Monday, February 28, 2011

Media Monday: Faculty Stories

Some of the stories Matt got to work on this past year was various faculty around the country who integrate their faith into what they do. Here's one of the stories.

Faculty Stories - Terry Gustafson from InterVarsity-twentyonehundred on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I got this recipe a while ago from Sunset Magazine but had forgotten about it until recently. It's really yummy (and not the healthiest). Even my non-fruit eating husband likes it.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
Elaine Wing Hillesland, owner of Alegria Oceanfront Inn and Cottages in Mendocino, CA, serves this cake to her bed-and-breakfast guests.

About 1 hour Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed, or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) cold butter, cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1. In a 1- to 2-quart pan over medium heat, bring blueberries and apple juice to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until blueberries have released their juices, about 3 minutes. In a small bowl, blend cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water. Add to blueberry mixture; stir until it simmers and thickens, about 1 minute. Let cool to room temperature.

2. In a bowl or food processor, mix or whirl flour and 3/4 cup sugar. Add butter to flour mixture. Cut in with a pastry blender or pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1/2 cup; pour remaining into a large bowl. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon peel.

3. In a bowl, mix yogurt, vanilla, and 1 egg until blended; stir into flour-baking powder mixture until incorporated. Spread batter in a buttered 9-inch round cake pan with a removable rim.

4. In a bowl or food processor (no need to wash from step 2), beat with an electric mixer on high speed or whirl cream cheese, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining egg, and lemon juice until smooth. Spread over batter in pan, leaving a 1/2-inch border bare. Gently spread blueberry mixture over cream cheese mixture, leaving some visible. Stir almonds into reserved flour mixture and sprinkle over cake, concentrating most around edge of batter.

5. Bake in a 350° oven until center of cake barely jiggles when pan is gently shaken and top of cake is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove pan rim. Serve warm or at room temperature

Monday, February 21, 2011

Media Monday: New Hampshire

I still really like this video that Matt helped shoot. It's a great look at how InterVarsity is reaching out to athletes at New Hampshire University.

University of New Hampshire from InterVarsity-twentyonehundred on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Vs. Thou Shall

The girls from the youth group at our church are currently reading through "When God Writes Your Love Story". In general, the girls are getting together once a month to talk about the book and encourage each other in dating relationships to stay pure.

At one point during our first meeting we were talking about ways we can remain strong in dating relationships. After a few people mentioned the common, "don't go to far sexually", "keep reading the bible" and things like that, one of the girls blurted out in frustration at one point, "I just don't understand! I hear all these things we're not supposed to do...Thou Shall Not blah, blah, blah. I don't get what we supposed to do."

It's interesting how we spend so much time teaching our kids what we are not supposed to do but we fail to teach them what is the right thing to do. I think with relationships it's even harder to talk about the right thing to do when there are so few examples of good and Godly relationships/there are so few examples of what we are supposed to do.

I also wonder if there is a bigger disconnect for kids today as well. The typical answer to "What are we supposed to do" is often, you are supposed to pursue God, you are supposed to read your bible and pray, you are supposed to do what God tells you to do. However, when many Christians are asleep in the pews and are not living out an active/vibrant faith, the "Thou Shalls" really don't seem all that appealing.

I'm just rambling now, but I left that night wondering about my own faith and if my faith exhibits more of a "thou shalt not" or a "thou shall" mentality.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Media Monday: Does Jesus Have an Answer for Racism?

Saint Louis University from InterVarsity-twentyonehundred on Vimeo.
One of the videos Matt worked on this year was a documentary on how the InterVarsity chapter at St. Louis University has been responding to the acts of racism on their campus.

Having grown up in a white church, I know there the problem of racism is often ignored either out of ignorance or being uncomfortable with the issue. When I got to college and was confronted with the reality that racism still is a major problem, I realized I lacked the knowledge, tools and even faith to believe that racism can be overcome.

That's one reason whey I like this video so much. It asks a question that I think many of us deeply wonder: does Jesus have an answer for racism? And can Christians be a part of the healing that God wants to offer in this area?

Personally I think the only way racism will ever be overcome is through the mercy and help of God. And that's something I have hope in every time I see students and staff taking risks like the ones in this video.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Nurture Shock - Chapter 1

The book "Nurture Shock" by Po Bronsn and Ashley Merryman was one of the various books recommended during a seminar at Staff Conference. It sounded intriguing so I got it and it has been fascinating.

The first chapter is all about praise. More specifically the type of praise we often tell children. The chapter references a a study done of the effect of telling children they did great because "you are so smart" vs. "you put so much effort into this". The study basically found that those kids praised for their smarts tend to do worse later on or give up quicker when things get hard.

A few of my favorite quotes from chapter 1:
"Emphasizing effort give a child a variable that they can control," she explains. "They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child's control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to failure." - Dweck

"the effect of praise can very significantly, depending on the praise give. To be effective, researchers have found, praise needs to be specific...sincerity of praise is also crucial."

"Offering praise has become a sort of panacea for the anxieties of modern parenting. Out of our children's lives from breakfast to dinner, we turn it up a notch when we get home. In those few hours together, we want them to hear the things we can't say during the day - We are in your corner, we are here for you, we believe in you."

Even though we don't have kids, I can't believe how often I automatically just praise kids for being smart. Or praise kids in a very generic, unspecific way. I started thinking about why I a non-parent do this.  I didn't have a great answer until later that week when a co-workers daughter came in before school and helped me with a project for a few minutes.

I set the kid up at a desk across from mine, gave her the instructions for the task (counting out static clings into piles of ten), and then turned back around to do my own work. A few seconds later, the kid asked if she had done the task correctly. I glanced over, saw a bunch of haphazard piles that looked about right, and was about to say something totally generic like "Wow, that looks great, good job kiddo!" and realized this non-specific praise was ready to roll right off my tongue without me even thinking. The reason why hit me simultaneously. I was going to say this very non-specific praise because I hadn't really been paying attention, wanted to get back to my work, but still wanted to praise her in someway for helping.

So often I substitute generic praise for specific praise because I simply hadn't been paying attention and I'm trying to cover up my preoccupation.

So I stopped myself from automatically praising, walked over to where she was and actually took a look at what she had done. I told her, "I think that looks right, but let me check." I recounted a few piles of static clings and told her "Ya, you counted perfectly and I'm really glad you took the time to double check when you thought the pile was wrong (I had heard her recounting a few times). 

What was surprising to me was when I got back to my desk, I heard her recounting much more as she continued on. I'm not sure if she would have if I had done the generic praise.

Either way, it was challenging to me to think of the types of praise I give. To kids, to co-workers and even my family and a challenge to take the extra time and give more specific praise.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Conference Set Up - Media Monday

Somewhere in this video is Matt setting up for Staff Conference 2011. This is just a small part of what happens to make a conference happen.

Staff Conference 2011 Setup from InterVarsity-twentyonehundred on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Social Network

The movie The Social Network finally made it to the cheap theater and we were talked into watching it the other night by a friend at work.

I didn't have super high expectations of the movie since I assumed it would highlight the non-academic side of college (which it did) and I don' t in general have a super high view of Facebook the corporation in general (they change the rules way to often and have way to much control). However, it wasn't as bad as I thought and I can see why it's been an award contender this year.

My guess is that most of the movie is a fabrication loosely based on truth...but there were a few "facts" that did take me by surprise.

FACT: Napster was co-created in 1999 by Sean Parker and operated for about three years. Shawn ends up playing a role in helping Facebook grow.
REALIZATION: Wow, I had completely forgotten about the very existence of Napster. Napster was such a big part of the college scene when I went to school. It was very common to walk into almost any dorm room and find someone browsing Napster. But once it was shut down due to lawsuits it was on to the next thing. It made me realize just how fast Internet programs change and how forgettable they are.

FACT: We caught the 7:00 p.m. showing of Facebook and out of the about 80 people in the theater, we were the youngest in the room by about 20 year.

REALIZATION: I did not expect this movie to be of interested to an older generation. I forgot that Facebook really was only created 7 years ago and really was only available to non-college age groups after 2004. For some reason it feels like Facebook has been a part of life forever. I do wonder how many older people are still scratching their heads trying to figure facebook in general out. It made me wonder if the film was largely watched that night by people just trying to figure out why Facebook is so popular and what exactly it is.

FACT: Facebook is addictive.
REALIZATION: Ok, I could have told you that from my personal experience. :)  Ironically earlier that day before we had decided to go and see The Social Network, a link about being obsessed with Facebook was circulated around the office. It's a fun infographic and the most interesting fact to me is that "48% of young Americans said they find out about news through facebook". You can see the full infographic here:

FACT: The Social Network portrays heavily the college party scene.
REALIZATION: While, I don't think the majority of college students experience the party scene quite to the extent as depicted in the movie, the party scene is a part of most colleges and the desire for belonging among students is quite huge. I left the movie again reminded of why I work for InterVarsity: InterVarsity and our staff offer a different voice and different solutions in the search for belonging than what most of their peers will tell them. I think if anyone ever asks me again why I work for InterVarsity, I'll just tell them to watch this movie.