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

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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

Stop Complicating it!

Why do we always try to complicate things?  Why can’t a simple direction mean exactly as it sounds?  We find ourselves following unnecessary steps or skipping the direction to get the solution because we’ve added in perceived ideas of how the journey is supposed to look.

Look at Naaman for instance.  In the bible, it was said he was captain of the army of the king of Aram.  He was highly regarded and a “valiant warrior.”  But he was also a leper.  Back in those days, leprosy was no joke.  They usually separated you outside the city, and when you saw people coming from afar, you had better be shouting ‘UNCLEAN!’ so as to warn them not to get close to your flesh-eating zombie self.

Upon recommendation, Naaman went to Elisha, a prophet of God, to seek healing from the bacterial nightmare.  Elisha sent a messenger to him advising to go wash in the Jordan seven times and he would be cleaned.  That’s it.  End of discussion.  Go dunk in the Jordan, not once, not twice, but seven times and the leprosy will be gone.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

But the dude needs to complicate it!  Naaman gets angry and beings to leave shouting how there are better rivers than the Jordan to do something like that in!  Why can’t Elisha just wave his hand and do a little hocus pocus and cure him?!

Thank goodness for the faithfulness of his servants who reminded him in 2 Kings 5:13, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?  How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

And so that’s exactly what Naaman did.  He went to the Jordan, dipped himself seven times and saw the miraculous healing of God through the words of His prophet, Elisha.

Our Christian walk doesn’t have to be so difficult, an elaborate and legalistic 27-step process to know Him better.  Salvation isn’t some intricate series of steps we think we need to do in order to have full fellowship with Him.  He says Believe in Me, Trust in Me, Follow Me, and Go.  The rest comes with faith and devotion.  The Holy Spirit comes to live in you and helps you in your walk with our Heavenly Father.

If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, there’s never a time like right now.  Speak to Him, confessing your sins, admitting you’re a sinner, and asking Him to live in you and make you whole.  If you’ve turned your relationship with Jesus into a tricky maze of do this, do this, do that, and you’d like to renew that desire to let go of “steps” and just fall into His arms of grace and listen to what He’s telling you, now’s the time.  Ask Him to renew your faith and allow you to trust Him wholly and with abandon.

He’s right here, waiting for you.

~Erin

_My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it_ How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'__

Did I Just Throw My Kid Under the Bus?!

A few weeks ago at church, we were reading one of my favorite stories in the New Testament.  A boy, blind since birth, was given sight again by Jesus.  For those who aren’t familiar with the story, the disciples walked by this boy and asked Jesus who had sinned to make him blind, him or his parents.  Jesus answered that neither had sinned; it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him (John 9:3).

Jesus then bent over, spit into some clay on the ground to make a mud and put it over the boy’s eyes, telling him afterward to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  It was after the washing that he gained sight.  People were shocked and asking if it was the same boy since he could see now.  He was brought to the Pharisees who asked him how he received his sight and about the “man” that had enabled this to happen.

Now that’s the part of the story I’ve always loved and remembered….Jesus taking His own spit and the dust of the ground to perform a miracle.  It’s beautiful.  But what gut-checked me is what we read after that sweet part of the story.

As the Pharisees questioned him, unbelieving what the boy had to say, they called out to his parents and asked them if he was truly their son and how he could now see.  The parents’ response?  “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know.  Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself,” (John 9:20b-21).

Wow.  For fear of excommunication from the worship and fellowship of the church (John 9:22), these parents threw their child, who historians say was somewhere aged 13-20, under the bus to answer for himself.  Was it hurtful?  Yes.  In the end, was the boy thrown out of the synagogue?  Yes again.  Did the parents act maliciously towards the boy?  No.

I would like to think that I’m “so much better” than those parents who cowered to peer pressure, but I know I’m not.  I’ve done things and I’ve said things that have hurt my children.  Where there should have been trust, they may have found doubt.  Where there should have been attention, there was times of disregard.  Sometimes as parents, even when we do everything in our power to protect our children, fear and lies of the devil creep up and overtake.  Then we’re left heartbroken at the end because we didn’t stand up to the pressures of the world and our children become collateral damage.

Parents, guardians, aunts, uncles, grandparents, we are human.  We make mistakes.  What we do with those mistakes is what’s important.  Seek forgiveness from God for the sin committed, and if necessary, ask the child for forgiveness.  My girls have heard me say more than once “I’m sorry” for something I’ve done.  They appreciate it and it models a humble heart.

I’ll never be a perfect parent but with God’s help, I’ll keep getting better and better at it.

~Erin

I'll never be a perfect parent.

Cut To The Quick

I would like to think I’m a strong woman.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life.  I was, at one time, entrenched in sexual sin.  It’s not something I’m proud of.  However, through the Holy Spirit, I was reminded I was a beautiful child of the King who didn’t need her value and worth determined by a man.

I spent literally years praying to God and asking Him to forgive me for my actions and behaviors before I finally took heed to God’s Word.  It says in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”  Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgression from us.”  When I finally took those verses and truly hid them in my heart, I realized I was free of that sin.  When I repented and asked for His forgiveness, God gave it to me without hesitation.

But that doesn’t mean insecurity doesn’t creep in.  Last week while chatting with a group of friends, someone made an incredibly embarrassing comment about my past.  The remark was hurtful and degrading.  While I don’t think it was meant maliciously, it cut me to the quick.  It reminded me that while I have moved on, the devil still fights to keep my testimony mired down in humiliation and regret.

For quite a while, all I could think about was how I would never live down my past and how I would ever really be able to serve women.  Could I ever be able to fully commit to a ministry when my past is the fodder for jokes?

The answer the Holy Spirit gave me was clear.  YES.  My past and my sin may be humor for some, but it is no laughing matter to Jesus, because He let it go when I repented.

“’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.’” –Isaiah 1:18

My sins were covered and cleansed by Christ Himself.  My past, while not ideal, gives me the testimony to speak to women today.  It shows them that Jesus Christ can and does have the victory in our lives.  It doesn’t allow for judgment or shame, because our God took that shame and cast it away with the cry of redemption.  Thank you, Jesus for that grace.

For any who are ensnared by the lies of satan that your value is measured by your past, please take one of the verses written above and memorize it.  Hide it in your heart and speak it out boldly when the enemy tries to tear you down.  Allow God to have the victory in your past, present, and your future.

~Erin

Though your sins be as scarlet

Feeling Overwhelmed

Perhaps today you feel as if there’s just no end to the stress and trials you’re facing.  This nasty cold just won’t go away and is hanging on for its third week.  Your car is going to cost you a $600 mechanic bill.  You just found out that you didn’t get the promotion you were hoping for.  And yesterday, your uncle called to say your aunt is having some tests run to find out if the cancer is back.

Everything seems to be crumbling around you, and you’re not really sure why.  No matter where you go or what you do, it doesn’t seem to be getting better.   You want to think it’s going to be ok.  This is only temporary.  But all you can feel is the burden of what-ifs, despair, and anxiousness.

Sometimes, it feels as if God doesn’t even care.  Doesn’t He understand how heavy this load is?  If He’s says to give Him the burden, why does it still feel like the barbell and weights are around my shoulders while I’m slogging through quicksand?

There have been many times where I’ve just reached my limit, and I had to beg God to take it.  Then I would start to feel overwhelmed because the lie the devil told me was that I could carry it myself; ‘It’s too big of a request to ask Him or maybe too small for Him to worry about.  It’s just too important to hand off to God.’  So I would take it back and the cycle would start all over of asking, letting go, hearing the lie, and grabbing it back.

Please hear me—God is there.  He wants to take your burdens.  He want you to feel his unending love.  His love for us doesn’t stop or take a break.  He’s faithful in His promise to never leave our side, and new mercies come to us every morning.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’  -Lamentation 3:22-24 (NASB)

Friends, feel his steadfast love and give Him what’s aching in your heart.  He will carry any burden you have and comfort you through any trial you’re facing.  Feel His mercies fresh every morning covering your soul, and know He is your hope.

Is there anything you’re struggling with that we can pray about for you?  Comment below or send us a message, and we’d be honored to pray for you.

~Erin

The steadfast love of the lord never ceases;

Tears on the Floor

Three women, arms around each other, huddled, their heads touching, worship music playing.  These women are taking their prayers to God, voices raised, hearts tender and focused on one thing—intercession.  Two of them have never met the third before.  But God put them together in this moment to humbly bring their pleas and praises to Him.

In just a few minutes, the praying is done.  The ladies open their eyes, hug each other, and the two walk back to their seats while continuing to praise Jesus.  The third looks down at the painted black floor and sees tears, small splashes dotting where the circle of women had been.  And in that moment, her mind is bombarded with overwhelming images of Jesus…

An image of a woman, so emotional over the presence of Jesus, that she was able to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears (Luke 7).

David crying out to God when the Philistines seized him in Gath in Psalm 56:8a, “You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle.

Jesus reminding His disciples, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  And not one of them is forgotten by God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

I was the third woman, and I was a prayer intercessor at the Connecting Women’s Conference in Birmingham in February.  This was such a new experience for me.  I was nervous that I wouldn’t have the right things to say to the women who would come to me and ask for prayer.  I forgot that God does the work, not me!  I realized the intercessory prayer wasn’t just for the women seeking prayer.  It was for the intercessor, as well, and I was blessed to be a part of that God-orchestrated moment.

The tears that were cried out on the sanctuary floor were sacred reminders that God knew where we were and what we were so desperately asking for.  They represented family and friends, devotion to Jesus, and hope for healing.  They told stories of fear, redemption, loss, and love.  And every single tear was known to God.

~Erin

FEAR NOT;