Angelika 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.”
I 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.”
He 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.
Several 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?
“Each day we need to live intentionally.” – Angelika