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“From that initial outpouring of emotions and disbelief came the concept of establishing a permanent public memorial […] to deliver a message of hope for many generations to come.”


It was April 20, 1999, and what began as a normal day didn’t end up normal at all. It left people in shock, with countless questions, and a dwindling fear. I was merely in grade school when it happened, so I couldn’t remember much of the details from that day. I couldn’t perfectly recall how the world responded or the whirlwind of emotions I had gone through as a ten year old. Now almost twenty years later, the best I can do, is imagine what it would have been like to be there: to be at that school, to be friends with the victims, and to witness a tragedy that would have blatantly changed my life forever.


A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to spend some time in Colorado. And in that time, I had the opportunity to visit the town of Littleton—the site of the Columbine shooting massacre and its memorial. I honestly didn’t think it would affect me as much as it actually did, when I silently walked into that place of remembrance. I have visited my fair share of different memorials throughout my traveling lifetime, but none can even begin to compare to the amount of emotion brought on by this particular visit.


The memorial was a small space consisting of one semi circle shaped wall called the Wall of Healing with quotes from people (students, parents, staff, teachers, and people of the Littleton community) who were present, and a small Ring of Remembrance to honor the thirteen lives, which were lost on that tragic day. I read every single word in that memorial, and all I could think about was how much hope was inscribed into those plaques. Every name and every phrase screamed for people like me reading them: TO HOLD ON TO HOPE—to hold on to the hope of whom God is and what He has perfectly planned out for your life even though sometimes it may still be unseen.



Hope is only hope in the face of hopelessness.


She used to say that phrase sometimes. She would write about it, hope I mean, in her songs and then sing those songs of hope on stages. We didn’t know it at the time, but she would later understand more of what it looked like to struggle in this life journey; she would feel what it was like to physically be in pain due to unforeseen illnesses. And through all this, she would have to learn what it looked like to fully trust in who God is and what the future would hold.


I’m talking about my dear friend, Andrea. The same Andrea who I give so much credit to for all the things I get to do in the music world because she was basically the first one to “employ” me AKA trusted me to help her sell merchandise at coffee shop shows. But more than that, she has been one of the most present people in my life the last decade—walking through puddles, trudging through rain, laughing at life’s silliness while making ridiculously sarcastic comments with me. Never once was she judging, and always she is encouraging. She probably carries more wisdom than like 95% of the world’s population. And along with all that, she has taught me outrageous things about the healing process and how freeing it can be, whether physical or internal. Andrea is the walking epitome of hope, and she illustrates that in her every day life, which is probably why she effortlessly vomits out song lyrics and melodies that equate to her essence.


My timeline is probably a little off, but about a year or maybe a year ago, Andrea asked myself and a couple of our phenomenally talented music friends to sit in a room with her to listen to her demos and get some feedback to prepare for releasing her next project. We spent two full days doing that. And honestly, it has been such a honor being a part of the process: listening to demos, seeing the tracking, hearing the mixing, and even being her ride buddy to drop off the master for print. I’m even more excited that her newest album “Hope and Struggle” is now officially released into the world and available for the world to hear and be touched by it—to be reminded to stay hopeful through the challenges, through the hard times, and through the struggle.


It’s inevitable: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.


There will always be struggle, but there is also hope.


And the two must co-exist for us to accurately understand the meaning of each. That’s the only way that we, humans, will keep from remaining stagnant. For it is through the challenges in which we grow.


Life is more beautiful through the struggle.


As crazy as that sounds, it really is.


We’re not perfect people, but sometimes, I like to think about how going through struggles of my own have shaped me into the person I am currently: how it has made me more resilient, more compassionate, more aware, and a whole lot of other things I’ll save for another day. I like to think about how in my own weaknesses, I see the evidence of how God’s power gives me strength and how the community I have around me comes together to fight and support me. Struggles show you, you are not alone. There are a whole lot of other people out there journeying through similar things. And for some strange reason, going through the fire ignites passion in people. It is through adversity where the best stories are told. It is through hardship where people become more empowered, and the grandest of things have the potential of coming to be.


With all the craziness going on in the world and then spit out on social media recently, I’ve tried to stay away and let the rants and negativity fizzle out. I had an epiphany the other day after talking with a friend, and I think a lot of people act out on socials because of fear. They are fearful because they feel helpless and hopeless. I get that, and I can see why. But then, today as I was unintentionally scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw the words:


Build your life on hope.


Don’t build your life on people or things or policies or things that can quickly crumble to dust on our floors. Instead, place your hope in things that matter and can grow you: like building yourself to be a better person, and turning your energy into pursuing God. By no means am I saying that people should not be proactive, but there’s a certain kind of proactiveness that can be accomplished with grace.


Where there is hope, there is life.


This blog post is for those of you who have gone through the fire, and can still stand up and find hope in your circumstances. Amidst the struggles and through the heartbreaks, you still embrace your tragedies or illnesses or pain and I have ultra respect and applaud you for your resilience.


This blog post is also for those of you who feel hopeless: I’m here to encourage you to fight with everything you’ve got, do anything and everything you can to stay hopeful.


After all, hope never leaves your hopeless.



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