How Does Your Garden Grow?

I am a master gardener.  And by master gardener I mean that I recently purchased my first vertical container garden.  On June 12th, I purchased and planted a total of 18 plants/seeds.  I’ve only killed the lavender so far, so I’m guessing that’s a good thing since I don’t eat lavender.

I honestly didn’t put a lot of thought into the actual science of gardening other than the fact that I really wanted to try my hand at it, and the container garden I found was such a cool system!  I know I’m Zone 9b (didn’t mean much to me at the time) and I live in California where there is plenty of sun and shouldn’t EVERYTHING grow beautifully in California?!  Eighteen days in, and I’m honestly just glad that the lavender is the only thing I’ve killed, but let’s be real…I’m only 18 days in.

But here’s where the real work starts.  The novelty is starting to wear off; I don’t have peppers hanging from my plants and tomatoes aren’t just showing up and dangling from the vine.  (FYI, I know it takes longer than two weeks to show up, just so everyone knows!)  But my desire to watch the plants mature and bear their produce has become exciting.  Now I’ve purchased a highly recommended gardening book.  I’m researching soil.  I’m looking at what grows well next to each other and whether to plant seeds or starts.  I joined a local online group of gardeners to see what works for them and what they’ve had success with planting in this area.  It’s time and effort to get these plants to grow.  And it’s time and effort that’s well worth it.

Our walk with Christ can often begin the same way.  We accept Christ as our Savior and get so excited to start a walk with God.  We find ourselves jumping straight in, soaking up as much scripture as we can, join a community for a bible study, attend church services.  Sometimes, however, when we don’t see immediate changes in our life or fantastic things start happening to us because we live for Jesus now, we can start to get frustrated in trusting Jesus during the process of us growing into spiritual maturity.  If we don’t find the immediate gratification, confusion or bitterness can sweep in and next thing you know, your walk with God is thrown to the wayside in favor of what’s right in front of us temporally.

Remember that the seeds were cast in Mark 4 into good soil and they grew up and produced a crop.  The bible didn’t say it happened overnight.  The good soil with the seeds had to be tended, nurtured, loved, and fed.  That is what our walk with Christ must be.  In order to see the growth, you have to plant yourself in the good soil of the Word of God and allow Him to tend to you, maturing you in your walk with Him.

I encourage everyone today to plant yourself in the Word of God and allow Him to grow you.

~Erin

Is Church a Hobby?

Hobbies are my weakness.  When I’m bored, I love to learn about new things.  This generally means I’m buying new things.  Ask anyone who has known for me longer than five minutes, and they’ll tell you some product they’ve purchased for me at some point in my life that relates to something I just “had to have” because that was my passion.  At the moment.

When I was in my early 20’s, it was Stampin’ Up.  During my late 20’s, I loved to decorate cakes.  Once I rounded the 30’s, I was into cooking.  Two years ago, I was in love with card making.  Then, my obsession became makeup.  It’s a nasty habit that fills what little storage space we have in this house with tons of “stuff.”

Sometimes, I think that we often put church service in that category.  We get really excited about how God is working in our lives.  We are watching transformation happen.  We’re attending church regularly.  Yet, church service gets left behind for an extra hour of sleep or the new brunch time we set up with our friends.

I recognize that I’ve fallen into that trap before.  I start getting busier with my job and use that as an excuse to not attend service on Sunday.  Ummmm….I work from home.  I was up late last night working on bible study.  So I shouldn’t go to church the next day???  Does either excuse even really count?!  Even now that we’ve been under quarantine, it’s easy to continue in the same pattern and skip out on service if you’re back to meeting.

While some would say that church wasn’t a “thing” in the New Testament so why go to church now, I would say the church then was the community where the body of Christ got together to praise and worship and learn the gospel.  When we are with our fellow Christ-followers, we are surrounded with people who love Jesus, who encourage in His Word, who follow and trust Him faithfully.

While the full church functions may not be a reality at the moment for some due to health restrictions or quarantine, I would encourage each of you that are able now to find a local church and become a part as much as you can.  Whether its small groups from your congregation in your home, or small groups at the church, dig in to the community.  If your church is back to the sanctuary, I encourage you to go.  If it’s still Zoom with your pastor, do it!

There’s something special about community among believers!

~Erin

A Tribute to a Father

Life is so fragile.  I know you know what I mean.  We feel like we have all the time in the world to enjoy each other, to laugh with each other, to cry with each other.  We sometimes take for granted the hugs and the kisses, the jokes, even the fights because we’ll see them tomorrow.  Our family is invincible and we have forever.  But unfortunately, that’s not the case.  And our family felt it recently.

We pulled out a big box of pictures this week.  We started looking through it, and came across a home movie of a surprise party we gave Chris’s dad, Allen, for his 70th birthday.  That was 12 years ago!  It seems like a lifetime ago and yet so recent.  Last night, we popped it in and watched it.

There’s probably 50 family and friends laughing, eating, talking, there to celebrate an amazing man turning 70 years old.  Allen pops into the picture, and he’s larger than life.  He’s walking around the room talking to everyone, reminiscing about this story from the past or that friend they saw last week.  Old business partners are there.  Brothers are there.  His children-Chris and Rita, his grandchildren, nieces, nephews, everyone….there all there to celebrate a man that loves his family more than just about anything.  (Except maybe hunting.  He loves to hunt, and you can tell when he opens his gift of a rifle!)  You watch him belly laugh, head thrown back, the sound of happiness coming from him, hanging in the air.

You’d love to see his hair.  I tease him all the time about his “luscious locks” because Allen has the thickest head of beautiful white hair against his tan skin from enjoying the outdoors so much.  The man looks like he’s permanently retired on the beach!  He just looks like….joy in this video.

Back to last night when we watched this video.  It’s been 12 years, but we wish it was yesterday.  Because following a leukemia diagnosis just 2 ½ months ago, this man, this father, this brother passed away on June 7th.  It still doesn’t seem real.

We all wish there was one more moment with him.  A moment to joke with him, a moment to squeeze our arms around him, a moment to watch the news with him (it seemed to be one of his other favorite things).  And we’re left with memories.  But good ones.  Great ones.  He was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of man.

Allen, you were….you are…an amazing human being.  And your legacy lives in every life you touched over your 82 years.  We love you and we miss you.

~Your family

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2005, Idaho Family Trip
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May 2020, 82nd birthday

I-80 Lost

“If I get lost from Lincoln, Nebraska to Cheyenne, Wyoming, you should question whether or not you raised a moron, Mom!” I said to her as I hit I-80.  It was a straight shot to her and the only road I have to drive between Lincoln and Cheyenne is I-80.

Somewhere along the way I hit a little construction, and my daughter, Peyton, called me at the same time to ask about cooking dinner for her dad.  And somewhere during the answering of that call, I missed a sign.  A really important sign, apparently.  About 15 minutes later, I noticed the I-76 sign.

“Why does that say 76?  Why does th…WELCOME TO COLORADO?!”  I had missed a turn off and had ended up slightly off course.  With some quick help from my Google Maps, I detoured through some beautiful farmland and ended back at I-80.  Shaking my head, I called my mom.

“Remember when I said you needed to question whether I was moron if I got lost on the ONE road I was supposed to stay on, Mom?  You raised a moron.”  She got a good laugh out of that one.

Sin can have the same effect.  We take our eyes off Jesus for just a second, a brief minute when our attention catches something else.  Before you know it, you’ve veered off course into worldly ventures and off a relationship with our heavenly Father.  The path that has comfort, strength, faithfulness and grace is moving straight ahead and we follow the bend in the road because we were thinking about other things.  The slight shift seems almost unperceivable…until you look around and notice the signs that say you’re going the wrong direction.

God’s Word is clear in what we should do in this situation in Proverbs 4:25-27 (NASB).  Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.  Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.  Do not turn to the right or the left; turn your foot from evil.

Let’s make sure we’re on the right road, heading straight into the arms of Jesus.  Watch the directions and trust the steadfast and sure walk with Christ. It’s the only way you want to go!

~Erin

life tip #38

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 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.