(My bags are packed, and I'm ready to go.)
Starting today, my new blog address will be:
It's time to put a new dress on her.
Click here to follow me over to the new.
(Suitcase photo by Heather)
Friday, November 23
Thursday, November 22
...than Buy Nothing Day: Make Something Day, courtesy of The Ecclesia Collective.
But I say we call it "Make Something Weekend," since my Friday will be consumed by my finishing these 25 pages of papers.
Let me know if you make anything, and maybe we'll get some ideas from each other.
I am thankful that God really likes good words and poetry and songs. I am thankful that the biggest book in the canon is a Songbook. I'm thankful for the mysterious way those Psalms have pulled me out of despair, so many times. I'm thankful that King David sang/shouted/asked such awful (and awfully honest) questions--like, God-Why-have-you-forsaken-me--and then Jesus shouted that self-same question on the cross. (Jesus must've sang a lot as he grew up.)
I'm thankful that God makes room for our questions, and then doesn't leave the room.
I am thankful for 150 songs of which I do not (yet) know the ancient tune, nor the official iTunes title.
One of the ways I try to interact with the Psalms is by giving the (boring) chapter numbers imaginary song-titles. (It was Tate Johnston's idea. I snuck into his Bible once.)
This summer I got a shiny-new TNIV and decided to write some Psalm song-titles all over again. Over the next week or so, I'll show you some of the titles I've made, in bundles of 15. (I started reading mid-songbook, so I'll start with Psalm 89). Feel free to add your own titles to your favorite secret Psalmy tunes:
Psalm's Song Titles, as I Imagine Them (89-103)
89. Even in Pain, Your Faithfulness Reigns
90. Our Days are so Short!
91. His Shelter and Protection
92. How to Stay Green and Fresh
93. Stronger than the Seas
94. Arise, Judge and Lover!
95. Do Not Harden our Hearts
96. The Righteous Judge is Coming!
97. The Lord of All the Earth
98. He Will Judge With Equity
99. Worship at His Feet
100. Say "Thank You" First
101. Help Me Live Your Justice
102. Pain and Promise
103. Forget Not His Goodness, You
(Headphone self-portrait by Shifty Eyes)
Wednesday, November 21
I ducked into my favorite local coffee shop early this morning and ordered an Americano in a warm mug. Sitting down, I felt slightly naked because I didn't have a book with me. I always carry something. (I think it's like policemen who carry guns.) At least I had my little moleskine journal.
Knowing that I needed to defrag from the flurry of papers I'm writing for classes, I thumbed through used books from the shop's corner shelves, and found a tattered gem: Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews. Interviews with poets like Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and Marianne Moore, and they're talking about the process of writing! (In 1963 it cost $1.65.) It's true. I get high on old books.
Robert Frost is interviewed first. His glib tone translates perfectly from those old tape recordings down onto the pages. I scribbled a handful of his words on the creative process, and a few concerning a certain ancient book:
"I noticed that the first time in the world's history when mercy is entirely the subject is in Jonah...Jonah is told to go and prophesy against the city and he knows God will let him down. He can't trust God to be unmerciful. You can trust God to be anything but unmerciful. So he ran away and--and got into a whale. That's the point of that and nobody notices it. They miss it." -Robert Frost
I like that Jesus even hides in the theology of old poets. In his pre-whale days, Jonah would only go to Ninevah if he could trust God to be unmerciful towards them. Since he (obviously) couldn't do that, Jonah runs, presumably pouting, "and got into a whale." Mercy is entirely the subject.
I am awfully good at pouting, I'm afraid. Isn't it strange how we humans want mercy for ourselves, but not for the ones we'd rather not forgive?
(Read the whole Frost interview here.)
(Mercy photo by Summers)
Tuesday, November 20
I am asked to impersonate Cinderella, on occasion.
I am taking Echinacea and the letter C in a preemptive attack on you, germs.
I am wondering how to get a Ph.D for free.
I am a collector of old paper goods that fold well.
I am sure that we fold well into each other when we are honest.
I am driven by the possibility of collectively unlocking the 90% latent creativity unused by the human brain.
I am convinced that the smartest principles are the ones Jesus taught.
I am glad when I notice that my friends are accidentally prophesying hope to each other.
I am motivated by seeing lives transformed incrementally. In the small moments that seem insignificant.
I am writing it all down.
(Photo by Pixelberber)
Monday, November 19
Sunday, November 18
Late breaking news in the travel adventure. Someone stole my nice new bike seat with the great shocks. The wheel and axle were locked up, but how do you lock up a seat? Trying real hard to bless instead of cursing right now. Lord let the person who sits on that nice cushy seat have a radical encounter with you. And let me find a new seat tomorrow, please. Yeah.
Saturday, November 17
The Amtrak lady took one look at me and said "Sorry. No bikes allowed on this train today." And then my eyebrows went sky high. And then she giggled. Amtrak lady got me. The train is delayed so I'm power reading. There's a guy behind me going to Carpinteria and wearing a large cowboy hat. Curious.
To commemorate my second day of 28 years of age, I am trying something new. I'm biking from the Klein house in Altadena to Santa Barbara. Sweet Jesse Borden is planning a tri-birthday bonfire for Elise, Trevor, and I tonight. How could I miss that?
Yes, I'll be using some Metros and Amtraks and possibly a shuttle along the way, but I'm gonna try to do this whole trip without any cars. The trick is that on my back I'll have my red rucksack filled with clothes, books for writing papers due Wednesday, and one laptop named Pearl. I'll bike back from the Pasadena Metrolink just in time for Chuck Kraft's class at Fuller on Monday night.
I've got my helmet, Ma, don't worry.
Just me and my blue Schwinn, and some rail/metro tickets! I might send some mobile photos along the way.
Friday, November 16
Thank you, one and all. A creative bunch, you are. I like birthdays. Thank you for humoring my weird birthday wish. I will continue to post any new photos as you email them to me. Look at all these beautiful people!
***Update: New transatlantic photos at the bottom!
(Sweet "Hello" in Swahili-ness!)
(I live in their house.)
Mack (Altadena, CA)
(I also live in her house.
It's the same house. Big happy family.)
Heather (Arusha, Tanzania)
Byron (a.k.a. Captain Borgan), Chai, and Chapatis! (Some nice breakfast table in Tanzania)
Bill and Tina (Porto, Portugal via East Africa)
Dan and Sue (Altadena, CA)
(Mama and Papa of the Klein house)
Arianna (Santa Barbara, CA)
Thursday, November 15
When it comes to Money, I'm afraid that the Church in the West often finds herself parodied by an old Janis Joplin song.
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
"Come on God, baby, I've worked so hard for you, can't you just..."
As Westerners, we tend to believe that God owes us financial providence in exchange for our allegiance and (our sometimes occasional) obedience. I know I've believed the lie. It's deep within the fabric of the American Dream. It's deep in foundations of the Western Church that was coddled by the Industrial Revolution. I know, because I'm a part of it.
Jesus sent his disciples out on journeys and told them to take nothing with them, to make no lodging arrangements, and to bring no provisions. He taught them to give up their rights to "things." He taught them how to rely on the Father for their needs.
I would like to be a part of calling the Church in the West back to doing what Jesus did, and teaching what he taught. When it comes to Money, Jesus warned us that our allegiance to God would be challenged by the stuff. Shouldn't that scare us, just a little?
I'm in my late twenties, and I'm only just starting to make sense of all of the mixed-messages I've received from the local church concerning money. In short, I wish the voice of the Church sounded more like the voice of Jesus. I wish I was taught to avoid debt at all costs, to live simply, and to rely on the Father, even if that means looking foolish.
I've failed enough at money. But I've resolved to learn all over again. I'm working to pay off my student loans as soon as possible, to ride a bike to save money, and to do my best to live simply. I really believe that simplicity is Sabbath. There is Rest in letting go. God has taken excellent care of me as I stumble along. I like that.
(Janis' Passport photo by Savaman)
Wednesday, November 14
What happens when you put two taboo subjects together and discuss their relationship with each other? Find out by following the links to this month's SynchroBlog. Money and Church is the topic. Do you think they belong together? or is it a problem when they meet? Follow the links, and watch the fur fly!
- The Check That Controls
- Pushing The Camel: Why there might be more rich people in Heaven than in your local Church
- Trusting God- A new perspective
- Walking with the Camels
- Greed and Bitterness: Why Nobody's Got it Right About Money and The Church
- [Theocity (title TBA)]
- Money and the Church: A Fulltime Story
- But I Gave at Church
- Moving Out of Jesus Neighborhood
- Money and the Church: why the big fuss?
- Coffee Hour Morality
- Bling Bling in the Holy of Holies
- Magazinial Outreach
- Money's too tight to mention
- The Bourgeois Elephant in the Missional/Emergent Living Room
- When the Church Gives
- Who, or What, Do You Worship
- Silver and Gold Have We—Oops!
- The Church and money
Tuesday, November 13
Perhaps the silliest blog question I've been asked in recent days is, "Nelly, can you please help me pimp my blog?" And so, this post might also be delicately named, "Three Easy Ways to Pimp your Blog."
1. Use one or two widgets. They're free and make your blog more interactive. Stick them permanently in your sidebar panel, or in the occasional post. I use Beautiful Beta's widget for showing recent comments. I also sometimes use stuff from the vast assortment of widget-junk at Widgetbox. I also use Shelfari's book-displaying widget, and Majicwidget for the ever-wonderful blog poll.
Blogger has many pre-built widgets for you to arrange and use. Blogger users, just log in and click on the "Template" tab.
2. Use hyperlinks creatively in your posts. Make it easy for your readers to click around. Link to relevant things: your friends' excellent writing, other sassy blogs and news articles, your older posts that you'd wish people would uncover, etc.
(But try not to overuse the links like I just did in this hyper-linked post.)
3. Mix it up by using multi-media. Post a a homemade video or two, or post a short flick from YouTube. Posting from YouTube is very easy. Just find the white box that reads "embed" (likely to the right of your favorite video) and copy and paste that html into your post. Look, I'll do it for you here in 5 seconds. Trevor Borden's one minute hair-cut video is great:
Posting your own video on Blogger is even easier! When creating a new post, click on that little film icon on the far right of your editing bar, the one after the insert-image icon. Upload your flick. And there you go!
Who watches TV anymore, anyway?
(Pimp My Ride photo by Botogol)
Monday, November 12
This Friday, on November 16th, I will step into my 28th year. If you'd like to know what I'd like for my birthday, well, I'm going to tell you.
I know, I know. I'm so cheeky.
I'd like for you to take a digitized photo of you in some place you enjoy, and send it to me by Thursday night, November 15th. In that simple photo I only have one request. I'd like for you to hold up a sign of some sort, and write the words, "Hello," says [insert your name here]." Be creative. I like that.
I know that some of you's are in non-English speaking lands, so if that's you, would you write the "hello" and the "says" part in your language? (Thanks.)
On Friday, if it's all right with you, I will post your photos here on "Hello," says Jenelle, and we'll all smile at each other. Good? Good. Good. Glad that's settled.
Send me those nice photos at freshgreenbeans at yahoo dot com. Go team.
(Hello Tree from Turkey by MinaFresh/Amanda)
On a completely different note, I laughed harder at Disneyland then I have in many many months. Space Mountain is the most excellent ride on the planet, and it took away my voice until noon today. I learned that I could become addicted to Dance, Dance, Revolution, though I am a terrible dancer. And Disney's rocks after dark! Their 80's cover band showed me that Sarah and Elise are phenomenal dancers, particularly when they have one third of the dance floor all to themselves, and when Elise kicks off her shoes and wears the white socks. Oh my. It was all so hysterically wonderful.
Saturday, November 10
It is Saturday. Elise Witek is 20 years old today. This is an important day. We're going to Disneyland. I wrote her a haiku. (Don't kill me for breaking some haiku rules, poetry purists.)
(20 x 4)
Eighty seasons in
She holds the storm and the moon
And laughs with the stars.
I might try to send some photos through the mobile phone. Forgive me if Verizon attaches strange talk to it. I'll delete it later.
Thursday, November 8
A few Nelly-thoughts on blog commenting:
1. When appropriate, answer your comments within your own posts. It's fine to answer a comment on the commentor's blog (if they have one), or privately by email, but, that sort of takes away the fun of allowing everyone else in on the conversation. And it confuses the hades out of those who read comments as part of the postal reaction.
2. Read other blogs, and leave comments! You'll find yourself deep in a web of thinkers (or jokers, for that matter), and you'll likely gain some new readers, too.
3. Delete spam comments as soon as possible. I get one every once in a while. Other folks have written up whole posts about the spam they've received. Spam comes in multiple forms. Andrew Jones' anti-spam stuff is a riot.
A friendly note to Lurkers (AKA. you beautiful non-commenting folks):
I like you. Read on. You don't need to say a thing. But if you get the urge, I'm brushing up the welcome mat for you.
(Graffiti photo by Duncan)
Wednesday, November 7
I think far more people should become bloggers. It's very easy, it's a creative outlet, and it's easier than writing long, boring, mass-emails. I'm starting a short series on some things I've learned over the last year or so about blogging. Go blog your heart out, kid.
1. Be patient with yourself as you develop your writing voice. Just try to post as often as you can, and don't quit. I started out blogging once or twice a week. After blogging for 14 months, now I'm trying to post every day.
2. Keep your posts short. Consolodating words is not only an excellent writing exercise, but you'll likely post more often when you put less wordy-pressure on yourself.
3. Don't write things you wouldn't want your Mama/Roommate/Professor to read. Just be wise. Vent on paper that doesn't travel to the blogosphere.
4. Use good images. The power of image plus word is underestimated. If you're not using your own, use creative commons licensed photos, and give them kind credit with hyperlinks. I take an extra minute or so to use the advanced search function on Flickr, and search only the "Creative Commons Licensed" stuff.
5. Don't despair. In your first 6-12 months of active blogging, be encouraged that there are likely people reading who are not commenting. (We affectionately term them, "Lurkers.") As you regularly write, it's likely that more will continue to read. Get a hit counter to show you just how many people are reading (or at least, landing), and to see how long they stick around to read. It's motivating. I use Statcounter. It's free.
(T-shirt photo by Nicki-G.)
Tuesday, November 6
This weekend I went to see Bella the movie at the indie theater. Great film. I cried happy tears. A little Christiany-idealistic, but beautiful, nonetheless. It won loads of awards. Just go see it. (There's my paltry movie review of the day.)
I had the best parking spot in town: about three steps outside the box office. I locked up the bike and felt like I was royalty. The trick was, after a post-film Mexican feast, I had a short ride by bike to Amy's house. And it was dark.
[Note to Mama: it is very, very rare that I ride at night. And I have a nice flashing red light that I wear to alert drivers, along with a headlight!]
I took off for Los Robles, and was doing just great in the bike lane, chugging along at a good speed. My eyes were concentrating on the stoplight up ahead. Out of nowhere this white Suburban pulls up beside me, and an (assumedly drunk, or just foolish) boy shrieks/screams at me from his window. They drove off, laughing. It took me 15 seconds to process that they were just trying to startle me, maybe to make me fall. (Not so funny.)
The best part was, though, I didn't even flinch. I was a little startled, but I just sort of rolled my eyes in my head. I was too focused on the stoplight up ahead to turn to the right or the left. (Thankfully.)
The whole story makes me think of the struggle of following Jesus, and Jesus alone. My bike ride seems to call it a universal truth that we naturally go towards wherever our eyes are fixed. Even when silly people emerge and come screaming in our ears. And even when we're telling silly lies to ourselves.
May we fix ourselves, all over again, on the Light that shines in the dark. Let's silence the outer (or inner) noise.
(Screaming pepper photo by 7E55E-BRN)
Monday, November 5
Scholarly John Hobbins has (creatively) responded to a new meme concerning the summarization of the Bible in about 10 lines. John offers us 10 pointed questions in Scripture that, he argues, sums up all of God's story. I was moved by his choices. He writes:
Here are ten paradigmatic questions in the Bible:Read the full blog post on John's Ancient Hebrew Poetry.
(1) “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) [God to Adam and Eve]
(2) “Where is your brother?” (Genesis 4:9) [God to Cain]
(3) “Where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7) [Isaac to his father]
(4) “How long, O Lord, will you forever ignore me?” (Psalm 13:2)
(5) “Who may dwell, O Lord, on your holy mountain?” (Psalm 15:1)
(6) “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” (Psalm 22:2)
(7) “Would you impugn my justice? Do you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8) [God to Job]
(8) “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)
[Jesus to his disciples and the large crowd who accompanied him]
(9) “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29) [Jesus to his disciples]
(10) “Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you pass sentence and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?” (Revelation 6:10) [the martyrs to God]
The meaning of life consists in responding, asking, and bearing witness to these questions.
How about that! The meaning of life in 10 questions. And some of them from the depths of despair and depression, no less.
I'm still commiserating on what I might add. What questions might you add?
I think I'd add the last words from Jonah, particularly in this age of globalization and the outstanding migration to the cities. It seems God is really fond of the city, while most of us grew up in suburbia being taught that the city is evil.
(11) "Should I not be concerned about that great city?" [God to Jonah] Jonah 4:11b
(Graffiti photo by Dullhunk)
Sunday, November 4
The Klein's have a kitty. His name is Ziggy. He is slightly insane in his pre-neutered state. He likes to climb on things. In this case, he perches on my sweaty back after a bike ride up the Altadena hill.
I think I might try to rig my little camera onto the bike to tape a short film of the surroundings. I really am so thankful I don't have a car. And I'm not playing happy-Christian and just trying really hard to be grateful, when really I'm insanely bitter. (I have done that before, though.) Riding a bike is so nice.
I like it here.
Saturday, November 3
Joy strains to find her
Late at night there is stirring-
Very impressive where's waldo-ing, particularly as I have not yet met Joy face-to-face. Yes, I have met joy, and we shake hands and then play dodgeball. (Or, we play dodgeball and then shake hands?) But I have not yet met Joy.
"One for sorrow, two for joy." -The Innocence Mission
(Haiku hacker image by Elijah)
Friday, November 2
Presenting, Fuller's 2007 School of Intercultural Studies. A special haiku award goes to ye who finds me the fastest, and scribes it upon the comments. I will write a haiku in honor of you and post it for all of blogdom. (Hint: I am partially hidden behind one very tall human.)
As a way of introducing my current state of studying, I thought I'd point out the professors whose classes I'm taking. Incidentally, I think it's very cute that they all decided to sit together.
K = Dr. Chuck Kraft, the soft-spoken, but highly (spiritually) authoritative prof. of my Deep Level Healing class. In the second week of class he prayed for a girl's migraine to be healed, and it left her immediately. This class is phenomenal. Yes. God's Spirit is still on the move.
M = Dr. Mark Hopkins, the always smiling master of the MAGL program. I'm working on very large papers for his Implications for Global Ministry class.
S = Dr. Shelley Trebesch, the lovely lady who flew all the way from the far-east in order to teach us how to O.D. on Organizational Dynamics. She is the one responsible for making me read corporate books that I'd never read otherwise, as well as encouraging my my percolating dreams, and my wanting-to-start-a-company pontificating. (More on that soon.)
Thursday, November 1
I think we all need a little more dodgeball in our lives. What a game! One of the newest highlights of my week is playing dodgeball and yelling, "Ohhhhh!" as I point (and gloat) that I've just gotten someone out. (I'm a little competitive.)
Ok, so I'm playing dodgeball with middle schoolers. It shouldn't massage my ego when I can get one of them out. The truth is, they get me out more often. But I still wait patiently on the sideline until I can get back in the game. If my team catches someone's throw, I'm right back in there, baby!
For the record, it's a whole different experience to play dodgeball in a gym. The yells and "oh's!" and sneaker-squeaks on the gym floor all echo together perfectly. It's practically a song.
A few weeks ago, I asked you, the people, to cast your vote on my (part-time job) destiny. 32 of you beautiful people Rocked the Vote, and one of the winning votes was for me to tutor at-risk middle schoolers. I found an opening at a great non-profit after school program, and it's right down the street from me. And so, now, on most Mondays through Thursday afternoons, you will now find me playing dodgeball and helping these new friends of mine with their homework. It seems to be working out just fine, so far.
I think I need to start a ferocious dodgeball intramural team at Fuller. I'm reliving my elementary school days when I wasn't coordinated enough to dodge, and was always the first to get out. Redemption is near.
(Kids playing dodgeball in Sri Lanka by Zbili)