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!

 

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

Cilantro Pandemic

As a professionally trained chef, I know it’s an unwritten rule to state that you hate a type of food or seasoning.

And yet, here I am.  I hate the taste of cilantro. There, I said it. True Confessions of a chef.  To me, cilantro tastes like soap.

Fun fact: The people who dislike cilantro for its soap-like taste have a genetic likeness.  It’s a variation of olfactory-receptor genes that allows us to detect aldehydes, which is a compound found both in cilantro and is also a by-product of soap.  We even have a name: “cilantrophoes” which are the people who taste soap when they eat cilantro.

Two groups of people associated with cilantro.  Those who like it and those who don’t.

In the last few weeks of apocalyptic behavior with the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m also seeing two “reaction” groups of people.

One group is the chaos group.  These are the “sky is falling” people. These are the people on social media who are flaming the fire of chaos and drama.  They’re the ones trying to profit off an unstable stock market and the ones running to the store to “stock up” on more than they could possibly need for two weeks. These are the fighting in the grocery store aisles on YouTube people. They are the ones blaming everyone for everything.

The second group is the hope-filled group.  These are the “glass is half full” type of people.  They are our realists, as well as our optimists.  They are the ones giving us hopeful memes and helpful tips for survival.  As far as leaders’ decisions they hold some accountable while praising those who are doing a good job. These are the visit nursing homes through a window or open the stores early for the elderly type of people.  They might have worries but they are prepared for the outcomes.

Either group can include Christians, but I believe Christ would want His followers to be the optimists and realists who are providing guidance and hope.  They recognize that God may provide differently than we are expecting, but that He will provide.  He will provide. Every time, all the time, always.

DNA dictates which cilantro group we fall into.  Our heart and relationship with the Father dictate which “reaction” group we belong to.

As we look at the next few weeks of pandemic uncertainty, search yourself about which group you’d like to be known for…the chaos group or the hope-filled group.

~Emily

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. ~James 1:17 (ESV)

cilantro

 

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

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.

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