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Thursday, December 27, 2012

tradition.

word of the day: tradition \trə-ˈdi-shən\ the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction

 I came to a realization about myself this holiday season: I don’t love tradition.  It happened on Thanksgiving.  I was sitting at the table looking down at my plate of turkey, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, bread, cranberry relish, and mashed potatoes.  In that moment, I realized that I could do without all the foods on the plate.  Except for the mashed potatoes.  Because anybody who knows me knows that the way to my heart is with a well-cooked potato.

 Everything was cooked to perfection.  Everything was delicious; I just decided in that moment that the traditional holiday meal doesn’t have the same allure as it once had. 

 I suppose that probably makes me sound like somewhat of a scrooge, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it since.  As Jake and I look forward to Holiday seasons to come, I look forward to writing my own traditions.  Things our children will remember in the future and tell fondly of as they sit around the table reminiscing.  But in my mind’s eye, those traditions look different every year.  It’s a Christmas dinner with a big pot of soup one year and eating at a tacky diner the next.  It’s a Christmas morning where presents are opened immediately upon waking while the next year we wait until after the enormous breakfast feast.   It’s more about family and what each year has brought and less about the things we do just because we’ve always done them.

 Jake and I stepped out into the non-traditional this Christmas and ventured to the world of the Bed & Breakfast.  We decided to make the most of our last Christmas sans kids, and I’m so happy we did. 

 We left Christmas Eve and traveled to Plano, IL.  We pulled into the Homestead Bed and Breakfast early evening and enjoyed every moment until we checked out the following morning. 

 Hindsight, I suppose it was risky to choose to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with complete strangers.  I suppose we could have chosen a B&B with awkward hosts, but thankfully we were welcomed in like we were old friends.  Mary Kay and Chet made Bed and Breakfast believers out of us although I’m not sure we’ll ever stay at another.  They set the standard pretty high.  They cooked us delicious food, made us feel right at home, and offered us a bed that I think Jake will talk about for all the years to come. 

 It was non-traditional.  It was exactly what we needed.  The only thing missing were the mashed potatoes, but luckily my in-laws had left-overs that I have been consuming like ice cream.    

 As I look forward to Christmases to come, I look forward to the constants: family, laughter, card-playing, and gift exchanges.  But I also look forward to the unpredictables.  The things that only each year can bring.  The things that keep us on our toes and make each holiday season something worth remembering.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

normal


word of the year: normal \ˈnr-məl\ a.) conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern b.) occurring naturally

 2012 has been one for the record books, but I’m starting to feel like I say that at the end of every year.  As I think back on the four years that Jake and I have been married, each year has brought us something new.  Something that has altered our perception of “normal” and changed the way we’ve always done things.  When all is said and done though, I always find myself thinking, “Hasn’t it always been this way?”  That’s the nature of newness though, I suppose, and I always like to take time at the end of each year to reflect upon the things that have become our “new normal.”  To update the people we love about what exactly we’ve been up to.

 I was reminded this past year, more than a few times, that Jake and I have different perceptions of “normal” as he continues to drag me out of the cozy comfort zone I create for myself.  We spent three weeks in West Africa in June—an experience that is hard to put into a brief summary.  For us, it was a great glimpse of the beauty and hospitality and love that exists in a place with little hope.  A place where people consider you family after a 10 minute conversation and will spend what very little they have to make you feel at home.   We are beyond thankful to have been able to write the experience into our own story.
 A week after we got back from Africa, we traveled to New Orleans to work on staff at the Evangelical Free Church’s national youth conference: Challenge (in which I think Jake was slightly pulled out of HIS comfort zone).  We spent a week with walkie-talkies glued to our ears as we helped keep track of thousands of high school students.  It was quite a different vibe than our three weeks in Africa. J
 This fall, Jake started his second year at Des Moines University. He’s still busy studying for test after test and looks forward to the rotation phase which comes next year.  Everyone wants to know he’s going to specialize in, but the jury’s still out on that one.  I know that once he decides, I’ll nod my head as though there was never any other option.

 I’m enjoying my third year teaching 9th grade English in Ankeny.  Each year becomes a little easier in the swing of things, and I’m thankful to have a job that allows me to do so many things that I love all at once.  I wouldn’t choose anything different.
 And then there’s the issue of the third stocking that hangs by our Christmas tree.  The stocking that’s a bit smaller than the other two and reminds us daily that this normal isn’t going to stick around.  The new normal hits in June when a baby arrives to shake things up a bit.   Are we excited?  Totally.

 That’s 2012 in a nutshell.  From world travelers (did I mention we also got to stand underneath the Eiffel Tower?) to parents in a 12 month span.  Change is always the constant, and we continue to be thankful to serve a God who stays the same.  Who promises to meet us wherever the new normal takes us.  Who calls us to love above all other things.

 May that love reach you and your families this Christmas season!

Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.  But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.                                                              Psalm 73: 23-28

In case you were wondering, Ginny's doing fine too.


 

Monday, October 8, 2012

theme.



word of the day: theme \thēm\ the author’s message or main idea of the story

In my classroom for the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing the concept of theme.  The fact that every author has some sort of purpose for writing his or her story.  Something the reader is supposed to walk away having learned or at least pondered.  We talk about the fact that authors don’t explicitly state their intended theme, for that would be far too easy.  Instead, they give us, as readers, clues and rely on our human insight in order make accurate inferences. 

So, wouldn’t you know that when I saw Les Misérables on Saturday with my family, I spent a good amount of time thinking about theme. 

It didn’t strike me until the end about what a strong message Victor Hugo was sending.  Sort of the ultimate pay it forward.  The world turns against the title character, Jean Valjean.  He can’t catch a break and uses that as license to abide by his own code.  It is the Bishop who shows him incredible kindness and sends him on his way with these words:

But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!

Valjean indeed becomes an honest man.  The remainder of the story is filled with moments of his self-sacrifice and love.  Of doing what’s best for another person regardless of the danger it places on his own life or how that person had treated him previously.  

Towards the end of the musical, I found myself thinking about what Victor Hugo’s overall theme was and literally two seconds later (no exaggeration there), Jean Valjean answered my question himself:

And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.

To love another person is the see the face of God.  

That’s it.  There’s nothing else profound for me to say because it’s all summed up in that statement.  All that’s left in my mind are the voices of the chorus:

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
when tomorrow comes...
Tomorrow comes!
Something tells me that their crusade transcends the time of the French Revolution.  It is today.  It is now.  Their drum beats the reminder that tomorrow is here.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

roll with the punches.

[phrase] of the day: roll with the punches; to adjust to things as they happen

Fall is truly one of my favorite times of the year.  I find that as soon as the first football game hits television I suddenly want to bust out my crock pot and drink chai tea lattes every night.  Fall also means a new batch of students that arrive on my doorstep.  A new batch of kids to enlighten, inspire, encourage.  A new batch of kids to convince that Nicholas Cage really is the worst actor ever and that Harry Potter will change their lives if they can just make it past the second book (the important stuff, you know?)

I'm now 16 days into the new school year.  I've already caused one uproar over my disdain for the guy with the phony accent in Con Air and pushed Harry Potter onto at least 3 kids.  My carpets are now littered with paper scraps, my chalkboard is coated with a thin layer of chalk, and I've broken one mechanical pencil (which, my fellow teachers may know, is the real tragedy so far).  

It's in these moments, when I'm sifting through 30 emails during my plan period and sorting through piles of papers on my desk that I wonder, "Hasn't it always been like this?"  When did I go from summer Molly to a crazy person?  It seems to start as abruptly as it ends.  So, 16 days in, I wanted to remember a simpler time. A time when there were no student desks in my classroom.
My new student desks were set to arrive a week before the first day of school.  The chairs came.  The desks didn't.  Teaching has taught me the importance of rolling with the punches though, so the picture above is of Tess and me standing in the middle of my kumbayah circle on day one.  Who wouldn't want to start out the first day of school in a giant circle talking about their summer vacation? 

(By the way, that's not really a fair question considering very few 9th graders actually want to be in school on the first day).  

I enjoyed the kumbayah circle.  The kids did too (even if they'd never admit it).

Student desks were set to arrive by the last week of August (which as you can guess didn't happen), but Thursday of this week, lo and behold, there they were.
What does it say about me that A.) I've already dedicated an entire post to student desks or B.) I woke up Thursday morning in the middle of a dream that my new desks had arrived?  

Desks aren't really the point, though.  The point is that sometimes, instead of going in the direction you thought things would go, you've got to roll with the punches.  Adjust to the new normal. I thought I'd have new desks on day one.  Instead, we made do until day 15. But we made do. 

Have you ever noticed that life doesn't always just flick you on the nose and send you on your way unscathed though? That sometimes it up and punches you in the stomach so hard that you lose your bearings a bit and forget which way is forward?

When you roll with the punches, once you catch your breath you keep taking steps forward.  You put one foot in front of the next even if the sidewalk is covered in fog.  You take a step onto a staircase even if you can't see the last stair.  You write analogies even if they lack a clear purpose.

Or something like that. You keep moving.

You should know that I didn't go two weeks sans desks.  We made do with tables in the interim, and I think the start of our year was better because of it.  

With my desks now soundly in place, I felt like now was as good a time as any to give you the virtual tour of Classroom de Flinkman or "The Room of Perpetual Learning" as I just decided to start calling it.  I think it will catch on real nice.  Welcome!
Just a part of my quest to teach kids that struggle means growth and failure leads to learning.
My formative assessment grids.  I'll never go back to the old way of collecting exit cards.


This week's Word of the Week? "Pretentious"
The reading corner.  My personal favorite space of the room.
Great words from some great literature.  Thanks for this one, Aimee!
Desk against the wall?  Smartest decision I ever made.  This is in the pre-school, pre-clutter, pre-student phase.
And last but not least, the newest addition to my classroom: Primrose.
Thanks for touring!

Friday, July 27, 2012

four.

word of the day: anniversary \fȯr\ the fourth in a set or series

Four years ago today, Jake and I set out on our honeymoon.  We were driving to Colorado, and we stopped half way in Kearney, Nebraska to split up the drive.  We stayed the night in the Wingate hotel, ate dinner at the Whiskey Creek, and saw the newest installment of the Batman movies: The Dark Knight.  It was simple, but it was one of the best parts of our honeymoon.
Four days ago, Jake and I set out on another trip, and we drove straight to Kearney, Nebraska.  We stayed the night at the Wingate hotel, ate dinner at the Whiskey Creek, and saw the last installment of the Batman trilogy: The Dark Knight Rises.  It was simple, but it was a grand way to celebrate four years of marriage.
Four years.  Jake often says that if he looks back on our marriage as a whole, it seems to have flown by—moved so quickly that we can’t keep up.  But, if you look at specific points of our marriage—the wedding, vacations, and significant moments thus far—you start to realize how much we’ve already been through.  How much we’ve already experienced together.

The last couple of years have thrown many things into our marriage.    Things that suck away our time or cause irritation and stress.  Things, I suppose, would make it easy to say, “I wish we could go back to the way things used to be.  When they were simpler and easier.”

But I don’t wish I could go back to the way things used to be.  With every new obstacle that gets thrown our way, we figure out a way to maneuver it (well let’s be honest, Jake figures out a way to maneuver it) and we continue to move forward.  These things add dimension to our lives and have become our new normal; they affect the way we interact, and we work hard to make them work. 

I imagine each subsequent year from here on out will bring more to the mix.  Things that may even make us wish we could come back to this point because it’s simpler and easier.  But I think it all just is.  That’s a fairly ambiguous statement, but it often brings me peace when walking into something new and unknown.  It just is, and we’ll work to make it work.   We’ll have help of course, and my hope is that our lives are lived in a way that reflects the Source of that help.  Amidst all else, He's the one thing in our lives that never changes, and that's something to hang your hat on. 

So here's to four more--whatever they may throw our way.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

story: chapter three.

word of the day: story \str-ē\ a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it.
Lately I’ve been thinking quite a lot about what role I play in the story of my life.  The obvious first thought is the protagonist.  The main character of the story.   It is my story after all, isn’t it?  I make the choices; I walk the road.  I hold the pen.
When I think about this passage, I’m not so sure that’s entirely accurate:

[When] you live a story[,] the first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative and you’re caught in the water, the shore is pushing back behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The other shore is inches away and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of your boat and walking the distant shore, looking back to see where you came from. The first part of a story happens fast, and you think the thing is going to be over soon. But it isn’t going to be over soon. The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. It’s as though the thing is teaching you the story is not about the ending but about the story itself, about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle. The shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes used to move you but they don’t anymore…The shore you left is just as far and there is no going back, there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch and sink into the sea. Maybe there is another story at the bottom of the sea? Maybe you don’t have to be in this story anymore? Maybe you can quit and not have to paddle in place anymore? [1]

I think I thought the story ended in Africa.  I think I thought that I would go to Africa and my life would change and my problems would be solved. 

As someone who is largely driven by fear (I’m really good at calculating risks and using those calculations in deciding against most things I deem even slightly risky), going to Africa shattered my comfort zone.  I was forced to face fear head on.  And I think I thought that such a trip would fix me.  No more fear.   
The experience didn’t fix me though.  At times, the irrational feeling of fear still prickled up my neck in the middle of the night.  It lingered, and I found myself frustrated that such an extreme experience couldn’t rid me of my vice.

It reminds me of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Fear is the thorn in my flesh, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked God to take it away.  Life would be so much easier if I wasn’t afraid of everything that comes or potentially-maybe-sometime-in-the-future-might come across my path.  But God’s words bring me great encouragement: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
I have realized that I may have to fight fear my entire life.  It’s a lie that is deeply rooted within me, and one that I will continually have to combat with truth.  One that I will continually combat with truth.  But fear doesn’t have to keep me from moving forward.  It’s like when you stand on a beach and let the tide roll over your feet.  You can only stand still for so long until all the sand has been taken out from under you and you have to take a step.

I went to Africa.  I took a step.  God’s power is made perfect in my weakness. 
The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. It’s as though the thing is teaching you the story is not about the ending but about the story itself, about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.

My story isn’t about the ending; it’s about the story itself.  And, the hard work of the middle—the part where I get molded and shaped—well that part isn’t really about me either.  It’s about the One who’s made perfect in my weakness. 

I don’t want to throw the oars over the side of my boat.  I don’t want to slide out the hatch and sink into the sea.  I don’t want to give up on the story I’ve been given.

I want to choose to face fear and write a story in which I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

And with all this in mind, I sort of feel like my story’s just starting to get good. 
[1] Miller, Donald. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009. Print.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

story: chapter two.


word of the day: story \str-ē\ a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it.

It’s hard to miss God in a place like Africa.  The natural beauty that surrounds you is enough, at times, to take your breath away.

He’s in the waves as they roll along the edge of coast.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it.  
Psalm 96:11

He’s in the shifting sands of the Sahara desert.
Do you not fear me? declares the LORD. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
Jeremiah 5:22

He’s in the hazy sky of a setting sun.
 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1

He’s in the plants that bring life to the desert.

 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.
Isaiah 35:1

Every story needs a good setting.  I always try to push my students’ thinking when it comes to setting.  It’s one thing to identify the setting; it’s an entirely different thing to analyze how the setting affects the mood and themes of the story.  Setting is bigger than just a place.  For me, the setting is bigger than just Africa

It’s a lofty task to put into words what you’ve learned about God.  And so, the best way I can think to put it is that I’ve realized that God is the same.  The God of the desert dunes and crashing ocean waves is the same God who resides among the corn fields of Iowa.  The setting of Africa has reminded me that God is everywhere.  In the big, in the small, in the parts that barely cause you to bat an eye.  His presence fills every space, and I have only to choose to let that presence continue to permeate my life.

I think there is something to be said for being content with your setting.  For looking at life and finding ways to serve in the here and now.  I think in the past I would have used that as a justification to stay comfortable—the idea that God also needs people in America.  Coming back from Africa, I see the tendency to feel like you’re not really being used unless you’re in a part of the world that few choose to go.  Unless you’re doing “big things.”  Now I see that there’s never really an end to the story (more on that next post), and if you keep your hands open, you’ll have more opportunities to serve than you can hold onto.  It’s not about excuses for staying put; it’s about openness to where God has you and wants you.  I understand that now more than ever.  I imagine He’ll pull me out of my comfort zone again someday, but for now He needs me to serve where I’m at.  

God does big things in Africa—there’s no question about it.  But the same God of that desert has me in Des Moines, Iowa for the time being.  I can choose to long for the day when I can do “big things” again, or I can choose to love that kind of love that drops everything to meet your present need.   To let the God of the ends of the earth meet me where I’m at right now and help me take it one day at a time. 

I hope to hold on to the latter in whatever country or culture or setting God takes us.

Friday, June 29, 2012

story: chapter one

word of the day: story \stȯr-ē\ a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it.

I am convinced that the most beautiful part of Africa is the people.  That’s true of most stories though, I suppose. 
For me, it’s always the characters in books that keep me moving forward.  In fact, I tend to get overly emotionally involved in their lives.  I laugh with them, I cry with them, and I often feel a deep sense of loss when the last page is turned. I didn’t read anything for weeks following the last Harry Potter book—getting to know new characters felt like a betrayal to the ones I had just spent seven books with.  Recently, I stopped a book in the middle because I didn’t agree with the choices a character was making—I didn’t believe in her and didn’t care to be a part of her story.

It’s the same with people, I think.  People are important. They are the characters in our stories who move us forward.  The 6th grade teacher who first helped you fall in love with reading.  The high school coach who taught you the benefits of hard work.  The stranger on the street who smiled and waved as they waited for you to cross the street.  They all impact our journey in some way (whether or not they’re aware of it at the time).
In the three weeks I was in Africa, more characters were written onto the pages of my story.  They were beautiful.  And they were hospitable.  And they reminded me that people are really what matters in this life.

During our trip, someone on our team noted that the people of Africa really aren’t that different from the people of America, and I couldn’t agree with her more.  The people of Africa have dreams.  They laugh.  They cry. They make sarcastic jokes and tease one another.  They smile.  They ache.  They worry about the future.  It’s not difficult to relate to the people because, at the core, we’re all people.  Our cultures are different; our needs are the same.
I realized, while in country, my tendency to stereotype.  As Americans, we are fed a clear picture of what danger looks like overseas.  That danger is often personified through the people—they become a picture of the problems, and I’m sad to say that at times I carried that picture with me.

Early on in the trip, we spent an evening in the desert with some local women.  As we made our way back to our apartment, our car started acting up.  The clutch was finicky and was stalling at every stop (which in Africa traffic is approximately every 10 seconds).  The driver of our car urged us to pray, and so the four of us prayed very fervently that our car would work, and we’d make it out of the very busy and people ridden section of town. 

No luck.

As we pulled our way onto a side road and stopped to wait for a ride, I found myself fairly frustrated with God.  “Really?” I can remember thinking.  It’s not that hard to start a car back up.  And, we were all asking for it.  It’s not like it would have taken that much to get us moving again.”  Then I had another thought: It would have been easy for Him to start the car back up again.  But He didn’t.  So, there must have been a reason why.

At that moment, our car was surrounded by local people.  And they were smiling.  And they wanted to welcome us into their homes while we waited.  That was why.  I needed my picture of the people torn to shreds.  I needed to be reminded that the people of Africa are kind and spirited and generous.  That they will do anything in their power to make sure you feel welcome in their country and in their city and, eventually, in their homes (because that’s always where you end up anyways). 

The most beautiful part about Africa is the people, and I guess what I really learned about others is that you can’t miss that.  You can’t get so caught up in your own issues and your own agendas that you miss out on the beauty of people.  On the hurt of people.  On the dreams of people.  On the needs of people.  Because no matter where you go, you’re bound to meet people.  And when we choose to love those people despite everything else that may be going on, we choose to write something beautiful into our stories. 

It’s humbling to be the benefactor of this kind of love.  The kind that drops everything to meet your present need.  The kind I hope now to take with me in every walk of life. 


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

story: an introduction.

word of the day: story \stȯr-ē\ a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it.

Today’s definition comes not from Merriam-Webster.  Instead, it’s lifted off the pages of Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, a book in which I very deeply resonate with.

The premise of his book is simple: as people, we live stories.  We are the protagonists of our own life stories, and we have the ability to choose how the pages pan out.  We hold the pen. 

I love this excerpt from the book:

[When] you live a story[,] the first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative and you’re caught in the water, the shore is pushing back behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The other shore is inches away and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of you’re boat and walking the distant shore, looking back to see where you came from. The first part of a story happens fast, and you think the thing is going to be over soon. But it isn’t going to be over soon. The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. It’s as though the thing is teaching you the story is not about the ending but about the story itself, about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle. The shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes used to move you but they don’t anymore…The shore you left is just as far and there is no going back, there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch and sink into the sea. Maybe there is another story at the bottom of the sea? Maybe you don’t have to be in this story anymore? Maybe you can quit and not have to paddle in place anymore?

I often think about this in my life retrospection.  What kind of story am I living? Am I living something that’s worth telling someone else?  Or am I living a mediocre fantasy story with little prospect of being turned into a movie?  Am I getting fed up in the middle?  Am I tossing the oars overboard or am I layering on an extra coat of resilience and packing an extra bottle of ink?

I wrote a new chapter into my life recently.  The current in-progress title is “Africa," and I know.  It has some jazzing up to do.

Jake and I returned from three weeks in Africa this past Sunday night, and since then, I have been agonizing over how best to write about it.  How best to tell the story.

Consider this the introduction to the story because even as I put these words down, I’m dotting a few i’s that I hadn’t realized I’d written yet.

I was asked three questions about the trip before we set sail back to the States:  What did you learn about others?  What did you learn about God?  What did you learn about yourself?

At the time, I was frustrated to be sans an answer.  I had no real clarity around any of the questions and couldn’t seem to form answers that contained any substance.  Well, it should not surprise anyone that I have been processing answers to said questions since they were asked and now, it’s the only organization to my thoughts that feels right. 

So, if you’re interested in hearing about our trip to Africa, this post isn’t going to give you any answers.  The next three will though; I promise, so stay tuned.  Until then, let me appease you with some pictures…








To be continued...