Friday, December 20, 2013

First Semester

"Hey Steve, do you remember the first night we spent in this dorm, when we talked about how hard it was to say goodbye to our parents?"

"Honestly I don't man, that seems like so long ago..."

It really does seem like a very long time ago. At the same time, my first semester of college seemed to fly by. When my roommate Stephen and I moved in we were kind of unsure what to expect, and pretty much the only friends we had at first were each other. We have come a long ways these past four months and I can honestly say college is my favorite phase of life so far.

College classes aren't really that bad--my mom is still by far the toughest teacher I've ever had.;-) Admittedly I do have one of the easiest majors, but it is a fantastic program and I've made it through two HRTM courses, two general education courses, and one honors course with straight A's. I've also gotten a part-time job as a host at Jason's Deli where I have gained valuable experience working with customers.

Getting involved in the BSU Christian Challenge at NMSU has been by far the best decision I've made at college, and I have grown substantially in my faith and drawn closer to God these past few months. I've been discipled by my good friend Scott all semester, and I have learned a lot from him and through our study together. I've also been involved in Campus Evangelism every week, and my coach, Josh, is helping me to become more confident in sharing my faith. I've also met many of my best friends at the BSU and many of the older guys in the ministry have given me valuable advice and friendship.

I've met some of the coolest people on planet earth at college, and Steve and I are blessed to be a part of an awesome group of freshman at the BSU. We have been able to encourage each other, have movie nights, and even put together road trips to see Switchfoot and Tim Hawkins in concert. We've also made friends with several of the guys in our dorm and have made a couple of day trips to El Paso to shop at Guitar Center.

The most life-changing moment of the semester for me came a few weeks after classes started when the Traveling Team spoke at the BSU one Thursday during Crimson Worship. ( They clearly explained God's heart for reaching the nations, and for the first time in my life I understood what God's purpose was for my life, and for Christians in general--it is our task to reach the nations with the gospel. While I am currently unsure how exactly God wants me to be involved in missions, I am excited to seek His will for my life and I know He can do more through me than I could ever imagine doing on my own.

College stretches you in almost every way possible. Without a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed, failure is inevitable. Without maturity, a desire to seek wisdom, and a willingness to face difficulties head on, problems can quickly become overwhelming. Without a constant effort to draw nearer to God, the trials and temptations of life will draw us away from him. College and living independently present a lot of challenges and require a lot of responsibility and initiative. Adulthood is difficult sometimes, but I know I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, I feel closer to God and my friends and family than ever, and I wouldn't change a thing about where I am. I'm living a great story, and although I can't help but be a bit nervous not knowing what's on the next page, I do know the author of my life personally, and I trust him completely.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Well, the day I've been gradually working towards has arrived--much sooner than I expected. I am all moved in to the dorms here at NMSU and start classes today. Leaving home was very hard, but I can honestly say I'm at peace and I know this is where God wants me.

I didn't feel at all prepared to start school, but everything has worked out perfectly. I didn't know what I was doing, but God did. My roommate, Stephen, is a really cool guy, and we've enjoyed jam sessions and watching youtube late at night in the dorm. I've also met a lot of other people through the Christian Challenge program here, and I'm planning to go to their weekly worship service and freshman Bible study. A couple of guys there had us over to their house for dinner a couple nights ago so I got to know a lot of the leaders.

Anyway, this week has pretty much consisted of God reminding me, "relax. I'll take care of you." I still worry and doubt since I don't know what the future holds, but all I can do is pray that God will keep me on the path He's layed out for me. His plan for me so far has been better than anything I could've imagined or hoped for.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The End of the Journey

Five years after my speech and debate career began--as a 13-year-old kid trying to compete in LD without knowing what a value was--it ended. It's a little bit hard to believe how far I've come and how much I've learned in those five years.

I learned that in order to do well in anything--including speech and debate--you have to put in many hours of work. It doesn't come easy. I learned that pride truly does come before a fall. I learned that the competitors who were the most content and who I looked up to the most were those who were happy no matter what placing God gave them, as long as they did their best. Those who were willing to take time out of their own preparation to help someone else. Those who were willing to drop everything to give advice. Although I tried to keep the proper perspective, there were many times when I fell short. I continue to look up to the alumni who had an impact on me early on in my debate career, and I hope God will use me in the lives of others like he used them in my life.

Although I will greatly miss attending debate camp, competing at tournaments, and the adrenaline rush while speaking in front of judges, I'm ok with my career being done. During our last debate round at Regionals, Josh and I debated a new team. It was their first year, and they had done incredibly well. They definitely have a bright future ahead of them. After the round, they told us it meant a lot to them when we prayed with them before each round, and that they looked up to us. Without realizing it, Josh and I had an impact on a new team, that will be debating for many years to come. Like so many made an impression on me during my early years as a competitor.

I was sad for a while after nationals, because it was over. But then I thought about my favorite moments during the tournament--when most of my region came to support me during my semi-final extemp round, late night worship on the lawn, and conversations with good friends. None of that will change. My friends will still support me, we can still get together and worship, and Facebook makes it easy to stay in touch. Besides, I can still come back to tournaments to coach and judge. The best parts of speech and debate will continue for  many years to come. I'm so thankful for the years I was able to compete in NCFCA and Stoa, and I'm excited to make many more plans to keep in touch with old friends, and to come back to tournaments.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

18th Birthday Week

Well, once again I find myself on my birthday looking back and wondering where the time went. I'm no longer a "kid" and am "officially" an "adult." I put these in quotation marks because it doesn't really feel like anything has changed. I still have the same supportive parents who have given me the freedom to make my own decisions. I still have the same friends and the same sense of adventure that I suppose I've always had. I  have the same God who has always been and always will be there for me. 

That said, it was amazing to have two of my best friends over for my birthday--to celebrate, and to go on our first road trip without "adult supervision.";-) Ultimately, this turned into one of the best weeks of my life and probably my best birthday ever!

Noah and Bowen were scheduled to arrive at 11:30 pm, but their plane was delayed. They ended up switching airlines and getting in at 2:00 am. Needless to say we didn't get much sleep, but I was so glad the delay didn't mean we'd have to miss the trip and/or the concert. 

Ah, the open road! We loaded everything in the car, making sure we got the tickets in. About two hours down the interstate we realized we forgot the sandwiches we made. That was a bummer, but we were glad we forgot the sandwiches instead of something more important. We ended up stopping at Sonic for lunch instead.

We stopped for a quick break in Las Cruces, and I showed them NMSU. We went into the bookstore and looked around a bit. Just 30 miles more to El Paso!

We made it to our hotel around 4:00, got checked in, and tried to go swimming. I say tried because the pool heater was broken and the water was freezing. We swam for a few minutes but it was miserable, even though it was around 80 degrees outside.

We dried off and went out for dinner next door at Texas Roadhouse. We ordered up some cherry limeades and some big steaks. It was an expensive meal, but it was the perfect way to start the evening and we all pitched in. We even saved some leftovers which we had for lunch the next day.

We then took off for the concert at the Abraham Chavez Theatre in downtown El Paso. We took I-10, and were able to see Cuidad Juarez, Mexico across the river. It was definitely humbling to see such extreme poverty just in our own back yard. Definitely made me thankful for what I have and for the amazing opportunities I've been given!

We arrived at the theater, got parked, and went inside. We were going to buy some t-shirts, but there was a mob around the t-shirt stand and they were really overpriced. We decided to just wait and order some off of the website later. They let us into our seats around 45 minutes before showtime. 

A band called The Virgins opened the show. They were fairly talented, but didn't put much energy into their set. 

Finally after the roadies set up the stage, it was time for The Killers! They opened the set with Mr. Brightside, their biggest hit, and that set the tone for the rest of the show. The crowd was fired up, the entire band was on the top of their game and it didn't let up for the entire 90 minute show. I'm not sure I've ever seen a lead singer put as much energy into a performance as Brandon Flowers did that night--even in videos of other Killers shows.

After the concert, we went around back to try and meet the band. We found their really cool tour buses and watched the roadies load the equipment into several semi-trucks. We met Ted Sablay, their touring musician by the buses. He was really nice and let us get a picture. It was so cool that he really seemed to care about the fans!

The band had to rush off to a secret show at a bar, but we were able to watch them get into the van. We'll have to try again to meet them if we can make it to another show!

We had an uneventful drive back to the hotel, still a bit in awe at how awesome the show was.

We slept in and didn't wake up until after 10:00. We checked out of the hotel, hit Krispy Kreme for some doughnuts, and decided to drive back into El Paso to show Bowen downtown and the view of Mexico.

We decided to go to White Sands National Monument on the way back home, so I followed the signs from El  Paso to Alamogordo and White Sands. That was a mistake. The signs meant White Sands military base, not the monument. We ended up being turned around at a military checkpoint after we had already gone about 30 miles into New Mexico. I felt like an idiot for not checking the map, but we eventually found our way back to the interstate and to the White Sands monument

We decided to go back home through Alamogordo for a change of pace, so Noah took the wheel and we made our way back after we finished sledding at White Sands. We stopped for dinner at Arby's in Socorro, and made it back home around 8:00. We told my parents about our adventures and then finished the day with a Tim Hawkins DVD.

Wednesday and Thursday
I had to work both of these days, so not all that much happened. We played some poker, Wii, and watched some movies in the evenings.

Birthday! We got up and got the cheesecake in the oven. (Noah makes an awesome cheesecake) Then we went to Santa Fe to give Noah and Bowen a tour of the Plaza and to meet my dad for lunch at Bumblebee's Burgers. 

After we got home Noah cooked up some fantastic steaks for dinner. I came down with a really bad headache, so we had to postpone the cheesecake and movie to the next day.

We drove down to Route 66 and Old Town, then we went to see "Life of Pi" in 3D. It was an awesome movie! We came home, had some cheesecake, played capture the flag, and then went to the Stars football game. When we got home from the game we built a fire.

All good things must come to an end... But there's the promise of many more adventures ahead. Now it's time to get back to work to earn back the money I spent last week.=P

Sunday, May 5, 2013


It was one of the best weeks of my life....and one of the hardest. I feel like a success....and a failure. I feel like I did my best to glorify God....but that I also let pride have too much control. I'm excited to move on to college....but I'm really going to miss this people. What a roller coaster ride. And what an incredible journey it's been in speech and debate.

Being able to compete in Region 3 has honestly been one of the best experiences of my life. I've met many people and have rekindled friendships from the past, and I've grown so much through competing in Team Policy this year. Josh and I had our last debate round ever (more on that later) and I still can't quite bring myself to unpack the debate box, recycle the evidence, and put the flow pads back on the shelf. I know God had a reason for us not making it to nationals, but the hardest part for me is knowing that it's over...forever. No more great clashes of arguments, topicality presses, power-matching speculation, or anticipation while waiting for breaks to be announced. That ship has dropped me off on the shore and sailed off without me.

As hard as saying goodbye to debate was, saying goodbye to friends was harder. I'm thankful to be able to attend nationals with some, but most will not be there. Instead of seeing each other once a month, it could be many months or years before I see many of these people again... I might not ever see some of them again.

At the ballot party, I was talking with one of my good friends about how much it sucks to be a senior and to know this was my last Regionals. He said, "I never say goodbye to anything. I just say hello. Saying goodbye is too hard." That is so much easier said than done, but those are some of the wisest words I've ever heard. Hello college. Hello adulthood. Hello Andrew the alumni judge. Hello stronger friendships. Because I thank God the end of my speech and debate career doesn't mean the end of the fellowship with the people I've met.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Am Second

Andrew’s 100 Word Story

Before following God, I was living for myself. Everything I did was about me.  I didn’t care about helping others.

I gave my life to Christ, but I didn’t live like it. Destructive habits and pride continued.

During high school, God used my Dad and others to show me by example what it means to serve others and surrender my whole life to Christ.

Since making the decision to intentionally live out my faith, Jesus has given my life direction and purpose. I’ve a new joy in serving others. I still face struggles, but I’m comforted knowing God will always be there for me.

My name is Andrew, and I am second.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Choosing A College

Wow. Talk about pressure. I've made a lot of decisions in my life, (some good, some bad) but I've never actually had the opportunity to choose exactly where and how to spend the next four years of my life. College is a big decision. Depending on this decision I could either wind up with a job I love, or a job I hate. I can set myself up for financial success, or burden myself with debt. I could go off on a giant adventure and experience something new in California or Alabama, I could stay close to home, or I could move back to the northwest near friends. 

After much prayer and thought I've decided to stay closer to home to attend New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. It's the only school that's offered me a full-ride scholarship, so it definitely makes sense financially. It also has a fantastic hospitality management program for me to explore. It's a very "safe" choice, which bugs me a little bit. I've played it safe almost my entire life, and playing it safe with my first major decision as an adult doesn't feel quite right. However, I've got my entire life left to have adventures, and the world's still wide open after college. Besides, going to a secular school will be an adventure in itself, since most of my high school friends are Christians. God's definitely given me a great opportunity to be an example and to grow in my faith while also being "out there" in the real world.

I know this transition into the next phase of my life will be difficult, but I'm not going to let my life stall. I'm going to actively try to become the person God wants me to be, and this is the right step to take right now. I'm excited, to say the least!