The Thank You Card

I got a card once from a dog.  Legitimately.

Two years ago, Peyton and I were talking in our living room when she gave a glance out the window and saw a dog walking past our front yard.  He was lazily sniffing around and didn’t appear to have an owner attached to him.  We walked out of the front door and called him over.

It was Jack.  We’d seen him before, because he and his buddy escaped several months ago and found their way to our house.  Jack apparently loves to visit the neighborhood. This wiry haired terrier sat still as we got the number off of his tag and left a message for his mom or dad to come rescue him from our house again.

We had to run some errands so we left Jack in our backyard.  When his mom called about 30 minutes later, we let her know where he was so that she could run over and grab him.  She was grateful that he hadn’t wondered too far off and appreciated that we’d called.

Which leads to my card!

Three days letter, we received a card in the mail from Jack.  He let us know that his owners don’t let him out much and when he can make a break for it, he does.  He thanked us for letting him hang out at our house and as a token of appreciation, treated us to a Starbucks gift card!

SO cute, right?!

What if we were all that appreciative?  Or even that friendly?!  I’m not saying we all need to go around buying a gift card for each other.  That card, however, brought so much joy to me and my daughter.  We were thrilled to get a little snail mail when we weren’t expecting it.  It was time and effort that our neighbor had put in.  The kind (and funny) words gave us a laugh and brightened our spirits.  The gift card was an unexpected treat that we were able to enjoy!

I encourage you this week to reach out to someone with a note of thanks.  Maybe they grabbed some groceries for you.  Perhaps your mailman has been putting your packages in a special place to help keep them safe.  Maybe you were having a rough day and a friend made you smile!  Whatever it is, let’s learn to give each other spirits a lift!

1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

~Erin

Cops and Robbers

As we stopped at the little mini-mart for a drink on our way to the entrance of Disneyland, a man walked into the store past Peyton and Chris, her dad, grabbed a pair of sunglasses off the kiosk right inside the door and walked back out.  He never said anything to either of them, but they saw what he did and let the owner know.  Two minutes later, we were on our way again.

We hadn’t gotten more than half a block when a cop car flew past us and cranked hard into the parking lot a few yards in front of us, lights flashing.  We heard the police officer before we saw him.  “GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!” was being shouted repeatedly, a shotgun raised at the perpetrator.  It was the man that had just stolen the glasses.  Two, three, then four cars with flashing lights were surrounding the area, and I wasn’t about to let my 15-year-old daughter walk out across the open driveway when I didn’t know what kind of threat was right before us.  So we stood just out of sight behind the giant hotel sign, Peyton holding my hand while Chris stood around the edge to see what was going on.

The man didn’t comply with their commands to get down and, in fact, started walking towards them (and in our direction).  That’s when we heard the shots.

Ten seconds can feel like a lifetime when you’re in that moment.

I can tell you in that 10 seconds, Peyton rushed into my arms as I grabbed her and put myself in front of her just in case.  I worried that Chris had been watching and perhaps something could happen to him and leave Peyton without a dad.  I wondered if I was going to see my other children again.  I didn’t know if the other man had a gun or if it was the police.  I just wanted to be safe.

In that 10 seconds, however, I can tell you that the police saved not only everyone stuck on that sidewalk with us but themselves and the perpetrator as well.  Chris glanced back at us and told Peyton the man was going to be ok.  They were shooting bean bag rounds.  It turns out the man had been in an altercation with someone just moments before he walked past Chris and Peyton at the store and had not only punched a man but had also busted a window with his bare hands.  That had been what brought the officers.

When it was all over, I realized just how much God had protected us that morning.  It could’ve very easily been Chris or Peyton who the man attacked at the store.  He could’ve been stopped at a different location that would’ve provided no shelter for us from the stand-off.  God had his hand all over the morning.  This verse popped into my head in that moment, “He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings.  His faithfulness will be a protective shield.” –Psalm 91:4

Thank you, Father, for the protection you provided us not only on that day but every day that we breathe.

~Erin

Good morning Quotes

The Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles seem to be a hot quarantine trend this year!  I see my friends putting them together all over Facebook, and about five weeks ago Peyton and I started putting them together ourselves!  I found a puzzle company that had some really sweet looking 1000 piece puzzles, and I bought one.  Then another two more.  The newest two are in the shipping process as we speak.  Peyton and I get so much satisfaction working as a team to put the pieces together, and even though it’s probably a good idea to take it slow and savor the experience, we’ve loved challenging ourselves to get it done as fast as we can!

The work to complete the puzzles reminds me of the current study of the book of Mark I’m doing from the bible.  I read a chapter.  It’s the outside edges.  I push a little more and look to the who, what, when, where.  I’ve got the corner of the puzzle together.  I’m taking notes and cross-referencing scripture to see where the Old Testament converged on the New.  The puzzle is beginning to look like a real picture.  Before long, I’ve got a notebook full of information on the time period during Jesus’s ministry, the healings, the preaching, and the places.  I’ve got the clearest knowledge I’ve ever had of a book from scripture, and it draws me even nearer to God.  The puzzle is complete.  And now, I start a new puzzle with a new book.  The cycle continues.

I’m not done studying Mark.  In fact I’ve only just started.  But the idea that I’ll have a more complete understanding of the ministry of Jesus only pushes me closer.  Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  This sweet verse tells me I need to treasure the words in the bible, to know them, to understand them.

I encourage you today to pick a chapter or a book of the Bible and treat it like that puzzle.  You don’t need to rush it like Peyton and I do with the tiny little pieces!  Take one piece at a time, study and put it together to create a final and beautiful picture.

~Erin

IMG_1292
Our first masterpiece!

The Favorite Child

Anyone who’s had a child or been a child has most likely heard or used the phrase, “They’re your favorite!” once or twice in their lives.  It happened in my house since I was a child; I would constantly tell my mom that I thought my little brother, Jon, was her favorite.

My children carry on this tradition today.  Just recently, there was back and forth antics on Facebook over who was my favorite with even McKenna’s best friend, Nevada, getting in the mix saying she was sure that SHE was the one that was the favorite! There’s no winning no matter what you say!

The truth is, I love all of my children equally and yet differently.  I love McKenna’s perseverance.  I love Peyton’s tenacity.  I love Rylan’s independence.  They’re each unique in their situations and each has had their own trials and tribulations.  I have to mold the love I have for them in ways that speak specifically to their hearts.  The way for McKenna is different than the way for Peyton.

God also loves us in this unique way.  We are each His children.  He doesn’t love one more than the other.  But just like our children have their own little nuances, God’s children need different kinds of ways sometimes to see God’s love for them.  I believe He recognizes this in His children shows us His love in individual ways that we can feel and see that are known to us.  It’s beautiful, really, that He loves us equally but differently.

This Mother’s Day, celebrate the uniqueness that is you to your mother and the specialness that is your child to you!  Happy Mother’s Day to every favorite mom out there from your favorite children!

Love,

Erin

P.S.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, from your TRUE favorite child!

No Fear

Andros, my grandson, just got a “bike” a few weeks ago.  And not just any bike…he got a PW50.  What is that, you ask?  It’s a dirt bike.  Yes, you read that right.  My two-year-old grandson has a legit dirt-bike-motorcycle-death-trap.  Just kidding—it’s not a death trap, but Andros can now go 30 mph on a dirt track and he’s barely two feet tall!

Andros has grown up the last two years watching his dad drift cars and ride bikes, so it only seems natural that he would want in on the action.  McKenna has been sending me videos of him riding first on straight patches of field, now progressing to a track with hills and turns.  They have special training wheels attached, but he barely uses them!  Andros. Has. No. Fear.

Which got me to thinking…why do WE when it comes to sharing the gospel?!  I know I’ve written on this subject before, but it bears repeating.  It’s especially relevant to me now with current situations in my life.  We should not be afraid to share the gospel with our friends, with our loved ones, with our neighbors and even our enemies!  Sometimes, we fear looking like the weird one, but we shouldn’t.  Jesus came to save us through a death, burial and resurrection.  People thought He was weird with the things He was teaching.  But He taught it anyway!

Your opportunity to share the gospel with someone may be the only time they get to hear it.  It’s important that people know and hear about the love of God before it’s too late.  I falter at this.  Sometimes, I miss the opportunity because I don’t want to “make waves” or cause an argument with someone who believes differently.  But all you need to do is plant the seed! God will water and grow it!

Let’s strive to more like Andros in this situation and learn to HAVE NO FEAR!

~Erin

A Boy and His Bike
McKenna had to take a shot of her sweet boy on the track!

 

A Hungry Soul

“Do NOT come into this kitchen.  I’m making something that’s a surprise.”  That’s what I was told around noon today by Peyton.  Never mind that my office is the room next to the kitchen, and the only way out is THROUGH the kitchen.

This week for her has been a week of trying new things.   Cooking seems to be something she’s really enjoying at the moment, and we’ve definitely reaped the rewards.  On Monday, as I was hosting the Table 8 Zoom Bible Study, she was busy making a homemade apple pie.  (Even the crust was scratch.)  Today, her surprise?  Beautiful and delicious pretzels.  And can I just add she made a homemade cheese sauce for dipping.  I was thrilled!  As the aroma of some kind of bread was drifting throughout the house, I informed her she’d be lucky if she got to taste any of whatever she was making if I got to it first! She was so proud of herself!

I love that she’s been trying new things, and her desire to start cooking actually made me think of a verse I’d seen in Psalm 107:

For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. –Psalm 107:9

Now, don’t judge here.  I know the psalmist wasn’t talking about all the apple pie or pretzels you can eat.  But God feeds our souls in the same way.  Our bodies need fuel to survive and to survive well.  God not only provides us with the sustenance that maintains our physical life, He provides the nourishment we need for our spiritual lives.

Every day, when we open our bibles, we take a bite.  When we cross-reference a verse, we eat a portion.  When we converse with our heavenly Father through prayer, we are filled up with daily bread.  When we cry out to Him in our trials and praise Him for His perfectness, we are satisfied with His provision.

Thank you, God, for the perfect portion of what is good.

~Erin

The Perfect Pretzel

Dear Diary

Day 4:  This could be interesting!  It’s an opportunity to really bond with my child and spend that time under one roof.  I’ll learn so much about her.

Day 20:  This is interesting.  It takes 12 steps to walk from my couch to the refrigerator and it’s the exact same amount of steps from my office to the refrigerator.

Day 32:  Interesting.  My daughter can say “yes, mother” in a way that evokes slight fear that I should sleep with one eye open.

Day 48:  I wonder what would happen if I took a four-hour shower.  Do you think they’d leave me alone?

Day 127:  Can I social distance from myself?

And so goes the days of shelter-in-place orders here in California.  I’ve officially been sheltered in place for four weeks….28 days of little interaction with the “outside.”  And, like Emily wrote last week, this is really starting to suck.

All of these great intentions that I’ve had for all this extra time have flown out the window, and I’d give anything to order at an actual restaurant and sit in an actual booth and hold an actual menu and laugh with an actual server.  But that’s just not how it is anymore.  And the reality is that it’s not going to be that way for a while.  And some days, it’s a little harder to deal with than others.

I find myself going from high to low to high again depending on how “claustrophobic” I feel in the house.  I wonder if that’s what David felt when he battled his own feelings of depression and despair.  One moment, he’s favored and then next, he’s despised.  While my circumstances might not be the same, my feelings of despair and loneliness mimic his own.

As I wade through what feels like Day 164, I hold to Psalm 18:19.

He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

A broad place…Matthew Henry’s Commentary read like this, “He brought me forth also out of my straits into a large place, where I had room, not only to turn, but to thrive in.”  I don’t have to feel that claustrophobia that depression brings during a season like this.  He’s given me room to breathe and trust Him.  Thank you, God, for a broad place that gives you ample room to help me with my struggles.

~Erin

The options are endless.

Pajamas and Bed Head

Is getting dressed an essential part of my essential shelter-in-place order?  I mean, pajamas and bed head DO count as work wear these days, don’t they?  I’ve seen the memes going around that talk about not knowing what day of the week it is, and I had to laugh because that’s legitimately how I feel!  I usually base my knowledge of what happened during a week by, ‘it happened on Monday because it was right before Bible Study’ or ‘I saw them on Thursday because that’s my grocery shopping day.’ It never dawned on me when we started quarantine life two weeks ago that I’d actually have to look at a calendar to know what day it is.

And don’t even get me started on the made up words!  I read the other day that someone was “quaranteleworkingish” and today I told Peyton her “quarantEaster Basket” was probably going to be small this year!

These days, life can seem so scary and uncertain.  We’re left with questions like When are we going back to work?, When will the front lines/essential workers get some relief?, or How am I going to pay my rent this month?.  The hard part for everyone is there are no clear answers right now, and in a society where we want the solution as soon as possible, the lack of one is unnerving.  Trust me, I’m right there with you.

While I believe we should all be paying attention to what’s going on during this crisis, I would encourage you to seek out the sweet stories of hope and the stories that make you laugh, as well.  Making sure you spend some time not only looking at the crisis information but also the encouragement will lift you up in these times.

Just yesterday, I saw video of two nurses cheering a patient from the hospital room window as he was finally extubated, on the road to recovery from COVID-19.  A principal went through the drive-through of her student’s place of employment to share the wonderful news that she was this year’s valedictorian!  I’m watching video after video of parents learning dances with their children to put on TikTok…you won’t see ME doing it, but I think Peyton might have her dad convinced to try it!

These videos and stories make me smile and make me laugh.  They bring my heart a little bit of comfort in a time where I’m worried about my friends and family.  I implore you to seek these out.  Bring your heart some encouragement and a little cheer.  Know that we are all in this together and that God has not left us.  He is right here and with us as we walk through this together.

~Erin

Psalm 31:24 Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.

The Wisdom of Elihu

This week has been a long week of difficult conversations with Peyton.  She’s 15 and old enough to truly understand what’s going on.  We’ve talked about what closing school looks like and what hanging out with friends looks like.  We’ve discussed what it means to truly social distance.  And we’re, even now, learning what a real “essential” is in our household.  It was only a couple of weeks ago that needing a quart of ice cream was deemed an urgent need, dropping everything to get our sugar fix.

The night before we went into mandated shelter-in-place orders, Peyton had a chat with her counselor that included ideas as to what she would do in regards to this pandemic and ways that could help rebuild the state and country as we recover from this ravaging virus.  She chose to share those ideas with me after the phone call.  My daughter….is brilliant.  She was insightful and logical and whether or not an idea like hers could ever be put into play, it showed her compassion for people along with a desire to give citizens their sense of responsibility and dignity back after such a nationwide crush of devastation.  When I told her to write it down, that maybe someone might want to hear her ideas, she looked shocked.  She mentioned that too many people discount what young people have to say.  When I mentioned the 20-somethings currently in politics, she said, “No, I mean people like me…kids my age who have good ideas.”

My bible reading this morning reminded me of this very conversation I had with Peyton.  As I’m reading the book of Job, I see the devastation surrounding him.  Everything he’s loved, cared for, and worked for, has crumbled.  Death and devastation are on all four sides.  And his two friends, older and therefore at that time considered wiser, told him repeatedly it was because of Job’s sin.  He was suffering at the hand of God and if he would repent and repent appropriately, God would remove the burden.  Chapters of conversation between these two friends and Job are written, begging him to see it was his fault.

It wasn’t until Chapter 32 of Job where you see Elihu come into the conversation.  He had refrained from speaking out of respect to the older men, but he couldn’t contain it anymore.  He reminds Job how great our God is and that there isn’t a single thing that goes by God without Him knowing and being in the end result.  He encourages Job to think about what’s God’s purpose was in his suffering.

I don’t know how old was Elihu was when he spoke into the conversation.  What I do know was that he was smart and was closer to the truth than either of the elder friends who tried to convince Job that he had offended God in some way.  He offered such sound wisdom in Job 37:13, “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.”

During this time of uncertainty and struggle, I encourage you to talk to your children.  Let them give ideas and suggestions.  Encourage them to come up with ways to make other people smile while they’re hunkered down.  Embolden them to come up with an idea to help ease the stress in your own home.  Let them know you’re listening.  I guarantee you it will feel therapeutic for them to feel like they’re part of the bigger solution.

And they may just have the wisdom of Elihu.

~Erin

The Wisdom of Elihu

Provisions

I’ve seen God’s provision first hand over the last several weeks.  It’s been encouraging to witness and confirms my belief that God still provides for His children….even when it feels like it’s so crazy out in this world today.

As everyone’s has been stockpiling food and necessities, the thing that was worrisome for me was my oldest and having a need of diapers and formula for her newborn.  Formula flew off the shelves and couldn’t be ordered on Amazon.  Target was out.  Walmart had nothing left.  Diapers couldn’t be found.  But before I could worry about it, McKenna reminded me of the gift from just a few weeks ago.

Shortly after Kalan was born, our family made sure that she had several large boxes of sizes Newborns and Ones to accommodate a new baby.  Rather than just give her a pack or two of wipes, several of us had each purchased a box of wipes so she wouldn’t have to worry about making extra trips.  And the formula?  Her father-in-law had a co-worker who had several unopened cans of formula that she no longer needed and wondered if McKenna would need them for Kalan.

Yes, to the average eye, it may just appear that it was stuff that we would have purchased for a newborn anyway.  But the fact is we didn’t NEED to purchase the larger boxes with more for Kalan.  The lady that gave McKenna the formula had no idea that just two weeks later, a pandemic would hit and formula wouldn’t be found.  These are things that God provided at a time just prior to when they would be needed.

Our God provides, dear friends.  He says in Psalm 34:10, “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”  When we need, He provides.  It doesn’t always come in ways that we see right away.  It isn’t always immediately noticeable.  But it can be seen when we open our hearts to God’s love and provision.  Trust His provision.

~Erin