Gratitude

14 11 2011

A bunch of my friends on facebook are daily making their statuses something they are grateful for. For whatever reason, I did not join that bandwagon. Probably because I’m typically ungrateful. So here is my attempt at getting up to speed with them. A list of 14 things I’m thankful for and why (in no particular order):

1. I’m thankful that I get to experience life in Barranquilla. It has been challenging and difficult at times, but I know I am the better for it.

2. I’m thankful for my mom and Billy. Without them. I definitely would not have survived my transition into life as a grown-up. They have been there for me emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I owe them an unpayable debt.

3. I’m thankful for my awesome sisters. All four of you mean more to me than I can express. I love that we can laugh together and that we can celebrate each others’ successes and support each other through the “failures.” I love you all!

4. I’m thankful for my mutt Abelard. He has been my little shadow for three years. It’s been a difficult few months without him and I’m sure he’ll have some trouble transitioning back into my care. But I love that crazy dog even when he poops in the house and eats things he shouldn’t and gnaws on my dresser. He makes everyday a little more interesting.

5. I’m thankful for my nieces and nephews. These kids light up my life. I’ve watched some of them grow from adorable little babies who just wanted to curl up on my chest and go to sleep to amazing young adults. And for the younger ones, I’m enjoying watching you grow and learn. All of you make life worth living. I’m so blessed to be your aunt.

6. I’m thankful for my brothers. Ryan, I have some great memories of when we were kids. I hope that we can make more now that we are adults. Jason, I’m so thankful that we were finally able to meet! It’s been a great two years getting to know you and your family. I love you!!

7. I’m thankful for Monica and Alvaro, my Colombian parents. I’m constantly amazed by their generosity and hospitality – not just to me, but to everyone that they encounter. May I learn to be that gracious.

8. I’m thankful for Divine Life. I’ve been a member of this particular community since the summer of 2004. This community has been there to support me during some of the darkest moments of my life. They have also been there to celebrate with me through my successes. I’ve learned more about grace and forgiveness and hope and love from you all than you will ever know. I miss you all and cannot wait to be back amongst you. (fingers crossed that you are missing me, too!)

9. I’m thankful for my dad. He and I are a lot alike in that we are both very hardheaded and stubborn. It is this that makes us argue so much. But I’m grateful that I get to hear his stories a hundred times and that we have a good relationship. It has taken many years on my part to get to this point, but I’m thankful that I won’t have any regrets about our relationship when all is said and done.

10. I’m thankful for Colombian style hotdogs. Seriously, they are delicious. I’m going to learn how to make them before I come home.

11. I’m thankful that I can at least understand some Spanish, even if I can’t speak it yet. It definitely helps that I can figure some things out on my own.

12. I’m thankful for the way God has provided for me to get to Colombia and while I’ve been here. I still need a few hundred dollars to get me home, thanks to a passport issue, but I’m confident that God will handle that.

13. I’m thankful for good friends. I’m thankful that I can laugh until I cry with you. I’m thankful that you forgive my stupidity and let me be myself. I’m thankful that you stuck with me when I was difficult to tolerate. I miss you all!!!!!!!

14. I’m thankful for Skype. Without it, I would be very limited with my contact home. I’m so grateful that anytime I’m homesick, I can call my family or friends and speak in English really fast!

So there you have it, up to date gratitude ūüôā

Advertisements




It has been a while

13 11 2011

Hello, oh you myriads of Jill Nelson blog followers.¬† I hope you are all doing well.¬† I sure am.¬† It’s been far too long since I’ve blogged and my only excuse is that I’m lazy.¬† Super lazy.

This week is the last week of official class.¬† For the two weeks after that the teachers will do their wrap-up stuff and work specifically with any students that may need it.¬† I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, whether or not I’ll need to be there for any of that.¬† I guess I’ll just go with whatever happens.

I’m really going to miss my students.¬† I adore them.¬† Even the ones that don’t want to pay attention and interrupt me every three seconds by saying “I don’t understand.”¬† They are, by far, the best Spanish teachers.¬† They make me laugh all the time. Here are some of my favorites:

In transitions (like pre-first), there is a boy named Samuel who cannot sing a song without serenading me.¬† It’s funniest when he sings the ABCs on his knees with one hand on his heart, the other outstretched before him, and his eyes tightly closed to express his passion.¬† I laugh every time.¬† He’s the one in my facebook video that slaps his butt during Silent Night.

In pre-k, there is a girl Lina who cracks up every time we get to the part in Rudolph about Santa.¬† They put their hands in front of them like they have a big belly and sing like men, “Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say.” She thinks it is so funny.¬† And I think she is so funny.

In 6th grade, seldom a day goes by without one of the boys doing a ridiculous freestyle dance in the middle of the lesson.

In 8th grade, there is an ongoing debate on the number of continents. Apparently Colombia teaches that there are 6, not 7.¬† They think I’m wrong.¬† I think they’re wrong.¬† Fortunately, even scientists can’t really agree.

In 9th grade, they are the most committed to teaching me Spanish, but I think it’s because they are the most committed to NOT learning English.¬† They are always up to some crazy antic.¬† I don’t even know where to begin.¬† Just know that these kids will be missed extra.

In 10th grade, I can’t walk into the room without them all yelling “Jill!”¬† I’m like Norm from Cheers.¬† Everybody knows my name, they just can’t pronounce it ūüôā

In 11th grade, they have senioritis.¬† Bad.¬† The other day they asked me if I ever had to take Spanish classes.¬† I told them I took two years in high school but I didn’t pay much attention.¬† They laughed and said, “like us.” I said, “Yup.¬† But now I’m living in South America. I’m wishing I would have paid attention now.”

I know I didn’t hit all the grades, but that gives you an idea of what my school day is like.

some of 11th grade

a few of my pre-k babies. yes, there is one blonde kid - Carlos Andrés

 

After school lets out, it’s two and a half weeks full of social events: birthdays, celebrations, and graduations.¬† I’ll be dressed up a lot.¬† I’m really wishing I would have brought my black heels with me now.¬† I just didn’t think I’d be getting all gussied up for anything.

THEN, after all that social mingling, I’m going home.¬† Home.¬† Somewhere around the 14th of December I’ll be heading back to Stilwell.¬† After Christmas, I start life over in Oklahoma City.¬† It’s crazy to think that I’ve only got a month to go.¬† I’m certain it’s going to fly by.¬† I’m really going to miss Barranquilla.





Oh, how things change.

9 06 2011

It’s weird to think about how things have changed in my life in the last year. And how happy I am that they have, even though I fought the process every step of the way.¬† Let’s go back to 2010.

January 2010 was the first time I ever met my brother, sister (in-law), nieces, and nephew.¬† It seems strange that it hasn’t even been 2 years since we made contact.¬† It is like we didn’t miss out on anything.¬† They are my family and I’m constantly amazed at how unforced the developing of our relationships have been.¬† God really did know the timing for us to meet.¬†

Then in February I started dating this guy (for the sake of this blog, let’s call him Monty).¬† Monty and I had a long distance relationship and it had its ups and downs, but, overall, it was a great experience for me.¬† I don’t regret dating him and I look back on our time together with fondness.¬† Monty is a good man.¬† But our lives were going in different directions.¬† He has a daughter and what’s best for her trumped what’s best for “us” any day of the week – and rightfully so.¬† I could never ask him to choose between us.¬† Finishing my education is non-negotiable.¬† And that could take me anywhere.¬† One of us would have had to give up on something¬† that is very important to us – and we both felt like that was only going to breed resentment if we tried to continue our relationship.¬† So we ended it, on good terms.¬†¬† I don’t talk to Monty much anymore.¬† He’s seeing someone else now and they seem very happy together.¬† And I’m moving to South America – something that couldn’t have happened if we had stayed together.

In August, my youngest nephew was born.¬† Landon Rhone ūüôā¬† Oh, how I love that baby.¬† I was totally shocked when my sister said she was pregnant, but this precious little boy has definitely brought us closer as sisters.¬† I do hope I get to see him before I move since I’ll be in South America on his first birthday.¬† I guess I’ll just have to get him something awesome from Colombia as a gift.

In October, I was unemployed for a month.¬† That was actually not that scary.¬† My bills were all paid and I saw people being generous with me all the time.¬† Unemployment, though seemingly scary, ended up being a time of prosperity and encouragement for me.¬† I’m so glad I went through that.

Last November, I had to move. I was living in a townhouse owned by some friends of mine.  I had told them when I moved in that if they ever found a buyer to just sell the place.  The sold it in November.  So, I moved to the highlands Рwhere I currently reside. 

Since my unemployment and my move, my budget has been getting steadily more restrictive.¬† I have felt like every time I pay a bill, I was using borrowed money.¬† I have felt trapped by my financial obligations and I have been praying for months for a way out of them.¬† I didn’t expect it to be Colombia as the answer, but I’ll take it ūüôā

Then, sometime in the fall, we found out my oldest neice was pregnant.¬† She was very young – very.¬† It was world shattering at the time.¬† I had no idea how to respond.¬† I remember adamantly refusing to call it a “mistake.”¬† I never want to think of my precious little Addilynn coming into this world as a mistake.¬† She was a surprise, for sure, but no mistake.¬† Our family had a hard time adjusting to this new development, and an even harder time learning how to respond to it.¬† But, despite Kendra’s age, she’s handled this parenting thing like a pro.¬† Addilynn is the best thing to happen to our family in a long time.¬† If she’s not one way that God intends to restore and heal my family from the things that try to destroy us, then I don’t know what is.¬† She¬†is¬†redemption. Period.

she is fat, also.

And through all of that, there was the thesis.  That nagging little assignment that was the difference between a degree or wasted energy.  I was convinced that God had good things in store for me when I finished.  Not because he was holding out on me, but because the thesis writing process was making me who I needed to be to receive the good things.  I was right.

A lot of other stuff took place last year, a lot of really painful things, a lot of really great things, a lot of really personal things that are just none of your business. 

When 2010 was over, I was ready for 2011.¬† I ended 2010 exhausted, broke, and very unhappy.¬† After the break up with Monty, the moving out, and the budget crisis,¬†I felt hopeless and faithless.¬† Good thing my faithfulness has nothing to do with God’s faithfulness to me.¬† I remember talking to my pastor Chris and telling him I thought that my faith in breaking it off with Monty, quitting my job, and moving to a new place was going to be rewarded with a season of good things.¬† I was so mad at God for me being in a worse financial situation than before, by being alone, and by not giving me a job in a school like I had prayed for.¬† I was so sick of 2010 by the end of it!¬†

The first couple of months of 2011 didn’t really start out much better.¬† My budget didn’t change, my anxiety of doing it “alone” only increased, and I was still working insurance – not teaching, which is the dream. Where were my good things?¬† I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now.¬†

I had to learn to trust others with my money.¬† I had to learn that living alone and being single does not mean I’m living this life “alone.”¬† I had to finish my thesis.¬† I had to learn the value of my family.¬† I had to recognize the things God has called me to and be willing to pursue them no matter the cost (i.e. ending things with Monty).¬† I had to learn to live on very little, trusting that God will provide for my needs – and trusting that if it’s not provided, it’s not a need.¬†

In short, I had to grow up.¬† Yes, there is a lot more growing to do.¬† But I am convinced that those lessons must be learned the hard way – only this time in Colombia.¬† Hopefully, I won’t fight them as much this time.¬† Hopefully, I will trust that God is in control even when I don’t understand the way it’s happening.

So, I’m moving to Colombia.¬† I’m excited, terrified, nervous, exhausted, happy, sad, and invigorated all at once.¬† It’s a weird place to be in.

Until next time…





I was wrong…

15 04 2011

Well, baby Jack did not arrive yesterday as I anticipated and confidently boasted for several months.¬† I have to admit that I was wrong.¬† While I’m at it, I figured I would admit to some other things I got wrong.

I once thought it was a good idea to grab a curling iron by the barrel to fake assault my step-dad.  I was wrong.  the curling iron was on.

I once thought I could pull off a successful garage sale.  One bad sunburn and $15 later, I had to admit, I was wrong.

I thought the movie Changing Lanes would be good.  I was wrong.

I used to think my nose was huge.  I was wrong.

One time I got a really bad sunburn.  I tried everything to bring the burn and the swelling down.  Someone told me to put banana peels on my legs.  So I did, thinking it would help.  I was wrong.

Last week I thought I could pull an all-nighter.  I was wrong.

I thought, “I’m the exception. Starbucks won’t suck the life out of me.”¬†¬† I was wrong.

I thought that Tooth Fairy would be a shoe-in for best picture this year.  I was wrong.

I once thought Charlie Sheen was losing.  I was wrong.

There you have it: I was wrong. 

Today in History:

1967: Anti-war protests held in New York and San Francisco.

Massive parades to protest Vietnam policy are held in New York and San Francisco. In New York, police estimated that 100,000 to 125,000 people listened to speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, Stokely Carmichael and Dr. Benjamin Spock. Prior to the march, nearly 200 draft cards were burned by youths in Central Park. In San Francisco, black nationalists led a march, but most of the 20,000 marchers were white.  (all this info was pulled from here).

The 60s may be my favorite decade.

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter V for Viviana.¬† A special shout out just for you!





Skateboarding

7 12 2008

First, I probably won’t blog everday once I actually have time to blog.¬† Right now, I’m avoiding homework.¬† Now…on to the actual post.

I have a skateboard.¬† I don’t use it anymore; in fact, I’m scared to even get on it.¬† I can’t bring myself to get rid of it though.¬† I thought about giving it to my sister’s kids, but the last skateboard they had she hosed down and ruined.¬† I can’t risk that.¬† I thought about selling it, but what if it goes to a bad home?¬† I thought about donating it to some charitable cause…same problem.¬† So i’m stuck with it because I have some strange emotional connection to a piece of wood on wheels.¬† I realized that this is becoming a spiritual issue when I awoke this morning – it had crept into my dreams!¬† I don’t remember all the details, but someone had my skateboard¬†because my sister gave it away in a garage sale…she didn’t even make them pay!¬† I cried in my dream over a skateboard.¬† I have a problem.¬† Yes, this skateboard has many fond (and not so fond) memories associated with it.¬† Yes, I did spend money on said skateboard (and they are not cheap!).¬† And, yes, the trucks (wheels and all the hardware¬†associated)¬†of the board were a gift (so, perhaps, giving it away seems ungrateful???).¬† But really…I’m not that possessive, I’ve gotten rid of many other things that remind me of those same years in my life, and I don’t think the person that gave me the trucks cares anymore.

I guess I just don’t want my memories given away in a garage sale.¬† That’s probably the worst thing that could happen.