Sunday, April 29, 2012

Be here.

Have a physical presence. Be available.
Be a pair of eyes. Have listening ears.

Be here. That's all you have to do.
Its simple. Be here.

Focus. Hone in.

Every now and then take a mental break.
Tune out a bit; just a bit. Then recommit your attention.

Just be here. That's the key.
That's the key to... well, a lot of things.

Be here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

talking shop

Me: what would Jesus do with these guys?
Nate: send them straight to hell.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

lest you be tempted

"Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." - Matthew 26:41

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." - James 1:2-4

"Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on." - Proverbs 4:14-15

"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." - Hebrews 12:3-4

"Put on the whole armor of God... For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against... this present darkness... Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace... take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication..." - Ephesians 6:11-18

"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." - 1 Peter 1:6-7

MOG 042512

- I've started a low-carb, high-protein diet with Kimberly. I can almost guarantee results, but I'm an extremist. Everything I do, I do in spurts; so its the longevity of results that are in question. But in the meantime, I'm looking forward to fitting into some of my favorite pairs of jeans again. I guess this is the re-emergence of Too Much of Me Monday's.

- Along with diet, I'm rededicating to a few other things as well. I guess you could say I'm feeling motivated. There's an underlying sense of discouragement amidst that motivation, but the feeling of motivation itself is a good start!

- There was a night or two last week that wasn't too great, but overall, I've been sleeping really well lately! Yay, sleep!

- Anxiety hasn't been too bad recently, which is probably why I'm sleeping better.  I had a few days last week where I felt really depressed, but depression is much more manageable without anxiety.

- Work continues to be stressful, but not overwhelmingly so. I'm hoping it becomes the ministry outlet it once was. Right now it's all about crisis intervention. I miss when kids wanted to build relationships with us and asked for prayer and sang worship songs with us. We're just focusing on survival at the moment, which just isn't as fulfilling for me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

one of those mornings

Sigh... it's one of those mornings. You know the kind; when the blankets feel all fresh and fluffy and there's nowhere else in the world you'd rather be than right where you already are, in bed next to the love of your life playing footsie. The birds outside are singing and the room is nice and cool. It's one of those mornings; one of those mornings you wish could last all day; the second one of those mornings I've had in a row. Ah... so peaceful

I'm blessed!

blessed to be one of '4 others' tagged

FB notified me I was tagged in this post today by this kid

Well, he's not a kid anymore, but he was a kid six years ago when I first met him.

Working in residential treatment, we all say  to 'civilians' that we don't have favorites, because that's the most professional answer.

But we do.  
I do, at least. 

I try to provide the same level of care for all my kids, but sometimes, as in all areas of life, you just connect easier with certain people. David was one of those kids. I've kept in contact with him and a couple others from my days at the Youth Opportunity Center, and they are complete God-sends to me, especially during seasons like this. I'm sort of in a dry spell at work; the sole focus in the milieu right now is safety due to some high-risk kids we currently have, so the warm-fuzzies have been few are far between lately.

So, thank you, David. I needed to read this message this week, and I feel so honored to be one of the '4 others' tagged in it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

from the mouth of babes 042112

"How about no!? Crazy Dutch bastard!"

* this is why children should not be allowed to watch whatever they want...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sometimes I. God is always. The enemy cannot.

Sometimes I look for God and feel He's nowhere to be found.
God is always everywhere to be found.
The enemy cannot take Him from me.

Sometimes I search within myself and find no sign of life.
God is always Living, and His very breathe fills me.
The enemy cannot bring true death.

Sometimes I feel lost in the darkness.
God is always present and His light never ceases to shine.
The enemy cannot blind me.

Sometimes I become weary in battle and am tempted to surrender.
God is always victorious.
The enemy cannot escape defeat.

Sometimes I. God is always. The enemy cannot.

Snapshot: 042112 1230 PST

Sitting by the pool at work, soaking up the SoCal sun. Hopefully the kids will exhaust themselves swimming, resulting in a nice, quiet evening. A guy can dream.... right?

On a side-note, it's hot. If this pool wasn't so disgusting, I'd be tempted to jump in.

woo hoo!

Just found out I finished my human development class with a 98%.
This makes me smile.

worth (wûrth)

1. The quality that renders something desirable, useful, or valuable
2. Quality that commands esteem or respect
1. Deserving of; meriting

I could listen to them all day...

They are seriously talented. Eerily so.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Snapshot: 042012 1600 PST

Sitting in the backfield at work, staring at the ground while one of my kids pretends to murder someone. He's pretty good at making the sound effects of skin being slashed and blood gushing. Its creepy.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking over my thoughts, analyzing them a little. That's kinda creepy, too...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Snapshot: 041812 2000 PST

Listening to a twelve year old boast about robbing a store to his grandmother over the phone. I'm sick to my stomach....

creative survival

"Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior."

Luke 16:8 MSG
The current series image I designed for the Branches. 

I love it! It was fun creating, too!

A high-contrast  gray-scale with a burst of color.

Good times!


About two years ago, I posted this. It was supposed to be an on-going series of exploration and service. Instead, it ended up being a reflection of the past, which did end up being incredibly helpful and a great beginning to the process of aligning myself more with God's will.

And that's where it stopped.

I've been stretched over the past two years, but I've also fallen into complacency in many ways. In fear of failure and disappointing myself and others, I've... remained.

I feel a push to do more than simply support other people who've been more obedient to their callings than I. Helping others is what I do best because it's what comes easy for me, but I don't want easy.

I understand I have to sift through some things here, like 'what is God's will for me versus my own ambition and desire for purposefulness?' It's a tough thing to discern and clearly I've got a lot of praying to do.

God's in control. He knows me more than I know myself. And I know that.

It's just that every-now-and-then I get an ant in my pants. But life is a picnic regardless, and the basket is always full of goodies.

I'm feeling optimistic.
Something new is on the horizon...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Last night in class, I shared a little bit of your story.

The exact same time I was talking about you, so was Kimberly. She was on the phone with a friend who is facing an unfortunate circumstance; one similar to yours.

Tomorrow is your birthday. That is, it would be if you were still alive.
I'm not big on coincidence.

I still love you. You're still impacting lives.
I'm still thanking God for you.

"Be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you." 

1 Peter 5:6-7 MSG

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today's Writing Prompt: Color

What color is your mood right now?

I'm feeling optimistic.

That's green... right?

Besides, it's my favorite color :-)

here and now

Today was the last lecture of my first graduate class. Three credits down, fifty-seven left to go! I've learned a lot about psychosocial development! And APA formatting, which apparently is ever-changing and the absolute most important thing I could ever pray to master (sarcasm).

I've recently come to a conclusion regarding the reality of the insanity-that-will-be-my-life over the next two or so years as I work my way through this program.

This is a journey.
Not a destination.

Sure, crossing the finish line will be awesome, but God uses the here and now.
And I just happen to be living in the here and now.

So it's a pretty good fit.

I'm learning and growing. And teaching and sharing.
Yes, its about tomorrow. But its also about today.
a man who uses his strength to hurt a woman should be castrated.
without anesthetics.

using a rusty spoon.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I heard thunder today.
Beautiful thunder.

It made me sing.

chapter twenty-nine

I turned twenty-nine today; the last year of life in my twenties. And I'm okay with that... I think.

Thirty is an interesting number. I can't quite define it's significance, but it obviously exists. It seems to be the first milestone in the developmental stage of ever-dreaded-aging in Western cultures. I get why, kinda, but I'm not sure I fully agree.

That might be a post for another day.

What birthdays mean to me, other than cake, is beginnings and endings. A birthday is like your very own New Year's celebration, marking a new year of life, another chapter marked by a measurable number as opposed to life experiences that are incredible but aren't quite so distinguishable as dates on a calendar.

So, here I am, given this chronological structure. It's an empty shell I've got to fill. A template. Twenty-nine; that's the title. Of course, there will be all sorts of sub-chapters. And what do I hope for them to include?

Love. Adventure. Friends. Family. Growth. Service. Creativity.
Life. Lots of Life.


Friday, April 13, 2012

MOG 041212

Better and better. Hope to back on top soon!
Sleep... eh, been a little rough.
But mood, mood is a thing of progress :-)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More Less

"The more I know myself, the more I know God."

Hm.... that doesn't seem quite right to me. It could be a different experience for different people I suppose, but the more I know God, the less I know myself... or something like that. As He increases, I decrease. Its beautiful and exciting and kinda scary, all wrapped up in one.

Its a good thing.

Plastic? A) or B)?

Have you ever placed your hope in something or someone, using them to keep yourself motivated? I have. And I do. Recently I've realized the carrot that's kept me running is plastic.
Or, rather, it may be plastic (I'm holding on to a smidgen of hope).

There is this resident who came to the group home I work in just about eight months ago. He was a holy terror. Each shift working with him was an eight hour scrap-fest. But then one night, as he screamed and cried about missing his mother, I asked him if I could pray with him. Overtime, his prayers became less about him and more about others. His behavior took a major turn around. It seemed to be a miracle. Literally.

But over the past two months, this kid has unraveled. Everything about him has changed. His behavior, his way of thinking, his mannerisms, even his appearance. Its so disheartening.

I know a couple things: A) There are some great manipulators out there. But being two people at once is exhausting. Eventually the act will fade away and the real person within will be exposed. B) Trauma messes up a person, but the 'when' of it's effects is unpredictable. We repress until we can't anymore, and the stress of... whatever-it-is can make a person go nuts until they get it all worked out.

So, this kid, well... I'm debating; is he option A) or is he option B)? Or is he some weird combination of the two? Does it even matter? Should it effect my approach? Is he just bad? Because there are undoubtedly bad people out there, and bad people were kids too at one point.

"... the things that come out of a person are what defile him... All these evil things come from within..." Mark 7:15b, 23a

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Today's Writing Prompt: Reward

What type of reward really motivates you? Sense of accomplishment, recognition, appreciation, gratification of helping, feelings of making a difference, money.

Definitely money.
Just being honest.

she's 8. srlsy, awesome!

MOG 041012

On the mend... I think.

I hate to say that too soon, because I've punked myself with a few sporadically good days over the past month or two.

But its been three days of consistent progress in mood and sleep now, so hopefully its furrealz this time.

Woot. Woot.

Monday, April 9, 2012

from within

"There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him... All these evil things come from within..." Mark 7:15, 23a


“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Hebrews 1:3 ESV

Friday, April 6, 2012

Today's Writing Prompt: Water

What is the greatest use for water (other than as a beverage, on its own)?

Showers. I love showering. Especially when the water is turned up so hot it almost burns, but not quite burns.

And shaved ice. Shaved ice is a beautiful thing.
A very beautiful thing.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

He really did it

I thought he was just all talk.
But then he squatted down in the corner and dropped a dook.

He really did it.
He crapped on the floor.

Then he used a stick to pick it up and put it in the window seal for everyone to see.

Top Ten Lessons Learned Ten Years Later

The emails and FB messages show no signs of stopping anytime soon. That's right, folks, we're two months away from my 10 year high school reunion.

Am I going? No. Wait, lets make that 'hell no.' Why? Well, other than the obvious fact that I live over 2,000 miles away, that's a whole other blog post of it's own.

For this particular post, I want to focus on something different; something a little more positive.

All the chatter about the class reunion has inspired some reflection over the past ten years of my life. I've learned a lot, and that's a great thing. So let's focus on lessons learned, opposed to pounds gained and all those reasons I wretch at the thought of actually attending the reunion. So, here we go!

Top Ten Lessons Learned Ten Years Later


#1 The 'real world' everyone makes reference to? It's not really real. Life is what you make it. And no world I've ever lived in is more real, unpleasantly so,  than high school. My life seems to get better with every year.

#2 Mean people suck, and let's face it; they're everywhere. But like I just said, life is what you make it. Surround yourself with good people and store up those good-people-vibes; you'll need 'em when the guy in the cubical next to you is a total jerkface.

#3 Not many relationships last through life transitions. People grow apart. Most people, but not all of them. Those good people I told you to surround yourself with? Hold on to them. Tell them what they mean to you. It'll be good for them to hear it, and good for you to say. Take every opportunity available to tell people you love them.

#4 Dream big. It's important. But live even bigger. Living is more important than dreaming. If you spend your days pining over what may happen, nothing will ever happen. Nothing at all. Live.

#5 Speaking of dreams, I haven't reached any of mine. But I've recently realized something: I haven't achieved anything I hoped to because I haven't tried hard enough. I'm not completely incapable, I'm just completely unconfident. That, in itself, has ironically been a confidence booster.

#6 Take lots of pictures. Everywhere you go, everyone you're with. Take lots of pictures. Pictures don't just capture the moment; they capture the moment the way you want to remember it.

#7 We're all just as clueless as the next guy. We're all just people. The lawyer, the surgeon, the CEO; they're just people too. Jacked-up people. So don't feel bad when you see that guy who's got it all together, 'cuz he really don't. We learn life as we live it.

#8 God uses everything, every little quark about who you are, what you've experienced and odd little gifts and pitfalls. I am a sponge; God has wrung out every little thing that I have in me; there's nothing left he hasn't used. I wont refer to the cliche that everything happens for a reason, but I will say God redeems all things to His Glory. All things.

#9 You are not your job. You are not your family or friends. You are not your spouse. You are you. These other things are part of who you are, but still, you are you. Figure out who that is. How? Hell, I don't know! But its important. Things and people can be ripped from us the in the blink of an eye. What will be left of you then?

#10 Other than high school choir teachers, no one else in the world gives a crap about being first chair bass. No where else in the world will anyone care how many ribbons I've won for arias I have sung, or even know what an aria is. There are no English teachers thrilled to read my poetry each week. No art teachers to appreciate my personal artisitc flair, even when my depth perception shading is crap. It's time to let go. Not of hobbies or interests. But its time to let go of the hope it will all matter to someone else again one day. Sports. Art. Music. Whatever your thing is: let it matter to you. And let that be enough.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

MOG 040212

Its been taking me a while to fall asleep, and then an hour or two after finally dozing off, I've been waking up. Then I struggle to go back to sleep. And I'm sad. That's all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Today's Writing Prompt: Need

What do you need, right now?

-Time management skills
-An extra hour a day. Or maybe two.
-A break. From everything,
-Jesus. Lots of Jesus.
-A diet and workout plan
-A new pair of shoes
-Jesus. More Jesus.

knowing to dread vs. knowing to pray

This FB status update pretty much sums up Sunday evening at work. 

Three children, completely unwell, each in the midst of their own crisis, fueling one another. 

An earthquake, a tornado, and a flash fire. The perfect storm. I felt it coming. Anyone would've. The week had been rocky; progressively worse as each day past. I succumbed to dread. I waited for disaster. I completely surrendered to it. Why? 

Why would I ever surrender to anything other than my Creator? Why would I dread, when I should turn to my heavenly father with prayers and pleas?

Sometimes I know things because some things are plainly seen. Sometimes I know things because I'm observant. Sometimes I know things because God wants me to.

And every time, every time, every time I know something... I surrender to it. I accept it. I dread it. Or wait excitedly for it, depending on what it is... but what I should really do is surrender to God. Accept his authority.

Pray. Pray. Pray.