Monday, February 28, 2011

Prompt: advice

“What is the best advice you ever received?” 

". . . look for God in the mess."
(via Blogger post comment)

-Tammy Sorensen


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Prompt: high school sweetheart

“If you had stayed with your first love or your high school sweetheart, what would your life be like now?”

I did. And my life is so blessed!


Right From The Heart Ministries - Southern Cross

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:16

Astrologists have told us that the most recognizable feature in the skies of the Southern Hemisphere is the Southern Cross and that it's disappearing. No, not in the physical sense, but, because of the increase in the amount of artificial light in places like Sydney, Australia, the Southern Cross appears fainter and less distinctive in the sky.

How like the lives of many who claim to be Christians. The influence of the world on the ethical and moral standards is so great that the truth as found in the Bible seems to dim. Where once they were light in the darkness, now their light has faded into obscurity, no longer seen in a world filled with darkness.

But it doesn't have to be that way. If you call yourself a Christian, let me ask you a question. Is the light of Christ shining through your life or is it really non-existent - invisible to others? Don't allow your light to vanish without having a positive influence for Christ.

*copy/pasted from HERE.


Saturday, February 26, 2011


"He made me mad!" "This just ruined my whole day!" "They're making me crazy!"
Man, am I gonna bust my own chops here! 
We use phrases like these a lot in our culture. Its a way of passing off the responsibility of self-management to someone or something else.

But we have this flesh, this human nature, and with that comes anger and hurt, sorrow and frustration, all the realm of emotion is already there inside of us. The good. The bad. The ugly.

That anger you felt when you were cut-off in traffic yesterday? That jerko driver didn't cause it. It was already there. He just revealed it to you.

Maybe its just me here, but its like there's this switch in my brain. I get angry. Or frustrated. Or overwhelmed. And I hold on to it. I throw out blame like playing darts, trying my best to hit the bulls-eye. When really, all I gotta do is . . . let go. Flip the switch.

Its a simple thing. It's a surrender. Its a willingness to except that this emotion, this anger, its mine. Its mine to deal with. Someone or something may have triggered it, but I've kept the fire stoked myself. And although its simple to do, most people choose to hold onto everything. Hoarders of emotional crap.

And that's me. I'm a hoarder. I let myself worry. And stress. The past few weeks of work have been rough. Very rough. And I reached a point of exhaustion. I just dreaded going in. But last night I realized that instead of choosing my attitude, I simply chose to blame the circumstances for my state of mind. And I accepted it as so. But after hearing "What's wrong? Are you okay?" last night from three different people, well, I realized how lame I was being.

So I reclaimed control of myself. I took ownership for myself and my emotions. And today was a whole new day. The circumstances? One of my kids tried to strangle himself with his shoe strings. Another one went AWOL. Another hallucinated and thought the devil was trying to kill him, etc.

But I chose my attitude. I surrendered to peace. I relied on God. My day? Despite all, it was great.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

loving well: more than just homeless

Loving others should be intentional, but I say that with caution. No one wants to feel like a service project. We don't go through life longing to be served. Its LOVE that we all crave so deeply; to be known and to matter. The ache of a hungry belly is often surpassed by the ache of a lonely heart, etc.

My wife, Kimberly, made me so proud last Sunday. As we were on our way home after church, we passed a homeless woman and her dog. Kimberly drove to Target and picked up a few items for the woman and dropped some info from the Branches in the bag as well. We were lucky and hit a red light as we drove back to where the woman was. Kimberly was able get out and hand the bag to her. The woman hugged Kimberly and began weeping when she opened the bag. She couldn't stop herself from saying, "Thank you! Thank you so much! Thank you!" over and over again.

So how does this proud husband's story relate to loving intentionally? You see, Kimberly is an animal lover, and she has a knack for knowing when other people are too. She saw a bond between that homeless person and her dog.

Who snuggles up to her and keeps her warm on cold winter nights? Who stays with her in the dark alleys and makes her feel safe? Who remains loyally by her side through everything?

Yes, I'm sure the woman was grateful for the food Kimberly gave her, but what item in that bag do you think pushed her to tears? Dog food. She was so, so very thankful for the dog food.

She was loved well. She was not treated as a service project, but cared for as an individual. Kimberly saw something in her, about her. She didn't just see a homeless person. She saw a woman who loved her dog. And I wonder if that, in itself, is what had such an emotional effect on the woman; that she was seen as something more than just homeless.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snapshot: 022211 1000 PST

Pretending to be asleep.
So Mona won't get up.
She's keeping me warm.


Star of India: Really? Wow!

As I mentioned a couple days ago, my recent experience chaperoning an elementary field trip on the Star of India was awesome.

One of the things that made it such great experience was the group of kids attending. Even the rowdiest of the bunch were completely well behaved. I couldn't believe it!

I guess after spending so much time working with the most foul-mouthed and violent children, I forgot how pleasant 'normal' kids could be!

Who knew!?

Monday, February 21, 2011


Today we headed up to LA with Susan, Alice, and Nathan. We checked out the Grove and the old famous farmers' market. We saw celebrities like Sponge Bob, the Hulk, and Jared Leto.

Good times in LA!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Um . . .

Today some Mormons stopped by our apartment to do their thing. These same guys hit this area pretty hard and we've spoken a few times, so today when they knocked on our door, Kimberly invited them in.

Anne was over, whipping up some eggs in a basket. We offered them some food, but they just settled for some bottles of water.

There was some conversing, mostly awkward chit chat, and some praying. They were all about praying for us, but they didn't quite know how to respond when we, in turn, lifted them in prayer.

In the end, there was some contact info exchanged, as they are really seeking service opportunities.

And this picture is of the back of their business cards.
Um . . .

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Star of India

Built in 1863, the Star of India is the oldest iron hulled merchant ship still sailing. And I got to stay overnight on it! Helping to chaperon a fourth grade field-trip with my good pal Nathan was a great experience for many reasons, and I'm sure I'll get around to writing about some of them when I'm not so exhausted. But for now, here's the pics!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Snapshot: 021811 2200 PST

Sailing on the Star of India with this guy!
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Is it a full moon out, or what!?

The sound is coming from the bathroom.
Sometimes when the boys shower, they bang on the wall. Really loudly.
So I'm on my way to the bathroom door to knock on it and tell whoever is in there to cut it out.

There's a small crowd gathered around the door, and I quickly realize whats happening.
Little Peanut has locked himself in the bathroom and is banging his head against the wall.

I'm running to the office to get a paperclip. If you straighten a paperclip out, you can stick it into the little hole of most interior door locks to pop them open.

I'm back to the bathroom door in a matter of seconds, but the door is completely busted off all three hinges. "What the hell!?" I think.

Oh, good. Another one of the kids saw an opportunity to be destructive and claim it was to be helpful. Two birds. One stone. Be a jerk. Be a hero. Bust a door.

But there's no time to deal with our "helpful hero." I rush into the bathroom to find Peanut in tears. His face is already beginning to bruise. "Hey, Peanut. Wanna come talk to me?" He nods yes and takes my hand, follows me out into the hallway.

With a sudden and unexpected shriek, Peanut kicks me and runs to the door. The thing is, Peanut likes to lay in the street and get ran over by cars. Apparently, the devil tells him to do it. According to Peanut, the devil tells him to do a lot of things. And I believe him.

So I dart after him. As I grab him, he begins kicking me and biting himself, drawing blood almost instantly. Another staff member assists, and we place Peanut in a floor assisted restraint. But we cannot keep Peanut from bashing his head into the floor. So we move into a upright seated restraint. This is a little more effective at keeping him safe.

Tears. Blood. Sweat. Pouring. Screaming. Like a demon.
And a strength that seems unnatural for a 60lb eleven year old to have.

Finally, all the struggle ends in exhaustion. Some comforting words and hugs. A PRN. And a bedtime story. Meltdown complete.Crisis over. For now.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wet underwear? Not cool!

Actually, wet underwear can be pretty darn cool.
In a no-good, very bad way.

Today's insanity was epic. The documentation required for behavioral issues in group homes took over 3.5hrs to complete today.

3.5hrs! That's a long time.
Especially in wet underwear.

You see, I had to perform a seated restraint on one of my kids today.
For forty minutes.
In the pouring rain.

Sadly, that's only a minuscule portion of today's craziness.
Sigh. But I made it through the day with only one bruise and all my kids safe and sound.
Thank God!

And after a few hours, I mostly dried out.
Except for my socks. And, of course, my . . .
Ah, never mind.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Only I

Home! Finally!

I think only I could get so lost, ending up on some random back-hills egg ranch in the middle of no where. Without a GPS signal, no less.

The view was incredible, but I was too tired and grouchy to enjoy the moment like I should have, heading home from an overnight shift at work.

But now I know of a new place to drive through the next time I wanna soak in some beautiful countryside. And rested.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Today's Writing Prompt: Refrigerator

What (if anything) is hanging on the front of your refrigerator? 



Valentine's Day usually isn't that big of a deal to us, but this year seemed more significant. Today was our twelfth Valentine's Day together, and our very first in California. Sitting on the beach and watching the sunset together seemed to be an incredible way to spend the evening.

And to think, in just a few more years, we'll have spent more February 14th's together in our lifetimes than not.
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Happy Valentine's Day!

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link love

Click here to check out the Golden Avenger, a super cool superhero created by super cool blogger and artist, Josh Ralls. Vote for Josh's Golden Avenger in the Stan Lee Foundation contest. Its easy to do, and only takes a few seconds to vote!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:38-39
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snapshot: 021211 1100 PST

These are delicious.

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Sometimes, the hand that feeds gets bitten; the shoulder that's cried upon is beaten.
On occasion,  I find myself in this circumstance.

I pour everything I am into caring for the people God has led me to; I'll cook and clean for them, love and comfort them, and walk alongside them through the darkest shadows of their journey.

To be spit on. Literally.
And its in that moment where everything stops.

You see, that incredible joy of loving people with God's love and seeing lives change, well . . . its tainted with a tinge of pride. "Look at me, I'm Mr. Nice. I help people! Yay, me!"

But when that spit hits my face, Gr!
The adrenaline kicks in. The pride. The anger. The entitlement.
The self-righteous lie that I deserve to be treated with respect

Its in that mili-second that I can, in no way, fool myself into believing that I'm good. Not one bit.
I'm forced to face my flesh.

On different occasions in the bible, Jesus used spit when working miracles.
Mark 7:32-35, Mark 8:22-25, John 9:1-7.

God has an uncanny knack for using the ordinary to do the extraordinary. 
And when that angsty teen's spit hits my face, something extraordinary happens.

My ego is put in check.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Snapshot : 021111 1600 PST

Hiking through Elfin Forest with some of my group home kids.

No, really.
That's what its called.

Elfin Forest.
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Thursday, February 10, 2011


I'm stumped.

I've been dabbling with Wordpress, trying to figure out how to launch a website.

And I got nothin'.

I've been messing around with Blogger for years now, and I've grown accustomed to knowing just how to do pretty much anything I want.

But Wordpress . . .
Yeah. I'm stumped.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I am addicted . . .

. . . to changing my blog's look.
Its like painting the living room, whenever I want.
For free!

Snapshot: 020811 0400 PST

Here I am.
A very sleepy me.

Apparently, one of my kiddos at work woke up yesterday night feeling a little antsy, deciding to take a late night stroll.

Being the... hm... being the, uh, special guy he is, this stroll was a major concern. So I was called-in to provide 1-on-1 supervision for him overnight tonight, just in case he, uh, began feeling antsy again.

So, in I came, ready for action; mentally prepared to restrain, escort, de-escalate, whatever needed to be done.

And instead, I'm listening to him snore.
Thank God for smart phones with time sucking, mind numbing games to play!
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Second Preview

Today was The Branches 2nd preview service.

It was awesome.

Matt Thompson led us in some incredible worship. Musical talent combined with his sensitivity to the Spirit makes for a moving experience.

 As always, Kris delivered a great message. His gift for practical life application is definitely put to use in this series, Stretched, as he guides us through what God says about managing our time.

The passion that James brings into everything he is a part of is always evident, as well as his mad love for God; and its infectious. Today was no exception.

With around sixty people in attendance, the service went off without a hitch.

Well, maybe a small hitch or two. More like . . . hitchetts.
But even those were easily quelled.

Kimberly and I left today's service feeling wonderfully blessed to be called into The Branches, and we're already anticipating next month's preview service, March 6th at 10:45am, San Pasqual HS.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Turning Evil Into Good

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result..." - Genesis 50:20

One of the great stories of the Bible deals with the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob. He was loved by his father and resented by his ten older brothers. They sold him into slavery and told their father he had been killed and devoured by a wild animal.

What is so amazing about Joseph is that he never gave up and never quit trusting in God, even though he faced setback after setback. He was falsely accused and unjustly thrown into prison. Miraculously, one day Joseph was called to interpret the Pharaoh's dreams. In so doing, he was appointed prime minister of Egypt to save the people from famine.

Amazingly, because he saved the people from famine, the brothers who betrayed him were saved, as well. When they realized the prime minister of Egypt was the brother they had betrayed years earlier, they were afraid. Yet, Joseph forgave them and said, "What you meant for evil, God meant for good."

What faith - what forgiveness - what an example for all of us.

*copy/pasted from HERE.

Today's Writing Prompt: Storm

Write about a storm that affected you in some way.

The Fire of '05 . . .

Actually, it was a terrible ice storm. Trees and power lines were so weighed down with ice they snapped like tooth-picks. It was a three day black-out. And some people went even longer without power.

Thankfully, we had a fireplace. And lots of candles.
And so did -V- and her momma, who lived right across from us.
We all spent a lot of time together playing cards. And starving.

Because its more fun to suffer as a group, you know.

So there we were, playing cards, and -V-'s momma stood up and caught her pant leg on fire from a candle. I vaguely remember shouting her name, even though she was, like, two feet from me.

I think my favorite memory of that whole ordeal, was when we were all sitting in front of the fire place, nearly at our wit's end with the situation, when -V-'s momma said, "I'm about done with this 'Kumbaya' shit!"

I think we all laughed until our sides hurt.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'll take it!

Okay, so  . . .
I do miss snow, winter, etc.

But 22*F?

Eh, no thanks.

I'll pass on the parka and stick with my hoodie.


I'll take it!


I am sooo
of my
shining star.

Keep shining!

Psalm 118:14

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.