When I Get “There…”

I’ve been going through a study with a group of friends and we were all joking about “when I get there.” The reality is most of us think, talk or dream about getting “there”…wherever “there” is. It’s like we are all on a journey and there’s going a be a neon sign that says, “YOU’VE ARRIVED…YOU’RE THERE!” Maybe “there” for you is a promotion, a position, being married, having kids, gaining wealth, esteem or notoriety. We all have a “there” in our minds. The challenge God has been dealing with me on is what if I’m already there and I’m unaware? What if my “there” is here and now? What if the efforts I’m giving to the now is what God is waiting to use? What if I discount the now because it doesn’t feel significant to me but it’s highly significant to God?

The truth is, every day is a gift from God and how we spend it is our choice. Our now IS our “there.” No one is guaranteed tomorrow so why not give it all today? Why not live a life so on mission that you take full advantage of every opportunity that God puts before you? If there is a “there” that you’re working towards you have to go through the now to get there so why not make the most of it?

I guess what I’m trying to say with all the here, now, there mumble jumble is that today is worth the effort.  Our future is shaped from the decisions we make today. Sometimes we’ll knock it out of the park and sometimes it will be a bunt, but run hard nonetheless because it’s worth it. Whatever you’re doing and whatever season you’re in, it matters…it counts and it’s worth your effort.

I have friends who are in high level ministry positions, executives in major corporations, business owners, moms who work way harder than most people and don’t get a paycheck, missionaries and many others. We all have a common theme in our life…we are on a journey….each one personal and unique. What some of my friends go through, I’ll never have to. What I experience, some will not, but each journey matters just the same to God. Each one intricately designed by the creator himself to build up, draw out and impact His kingdom.

Whatever road you’re walking, let me encourage you to lean into His leading. Allow Him to draw out the path and trust Him in the process, even with the twists and turns 🙂 . While the road may seem strange and different, it is yours to walk so put your shoulders back, get a little pep in your step, give it your all and walk it well friend! XOXO – Erin

Happy New Year!

It’s been 2018 for a minute now and I know for some, there are mixed feelings as we enter into another year. Some have entered with relief, some with sadness, some with joy and some with dread. I personally love new beginnings. I love a fresh start, I mean we all need one now and then. But what I love most about new beginnings is the anticipation of what’s to come.

Honestly, our 2017 was a year of adjustments. We bought a new house and joined the launch team of a new church plant…there were new schedules, new commitments, new responsibilities and new adventures. I visited Africa, Mexico and several new states for me here in the US. Each journey held a new lesson, new challenge and new experience.

Overall, 2017 was a good year but no season is void of challenges and opportunities for growth. I learned a lot about myself…my selfishness, my pride and my insatiable need to stay in constant step with the Holy Spirit. I felt the pains of running ahead and lagging behind. I felt the sting of humility and was reminded of the importance to count the cost, measure my words, thoughts and actions.

In looking ahead to 2018, I’m also reminded that one season builds on the next and what happened in 2017 was preparation for what God holds in store for 2018. For that reason, I can appreciate all that we went through and all the lessons learned. I know I’ll forget, I know I’ll miss the mark but I press on…seeking diligently to live a life worthy of my calling.

My word for this year is PURPOSE. Not in a way to desperately figure out my purpose but to consciously be living ON and WITH purpose. Recognizing that everything…every encounter, every conversation, every relationship, every situation…God has a purpose for me and my part to play. My prayer is not to simply “go through the motions” of 2018 but to look for and appreciate the opportunities I have…opportunities to grow and stretch, opportunities to serve, to surrender, to trust and to live the fullness of what God has for me and my family.

I pray the same for each of you reading this. I pray that you would intentionally seek the Lord in every way, allow Him to work in and through you to help you become more like Him. I pray 2018 would be a year of boldness, victory and growth for you! My Pastor, Brad Barbour, preached an awesome word yesterday on “New Year New You,” you can watch it here.

Isaiah 43:19, ““See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Happy New Year!!!!!!😀

 

 

Pushing Me Further…

Today in my quiet time, I found myself angry. I wasn’t angry about outside circumstances but angry at the attempts the enemy has recently made to derail me, my family, our dreams, etc. The more I read and the more God spoke to my heart, the more angry I became. I lifted my laptop screen and began typing. Below is what came out:

Why do you torment? Why do you feed those weak parts within me? You target the issues that I’ve battled to overcome and I try, yet sometimes you win. I know your pressure points and I try to expect but oftentimes you seem to outsmart me. You make me feel weak and insecure. You make me feel as though God has forgotten me. You relish in the fact that I withdraw. When my thoughts are scattered, you are there to add to my struggle. I’m confused about who I am and I waver. I try too hard and fail too much. Your schemes to derail me are working…or though it seems. Your plans to take me out may delay me but your plans only push me further… further into a deeper understanding of who God is, how big He is, how hard I must fight and how much I need Him.

Friend, today if you’re struggling…if the enemy is relentlessly attacking you, know this…God is above it. He is fighting on your behalf and working to reveal the solution to you. God sees you and He is moving heaven and earth to position you where you need to be. The enemy has no authority over you and you can walk confidently knowing that the Lord is faithful and He will bring you through it!

Don’t give in, don’t give up, fix your eyes on Jesus and move forward in faith. He will carry you when you’re too weak to walk. He will defend you when you don’t have the energy or words to speak on your own behalf. He will give wisdom and clarity in situations that seem crazy and chaotic. He is good and what He allows is for our good. He uses it all and doesn’t waste a thing. Rest in Him!

Isaiah 40:31 “….but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Be blessed today! XOXO

 

 

In Hot Pursuit…

The word pursue, according to google :),  means to follow or seek, attain or accomplish a goal, especially over a long period of time. Lately, I feel like God keeps asking and reminding me of two things, 1) what are you pursuing and 2) fear is not from the Lord and is paralyzing. I haven’t really been able to connect the two in my current season but could see one or the other at various times. But today, during my reading it connected.

Without even realizing it, sometimes I find myself pursuing the wrong things. I catch myself and am like, “What am I doing? Why did that comment sting? Why is this bothering me? Why am I defensive? Why am I now in a bad mood?” Most times, the answer is easy, I was pursuing something from those around me, even unknowingly, and it was out of place. Maybe it was approval or acceptance or security. Whatever in that moment it was, I quickly realized that pursuing these things from others isn’t good. While we all want to be accepted, approved of and secure, we have all those things IN Christ. Putting those expectations on others is out of place.

Then the fear aspect comes into play….how does pursuing the wrong things connect to fear? Because, if I’m unable to get my perspective realigned then I begin to shrink back in fear and insecurities begin to rule. Well, if I’m not accepted I can’t speak up. If I’m not approved of I can’t ever make progress. If I’m insecure, I won’t be able to walk in the fullness of what God has for me. Bottom line…I’ll blame others for my lack of pursuing God’s divine plan for my life. Essentially…Enemy = 1, Erin = 0! This is how the enemy works! He distorts our thinking of ourselves, of others and ultimately of Christ’s ability to work in and through us.

As I read on this morning the two became undoubtedly clear on their connection. The things I pursue either push me forward or draw me back in fear. Vulnerable moment…I have allowed fear to so feed my insecurities that I physically could not breathe. I was viewing myself as timid and withdrawn, convincing myself I was just being super humble. No, I was riddled with fear that was fattening my insecurities which was halting any forward progress. NOT good! While having an overly inflated view of yourself is equally damaging, allowing insecurities to push you backwards is the enemy’s fuel.

There is balance in life…knowing who you are IN Christ is the first step. Deciding that your future and destiny is in God’s hands alone, is revelation. We will all experience great highs and lows in life and if we choose to blame others for them, we’ll spend way too much time, that you never get back, trying to justify why we are where we are or why we feel the way we do. Rather, we should accept and walk in the strength that God is above all things, He allows what He chooses and does so to form us into who He needs us to be to do what He has prepared for us to do. Without the preparation that comes from trials, victories and losses, we aren’t equipped to handle what the next season will bring.

Realizing what I am pursing and from whom is my meditation this week. What am I expecting from others, myself and the Lord? Do I have these confused? Am I expecting from others what only Christ can deliver? Hmmm…gotta get it straight and keep it that way in order to have a healthy perspective and heart. God decides and my pursuit of Him is the priority. In that, there is no room for fear and advancement is inevitable.

Be blessed today! XOXO – Erin

 

Easy Isn’t Usually Fruitful…

Yesterday, my thoughts were consumed with the idea of choosing what is easy over what is needed. I couldn’t shake this thought of sometimes giving in to what is easy rather than what I know God is stretching me to do. I was talking with someone at church about my recent trip to Africa and what I felt God had shown me and was maybe asking me to do and while it was all good, none of it was easy.

God oftentimes stretches us to do things He knows we need but aren’t necessarily attractive at first sight. He calls us to be a part of a church, but it’s easy to watch online and catch a few extra zzz’s. He calls us to community but it’s easy to withdraw and justify not needing relationships. He calls us to press into Him when it’s easier to complain that He isn’t moving. He calls us to submit to authority when it’s easy to complain about how we think things should be done. He calls us to forgive when it’s easy to give way to our anger and emotions. He calls us to discipline when it’s easy to spend a little extra, eat a little extra or gossip a little extra. Rarely, are the things that are easy ever fruitful.

As I mulled this thought over, I thought of the prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel…their call was a great one but they were not easy. In the first couple chapters of Ezekiel, God warns him that he would be ministering to a rebellious people and he shouldn’t fear. He further told Ezekiel that he should do what is asked of him rather the people listened or not. Whaaatt?? That sounds terrible. You have a vision from the Lord, He is going to use you but He lays out exactly how it’s going to look and it isn’t going to be easy or pretty. But nonetheless, Ezekiel obeyed.

I wondered, would I have pressed on to obedience or would I have been like, “Ummm, no thanks God. That doesn’t sound like it’s within my gift mix to do that. That sounds like I may have to deal with persecution, rejection and difficulties so I’m not really up for that…I’ll pass.” So many times I’ve prayed for God to use me yet found myself complaining in the middle of my challenge because He was in fact using me but it was hard, painful or didn’t look like what I thought it should. See, all God needs is a willing heart but one that is fully surrendered to Him and His plans. He doesn’t need one that is only willing if the benefits are to our standards.

God’s rewards for us are different and He decides how He will use each one of us for the betterment of our growth to become more like Him. Again, it’s easy to opt out of this process because then we can blame and complain because our dreams aren’t being reached and our potential isn’t being recognized. But what if, our unwillingness to be vulnerable, or to be stretched or humbled is the enemy’s way of derailing God’s growth track for us? What if we made a commitment to do the difficult, to live outside of our comfort zone and truly allow God to write our story? What if we laid our expectations of this life aside and intentionally decided to not do what is easy and live a life set apart? What if we followed God’s voice and not that of those around us?

Today, I encourage you…before you give way to your feelings and do what is easy, think a minute to see if this is an opportunity for God to stretch and grow you. If so, take a chance…commit to the process and take the road less traveled. You never know where you might end up 🙂

Have a great day!

 

A Gorgeous View…

I’m writing this from Swaziland, Africa! Our team has been on the ground for a week now. We’ve seen and done A LOT…God has moved in so many ways and the experiences here will carry us a lifetime. A few days ago, a group of us decided to hike up a mountain to watch the sun rise. I reluctantly agreed to be a part of this group, not being an avid hiker…or a hiker at all really 🙂 But, I didn’t want to miss a single experience.

It was cold and dark when we set out and began the climb to the top. It was incline after decline (but mostly incline). I pushed on winded and wondering along the way...”Am I going to make it? Am I going to die on this mountain? Why am I doing this – there is no foreseeable reward, a trophy of sorts?” But with each steep incline there came relief of level ground to catch your breath, much like life. We fight battles of all sorts, feeling like we are pushing uphill and just when we feel like we can’t take another step…God provides a break through or relief.

As we climbed, it got more and more intense. The small pebbles moved under our feet and we stumbled but we would use the large stationery rocks to steady ourselves. (There is a sermon in there about on holding onto the rock, right KB?) 🙂 And then, we made our final push to the top of the mountain. It was breathtaking! The view was spectacular and we all took time to sit and soak in God’s beautiful creation, worshipping and praying. It was a moment I will not soon forget. The sun began to peak over the mountains and again, the creativity of our God was displayed magnificently on a mountaintop in Swaziland and it was beyond words.

I have to admit, I was a little shocked I had made it…I have never really hiked before, not like this, and I was quite proud of what I had accomplished. Then we began our descent, which was at times more challenging than the climb. I thought as is with life…coming off the highs or victories in life are sometimes as challenging as the work it takes to get to the high spots. We can often get stuck in the “highs” of life and reliving our “glory days” not living expectantly of the new things that God wants to teach us as we begin our descent, or resettling.

Being so proud of making it to the top, I began the descent with confidence, maybe a little too much, because I hit a steep slick grassy spot and down on my backside I went…hard. I immediately thought, once again, this is just like the life we live. If we aren’t careful, we can let our accomplishments feed our pride in such a way that we lose sight of where the source of strength and accomplishments come from and find ourselves tripping over the very thing we thought we had conquered. With a battered backside, I arose and continued on my way, at a much safer pace I might add, to reach our original starting point.

As we neared the end, I couldn’t help but think about God’s goodness, grace and mercy. So today, go climb your mountains and enjoy the view from the top, but never lose sight of the God that strengthened you for the climb because He will also steady you in the descent!

Have a great day!! XOXO

Renewed Hope…

Today, I leave for Africa! This will be my first trip back to Africa in five years!!! I’m excited to go back yet it’s always hard to leave my family and friends…I want to pack them all up and take them with me 🙂 I can’t help but remember the person I was five years ago and all that God did in me on that trip. I remember God shifting something in my spirit that hasn’t been the same since. I remember Him widening my view of this world and His reach to touch every single part of it. I remember faces so vividly that I can tear up thinking about them…their stories, their struggles and their joy.

I remember leaving that trip with a renewed hope that while we can’t do everything, we can do something. I remember thinking, I must do something…no matter where I’m at on this earth, I can do something! After that trip, I served better, loved better and lived better. It changed me. I could sense my call to ministry being solidified on that trip and the entire way home, I knew I would serve God and others the rest of my days.

Then, back at home…life continues and a few short years later,  I felt clearly God impressing upon my heart that a change was coming. I had been on staff at my church for nearly 8 years and God was saying it was time for me to go. What?? That can’t be…I don’t have another plan…I’m called to ministry…I love this place and these people. God, you must be wrong…but sadly, I knew in the very deepest parts of my heart it was the Lord’s leading. I resisted for a bit but ultimately gave in…scared, disappointed, sad and confused I walked away and the enemy went to work. “That was it, that was your shot in ministry and you blew it.” “You didn’t really think God would let you continue in ministry did you?” So many lies the enemy threw at me…so many thoughts to overcome.

For nearly six months I sat….still. I felt as though God had forgotten about me, the dreams in my heart and the call I felt to ministry. As my heart softened and I began to squash the enemy’s voice in my head, the Lord began to quietly whisper to my heart of the things I would do and how I would return to ministry. I couldn’t make sense of it or see how it could be. I doubted, I wavered, I wept and I prayed. But God, in his faithfulness, allowed an opportunity. He made a way when I didn’t see one and he is continuing to unfold the many things He whispered to my heart during that time.

My trip to Africa, well it’s just a reminder that God WILL do what He says and what He plants in your heart, will come forth in His time. Today, I’ll travel back to Africa for new experiences, new stories and new opportunities for growth. I’m expectant and leaning in to what He wants to do.

Where ever you find yourselves, rather it’s exactly where you thought you’d be or in a completely different season than you ever expected. Embrace where you are…God is just preparing you for where he is taking you. Trust Him, lean in and enjoy the journey!

XOXO