Thursday, July 20, 2017

30 Days Until I Move

In 30 days, I'll board a flight to Budapest. In some ways, I'm ready to be there now. In other ways, I feel like I still have so much to do. If I try to think about it all, I get overwhelmed, so I've been making daily to-do lists and trying to think about what needs done each day rather than what needs to be accomplished in the next thirty days.

Even though I'm 22, I've never had more "adulting moments" in my life than in this past week. Something about preparing to move overseas alone sure makes me feel like an actual adult. One of my goals was to get my retirement savings started before I move--talk about #adulting. I was so relieved to check that off my to-do list yesterday! Other things have included sorting out tax information and creating a system for tracking expenses.  Finances are my least favorite thing about this whole transition, but God has worked it all out beautifully and I have nothing finance related left on my to-do list. YAY.

Throughout this transition up to this point, God has really been teaching me to rest in His comfort about the unknown. There's a lot I feel that I need to know, but I don't yet. But I'm going anyway. I've never taught in a high school before and the unknowns associated with my new job are enough to terrify me, but I'm oddly okay with the not knowing. That's God. I've never, ever been someone to be completely okay with simply not knowing much about my future. I often don't like to think about it because the uncertainty scares me. But in the past few months, God has just surrounded me with His amazing peace. I'm moving to a new city in a country I've only visited for short periods and I'll be changing professions altogether--but God's with me. It's that truth alone that has gotten me to this point and it's the truth that will comfort me for the rest of my life.

I recently heard the song "Hills and Valleys" for the first time. I really, really love it. I feel like it's the perfect song for me to be reminded of God's presence in my life, especially when I'm in a new country and facing many, many valleys but also experiencing hills.

I leave in 30 days and while I'm rightly just a bit nervous, I'm mostly so very excited to be following God's call for my life.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Colorado Vacation

I spent the past week visiting friends and exploring Colorado. It was such a nice break from my busy season of transition. Hiking and outdoorsy things aren't really my thing, but I really enjoyed my time in Colorado and seeing incredible mountain views. I'm down to one month before I move, and I'm so glad I took the time to spend a week enjoying time with friends and just relaxing.

"The sun will rise and set regardless.
 What you do with the light while
 it's here is up to you. 
Journey wisely."

Rocky Mountain National Park

 Taken by a 4 year old 
View from Grand Lake Lodge

Grand Lake, CO

 Polo match near Aspen

Glenwood Springs, CO
"Spa of the Rockies"

Friday, July 7, 2017

{Book Review} "Almost There: Searching for Home in a Life on the Move" by Bekah DiFelice

Rating: 5/5

"Home is more of an ellipsis point than a period, a continuation rather than a conclusion. It tends to be an ongoing list of people and places and experiences that have mattered, that have changed us one way or another." 

In 44 days, I'll board a plane that will take me far from "home" and thrust me into my new adventure as a teacher in Budapest, Hungary. This is exactly the book I needed to read in this time of transition. DiFelice's description of home resonated deeply with me. 

Almost There is written from the perspective of a military wife who is constantly having to move, readjust, get settled, then move again. DiFelice tackles topics such as wanting to go "home," the importance of establishing a community in your new town, the importance of finding a church home, the need for hospitality and more. Through it all, she tells personal stories of her life on the move that are incredibly easy to relate to. A transient life means hard things, and DiFelice writes honestly of her family's struggles. She writes so honestly that it leaves readers feeling like they're not alone in this life on the move stuff. 

Almost There encouraged me to push through the hard beginnings and to work hard to establish "home" wherever I God calls me. I definitely recommend this book to anyone living a transient life. More than anything, it's nice to just have someone state that "home" doesn't have to be a place. DiFelice's description of home is what made the book mean so much to me as I'm preparing to take off from my US "home" and head to Hungary. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Random Questions: July 2017

 1. What is your number one goal this year? To transition well to teaching in Budapest
 2. What are you most grateful for? So many things--God, travel, friends, family...
3. Are you content? Yep
4. What is your best memory of last year? Probably the day I spent at Lake Bled in Slovenia
5. What was the last major accomplishment you had? Earning my TEFL certificate
6. What possession could you not live without? Probably books
7. Can people change? Most definitely
 8. What is the last “good” thing you ate? 
 9. What is your current favorite snack? Apples and almond butter
10. What made you smile today? My family
11. What’s your favorite accessory? my "carpe diem" bracelet
12. What is making you mad? Politics
13. What did you have for dinner today? Hamburger, broccoli and a baked potato
 14. What did you get done? Errands and Hungary transition preparations
15. Who last called you on the phone? Hannah
16. Who are you in love with? Jesus :)
17. What are you grateful for? God's grace
 18. The best part of today was spending time with my niece . 
19. My current favorite website is
20. What was the hardest thing you’re dealing with? Saying goodbye to people I love
21. Today I wish I had more energy.
 22. Tomorrow will be better because I'll go to bed earlier tonight
23. What made today unusual? I'm off work, so I have more free time than usual.
24. What are you looking for from life? to glorify God
25. What is your favorite thing to drink? COFFEE
 26. Today the temperature was in the 90's.
 27. How much did you spend at the grocery store the last time you went? $56
 28. Tomorrow I will have a productive day
29. What was your last major purchase? My flight to Budapest!
30. My house is a home because it's where I'm most comfortable
31. Who is the last person to tell you they loved you? My little sister

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

{Book Review} "Dark Deception" by Nancy Mehl

Rating: 3/5

Kate O'Brien endured unthinkable tragedy when she witnessed her twin sister's murder. Now, years later, she's established a life she enjoys within the constraints of the witness protection program. That is, until U.S. Marshall Tony Deluca shows up in Shelter Cove, Arkansas to escort back to St. Louis so that she can testify for the third time. Her sister's killer has been released on a technicality and Kate's testimony is critical. When there's a delay in the case, Tony decides it's best to keep Kate in her small town environment until it's necessary to transport her.

Meanwhile, the Blue Eyed Killer is out free and desperately wants to finish Kate. She's his biggest mistake and he's determined to correct that error. By the time Tony realizes that Kate is in danger at Shelter Cove, will it be too late? Tony has no idea who he can trust in the small town and he finds himself needing help from the resort owner, Bobby. But can he trust him? That becomes the key question as Tony races to save Kate's life.

Dark Deception has an incredibly complex plot with many twists and turns that leave readers baffled for most of the story. The pace is intense and draws readers in. One downside of the story is that there are so many characters and Mehl doesn't take enough time to develop them fully in readers' minds. Overall, this is a suspenseful novel that Christian crime fiction readers will enjoy for its complexity. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 2017 Ministry Update

In June, I completed 100 hours of TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) training a Wheaton College. It was intense and challenging, but so beneficial! I'm now academically prepared to teach in Budapest this fall.

Part of my TEFL training involved volunteering at a local ESL resource program. I had the opportunity to observe an ESL teacher work with a class of 7th and 8th grade English language learners. My role was to observe and help lead small group work. It was so much fun to spend time with students and see the things I've been learning applied.

Another component of my training at Wheaton was orientation with TeachBeyond. I spent six days learning about missions, my organization, cultural adaption and the definition of transformational education.

We spent a lot of time discussing what we believe "transformational education" is and how we can use our beliefs about education to impact students. Since I'll be teaching in a public Hungarian high school, I'll have certain limitations on what's appropriate to say in class and what isn't. I learned a lot about the value of quality teaching and how I can use teaching to be an example of God's love to my students. Even without using words to share the gospel, I can be an example of Christ by the way I interact with my students.

Now that my training is finished, my next step is to GO. I'm officially moving to Budapest on August 20th. I'll have a couple of days of training at my school, and then the school year begins on September 1st. I will be teaching students in all five grades (Hungarian high schools span five years). I've been able to find out a lot about my school this week at training, and I'm really looking forward to beginning the school year!
TeachBeyond teachers headed to Budapest, Hungary in the fall

Friday, June 23, 2017

What is Transformational Education?

I just finished orientation with TeachBeyond, my sending organization. Part of the orientation included a capstone project. Below are my thoughts on what "transformational education" means for me in my Hungarian public school context. 

When God called me to teach Hungarian high school students, I felt that He is calling me to serve Him by serving His children. He has laid it on my heart to love my students like He loves them. I know love because of God alone, and I'm called to share His unfailing love with them by serving them as an English teacher. Ultimately, though, my calling is to show God's glory to my students by living a life that glorifies Him. I'm called to, "Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the people's" (Psalms 96:3). My ministry in Hungary is to show Christ through how I conduct myself as a teacher, colleague and friend.

I'll be in a public high school, and that means certain limitations on what I should say during class time, but because I live my life through a Biblically integrated worldview, I can show Christ without speaking of Christ. My life is a testament to Christ's faithfulness. My teaching in Hungary is a result of obedience to follow God's calling on my life. I'm not going out of my own will--I would never be able to do this on my own. But just by showing up in the classroom, my life can display Christ. My witness is a result of my Biblical worldview and that is apparent even when I'm not verbally sharing Christ. I believe actions speak louder than words, and my dedication to serving my students is equally as important as sharing the gospel. I can maintain my personal Biblical worldview as a public school teacher in Budapest without crossing boundaries. I want my students to feel Christ's love in my classroom and know that I love them because God first loved me. That doesn't have to require words.

Transformational education is a totally new concept to me. This week, I learned so much about the power of education. Education is about change. Education pushes students to grow. This starts on a small scale--one student, one classroom at a time. That small scale can become a much larger scale as students grow up and begin to make changes and spark growth in their communities. Very quickly, education has the power to transform students and societies when teachers that honor God are there to provide quality education. This environment promotes change and student growth. 2 Corinthians 5:20 talks about being an ambassador of Christ and I think that transformational education is about God-honoring teachers serving students as an ambassador of Christ and creating an environment that promotes student growth. I may not get to see immediate changes in my students' lives, but God has called me to be a part of transformational education and He has a plan for each of the students I will have in my classes this year. That's a beautiful truth to keep in mind as I consider the definition of transformational education. It's about God changing students' lives and giving me an opportunity to be just a small part of my students' lives. God uses education to bring change and I'm so very excited to be a part of it.