Ally & Steven | Engagement

I remember it like it was yesterday...the first time Ally and I became friends. We were both completing our undergrad requirements and sat on the same row. Actually, her and I sat a chair apart from one another and only began talking mid-semester. Needless to say, she always spoke with such wisdom and grace. Also, both Ally and I were new to Chapman University and we were both simultaneously praying for godly friendships on campus. Ally and I quickly became friends during our first semester. Fast forwarding a few years later, Ally and I have nurtured and cultivated a godly friendship and she has quickly become one of my best friends. A true answered prayer. 

You might wonder where I am going with this? Well, I remember during our first semester Ally and I spoke a lot about our favorite author, C.S. Lewis. Something both struck us about Lewis' perspective: he claimed that Christ was a master of ceremonies. 

"In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,' can truly say to every group of Christian friends, 'Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.' The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others" (The Four Loves). 

Going off of what Lewis said. If Christ truly is a master of ceremonies, then it isn't merely by chance that Ally and I have become the best of friends. It also isn't a chance encounter that her and Steven met, dated, and have decided to start their journey as one. As an outsider, it is clear that their love for Christ radiates through out their decisions and conduct with one another and others. With that being said, Ally and Steven have blessed Alex and I with their friendship and we cannot wait to see what the Lord does in and through them. 

Love always,
Andrea M. 

I Have Learned.

Through life's ups and downs, I have learned more than anything that difficult times most often breed genuine growth. I'm not saying that moments filled with sunshine cannot produce growth because they certainly can; however,  there is something about trials and "waves" that brings us to a place of sincere, life-changing questioning.  When all is dandy I confess that I am less motivated to challenge myself and reflect upon my decisions, thoughts, and actions. 

Moroever, it is through these dim moments that as Christians we cultivate the strength to walk, even when we do not feel like we are capable of doing so.  A recent example comes to mind when I was having a late night conversation with my father about the first time I had walked. I asked him how he felt as a father to watch his only daughter, his eight-month-old take her first steps. To that he replied that he was filled with joy, but he also knew that my walk would not be perfect the first time around. The following days he would stretch his arms out and wait for me to crawl and then eventually walk. He admitted that I fell quite often. Yet, as a good father he needed to allow me to fall, in order to stand up on my own. Likewise, in my walk with Jesus, I  have learned to embrace trials as a season where I can grow and know with full assurance that I am walking towards my father. 

As of late, I have been clinging to the words of Spurgeon: 
"I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages." 

How beautiful is that? Which one of us can kiss and embrace trials when they come our way? I for certain am quick to judge my trial-filled circumstances as punishment. But when has that ever been the case? All of scripture is a divine narrative revealing God's ultimate plan to prosper his children. And that narrative is especially fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Regardless of my circumstances (whether good or bad) I can know that all things are working for my good (ESV Rom. 8:28). That, my friends, is a promise. 

Any trial that throws me into Jesus's arms is not a trial or season in vain.  I am reminded of this right now more than ever as my husband and I are undergoing a major season of transition, where we are tempted to feel defeated, even bitter. Yet, we are learning to walk boldly through this season and persevere, as perseverance produces character, and character hope (Rom. 5:4). 

My hope is that this post can encourage others who are also facing moments in life where things may be hazy, confusing, and/or filled with suffering because we can all agree that encouragement is highly needed in this crazy world we are living in. 

XX A.M. 

P.S. here are some photos I have been wanting to share for months now. They were taken about a year and a half ago on my journey from sunny SoCal to the misty Bay Area, all on the glorious PCH. Needless to say, it was a spontaneous trip, which needs to happen again...very soon.