Sunday, December 30, 2012

MOG 123012

Anxiety: 7

Not sure why, but there's an angry swarm of bees in my belly.

Add a pinch of pessimism and a dollop of dysthymia.

That's not a nice recipe.

Friday, December 28, 2012

exactly where we were

Sitting here, exactly where we were sitting six years and five days ago, in the same twinkling light of the Christmas tree, and just about this exact same hour of night.Thats when the phone rang and we got that call that Marva was murdered.

Strangled to death. By him. Her boyfriend. Her son's father. My friend.

And here, now, at this exact place and exact time, we sit watching a Channel 13 News' segment featuring Marva's story as an example of how convicts incarcerated for violent crimes can be released early from their sentence for "good time" and participating in different programs offered to them in prison.

The segment was originally aired in October, but fate's irony wasn't lost that this should be the exact place and exact time we should first watch it.

Her killer was originally sentenced twenty years for manslaughter but immediately "earned" ten years off.

In some states, like Indiana, a convict chips away one extra day from his sentence for every one day he serves on "good behavior." Its kinda like a 2-for-1 deal. But the math doesn't quite come out right. He never served the first ten years in order to shave away the other ten years.

And then...

He shaved off two more years for obtaining a business degree and one more year for obtaining another degree in applied sciences. He lost six months for participating in a character development program and another six months for completing a substance abuse treatment group. He also managed to get out of an additional six months of his sentence for agreeing to a work-release program.

A twenty year sentence, a lost life, all wiped away in about five and a half years.

From time to time, it overwhelms me. All these thoughts... these raw emotions... and again I find myself sitting...

exactly where we were...

"... For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants... for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries..." Deuteronomy 32:35-36, 43

Monday, December 24, 2012

Snapshot: 122412 PST

Noggin' it up with Kimmy, Mommacita, and Pop.

The tree is lit and we're watching Home Alone 2.

Home. Family. Holiday cheer.

And lots of peanut butter fudge!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Individualism and westernized thinking are not compatible with the teachings of Christ. Take His birth, for example. Jesus exemplified downward mobility by stepping out of splendor into suffering and servitude for the benefit of all mankind, even up to the point of His own torture and death. The 'American dream' to work hard and achieve greatness contradicts our calling to humbly serve one another and bring glory to God's name by sharing the joys of our salvation in Him. This grace is unearned, undeserved, yet freely given.

Snapshot: 122212 1200 PST

Done Christmas shopping! I think...

incarnate native

MOG 122212

Well... the world didn't end yesterday as the Mayans predicted it would. The jury is out as to whether or not thats a good or bad thing.

Today... or is it yesterday? Geesh, with working overnight shifts, my days are hard to define... Anyhow, its been rough. I just can't catch a break. Its been one of those days where every little mistake I've made seems to be under a microscope. With all the strange happenings of last night (see previous post), I didn't quite get to everything on my to-do list for work. Normally, this type of thing isn't too much of an issue, but apparently today it was.

My laptop crashed last night. Took it into the Apple store in the mall this morning (MAD HOUSE!) and found out the hard drive is junk :-/ Boo! I've been working on my 2012 wrap-up video and some other creative projects, a few church designs, and preparing for some online courses I'm about to take, so basically I'm up a crazy creek without a stinkin' paddle until the issue is remedied. Suckage.

I've kinda got a cold, my car is being weird, my body is super sore from a ridiculous alligator-role restraint I had to do at work last Wednesday, I keep thinking of things to do that I can't do without my laptop,  I'm feeling some holiday stress...

¡Aye de mi!

Feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Just one of those days where all I can do is continually sigh. Seriously. I'm developing a compulsion.

Oh, and my neighbors have a little kid who screamed for over two hours today. Like, really really screamed. I could hear them taunting the poor kiddo. I ended up calling it in, most likely creating some crazy feud amongst residents of the building, but I couldn't help but be concerned... Seriously, at this point in the world you can't be overly worried about the welfare of kids.

Which brings me back to work drama.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Snapshot: 122112 0500 PST

This has been one weird shift at work! Around 1am, one of my kids woke up to see what time it was and never went back to sleep. He's leaving for a ten day Christmas break with his family tomorrow and is too excited to fall back to sleep. Its been a job just keeping him quiet so he doesn't wake the others.

Around 2am, another one of my kids woke up to get a snack and realized all his belongings had been packed up. It didn't take long for him to put together that he's being transported to a higher level facility tomorrow. Not an awesome conversation to have with a kid who's been shipped around his whole life. That's another post though... Fortunately he went back to sleep after about an hour.

And yet another kid... well, he's just stinky. He wets the bed and his urine has the strangest odor. Its potent and fills the entire house, making me nauseous. I don't know why it smells so awful! I want to wake him to shower and change his bedding, but if I do I'll be alone with two kids wide awake and one light-sleeper who might potentially AWOL if he's woken up since he's being taken to juvie later anyways.

That leaves one more kiddo who's slept peacefully all through the night, and as far as I know, he's not especially stinky. God bless him!

So here I am, watching a low-grade Christian movie about high school football with a very excited kiddo, obsessively checking to make sure I don't have any AWOLers, and breathing through the sleeve of my hoodie.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Giveaway: Christmas in a Cup Winner

$10 Starbucks giftcard giveaway. Fifteen entries. Each name written down nice and neat on little slips of paper, waded all up into tiny balls, dropped into a hat and given a good shake or two. Drew one, eyes closed. No peeking. Drum roll please... Grant Cox!

Next giveaway? I'm thinking iTunes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Branches' Christmas 2012

Branches' Christmas '12. A wonderful evening with wonderful people, celebrating the birth of our wonderful Savior! Yes, I am wonderfully blessed :-)

Monday, December 17, 2012


"Murdering a human being is an assault on God. He made us in his own image. Destroying an image usually means you hate the imaged. Murdering God’s human image-bearer is not just murder. It’s treason — treason against the creator of the world. It is a capital crime — and more."

-John Piper

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:6).

*some continued thoughts on the Connecticut massacre. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

no words

God bless these poor babies. Essentially, that's what they are, just babies. So young. Exposed to such horrific carnage. The governor of Connecticut was quoted saying, "Evil has visited this community." Yes, evil was inarguably present at the Sandy Hook Elementary School as young Adam Lanza mercilessly gunned down twenty children in seemingly safe Newtown, Connecticut. But I don't believe it was a "visit." Evil takes residence. It's everywhere, all the time. It doesn't come and go. It may lie dormant for a time, but it's never gone. I couldn't help but weep tonight as I read about the massacre online. The last few moments of those childrens' lives must have been inexplicable. And the surviving children? What will the future hold for them? How does anyone process experiencing such an awful thing, especially as a young child? As babies? I'm sure, as some time passes, I'll have more thoughts on this. But for now, I have no words. Only prayers.

wrapped up mashup

I just wrapped up and exported my first ever magamix mashup song!  Perhaps a new hobby?

Every January I post a picture montage to reflect on the previous year. Scraping up the pictures is the easy part, considering I take so many. But the challenge? Coming up with a song that's just right!

I've always wanted to write and record my own song to accompany this project, but I haven't quite made it that far yet.

But I did download the free software from online and took some YouTube tutorials to come up with my own mashup of some 2012 hits. Sure, lots of mashups already exist, but I wanted the creative challenge. Plus, most mashups tend to blend together all the foulest, most sexual lyrics into one song, and I'm just not interested in pairing up that kind of nasty with pictures of all my beloved friends and family.

So, I'm extra pumped for 2012's yearend wrap-up video!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Giveaway: Christmas in a Cup

I'm feeling generous! Who wants a $10 Starbucks gift card? Just leave a comment below!

It's easy! Click on the "comments" link and a window will open to type your message in. It's simplest to just comment anonymously by selecting that option.

Be sure to leave your name so I can track you down in case you're the lucky winner! If we're not Facebook friends and I don't know how to contact you personally, leave an email address in your comment!

December 20th I will select the winner and contact them to get a mailing address. Then I'll send it out! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Adios Sorensens! Bendiciones!

'Tis the Season of Evangelism

Welp, it's that time of year again, my churchy friends... that time of year when faces appear in the back rows of our sanctuaries, faces we probably haven't seen there since last Easter.

Being the dedicated little Christians we are, we're all gonna see beyond these faces to souls that will spend eternity somewhere. And with the best intentions, our preparations begin.

So... busy busy busy. We're all getting ready to play hype-man for the one and only J.C.

But what will this all entail? What's our plan of attack? I have a suggestion. I know, I know... I'm no theologian, that's for sure. I didn't go to seminary, I don't have a pastoral degree, and I've never experienced any formal training on evangelism...

And I really like to curse.
I've been working on it...

But I am a counselor. I've been gifted to understand how the mind and heart interact with one another. I have some applicable insight of my own, too. We did occasionally attend church services growing up, but I certainly wasn't a Sunday school kid. I didn't memorize weekly bible verses for smiley-face stickers or watch felt puppets follow the Star of Bethlehem. My mom taught me most of what I knew about Jesus, and she did a good job of it.

But when I got a little older... I wasn't quite so sure about this Jesus guy. I wanted to believe in Him, I just didn't know how to. I reached what some therapists refer to as stuck-points in my way of thinking about Christianity, things I just couldn't quite accept. Things I couldn't move beyond.

But at twenty-three years old, it all started to come together. I didn't solve all my stuck-points, but I did learn to move beyond them through my relationship with Christ.

How? Well, as an adult, the couple churches I did give a shot left me feeling downtrodden. The messages they laid out were heavier than I could hold. I was not only weighed down but also felt like an outsider from all the "seasoned" attenders who seemed to "just get it."

Then God led me to a place where I'd be presented to His truth just as I needed to hear it.

Please, don't get me wrong here. It's important to grow our believers, to challenge them and walk alongside them as they advance in their journey and own ministries. But if you're looking to evangelize, if you're looking to draw in new faces, or perhaps the faces you haven't seen since Easter, keep it simple.

During Jesus' ministry, He met people where they were. He didn't set up camp in a fancy temple and wait for people to swing on by. He met them. He stepped into their world.

Literally, straight from Heaven and down into a manger.

So, amidst my rambles, my suggestion is this; don't just teach about Jesus, teach like Jesus. Meet people where they are. Step into their world. Toss out the Christianeese lingo; its just a waste of breath to the unchurched.

Keep it simple. Jesus did. And it seemed to work out pretty well for Paul, too.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." 1 Corinthians 4:20
"... I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom.." 1 Corinthians 2:1
"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power." 1 Corinthians 2:4

Friday, December 7, 2012

career vs. calling

"A calling, which is something I do for God, is replaced by a career, which threatens to become my god. A career is something I choose for myself; a calling is what I receive. A career is something I do for God. A career promises status, money, or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering- and the opportunity to be used by God. A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility." -John Ortberg

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Snapshot: 120612 1300 PST

Sitting and sipping,
peppermint tea.

Served in a mug,
my mother gave me.

Adorned in snowmen,
and wintery cheer.

'Tis the season,
Christmas comes near!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Psych 101: Amnestic Disorders

Amnestic disorders are characterized by memory impairment resulting from drug abuse, a side-effect of medication, or from exposure to a toxin, although cases of amnesia exist without specific etiology.

A person with an amnestic disorder always experiences levels of impairment in their ability to learn and retain new information. Some people with amnestic disorders might be unable to recall information previously learned, but this is more variant than the ability to retain new information and depends on the location and severity of brain damage.

The severity of memory disturbance impairs the person socially and/or occupationally, and marks decline in level of functions. The memory impairment should not occur exclusively during the course of delirium or dementia in order to be diagnosed as an amnestic disorder. In some cases, the person may vividly recall experiences of the distant past with no recollection of more current occurrences.

The ability to access sequential strings of information is typically not effected, such as counting and reciting the alphabet. Amnestic disorders are often associated with features such as confusion and disorientation. Confabulation, imaginative information developed to fill in the gaps of memory, is not uncommon in the initial stages of treatment, but does tend to wane with time. Because confabulation is a factor to be mindful of during the treatment process, its important to collaborate with the client's family and other informants to collect accurate data about the individual and his or her life.

Those with severe amnestic disorders often have lack of insight into their deficiencies, which can result in agitation upon confrontation. 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Home for Christmas

"I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me

Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams

I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams"
-Kim Gannon

Nineteen days and counting! Kimberly and I will be flying to IN to spend Christmas with our family! Really! No dream!