What's Harder

By now, most people have seen this photo of 12 year old Devante Hart hugging and being hugged by Portland, OR, Police Sergeant Bret Barnum at a Ferguson protest rally in Portland, Oregon on 11/28/14.
  The young man waPortland sergeant and protestor hugs holding a sign reading, "Free Hugs."  Sgt. Barnum came up and spoke to him for a few minutes, just like he might any 12 year old.  Young Mr. Hart began tearing up, and when Sgt. Barnum asked him for a hug, we see the results.  Two human beings, one in a uniform who stands ready to give his life for this young man if needed, and another who is willing to step across the divide created by a belief about the police.

“If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:10-12 (NLT)

“It took 10 deputies to stop that angry man and I couldn’t take his vital signs…” The new nurse excitedly relating with me why her shift at Intake the night prior was overwhelming. 

“Yup…It happens…” I calmly responded.

“This would not be your first nor last…”  

“But in each time, you’ll learn something new…”

Some of the deputies who worked with her that night intermittently came by to say “hello” to her as she worked in the Clinic that Saturday night. Their faces showing weariness…Yet one particular mood was easy to spot…

“You guys heard it, too from the news?” one asked.

He was talking about the two New York cops shot by an angry man who wanted revenge. 

We all shared that pain. That sadness. 

Anyone who works in law enforcement knows that this is a big family and it hurts so much to lose innocent, honest working cops to such tragic acts. It doesn’t help when the media or any politician plays with people’s emotions to get them on their side and win their selfish causes. Lies being delivered as if they’re the sole truths.

“Have some sweets,” I offered to one visiting deputy. Quiet while sitting the whole time as if he had no energy left from mixed emotions that he was trying to put off.

“Merry Christmas and be safe when you’re out there,” I cautioned as he wished all the nursing staff the same.

He would go back to the prison’s Intake. The sadness and his tired body were needed to be put aside as we all knew… that he would face many more combative arrestees and those who were committed to play tough and resist authority. 

I silently prayed knowing that the “Prince of Peace” was within reach. Because I understood from Him. 

It’s a lot harder to MAKE PEACE than to wage war at times. 


Lord, I ask that You protect those who work hard in law enforcement and the military. Comfort those who lost their loved ones unexpectedly.  Help those who selflessly labor for Your Kingdom and help them endure. Thank You for the true peace You alone give. Thank You that You are watching over the righteous despite these trying times. Thank You for coming here in this dark place to make Your Light be known. Thank You for dying for us so we can live.


Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. – Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)

Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. – Acts 5:31 (NLT)

I was being careful to steady my hands on my steering wheel. Throngs of cars ran past me from different directions. Behind me. From the right lanes. From the left. Some, suddenly merging and had cut me off only to suddenly braked. Their red lights cautioning me to step on my own and  I slowed down even more.
I didn’t want to get angry anymore. I knew many drivers out there were crazy enough to do wrong turns or suicidal speeds way above the norm. Then…

I saw the military convoy. Different kinds of trucks with some cannon-like appearance. Obscured by a green tarp that seemed to hide it in secrecy. Trying to maintain their speed in order to keep their trucks in unity. I could tell the faster ones dared not to do so to allow the slower, heavier trucks to keep up with the first one’s speed. I saw him. A young man whose head was covered with greenish helmet. Browsing through many cars that passed the truck where he was. The plastic cover on the back all neatly rolled up as he sat there facing the traffic behind the truck. His head scanning until…
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I saw him looking at me… From a brief, careful glance, I felt his stare. As his truck and my car passed by where there were Christmas trees being sold off the side of the freeway. I wanted to thank him. I felt no one was acknowledging him. I knew I had the opportunity to make him aware how thankful I was. How grateful I was. Of his service and sacrifice. And that of others’. I found myself praying as I steadied my eyes on the road. Avoiding mishap but wouldn’t let go of that opportunity to thank him and make him aware of what this season also was about.

I waved…For mere seconds and put my right hand again on the wheel...

I looked really fast to where he was and he kept his composure. Then, I saw him raised his right arm. And waved back at me as a big smile appeared on his young face. I smiled back and continued driving as I passed his truck up until I couldn’t see the convoy anymore on my rear view mirror. The sun slowly setting on the western horizon.

I saw the parallel. Of how humanity has been raging war against Christmas. Against Christianity. Many choose to ignore this war because of tolerance. Instead of saying “Merry Christmas”, many opt for “Happy Holidays.” The word “God” being censored and other Christianity-related beliefs while everything else had been making its way into festive celebrations. All for the sake of not being able to offend. So others said…
But there would always be one truth...

That true soldiers of Christ should honor this special time of the year. Christ’s soldiers could repeal all the “humbugs” from many Ebenezer while waving His truth in love.

Faith Or Fear?

The second, heavy metal door slammed loudly as I continued to walk quietly towards the Charge Nurse’s desk on Friday night. A familiar long locks of hair greeted me as she just hang up the phone after speaking with one of the units.

“Charge Nurse already?” I asked with a big smile on my face.

“Yes,” she shyly admitted and her eyes lit up upon seeing who asked her.

“I knew you could do it!” I uttered back.

She was the new nurse being given a hard time that I wrote about from my last post. A threat to those who had intentionally kept their pacts as they formed their own groups behind the prison walls. People whose eyes were more intent on seeing everything, keener than what the prison’s security cameras would never be able to scan or see. Except whose eyes always chose to see the negatives and all evil things than to see the good and the positive.

We had been having problems again with shortage of staff despite my workplace recently hiring many new nurses, both experienced and non-experienced. With the trial I had gone through with the corrupt administration, I had been grateful that their decision to make me Per Diem from a full time position became an advantage. It wasn’t my own strength that helped me get through. I knew it was somehow God’s plan to turn all those hardships into good on my part. Now, they couldn’t force me to work many hours nor put me to work in an unpleasant part of the prison.

“Just keep doing what you are doing! I told you… Show them what you got!”

“Why? Tell me please. What did you hear about me?”


“Seriously…I need to know, Nurse Rcubes. Because I feel there is something going on and it feels great to know that I can speak openly with one, “You!”

My heart and mouth had kept all the bad accusations I heard about her. Many advised me to be cautious on the first night I hadn’t even known her before I oriented her to what we did in the Clinic. I kept quiet. I knew better after working for 14 years to never allow anyone to make me form my own opinion about someone based on what they perceive or suggest. I would rather form my own after working with that person and see their own work habits with my own eyes. Hear how they speak. See how they interact not only with medical or custody staff but also with inmates.

“Did you lie, Nurse Rcubes when I first asked you? You knew something, right?” she repeated.

With my memory rewinding from the last nights I had worked with her, I paused for a while and was careful to answer that query. With the hope of always not being a part of the grapevine…But instead, to always encourage and be a part of the good than the bad.

After a deep sigh, I started talking, my eyes glued to meet her own, piercing stare:

“You may call it that…But I chose to call it "encouragement." I shut up at that time and didn’t tell you what I knew because I wanted to encourage you…”

She almost fell off the chair. She didn’t know how to react upon my admission. But at the same time, I felt her relief upon the chance she might heard a confirmation of what was to be exposed.

“I did that because I wanted you to focus on the positive not the negative and bad things you encountered as you joined us here. Tell me, “Would you quit if I said the truth otherwise?”

Her head bowed lower a bit. Gathering strength to once again straighten her neck and meet my stare, she uttered in a sad voice…

“Perhaps, Nurse Rcubes. Because it was overwhelming…”

She thanked me. She had asked for me to accept her gratitude and a hug. She went back to her empty seat. The Charge Nurse’s. She looked back again to where I was and smiled at me. As the phone rang again as one of the units was calling to ask about medical stuff.

I felt her strength. I felt her positive energy. I always saw her as a hardworking nurse burned out from working in a hospital. Learning new theories and applying her learned skills in a different field of Nursing. But the bottom line was…

Anyone can choose to have fear or faith… To have fear means lack of faith. To not have faith means not knowing or believing in God. Faith is a gift from God. To not have faith in everything we do means we deny that hope that God will and can take care of us no matter what circumstances we’re facing.

I pray…someday…that this nurse would always remember the things we had learned together in the prison. That there was hope despite the trying times. That there was an opportunity to grow in faith whenever we faced adversities or when we felt afraid. Because what was true for me would be true for her…Or for anyone else…..

That God can handle anything that happens in anyone’s life. It is our choice to trust that and truly believe that He will take care of us…Because His faithful love endures... 


First Impressions

“Don’t be over self-confident with your first impressions of people…” ~ Chinese Proverb

I could sense her fears and anxiety. Kept in secrecy at the deepest chamber in her heart. Doubts popping randomly all through out the night, as she tried to learn a new trade in this chosen profession of Nursing. 

Leaving a different area she thought she loved at first from the hospital, she came to try Correctional Nursing. But just like anywhere else in any workplace, blending in wouldn’t be easy. 

It wasn’t because the job was any harder. Nor the tasks would be impossible to be learned. The problem was…the people. People who had been working there for a long time who forgot they were once a newcomer like new nurses. People who got along so well and unfortunately, subtly, mini-groups had been formed where the same interests and habits merged. Groups that felt threatened when another person or co-worker would come along with a different idea, a different lifestyle, a different belief or might have a different points of view with life, meant it was time to put up barriers and an unseen “You’re not welcome” mat from their words and actions.
“I never had a problem with her,” I firmly stated to a Charge Nurse the other night.

She didn’t say anything. I sensed many, perhaps, had more negative things than to see the positive from this new nurse. But I needed to say something after working with this new nurse for a few nights. I never took sides. All I wanted was for them to bring down those barriers and give her a “chance”. 




I knew after being here in the prison for many years, there would always be those great and “not so great” nurses. But the number one problem was never about performing tasks or learning prison things. The number one problem was that people always judged and always go by what they heard and going with others’ FIRST IMPRESSIONS.

I could be a part of that group… But after going through my own trials of getting hurt from the hospital and transferring to work as a Correctional Nurse, as a believer of God, I started seeing His works behind mysterious ways. That I never needed to rely on anyone else but only Him. Despite such unpleasant grapevines and knowing what a “little tongue” could do to burn others, I knew I didn’t need to be a part of such hurtful acts.

I always want to remind myself wherever I am that it is only by His grace and love that I am able to change my heart and wisely choose Who to follow. Who to listen to. Who to seek for life’s advices. I always want to remind myself that His first impression of my old nature never blames, never shames, never rejects and never hates. And even as a new creature, His faithful loves continues to mold and shape me to what He wants me to be... All the cutting, all the pruning, He always does with love and grace...

“Don’t worry about what you hear nor from what you see,” I gave my only advice to that new nurse.

I didn’t need to hear her “Thank you.” She doesn’t owe me anything. I know she just needed that chance of showing what she has and can deliver. To turn their “bad first impression on her” to good. Without conforming to their ways but by simply being herself. A good nurse who’s willing to learn the trade and be able to use her skills to help out others just like how those nurses and myself do it.

I know she needs to find her place… Because I believe God is strategically placing each of His children in every dark place in this world. To reflect His light… To make a difference…

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” – John 7:24 (ESV)

First Love

I sensed something wrong…As I struggled to try to get a “power nap” before going to work one Friday night. Still… A mother’s gut feeling kept me awake. I found myself praying in the dark. Inside the bedroom so conducive to fall asleep that moment… But... there was a battle going on in this mother’s heart that night… as my son had been studying so hard for the past weeks. Only taking very short breaks to rejuvenate himself with warm meals…Then…back to studying he always surrendered. As he labored to make each project made it on time for each deadline…

“Never, ever quit!” I texted him from my short rest. A funny cartoon from “Charlie Brown” and he briefly replied… I knew it was words that spelled laughter…Yet…Those were just words… I knew as a mother…at that time…they never reflected the “happy, joyful” character I knew and loved since he was able to communicate as a growing up child. I felt his energy, his life being sucked out slowly. I wouldn’t let my son get defeated. I wouldn’t let him lose his “joy” if I knew that something was overwhelming. Being a good child as he was, he would never dare give me or his father any problem. But as a nurse and as his own mother, I knew it was time to intervene…

“Are you okay?” I asked many times the following day as I checked up on him and his assignments he was doing in the computer. Coaxing him to take breaks in between, he seldom smiled like he used to. He sighed…And he started spilling what was eating his heart… He wasn’t happy anymore with what he was doing in the computer. Though it was the same element he usually used to create programs, Computer Science was never his first choice. His true passion was Graphic Design.

I summoned my husband. And after his mixed cries of anticipation and relief, my husband’s and my advices were both short…

“Stop! Pursue what you love!”

A faint smile grew and a little embarrassment showed near the corners of those smiles. He knew he wouldn’t have a problem letting us know if anything bothered him. Except it took him a long time to say something.

“Sorry, Dad and Mom. I wasted a year.”

With our hearts renewed with His grace, my husband and I sighed and told him it was okay. That him going to a college for a year was never wasted. Because through that period, he met so many good friends and one professor who made a difference to his students by being concerned with careers they chose. What was wasted I told him, was not pursuing what his heart loved in the first place. We explained…From our own experiences…That success was not about making lots of money or being on top…Many made it in their lives not even finishing school yet they did so well…

Because they pursued their “passion”… Their “FIRST LOVE”…

Now, he’s been in the process of transferring to another school to take that first step necessary for him to learn more about Graphic Design. I see my “old son” back. Always joking around. Always grateful for little things. Always thankful for God’s life’s lessons for him. Whether it hurts or not…He knows… That pursuing what his heart loves will make him be able to endure and walk for more miles… And no matter what bumps on the road he’ll discover, it will be okay. He can get back up again… knowing he’s looking forward to what his heart loves… that brings joy and contentment and hopefully, he can use someday to help out others and be an instrument of God in that field he chose.

We all face such challenges daily…Of being assaulted with lots of false teachings as we labor for Christ. May we not let such lies overwhelm the truth and love that comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ… For Jesus is our true “FIRST LOVE.” It’s never too late… To turn around and pursue that road that leads to Him… It’s narrow… But the only road that makes our journeys worthwhile and joyful no matter what comes our way in this temporary home we're all in…
All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.


The Attacker (5/15/09)

The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies. Ephesians 6:12 [37 kb]

Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.

Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.

All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.

When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.

The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.

When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himself and ended up injuring his attacker severely.

[Source: NLT Bible ]:

We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.

“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14

Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].

Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.

Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.

Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].