I have the chills right now. Not because it is cold in my office right now, which it is, but I am overwhelmed with God right now.
His creativity. His order. His design. His detail. All inside something that is too small for the human eye to see.
Someone posted this.
Snowflakes. I dont know how one can deny the existance and love of a God when they look at one of those!! Can you imagine all of the creativity when you realize no two snowflakes are a like? Think about the meticulous designs that are there. The perfect symmetry that is present from the God of order. The Creator God!
The phase that keeps swirling in my head is How Much More?! My creator God cared enough to design each one of those. How much more does he care about me. How much more detail and design and love is there when it comes to us?
Those snowflakes are screaming I love you from a God who knows most of them will melt or be trampled on! Oh How He Love Us!
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I haven’t written much lately. For a while, there was just nothing to say. Recently, there is too much to say and I just don’t have the words for it.
But here I sit, forcing myself to put words down. If I don’t, I will forget. Even now, I am forgetting the pain and heartache that led to experiencing love and grace in ways I hadn’t before. I want to remember the deep laughter that made its way out of a broken heart, the joy and rest that came from a weary soul.
Thursday, September 5, I laid in bed, staying up longer than usual, because I had the next day off. I was getting together with my friends from high school! For six months we planned this little weekend away in Calabassas. We were all going to be in one place for longer than 2 hours. It was going to be such a sweet time.
About 1130 that night I got a text from Rebekah asking if I was up. It was strange to get a text from her that late at night. I thought something happened to her or she was in trouble. She called a little later and told me about Brad. He was gone. He did it. All I could get out was “WHAT?” “Are you sure?”. I sat there stunned. I knew that it had to be true because no one would make this up. But I couldn’t believe it. Not Brad. Not this way.
That night I understood what it meant to weep. Not just cry. It was tears that came from so deep inside me it hurt.
Sleep eluded me that night…what was left of it anyway. The next morning I lay around before going to pick up a friend at the airport and I wrote this, “Today I’m reuniting with my oldest friends while grieving the loss of someone. Sitting in the tension of the now and not yet. Pain and privilege. A heart that is full and a heart that breaking.” I was so excited to be with my friends, but my heart longed to be with my family.
That weekend and the days to follow were filled with tears as we gathered together to remember Brad. Each Facebook post made me ache. But as always with my family, there was laughter, healing laughter. I love that my family shows up. Good times or bad. They are there. We can cry together and we can laugh together.
That next Monday was the first day of Seek Week. I love seek week. But I didn’t have it in me to sing that night (and for a while after). I sat down because I didn’t even have the strength to stand. My dear friend sat next to me and asked if I was ok. I said no as I started to cry. All he said was, “Im just going to sit here next to you, ok?”
The theme that night was God’s goodness. I rolled my eyes and thought, of course it is. But even in that, whether it was through my friend sitting with me, or the words to the songs that I couldn’t sing, God was reminding me that he is still good. He hasn’t changed. And He is with me.
A week or so later, I met up with that same friend for coffee to discuss some life group things. He asked how I was doing and in typical Andrea fashion, I didn’t really answer the question. But he looked at me and said, “You’re not ok.” I looked back at him and agreeing, I said, no. I’m not.
I felt as though I had nothing left in me. Nothing left to give. Brad’s death cut my heart open and it laid there exposed, bleeding out. Not only was I grieving, but God was showing me things that needed to change. Areas of my heart that needed to cleaned out. And he was doing that. He was gently cleaned out that dirt, but it hurt!
That conversation with my friend led me to stepping down from where I was serving on Sundays. After 3.5 years, I was tired and needed a break.
Third Wednesday was the follow week and they were talking about God as our Father. During the response time they talked about how we need God to show up as Father in different ways, whether it be discipline, love, grace ect. I though, oh great, ok God, you have been showing me all of this crap, discipline me now. I went forward to receive prayer. The words my friend heard were, You are faithful, Andrea. I began to cry. God was giving me grace. He was loving me. Not disciplining me. He was holding me, encouraging me to keep changing, but he loved me anyway.
The next month at third Wednesday God showed up again. We had several stations set up around the room. The first was lectio davina. I sat there for a while trying to decide what passage to read. Psalm 23 came to mind and I brushed it off because I know that one and didn’t want to read it. So next came to mind was Psalm 62. Now I thought I was just coming up with random numbers. So went ahead with 23. And as I read it I began to cry.
He restores my soul.
He leads me beside quite waters.
My cup overflows.
This is what I needed to hear. I needed him to restore my soul. He is the only one who can fill my empty cup.
I went to the next station, Silence. I felt such pressure to quite my mind and hear God. But as I sat there, I felt as though all I needed to do was just rest. It felt so good to just be still. Be quiet.
The third station was prayer. Someone on the prayer team prayed over me and she got John 15 about abiding in the vine and the verse about come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest. There it was again. Rest. I wasn’t resting in him. I wasn’t allowing him fill me and give me strength. My heart was broken and shattered and he was the only one could put it back together.
The next day was my 29th birthday. As I sat in Starbucks waiting for my friend, I began journaling what happened the night before. I was curious if I had chosen Ps 62 if that would have changed what I got out of that night. The first line says “My soul finds rest in God alone”. If there was any doubt in my mind that God was speaking something specific to me and he gave me Ps 23, that cleared it up!
It was a month, almost to the day Brad died that I was finally able to sing in church again.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Yesterday was Labor Day. Each year, I spend this day down in Oceanside with my family. For the past 30+ years we have spent this day BBQing, swimming and catching up with each other.
Yesterday was no different. I drove down first thing in the morning, a little concerned with the 68 degrees and heavy cloud cover that accompanied me as I made my way down.
I was greeted with a hug from the cutest five year old who ran over to my car when I arrived. We walked in and gave hugs and hellos to everyone to was already there. Soon the food was out which meant my plate was now full of salads and desserts.
We sat around tables eating and laughing and complaining about the now 90+ degrees outside. That meant it was time to get in the pool. An integral part of France Family Labor Day BBQ is the older cousins throwing, tossing and dunking the younger cousins around in the water. This year was a little more mellow in that area. As we chatted in the pool, I would be summoned by a little voice saying, ‘Andrea! Watch!’. So I would watch and smile and clap as that adorable five year old would jump off the side of the pool to his dad.
He would do this over and over. And each time as he would get ready to jump again, he would ask, ‘Dad, you’ll catch me right?’
Dad: Yes, Im right here.
Son: You’ll catch me?
Dad: Yes, I have caught you each time you have jumped, right?
Son: yeah. (Takes a big breath and apprehensively jumps)
Two thoughts ran through my head at the same time. Kind of annoyed that it took him so long to jump each time, I thought, why are you still scared. Your dad has caught you every single time. He is right there. He isn’t going to let anything to happen to you. He hasn’t given you any reason to believe he won't catch you. Just jump.
The second thought was that is the conversation I have with God all. the. Time.
Andrea: You’ll catch me right?
God: Yes, I’m right here.
Andrea: But you’ll really catch me?
God: Yes, I have caught you each time you have jumped right?
Andrea: Yeah…(except I still don’t believe he will catch me and I continue to sit on side of life)
I watched as another cousin, this one is about seven years old, stood on the shoulders of her dad as he would launched her over and over to the deep end of the pool. She laughed and kept coming back for more. Higher, farther, faster. It didn’t matter. She wanted to go. She trusted that her dad would be there.
Oh, how I want to be like my cousins. To go, do, say what my father asks of me…even if I am terrified. He has never given me any reason not to trust him.
Friday, April 5, 2013
A few years ago, I sat at the kitchen table of this wonderful Brazilian family. We talked, ate, laughed as we tried to understand what the other one was saying. I remember thinking how content they were and how content I was at that moment. They had a simple concrete home. No decorations on the wall, no paint even. One pot and one pan that was filled with dents and scratches. There was one tiny tv they rolled out as we crowded around the table to watch the soccer game. There was more love and joy than my heart could contain.
I have lots of stuff. I just moved and was amazed at how little ol’ me could have acquired so many possessions. I really would like to blame it on the fact that I live in Orange County. I live in the middle of this bubble that is consumed with consumerism. Everywhere I look I am reminded that bigger is better. I need more. Enough isn’t a word that is easily understood. But the reality is, its all on me. I have allowed myself to be concerned with what I wear, how I look, what I eat. The reality is, what I throw away on a daily basis in food, someone is hoping it will feed their family tonight. The reality is I am more concerned with how I look to others than how my heart looks to the One who gave it all to me in the first place.
Getting rid of things has always been easy for me…as long as I feel I don’t need it anymore. But its that word need I get hung up on. Even as I write this I am thinking about things I could possibly get rid of. A few items I haven’t worn in years come to mind. But then I think if X situation ever came up, I would need it. I don’t want to have to buy it again. My perception of need is skewed.
Recently I have felt compelled to downsize. There is something freeing about owning less. There is a book called 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I haven’t read the book yet (Im toying with the idea of actually needing to buy it or not). From what I have read and heard, she takes 7 areas of excess in her life and 7 months and gets to work. Each month she focuses on simplifying a different area whether it be food, possessions, waste, stress, ect. In doing so, trying to realign with the heart of God (assuming on that part, again I haven’t read it). But that is what I hope to get out of it. While I don’t plan on doing a seven month challenge, I want to think through areas of my life and heart that need to be purged. Purged is a strong word. I am reading through the Old Testament right now and it says several times in Leviticus that if there was any sin, anywhere, they were to purge the camp of it. I remember thinking in regards to the specific rule I was reading, wow that is so extreme. But if you don’t, it will begin to infect everything around it and ultimately the entire camp. Purging the uncleanness, the sin is not optional. It is vital to my survival.
I'm all for enjoying the blessing God has given us. I think he delights in it when we do. However, I do have a problem…I Should have a problem with enjoying the blessing He has given us when we… when I am not being obedient to the commands to care for the widows and orphans, to those in need, to the least of these.
Just as I need to purge my closet, I need God to purge my heart. I moved two weeks ago. I went thru my closet as I was packing and got rid of a bag full of clothes and other items. The other day I got rid of about 15 more articles of clothing (Im trying to do 1 a day for a month). The reality is I have more than I need and there will always be more to get rid of. Just when I think God has cleaned my heart, there will be more that needs to be purged.
I hope by doing this, I can reorient myself around to what God has called me do. I want to free up more space (physically and mentally) to sit with Jesus. Honestly, this scares me. I think part of the reason I fill my life is to avoid what is hiding in the corners of my heart. I want to free up money to pay off debt and to give. To bless because I have been blessed. I want to let go of the things of this world I am clinging, to say Here I am, send me.
April: No shopping for clothes. Get rid of at least 30 items of clothing.
- Content with what I have
- My identity is not shaped by what I wear
- Save money
May: No eating out. No last minute grocery store runs when I don’t want to eat what is already in the fridge.
- Enjoy the food God has created
- Do what I enjoy. Cooking, Baking, and Eating
- Save Money
June: Use my phone only for talking and texting. No facebook, instagram or pinterest on the phone.
- Be present
- People watch, read, talk
July: Haven't got that far yet...
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
I spent the day at Biola on Friday for work. I got there a bit early so I walked around campus. The scents and sounds filled my mind with memories of what seems like a life time ago.The roses by Flour fountain, the bell chimes, the eucalyptus trees lining the library walk way. This place was home for four years. Considering I’ve moved almost every year since I graduated, that is a record!
As I walked through the caf, I thought about how many, many times I had done this before. I thought about how rare it was that I would have to eat alone. There was always a friend around. After sharing a meal and talking for a while after, we would walk back to Stewart Hall. Most of the time we would end up all gathered together again in the lobby where we would spend the rest of the night. That was best the thing about my time at Biola. My community. We ate together. Went to class together. Lived together. Did life together.
My thoughts have been full of the idea of community lately. We talk about it at church. At life group. It has become one of those buzzwords. But as I was at a birthday party last weekend, we all stood around a table talking about relationships, priorities and the changes we were all experiencing. One of them mentioned how he hoped that we would still be doing this in 20 years. My heart ached at the thought of not having my community, this community, with me in 20 years.
Life happens and things change. People move on. And that sucks!! I feel like we are fed this idea, this lie, that we have to make it on our own. That we have to move out on our own, pave our own way, do our own thing. We want to get our own place. What we want is so individualistic. I should be saying I, instead of we, because I have come to accept this as how it should be.
Before we graduated, my friends and I had this dream that we would all move to uptown Whittier, rent a duplex and have our lives be one long Friends episode. It was going to be amazing. It obviously never happened, but how incredible would that have been?!
While reading my daily list of blogs, I came to one by Shauna Niequist,
“Sometimes I find myself thinking about the people I love, all spread out all over the country, and I think: why are we so far apart? Would it be insane to move houses or cities or states because of friendship? Doesn’t it sort of make sense? People move for jobs, for love, to be near their parents or in a city they like. People move to be in good school systems for their kids or according to God’s call to a church or ministry. People move for houses they fall in love with and shorter commutes. Do people move for friendship? Have you? Would you? This is what I want, in my secret crazy heart: I want to pick a neighborhood and put out the call: let’s do this! Let’s stop texting and seeing each other twice a year, if that. Let’s pick a neighborhood, and let’s move there and raise our kids together and have dinner together twice a week and go running together and put our kids on the same bus in the morning. You know how I feel about friendship, that I believe, really and truly, that friendship is God’s best evidence of himself here on earth. You know I believe that friendships shape us, heal us, transform us. You know I think they’re hard, and worth putting in the time and awkwardness and vulnerability that real friendships require. This is my question these days: when you have friendships that are so dear to you, when you feel so seen and loved and connected and thankful for what these amazing people bring you, why wouldn’t we change our lives, or at the very least, our location for them?
As I read this, my heart shouted YES. I think about the book of Acts and how the early church lived. This is how lived. They were all in the same neighborhood. They ate dinner together. I imagine they played games together over a cup of coffee. They worshipped together. They shared. They gave. They loved. They grieved. They rejoiced. TOGETHER.
If living next door to your community isn’t a reality at this moment, what would it look like for us (me!) to still live like this? To be present, truly present with those in our life?