I’m a teacher!

Okay, so I have been a teacher for a while. But now I have teaching experience. Totally different…maybe. Days 1 and  2 are under my belt and I feel….good. Happy. Still nervous. 

I probably still look like a chicken running around with it’s head cut off during the school day, but inside I feel good. I’ve had so much fun with these kids (5th grade students) and I can only hope this feeling lasts. I feel in control of my classroom and the kids, but I also know that they are having fun with me most of the time and they are working hard on all the assessments I’ve had to throw at them this first week. Tomorrow we finally start normal English, and the next day we (hopefully) start normal math. I cannot wait to get into a routine. We started a read aloud book, Rowan of Rin, which I read to 6th grade students last year during student teaching. I think my kids will love it–they voted to read it!

Highlights: seeing kids write “my new teacher” on the board of things they’re thankful for. Laughing with the kids over my name change come January. Eating lunch with other teachers. Trying to memorize names of the other 5th graders not in my class, and often using goofy mnemonic devices. 


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What’s a C-plan?

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 8.20.52 PM

I was hired for a full time teaching job back in March/April some time. But I didn’t feel like a teacher until this week. Here’s why:

I now have a teacher email address. And I get zz-staff emails about things like Iowa Core c-plans. Then I do my research in order to figure out what these are. And then I still email asking for help because I cannot figure it out alone.

I have labeled lockers, mailboxes, books, desks, binder tabs, and more in the last 3 days. I realized how snarky I was about alphabetical order when I put the lockers in no order and the mailboxes Z to A. I won’t even try to explain how I ordered names on desks :)

I have never met 19 kids but they are on my class list and I could not be any more excited than I already am to meet them. They each matter to me already.

I have felt more at home this week in school than out of it.

The school secretary may just be my new best friend. Or the tech guy. Or the head custodian. Or the superintendent. Or the business manager…

The work room is like Christmas in August–staplers, labels, tape, glue, paper, pencil sharpeners….all helping me stock my classroom.

I’m sure next week when all the teacher’s return it will be a whole new game. But for now, I feel more like a teacher than ever. Please pray that I would be a blessing to my students, their families, and the RV community as I embark on this new adventure.

Just some thoughts…..
Kiersten/AKA Ms. Van Wyhe/AKA Mrs. Sexe (depends on the paperwork what my name is at the school)

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Obligatory Wedding Planning Post

Isn't this a fun winter idea?

Isn’t this a fun winter idea?

I have read dozens of “I’m planning a wedding and here is what has surprised me and I am exhausted and overwhelmed but excited to marry my love” posts in the last few years. I figure it’s my turn. Except lately I’ve been huge into list-making, so this post is also going to be written in list-form.

-caterer booked with a deposit to be mailed in tomorrow
-reception location booked
-first conversation with pastor scheduled for this week
-dress ready (I think)
-Nathan is always willing to help when and where he can in the planning. It’s not my day. It’s ours.
-my family is very supportive, as is Nathan’s
-I’m so in love with Nathan and cannot wait to be his wife.

-everything takes longer than it should
Example: “Just pick a caterer. They both sound good. Flip a coin” says Nathan. Kiersten then goes and emails the one that is picked. She then fills out the paperwork, prints it at work, sends it to the correct address after determining what 20% is for the deposit. Easy things, but they add up and make the process feel looonngg. And we are only having an 8 month engagement. I don’t think I could have done this for 18+ months like some people do.
-people have lots of conflicts around Christmas, which is when we are getting married (December 27)
-I’m not the greatest at decision making. I just want people to be happy.
-I’m not just planning a wedding. I’m preparing a classroom for the fall while managing a different classroom this summer.
-Nathan’s not just planning a wedding. He is preparing a classroom for the fall while managing a very full summer work schedule.
-my family is a long drive away during this process
-I really hate getting pictures taken or planning them, but I want a save the date. Someone should help me with this. If it’s not too late.

Bottom line (literally): I am pumped to get married to my fiancé. I’m not the best at wedding planning, and it’s not my favorite thing to do. But things are getting done, and I praise God for what has been “checked off the list” and for what is still to be completed.

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The Sky

I might have an obsession with the sky.

I hate headlights during night driving because they put a barrier between me and the stars.

I pause in awe of the double rainbows after a storm.

I see a purple sunset and all I want to do is look up forever.

I spent days of my childhood recording the pictures I saw in the clouds.

I might have an obsession with the sky. And, as a manifestation of the LORD’s glory, I’m okay with that.

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a clean piece of walnut

a family gathered together

a bottle of water timely delivered

salvaged Christmas ornaments

a crate of stuff to throw out

an empty basement

clean water

dry land


rainbows in the spray of the hose

a man who knows what’s happening

helping in times of need

a dry apartment

morning dawn after a long night far from home

a cleared road

the power of water

last minute successful shopping

clean dishes drying

real food after a stretch without it

smiles on the faces of those who hurt

tears in the faces of the vulnerable

close calls–because it means someone is okay



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Beautiful list

Lists that inspire and encourage
Words carefully chosen
Eyes and mouths that smile in the sunshine

Walking under a canopy of trees

Eskimo kisses in the grass
Walks filled with expectation of what’s to come and appreciation of each present step
The taste of thin mints in the evening
A summer dusk sky
Laughing with friends new and old
Dancing despite your hesitations
Sunshine peeking through the trees
The sound of crunching gravel under swift walking feet
The ticking of the clock in your home


…inspired by One Thousand Gifts (Ann Voskamp)

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I am a lucky woman. I have rarely felt the abuse of a culture where women are not valued in the same way men are. And yet, when I see posts like the 1 below, I stop and think about how normal this is to me, and how not-normal it should be.

“I attended a workshop about preventing gender violence, facilitated by Katz. There, he posted a question to all of the men in the room: “Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”

Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or assaulted?” Nearly all the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:

“I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one. “I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.

“I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”

“I use my keys as a potential weapon.”

The women went on for several minutes, until their side of the blackboard was completely filled with responses. The men’s side of the blackboard was blank. I was stunned. I had never heard a group of women say these things before. I thought about all of the women in my life—including my mother, sister, and girlfriend—and realized that I had a lot to learn about gender”

-Why I Am A Male Feminist (via newwavefeminism)

My personal list of ways I avoid rape:

(Keep in mind that as a white, Midwestern woman, I am far less likely to be a target. I give you the list to show you that yes, all women think about having to protect themselves, even me.)

  • having keys out as potential weapon whenever I am alone in the dark
  • having my phone out pretending to be talking with someone to avoid being approached
  • locking my doors in my car as soon as I get in, even before turning on the car
  • not walking alone in Greece, Cuba, or Austria after dark

So I read all these tragic #yesallwomen stories and think about how the patriarchal structure of society perpetuates beliefs that rape is okay, blah blah blah….you know what I mean…and I am sad. And I hope for society to respect women (and men!) more as people and not bodies. However, I also know that rape is universal across time, cultures, and even animal species. Therefore, it cannot be all society’s fault. The ubiquitous nature of rape makes it no less awful, but it does make me pause to consider what “we” (the #yesallwomen tweeters) expect to accomplish by advocating for women’s rights. Perhaps all we desire is for our stories to be heard. For others (men, other women, everyone) to know what it is like to be us. I think that this cause is worthy, and is just as universal a cause as rape is a universal evil. Let’s focus on sharing our stories well and hearing others’ stories, and perhaps this will lead to change in ways we do not yet understand.


p.s.– I’ve also been reading The Locust Effect right now, which talks about how necessary an end of violence is to ending poverty globally, and I highly recommend this to anyone who would like to learn more about global poverty, violence, legal systems and the call on the Kingdom of God to seek redemption and reconciliation. Very related to the #yesallwomen movement and also closely connected to the book Half the Sky, which is on my list.


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