The Runaway

 

“I’m moving to California if you won’t play with me!”  When Peyton was 7 years old, she decided that she was no longer going to live in Wyoming with me because McKenna, her sister, wouldn’t play with her.  I tried to explain to her to no avail that sometimes big sisters who are 6 years older don’t always like to play the same things that little sisters like to play.  That went over like a lead balloon.  Peyton was determined to pack her belongings and move to California to live with her dad.  After trying to reason with her, she asked me to leave her room so that she could pack.  In response, I did what any loving mother would do…I asked her if she could at least pick up her room before she left so that I didn’t have to do it, and then I shut the door behind me.

Fifteen minutes later, she emerged from her room rolling a suitcase behind her.  I asked her if she wanted me to take it downstairs for her.  Of course, my independent girl said no.  After lugging that thing down 14 steps, she turned around to McKenna and said, “If you want to say goodbye to me, here’s your chance.  I won’t be coming back for a while.  And you’ll wish you’d played with me, McKenna.”  She offered me a hug and an ‘I love you’ and walked out the front door.

Now, I’m not the kind of mother that panics.  I never have been.  When she walked out the door, instead of running after her, I just told her it was a long walk to California.  And then I raced up the stairs to watch her from my bedroom window. She walked about 15 feet, stopped, and looked back towards the house, searching for signs of someone running out of the door, asking her to come back.  She then went forward another 30 feet or so and turned around again.  This went on for a few minutes before she finally turned back towards home and walked back in the door. “I’ve decided I will give this family one more chance.  I’m staying.”  I smiled at her, gave her a big hug and told her I was happy to hear it.  Then, I unzipped the suitcase to see what she’d actually packed.  I had to laugh—books, stuffed animals, some clothing, and her ‘Say Your Prayers’ sign that was hanging on the wall.  Not bad for a little girl!

What hits my heart today, years later, is that I’m just like that little girl who walks out of the house and keeps turning around to see if anyone is watching.  I do it to Jesus all the time.  I’ve made a lot of impulsive and rash decisions in my life that caused hasty reactions that almost never included Jesus in the mix.  Every time I made one of those decisions that ultimately ended in mistake and heartache, I would get angry and say “That’s it, God!” and turn my back on Him to run away. I thought by running away I could fix myself and make it better.  I thought that no one could help me get through my tough times better than me.  Why would God want me sticking around anyway when I just made a fool of myself, yet again?  When I ran, however, I would always look back over my shoulder, checking to see if God still cared.  Was He still listening to me?  Did He still love me?  And each time, He wasn’t hiding at the window, watching to see if I’d turn around.  He was standing at the door, watching me walk away but holding His outstretched arms towards me. He was always waiting for me to turn back to Him to seek repentance and refuge.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:4 (NIV).

I’ve made a commitment to never run away from Him again.  I don’t need to look back and try to catch His eye to see if He’s still there for me.  He says He’ll never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).  He’ll be that refuge that I desperately need daily.  It’s a beautiful promise He’s given to believers, and it’s something I never want to forget.

~Erin

Hot Bread!

Ever had one of those jobs that require you to do something seemingly embarrassing for the sake of the company?  Maybe you have to be part of the singing crew for the rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to some screaming toddler.  You could be the dreaded dancing slice of pizza on the side of the road, spinning and raving to music only you can hear as cars wiz by.  We, at Boudin SF, are required to yell out “HOT BREAD!” after the baker pulls the pillowy loaves of fresh sourdough from the warm oven.

I’m not actually embarrassed by having to shout out this announcement of deliciousness.  In fact, if you’ve read my previous blog, you’ll know that I love my job and therefore try to make everything I do there awesome….like singing “HOT BREAD” as if I was Kelly Clarkson.  My impression is incredibly spot on, down to the hand strategically cupped over my ear as if I’m holding my headphone in place while recording my #1 hit.  It’s true brilliance, really.  No one knew I had it in me.  And judging by the laughter coming from my co-workers, I really don’t have it in me.

Today was no different.  John, our head baker, shouted those two delectable words from the bakery, and we all hollered the same in return.  But I got to thinking later in my shift about how I truly get excited to turn those seemingly two simple words into something delightful and wonderful for the co-workers and guests around me.  Do I do the same when I’m excited about how God is transforming my life?

Countless times in the past year, God has moved what felt like mountains for me.  He’s been incredibly clear in His direction for my life, and blessed me with gracious moments that only He can give a person seeking Christ.  I share those moments with those closest; Emily, my mom, dad, and bible study group (known as Table Eight).  Do the friends outside of that incredibly small community, however, see the excitement of the fruit of God’s labor in my life?

I feel strongly that as a believer, Christ’s light shines through you.  The closer of a relationship you have with Him, the brighter the light becomes.  I feel as part of that shining light, I should be sharing the joyful celebrations of miracles and answers to prayer to those same people, as well.  Some may think I’m weird when I do, and of course I’m not advocating doing something crazy or inappropriate at your workplace or as you’re walking down the aisle at your grocery store.  What I’m encouraging myself and others to do is not be afraid to share your witness of answered prayer or direction with those folks around you.  You never know how your testimony may encourage someone to seek a personal and deeper relationship with our Savior.  And that’s what it’s all about—sharing God’s love with others.

The bible says in Mark 16:15 (KJV) “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”  Part of that “GO” and “PREACH” is your testimony, and your testimony is not only your personal story of redemption, but how God has transformed, molded and shaped, and answered prayer for you, as well!

So, go!  Don’t be afraid to share!  Shout out your good news from the rooftops!  And if you want to add a little flair to it, do it!  A little Kelly Clarkson rendition never hurt anyone.

Is there any good news you want to share?  Comment below, and let us share in your excitement!

~Erin

Retreat in the Pines

760F1BA0-335C-44C5-968E-29EC9B1008ED.jpegWe like long walks in the woods and cozy fireplace chats…..if you’re laughing at that right now, you should see me and Emily! What would you put on your dating site as your tag line? In all seriousness, the verse that we both meditated on this weekend was “Be still and know that I am God” ~Psalm 46:10a (NIV)

Where can you be still? We’ve gotten to spend the last 3 days together on a 30 acre plot in the woods of Texas experiencing a place of stillness in the midst of mosquitos. And pollen. And strangers. As we’re packing up to head back to our homes, we want to share some thoughts with you that we gleaned from this weekend.

Prayer:
This stillness has allowed space for us to prayed on several different levels. We’ve been able to pray silently, pray with laughter, and pray with tears. We’ve taken prayer requests and been able to ask for prayers for ourselves.

Gratitude:
Times in stillness create a platform for you to focus on things that make you grateful. We’re incredibly grateful for 2 hours, 3 days, 10 days..whatever time we can get together in person. We’re also grateful that our friendship allows the growth of a community of women from all over (Shanen, Lori, Michelle, Tricia) that can come together to just hang out. We are grateful for these women in our lives.

Conversation:
Stillness offers a chance for sharing. Sharing a cup of cinnamon coffee, a debate over whether or not start a fire, pollen covered sneakers, and sharing bug spray are all forms of sharing. It also offers space to share your heart. We were openly able to talk about our relationship with Christ.

While this space in the Texan woods was an opportunity for prayer, gratitude, and conversation…you can create that stillness anywhere in your own life. Your space may be a local park, the beach, or a hiking trail. It could even be in your own home. Wherever your space, the “being still” in His presence is the important piece.

Where are you still? What do you glean in your stillness? Come to the Porch and share…

~Emily and Erin

My Hobby Job

Click, click, tab.  Enter, enter.  Tab, tab, tab.  Click, click.  Enter, enter, enter.  If you ask Emily what my job entails, that’s what she’ll say I do.  You do actually hear those noises if you’re on the phone with me when I’m working.  I work full time from my home office in California for my hospital in Wyoming where I’m from.  I was fortunate enough to have continued employment even though I moved.

And yet.  I’m a talker.  Some might say I would talk to a wall if it would answer back.  I would say that I’d probably talk to a wall even if it DIDN’T answer back.  Talking to my dogs during the day in a Californian city I wasn’t very familiar with wasn’t cutting it for me anymore.  So, I went on a long and tedious journey of finding me a part-time job that would allow me to get in front of human beings.  And by long and tedious, I mean that I drove down the street on a 45-second car ride to a local restaurant, Boudin SF, who’s “Hiring” sign peaked my interest.  (They had people AND fresh baked bread….how could I go wrong?!)

This job is what I call my “hobby job.”  I don’t need it financially, but I need it mentally and emotionally.  I love it!  I have the most amazing co-workers and management team.  Work is fun to go to.  I get excited when I see a regular guest walk in the door and can greet them by name to ask how their day is!

One of my favorite things to do while I’m working is singing.  I will literally sing the menu while I’m pouring out soup with our guests watching!  “Claaaaam chowder is where it’s at!  Giiiivvvveee meeeee the bread bowl to eat it wiiiith! Don’t forget the butter!”  I’ll also sing to the cooks through the large open concept kitchen window while they’re preparing the food.  Here are some of my better creations…

Kevin, your ‘maters are cut great!
The turkey avocado will be perfect for their date!”

And, “I think, Kate, that the grilled cheese,
Should come with havarti, pretty please.

This usually ends with Kevin offering to pay me to stop singing.  Of course I don’t!

Erin, get to the point, you might be thinking.  One of the things my co-workers always say about me, is that I’m happy.  Every day is a “fabulous” day, and I’m always smiling.

I hope this doesn’t sound boastful.  It isn’t meant to sound like I’m praising myself.  I have a choice to walk through the doors and be excited for what’s coming or dreading the potential disasters I may face.  I have to pray every morning that I have a positive attitude and my light from Jesus will shine through me and impact others around me.

It doesn’t work every time, either.  I’m still human.  I still get irritated or frustrated when it gets busy and I’m pulled in four directions.  When that happens, I take a quick second to regroup, silently pray for Him to redirect my thoughts, then take a deep breath and start over!

My encouragement to you, today, is that whether your job is a click-click-tab job or a “how can I help you” job, the light of Jesus will live and shine out of you.  Pray for ways to shine that light on others.  Maybe, just maybe, what they need is a little song.

~Erin

The Little Extra

We’ll just take a little extra….just in case.  Never mind the fact that He provides exactly what we need, right?!

This has been weighing heavily on my mind all week.  I’m using a bible reading plan that gets me through the whole bible in a year (let’s be honest–it’ll be more like a year and half or even two for me, but I digress).  Anyway, I’m currently reading through Exodus.  The Israelites are feeling as if they’re going to starve in the wildernes and wonder whether being hungry in the wilderness is a better choice than being a slave in Egypt.  God says to them that He hears their grumbling and will provide meat in the evening and bread (manna) in the morning.  He was pretty specific in instruction for gathering the manna, too.  He said to gather a portion for each family member ONLY for the day, except on Friday.  On Friday, gather two portions as Saturday was the sabbath, and the Israelites weren’t permitted to work on that day.  Anyone trying to save some for the next day’s meal would would wake up to find it foul smelling and filled with worms.  Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?! And despite what they were directed to do by God Himself, a few still chose to try and save some extra or go out on the morning of the sabbath to gather manna only to find some wormy leftovers or the desert ground dry and empty.

I’ve read and heard this story a million times since I grew up in Sunday School and church services.  But I think it’s the first time I really stopped to overlay it’s meaning to my life.  It amazes me how many times the Israelites tried to do it their own way, not relying on God’s direct provision and protection over their deliverance from Egypt.  Like, seriously, you dummies…did you forget the parting of the Red Sea or the flies, boils, and locusts you were spared from?!  And after railing on how ridiculous the Israelites were, I thought about this: How often do I do the same thing?

I’m guilty of taking situations or problems or complaints to Jesus, asking Him to provide in some way or even assuming that He’s going to deliver exactly what I ask for.  And when He answers, or more accurately when I feel He hasn’t answered the way I would like for Him to, I start to handle the issue myself.

I can’t possibly be alone in how I manage this!  We often try to bypass His plan or provision in some way to get extra, to fix it, or to help ourselves because we know exactly how we want it handled.  And a dear friend reminded me this week that this isn’t just a new Christian or a seasoned Christian problem.  This is a human problem.  It’s difficult for a new Christian to let go of the idea that we’re not really in control of our lives.  For the Christian that has been walking with Christ for a while, we forget that we can take and trust everything to Jesus, not just the heart-hurting issues.  How much better off would we be if we trusted in His mercy and believed that He has our best interest in His hands and will take care of it as He sees fit?

Jesus reminds us of exactly that in Matthew 6.  He tell us in verses 31-33, Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or what ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This, then, is our charge–to rise up against the worldly view that we must take care of ourselves without the trust of having an amazing God in our corner.  His provision for us is unending.  His love for us is good and beautiful.  Lay down your burdens at the cross of Jesus and let Him supply your needs and desires as He will.  Let’s trust HIM for the extra instead!

~Erin

How about you?  Do you struggle with this like I do?  Comment below with a verse that helps remind you that God’s provision is best!

 

Non-Resolution

Resolutions—I stink at making them. I’m even worse at keeping them. Inevitably, I always make some kind of weak promise to quit drinking soda or a vow to walk around the block every day before work for exercise. Sometimes, it’s been that I read a devotional a day or have a verse for the day that I meditate on. And I get past week two and my resolutions are gone, scattered like bits of post-celebration confetti blowing in the breeze.
I wanted to do something different this year. Something more than a half-hearted resolution on a reminder sticky note. I wanted this year to be about real resolve. I’ve seen people doing a word of the year in the past. You choose a word that describes your purpose for the year. The word is intended to bring life to your decisions, choices, and actions for the next 365 days.
I prayed and thought on it for a while about what I wanted my word to be. I didn’t want something so vague that it didn’t accurately reflect what I wanted the year to be about, but I didn’t want it so specific that it didn’t fit with the direction my life was moving. And just like that, God gave it to me. A word that not only has very emotional meaning for me, but one that literally sums up the course He designed for me to take: sharpen.

Sharp·en /SHärpən/ verb 1. Make or become sharp, 2. Improve or cause to improve.

Both definitions seem so relevant to me in this season of my life. Those who read my first post know that Proverbs 27:17 is my life verse with Emily. Our goal with each other and with all of our friends who hang with us on this porch of life is to sharpen each other as iron does. My aim is to be intentional in our friendship and in our walk of faith. We’re asking each other questions, sharpening our knowledge of the Bible and of Jesus. We’re challenging in thoughts and ideas, always pushing to become more aware of the will of God. And I’m constantly learning to improve my walk, my faith, and my compassion.
I want to sharpen my focus on God’s call for me. I’m carving out specific times during the week to hear God’s voice and listen to what He would have me write. I’m sharpening my attention on my family time. I’m making sure that the things I’m doing with them are engaging us in real conversation and quality time together. And I’m sharpening the act of listening. I want to really hear what people around me are saying, and I also want to hear the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit guiding me in my journey here on earth. And I believe that as I do this, Proverbs 16:3 will be a real truth in my life, “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.”
I may not have a lengthy list of resolutions this year, but I trust that the resolution in this word, sharpen, will lead me to one of the best years of my life—a life of obedience and fulfillment like I’ve never seen before. And I’m looking forward to it!
So what’s your word? Did God give you a word or a phrase that you’re using for the year to help you be intentional with your time? Let us know what it is in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

-Erin

Erin’s Thoughts

Fe….two of the most important letters of the alphabet to me. They represent strength and love, kindness and compassion, accountability and fairness. It represents my closest and dearest friend, the friend who’s going on this journey with me of God’s calling for us. Let me tell you a little bit about her.

When I met Emily 8 ½ years ago, I was an outsider in a close knit group of friends, the new girlfriend accompanying her guy to an awards ceremony and then more intimately one week later at Emily’s house. It was this wacky “dinner” experience with 20 other people that included having no real clue what was coming out on my plate next and not knowing whether I’d even have silverware to eat it! (I’ll have her tell you more about that, but let’s get back to the point.) Truth be told, she intimidated the heck out of me. She’s a beautiful, Type A, very organized woman who knows how to throw an event to remember with 12 minutes notice, knows exactly what she wants, and speaks her mind while doing it eloquently. I’m not scared of much, but Emily? She made me nervous because she was so put together.

Now you should know this about me….I’m outgoing. I can walk into a room and converse with strangers and make a speech and it feels like I’m talking to a group of people I’ve known all my life. But when it comes to making true friendships, I freeze. It’s that fear of being rejected or hurt that keeps me at bay, knowing that it’s just one more person that’s secretly judging me about my past and my sins. So, I tend to hold people at arm’s length because I know that one day, they’ll just walk away.

It was different with Emily. She called me randomly and we grabbed lunch. I went to visit her after a knee surgery. She’d check in on me and see how I was doing. I didn’t feel judged or weird or less than. I felt like she was truly just trying to be my friend. When she moved away for her job, we kept in touch and still talked, despite the miles apart. And over those miles, it went from acquaintances to friends. From friends to close friends. And from close friends to my best friend. We’ve planned vacations together, spent holidays together, driven hundreds of miles to be able to spend a few short hours together before we have to be off again, back to our lives. Two women who love Christ and want to follow His calling in our lives. I know God designed this meeting between us years ago. Because since that time, the boyfriend that introduced us is out of the picture. Relationships and friendships around us have come and gone or grown. Life has not only sometimes kicked us in the gut but it’s given us sweet memories and joys that we’ve been able to be a part of together. God had a sovereign plan for our lives. He took two women with a desire to write and speak about God’s mercy and meshed it into a beautiful adventure that’s taking two best friends down this trail of obedience.

Back to the Fe…..I have them inscribed on my arm in the form of a tattoo. So does Emily. But what does it mean, Erin, for crying out loud?! It’s the symbol for iron on the periodic table of elements. It was taken from our verse, Proverbs 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. It’s a daily reminder to us that not only are we best friends, we’re Christ followers and we’re meant to build each other up, love each other in grace, and hold each other accountable. Two women with a vision from God to share our lives—our screw ups, our mistakes, our victories, our journeys—and help women know that God’s grace is sufficient and that our mistakes don’t define us. Jesus Christ does.

So grab a warm cup of coffee and pull up a chair. We’re inviting you to sit and relax on our front porch and live life together with us. Welcome to the journey!