Wednesday, December 25, 2013

As I celebrate the first coming of Christ, I am reminded of the people God has used in my life to make Himself more known to me. The list is long, and I am blessed.

Friday, December 20, 2013

less than 51 hours

In less than 51 hours, Kimberly and I will be headed to the airport to fly home for the holidays.

No work. No class. No practicum. None of that.
Just precious time to relax and enjoy family and friends.

This has been a productive year for us. As I've continued to trudge through school, Kimberly has built her business to something quite impressive. And although we can look back at those accomplishments and feel good about them, we're definitely exhausted and in need of rest.

I can't wait to relax and be surrounded by my family again! And snow. I want snow!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods."

Psalm 95:2-3

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mommacita, Fall Trip '13 102613 - 111513

*A super great trip! Kimberly and I were blessed to have Mommacita for 3 whole weeks! Its always hard to say 'goodbye,' but fortunately we get to say 'hello' again soon in December when we fly into Indiana for Christmas!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Snapshot: 112313 0600

Sunrise over silhouetted mountains; a bonus to working overnight shifts occasionally.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

John Gill's Exposition of Matthew 8:3

"And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him..."
This is a wonderful instance both of the grace, and goodness of Christ, in touching this loathsome creature; and of his unspotted purity and holiness, which could not be defiled by it; and of his mighty power in healing by a touch, and with a word of his mouth,
"... saying, I will, be thou clean,"
in which he expresses at once his willingness, "I will", of which the leper before was not certain; and his power by a word of command, "be thou clean"; and in which also is shown the readiness of Christ to do it: he did not stand parleying with the man, or making any further trial of his faith, or objecting to him his uncleanness; but at once stretches out his hand, touches his filthy flesh, and commands off the disorder. A great encouragement this, for poor sensible sinners to betake themselves to Christ, under a sense of their guilt and filth; who readily receives such, in no wise casts them out, but gives immediate discoveries of his power and grace unto them:
"And immediately his leprosy was cleansed."
or he was cleansed from it; he was not only pronounced clean, but was made so; he was thoroughly healed of the disease of leprosy.

*I stumbled across this online this evening and I love it, especially the first part about Jesus' grace and goodness.
Let me be cleansed!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

whether I like it or not

Practicum. It's kicking my butt. And I love it and hate all at once. It truly is a training process. I find myself being tested daily. It's miserable and wonderful and everything between. My strengths are overshadowed by my weaknesses and nearly every shift presents a new failure of some sort. I'm being shaped and grown, whether I like it or not. And whether I like it or not, I know this is good for me.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

crazy good

A seven-year wedding anniversary and a night at the casino. A visit from Mommacita. Pumpkin carving and seed baking. A little Halloween fun. A movie night with margaritas. A stroll down along the tide pools. Time with friends and fellowship.

Life is crazy.

And sometimes its crazy good.

Friday, October 11, 2013

greatest compliment

"I feel like you exude this positive energy and love that gives me hope there might actually be a Jesus. And it comes from a place that seems very real. You're just another person like me, but somehow different. I love that. It makes me think I might believe one day."

I wasn't expecting this conversation, but wow.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

snapshot 100813 0100 PST

Watching some lighthearted, spooktastic toons.
Listening to Kimberly sing Wrecking Ball from the shower.

Unwinding before bed after watching Insidious 2 at the movies tonight. Good flick, but intense. Not exactly a bedtime story.

Prepping myself to get up in the morning and knock out some big assignments for school and attend a CPR recertification class.

Waiting for this Up&Up generic acid reducer to kick-in after eating some really good bad food today.

Overall, a good ending to a good day.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


"Well, the voices told me to kill them with a machete, but then I thought, 'Nah, that's too sloppy!' So I put the machete back in the shed and started looking for a gun instead."

"Too sloppy."

Yep, he said that.
Talk about graphic.

*From the mouth of a sweet, old, grandpa-looking man...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Post-it to the rescue!

It finally happened yesterday.
And I survived.
I knew it was coming.
In fact, I expected it to happen sooner.

My first bad day at practicum.
It was the perfect storm.

My caseload was a hot mess.

One client was psychotic, one was extremely suicidal, and one was on the brink of an alcoholic relapse while mourning the recent death of his mother.

I had fallen behind on documentation and was feeling pressure from the shift leader to act more as a staff than an intern, fulfilling a slightly different role. Meanwhile, my clinical supervisor had a different set of expectations, wanting me to remain clinically focused and strictly operate within the role of a trainee only.

My clinical supervisor also happened to have a migraine yesterday. I tried to remind myself of that each time I overheard her berating someone...

You'd think a person with a PhD in psychology would be a bit more careful with her words.
The shift leader could've used a little lesson in kindness, too.

Anyway, perfect storm.
There was just a lot going on.

Today I had to go into practicum late due to a school meeting, but the evening was very laid-back. I was able to catch-up on documentation and even squeeze in a 1:1 session with a client. I also took a little time to vent my frustrations to today's shift leader, which seemed to help a lot.

And, like a good little therapist, I practiced what I preach. I implemented a little positive self-talk by reviewing some feedback I've received on my case notes. As a practicum trainee, all my documentation must be submitted to the clinical supervisor for approval before being placed into the clients' charts. My supervisor happens to be known for being a nazi when it comes to documentation, tearing apart every page that crosses her desk. Some of my peers complain of revising notes up to four times before the supervisor agrees to sign them. I, for whatever reason, happen to have a knack for clinical writing, so most of my notes are approved upon first draft. The rest have very few revisions and are always signed upon second submission. So today, while playing catch-up and revising a note that needed some editing, I decided to spend a few seconds celebrating all the "good job!" post-it notes I received this week.

And it made me feel a little bit better about yesterday.
Post-it to the rescue!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Those memes...

I see them daily, and they always leave me speechless.

"Like this if you love God and within 2 days He will do you a big favor!"

Um... He already did do us a huge favor.

We call Him Jesus.

Just sayin'...

she hides

Her smile is bright.

You would never guess the pain she hides behind it, enough pain that she would want to end her own life.

She had just been released from the hospital after a suicide attempt. I was shocked when I received the news. I knew she had been struggling, but I never imagined...

I guess you never truly know the extent of what a person is experiencing behind all their smiles. I spoke with my friend at least once a week at school. I shared scripture and spiritual support through Facebook and text. I thought I was present during our conversations, but now I can see there was something I wasn't quite detecting. 

The truth is, hindsight is 20/20 and you can never really know what a person is going through, no matter how hard you try. 


That's all we can do. Make a daily effort to be present and aware of one another on a spiritual level. And pray. Always be in prayer for one another.

I'm meeting with her tomorrow, and I know God will be with us.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Snapshot: 091913 0750 PST

Killing time by watching the waves and sipping on a pumpkin spice latte.

I worked 10pm to 6:30am, I am about to head to practicum from 8am to 4pm, and then I have school from 6:30pm to 8pm. 

This view is exactly what I need.
Just a few more minutes? Please?


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

lesson #091113

What did I learn at the crisis center today?

I learned that the real crisis begins when the cigarettes run out. 

That's when $#!% gets real.

No joke.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

a good chance

I started practicum today. 

It's a hospital divergence and step-down program, meaning clients come to us as an alternative to hospitalization or because they're being discharged from a hospital but aren't ready to be mainstreamed yet. All clients are duel-diagnosed, battling dangerous addictions along with severe mental illnesses. A majority of them are homeless or in desperate need of long-term care such as assisted living facilities or rehabilitation centers. 

The site houses twelve clients on a short-term basis. During their 7 to 12 day stay, the clients are stabilizing on any new psychotropic medications they may have been recently prescribed by the facility's medical team. Many are experiencing withdrawal symptoms and learning to manage their mental health issues without the aid of illegal substances.

The clients are provided with individual therapy at least twice a day and group therapy at least once a day. They also receive case management support to identify resources for further care and living support after discharge.

There is so much for me to learn and loads of responsibility to assume.
And there's a good chance I'm going to love it.

Feeling overwhelmed. Excited. Grateful.

Friday, September 6, 2013

“The past has no power over the present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

          *Read, repeat, and remember when necessary. 

Stopped. Slowing. Going.

RED LIGHT: Practicum details seem to be working themselves out, but slowly. Very slowly. As of now, I'm finally cleared to begin, but still waiting to be scheduled a start date.  Any day now. Any day. For now? I'm stuck.

Unfortunately, it seems spending Sundays on practicum site is unavoidable. This comes as a great disappointment to me. I'd love nothing more than to minister and be in community with the church through music and worship. My continued inability to participate is discouraging, and this red light doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.

YELLOW LIGHT: The new semester is in full swing, and I think I'm going to love it! The only problem is, I'm already feeling a bit behind. All my classes and assignments coordinate with hands-on practicum experiences, and since I've yet to actually start practicum... But I'll get there eventually! And my professors have been accommodating to my circumstances.

It's been 90 days since I discontinued antidepressants. Its been a little touch-and-go, but I'm on the mend. I've determined that if my circumstances were more ideal and permitted it, I would opt to take medication again, but at a decreased dose. It feels good though, reflecting on the insight I've gained through this experience of going through withdrawal without medication and then experiencing symptoms untreated. I've grown a lot over the past few years and its interesting to see how this reflects in the management of my anxiety and depression. I'm thankful for the past three months and the challenges that have ensued, and for the most part I feel much better now than how I felt before discontinuing the meds, back when I was overmedicated.

GREEN LIGHT: For a few weeks now I've maintained really healthy sleeping habits. This is the first time in my life I've slept so well without an arsenal of drugs to help me, and I'm so thankful for it!

To better apply myself to practicum (whenever it is I start, that is) I am only working on an on-call basis right now. It's only been one week and it's already made a world of difference! I am enjoying spending time with my wife and doing things together like eating meals and watching movies. Last year we were dieting and doing really well, but the healthy habits were too hard to maintain with my crazy (and overly stressful) schedule. Without one another's support due to never seeing one another, we slowly faded. Now that we are able to eat meals together and have time to hold one another accountable, we are getting back on track. So far, we're only three days in, but we're off to a great start.

For over a month now I've been using my inhaler to treat minor asthma attacks almost a dozen times a day. Today, after just three days of eating healthier, I didn't even use it once! Its amazing how everything is connected to what you put inside your body!

That's me, now. Stopped. Slowing. Going.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

uncivilized celebration

Ariel Castro. Just spend five minutes Google searching his name and you'll learn more about the depravity of man than you'd ever hope to know. 

Tuesday night, one month after being sentenced to life for holding three woman captive for a decade in his Cleveland home, Castro was found hanging by a bed sheet dead in his prison cell.

Craig Weintraub, Castro's defense attorney, acknowledged how this turn of events may seem to be for the best, but he followed up by saying, "... we're in a civilized society and no one should really be celebrating this."

Maybe Weintraub is right. 

But celebration was exactly how I responded when I read the headline of Castro's death. The heinous crimes Castro committed are unspeakable, and the survivor's of this unfortunate tale will never forget the hell they endured.  And so, his death feels like justice.

There are countless people like Castro in the world, but now there is one less. Somehow, that seems like a good thing. Is that uncivilized? 

Thursday, August 29, 2013


"When love and skill 
work together, 
expect a masterpiece." 

-John Ruskin

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MOG 082913

My scheduling complications may have worsened a bit since blogging about them last, and I'm still just as clueless as to what God may have in store for us over the course of the next year, but even so, after some serious R&R I'm feeling refreshed. There are loads of things I'm just not allowing myself to think about; I'd like to consider it more as redirection than avoidance. The thing is, God has just given me so many blessings to count, and the triumphs really do outweigh the disappointments. I've never forgotten that, but sometimes it's hard to see what I know is already there. Although I may be somewhat blinded at the moment, I can still reach out and feel the gifts God has placed in front of me over the past year. Having a helpful hand to guide me from time to time doesn't hurt either.


Dear Miley,

I want to tell you something.

Don't worry, I'm not going to call you a slut or say that you've lost your mind.

This is something different.
And maybe you've heard it before.
Maybe not.

Either way...

You were created in the likeness of God.

He loves you dearly, and oneness with Him will fulfill you far more than any amount of applause or ridicule. Feeling sexy and rebellious can't compare to what He has in store for you. One day the fame and success you achieve will come to an end.

But you? You will not come to an end. You are an eternal being. And eternal beings spend eternity somewhere. No single performance, no matter how many tweets it stirs up, will determine where you spend that eternity. Nor will it give you anymore significance than this: the God of the universe wants you to spend that eternity with Him.

Talk about shock factor!
Amazing, huh?

Miley, put some clothes on, say "no" to drugs, burn that foam finger, and stay away from men that get rich by objectifying women and glorifying sexual activity that may or may not be consensual. That, by the way, is not a blurred line. Its date rape.

You're young, talented, and well connected.
But most of all, God loves you.

He loves you so much that His very breathe is what animates you. I know, all this has been a lot to digest. Just let it sit for a while and think on it, okay?

Well, good chats. Until next time!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Snapshot: 082713 1300 PST

Continental Delicatessen.

It's quaint and cozy; serving German, Italian, and French speciality sandwiches and salads.

Oh, and its delicious.

It also happens to be a great place to meet friends for lunch.
Good food. Good company. Good times.

*Feeling blessed and refreshed. And full. Definitely feeling full.

Monday, August 26, 2013


I had it all worked out.

After months of scheming and arranging, my school, work, and practicum schedules were all coordinated together in harmony.

In doing so, I was mindful of creating more time with my wife, getting more involved in Sunday church services again, and even carpooling to practicum and class with other students to save some money.

It was a thing of glory. That is, until it all fell apart. Several changes have been made since then, none on my accord, and I can thankfully say it could be much worse. But even so, I can't shrug off my disappointment.

This has been a year of none-stop-bang-ups and I've seemingly moved further and further away from all the things I want most in life. Its a difficult list to conceptualize, but there are countless examples of how I've managed to fail at realizing every single one of my dreams, goals, and believed-to-be-callings over the past year.

I naively hoped a simple schedule change would magically make it all just fine. I somehow believed everything would just come together. I should've known better, but I couldn't help but dream something good was just around the bend. When my genius plan fell through, I was crushed. And I still am.

Good things really are right around the bend; just not all the good things I'm longing for.

After the constant stream of failures over the past eight or so months, I can't help but reassess what I'm doing here personally, relationally, professionally, creatively, spiritually, etc., and all this reassessing only takes me down a very negative, dark path.

So instead of reassessing, I'm trying to be reassuring of myself.
But I'm failing at that, too.

Here's to hoping that bend comes quickly, and that whatever good it does hold will be good enough. Of course, I know it always is.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I did it.
I hit the "send" button.

I'm joyful.
I'm frightened.
I'm sad.

And I mean business.

As of six seven minutes ago, I am officially on my way out of here...


I just emailed HR a two-week notice of resignation from my full-time position at work, and dropped a handwritten notice in the interoffice mail.

I've been burning my wick from both ends over the past several months and now practicum approaches, adding to the mix. After a lot of prayer (and, just to be very honest, a whole lot of freaking out), I've decided to step down from my full-time position and only work on an on-call basis until my schoolwork is complete sometime next summer or early fall.

A huge weight has been lifted knowing I won't be under the pressure of working quite as much while I finish these last few semesters of school and complete practicum. The thought of seeing my wife more than twice a week is kinda nice, too! Moving to overnight shifts was a necessary evil so I could take more classes, but it's an evil that I won't soon miss. Hence, I am joyful, for all these reasons and many more.

So why frightened? I was approved for a living-expense loan designed for grad students and Kimberly's business is thriving. And most of all, God is good. So there really isn't any good reason to be frightened. But the living expenses in SoCal are sky-high, and we're accustomed to being a two-income family. Adding to my student debt doesn't feel awesome either. It's all just a little scary. Yet alas, as I said, there's really no reason to be frightened.

More than anything, this is just another opportunity for us to grow in faith and dependence on God.

And, yes, I am just a little sad.
There's a kid here I'm going to miss.
But just one. And only a little.

Endings. Beginnings. Blah blah blah.

More than anything, I'm just ready to dive into practicum head first, I'm excited I might get to sleep in increments greater than four hours, and I'm pumped I may get to see my wife, friends, and family more often.

So... yeah. There's that.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Snapshot 081013 1000 PST

When you see THIS  
from the corner of your eye
and mistake it for an actual child, 

it might be time 
to go home 
and get into bed.


But it was actually a great morning at work!

Friday, August 9, 2013

infinitely more

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen."

-Ephesians 3:20-21

The perfect verse, sent to me from my mom this morning. Gracias, Mommacita!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wisdom is: Kind

Unfortunately, wisdom comes with a stereotype: grouchy, reclusive, unapproachable, judgmental, mean, etc. That's an ugly list of characteristics, but I'm not the one that came up with it. I spent a little time last weekend talking with some of the kids I work with, asking them to describe what they image a wise person to be like, other than smart. Of course, this is the edited, censored version. Their original answers weren't quite so blog-friendly...

But as I've spent time in the bible researching what it means to be wise, I've found none of these things to be true.

As we've already discussed, wisdom is humble as well as self-controlled. Today, we'll be talking about how wisdom is also accompanied by kindness, contrary to how the kids I work with think. Now, there are a lot of verses that support that wisdom is kind, but for the sake of keeping this post a reasonable length, we'll just stick to a few proverbs.

To begin with, I'm guessing a truly wise man would never be heard saying, "I told you so!" Although that may be our rash, instantaneous response, those four little words all strung together pack quite a punch, crippling egos and making it difficult to seek guidance in the future. When a person hears those words, they're usually too busy recoiling from the blow to actually learn from their mistake. As I've worked with oppositional youth over the past decade, I've destroyed tons of learning moments for kids just by saying these word when they've disregarded my advice and gotten themselves into trouble.

Trust me on this one. But I won't say, "I told you so," if you slip up and say it anyway...

So, if "I told you so!" isn't the wise thing to say when someone messes up, what is? "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing," (Proverbs 12:18). Having someone come down on you with rash words hurts, and if you've just screwed something up, chances are you're not feeling too hot to begin with. Our instinct is to point out failure, even when our end goal is to help. "By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them," (Proverbs 14:3). Chances are, they know when they've failed. After all, don't you? A better place to begin in the helping process is with some healing words, usually encouragement or support, taking care of them. The original Hebrew text of Proverbs 14:3 uses the word shamar to describe the wise, which can be translated into "bodyguard," "overseer," and "keeper."

As you build up a person, they'll come to trust you and feel comfortable around you, and you're guidance will mean so much more. This is really where discipleship comes into play. Walking alongside the wise in the context of a relationship, a person can really grow and learn. "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise..." (Proverbs 13:20). One man's wisdom benefits all, because a truly wise man shares his knowledge.

A wise man heals others and teaches them. Wisdom is Kind.

according to His great mercy

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 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 1:3-7

blessing will follow

"A blessing can come in the wake of being broken.

But this blessing comes only if we experience brokenness fully and confront why it is that God has allowed us to be broken.

If we allow God to do his complete work in us, blessing will follow brokenness."

-Charles Stanley 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

Lamentations 3:22-23

Friday, August 2, 2013

snapshot 080213 1100 PST

When Opportunity knocks on my door, I don't just open up and invite her in. I open up, invite her in, and then I serve her hot tea laced in generic sleep-aide.

That's right, I intend to roofie Opportunity.

I have some catching up to do and finally an opportunity to do it.

I am free of all obligations for the next 11 hours, and I have some serious sleeping to do!

star power needed

Goombas!  So many goombas! They're easy enough to squash, but a new one quickly replaces the last. And turtles? Some of them even fly! Oh, and the ones that throw hammers? What's up with them!? And don't get me started on the princess...

Just when I've completed a level, the next one begins. Every villain I defeat ends up being a decoy, and I just know Bowser is out there somewhere laughing...

I could really use some star power right now.

*Feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. School and life have teamed up to kick my arse.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

-Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Wisdom is: Self-Controlled

We've already established that wisdom is humble. So what will we add to the list today? I'm thinking... discipline.

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. (Proverbs 29:11 ESV) 

In the original Hebrew text, the word ruach was used in place of "spirit." This word incorporated several meanings, such as motives and thoughts, as well as wind. Now, the wind in a sail sets a ship in motion, like motives to a person. The wind blows as it will, and there's not a whole lot we can do about that... but we can choose to adjust our sails. With discipline, the wise man chooses whether or not to go where the wind blows.

Its not always best to do what we want or to do what feels good. A wise man not only determines the difference between these times, he uses self-control to follow through and do whats right. Simply put, a wise man is in control of his actions.

That was the complicated example. The next two are super simple:

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:27 ESV)

A wise man is in control of his tongue. Zip. The. Lip. Thats a lot easier for me to say than it is for me to do. (Although, it might not be easy to say at all if my lips were actually zipped...) Not all thoughts need to be shared, not every question should be asked, and some information just should not be passed along.

And last but not least...

A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11 NET)

Its true; believe it or not, you are in control of your emotions. Yes, even anger. You can feed the feelings or allow them to fade away. It's up to you. (Feel free to revisit the wind analogy from earlier.) I'll save the PYSCH 101 for another post, but know this: we tend to either be completely driven by emotions, or completely shut off from them. Neither one is healthy nor demonstrates self-control. God put them there for a reason, so why not start by taking them to Him?

A wise man is disciplined in his actions, his words, and with his emotions. Wisdom is self-controlled.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wisdom is: Humble

You can round up any given number of people who've attended a fare share of weddings and, chances are, you'd be able to gather some pretty consistent descriptions of what love is. "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant..." and so on (1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV). But what about wisdom? Wisdom is... what? Well, that's my question. And I'm guessing, like love, the answer is best in list form. So I've decided to spend the next few weeks learning about what wisdom is.

Today's attempt to gain a better biblical understanding of wisdom has led me to one undeniable characteristic: Wisdom is Humble.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. (Proverbs 8:33 ESV)

Sometimes it takes every bit of self-control within me to just bite my tongue and listen to advice. That feeling of despise I get when I'm being given instruction is my (not-so-inner) inner fool showing his ornery, stubborn face.

Fearing The Lord, to know and respect Him, is a good solid start to becoming wise, but then we're hit with a whammy in the second portion of that first verse. "fools despise... instruction." Ouch! I don't know many people that take instruction well, and I know that I certainly don't either!  But  obviously, neglecting it isn't the right thing to do...

So what should I do? I best just take a deep breath and set my ego aside when someone begins to instruct me. I need to really hear what's being said; it might be a nugget of awesomeness! Then again, it may not, but I'll never know without giving it a shot!  

But a wise man isn't humble just because he listens to the people God gathered around him; a wise man is humble because he knows all his understanding comes from the Spirit of God in him. Now, this next verse is just a bit counter-cultural:

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right. (Job 32:8, 9 ESV)

A lifetime of experience is priceless, but nothing compares to the knowledge gained when God is present in us, and that's something we can't take any credit for. Age and education don't always equivocate wisdom. Knowing its something given to me, not earned and not a characteristic of who I just happen to be, means I really don't have a right to be proud of it. No achievement, no degree, not even growing old will give me boasting rights! 

God is wise, and the more He is in me, the more wisdom I have. It's nothing I've earned or achieved! Now, this last Proverb makes it very clear that wisdom is humble.

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 26:12 ESV)

There's not a whole lot of room for interpretation there! Basically, if you think you're wise... you're not.

Wisdom is accepting of instruction. Wisdom is a result of the breath of the Almighty within us and not of our own doing. Wisdom is an awareness that there's always more to learn, of others far more wise, and of one's own limitedness.

Wisdom is humble.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I spend a lot of time thinking about doing what I just need to do. Of course, its wise to look before leaping, but there does come a certain point when enough is enough, and thinking becomes more like ruminating.

Even more problematic, there comes a point when thinking might even begin to look a little more like avoiding.

I spin my tires a lot, wasting fuel and burning rubber, but going no where fast. I think its important I begin asking myself in these moments why I'm not going anywhere. Is it because I'm unable? Or is there something else holding me back?

After all, avoidance is a form of hiding; its a response to fear and uncertainty.

I'm constantly stepping on the brake to think things through. I have a list as long as my arm of things I worry about! But when does faith step in? At what point does my confidence in God as my refuge overwhelm my uncertainty of the unfamiliar?

I believe and have witnessed that God uses all circumstances to His glory. Worrying about tomorrow is a waste of today, the very place and time He has chosen us to be. Today will only happen once in a life time, so it shouldn't be spent paralyzed in fear and painted in excuses.

Acknowledge the anxieties. Embrace them, but for a set, limited amount of time. Allow yourself to be overcome with fear. Then take that fear, when at it's very peak, and present it to God. Finally, in cognizance and pursuit of Him, take action.

Maybe that action is to simply pray about it more. Maybe its something minute....

The thing is, even parking is an action when done intentionally.
No more spinning tires. Life is not a race, but it is a journey.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Sunday, July 14, 2013

making room

I got this old TV in 1994 at a liquidation sale when a Wal-mart came to town and put Vals, a local variety store, out of business. I almost had enough allowance saved up to buy it myself, so my parents  chipped in the rest and got it for me.

Man, I felt cool playing the Sega Genesis on my very own TV in my very own bedroom. That is, with a little help from an RCA adapter...

Believe it or not, I still have this little TV. Rather, I should say, I still had it until yesterday.

I didn't realize how attached I was to it until we made the decision to throw it away. Something just seemed wrong about tossing it out. After all, we had shared so much history together!

Kimberly and I were recently gifted with a big, brand new, beautiful television for our living room, which triggered a ripple of small changes throughout the entire house as things were being moved around and swapped out. The smaller flatscreen TV originally in the living room needed to be moved to the bedroom where this old dinosaur lived. So it met the curb, perhaps to live the rest of its existence with another family, or maybe to find it's end at the dumpster.

It wasn't broken.
It just wasn't best.

The truth is, although this childhood relic was still operable, it was obsolete and taking space that could've been occupied by something new and better.

Making room. Its not always easy to do, but I have a feeling I'm going to be doing a lot of it soon. Sometimes, we just have to do what we need to do to make room for whats best.

mi gusto mucho

Thursday, July 11, 2013


For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah 

(Psalm 62:5-8 ESV)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Kingdom Come

Flawless. As usual.

070613 catch up

Wow! Where have I been!? Busy, busy, busy!

School is definitely keeping me on my toes right now, and we've had house guests the past two weeks. First my dad came. We camped on Palomar Mountain for a couple nights and spent the rest of the week site-seeing all over San Diego County. (There's a few pictures one post down).

Just hours after my dad flew out, my father-in-law and brother-in-law flew in. We've spent the past several days doing a little bit of everything!

I also took a graphic design job earlier this week creating a logo for a Christian Preschool. So far its been a lot of fun to work on and it seems to be coming along great! I'll post some pictures when its completed.

Hopefully I'm able to carve out some time for blogging again soon!

Dad visits SoCal, 062213-062913

Very. good. times.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Snapshot 062413 1800 PST

 *Palomar Mountain, camping with Dad.

bye bye bikini

Jessica Rey, swimwear designer and television actress. Man, she's whats up.

“Modesty isn’t about hiding ourselves, its about revealing our dignity. We were made beautiful in His image and likeness. So the question I’d like to leave you with is, “How will you use your beauty?”

She said that. Know what else she said?

“Little girls wouldn’t be running around in sexy underwear and skimpy bikinis if it wasn’t for their parents buying them for them."

Boom. She went there.

She also went there with some research regarding the function, or lack thereof, of the male's mind in the presence of scantly clad beach bunnies. Here's the low-down, ladies: its nothing respectable.

So if you happen to have about 10 minutes to spare, let Ms. Rey tell you all about it instead of myself. She do it a much better job than I, and she looks better doing it.

Even though she's clothed.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

rest in Him

“Because God has made us for Himself,
our hearts are restless
until they rest in Him.”

 -Augustine of Hippo

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I thought it might be good for me.
A release. An escape. A new song.

I hoped the serenity and beauty of the mountain's peak would somehow inspire me.

I was wrong.

Eventually, I did begin to kick around some creative thoughts, but they were more destructive than anything...

The 'ol brain just couldn't muster up any mojo today. My fingers were their typical, clumsy selves. And my voice... well, its the same one I've always had...

I assumed all I had left with was an emptier gas tank and a set of brakes a little more worse for wear, but I'm starting to realize otherwise. I thought a lot about dependence up there. Dependence on God and the power of surrender.

But they were not just thoughts.

It was a moment. An experience.
I felt my heart call out.
And I can still hear the echoes.

Monday, June 17, 2013

snapshot 061713 1700 PST

Grilled chicken and homemade pesto sauce, served over tofu and white yam fettuccine with a side of lightly breaded eggplant and garnished with kalamata olives, freshly diced tomato, and aged Parmesan cheese. 

I don't cook often.
But when I do...
I don't play around.

I think I might kinda love cooking. 
That is, when things turn out just right :-)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Next Sunday

I didn't call him today, mostly because I suck. Granted, I did work an overnight shift last night, so I spent a majority of Father's Day sleeping and then prepping things for church service...

But with that said, I should've made the time. He's a pretty awesome guy, and he deserves all the time in the world.

He's flying in next week for a visit, and I'm pumped. I've spent the past two days wrapping up plans for a two-night camping trip we're going to take while he's here. He doesn't know it yet, but we have a campsite reserved for us on Palomar Mountain next week.

Kimberly and I don't have our own camping equipment, so I've been busy making lists and contacting people to beg and borrow everything we're going to need for the trip. Almost all ducks are in a row, and I can't wait!

So, with his upcoming visit in mind, I'd like to think today is just like any 'ol Sunday... Next Sunday, on the other hand, will be a day to celebrate!

In the meantime, Happy Father's Day!

MOG 061613

Today was... interesting.
My level of tolerance was low.
Very low.

I basically spent every waking moment fighting the urge to break things and shout profanely for no real good reason. I was highly irritated and in a hostile sort of mood.

And my legs. My freaking restless legs. Super. Super. Super restless. The psychomotor agitation is an effect of withdrawal from Wellbutrin.

But much worse is the extreme moodiness caused by the Lamictal withdrawals. I've been reading different personal accounts of withdrawals online and have stumbled across all sorts of websites and blog posts with lovely little titles like, "Lamictal: Withdrawal Hell," "Lamitical: Giving Up Crack is Easier," and my personal favorite, "Going Off Lamictal? Good luck!"


My head is spinning. I hate me, the world, and 74% of the people in it.

Depression: 6
Anxiety: 7

thnx, babe :-)

the value of a moment

over (being) medicated

A couple months ago I began to question if I was being over-medicated. And even more than that, I was just over being medicated...

It had been years since experiencing life unaltered.

And thank God for it.

I'm a bit melancholy by nature, but I do occasionally hit particularly low points, the most recent one beginning around October '12. My usual sense of mild self-doubt can exacerbate to a more crippling sense of worthlessness. Every moment during these times just hurts. When I cry out to God He responds, crossing my path with some wonderful physicians to aid me in my battle with depression. But the Novocain has to wear off at some point, right? I needed to be numbed for a bit, but I'm not sure thats how I'm meant to live my whole life.

When I approached my psychiatrist that November in response to the depressive episode that began the previous month, I had already been seeing him for about a year and was currently medicated. So my medicinal regimen was tweaked a little, increasing the dosage of my medications and adding a new one to the cocktail.

It did the trick. Everything in my mind began to ease a little.

But I eventually began to feel emotionally restricted, unable to experience anything beyond cognitive observations about life and its' happenings around me. I was losing myself to ambivalence, and the things I once valued most became unimportant. My emotions ranged from nothing to feeling overwhelmed, with little between the two. I could feel something build up within me at times, but it felt more like pressure than anything else, which is why I began associating that feeling with being overwhelmed instead of other specific emotions.

So I began preparing myself for another visit with the psychiatrist, and I intended on telling him I was over being medicated... but that appointment didn't go quite as planned. Although I did feel some disappointment, I saw the wisdom in his advise and I determined I would follow his suggestion to slowly taper off only one of my medications while remaining on the other two.

A few weeks had passed and after following his directions to a "t," I had finally weened myself down from three medications daily to just two.

But there was a problem. Apparently, I'm a tricky nut to crack. I had ended up on those three medications (Lamitcal, Wellbtrin, and Zoloft) after years of trial and error, and was taking each particular drug to address specific symptoms. Not only did the medications work well with my unique chemistry, they were also prescribed with mindfulness of the how they would interact with one another.   Without the structure of that perfect triad, the whole treatment regimen began to fall apart. Symptoms resurfaced and the side-effects of the Wellbutrin were felt at full force without the Zoloft there as a buffer.

Once again, I was a hot mess. And I felt defeated, like I was moving in the wrong direction. Tired, I decided to go against my doctor's recommendations and stop taking all psychotropic medications about twelve days ago, unsure of what to expect. I've made video-journal entries almost daily since, wanting to carefully document the process and track my progress or regression accurately. Maybe it'll help me gain more insight, and maybe I'll edit it to share one day to possibly help someone else, at least to have somebody in a similar circumstance to relate to.

Its almost embarrassing to reflect on; the drama. If I were to give a detailed tracking of my mood and thought patterns over the past week and a half, you'd probably think it described a much longer timeframe due to all the variances it would reflect. With that said, it honestly hasn't been too bad. Of course, I understand that this is only the beginning. I know that if and when another depressive episode hits with absolutely no buffer of pharmaceuticals, its going to hurt. Bad.

In the meantime, I don't know... one day I'm hopeful, then next I'm discouraged.

One might tell me not to worry, that I'll be fine without the meds because I don't really need them, which sounds a lot like invalidating the serious struggle I face daily. This is a real, clinically diagnosed disorder, very different from sadness. One might also tell me to just stay on the meds and not worry about it, which sounds a lot like invalidating the serious struggle it'll be to work full-time to maintain insurance in order to pay for the medications while also completing ten months of practicum work beginning August, not to mention dashing the hopes that things might actually get better one day. Oh, and those pesky side-effects of the medications like, say, feeling nothing. Thats what all that sounds like. I know, I know. I'm reading messages between the lines that might not even be there. Its self-sabotaging, maybe even the re-emergence of old symptoms. That's just where I'm at.

So there it is; I'm over being medicated. But that doesn't mean I'm done with it. Only time will tell, as with all things. Always a process. Always.

Today is a good day. Tomorrow? Who knows.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

snapshot 061513 1100 PST

Rewarding myself.

After all, it required a whole lot of effort to control the impulse to throttle my work kids this morning. 

Oh, who am I kidding!? It didn't take effort, it took Jesus!

Man, they were all wound up! 

I haven't felt this grouchy at the end of a shift in a very long time! To the kids' credit, I may just be abnormally irritable today.

Either way... dang.

Everyone was so needy. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Snapshot 061213 PST

Good times chilling with my posse at Safari Park and the Westfield North County Mall.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

still has a song

I have a crazy amount of unfinished posts just waiting in the que to be published. The ideas come, but they just don't keep on flowing like I'd like for them to. Or, most likely, I just don't stew over them long enough before closing my editor's window with the intention to return one day soon to complete whatever it is I'm writing. And of course, we all know where good intentions lead to; piles and piles of incomplete things. That's where good intentions lead me, anyways. 


Hence the blog silence. Sorta...

The clickity clack of my keyboard still riles the roosters in the wee hours of most mornings, but that satisfying swoosh sound made when clicking the "publish" button just ain't there to be heard too often these days.

So, yeah. Nathan still has a song.
Nathan just ain't singing it right now.

The Purge

Set in the year 2022, the movie The Purge depicts "a nation reborn."

Violent-crime rates have hit an all-time low, due in part to a government instated 12 hour time period once a year called the Purge. 

All crimes, including murder, are legal to commit during this time and emergency services are suspended.

Only government officials are off-limits.
Everyone else is up for grabs.

This yearly catharsis is just enough to curb everyone's apetite for blood, but by the time the week of the Purge comes around, everybody starts getting antsy. 

Listing the names. Making their plans. Gathering supplies.

Could you just imagine knowing that in only a few hours your neighbors would have a license to kill anyone they'd like? Could you imagine knowing in only a few hours YOU would have a license to kill anyone you'd like?

One of the main justifications of Purging in the film is based on man's inherit wickedness. The people who lose their lives during the 12 hour free-for-all are commemorated for serving their country; bringing forth peace throughout the nation simply by falling victim to another man's rage.

Amongst some other themes such as social class and economic status, the overarching thesis of the movie is the murderous nature of man. This is what is being purged; not the lives lost during the annual slaughter, but instead it is the evil drive behind the murders.

I do believe there is an evil nature in all man, but I don't believe it can be purged; the source of evil in man is man himself. Acting upon that nature, neglecting and isolating it, analyzing and labeling it... none of those things are purging of it.

There's not much we can do on our own. We can't simply purge ourselves of our problems, because we are our own problems

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

their acoustic version...

is even better than their original. On repeat.

All things, even when

"I can do all things through Him that strengthens me." Phil 4:13

It's the truth. Even when it doesn't feel like it...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

hate in the form of folded paper

I hate card shopping.
HATE it.

Gift shopping? Thats awesome!
Note writing? Love it!
Picking up the tab when I'm out with others? Good times!

But card shopping, I loathe.

They seldom say what I think they should, or they just don't quite say it how I think it should be said. And don't get me started on their designs...

For a while when I was in high school, I considered creating cards for a living. Art, photography, designing, writing, sappy-gooey-sentiments and whatnot. But I've never had what it takes to grab ahold of something and follow through with it. Everything I've achieved so far has been by chance, just falling into it.

So, yeah. Needless to say, I didn't grow up selling overpriced folded pieces of paper at Walgreens. And maybe thats why I hate shopping for them so much. I just flip through them thinking, "I could do this. I could do this better." And thus, I'm never quite satisfied with whatever remnant of a dead tree I walk out with.

Plus, its tedious work, taking at least twelve years just to find a doable card. It involves standing. And putting things up...

So just know this; if you ever receive a store-bought card from me, you are loved. Of course, if you get any of those other things listed above you're probably pretty loved too... but I do HATE card shopping.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Snapshot 060213 2300 PST

Snuggled down in our brand new Cal King bed for the very first time since purchasing it last Wednesday, about to partake in a little bible reading and discipleship study, hoping to learn how to love others well.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

real-time, rats, and a gangnum style remix


They're not really there.
But he doesn't know that.

So he chases them away.
Fearful they may nip at his dog.

The dog, of course, isn't really there either.
Just one more thing he doesn't know.

Yesterday. Tomorrow. Today. All blended together. One tangled mess.
Each experience of his life intertwined, from childhood trauma to last nights dinner.

All indistinguishable.
Time has no continuum.

All this after sitting catatonic and naked in the bathroom floor for nearly an hour.
Hallucinations. Detachment from reality, time, and place.
Sadly, an improvement from his earlier state.

But somewhere in there, between hearing the man in the mirror curse at him and brushing away the spiders crawling across his arms, he finds himself experiencing something.

Feelings. An urge. Maybe even a compulsion.
But something rooted in the present. A desire.

A song and dance.

The Korean neologism "Gangnam Style," sounds more like the guttural sounds made during a seizure. And the iconic "horse dance" looks more like a drunk man walking barefoot across burning coals.

But its occurring in real-time. Here and now. Even if just for a moment, he identifies a desire and fulfills it. Feeling, wanting, and doing, all in the present. Its no structured concept of time, but it is a big blaring "you are here" marker on a map somewhere.

And this is a moment I chose to honor. Stepping back. Pausing all attempts to shuttle him through the simple tasks he's struggling to complete. Allowing him to experience silly life pleasures before being overcome by the haziness again.

Thats all I know to do.

"Op op op op oppan Gangnam Style!"

Saturday, May 18, 2013

just for a moment

I fly in some of my dreams.

More like levitating, I guess. It requires a great amount of concentration just to stay a foot or two off the ground.

Its a wonderful feeling, but never quite satisfying.

Sometimes I climb to the tops of hills and jump, and for just a moment it feels like I really am flying.

I can draw my focus away from keeping my feet off the ground and just feel. Exhilaration. Freedom. Peace. Just for that one split second. And then...

Gravity takes hold. Tethered to the earth again, it takes everything in me to stay afloat. But I still hold onto that one moment.

The other day, I painted a picture for the first time in years. It's not exactly fine art, but it speaks to me; communicating exactly how and what I intended it to.

Sparrows, so plain and common. But when they fly, they're like all the other birds in the sky. Free. Their tawny hues become brilliant.

Even if for just a moment.

“The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.” -J.M. Barrie, The Little White Bird

Friday, May 17, 2013

snapshot 051713 0700 PST

Why, yes! Of course I'm wide awake!
This smile is 100% legit!

And no, I'm not just barely holding up my own head by the hair. Nope, not me!

I mean, its only been 36+hrs since I've slept! And thats IF you're NOT counting the two twenty-minute naps I've taken.

That's a sufficient amount of rest, right?
Right? Zzz...

School. Adjusting to two new professors I've never had before and trying to sort out syllabi that practically need decoded. Work. Picking up extra shifts with older boys who are apparently unable to hear the sound of my voice. A visit with my old friend Insomnia (its been a while, so I'm not complaining). A creative buzz in the back of my brain that keeps me awake. Adjusting to a recent decrease in medication (which may explain the sleeplessness). Not seeing my wife. Ever. Or anyone else, for that matter. Preparing for an upcoming message at the Branches (which I'm totally pumped about, btw). Trying to coordinate the 1,000 ducks that must be lined up for practicum and to begin my new on-call job. Car problems. Failed smog tests on both cars. Designing an image for an upcoming sermon series that is RIGHT THERE where my brain meets my fingertips but can't quite push through onto my computer screen (super frustrating). Trying really REALLY hard to make healthy eating choices but am struggling (it always gets tough right around 3am, when my brain goes kapoot after too many hours of reading/writing psychobabble that is fascination yet exhausting at the same time). 

And... well, I'm sure if I keep trying I could come up with a lot of other stuff to whine about, but thats just wasting precious time that I could be using to hold up my own head by the hair :-) That is, for about twenty more minutes until I wake up the munchkins at work to get ready for school. The current 'problem' of the problem children was arrested last night, so this should be a smooth morning! In theory...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

just give me a reason

Simple melodies and mellow instrumentation seem to be the flavor of the week right now. Love it!

from the mouth of babes

Me: Hey, I like your dermal. Did it hurt?

Kid: Um, I don't know...

Me: You don't know?

Kid: I was too doped up to even remember. Just woke up one morning and it was there.

He's fifteen. And only God knows what else he's gotten himself into while 'doped up.' Sad, but not uncommon.

*BTW, this is a Google searched image, not a pic of an actual kid I work with. I uphold HIPPA and all CA privacy laws, mostly because I value getting a bi-weekly paycheck :-)

37 days

My dad. 

He’s a busy guy. 
Probably the hardest worker I’ll ever meet.

Plus, he’s a jack-of-all-trades. 

Literally, everywhere he goes he manages to amaze at least one person he encounters with his vast set of obscure skills and knowledge. 

Just thirty-seven days 'til he flies in for a week’s visit. 

Now, a week is a big deal; a hefty chunk of vacation time off work, and seven whole days to fall behind on his many side-projects at home and around the farm. 

Plus, I kinda get the impression he’s not a big fan of flying. 

With all that said, I’m grateful, and super excited for the visit. I can't wait to spend time together and make some new memories! Now I just gotta start mapping out an itinerary! Palomar Mt. is definitely gonna make the list!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

this kid

This kid, he's kinda awesome. His 'lil bro and 'rents aren't too bad either. Here's something his momma had to say on FB today:

3 years ago, Isaiah was sick. He refused to eat, had excessive thirst, was losing weight and lethargic. We had to wait for the official diagnosis, but we already knew. Type I Diabetes at 2 1/2 years old. So little. So scared of shots and finger pricks.

Today we have a 5 1/2 year old who is so brave and responsible, that I can't hardly believe it sometimes. He has been forced to grow up (in some ways) a little too fast. Waiting for meals until his blood sugar has been checked, realizing that there are times he can't eat what everybody else is enjoying. And he's okay with it. He doesn't cry, and rarely complains.

Diabetes sucks.

But I am so thankful. I'm thankful that God knew this was coming, and He had created Isaiah with such a calm, patient and adaptive personality. I'm thankful for the discovery of insulin and now, because of God-granted wisdom to some doctors, maintenance of the disease is manageable. I'm also thankful for all the support we received at diagnosis, and continue to experience from friends and family.

I look forward to watching Isaiah grow into a man, and using his gifts to help spread the Kingdom.

Yep. Love this kid. And when the strain of working as a childcare counselor gets to be too much for me, all I gotta do is pop in for a visit with this little guy. Instant therapy. His calm, caring, and good nature just melts all the 'yuck-of-the-world' right off my heart. A reminder of hope. He will, no doubt, spread the Kingdom.