Snow has Arrived: Living in a Winter Playground


After a couple of small flurries in late October, we got some decent snowfall early November, which has stuck around since. We have been told the amount of snow we've received so far has been rather normal, but it is unusual for it to stick around for so long.

Like most of the U.S., we have been experiencing some bizarre weather this year. The colder than normal nights have been turning the snow into ice. Keeping the driveway clear is a must.

Eventually, we would like to purchase a snow blower and possibly a plow. Just to make life a little easier and fun.

Unsurprisingly, the girls took to the snow and frigid temps extremely well. Almost every afternoon, once their homework and reading was done, they would race outside to play. In their excitement, they would leave the house not fully suited up—Usually hopping on one foot as they slide into their boots, or forgetting to put on their beanies and zip up their jackets.

The large cul-de-sac in front of our house accumulates a nice mound of snow, on which the neighborhood kids will climb and slide down. Despite the drier snow, meaning little chance at making snowballs, they still find a way to make up games and enjoy the cold.


Like most California natives, we have little experience driving in the snow. However, I feel we might have slightly more than the average with our increasing frequency of snow camping the last few years. We are genuinely excited to drive in it. Well, I am more than Kevyn.

Since it is a small town and many of our destinations are close, there is no desire to drive fast. It's a much slower pace of living here. This is even more imperative when the roads are icy. I don't think I've driven over 40mph in weeks, maybe even a few months. It's quite enjoyable not being in a hurry.

After each snow storm, I wake up early to clear the drive. By the end of October, I got the garage cleaned up enough to put the car inside. And just barely in time, I might add. I cannot stress enough how having your car in the garage is necessary. The car is only slightly warmer than it would be if left outside. However, the time saved by not having to brush off the snow or scrape the ice sheets off the windows feels luxurious.

Our new (to us) Pilot, has seat warmers. A perk we have never had in a vehicle before. A few minutes on high heat reminds me of being stuck in commuter traffic back on Business 80 in the middle of a classic California heat wave. It warms my heart knowing I'm far from experiencing that again.

The air is so crisp and fresh. After living much of my life in the Sacramento Valley, I feel so spoiled and blessed to be breathing such clean air all day and seeing the beauty of the snow everywhere.

Giving Thanks: Milestones and Going with the Flow


This year Kevyn and I had our 15th anniversary. We punted the girls off to our friends and headed out of state. Our anniversary falls between Halloween and Thanksgiving, which is highly convenient when we want to travel. Jackson, WY was no exception. Being off-season, we were able to find wonderful lodging, close to the town square, visited the beautiful Wildlife Art Museum that overlooks the massive National Elk Refuge, and sampled much of the local (and very much over-priced) cuisine.

There is a certain conversation we have during our anniversary dinner. We recap the year—sharing our favorite things, how we've grown, what we appreciate about each other, and what we're looking forward to in the year to come. We highly suggest every couple do this. It'll evolve and be a little different each time, but it's important to reflect on and mark the completion of that year.

We've had a few years of mostly sharing how tough the past year has been. On other years, we've discussed mainly the boring and practical elements of our lives. And some years, it's been very romantic and loving. It doesn't have to be a certain way. Simply and truthfully acknowledge the year you've had; share your dreams of the future and how to work towards them, and appreciate each other in all of your flaws and wonderful qualities.


After our relaxing weekend in Wyoming, my travel plans weren't over. We bought a Honda Pilot from my wife's godparents back in CA. That meant I needed to fly there and drive the car back. Two flights and 700+ miles of driving in one weekend by myself? Totally doable.

However, my wife and I created a plan to surprise our daughters. Not only was I going to drive our new car back, I was going to bring my sister and her two kids along as well. We had to keep it a secret for almost two weeks and there were a few close calls at blowing the surprise. Seeing the girls' eyes widen and slightly swell with tears as their aunt and cousins popped out of the car was worth all of the secrecy.

They stayed with us during the week of Thanksgiving. It was so great for the cousins to hangout and visit after so long. There were still some disagreements and a kid or two got sick, but that's just the realities of families during the holidays.

Every year I get older, I enjoy Thanksgiving even more. Although it is an American tradition, it aligns with God's word to "...give thanks in all circumstances..." and "...always giving thanks for all things...". I have so much to be thankful for and I never want to lose gratitude towards my family, my community, or to my God.


Due to a storm and the policies of a "soul" crushing airline, my sister's flight was delayed multiple times. After being stuck in the terminal for nearly 12hrs, boarded their first flight. They then had an overnight layover in Vegas and eventually made it back home the next day.

Lessons were learned during this ordeal. It was tough trying to figure out all of the logistics for my sister and her kids from a far, especially as the weather was changing, a lack of airline customer service, and us still needing to work and be parents. We were definitely frustrated, but mostly felt helpless.

As silly as it may sound to do this, especially for winter weather delays that are all too common, we were simply trusting in God to help us work it out. It was not easy maintaining proper attitudes as we scoured airline websites, called hotels, and tried to figure out email confirmations and account login information. We were trying everything to make sure we found the best option for their speedy return. In the end, they made it home safely. And that is a prayer answered.


Years ago, I would have easily looked back over the last few weeks and thought of how terrible all of the travel hassles had been, or how tired I was, or how cold it was, or how sick we all were, or how expensive this or that was, or whatever. But I've lost too many precious moments befriending such a perspective.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Philippians 4:6 (ESV)

School Bells & Grass Stains: How Everything was Falling into Place


Only a mere five days after carrying the first moving box into the house, school began. Not much of a breather, but it brought some normalcy to a chaotic season.

To celebrate this fresh beginning, the girls were outfitted with new backpacks, new lunch boxes, new clothes, and a pair of cute new shoes. Back in California, the girls attended a charter school just one town over. This meant, many of their classmates never lived close by. Now they ride the bus home with, not simply their classmates, but their neighborhood friends as well. Seeing them build new friendships within our community has brought so much joy to our hearts. It's difficult to describe the peace and happiness we have as their parents that they have made friends so quickly.


Every morning the sky seemed to cheer at our arrival. Kevyn and I would sip our coffee in peace while the sun's rays slowly crept over the back deck. We would briefly break the silence with comments of the morning's beauty as the sunrise, and steam from our mugs, warmed our faces.

Despite the welcoming tones of Autumn, we knew Winter was right around the corner. After our daily moments of appreciation, we got to work. We had much to do in the yard to prep for winter. Kevyn tackled the garden and I made way too many trips to Home Depot for tools and supplies.


The lawn was finally wrangled back into shape after almost two months of neglect. Daily, Kevyn harvests from the four raised garden beds. We were eating what we could and giving away everything else to our neighbors and friends.

For a brief weekend, Kevyn's parents visited and helped us knock out a huge chunk of our to-do list. Being Master Gardeners, they gave Kevyn tips for the garden and pruned one of the backyard trees that was encroaching on the roof and rotting out. We were so grateful to have the extra sets of hands around to help, that the girls had some quality time with their Papa and Nana, and to explore our new town a bit more that weekend.

It was no small task, but Kevyn eventually got the entire vegetable garden cleared of all weeds. She covered everything in cardboard (to prevent future weed growth) and laid down a generous amount of bark an top of it. I, after a fair amount of time researching and watching tutorials on YouTube, winterized the sprinkler system. I cleared the pipes, turned off the system, and shut off the outside water line. I'm still crossing my fingers hoping that I did it correctly. No leaks or burst pipes so far.

The first frost was on its way quickly and hit the week of Halloween, so it was great that we were able to complete these tasks in time.


Settling in has been quite the experience and a lot of hard work, but through it all there has been so much peace beyond words. So much appreciation for what God has given us. At the end of each day, we were tired, but satisfied with everything we were able to accomplish. That amazing feeling of crawling into bed when you're exhausted never gets old.

Every evening the sky lit up with a different shade of pink or orange, like a wide hug welcoming us home.

Let's Go Camping: How to Reconnect with Friends and Avoid Responsibilities


A month after moving into our new house, our list of projects seemed to be growing daily. This needs to be fixed. That box needs to be unpacked. New furniture needs to be purchased. What does this switch do? We need another tool. In which box did we pack that one thing?

So, for one weekend, instead of dealing with our mountain of tasks, we headed for the mountains of Eastern Idaho. Of course we couldn't just go by ourselves, so we went along with our friends who also recently moved here to Idaho.

It was a much needed break. It gave us the opportunity to see more of our new state, spend some time catching up with old friends, and reflect on God's provision and grace in our lives.

All weekend, we joked and tried one-upping each other about how long our to-do lists were. Our friends had recently moved into a new house as well, so we had many relatable tasks, shared our wish lists, and made plans to tag team it on bigger projects.


It had been 14 years since we last went camping with our friends. This was all before we had kids, mind you. So we had much to reminisce about and swap stories about our lives since.

All day long, the kids ran up and down along the river, collecting sticks and unique rocks, and making little hideouts in the tall bushes. Us adults had a routine of sitting by the fire with a beverage, helping the kids get food, doing some clean up, then sitting back down with a new drink. We repeated that until bed. The dogs roamed around the campsite like little Hoovers looking for food scraps and dropped snacks, all the while performing the Hoth maneuver on our legs with their leashes.

It wasn't particularly fruitful, but us boys did manage to get out our rods and do some fishing. I got a couple of bites, but couldn't land any of those wriggly Browns. This year, with the move, I wasn't able to get out camping and/or fishing nearly as much as I normally do each year. Even though nothing was caught by any of us, it was still rather enjoyable to be on the water's edge, hearing our lines whip through the air, and feeling the sunshine on our faces.


Sunday morning came far too quickly than any of us preferred. After a simple breakfast, camp breakdown began. With school or work waiting for each of us the next morning, no one was in a hurry to pack up and load the vehicles.

Over the last decade or so, our irregular visits were followed by months or years of not seeing each other in-person, sporadic phone calls, and too much radio silence. This time was different. We now live within minutes of each other. As we left the campground, it wasn't the typical goodbye of "See y'all in a couple years...if we're lucky." We had plans for later that week. It felt weird, but natural. We were so thankful to be living in the same state again and to be so close.

As we drove back home, my thoughts drifted back to all of the house work awaiting me. But instead of being overwhelmed, I was filled with anticipation. I was rejuvenated and excited to take on and climb that mountainous list of projects.

House Project #1: Painting Everything and Dealing with Chaos


After moving in, we quickly created a list of things we needed to fix or wanted to update around the house. Some tasks are quite simple, like installing window blinds or fixing the sliding glass door handle. Others on the list are major to-dos like renovating the whole kitchen (new cabinets, and layout, and lights, etc.) or replacing the flooring throughout the entire ground level (due to the damage caused by the herd of cats the previous owners had). The first, and crucial, task was to paint the whole interior of the house. Especially, the basement. That bright blue has got to go!

At this point, much of our belongings had not been moved in because we knew it would be in the way once we painted. This meant the house was bare bones for the first month or so. The girls' mattresses were on the floor, clothes were still being stowed in our travel bags, and my wife and I worked in random, quiet places around the house sitting on boxes or anything we could find.

After reviewing our budget and some quotes, we hired a small crew to paint the house. In order to save time and money on the paint job, I planned to remove all of the trim and baseboards throughout the entire house, then in the Spring I would put up the new ones. The week before the painters started, I removed all of the boards, of which I estimate at almost 1000 linear feet, that needed to be pried off. Whenever she had time, on her lunch or in the evenings, Kevyn followed behind me to pull out any nails left behind from the trim.

It took much longer than I thought or hoped it would. We just barely got it completed before the painters came to prep and paint the house.


About ten years ago, we heard a pastor teach on attitudes when dealing with life's setbacks and disappointments. At the time, we were living rather meagerly, just had a newborn, my wife was working towards her bachelors, and I was recently laid off. It was not an easy season and the pastor's message was a relevant and much needed topic for us. However, it did not sit right with me one bit.

This pastor shared how he and his wife recently had a kitchen renovation take a day longer than expected. What was supposed to have been a two-day project turned into three days. This experience was extremely hard for the pastor and his wife to work through and to maintain godly attitudes.

He also shared that during a recent rainstorm, there was street flooding and slow moving traffic that caused him and his boys to miss a movie they had bought tickets for in advance. He described both of these events as tragedies. I could not believe what I was hearing. Needless to say, that was one of the last sermons of his I heard.

Although it left a rather sour taste in my mouth, there was one thing I got from it: Never complain about privilege. And I don't mean "privilege" in the social justice sense. That pastor had the means to improve his home for his family and he complained it took an extra day, while my wife and I weren't sure if we could pay next month's rent. He complained about missing a movie, while people in his community were experiencing water damage to their homes or possibly running late to their jobs, which could jeopardize their employment. There is more I could share about this season in our lives, the maturity of that pastor and the church we were at, but I'll leave it there for now.

It's all about perspective

All that to say, recently, that pastor's message came to mind. Now I am the one with similar means to work on house projects and enjoy outings with my kids. But after some thought, in no way have I considered the imperfections of my home, dealing with the plethora of boxes, the inconsistent pace of home projects, or changed plans due to weather as "disappointments."

There are definitely momentary frustrations, but, as I've said before in other posts and will continue to do so, I choose to be thankful above all else. It would be absurd not to.

Why would I complain about the opportunity of painting my own house, when years before I had to fight our property manager to fix the AC unit or remove the mold from our bathroom? Why would I complain about the weather when my life, and the people I love, and my house are safe through the storm?

Life isn't perfect and to complain or see things as disappointments when it doesn't work out should never be a default attitude. That mindset diminishes the truly terrible or tragic events that do eventually come in our lives, and that's not okay. Setbacks are not tragedies.


Admittedly, our house was rather chaotic during the few weeks it took to paint the house. For almost two weeks, the girls didn't even have doors for their bedrooms. Every evening, we had to pin up blankets or sheets to block the light and every morning take them down for the painters. Tools, dust, and plastic drop cloths covered every inch of the house. Our backs were hurting daily from sitting in awkward, temporary office locations throughout the house and then working on projects into the evenings. It wasn't easy when so much was in disarray, but how dare I think of it as anything to complain about.

The opportunities God has given us is something we are extremely grateful for. We're proud of the wise decisions and sacrifices we've made to get us to this point of having the means to buy a house, having the ability to work on it, being able bless our neighbors whenever we can, and to experience adventures as a family.

I'm excited for our future home projects. I do not assume they will all be easy or convenient to accomplish. Instead of complaining about house projects, I will give thanks to God for the home He has provided for us and take pride in the work I have before me as a steward of my home and my family.


Once the painting was finished, we got the house back in order and I began to work on a running list of electrical work. Replacing every socket, every switch, and almost every light fixture. I also created schematics of the house, so I could properly relabel the breaker box. The labels were worn, mislabeled, or vague and I need to fix that in order to quickly know what to shut off for future projects or in an emergency. Thank you, Jason for the assist in that!

Tasks next on the list are to insulate our garage, so it's more useful in the winter, putting on the new trim/baseboards, and new flooring. Chances are rather high that the priorities of these tasks will change as we move forward, but we'll be sure to keep you posted on our progress, our learning, and maybe how to avoid any mistakes we might make along the way.

The State of the House Address: How to Turn Disappointment into Joy


We expected leftover junk from the previous owners, but not to the degree to which we found it. We fully admit it could have been a lot worse. There are horror stories littering the internet and we don't want to add to the pile of lost faith in humanity material out there, so we wanted to share how we dealt with it and the opportunities that came from it.

Before we could even move our stuff in, Juan had to clean the garage. Practically top to bottom. Cob webs in every corner. Rodent droppings behind boxes. Hundreds of dog treat bits soaked and crusted to the floor. Broken appliances on the shelves. After three hours, it was swept and cleared of all of the left over junk. Just in time for the movers we hired to show up and unload the truck.

These guys were great. Locals making a living with their many side hustles. They made quick work of our 20' truck loaded to the ceiling. They even carried away a full truck bed of the leftover garbage to the dump for us, at no extra cost. Garrett, you rock!

One of the items left was a sound machine, which our oldest daughter quickly claimed. There was also a free-standing cabinet in the kitchen that looked like the previous owners intended to take with them, but ended up leaving it instead. It's in poor shape, but I'll repurpose it for the garage. Can't complain about extra storage, amiright?

In the backyard, it appears the previous owners didn't dispose of their dog's waste, but instead piled it behind one of the trees in the back corner. I've been told we can use it as fertilizer. Anyone have any tips on that? Is that safe for a vegetable garden or just flower beds?

Lastly, they utilized command strips for much of their wall pieces. They work rather well in not peeling off the paint when you remove them. However, the previous owners never removed them when they repainted, leaving highly noticeable unpainted strips throughout the house. This honestly made us laugh. You can see the brush strokes around each of the strips, as if special care had been taken to preserve these temporary fixtures. It would have been far less time and effort for them to simply remove the strips in the first place. People are truly silly sometimes.

Because we want to be truthful, the first day or so we felt a bit disappointed. If this is how they managed their house, what other shortcuts are we bound to find? But we quickly got over it and chose to feel blessed with what God has provided us. We knew there was a lot of work we wanted to do to make this house our own, so what's a few extra tasks on our to-do list anyways?

We don't know the situation of the previous family that lived in this home. We won't ever know the struggles they had. So why hold onto bitterness? At the end of the day, we know all of this leftover mess is trivial. Extending forgiveness and grace is what God calls us to practice, and that is just what we did.

We are truly grateful for this house—even in its current state. We're excited to start working on our projects to improve it, make it our own, and ultimately leave it better for the next family when it's time for us to move on.

Follow along with our home renovations as we tackle each project, make mistakes, and learn to trust the process.

Leaving California: The Long Haul Through the Desert


Nostalgia sat in as we did some minor cleaning to our place and gathered the few remaining items. It felt like it was only the day before that we were filling that empty condo with our stuff. How time flies.

We had so much help packing up our home into one 20' truck and two vehicles. Loading an entire home in four hours has got to be a record. Thank you to everyone that came to pack, load up the vehicles, or help us during this gigantic transition.

750mi | $550 in Gas | 2 Vehicles (towing a 3rd) | 6 Humans | 2 Pets | 1 Jungle of Houseplants

Early the next day, Juan took off in the moving truck with a friend who agreed to help drive with us. The ladies had a later start, but we all happened to meet up at our first gas fill-up in Reno at the same time. Every two hours or so, we made gas and/or food stops. At which point, Juan made sure to check on the plethora of houseplants stowed away in my car. Because it was being towed, the AC couldn't be on, so ensuring they weren't being fried in the August heat made Kevyn more at ease.

Nevada, which made up the majority of our trip, was beautiful, but it's easy to dismiss the desert dust and dry shrubs in the summer. Our guess is that it's stunning in the spring.

Dinner was a welcome break from the drive. We stopped in the city of Twin Falls, ID to meet up with some new friends, who also recently moved to Idaho. They took us to a fantastic local restaurant. Our planned 45min pit-stop turned into two hours of delicious food and laughs. No regrets.

We rolled into our new town a little after midnight. In my tired state, I accidentally slammed a car door on my thumb. It required a splint for a few days as the swelling and pain subsided. Now I just have to wait the next month or so for the blackened nail to grow out and heal.

After all of the gas, food, truck rental, and plane tickets (for our two friends to drive out with us) this was definitely the most expensive road trip to date. I don't want to down-play the stress involved in such a move, but honestly, it felt so smooth and rather painless, aside from my thumb, that is. It had it's moments, but in the end we made it.

We're so thankful for the friends and family that helped us pack and load the truck, and to the two who made the drive out with us. Y'all are amazing!

Can't wait to share how we're settling into our new home and town.

2.0 | Faith and Wisdom: How to Trust God While Uprooting Your Family


After sharing my dream with my wife, we had many hours of discussions about what it would mean for our family and how to move forward. We've had a missionary mindset for much of our lives and marriage, so the thought of uprooting to a different state or country has always been an option for us.

For me, moving and traveling was always quite desirable and exciting. It's the adventure I've longed for since reading Bilbo's unexpected journey through Middle-Earth. It's the call to a larger purpose like Moses received from God through a burning bush.

If my dream was that call to adventure, where do we start?

Moving out of California was a simple enough answer, but, as anyone with a family, property to sell, and a community to inform would tell you, there is no clear plan of action. We quickly had so many questions, unknowns, and fears. So we fasted.


For a full week, our whole family fasted. My wife and I fasted alcohol and as a family we abstained from entertainment. The idea was to have clear hearts and sober minds to hear from the Lord. No distractions. No mindless scrolling. No clicking the "Next Episode" button. No collecting our daily game bonuses. No screen time.

In the evenings we prayed as a family for God's wisdom and direction. Kevyn and I would make lists with our desires and needs, logistical problems that needed solutions, and, most importantly, places to which we thought God was calling us. Innumerable Zillow links were shared between the two of us that week. Real estate research was becoming borderline replacements for the void from a lack of entertainment.

After that week of prayer and fasting, we felt God was leading us to Idaho. If I'm being honest here, we actually came to that conclusion on Day 3, but used the rest of the week to sit on and confirm it.

We have been looking at the Northwest region of the U.S. for quite some time. With the amazing views of Colorado, friends recently moving to Montana, the beauty of Yellowstone in Wyoming, and the desire to still be as close as possible to our family and friends in California, it just made sense.

Around that same time, some friends of ours recently moved to Idaho. This was highly influential in our decision making. These friends are the godparents of our children. We highly respect them. Enjoy their company. And love them so much. We helped them move to Texas back in 2009 and have longed to live near them again ever since. It felt like this move would answer not only our current prayers to God for direction, but the prayers we made over a decade ago.

We hopped on a video call with these friends to tell them what we've heard from God and that we would be joining them in Idaho as soon as God allows. Needless to say, there was much excitement and tears.


Our location was picked out. It ticked off the majority of our list when it came to needs for our family and our girls. There was a community we could plug into and thrive in. It pushes us even further towards some of the goals we've been talking and dreaming about. And most of all, we felt God's peace.

We met with a realtor to discuss what it would look like to start the process of selling our condo. Thinking it would take about a month or so, with her encouragement and a few late nights, we had our condo on the market in just nine short days. That was the moment it got real for us.

That same week, we made the rounds to tell our friends and family of our decision. Understandably, there were lots of tears as we explained our plans, but surprisingly we received so much understanding and love.

Over the last decade and a half, we've said goodbye to countless friends that have moved away. Slowly losing contact afterwards was an inevitable, but still heartbreaking, part of that process. It was truly a surreal feeling being on the other side of that conversation for the first time, knowing the same could, and probably will, happen to some of the people we're hugging goodbye.

If you were one of the people we talked to during this decision making time, we want you to know it was not lost on us that when we hugged you goodbye, it might have been the last time we would get to do that. Our hope truly is that it wasn't, but if we happen to lose contact it doesn't mean we've lost our love for you. We will still think about you no matter what. Often, we fondly reminisce on those we've lost contact with, hoping for their best, praying they are in God's love, and enjoying the memories we made together.

We know life happens, we all settle into routines, and the saying "outta sight, outta mind" is all too real in these moments. But we'd like to make it very clear, no matter how long it's been, we would lovingly welcome a call or text from you. Seriously. Anytime.


After a whirlwind weekend trip to check out a few houses in Idaho, things started falling into place. Kevyn was offered a new remote job (this came after 2-3 months of silence from employers). We accepted an offer on our condo, for our asking price, at a time when the market was down turning fast. And had our own offer accepted on a house in Idaho that our whole family agreed felt like it was already ours when we viewed it.

God had been answering our prayers and was continuing to answer them. He was showing us that he was in control. During this time, our hearts were open to hearing from God, not presuming we knew better, or acting thoughtlessly. Our prayers were, and still remain:

"God, we want to follow you, be in your will, and to live in wisdom and thankfulness. If it is your will, make it so. If it is not, shut the door."

The next few weeks were a blur of cardboard boxes and packing tape, goodbye tears, way too much fast food, and squeezing in as much time as we could with those we love.

With our belongings packed and goodbyes said, we hopped on I-80 east, out of California.

- Juan

1.0 | Waiting for the Call: A Tale of Dreams and Discernment


Earlier this year, I, Juan, had a dream that I truly believe God used to speak to me. I get a fair amount of dreams, as I suppose many do; but this dream was vivid, clear as day, and has stuck in my mind with almost perfect recall since.

The dream began with my wife and I overlooking some property that we owned. It was a nice plot of land along the beautiful California coast. Amazing 360 views of the ocean and the surrounding hills, high up on the cliffs above the tides below and with plenty of space to grow.

We had decided to partition some of our land and build a small house on a pleasant nearby cliff that overlooks a small cove feature. This would be for our guests to stay as well as a rental for some passive income. We received help from our friends and family to build this cabin-like home. Upon finishing, we were floored at the generosity of so many and incredibly grateful to our community for their help.

I walked in through the back door and sat down at the kitchen table for a quick break. Inside, my wife was putting the finishing touches on some of the interior decor and an older lady was at the sink hand washing some dishes.

As I was admiring my wife's attention to detail—hanging art frames and rotating the plants for optimal viewing pleasure—I, again, was overwhelmed by all of the people that helped us and thinking, "We've done it! We are achieving our goals and building towards our future."

Within seconds, I heard a deafening, terrible noise. Despite being almost 200 feet up on a cliff, the sea waves were swelling at an immense pace towards us. The surge had risen and spilled onto the cliffs in paralyzing quickness.

The cabin, along with its visually aligned adornments and freshly cleaned plates and mugs, was plucked from its foundation and imitated a boat made of Swiss cheese. The chaotic waves buckled the walls, the roof peeled back like a candy wrapper, and my eyes stung from the salt as I desperately looked for my wife. The safety of dry land was depressingly out of reach.

Shock sat in as I treaded water through the rampaging waves. After a few moments, a large wave lifted and hurled me towards a rock. I woke up upon impact.

Surprisingly, my heart was not pounding. I quickly sat up to let out an audible and inquisitive "hmmm" as I pondered what I had just experienced. It felt different. I knew it was different.


For many years now, I've been praying to God for direction. Direction for my family and where to live. What’s ahead of us? What are the next steps? Should we stay or move? How am I supposed to reach others with the Gospel? Where would I, and my family, go to make the greatest impact for God? The usual questions I ponder about life and how I should live as a Christian.

I personally feel called to disciple and teach. It's not hard to see the culture, the politics, and social issues that are overtaking our daily lives. I ache to speak to those matters, and I desire to instruct others to think biblically and live their lives with Godly wisdom. Living where we are, in California, makes this quite difficult. The culture is vehemently anti-God. Truth and logic are overtaken by emotions and entitlements. The fractured church has given rise to false doctrines and complacent followers of Christ.

For a long while now, I've felt like I've been stuck between figuring out if I'm a Jonah or a Lot. Am I called to be a light in the darkness in California, or do I need to take my family away from impending destruction lest we be destroyed along with it?

I have tried to be a light, live for what’s Godly, and be a part of the edification of others; but sooner or later the proverbial door is closed. We’ve been a part of small groups that ended due to the sins of the leaders or bad theology, and we’ve had to leave churches that dissolved or changed in ungodly ways. We’ve had too many Christian friends, very close to us, “deconstruct” their faith and turn away from God. I’ve tried a personal ministry of reaching out to friends and family members on how I can encourage them in studying the Bible and understanding hard topics. The major response had been that they were uninterested. People who claim to believe in God are saying they’re uninterested in learning more about Him or the Bible! It’s been heartbreaking for me. 

Would anyone really blame me for wanting to throw in the towel and go somewhere else or am I just being a coward?

Is my desire to move away like that of Jonah's desire to avoid the seemingly fatal task of preaching to Nineveh? It’s a dead-end. It’s pointless. Or am I, like Lot, living in a culture that is beyond reconciliation with God and must take my family and flee or be doomed along with it? I’ve been torn on this for years. I want to be a light, but ultimately I want to follow God where he leads.


In the broad sense of culture, morals, and behaviors, California is not where I want to raise my family any longer. It's not from a place of fear, but of prudence. I don't make my bed in the center lane of a highway, but in the safety of my home. That's simply wisdom.

As I look around at the influence California has on culture, our nation, and the world I am saddened.

California is the primary source of entertainment throughout the country and a major contributor globally. Additionally, a staggering 90% of all US-made porn comes from California. Many CA-based video streaming services promote increasingly anti-God and sinful content. They boast of their library of content that focuses on deviant sexual actions and ideologies that are contrary to the Word of God. Disney was recently exposed for their “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” in wanting to desensitize children and increase acceptance of LGBTQIA+ culture in the next generation. I'm not saying all entertainment is bad. I, for one, am a huge fan of cinematic storytelling. I believe it can be used to understand deep truths about human nature and our world, or simply be a fun, temporary escape, but we need to be mindful of the content we and our children take in hours on end. As a parent, I want to know the messages my daughters are learning or behaviors being exemplified in the shows and movies they watch. I refuse to be or raise my daughters as passive consumers.

Social media and dating apps have had a devastating effect on this generation. It has increased mental health issues, promotes the destruction of the nuclear family with "hook-up culture", and has played a large role in dividing this country even beyond the political arena. Social media is riddled with posts about wishing death upon Christians, endless nonsensical arguments, and stating scientific truths about biology are considered hateful, bigoted, or “phobic”. Dating apps provide endless hook-ups with a thoughtless "swipe right". These companies (Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, etc.) are all based in California. I typically view these networks as tools, amoral, if you will. Communication with loved ones, learning new skills, and keeping up with current events are all wonderful things. However, any tool can be used improperly. I, personally, find traditional social media as a net negative for my life and family.

Beyond pop-culture, California boasts of having the highest abortion rates in the nation with their 153 clinics and over 500 facilities overall, which is 10 times the US state average. For all of human history, the killing of babies has been about convenience or a practice of the demonic, a sacrifice by fire to false gods like Baal (1,2,3). God clearly condemns this evil act in His Word. I do have great sympathy for those struggling, or have wrestled, with this dilemma. The culture glorifies abortion, calling it "reproductive healthcare" or a human right. It can be difficult for many mothers to know what is right when pressured by a parter, family, or life's hardships. I don't presume to know the answer to address each individual's situation, but I wholehearted believe the lives of the most precious among us should be protected above all and not ended prematurely out of convenience or skewed morality. I struggle in justifying staying in a state that promotes, legalizes, and uses my tax dollars to end the lives of tiny, beautiful, image-bearers of God.

Depravity is California's number one cultural export.

What is promoted by the culture in California, to me, appears to be almost unimaginable ways of unfettered access to fulfill any earthly pleasure free from commitment, free from moral obligation, free from consequences, free from guilt, and free from God.

The culture is beyond backwards. They reject the truth for lies and rage against God and His people. They are actively saying, “if you are not for us, then you are against us.” Which is perhaps the only thing Christians and current culture have in common.

And that is why my heart is saddened. There is so much joy and peace in the grace of God. Not condemnation, but salvation. It can only be only be found in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and fought against by putting on the full armor of God.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
Ephesians 6:12


Of course, California has plenty of Christians fighting against the culture. That is no small thing to overlook! But Christians can be a mixed bag. We are a broken people after all.

Over the last couple decades or so, at least in my experience, I've seen a pacifying wave slowly cover the church lulling Christians to sleep. Silencing them. Compromising them. Neutering them. Of course this can, and does, happen elsewhere, but it's been effecting the churches I've attended and the churches in my communities.

I have seen and heard the Gospel being distorted in increasing amounts as of late. Pastors are telling people Jesus is not the only way to heaven. Sermons saying that prosperity and wealth only follow the faithful—”believe and get rich!” Congregants told to ignore sin and believe that God loves and approves of all lifestyles. Every week, from the pulpit, the Word of God is being twisted to fit some financial or cultural agenda. It's not every church, but far too many.

How did all of this start? Well, the distortion of truth ultimately began back in the Garden, but we're not going back that far. From what I've witnessed, discussed with others, and studied, it truly became evident throughout California in the early 2000s. Shortly following the Toronto Blessing, a world-famous revival at an unsuspecting airport in 1994, revivals began popping up across North America. Brownsville, in Florida, is quite a noteworthy event to look into, as well. However, California was hit rather hard by this revival movement and permeated throughout the many churches I attended growing up, which, unarguably, has had a huge impact on me.

The movement fundamentally reshaped how worship was conducted on Sundays. As a child, I saw bodies shaking and convulsing on the floor, distracting from the normal routine of singing and clapping along to worship songs. Odd whispers and strange yelling, in almost other-worldly languages, are inseparable from my memories and experiences at church services, small groups, and youth camps. Friends of mine, jokingly labeling themselves as "Glory-Seekers", have shared stories of driving hours to other churches in an attempt to witness gold dust or angel feathers fall from the sanctuary ceiling. “Name it and claim it” or “Manifest the life you want” are regular conversational proclamations.

I sat in a folding chair in the front row to the beginning of a church culture that focused more on getting from God rather than living a life devoted to worshipping Him.

Before I continue, I want you to know that I am not trying to imply God was not present at these churches or that revivals are evil. I'm not a secessionist. I believe in prophecy, tongues, healings, and miracles. Honestly, I believe there was a lot God was doing, but I know the heart of man is selfish, deceitful, and sinful. I know this because I have a great capacity to be selfish, deceitful, and sinful. It’s human nature to long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This longing, coupled with these easily fabricated outward actions to show godliness, or connection with God, or being touched by Him, can be a great temptation for many, and is not a new phenomenon. Only God can know if one's heart is genuine. Unfortunately, many events were merely shows, miracles were later debunked, and movements faded into obscurity. It saddens and enrages me when someone wants to encounter God, but is given a counterfeit experience. 

As revival culture became normal church culture, I witnessed the fracturing of the church not seen since Martin Luther’s time. The response was to go hyper. Hyper-charismatic or hyper-conservative. Glory seekers came out of the woodwork. Doomsday/Y2K Preppers abounded as the end of the century neared, along with the rise in popularity of the Left Behind series. Secondary beliefs defined the type of Christian you were. We were dividing and losing love for one another.

The church’s response to all of this, I believe, is one of our greatest downfalls to this day. In an effort to get back to God, to become more palatable to non-Christians, and not seem as strange as our “brothers and sisters over at the other church”, it gave way to a series of deviations that watered down scripture and the gospel to appear less rigid or extreme. This Seeker-Sensitive approach destroyed the metaphorical back-bones of pastors and leaders in the church and propped open the gates to unbiblical and ungodly teachings as we let culture shape what the church should look like.

The first and most notable deviation was the Emergent Church. These churches discarded chunks of scripture in order to appeal to the emotions of man. It was a mix of traditions, to tug on nostalgia and feelings, a flowery gospel, so as not to offend the sinner, and pseudo-psychology to stimulate the mind. I completely understand why these churches became so popular. They were conducted in small groups, usually in people’s homes. Each session contained rituals that put faith into action. They attempted to address cultural issues, such as racial diversity within the church. However, these growing small churches and the desire for such a culture in the christian church fostered the next steps toward the New Age.

New Age Christianity, or more recently called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), was hit with some resistance by many church leaders. However, it was undeniable that the church was growing with these new ideas. NAR attempts to “redeem” pagan practices like Astrology, the Law of Attraction, Oneness, and “Following One’s Heart.” Unfortunately, these practices aren’t easy to redeem as they are outright contradictory to scripture. Certain leaders, of churches that I have attended, visited, or my home church has partnered with, have endorsed many anti-biblical teachings or blatant New Age practices. Practices like Destiny Card readings, which are essentially Tarot cards, or Grave-Soaking, the act of trying to take someone’s “spiritual mantle” by physically laying on top of a person's grave, or using sound waves and imagination to trance yourself into a spiritual realm. These practices are witchcraft, demonic, and not for Christians to partake of. I speak strongly of this, because God speaks strongly of this (2 Chronicles 33:6; Leviticus 20:6).

Along side NAR, is Progressive Christianity. This movement embraces some NAR philosophies, but takes adopting extra-biblical beliefs further. It turns to culture to ask, “what should we believe?” It blatantly takes scissors to the Word of God to cut out His commands and rewrite His truths. Progressive leaders distort scriptures to create a new “truth” about reality to fit culture. It takes LGBTQIA+, what God calls an abomination, and declares it righteous. It affirms abortion as life-giving. It lifts cultural moralism higher than Biblical teaching. It calls Jesus a mere moral teacher, ripping Him of his divinity. It promotes cult-like ideas that we are almost equal to God in divinity and power. And worse yet, it ignores sin as the ultimate separator between us and God, reducing repentance to an antiquated ritual not to be bothered with anymore, all in an effort to not offend. It is truly unloving and evil to ignore the repentance of sin, Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, and God's commandments.

Most popularly, teachings are stretching the truth in Genesis, in saying we are divine in nature, like little gods. Not simply that we were created in God's image, but that we are like God. We can save ourselves. We create and judge morality. We can manifest our reality. Progressive Christianity is not about how great God is anymore, but about how great we are. The ultimate lie. That very first lie.

Due to staying from theology and biblical understanding, a growing portion of the Christian church today is practically unrecognizable. It’s a false gospel. It’s a distortion of the truth. It’s a lie. I’m bothered by it. I’m sick of it. I'm heartbroken over it. I love God and his people. I address this because I don't want anyone led astray by the lies of the enemy. (Ephesians 5:11; Romans 16:17-18; Colossians 2:8; 2 Timothy 4:3-4)

We are called and designed to abide in God. Desire His desires. Love as He loves. Hate what is evil. That cannot be done if we change or ignore His Word. When you push aside the truth of God in order to be culturally relevant or non-offensive, you risk damaging future generations and eternally endangering your own soul. Something I pray upon no man.

I do pray God's people stand firm on His Word, fight for truth, speak out against evil, love what is righteous, and seek wisdom and discernment.


So what about the dream and what does this all mean?

After much prayer and counsel, it was a call to move. Specifically, out of California.

In my dream, we’re trying to build our lives, plan for our future, be a part of our community, and share what God has given us. The Bible is abundantly clear on this point that God created this world, and each of our lives, to reflect His Being and His beauty, to live and grow on the vines of His truths, and to share the Gospel. I believe what we were doing in the dream wasn’t sinful or outside of His will for our lives. We had gratitude and thankfulness in our hearts.

However, it was where we were building it. I believe our property on the coast represents our lives in California. It was a warning of something to come. Of what, I do not know.

The parable of the Two Builders came across my mind, as it probably did yours. I thought, “but we were building on top of a high cliff, not on the sands below. Doesn’t this count for building upon ‘the rock?’” Then God reminded me of when I was treading water in the dream. I could see higher ground further inland, but it was too late to reach it at that point. The “rock” we were building upon wasn’t high enough. The sand, referred to in the parable, is also called a “Wadi” an Arabic term. A Wadi is a leveled out, sandy area near waterways and streams. A dried up riverbed. They can be barren or lush. Close to trickling water sources and sometimes a very desirable place to be. However, these areas are known for sudden and violent flash floods. So it’s only a matter of time when the flood waters will instantly take out your home, family, and livelihood. Hence, the fooling builder homesteaded on the sand. I am no prophet, but I believe California is a cultural, political, and economic Wadi. Seems pleasant at first, but the flood waters are coming.

In my dream, the water could represent practically anything. Biblically, water has symbolized the act of purifying (e.g. The Flood or Baptism), but it's usually paired with judgment (e.g. The Flood, Parting of the Red Sea). I have no clear understanding of whether it is meant to be an isolated warning for only my family or a more far-reaching act upon California. It could mean a natural disaster–some sort of earthquake/tsunami combo. It could mean an economic collapse, war, or famine, or civil unrest. Any one of those things could destroy a person’s livelihood and/or their life. I highly doubt Lot considered rotten-egg smelling, flaming projectiles from the sky as a legitimate mechanism for how Sodom was to be destroyed. So I will not venture a guess myself at what the flood waters of my dream could mean.

All I can do is listen, pray, and follow where I believe God is leading me to take my family.

There is one aspect of the dream that I do want to happen, or at least continue, and that is our heart of thankfulness and gratitude to our friends and family. Our hearts are filled with love for everyone who has been there for us, helped us, befriended us, laughed with us, cried with us, shared a meal with us, and prayed for us. The life we’ve built so far has been surrounded by and foundational upon our relationships with you. We do not take our move lightly or without trepidation, but with wisdom, caution, and faith.

We are born and raised Californians. We truly love the state—from its sunset beaches to its snowy peaks. It’s been our home and our playground for decades, but it is in disrepair and falling apart. We mourn, shake our heads at, and pray for the state constantly. We pray for its people, for our neighbors, to know Christ. We mourn the damage that rejecting God has caused multiple generations. And we hope repentance and redemption with God comes swiftly.

As for me and my family, we are going to follow the Lord and where He leads us. Please pray for us as we pray for you and for, our home, California.

- Juan