Thursday, March 29, 2012

defending the silver lining, part 2.

i want to write about what happened with ben's dissertation proposal yesterday, because i'm still reeling from it.

but first,

i'm going to write about what happened today.

today was about my best friend andrea. i keep writing about her because she is someone who i just love to pieces.  she is constantly inspiring me.  

in just the past 2 years, andrea has:

~broken free from a destructive marriage
~moved herself and her children {packing up an entire house on her own} into a new home for a fresh start
~became a CNA after passing an intense program  
~was accepted into the master's in counseling program at ASU, and has been juggling a year of grad school along with being a single mom who has full custody
~passed her GRE
~continued with really intense self-discovery and healing through therapy the entire time

{after looking at this list, i feel a little inadequate thinking what in the world have i accomplished these past 2 years??}

and now?  andrea is engaged, to a really great guy.  

together they are going to make an amazing couple.


i've written before about the fact that andrea has not had an easy life.... beginning well before her ended marriage.  and because of her beginning, she has been basically on her own in her life in every sense of the word.  

a couple of weeks ago, i went shopping with her to find a wedding dress as beautiful as she is.  i pretty much cried the whole time, because i'm just so happy for her.  {i'm going to be a mess on the actual day!} but i also knew that financially, a wedding is expensive.  and andrea is the only one providing for those expenses.

after a girls night last weekend, where we excitedly talked about wedding plans, i was contacted by two of our friends, amanda and katie.  they had the genius idea of trying to gather together some support from others who love andrea, to see if there was a way we could help lift some of the burden of the cost of the wedding, more specifically....a dress. 

working together, we reached out to friends who know and love her, to see if they would like to contribute.  we were hoping to gather a couple hundred dollars, to see if we could maybe cover the cost of dress alterations.

within 48 hours of contacting our friends, we were overcome and amazed at the generosity we were witnessing.  we had collected well over our hoped-for amount, and had actually gathered enough to almost completely cover the cost of her dream dress!  every time i texted amanda to get an update on the total, she would send me the amount and i would just start to cry.  i could not believe what was happening.

we wanted to give others as much time as we could to donate, but also wanted to present the money to her before she had made a final decision on her dress, to have the pressure lifted as she tried them on and know that she was going to be completely covered financially for it.

so amanda, katie, our friend kelly and myself set it up to meet andrea this morning at the bridal shop to help her make a decision.  our plan was to surprise her with the money we had collected.  our other friend farrah had put together a fabulous photo book with a picture of each person who had generously donated and a message they had sent to her.  {we were so sad that last night farrah came down with a nasty stomach bug and wasn't able to come with us!}  but seriously?  keeping surprises is not something i'm great at, especially when it comes to keeping secrets from andrea. 

i relate so much to kristen wiig's character in this SNL skit that it's sad:

i was proud of myself, because i didn't even give her one hint that anything was going on, even though i felt like jumping out of the windows of our house at times.  poor ben had to hear about how excited i was for pretty much 24 hours straight.  and every time i talked about it i would start to cry, so that doubled the fun.  

but it went perfectly.

amanda had withdrawn the money in small bills and wrapped them in a beautiful silver box, and the photobook was printed minutes before we got to the bridal shop.  

as soon as we got in, we sat down.

"we have a gift to give you,"  amanda said, as she handed andrea the silver box.  i immediately started crying.  {what is wrong with me? i have totally turned into such a softie.}

as andrea opened the box, she screamed.

"ahhhh! what is this??" she yelled, and looked at each of us.  i looked at kelly through my tears and saw her own.  now we were all crying.  

"it's a gift for you, for your wedding dress.  we wanted to do something for you, to let you know how much we love you and how happy we are for you,"  amanda explained.  and then told her how we had reached out and so many others had wanted to do the same.

and then, andrea began to cry.

here is the thing.  

i have rarely seen someone go through so much for so long, and still continue to keep her soft heart.  but she has done this on her own, digging herself out of the deep holes that were dug for her by others who could not face their own demons and she suffered because of it.  yet she has never been vengeful, or wanted those who hurt her to suffer.  

she has never played the victim card, when she absolutely could.  she has chosen to continue to put her heart out there again, to be vulnerable.  leaving behind fear to become faith, giving everything that she had with the hope there there was still goodness to be found.

and by doing so, she has found it.

and this is why, within a mere 48 hours, the outpouring of love for this amazing girl came.  and for the few of us who were able stand there and present tangible evidence that all of those experiences of her past that told her she was not deserving of goodness and love were absolutely untrue...

it was an amazing experience for all of us.  

we cried and hugged and cried some more.  

and then, we watched as andrea tried on some gorgeous dresses.  and we watched as she was able to pick one that looked like it was made for her.  and we watched as she was able to pay for almost the entire dress in cash.  we know there is more financial responsibility coming for her, but it felt great to know that some of the burden was lifted.

then we went to lunch, and we talked about all that has happened in the last two years.  how she has changed, not only on the inside but on the outside.  

there is a light that andrea has.  one that has always been there, but had been dimmed by those who hurt her.  but now it shines through her.  

today was an incredible day,

and i have a feeling that there are going to be a lot more.

****i feel immense gratitude toward those who reached out and helped make this possible.  i know not many know all of the details of andrea's story, but it didn't matter.  thank you so much!! 

******** also, if you would like a chance to send andrea a gift there is still time and i know she would absolutely appreciate it. there is a lot still ahead for her, and we only had time to reach out to those we knew.  if you're interested, leave a comment here or send me a message through facebook with a way for me to contact you and i will get in touch with you! 


Em and Russ said...

That's a wonderful story!!!! Andrea is lucky to have great friends. Emily and I feel like we know Andrea fairly well through your blog. Please wish her the greatest success from our family (that she has never met nor probably even heard of).

The Lord blesses each one of us as we strive to have faith during our trials.


janine said...

Andrea, you are an amazing girl! I admire you in so many ways and I am so thrilled for the joy you have found. Lynsey, you are an amazing friend! I am sure that your name is recorded in Heaven! Happy planning!

Michelle said...

Wow! I am crying reading this. I think Andrea actually introduced me to your blog-- and even though we have never met, I love to read your insights and inspiration. Andrea will go down in my personal history as my favorite college roomate ever (and I had a lot of those roomates!) I feel sad I have not stayed close to her, but I will always love her. I have ached for her --what very little I have known of her story, and been inspired by her loving cheerful and forgiving attitude. She is awesome! So glad she has good friends to buoy her up and treat her like the queen she is :)

melia said...

Thank you so much Lynsey for being such a good friend to her. I can't help but love you for that.

Kris said...

Oh Lyns! Thanks for sharing this story, it's nice to hear how happy she was at that moment. I sure hope Cory got you the $ from us in time for yesterdays surprise for Andrea. We love her and we love you and we are happy for her and grateful for you and your support/friendship you have with/for her.
I can't wait to see her happy pictures on her happy day! (And of course of her beautiful dress)

Rachel Holloway said...

I AM SO, SO SO happy you shared this. You know, it was interesting that this happened when it did. I had really been feeling like I needed to do more, give more...serve more. And I fasted for that on Sunday. And then BAM. I got your email.

What wonderful friends you guys are--so in tune to be able to work as the Lord's hands here on earth. :)

The Garner Family said...

I am so grateful that Andrea has you near to support and love her. Please, please contact me through FB to let me know any ways I can help. I love Andrea so much and it's about time I showed her:) I'll be waiting to hear how I can help.

Pam said...

I'm crying here!!! Amazing. Truly amazing. Way to go Andrea!!!

ohmylanta said...

How Exciting! I am so happy for Andrea! And you are an amazing friend Lyns.

I have to say that I am proud of Andrea. She really worked hard to take care of her situation by making smart and mature decisions. Not every woman stepping out of divorce can do that. I just watched my sister flounder and flounder through her first year of being a single mom. Then she rebounded into a stupid marriage that was a train wreck after 3 months. Good things come to those who are patient and trust that the Lord has something good in store for them.

Laughed my guts out over SNL video. Stinkin funny.