Saturday, November 22, 2014


Some of the kids at work call me Chewbacca.
Others call me Thor.

I prefer Nathan, but those will work, too.

I started a new(ish) job about six weeks ago. Its with the same organization I've been with since moving to SoCal, but in a different capacity.

I orginally applied to be a program specialist (basically, a group home therapist) but they told me they wanted someone closer to being licensed (I have a long road to go before that happens).

So they told me they were creating a new position and had me in mind. I excitedly accepted an offer without so much as a job description, thankful to simply find a job so quickly out of grad school. The position itself is still taking shape, but so far I'm basically working as a crisis counselor in a school for troubled children, and as one might imagine, there's always plenty of fires to put out.

I'd like to work in a more clinical environment, practicing more therapeutic skills, but I'm grateful for my job.

And the nicknames are quite entertaining.

Friday, November 7, 2014

from the mouth of babes

"Who wouldn't want to !@$% an elf? They're sexy as hell!"
"Never piss off a dragon. They'll burn your ass."

And my personal favorite...

"When I start knocking people off, I won't kill you."

coming back... or not

It's been over six months since I've blogged. Since then, I've finished grad school, been to Hawaii, gotten a new job, and lived life.

I was going to write a big 'coming back' post, but I think I'll just leave it at that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Salvation (Isaiah 12)

I've not written much lately, but here's a song I wrote a while back based on Isaiah 12.
It's been running through my head recently, so I thought I'd share:
God of mercy, God I praise,
turning your anger away
Humbly bearing consequence
to pay the price for my all sins 
A fountain flowing purest light,
a spring of life that won’t run dry
Oh, my portion, God on high,
in you my soul is satisfied 
My strength, my song, You have become my salvation
My strength, my song, You have become my salvation 
God almighty, hear my praise,
You have done such glorious things
All the earth will know Your name,
the thirsty soul will proclaim 
A fountain flowing purest light,
a spring of life that won’t run dry
Oh, my portion, God on high,
in you my soul is satisfied 
My strength, my song, You have become my salvation
My strength, my song, You have become my salvation

in that day...

You will say in that day:

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.

“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.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

how the heck!?!?

Skip ahead to 1:35 for the magic act, and be prepared to say, "How the heck!?!?"

Friday, April 18, 2014

If it were up to me

Dear sir,

There are certain rules, and each person must meet the right criterion before being admitted to receive our services, but I want you to know that if it were up to me, I wouldn't have turned you away the other night.

If it were up to me, I wouldn't have turned you away with just a puny looking PB&J and a cup of crackers. In fact, if were up to me, I wouldn't have turned you away at all.

If it were up to me, it'd be different.

Instead, we would've given you a bed, three meals a day, and some medical attention while you stabilized and spent a good week making calls and arrangements to find a place a little more permanent.

I know that measly bag of snacks couldn't have kept your stomach full for long, those phones call we made to local homeless shelters were pretty fruitless, and I know that those bus directions we looked up to downtown only led you to more familiar streets to sleep in.

You were so pleasant, despite the awful circumstances. I want you to know what an impact that had on me. Even as I sent you away into the streets, you were so respectful and somehow managed to express gratitude for what little we did offer you.

The whole experience moved me. You moved me. And it was powerful.

"Do everything in love." -1 Corinthians 16:14

Friday, April 11, 2014

snapshot 041114 1300 PST

I went to Bate's Nut Farm with Jude E. Pie for a little while this afternoon.

We fed all sorts of animals.


We ate ice cream bars and split a Cherry Coke.

Good times were had.
That is all.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In gratitude and great love.

Jesus broke bread with whoever offered, sinner or saint, and this included the pharisees.

The pharisees were a nasty bunch, condemning and compassionless, yet somehow they viewed themselves as spiritual leaders. The pharisess didn't like Jesus much because His very nature stood in stark contrast to their own wicked ways, and so, they were always scheming of how to make Jesus look bad.

One day, one of these pharisees invited Jesus to his home. As Jesus reclined at the table, a sinful woman appeared to him. I'm not sure how, but this woman somehow recognized Jesus as her Savior. She wept at his feet, wetting them with tears and drying them with her hair as she applied fine oils to his weathered skin. 

The pharisee was disgusted by this display, and demanded to know how Jesus, one so holy, could possibly allow a woman of such sin to even come near him.

And Jesus' response?
It rocked. He said...

A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?

Naturally, the pharisee responded that the man with the greatest debt forgiven would love the lender most. Jesus told him he was correct, then continued...

Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much"

And here's the best part...

"... But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

That's the boom right there.

Sometimes we skew faith, overlooking the depth of love for Jesus that a new believer, or maybe a believer with a 'past,' may really have. We try to equivocate a squeeky clean life with closeness to God, when really it's our love and faith for God that draws us near to Him.

The greater the debt forgiven, the greater the love for the lender.
And aren't we all in such great debt?

But the pharisee's greatest faux pas, in my opinion, wasn't just how he dismissed the sinful woman, it was how he overlooked his own sinful nature. He failed to recognize and appreciate the forgiveness and mercy being offered to him. He foolishly thought he was too good to need that forgiveness.

Clearly, he needed transformed.
Just as I. And just as you.

And so I challenge myself today, and anyone who may come across this, to cast away our  pride and be less like a pharisee, acting more like the woman in these verses, throwing ourselves at the feet of Jesus, knowing that this is exactly where we belong.

In gratitude and great love.
Luke 7:36-49

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

day made

I passed remediations for the competency exam today.
Hence, I am now competent.

Scary, huh!?

Now all I need to do is get my schedule for next semester in order! I hit a snag last week when a class I need to take in order to graduate this summer was pulled from the roster. Now, the rumor on the street, or in the academic advising office, is that a campus in Orange County is going to offer that very same class this upcoming semester, but there's no word yet on what day of the week its going to be held on. So, as long as it's not on a Monday (when I'm already going to be in another class) it should be fine! That's a 4 out of 5 chance, and I like those odds! But I'll feel better about it after I see it in print!

Then program completion will be right around the corner!

But either way, I JUST PASSED THE COMPS and I'm going to let thoat soak in for a while.

Day made.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Writing prompt: write about your favorite piece(s) of clothing.

I couldn't decide between the two shirts I wore today...

First off, this button-up is all shades of awesome. Actually, its all shades of green, which equates awesomeness in my book. My mom bought it for me at the mall before I moved to CA, so I've probably had it for four and a half years now. She met me for my lunch break at work and I ended up taking the rest of the day off to shop with her. Along with the shirt, my mom also bought me a bottle of cologne that I still have. Every time I smell the cologne or see that clear bottle with green branches on it, I miss her and think about hopping in the car and heading her way for a visit, then realize she's over two thousand miles away... but back to the shirt...

A couple years ago it got torn at work while doing a nasty restraint with a rather challenging booger. My dear friend Connie, who I refer to as my Cali mom, repaired it for me which contributed to it's sentiments.

My other favorite piece of clothing is my Thundercats t-shirt. My wife, Kimberly, got it for me for Christmas one year a while back. Considering my semi-obsession with these childhood heros, it really was a very thoughtful gift, showing how well she knows me and her willingness to entertain my juvenile quarks. As the years have passed, the shirt has become tattered and the logo has faded away, making me love it even more.

If fashion makes a statement, I guess my statement is one of nostalgia. How about you? Any clothing items with some special memories attached?

Saturday, April 5, 2014


It's a whole new side to her, and I love it.

Her garden.
Her herbs.
Her plants.

Checking them everyday. Watering them. Weeding, and pruning. Her hands in the dirt.

It's a reflection of something that's changed in her over the years, something I can't quite describe.

A certain maternalness.
It's beautiful and somehow worshipful.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." -Philippians 4:8

Friday, April 4, 2014

the branches

made anew

"1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Incredible Love

"It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah."

(Ephesians 2:1-6 MSG)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

by grace

Yeah, but...

She has no place to go. Tomorrow, she'll be out on the streets.
"Yeah, but she really hasn't worked that hard here. Plus, she's rude."

She saw her own son die on the news.
"Yeah, but he had to be doing something bad and she knows it, too.

I have been overwhelmed this week by 'yeah-but-statements.'

These compassion-less comments are truly heartbreaking, both for the people these remarks are directed towards as well as those saying them.

Compassion fatigue is real, which only proves that it's not in our human nature to be close to the brokenhearted. When we tend to the hurting for long periods of time, something happens in us. A jadedness takes over and skews our perspective. Things get dark.

But it is in God's nature.

He is close to the brokenhearted.
And saves the crushed in spirit.
And yet He, Himself, is never broken.

God calls us to be compassionate, to love on those who are hurting, but He also calls us to rely on Him. We can do all things in Him, even things that are against our nature, but when we attempt to work alone, things like these 'yeah-but-statements' begin to happen. We reach a point where we just can't continue on and be effective.

It's a major problem in the helping profession, and in life in general: people trying to fix other people all on their own accord, when really it's God's work.

God is good.

He is good to us.
He is good to others.

And He's always near when we seek Him.
No "yeah-but" about it.

So the next time you think you're going to do something good for someone, do yourself and them a favor.
Seek God first.

the lens of gratitude

I've been feeling a little sorry for myself.
Scratch that. I've been feeling really sorry for myself.

Although my competency exam was not a complete disaster, it didn't go quite like I had hoped. Meanwhile, some sudden scheduling complications threaten to postpone my program completion and graduation another semester beyond what I've been expecting. Sprinkle in a few other unremarkable problems that would lengthen this post past the two-hundred-word-limit I've given myself, and you've got a snapshot of my pity party.

But man, I'm blessed.

With a lot of support from a lot of great people and some tough love from my wife, I've (mostly) shaken the blues.

These problems are small compared to many others', and God is big. When I focus on just how big God is, when I concentrate on who He is and how He blesses me, my outlook changes.

I see smiles and laughter, valleys and mountains, encouragement and community, the beauty of creation, and the thrill of hope. And somehow, looking back, the past three days seem a whole lot different...

Friday, March 28, 2014


This is my 'not-quite-sure-what-the-heck-just-happened' face.

I completed my competency exam a few hours ago, and... well, I'm not quite sure what the heck just happened...

It could go either way.
I could pass or I could fail.

I'll find out tomorrow just how competent I am!

I need to pass in order to graduate, but I can retake the comps as many times as I need... but only needing to take them once would be nice :-)

Saturday, March 8, 2014


She smiled compassionately as she chuckled, giving me the look you'd give a child who is scared of the monster under his bed.

"It's guilt. You always feel guilty. What is this guilt? It's the most useless emotion. Once people realize they can use this against you, they control you without even knowing they're doing it."

I listened as she spoke, feeling like a bug under her microscope, tiny and helpless as I underwent her inspection. Although her words came from a place of care, they had a sting to them, a hint of truth. There is something in this brain that render's me incapable of saying "no" and is always searching for ways to compensate for my shortcomings, feeling as though I've somehow inconvenienced others by simply being, therefore "owing" them.

It wasn't something I wanted to discuss, and especially not with her, but I didn't want to be disrespectful. After all, there is a power differential here. She is my clinical supervisor; a doctor with many years of experience and great influence over my future. This very nature of mine, the guilt that she had gently indicated being so problematic in my life, was the very thing that held my lips in a complacent smile as she spoke. What could I say?

And then she continued...

"It's because you believe in God. So of course you have to feel guilty. It's one of the goddamn rules of believing in God. It's useless. This is the root of all your problems."

I was shocked. I couldn't believe the words coming out of her mouth.
Even more, I couldn't believe the lack of words coming out of mine.

The sting only intensified as days passed.
I asked for forgiveness for my lack of conviction.

But since, I've decided something.

I won't feel guilty for biting my tongue.
I know the truth. My belief in God does not bind me to guilt.

It frees me of it.

She once said that over these past several months she has had more conversations with me about the "Christian God" than she's ever had before. Because of her cultural background and her atheist beliefs, most people who call themselves Christians have steered away from these conversations with her. She wants to know why I'm different than others, even asking me, "Why are you SO nice?"

The truth is, I'm not. I am not SO nice. I just do my best to glorify God, failing daily, but continuing on. And I whole-heartedly believe that allowing her to present her doubts and questions while still showing her respect and living in Truth has had an impact somehow.

I know the truth. My belief in God does not bind me to guilt.

It frees me of it.

And I believe, one day, her belief in God will free her.

Friday, March 7, 2014

snapshot 030714 0001 PST

That feeling you get after finally making it into your car to head home after a  ridiculously long day...

It's like a belch.

Pressure that builds suddenly and quickly.
Assessing your woes of the day.
And then... release. Relief.
And just like that, it's all over.

The past three days have been a trip. The crisis house is hopping. My car, once again, has become a sanctuary. A total breath of fresh air.


Friday, February 28, 2014

It really is.

It's the small things in life.

The sound of rain on the window pane.
The flickering light of a fire.

Lunch at the local diner with your wife.
Phone calls with family.

Small things.

They don't make life exciting.
But they do make life beautiful.

I've been trying to be more appreciate of these things.
Because it's the small things in life.

It really is.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

empty assurance

It was garbage day and the trucks had already been by. I was rolling our trash cans from the curbside back to the garage when I heard a clatter down by my feet. I looked down to see that my inhaler had fallen from my pocket onto the pavement. I quickly snatched it up and stowed it back into my pocket before parking the trash cans in their designated spot, then I hopped into my car to drive to work.

I was about halfway to my destination when I started to feel a little wheezy. Now, I don't know about other asthmatics, but for me, this feeling is usually accompanied by a twinge of anxiety. But as I looked at the passenger-side seat where my inhaler now sat, I instantly felt a sense of reassurance.

That anxiety, the sense of urgency and panic, all abated with the sight of a bright red canister. But as I lifted the mouthpiece to take that first glorious hit, I realized this beautiful bright red canister was... just a canister. As I bewilderedly riffled through the console, cup holders, and floor boards of my car, the cartridge was no where to be seen...

All I had was empty assurance. I slowly realized that the cartridge had fallen out of the canister when I dropped it on the pavement earlier.

Fortunately, I wasn't too winded and I made it to work safely where the nurse had a spare inhaler in the office I could use. Everything was fine, but what a frightening feeling that was to have so much confidence in something, just to realize it was completely useless! But isn't that how we live our lives? Don't we seek reassurance from empty things; healthcare coverage, money, personal belongings, indulgences, psychology and self-help? I don't believe that there's anything wrong with these things, but it's important to remember that these things are hollow shells. There is no life in them, and they will not sustain us alone. It's in the way we receive these things that truly brings reassurance; when we see beyond the gifts to look into the face of the Giver.

I don't want to be the kind of person that gets a sense of relief from the sight of bright red plastic. Instead, I want to be the kind of person that gets a sense of relief in knowing that I serve and am loved by a big, all-powerful God who heals and comforts us, and inspires earthly physicians to create miraculous things like Albuteral inhalers. I long to develop a faith so powerful that every time I remember my God, I instantly feel peace. 

I want to live in true assurance. 
Every. Single. Day. 
And why shouldn't I?

"13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." -Colossians 2:13-15

Snapshot 021814 1300 PST

Today, Mr. Isaiah and I had quite the adventure.

We ate Panda Express, rode the train to Oceanside, walked the pier, saw some wildlife, hit the playground, played tag, drew pictures in the sand, asked Siri all the random questions you could think to ask an iPhone, split a Diet Coke, used excessive rhyming just for the fun of it, chased sea gulls, talked about vomit, survived a sock incident (sometimes your sock just doesn't feel quite right, and thats never okay), bought cheese, watered the herb garden, and just had an all around good time.

That's about it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

from the mouth of babes

Kid: I made this for you!
Me: Thanks! What is it?
Kid: A gun to kill people with.
Me: I don't think I want to kill people.
Kid: Then just use it on those that break your heart.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

the challenge of peace

"Do you think that's just a way to make life easy?" she asked. I had never really considered it that way before, and had I been asked by someone else, I may have been offended. There was something sharp in her tone, but it wasn't contempt; it was more like a longing for understanding, an unsettledness.

She wanted answers to all the hard questions, the "what-about's" and "how-come's."

And she wanted to know how I reconcile all these within myself; unanswered questions, occasional doubts, personal struggles, true belief and acceptance, and difficulty understanding. "I do have those moments," I said, "And I think all believers do from time to time. When I struggle with understanding or am having a hard time accepting something, I pray for peace over it. I'm learning to accept I won't always understand."

"Peace?" she was nearly exasperated. That's when she asked if this so-called "peace" was really just an easy way of escaping life's toughest questions.

The truth is, peace requires daily surrender. It's so freely given, yet not easily accepted. It not only seems to go against our human nature, it clashes fiercely with the cultural climate of this Information Era where "knowledge" is power, science reins, truth is proved through measurable means, and morals are subjective. Praying for peace is acknowledging there are some things in life that are just beyond you're grasp.

Peace is a choice made over and over again. It's a gift from God, an answered prayer, and yes, it does make life easier.  But accepting this peace, living in it, surrendering to it and choosing it daily, may be one of the most difficult feats in life. Yet this peace transcends all things; the questions and doubts, the anxieties, even the ridicule you'll receive for openly admitting you're in need of it.

Life is hard. God wants you to have peace.
He's waiting to give it to you; that's the easy part.

Accepting it is the challenge.

"6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

Saturday, February 8, 2014

from the mouth of babes 020813

Kid: You good at math?
Me: Nope.
Kid: Science?
Me: Nope.
Kid: Did you go to college?
Me: I did. I studied people. I'm finishing my Master's degree in counseling psychology this summer.
Kid: Oh, then you should work for CPS. You'll get a lot of money, and all you have to do is take kids away from their moms and dads.
Me: Sounds sad.
Kid: Only for the kids, and sometimes the moms. The dads usually don't care though, and the workers never do. So it wouldn't be sad for you.
Me: Oh.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord ’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;" 

-Isaiah 61:1, 2 ESV

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


She thanked me.
Not in an 'Axis II' sort of way.

But with genuine gratitude.

All I did was listen.
And speak from the heart.

That was enough for us both.

home again home again

Amongst school, practicum, a trip back home to Indiana, moving to a new house, having a mini break-down, and out of simple laziness, blogging has become a thing of the past...

Until now.
I think.

Here's to hoping I reunite with this old friend more often.