The Rumor is Now True…

Sweet mercy I haven’t written in ages. Yikes. Well, by now most of you know we’re engaged, and if not, SURPRISE! You’re way behind on the local dish! Here’s how it all went down:

We planned a date night to go cross country skiing together at the end of March (clearly I’m behind on writing…). I had an inclination that Kelly was going to propose that night based on a few things that happened in the days leading up to it. The biggest one was when I asked where he wanted to ski that night. He said, “Let’s go to Tumalo Falls one more time, and then we’ll go other places for the rest of the season.” Tumalo Falls was the first place we went skiing together before we even began dating. I tried not to get my hopes up, but it was hard not to!

When we arrived, the snow was the consistency of a melted, re-frozen sno-cone – not ideal for skiing, but at the end of ski season I’ll take anything I can get. We got to the top of the first large hill on the way to the falls, at sunset, and there he asked me to marry him. We’ve had this long-running joke since we first started dating that we don’t like the term “boyfriend/girlfriend” because it seems so noncommittal, so juvenile. Our separate “dating” theories have always been to date with the purpose of marriage in mind because otherwise it’s just a waste of time. He began his little speech with, “I’m tired of being called your boyfriend, it’s time you call me your fiancee.” And he went on to tell me how much he loved me and how much he is thankful for my presence in his life.

Here’s my favorite part:

When I first arrived home (by this point we already *knew*), he gave me a garnet he has had since he was about 21 years old. It’s a gift he was given by a student while teaching English in Sri Lanka. We talked about incorporating it into my wedding ring, but apparently garnets aren’t as hard as diamonds and the jeweler explained to us it would abrade over time. We decided not to take that risk and to have it set into a necklace once the wedding was over and the purse strings loosened a touch.

I found out Kelly doesn’t like to wait to give me good gifts. He ordered my ring back in February, and of course the wait time was somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks. Somewhere in that time frame he grew tired of waiting to ask me to be his wife, so he had the necklace made and planned to propose with it while the ring was being finished. It worked out wonderfully, because this little garnet I now wear means so much to me – it contests how much I like my ring even. The funny thing about this part of the story is that Kelly got the call at the end of the business day just before he proposed that my ring was done. It wasn’t more than 24 hours before I had two lovely gifts to wear.

There you have it. I’ve finally blogged about the time when Andrea was proposed to by a tall, handsome, and wonderful man.

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love sweet love

No disclaimers. No beating around the bush. Life is what it is. I’m in love. And so is the man. We’ve met our match in each other. God finally decided it’s time to link my arm in the (very strong) arm of another. It’s pretty exciting. I’m trying to keep this blog updated with the whole of my journey, so this fits right in there. (And to squash a few rumors that seem to be flying: we are not engaged.)

Meet Kelly John Walker. The heart of a warrior. Devoted to God. Extremely talented writer. Knew how to woo me and capture my heart better than I had ever dreamed to hope. Father of two amazing young boys, Kyle (9) and Zach (7). Adventurer with an insatiable appetite to learn.

So far we’ve had a pretty wild ride. It all began when he came to my home group about six weeks before my departure to Santa Barbara. I was attracted to him immediately – quite literally from the moment I saw him walk through the door – and he didn’t really figure out who I was until a few weeks in. When we began interacting and talking I called him my twin because I began to notice so many commonalities between us. He thought, “Who is this girl and how could she possibly know we are twins?” I tried my best to push the guy out of my mind. He couldn’t possibly be looking for a younger woman. I was leaving and didn’t think it was a good time for such a “ridiculous crush,” but I just had to know because the man seemed to be invading my thoughts more than I cared for at the time. So I orchestrated to invite him moonlight skiing with some friends to the point I made sure it was kid-friendly so that his boys could come. To my delight, he came. After that night I was so interested it blew me away. He couldn’t get me out of his head. So he asked me on a date to a used bookstore. It was the best last first date ever.

I figured when I left for school that we would do the long distance thing until I graduated. God quickly told me otherwise and I thought He was crazy. Turns out I like His plan better. Financially things didn’t work out in CA and I was forced to come home even though the control freak in me tried to make it work until the last minute. Kelly flew to Santa Barbara to pick me up and whisk me home – not on a trusty steed but in my little old car. It worked well for us ๐Ÿ˜‰

While we were apart, Kelly and I wrote hundreds (probably not much of an exaggeration) of pages of hand written letters and emails. We skyped multiple hours each day. We couldn’t seem to get enough time to communicate and it began to cut into our sleeping hours. It was glorious. I couldn’t believe my luck: I had found a man who wanted to talk, a man who initiated the most romantic (maybe I’m biased) string of hand written letters known to mankind, a man who loves my heart, a man who loves me for me and calls me beautiful, a man who loves me out of the overflow of the love God gives him. Even with the challenges of our relationship it’s been a fairytale.

We have much to look forward to. We’re setting the plans for me to finish school in Bend. We’re dreaming and planning for life together. We’re constantly talking about how we want to serve God with our gifts and abilities. We’re adventuring and even traveling a little bit in the mix. And we’re still writing letters by hand.

God Has Provided

It is with deepest gratitude and joy that I am able to write this! I spent much of yesterday praying and searching high and low for a place to live. I, quite clearly, felt a bit of frustration and even discouragement. My motives were put on the stand. My desires were hanging in the balance. And my hope rested on God’s ultimate will.

Last night I sat on the beach at sunset wondering why God had been so silent all day long. I thought it rather funny to think that He is silent when the ocean He created was roaring, crashing and breaking just before my eyes. It is in the moments of deep frustration that we often go back to the core and ask, “Alright, God, you haven’t responded yet, so what is it about you that I do know?” And the joyful part of that question is reveling in God’s far reaching goodness to us. So after about an hour of this reveling (despite my circumstances) I went back to the house and got ready for church. As I drove into the quaint little beach town of Carpinteria I thought, “Wow, this place is quaint. Santa Barbara is overwhelming, but this place I could manage. How cute!”

During church my dear friend called me and left a voicemail, and immediately texted me saying she may have found me a place to live. I figured this was God speaking just a little more directly than through the pastor (though what he had to say was rather amazing, also), so I walked outside to return her call.

Turns out she has a friend (who also graduated from Westmont) in Carpinteria who has a room which just became available. The family is willing to host me rent free (though I purpose to get a job and pay at least some rent). And may I just say, all of the details, the family, the location – completely divine. The house is just five blocks from the church I have been planning to attend since my first visit last March. The house is also only four blocks from the beach. I already adore the socks off of the wonderful wife and cannot wait to spend some more time with her. And after spending a few moments chatting with her husband I have a sneaking suspicion he is a man that enjoys some good, awkward humor and laughing a lot. They have three beautiful children, the eldest I met and I must say he is a handsome and well mannered young boy. This family is already a blessing and I can barely wait to move in.

I’ll have to give you yet another walking tour very soon. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your prayers alongside me the past few days. Glory to God.

Happy New Year

Hello friends. I wish I’d had the time to write this a little sooner, but I am sure you must understand I have been a little strapped on time. I wanted to send an informal but very important “Thank You” to each of you for all of your love and support over the years and especially over the past few weeks as I have prepared for my transition into a new adventure. I will soon take time for actual thank you cards and hopefully be able to get through all of your encouraging and loving words without crying a river of tears. I will be back, though, for God seems to love cliffhangers as much as I do. I seem to have tripped over my own words which said, “I will not date until school is over for the sake of focus. I also do not plan to come back to Bend after school,” and right into the arms of an amazing man. So, Kelly, I hope this made you blush just a little. And to the rest of you, happy new year. I’ll be seeing you soon.
Blessings,
Andrea

Photobooth Crazies.

My People

I have written about three different posts andย  deleted them all. I think photos will prove to be more expressive. I love my friends and family dearly. I will truly miss Bend and my community when I say goodbye in two weeks. Even the right decisions are sometimes hard to make.

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Thoughts on the Big Two Five

slow reflections coursing through my mind
joy
heartache
gladness
melodic enthusiasm beating through my heart
anticipation
anxiety
wonderment
a twinge of excitement embraces my toes
curiosity
destiny
adventure
faith that envelopes the three
gratitude
praise
life

Next week marks the big 25 for me. Whoopty-doo. It’s just another year, really. As the years pass the markers get a little less exciting. I can vote, I can buy a pack o ciggies, I can fight for my country, I can drink a beer after work, and this year my car insurance gets a little less expensive and I can rent a car. Thrilling.

I genuinely love my birthday, though. It’s a time I can guilt trip my friends and family into being with me and not feel guilty about it. It’s a time that I use to look into their faces and see what a beautiful impact they’ve made on my life; I couldn’t do it without them.

I’m grateful for where I am. I’m thankful for the mistakes and successes, the joys and the times of grief. I’m glad that God continues to show me more of Who He Is as He shows me His faithfulness. I’m pleased to say that adventures are always on the horizon, whether they are a life change such as school or a random night time ski trip with a friend. I’m excited to enjoy the years ahead as I learn to deeply love others in a way that pleases God. I’m scared of some aspects of the life God has marvelously planned out for me; I realize it will not be easy. Like C.S. Lewis said, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

Pain has become something I fear less. Joy has become more difficult to grasp, but something deeply treasured and sought out. Life at any stage I admire with great intensity. Hearts lost in pain or filled with hope are the truth we live. Grace must abound, it was not created for us to simply receive. Human connection is poignant. Community is weighted more than gold. Success is not to be ours, but glory for God and service to Him. I regret nothing, instead I choose to be thankful for everything. I have yet to see certain dreams come to life, but I am not sad they seem to be delayed; I choose to wait in hopeful expectation.

Life has three beautiful parts: the has been, the will be, and the moments we choose how to fill now. I hope my heart continually remembers the importance of these.