Resurrection

I’m not here without Christ. I’m not full of hope and joy without the promise of what His resurrection means. I have no hope for heaven or anything good without a promise of God. And if I don’t have God, I have no purpose in this world. I must be living for something greater than myself. Nothing else in this world makes sense.

I’ve spent the past year and a half becoming. I think I have talked about this before. I’m on a journey of always becoming what it is God calls me to. The newest portion of that journey has included the labels “wife” and “mother.” And after almost 15 months of marriage, I get to become mother again. This season of becoming hasn’t been easy, but my has it been joyful and blessed. And here I sit facing this new season of unknowns (mainly having a newborn while trying to care for the rest of my family, and taking work off for a time), I hope and pray that I can continue to become just what God asks, no matter the uncertainty of tomorrow.

A gal on Twitter asked back in January what word you would choose for this coming year. What word would you come back to dwell upon as the overarching purpose of the year? What word has God laid upon your heart? I answered woman. I long to be a daughter of the King, content and rested in Him no matter the circumstances. I long to be a devoted, encouraging wife who helps her husband at no care for her own desires. To love as C.S. Lewis said,  is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved one’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. And I long to be a mother who shows God’s character to her children, to help rear them in a way that glorifies the God who created them. Now that I am married, these are my first priorities. It starts with “the basics” and anything beyond that must come from God for me to pursue.

Without God I can do none of these things. Without the truth of His word I cannot be helpful to those around me. I cannot serve Him or others without Him. So this is my journey. Figuring out how to find Him first, so that I can be the woman He has asked me to be. So this blog has been resurrected to be my companion on this journey.

Books I am reading:
My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Abide in Christ – Andrew Murray
And a few days each week, I continue to write my way through God’s word. I’m anywhere between Leviticus, the last few books of the New Testament (I have yet to start the Gospels, however), and the Psalms.

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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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“This Momentary Marriage”

(Warning: long post ahead. Grab hot tea, or coffee, or a beer AND a snack.)

I’m quite young. I have much to learn. But I have learned much for a young woman my age.

I feel quite overwhelmed with humility for God having placed me where I am right now. I’m honored that He saw me as fit to be the wife of an incredible man who loves Him – not to mention a mother figure in the lives of two wonderful young boys. I’m honored to be chosen for someone, three someones. It’s completely surreal. It’s a life-long dream come true.

The past few months have been a radical life adjustment, a paradigm shift, an exciting new adventure down a similar road I was on before – only this time it’s with someone at my side. I’ve learned so much about myself and how I operate because there’s this man is in my life for good. He is constantly learning more about me, and I about him, because we’re in this together. I’m learning so much about myself: about how I process, how I communicate, how I actually feel at any given moment. When you’re single you can just ignore those things because you’re not accountable to really work on them. With my almost husband (as I like to call him), I have to work on them; I have to open up and share how I am feeling even when I don’t want to because it’s helpful for our relationship to communicate these things.

The great lesson of prioritizing is also on my plate. I used to have a million friends and time for nearly all of them. This is a hard lesson for me to have to give some of that up – to learn that my time first belongs to God, followed by my almost husband and two delightfully sweet boys, followed by my family and close friends, and then whoever else I can manage to make time for. This was a swift change in my life and difficult to remember that I cannot allow myself to feel guilty when I don’t have time to spend with everyone. (Let’s not forget to mention I work 30 hours each week, I’m almost finished with a wedding gown for a client and then will begin on mine, all while planning a wedding. Suffice it to say I’m sleeping a lot less than I’d like and drinking way more coffee than my body appreciates. I know the planning and the wedding gowns are really only a short season. But let me say, it breaks my heart to see my guest list for our wedding and know I’ve only seen a handful of some of my closest friends a few times in the past month.)

Not only have I begun learning a better communication process with Kelly, and am learning to be confident in who I am and how my time is spent, but I’ve learned one other pretty rad thing: God has blessed me with the (or at least some of the) character that I have been asking Him for over the past few years. Kel and I have been reading through “This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper. It’s a really good, foundational book for those who are married – or, forget it – it’s a really good book and you should read it whether you’re married, single, or especially if you’re in a relationship headed toward marriage. And because if you follow the link I attached to the book title, it’s a FREE download, therefore you have no excuse not to read it. Just sayin’.

Of course, the things I’ve prayed to God for over the years have been pretty basic stuff: that the man I will marry should be one who loves the Lord with all of his heart, mind and strength, that he is willing to lead myself and our future family spiritually, that he would protect and guide our family in daily life, that he would be adventurous and willing to do crazy stuff with me, and that he daily follows what God asks him to do with his life. Yes, that’s a laundry list, but to my sheer amazement God fulfilled ALL of those desires of my heart in Kelly and more. (Don’t ask about the “more” part, because I don’t even know where I would begin at this point.) As we read through the first seven chapters I was delighted again and again that God had done such a marvelous work in preparing Kelly and I to meet and be married. All of these little details He orchestrated, things I couldn’t have even begun to hope and wish for lest my heart be crushed. Kelly is – for me – the perfect man to marry. No, he’s not perfect, nor am I, but we are perfect for one another. That’s what’s important. And that’s probably why we’re shotgunning this dating/engagement process – because deep down in our hearts we know that this is God’s will for us. And if you wanna get persnickety in the details, God pretty much told me out of the clear, blue sky that I’m supposed to marry him. But that’s another story for another day. I guess my point in saying all of this is that this book is rad and it has reminded me over and over again (as if I needed a reminder!) that Kelly is the only man for me, the one for me, my match, and a Godly, wonderful one at that.

Then we hit chapter eight in the book, all about the role of the woman in marriage and the mysterious thing of submission. No, I was not dismayed when I read the chapter, I was encouraged; it’s an insightful, beautiful look into Ephesians 5:22. And let me say before my next point, that Kel and I have been going through some rough stuff on the periphery of our lives. It has not been an easy few months for us because it seemed for weeks on end that every time we turned around we would smack right into a difficult situation, a family member with health problems, roadblocks for work or business, you name it. We’ve been put through the fire. Because of these fires, I have become more and more confident in our relationship and our ability to trust God and weather whatever life throws at us. So when we hit the chapter about the biblical and Godly role of a wife I was a little nervous hoping that I wasn’t completely failing. We came to this section, which reads:

She looks away from the troubles and miseries and obstacles of life that seem to make the future bleak, and she focuses her attention on the sovereign power and love of God who rules in heaven and does on earth whatever he pleases (Ps. 115:3). She knows her Bible, and she knows her theology of the sovereignty of God, and she knows his promise that he will be with her and will help her and strengthen her no matter what. This is the deep, unshakable root of Christian womanhood. And Peter makes it explicit in verse 5. He is not talking about just any women. He is talking about women with unshakable biblical roots in the sovereign goodness of God—holy women who hope in God. (p. 97)

At the time I was the one reading aloud sitting in front of Kel as he gave me an exquisite (and much needed) shoulder rub, and he just stopped me, hugged me, and said, “Hey, that’s you he’s talking about. That’s my Annie.” Oh man, and I cried. I’m crying now. I’m quite thankful for the blessings God has poured on me, the strength He’s given me, and thankful for His blessed sovereignty in His orchestration of my life.

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.

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?

The Goodness of God: Part II

“…it was then I saw that it brings more honor to God and more true delight if we faithfully pray to him for his goodness than if we employ all the intermediaries in the world. Why? Because his goodness is full and complete, and in it there is nothing lacking.
“We pray to God to know his passion, death, and resurrection – which come from the goodness of God. We pray to God for the strength that comes from his Cross – which also comes from the goodness of God. We pray to God with all the help of the saints who have gone before us – which, again, comes from the goodness of God. All of the strength that may come through prayer comes from the goodness of God, for he is the goodness of everything.” -Julian of Norwich (taken from Devotional Classics, edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith)

“Forget not what thy God has done for thee; turn over the book of thy remembrance, and consider the days of old…Hast thou never been helped in time of need? Nay, I know thou hast. Go back, then, a little way to the choice mercies of yesterday, and though all may be dark now, light up the lamps of the past, they shall glitter through the darkness, and thou shalt trust in the Lord till the day break and the shadows flee away. ‘Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses, for they have been ever of old.'” – Charles H. Spurgeon  (Morning and Evening)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9

“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” – Hebrews 12:7-14

“And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them.” – Isaiah 42:16

You may already see where I am headed with my thoughts. I have probably mentioned this before, but as a refresher I’ll tell you the one character trait of God I rest on more often than any other: His Sovereignty. He is above all, there is none besides Him, He is matchless in power and authority. This characteristic trickles down into my heart and settles my doubts. If He is, in fact, sovereign, then He has an ultimate will for my life and for each individual on this planet. In the context of His love, His sovereignty means He is above evil and above the horrific things that take place in this world. He is ultimately good, therefore we trust Him even when we are perplexed at life’s seemingly nonsensical events.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the LORD,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:8-12

Expressions of passion

I often find myself going through artistic phases: I draw, I sew, I turn old things into new, and sometimes, but more often than not I find myself writing. I have a countless number of journals, four of which I write in consistently (each journal has its very own purpose, of course). The pen to paper is to me romantic, whimsical, meaningful, beautiful and almost forgotten in this era.

I have found myself falling deeper into a love affair with written (even, spoken) expression. To my mom that is no shocker. For as long as I can remember, she’s loved reading my papers in school, the blogs that I now write and everything else that fell in between. For me, I never really noticed how much I loved writing. It is simply a part of who I am. And then I realized it’s a part of who I am. It seems the realization was something I desperately needed.

Admittedly, I am not a very practiced writer, nor do I feel I always have something important to say. There are many times where words are not necessary; the silence, a soft touch or a look might be all the communication that is needed in a moment. However, I have found that there are many, many words that need to be said. There are millions of people every day who do not get to say or write or express what needs to be communicated. Their voices are smothered and silenced. These are the voices of the oppressed. The enslaved. The persecuted. The tortured. The forgotten. I’ve discovered that more important to me than any silk, any beautiful design, any poem is this raging passion to speak for those who do not have the chance.

In order to cultivate this passion I am headed back to school. This is kind of a hand in hand announcement, I suppose, because this also means I’ll be closing up shop. That’s right, I’m bidding adieu to Ania Designs (and silk, and marketing, and business, and lace…). I have come to realize that when you take time to discover your passion, what truly makes your heart beat, what really sends the blood coursing through your veins, you must take time to cultivate and follow that passion.

Here is a poem I wrote a few weeks ago. I was having a stunning conversation with a friend of mine about love and risk, and even though that was the subject matter in mind when writing, somehow it seems this string of words may fit a number of scenarios. I hope you enjoy.

Life seems to be shades of grey
Seemingly imperfect visions of
What is or is to come
The warmest sun
The coldest wind
Are reminders of truth and reality
Amidst the confusion
As life gives nothing we expect
But all that we hope for
It’s all greyscale
And struggling to find the eye
In the ever pressing storm
The yes and the no
And into the water are only my toes
When deep inside my heart
It screams I should simply jump in
To the dark, the depths, the unknown
That I might explore and taste
Only the most beautiful adventure to be had
A complete surrender and lack of fear
To immerse my life in love and sacrifice