Fun on FaceTime

I FaceTime my mom, on average, six days a week.  That’s right.  It’s a lot.  But after living in the same town as my mom for 38 of my 40 years of life, it’s a necessity.  And while a normal phone call works just fine (and I do actually just call on occasion), I love to see her face and show her my antics haven’t changed in the 2 years I’ve been in California.

Enter tonight’s convo.  Not unlike any other.  I literally discuss a lot of nothing with my mom.  I ramble usually for the better part of an hour about the most random things.  Tonight, I talked to her about my bible study research as well as the lunch I tried today from a local restaurant I’d found.  I talked to her about Rite Aid and how there isn’t one in Cheyenne (like she didn’t know that), and I told her about the Kokie eyeliner I’d found.

On the subject of eyeliner, we began talking about the two colors I’d picked up, Chocolate and Bronzed, and the color difference between the two.  So, I put a couple of swatches on my hand for her to see.  As the conversation wound down, and I told her I needed to get off the phone, I decided at the last minute I’d give her a better look at what the colors looked like by actually applying them to my lower lid line.  Which then led to this…

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FaceTime snapshots that my mom took!

I can’t help it.  I seize opportunities.  And when “Instagram Brow” popped into my head, my eyeliner pencil became my paintbrush.  This is typically the kind of conversations that we have.  And then I usually add one or both of my daughters to the mix to sufficiently embarrass them yet still remind them how much fun I can be!

What does this have to do with Jesus, you ask?  Everything!  Not everything has to be so serious!  It was a moment of JOY!  It was a conversation of happiness and silliness, and the bible clearly tells us that joy is good and pleasing to Him.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22, and Ecclesiastes 3:1/4, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

When we have Jesus in our lives, we have joy filling our lives as well.  It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect.  It doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days.  It does, however, mean that we can find the joy in the seemingly silly or mundane.  We can laugh out ourselves and make other people laugh.  We can create moments with others that become fond memories in later years.  A piece of our testimony for our Father is the joy that radiates from within us because of His grace and mercy in our lives!

Find the joy in your conversations.  Fill those conversations with laughter.  You won’t be disappointed!  How about you?  Do you have a moment you can recall that brought joy to an everyday conversation?  Share with us in the comments below!

~Erin

Aftercare

I’ve worn glasses since I was young.  No one realized how bad my eyesight was until one Saturday morning when I was asked to go grab the golf balls my pop had hit into the middle of a field.  I walked over them.  Literally.  To prove a point, Mom took me to the optometrist to prove I could see.  Boy did she feel bad when the doctor said I was blind as a bat.

By the time I was an adult, my vision was terrible.  Let’s just say that the only reason I could read the “E” on the chart was because I knew it was always there.  It looked like a fuzzy thing on the opposite side of the wall.

In 2003, I was working for an amazing ophthalmologist office in Cheyenne where one of the doctors performed Lasik, and I was given the opportunity to be a recipient of the well-known surgery.  I wasn’t exactly overjoyed at the idea of what I called ‘the can opener’ cutting a flap onto my cornea only to then be lasered directly into the eyeball.  However, the possibility of never having to worry about contacts or glasses anymore won out.  With a little Valium courage, Dr. Millin performed my surgery.

After being told I couldn’t look at anything until I woke up the next morning, the anticipation of what I might see built throughout the evening making it very difficult to sleep.  The next morning?  To say I was overwhelmed when I woke up would be an understatement.  My eyes peeked opened into little slits while I tried to focus on the other side of the room at the red numbers of my alarm.  I could read it.  I could actually read the numbers!  I had worn glasses for the over 20 years, and with one little procedure, my sight was fully restored.

I received a clean bill of health from Dr. Millin with some very strict care instructions.  I couldn’t rub my eyes at all; I could tear the flap and cause serious damage.  Continue to wear the goggles at night for the next week.  Pay attention for any changes in my vision.  These are things even now I pay attention to.  (Except for the goggles.  Now that would be just weird!)

Our salvation is very similar to this process.  We decide to make the decision to trust Jesus.  It’s scary, but we can feel the change is going to be for the better so we take the plunge.  We become a Christ follower and give our lives over to Jesus.  All of a sudden, it become clear.  Our eyes are opened to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and it brings about the most exciting transformation.  But what about the aftercare?  How do we take care of ourselves after the initial transformation?

All throughout the Bible, there are clear instructions to keeping us healthy in our spiritual life.  It says to seek Him continually—“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11.    It tells us to pray—“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving make your requests known unto God.” Philippians 4:6.  The Bible tells us to forgive—“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32.  

And those are just a few of our “aftercare” instructions.  God gave us an entire book that guides us to our healthiest and best lives after salvation!  I encourage you to take a few minutes every day to open your Bible and see what God is telling you.

What verses in the Bible help you stay healthy in your walk with God?  Share in the comments below!

~Erin

The Debris Hauler

Emily and I had been praying for one of the debris trucks to make their way down McKenna’s street.  It had already come once at some point before we got there to start cleanup; there were a couple of houses on their street who’d been able to get their cleanup completed.  But there was no guarantees of when the trucks would be coming again.  The city was desperately trying to be fair in getting around to streets and get to them as quickly as possible.

For us, the prayer was two-fold.  First, we didn’t want old food and moldy household items to attract rodents and pests.  The last thing McKenna needed was a raccoon infestation or a snake problem.  Second, with the pain of throwing away her memories and household items, we wanted that stuff to be gone and out of McKenna’s line of vision as she began to rebuild.  It would feel as if she was truly making a dent in her restoration, and she would be able to move forward.

Towards the end of Wednesday afternoon at around 230pm, we saw a debris hauler on the intersecting street near McKenna’s house and hope surged that it was coming towards us.  However, at the intersection it took the dreaded turn left instead of right toward the opposite end.  All three of us were joking when we saw it happen, and pretended to try and ‘will’ the truck back in our direction.

We continued raking the debris into the growing pile all the while side-eyeing that truck down the street.  McKenna saw it first.  “It turned around!  It’s coming in our direction!”

We were all so excited.  The raking and shoveling pace increased as it cleaned up the debris four houses down, then three, then two….and when he was done with their house, his truck was full.  Even writing about it now makes me chuckle.

He stopped at our driveway, and I went up to the stranger to ask if he would be back.  He was so kind.  “I’m going to go dump this, but I’ll be back.  I’ll have about 15 minutes left that I can haul it into the truck.”  I thanked him profusely and as he drove off, the pace of our work was bordering frantic!  We wanted all of it to be gone!

Ten minutes later, he drove up to the house, waved hi and began his work of running the hauler equipment as we continued to rake.  He kept smiling at us and yelled out, “Slow down!  Slow down!  You’ve got time!”  I yelled back with the clock ticking at 15 minutes, we were going to make the haul worth it!  He told us not worry—“I’ll stay until it’s done, ladies.  I won’t leave.”

And he didn’t.  He took every bit of our debris from the front, and we filled his truck to the brim with our things from the house.  We were so thankful that we asked for his name and if it would be alright to take our picture with him!  His name was Randy, and he was retiring in eight months, so we wished him a happy congratulations in his upcoming retirement and thanked him again for his willingness not to take off when his time was up.

In Philippians 4:19 the Bible says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Isn’t it just like God to give us exactly what we needed at the exact moment we needed it?!  We were winding down much of our cleanup, and the last hurdle we were praying for was for the debris pile to disappear.

McKenna, Indy, and Andros still have a long road ahead in their hurricane recovery.  As we speak, they’re still waiting on a new roof, new walls, and 2 new windows.  But a lot of work has been done to get them to that point, and they are at least able to live in the downstairs part of their house.   When we’ve least expected it, God has supplied McKenna and Indy with the necessary and even sometimes the extra that we only hope and wish for.  Our God is a good God!

How about you?  Tell us about a time that God has supplied your needs.  We’d love to have you share in the comments below!

~Erin

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Erin, Randy, and Emily (McKenna was speaking to her roofer in the garage!)
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The debris pile on Tuesday before we started adding outside debris in front of the driveway!
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Randy working his magic!
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The truck was amazing! Can you imagine how many trips to the dump it would’ve taken us?!

The Stay or Go Piles

Imagine yourself going through your belongings and having to decide what stays and what goes.  Every piece of clothing gets a yes or no.  Every toy is scrutinized.  Many of us do this task on a yearly basis when we do our spring cleaning.  Now imagine not even getting the opportunity to decide.  Mother Nature has decided for you.

That’s what we did when we went through McKenna’s house two weeks ago during our Hurricane Michael cleanup.  Because of the length of time the house was without power as well as the restrictions placed on the residents regarding coming into the city, many of the possessions that they owned had to be thrown away.  Fresh clothes from the laundry—discarded.  McKenna’s beautiful wedding dress—gone.  Andros’s favorite stuffed animals—into the garbage bags.  Furniture and bedding, shoes and food, coats and towels—in the debris pile.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have to go through this process, but I can tell you it destroyed this mother who had to watch her daughter make decisions on what few things she could keep for her family.  It hurt to watch McKenna feel hopeful at the amount of work we were getting done and then feel the frustration as more and more piled into the “go” pile.

There weren’t many words that I could say to her that could ease that pain of losing so much.  The only thing I could tell her?  It was going to be ok.  These things were exactly that, things.  Stuff can be replaced and it would all be ok.

Jesus had a few words about possessions, as well.  In the Sermon on the Mount, He taught the disciples the way of righteous living for those who were followers of Jesus.  Matthew 6:19-21, He said, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’

Material possessions are temporary.  They aren’t things that can get us into heaven.  They aren’t things we can even take to heaven.  Or hell for that matter.  Possessions are just things we obtain.  They have value, either monetarily or emotionally.  And while they’re nice to have, Jesus says that they’re not important.  He doesn’t say you can’t have them.  What He DOES say is not to tuck them so deeply into our hearts that we forget what our true purpose is as Christ-followers.  We are to be storing up treasures in heaven.  When we store treasures in heaven, our heart is there.  When we store treasures for our earthly home, our heart is here.

At the end of the day, McKenna will have to replace a great deal in her home, and she’ll mourn the loss of the ‘things’ that were attached to sweet memories.  But the treasure she has in heaven as a believer far outweighs any piece of furniture she’ll need to buy.

What does a treasure in heaven look like to you here on earth?  Maybe it’s a volunteering moment that you’ve experienced or the time you gave to a friend who needed comfort.  Perhaps it’s the conversation you had with your neighbor about Jesus.  Tell us about it in the comments below.

~Erin

Hurricane Cleanup

Last week, I flew to Panama City, Florida to help my daughter, McKenna, clean up her house.  They’ve been out of their home and living in a hotel since October 8th and are finally in a spot to be able to start the cleanup and restoration that needs to happen to the house.

To describe what I saw as overwhelming is almost too light of a word.  I don’t know what I was expecting when we drove into the city.  I can tell you, however, I was NOT expecting to see it look as if the hurricane hit just a few days before.

Mounds of debris, twisted metal, broken drywall, torn shingles, and tree limbs were piled high in front of houses and businesses waiting for the debris haulers to drive by.  Dead wires from where they’d fixed the electrical lines laid in a heap at the bottom of the poles.  Street after street met us with open roofs, tents and campers parked in the front yard, broken windows and moldy furniture.  It’s as if it hasn’t been touched. And not for lack of trying.  The city workers are racing as fast as they can to get the debris picked up and hauled off.  They just don’t have enough people or trucks to get it done fast enough.  The awe-inspiring numbers of volunteers that many other storms have had in the past seem to have skipped out on the panhandle.

Often, in disasters like this, we feel sorry for the people affected and pray for them.  We pray for safety as the storm closes in or the fires get closer, and then we see what things we can donate or if they’ll be asking for volunteers for cleanup.  But then what?  If you’re like me, it’s always been ‘on to the next story.’  We go on with our lives until the next disaster strikes.

It isn’t this way this time for me.  My child was affected.  My grandchild and son-in-law were affected.  It wasn’t just a faceless person who had their home damaged and their city torn to shreds.  It was my family.  It became real in a way I’d never known before.

One of the things I learned from this experience is that prayer and hands-on help isn’t something that goes away after a week is up or until you’ve forgotten.  People need prayer continually.  And you don’t need to be a well-spoken prayer warrior to pray for them.  God knows your heart when you speak to Him…just pray.  People still need physical help.  Don’t wait until they ask.  Offer it!  I was talking to Emily about what volunteering might look like during this hurricane recovery.  You can go through a volunteer organization.  Or you can just go!  In the case of Hurricane Michael, there are still hundreds of yards that just need debris picked up and put at the edge of the road for pickup.

We, and I DEFINITELY include me in this, need to stop looking at the places and people we don’t know as strangers and look at them more as our family in the body of Christ.  We were all created by our magnificent Savior.  Pouring out Christ’s love to others can only magnify His glory.  Let’s be a ‘family’ to all!

~Erin

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McKenna’s house
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On the way into Panama City
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Buildings just one street behind McKenna
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Coming into Panama City
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The roof has caved in
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Debris
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Debris waiting to be picked up
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Just a street away from McKenna
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On the way to Panama City Beach

Why A Chin Whisker?!

Sweet God in heaven, why would You bless me with a whisker?  Every time I turn around, I have a random hair growing out of my chin.  Or how about the mustache!?  Do I look like, at age 40, I would enjoy having hairs ripped out above my lip???

This is the current state of affairs.  My hair, my weight, my skin, it’s all become the comedy show content for my life.  I was standing in a line one day a couple of months ago with Peyton when I leaned over to her and whispered to her that she had some stray brow hairs in the middle section that borderlined unibrow status.  She leaned over to me and said if I didn’t shut up, she’d talk about my mustache out loud.  Oh, sweet girl, have you not learned in your short, 14-year life span that comments like that are what I live for.  “WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY MUSTACHE?!  I THOUGHT YOU LIKED MY CHIN WHISKER!”  I’m pretty sure the people in the back of the store heard me!

Or how about my skin!  Melasma has become my best friend.  What is melasma, you ask?  Please, let me tell you!  It’s hyperpigmentation that appears as brownish patches in different sizes or shapes.  I get it because of my hypothyroidism.  But I’m just curious why I was blessed with two patches of it symmetrically above my upper lip.  Now I just look like I have a chocolate-milk-mustache-mustache!!

All joking aside, how many times do we pick ourselves apart in a day, in a week, in a lifetime?  We’re so critical of ourselves because society standards say our skin needs to be perfect, our weight needs to be trim, our clothes perfectly trendy, and our lives with as little mess as possible.  No one can see the real us because we’re too busy snapping 16 pictures of ourselves to get the perfect selfie.  I would know.  I’m guilty of it.

But I’m learning a lot as I get older.  My daughters are watching.  Even at age 20 and 14, they see and mimic how I talk about myself and my image.  People around me hear what I say.  Maybe they have the same issue and it doesn’t bother them, but they see me talking about it as if I’m leprous and it changes their outlook of themselves negatively.

Here’s what God taught me, though and what I need to keep saying to myself over and over….GOD MADE ME.  He made me with dark spots on my upper lip.  He created me with a girl mustache of baby hairs, and he grew that whisker in my chin that makes an annoying appearance every couple of weeks.  He knew exactly what He was doing, and He tells us that over and over in the bible.

Psalm 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it well.

Genesis 1:31a And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

And if that weren’t awesome enough, He could care less if we’re short, tall, skinny, heavy, have a hairy mole, or just one lone tooth.  When the priest, Samuel, was looking to anoint the next king of Israel, he met with each of Jesse’s sons.  Samuel incorrectly thought when he saw Eliab that he would be the chosen one.  Listen to what the Lord said, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (I Samuel 16:7).

Isn’t that wonderful news!?  He made us.  He sees us.  ALL the parts of us, not just what’s on the outside.

What does this mean for me?  I’ll still be pulling that chin whisker.  But I know I don’t need anyone’s approval of my outward appearance, and I need to learn to be happy with all the parts of me, not just the parts that I think others will think is beautiful.  Because I’m ALL beautiful.  God said so.

~Erin

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When Focus Falters

I stopped in the middle of the Walmart aisle and tried to keep my composure.  I was tearing up and at a loss for words, all the while struggling to tell Kelly on the other end of the phone that it was going to be ok.

Indy, my son-in-law, had just called his mom, Kelly, on Friday to let her know McKenna was in an ambulance with Andros.  After a day of meeting with contractors in Panama City, FL to discuss the rebuild of their hurricane-damaged house, they decided to stop for a quick bite for dinner at a restaurant.  While there, sweet baby Andros began to have a seizure and 911 had to be called.  After hours of tests, he was deemed healthy. My grandbaby was diagnosed with a febrile seizure due to an incredibly fast, oncoming fever combined with an ear infection.  The doctors assured the young mom and dad that this wasn’t uncommon, and Andros should make a full recovery.  What relief!

When McKenna was able to step back long enough to call, she gave me the details of what happened.  Indy had been feeding Andros some eggs, the left side of his body started to shake, and Indy gently grasped his head to stabilize him.  McKenna immediately recognized the signs, told Indy, and got 911 on the phone.  As they waited they spoke softly to him, telling him he would be ok.  Andros, unable to communicate, stared intently into Indy’s eyes showing that he heard his dad and trusted him even though he was undoubtedly afraid.

This is how I should be during times of fear and worry…laser focus on my Heavenly Father.  Often times, that focus falters.  When situations surrounding me cause chaos or apprehension, I start looking around at the circumstances, my mind reeling with 100 different ways I can fix it or 37 things I could’ve done to make it different.  I mistakenly look at SELF to make the fear disappear instead of putting my attention on the one Person that can take that fear and trembling from me and shoulder the burden in my place.

Our Father says in Isaiah 41:13, “For, I the LORD your God, hold your right hand, it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’”  When we let ourselves trust Him and believe that He is right there holding on to us with love and concern and understanding, we can feel the security that only He can give.

Andros is totally healthy today.  He’s toddling around their hotel room again without a care in the world, not knowing the valuable lesson he and his daddy taught me through this experience.  Fix my eyes on the Father; He will see me through.

~ErinIMG_2632