I like when the year is coming to a close because this is the time when you look back at the year and look ahead to the year to come. I really like reflecting on my past year. Mainly because I don't really take time each day to think about how much I have grown and changed in the last couple years, so I often forget that I am growing or changing at all. But I have really changed. I am not the same person I was when I was four, seven, ten or even 16. I know I'm not the old (you don't exactly get gray hairs when you are 17, but I do have wrinkles), but I have learned things that are well beyond my years. Do you know what the most exciting part is? God is still growing and changing me. God is going to use me for something great in 2009. Better yet, I am going to follow God's plan in 2009.
Monday, December 29, 2008
I discovered my deep love for Peach-Os
I preached my first morning church service in Oakes
Krista and I made really disgusting pudding for science fair
I learned how to change oil and change a tire
I went to the prom with Adam
I job shadowed at the Aberdeen American News
I went to MAX and felt like a rebel against the Dakota District
I learned how to change my guitar strings
I saw Building 429 in concert
I begged people for money for my Africa trip
I preached out of the old testament for the first time
I was lazy until I finally got a job at the nursing home in August
My brother graduated from high school
I finished my Junior year in high school and started my Senior year
I turned 17
I realized that I never want to pick up shingles for a living
Our Africa group performed a human video, I told my testimony at District Assembly, and we went to Cabela's
Oh, yeah... I sort of went to Africa
I watched Michael Phelps make history
I saw the Indian Ocean
A kitten walked into my backyard and then into my family
I spent a lot of time with nursing home residents
I took some time to be thankful
I had a great Thanksgiving and a great Christmas
My mom and I cut a pineapple for the first time
2008 was a great year.
Bring on 2009.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 1:04 PM
It's not like I've never had pineapple before. Actually, I have even had pineapple in South Africa. But, my mom and I had never bought a pineapple and cut it up before. Since my mom recently bought a pineapple cutter and I recently found a recipe for fruit dip, it seemed like Christmas Eve was the perfect time to buy a pineapple. So my mom and cut up this pineapple with the new pineapple cutter and it was really fun. Maybe it was the nifty-ness of the invention. Maybe it was trying something new. I am going to go with the latter. Because, while trying something new is sometimes nerve wracking, it is also a good learning experience.
Which brings me to something that is on my calendar and coming up very soon. I am going on a ski trip on January 1st through the 3rd. I have never skied before and I doubt that I will be any good at it. But it's a new experience. Not only am I stepping outside of my comfort zone by trying something new, but this is also a Dakota district event and I am the only youth going from my church/town. Even though I do know a lot of people on the district, it's not the same. I will be outside my comfort zone because I will be forced to meet new people and I am not the out-going of a person. However, I will say bring on the new adventures and challenges and experiences. Yay for the unknown!
Trying something new is just like cutting a pineapple. After my mom and I cut the pineapple, we were happy because it turned out to be a lot of fun. So, I am entering everything with a positive attitude and hoping that everything turns out to be fun and if nothing else, I can learn something new from every experience.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 9:16 AM
Friday, December 26, 2008
"Take it all down, Christmas is over" - Relient K, Boxing Day
Christmas is over. It's like Gloria said at work last night, "Now we wait for New Year's." Christmas is over and now we just wait less than a week for the next year. 2009. I thought 2009 would never come and now it's just a few days away.
To celebrate Boxing Day (no, we aren't Canadians), my family going to Aberdeen. Not really to do any shopping and we are planning on avoiding the times when there is a mad rush of crazy people. We are actually going to go to a movie. Sadly, the weather is supposed to get worse. Which isn't a big shock; we have had the worse weather this winter. Hopefully we will miss the winds getting faster, but we might be driving in the freezing rain (oh, joy).
I really like the New Year coming. It is a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the adventures of the coming year. Usually I make a list of what I have accomplished this year (or not really accomplished but just did this year) and I will make a list about this year, just not right now. So while you are looking forward to the new year, you can also look forward to that. So many fun things for you to do.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 9:02 AM
Thursday, December 25, 2008
"And the first time
That You opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever...
And so this Christmas I'll compare the things I felt in prior years
To what this midnight made so clear
That You have come to meet me here"
-Relient K, I Celebrate the Day
There's something about Christmas. It's a joyful time for some, a depressing time for others. It's a time where we enjoy receiving and we feel like giving more. However, it is really important to remember why we even have this day. It's all about Jesus, who came into this world, fully man and fully God so that 33 years later He could die so that we could be saved. We celebrate a birth today, but we should also remember a death. A death that would bring life. It's definitely a day to celebrate. It's easy to get caught up in presents and ribbon, but let's not forget that this day isn't about us at all, it isn't about what we get or who we give to. It's all about Who was born so that we could live.
Last night I worked, and after I came home from work, my family had some food. We always pig out on Christmas Eve. I totally love it. We later played some games of Clue. Today, my mother and I are going to serve at the Community Christmas Dinner. Which is also something I really enjoy doing, because we get to be part of the community and most importantly, we get to serve and do something that is outside of ourselves. The first year we did it was sort of a stretch for me, because it was stepping outside of my comfort zone, but now I love it. It's an adventure and it's a free meal (free food is always good). Then I work tonight, but I don't mind because I get paid more, which is always cool for me.
Most of all today, I am going to "celebrate the day that You were born to die so I could one day pray for You to save my life." (Relient K, I Celebrate the Day)
Posted by Andra Lauren at 9:27 AM
Monday, December 22, 2008
Every now and then there comes along a cause that I really believe in supporting.
Abortion has always been something I have been strongly against and I feel that it is very important to be a voice for the voiceless.
Learn about Never Silence Life.
Visit the website.
Learn what you can do.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 4:19 PM
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
We don’t join because we think we will win, we actually have a better chance of losing. And we know that. We aren’t about back out just because we can’t see the victory. We join because we know that it is worth the fight. We know that the struggles will make us develop muscle. We will hold on for so long that we develop calluses, but we will also know that sometimes we have to let go in order to move forward. There’s falling and there’s failing, but we haven’t signed up for either. Even so, we know that we will fall and we will fail, but that doesn’t stop us. It doesn’t slow us down. We have courage and we have strength to keep going. We know that there will be times when our minds and mouths are dry. We carry heavy burdens, but we don’t see them as burdens. We see them as they are. We see them as broken people, afraid to love and afraid of love. We know that there will be a day where our love will break through and enter their hearts. We may not win; we may not ever see a landslide victory. We, however, will experience something far greater. We will experience trials. We will experience the feeling of accomplishment. Nothing will come easy, but that’s better. We will know how to work to get somewhere. We will know that we have gotten our hands dirty in the process, but when we stand up, we will be able to flex muscles some people can only dream about. We are the victorious ones, even if we aren’t the ones with medals around our necks. We are the strong ones, even if we are sometimes called weak. We have a fight that’s worth it. That’s how you know when you have joined the long defeat.
What keeps us going? Hope.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 2:31 PM
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
This video is well made and I think it really has a point. So, I thought I would share what my family is doing this Christmas. We decided to do things a little different. Since the economy is in well recession, my family knew that none of us could really spend a whole lot on Christmas gifts. So, we decided to only buy each other what would fit into a stocking. (I will be honest, Mom and I both got my brother something that doesn't fit in a stocking, but only because it was practical. Other than that, we have been very good at following the rules.) Really though, the things we will get for Christmas isn't going to be things that we really need. I don't really need anything for Christmas. Christmas isn't about gifts. It isn't about trees. It isn't about Santa. It's all about Jesus' birth so that 33 years later He could save us all from our sins.
It's a marvelous idea, isn't it? Giving less and in order to give more. Spending less money so we can spend more time. All so we can make a bigger difference.
This morning, my mother and I went to Kedish House (which is a local organization that provides services to victims of domestic violence) and wrapped presents. Every year they have families that are in need and so they collect presents for them, so of course, those presents need wrapping. So my mother and I wrapped a bunch of presents this morning. We mostly used gift bags, but I absolutely love wrapping presents. When I go there, I don't just have a sense that I want to give, I have the feeling that I wish I could do more. I feel like I don't do enough, I just want to do more.
So, that's my challenge for myself and for you. This Christmas season, give less so you can give more. Spend less on gifts people don't really need and spend more time, which is something that people really do need.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 8:50 PM
Friday, December 12, 2008
I really do like Joyce Meyers. She is an inspiration to many people (including my mother). Through her ministries, she is doing some amazing things. She is reaching out, helping those who are hurting, and she has a very strong, encouraging heart. I know some people have some beefs with her, but let this be my disclaimer: I really do like Joyce Meyers.
Let me introduction myself. My name is Andra and I am only seventeen years old. I have my local minister’s license through the Church of the Nazarene. I am not that extraordinary, but I have been allowed to have the opportunity to preach around North Dakota and in South Africa and Swaziland. I absolutely love getting in front of a congregation and presenting a sermon. However, I have felt many times that my pastor wants me to be a Preacher more than I do—and more than God does. Even so, I have always thought that it would be great to me the next Joyce Meyers. I would love to be able to speak at conferences. I would love to be able to reach a large mass of people.
Then one day, I had a realization. It wasn’t that shocking of realization. There were no “hallelujah” choirs behind me singing in soprano voices. It wasn’t that sudden either. It wasn’t like a bug being killed as its guts spatter all over your windshield. It was more like a sloth creeping into the room until I turned and realized: I don’t want to be the next Joyce Meyers.
I probably won’t ever have my name be known all over the world, or even all over the United States. I won’t have people walk away from me saying, “Wow, she’d be great on TV.” But I don’t want that to stop me from speaking. I don’t ever want my greatness to be a great motivation than letting people see the greatness of the God I serve.
There’s something great about community. I grew up in a small town and I feel that I will always be very small town. There’s something intimate and great about small groups meeting together. Joyce Meyers is great, but I don’t ever want to be famous. I don’t really even want to be known by that many people. I want to quietly serve God without very much recognition. If people get done listening to me or talking to me and don’t remember my name, I think that’s absolutely alright. I just want people to remember that God is there for them and that God is just and righteous.
I think it’s just because I am young, but sometimes (and not all the time, I am not talented enough to just breeze through every sermon I have ever preached) people hug me and thank me for saying something that reach them and really met them where they are in their life right now. I am really glad something that was said helped them, but they shouldn’t be thanking me. I really always try to say, “It’s only because of God.”
Joyce Meyers is great, but I don’t want to become famous when the all the glory belongs to God.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 3:52 PM
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Yesterday was my last college final. I took my other college final on Monday. It feels good to be done with my colleges classes for this semester. Now I have 13 credits done for college. For English Lit, I never got my first paper back, so I went back after my final to talk to the professor. He doesn't know what happened to it. Which would be really bad, but he does have a grade written down for it, so at least I'm not losing any points. I would still like to get my paper back, though. I like seeing what comments are made and what changes I should have made. Professor Pelletier was funny, he asked me if I was "one of those high school girls." I said yeah and he said how he heard something mention it, but he didn't know before that. I told him that I was glad I could pass off as a college student. (After all, in August, I will be one.)
I have a day off from work again today. It feels weird, most the time when I work, I don't want to go to work, but when I'm off from work, I miss seeing the residents. I got used to working 5-6 days a week and now that I'm down to 4-5, it feels weird. At least this week I have gotten good days off. Wednesdays and Thursdays are when I have something going on, so not working in addition to those things is good. I actually got to go to youth group last night. I couldn't remember the last time I actually went. Even though last night we went to where the AG have youth group, I still felt at home.
Anyway, today is Thursday. So, we are bowling for P.E. Nothing else is really going on today. It should be a very nice relaxed day, minus that I have to finish my Senior Math test in class today. There is nothing relaxing about that.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 6:55 AM
Monday, December 8, 2008
We are reading this book for Sunday School. We have only read the first chapter so far, but this book is already challenging me and getting me excited to rebel against low expectations. In the first chapter, Brett and Alex talk about the extraordinary experiences and opportunities that they have been given. They have already done some amazing things and they are only 19. (Which, I wonder, when do they turn 20?) First thoughts that come into my head are I have not accomplished anything in my 17 years. Then I realized that's not how I should be thinking. I should instead think that God can do anything through me if I am willing and open to God. Not only that, but I should also reflect and think about how many things God has already used me for. I am not really an extraordinary teenager, but I'm not really a completely "normal" teenager either. I have had the opportunity to preach in South Africa. I have been able to speak for AfterShock, the event my youth group planned and while it wasn't successful as far as the number of people who showed up, it was successful because we organized it all and got bands to come play. I want to do hard things because I know that God uses those who are willing to follow His lead. I want to do hard things because I know that my age doesn't limit how much I am capable of doing. I want to do hard things because that's what God is calling me to do.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 7:12 AM
Sunday, December 7, 2008
History professor, lecturing on the early 1900s: I mean, the problem of being the only person with a telephone is, well, who you gonna call?
Class, as one: Ghostbusters!
History professor: You kids scare me.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 5:52 PM
Saturday, December 6, 2008
There's something about Christmas that gives me a reason to shop. I really enjoy shopping, however, I start to enjoy it less when a) I don't know what to get people or b) things aren't going in my favor. My mother and I are going to Aberdeen after we get done doing a little painting (yay!) the new youth room at my church (double yay!).
By the way, on a random side note that is totally unrelated. I just realized like two seconds ago, that I have yet to change my calendar to December. I suppose I should probably do that soon.
So, anyway, back to shopping. My favorite part about shopping at Christmas is being able to spend my money on not me. I know I can do it any time of the year, but there's just something about Christmas that makes me want to shell out my money for other people. I know that I have college next year, but I enjoy getting people things that they wouldn't normally buy for themselves or something that they enjoy getting. Plus, I really love being able to wrap presents.
"Yeah, I'll give give give until there's nothing else
Give my all until it all runs out
Give give and I'll have no regrets
I'll give until there's nothing left
-Relient K, Give
Posted by Andra Lauren at 8:12 AM
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Have you ever bought a grab bag? You know, when you buy a bag but have no idea just what is inside? I'm on the fence if I totally love grab bags because they are a surprise or totally hate grab bags because you almost never get anything you actually would like or want. But there is something very tempting about spending $7.50 on 5 accessories. Of course, it probably isn't anything good. And definitely not anything I would probably ever spend money on otherwise. There is something that I suppose tries to rationalize and is saying in the back of my head, "Go for it. It's a good deal. It's a surprise. It'd be fun. If you don't like what's inside, you can always give it to someone else as a gift." I don't know if it is a waste of money or not. Nonetheless, surprises are fun.
Now Gift baskets are completely different. It's not really like you know what is inside, but gift basket seem to have such a more positive connotation. Gift baskets just seems like a joy to give and receive. Maybe I am the only one who thinks so, but I will continue. Gift baskets are just like happiness handed to you in a basket. You aren't really sure what's all instead, but it doesn't really matter, it's just joyful getting a whole basket of goodies.
So, since I like compared life to inanimate objects, I think that life is not a gift basket, but more like a grab bag. There's the first and more obvious reason, because you never know what you are going to get in a grab bag and you never know how life is going to turn out. Another reason is life isn't always what you expect. Gift baskets have pretty wrapping and usually have equally pretty things inside. (Fruit is pretty.) Whereas grab bags probably have pretty nice looking packaging, but could very easily not hold pretty things inside. However, since you never know what you are going to get, it is also full of surprises.
What really matters in the end is that we are covered by God's grace, so it doesn't matter what the packaging or wrapping looks like. It only matters what is inside us and Who is inside us.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 6:46 AM
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
If you are Christmas shopping for me, here are some ideas: (If you aren't Christmas shopping for me, you should be, but it doesn't matter, I still like making lists.)
1. These Pens
2. You can never go wrong getting me Peach-Os
3. I really like shoes. I wear size 8.
4. Necklaces with keys are always a big hit with me
5. Actually, Christmas isn't about the gifts. I don't really need anything for Christmas.
Posted by Andra Lauren at 6:58 AM
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
If you know me at all you probably know that I haven't been kissed before. Maybe you didn't know that, because I don't really flaunt it. But I will be honest when talking about it and tell you that I am saving my first kiss. Not just for someone special, but for my future husband (who will be someone special, but even specialer). Now I have been embarrassed before when I told a 15-year-old that I'd never been kissed when she had, but I am not really regretful about my decision. I look back at past relationships that I have had and am glad that I don't have to wish that I hadn't wasted my kisses on frogs (or dogs). However, I rarely explain why I am saving my first kiss. It's not really just because I don't want to regret wasting my kisses, although that doesn't hurt. I watched a video one time of a couple getting married and their first kiss was on their wedding day and they shared their wedding video with the world. And to see their faces is one of the greatest things. I want to be able to say that my future husband is man enough that he could save his first kiss for me. Of course, that means that I am totally depending on God to find me a man (in God's timing) because I know I can't make the decision on my own. Anyway, I found the wedding video again and I thought I would share it with you.
If you want to watch just the first kiss, go to about 19 minutes. Look at their smiles and it's truly great. (Then again I'm a sappy girl.) Also, check out their website: http://www.choiceforalifetime.com
Posted by Andra Lauren at 9:33 PM