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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Well Done, Faith Academy

I'm still pretty fuzzy due to jet lag (my clock tells me it 8:15pm Saturday night, my body is telling me 12:15pm Sunday...), but I wanted to write a post that gave a bookend to my time at Faith Academy this past week.

The photos here are the group of amazing young ladies I lived with during the week. Though I fell in love with the entire student body, I logged more time with these girls than any others... from Starbucks runs to meals shared to laughing at Facebook photos to lovely "family" discussions about the topics of Spiritual Enrichment Week (because they wanted to meet and talk more), I delighted in every moment with them. Even the 4am surprise invasion to my room the morning of my departure was fun for me, just because of who they became to me during the week.

Perhaps it's not a surprise to some, but what was so wonderful to discover this week was that that these "MK's" (missionary kids) are just like the other high school students I've known all these years ~ full of energy, sensitivity, big ideas, curiosity, shenanigans, short attention spans, crushes, stress and a dizzying mixture of excitement and terror about the future. Our week together confirmed to me yet again that I really love talking about real life and faith with young adults. As long as I listen carefully, ask many questions, be willing to bounce from topic to topic in no time flat, and stay up late, they are generous with their honesty and friendship.

Know that while they are "typical teenagers," Faith students are also fearfully and wonderfully made. Rarely have I met youth who speak so many languages and know how to behead a chicken (long story, but this is a common experience for many of them....)! They have had some incredible experiences while living abroad with their parents in service to Christ. I especially learned so much in seeing the new "face" of missions, as it is truly becoming an international enterprise. With the Christian church growing more in countries like Korea and Brazil than in the US, the diversity of the student body at Faith Academy will continue to shift and expand. I cannot wait to see what God is going to do there as He invites Faith students and staff to learn how to do missions right where they live, let alone all around Asia.

As I told them more than once this week, my greatest hope is that they themselves would desire to speak the stunning and simple prayer of Paul in Philippians 3:10,
I want to know Christ...
Well done Faith Academy. You were hospitable, hilarious and full of hope. Praise the Lord. Keep asking questions and persistently looking for the best answers. See you again someday.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Philippine Adventures #1

Well here I am. It's Tuesday morning in the Philippines. I arrived on Saturday night. I've already done many fun and interesting things...

The trip here was long. No big revelation there. The Philippines are very far away from Santa Barbara, holy cow! Woke up at 5:30am on Jan 21 and got to the airbus (thank you, dear housemate) by 6:15. I rode on that until 8:30am, enjoying a lovely sunrise all along Highway 1 to Malibu. In the crazy world that we now live in, there was wireless on the bus, so I was able to finish up all theemail I didn't get to before I left. That was strangely enjoyable. It allowed me to feel "done" as I left, free to go on this adventure.

For the first time in recent memory, my entire airport experience was problem-free. From walking up the counter at Delta to get my boarding passes to security and boarding, it all went as it theoretically was supposed to go. What a relief.

My first leg was to Narita airport in Tokyo. It was a bear of a flight, frankly -- 10.5 hours. I just don't like sitting that long. I got to read to my heart's desire, and the food was manageable, even for gluten-free me. I watched bits and parts of 4 different movies, an episode of Glee, but mostly ignored it and read my books and magazines.

The layover in Tokyo was hectic -- I actually just went from one gate to another, since the timing was so close. I do hope for a little more exploration time of the airport on the return flight, though I don't get my hopes up. So I have now been "in" Japan, but not really.
The next flight was 4.5 hours, and by then I was pretty fried. I just wanted to be there and be done traveling. I arrived on time, was picked up by new friend Paul Tuxworth, chaplain (with his delightful wife Ruth) for the high school students at Faith Academy. I fell into bed at 12:30am Philippines time. I slept for 9 hours straight and woke up relatively functional.

From there I had some "brekkie," as Ruth calls it, then unpacked a bit and actually got to go into Manila. What a hoot! Ruth and I took a "tricycle" (see photo up top), which did my scooter-loving heart good. The photo doesn't do justice to our own little machine -- it was not much more than a regular scooter with a tiny sidecar. The two of us just barely fit into the seat, and then she told me that upwards of 8 people sometimes board on these things! I tried not to panic.

From there we then took a "jeepney" (see below) which totally reminded me of the chicken buses in Guatemala, but even smaller and just as crowded. We were the only light-skinned people on the bus, so of course there were plenty of stares, but that was fine. We strolled around a mall, which is full of funny food and lots of Western-looking shops. So glad that American consumer culture is spreading its fragrance everywhere (she says, sarcastically.....)

But that brings me to Faith Academy, which is why I'm here. This is "Spiritual Enrichment Week (aka "SEW"), and I am the speaker. Many people told me they had been praying for me, which I found very touching. I met some amazing girls in the dorm I'm staying in on Sunday night, and quickly realized that this would be fun. On Monday morning much of the school convened at the flagpole at 7:15am and prayed for me. My goodness.

I spoke for the first time yesterday at 1:15. What a blast! These 280 students sang their hearts out -- how I wished my Providence Hall kids could sing with such passion and volume. My first message talked about wrestling with God, and spent some time in Genesis 32. I invited students to introduce themselves to me -- and I brought Swedish Fish candy to sweeten the deal :) They are fun and warm and engaging. It's really cool.

I'm learning so much already. The majority of these students have either US or Korean passports, but I've discovered you cannot ask the simple question "Where are you from?" with this group. "Third Culture Kids" have often been born in their passport country, but spent the bulk of their lives living abroad, sometimes in remote tribal areas, collecting several languages along the way. One young woman in my dorm knows Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines, but also two tribal languages AND of course English. And yet she looks and sounds like one of my students from Santa Barbara. Fascinating! And it's so intriguing to see how South Korea is changing the landscape of world missions, as their numbers increase dramatically.

One sidenote: the weather. This is apparently it's the "cool, dry season" here in January, but I don't know whether I'm just a soft Californian or La NiƱa is doing her thing, but it's neither cool nor dry! The average temp is around 80-90 degrees, and the humidity flutters between 90-100%. I am sweaty and my face is shiny all the time. And yeah, my hair is a fluffball.

All in all, this is a grand time. I'm so thankful for the chance to do it, and even more, for the opportunity to get to know these students and talk about Jesus with them. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Up, Up & Away!

It's getting late and I need to get to bed, but I wanted to post a quick message and say that I am leaving for the Philippines tomorrow.

I keep saying that, thinking that it will become more real to me the more I say it... but I know that it won't hit me until I'm on the plane. Or perhaps even until I land!

Last fall I was asked to be the 2011 speaker for Faith Academy's annual "Spiritual Enrichment Week" (SEW). I knew I had to say yes, even though I really had no idea what I would be getting into.

Unexpectedly, I found that one of my colleagues at Providence Hall actually graduated from Faith Academy, so when he heard I was this year's SEW speaker, he excitedly filled me in on his own memories of SEW from twenty years ago.

At the end of 2010 I asked the chaplains for Faith Academy to connect me with a student or two to help me start getting a feel for the campus, and was given one students' email address. I wrote him with a few basic questions about life at the school, the backgrounds of the students, their spiritual life, etc. Then I invited him to pass on the questions to a friend or two if he felt like it.

So far, I have heard from thirty students! I find their raw honesty and insights a great example of why I have loved working with teenagers; their prayer requests range from asking for revival to wishing there was kimchee in the cafeteria... and their comments about daily life actually don't sound that different from the students I work with here. I'll be speaking to 280 high school students each day, though they will also still be in school in a regular schedule. I'm sure I will be surprised daily.

Here is my speaking schedule (so far -- every other day or so I receive another email inviting me to do something else!) I've learned that Philippines is 16 hours ahead of USA:
  • Monday Jan 24: 1:15-1:55pm
  • Tues Jan 25: 1:15-1:55pm
  • Wed Jan 26: 12:20-1:25; I will also meet with the jr high at some point (130 students) and with a youth group at night
  • Thurs Jan 27: 7:15-8:40am
  • Fri Jan 28: open day. The students have asked that I stay in an office on campus and be available for students to come meet with me. Pray for special wisdom for this day.
I depart tomorrow, Jan 21, at 6:20am on the airbus, arriving at 8:45am at LAX. My flight leaves at noon > then 15 hrs to Tokyo, a 90 minute layover, then another 3 hour flight to Manila. I head home on the 29th, arriving (because of the time difference) early in the morning on the 29th in LA!

Over the years I have spoken to military kids in Germany, and at camps throughout the country, but I've never done anything quite like this. The student body is about 50% US citizenship, 40% Korean citizenship, 10% miscellaneous. More importantly, they are "MK's" (missionary kids), with very unique upbringings. I am humbled by this opportunity, and grateful that after all these years there are still so many things to learn.

I am praying for divine wisdom as to how to best encourage and challenge these students. I covet your prayers. I have energy and feel rested as I prepare to leave, but also imagine it will really stretch me.

Here's a prayer from the Common Prayer devotional book I am reading these days ~ it feels so appropriate:
Enlighten the eyes of our hearts, O Lord, so we may not only see and receive your mercy but also notice the places in our world where you call us to extend mercy. Amen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Two Articles in January

When I moved on from my long-term youth ministry position in February 09, one of my hopes was to be able to write. I didn't have complete clarity as to exactly what I wanted to write about, but I felt itchy to get some things written down.

Soon after I resigned, I was at a conference and unexpectedly "met" (ran into, really) an editor from InterVarsity Press whose writing I had admired. Feeling like this was my one shot, and that it would pass very quickly, I blurted to him something to the effect of I've always wanted to write and I don't know if I'm even any good but how would I start if I wanted to get published...

Feeling like a fool because I'm sure he hears that ALL THE TIME, I still pushed past my insecurities somehow and just put it out there ~ I'm so grateful he didn't blow me off.

In reply, he said very simply, Start a blog. I told him I felt like there are a million silly blogs out there and who in the world reads them, and he patiently explained that having a blog provides the impetus to write. When you know it's there, it's embarrassing to not regularly post content on it, so it kicks you in the butt and gets you motivated. Tell a few friends you've got one, and go from there... and with that, he moved on.

That's all I needed. No, I haven't become famous, and I certainly haven't written that great American novel. But I have started writing, and it started with this blog (well, it started with AP English in high school, but that's another story). The practice the blog gives me has been a great discipline. I'm not sure I could tell you precisely how I ended up writing some articles after that, but I did. It's all still a work in progress ~ but it feels great to turn some ideas into reality.

That provides a bit of context to then say that I had two articles come out this month. One of them is on the Fuller Youth Institute website, which represents the youth ministry research arm of Fuller Seminary. The article is titled, Friends & Frenemies: Love, Pray, Eat. I enjoy writing for FYI because the editors push me hard to back up my big sweeping statements with actual research, gosh darn it. Last month I was stoked to find out that one of my articles for them last year was part of their "Top 5 Resources for 2010"... Regardless of whether I have articles in there or not, bookmark this site because it is a tremendous resource for anyone who cares about teens, families, education, and most importantly, youth ministry.

The other article released this month is in Youthworker Journal, and it titled Teens, Texts & Tweets: Helping Parents & Youthworkers Understand & Address Technology. This one is on page 34 and the link here is a digital magazine... you may find it a tiny bit tricky to navigate (let's be honest, I DID), so I hope you're able to read it. As with an article from last September, I got a good laugh out of seeing my name make the cover of the magazine. (If you squinch up your eyes real tight you'll see it... Should I mention that the lady in the photo sort of creeps me out?)

If you read this blog periodically, you have been part of this process of learning. Thanks. If there is something on your wish list that you hope to do "someday," all I can say is, Don't wait any longer. Get going, y'hear!?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Lion, The Mouse and the Dawn Treader - a review

Over the break I was given a book: The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader by Carl McColman. Sad to say, I was more than prepared to not like it. I'm still not real fond of the cover, and it struck me as some cheesy knockoff that was cranked out to take advantage of the release of the third Narnia film.

But for whatever reason, as I was looking at it, turning it over in my hands and trying to decide whether to put it in the thrift store pile, I saw the website address for the author. My computer was open, so I checked out the site. Unexpectedly, I was drawn in by its layout and a quick scan of some of the authors he quoted -- authors like Evelyn Underhill, Julian of Norwich, St. John of the Cross -- told me this book wasn't perhaps what I assumed.

It was Saturday night and I wanted to read anyway, so I sat down on the couch and opened up the book. Immediately I liked it. I read at least a quarter of it; the next night another half, and then finished it off a few nights later.

What drew me in? Perhaps this sentence in the opening chapter:
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is not directly related to any stories of the Bible. Even so, it may be the most useful of the seven Narnia books, for it is the one that most directly maps out the contours of the Christian spiritual life.

A good subtitle for this book would be Mysticism 101. McColman, whom I found out later has written a book titled, aptly enough, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, does a tremendous job breaking down, in manageable steps, the process of pursuing spiritual mysticism. This is something I find surprisingly difficult to explain concisely, and I was humbled by McColman's nimble approach.

In this book he "translates" C.S. Lewis' third book in his seven-book series The Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as a book that can be understood as containing
...much of the wisdom and insight about spiritual living that has come down to us over the centuries from the great mystics and saints of the Christian world.

At the same time, McColman respects Lewis' claims that the books were never to be taken as direct allegories. He simply chooses to look at its symbolism and story as a platform to guide the reader into an understanding of spiritual mysticism.

What am I talking about? McColman tells us that much of the conflict that we face in life is not so much the battle between good and evil as it is the conflict within ourselves. Put another way, do I want to live life on the surface, reacting to the highs and lows of daily life, or do I want to dive below and engage with the deeper, bigger, harder issues and questions that flirt along the edges of our existence? More importantly, do I want to find God in the midst of that?

McColman, in describing Eustace's resistance to the voyage he eventually finds himself on with Caspian, Reepicheep and the Pevensies, connects that with our own determinations about spiritual journey. We are faced with deciding whether or not we are willing to pursue a life based on conscious communion with God (quoting Evelyn Underhill). Here McColman gives us a definition for mysticism as simply a can't-miss-it experience of God's presence in our lives, even to the point of feeling at one with God. He then spends the rest of the book showing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as a wonderful, enchanting description of the various aspects of Christian spirituality.

Brilliant! THIS gives a great definition of much of the content I post on this blog (once you weed through the organic recipes and ramblings about green living, that is...)

So if you are saying to yourself, I think I know what Kelly is referring to regarding this Christian mysticism stuff, but I am not completely sure I get it (or necessarily want to!) I say, buy this book. It never condescends. But like Lewis did throughout the Chronicles, it uses the childhood experiences and perspectives to tap into far deeper, eternal truths. And it walks the reader into a journey of spiritual disciplines that I believe we each deeply hunger for -- a journey of mystery, nurture, unknowing, and occasional, breathtaking a-ha's.

This would also be a great book for a group committed to Bible study, prayer, discipleship, or even just spiritual exploration. Reading it together would prompt tremendous conversation, questions and spiritual experience.

A couple of days ago, I read this from Henri Nouwen:
Choices. Choices make the difference. Two people are in the same accident and severely wounded. They did not choose to be in the accident. It happened to them. But one of them chose to live the experience in bitterness, the other in gratitude. These choices radically influenced their lives and the lives of their families and friends. We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over how we integrate and remember what happens. It is precisely these spiritual choices that determine whether we live our lives with dignity.

Spiritual mysticism helps me make the choice of gratitude, even in deep pain and disappointment, and certainly in great joy. It helps me know Christ intimately, in real relationship, and not merely in philosophical premises and theological pronouncements. My faith moves from my head, where it still needs to have traction, into my heart as well.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Double Green Smooooothie

Looking back on my recent posts, it's almost nothing but recipes these past couple of weeks. Guess I'm feeling superficial these days, or just thinking with my stomach?

Oh well... I'm on a roll ~ here's another one. And friends, like all the recipes I choose to post, this one is DEFINITELY a keeper. I had one very happy palate (and tum tum) after I made it this morning.

My source for this one: yet again, the Whole Foods weekly e-letter. I was especially motivated to try this recipe after picking up my weekly share from Fairview Gardens, which included collard greens, arugula, kale, lettuce, cilantro.... lots of greens in the wintertime, eh? (There were also beets, carrots, garlic and butternut squash, but I digress.)

My only comment: My finished product did not look like the pretty picture. Perhaps because I used blueberries... but rather than the sprightly green color in the photo, mine was more of a purple-gray hue. Not super appetizing perhaps, but the taste was surprisingly fantastic. (Shouldn't I be surprised that something with bananas and kale in the same gulp is yummy?)


1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy beverage, such as almond, rice or soy (I used 3/4 cup regular milk, and 3/4 cup kefir, to get in my daily dose of probiotics. Plus, I just like kefir)
2 dried apricots or 4 pitted dates (not gonna lie - I skipped this ingredient)
1 banana (I prefer frozen bananas to give my smoothies an ice cream-like texture)
1 cup chopped kale leaves
1 cup spinach leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries

Next time I'm adding an egg or 1-2 helpings of egg substitute, to give me a bit more protein, in place of some of the milk.


Combine non-dairy beverage (or milk & kefir), apricots (nope nope), banana, kale, spinach and berries in a blender and blend until smooth. (I used the greatest kitchen purchase of the new millennium, the Cuisinart Smart Stick. If you don't have one, go here and buy one lickety-split! For smoothies, pestos, creamy soups, mashed potatoes, hummus....)

PS The recipe says "Serves 2" but I drank ALL of this by myself, thank you very much.


Per serving: 160 calories (30 from fat), 3.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 115mg sodium, 30g total carbohydrate (4g dietary fiber, 10g sugar), 8g protein

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cold Weather = Hot Soup

When it is raining really hard, it's chilly, and you're in denial over the end of vacation, here's a good solution... a very flavorful soup, full of vegetables, chicken and rice noodles.

I had some chicken broth I made after having an amazing roast chicken on New Year's Eve. But you could just use canned broth or bouillon cubes if you had to. The flavor comes from the garlic, ginger, soy sauce and mirin. If you don't currently have that in your pantry, you should... it's a great ingredient for salad dressings or just to add some tang to stir fry.

My roommate is fighting a cold, so I'm hoping the combo of ginger and garlic can do some chicken soup magic -- with a little Asian flair.

Happy New Year people. Don't be in denial -- it's gonna be a great year!


  • 4 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (or tamari if you're gluten-free like me)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 cups assorted mushrooms, sliced -- white buttons, oyster, shitake, portobello and crimini; if using shitake, discard stems (I didn't want to venture to the store in the rain, so I used canned mushrooms... shhh....)
  • 3 cups white cabbage, cut in wedges (I didn't have cabbage, but had half a package of sugar snap peas. Yummy!)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots (barf... I hate carrots. I peeled one into the soup for color)
  • 2 cups chicken breast, shredded or diced
  • 2 cups fresh udon noodles or cooked linguine (I used a package of pho noodles -- PERFECT)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions, with some of the green tops
  • 2 cups shredded raw spinach or whole baby spinach leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweetened rice wine) (optional)


In a large pot, combine broth, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, mushrooms, cabbage, carrots and chicken. Cover. Bring to a boil; simmer until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in noodles, green onions and spinach; simmer until greens are wilted, about 2 minutes. Season.

(P.S. I got this years ago from the Sunday paper and saved it in my cookbook... but I found it online here.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

5 R's

I've already posted a New Year's message here about the "real" new year for us as believers. So today's post is not about resolutions. It's just some ponderings on this unique day of 1/1/11... Looking at all those ones earlier today, I thought a bit about priorities: What are my #1's going to be in 2011?

I didn't want to take on too much and guarantee failure; but I also didn't want to give myself an easy out. Since I have been s-l-o-w-l-y memorizing a prayer I found here, I thought I'd look to that for discernment as to what my 2011 priorities could be. I didn't have to look far. The sentences of the last two days of memorizing have been particularly moving:
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through us, and be so in us, that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul.
I would love to be "the radiance of Christ" in all that I do. The more I thought about that, two words came to mind, which in turn reminded me of the classic 3 R's of green living -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle -- so I have added my new 2011 words to the mix. I won't review the obvious value of the green 3 R's (which also have spiritual implications), but will express why I've added the other two. Here goes...

REPENT. In the opening of the January readings in Common Prayer, there are some stirring words about economy, wealth and God's kingdom. The writers talk about God's plan for Jubilee, where God had a systemic plan for dismantling inequality and making sure everyone had enough to live on:
There is the promise throughout Scripture that God has created an economy in which there is enough, that God has not created a world of scarcity with too many people or too little stuff. As Gandhi said, "There is enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed." (p. 88)

I have lived comfortably my entire life. I have always had a roof over my head, a warm bed, a full stomach and money in my wallet. Jesus' gospel message was simple, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” While I have always taken that to mean that I am to repent of my sins, both obvious and hidden, I have to dig a little deeper and admit that my sins extend not only to actions committed, but actions omitted as well.

So when I have not shared of my wealth (for I am indeed wealthy in comparison to the majority of the world), I have neglected the poor. For this, I want to repent.

What does that look like? As I pay my bills, I don't allow myself to question whether I can afford to give money away. Long-term, I do not want to increase my standard of living; I want to increase my standard of giving.

When I do occasionally buy something new -- a jacket, a pair of shoes, a book, for example -- I try to give one away at the same time. I don't need more stuff.

When I see those asking for food, I don't want to judge or evaluate whether they deserve it. Instead, I will repent of my hard-heartedness, and offer blessing in return.



REFUSE. I think it's a challenge to live a simple lifestyle in an affluent town, which is true for much of the US as well. I am surrounded by SUV's and Pottery Barn decor, the latest outfits and college education readily available. I don't want to be slovenly; but I also don't need the latest this or that. To refuse is to keep it simple. Just because everyone else is buying the latest gizmo or getting a bigger house or replacing an older car that works fine with a newer car does not mean that you need to do that. Keep it simple.

For my own life, I think about the housing boom of a few years ago. At that point, my home was growing in value every year. My realtor approached me more than once and encouraged me to "buy up" in terms of a home because the increased value of my condo would help get into a house. Repeatedly I told him I simply did not need more living space. Even though I could afford it at the time, I didn't need it.

But I'm not just talking about stuff. It's also an issue of time. Sometimes I need to refuse to do email and instead spend some time reading scripture. Sometimes I need to refuse to make my time entirely my own, and instead get off my duff and go to that service project at the Rescue Mission. Other times, I need to refuse to say something gossipy or negative or sarcastic. You get my drift.


So there it is. Repent. Reduce. Reuse. Refuse. Recycle. I like it.

Happy 2011 to you -- feel free to share your own "ones" as we proceed from 1/1/11.