Father’s Day

On Father’s Day weekend 2017, our family decided to drive to Fort Bragg, California to spend some time with Chris’s father.  While we were there, we took our 12-year-old daughter, Peyton, to Pudding Creek Beach, a small and inviting beach not far from the family home.  The 70 degree weather was a cooling reprieve from the 107 degree scorching heat in Sacramento, just four hours away.

Chris and Peyton went off to walk the beach and look for shells, and I chose to stay back and just sit near the water’s edge, listening to the sound of the waves and watching the people surrounding me.  As the ocean waves rushed in and out every few seconds, I watched the foamy surf attacking a small child’s feet.  The bubbly waves would, on occasion, come in a little strong and the little girl would become nervous and unsteady in the wet sand and water.  From several yards away, her daddy saw her fear and walked over to the little girl, the older hand calmly resting on this younger girl’s arm.  As the wave would roll in, he would softly grip her upper arm, not in a hard squeeze, but with a gentle pressure to keep her steady.  This gave that sweet little girl the confidence to know she wasn’t alone and wouldn’t get swept out into the endless ocean while she enjoyed the salty water on her toes.

How sweet is it that our heavenly Father does the same thing for us?  As a wave of trial hits, He stands right beside us.  Yes, that wave may or may not be strong enough to knock us off of our feet, and it’s not likely strong enough to toss us around in those harsh and unyielding waves.  It may possibly, though, hold us back and prevent us from having the courage to stand still and weather the issue.  We step back from the unknown out of fear and uncertainty, not sure if we can handle it.  But God is there.  Know that you can have confidence in that whatever trial or hardship you may face, Jesus said He would never leave us.  He sees us.  He knows us.  He’s right there, His hand on our arm, applying that gentle pressure to keep us steady and secure.  We never have to weather the uncertainty alone.

Today, ask God to sow the following words into your heart:  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9.

Tremble

I am a music person.  Always have been.  From the time I was a little girl, I always loved to sing…at church, in the car, the grocery store, at home.  It didn’t matter.  Music was like air.  One of my fondest memories of childhood is singing to my mom’s records of Reba!

There’s something about finding the right song to match your mood or lyrics that are exactly what you wanted to say but couldn’t figure out how to say it.  I’ve spent hours searching for the perfect piece of music that would hold me captive to what was going on for that day.  Anyone else like that?

I was struggling recently with a decision I needed to make.  I couldn’t wrap my head around what to do.  I had been praying so fervently for God’s answer.  I pored over scripture, looking for the clarity that I wanted to have. I knew what God was saying, but I was struggling with His answer to me.

Full disclosure, I haven’t been to church in many weeks.  I’ve felt the absence in my heart.  But Sunday morning, I just knew I needed to be back.  I needed to find peace in His answer.  And because music is so wired into who I am, I knew I needed to worship through music.

I walked through the doors of the church and when worship began, it was as if the Holy Spirit poured right over me.  I begged God to remove distractions from the devil, show me that I didn’t need to fear the answer—to know that He gave me the answer in love, and I was to trust Him.  And then the band began to play Tremble…..”Jesus. Jesus.  You make the darkness tremble.  You silence fear.”  Just like that, this perfect peace settled over me.  It was almost unnerving.  In that moment, I felt so calm and I knew I was supposed to let go of the fear in the answer.  It was a true gift.  It was one of those moments you have in your life that you know you’ll never forget.  It was that powerful.

My words are for you who may be struggling with a decision.  Maybe you’re not sure what you’re hearing from God because the answer seems so different from what you thought it would be.  Perhaps you don’t know why your circumstances are what they are.  You’re afraid of the question.  And you’re even more afraid of the answer.  Lean in.  Speak His name over you.  He silences the fear.  His name is so powerful, it brings a peace that only He can give.  There’s no need to be afraid anymore.

Is there a worship song that has been spoken over you that has changed how you heard Jesus?  Share with us in the comments below.

~Erin

Jesus, Jesus

 

Why Was I Scared?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  When is the right time?  When is the right time to share Jesus with someone?

Sometimes, it feels hard to share my testimony.  There’s that moment before I contemplate if now’s the right time to share and the moment I share where I wonder what they’ll think of me.  Will they think I’m going to shove the bible and religion down their throats?  Maybe they’ll see me as a fanatic.  Or as someone who pretends to play the part of a Christian.  I wouldn’t say it’s ever stopped me from sharing, but there seems to be a brief second where I allow satan to try and convince me that it’s not the right time.

I felt this way recently.  I was nervous to talk to someone about who I am in Christ.  I found myself alluding to it, but never really being brave enough to come out and stand strong in my faith and what that means for my belief system.  I caught myself holding off saying “I’ll pray for that” out of fear that they would think I was weird.  And honestly, this devastates me even writing this now.  Why?  Why would I be scared?  Because they might think differently of me?

Friends, let not be afraid to shout our love for Jesus from the rooftops.  He has provided for us.  He has sustained us.  He came to earth as a man and became a living sacrifice so that we could escape that penalty.  The gift of salvation in that is free, and we should be sharing it joyfully!

Shake off the fear of what people may think!  The very Spirit-led happiness that is given to you by God may be what causes someone to ask you, “What is it that you have, and how can I get it?”

Today, I ask Jesus for forgiveness for being afraid.  I stand firm in my faith and salvation, what I believe, and how I should live.  I encourage you to stand firm, too!

Share a moment when you were joyfully shouting about God’s love for you in the comments below!

~Erin

Prepared for Action

There’s nothing quite like being completely unprepared for weather.  I’m a meticulous weather watcher when I’m planning a trip.  I look at the 15-day forecast no less than 23 times before I’m scheduled to depart.  Part of that comes from living in Wyoming for 26 years.  Unpredictable weather is a staple on those beautiful plains, so I like to make sure I know what I’m getting myself into.

Last week, I took a trip to Wyoming to spend a couple of days with my daughter and grandson and watch my daughter’s best friend walk across the stage for college graduation.  It was supposed to be a fairly normal spring week with some rain showers.  So imagine my surprise when on Monday afternoon, they announced a winter storm warning.  And not just any winter storm warning.  We were to be blessed with a very heavy, wet snow that would accumulate 5-8 inches.  Really Mother Nature?!

Despite my said meticulous weather watching combined with my many years of Wyoming weather experience, I failed to bring a coat, hat, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt…anything that would protect me from the elements.  That left me with a light sweater over my t-shirt, slogging through slush, wiping 5” of a snow-cocoon off my rental car with a giant plastic bag (since of course the rental car had no scraper).  I really should’ve been better prepared.

We should be prepared the same way when we face surprise trials every day.  Many times we think we know how our day is going to turn out.  We’ve planned our outings, scheduled our meetings, or prepared ourselves for the final we’re taking in English class.  We become so comfortable in what we see or think we know that we find ourselves blind-sided by the devil’s traps he has set for the day.

One way to be ready for those sudden attacks is to have scripture memorized.  By having those verses from the bible committed to memory, we can not only bring them to thought, we can say them out loud.  We can speak Truth over satan’s attempt to weaken us.  Speaking it out loud lets satan know we mean to be doing God’s business for the day, and that he has no place in that moment.  It allows us to stand firm in the Lord and remind ourselves that God’s word is a strengthener for us.

You may want to learn verses for different situations, or maybe it’s just one verse that you hold dear.   Learn it.  Write it down.  Memorize it.  Use it to block those sudden surprises.  Let’s be prepared!

Do you have a go-to verse you use when you’re struggling with a sudden attack?  Share in the comments below!

~Erin

Your word I have treasured in my

The Missing Comb

Do you ever have one of those ‘mom-moments’ where you’re so annoyed with your kid that you think, “I’ll show you, butthead,”?   Come on, moms.  You know what I’m talking about!  Your child is driving you bonkers; maybe they’re writing on the wall or refusing to clean their room.  They’re texting while you’re trying to have a conversation or just being a plain old jerk while you’re asking them how school was.

In honor of those moments, please allow me to share a memory between myself and my mother from way, way, WAY back in history when I was a mere teenager.

I was not a nice teen.  I was a know-it-all, and I was mad at the world.  I wasn’t mean to people.  Just my mom (which I’m not proud of but that’s a whole other story).  One morning, my mom attempted to get me up to get ready for school.  As usual, I procrastinated until I missed my bus.

“But Erin,” you ask.  “How on earth did you miss your bus?”

I couldn’t find the comb.

Legitimately.  I couldn’t find it.  My mom was trying to get herself ready for work.  I was being a jerk, getting irritated with her, and because I couldn’t find the comb, I started ranting and raving, and I missed my bus.  This, in turn, forced my mother to take me to school.

I KNOW in her head she was thinking, “I’ll show you, butthead,” as she drove to school arguing with me about how I needed to get up on time to get ready.  She then proceeded to tell me that she would not call into the school to excuse my tardy and I would have to deal with the consequences from school.

Furious, I headed to the office.  When I walked in, the receptionist sitting there asked me why I was late.  And you know what I told her?

My mom wouldn’t find me the comb.

That sweet little secretary gave me an excused tardy, and off I went to class.

My mom and I still laugh about it to this day.  I tell her she should’ve found me the comb, and she tells me that lady should’ve never accepted that pathetic excuse from a perfectly functioning 16-year-old.

I wish I had some profound words this Thursday that allows this story to relate to a biblical principle.  But I don’t.  Here’s the closest I’ve got:

Love your kid.  Even when they’re a jerk.  Even when you feel like giving up.  One day, they’ll get it.  It may take a while, but they’ll get it.

And if you’re the kid, give your mom/grandma/aunt/guardian a break.  It’s not easy raising a future adult.

Happy Mother’s Day!

~Erin

“And do not forsake your mother’s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck,” Proverbs 1:8b-9

Happy Mother's Day!

A Different Perspective

For years, I’ve been in love with Claude Monet’s artwork.  I’ve enjoyed his impressionistic visions of his beautiful gardens, lily pads dancing across the canvas.  While I’ve always wanted to see his work in person, the opportunity has never been available for me…until last week.

I learned earlier this year that San Francisco’s De Young Museum was hosting an exhibit of 50 pieces of Mr. Monet’s later year’s artwork, and I quickly made plans to purchase tickets.  And this last week, my dream came true.  I took Chris, Peyton, and my mom to San Francisco and spent two hours staring at some of the most magnificent paintings I’ve ever seen.  When my vision filled with the first canvas as I turned the corner, it was blurred with tears.

Seeing his art up close was vastly different, however, than I had imagined.  The brush strokes were broad and sweeping.  Hardened blobs of oil paints were noticeable.  The images were almost unrecognizable.  It was fascinating.  For a brief moment, I was a little disheartened.  But as I stepped back and took in the pictures at a distance, the images transformed into the Japanese bridge and the weeping willows.  It was all about perspective, and it was breathtaking.

We sometimes look at ourselves and our circumstances in that same way.  We critique our flaws and our situations up close.  This perspective allows us to see the tiny flaws in our design.  We focus in on the details of our failures and our defects.  We dissect ourselves based on our desire to scrutinize who we are and where we’re failing.

But imagine, just taking six steps back and, voila.  The perspective changes!  We don’t see the failures anymore.  We don’t see how incomplete or broken we’ve become.  What we now see is what God created—His masterpiece.

God knew what He was doing when He created you.  What appears under close inspection to be a hodgepodge of random strokes is truly a perfect design made by our great Creator.  He doesn’t make mistakes.  He doesn’t see accidental angles or an uneven canvas.  He sees His greatest work….you.

~Erin

IMG_4344
Peyton staring at “Irises.”

How Does This Bathing Suit Look?

Whoever says shopping for a bathing suit is fun is a liar!  Sorry if that’s you.  But honestly, what’s so fun about it?  There are two options when it comes to trying them on, and neither are remotely appealing to me.

One:  I trudge to the department store, a.k.a. Target, because I’m a budget-mom, and start perusing the selection.  I push one hanger down the pole after another as I realize that bikinis seem to be in style.  And not just any bikinis.  The ones that are made of 4 total inches of fabric.  How on earth does that actually stretch from front to back?!  Oops…wrong size.  Head to the “Erin” section of swimwear.  Ummm, why does everything have a skirt?  And every piece is black.  I know black is supposed to be slimming, but what about those of us who rival Edward Cullen in the translucent skin category; now I’m just setting myself up to look like a pudgy Wednesday Addams.

I take the 3 ½ pieces of swimwear I found and head to the dressing room where I contemplate whether or not the salad I ate for lunch two days ago will show the dramatic ¼ pound weight loss I accomplished.  Go home with no suits.  I need more than 4 inches of fabric.

Two:  I peruse the websites, looking through pages and pages of swimsuits on models that might possibly be a hair skinnier than my right ankle.  It’s a little hard for me to envision myself in it, but maybe my 4-pack and belly button indentation won’t show in the flowery looking one.   The one with ruffles off the arm looks promising, until I start thinking about the awesome farmer’s tan I’m going to give myself this summer if I buy it.  Nope….take it out of the cart.  Thirteen more swimsuits go in the cart where I go back and forth and pull the picture no less than 12 times to then decide it won’t work on my body shape and remove it.  I finally decide on three pieces to order.  Try them on in the privacy of my own home.  Where I hope the salad I ate for lunch seven days ago will show the dramatic ¼ pound weight loss I accomplished.

Am I the only one that feels this way?!  Seriously, ladies!  I constantly struggle with my self-esteem.  This is an actual scenario from this week (minus the ordering online.  I haven’t gotten to the ‘Complete Order’ button).  I’m happy with who I am, and I’m content with where God has placed me in life.  I don’t think I’m ugly.  I know God made me exactly as He wanted.  So why is believing I’m beautiful no matter what size I am (lol…I actually mistyped there are started to write Ham).  Sorry, back on track…why is believing I’m beautiful no matter what size I am so difficult?

The Holy Spirit has been stirring up in me this last month or two the desire to look at the lies of the devil and how deceptive he can be.  If satan can get our focus off of God, then it becomes easier to stumble.  We find ourselves more inclined to listen to what the world says about who we should be rather than who God says we should be.  When we listen to the world, it says “Be whoever you want to be” but in the fine print, “Only if you look and talk like this celebrity or that influencer.”  The world says “It doesn’t matter how much you weigh” but in little letters, “Don’t think for one second we’re not limiting your options in stores.”  It shows us pictures of well-dressed moms on the go with manicured fingers and beautifully dressed children—but it doesn’t show us the 23 takes and four kids’ meltdowns it took to finally get the perfect snapshot to put on Instagram or Facebook.

Those few examples of how the devil and the world deceives may seem trivial, but it’s a reality that people face every day.  We worry about our weight, how we look, who’s going to stare, are our clothes on trend, or whether our children will get teased because of the size of their mother.

My prayer for myself, the women in my life, and the women that this post reaches is that you know God loves you, and He tells you to come to Him JUST AS YOU ARE.  He thinks you’re beautiful.  And His love conquers any junk and deception the world and the devil may try to feed you.  Be proud of who you are and the work the Holy Spirit is fulfilling in your life!  You’re worthy of His love.

Have you been struggling with self-esteem like I have?  Share your thoughts at the porch!

~Erin

come to him just as you are. you are