Friday, July 27, 2012

Oh, the selfish heart! We all have one beating inside us. Such an ugly sound...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

my gorgeous love

I had a little improvisational photo shoot tonight. Kimberly was a reluctant participant...

But she is gorgeous.
Absolutely gorgeous.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


*These are some of my FB status updates from over the past few weeks. God keeps drawing my thoughts back to this one word! Guess you could say I've had a one-track mind... 

 - The way most people react to condemnation is to unconsciously confirm their accuser's verdict. The most common denominator amongst incarcerated people is that someone told them as a child they were 'bad.' Speak hope and encouragement into the lives of others'!

- "Jesus didn't do away with the law, He fulfilled it... He didn't condemn, but he also didn't condone. Instead, He extended grace."

- "Jesus resisted assigning blame, and so should we... the Good Samaritan did not ask how the injured man ended up in the ditch. He did not ask about his denomination, his political party or his sexual orientation. He simply saw a man in need, and cared for him out of compassion."

- "As freedom-loving Americans, we were raised to be self-reliant. That can be a virtue. But as believers we need to re-think that and become God-reliant."

- Too many of us who call ourselves Christians, myself especially sometimes, fail to live out the love and grace of the Christ we follow. We live in a culture where living in true community with others is almost counter-intuitive. Invite God into all interactions.

- "... do I express my negative emotions of anger, fear, and pain appropriately to those who... stir up my emotions? Or do I seethe inside...? The way we answer those questions will likely indicate whether we... are candidates for deliverance to our emotions." -Jim Croft

-  Grace is more than forgiveness. After grace saves us, it enables us to be whatever God wants us to be. His grace empowers us to do the work He's chosen for us.

- Be intentional in everything you say and write! The average guy associates the word Christian with hate. Most often, Jesus saved his criticisms for self-righteous 'saints' of his society, not 'sinners.'

- When you're being bombarded by a thousand negative voices, focus on is the one thats saying, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

-  "When Jesus encountered sin, he didn't use guilt as a tool for change. Instead, he spoke words of love and encouragement. If people don't rely on the power of God's grace, they will stay stuck in behavioral ruts forever. Why? Because we have cannot change ourselves." -Jeff Petherick

- "I've leaped in faith, fallen on face, landed on my feet, barely left my seat. Though I beat the odds I don't make the cut, but I'm praising God and He lifts me up, and I'm gone, so gone!" -Me

- "We evaluate others with a Godlike justice, but we want them to evaluate us with a Godlike compassion." -Sydney Harris

- "... God does not always spare us from the consequences of our mistakes, but forgives us nonetheless."

- "Using sound judgment means looking UP to God. Being judgmental means looking DOWN on a person. Looking UP to God for guidance is done out of love and respect for truth. Looking DOWN on others is out of fear and selfishness in a rush to judgment."

- "Every other world religion says 'do.' Only Christianity says 'done.'" -Jeff Petherick

-  "... God's grace is not something you can earn... not conditional...not temporary... not an excuse to sin... absolutely, positively not judgmental... Its the perfect, holy nature of God to show grace; its the fallen, sinful nature of humans to judge." - Jeff Petherick

- Grace; its the polar opposite of karma. God's grace transcends all, and it cannot be earned with deeds. We may reap what we sow while on this earth, but Christ was crucified so that we would not spend eternity paying our debt. Its paid in full.

- “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

- "Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the NEED of God's grace." - Jerry Bridges

- "I do not at all understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us." -Anne Lamott

Monday, July 23, 2012


Exactly 50lbs down today! 100% diet. 

24lbs left to go! 

Going to have to start working out to get the rest off, but I'm motivated!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

K? Please? Purdy please?

Dear Life, please slow down a little. You see, you've just been moving too fast for me the past few weeks and I'm finding it difficult to keep up.

Maybe take it easy for a few days? Maybe even a week?

Just think on it for a while, k?
Please? Purdy please?


MOG 072012

I'm having some mild anxiety right now. Not much, mind you, just mild. I'm taking an online class and its kicking my butt. My professor is non-responsive to most e-mails and I seldom understand the directions for assignments she posts. I feel like I'm just... floating by, and I hate that. I wish I would have never taken the course, but I'm three weeks into it, so its too late to drop it. I also just registered for next semester. The first seven weeks won't be too bad, but then the madness with ensue. I'm going to attempt tackling 12 credit hours. I might be a little crazy... Life is hectic enough with just two classes, let alone four! But I'm going to give it my best shot! I feel like all of that is legitimate anxiety though.

Other than that, I've been well. I'm staying spiritually focused, which is helping me with all the other not-so-legitimate anxieties. They're all still their creeping around in my brain some, but their footsteps aren't all that loud right now :-) I've been in the Word and reading some great Christian books about deliverance and grace. As long as I stay focused.... I'm fine.

Constant vigilance! Constant!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Snapshot: 071812 1400 PST

Procuring free online fonts while sipping on some chai in the delicious coolness of an air-conditioned Starbucks. Its my Zen time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Conan O'Brien, with actor Elijah Wood, molecular mixologist Claire Smith, and country music star Kip Moore. Good times!!! We even made it on camera as Conan hugged a dedicated fan visiting from Germany.

Monday, July 16, 2012


*Stolen and reposted from this guy. Shameless plagiarism at its best here, folks!

What do you do when you fail spiritually? What do you do when you give-in to that temptation? What do you do when you've screwed up big time? Our naturally tendency is to run and hide from God. But if you are going to recover from this failure, if you are going to get up when you fall, then you need to accept God’s undeserved love.

There is nothing that you can do to deserve His love. In the midst of your sin and failures God extends His love to you. This isn’t God turning a blind eye, or simply winking at sin. This is a radical, crazy love. God’s love for you is just flat out undeserved.

Isn’t that different from human love? We love each other - if; we love each other - because; we love each other - when. The world loves conditionally, and if our standards for love are not met, then our love grows cold. It's not that way with God; He loves us regardless, and He demonstrated this by paying the ultimate price to offer us the opportunity of a relationship with Him. When we fail it's important to remember that we were bought with a price.

Jesus would come and live and die and buy us back – redeem us from slavery to sin and death. It’s a picture of God’s love for us.

We've all fallen, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 He’s saying that all of us have missed God’s mark in our lives. We become slaves of sin and the things of sin in our lives, the Bible describes this as bondage to sin.

If you read the next verse in Romans it reads, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” Rom. 3:24 God presented Jesus as a sacrifice for us. We were in a position of sin and death, then Jesus came as the one who would redeem. He came as one who gave His life and literally paid the price for our redemption to buy us back.

God is a just God. Sin had to be punished. He couldn’t just forget all the things that had happened. God was willing to put the punishment for sin on the shoulders of Jesus so that the mercy and free grace could be delivered to us.

Do you know what you do with God’s love? You receive it. You don’t earn it. You can’t achieve it. You can’t accomplish it. You don’t keep score. You receive it. You begin to live as one who has been bought by a price. It means you hold your head up a little higher. You can even kick your shoulders back a little bit. Why? Because you were bought with a price. It means you stop telling yourself that you are worthless and you’re meaningless and you’re awful and God hates you - because He doesn’t. Because you were bought with a price.

God loves you undeservedly, so much so that He paid the ultimate price to have a relationship with you. When you fall, be sure to return to the One who redeemed you.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Snapshot: 071412 1230 PST

If Jesus returns to earth in the form of a sandwich, he'd come as a grilled cheese. Take that, diet!

Snapshot: 071412 1200 PST

Two emotionally disturbed delinquent twelve year-olds cooking.

Be afraid.
Be very afraid.

from the mouth of babes 071412

Resident 1: Wanna be my friend?

Resident 2: I don't know. Its hard because you instigate people and piss me off. And when your sexually inappropriate it makes me feel... what's the word? Uncomfortable? Yeah. You make me uncomfortable.

*True talk from a 12yr old. I love it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


ποίημα (poy'-ay-mah), Greek

1)     ballad, poem
2)     a thing made, a work, workmanship
3)     a masterpiece
4)     a work of God as creator
                a) made with a purpose

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

Most translations of the New Testament adapt this Greek word into English as workmanship, but I prefer a more literal translation when it comes to this particular verse:

I am a poem, written by the hand of God...

This speaks volumes to me. I write. A lot. I know how much the pieces I've written mean to me. I understand the emotion and thought that goes into writing them. 

They belong to me, and I love them. They are a part of me. They mean something.

I'm overwhelmed with love when I think that this, this is what I am to God. I am His poem. His ballad. He wrote me, and as with all things written, I do have meaning.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

God Speaks: The Book, Mountains, and Music

I had that nagging feeling for weeks, "Where is that bible!? Where was I the last time I had it?"

Over the past year, I've become accustomed to reading God's Word online or via an app on my smart-phone. I couldn't even remember the last time I actually held the book in my hands. I had looked here and there, but never really dug for it. That is, until the nagging intensified.

One morning, I just couldn't sleep. In hindsight, I should've been on my knees praying, but instead of thinking my Creator may have wanted to have a word with me, I was just pissed to be awake. I would later realize that while I angrily longed for sleep, something awful was happening to someone else, someone I should've been praying for.

I decided I would look for my bible again. The bible. We have several in the house. I wanted one in particular. And there it was, in a bin under the bed. It took lots of lifting and shifting, along with a healthy dose of grumpy moaning and groaning, but I found it.

This bible has seen its days. It's about fifteen years old, and a paperback, split into two sections somewhere in the middle of the book of Proverbs. Because of where the book is split, it always falls opened to Proverbs: that's just physics, the law of broken book bindings.

So naturally, I was intrigued to find the pages turned to anything but Proverbs, and I found myself reading the thirty-sixth chapter of the book of Ezekiel, where God was speaking to the mountain's of Israel. They were crawling with enemies and lifeless with famine. But God made a promise to reclaim the Mountains as His own. He was going to purge the land of enemies and replenish it with rain, so His people could return and live in the mountains in worship of Him once again.

Hours later this chapter would minister to my heart when I'd learn of the horrible things two of my group-home boys did to another child. These boys are mountains, once inhabited by God, now overrun with the enemy. They are lifeless; full of death. But God can reclaim them. He can drive out the enemy and restore them, making them new, making them His again.

This story is becoming painfully long, but I don't want to miss any detail in how God spoke to me that weekend.

The next day, after a long shift at work, I sat with a co-worker talking. He's a new believer, super enthusiastic about God and, as a young man raised in Haiti and exposed to voodoo witchcraft and mysticism, he held no doubt or the slightest hesitation that the Holy Spirit could do and does miraculous and unexplainable things. Along with his enthusiasm, he's also fresh out of the military, so the more exciting our conversations about God gets, the more colorful his language becomes (which is a refreshing experience!).

"Alright, man," he said, "this is some crazy $%&!, but I feel like God wants me to tell you to get into His word. Really dive into it, and not no computer, iphone bull$%&!, but the actual book. The actual &%*$!@# book, man! Hold it in your hands while you read it! And pick up that %&*$%#@ guitar and write that @#$% and sing it, deliver that %$@#! Do it with confidence! He's giving it you."

Like I said, my chats with him get colorful, but I love them. I love the way God has used us to speak into one another's lives the past few weeks.

I didn't know how to respond. After a silent moment, I explained to him how I've had a nagging feeling to find my bible for weeks and that I had actually found it just the day before. Then I also told him about a new song that has been placed in my heart, about how writing it has seemed to trigger a lot of insecurity in myself and that I had set it aside because of that...

I'm short on ideas of how to wrap this up in a clever way, and I don't necessarily have a conclusion, just a reassurance that God is present and that He speaks, and, as with all my posts tagged "God Speaks," I want to be sure I never forget how.


Monday, July 9, 2012

God Speaks: righteous anger

They raped him. He is incapable of consenting; he's just too mentally ill. I cared for him for over a year and a half, as though the crime itself isn't enough to evoke rage.

The agressors remained unconsequenced. They acted oblivious to their transgression. They showed no remorse, seeming angered and unable to comprehend why anyone would be anything less than happy to see them.

I wanted to throttle them. The last thing I wanted to do was cook and care for them. Each kind thing I did for them, each time they ungratefully accepted the kindness and care as though they were entitled to it, it fanned a flame inside me. A flame on a fuse. And eventually, it happened. I blew up. I screamed. I cried. I threw things.

In all the years I've worked with delinquent youth, I've never lost composure in front of clients quite like that before. I battled with myself mentally, "This was so unprofessional! But did I really say anything I regret? Was it really wrong? Should I feel bad?"

I was conflicted.

And then my phone vibrated. "Righteous anger is understandable," she said. A Godly woman and mother and grandmother to all she meets; God must've been stirring in her heart. She didn't know what had just happened, she was simply obedient to God as His messenger.

And just like that, I was set free from the conflict, comforted by the Mighty Counselor. My anger was, and is, righteous. It will fuel me as I continue pushing for justice and community safety.

I will not be intimidated or soothed into being anything but angry. I will not feel guilty or conflicted. I will do everything I have to do to be sure there is justice and that all responsible parties will be held accountable.

Righteous anger is understandable. It is useful. It is fuel.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Beautiful Things (Through the Eyes of the Branches)

The earth is filled with His Glory! We, the Branches Community Church of Escondido, CA, set off to snap pics of things that spoke to us of God's awesomeness the most. Everything from bumble bees, birds, buds, and bouncing babies! His craftsmanship is all around! Check out this video and see how God speaks to members of our congregation, and maybe take a moment to look around and take notice of what God has placed in your life to make Himself obvious to you!

Friday, July 6, 2012

grace vs. karma

Karma. Its a belief in eastern mysticism that everything we do shapes our future experiences. Great things happen to kind people, while bad people... well, all their evildoing turns around to bite them in the ass.

It's a comforting thought; if we work hard enough at being good, good things will come to us. And the bad people? Most of us are more than happy to believe they'll have rotten luck.

This concept has infiltrated the Christian world. As said by author Jeff Petherick, "... we talk like Christians but live like Hindus."

We reap what we sow in the physical world, but what about in the spiritual world? The truth is, God's grace is limitless. His love is unconditional. Karma is all about limits and conditions. 

Christ's sacrifice on the cross and God's forgiveness saves us from the eternal consequences of our actions. That's grace. Sounds like the opposite of karma, huh?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

the kind of man

*This surprised and touched me so much, thank you!

list of the ways

I've just been so busy that I haven't had the chance yet, but at some point I need to write out a list of the ways God has given me direction this week. I never want to forget.
He is so good.

from the mouth of babes 070412

We're watching Shrek.

Princess Fiona is locked in the tower.

I ask one of my residents, "How does she survive in there? She has no bathroom, and where does she get her food?"

"Home pass," he simply says.

Oh, how quickly we become institutionalized. Lol!

perfect timing

"Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice." Proverbs 16:18.
*God spoke this to me with the most incredible timing yesterday.

Monday, July 2, 2012

This past week has been a dark one. Although I still feel the cast of the shadows, God has shown His light in the most incredible ways over the course of the last twenty-four hours.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

to love the predatory

Its not just the cruel.
Its the opportunistically cruel.

The predatory.

It sickens me to see. It turns my stomach knowing people are maliciously preyed upon with no sign of justice.

I almost spit in one of these predators' food today. The thought of doing  such a thing disgusts me and I'd never even been tempted like that before, but today.... today.... I was so close.

I didn't. I didn't spit. But the temptation was strong. The vileness in them brought out the vileness in me. I let that happen....

Its time to rely on God. Its always time to rely to God. But right now... right now I need to rely on God to teach me to love to the unlovely, to love in a way mankind is incapable of loving...

To love the predatory.
Not to just say I love them.

To fix their meals.
To keep them safe.
To treat them kindly.

In Jesus name, Amen!


MOG 063012

Kimberly held me while I cried in the shower like a baby tonight. Yeah, not awesome. Work was unbelievably... I don't ever know an appropriate word for; it was bad. Bad, bad. My heart is broken for one of my kiddos who discharged today. After a year and a half of making lots of progress, his last memory of his treatment experience will be a terrible one. I probably should leave it at that :-(

My mind has been racing with negative thoughts the past few days and basically I feel like dirt. Dirty dirt. With scum growing on it. Under a pile of pooh. Yep, graphic. Sleep has not been fantastic and I keep having these terrible dreams that all my friends really hate me and I feel terribly lonely and even have panic attacks in the dreams. Not sure if I'm actually going into the attacks in the real world because, well, I'm asleep. But a dream panic attack sucks just about as much as a real one.

And certain things that mean a lot to me just don't seem to be... important. Maybe they are, but they're just not panning out, which leaves me wondering.

And I realized today I'm keeping God within reach but not fully embracing Him. Maybe that's why I feel like this, IDK. I just know surrendering is hard sometimes, even when it should be easy, and I should be reaching out to Him with both arms fully.

And I miss my mom and dad. A lot.

There. I'm done complaining... for now.
Bummer mood log!