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Friday, September 30, 2011


Earlier this week this quote landed in front of me:
"'I have reserved me seven thousand.' I love the worshippers unknown to the world and to the very prophets."
... Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensees (Thoughts) [1660]
I paused. Two different things went through my mind. First of all, I was reminded of that powerful story in 1 King 19 to which Pascal is referring. After triumphantly confronting the 450 false prophets in chapter 18, Elijah turns tail and runs in terror from the threats of Queen Jezebel. It makes a rollicking good story.

The description of his encounter with God in the cave as he quivers in fear, whining away, is remarkable -- utterly lyrical.
But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied again, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (1Kings 19:10-18)

I have read this story several times. My bible is replete with underlines and highlights here. But somehow I managed to miss that a poignant question is not asked once, but twice:
What are you doing here, Elijah?
How often do I get in really hard circumstances, and my first, second and even third response is to play the victim card? Looking at Elijah's pathetic arguments, I see how sometimes I too show up to pray before God -- but I am not really asking for help. If I was, I would shut up and listen. Instead, I rattle off the ways I have been wronged and try to justify my case.

Elijah is righteously indignant, and believes himself to be the only one who has really stood up for God. God reminds him that there is far more to the story than what Elijah can see.

Which takes me to the second thing I thought of when I read this quote. Earlier this week I was at a conference with over 100 other Free Methodist pastors and leaders from Southern California. While I know many of them, I didn't know the majority of them. Eight different languages are preached among the churches represented in this group. I was reminded yet again that the kingdom of God is full of workers and churches and activity that I will never know about. The majority of God's people labor in complete anonymity, faithfully serving their neighborhood and families.

But God knows them. He sees it all. So when I show up in prayer, I need to remember that simple question:
What are you doing here, Kelly?
Do I want to find out what plans God has, or do I just want to continue asking him to rubber stamp my efforts? Do I want to participate in his kingdom, or just be the Master of My Own Agenda?

Lord, thank you for your grace. You are patient and so kind. Thank you that you persist in speaking through the sounds of the gentle whisper, regardless of how little I pay attention, rather than yelling at me. Open my eyes that I may see the larger, greater things that you are doing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Buddy 10K

Today is cause for celebration in my little world. This past month I clocked 10,000 miles on my Buddy 125 Italia scooter. I decided it was time for a little makeover... a new front whitewall tire, new grips (apparently my hands are quite dirty when I drive!?), new floormat, and time for an oil change.

The timing of this is perfect in that within a few days I also mark one year without a car!
I know I am redundant in recounting the many perks I see to living this way, but here are some ones I have noticed recently:
  • This will mean most to locals... but I drive to Westmont once a week now to meet with students and staff. In a car I would take the freeway to get there; but on my scooter I take Foothill to APS, where I get a 270 degree view of Santa Barbara, the harbor and the Mesa. You make the call -- which drive is prettier!?
  • It costs me $4.57 to fill up right now. (Should I mention that includes the fact that I gas up on premium?) I spend about $15/month on gas.
  • Driving a scooter is a social experience. A week does not go by where someone doesn't talk to me at stoplights. Windows roll down and people chat with me... pedestrians at street corners talk about weather or how cute my bike looks... and my favorite is Harley riders, who give me a familiar head flick as I drive past them, or even better, two fingers down...
  • I really do think transportation alternatives like this are part of the future. I heard a crazy statistic today on NPR: From 1975 to the present (36 years), 1.5 million people have died in car accidents. From 1775 to the present (236 years), 1.3 million Americans have died in warfare.
  • Buddy keeps me living a simpler lifestyle. I cannot carry as much on it, so trips to Costco and the grocery store are cheaper, and impulse purchases are greatly minimized, since I always have to pause to consider whether I can transport it home. Granted, I may lack the imagination of scooter riders in foreign lands, but for me, I like the way I am forced to pause before I spend mo' money.
I cannot end this post without thanking the friends who help to make it work for me to own the Buddy... most significantly my housemate, who allows me to borrow her car a couple of times a month on rainy days or for late night meetings, and gives me rides from time to time. But also other friends who have taken me to and from the train station or to work, or have been willing to adjust social plans because of my self-imposed transportation options.

It's a good time I tell you. I just noticed, as I was leaving the Kawasaki dealer who sold me the Buddy and services it, that there is a new green Italia 150 for sale right now for only $2600. That is a steal. If I were you, I'd sure jump on it!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Fall is swiftly approaching, and while it's not exactly crisp and cool yet here in sunny Santa Barbara, I can feel it coming... lots of squash appearing in the market, the nights coming a little earlier, and a strange desire for hot chai tea overtook me yesterday. Hmm.

So I pulled out my September issue of Vegetarian Times and determined it was time to start making the fall harvest recipes inside. This one is a keeper, fo sho...

Naturally, I adapted it slightly. I may have even broken some vegetarian laws of some sort in that my housemate, while chopping the potatoes, ordained that we just had to include some BACON in this recipe! And gosh darn it was tasty. No regrets.

adapted (quite freely) from Vegetarian Times, Sept 2011 - serves 6

4 large (or 5 small) ears corn, kernels removed and cobs reserved (OR the cheater version: one can of corn, liquid reserved)
2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, plus 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.), divided
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
3 cups sliced leeks (5 medium)
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/3 cup dry sherry
12 oz. peeled sweet potatoes, cut into medium dice (I used good ol' red potatoes)
1/2 lb. green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used some lovely zucchini and cabbage instead)
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges, optional
(and perhaps 2-3 slices of bacon...)

1. Combine corn kernels, milk, and crushed garlic in saucepan. Run back of knife down cobs to release milk and pulp into saucepan, then add cobs to pan. Bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, and let steep. (I confess that I did not deal with corncobs... just opened a can)

2. Heat butter and 1 Tbs. oil in Dutch oven (or large stainless steel pot) over medium-low heat. Add leeks, cover, and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Warning: the aromas start getting quite amazing at this point....) Add minced garlic and paprika, and cook 30 seconds. Stir in sherry, and cook 30 seconds. Add 4 cups water, and remove pot from heat.

3. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, and sauté 8 minutes, or until browned; transfer to Dutch oven. Add remaining 1 Tbs. oil to same skillet, add green beans (or whatever nice green veggies you have on hand), and sauté 3 minutes. Transfer beans to plate.

4. Bring mixture in Dutch oven to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes. Add green beans, and cook 4 minutes more.

5. Strain milk mixture (if you were a true chef and used the corn cobs), and discard the cobs. Stir milk mixture and 1 Tbs. cilantro into chowder. (I dissolved 2 tsp of cornstarch in a cup of cold water, then poured it into the pot to thicken it up). Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.

Eat with warm bread and enjoy. Leftovers were quite possibly better the next day....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hands & Feet

I have had the unexpected pleasure of reconnecting lately in two different situations with some very old friends. It is surprising and wonderful to talk to someone from 25 years ago. Not only is it a delight to reconnect, but the entire encounter is a powerful reminder of how things were, how stunningly naive I was, and how much things have grown and changed since then. I feel older, but also a bit wiser.

When I talk to these folks though, inevitably one of the first questions is, So what are you up to these days? Given that vocationally I wear at least four hats at any given time, it feels like there is no short answer to that question. And inevitably, I end up tripping over my words as I try to explain the different stuff I am so excited about.

However, as I read last night before going to sleep, I received a subtle "THAT'S it" when I read these words:

My weeks are occupied with teaching, consulting, writing and strategic planning, and each of those projects use a different email address. But what they really add up to is one thing; ultimately, I hope that I can equip others a little bit in being "Jesus with skin on" in the world today. As Teresa of Avila said so many centuries ago, we are the hands and feet of Jesus.

So when I am leading 70 high school students in a weekly dialogue about the Gospel of Mark, I pray they are motivated to carry on the ministry of Christ in the world, incarnating his love and mercy and selfless service.

When I write articles, mostly about youth ministry, I pray that my words can assist a few youthworkers in persevering past the statistical 2.5 years of the average lifespan of a youthworker, carrying on as a faithful mentor to their own group of disciples.

When I work with a pastors in recruiting more volunteers or shaping three-year goals, it is my hope that they will feel hopeful about how they can actually do ministry, and not just worry about it and feel buried in budgets, emails and the crisis of the week.

And finally, when I am recruiting at colleges and building networks of support for the future leaders in the kingdom, I want each person I talk to, whether they are seminary presidents or college freshmen or hard-working faculty, to know that Jesus was loving enough (and slightly crazy?) to entrust the work of His kingdom into our clumsy hands.

As I read recently, "Lord, we are forever grateful that you do not want to change the world without us. May we become the church you dream of."

I reveled in Teresa of Avila's simple words, and the encouragement only mounted as I read Isaiah 25 and 26:
In that day the people will proclaim,
“This is our God!
We trusted in him, and he saved us!
This is the Lord, in whom we trusted.
Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!” (25:9)

7 But for those who are righteous,
the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
8 Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
9 All night long I search for you;
in the morning I earnestly seek for God. (26:7-9)

As it says in 2 Corinthians 4:1, Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. It is remarkable to me that God chooses to work through us, nincompoops that we are. But since he has entrusted such things to us, let us rise to the challenge, with His Spirit filling us. How good is our God.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Life Then, Life Now

Even though I was a toddler when JFK was killed, I think of 9/11 as our own "What were you doing when JFK died?" moment.

I have very distinct memories of that morning of 9/11/01. I'd gotten up at 6:15am, as I did every Tuesday morning back then, to leave the house in time for a weekly 6:45 prayer meeting. As I brushed my teeth I heard the initial reports of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center, which had only happened a half hour before. I numbly drove to church, which was only a few minutes away, listening desperately as NPR tried to get as many details as it could in the midst of the chaos.

Some people knew what had happened as they arrived to the prayer meeting, many did not. We prayed a few vague prayers for the situation, not remotely understanding what had happened. We also prayed through scripture, as was our practice. As we finished, one of the other pastors drew me aside and said, "I didn't hear about this before I came. How bad do you thin it really is?" I looked at him and said, "I think this is as bad as it gets."

I drove home distracted and was growing far more fearful. The radio had more horrifying details as I drove home: a plane crash into the Pentagon, the towers had fallen, flight 93 had plowed into Shanksville. My housemate, who worked with college students late every night, was still asleep in her room. I woke her up and said, "I think you need to see what's happening."

We sat silently in front of the TV. Slowly, our upstairs neighbor, a good friend, came downstairs and watched with us because she didn't want to watch it alone. Tears were rolling down our cheeks.

Meanwhile, I gathered my wits about me enough to recognize that my own brother worked in Manhattan! It took many hours to find out what had happened with him. He worked in Midtown (rather than Lower Manhattan, where it all happened). Nevertheless, he had to evacuate and spend many, many hours trying to get home. Cell coverage was sporadic and networks were jammed. Many families were unable to communicate for much of the day. His wife said the most horrible experience for her was standing at the train station in their town 20 minutes north of the city, watching spouses wait for their partners to come home.

Like everyone else, my day was spent glued to the TV. Life stopped.

The next significant moment I remember was exactly one month later, when I flew to New York myself. I'd previously booked a visit to see my niece and nephew, and amazingly, the flight departed on October 11. Rightly or wrongly, I was frightened to travel that day. I had a short flight to LAX, then a direct flight from LAX to JFK. That particular flight had a large group of Hasidic Jews on it. Like many thousands (millions, perhaps), I got down to Lower Manhattan and toured the crash site during my visit... which is sort of overstating the fact, since most of it was cordoned off. But in one spot you could see the leftover iron structure that is pictured above.

Touring the site, what stood out most were the thousands upon thousands of flyers posted that were either looking for lost loved ones, or commemorating their passing. Flowers, keepsakes, and various little items were stapled everywhere. The volume of agony was tangible. Given that I have experienced large-scale tragedies like fires and earthquakes on our Left Coast, I think I have a sense of the weight of such pain, but I also know that 9/11 stands alone in many respects.

Ten years later today, I pause and think of many things. My life is quite different -- mostly in that I have lost some dear people in my life: Andrew is 2005, Matt in 2006, Claire in 2010. My old youth group experienced the loss of two of their friends during that time, Alyssa and Jake.

So in many ways, the years after 9/11 are for me a very long march through grief. I am greatly changed as a result. I cry so easily. I am stopped in my tracks whenever I meet someone who has experienced death and loss, and am able to talk on a deep level immediately. Significant days -- birthdays, anniversaries, important days of memory -- often slow me down for awhile. Flying is still somewhat anxiety-producing, especially as we have to go through so many additional steps for the sake of "security." When I hear sirens, I flinch for a moment because now, I know how bad things can get. Though I walk with a "limp" from all of this, I am deeper, a tiny bit gentler, and much more aware of how much I cling to the hope of heaven in my daily life. And how much I want that comfort for others. It drives me in everything I do.

I am currently reading through the One Year Bible, and today's reading from Psalms captures my feelings -- both from ten years ago, and today -- well:
Psalm 55:
4 My heart pounds in my chest.
The terror of death assaults me.
5 Fear and trembling overwhelm me,
and I can’t stop shaking.
6 Oh, that I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
7 I would fly far away
to the quiet of the wilderness.
8 How quickly I would escape—
far from this wild storm of hatred.

Thankfully, we do not have to remain in such terror. I conclude with this prayer from Common Prayer:
You who prayed from the cross for your Father to forgive those who were killing you, grant us the courage to forgive those who harm us in our families, in our communities, and in our world. Help us recognize our own need to seek the forgiveness of others. Amen.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mo' Moo Shu

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I am always looking for recipes that include plenty of vegetables, flavorful spices, that are also gluten-free... but I don't want to feel like I'm substituting or sacrificing anything.

I get many of my recipes and ideas from Vegetarian Times. Here's one from the September issue. I adapted it slightly, but will definitely be keeping this one. Not only does it taste good, but it was fun to make. It had lots of nice texture, mostly because you have to sliver the ingredients, and the cabbage gives it some nice bulk. The sauce is light, but also different. It doesn't just feel like stir fry again, take two.

Unfortunately, I thought I'd found some rice wraps to use, but it turns out they were for making spring rolls (which require deep frying). So I ended up just eating this over rice. I'll continue on a hunt looking for something to wrap this up. Regardless, the filling is tasty on its own.


For the sauce:
1/2 cup water
2 T soy sauce (or tamari, if you're gluten-free)
1 T sesame oil
1 T rice wine vinegar
2 t cornstarch
pinch sugar

For the filling:
3 large eggs
1 tsp soy sauce
cooking spray
1 small red onion, sliced
2 T grated fresh ginger
1 cup shitake mushrooms, cut into strips (I used regular mushrooms)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups shredded cabbage
1 zucchini, grated (I cubed mine)
1 carrot, grated
2 green onions, sliced
16 moo shu pancakes*
*usually found in the freezer section of your market
hoisin sauce for serving


  1. Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a container with a lid.
  2. For the filling, whisk together eggs and soy sauce (tamari).
  3. Heat a wok over medium heat with 1-2 tsp sesame oil.
  4. Add scrambled eggs and cook 1 minute. Flip with spatula and cook one minute longer. (I also pan-fried some tofu, diced into cubes, to increase the protein content. No doubt this recipe would be great with some sauteed chicken or pork).
  5. Remove from pan, reserve.
  6. Wipe out wok and add more sesame oil; heat over medium heat.
  7. Add onion and ginger. Stir fry 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook 3-5 more minutes.
  9. Add cabbage, zucchini, and carrots. Stir fry 4 minutes more.
  10. Shake sauce (previously prepared) to combine and add to wok.
  11. Simmer 2-3 minutes or until vegetable mixture thickens.
  12. Slice reserved eggs (and tofu) into strips and fold into vegetable mixture.
  13. Transfer to a serving platter with moo shu pancakes and hoisin sauce for serving.