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Friday, April 30, 2010

This and That, April 2010

Sometimes, when I run into old friends around town, they ask "what are you up to these days?" and I get a little tongue-tied... there is no short answer to that question. So periodically I try to post the latest projects here that I'm working on. Thanks for caring...

Articles: I've had two articles posted this month, and another one is coming soon.
  • "Meet the Parents" -- Fuller (Seminary) Youth Institute E-Journal. This is actually a two-part article. Part two will talk through the details of how to put on a year-long seminar series for parents.

  • "Endless Summer" -- YMToday.com, a publication of Memphis Seminary. They asked me to write an article on how to map out a ministry strategy for summer youth ministry.

I am glad to write for both of these publications, because I am so impressed with the breadth and depth of resources they offer.

Overflow Conference, April 22-24, Orlando, Florida for Eden Reforestation Projects: I was asked last September to come out to this conference and talk with the attendees about our work. It was hosted by the Free Methodist Churches of the East Coast, and there were over 1,000 there. This was a wonderful (and quite exhausting) time. I brought Alexandra, a former student who now works with me in Eden Reforestation as our publicist. Though we were located literally across the street from Universal Studios' City Walk, we never left the hotel! We spent the entire weekend staffing an info booth, and talked with hundreds of folks who came from Maine to Louisiana. On Friday night I shared for 5 minutes about the work of Eden in Ethiopia and Madagascar (we hit the 10 million trees planted mark in March) and how we are expanding into Haiti more extensively in June. Over $7,000 was raised for the work in a special offering, and over 200 gave us contact information because they wanted to hear more.

This has been a VERY busy month for Eden. We hosted info tables at Earth Day festivals in Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, and Mercer Island (WA), school assemblies in Manhattan Beach, and a church missions fair in Lake Elsinore. We were also asked to table at Earth Day festivals in Solvang and at UCSB, but just couldn't be in two places at once. We're stoked at the interest everywhere we go. The Earth Day fest in Santa Barbara raised over $800 just through coin donations, and hundreds of contacts signed up with us at all of these venues.

I was also able to connect us with Brite Revolution, a socially-responsible music download site. Support them -- they are amazing. They featured us as their "Cause of the Month." So cool.

I'm also working on an application for a $50,000 grant (due June 1) so we can start up a training nursery in Ethiopia. Praying this can happen -- we have a unique opportunity to train nationals from all over Ethiopia who want to start more tree seedling nurseries in their country. This could extend the work of Eden Reforestation and our pace of reforestation exponentially.

Night of Worship, April 25: After a good night's sleep and a wonderful morning of worship at church and lunch afterward with friends, I went to an all-city night of worship for youth. The coolest part of this evening was that it was planned and led by teenagers themselves. The worship band was 9 students from various youth groups around town, who pulled together 100% on their own and put together a 15-song set that truly blessed those of us there. I was deeply moved by the authenticity of worship, song and sharing. They led us well. I spoke for about 20 minutes halfway through the time. It was a delight to be with at least a dozen students from my old youth group too. Oh how I love them.

Youth Ministry Consulting with Youth Ministry Architects: I am working with a fun variety of churches -- a Christian Reformed church in Illinois, a Presbyterian church near Seattle, a Free Methodist church in So Cal, and a dear non-denominational church in Central Cal. I am impressed by the faithful and tireless service of church members everywhere I go. I will return to the Seattle area church in May for an on-site consulting visit.

Westmont College Mayterm 2010: I am returning again to teach this class, May 10-June 10. Currently 8 students are signed up, and will serve in internships with Habitat for Humanity, local churches, housing projects in poor neighborhoods, Providence Hall High School and Cottage Hospital. My course will talk about how to integrate their faith with their work in these projects.

Providence Hall High School: I am close to completing my first full year there. I am currently working on some special projects for the Headmaster, Dr. David Winter, along with my regular responsibilities as the Campus Pastor. I will return there for the next school year as well. I am currently teaching a series that reflects on the UN Millenium Goals to End Poverty, and how we as believers are equipped (and called) to pursue these goals in ways far more powerful than the UN. We've talked about poverty & hunger and combating HIV/AIDS and malaria so far.

Pastoral Coaching with Free Methodist Churches of Southern CA: I finished recently with 3 churches, but took on 4 more this winter. I also have 3 others I'll start with in June. I cannot believe how much I enjoy this! The broad diversity of the church is impressive and so exciting! I'm working with pastors who are ministering with immigrants, 2nd generation Latinos, the homeless, African-American families, Millenials, skaters... and just a bunch of families trying to make it in a challenging economy. I am growing in so many ways by working with these pastors.

For FUN! I have a bunch of things I'm looking forward to in the next few months...

  • a new kitten (shhh.... stay tuned)

  • James Taylor & Carole King concert at the Santa Barbara County Bowl on May 18

  • Prairie Home Companion Live Show at SB County Bowl, June 5

  • ALASKA!! More beloved national parks adding to the life list...June 23-July 3

  • Sequoia National Park with the Loomers, July

  • Camping with my niece and nephew at Montana de Oro State Park, August

It's a good life. These verses from this morning sum up how I feel:

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
(Psalm 42:8)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Got a New "Fava-rite"

Yes, I'll admit it -- fava beans are my new "fava-rite." (Cheesy, but it works.) Other than a horrifying line in Silence of the Lambs, I had never uttered the the words "fava beans" till I joined Fairview Gardens CSA. But my motto is, if it shows up in my weekly share, I eat it. All part of the manna that God provides.

I made a good dish the other week with the favas, but wanted to try something else. I looked at my grocery list today and saw "hummus" on the list, then thought, hmmm, I bet I could make fava bean hummus... and oh baby, was I right!

Once you get over the fair amount of work it takes to prep the beans themselves, it's quick and easy to make the hummus. I googled a few recipes, but worked with what I had in the pantry, and it came out PERFECT. My housemate and I had to restrain ourselves from just eating it all immediately. It is very flavorful, and unexpectedly, very pretty.

Bag of Fava beans, shelled, boiled and peeled (see below) ... whittles down to 8 oz. beans
2 tb sesame seeds
2 tb olive oil
1 tb lemon juice
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
3 drops of your favorite hot sauce

1. Prep the favas. See these directions from Fairview Gardens: http://fairviewgardenscsa.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/how-to-cook-fava-beans/ But rather than boiling the shelled beans for 1 minute, boil them for about 10 minutes (till they are very soft). Squeeze them from their little jackets.

2. Put all the rest of the ingredients, along with the shelled & cooked beans, into a food processor.

3. Restrain yourself from eating immediately. Enjoy with lavosh or pita bread, or with chips.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Today in my daily bible reading, this passage flew across my radar:
1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Sure. I've read it before. I'm sure you have as well. But it had a resonant effect on me today. It just sounded different. Deeper. More personal. It felt much less like an old 60's song and more like God's word for me.

Then I read a section from a book I've been reading on Benedictine spirituality. The resonance clanged more loudly:

Elie Wiesel writes: "What God gave Adam was not forgiveness from sin; what God gave Adam was the chance to begin again." Life is made up of a series of opportunities to begin again... no one has a call simply to a particular place, as good as it may be. The call of God is the Will of God...

The question is always: is this group, this place calling out the best in me? Is this where I fit? Is this the place where I can most become what God created me to be?

It's not a matter of one place being better than another. It is a matter of finding our way through life with an eye for turns in the road. It is a matter of always taking the right turn when settling for less would be so much easier. It is a matter of seeing change as a creative possibility in life.

I took some massive steps of change in February 09. And I'll be honest -- that was such a dramatic shift, such a huge leap into the abyss of the unknown, that I'm realizing that I thought to myself, "There. I've done it. I've dealt with change..." as if I was checking it off the to-do list.

What I'm recognizing is that perhaps change is more of a regular part of my life than I have been used to. Or that the change that started last year isn't over...?

I rest in the truth of Hebrews 12:1-3 ~

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April Favorites

I don't know about you, but I am nearly giddy with delight at spring's arrival. More than average rainfall and colder weather this year (trust me, I'm fully aware I'm a SoCal wimp) has got me appreciating the birds singing, trees budding and longer daylight. I notice every flower that is blooming, I revel in the air being warm at night, and I enjoy wearing shorts. It's got me in a good mood, to say the least. (Kitty at right demonstrates my pleased-ness.)

When I'm in a good mood like this, I enjoy simple pleasures with gusto. Here is my latest list of Stuff I Like at the moment:
  • New favorite food item: Trader Joe's Corn and Chile (Tomato-Less) Salsa. A party in your mouth. I have been putting it on lots of different things, but it is perfect on scrambled eggs wrapped in a warm corn tortilla. I cannot imagine what it would be like on a fresh avocado. Oh dear.
  • New favorite music site: Song of the Day - NPR. They send it right to your email. You click, you link, you listen. Some of the songs get the 3-second gong, but several have been great. I really like today's -- Icarus by Winter Hinterland. Sort of Moby-ambient-Enya-ish. Yes, I just wrote that.
  • New favorite local restaurant: sorry to out-of-towners, but Goleta Sushi House is scaled-down and great at the same time. Not in a picturesque part of town, but qualifies as classic hole-in-the-wall status... though the interior is clean and bright.
  • New tennie runners: bought a new pair o' kicks that are like walking on pillows... Nike Air Initiators - but mine have a purple swoosh, which keeps me from being completely cool. I embrace that.
  • New favorite youthworker website: NBC's Minute to Win It. Seriously -- after 28 years of running goooofy youth group games, I see network television acting like they've invented a new idea. Bully for them, I guess. But I will also gladly rip off their ideas.
  • New favorite team (this will last about 10 days, but who cares): Butler Bulldogs. What an impressive Final Four game. Sorry Duke fans. The Bulldogs rocked it big time. Gotta lotta heart.
  • Favorite album in rotation at the moment: Jamie Cullum's The Pursuit. Such a classy sound. Great musician. Jazz, but not. Lots of piano, awesome voice, flair with words, stellar arrangements... love all of it. I find every one of his albums outstanding. Best song on this album: Not While I'm Around.
  • Favorite treaty-treat: Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Eggs. Must. Stop. Now.
How's by you? What is the Stuff You Like right now?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sixty-One Restaurant Recipes - Say It Ain't So!

LA Times Food section has done it again... oh my. I can't vouch for any of these recipes yet, but now I have a long wish list I cannot wait to try out. One even comes from Pierre Lafond's right here.

Admittedly, more than a few fall within my food no-no's list, but plenty qualify, so I'm off and running. This week I plan on trying at least a couple of them.

So have at it yourself, and feel free to share your votes here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Music as Memory

I'm listening to my favorite NPR podcast, All Songs Considered. This particular episode is an interview of Jonsi Birgisson from Sigur Ros. The host Bob Boilen sometimes invites popular artists to be guest DJ's, selecting songs that have had a huge impact on their lives.

This episode is part DJ, part Q&A. I like several of the questions that Boilen asked, and basically wanted to ask myself some of these questions :) Because music is touchstone for me. Especially from childhood, but also jr high and college, I often don't have distinct memories full of details... but I remember songs I liked at various points in the past. Strange perhaps?

(I'm including a photo from my freshman year of high school. I spent two hours every day on my hair, counting shower time and blow dry.)

I'm taking some of the questions from this interview, which also spawned some questions of my own. Feel free to write your own replies to any of them.

What is your first musical memory? I remember listening to vinyl albums in our family room. In a life that was tightly controlled in many ways, we were given surprising freedom in terms of music. We could pull out all of our parents' albums, and play them on the turntable as much as we wanted. I have no memory of being told to turn the music down either. We listened to Simon & Garfunkel, Beatles (especially Revolver), Barbra Streisand, The Band, Carole King, Three Dog Night, Jim Croce, Bill Withers, Helen Reddy... When I hear anything from Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, I can immediately picture every piece of furniture, every feeling, every word from that album.

Did you listen to music on the radio growing up? Most definitely. Back in the day, the main way everyone listened to music was still AM Top 40. You were basically not allowed to go to jr high unless you listened to KFRC out of San Francisco, 610 on the dial. We all listened to Dr. Don Rose as we got ready in the morning and when we were driven in the car to school. If you were really daring, you would sneak a listen to KOME. I won't repeat the slogans they used. Ridiculous. I still can't believe what they got away with....

I would also remember we would tape songs onto cassettes off the radio, and make mix tapes out of this. Even with the DJs introducing each song and cutting back in at the end. How goofy.

Every single person I knew memorized all the lyrics to American Pie by Don McLean. I think the song was 8 minutes long, which was unheard of back then in the era of 2 and 3 minute songs on AM pop radio.

Did you buy music? You bet. Absolutely. I would save up my allowance to buy 48's at the record store. This started young -- at Tower Records in Sacramento, around 4th and 5th grade, and then at some record store I can't remember when we moved to the Bay Area. I remember buying singles by Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Three Dog Night, Dawn (Knock Three Times!), Paul McCartney & Wings, Grand Funk, John Denver, Earth Wind & Fire, Commodores... gosh. Just seeing those names sends me.

First song you slow danced to? Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin, 7th grade dance, Bobby Thompson. I was wearing a blue and red velcro dress with Cherokee platform shoes. I'm laughing at this mental picture.

First albums you bought with your own money?
Yes, I had rather eclectic musical tastes. To say the least.

First concert? This is my favorite party question to this day. You learn a lot about people when you ask it.

My first real concert, on my own with a friend, was in 1977 at the Oakland Coliseum, called "Day on the Green." 50,000 people in attendance, and the acts were The Outlaws, Santana, Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd. My best friend Wendy and I were possibly the only two sober people in the entire stadium. We sat on the grass, and I feel like we were at the most 100' away from the stage. I got a horrible sunburn and truly discovered the power of rock 'n roll. Half hour of Freebird. Oh yeah.

Main songs at your prom?
Again, a stroll down 70's memory lane... Brick House, Best of My Love, September, Once Twice Three Times a Lady and of COURSE, Always & Forever.

Top songs in the dorms, freshman year of college?
  • Rock Lobster, B-52's
  • Everything from Off the Wall, Michael Jackson
  • Another Brick in the Wall, Pink Floyd
  • Come Sail Away, Styx
  • Everybody Has a Hungry Heart, Bruce Springsteen
  • Train Kept a Rollin', Aerosmith (because the guys below us were idiots and played it every night)
Enough for now. The memories keep coming, but for some reason the earlier ones really burn into my brain in a different way. My memories become more formed and distinct starting in college. Music is there, but more as soundtrack than as the main dialogue that I recall. What about you?