Great Gifts

Helen started this morning’s lesson in church by asking the congregation what some of the biggest gifts they’ve ever received were. Some adults went spiritual and said life or Jesus, but I was thinking about the basketball hoop my sister and I got for Christmas when I was in grade school. It was in the narrow window between when I started playing basketball and before my sister stopped, so we both loved the hoop kept on our back patio.

A devoted fan of the Portland Trailblazers since before I could walk, I loved spending time with my Globetrotters edition basketball dreaming that I could play like Cliff Robinson. My days as a player ended when we moved and the homeowner’s association in our new neighborhood wouldn’t let us keep the hoop in our backyard. Honestly, by that point, I’d grown out of my passion for playing, but the significance of that gift still sticks in my mind. My parents knew it would mean a lot to their daughters, and they made a pretty significant investment to surprise us that Christmas.

Now my Christmas surprises involve Trader Joe’s shopping sprees as my parents pack up boxes of treats that I can’t get in Germany. Unfortunately neither of us can get Longbottom coffee from Portland or Trade Aid chocolate from Christchurch, but my life is filled with countless other great gifts.

One of those gifts is the encouragement of friends to find the best way to holistically care for myself. After reading lots of articles and talking to my doctor and physical therapist, I invested in a treadmill this week. It’ll arrive in the next couple of days, and I chatted with Michele on Friday about my goals to use it effectively. The fall weather has settled in, and my legs are preparing for their first winter in two years, so this is a particularly important adjustment. I’m watching the rain come down right now, so I can’t go out for a walk on my own, but when the treadmill gets here, the weather won’t stop me from moving my legs in weight bearing exercise (distinct from the movement and cardio of the exercise bike).

Exercise is only one of the ways I address my holistic health, and I’ve had the delight of a couple days of encouraging, soul filling conversations with alumni from the past several years. Additionally, with days off for Unification Day and school trips, I was able to spend extra time reading – just for fun! I also mapped out my AP lesson plans through December because I am a giant nerd, but I really love my job.

Honestly, my job is one of the greatest gifts because I get to spend my days talking to teenagers about theology and then my nights (and sometimes early mornings) talking to more teenagers and young people about theology. The best part is that I’m committed to teaching theology because I believe if you are informed by the Bible you’ll be transformed to live more lovingly, and the conversations this week were with young people from each of the first five years I taught at BFA who are committed to living lives transformed by Jesus.

After one of the chats this week, I glanced out my kitchen window and saw an incredible sunset lighting up the sky behind the forest – another great gift. I snapped a photo to send to the alumni always homesick for somewhere because Pennsylvania isn’t Kandern, and Kandern isn’t Palestine. I get that, because Kandern isn’t Christchurch either, nor is Christchurch Portland. My friend Kari and I chatted about that unique struggle on the drive to physio this week because she just came back after a year in her hometown in New York. We both struggled with being away from Kandern for a year, and now we’re struggling with parts of coming back. But on a clear day driving home from Tannenkirch, we get to see the Swiss Alps. What a gift.

This week at physio, Anja spent time warming up my cold muscles and fighting out the spasms in order to get me to stand flat footed with my bare feet on the panelled floor. It took a lot of work, but what a gift that I have a physio who is often more patient than I am with my tempermental muscles and knows the value of stretching before trying new and challenging things. I can’t wait until I get a chance to show off to Anja all the advances I feel like I’ve had in the last year without my weak and angry ankles upstaging my performance. This wasn’t the week for it, but I’ve got that treadmill on the way to help teach my bones and muscles and ligaments more about how to work together well. What a gift. (I mean technically I bought it unless someone wants to go to my support page and donate through TeachBeyond with the note “treadmill” and I’ll consider it a gift from you.)

Leave a Reply