Graduation

I, Kelly Anderson, am officially a college graduate.

It’s still so strange to type those words, and I have yet to fully accept that they are true.

The night before graduation day, I had put the finishing touches on a gloriously composed piece on my feelings about the next day’s events. I hit “Publish,” and my words vanished into the interwebs, never to be seen again. I thought about trying to rewrite it, but decided to watch a movie with my sister instead. A choice well made.

baccalaurate becky calebme family flowers graduates kate killdeer Me-and-dad me MomandDad papa PapaandGrandma stage

In reality, the words I had attempted to publish could not compare to the feelings that were felt on May 8th, 2015.

I was one year older, and two years behind everyone I graduated high school with, but that didn’t matter. It was a day of celebration. A day where I felt more accomplished than I have ever felt in the 24 years I have walked this beautiful Earth. It was a day of rejoicing, as long nights of paper writing and unit creating came to an end. Six years of classes, and waiting (im)patiently to fill out my graduation application. Six long years of too much coffee, and one too many energy drinks. Finally, the day was here, and one of my biggest dreams had come to fruition. On this day, I was blessed to have those I love the most celebrate with me, which made it even more special than it already was.

Over these six years, Jesus has proved His faithfulness time and time again. He has brought me through valleys, and carried me to the highest mountaintops. He has provided everything I have needed, exactly when I needed it. His grace, and peace, and mercy overflow in my heart, and there is nothing more I can do but to praise Him for His goodness. I want to shout at the top of my lungs, but even that is not enough to express my gratitude. I jump, and hop, and dance, and sing, but still, I am only me. The joy that I have because of my Jesus grows deeper every passing moment. His presence was so real on May 8, and I am thankful for the reminder that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Without Him, I would have given up.

I was blessed to have my grandparents there. Two individuals who have played such a crucial role in my emotional and spiritual development. Their prayers have seen me through the darkest of days, and their care packages can’t be beat. My Papa never stops beaming with pride and love for his first granddaughter, but on this day, his face beamed a little brighter. Throughout the day Grandma reminisced with me stories from my childhood, and held me close to say how much she loved me. Without them, I would have given up.

My parents were also there; not as separate units, but as a pair. Joined together, and a walking testimony of restoration and God’s grace (if you could only see how far we’ve come). Throughout these six years, they have guided me and loved me unconditionally. They have prayed strong prayers, and have supported my every move. There are not enough words to describe how proud I am to be their daughter, and how blessed I am to be loved by them. Without them, I would have given up.

My sister was there, and because I was already sappy here, I won’t say much more. However, I will say that I am so thankful that she has (and always will) loved me through it all. To celebrate with my one and only sister was a great blessing, and I hope that I have been a good example for her life. Without her, I would have given up.

Finally, my husband was there. My rock, best friend, and a constant source of motivation and support; always reminding me why I needed to study and finish strong. He cooked dinner when I had night class, and did the dishes when I had the most homework to do. He let me cry when I was overwhelmed, and celebrated with me as I was rewarded with a 4.0 each semester we were married. He holds my heart, and will always have my deepest love and affection, for he has loved and cared for me at my worst, and from day one has always included me in his future. Without him, I would have given up.

There are so many others that were there that mean more to me than any blog post could ever express. I suppose I’m still in denial that there are people that I didn’t say goodbye to that I won’t see for a very long time. “Goodbye” is such a strong word, and the connotations it holds are almost gruesome. Goodbye is forever. And forever is a really long time. On Friday I took as many pictures as I could, and then slipped away without really saying “goodbye” to anyone. In my heart I wanted to sit down with each person I love that was graduating, buy them a cup of coffee, and talk about the last four years. Every memory would be scoured, none forgotten. I want to cry because my memories are so sweet, yet fleeting. However, even though this time with each precious soul can never be relived, it will never be forgotten.

I want them to know that they are loved by me, and that each of them have more potential than the world can handle.

That their words have built me up, and have given me the strength and endurance to simply wake up and face the day.

There is not enough space or time to share my gratitude.

For without them, I would have given up.

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Student Teaching Reflections Part II

Two posts in one day? Who am I? If you decide to read both, I love you.

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Beautiful flowers that bloomed at West Mont.

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Beautiful flowers that bloomed at West Mont.

When I got back from Peru I was really excited to start a new student teaching placement. I missed my students at Renaissance (and still do), but I was ready to see what a Christian school would be like. For the first couple of weeks, it was as if I was experiencing culture shock – akin to my time in Iquitos. The resources that Renaissance has far surpasses those of West-Mont. At my new placement, I found that schedules are more fluid, and the students walk to their specials by themselves. The teachers take turns manning lunch & recess duty, and the principal is not only an administrator, but the librarian, gym teacher, and baseball/wrestling/field hockey coach. That man deserves a medal.

A part of me was frustrated, yet a huge part of me loved the atmosphere and dedication to praying each morning as a group of educators. We were able to share prayer requests and praise reports, and I constantly felt supported and loved.

The students, however, were a challenge. They were defiant, talked back, and told me what to do. They were chatty, and filled with strong-willed attitudes. Some days they made me feel small, and discouraged. I began to doubt whether or not I could do this forever.

But in the end, a part of me is going to miss this class of crazy (yet wonderful) third graders. They are vivacious, intelligent, and filled with so much potential. They are loving, and aching for affection.

It’s so easy to focus on the bad, and to label a classroom as hopeless. Sometimes I found myself doing just that, and giving up on thirteen little people that just need a little help and a few more boundaries. It made me sad that I began to act as if they would never succeed.

Since today was my last day of Student Teaching, I drew each of their names on a piece of paper, and included a word that describes them. I also wrote a little bit about what they do that makes me proud.

B: You are honest. Your honesty makes others trust you & want to follow you. The way you follow rules, and always try to do the right thing makes me proud.

I: You are a mathematicianYour love for math will get you far. The way you help others learn makes me proud.

D: You are creative. Your short stories are my favorite – especially the one about the cat. The way you draw and create makes me proud.

R: You are passionate. You care deeply about the things happening around you, and are able to make others feel so loved. The way you talk about your family and pray for your mom makes me proud.

M: You are caringYour ability to show kindness to everyone around you makes others feel wanted and accepted. The way you treat your classmates makes me proud.

A: You are gentle. Your sweet spirit brings everyone so much joy. The way you speak to others with kindness makes me proud.

T: You are giving. You love to share your favorite things with others & try your best to help people who are sad and hurting. The way you show love to others makes me proud.

A: You are loyal. You are faithful to your friends and always want to make them happy. The way you help your friends makes me proud.

D: You are witty. You might be quieter than your classmates, but you are hilarious and always bring a smile to my face. The way you make others laugh makes me proud.

D: You are sincere. When you say things, I know you mean them. The way you encourage others makes me proud.

D: You are helpful. You always want what’s best for other people, and try to help others make good choices. The way you help me during lessons makes me proud.

L: You are enthusiastic. You are so intelligent and love sharing your knowledge with everyone around you. The way you love learning makes me proud.

A: You are thoughtful. You can see when others are sad, and always say hello when you walk in the room. The way you think about the feelings of others makes me proud.

Today I’m thankful for this semester, and this class of rambunctious third graders. Thankful that I survived, and hopeful that I made at least one of these students feel important.

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29 days & an incurable case of senioritis

senioritis.

 a made up word that should be an entry on WebMD.

my mind unable to sit still, like a child in time out.

i wish i could diagnose myself

but i don’t have the credentials to do that.

i’m just tired, tired, tired…

but only when i have to lesson plan.

give me a weekend away, sleepy mornings in a cabin, and i’ll move mountains.

productivity soaring all the way to the moon.

but force me to sit on the couch and dare to tell me i have another paper to write, and i’ll crumple up like a dried flower.

two short pages will take 36 hours to compose.

my words sticky and sweet like the coffee i drink to stay awake.

in 29 days i’ll be free and i’ll bake myself a cake.

a cake that tastes like tassels, and diplomas, and new beginnings.

(in reality, it will taste like chocolate with buttercream frosting)

but for now, i struggle.

trudging five days a week to teach students that don’t listen, and like to talk over math problems and Bible lessons.

students that roll their eyes, and mock me as i pour my heart out about respect.

students that write stories where i portray the villain because i wouldn’t let them get a drink during instructional time, and forced them to put away the toys they decided to bring from home.

(i’m really the worst)

 transforming their desks into bunkers: protecting them from words like “eyes up here,” “listen,” and “work in groups.”

snow days have preserved my sanity.

i attempt to treat myself with Netflix, but the deadlines still loom overhead like vultures.

taunting me, and reminding me that i am still a procrastinator.

making me sick and anxious for the 8th of May.

in 29 days, i’ll be free.

in 29 days, i’ll be cured.

29 days…

graduation

I sit here awaiting tomorrow.

The day that has been six years in the making.

Six years filled with the taste of too much Nutella, energy drinks overflowing, and my eyes heavy due to lack of sleep. I have pushed through too many all nighters, struggling to focus, forever attempting to balance perfectionism with the worst kind of procrastination.

Six years of high expectations. Six years of subtle laziness. Six years of writing 10 page papers the night before they’re due.

Social media has become my arch nemesis, and my body has formed an aversion to coffee. Sweet, sweet coffee… I’ll still drink you with the hope that I’ll be able to fall asleep before 2 a.m. & my stomach won’t implode.

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This day has taken its time to arrive. Slowly making the journey towards me, and then approaching all at once like a rushing wind.

I have been a student in three different institutions, changed my major twice, failed a music theory class, found my niche in the education field, witnessed dreams die and become resurrected, and visited two different continents. I experienced the repercussions of my dad’s deployment, and rejoiced in his return one year later. I fell in love, became a wife, learned to cook, and we adopted a cat. My testimony has been tested time and time again, but never have I been more confident in the sovereignty of God, and the faithfulness of His promise over my life.

I will never leave you nor forsake you. 

I will not abandon you to the grave. 

I will…

I will…

I WILL…

Old friendships have deteriorated due to distance, but new ones have been born out of missions trips and spontaneous coffee dates. I’ve learned the importance of having a supportive church family, and realized that fitting in is actually a really hard thing to do.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that people will always talk over me, but I still need to try my hardest to make my voice heard.

I’ve learned so many things, but still have so far to go.

I wonder when the learning process finally ends…

(p.s.: the answer is: *never*)


These years have been a crude mixture of both the beautiful and the horrid. Excruciatingly long, yet not long enough. Confusing, but filled with purpose. I’d like to say these years were the best years of my life, but then again, how can I even begin to imagine what the next six years will hold?

Life will not look the same in 5 years, and I try my hardest to see a glimpse in the life of future me. I hear the possibility of pitter-pattering little feet, and blurry visions of little hands reaching out to be held flood my mind. My heart skips a beat. I think I’m finally ready…but then again, I’m really not ready at all. I see us moving overseas, working as missionaries, and living lives of intentionality and simplicity. I have the strongest inkling that I won’t find contentment doing anything else, and only hope this sentiment holds true.

While each season will not be void of struggle, I hope that I can read these words again and be encouraged. Encouraged when those same little feet and grubby hands make constant messes, and I feel more exhausted than I ever have before. Encouraged when we leave the mission field to itinerate, and are forced to say goodbye to friends that have unintentionally morphed into family. Encouraged when the newness of everything wears off, and I begin to miss my own family back in the United States. Encouraged when I begin to doubt everything because life is just too hard.

Encouraged to know that everything happens in God’s timing.

Everything: that all encompassing word that not only includes powerful, flourishing mountaintop experiences, but those dry, weary hikes through the valley that creep up on you and render you helpless.

Encouraged to enjoy every season as it ebbs and flows.

So I sit here awaiting tomorrow.

Awaiting the unknown, and welcoming it with open arms.

Student Teaching Reflections; part I

I didn’t really know what to expect when I registered for student teaching.

I didn’t expect a student to ask me if I was pregnant because I’m married. I wasn’t prepared for this poop sculpture, or the amount of drama that fourth grade girls are able to cause. I wasn’t prepared for how many of these students have iPhone 6’s, or the fact that they all know how to group text, when I just learned how a few months ago.

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I hoped that I would enjoy it, and prayed that the students would take it easy on me. During my field experience, I fumbled through a lesson on something obviously important, and afterwards heard a student say, with more attitude than a fourth grader should ever have, “why is she so nervous?”

That’s right, kid. I’m nervous. This is my future, and if I don’t like teaching at the end of this whole experience, an ungodly amount of dollars will have been put to waste. If you don’t pass my Exit Slip with flying colors, that’s a direct reflection on me, even though you didn’t pay a sliver of attention to my lesson, and decided that you would try and see if I’d notice you eating a whole pack of gum while staring directly into my eyes.

But you know what? So far, I’ve loved it.

I’ve loved it even though most days are a power struggle between me & my math class.

One time, a student decided it would be a good idea to draw on his test instead of take it, and when I asked him to start working, he punched his desk, and accused me of picking on him because he’s black. When I told him to put his name on his test, he showed me this:

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Just for clarification, his name is not “BraH.”

During that same test, a student decided that she didn’t want to take it because she’s “not going to be a math teacher, so she doesn’t need to know this stuff.” And she then proceeded to stare at the wall even though I told her that I believed in her, and that I didn’t want her to get a zero. She got upset when I took her test away…at the end of class….after everyone else had left.

I’ve realized that sometimes the negative forces of home are just too strong for a student teacher to break through in only a few short months. And to be honest, that’s the most discouraging part of this whole thing.

But I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t afford to stop trying.

I think about my educational heroes: Mrs. Crow, my mom, Professor Aspito, and Dr. Modica.

I wonder if they felt like this when they were beginners: some days you feel like you should be handed your teacher certification on a silver platter, and other days you feel like you’re drowning.

There is obviously so much I need to learn, and the process isn’t easy. Wait. I only have 2 more months of this, and then I’m expected to teach on my own, without supervision?! Will I even be ready?! Do I have to grade more papers? Why are there always so many papers to grade? Is it time for bed yet? No? Oh…

If I have to say “I’ll wait,” one. more. time…

But then I think about how wonderful these women are, and the impact they have had on my life, and I’m sure, the lives of countless others.

The good days somehow have outweighed the bad.

I have been able to transform my ELA class into a group of inspirational poets.

I’ve formed relationships with students that give me random words of encouragement almost every day.

Most of all, I still look forward to going back to school – even after the most glorious snow days.

I’m not sure what I’ll find at my next placement. I don’t know if I’ll have the same support that I’ve been given from my current cooperating teacher, or if I’ll enjoy teaching the same 13 students for seven hours, rather than 60 different students throughout the course of one day (I teach three different groups for ELA, Math, and Science).

But I’m ready and willing to face whatever comes next.

(and I’m also obviously counting down the days until graduation. 70 DAYS.)

We’re really going to Peru!

Today is the day we’ve been anxiously awaiting for months!

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This week, our team finally raised enough funds to purchase six plane tickets to Lima, Peru, and tonight we bought them! 

As the leader of this team, I’ve gone through a myriad of emotions; frustration as we changed missionaries multiple times & plans didn’t seem to come together, anxiety as I realized the huge feat of leading and planning a trip while also Student Teaching, and fear as I continued to look at our financial situation, and that big, fat, zero just stared back at me.

Then there was the feeling of excitement and admiration as our team bonded during missions bootcamp, and realized that we all hate team building activities. I feel like we finally became a unified group of friends, rather than six people that kind of liked one another.

Cue the F-R-I-E-N-D-S theme song:

However, nothing can compare to the feeling I had last night when I was able to tell everyone, WE CAN BUY OUR TICKETS!!!!!” 

$4,000 later, we have the biggest part of our trip settled. However, we are still in great need of prayers, and the remaining $4500 in funds to do everything we have planned.

We will arrive in Peru on March 6th, and will spend 1 1/2 days in Lima, where we will meet Bill Shrader & his family, and have our trip orientation.

That Sunday, we plan to fly to Iquitos, and minister in 2 different churches. On Monday we start our VBS program (we are having the VBS program in 2 different schools – 2 days in each school), as well as a bathroom remodeling project, and will return to the States on March 15th.

As you continue to pray for our upcoming trip, rejoice with us as we have already seen the Lord work in such amazing ways! Pray that our team continues to bond, that we will become fluent in Spanish really quickly 😉 , and for protection & health before and during the trip. Overall, pray that we will be a blessing to the Shraders and to everyone we meet in Iquitos.

If you gain anything from this little post, be encouraged that the Lord sees your need, and will meet you right where you are. We are so blessed to be loved by such a wonderful God.

p.s. If you are interested in partnering with us financially, please let me know! You can give online here: https://apps.valleyforge.edu/OnlineGiving/GiftForm.aspx

Math

Yesterday I tutored a boy in my math class. It’s ironic since I most definitely needed (and still need) math tutoring, but I surprised myself, and was able to help him understand how to find equivalent fractions.

He’s one of those students that emanates low self-esteem; acting out to get attention, and refusing to try to understand the material on his own. As I helped him answer each question on his homework assignment that was due last week, he took outlandish guesses, and wrote wrong answers down even after we had agreed on the right one.

I began to get frustrated, and wanted to get up and leave. Maybe that would show him. Maybe then he’d take me seriously.

But I put away that frustration, and quietly asked him why he wasn’t trying as hard as I knew he could. And his answer was simply,”I just don’t want to do this. I don’t want to understand.”

This past summer I wrote a post about my preschoolers that had “graduated” and were moving on to Kindergarten. Yesterday I was reminded of that post.

When this little boy told me he didn’t want to understand, my heart broke. I let him know that he was capable of understanding, and that if he didn’t try to understand this particular skill, he would be lost for the remainder of the school year. If he didn’t try to understand now, fifth grade would eat him alive.

As soon as I gave him that pep talk, he started to try. He finished the rest of the worksheet, and every single answer he gave was correct.

I thought about my own educational experience. My parents have always been my greatest supporters, and “I don’t want to understand” was never an option. I was always encouraged to try my best to learn, and was constantly reminded that I was capable. I was intelligent. I was bright.

It amazes me how each day I find a new reason for why I want to be a teacher. Sometimes I wonder why I chose this profession – there’s a lot of work that goes into it, and while teaching can be fun, it can also be discouraging when you don’t see the results you hoped for. You deal with hormone-infused attitudes, and children that think they know everything. You get eye rolls, and sneers, and students that think it’s okay to call out inappropriate things during instructional time.

There will be times when you will tutor this same boy in math…in reading…in science. You will see that he’s not trying, and you’ll get angry. Doesn’t he know the work I’m putting into each lesson I teach? Doesn’t he realize that I assign homework for his own good?

It’s easy to label him, and automatically assume he will fail.

But you see, these are the moments that have the most weight. In his nine or ten years of life, I might be the one that motivates him. The person that makes him want to understand.

I don’t have the power to see what goes on at home, and I most likely never will. I don’t know if he lives with both parents, or travels from home to home every other weekend. I don’t know if he has a mom that works on his reading skills with him at the end of the day, or a dad that helps him practice his multiplication facts.

I don’t know if he’ll remember my pep talk, or have his homework done for Monday.

But I do know that I will meet more students like him in the future.

And it’s my job to make them aware of their worth.