the things i’m doing

I really really haven’t been blogging a lot these last few months. Don’t get stressed out- I haven’t been journaling much either. I’m finding that the time I have to pour myself out and onto paper is getting smaller and smaller as my wedding draws nearer and nearer. But I did just want to squeeze in a few minutes to share a little bit about where I am and what I’ve been doing since Christmas.

1. As of today, there are only THIRTY-NINE days til I marry Prince Charming. So close and yet so far away.

2. I have been working at Adventures In Missions for almost two months now. I work in the Interview Department and spend my time pouring over online applications and then calling applicants to follow up with them to see how much health and spiritual/emotional maturity they are truly walking in. I love love love my job, and I’m sad that it will potentially end soon. I took the job under a temporary contract so I wouldn’t have to fundraise before my wedding, and the contract ends 4 days before the Big Event. I’m currently praying about if this is something God has for me in a more long-term position. I’d be agreeing to fundraising if I chose to stay at Adventures, and that’s a lot to think about, especially with my soon-to-be Husband also support raising in his job at Adventures. So maybe that’s something you can pray for me/us about!

3. I also have been teaching a course on Discovering Your Identity for the CGA at Adventures. CGA stands for Center For Global Action and it’s kind of like a graduate program for World Racers returning home who want a little more intentional discipleship before launching into whatever their futures look like. I meet with a group of 12 students weekly and facilitate a class that is utilizing Peter Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (one of my top 3 reads, ever- SO powerful!) to sift through topical occurrences in order to get to and work through root issues. In plainer words, the book is helping us recognize and establish tools that will help us do the hard work of emotionally maturing. It’s heavy stuff, but my class is full of people who want to learn and grow and be challenged. Weekly, they come ready to dive into the material, participate in group discussions, invite vulnerability in their personal reflection time, and throw off old habits that don’t serve them. I honestly believe I get more from those students than they get from me. I’m learning so much about the power of vulnerability and willingness and openness. Watching them have revelations about current behaviors that stem from subconscious lessons learned in their school lives, families of origin, etc. is transformative for me. That coupled with my job in the Interview Department is really reminding me of how deeply I want to go back to school to get a counseling degree. A blog will be coming soon about all the incredible truths I’m learning from these two jobs.

4. I have made a habit of cooking dinner for the Professor regularly. I love it. I feel so good about providing for him in a tangible way. And as we spend more time at the Root House preparing it for his moving in, I half expect him to sit on the couch and wait for dinner to arrive. Instead, he is running around the house fixing little things or improving it in any way he can think. I feel like we’re a team, and it’s such a privilege to watch him running around improving our lives and then showing up at the dinner table, hungry for whatever I have cooked that night. I think I could really get into this wife-thing.

5. I have been working out like a mad woman. Every morning I’m up at 6:45 and throwing in a workout dvd: pilates, barre, or a rip-off version of P90x that my old roomie and I used to do. And since our bosses gave us a treadmill desk, everyone in the Admissions, Interview, World Race, and Short Term Missions Department has been signing up for 30 minute slots to get their movement on. It. Is. Awesome. I fall a little short in the dieting portion of wedding preparation, but I am killing it in the workout arena.

ok, this isn’t technically working out, but it WAS a really tall mountain…

6. The Professor and I bought our wedding bands last night. It took us about an hour to choose. He was a little stressed and sad because he loves to take his time and do his research. I loved it because I’m much more of a spontaneous, in-the-moment kind of girl, and the rings we chose we absolutely LOVE.

7. I still have not seen the new Cinderella movie, and I’m dying.

8. Last weekend The Professor and I traveled away to our respective Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties. He dressed up like a cow and ran amuk in the streets of Greenville, South Carolina, and I took my sweet new Georgia friends up to a cabin in the mountains near Blue Ridge, Georgia for a weekend of sugar, hot tubs, and rest. The Prof is convinced his weekend was better, but I’m sure mine was really the best. We both feel like we’ve been released into this season of marriage now that we’ve had a real opportunity to process our single lives and celebrate the beginning of our married life together. Also, he dressed up like a cow.

9. I sent my wedding dress off to get altered today. A sweet Russian lady named Luda regaled me with stories of how she met her husband and what their two-year-old daughter is like while she secretly eased my stress about having all the things altered. I was walking on sunshine when I left that shop.

10. I have made all kinds of sweet friends here in Gainesville! Women I work with, women The Professor works with, women I randomly know because he has known them for years. I felt really sad when most of my friends from back home couldn’t make it to my bachelorette weekend, and even sadder that many of them cannot make it to my wedding. But I also feel really loved and supported here, and if my Kentucky friends were the women who walked me through my single days, these Georgia gems are the women who will walk me through my marriage life. And I’m really good with that.

also happy st patty’s day

11. I turned 30. But then you already knew that! Thanks for reading that blog. 😉 #thirtyisthenewtwenty

12. I started taking voice lessons again. It is terrifying. It is invigorating. I feel like I’m slowly beginning to conquer my fear of singing in front of other people, and taking ownership over the sound of my own voice, rather than just hating it in general. My instructor is crazy amazing. I leave every lesson feeling like I’m on top of the world.

13. The sun has started coming out in Georgia and it’s been so warm I’ve worn dresses more days than I haven’t. And while sitting on my pilates ball at work is supes uncomfortable in a dress, and there aren’t windows in the office where I work, it’s still worth it to be walking forward into spring.

14. The Professor completed his season leading the Fellowship at Adventures. A new class of Fellows are moving in this week, but he has moved on to a new job, and we’re both excited for the freedom that will bring him, both with time and with energy. He loved his time with the Fellows, but is eager to move into a new season and a new job, one that will challenge and grow him in new ways.

15. Wedding planning is going great! Mostly because all the major tasks are completed, and the less-major-but-still-more-than-minor ones are delegated to human beings that are not me. Don’t get me wrong- there’s still plenty to do, but it is absolutely getting done. As The Day draws closer, I find myself caring less and less about the event, and more just about marrying my best friend, but that stresses him out because he then feels like he has to carry the weight of caring the most. So I’m trying to be more helpful. But I’m just so ready to be married!

16. The Root House is coming together! In the last month, especially, we have bought tons of furniture and started decorating. I’m more interested in making a home for him to move into, and he’s more interested in planning a wedding everyone will enjoy. But we’ve been doing a good job of meeting in the middle. ❤

17. I became unnaturally obsessed with chicken chili stew. And then frosted mini wheats. My current unhealthy obsession is honey bunches of oats with almonds. The struggle is real, y’all.

18. I had a bridal shower in Kentucky a month and a half ago. We’re having a couple’s shower here in Georgia this weekend. I love celebrating things.

19. My book club is actually a tv show club, and we finished watching the most recent season of Downton Abbey a couple weeks ago. We’re resuming this Thursday with SMASH. You’re all invited.

20. My fingernails have been polished every day for two months. I dig it.

21. We had a terrible ice storm and were without power/heat/jobs for 4 days. It was so cold, but I didn’t worry, because The Professor found places for us to stay that did have heat, and provided for me in every way. He’s going to be an excellent husband.

22. I’m exhausted. I want to sleep much more than my body needs. Preparing for a wedding is emotionally exhausting.

23. I’m so happy. I love my job, I love my house, I love my fiance. I’m making friends whom I love, I’m making memories I cherish, and I’m finally starting to feel like I’m finding my rhythm and can be myself again. It’s a good feeling.

30b30: eight and nine. all about that dress.

One thing I know I’ve always wanted to experiment with is making my own clothes. Not weird she-definitely-knitted-a-romper-and-then-wore-it type things, but nice things… like knitting some socks. Crocheting a hat. Sewing an apron.

And over the last few weeks I checked a major one off the list: I made my first dress!

I was invited to a fancy, ritzy, fabulous wedding in Florida in November, but started panicking when they told us it was “black tie optional.” What does that mean?? Floor length? Cocktail? Why do all these dresses look like they’re for prom? Is it prom season?? Why do the only other dresses look like mother-of-the-bride gowns? What do I do???

See, I only have summer dresses in my closet. Definitely not appropriate for a fancy wedding. And since I really don’t love to shop, I clearly don’t know the places to go for nice dresses (in a non-prom, non-grandma fashion).

So I took a breath and, with some extra encouragement from my seamstress roomie, decided to just stinking make my own dang dress.

I scrounged the internets (mostly pinterest) for ideas of what I wanted the silhouette/neckline/waist area/length to be, and found a couple great ideas:

I looooove boat necklines, especially the super-high ones. I haven’t been nazi enough on my arms this fall to warrant a strapless or sleeveless dress, so I found a nice balance between not wanting sleeves and actually needing them. And I knew I wanted to do something with the back, and found a really daring deep-vee plunge (that I made a bit less daring so I wouldn’t shock myself or others with a surprise meeting of the small of my back.

I then proceeded to panic over color, fabric, drape, embellishments, and any number of other cool sewing terms until the roomie calmed me down with her sweet wisdom: “Whatever you choose, it’s going to be fabulous. Also, I like option B.”

Option B! The winner! When down to a deep purple-y wine color and a rich navy blue, the navy one. And it was definitely the right choice.

I loosely followed this tutorial for the dress, and added a deep-vee plunge in the back via a loose form of this tutuorial.

I struggled a bit with the elastic (the fabric was too heavy and the elastic too thin), so I ended up adding a double layer of elastic at the waist. This is the one area of the dress I really didn’t love, so I added a belt and a do-it-yourself bow at the bottom of the vee plunge in the back. It could have been a bit larger, but I still liked the outcome. All-in-all, from the cutting of the fabric, to the finishing of the bow, (without taking into account the entire week I put off doing the belt), the dress took me about an hour. Maybe a bit longer. But it was SO SIMPLE and turned out SO ELEGANTLY. I loved it.

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Bonus? The dresses at the top ranged in the couple-hundred dollar category. I made my entire dress for less than $20. Suck it, Saks.

And THEN, checking off yet another bucket list item, I got to dress super fancy and do something awesome. I added a sweet pair of heels, some great nail polish, and a killer necklace and hit the ground running. My good-lookin’ date helped a bit, too.

neilandandi

We went to this fabulous wedding (of which he was The Best Man) (also the best man), and ate, drank, and danced the night away at the best reception I’ve ever been to. I laughed a lot, I made new friends, I stuffed my face, I laughed some more, and in general I felt stunning. I felt prettier and more glamorous than I have all year long. I’ve deeply longed for a real reason to get dressed up and do something fabulous, and this was a better excuse than I could have imagined.

What a perfect night.

#postpartumprobs

Let me just begin with this: No. I am not pregnant. No, I have not had children yet. No, I am not expecting.

Some girlfriends and I were discussing pregnancy and birth plans and what have you this past Sunday. As we do. One of the major topics of discussion became the area of postpartum care. I recently read this article about the lack of postpartum care for new mothers in America and how detrimental it can be to go from just you and your spousey-poo to you and your spouse and lots of new baby poo. And crying. And diaper rash. Oh, and learning the art of breastfeeding. And the art of Never Sleeping Again. Ever.

I feel like it could be the next Harry Potter series:

Harry Potter and the 24 Hour Labor
Harry Potter And the Colicky Baby
Harry Potter and the Neverending Poo Stream
Harry Potter And 18-Year-Long Night

You get my point.

But, seriously, how are we supposedly at the top of our game as a country, and yet we are the only country without paid maternal leave, and one of the few countries without normal practices of postpartum care? Rather than being a community of women-helping-women, we’ve become a society in which the moment a baby leaves a mother’s body, the mother is expected almost solely to care for her brand new human being, and forever deny her own needs. If she attempts to put her health or needs above baby’s, she’s considered lazy, selfish or, at worst, neglectful. In the article I recently referenced, an Argentine woman compares post-birth to a plane crash. We’re all told that in a crash, you must place an oxygen mask on yourself first, and then your children. Yet, milliseconds after birth, women are expected to hold their breath for the next 18 years, attending first and nearly-only to the needs of her child. Especially during infancy and early years. Rather than take care of herself so that she is physically and mentally able to take care of her children, she is expected to undergo major physical trauma and then immediately recover in order to focus solely on the infant.

And we wonder why postpartum depression is on the rise.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, your mother will show up to help for a week or two. Maybe, also, your mother-in-law. Or a sister if you’re suuuper lucky. But for those without extended families, or with poor familial ties, what’s the alternative? To suck it up and get on with it.

Are you judging me quite yet? Perhaps you’ve been through it all and you’re thinking to yourself, By God if I had to do it, and I made it through alive, everyone else should quit complaining and just deal, too. Or maybe, It’s not normal to need or expect someone else’s help. You brought a baby into the world, you decided for yourself you wanted children, so you brought this on yourself. Again- deal with it.

Or maybe you’re a mom went through the exhaustion of a new baby for the first, second, third, fourth time… and you know how desperately you needed someone to talk to, help change the baby, give you 15 minutes so you could shower for the first time in a week.

I’ve seen repeatedly on facebook, posts like such:

“Eat, sleep, or shower? I can only do one.”

“Baby finally went to sleep. I’m too exhausted to sleep so I guess I’ll just sit here on facebook.”

“I haven’t showered in a week. Can someone please come watch baby so I can clean myself?”

And the list goes on. Perhaps instead of spending our time judging each other, why don’t we just help a family out? We were always meant to be a small town, no matter where we choose to live. In moments of tragedy, people line up all the way around the corner with meals for the grief-stricken family. What about for the sleep-stricken new parents? Where is the meal train for them?

And let me also just say that I’m not condemning the world. There are a LOT of people, friends, family, community, churches out there who respond to the needs of new families with clothes, diapers, meals. But what I’m saying is that, for the most part, the idea of a culturally-accepted postpartum support system is nil, and I think it should change.

So do my girlfriends.

As we stood around the island in the kitchen dreaming of one day when we’d all have our own babies, we began planning a pact, per se. A promise to be there for each other, post-birth.

“Oh, you need someone to come in and help when your mom has to get back home? You can count on me. Sign me up for a week.” “Two weeks for me!” “You pay for food, I’ll buy it and cook it. And clean your house so you can rest.” These are the things we promised to each other. And not without weight.

Just as in major surgery, a woman needs to recover physically. It takes time and it takes sleep, two things a new mother has ZERO of. But what if our community of friends gathered around us to give us just a little extra time to adjust and recuperate? What if, like a million years ago when neighbors came to help bring in your crop under the promise that you would help when their crop came in, we (especially as women) gave a week of our time post-birth to help a new mom? And she would lovingly and gratefully return the favor when your babies came?

I can just imagine what it would be like to have a newborn baby and sleep. In the same breath. A husband who is able to work and also sleep. Food that is prepared, and friends to help keep up with laundry. Just long enough to recover physically and learn the basics of caring for a brand new human.

I don’t think it sounds selfish. I don’t think it sounds lazy or neglectful. I think it’s what we’re meant to do for each other as a basic community of love. We are supportive of those around us when grief abounds. Let’s be supportive of each other when major life changes go down, too.

What’s your opinion on postpartum support?

29 random acts of kindness

I read a blog a couple years about a woman who did 36 random acts of kindness for her 36th birthday. By then I had already passed my birthday for the year, so I kept it in the back of my mind, ready to conquer it the next year.

The next year, however, I left on the World Race.

So this was the year! On my actual birthday I woke up, already having prepared for the day, excited about the opportunities to love on the world around me. But, as life does, things get in the way, and I ended up working for 10 hours AND going to the doctor (I’m fine). So, giving myself grace (what a great lesson for me!), I postponed the fun to the next weekend- TODAY!

So here for your reading and viewing pleasure, are my 29 random acts of kindness to celebrate my 29th birthday! I firmly believe I received so much more from this day than anyone else in the world- so much joy and excitement and feelings of good will… I am so fully blessed.

Also my sweet friends Caroline and Emilee joined me on this day of adventures, and we were LEGIT superheroes!

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1. Finish baking bread for Janice

2. Taped popcorn to a Redbox

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3. Left love notes on cars in a parking lot (Caroline hand-delivered one to a lady who was getting into her car. She read the note and smiled and gushed with thanks)

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4. Bought a $20 gift card in Walmart, immediately turned around and handed it to an elderly couple behind us. The wife gasped and said “Dear God! You’re giving this to us?!” AWESOME.

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5. Caroline helped put grocery bags in an elderly lady’s shopping cart.

6. Donuts to the workers at Chick-fil-A!

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7. Donated to the Haiyan Typhoon Survivor Fund (I was actually in The Philippines when this struck) (we also donated to other funds throughout the day)

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8. Helped a girl chase down fly-away napkins at Panera

9. Focused on being a kinder driver/allowed other cars and pedestrians the right of way all day (even if it wasn’t!)

10. Donated hand-crocheted blankets to the Pregnancy Help Center

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11. Sat with someone and really listened

12. Struck up a conversation with an older couple in line next to us at the movie theatre, found out which show they were heading to, bought their tickets, and handed them to them. This was my favorite moment of the day! They were so surprised!! It took a moment for them to recover, and they were all smiles and laughter and appreciation. It was the best.

13. Baked cookies and took to the local fire/ems department

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14. Spent the day smiling and waving at everyone we passed

15. Corralled carts in the Walmart parking lot

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16. Dropped pennies in the local park for kids to find

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17. Donated magazines to local hospital reception/waiting area

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18. Donated clothes to Vineyard Compassion

19. Left quarters in machines at a laundromat

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20. Bought local restaurant gift cards, put them in envelopes with love letters and left them in random places

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21. Paid-it-forward at Purdy’s (the best coffee shop on the planet)

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22. Left extra popcorn bags at Emilee’s for roommates

23. Swept Caroline’s neighbor’s outside steps

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24. Baked cookies and left them on my neighbors’ doors

25. Bought coffee for the people behind us at Hastings

26. Wrote thank you notes to my favorite bloggers

27. Mailed a letter to an old friend

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28. Hopped out of the car at an intersection and high-fived friends in front of us; was almost run over by more friends calling us “Hooligans” (I’m looking at you, Chris Barger)

29. Hid gift cards among books in local bookstore

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This day was AMAZING. And on top of everything that happened, Jesus kept smiling on us in more and more ways:

*the weather was a perfect 64* with bright blue skies
*we ran into friends all over town!*I successfully upgraded my phone for a fraction of the actual cost (thanks, non-ATT store!)
*I ran into old friends I hadn’t seen since college
*high fives all around. from everyone.

Jesus is good, birthdays are good, kindness is good.

Spread it all around!

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in one final act of goodwill, we left our faces on the demo phone at at&t

it’s the little things

As I sit here eating the last few crumbs of my birthday cupcake (thanks, meggy-poo!) and waiting on the first pot of coffee from my brand new coffee maker, I’m reminded of how lovely the simple things in life are. A quiet apartment all to yourself, the warm welcoming hug of a friend you haven’t seen in awhile, a blue sky and a bright shining sun. It’s the little things that make life so worth living.

This past Friday was my birthday. The end of my twenties, the Last Hurrah, the countdown to the big 3-0. I honestly wasn’t expecting much. With the exception of one fabulous game night at PJoe and Janice’s a couple years ago, I haven’t really done anything special for my birthday in years and years. And I’ve grown to be okay with it. In school it was always on spring break and no one was ever around. In college it never seemed to really matter that much; there was always so much else to think about, to dwell on, to do. So it just became a smaller and smaller thing until, finally, it was a day that came and went as quietly as most other days, except for the quickly-growing facebook congratulations fad (which is always lovely in and of itself).

But this year has been different. I worked all day on the 7th, but when evening rolled around, my roommate Mary Alice had made plans to go into downtown Cincinnati for some good conversation and good dinner. Little did I know that she had put out a message to our small group and to some other friends in the area, and many had responded! A group of happy faces was waiting on me when I finally rolled into this sweet little pizza place on this crowded, busy little street.


On Saturday I headed back to Richmond to see my church family, and spent the day being overwhelmed with delightful little surprises at every turn of the page. And Sunday was spent in the company of my mom enjoying good conversation and delicious snow crab.

It was an incredible weekend, so full of friends and hugs and birthday songs. Here are some of the little things that filled me up:

*Meghan’s love note
*text message pictures
*finishing a good book
*sleeping in on Sunday
*a nice, long, hot shower
*worshiping with my mom
*the fact that skype is a thing
*munching on some thin mints
*driving home with Mary Alice
*listening to the sounds of silence
*experiencing sunlight at 7:30 pm
*Angela gifting me Catching Fire (!)
*buying a new movie for less than $5
*enjoying a viewing of You’ve Got Mail
*helping mom pick out new work shoes
*talking with Julia and Janice about life
*holding Jess’ baby for a long, long time
*feeding Jess’ baby for a long, long time
*talking with Julia and Janice about boys
*listening to Jess’ baby’s precious hiccups
*a quiet drive home in the bright sunshine
*talking with Julia and Janice about Jesus
*having my friends sing the birthday song to me
*getting dressed up for the first time in a long time
*snow crab legs and shrimp with my mom at the Lob
*spending 3 hours in the kitchen with Janice and Julia
*eating freshly-baked chocolate chip Janice Wood cookies
*watching 4-year-old Laurana attempt to master chopsticks
*lunch (delicious sushi!) with my darling Ellice and Laurana
*eating a home-cooked dinner with Meghan (and by Meghan)
*hanging with Jess and her precious little 6-day-old foster baby
*white christmas lights being the major source of light in my room
*listening to the serious sass Laurana has picked up since Christmas
*opening the perfect gift from them (a huge hand-painted coffee mug)
*getting a quick hug from PJoe as he ran in the house and right back out
*receiving my handmade card and knit scarf from the precious girls I nanny
*being super surprised at the cards and gifts from the girls in my small group
*sitting on the couch, painting our nails, and gabbing up a storm with Meghan
*having my precious Alex’s grandparents hug me and give me a birthday present
*having time to clean my house at the end of the day (this is actually therapy for me)
*the many wonderful phone calls from far-away loved ones wishing to celebrate with me
*the life-changing bacon, egg, and cheese bagel Mary-Alice made for me saturday morning
*opening the beautiful card I got in the mail and following the clues to my birthday present
*reading a book at Purdy’s Coffee by myself with my favorite chai tea latte in a for-here mug
*having a table full of people order a handful of different kinds of wood-fired pizzas and try everything
*experiencing the glory of Graeter’s ice cream for the first time (mocha chocolate chip. mmmmmmmm)
*the restaurant deciding not to play overhead music because the sound of conversation and laughter was music enough
*mentioning off-hand to Janice that I thought her kitchen smelled like baked-goods but I didn’t see any, and having her offer to bake cookies right then and there
*PJoe starting his sermon off by telling everyone I’m a World Champion martial artist and super-dangerous (this was one of the highlighted highlights of a very highlighted weekend)
*watching a bartender (a man with a beard so enormous it could rival a yak’s in winter) light orange peels on fire in the process of making what appeared to be the Ryan-Gosling-in-Crazy-Stupid-Love drink

What an incredible, abundant, lovely, bountiful, surprising, delightful, joy-filled weekend. And the thing is… every single weekend is this beautiful. Every time I go home to Richmond I am surrounded by people who make me feel valuable, wanted, and loved. I don’t need a lot to get by. But the things God has decided to bless me with are innumerable and I don’t even have to make a point to think about my blessings- they’re too many to count.

It’s the little things in life that make life worth living.

But so often those little things are big indeed.

xoxo
one-year-older andi

divine circumstance

Ever had one of those conversations that makes you feel like deja vu is just a reminder that it’s all going to work out and all the stars have aligned and God has heard you and is answering in a blinding and butterfly-inducing way??

I had one a couple nights ago.
There were some things weighing on my heart and my mind as I drove home from a recent trip to Georgia, and I was going to be couch crashing my friend Caroline’s parents home. I arrived overly tired from driving (a decently rare phenomenon), and Caroline and I decided to hang out on the couches in the living room with her dad. He put a movie in, I popped out my crocheting (I know you’re all very surprised by this), and we began what I figured to be a relatively chill evening.

Then Caroline’s stepmom came home.

And my soul leapt for joy. Kathy is just one of those women who does not meet a stranger. Full of joy and a way of communicating that totally disarms her listeners, I felt right at home in a conversation that got super serious super fast. She opened it up by asking about yoga. Which totally disarms me anyway, because I love it so much and am so passionate about what it can do for your body and mind. But the conversation quickly turned to other things, the things that had been pressing on my heart. I won’t share a lot of information about it because it’s all still working itself out, but one thing that really stood out to me was the frequency of crazy coincidences. I would share something or ask a question, and it was exactly what they had experienced personally. Or it was a specific facet of their education. Or an actual question they had asked one another. The longer we talked, the more peace I felt about all those crazy things running around in my mind and keeping me from sleep.

Not to be cryptic, but I am so thankful God puts people in our paths that so deliberately and intentionally remind us that He is listening, that He does hear us, and that He uses people, places, and circumstances to answer our questions and put our hearts at ease, if we just listen.

I’m so grateful for this evening and all the incredible things I learned, and the sweet new friend I made in Kathy. I will not soon forget this night, for this was the night I heard God answer me.

waxing nostalgic, home edition

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

Today I’m missing home.

Today I’m pining not just for what was, but for what could be in the future.

I miss living in an apartment, with a big ol’ room all to myself, a bed I share only with myself, and a window to look out of without fear of mosquitos or burglars or the unknown.

I miss sitting by a window with nothing but the screen between the rain and me.

I miss the coffee shop that lives two blocks away, with its cozy brick walls and cushy leather chairs and comfy warm atmosphere. And I really miss its soy chai lattes.

I miss late night movies with the roomie, or the bestie, or the ministry student. I miss my home ministry and all the souls that are interconnected and intertwined and all tangled up in it.

I miss the quiet. I miss my prius. I miss driving myself around with nowhere to go and nothing to do but roll the windows down and breathe in the cool wind. I miss seatbelts and rules of the road and feeling safe while on the road.

I miss real hospitals and doctors and dentists.

I miss hot showers. I miss showers at all, any kind with actual fast-moving, running, cleansing water.

I miss my yoga classes. Ones I teach and ones I attend. I miss my students and my teachers. I miss getting adjusted. I miss being touched and pressed and petted and soothed. I miss being stretched. I miss 108 Sun Salutes to welcome Fall and Spring.

I miss my gym and fitness classes and feeling healthy and in shape.

I miss Friday Night Dance Parties at Arthur Murray and 3rd-Saturday-a-month ballroom dances. I miss Swinging On Main and Goose and all my favorite dance partners.

I miss vegetables and salads that cost less than $10. Or salads that are simply available. I also miss steak and sushi and seafood in general. I miss Zeppoli from Olive Garden. Also pancakes with syrup.

I miss living in a place where my friends or students can walk to my house, open the door, and sit on my couch or start working on the ever-present jigsaw puzzle without knocking.

Today I miss an income. I don’t really miss the last job, specifically, but I miss making money and paying bills, and not just hanging in limbo waiting to get back and restart.

I miss shopping and movie theatres and meeting friends in random locations all by accident or divine appointment. I miss hearing my name called out when I’m walking through a food market or a craft store.

I miss crafts. I miss my yarn and knitting and having 8 projects going at once. I miss scrapbooking and roadtripping and discovering mom-and-pop shops in weird little towns with unpronounceable names far off the beaten track.

I miss good, strong, fast, reliable, dependable, sweet, loving internet. I miss text messaging.

I miss not being home for everyone’s wedding or anniversary or baby shower or birth or birthday.

I miss Caroline jumping into my car in the driveway of Chick-fil-a.

I miss hearing Lydia’s laugh. I miss Lindsey’s laugh, too. And her old apartment with Sarah.

I miss Mikyla’s pleas to get me to go see a band play in Louisville.

I miss buffalo bites and dance shows and complaining on the couch with Ellice. I miss Laurana, and long talks about epics with Brad.

I miss baking and talking with Janice, and being interrupted by Joe who always begins to preach because he can’t help himself; he has to talk about Jesus. I miss their wisdom and their hugs and I miss their dogs who are really livestock but like to pretend they’re lapdogs. I even miss hanging out on their couch when they aren’t home.

I miss small group with Tierah and Sydney and Emily and Lydia and Caroline and Angela and Casey and Meghan.

I miss small group with my 707 girls. I miss my 707 Coaches. I miss 707 and Sunday Afternoon Ultimate.

I miss dogsitting at Wendy’s. A lot. Also Katherine-and-Wade’s and Mary Alice’s.

I miss sewing and quilting and laughing and dancing and baking and all-night-talking with Mary Alice. I miss game night at Derek’s.

I miss game night. I miss jigsaw puzzles.

I miss interpreting at Vineyard. I miss worshipping at Vineyard. I miss fellowshipping and laughing and crying at Vineyard. I miss the Knoll Family and the Allen Family and the Brownings and the Keelings and the Walkers and everyone who made me feel like a part of their life.

I miss my knitting group and how we were all like little grandmas, with our needles and yarn and homemade snacks from homegrown herb gardens and fancy pinterest recipes.

I miss long walks to the Farmer’s Market and sneaking tastes of Vegan power food in that weird aisle at Whole Foods with Alex. I miss being jealous of Alex’s super sweet hipster style and trying unsuccessfully to imitate it.

I miss talking to Aunt CJ on the phone. I miss her laugh and how she tries to get me to talk to her doggies every time. I miss the rare and occasional 3 days off to go visit and lay around in her pool for 12 hours.

I miss ballroom dancing and dinner dates and movies with my mom, and having a beer with my brother.

I miss coldweather running and yoga and Downton Abbey with Casey. I miss Barre Workouts.

I miss Thai Bodywork- giving and receiving.

I miss random visits and youtube battles with Patrick and seeing live theatre with Thomas.

I miss an reunions with Peyton and bi-monthly run-ins with Mel where we instantly begin quoting from shows or old professors or memories.

I miss Tim and Ashley, in general. I miss yoga at the top of the Pinnacles with Erik. I miss hiking the Pinnacles. I even miss Capoeira class.

I miss signing and laughing and crying and Twilight-watching with Sarah and pizza. I miss driving around praying for the town with her. I miss us both living in the same place at the same time. I miss her dry humor and how she supports me and calls me out and encourages me. I miss how we’re game show hosts together, and I miss quoting Adventure Now for hours on end, even though we’re totally lame. I miss that one time when she got married.

I miss dresses and sandals and being clean all the time. I miss tights and cardigans and scarves and the smell of autumn arriving in Kentucky. I really, really miss Autumn in Kentucky. Like, I’m literally missing it. Right now. It’s happening. And I’m missing it.

I miss my black leather jacket. I miss my winter boots, the ugly snow-ones, not the cute leather ones. Although I miss them, too. I miss my holey skinny jeans and my legit yoga pants, not the target version I brought with me on the race. I miss my washing and drying machines, my sewing machine, and my kitchen with all its space and ability to host, entertain, and improve life for anyone who shows up to it. I miss my tv and I really miss my giant dvd collection. I miss my Chuck Taylors.

I miss holding an actual book in my hands, and feeling the spine loosen and wear. I miss bookstores.

I miss the kettle corn that the local movie theatre makes. I miss going to that theatre. I miss random Wednesday afternoon movies dates with myself.

I miss theatre and singing show tunes at the top of my lungs without fear of judgment or laughter or upsetting someone’s nap or quiet time. I miss floor work in modern dance class.

I miss when I wasn’t addicted to soda.

I miss traveling around alone. I miss planning and plans and organization. I miss visiting friends in faraway places.  I miss Washington, D.C in the winter. And in the summer. I miss the Northwest.

I miss home videos of dancing and martial arts and singing and basically being reminded of how awesome life was many years ago. It’s good to be reminded life has been awesome every step of the way, and it isn’t only now becoming awesome.

Life is still awesome, and I am loving where I am.

But it’s okay to miss home. And it’s okay to wax nostalgic about it.

But I just gotta keep my eyes on the prize! I am exactly where I am for a reason, and it is beautiful. Life is. Life is beautiful. In every season, and in every place.

I miss home and I miss the luxuries of being there, but I wouldn’t trade today and this place for anything. I’m representing the kingdom of heaven (just as I do at home), here in Africa, soon to be Asia. And I couldn’t be happier or more blessed.

Life is beautiful.

uncomfortably comfortable: a co-blog

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

Note: the following is a collaboration between myself and my teammate and friend, Jordan Alessi. Enjoy!

I’ve hit a wall. Not only do I have writers block, but the honeymoon phase of the Race is now over. It’s the end of month six, and I’ve become uncomfortably comfortable with my life again. The adrenaline-like emotional high that accompanied my first five months has not only faded, it has sprinted in the opposite direction. I mean come on… look at me: I’m sitting in a cushiony chair in an air conditioned hostel called “Peaches.” (Peaches!!)  To my left? A bathroom with hot water on demand, a washing machine… toilet paper!!! To my right: the most B E A Utiful girl in the entire galaxy called the Milky Way. How comfy is that? I am in a galaxy named after a candy bar. And just to clarify, that beautiful girl is my teammate Andi, and we are collaborating on this blog post together.

Ok. Back to complaining about my uncomfortable comfortability. #firstworldprobbbssss.

Why so many extra non-essential letters?  Because I have so much time on my hands that I can type whatever I want. I am literally DROWNING in free time. To myself. Alone. In comfort. I am literally so comfortable that I am BORED.

It’s not just physical comfort I’m talking about; I am spiritually comfortable too. I’ve been stretching myself for six months, seeking God, and now I’m subconsciously comfortable with coasting. Ew. Do I want to be a person who seeks God during my free time, or someone who flushes it down the internet? Or worse, someone who only seeks God during those moments I deem “ministry time,” like hours at an office? Again. Ew.

Isn’t this trip supposed to be about sacrifices? …and SWEAT? What happened to all the sweat, World Race?! Why do I feel like I haven’t left the States yet?

I’m not saying I haven’t been working hard, because I surely have. I moved rocks for SIX MONTHS WITHOUT A BREAK. And got so used to it I now don’t know what to do with myself after the rocks have been moved. That’s a sad place to be.

It’s my fault. Comfort is pretty much a pseudonym for complacency. And complacency, as we all know, is self-inflicted. It’s a choice to be complacent. I think perhaps that’s what makes me more frustrated than anything. I keep waiting for for a change-inflicting experience to slap me in the face… but sometimes it’s more subtle than that. What do you do when you’re surrounded by all the luxuries of home—are you supposed to just ignore all that? That’s like embracing the Amish way of life: “I know iPods and leather seats and hover crafts all exist, but I’m going to ignore them so I can live a more wholesome life.” But… they do have a point. Discipline.

We were told by our former squad leaders that the months without internet, without screens, and far from the normalcies of American life were the best months of their Race. We all, of course, scoffed at the idea because, I mean, who wouldn’t want constant internet and hot water and super-cushy mattresses? But… I’m beginning to see the value in unplugging. If having everything I ever wanted leads me to complacency, leads me to boredom, leads me to a willingly stagnant state, something has to change. I’m hoping and praying for God to devastate me, shake up my World (Race), and remind me the importance of being all-in with whatever I do.

So goodbye, comfortable, stagnant, life-sucking, moldy, festering state of mind. You’re going down. I’m roundhouse kicking you in the jawbone.

HIYAAAAA!

So thanks for the hospitality, Europe. It’s been super sweet. It’s certainly helped show me what I’m made of (i.e. milky ways and online comedy sites). But it’s also given me a great kick in the rear, and jump-started my pursuit of, not the good life, but the better life.

how to make friends on a bus/train/plane/boat/donkey

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

All these suggestions have been tested by personal experience (either mine or my teammates), so if you’re looking for a way to add to your community, try some out:

Introduce yourself
Say “hi” in their language
Ask their name
Give your name
Coo at baby
Ask to hold baby

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

Offer chips from your newly opened bag
Or cookies. Cookies work just as great (and sometimes better)
Ask to take photo of them with whatever cool thing they are carrying/traveling with

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(my new friend Juan, a music teacher-turned-entrepreneur preparing to open
his own cafe next week)

Share your music via one headphone (you have the other headphone) (so it’s kinda romantic)
Offer your travel pillow to a weary traveler
Try to get a really sweet photobomb and then share

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(okay, so I didn’t share this one…but it’s still really sweet)

Comment on their shirt/bracelet/hat that you like
Snuggle with them while sleeping (this can get iffy, so be careful)
Ask to hold their pet chicken

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(my new friend Faith, a hippie Quaker from Pennsylvania, and her green chicken Picante)

Ask where they are from
Sing them a song
Stand up so they can have a seat (and then smile) (but don’t fall)
From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(this was, in fact, in the middle of falling)

Wink at young child
Buy food/drink from traveling vendor and hand to random person
Help them put their belongings on the overhead rack

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(ok, so maybe this isn’t the best technique, but hey- it worked)

Help them get their belongings down from overhead rack
Share photos of your family.
Ask to see theirs.
Be okay with overcrowding. Smile. Laugh. A lot.

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

The whole idea is to use your travel day to your advantage. Try not to sleep the whole time- there are more people to meet, places to see, and experiences to be had. Live life abundantly!

my best friend is home!

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

She really is!

Sarah has finally come back home to Richmond, in preparation for her wedding this coming weekend. She came to church and team interpreted with me (she’s amazing), we went to lunch with her fiance and his mom, and then spent the whole day knocking about town, shopping for last-minute wedding items, and generally enjoying time together.

I then had the opportunity to bless her, Bryan (the groom), and Lorna (the groom’s mommy) with a night out to the cinema, just to get away from wedding planning stress, and enjoy an evening away.

We went to see The Watch, the new Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn/Jonah Hill movie. And while there were some really hilarious moments in which I laughed inappropriately too loud, there were A LOT of incredibly inappropriate moments. Moments that were incredibly unnecessary to the story. And sometimes to the scene.  There was a whole 2 minutes when Lorna and I looked at each other in disgust, red-faced, awkward, and uncomfortable, while Sarah stared at me in shock that I would choose a movie so closely related to pornography. That’s right. Pornography. Completely inappropriate for a movie that you might even think about taking your family to see, let alone a bride and groom who are preparing for their 6-day-away wedding.

Sheesh.

But then the moment passed, laughter resumed, and the movie concluded in a ridiculous twist-of-plot-I-can’t-believe-what-I’m-seeing-and-not-necessarily-in-a-good-way kind of finale.

And yet I don’t care. Because we had a great time! And she’s home for the week. The last week she’ll be a single woman. And then she’ll be married! To a man who loves and adores her, and treats her with more respect and adoration than anyone I’ve ever known.

Many prayers, hopes, wishes, and blessings for the upcoming nuptials, and their fairy-tale marriage directly after!

And she’s pretty, too.

my day was…

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

I know, I know. It says I posted this on August 3rd. But it’s only 1 am, and I haven’t been to sleep yet… so it doesn’t count as missing a day.

I had a really, really great day today. I woke up early, had a discipleship meeting, spent some awesome time with the Lord, had great conversations with old friends- I even made it to the gym. And all before work!

But then I went to work.

I really hate working in a restaurant. I used to really enjoy it. See a need, meet a need. That was my goal, and my joy.  But after serving people in the food service industry for over 3 years (6, if you count my time with Starbucks, which was incredibly enjoyable…so I don’t.), I can say from the bottom of my heart that I HATE IT. Every ounce of compassion, of mercy, of love for mankind in general has slowly been chipped away at until I detest humanity as a whole. And with the end goal of full-time ministry, this is not particularly a well-desired quality.  I’m working against this emotion, but I do feel that I am NOT meant to live my life based on the kindness and generosity of others. Because there is none. I mean…there’s an occasional good tip. But it’s more rare than getting struck by lightning. Twice. And being taken advantage of again and again and again really takes its toll on you. I wish everyone could understand that stiffing, or even under-tipping, your server genuinely chips away at her soul- pieces that can never be recovered. I truly wish everyone had to make a living based on tips for a small portion of their lives. They’d be a lot kinder, in general, if that happened.

But this blog is not meant to complain about tips (I mean, do YOU get paid in Jesus tracts? Then stop paying us in them!). It’s meant to tell you how wonderful true friends really are.  After work I stopped by my dear friend Ellice’s house to have our weekly dvr-watching of So You Think You Can Dance. She gave me a margarita and some cheetohs, listened to me complain for a minute, and then sat next to me on the couch, unwinding my ball of yarn so I could work on the blanket I’m currently crocheting. She and her husband then had an hour-long conversation with me about all sorts of fun things- their opinion of The Dark Knight Rises, how amazed they both were that I never saw the Superman SuperSeries starring Dean Cain and Terri Hatcher, and how very manly Scotsmen are. Particularly Ewan McGregor.

After spending a couple hours at their house, with no agenda and with no intentions, I felt really great about my day once more. Just a few hours spent with good friends was all it took to erase the frustration and hurt I felt all night at work.

And that’s what this blog is for. It’s a toast to good friends, and good conversation, and how good the world truly is. Outside of restaurant service. 😉

A. C.A.S.T.L.E.

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

My precious sisters

Tonight was our last small group meeting of the semester, before everyone graduates or leaves for the summer.  It was also my last meeting as a small group leader. I will still be working with our high school ministry, 707, and leading a small group there, but this will be the last I lead a small group of adults for Vineyard, at least for the forseeable future. My time and attention needs to be spent with my high school students.  So, needless to say, tonight was really bittersweet for me. But much more sweet than bitter. I am so grateful, and so blessed, that God thought enough of me to allow me to be part of His plan.

The girls I have been blessed to teach and lead this semester have been wonderful, really teaching me more than I taught them.  The things they shared were insightful, genuine, and impactful, not only to the group as a whole, but to me. I learned so much about what it meant to bring a vulnerable, teachable spirit to the Lord and to our community. I learned what it meant to really look someone in the eye, and listen to what she is saying.  I learned what it meant to truly intercede for someone in prayer, and to watch God work in their lives.

We’re clearly cooler than you

Tonight as we wrapped up our discussion, we moved into a time of encouragement.  Our typical night ends with words of affirmation, wisdom, and encouragement for each other, but tonight we wanted to end with words of affirmation to our Lord. We held hands and prayed “breath prayers”. We went around the circle several times, but praying only one sentence at a time, or a prayer on one breath. It was one of the most incredible moments I’ve experienced in prayer. I wish I could remember everything that was said, or that I had the courage to write it all down, because it was genuinely life-changing.

“Thank You, God, for loving me for who I am but not wanting me to stay there.” 
“Thank You, God, for letting me be Your little girl.” 
“Thank You, Jesus, for letting me share this semester with girls 
who lift me up, teach me, and support me.” 
“Thank You, Father, for pulling me out of my darkness, and into Your wonderful light.” 
“Thank You for coming to rescue me, even when I run away.”
“Help us seek You and only You.”
“We love You with everything in us- help us show the world who You are.”

And on and on it went.  More powerful and more emotional and more honest the further along we got. It was really, really special.

And now I have all these wonderful memories and images to carry with me as I part from these ladies, maybe for a summer, maybe for a year, maybe for a lifetime. But I am comforted knowing that we are connected by a Holy Spirit which is more powerful than being physically next to each other. And one day, no matter what, we’ll all meet again, standing right in front of Jesus, and there will be a party unlike anything we can imagine!

Princesses in A. C.A.S.T.L.E.,
living with purpose and intention today,
as we hope for the future
Andi
Caroline
Amber
Sydney
Tierah
Lydia
Emily
  I thank my God every time I remember you. 
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,  
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you 
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 
Phil. 1:3-6