LOOK HERE for recipes, quotes, music, books, environmental stewardship, faith, etc

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Green Living is More Than Recycling

Tonight I'm reading an article related to my work with Eden Reforestation Projects titled "The lowdown on topsoil: It's disappearing" with the subheading, "Disappearing dirt rivals global warming as an environmental threat." Much of the content in the article relates to the loss of topsoil in Seattle area, which makes sense since the article appeared last year in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper.But this quote really caught my attention:
The United Nations has warned of worldwide soil degradation -- especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where soil loss has contributed to the rapidly increasing number of malnourished people.
I am reminded once again that creation care (AKA environmental stewardship) is So. Much. Bigger than saving, preserving and restoring the environment. Being green is first and foremost about reducing poverty and suffering. As Matthew Sleeth says in Serve God, Save the Planet, "the poor are the least able to escape the ravages of a climate gone ill." The lives of the poor are so incredibly fragile, and as their environment degrades, the effects have a profoundly damaging, domino effect on their lives. They lose shelter, clean water, livelihood and basic safety as soil is washed away, droughts persist, animals disappear, and food cannot be grown or found.

Give up a cup of coffee at Starbucks this week and plant 35 trees. Stay home and skip the latest summer flick and plant 85 trees. Get 10 friends to do the same and plant hundreds!

OK, I'll stop. But just for now. Get me off your back and go to www.edenprojects.org. Nighty night....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Articles on the Interweb!

I've been asked by YMToday to contribute some articles to their newsletter. This is an impressive resource produced by the Center for Youth Ministry Training. I believe this photo helps you to understand why they invited me to contribute...

Go to this link and look over this week's YMToday newsletter; scroll down to "More Articles this week" section and you'll see my article.

It's a joy for me to see some "dreams come true" in terms of getting my writing out there. It's even more satisfying when they ask me for content. I like that ☺ As is often the case, I don't get paid for it.... But God is faithfully providing income for me -- so this stuff is icing on the cake, and a great way to connect in other ways.

My schedule is full these days with work. Yessss! I have consulting projects in Nebraska, Illinois, Arizona, 3 churches in Southern CA, and several assignments with Eden Reforestation Projects all spinning at once. I am also gearing up to officially start the school year with Providence Hall on August 15. For a little vacay before my schedule ramps up another notch, I'm squeezing in a 5-day camping trip to Sequoia National Park, then sneaking away for two days with my niece and nephew to camp near Big Sur after that.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Free Music, People!

How do you pass up such great stuff? Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes, Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, Iron & Wine, to name a few -- and that's just from the Folk Sampler... Getting ready to download the Jazz Sampler, which includes Branford Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, the Bad Plus and others. TGIF! and thank you NPR.

These are from the Newport Music Festivals on the 50th anniversary.

Go to NPR Music at Newport.

P.S. If you want more solid acoustic guitar work, also check out a new album by Bruce Cockburn called Slice o' Life. Down to earth Canadian folk singer who has always put out great music, even if it has been a bit under the radar at times.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Kind o' Veggie Burger...

True confessions: I have not tried this recipe yet. But it sounds marvelous. Give it a spin and tell me your impressions -- I just went and bought an eggplant today and plan on making it this weekend with my Fairview Gardens heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil. I got it from The World Community Cookbook - "Simply in Season."

Eggplant Burgers

A delicious late summer meatless grill, or make it under the broiler. You might need a knife and fork to eat these hearty sandwiches.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk together in a small bowl.

1 large eggplant

Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch / 5-mm thick slices to make 12-16 slices. Brush with the oil mixture. Place on grill over medium-high heat. Close lid and cook, turning and brushing occasionally with remaining oil mixture, until tender, 5-10 minutes. Remove from grill. (Eggplant slices may be cooked under the broiler or sautéed in a frypan until tender, 4-5 minutes per side.)

8 thin slices provolone, Gouda, or other cheese

2 tomatoes (thinly sliced)
or 4 large pieces roasted red sweet peppers

8-16 leaves fresh basil

freshly ground pepper

Place a slice of cheese on 1 eggplant slice; top with another eggplant slice. Top with 2 tomato slices or a piece of roasted red sweet pepper, then 2-4 basil leaves. Top with third eggplant slice, then another slice of cheese. Top with fourth eggplant slice. Repeat to make 4 stacks, adding a grind of pepper at the end (optional). Place on grill; close lid and cook for about 2 minutes, turning once.

4 crusty rolls or 8 thin slices sturdy bread

Drizzle balsamic vinegar on inside of split rolls. Or brush the bread with olive oil, toast it on the grill and lightly rub a cut clove of garlic over the toasted surface. Add vegetable stacks and serve immediately. Or allow to cool, wrap tightly, and refrigerate several hours or overnight, allowing flavors to blend.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer Selections

It's a bee-YOO-ti-ful day outside, and I plan on enjoying it very soon. But I wanted to check in and shoot off my mouth a bit about things that I really like.

Please feel free to share your favorites as well.

Life is good, full of small and sweet pleasures that I enjoy...

  • Date Almond Rolls with Coconut from Lassens Foods
  • Organic Strawberry Spread from Costco on Brown Rice Cakes (don't knock it till you try it)
  • Avocados - at any time of day
  • Bike rides -- to the Mission, Lake Los Carneros, Campus Point, on errands
  • Scooter rides! especially with a friend in back, feeling summer on your face
  • Andy Shauf - sort of a cross between Sondre Lerche (Dan in Real Life soundtrack dude) and Sufjan Stevens
  • Tour de France on TV in the morning while I am drinking coffee and eating breakfast
  • The Book of Joshua
  • Fresh produce from Fairview Gardens -- strawberries, yellow squash, basil, cucumbers, tomatoes

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm 73:28)

Thanks for being part of my grace-filled life. Feel free to share your own top summer selections.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Deforestation in Haiti

Just heard an amazing story on NPR about Haiti & their deforestation crisis. This is all the more cool because this past Monday (a whole two days ago) I met with a man who has gone to Haiti six times in the last 4 years on medical missions. When he heard about the work of Eden Projects, he wanted to meet and talk through the possibilities of us going to Haiti next.

Best of all, Eden has already been asked by another group to come down, and plans are tentatively set for this October to scout out the potential for Eden to get started. This story on NPR motivates me even more to be involved with reforestation. The more I learn, the more evident it appears that something needs to be done. Now.

Eden Projects is on track to plant 3.5 million trees this year in Ethiopia and Madagascar. The plan is to double our planting rate each year for the next five years, getting to the point of planting 100 million trees. This is crazy and lofty - but necessary. As Steve Fitch, the founder of Eden Projects says, if we can't plant 100 million trees a year, we shouldn't even bother. Anything less would be like going to Skid Row and feeding one person a single meal.

Please be praying for me as I try to recruit churches and businesses to join Eden Reforestation Projects in this work. I will also be inviting former students of mine to get involved by starting chapters on their campuses that will support Eden by seeking ways big and small to raise funds and awareness. Thanks. Go to www.edenprojects.org and scroll down to the videos at the bottom to learn more.

Article Published on "Two Whom"

Another article related to youth ministry has been posted online with Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), an excellent research institution connected to Fuller Seminary, its School of Theology and their program in Youth, Family & Culture. I met with the Executive Director Kara Powell last month to talk through future projects we might work on together, and she asked if they could post my story about our "Two Whom" project.

I care about the Two Whom event because it was my best attempt to help students learn how to live out their faith in the midst of their everyday life. Kara and I really connected on a passion of FYI -- to work with students in understanding "deeper justice" issues. In other words, when we take that summer missions trip to Tijuana or Costa Rica or the inner city, it's easy to dive in and work with the poor when that is all that we are doing. We have both found that students are energized to serve and sacrifice for the next few days or weeks after such an experience, but that it is difficult for them to sustain that commitment because the trip was so... "other."

Two Whom was a step forward because it asked students to grapple with poverty, injustice and our faith right in their world -- heck, right in their kitchen! May we keep seeing ways to live out kingdom values in our lives and relationships, bringing grace, justice, humility, love and peace to those we see daily.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Job Update #4 - final

Thanks to those of you who have plowed through these posts. This last update is the least specific. I will introduce it with this quote I heard recently:
I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. Henry David Thoreau
During my sabbatical (Nov 08 thru Jan 09) I decided to try my hand at a little writing. It had always been a long-unrealized dream of mine to get something published. While it definitely took some work on the front end to learn a few of the ins and outs of queries, writing guidelines and article submission, it has been a fun adventure. While none of my work will go down in the annals of fine literature, I will say that it has been a fun little rush to see my name in print. Editors have been gracious, readers have been encouraging, and the whole experience has motivated me to keep working at it.

What has been published this year (some of the links are listed to the right):
  • Two articles published this year in Youthworker Journal, and I am contracted to write another one for the fall.
  • An essay in the book When Kids Hurt by Chap Clark and Steve Rabey
  • An article on Steinbeck and Faith in Provocations Journal, a publication of the Trinity Forum; I have another submitted to them that they are considering
  • Regular columns on youthminblog.com
  • I have been contacted by ymtoday.com and fulleryouthinstitute.org, both of whom have asked me to write for them.
  • As mentioned in Job Update #1, I will be assisting the President of Eden Reforestation Projects in writing a book about creation care and environmental stewardship, primarily focusing on the huge need for reforestation around the world.
I agree with Thoreau. Head in the direction of your dreams. Don't count on those dreams for the big bucks (I think I have made a total of $250 from the efforts listed above....) but enjoy the opportunity to stretch, think, create, risk.

I close with some wise words from Dorothy Parker:
If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second-greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first-greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they're happy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Job Update #3

Yes, there is more to tell. It may sound like I'm taking on too much, but thankfully, all of it still only adds up to 40 hours or so. Each of the pieces are part-time -- though I admit to full-time energy for all of them. This is gratifying time of learning, growth, challenge, and best of all, creativity. I have said it before, but I'll say it again: I am so grateful. God has been very generous, and his provision has been remarkable.

I've mentioned some consulting projects these past couple of months, and they have come from two sources:

Youth Ministry Architects (YMA): You've heard me talk about this group already - what a tremendous team of people. I have learned a ton from them as I have tried out many different things:
  • I represented them at the National Pastors' Conference in San Diego and met hundreds of pastors;
  • I analyzed assessment data for them that had been submitted from churches all around the country;
  • I assisted in some searches for youth and family pastors;
  • I wrote a couple of articles for them addressing specific issues related to youth ministry;
  • I went on-site to churches in Nebraska and Illinois.
From all of that, I am now in ongoing consulting relationships with the churches in Nebraska and Illinois, and I have also picked up another project in Arizona (plus one or two potentials in the hopper). With these 3 churches I will be video-conferencing with them once or twice a month, coaching them in some of the specifics of YMA's comprehensive approach to youth ministry. They have a really solid, systematic method for assisting a whole church in renovating their entire infrastructure for youth ministry. I will also visit periodically (maybe two more times) to do some work onsite. I am really impressed with what YMA offers -- and I'm not just sayin' that!

Free Methodist Conference of Southern California: this has bubbled up unexpectedly -- but as I said, God is cool. I won't go into boring details, but out of one relationship with a former student where I offered to help him work through his "stuckness" in some areas I am now coaching two other lead pastors in Southern CA every week. I use a bunch of tools I've used in the past in training interns & staff during my years with both Young Life and the church. This coaching is rather different from YMA in that I am focusing my work solely on the lead pastor to maximize his effectiveness, whereas with YMA I work more comprehensively with a church's leadership team, in partnership with another consultant.

You know me -- I love to assist folks in thinking through needs, ideas, challenges, and so on, and then coming up with a plan for how to move forward. For this consulting work I meet with each pastor in person for our first meeting, and then we meet weekly after that through video conference. I love technology.

I will soon post about one last sliver of my job pie soon. Thanks for reading.

Providence Hall in the Headlines

Very cool. The two students profiled in this article are really, really great. I am excited for them to get the attention. Read about Providence Hall below :)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Santa Barbara News-Press

J.T. Royston of Providence Hall drives against the Dos Pueblos High junior varsity during a summer league game.

Faith Emerson is a key player for a Providence Hall team that has gone undefeated during its first season of junior varsity summer league play.

July 9, 2009 10:49 AM

J.T. Royston felt all alone last winter as he toed the free-throw line during the defining moment of his sophomore basketball season.

No time remained on the clock and the Lions of Providence Hall still trailed by a point.

But Royston will tell you that he had felt much lonelier just a year earlier - during the opening week of practice at the new school.

"We had a few people come in and out the first day," he recalled, "but the next day, nobody else was even there."

He made both free shots to make Providence Hall a winner, and a rush of teammates promptly hugged away the loneliness.

A lot is indeed changing for Santa Barbara's newest high school.

"That actually happened twice last year, when we were down a point and J.T. was shooting a one-and-one with basically no time on the clock," said coach Keith Luberto, who doubles as Providence's athletic director. "He made them both - both times."

The Christian school, which shares a stately, two-story building with a Catholic grammar school at the corner of Anacapa and Micheltorena Streets, opened in 2007 with 27 students. Its enrollment grew to 41 last year, and the expectations are for up to 60 students this fall.

Providence has a lot going for it, including support from parent/super model Kathy Ireland, an enthusiastic Christian community - and a handful of standout athletes who are giving its athletic director some ambitious goals for their first official CIF basketball season of 2010-11. The enrollment is projected to be in the 80s by then.

"The expectations are that we'll make the playoffs and do well there," said Luberto, who is arranging a schedule of mostly home-school varsity teams for next season. "And if our girls' team keeps progressing, it'll have a chance to become Southern Section champs."

Providence also fields teams in cross country, girls volleyball and track.

Its athletic fortunes have benefitted from the providence of some family connections. Former Santa Barbara High basketball star Cara Emerson, whose daughter Faith plays for the powerhouse Blazers basketball club, works as the assistant to the headmaster.

"I found out that the academic standards were outstanding," said Faith, a 5-foot-9 freshman, "so I said, 'Let's go there! Let's go there!' "

But then it hit her: "Where's the team?"

Royston had a similar exchange with his mother, Joy, who served on Providence's founding board of directors.

"My first choice was to go to DP," he said, referring to Dos Pueblos High School. "But one day my mom said, 'You're going to Providence.' I said, 'OK ... Is there a team?'

"She was like, 'Well, we just got a coach.' I said, 'All right then.' "

But a coach was about all Providence had at the time.

"For awhile, it was just him and me out there on the basketball court," Royston said. "Knowing that we didn't have anybody else, that was really hard for me. I mean, I'm just one person.

"The first year was extremely rocky. We had just enough players to have a team, and most of them were seventh and eighth graders."

Providence, playing against primarily club teams, won only two of 14 games.

The fortunes of the Providence boys turned around when a new player showed up during last year's local frosh-soph summer league. Her name was Faith Emerson.

"We twice beat a local public school by 25 points - I won't name the school," Luberto said. "In one of the games, we were shooting a foul shot, and their boy came down with a rebound - and Faith just ripped it out of his hands.

"She then scored right in his face while getting fouled. The way boys are, I was thinking, 'This kid isn't going to live this down for the rest of his life.' "

The Providence boys went 12-3 last winter with a lineup that also included Nicki Burgo, Royston's teammate from the 805 Basketball Club. Ireland's son, Erik Olsen, even joined the team to help fill out the thin roster.

"She's come to a lot of games, even when Erik wasn't playing," Luberto said.

"I remember our first game and the boys' first game, and the big turnout we got from board members, faculty and students," Emerson added. "It was so incredible that our student body could support each other like a family."

The boys have continued their success in this summer's junior varsity league.

"We played against what DP expects to be their JV and lost by only three," Luberto said. "We were up by four with a couple of minutes to go, but we've only got seven guys, and all these teams have like 14 or 15, and so we get worn out at the end."

They could've used Emerson, but she's been busy this summer with an unbeaten Providence girls' team that's added other Blazers including Lindsay Beebe, Sydney Hedges and Lacey Gonzalez.

"They've been beating all the other JVs by 20, 30 points," said Luberto, who hired former UCSB stars Sha'Rae Gibbons and Jenna Green to coach them. "Just watching them practice, I can tell they're good players and that they're well-coached."

Providence will join CIF in 2010 as a free-lance school, but Luberto would like to join a league.

"The Condor League is local, for the most part, with Laguna Blanca and Cate, and several schools from Ojai and the (Santa Ynez) Valley," he said. "But there's also a group of Christian schools in the Ventura and Camarillo area called the Omega Conference that looks appealing.

"But they already have eight teams, so I'm not sure where we'll end up."

Finding court time is a more immediate concern. Providence has practiced and played in the gymnasiums of such institutions as the Page Center, Girls Inc., St. Mary's Seminary and even the Montecito Convenant Church.

To keep up his spirits in the search for a gym, Luberto carries a book called "The Miracle of St. Anthony."

"St. Anthony is a school that's never had a gym and has still won three national championships," he said.

Westmont College did offer Murchison Gym to Providence for one night of basketball last season. The college has strong ties to the school, with its former president, Dr. David Winter, having come out of retirement to serve as Providence's first headmaster. One of Westmont's faculty members, Dr. Jane Wilson, served last year as the academic dean at Providence.

"They've really kind of adopted us as their little brother or sister," Luberto said. "We had about 400 people come out to our game there. A lot of Westmont students turned out - we bribed them with pizza, but they were still there.

"Coach John Moore has offered to do a mini-camp for our guys and Kirsten Moore, their women's coach, is interested in doing those things, too."

Several of Westmont's baseball players even helped Royston and his basketball teammates with their weight training.

Royston has dreams of playing NCAA Division 1 basketball some day, but Emerson liked what she saw at Westmont.

"I just hope maybe I can get to the level where I'd be accepted there," she said.

The team from Providence has already gained acceptance in her club basketball circles.

"They used to ask me what school I go to, and I'd tell them Providence, and they wouldn't know what I was talking about," Emerson said. "But now we're out there, beating these other JV teams by a lot, and they're going, 'Oh, you go to Providence.' "

The name now rolls off the tongue, as easily as the victories.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Teriyaki Marinade

OK, we all need a break from my job news, so I'm going to briefly post a marinade I used the other night on portobello mushrooms. DIVINE. I grilled two large mushrooms on the grill that had been marinated for about 1 hour in this marinade - then I brushed some on them when they were on the grill. The rest of the marinade I poured over sticky rice. What a great summer meal ~ with a twist!

Restaurant Teriyaki Sauce
6 min | 1 min prep

You know the nice, sweet, thick Teriyaki sauce you get from your favorite take-out joint? Now you can have it at home.

1 1/2 cups, approx.


* 1/4 cup soy sauce
* 1 cup water
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
* 5 tablespoons packed brown sugar
* 1-2 tablespoon honey
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* 1/4 cup cold water

Mix all but cornstarch and 1/4c water in a sauce pan and begin heating.

Mix cornstarch and cold water in a cup and dissolve. Add to sauce in pan.

Heat until sauce thickens to desired thickness.

Add water to thin if you over-thick it :).

PS Job Update #3 will be coming soon. Stay tuned -- if you dare....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Job Update #2

Hello! Thanks for your emails, comments, and encouragement about my latest work stuff. I sure do appreciate your support. Lots. It's a real gift.

If you haven't read Installment #1 of the Job Chronicles, please look at my post from July 4. I am still very excited to fill you in on Eden Reforestation Projects...

Another big piece of the puzzle is my new part-time position at Providence Hall High School. I taught there for several weeks from January through March of this year. I spent a few weeks in the Book of Philippians, exploring various qualities of true leadership. Then the school asked me to spend five weeks teaching doctrine through a study of the Apostles' Creed. Out of that time at the school, Providence Hall approached me last month and asked to be the Campus Pastor as of July 1, for the 2009-2010 school year.

My energy will be focusing on 3 areas:
  1. Teaching the Foundations of Christianity class. The student body meets two mornings a week for studies in the history, beliefs, and applications of the Christian faith. Occasionally I will also have others come in to teach short-term series.
  2. Expanding Community Service at the school. I've already contacted a couple of ministries in Santa Barbara for the students to serve with. This has always been a passion of mine, as you know, so it will be wonderful for me to get to continue guiding students in what it means to be a truly selfless servant.
  3. Organizing a new community-wide series called "Providence Presents..." Providence is in a unique position to cross denominational boundaries and offer larger-scale parenting seminars. Over the years I have had a few topics come up consistently with parents, and I want to explore those. I am very excited about this! Stay tuned for specifics on this - we hope to advertise in the paper and get the word out. This will be a great resource for folks to bring their neighbors to as well.
I will also do my best to represent Providence Hall in the community: at the monthly youth pastors' fellowship that I have been involved with since the beginning of my Young Life days, with community service organizations, and in the schools.

As I have said to many of you, I am really impressed with the staff and the mission of Providence Hall. I also really love the students! They are earnest in their faith, diverse in their backgrounds, and incredibly fun and welcoming. A surprising addition to all of this is that my housemate & best friend's brother, Tim Loomer, has just been named Academic Dean at Providence. So it's going to be even more gratifying to build my relationships within the staff and student body. It is a wonderful family.

Check back in soon for more details on other projects in my pipeline. I'm having a great time!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Job Update #1

Things are starting to settle in terms of what I will be working on, so I wanted to make a post or two to give a more thorough explanation of each piece of the puzzle -- I am SO excited about each part!

First of all though I want to say thank you. So many of you have been wonderful and generous in your calls, texts, FB messages, notes and meals to encourage me as I stepped into this period of change. In this blog I have tried to communicate the many things I have been thinking about and learning. Simply put, I am profoundly grateful. God is faithful, patient and relentless.

I will pursue these work projects with diligence and as much creativity as I can muster. I am delighted at what has come my way.

Today, I want to share about Eden Reforestation Projects (ERP). I have posted snippets here and there, but I want to explain a bit more about what it is and what I excited about. I first heard about Eden at Christmastime in church, when Free Methodist challenged its members to donate to Eden, giving the money we would normally spend on a Christmas tree. If we did so, we were to take an olive tree seedling as a reminder of God's love for his creation and his vision for us as his stewards of that creation. (The olive tree is a profound symbol of the depth, spread and beauty of God's kingdom in scripture -- plug it into BibleGateway.com, and you'll see references throughout the Old and New Testaments.)

My seedling is nearly ready to be planted in the bed of soil next to my bedroom window. It has grown at least 4 times in size -- which is a great analogy for how my heart has also grown for the work of Eden Projects. I met with Steve Fitch, the superintendent for the Free Methodist churches for So Cal, in early May, to talk over some other projects within the So Cal conference. But during our conversation we ended up talking about the many things going on with Eden, and where he needed some assistance. When I heard what Eden needed, I thought to myself, "What a perfect fit for some of the things I love to do!"

Steve is currently in Ethiopia with a team of folks to see what is going on with Eden's projects there. He sent me a long text last night, and this is what it said:
All Having the best Eden trip ever. Everyone is healthy. The highlands nurseries and plantation sites are fabulous. Taught the people at Teshome how to catch, clean, cook, and eat Tilapia fish. They dug the pond but had no idea what to do next since fishing has never been part of their culture. We hiked eight miles (at 8700') to one reforestry site. The survival rate for our trees is in excess of 90%! in three years there willl be four new forest in the highlands. Much more to share later but battery running low and no electricity and British Air lost my luggage at Heathrow again.
To understand Eden's mission, it is best to go to the website and scroll to the videos at the bottom. They are brief, but packed with compelling information. The global church has spent valuable effort in the last few years to move beyond financial aid to more comprehensive care for the continent of Africa, providing clean water and better health care... what I am realizing, as I learn more each day about Eden and about the needs around the world, is that it is even MORE powerful to reforest. So much of the continent is absolutely devastated and DEforested -- yet as trees are planted, the forests then generate clean drinking water, photosynthesis is re-established, animals return, jobs are created, shelter and safety are renewed, and the soil is stabilized. Incredible! As it says on the logo of ERP, "Plant Trees, Save Lives." Eden's work emerged out of insights from missionaries who were on the ground in Ethiopia and Madagascar, who told Steve what was truly needed to provide sustainable support.

So what will I be doing? I've been brought on part-time for the next six months to assist ERP in three areas:
  1. Steve has written a dissertation -- many who have read it have told him it should be turned into a book. I will work on that with him. Our working title is Convenient Answers to Inconvenient Truths. Dig it!
  2. Churches around the country have expressed a desire to support Eden and become "champions" of the individual projects in Ethiopia and Madagascar. I will work to streamline a structure for that to happen more easily.
  3. I have a vision to see student chapters of ERP established in youth groups, in classes and at schools. Eden was established as a non-religious non-profit and is thus able to work in a wide variety of contexts.
At the end of December we will re-evaluate as to where things are, and decide what is needed next...

PLEASE feel free to:
  • DONATE - 10 cents plants a tree. It's incredible how efficient ERP is. $10 plants 100 trees!
  • ASK me questions about how you can get involved.
  • PRAY for my future with Eden. I want to be used by the Lord here.
  • CONSIDER what you could be doing to increase your stewardship. I'm calling this work in Eden "Green 2.0" - it's moving beyond recycling and organic eating. Not that those are bad, but SO MUCH MORE is needed. I'm moved most by Eden's "subtitle" - "Poverty Reduction through Environmental Stewardship." It's social justice on a large scale. Please join us, and regardless, get involved in something like it.
In May 2003 I committed to riding my bike once a day in place of driving my car, as a way to be a better steward of my body, my money and the environment. Out of that simple decision I have grown exponentially in my understanding of what is needed in God's creation. NEVER in my wildest dreams did I imagine that God might have been laying the foundation for me to step into a ministry like this. He is so darn smart.

NEXT: Updates on my new position with Providence Hall. Stay tuned!