My sweet grandma, or gm for short, is entering a new decade on Friday! I am headed to Sedona tomorrow to visit her and my grandpa (also sweet) for her birthday! I am so excited to go and see them! They have been a huge source of blessing and support in my life.
I know they read this, so... love you grandma! See you tomorrow!
What does it mean to be thankful? You're happy to have it and you want to say "thank you!"
(This is what I teach my students...)
This is my shout out to everyone for a happy turkey day. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and so I plan to enjoy it.
I'm thankful this year to be in Denver, to love the school I teach at, and to be surrounded by good friends.
I'm also thankful to have my 3 sister-in-laws here- Ruth, Rachael, and Alyssa. Yesterday the five of us went up to Boulder to the Celestial Seasonings factory, which was great fun! Hailing from the less "green" San Antonio, Rachael was excited to count all of the bicyclists! Good friends from high school and college, John and Jonathan also came in last night, so we have a pretty full but happy apartment!
Today we join our friends from church for a Thanksgiving feast. The meal will be completely prepared by people under the age of 30! Pictures will most definitely follow!
Ironically enough, I tried yoga for the first time while living in Alabama and loved how it helped keep my body healthy and pain free. My friend Susan directed me to this free website, which is great since unfortunately most yoga comes with a price tag.
I've been really nervous about it. I mean, c'mon, I am a product of southern CA, Phoenix, and Dallas. I think I drove in melting snow once in college (partly due to my lack of transportation for most of it). So while I have been anticipating our "first snow" in Denver, I have also been dreading it.
After a warm 66 degree day yesterday, it turned bitterly cold in the middle of the night. My coworker was trying to explain it to me- I won't attempt. I woke up to the words "It's snowing" and immediately felt panic. On Fridays, I have no lifeline- Eric leaves for his other job across town. He also leaves earlier, so I did feel better when he called to tell me there was barely anything falling and that he scraped the frost off my car (yes he is wonderful and yes we are still sharing an ice scraper- laugh away all you from cold climates). However, 30 minutes later when I walked out the door I encountered thick flakes dropping rapidly from the sky. My nervousness resumed. I tried to push the now 3+ inches off of my car while throwing my teacher bag inside. Immediately, what seemed like an inch of snow fell onto the drivers seat. I resisted the urge to cry at the thought of driving it, my soon to be wet bum, and the fact that I was now going to have to drive in snow! We must have been in the middle of the snow dump, because five minutes down the road, no snow was falling from the sky.
I was relieved to have made it to school without an incident and was met by the kind words, "Oh this is nothing! Just wait."
So, as I wait, I will get another ice scraper, some towels for my car, and build myself a garage. And don't worry, I already have my Colorado tags so no one can yell at me "Hey southern driver! Get off the road!"
Too bad, blogging wasn't on my mind this morning. A picture would have been great.
Teaching 1st grade is going well. If I posted pictures of my students (which I don't), I could show you some awesome ones of our time at the zoo, turning ourselves into inside out human trash bag bodies, and mummifying our favorite stuffed animals with tp! Just trust me, their cute!
Things I like about first grade: - At the zoo, they actually can help read the signs and the map and the continents. - They are writing and really beginning to read! I did the happy dance about 3 times today when I saw 3 different students reading or writing readable words for the first time today! - There are less accidents. - I can trust them with more responsibility.
Things I miss about kindergarten: - Bye-bye fun "cute" crafts! - Working with parents for their child's first year of "real" school. - Seeing the phenomenal growth they make in such a short period of time. - They are so stinkin cute in a little kid kind of way still! (or at least until 2nd semester!) - Being their first teacher and laying the reading foundation.
So, the jury's still out. I like my kiddos but sometimes I peek in the kindergarten room and think, "Ah.."
I've thought about writing this post for a while, but have hesitated for several reasons. For one, I know that my choice is unpopular with many Christians, and I fear that I will be viewed as less intelligent or spiritual. I have also hesitated due to the fear that I will be viewed as "proselytizing" for your vote... which is not my desire. I decided that on the eve of the election, however, most people have either saved themselves a lot of time by doing early voting, are not voting, or know who they are voting for... if for some reason you don't know who you are voting for tomorrow, *spoiler alert* ahead!
I believe as Christians that we are called to glorify God with our hearts, emotions, bodies, and minds. As part of that, I believe it is important to be aware of not only what is going on in the world but also what is going on in our country. To understand to the best of our knowledge the politics that drive our policies. Not because our hope is in America, but because we are Christians living in America. Not to be discouraged to hopelessness (for this world is not our hope), but to be engaged in the world/country around us. For his purposes, God has placed us as Americans, and though it may be a drop in the bucket (such as going to Africa for a summer, living in the inner city, etc.) we can still exercise influence.
For these reasons, I feel it is important to exercise our right to vote- whether Republican, Democrat, Independent, or by not voting. However, to refuse to look past the sound-bites on TV or the so-called labels of the "Christian" party are poor excuses at using our minds for God's glory. I have a brother in Christ who disagrees with me strongly on political views and we may tease each other relentlessly, but I respect his thoughtfulness that has gone into his decision.
All this rambling to say, after long and careful consideration I am in support of Obama being our nation's next president. No I have not jumped on the "hype-wagon"; no I don't think he is going to save the world (Christ already did that); and yes I believe in the sanctity of human life. This and many other issues I have weighed heavily in my decision. Could he be a terrible president if elected? Sure, but my hope is not in him. Can I rest knowing that I voted in the way I thought would glorify God? Yes.
There are many things I could say, but I will spare you any more political banter.
As His children, may God give us grace to live lives that bring him glory. Amen.
We recently partook in some small group fall festivities. With people being sick and busy, it was a small small group, but it was good times hanging out with our friends Jen and Josh and Amanda. I should blog about this later, but we really like our church!
What a great game! We put on the retro music and enjoyed two good games before deciding the game was probably designed for people under five foot. For those of you wondering, Eric was the champion of both games... (and I was hoping the yoga would pay off!) The thing I'm most excited about though... using Sarah's idea to play Twister with the letter sounds with my students at school!
This was so funny. My co-teacher and I deemed it blog-worthy...
Our first graders are notorious for forgetting to grab their coats at the end of the day. Instead of trying to get their attention by saying "Who's is this??" and getting 29 "Not mine"s, we pretend to try and put on their coats. This always gets their attention as well as a laugh.
On Friday afternoon, I picked up a girl's sweater and said, "Hmm... size small 7/8... I don't know if that will fit me or not." As the owner of the sweater came to retrieve her belonging, one of our little boys with quite the personality said, "Mrs. Anderson it would fit you because you are so skinny!" No comments there, but I had to laugh.
At the beginning of September, Susan and I decided we needed to dig up our running shoes and go back to our glory days of collegiate running. We decided some simple motivation would be the Panerathon. Think a mix of Panera and running in reverse order and a 10k instead of a marathon (got that?!). The entry fee was being donated in its entirety to the Denver food bank which I must confess made it more desirable but the Panera might have been a bigger draw.
No problem we thought as we registered and made our plans for going from almost no running to running 6.2 miles. Then, I got the worst sore throat ever. Then, I got a halo affect going around my eye followed by intense dizziness. Then, frustrated with all the things keeping me from running, I ignored my aching foot until it hurt to even walk on it. So pretty much, then at 24 my body decided to fall apart. No problem my every-aching-muscle-in-my-body.
But you will be glad to know that we conquered. Sunday morning, we were off. I must say we finished with a time we were happy with as well. Below are the "lovely" pictures that proved that we did it.
Free Sunday (and Monday) breakfast!
We can still stand!!!
"Matchy-matchy" Al ran a 5k... Eric the good Christian was in church :)
This past week has been Denver sports mania. To all our Dallas friends, don't worry. We still heart the Cowboys, love the Mavs, and don't care too much about the Rangers. But I think we could also learn to love the teams that Denver calls their own. This past Sunday, our friend Andy generously took some of us to the Broncos home opener. For you football enthusiasts, you know that it was quite the game. Two highlights were the fact that the Broncos were high-scoring and that Susan and I soon learned that you're supposed to "hug" after each touchdown. Both of these things were beneficial, as our seats were the last two seats in the very top corner, and we spent all of the afternoon game in the shade. However, we were also very close to the fireworks that announced each time the Broncos scored. Between the blast of heat from the fireworks and the hugging, we stayed quite warm. The boys were also at the game... just in a different area.
On Friday, we had the opportunity to go to a Rockies game thanks to my dear co-T and her husband. It was good times as well. Not as many exciting stories from this one... after all it is baseball :) It should be noted that Eric stayed true to form and did not participate in the wave.
Lately, I have begun to notice the frequency with which Eric and I have been having "grown-up" conversations. I guess this move prompted thinking about the future and college is definitely starting to feel like something of the past. Expect more notes on these conversations in the future, after all we're only getting older :)
With that title, this post has some big shoes to fill, but I will try to catch you up on all that has been going on with us! Eric has officially started all 3 of his jobs (I'll let him tell you more about that later); we're involved in our church; and school is in full swing! All of these things have made for some very busy (and very enjoyable) couple of weeks!
One of the interesting things about my new teaching job is that I co-teach with another certified teacher. Yep, two teachers in the room with 30 students. Now, I'm sure you are wondering, "How does that work???" I wondered too when I took the job. After all, teachers tend to have type-A personalities and tend to like to direct things... which is probably part of the reason they signed themselves up for a low-paying career in the first place! The best analogy I can come up with to describe co-teaching is this: Having a co-teacher is like being married. Seriously. You have to make a million-and-one decisions together when you enter into the co-teaching relationship; you have to compromise and work through differences; and you even have to decide where to put things on the walls. I had this epiphany when my co-teacher was putting a poster on the wall and she asked if it was good or should be moved slightly over... a page straight out of the "when-Eric-hangs-our-picture-frames" book! Because getting along is so crucial, I am very thankful to say that my co-teacher, Amy, is awesome!
Not only are Amy and I in the same place in life (she is my age and recently got married), but our philosophies on all things education pretty much line-up (which is huge!). I feel so blessed to be working with her. In fact, over Labor Day weekend, she, her husband, Eric, and I went camping up in the Colorado mountains. We were originally supposed to go to the Grand Tetons along with our good friend Sarah, but when she got sick, we decided to go closer to home. It was a relaxing weekend- void of all things scary (i.e. mountain lions/bears) but not void of a few mishaps (see shoe picture).
The four of us in the mountains.
The mishap: Amy's shoe, on Amy's foot, managed to fall into the river. Her husband rigged up a shoe drying stick, which worked so well it melted the sole of the shoe!
New school. New class. New year. It went well... as well as can be expected for the first day! As a teacher, what you mostly hope for is no catastrophes... and there were none. I am really enjoying this co-teaching thing.. especially as the first day brings a lot of extra responsibilities. I think we have our work cut out for us- but I enjoy the challenge. Eric started today as a para (aide) as well. I think he had a good day. He spent time helping in music class and in Kindergarten with our good friend Sarah. And now it's time to relax!
I have been so busy with starting a new job! But I wanted to post some pictures from the weekend before all this craziness began, especially for my friend Megs who is about to return to China. The first weekend in August, my close JBU friends from college convened for a mini-reunion. Some of us thought that meant we should go ahead and move to Denver to make meeting for a reunion easier... and some people just came from halfway across the world. I feel so blessed to have such amazing friends who I have grown with since college. We may all be different- some speak Chinese, some speak Krio, some speak Arkansan; we may have to put a moratorium on political discussions; we may like hiking, jazz bands, and swimming to varying degrees... But we all love the card game Hand and Foot. Love you friends!
So, I'd like to take a moment to update people as to my work situation this coming year. Many of you know that when Nicole and I arrived in Denver she had a job lined up teaching but I was still unemployed and searching. God has definitely answered our prayers for provision and I'm excited to share with you my three upcoming work situations!
1) The first job I lined up was a part-time computer teacher at a Private Christian High School for Homeschool families. The school meets full-day on Tuesday and Friday. I'll teach on those two days and then send home work with the students for them to work on with their parents during the rest of the week. In Computer 1 I'll be covering basics of Operating Systems, Hardware, Office software, history of computers, how to do research online, and a few other topics. In Computer 2 I'm hoping to get into some more advanced stuff like introductory web design, computer programming, and graphic design.
2) The second job God gave me was as an assistant at Nicole's school. I'll be there full-days on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and basically doing lots of everything: tutoring, errands, student support, etc. I'm excited to have a chance to work with some younger kids and also be in a more traditional/structured school environment.
3) Lastly, and most unexpectedly, God opened the door for me to take a job as a part-time Youth Director at the church where Nicole and I will be attending. As a fairly new church plant, I'll be working with a small group of students and praying that God would grow our group as He does the church. I was able to go to a Leadership Conference (telecast of Willow Creek's Summit) with the staff on Thursday and Friday and really had a wonderful, enjoyable, encouraging time. I'm super excited about this job, the church, and the possibilities - we'll see how God works!
All in all, it should amount to somewhere between 45-55 hours a week, so I don't think it'll be too bad. I was pretty seriously considering starting at Denver Seminary this fall, but Nicole and I decided to postpone till this coming fall (2009). Lord willing, I'll be able to start back at school full-time then.
We're so blessed and excited to be here, so thanks for all your prayers in the transition!
School. Yep it started, bright and early Monday morning. So far, so good. And by good, I mean good. I will post more later, but for now, suffice it to say, I think I might have died and gone to teacher heaven. And now, it's back to training myself for an early bedtime...
One of my experiences in Sierra Leone that blessed my heart was all of the singing, both by the children and the adults. We woke up in the morning to the sounds of the home children singing during devotions; we watched as the students started their day praising the LORD; we listened as the aunties sang for their devotions together; we joined the Freetown national teachers in a praise and devotion time; and we worshiped our Father together on Sunday morning. I was able to capture a few moments of the children singing that I wanted to share with you. I was reminded of their singing this morning while reading Isaiah 55-
"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
One of the things, Eric and I enjoy doing together is cooking and baking. This really started in Alabama after we became inspired by all the recent "cooking" movies that have popped up and because needed something to do for fun. This is our 3rd apple pie... but it is also our 1st "criss-cross" pie crust. (Before we just did the boring, flat crust.) The pie crust recipe was from my mother-in-law (so easy!); I cut the strips, and Eric laid them. We shared our pie with our good friends Susan and Al... along with some vanilla ice cream of course!
For better or worse, in most ways I did not experience "culture shock" while in Sierra Leone. I have a couple of theories for this, which I can bore you with in person, but they are not the point of this post. In two specific things, however, I did find myself in shock when I learned of the sins and misconceptions that plague this culture. I will write about one of these things today.
In the above picture, you are looking at a picture of the well in the village of Ngolala, about a 20 minute walk from the COTN property in Banta. After hearing throughout college, in churches, and in the news about projects to build wells to bring the people of Africa clean water, I was excited to see a well capable of use for the people there. I thought of it as a real life picture of the good that is happening. This idea was soon deflated, however, when I was informed that the people of Ngolala actually don't use the well that is in the center of this community, but instead walk to the edge of the village to a small, dirty river to collect water needed for drinking, cooking, cleaning, etc. Incredulously, I asked why. Two main reasons were given that I will paraphrase: 1) There is a strong cultural misconception that running water (even if used for bathing and other things) is cleaner than the standing water of a well and 2) the people of Ngolala had no ownership/leadership in building the well and so therefore they have no ownership/leadership in using it. This bothered me for the duration of the trip. Even if the reasons made "sense," it still seemed so simple. Just drink the clean water- it's what you need and it's what is good. My American sense of "I'm smart and know what's best for you" was elevated.
On our last day in Sierra Leone, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves. As I started to write in a stream of consciousness (you know, "Nicole-style"), I found myself writing about this well issue. And God in His mercy spoke to my heart. Again and again as I interacted with the Christian nationals, I had been observing and learning from their passion for the Lord and the way that they put Him first and knew He was most important. That even though they had little, they also had everything. And again and again, I was convicted of this in my own life. That even though I know and have within me the source of Living Water, I continually go to the dirty river of American consumerism, entertainment, and the all-consuming outward impressions to try and satisfy. That to go the well is so simple and in my sin I am blinded by the truth.
I was reminded of this as I read Isaiah 12:
With joy you will draw from wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call upon HIS name, make known His deeds among the peoples,proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing praises to the LORD for He has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. (vs. 3-5)
LORD, may we become unblinded by the cultural misconceptions that our sin promotes. May we drink from your clean and living waters. May we not give up on our American neighbors who drink from the dirty river nor our African neighbors who do the same. May we engage with them and point them towards the truth as we walk in it in humility. Amen.
About a week after returning from Sierra Leone, Eric and I were off on some traveling adventures!
Our first stop was a B & B up near Winter Park. Eric secretly arranged this while I was away, and it was nice to celebrate our second year of marriage, even though we spent our anniversary apart. It was relaxing, which was just what we needed- and of course the scenery was beautiful.
After our time in Winter Park, we did a quick turn-around in Denver, grabbed the kittens, and head down to Sedona, Arizona where my dear grandparents live. We spent about a week there- hiking, exploring Indian ruins, playing mini-golf (my grandma won!), and just enjoying our time together.
Hiking near Bell Rock
Eric went fishing for the first time with my grandfather. (Disclaimer: My grandpa caught the fish. )
I feel blessed to have such a great summer break as a teacher- to be able to travel, serve, and relax. I am excited to start a new school year in a new grade at a new school, but for now I am content to soak up the luxury of summer.