Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Life is crazy beautiful.

I’m seeing God work in my life. Through my disasters and devastation, He’s showing me redemption and hope. And it’s amazing! In the past few weeks, I’ve been able to look back on some events in my life and have been able to see it from a different perspective. I was able to see what I learned and how God used these situations for His glory. There was a purpose to the pain. Alright, I obviously didn't enjoy trudging through the slew of trials, but God is good. Oh. So. Good.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:1-5

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Safety of the Stage

The lights are dimmed, the countdown is quickly getting smaller, instruments are tuned, and we wait patiently behind the curtain. With smiles, laughs, anxiety, and frustrations, I wait to walk onto the stage to my spot with the rest of the band. All anxiety, frustrations, fear, and doubts are left behind the curtain as the countdown comes to an end. Only smiles and confidence from that point on.

The stage is safe.
The people on the stage are safe.
The events happening on the stage are safe.

Even when the events happening on the stage don’t go exactly as planned, it’s still safe. There’s distance between the stage and the audience. There’s an imaginary barrier creating the illusion of safety. The space creates security. No one can touch me; nothing can hurt me.

I love the safety of the stage.

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Shut up and hug me!"

I have favorite people. Is that allowed? Rusty is one of those people. He's a talented artist through the mediums of music and painting.

I've learned a lot from Rusty over the past five years. I can't think of a single time I've spent with him that I didn't laugh numerous times. He's good at finding joy in everyday life. And, as goofy as he is, he's really wise and gives good advice. 

On Friday night, Alicia and I went to see Rusty play with a band at a Mexican bar in Brentwood. We weren't planning on staying the entire time, just long enough to hear some music, eat tortilla chips, drink diet coke (or beer if you're Alicia), give Rusty a hug, and then leave. We ended up staying longer and helped him pack up. I like being a roadie for Rusty.

The band finished a little before 11pm. The area in front of the stages emptied so Alicia and I went and said hi to Rusty! After almost five hours of music, he was sweaty and gross. So I didn't give him a hug. Obviously.

I'm quite the hug snob. I don't hug very many people voluntarily. Especially gross and sweaty people. Alicia and I carried Rusty's two guitars to his truck and he brought the rest of it. He gave Alicia a hug and I backed away. There was no way... As I was protesting and giving reasons why I wasn't going to hug him, he retorted, "shut up and hug me"!

"Shut up and hug me." Who the heck says that? That would be Rusty. The best rockstar dad-like-person a wanna-be-rockstar-princess could ever ask for. I was stunned and didn't move or say another word, so he gave me a hug. The surprise quickly wore off and we talked for a few more minutes before we all left. I willing gave him a hug the second time and laughed a lot.

"Shut up and hug me."

Love you, Rusty!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lover of my soul, Healer of my scars

Alicia and I sang this song by Kari Jobe at church today. And I love it. Enjoy!

Even when it hurts, even when it's hard. Even when it all just falls apart. I will run to You, cause I know that You are Lover of my soul, Healer of my scars. You steady my heart, You steady my heart.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Piece of Eden

What or who is Eden? A wise mentor of mine once told me that as much as I need to address the ugliness that lives in the world and our hearts, I also need to speak of the beautiful times, the Edens. What she meant was that I need to remind myself and others of the positive and happy times in my life when everything was as it should be. Maybe it was a season of life, a single memory, or just a moment. A time where I experienced Eden. A moment where we were in the garden and life was perfect. And that is what I want to write about today. A time in my life when all was good. All smiles and hugs, no meltdowns and anxiety.

Strangely enough, it was hard for me to pinpoint one Eden. As I was thinking about happy memories, my mind jumped from adventures with Trina to playing guitar with Rusty to cuddles with Viola to giggly jewelry shows with Kendra to epic days with Alicia to late nights with Heidi to great conversations with Danny to watching the Little Mermaid with Baylee**.

My perfect moment doesn’t include any of those people listed though. It includes Robert. Odd that I’m writing about him, right? Odd that when I think of a perfect moment, something revolving around him pops into my mind, right? A little. It’s a little odd. But, well, we’re just going to go with it.

Like any girl, I live in a constant state of fantasy inside my head. I play out my life as though it is an episode in an epic TV drama, complete with swelling orchestral music and the big dramatic will they/won’t they type of cliff hanger endings. Sound familiar to anyone yet? Sadly, like in most fantasies, they don't usually play out the way you envision, and you're left with the aching reminder that your life will never be like it is in the movies. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, you do get a glimpse of that fantasy.

Last summer Robert was the youth intern at our church and he got to teach a handful of lessons to the high schoolers. So I got to help. Ok, I wanted to help. After all, I was the Bible student who’d taken and owned studying & teaching classes, a preaching class, and Bible classes. So, because I’d taken these classes, I was an expert. More of an expert than Robert, at least.

I don’t remember all the detail leading up to the Eden moment, but we ended up sitting in his truck with a stack of Bibles and commentaries with a few of my textbooks that I’d insisted on bringing so I could look smart. We spent a few hours combing through commentaries and flipping through the Bible with my occasional unhelpful comment from a textbook. We figured out enough of his lesson for the next morning and could call it quits for the night.

Studying the Bible with Robert. That was my Eden. I don’t know what could have made that time more perfect. It was as though time stood still and nothing could ever happen that would rob me of the joy my heart was feeling at that exact moment. I was studying the BIble with my best friend. Nothing about this time fell into my fantasy, but it was still perfect. I was content and complete. I had my Eden. Right there in the truck.

As most things, the moments of studying the Bible with Robert came to an end. Life moved forward and we went our separate ways. However, the happy fun memories still occasionally linger

What bits of Eden have you had in your life? What moments have you had where life felt wonderful and all the crap this would brings seemed to disseminate? Hold on to those moments. They’re hopeful reminders that not all is lost. There is still good in the world, joy to be found, and love to be experienced. Smiles, hugs, giggles. It’s all still out there. There is still a God who sees our hearts and seeks to bring us joy and pleasure. Eden still exists, we just have to look for it. Take a moment to pause and remind yourself of Eden. Because we all need a bit of the garden every now and again.

**Yes, watching the Little Mermaid made the cut for happy memories. Ariel’s my favorite princess and it was (still is?) Baylee’s favorite, so it was an exciting night. Plus it was my birthday. And we sang and danced along to the Disney movie. It was just a really great day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Life After Moody: 3.5

Getting a job! I started my part time job at Brighton this afternoon! Today was my orientation day, so I filled out lots of paperwork, read the handbook, and spent time working on the floor. I sold a bracelet and a matching ring! Woo-hoo! I love working with all the jewelry, accessories, and other pretty sparkly things. And the other ladies I'm working with are so down-to-earth and sweet.

Aside from working at Brighton, I'm also house sitting, babysitting, and helping one of my neighbors organize his companies office. The organizing job is surprisingly fun! My neighbor is the manager of a small company just a few minutes away from where I live. In the past four years, they haven't had any help with keeping the building clean. So that's where I come in! My OCD is finally paying off! I get to go from office to office and reorganize everything and make sure it's all clean and presentable. Love it.

My only frustration with all the jobs I'm working is that none of them pertain to anything I studied in college. BUT, I know that working towards my goals and all the waiting that takes place in that is not wasted time. Thankfully, I can write and take photos even if that's not my career at the moment. And I can devote more time to my other passion - music. This current season of my life is one to rest in, to fall more in love with God, to connect with my family, to spend time with friends, and to build up my portfolio. I don't consider any of those things wasted time.

So, here's to a new chapter in my life starting! It's gonna be a good one.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Coffee, anyone?

Apparently not for this little girl! 
This experience was too adorable to keep to myself.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Unexpected ER Trip

I guess most trips to the emergency room are unexpected, now that I think about it. I've never scheduled a time to go there.

I went to Kaiser's emergency room in Antioch late Saturday afternoon and was released later that night. I'm ok - it was a strange combo of low blood sugar, vertigo, and a crohn's flareup. After lots of fluids via IV, the doctor gave me anti-inflammatory meds, antibiotics, probiotic so the antibiotics wouldn't make me sick, and valium for the flareup. Then he gave me anti-nausea meds and anti-dizzy meds for the vertigo. And then something else for the low blood sugar. He ended it all with a dose of benadryl just in case my body reacted poorly to one of the many things injected into my blood stream. The combo of all the meds made me exhausted so I slept through most of it being administered.

Around 10:30pm I was released to go home. The doctor came back into the room and excused my parents before waking me up. He explained what had happened inside of me and how to prevent it from happening again. We talked for about 10 minutes before the nurse came in and took the IV out. Then I got to go home!

Gross highlight of the night: it's really hard to pee in a cup when you're super dizzy.
Funny highlight of the night: my mom asked the doctor if he was trying to mimic Bieber's hairstyle. I though it was funny, the doctor didn't.

I slept through most of today. Alicia came by for a quick visit and brought me tortilla chips and sprite and then I went to my neighbor's house for about 15 minutes.

At this point, I'm just recovering from all the different medicines given to me. I didn't get nearly as sick from all the meds this time as I did last time I was treated for crohn's intravenously.

I missed Kirsten's wedding because of the emergency room ordeal last night. We've known each other since 3rd grade and she's one of my best friends. Luckily, her parents live next door to my family so she was there this evening. My mom and I went over for a little while and got to chat with them all. I got a sneak peek at some wedding photos and got to sign the guest book. And she saved me a cupcake and some potato salad! 

In the midst of all the chaos, there was much to be thankful for, though. My parents were at the wedding in Brentwood when I got really sick, but my Aunt and Uncle who live 10 minutes away were able to take me to the hospital. My parents met us there. The Emergency Room was also fairly empty. After checking in, I only had to wait for a few minutes before I was assigned a room. The doctor helping me was gentle and kept me calm. And my parents handled this emergency room trip much better than my last one! Getting to spend some time with Kirsten this evening also made me feel better. 

Thank you, God, for the positive little reminders that You're still in charge and that You're good in the midst of pain and chaos.

Friday, July 13, 2012

National French Fry Day.

Today is national french fry day. I'm not even joking. I promise. (News for national french fry day.)

Who does this make me think of? Annie Quick. Thursdays became our French Fry day during our 4 years at Moody together. We ate way too many fries together and thoroughly enjoyed it! We also had spontaneous late night McDonald's runs for fries. They became more frequent the closer it got to finals week

Today I ate a few fries. Viola happily munched on the majority of them though.

PS. Confession: Sometimes I google pictures of french fries.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Let's take pictures!"

I did a quick photoshoot this afternoon with the girls! Trina's idea. I think she just wanted to dress up Viola and make her laugh. The girls had fun being my cute and goofy models. And Alicia was my most wonderful assistant! She made sure bangs were out of eyes and that dresses and skirts were where they should be. She also fed the girls chocolate chips, made them laugh, and found my phone a few times. I couldn't have done it without her help! 

And then my littlest model needed a few snuggles so Alicia grabbed my camera and we called it a day. 

**all unedited photos. I need to play with the lighting on them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

awesome finger paint mess.

We made an awesome mess today. When mommy's away, the girls will play! We didn't mean for the mess to be this large, but it happens. It started with finger paints and paper and ended with finger paint on toes as well as fingers and faces.

Lots of sisterly love!

 Almost ready!

 Finger paint works just as well on feet.

 Trina's foot print.

Vi's foot prints.

 More painting!

Vi's lovely painting.

Messy little feet!

She sprayed herself with the hose while trying to wash her feet off. She thought it was funny until I wanted to take a picture.

 Trina's tribal face painting!

Vi got some tribal face paint, too.

Thankfully finger paint is water soluble and washes off of feet, fingers, hair, faces, sidewalks, and clothes.

Love these girls.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Palm trees look like fireworks.

I'm in firework withdrawal. Already. So admiring palm trees is what's going to happen for the next year. Because palm trees look a lot like fireworks.

PS. I've also downloaded a few firework apps on my phone. :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Find Your glory even here...

This was the perfect song for me to listen to today.

The Hurt and the Healer by MercyMe

(verse 1)
The question that is never far away 
But healing doesn’t come from the explained
Jesus please don’t let this go in vain
You’re all I have, all that remains

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering
I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the Healer collide

(verse 2)
Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the Healer collide


The unpredictable ravishing waves of the lake collide with the steadfastness of the sky. The hurt and the Healer collide.

Find Your glory even here, God, amidst my panic attacks, fears, struggles, and hurts.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.  
Romans 8:18-21

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Confession Session

Hi, my name is Andrea. I listen to bad pop music like Justin Bieber and The Jonas Brothers. I watch too many ABC Family teen dramas. I burp without a second thought. I have an unhealthy crush on Switchfoot in it’s entirety. I occasionally talk about people behind their backs. I can be mean to just about anyone without a reason. I’ve started numerous books that I’ll probably never finish. I sometimes fall asleep without brushing my teeth. I don’t always get things done when I say that I will. I failed Greek. I often speak before I listen. In the past six months I have had many days where I just didn’t eat. Shall I continue? Because there’s a lot more.

Confession. Why is it something that intimidates us so much? Why is it something that, when brought up in conversations, makes our bodies tense and our guard immediately come up? Because confession brings about exposure and vulnerability. Let’s be honest, no one longs to be exposed.

I lived on a floor with 38 girls for the past four years of my life. I can’t tell you how many times girls came to my room saying, “I’ve never told anyone this before...”. It is a phrase that rings over and over in our heads as we battle with the emotions of wanting freedom from our strongholds, but also being terrified of being exposed. Where does this battle come from? From the father of lies, of course.

Elyse Fitzpatrick, in her devotional Comforts From The Cross, says the following:

If you belong to Jesus today, your enemy, Satan has two goals: to remind you of your sin and to accuse you continually before God. Satan takes perverse pleasure in reminding you over and over again of your failures. He does this to dishonor Jesus Christ and make you turn your eyes upon yourself in over-scrupulousness and introspection. He does this so that you will not love your Savior or have the faith to obey him.

What she means by this is that Satan has been feeding us lies for centuries. He wants us to believe that it is wrong for us to confess our sins before God and others. He does this by cascading us deep into the pit of shame and guilt. We end up believing that there is no way that our family and friends, let alone a holy God, would ever love and forgive us for what we have done. But, if we look to Scripture, we find that it says quite the opposite. Scripture not only commands us to confess our sins, but goes on to explain that when we do so, there is mercy, grace, love, and freedom waiting for us on the other side. So if all of those amazing gifts are there for the taking, why are so scared to grab them?

The night I confessed a whole boatload of things to a friend, I was a disaster. I was tense and defensive. I was so upset at myself and what I had done that I laid on the couch and cried. After lots of crying and about 30 minutes of nonsensical word vomit, the entire story was out. My friend sat on the chair next to the coach and listened, without any judgement, just a few clarifying questions. It felt like shards of glass were spewing out of my mouth with each word, tearing me up inside and leaving me in pieces. But the funny thing was, after all the crying and explaining, I felt better. It was done. The secrets and pain I’d been clinging to were no longer just my burden. There was no more pretending. And the best part of it came next. My friend didn’t reject me. Instead he prayed for me. He brought God back into my mess.

We will never be able to overcome the sins in our lives until we’re able to confess them not only to the Lord, but to others. The Bible explains that eventually our sins have a way of catching up with us. Either by our own confessions, or by becoming exposed by another means. I chose to tell my friend about some mistakes I’d made, and the healing and grace that came with it was amazing. I didn’t choose to tell my family about some of my struggles. That exposure was not amazing and it happened in the Emergency Room. There’s a distinct difference between confession and being found out. One, though seemingly the scarier of the two, is definitely the less painful one. So, the question is, do you want confession which Scripture says can only bring about healing, or do you want to believe the lies that satan has fed you, live in the shadows and eventually be forced out into the light? The choice is up to you.

Believe Jesus when He says that He has NEVER left you nor forsaken you.
Believe Jesus when He says that if you confess your sins He is QUICK to forgive you.
Believe Jesus when He says that in confessing your sins to each other you will be HEALED.
Believe Jesus.

Take the time to seek out a trusted friend and confess. Not via text or email. Face to face. It’s time to step out from behind the lies and secrets we’ve been holding onto and press into Jesus to gain freedom from our sins.
Ready? Set? GO!

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. -James 5:16

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
-1 John 1:9

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
-Proverbs 28:13

Monday, July 2, 2012

yearbook staff photos. 'cause I miss these guys.

This is us being dramatic.

This is us at the distribution party.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Trees make the best backdrop.

Pre-service tweet: Sitting on the stage, munching away on my apple, watching people get ready for the outside service. I seriously love this place.

Cedar Grove had a special 4th of July service this Sunday. It was outside and ended with a picnic!

Post-service tweet: Super awesome morning!! I love it when we have our church service outside.

**These are all photos that Susan Thomas took on her phone. :)