The Tracking System

When you think of someone working from home for their full-time job, you probably think of a person lounging in their pj’s and slippers, 2½ days into their no-shower streak.  Perhaps they’re slowly drinking that steaming mug of coffee as they casually peruse their emails.  They check out a quick half-hour of the news while scanning what’s on their to-do lists.  No real accountability.  No real focus.  Just an awesome opportunity to be able to be at home while everyone else is head-long into their hour commute.

Well, the pj’s and slippers describe me fairly accurately.  To complement by hobby job at the bakery, I work full time for a hospital in Wyoming.  I’ve worked for them for six years, and I love it.  But three years ago, I made the move to California and I thought I was going to have to find a new job.  Except I didn’t have to.  My boss opted to send me with my work equipment and here I am, three years later, in my pj’s and slippers (and yes, I’m drinking that coffee as well) working from home.

We were recently told we have a new time-tracking system being installed in our computers so that the hospital can monitor what we’re doing with our time.  It’s truthfully a genius idea to make sure people aren’t just watching YouTube all day instead of working, but it really got me thinking about how much work I actively do.  And even more important, what if God tracked our work this way?

Bear with me a moment.  I know God knows and sees everything we do, just like I know that the hospital sees my final work done every day.  But what if we KNEW God had a tracking system that monitored how faithful we were to sharing the gospel with friends, co-workers, strangers, neighbors?  What if He was checking to see if we served the orphans, the widows or the less fortunate?  Or how about our attitudes—what if the checker determined how many times we were short-tempered or didn’t give grace?  How well would we do?  Would He be seeing strong effort from us, or would He see us lounging around on break all day?

Please hear me when I say that I KNOW that the bible teaches that works do not save you.  But I believe that when we begin a relationship with Jesus, our faithfulness and devotion DO push us towards honoring God’s commands, which include loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and taking care of others (James 1:27, Psalm 82:3).  He teaches to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15).

I know when I look at it like that, I fall short far more than I meet the expectation.  I know that I need to be doing more to be told, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”   I shouldn’t be relying on a time tracker to make sure I’m doing the job.  I need to be doing it and doing it to the best of my ability every day.  God deserves that from us for what He did for us.  Today, I choose to raise the bar!

~Erin

Are You a Consumer Or A Follower?

I mark up my bible.  I’m one of those women that highlights, makes notes, and writes the day that I heard something profound for my life from the pastor.  I was taught to do it and saw it modeled from the time I was a little girl.  It doesn’t make my bible more special than someone else’s, but it does allow me to see what I’ve learned in my journey with God and shows my children that journey, as well.

Recently, I was reading through John and I came across one of those notes.  In this particular note, I didn’t mark who preached about it, but the thought intrigued me and I wrote it down.  In John 6:1-13, he tells the story of being with the disciples and feeding thousands with just five loaves of bread and two fish.  In the middle portion of the scripture (verses 14-65), John goes on to talk of Jesus walking on the water and then Jesus speaking to the crowds about how He is the Bread of Life.  At that point, the bible says that many disciples left.  But a few stayed…THE disciples.  In verses 68-69, Simon Peter (having been asked if they want to leave as well) says to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have words of eternal life.  We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.

The first series of verses show the consumers of the gospel, but the last part of the verses show the followers of the gospel!  What a profound way to look at this.

In the beginning, we’re all consumers.  We don’t know Jesus, but maybe we check out a bible-believing church because we’re curious.  Possibly a neighbor or a friend talks to us about having salvation.  Any way we find out about Jesus, we are consumers of His word.   But what we DO with that is up to us.  We can continue to be consumers, going to a church and hearing the Word or listening to Christian music or reading a devotion, but never really digging in and fully committing to Christ.  Or we can be followers of the gospel, dedicated to following His commands and reaching out to others in service and discipleship.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be just a consumer.  I want to be a true follower!  Join me today in making the commitment to letting go of a consumer lifestyle when it comes to Jesus and instead becoming a follower of Jesus.

~Erin

He Knows Your Name

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a talker.  I’m a people person and I love getting to know someone’s story.  And I’ve written before about my hobby job.  (For those who don’t know, I work from home in California for the hospital in my hometown.  And BECAUSE I’m a talker, I went and got a small part time job at Boudin here in Roseville so that I could be around people!)

One of my favorite things about this job is learning our regular guests’ names when they come in to get their lunch.  I love to remember who they are and what they usually order!  They’ll laugh when I tell them they’re throwing me off by buying something different.  Sometimes, their eyes light up and get excited when I ask them how newly married life is or how their son is doing in football this season.  It just makes me happy to connect to someone.

I know this probably feels like a lot of back story, but indulge me!  I have a guest who comes in every week after ordering online and just tells me her name, takes her bag from me and leaves.  She’s pleasant but I haven’t had a chance to really talk to her.  I have, however, gotten to know who she is by name.  The last few times she’s come in I’ve said, “Hey, Debbie!  How’s it going,” repeated her order to her and told her to have a great day.

Last week, she didn’t just say ‘thank you’ and leave the counter.  She stopped and said this to me, “Erin, it amazes me that you know me just by seeing me when I walk in.  You make me feel so special that you know who I am!  You just made my day!”  It was a great feeling for me to know she felt that way!

God sees us too.  In John 10:3, Jesus say, “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”  He goes on to say in verse 14, “I am the good shepherd, I know My own and My own know Me.

He knows who we are.  Sometimes, we feel as if we’re just existing in this world.  Everyday life comes at us, sometimes good and sometimes bad.  Maybe you feel as if you’re unnoticed and alone.  Perhaps you feel unworthy.  I’m here to tell you that you are not an afterthought to our Heavenly Father.  You are known and you are loved.  He knows your name.  He knows your heart and your hurts.  You are His.  And you are special.

~Erin

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I love my job!

Are You Hungry?

It was quiet.  Almost too quiet.  I was working in my office while McKenna and Andros were visiting from Florida.  While McKenna was in the living room, I’d seen Andros walk into the kitchen.  He’d been holding a couple of toys and I could hear him playing, pushing the stool around the room.  And then….silence.  When I decided to peek my head around the corner, I couldn’t help but giggle and grab my phone for a quick picture.

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Caught in the act!

 

Andros had moved the stool over to the counter and with great stealth, had managed to step up to grab his contraband!  He had in his little arms the large tub of toddler drink mix and an empty bottle.  He was taking it to his mother in a desperate attempt to get a little extra treat!  He was thirsty and hungry, but more importantly, he simply wanted it.  He loved the taste as it was a sweet indulgence and couldn’t wait to get some more.

We should be that way with the Word of God.   The book of Jeremiah is the story of the prophet who told of Jerusalem’s impending destruction because of the lack of repentance to God.  In it are not only the words that Jeremiah prophesied but also the prayers he spoke to his Heavenly Father.

Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. –Jeremiah 15:16

Several times in the bible God, scripture, and the growth through study are identified as Living Water, milk, and solid food.  In Isaiah 58:11, he speaks of the Lord as a spring of water that does not fail.  In John 6, Jesus talks about being the Bread of Life.  In Hebrews 5:12-14, the author describes spiritual development as starting out on the milk but needing to move on to solid food in order to mature in your walk with God.

Jeremiah was crying out to God that He was devouring every word God was speaking to Him, letting them become the delight of his heart.  He was allowing God’s conversations to penetrate his soul.  It wasn’t just lip service.  He took what God was saying and used it as fuel to ignite the joy that God gave him while preparing for a heavy responsibility of prophesying to a nation that didn’t want to listen.

What a great example of a man who trusted that God would not only provide him the joy he needed during his life but also the sustenance needed to deal with a difficult season of life.  I pray that we can always look to the scriptures, God’s words, as a way to fill our hunger!

~Erin

The Cultivate Conference

I had an opportunity to attend a conference, Cultivate, this last weekend sponsored by Sisters in the Spirit.  The theme was centered on Cultivating Courage, and it was an incredible opportunity to be surrounded by women who were all interested in a deeper connection to Jesus, one that was free of fear.

When the panel of women shared their stories, I don’t think there was a woman in the room that didn’t feel a connection to at least one brave soul on that stage.  I found myself relating to the personal accounts of past mistakes, fears, hurts, and triumphs.

It reminded me of how important it is to share our testimony with others.  When we let go of our fear of being judged, there is a freedom that happens in your soul.  You transfer the power of fear into the power of faith that God has prevailed in your situation.  It also give the woman hearing it the opportunity to know they’re not alone.   Woman can often feel like they’re the battling things on their own, whether an intentional thought or not.  When we share, we connect.

Having courage is not always easy.  But when we trust that God will stand with us and carry us through, courage can always be found.

Arise!  For this matter is your responsibility, but we will be with you; be courageous and act. –Ezra 10:4

~Erin

P.S.  To find out more about the ministry that put the conference together, please visit www.sistersinthespirit.net.

Cutting the Line

The line wasn’t really that long by normal Disneyland standards.  Some days (during the summer), your wait for a ride can be up to 90 minutes!  We opted for a Disney experience in September, just after the crowds had left and everyone was back in school.  The weather wasn’t crazy hot and the lines never lasted more than 30 minutes on a busy day.

We were waiting patiently in the Star Tours line when the teenage son of the family behind us said to one of his siblings, “We could just get in the Fast Pass line right now and get up to the front.  They don’t even check once you’re past the entrance.”  And off him and his siblings went.  His father waited for a brief moment, looked around, hopped the rope, and looked sheepishly at us as he walked past and up to the front of the Fast Pass line with his children.

It was the topic of discussion among my family for the next 10 minutes as we waited to reach the front.  We talked about the examples that we set for our children and others around us.  We talked about fairness to people.  It was actually a great conversation between myself, Peyton, and her dad.

We got to the front of the line and entered the ride.  The ride seats 40 people in total, and the three of us sat in the front row.  I looked around and who did I see?  The family that had cut in the line.  Their attempt to get there faster had somehow ended up being all for naught.  Nice or not, we had a good little giggle about that.

Of all the lessons I learned from that one little experience, this was the most profound to me:  we can try and fast track our future by skipping the line we’re supposed to be in, but the full wait may be part of the journey.  We trust God has such a wonderful plan for our lives, but we try to control it by getting there faster, quicker sometimes at the expense of the experience.

The people we meet along the way may be the ones who need to know Jesus.  The extended wait times could just be the period of growth that you need to mature for the next season of your life.  The bumps we encounter are the opportunities to serve others rather than self.

God knows what He’s doing in your life.  You don’t need to skip the line to get to the destination.  Let’s see what exciting adventure He has for us along the way!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

~Erin

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Erin and Peyton at Disneyland

Reaching the Edge

This is how I describe what it feels like to me:  I’m in a pool with all of my friends and we’re just hanging around.  I’m getting tired, and I swim over to the edge.  I can almost touch it but it’s out of my reach….and stays out of my reach.  I kick my feet that last little bit only to see that the edge is still not finding my outstretched hand.  I still can’t touch it.  I’m getting tired, anxious, and overwhelmed from all the swimming.  I’m not going under.  I’m staying afloat, but I just. can’t. reach. the. edge.  And now I’m scared.

That’s what my depression feels like to me.

I was first diagnosed when I was 19, and I’ve battled it for 20 years.  Some years, it’s wonderful.  I pass through the seasons of life and everything feels peaceful.  Other years, it gets a grip on me and feels like it could swallow me whole if I let it.  I’ve been on multiple medications and gone to some of the most amazing counselors.  The resources that I’ve had available to me have been a blessing when I struggle with the monster.

No one’s depression looks the same.  It affects us in different ways.  I’ve seen it manifested for some, through cutting.  Others may have thoughts of suicide.  Some just have this sadness that they can’t escape, while others might have physical symptoms.  From the outside looking in, the symptoms are all the same, but how they’re painted on our life canvas looks vastly different from person to person.

When I’m struggling hardest with depression, I reach past the overwhelming feelings of being alone and afraid and I cry out to God.  It’s hard sometimes.  While I’ve been a Christ-follower for a long time, in my depression, it’s difficult to call out for help, even from God.  I’m the leader.  I’m supposed to have myself together.  God gave me a calling, so I shouldn’t need to be so….needy.   But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

He’s the Healer.  He’s the Living Water that keeps us nourished, even when it feels like a dry desert.  I re-read this passage of scripture the other day and it was such an encouragement to me.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.  For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but it’s leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. –Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NASB)

Droughts will come.  Hardships, heartaches, anxiety, depression, hurt…it will come.  But if we trust Him, He will carry us through.  When we extend our roots out to the stream of Living Water, He sustains us.  And that verse reminds us that even if those dry seasons, we’re still producing fruit for His glory.

I’m in that pool right now, kicking and swimming and trying to get to the side.  And I haven’t reached it yet.  I take medication to help and I know God has me in His hand.  I’ll reach the edge soon.

Anyone have a verse that they use in the throes of depression that helps carry them through?  Share it in the comments below.

~Erin

Blessed is the man who trust in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves wil