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.

Advertisements

Apathy is my giant.

“For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong…” Isaiah 61:8

Studying justice and injustice is generally exhausting; it drains me emotionally. I am thankful justice ultimately belongs to God, that He sustains me as I seek to serve Him in this, and that He is my source of emotional and physical strength.

As I am meandering through the process of finishing school, I still don’t have clear direction on the specifics of how I will be doing justice in a greater capacity once I graduate. My mind goes in so many directions: will I be freelance writing for different relief groups? Will I be working full time in a communications department for an organization that does justice globally (or locally)? I simply do not know. Here is what I do know:

I wrestle with how our culture so often ignores (and often even promotes) injustice. Apathy toward injustice is the giant I feel I am facing in the calling of God’s will on my life. I’m not making a blanket statement saying our entire society is apathetic toward injustice, please don’t get me wrong. I know many, many people work hard every day and give their lives to different causes that better the whole of humanity and promote the Kingdom. What I struggle with is a very specific group of individuals in our society – both inside and outside of the Church.

Ken Wytsma of Antioch Church said something similar to the following at the Justice Conference last weekend:

What stops us from doing what we ought to do is guilt, for we are so overwhelmed by the golden rule that it paralyzes us into apathy. Therefore, most of us slip into something more along the lines of a “silver rule” which says, “Do not unto others what you do not want done to yourself.” The silver rule removes our responsibility to do unto others and allows us to passively live a “good life.” We then begin to accept that we cannot change the world and decide to instead do nothing…we must begin to understand that we cannot fully fix the world, but that we can do things to change it.

Those swimming in the eddies of apathy are the individuals I want to speak to. These are the individuals I believe have much purpose and ability to do great things. My question is, how might I strike the core of their hearts and give them courage and promote a desire to act on behalf of the oppressed?

Oh Honesty…

Honesty is the best policy. Tell me you haven’t heard that before and I won’t believe you. 🙂 It’s practically the grade school motto in this country. Somewhere deep inside me I find that it’s more than just needing to hear the real truth from someone, more than just being a good citizen, more than just a phrase, more than just honesty and communication in relationships… I find that honesty in the fullness of life is an important thing.

This is why I blog. This is why I drink countless cups of coffee with friends and strangers (who, in turn, become new friends, of course!). This is why I share my heart and beg of others to do the same. I replied to someone’s comment on one of my poems a while back with this:

“I see the heart as useless if we do not share it and give others the opportunity to experience who we really are. And by that, experience Christ through us.”

This is why I don’t cut corners of truth when I’m writing. I feel if you don’t see all sides of me (even the far-out-left-field sarcasm and humor I tend to spew out without warning, the moments of ugly and sadness, or the confusion I might be in…) you won’t see a real person. You’d see this ridiculously happy, always content and smiling, fake person who “really loves God”. And you would despise me.

I don’t want fake. I want real. I desire to be real. So when I say what I’m about to, well, you’ll know that I’m not lacing my writing with falsehood. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a little bit of God shining through. Let’s see what happens, shall we?

Let’s start with the positive, because that’s just who I am when it comes down to it. I am stoked out of my mind to start school. I’m so freaking excited I can barely wait until Christmas is over. That’s creepy, seeing as that’s wishing away a good 3-4 weeks of ski season and because I hate how fast the holidays go every year. I know this little turn of events is something God has been directing me toward, and it excites me to have direction and a long-term commitment ahead of me. (To me, commitment is terrifying at best – so this “four year thing” is a big challenge!) I’ve spent the past two years unsure of what God wanted of my life, but I have been seeking it as passionately as possible fighting the urge to run at almost every turn. And now I have school to help me continue on a more specific direction toward purpose. It’s rather thrilling.

HOWEVER…

I was sipping coffee and reading a blog of a lovely sister/stranger/acquaintance who happens to be serving in Africa this very moment and…well…I cried. Admittedly, her most recent post was tragic and deeply sad, however I felt this other kind of hole inside of my heart. This feeling of, “UGH, WHY THE HECK AM I NOT IN AFRICA?!” I wanted to beat my fists on the floor and let the hot tears take over. I wished and wished I could simply transport myself into the heart of Africa and stay there forever to serve and give my life away and forget about anything our own society tells us is important. My heart is racing because I’m upset. I’m sad that I cannot go right now. I actually mourn the fact that God wants me to do something else right now, even though that something else is exciting to me.

I suppose the only thing I have left to do is wait. I need to allow God to work through what I feel is this funneling of my entire being into something more exquisite than I can imagine. I can only suspect that if you love God, He does that to you, too. It’s what my pastor said to me about a week ago: it’s a period of delayed gratification. That if only I trust God and believe He is doing what He says He will do, it will be more astounding and fulfilling than I can ever hope. Those are some high stakes, folks. I simply have to wait and hope and trust in Him. And that is what I’m hoping and praying to actually make it through without trying to manipulate things and take control to do it the way I want. Because in the end, I want to glorify God. I want Him to use my life in a way that reflects Him and brings Him praise. No matter if I like it or not at the time (or both of those, in this particular case).

Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name,
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
for Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever, amen.

Thank you. Heartfelt-style.

I need to say one. more. time. how appreciative I am of all that attended the awareness event at the Kilns last night. How blessed I feel that you took the time to come out and educate yourselves and use the power of your voice to help promote change in this world.

That is beauty.

That is love.

Thank you.

Imagine what Marie-Jeanne, or any of the women from that video would feel if they knew we were watching and crying with them? Hoping to help them? Doing what we can? Her heart would be filled with hope. My hope is that it already is because her story was finally told.

The advocacy team at WRN screened the movie about a week prior to the showing, and we sat around to process and talk and share our hearts afterward about how we can empower you (the attendee) and not leave you feeling hopeless. And so, I felt lead to simply try and encourage those that came to the event. I spent two nights and one afternoon in solitude simply praying and writing and reading different parts of books and the word to find anything to help. Anything to ease the pain from watching such a horrific truth laid out before your eyes.

But when I got up in front of everyone, I felt overwhelmed. I felt lacking. Speaking in front of people isn’t that big a deal to me, but you all were different. You were aching and crying and looked hollow with pain, or angry – all of the emotions I saw in front of me were profound. God is stirring something in your hearts. I encourage you one more time to write it down, consistently pray for that, pray for the people, and ask God what justice should look like in your life, because it will most likely be different from the man or woman who sat next to you last night. May God lift your soul, speak to you, and give you the strength to continue to do good.

Faithful

faithful:
1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker.
2. true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.
3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends.
4. reliable, trusted, or believed.
5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.

I was sweetly reminded of God’s faithfulness last night. You see, a couple of years ago I went through a really difficult time. My career tanked, I lost my house, I lost everything. I was at rock bottom in so many ways. When all of that crashed down I was left looking at God and astounded at my own idiocy. I had been depending solely upon myself for everything, which God did not find amusing. My response was simple and to the point: I needed God back at number one. I needed to depend on Him rather than myself. And I needed to serve Him and others before myself.

However, months later, after an internship with the church and working with the college ministry, I found myself floundering. I was lost, regardless of how many wonderful friends I had to encourage me. That was the problem. I had friends, no mentors. I had my parents, but no outside wisdom. Don’t get me wrong, my parents and friends are the bomb diggity and were so supportive it absolutely rocked my world, but I still craved time and wisdom from a woman who had already been through it all. A sounding board. And not only did I feel I was missing that in my life, I kept hearing of many other young women who craved that as well. So I began to pray.

Now, fast forward to this spring.

Suddenly in a matter of two weeks, and after a year of wonderment at why God put that on my heart, God gave me a vision and desire to start a women’s group. A gathering to facilitate genuine fellowship, to grow relationships, to study the word and seek out God’s wisdom – and just for the summer months until our fall community groups at church began again. I couldn’t help but obey, even though I wondered if I would have the time or energy to do that on top of planning for Africa. I tried to rely my faith and on the strong belief I have about balance in ministry: that wherever I am, I am called to serve; that no matter if I am planning on serving overseas, I still have work to do at home.

After much prayer and preparation, our first gathering arrived. And let me tell you:

God. Is. Faithful.

We had fourteen women of all ages attend, and we got to know one another, we got to study the word and seek wisdom…and it was so real. I felt a fullness and joy to the depths of my soul like I have never felt before. When God says that He is our ultimate satisfaction, He’s not kidding. This understanding in my heart about servanthood and love, and a heart desiring God, it has never been more alive to me than right now.

If that was the first gathering of the summer…then holy smokes, my imagination will run wild with all of the amazing things God will do in the future.

Moments

I wonder sometimes where all of my days have gone. The summer days that slip by, the calendars marked with social events and business agendas, the passing of time counted by life events. I’ve been so busy lately that I feel I haven’t had time to soak it in. To take a moment and capture the essence via every single one of my senses and cherish it before moving on to the next. Taking a moment like you would under a blossoming cherry tree in the spring, inhaling deeply, exhaling, letting the imagination run while getting lost in the texture and color of each little flower…

I’ve finished the majority of my work for the year with my company and am simply working full time at a fab local company until the end of September, as I had originally planned. That way when I leave for Africa, I’m not feeling tied down or distracted when I get there. I want to be free to cherish the moments I encounter like I would with that cherry tree.

I want to meet women and hear their stories of life and rejoice with them as they discover new hope and opportunities. I want to experience through their words and their hearts the tragedies they’ve encountered and for that to change the way I view my life. Not only do I want to learn, I want to be able to impact these women, even in the smallest of ways. By looking them in the eyes, smiling like I mean it. By listening to their stories in hopes that they feel heard and that they know they matter. I want to be able to teach and offer my talents to them so that they can grow in their own lives.

I want a lot of things for this trip, but I desire that God would fulfill these and glorify Himself. Because that, in the end, is all that will matter. And each of those moments that He offers to me will be sweeter than any cherry tree I stand under.

The Unsearched Soul

Lost, downtrodden, empty
She aches
Forgotten, oppressed, confused
She agonizes

Forgiveness she’s never known
Embittered, her heart
She stands tall, shaking
Facing evil, staring at death

The eyes of her enemy show no mercy

The unsearched soul begs comfort,
Petitions justice,
Pleads healing,
Implores saving

Afflicted, abused, unknown
She cries
Alone, sobbing, lacking
She longs

The unsearched soul
Feels a breeze
Catches a glimpse
Hope that shines
Healing that cleans
Love that fills
The greatest void

Firm she stands
Truth she holds
Love she exudes
Forgiveness she extends

I wrote this a while back after a massive influx of information on FGM. It breaks my heart and absolutely fuels my desire to go and offer my life and all that God has given to me to women across the world. This CNN article also played a role in the poem.