Profile Response: Angelika and Cord Christensen, Thousand Oaks, CA

HWWLT Logo on yellowAngelika Christensen is in the sandwich generation. Just as her two boys were finished home schooling, her father developed brain cancer. He died a year and half ago. Now Angelika’s focus is administering her father’s estate and relocating her 74-year-old mother from Seattle to Southern California. “We wanted her to move nearby before she needed assistance, so she create her own life here.” The family pooled resources and purchased a house with a larger lot that can accommodate an in-law unit. “Its a great neighborhood, very walkable. One neighbor has already added an in-law unit; there is another one across the street.”

imagesI asked how her mom was accommodating the transition. “We decided to install xeriscaping, because of the drought. There’s about 7,000 square feet of landscape at the new house. Being from Seattle, my mom knew nothing about it, so she researched, designed, and did a lot of the work. She met all the neighbors installing her plants, which has been good. Last week a guy from a landscape company pulled up and took a picture of the yard; it looks really good.”

Cord teaches the grade six introductory Bible course at Oaks Christian School, a non-denominational school open to students of all faiths. He’s taught there since the school opened fifteen years ago. At this point, everyone in the school associates this fundamental course with ‘Mr.C.’ and he has latitude in its content. It’s an overview course, with a focus on the Book of Genesis, that makes relevant connections between the Bible and contemporary life. “I present the Bible as a table spread with rich offerings. Belief in Jesus as the Son of God is something we want each student to taste.”

imgresHe described one assignment to help student’s appreciate the gap between God and Man. “I ask the students to write five sentences to describe their school day to a four year old. They realize that four year olds don’t understand terms like class period. Some people wonder why there isn’t more science in the Bible. The Bible was written for the broadest possible audience, in terms that can be explained to a four year old.”

The students at Oaks Christian, an expensive day school, face different challenges than less privileged children, but they face problems nonetheless. “You can throw all the money you want at a kid’s life, but what they want is time.” After dinner, Cord took to grading an assignment he calls ‘keepers’. Students wrote short essays about what they considered the most important things they had learned in their first two months of school. The essays reflect Cord’s basic motto in teaching and in life: “Go deeper.” Don’t just have an experience. Reflect on it, understand it, grow from it.

imgres-1Several years ago, the entire family cycled from Maine to Oregon, including their dog Mimi. The trip was a seminal family event, recalled in the photos on the living room wall and the ongoing connections they made with people along the way. Cord says, “We were like the circus coming to town: two cycles, a tandem, and a dog.” Angelika adds, “Bicycling is the highest bonding experience. After our trip, we see the entire country as our community. Mimi died last year. When I posted it on Facebook, I heard from people all over the country who met her and shared our loss.”

How will we live tomorrow?

IMG_4969 IMG_4974“We have to live humbly, honestly, and thoughtfully today. If you’re humble, thoughtful, and honest you will be open to others. Today is the training ground for tomorrow.” – Cord

“Each day we need to live intentionally.” – Angelika

 

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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2 Responses to Profile Response: Angelika and Cord Christensen, Thousand Oaks, CA

  1. David Gibson says:

    This is one of the most thoughtful discussions you have posted. The insights discussed by the Christensen family have my mind going in several very useful directions.
    Thanks, David G.

    Like

  2. paulefallon says:

    So glad you found this useful. The Christensen’s are, indeed, a thoughtful family. What is fascinating to me is how different conversations with different people resonate among my readers. Sometimes, the profiles I think are most profound cause barely a ripple, while others strike deep chords with disparate people.

    Like

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