I’m discovering many things about myself, which is no surprise to those who are married and also learned much about themselves during the first year of life with their spouse. More often than not I’ve been told the first year is the hardest, and in our situation it certainly isn’t easy. Our first two months (and four days) have been riddled with difficult relationship circumstances, illness, death, and car problems. (What’s life without car problems?) And woven into the trials are life’s daily joys: the incessant laughter and energy of the boys, the hikes, the game nights, the homemade granola bar dash, the dinner wins (and losses), family story time, lizards, dinner time devotions, after dinner nature walks, birthdays, grandparents, cousins, and the pushing of dad into the pool when he’s not expecting it (well done, Zach!). And between those woven strands of our lives I’m learning about simply being a woman. Like how to hide vegetables in dinners that the boys will devour rather than pick apart, how to ward off baby fever by enjoying the antics of baby animals and other furry woodland creatures…ok, I’m kidding (sort of).

Women, it seems, have some qualities that are pretty much in our DNA, whether we like them or not. We have duties, whether we like them or not (and some are negotiable with the husband, like sweeping, which mine is sweetly doing now). I’m beginning to feel the weight of being a woman on my heart. I still want the things I wanted before, like advocating for the oppressed and writing, but I want them in a different context. I don’t even know what that means, but God will show me so long as I’m daily in tune with His friendship and love.

Update: I want to be a wife, a mom, and an advocate. I’m pretty sure those things were still true a year ago before I met Kelly and the boys, but now my priorities have changed. And that’s alright, because I think my priorities are where God wants them. I want to be learning about Him more than I ever have, because others are now watching my daily actions and attitudes more than ever. I want to be a really good wife, the kind that Proverbs talks about. I want to be a loving, approachable, kind mom with the best food on the block (like my mom!). And I want all of our lives to weave so tightly with God’s purpose that He smiles when He thinks about the Walkers. I guess what I’m trying to say, and what our culture’s idea of femininity has previously confused my understanding of is: I’m a woman. And I want Godly-womanly things. And I know you want pictures, so take a gander below at some Walker adventures looking for wildflowers, camping trips turned stranded in the desert trips, and husband&wife camping getaways.

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Real Life

Yeah, I’m so totally married. And it’s seriously the most amazing thing ever. I highly recommend it – if God says you’re ready. I didn’t think I was ready, but I look back over my life and simply marvel at how detailed God was in preparing me for this time. I gave Kelly a gift the night before our wedding: it was a journal I had kept for just over 6 years and each entry was dedicated to Kelly, even before I knew him. I called him nicknames in that journal years before I met him which I could not have possibly known how accurate they would be. And that’s a superficial little bit of what’s in the journal; there are prayers and dates of events that make my mind spin at how the Spirit moved us for one another. Ok, but this is all really besides the point.

A year ago I never imagined living in Bend – ever again. A year ago I had a hard time believing God loved marriage as much as He did when He first created it. A year ago I never imagined having two sweet, young boys in my life. A year ago I had no idea God’s purpose for my life is as full as it is now and would still be growing.

I’m seeing His purpose for me expand in ways I never imagined possible, ways that are quite honoring to be a part of. I’m beginning to understand the parallel of Paul’s comparison of marriage to Christ and the Church. It’s about grace, every day, coming straight from the Father and flowing from me to Kelly, Kelly to me, and us to the boys. These little bits are just the tip of the iceberg. Heck, I’ve only been married for three weeks. What do I know?!

The Walkers already have quite a few traditions in place – traditions I’m excited for the boys to remember when they get older. These are the things that are gluing us together as a family right now and in the years to come: each night at dinner we read scripture and talk about it; when the weather is nice we do nature walks after dinner and learn about the local plant life; we have big breakfasts on Saturday mornings (today was banana pancakes, chicken sausage and a spiced potato hash with garlic and orange peppers – a total win); and we have dinners with grandparents/family every week. Oh, I can’t possibly forget about Narnia! We read Narnia nearly every night before bed. We’re currently almost done with The Horse and His Boy and next we’ll be on to Prince Caspian.

I wish I could show you every picture detailing all of the fun we’re having, but a few will have to suffice (same goes for the wedding pictures!). Enjoy!

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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.

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 😉

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.

One Incredibly Long Week

I’ve been receiving some “complaints” about not updating my blog – who would have thunk?! This may not be very creative, as I’m being taxed to my intellectual limits at the moment.

I have been here for a week – one incredibly long week. Honestly, the past three weeks have felt like a string of months considering so much has happened. God has blessedly provided in every way I need thus far, and I am sure He will continue to do so. I start a new job soon which is a huge blessing. I thought there would be complications with my work study program, but not at all. I am still blessed daily by the family I live with – they are a joy to be around. I have a new best friend (don’t worry Steph, she can’t possibly edge you out!) and her name is Lucy. Lucy is 6. She gives me plenty of hugs and colors me pictures to slide under my door. I do love a good hug, so I’m thankful someone around here so willingly gives them – and so often! I’m enjoying long walks on the beach, wearing flip flops and t-shirts, and eating incredibly fresh avocados by the pound (it seems, anyway).

And I’m sure your biggest curiosity: school. It’s wonderful. I know in six weeks I won’t be saying this, but I’m almost wishing I’d taken 20 credits instead of 16. There’s just so much to learn and be a part of here that I don’t want to miss out. Chapel is turning out to be one of my favorite times of the week and it never ceases to amaze me that we’re all here to learn and serve God. His Spirit most definitely rests in this place. Oh, and let me just mention that Condoleeza Rice is going to be speaking at one of our chapel times in March. Super rad.

If I could have you pray for anything it would be that God would provide one or two close girl friends to walk with. The wonderful woman of the house, Toby, has been such a sweet spirit to talk to, though she is busy with an infant and two other children. Even surrounded by people everywhere, I find I haven’t been in very much face to face conversation, nor have I been verbally processing my days like I used to be able to. I realized this when I was on the phone with Steph last night and I basically dumped all of the words, frustrations, worries and joys onto her in the span of about ten minutes. Bless you, woman, for sitting through that!

I miss you all dearly and cannot wait to see you again soon.

A Little Tour

Here’s a little walking tour of the neighborhood. And when I say “little” I mean all photos were taken within sixty seconds or less of the house. It’s beautiful here and I am ready to settle in and have a schedule. So far, the place I thought I was going to stay isn’t panning out as anticipated, therefore I am crashing on my friend’s couch. Please pray God provides a place for me soon.

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