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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Creating Space

As always, Nouwen comes through with another one today:
Creating Space for God

Discipline is the other side of discipleship. Discipleship without discipline is like waiting to run in the marathon without ever practicing. Discipline without discipleship is like always practicing for the marathon but never participating. It is important, however, to realize that discipline in the spiritual life is not the same as discipline in sports. Discipline in sports is the concentrated effort to master the body so that it can obey the mind better. Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God's guidance.

Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God. Solitude requires discipline, worship requires discipline, caring for others requires discipline. They all ask us to set apart a time and a place where God's gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to.

I find that spiritual discipline is not so much about doing as about being... entering intentionally & expectantly into God's presence, being quiet, waiting with patience, allowing myself to actually get bored -- which I use as a sign that I've actually slowed down enough.

So I'm off the internet and on to the quiet...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Nutrition Notebook #6

I haven't posted much since I started my Nutrition Makeover that started last November 09. But I'm faithfully plugging along... I'm still:
  • eating 1 pound of cooked vegetables at dinner each night
  • eating a giant salad for lunch almost every day
  • eating locally & seasonally
  • not eating meat or dairy
  • not eating gluten (bread, pasta, flour tortillas, most baked goods)
  • only having 1 cup of coffee a day
  • getting my protein from nuts, beans, eggs
I'm happy to say that I am doing just fine. Initially people say, "no bread? no pasta? no meat? no cheese?? what can you eat?" with a "bleah" look on their face.

I don't blame 'em. Initially it was a bit daunting. Very occasionally it is inconvenient, especially if someone invites me over to eat and I feel like Your Worst Nightmare when I give my reply to the "is there anything you don't eat?" question. And traveling requires some dandy planning ahead. But I'm not suffering at all. I get plenty to eat, I sleep in a warm bed every night, I have a roof over my head... certainly no right to complain here!

And I feel happy that I'm eating the most nutritiously I ever have in my life. I am not a horrible stickler -- I still have my Swedish Fish for treats, I let myself enjoy my gluten-free birthday cake over several days, and when I have Mexican food at a restaurant, I don't skimp on the cheese.

But for the most part, I stay within the guidelines easily. My nutritionist and I are on a two-month sabbatical, and I'll be going back for blood work and a check up in late April. I'll keep you posted on the latest cholesterol count. I'm stoked to report that my skin looks better, I don't have allergies anymore (I'm not exaggerating -- after 3 years of daily Singulair, I'm taking nothing), no more acid reflux, and I've lost 8 pounds. I have plenty of energy.

Meanwhile, this is my favorite new recipe -- I just baked a batch tonight, featured in the photo. They are fluffy with a nice crust on the outside, great texture overall, soft center. Sort of like a perfect meringue:

ALMOND MACAROONS (thank you Martha Stewart)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Makes 8.

1/3 c sugar
1 large egg white
1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c chopped almonds
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of coarse salt

Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat, parchment or wax paper.

Whisk together sugar & egg white in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Form dough into eight 2-tb mounds, and drop each onto sheet, 2 inches apart.

Bake macaroons until golden brown on bottoms and edges - about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool. Macaroons will keep, covered, for up to 1 week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I have nothing profound to write... just enjoying the bounty of a good day.
  • Early morning coffee at Peets with a friend, coupled with fascinating conversation.
  • Talking and struggling about the existence of evil with my students, while discussing Book Two of Mere Christianity
  • Making a newsletter resource for parents.
  • Lunch meeting with students about the real things in life.
  • Assisting in planning the first Eden Reforestation Projects staff retreat.
  • Weekly video conference for 90 minutes of training with a really gifted pastor who just needs some support.
  • Taking a long walk up a steep hill to enjoy the view on this unspeakably gorgeous day.
  • Making a great dinner that hit the spot.
Today's manna was more than enough -- I had just what I needed. I am grateful.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chalk Up Another One

From Good Ol' Henri Nouwen today (sign up for his daily letter - soooo good):
"Birthdays are so important. On our birthdays we celebrate being alive. On our birthdays people can say to us, "Thank you for being!" Birthday presents are signs of our families' and friends' joy that we are part of their lives. Little children often look forward to their birthdays for months. Their birthdays are their big days, when they are the center of attention and all their friends come to celebrate.

We should never forget our birthdays or the birthdays of those who are close to us. Birthdays keep us childlike. They remind us that what is important is not what we do or accomplish, not what we have or who we know, but that we are, here and now. On birthdays let us be grateful for the gift of life."

As one gets of a certain age, birthdays lose their charm. You dread the "how old are you?" questions, the jokes about how many candles should be on your cake and how they might set off the smoke alarms, the look in the mirror that morning and noticing some random hair or spot or wrinkle that you were sure wasn't there before...

But you know what? My birthday this year was GREAT. Just absolutely loved it. As I lay in bed last night feeling all warm and happy about it, I couldn't have told you why, other than how lovely it was to be with people I adore and receive sweet hello's and greetings throughout the day. But Nouwen's quote this morning put words to it. I felt like I did when I was a little kid, simply enjoying the bounty of love and blessings and attention. For one day, it's pretty great. And overall, I am tremendously, ridiculously, gloriously blessed. Thank you Lord.

I read this in my prayer time this morning. They put words to my joy in a deeper way:

Psalm 116

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.

2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

4 Then I called on the name of the LORD :
"O LORD, save me!"

5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.

6 The LORD protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.

7 Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.

8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,

9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living...

12 How can I repay the LORD
for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.

P.S. Here are some of the goodies I got -- some were given, some I bought with birthday money. Fun to share. Deep thanks to many for making my day wonderful:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


From Henri Nouwen, yet again:
Consolation is a beautiful word. It means "to be" (con-) "with the lonely one" (solus). To offer consolation is one of the most important ways to care. Life is so full of pain, sadness, and loneliness that we often wonder what we can do to alleviate the immense suffering we see. We can and must offer consolation. We can and must console the mother who lost her child, the young person with AIDS, the family whose house burned down, the soldier who was wounded, the teenager who contemplates suicide, the old man who wonders why he should stay alive.

To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say, "You are not alone, I am with you. Together we can carry the burden. Don't be afraid. I am here." That is consolation. We all need to give it as well as to receive it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ukulele Jam

I don't want to embellish this with too many words -- I'd rather let it speak for itself. Always keep in mind that 99.2% of the emails I receive from my mom are not really emails -- they are simply forwards. You know what I'm sayin'....

Here's the caption that went with it.
"This is a picture of part of our Uke Group. We celebrated a 70th Birthday (one in the center in the birthday cake hat) and had a great time. Several regulars were not present because of previous commitments. It is a fun group." The additional line that came from the guy who forwarded it to my mom (YESSSS! a triple forward!) said, "This is a picture of last night's birthday ukulele jam!" This is a group she plays with nearly every Sunday night.

Mom is the one with the big nametag that says "Pat." Awesome. She also collects ukuleles (I believe the number is up to 47, all mounted on walls around their home), and plays the banjo and accordion.

I am not making this up. I grew up listening to my mom playing "Satin Doll" and "Ain't She Sweet."

Her accordion (which she has since gotten rid of -- no more room, with all those ukuleles....) used to have gray mother-of-pearl trim with "PATTY" in rhinestones.

Nuff said. I believe it explains a lot about me, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When It Rains....

(...you know the rest.)

I just had someone (you know who you are) email me to say, "You haven't blogged in awhile about you :) "

Which made me smile. Thanks.

Anyway, I haven't posted much in the last week or two because my plate is full. No doubt about it.

These are the plates spinning right now. Please don't ask, "How do you keep it all straight?" It's far too complicated to explain. Rest assured that it is all super fun and interesting. I am grateful beyond words.

  • Pastoral coaching projects in East LA, two in Long Beach (starting tomorrow), Escondido, Hermon (near Highland Park), Garden Grove.
  • Youth ministry consulting projects in Seattle area, Western suburbs of Chicago, Garden Grove and a new one near San Luis Obispo.
  • Teaching a new series on apologetics out of C.S. Lewis' classic Mere Christianity for 8 weeks at Providence Hall High School.
  • Coordinating a community-wide presentation titled "How to Talk with Your Teen about Drugs & Alcohol" on Feb. 10. Just organizing, not speaking - phew!
  • Preparing to launch at least twelve coin can fundraising campaigns around the country for Eden Reforestation Projects to raise funds. We are currently planting 750,000 trees per month in Ethiopia & Madagascar!!
On the horizon:
  • attending a conference in Orlando for Eden Reforestation Projects -- with churches from Maine to Florida in attendance.
  • hosting a table at Santa Barbara's Earth Day Festival April 17 & 18.
  • teaching my internships class again at Westmont during Mayterm.
  • a trip to visit my niece and nephew in NYC over spring break!
It's all good. God be praised.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Urbana 09 video - don't skip this!

Just got this tonight and can't wait to pass it on... a high quality summary video of our time at Urbana 09 last month. It does a great job giving a taste of the conference.

A huge bonus: it also has the brief topical videos (see the scrolling section to the right of the summary video) that were shown during the conference AND videos of all the speakers we heard from. The topical videos (5-10 minutes each) are tremendous for teaching on various topics, and the speakers were STUNNING. Every single message was powerful, but these were my top favorites. None of the messages were more than 20 minutes. You could listen to one per day and feast on a banquet within a week's time!
  • "Fences" -- great video on loving your neighbor
  • Interview with Patrick Fung, president of OMF. Very inspiring.
  • "Money & Power" by Oscar Muriu. My favorite of the entire conference. Convicting.
  • "Bringing the Kingdom Down to Earth" by Shane Claiborne.
  • "Pray Big, Pray Bold" by Sunder Krishnan.
  • "All of Creation" by Denise-Margaret Thompson.
  • "I've Got a River of Life" by Brenda Salter-McNeil. Crazy wonderful. This woman can preach.
  • Michael Oh - profound testimony on forgiveness. I cannot describe how moving this was.
  • "Missions on Your Campus" by Alec Hill. Stunning description of what can happen when we share our lives with others.
Go to the Urbana 09 website as well for more goodies, including the worship CD. You will NOT be disappointed.