertising. (Let's face it, there is something appealing about seeing a cow beg you to "Eat Mor Chikin.") But, Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, has a different view. He declares that the secret of his success is the company's high quality of people and their attention to customer service. How do they attract such people? Truett says it all goes back to Chick-fil-A being closed on Sundays. Now, closing a restaurant on Sunday is quite unusual in itself. But what makes it even more remarkable is that most of its restaurants are located in malls - and Sunday is one of the highest sales volume days in those malls. Truett believes everyone should have a day off a week - for church, rest, or to enjoy family. If the business is open, you might get a call from the store with a question, or asked to replace someone who was sick, or just be worried about how the store is doing. But by being closed, workers are guaranteed that day off. Restaurant professionals appreciate that lifestyle and are attracted to the company. Accordingly, Chick-fil-A has attracted an outstanding team - many industry experts will say its people are the best in the food industry.And what do the employees say? In an industry known for its high turnover (50% annual turnover for managers is not unusual), Chick-fil-A experiences a turnover of just 3%. Not one of the locations is open on Sunday, and never will be. "It was not hard to decide to close on Sunday," said Truett Cathy. Dan Cathy, President and COO of the company, says, "Jesus Christ did not die for a company, He died for individuals, personally." The company wants to operate on Biblical principles and acknowledge the Lord in all ways.Now, that's what I call putting the Lord first, even in business!
*Borrowed from HERE

Thursday, April 15, 2010

GIMP Experimenting

So, I have a brand-spanking new Mac, which, on a side-not, was a completely unexpected and totally amazing blessing. I downloaded a free program called GIMP for graphic editing. I think I'm really going to be able to do some cool stuff with this program, but it's unlike anything I've ever used. So, in an attempt to learn, I've been taking a hands-on approach, trying to just get in it and play around with the different tools and functions. Hopefully, within a couple weeks, I'll be a pro! The pictures above were tonight's 'homework.' So far, I've just been messing around as I test things out, but my brain is starting to rattle off ideas, so hopefully soon I'll have learned enough to turn those ideas into some sort of graphic. I sense frequent changes in blog headers and many creative projects coming soon ;o)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Anticipation. Frustration. Excitement. Anxiety. Joy. Impatience. Curiosity. Anger. The good. The bad. The ugly. So much, all at once. Growing. Spinning, like a tornado. Completely nonsensical. One moment, terribly wonderful. And the next, wonderfully terrible. So on a day like today; the sun shining warm and a lite, cool breeze blowing, all while feeling like this, what would I rather do? Attend the FFC monthly meeting? or Hang out in the church playground with my friends' kids? Hmm . . .
Sometimes, times like this, you just gotta ditch the meetings in life and go down the curly-slide, growl and snarl like a dragon while you chase half a dozen kids around the jungle-gym, and ride on a see-saw until you feel like puking. That, for me, is therapy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


My parents invited Kimberly and I, along with the Canady's, over for a bon-fire at their farm. It was a great time; really fun and very peaceful. The Canady's son, Isaiah 2yrs, is just so cute and I happened to have a camera on hand, so I snapped a few shots of him as he explored the unknown terrain. Here are some of my faves:

Jesus, the Light that Overcomes Darkness

"I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness." - John 12:46

Have you ever been in a situation where the darkness was so powerful that light could not overcome it? I remember touring a cave when all the lights were turned off. I couldn't see a thing. I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face! And then the guide simply lit a match - one match - and we could see all over the cave, because darkness cannot overcome the light. Jesus says He is the Light of the world, the embodiment of how to know God and how to live life. You may feel your life is engulfed in darkness. You may feel bewildered at not having discovered the answer to life. Invite Christ into your life and the light will be turned on, no matter how much darkness you've experienced. Life will begin to make sense and you'll be filled with hope and understanding. Here's more good news. When we do this, Jesus says we can be a light to others by pointing people who are in the dark to the light...the Light of Christ.

*Borrowed from HERE.

Friday, April 9, 2010


1. the quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and fairness.
2. truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness.
3. freedom from deceit or fraud.
4. Botany. a plant, Lunaria annua, of the mustard family, having clusters of purple flowers and semitransparent, satiny pods.
5. Obsolete.
integrity, probity, rectitude, honor, candor, veracity
*Just in case you've forgotten

Thursday, April 8, 2010

¡No Hablo Mucho Español!

Yesterday I had my first phone interview for a job in Escondido. In Spanish. My qualifications? My work experience? Surpassing all other applicants! My Spanish? Needs work . . .

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. "

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thanks, Mom!

“I will go before you and make the crooked places straight.” Isaiah 45:2

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs16:3

“What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways.” Job 22:28

The Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. “Isaiah 52:12”

Monday, April 5, 2010


I am looking for a job. Obsessively. I need to find one. Soon. I can't stop thinking about it. I check my e-mail every hour, hoping to find a response. I get impatient. I panic a little. Then I realize it's only been 4 days since I sent them my resume. I mean, its just 4 days. Right? Nothing to worry about. Right? The apartment is 82'F right now. That, on top of these concerns, makes it impossible to sleep. So I look for jobs. And find nothing for myself. Tons for other people. Just not for me. So the kinda-panic starts back up. Just for a second. Okay. Maybe a minute. Or two. Ugh.

Marggy Hensley: Sensitive to the Spirit, Bold to Share

Today Marggy Hensley came to the CSI office to take care of some business regarding her upcoming departure to Jamaica, where she will serve as a full-time missionary. Much like the Black's, Marggy has played a significant role in my life that has led me to the path I am on now. I wish I had a better sense of time so I could pinpoint when the discussion occurred, but I do remember the place and conversation well. We were in the Family Life Center at Farmland Friends Church. Marggy came up to me and told me that although we had never really talked much before, she felt like she knew me through reading this blog. And through reading this blog; the things I wrote about, the stories and songs I posted, the templates I had designed, pictures I had drawn and painted; Marggy had an understanding of my heart, my strengths and skills-set. She told me that God was going to use those things; that God was going to use me. Marggy was the first person to ever tell me individually that God had designed me, gifted me, in specific ways to serve Him. As a person who sometimes struggles with feeling inept, this was a new idea to me. I often see other people's strengths and contributions and have a difficult time recognizing my own, but Marggy saw something useful in me and was compelled to share. And that got the gears turning. I began to wonder. I began to pray. Some time later (again, I wish I was more chronologically inclined), I found myself at the alter one Sunday morning, weeping. Marggy came to me and said, "I don't know what you're struggling with, but God is going to use you in a ministry one day that you can support your family with. It might be later, or it could be sooner, but He's going to use you." This is something I think back to often, and as I begin traveling down this path that will hopefully lead to full-time ministry work, I feel encouarged, believing that Marggy's kind words were divinely inspired. I am appreciative of Marggy's sensitivity to the Spirit, and her boldness to share with others what is laid upon her heart. Undoubtedly, she will be a great blessing and source of encouragement for those she will minister to and with in Jamaica.
*If you'd like to make a financial contribution to Marggy's ministry in Jamaica, You can go HERE for information. Thank you & God bless!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Life's Most Important Question

"Pilate said to them, 'Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?'" - Matthew 27:22 Almost 2,000 years ago, a man named Pilate asked the most important question in life. Standing before him was an itinerant preacher. There was nothing remarkable about His looks. He had attracted a large following but few committed followers. He had no wealth - not even a home of His own. Yet He was the object of an unmitigated hatred from a mob. Pilate asked, "What shall I do with this man?" As the mob cried for His execution, the man, Jesus Christ, stood silently as Pilate cowardly sentenced Him to death on the cross. The question Pilate asked is ultimately one all of us have to ask. What shall I do with this man, Jesus? He loves you, even when you could care less about Him. He cared enough to pay the penalty for your sin. What will you do with Jesus? Your eternal destiny hangs in the balance by how you respond. *Borrowed from HERE

What Does a Teshuva Bowling Night Look Like?

Well, it kinda looks like this:
And after an energy drink or two, it starts looking like this: Then things start getting a little crazy:

Friday, April 2, 2010

April Fool's Day

April 1, 2009 I wrote a post called A Day I Just Have to Blog About. It was about how a client of mine had been hallucinating and seriously acting out sexually. And how his father threatened to shoot me when I called to inform him I was hospitalizing his son. All while the bank Kimberly was working at was being robbed. Yep. All at once. It wasn't an April Fool's joke either. Just life. This April Fool's Day? MUCH BETTER.