Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Memorable Memorial Weekend!

We had a great Memorial Day weekend with friends. We attended the Bee's baseball game on Saturday with our friends the Beggs. Sawyer loved the game and had is first bite of a Churro - thanks to Sam. On Sunday we went to the Staleys for an amazing barbeque. Lots of friends were there. and unfortunately, Rob and Albert crushed the rest of us at hoseshoes. When Sawyer wasn't digging in the dirt, he and Karsten were really cute as they played in the tub of drinks and ice - along with Vidalia. On Monday, the Schillingers had everyone over for and awesome meal! As you can see from the pictures, there were little boys everywhere - 9 total, ranging from 7 years old all the way to 4 months. Someone's got to have a little girl one of these days! Once again I find myself so thankful for such amazing friends - we are so blessed!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation..."

Don't start reading this unless you have some time, and please know that it is both disturbing and heartbreaking. This entry is from one of my old Young Life girls. It is absolutely unbelievable. This young lady was a part of Park City Young Life and dropped out of school two years ago. She was in my cabin at camp three summers ago, and it was the toughest week I have ever had at camp. She was SO against allowing Jesus to penetrate her heart - and her mind for that matter, and she refused to let herself have fun at camp. I had never and have never since, had anyone as closed off as her. Her mom made her go to camp. She was a straight A, AP student, head cheerleader, bubbly, beautiful, with a great future ahead of her. However, during her senior year, Satan took hold of her and held on tight for several years. That is, until now... here is her story in her own words.

Oh my God…




These words were bolting from my mouth as streams of tears rolled down my face. And in my mind life's questions that previously perplexed me, suddenly became vividly clear. My heart exploded into euphoria in a way I had never felt my heart could feel. Pure joy. Language is used to convey to one another this feeling so strong and astronomical that even attempting to define it with adjectives is soon found to be completely impossible. Knowing this, I still want to make a futile attempt in case even a seed of understanding finds its way through this mess and into someone's heart. This is how I found the truth.

The night began like any average Saturday in LA. My two gorgeous blonde roommates and I pick out dresses, primp our hair, and pregame with our usual vodka red bull. I could feel my anticipation rise as the clock crept closer to dinnertime, feeling self-assured that tonight would be a great night. I had an amazing fake id I was borrowing, we were celebrating Lara's birthday who I adore, and I especially couldn't wait to see Chris. When first meeting Chris I had no interest, but as I continued to see him scarcely from time to time his personality began to intrigue me. I truly felt that he had such a kind soul and with his mellow, lighthearted attitude, I felt that he could do no evil. I quickly became a big fan and so was eager to genuinely learn more about him and especially have a great time. Initially I was turned off by the fact that his occupation is the same as my parents who I sadly resented for making me feel second to their careers growing up, especially my dad. Though I think I ironically started to yearn for his attention specifically in order to try to alleviate the pain from my past. I wanted him to love me so I could feel adequate knowing that he prioritized me first, even as a doctor.

While at Lara's bday dinner, Chris' texts reassuring me he wanted to meet up that night and he explained his plans. Dinner was a redundant display of sushi and sashimi platters totaling $1400. By the time we left for the club, I was sufficiently inebriated and even more excited than ever. The night spun past me in a tornado of dancing, gossip and more and more free drinks. We'd laugh and joke, mend our way through the maze of drunken souls, and frequently vacate in groups to the bathroom. Eventually, bright florescent light bulbs chocked the darkness within the room creating a more somber mood reminding everyone that the time to leave had crept up on them once again. Jenn went to a house party while I stayed by Kodye's side feeling comfortable with both her and Val knowing exactly where our destination lay. Val, Kodye, Brian and I all arrived at Val's W. Hollywood home. The Jacuzzi became our first stop, which followed the usual after party routine of stripping to panties and relaxing beneath the stars. Soon, I found myself in the bathroom with Brian, who I barely knew, doing way more than I should have. Chasing after a high to numb the hurt and magnetize the artificial, temporary happy I was beginning to experience. Maybe just a little more and I'll really start to have fun… I'll feel even better. While the high was temporary the night was not, and I watched in fear as light crept out behind the trees and broke through the windows of the house. Kodye and I came to recognize in our dissociated state just how scarily similar our lives had been, right before she left to Val's bedroom to sleep. Brian was nice, but my mind was entwined in the thought of playing with Justin. So, after finding my phone, purse, and bobby pins, I bolted towards the cab Chris had called for me. It was 6 am.

I was really ready for bed, but was willing to sacrifice rest to continue indulging in whatever I felt would make me feel good. Walking inside the new environment Chris had coaxed me into, I found a friend of his, Jack, and Jack's girlfriend relaxing on the coach. "I have a three hour class today. Don't let me miss it," I urged Chris. Then I threw my phone out of sight and sprawled on the coach. I quickly began to roll while listening to Prince and being kissed and caressed. Outside of my mind, but finally in the arms of someone I trusted made me content and appreciated. Words sprang from my mouth, which was constantly in motion, without much thought while I tried to analyze the situation as best I could.

I cared about Chris so much and wanted him to understand how I truly felt so as the rolling took its toll I explained my feelings and frustrations. Why cheat? Why no monogamy? Why not me? -All the questions ensuing in my mind that when sober I could filter and control. Yet even though his words felt wrong to me, I was still driven towards him confident that maybe it was me that could change his pessimistic lifestyle. Throughout the night I pleaded with him, "Do something wrong so I can stop liking you." Still stapled to the coach, the sun began to pierce its way into the room. I asked our friend Jack to shut the blinds, but they were already closed. The early morning light hit my eyes like a poison burning into my soul the thought of daytime, and classes, and leaving. I never wanted to leave this hedonistic hideout. So Jack ran for some blankets to block the day. Back to the dark we went. If I only knew in how much darkness I was really living at the particular moment.

Evil is not obvious. It hides innocently within all the things we use to fill the void. Anyone that says they don't do drugs to fill a void is in denial of their deepest needs. Even if their motivation is just to have fun, they're still attempting to enhance their happiness. They want to feel happier and they think a pill or a powder might be the solution. And it is, temporarily. The evil disguises itself in the fun, but forgets to explain the price you'll eventually have to pay. You pay a price the morning you wake up sick and regretful and in the future when you finally realize where your life has led you. There is only one thing that can fill your heart, heal all the hurt and make it whole. Everything else is deception disguised to make you feel happy and it's literally evil. Intimate time I shared with Chris made me feel better for a moment, and then it made me feel used and tricked and betrayed. For him, I was just one more number on the slate. I was nothing.

Soon it was mid afternoon and since the effect of the drugs had finally dissipated, Chris was ready to leave. Tired and fried I searched slowly for my clothes dreading the light and how it would expose me. I had no idea. What felt like a dream on fast forward soon turned into a nightmare in slow motion. The taxi arrived and as we passed all the people walking dogs and eating food, I realized just how far I had really escaped the world. Now returning to it, I could feel my lips burning and they made me conscious how bad they must look. "Just drink some water", Chris advised calmly. Probably not the same answer he would have provided had it been his lips. With our last minutes together he reminded me of how I need to feel and speak in moderation. One minute I'd love him and the next minute I hated him in my frustration. I was overly emotional that night and dramatically expressed it. Thus, the lesson of moderation. Realistically I didn't understand how I felt, which probably led to the extremes. As a 20-year-old girl under the influence of just about everything, I think I had an understandable mood. It's difficult to feel moderation when you feel high. We stopped in front of my apartments and as I walked towards the gate, Chris lied that he probably wouldn't be going to Roosevelt. I knew from earlier that I must have looked pretty messed up for him to try to lie to me. He told me to get some rest, but I reminded him that I had a 3 hr class that day so it didn't really matter. Even through everything, I still felt Chris had failed at doing something to make me stop caring about him so much.

As I ran towards the elevators my burning lips rekindled the fear of how bad I must look. Traveling to my floor I took a picture on my camera phone. I couldn't wait any longer. I needed to know. Two blank eyes stared back at me like a corpse, covered in smudgy black eyeliner with two long dark shadows underneath. My lips were chapped and red like I'd just drank a gallon of red Kool-Aid. I looked like a side street druggie with a crushed soul and not a penny in her pocket. I was so scared. I walked up to my door relieved that no else would have to see me this way. But it was locked. I didn't bring any keys. My forehead leaned against the door and as I looked down I saw the doormat. I remembered my roommates talking about leaving a key, but didn't know if they actually had. I slowly lifted the mat and uncovered a gold key to the apartment that I had never been happier to enter. I turned to the full-length mirror and stared. I stared just as I would have if the reflection I was witnessing was someone elses. I'd never seen someone so destroyed, both body and soul. I started to ask myself how I became this way. One minute everything felt perfect and now I stood a damaged scarred little girl all alone.

My mind began to race as my body stayed frozen in a chair in the kitchen. He must like me and care about me..he's texted me constantly ever since I met him…I mean he texted me 50 times before I found my way over there….if he cares though then why do I look like this??…why would he allow me to feel this way…why didn't he protect me from getting to this point… Then suddenly I realized. He never liked me. That's why when I told him how I felt he would look so sad. Because he knew, maybe only subconsciously, that what we were doing would eventually break my heart. And now, turning to the mirror as I sat in shock, I saw the result of that night stapled to me like a sign on my forehead reading "broken". I had searched for something to make me dislike Chris all night and now I had finally found it. I was staring right at it. I came to his house having already had more than I could take and he knowingly walked me down the path to where I was out of control.

I walked into the bathroom like a zombie and realized that Chris had become just like my dad and every other guy I'd ever met on earth that used me and hurt me and really didn't care. As I leaned over the bathroom sink absorbing how stupid and innocent I'd acted, the pain became too much. I dropped to the floor, my heart screaming out in pain feeling tightness in my chest. Hot tears covered my face as I leaned against the cabinet crying out to God. Why does this happen to me? Someone please take my hurt away. I don't want to feel it anymore.

I opened up my heart in a way I'd never exposed in my life and as I did this I could feel God close to me. I could feel the warmth and the love and I could feel me struggling to push him away. I needed my hurt so I could use it as an excuse to do all the things that I did. But I had to make a decision. I wanted to be happy and as I decided this I felt his closeness ever stronger. But then doubt arose in my mind. Maybe there really isn't a god at all? Maybe this isn't really happening? I wrestled with my mind and as I struggled through I thought about the miracles that had taken place in my life; the miracles that I see every day if I just take a moment to look. The doubt disappeared from my mind and I felt with every ounce of my soul that there is a God with a son who really did die on the cross for every sin I'll ever make so that I can live forever with Him. Remorse abruptly took a hold of me and I felt so ashamed of my life and the all the things I'd done wrong. I was such a huge sinner. I had hurt so many people and done so many horrible things that I can't even begin to explain it. But, as I cried out for forgiveness I felt an overwhelming love. Even as someone who had lived such a selfish, sinful life, He still loves me so much. Suddenly I felt a hand on my heart and a feeling that is absolutely indescribable. I could feel Him healing my heart and coming into my soul. The experience was out of this world and no words will ever be able to explain it. It was pure joy, pure ecstasy. I've never felt such peace, such happiness and in such an explosively powerful way.

If happiness could be measured, for example, in grains of sand then if you think of an orgasm or a high, that's probably comparable to one grain of sand in the entire ocean. Likewise, the feeling of being saved by god's grace and feeling his power within your soul, Is all. the sand. in the ocean. And more. If Jesus' love is like the sun, earthly happiness is like candle's flame. There's no comparison. I'd never experienced anything even close to the happiness I felt. Suddenly I understood why people in church were so happy. When you feel God's hand upon you all you can feel is joy and it is completely undeniable. God's love is powerful beyond words. Even more astounding, I suddenly understood my purpose for being alive, how the world is connected, why there is hurt and evil in the world and what reality actually is. I was truly enlightened as if while walking through the world in the dark, someone suddenly turned on the lights. Everything makes sense now.

Imagine living in a matrix like world and finally finding the truth. Just like in the movie, we live our lives blind to the truth, to the true reality. Except in the real world, there is no matrix. No one can provide you with a pill to unleash all the answers; God is the answer. Knowing that now, my life is forever changed. My soul sighs with relief knowing that I no longer need worldly things to comfort me. Continuing to medicate one's life with material things or intoxicating partying is a slippery slope that eventually crushes the soul. No one is immune to the effects of sin. That is exactly why it is so amazing that Jesus died hanging on a wooden cross to save us from the sins we commit. He is the only one that can save us. I have never known without a doubt whether Jesus exists, until now. The world looks so different to me nowadays. My heart is light and peaceful, my spirit is happy and my number one priority is sustaining my incredible relationship with my savior, Jesus Christ.

"For God so loved the world that he gave
His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

For this sweet girl, my prayer is that she lives in the truth that "the old has gone." May she see herself the way our Lord sees her - blameless and lovely! This young lady still needs SO much prayer! PLEASE pray!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'm a slogger!

I know, I know. I haven't blogged in over a month. I am a slacker blogger and have therefore given myself the title of slogger. I am the reason several of my friends are blogging now, and I am the slogger of the bunch.
SO much has happened in the last month - too much to place on the blog, but I will attempt to give you a few highlights. Since my last blog entry, here's what's been happening with the Andersons!

Rob turned 34 and four days later, I turned 34. Unfortunately, both of our birthdays were only days before the Park City Young Life 20th Anniversary and Fundraiser. As most of you know, this is pretty much the only time each year when my easy going husband stresses. The event was a huge success despite a few technical difficulties and a bit of craziness. We raised a great deal of money and follow-up is happening right now.

I got a new camera for my birthday, and Rob got new fishing waders. He has been like a giddy school boy just itching to use his new waders. He's been leaving them in his truck just in case he happens to be by a river or stream and has some time to jump out and cast a few. In fact, he is using them right now; he and Pete went fly fishing in Heber this morning.

Our good friend Kate had major hip surgery as you might know from her blog (The Fischers). Their dogchild Vidalia came to stay with us for the week. I don't know who had more fun, Vidalia, Truman or Sawyer. Truman and Vidalia wrestled constantly while Sawyer played in Vidalia's crate (see pictures). Despite the fact that he has tons of toys, Sawyer prefers to play with things like sticky notes, the remote control, and dog crates.

Baseball season ended! Praise the Lord. This was Rob's 9th year coaching baseball at the high school, and the season seemed longer than ever. The team only played three, that's right, three home games because of all the snow still on the field. That makes for a lot of travel, especially here in Utah where all the schools are hours away. Needless to say, it is good to have Rob back, and he is extremely glad to be back.

Rob and I are playing on a co-rec softball team on Friday evenings. We have had three games so far, and it has been really fun. We pondered on the way to the game last night about how we had a babysitter at home, and instead of going to a movie or a nice dinner, we were wearing cleats and headed to the softball field. Funny. It is perfect, and it is very important for us to play together. It is great for our marriage! Also, Rob thinks I am very attractive after making a play at second base. Go figure.

The snow finally melted!!! Oh how sweet it is to see the grass and other signs of summer. It has been a long winter! We have spent several weekends in a row working in the yard. It's been so fun, and Sawyer LOVES playing outside. In the mornings, we sit on the back patio and watch the hummingbirds play - we have one little dude who guards our feeder and won't let the others near it. Rob makes fun of me because I shoo him away so the others can have a drink. It's fun.

I got a new (used) mountain bike and sold my old one. My "new" one has full suspension!!! I am in heaven on rides now! We also got a little hybrid trailer for Sawyer. It hooks to the back of our bikes, so now Sawyer can go on rides with us. It is awesome - he just kicks back with his sippy cup and some toys and enjoys the ride. It doesn't get much better than that.

Lastly, and most importantly for the family, here is an update on the little man. Sawyer now has six teeth! A month and a half ago he barely had one, and his sixth one broke through this week. He will walk along the furniture all day long and take one step on his own, but that is it; he still prefers to crawl everywhere and has perfected the speed crawl. He says dog, dada and ball, as well as a lot of gibberish. He points at everything and says things, but no one knows just what. He LOVES to eat - he takes after his mom and dad. He loves to do anything outside, and he loves to play with balls. His newest thing is making car noises as he pushes his cars around - I think he picked this up from the Sweeney boys. Also, he will sit by the pantry door and point and yell because that is where the animal crackers are stored. I stopped nursing about two weeks ago, and Sawyer is now digging the whole milk (he wanted no part of it at first).
I watch him constantly and become giddy inside over the most trivial things - the way he eats, his funny facial expressions, as he crawls all over Truman, his little giggle. I LOVE that he is beginning to cuddle and will sit with me and read an ENTIRE book. I love him.

Let the pictures roll. Other random photos include Mother's Day and pictures from a wedding of a good friend.


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