Thursday, January 31, 2008

Going Home!

Some of the Czech I know:
Pivo, Vino, Zmrzlina, Caj,
Ahoj, Diky, Cau, Prosim
Modra, Zitra, Cervena, Bila
Pupek, Ojo, Prst, krk
Medved, Zaba, Ryba, Had

English Translation:
beer, wine, ice cream, tea
Hello, thanks, bye, please
blue, yellow, red, white
belly button, eye, finger, neck
bear, frog, fish, snake

What does this mean? It means that I am going to be able to use these words again in 6 months. After much prayer and much dialogue with both my boss and my husband, the decision was made that I would be going back to my second home. I get to go back to fruit dumplings, the Czech language, the Lipus family, and the so many students that I adore.

Each year I go over and each year I feel like God uses me in different ways. Some years I feel like I have connected with the whole camp, some years it has been my room, some years it has been just my class, and other years it is just a few very specific students. But every year God uses me and every year I fall more and more in love with the Czech people. I can't even imagine what I will be doing this year and how camp will be, but there is something absolutely amazing about getting to go over again. I didn't think it would happen, but it did.

Here are the things I am excited for this next trip...if it can happen:
1. To see Adela, Georgey, Cilco, and Pavla
2. To see Jumper and Osvald
3. To see my class from last year and to see Ondra and how he has grown
4. To spend follow-up with the Lipus family
5. To meet my new class
6. To bond with my new teaching partner
7. To support the Czech team
8. To walk through this trip with Brandi
9. To have dinner with Ivo
10. To see Aaron really lead this team in a strong way
11. To hang with Nate
12. To watch God move again
13. To engage with the students
14. To see Richard
15. To see how things are different this year
16. The many other things that I can't even write

This is my mom and Adela last year

This was in a rose garden Richard took Aaron, my Mom, Sarah, and I too.

This was at a Train Station in Ostrava

This was during an Ice Breaker Game

This is Ester Lipusova and I

This is part of a broken cobblestone walkway in Prague

This is my favorite statue in Prague, it depicts what Communism does to a person, as you can see, the person starts to fade away into nothing at the top. Such a powerful piece.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winter Beauty

There is something amazing about being in the Colorado mountains on a winter day, especially on days when the sun is out and the snow is glistening. It almost seems enchanting to be in the Rockies on days like that. Saturday was one of those days. The sun made it warm enough that I could walk around even without having to wear my full winter gear (hat, gloves, etc.) and instead I just feel free to walk around let my hair down and soak in the sunshine and the sparkles in the snow. And to be quite honest, I wasn't walking around as much as skating around. Below is a picture of the pond we were skating on.

What made Saturday even better was that in Keystone there were some ice sculptures and in Breckenridge there was a snow sculpture competition. So on top of just an absolutely breath taking day with God's awesome creation, I was able to see the artwork of some of the most incredible "winter artists" I have ever seen. Teams come from around the world to carve these sculptures. There were teams from China, New York, Canada, Lithuania, Minnesota, Colorado, Germany, France, and many more. And the amazing thing about these people is that they work so hard for days to get these snow sculptures carved fully knowing that they will be fully melted in a few weeks. I just find that incredibly fascinating. There is something that I find so admirable about people carving these sculptures for the pure fun and beauty that comes out of it, only for it to go away shortly. I must say, I would have a very hard time putting all that work into something only for it to be evaporated. But these teams do that, and thank goodness I got to enjoy the benefit of it.

Here are some of the awesome sculptures...

This was a sculptures of all of these people holding up a bowl of what looked like marbles. This one was probably my favorite. I don't know why, maybe it is because it seems to me such a picture of what community is. I loved it.

This one I just loved because this is my favorite flower.

When I saw this one I couldn't help but be a little sad because I know that Aaron's grandma would have been crazy over this one. So I took this close up in honor of her. Plus, the eyes, whiskers, and id tag were all made from ice so it made it even more beautiful.

This was the winning sculpture from China. I thought that the stuff behind the horse rider was like coral, so I was greatly confused. But Aaron told me that they were prolific G.... (some type of tree that starts with a G, and I can't remember the word). So that makes more sense to me.

This one was my brother's favorite. I liked it too, but not as much as the first one with all the people. It actually reminds me of my Kisi stone from Kenya. Very beautiful. It was titled Cold Hands, Warm Heart.

If anyone knows me at all, they know why I liked this one. AHHHH hockey, what a great thing!

This one was super cute! I really enjoyed just gazing at this one, dreaming of the future! :-)

Now these weren't from the Breckenridge snow sculpture contest, but I still like them. And in fact, this was TOTALLY different because this was an ICE sculpture in Keystone. See the difference?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Some Cheryl Thoughts...

I love artists, from carpenters, to writers, to photographers, to painters, to musicians. I LOVE ARTISTS. I am intrigued by them and captured by their work. Each person's creation shows me a glimpse of the person who created it. For example, I have numerous friends who are photographers, and if I were to give each one the same camera and put them in the same spot and told them they could only take ten pictures, each one of them would have different film. Each shot would be different because each eye looking through the lens is different. The photos created would represent each person who took them. The same is true with any other type of artistic expression. My husband's paintings have a style unique to him and even if he was painting the exact same scene as my friend Jami or my friend Naomi, the pictures would look different. That is why I love artists; their creation reveals a piece of them.

God does this with all he creates as well. God reveals part of who he is through each thing he creates. All of His work has His fingerprints on it. From the stars, to the animals, to the planets, to the flowers, to every single person. Absolutely everything made reveals its creator. Our art reveals who we are, from a photograph to wood work, to paintings, and we reveal who God is, from our personality, to our creativity, to our dreams.

We need to grasp the truth that we are part of the creation and we mimic God when we create. There are two key things that I think are a part of this truth. First, we are a part of the Artist's masterpiece, of God's creation. We need to take care of the masterpiece because every part of it points to the artist. We need to take care of this world and what is in it. When we disrespect the creation, we are ultimately disrespecting the creator. When we tear apart one another or when we contaminate this world, it is like we are taking a black sharpie to a Van Gogh or a Vettriano (one of my favorite artists) and drawing all over it ruining the creation of the creator. We need to take care of this world and the people in it because by doing so we are taking care of what God has made.

The second part is that we need to embrace artists and creators and learn from what they show us about creating. I think of all of the things that God shows us through artist; he shows us beauty, he shows us care, he shows us love, he shows us freedom. What a beautiful way to see God and see who he is. When I look at a painting or a photograph or a carving from an artist, I can't help but think about God as the Creator. I can't help but think about how God has allowed different people to see him in different ways, express him in different ways, and how much we can learn from each others differences. Each artist expresses him or herself and in turn expresses who God is in and through them.

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of my photographs and the way my eye sees things!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

73 things in the bucket

As I sipped my steaming coffee with peppermint creamer out of my very rugged mug, I was reading on about "The Bucket List". This article was inspired by the upcoming movie which is called exactly that, "The Bucket List" which stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Now I am hopefully not going to be kicking the bucket any time soon, but I figure that if I make a bucket list while I am still young, I will be able to achieve more that is on the list than if I wait until I am older.

***On a side note, it is really funny that this movie is coming out because about a three years ago my Dad and I went out to lunch and one of the items he brought up in conversation was what is in his will and had this folder of stuff I would need if anything were to happen to him. In the folder were things like where he hoped to be buried and things of that sort. He then asked me what he should put on the front of the folder so I would know what it was. I jokingly said, "label it, 'Kick The Bucket Folder'", and he did. So in honor of my father, I hope to take him to the movie so we can get a good laugh out of it! He is so silly!
Anyway, back to the task at hand, here I sit, still sipping on my coffee, and pondering my life and the things I want to achieve, so here is the list in no particular order.

1. To get a degree in photography
2. To sew my own skirt (like a hippie one with super cool patches and colors)
3. To sew a quilt with Kristy Pals (my God-mother)
4. To draw and sketch more...which hopefully will include going to Dr. Sketchy's with Naomi
5. To meditate more
6. To go on a road trip with no particular destination and be able to stop and pull over any time I want to enjoy things or take a picture
7. To go to Santorini Greece
8. To have a beautiful garden party on a summer evening with good friends
9. To send more cards to friends for random reasons
10. To learn how to can from Leanne Gossack...Mmmm Jelly!
11. To make homemade cinnamon rolls from my grandmother's recipie
12. To write a book...even if it is only for myself to read
13. To read many of the Jane Austin classics
14. To write a children's book and have any of my very artistic friends illustrate it
15. To go to New Zealand and backpack
16. To do a missions trip at least once every three years
17. To learn another language, hopefully Czech
18. To get out of debt and be able to randomly surprise people with gifts such as landscaping their yards
19. To exercise at least 3 times a week unless I am on vacation
20. To hike more 14ners
21. To go back to Vermont in the fall and spend more time there
22. To get a kayak
23. To take my mom on a "girls trip"
24. To ride my bike more
25. To visit Alyssa in Switzerland
26. To be present at Amanda's wedding
27. To keep in touch with so many of my students
28. To have a child, either through birth or adoption
29. To visit Laura again
30. To spend a week with just my cousin Debbie and do "girl things"
31. To go to Norway
32. To paint something I am really proud of
33. To go backpacking with my husband and any future children
34. To frame some of my photos and display them
35. To take a day once every 6 months to just go take pictures
36. To take Aaron to Key West and Kayak with him there
37. To make a book of my photos for Brad Widstrom
38. To help Aaron get through his 2nd Masters and his PhD.
39. To get henna done on my hands and/or back
40. To write my dad a letter letting him know how much I love him
41. To be in Jake's wedding
42. To get a massage once every other year
43. To go fishing with my Dad every few years in Minnesota
44. To learn some graphic design stuff
45. To volunteer for the museum
46. To be an active volunteer at a local school
47. To go deep sea fishing
48. To go on an Alaskan cruise
49. To go back to Cabo for a second honeymoon
50. To yell and cheer really loud at my child's sporting events (if they choose to play sports)
51. To get DU Hockey season tickets
52. To stay in close contact with Sarah and Kerry
53. To build a deck with my husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-laws
54. To teach my students how to see God through art
55. To visit Laguna Beach
56. To study a random culture and read as many books as I can about them
57. To get a library card and use it
58. To get Aaron his CJ-7 to work on and re-vamp
59. To stay in touch with the my Christensen side of the family and write to them more.
60. To write Dave and tell him how great of a brother he is
61. To put an extension on my home
62. To beat the NES game Yo-Noid
63. To help my dad get to Europe and see the WWII battlefields
64. To take pictures of a friends/students wedding
65. To go to Czech for vacation with my family
66. To give my children God-parents
67. To wear funky clothes/accessories at least once every other week
68. To continue to mentor girls
69. To do more charity walks (MS walk, Breast Cancer walk, ect.)
70. To be more of an encourager to JV missionaries
71. To take Aaron to Hawaii
72. To have a 50th Anniversary bash (I am talking something GRAND)
73. To say on my death bed, "I have lived a life well done"

(Thanks clip art for the bucket photos!)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Home, art, and other good things

As I looked around my house last night, I thought about what are some of the things that I absolutely love around my house. What THINGS make me smile, make me happy, make my soul want to do a sweet tap dance jig. I am an extremely sentimental person and so you will see that most of my favorite things also tie into my favorite memories. There are two things that I didn't take pictures of, but one of them is the huge family Bible that my grandpa gave me when I graduated from College and one is the 60th wedding anniversary book that we made from Grandpa and Grandma, which Grandpa gave me when I got married. Those are the absolute most special, but there are others too, so here they are.

1. In my wedding, one of the most special moments was when Aaron and I washed each other's feet. Aaron's dad made us this pitcher by hand using 18 century tools. We bought the bowl. But the pitcher was one of the most meaningful things that we have ever had given to us. The flowers that are inside are from two different missions trips to Europe. The Calla Lily's are from Vienna (we did a camp for missionary kids) and the tulips are from Prague (we do English camps out there every year). The calla lilys we got when we were engaged (and we also had real calla Lily's in our wedding) and the tulips we got when we were married.

2. My type writer, this was given to me by my former student and current friend, Alyssa. I love type writers. I love the way they sound, I love the feel of pushing down the keys, I love the ding when you get to the end of the line. I LOVE them. So, for a complete surprise, Alyssa bought me a type writer that she found. It is one of my most favorite things in the world. I love this. All I need now is an ink ribbon.

3. My new clock. I just got this on Saturday. I have had my eye on this clock for at least two, maybe even three years. This artist is so creative and colorful and FUN! So, as we were up in Frisco for a getaway anniversary weekend, Aaron surprised me and got it for me! He actually told me before we went up that he was going to get it for me, but it was still a surprise! AND, I was so happy because they had the one I wanted there!

4. This was Aaron's anniversary gift. Once again I have been looking at this up in Frisco for years. This to me is so symbolic and SO Aaron. He loves to rock climb and I just see that this piece shows community and dependence. I know that I am putting way more meaning in it than there was ever intended to be, but the moment I saw this sculpture, I hoped I would be able to get it someday!

5. The ice climber, this was the first thing I ever bought from The Columbine Art gallery up in Frisco. This was a gift I gave to Aaron that was a real sacrifice to buy because I got it while I was in Seminary, but it was so worth it. I love this little guy, and I know how amazing of an experience it was for Aaron to go ice climbing, so I was glad to get this for him.

Monday, January 7, 2008

2 years down, 73 to go...

Two years ago today...Aaron and I were having breakfast at Ihop and acting extremely giddy as we were about to get married in 10 hours. Yes, the morning of our wedding we went out together and ate at none other than...Ihop. And let me just tell you that it was so perfect. While both Aaron and I can enjoy the finer things in life, me more than Aaron, we are both pretty down to earth people...and considering the fact that the way he proposed was waking me up from a nap while I was laying on his parents couch, Ihop seems to fit. Truly, my wedding day was the most relaxing, fun, and perfect day of my life. And yes, there were things that went wrong at our wedding like the fact that my flowers all froze and my brother-in-law almost passed out, but at the end of the day I was still married to my absolute best friend. And, I have to say, that one of the best things of that day was that at the end of the day, we went to our hotel, and Aaron had packed the game battleship, which was the first game we ever played together, and so our wedding night, in our really nice hotel room, we did none other than played battleship...but he won...which wasn't very good considering it was our wedding night, because I am very competitive. HOWEVER, it was still the best way to end the night. I know that I kind of sound white trash starting out the morning with Ihop and ending by playing a board game, but that really defines Aaron's and my relatoinship. I LOVE IT!

So, considering that today is our anniversary, I want to share some of my favorite moments with Aaron...

This is one of my favorite pictures of Aaron and I. He was letting me take pictures so that I could get some ideas of good places to shoot.

This was Aaron and my brother after our Engagement party in Colorado.

This was on our wedding day...SUCH A FUN PARTY!

This was Aaron in Cabo. Seriously this was the best trip of my life. I loved being there with him and with the fresh made nachos and the hammocks and the currios. Great trip!

This was when Aaron and I were in Vienna walking around before we helped lead the GEM-K conference (Greater European Missions Kids)

This was Aaron reading to Jadon, who is our adopted nephew. I love wathing them play together.

started off as girls, ended up as women

As I sit here and think about some of the students who have come and gone through the youth ministry while I have been a leader, I just stand amazed at the ways that God has developed these girls and grown them into amazing women who are unique and beautiful and magnificent. I have loved every student in all of the 8 years that I have been doing youth ministry. However, I have mentored a few specifically, and have had the opportunity to watch their lives grow and the dreams develop, and I am so excited to see what else comes.

ALYSSA: The first time I met Alyssa she was in 8th grade, now she is a sophmore in college.

Things I love about her: She is one of the most creative and artistic people I know, she has huge, beautiful dreams, she is willing to let God open the doors that she should walk through, she loves adventure, she sees the world in one of the most fun, unconventional ways and I love when she captures it on film because then I get to sample just a bit of it, she has this beauty about her, especially when she smiles, that just makes me think of God and how magnificent he is.

Some of my favorite memories: When she was a freshman in high school and I asked her what she would like to study and she looked at me and said "I want to know what God's will is for my life" and I almost fell over in shock because she was only 14, having her stand with me in my wedding, sitting at Margies when she came back from school and just listening to her and looking at pictures, sitting down with her after each missions trip and listening to the stories, stealing her away from school and going up to Estes Park, watching how the door opened for her to go to school out of the country instead of where we all thought she would go in Oregon, talking with her about things like lightning and doors!

AMANDA: I meet her when she was in 8th grade, now she is a senior in high school.

Things I love about her: I love how she genuinely cares about her friends and trys to speak truth in their lives even when she knows she will get a negative response, how she is stubborn, her confidence, how she stays committed to things and finishes them out well, how she is so willing to grow, her heart for ministry, how she can make me laugh harder than almost anyone.

Some of my favorite memories: Being on the airplane with her on our way to Czech in 06...SO FUNNY!, being in the Frankfort Airport with her last year when she lost her passport and had to get the mug shot for her temp, moving the bed from my mom's to my house and having her tell her mom she got mugged, sitting at Panera, going to the Yellow House Starbucks during Junior High retreat, all of the looks that we give each other that say "HELP ME!", how she packs her clothes in a TUB, reading books to her and the other girls at retreat, going up to the cabin with Her, her mom, and Al and just talking, talking about Amanda-trees at cold stone, watching her transform from my junior high student to being like my little sister.

KAITI: We first met when she was in Junior High, really started to get to know each other when she was a junior in high school, now she is a Senior.

Things I love about her:
I love how she embraces freedom, her writing, how her mind is always thinking about things, how she stands up for people, how she can be really quite or really crazy, how she is artistic even with her hair, how she can make friends, her emotions, how she won't give up her dream even when others seem to oppose it sometimes, how honest she is about her faith, how she makes you want to change things for the better.

Some of my favorite memories: When she first came to my house for a Bible study and how open she was with me about where she was at, teaching with her in Czech, going to get flowers and journals for each other, talking with her in the doorway at retreat, talking about writing with her, all or our little talks usually in my kitchen or in the entry way of my house after everyone has left, watching her motivate so many other students, sitting together watching Ondra accept Christ.

KERITH: I have known Kerith since she was a very little girl, like an infant, started really working with her when she was in 8th grade, and now she is a senior in high school.

Things I love about her: I love how original she is, she enjoys having fun, her and her brother are so funny together, how honest she can be with me at times, how she loves music, how involved she is with school, that she is a goofy girl that makes me laugh, that she has a really tender heart, how she struggles to make her faith her own, how she hates seeing her friends make stupid choices, how she loves hanging out with her little sister, her leadership.

Some of my favorite memories: Watching her play with the geese while I took Amanda and Tanner's pictures, sitting with her at Ketring Park eating McDonalds with her when she "hated me" (but she really didn't hate me), going to Czech with her and taking that goofy picture with her and Amanda in the airport (which I still have in my study), watching her when she was in 8th grade wear the craziest clothes ever, sitting with Amanda and Kristina at her homecoming game and cheering for her, praying for her last year at her house when she was sick, going to her 16th birthday party and watching home videos, having her and Amanda call me at like 2 in the morning and going over and talking with them.

Friday, January 4, 2008


If God allows me to have children, there are some very specific things that I want to teach them: such as...

1. That God loves them dearly
2. That creation should be taken care of since it reveals who God is
3. That they should follow their dreams no matter what that looks like and how crazy it may seem to others
4. That it is so much fun to play outside
5. That learning can be so amazingly fun

And there are so many more things that I want them to know. But one of the top things that I want my children to understand is how amazing it is to create and be creative. From things like tying a fishing fly to taking a photograph to coloring a page to singing a random made-up song, it is such an awesome thing to be creative and to create.

Aaron and I both have a great passion for this. And we both create in different ways. For example: Aaron loves to paint pictures, to tie flies, to sew, to build things...and all of his things he does with great detail and precision. I on the other hand love to paint, scrapbook, take pictures, create the right lighting for different rooms, and write, all of which I do usually pretty abstractly.

But both of us LOVE to create and be creative. For this reason alone we have what we call the MESSY ROOM down in our basement. In it we have a multicolored rug, painted cabnets, a painted desk, and a painted dresser, we have a wall that you can write on with chalk, we have an art easel, pens, paper, multiple colors of glue, markers, and so much more. One wall currently is just green, but I would love to have sombody paint a mural on it of the Garden of Eden (talk about ultimate creation). The pictures here are of the room and they are dated. Things have changed, the room is incomplete, (and it is messy...which is great) but I hope that truly the room will never be finished. I want it to always change, grow, hold different types of creation and beauty. I HOPE and PRAY that my children will be able to embrace their imagination and create. In fact, I would love to see everyone embrace their creative side. What a beautiful thing it would be to see students, children, adults, anyone who wants to come and use our messy room and CREATE!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My Personality DNA

I found this cool website called "personal DNA" and it is pretty fun to take and see what comes out of it. It is something like a DISC test where you find out more and more about yourself. It could be a great tool to use for a staff or even for a family. Here is what it said about me...

What does any of this mean? Well let me break it down just a bit. (By Colors Left to Right)

Red: Very High Confidence
Light Purple: Very High Extroversion
Yellow: Very High Femininity
Sea Green: Very High Openness
Black: Slightly High Attention to Style
Royal Blue: Slightly High Trust
Lime Green: Very Aesthetic
Light Blue: Slightly High Spontaneity
Brown: Imaginative
Dark Purple: Slightly Low Authoritarianism
Dark Pink: Slightly High Empathy
Green: Average Agency
Dark Blue: Low Masculinity

So, if you are ever wondering who I you have me in a box full of color. And while I would rather it be swirls or something more beautiful and less constrained then a box, It is still colorful and that makes it okay with me!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Years go by...

I feel a bit cliche right now as I am thinking about the beginning of a new year and what that means. I feel unoriginal. HOWEVER, that is what is on my mind so take it or leave are my thoughts.

25 years and 283 days ago-I was born

18 years and 195 days ago-I accepted Christ into my heart

14 years and 212 days ago- I was baptised

11 years and 323 days ago- My parents got divorced

8 years and 25 days ago- I started working with the junior high youth group at my church and have worked with students ever since

7 years and 212 days ago-My grandmother, Claretta Christensen, passed away after 60 1/2 years of marriage to my grandfather, 4 children, 14 grandchildren (not including in-laws), and 6 great there are even more

6 years and 193 days ago-I took my first trip to the Czech Republic

5 years and 15 days ago- I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado and got to sit next to one of my absolute best friends and played tick tack toe as some boring guys spoke about who knows what

1 year and 360 days ago- I got married to the most amazing man I have ever known

1 year and 132 days ago- I graduated from Denver Seminary with my Masters Degree

1 day ago-I spent the day with my mom and my husband playing games, eating crab legs and artichokes, and celebrating that there is another year to look forward too!

And looking forward...

In 5 months- my Senior High seniors will be graduating and I will have to say goodbye to three of the most amazing girls I have ever worked with. There is only one other that compares and she is in school out of the country. I will miss these ladies.

In 8 months- one of my best guy friends will be getting married to the girl who is absolutely perfect for him

In 1 year and 4 months- I will have been at my current job for a full two years and will get three weeks of vacation...YIPPIEE

In 2 years- Aaron and I will hopefully be starting a family and have probably a very insane, but wonderful childIn 3 years and 7 months-we will have every last penny of every last loan paid off!!! Financial Freedom will be so great...maybe we could even be thinking about going to Czech for a few years at that point!

In 8 years and 5 days- Aaron and I will have been married for 10 years.

and the days and years roll by each holding beautiful and wonderful things and scary and hard things, and each second of all of it, God knows what he is doing. So beautiful!