Tuesday, May 29, 2012

i'm bethany's cousin and josh's sister.

Memphis is a wonderful place. There's Mexican popsicles and there's Central BBQ and there's Elvis Pressley's house and there's a Kroger on every corner. But there's also high temperatures and high levels of humidity and the closest Walmart to my current location is 20 minutes away. Not Memphis' best features, but that's ok.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my week here and am excited that I'm only one-third of the way done. Friday Josh and Danielle peaced out to head to Denver for the wedding of Daniel Schneider and his wife Karen whose last name I do not know. Except I guess it's Schneider now.

Since then, I've been livin' it up with Bethany Andrews. A dear, dear cousin, that woman. She's strong (not just physically) and she loves to laugh just as much as I do and she likes to read and she uses big words that no one else understands and she's beautiful. So far we've been to the pool every day. I'm pretty sure the lifeguard thinks we're insane. We go to this pool that's for a small college that allows MTR people to use. One day he asked us if we were there for some special event and we told him that someone told us MTR people could use the pool. He said that was fine. But when we came back yesterday the pool was crowded and there weren't many chairs. We were headed for a couple of the empty ones when he kindly told us we could sit in the other non-pool chairs, and we kindly told him we'd just sit on the concrete. Thanks for the offer, sir.

We've been to Central BBQ, Young Ave. Deli, and Fellowship Memphis. We've been assisting some people in their moves into the Georgian Woods (which is a rare opportunity). We've been eating cheddar bunnies (the best knockoff brand of goldfish...and they're all natural). We've been watching movies (two of which are "We Bought a Zoo" and "The Mighty Macs"...I strongly advise that you watch both of them). We've been singing. We've been doing the Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. We've been talking about boys.

We've stayed up late and we've slept in late. There's been laughter and there's been tears, and I tell you what, we're having a grand time.

I've gotten into this habit that I'm going to need to stop when I go back to NC. Every time I meet someone I say, "Hey, I'm Anna. I'm Bethany's cousin and I'm also Josh Shelley's sister - he's a new resident." Everyone I meet knows Bethany, and then I throw in Josh to help make another connection. That's who I am now. If I'm in Greensboro or at some sort of assembly function I usually throw in something about being Mark Shelley's daughter and they know who I am. If that doesn't work, I'm Josh Shelley's little sister, Jordan Shelley's little sister, or Joseph Shelley's little sister. They usually know one of those people. Well, I made the mistake of getting into the habit of my introduction a little too much. Last night I met someone and told them that I was Bethany's cousin. A few minutes later Bethany walked up and introduced herself. I guess me telling her I was Bethany's cousin didn't really help at all.

We're super excited because Josh, Danielle, and Harvey are coming home tonight! Time to get back to real life, guys. After a couple months of not having a lot routine or set responsibilities (other than shopping on Craigslist like nobody's business and taking Harv to anyone who desires to see him), I'm sure they'll be happy to get on some sort of schedule, but also sad to send Josh away to school every morning.

We've got some good things planned for Bethany's last week here. Tomorrow night I'm watching the Harv so his lovely parents can eat dinner with some friends. Thursday night is the MTR welcome dinner. Friday night...we're gonna do something, not sure what. Saturday night is a hoe-down. It should be a good time.

Thank the Lord for Bethany Andrews, good movies, and Memphis.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

we made it to memphis.

Sunday happened to be Harvey's first birthday, so a party was thrown for him and it was fantastic. I'm not going to tell you about it, because Danielle already did that on her blog. But I will quickly tell you that Harvey's great. I'm not going to go into much more detail, though, because I think you get the point...I really love Harvey, he's probably better than your nephew (unless Harvey is also your nephew), and he's cute. But I think I've mentioned those things once or twice before. Happy birthday, Harvey! May God bless you with many more years to come! I love you!

Moving on. We made it to Memphis. If you don't already know, my brother and sister-in-law moved home from China, spent about 2 months in Greensboro and the surrounding area, busying themselves with meals with friends; speaking at different local churches; and letting grandparents, aunts, and uncles spend lots of time with their baby. After those 2 months they packed up their belongings and trekked out to Memphis, Tennessee for Josh to become a resident in the Memphis Teacher Residency which aims to put excellent teachers into the not-so-excellent urban schools. Memphis is a very low-income city with very low-performing schools, which MTR hopes to change, while sharing the light of the gospel and the love of Christ in this city.

So, in one sentence, Josh will be going to classes to learn about teaching and then going into a classroom and getting experience under the guidance of a mentor-teacher for one year and then teaching in Memphis city schools for at least 3 more years.

The past few weeks have been filled with unpacking boxes from the attic, repacking boxes to put in the attic, packing more boxes to put in a truck, and diligently searching for the best finds on Craigslist. Monday morning the truck was packed full, our suitcases were ready to go, and we set out on the 10-ish hour drive. Josh and Joe drove the rental Budget truck. Mom and Dad drove their car. Danielle, Harvey and I drove Josh and Danielle's car. It started off well, and ended not-so-well. Harvey was happy as a lark, until the excitement of the car ride and his toys started to wear off. My job during the trip was to keep this little baby happy, which meant I did a lot of climbing from the back seat to the front, entertaining Harvey while also not wanting to leave Danielle to sit by herself with no company. He screamed a lot but we made it and we all (including Harvey) felt so much joy when we stepped out of that car.

But we did get to have lunch at Chickfila in Knoxville where Uncle Steve, Aunt Kim, Meredith, and Rachel met us since they were on their way back from Memphis. That was a nice break from the car.

You should've seen this apartment when we got here Monday night. Empty.

And then you should've seen it Tuesday around noon. Boxes. Everywhere. I think the only room in the apartment that wasn't stuffed with boxes was the bathroom. In all my life I have never moved, so I'm not used to this stuff. There were stacks and stacks of boxes all over the place. Trying to figure out a way to get a seat on the couch was quite the challenge.

And then you should see this place now. The bookcase is nicely stacked, the piano has a terracotta soldier standing on it, the dishes are nicely put away, and the refrigerator is well stocked with ketchup and ice cream (thanks to the Montagues). By dinnertime Tuesday night the table was set, homemade lasagna was on the table, and we even went out for Mexican popsicles for desert.

I just want to give a quick shoutout to the wonderful Bethany Andrews who has done so many incredible things. She made sure Josh, Danielle, and Harvey got the apartment right down the stairs from her; she is letting Mom, Dad, and me stay in her apartment while we are here; she provides us with wonderful company; she had dinner ready for us when we got here after our long ride; she cleaned the apartment before we arrived; she told us a hilarious story about an encounter with P Diddy's producer; and even bought fresh flowers to brighten the place up. We're so thankful for her.

So, here's to road trips, P Diddy, and popsicles.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

may and june goals.

Warning: This post is a little long. I apologize for that. Feel free not to read it.

I was reading a blog and the writer of this blog has started doing something every month where she posts goals for the month and at the end of the month posts about how she kept up with the goals. Sort of like new year's resolutions except more often so they're easier to remember, easier to accomplish, and less broad than general things like lose weight, or have a closer relationship with God, or exercise more often. Those things are all great, of course, but let's be honest. Who actually follows through with their new years resolutions? We're only in May and I bet there's hardly a person reading this post that has been faithful to keeping up with their new year's resolutions.

So, I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but I think I might try. It's the middle of May, but I wanted to go ahead and do it and not wait until June. So, by the end of June I would like to accomplish the following:

1) Have all graduation and birthday presents for May and June bought and/or made and given away. It's incredible how many presents I'm buying. When we get back from the beach I'm gonna have a few hours where I'll have time to go shopping...hopefully I can get everything done.

2) Finish reading through the gospels. I just finished J.D. Greear's book, Gospel, and there's a challenge at the end where it lays out which chapters to read in order to read all of the gospels in 40 days. You're also supposed to say this prayer (which is something that he came up with to embrace the gospel) every day along with your reading, which I haven't been doing. But at least I'm reading.

3) Read something. I'm not sure what yet, but I want to read a book. I've recently finished Gospel, which I already mentioned, and Tim Tebow's book, Through My Eyes. They were both excellent (although I'd say that Tim Tebow's book is better). They're very different but also both very gospel-centered. I loved the way that Tebow's book had a nice mix of football and spiritual things, intertwining them both. He made spiritual applications to football examples and also told many stories of how God has worked in his life and the things that He has taught him. It's really great. And you should all read it. Unless you hate football, because he literally talks through almost every single game of his college career...not even kidding. I think he skips maybe two.

4) Get on a daily prayer schedule. During the school year, my prayer time was in the car. I know, not very quiet, or dark, or closet-like, but it worked for me. On the way to school, and anywhere else, I often turned off the radio and just spent that time with the Lord in prayer for the day and whatever else came to my mind. I prayed for my family every day and for anyone else I could think of that needed prayer, etc. etc. But now it's summer and I'm not driving to school every day and my prayer life has been slacking off wayyy too much. I think if I had something laid out where I prayed for the same things every Sunday, and the same things every Monday, and so on, I think it could work a lot better. Sometimes it becomes overwhelming when I pray because so many things come into my mind and I end up praying for the same things every day. Which isn't bad, but I feel like I could pray for more things in a week if I didn't pray for the same things over and over every day.

5) Run. Once. Only once. That's my goal. It sounds ridiculous, but when I leave the beach I'll be going to Memphis and then to Raleigh and then to Tennessee and then finally home, with one week at the end of June in Greensboro. At least that's the plan. So, if somewhere in there I can fit in one run I think I'll be happy. Don't be surprised if at the end of June I'm obese. So much food. So little exercise. It's horrible, really.

6) Memorize something. Not just anything, of course, but some scripture. I'm not sure what yet. Katelyn Murphy, Jonathon Baker, and I had great intentions on memorizing Psalm 119 this semester over our Monday lunch breaks. We got through about 16 verses (or less...) and that was it. I think maybe I should start with something a little smaller than 176 verses. Maybe I'll go with a short passage. I'll have to think on that one.

7) Go out of my way to speak to those who I normally don't speak to. I tend to be the girl that's, I hate to say it, click-ish. I have my group of friends everywhere that I go, and I like to stick with them. That's where I feel comfortable. I am by all means able to carry on a conversation with a stranger and am by no means scared of talking to new people or shy. I just like being with the people that I know. They know me. They've seen my at my best, they've seen my at my worst. But, I need to get out of my comfort zone. There are people who don't have any friends and I'm perfectly capable of becoming a friend to them. So, why not? If I walked in somewhere where there was absolutely no one that I considered my "friend", I would be lost. I would probably just go sit by myself, because I don't like interrupting anyone else's "click"...maybe for fear that they'll think I'm weird. If I think about myself in that friendless person's situation it makes a lot more sense to talk to them. It's a lot easier for a group of people in their "click" to reach out to that one lonely kid than it is for the one lonely kid to try to fit into the "click". And even if there's someone who doesn't seem lonely but that I just don't normally speak to, I want to try to at least say a "hello" and maybe a "that dress is so cute".

Really, I just need to be used by the Lord and be open to His guidance. I want to show the love of Christ in my life to everyone. Hopefully by sharing gifts I can be a blessing and show generosity because of the generosity God showed my in sending His Son. Hopefully by finishing reading through the gospels I will become more gospel-minded and focused on what Christ did for me and the difference it should make in my life. Hopefully by reading a book I can increase my level of knowledge and smarts and use that for the glory of God (maybe with a better SAT score), and, if it's a Christian book, be encouraged and be drawn closer to the Lord. Hopefully by getting on a more regular prayer schedule I can have a better relationship with my Creator and can be immersed into His will and guidance in my life and in His love for others, etc. Hopefully by running I can improve my physical health (and hopefully I won't just do it once) and get more in shape. Hopefully by memorizing a portion of the Word of God I can have it with me through my days and dwell/meditate on it as I go through different trials and temptations, and maybe even share it with others. Hopefully by going out of my way to speak to those to whom I normally wouldn't speak, I can show the unconditional love of Christ and bless someone.

May my life and yours bring honor and glory to our Savior.

And because there's hardly a good blog post without a picture, Harvey with his Uncle Jordan:

Monday, May 7, 2012

i just wanna do it all.

Everyone comes to this point in their life and thinks, "What do I wanna be when I grow up?" When I was somewhere around 8 years old I would have said a a cashier at Food Lion. No joke. I thought that's what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

And then there's that stage where I loved answering the phone and could see myself as a personal secretary for someone where I could just sit there and take messages all day.

And then there's the 13-year-old stage in every girl's life where they think they can be some awesome photographer. (There are only a few gems out there that really are....shoutout to Caroline Thomas.)

And then there's the now. Ask any high school junior or senior and most of them will say that they don't have a clue of what they want to do. Ask me and I'll probably tell you that I want to be a teacher.

For a long time I wanted to be a high school math teacher. However, I realized that I would have to major in math. Then I decided I'd like elementary school or maybe special ed. Then I thought maybe middle school would be fun. Then I wanted to teach high school math again, thinking that maybe I could handle being a math major. Then all the sudden I thought maybe I wanted to be something besides a teacher.

I love airplanes. Why not be a flight attendant? It sounds lame, but it would be so much fun. I wrote an essay for my literature class on why UNC basketball is better than Duke basketball and my teacher told me I could be some sort of sports writer. And, of course, Food Lion is always still an option. Why not just become a hobo and live off of a few piano lessons a week?

So, I find myself in an odd predicament. Most kids have not an idea what they want to do, with nothing even in mind. I want to do everything. I'm 16 years old, and somewhere in the next few years, society is telling me that I have to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life. THE REST OF MY LIFE. That could be a long time. And they put that sort of pressure on teenagers? It doesn't make sense. Now, what I really want to do with my life is be a mother of a houseful of kids and be a wife. But I can't count on that happening, seeing that the Lord might have other plans.

I was talking with some wonderful people by the names of Nathan Bramsen and Phil Hilditch at a very random encounter on the screen porch of my house after a series of unfortunate (actually, fortunate for us) events the other day. Nathan was asking what I wanted to do, etc., when I tried describing to them the previous cycle of not knowing what I should settle for, and he asked me what my passion was. What do I get really excited about? Well, let's be honest. I get excited about UNC basketball (but I didn't mention that in our conversation) and I get really excited about going to the beach and about going to MTYC and about being with my family, and the list goes on. But I mentioned my piano-teaching endeavors and how I love it when a kid does well and they get it and they are improving.

I enjoy investing in people's lives and being able to make a difference. Nathan clearly told me that I shouldn't spend my life sitting at a desk all day (with which I completely agree) and that's not what I want to do. I want to interact with people, even though I'm not that much of a people person. You can't invest very well in people's lives and do much for the kingdom of God if you aren't interacting with people. So, that's what I want and/or need to do. Interact with people. Show them the love of God. Overflow with joy. With peace. With a heart of service.

First I need to learn how to do that in my everyday life before I can implement that into a job...but that's my goal. For others to see Christ in me and for that to make a difference in their lives. You and me, let's make the most of our days and let every single one of them count. You keep me accountable and I'll keep you accountable. Teamwork.

And then I'll decide what I want to do with my life.