Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Typical Friday Night




There is so much to write about right now...two more Pierce County Deputies were shot in the line of duty last night, three days from now I leave for a week-long vacation to visit my brother, sister-in-law and nephew for Christmas in Chicago, my glowing review at the zoo, my slow but steady fund-raising efforts....but all that is on my mind is a scene from my night last Friday night.

As most of you know, I have been volunteering at an inner-city kid's ministry on Friday nights called Kids Sozo.  The heartbreak that these kids live through is absolutely unreal.  I got to witness this first-hand last week.

There is a kid who comes to Kids Sozo regularly, I'll call "Trent."  Trent is probably one of our "harder" cases.  I am not certain what his family life is fully like outside of Kids Sozo, but I do know this....he acts up and mis-behaves with the best (or is that worst?) of them.  Capturing this kid's interest and cooperation is a hard task on a good week.

Last Friday was the friday kicking off winter break from school in Tacoma.  My co-volunteer Erika says that kids who come from harder backgrounds tend to act up around break times because for them school is actually a respite and somewhere they like to go to to get away from home.  Knowing that they are going to spend so much time at home can bring out the worst in kids.  This is so heartbreaking for me, having such the opposite experience when I was growing up. 

On Friday during our craft and snack time, Trent was being particularly ornery.  Not destructive, but he was certainly not earning the brownie we had in store for him for snack.  When told he would have to wait to get his brownie and why, he got very upset and stormed out of the room. When Erika tried to chat with him about what had happened, he grabbed his coat and ran away from the building.  Erika went on a search for him outside, caught up to him to talk to him for a bit, but then he ran away again, which prompted a call home from us to let his guardians (I'm not even sure that Trent lives with his parents) know he had run away.  His male guardian managed to track Trent down and showed up at the door to Kids Sozo a while later asking for Erika.

Trent was obviously IN. TROUBLE. with this man.  He had his hood pulled up over his face, looking forlornly down at the floor not talking or making eye contact with anyone.  Erika came out to talk to Trent and hear his apology. 

While I was out front managing the front desk and we were waiting for Erika to show up up front, I had an opportunity to hear what this man was saying to Trent.  The kinds of things coming out of this man mouth would have made a grown man cry, much less a ten-year-old boy.  He didn't cuss or swear, but the verbal abuse and put downs directed at Trent were shocking to me.  He began at the top of Trent's head  and continued down to the bottom of his shoes criticizing and making fun.  He next started in on Trent's character and behavior.  It wasn't a physical beating, but the scars and wounds that this child suffered through in just the ten minutes he was out there in front with me would have been a lifetime of injustices for anyone.

I can't imagine that this is that unusual for Trent to hear.  The venom and hate spewing from this man, who was supposed to be taking care of and loving Trent flowed too easily from his mouth for them not to be a regularly occurring thing.

This is the kind of thing that we are up against.  We are battling for the heart of kids like Trent.  We are battling so that these kids, who know nothing but anger, know that they are loved.  We are battling so that they know the life they are used to is not the life they have to have. I just pray that our few hours with kids like Trent each week are enough to combat what they face during the other hours of their week.

This is part of what I am fund-raising for....to be able to reach kids like Trent and the dozens of other kids just like him that I encounter each week at Kids Sozo, before it is too late for this generation of kids.

Blessings,
Erin

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wanderlust

Wanderlust is like Senioritis for missionaries....and I have it BAD right now.  Anyone want to pay for a ticket to anywhere but here right now?

Erin

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I "Heart" My Job!

Did you know that walrus breath really smells like fish?  I suspected as much, but got to find out first-hand today.

As most of you know, I am currently working at the zoo in my town.  I get to spend lots of time in various areas at the zoo doing programming with kids and teens.  I have never gotten to spend a whole day in just one area of the zoo.  Back when I worked at Northwest Trek, I got to shadow the free-roaming area keeper several times, but have never done that here at our zoo. 

Today, I got to spend the whole day in our Rocky Shores area.  This is maybe the most fun I have had at the zoo since I started working there....hard work, but fun.

Here are the feeding/training highlights:

1.  Sea Otters.  If, as you're feeding them, you say the name of the otter you are feeding and then stamp your feet, they will rhythmically pat their own front paws on their chest while floating in the water.  I also got to do what's called a scatter feed where at the end of the day, to give them something to do at night, we scatter a bunch of clams and whole crab into their water so they have to forage.

2.  Walruses.  We have three, ET, Joan and Basilla.  It is currently breeding season for the walruses and are a little ummmm 'spacey' and distracted right now.  Today was also blood draw day.  So, the Walruses, who normally get fed on-exhibit got fed at least once today off-exhibit. I got to distract ET for a bit while we shifted the girls into position for the vet to come later in the day by feeding him a little.  Then, that afternoon, after the vet came to attempt a blood draw, I got to feed Joan.  She's the most 'silly' and active of them all.  She's long been my favorite walrus (shh....don't tell Basilla or ET).  So, I got to feed her and ask her to do some of the behaviors that she has on cue like "vocal" or "flipper."  Too fun.  (By the way, none of the blood draws were successful, but it is still amazing to me that these walruses let the vets stick a 5-7 inch needle into them voluntarily.)


3.  Arctic Foxes.  Because of how cold the weather has been lately, the foxes, whose regular exhibit is under renovation, have been let out onto exhibit into our Asian Forest Sanctuary exhibit so that there are some animals that are out on the cold days. (Our A.F.S. animals can't be out, except the tigers, if the temps are below 40 F).  What was so fun about this is after our second feed, we got to "play" with the foxes by chasing them. Apparently they love this!  Who knew!?

4.  Harbor Seals.  There are 5 seals,...this can be hard because the Rocky Shores area is actually kind of short-staffed right now.  So, since I was there, they could feed them all easier.  I got to feed Qilak, one of our newest and youngest seals.  She was very sweet and gently ate the food I gave her.  She also has a few things on cue like "spin" and "up." 

It was a VERY cold day, but it was a very fun day.  In another time and place, I could have seen me doing something like this for a living.  Anyone who has ever seen me with my own (OK, really ANY) animals will attest to my genuine love for animals.  I just wish I'd taken some pictures!

Blessings,
Erin

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

To Boycott or Not to Boycott, That is the Question



I am divided over boycotts.  On the one hand, they work: companies only exist if they are making money, and if I chose not to spend my money in a place of business, that place potentially goes out of business.  Also, as a Christian, I think it's important to be involved in things that I consider right and stay away from things I consider wrong.  On the other hand, if I avoided everything I thought was wrong, I'd be naked, hungry, and never leave my home.  Additionally, I should not be surprised when sinful worldly companies behave in sinful worldly ways.  Jesus himself spent lots of time with people considered the "worst of the worst" in His day.  If I boycott a business because of their business practices, I lose an opportunity to be Jesus in that place.  We as Christians are not meant to be so separate from the world that we isolate ourselves.

So, it's always an internal debate within myself when I learn of something particularly heinous about a company.  Do I spend my money elsewhere so as not to have it going towards evil things?  How do I navigate the tricky waters of deliberately frequenting a business that I know does those things yet still maintain my integrity?  I actually don't have the answer to that. 

This whole internal struggle came to light this week for me when I heard that Starbucks, and several other companies I frequent, sends money in support of Planned Parenthood.  I came across a post by my friend Suzanna on Facebook about this fact.  She had a link to several websites that confirmed this fact.

What to do?  I am still not sure, but certainly something I am going to be thinking and praying about.

Blessings,
Erin

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Crucible:Heatproof Container for Melting the Hardest of Metal


I was reading the Psalms the other day and I was struck by the sheer amount of lamenting that David does in the Psalms that he writes.  Really, a lot of stuff that he writes is pretty morose and depressing.  Granted, David spent years of his life annointed as king, while running for his life from the king he is in line to succeed.  Then, when he becomes king, he does some pretty stupid things (like killing one of his loyal followers to hide his affair with this man's wife) and suffers some pretty deep consequences for this (the death of the son from that affair).  Later on in his reign he is on the run again from his own son who wants to kill him and take over the kingdom from him. 

To say that David knew pain and suffering would be an understatement.  The Psalms that he writes reflect a lot of this pain.  Anyone who has ever read Psalm 23 will testify to this: David knew death knocking at his door.

I just got done reading one of Bob Sorge's many books and in it, he writes about how many of us want to have a heart like David's.  Yet, to get that heart, we will have to go through the same kinds of trials David did to get that heart.

I know for me, the longing of my heart since I was a little girl to *know* God.  I remember when I was in elementary school I went through a period of time where night after night for several months I would cry out to God to know Him more.  I would weep and cry over this.  I have vivid memories of lying in bed praying and weeping for God to make Himself known to me.  To this day when I think about this period of time in my life, there is no longical explanation for what prompted this within me.  My experience with the Lord up until that point had been limited to Sundays at a very theologically conservative church.  Certainly no one in my church or home was teaching me to long for the Lord in this way.  The only thing I can think of is that this must have been a pure prompting of the Holy Spirit.  It does not seem fathomable that I could have worked that longing in my heart on my own.

I fully believe that there was a deposit from the Lord placed within me from that young age.  Even in my times of walking away from the Lord, the ache within me to truly know the Lord has never gone away. Additionally, it is this deep longing  that has stuck with me through crisis moments like I have had the last two years.

In *no way* do I equate my last two years with the despair of David or Job.  Nor do I claim that my heart for God is even close David. However, I have had my own personal devastations:

1.  Health: I have in the last two years had a thyroid condition that has been diagnosed.  This has not been life-threatening, but has affected my health negatively.  I tore my rotator cuff this past fall, which has not healed and most recently have had some additional health problems that might affect my ability to ever have children.

2.  Finances:  I quit my job a year and a half ago to travel to Europe on a missions trip for three months.  Upon my return I did not find a job for three more months.  Then, after getting job at the zoo, my position was cut after just four months due to the recession.  My next job, with a non-profit, was also cut after four months.  I have almost lost my house and am currently one paycheck away from possibly losing it again though I gained a different position at the zoo.

3.  Friendships:  Due to some decisions I have made and several other friends moving away, I have lost almost everyone closest to me.  I have written about this a lot and probably don't need to expound on this any more than necessary.

4.  Family: My immediate family, praise the Lord, has been great.  My mom and dad are in good health, as are my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.  However, the longing to have my own family has not faded.  The Lord's timing on this is still "not now."  As time passes, the pangs of the absence of this do not fade.

5.  Ministry:  When I left for Europe a year and a half ago, I also quit all of the ministries I was involved with at the time because I was leaving for so long.  I had had a staff position on my church's staff up until that point.  Upon returning, for the last year and half, I have been serving and have had occaisional moments of ministry, but the calling on my life I have always sensed has seemed further away than ever.  Even the three months I spent in Europe in ministry brought more lessons learned through difficulties than amazing joyful stories.

I write that list, not as a means to gain sympathy from anyone.  The list is simply an acknowledgement that life has been particularly hard for me these last two years.  I *certainly* realize life could be way, way worse.  I am not ignorant of the fact that many people on this planet, even in my own city have it far worse than I.  This does not mean that the last few years have not been particularly hard for me.  The Lord always handles each of us uniquely and this has been His unique crucible for me.  This crucible designed to prepare me and qualify me for what He wants to give me.

In the last few months in the midst of this crucible, something has been happening within my heart.  I have been getting back to that little elementary school girl crying out in the middle of the night: "Lord, I just want to know You.  I need a miracle.  I need rescuing.  I can't do this any more.  Save me. Help me."

There has been a simplicity and vulnerability with the Lord that I have not had in a long time.  I have known in my head that the Lord recues, that He saves, that He helps.  But, it isn't until I have *needed* Him to be manifest in my life in that way that I have experienced Him in that way.  I have been here before several times, but I feel like these circumstances have been put here divinely to get me to a deeper understanding and place of this again.  It is also quite likely circumstances will be allowed in the future to take me deeper still.  It seems God will do everything in His power to strip us of all we hold onto, of all we place our value in, of all that brings us comfort, of all we rely on, of all we need, and of all that holds us back in the place of Him.

He wants to be number one on our lives, and if we are lucky enough for Him to discipline us in this way, we can praise the Lord that we are counted as one of His true sons or daughters. 

God is answering my prayers as a little girl to know Him, but this has not happened the way I ever thought it would or any way I would chose it.  To know Him deeper, I have to go through this process that I am in, the same process David, Job, and all the men and women of faith went through.  I have to go through this crucible.  I can either endure this and come out the other end with a greater intimacy and love; or I can fight this process and stay right where I am with the Lord unless He decides to attempt this process again until I get it.  The worst would be that I would fight the Lord so much that my heart would become hardened or He quits trying with me.  I pray that never, never, never happens with me; and should you desire greater level of intimacy with Him, may He chose to put you through the crucible too.

Blessings,
Erin

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tragedy in Tacoma


Yesterday in Tacoma a tragedy occurred. A gunman walked into a coffee shop just blocks from my university, just around the corner from a house I used to live and that I drive past when I visit my parents and opened fire "execution-style" on four police officers who were there to do paperwork before starting their shifts.  All four officers were killed and as of the writing of this post, the gunman, though suspected who he is, has not been caught.

I have always believed that when a person targets those employed to stand in the line of fire on our behalf it is really an attack on all of us.  It is an attack on the very laws and enforcement of those laws that keep our society a (relatively) civilized one.  If a person is willing to go after armed and trained men and women, what would that person be willing to do to unarmed citizens?  It takes a brave individual to put his or her life on the line on behalf of other men and women they don't even know.

Some say that the officers in our area are power-hungry and have abused their authority.  I can't speak to this at all from any kind of personal experience.  I do know this to be true:
Romans 13:3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

It is interesting to me as I have thought and prayed about this, how our area seems to have more than its share of these kind of tragedies: serial killers Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway (GreenRiver Killer), the Washington DC sniper, the WTO riots just ten years ago this week, and other notorious killers I am certainly forgetting.  It makes me wonder just what it is about our area that churns out these kind of tragedies.  There is certainly a fierce independence that marks those in our area; a non-conformist attitude if you will.  Certainly there is in our history a kind of creativity (Microsoft, Boeing, tons of dotcoms, etc.) flowing from this region.  And also most definitely a kind of "frontiersman" and pioneering attitude in our history.  Is this what leads to these kinds of events?  Are we as a state considered lenient and easy on crime by criminals?  Is there any tie to the fact that we are also the least churched state in the US? NOT that having churches is any kind of guarantee against this kind of thing...but, it at the very least points to a deficit that could make a difference in some of the lives in our area.

I don't know the answer, but I do know this....I am praying for revival in my city like never before and that the powers of darkness that seek to destroy would be overcome by the light.  And, I am personally thanking every single police officer/patrolman I come across for choosing to stand in the line of fire on my behalf.

Blessings,
Erin

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Letter from Mike Bickle and Lou Engle



We stand at a critical juncture in our nation's history. It is time to encounter God and to take action. The Holy Spirit is visiting His people with power. At the same time, the powers of darkness are raging against the moral fabric of our nation. The light is getting brighter as the darkness gets darker.



Many of you will have heard of the spiritual awakening at our Bible school. On Wednesday, November 11, the Spirit fell on a class for more than 15 hours. The word spread quickly and over 2,000 people spontaneously gathered in the auditorium from all over Kansas City, as deliverance and physical healings continued to increase. We canceled our classes for the next week so that each one of our 1,000 students and interns could receive from the Spirit in an extended way.



We decided to meet nightly from 6:00pm to midnight because His manifest presence continues to increase. Visitors are pouring in from many places across America to partake of this spiritual awakening.



We will continue these evening meetings until our onething conference, December 28–31, 2009, when we are expecting 20,000 young adults to gather for worship, teaching, and to participate in the supernatural ministry of the Spirit.



Last year, over 16,000 young adults attended this conference. We are still hearing testimonies of lives that were changed. This year, we are expecting to receive even more from the Spirit. We believe that this will be a historic and important conference, and encourage you to attend.



The theme for onething'09 is "What is the Spirit saying to the Church?" Our team will proclaim what we believe the Spirit is prophetically speaking to the Church in this hour. We will also share practical ways in which we can “adopt” high schools and colleges across our nation as we envision young people to impact each sphere of society with works of justice and acts of compassion. At the conference, we will have extended ministry times to receive healing, renewal, and impartation from the Spirit. We believe that the Spirit will release His power at this conference, as evidenced by what He is currently doing in our evening meetings.



Mark Anderson, a senior international leader in YWAM who also works closely with Campus Crusade for Christ, will host forums for leaders to discuss how we can systematically evangelize entire cities and campuses in partnership with the houses of prayer in their area. Mark has remarkable insight that comes from his 30 years of successful ministry in evangelism. The Lord has given him some bold new strategies for this hour.



The crisis in our nation is real. The serpentine stranglehold of abortion continues to squeeze the life out of over 4,000 wombs daily. Sexual immorality, both heterosexual and homosexual, are reaching epic heights of perversity. The number of women and children being trafficked into the dark underbelly of the sex industry in our cities is growing at an alarming rate. Entire school systems are giving way to darkness. The sanctity of marriage is under siege, threatening to destroy the moral foundations of our nation.



We will also address the growing crisis that is emerging in many churches across America. A new wave of confusion is systematically seducing many young adults into deception. Sincere young people whose hearts were once ablaze for Jesus are being allured into compromise on foundational biblical truths and practices, while at the same time they are increasing in works of compassion and justice. No amount of increased ministry activity can “balance out” their profound spiritual compromises. In the name of tolerance, they are settling for a humanistic and "politically correct" theology that trivializes the glory of Jesus. Many young adult ministries are falling prey to this as they are seeking “relevance” that dulls the razor’s edge of truth for the sake of man’s approval. It is not enough to mention Jesus’ name if they deny foundational truths about Him. Our works of justice must flow from deep allegiance to Jesus and the Scripture.



Our nation has never stood on such a precarious footing as today. The onslaught of spiritual darkness is increasing in our classrooms, boardrooms, courtrooms, and bedrooms. We must confront the confusion that is pouring forth from many pulpits as well as from the halls of Washington. It is time to draw a line in the sand. We must hear what the Spirit is saying and we must act on it. The Spirit will confirm the truth with demonstrations of power.



It is darkest before the dawn. Our hearts are full of faith. We know another historic "Great Awakening" is soon to sweep across our nation. We look with confidence to God’s promise: “In the last days . . . I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17-21). All nations will receive the witness of kingdom with power (Mt. 24:14; Rev. 7:9). What a privilege to live in this awesome hour of history.



At this very hour, Jesus is raising up young adults who are being mobilized to cry out in night and day prayer, win the lost, heal the sick, and do works of compassion and justice as they impact the very fabric of our society.



Please join us in Kansas City from December 28–31. The onething’09 conference is FREE. You can register at IHOP.org/onething09



With passion for Jesus,



Mike Bickle and Lou Engle

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Which Way is North?

I have heard the phrase a lot lately, "Follow your heart." I have heard this from well-meaning Christians even when exhorting friends about decisions they have made or are making.

When looking for direction on what to do in a situation or the way to go in life, I have to wonder if my heart is really the right compass to be using for getting a "due North."


Jeremiah 17:9 makes it pretty clear: "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it?"


I can even look to my own life and times of "following my heart" when my heart actually led me far astray of what was best for me. As follwers of Christ, it is He to whom we should look for guidance and direction, not our hearts. Our hearts are too easily drawn into the patterns of the world or the flesh to be fully trusted to give us the correct answers in life. This is why we are to give our hearts over completely to Christ to be transformed and renewed. This is life-long process of sanctification and not something you ever really arrive at. My heart is less deceitful and sick than it was a year ago, but still more deceitful and sick (hopefully) than it will be a year from now.


Even when I seek the Lord for my decisions, I enter into that process soberly. My heart can even deceive me into thinking that its voice IS the Lord. It is so important as followers of the Way that we have scriptural foundation for our decisions, and that we seek the wise advice of those who are further down the road than we are before doing what we do in addition to seeking the Lord alone. I see far too many of us either blindly following our own wicked hearts or even being encouraged by friends who are just as blind about the way we should be heading in life. How can the blind lead the blind into anything but pits and traps?


I particularly like that the passage in Jeremiah 17 is preceeded by this:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,Which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes;But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought,Nor will cease from yielding fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8


Blessings,

Erin

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Getting Paid for Fixing My Car


So, last year about this time I found out I was losing my first job at the zoo due to budget cuts. Simultaneously, my car started acting up and I had to take it into the shop. It turned out, one of the ignition coils was out. The mechanic informed me that it was likely if one went out, the rest would go soon too. Faced with a several hundred dollar bill I couldn't afford, I put off changing out the other coils. Sure enough a couple of weeks later, another coil went out, and I ended up replacing all of the coils at that time. I can't remember the exact cost of all of this, but it was well over $500 repair and may have been as much as $700. All of this went on my credit card.


This bill, plus my airfair and hotel for Hong Kong have been kind of lingering around for me to pay off because all I have been able to afford is the minimum payment on my card.


Today, I got a letter in the mail from Volkswagen, the manufacturer of my car. Apparently the coils on my model are faulty and need to be replaced at their cost. Of course, I have already done this. So, as a part of their letter to me they also informed me that they would REIMBURSE me for all of the money I have spent replacing my coils last year. So, all I have to do is turn in my receipts and a paper that VW wants me to fill out and presto! they will cut me a check!


How amazing is that? I still have the HK flight and hotel to pay off the credit card, but man! I'll take a check from VW for sure!


Praise Jesus!

Erin

Monday, November 09, 2009

20 Years Ago Today

Checkpoint Charlie.
Sign in front of Checkpoint Charlie on the old Berlin Wall.

This portion of the Berlin Wall was also the outer wall of the Nazi Headquarters. Just to the right and down below there is a Holocaust Museum. Germany calls it their "Open Wound." This particular portion of the wall is unavailable to touch.

Lots of portions of the wall are available to stand next to and have your picture taken with. This one was taken at Potsdammer Platz, the section of the wall in which all three portions of Berlin converged.
Me at the Holocaust Memorial.

Me at Bandenburg Gate.
This was the view from the flat I stayed in for three days. The "V" on the ground is the cobblestone outline of the old Berlin Wall.

This was the view out the window to the left. We were less than a block from Bandenburg Gate on the old East German side.

All along the old path of the Berlin Wall is cobblstone and every once in a while a plaque commemorating the wall.

Every generation has major events that those from that generation remember clearly when and where you were when you heard about them. In my generation there are actually quite a few: Challenger explosion, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the plane crash in Omaha Nebraska, and a few others I am certainly leaving out.

One of those events, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, happened 20 years ago today. Having grown up in the midst of the Cold War, and being old enough to have studied some world history, I remember standing transfixed in front of the television screen watching people dance on top of the wall as it "fell," hacking at it with hammers, and even breaking out a bull-dozer to pull parts of it down. The magnitude of this event was clear to me, even as a teenager....this was history in the making.

A year and a half ago, while on my trip to Europe for three months, I got to visit Berlin for three days. To say that it was awe-inspiring to be there and to walk along the pathway where the wall once stood would be an understatement. Walking through the Brandenburg Gate and into areas of Berlin that were in my lifetime completely inaccessible, touching actual remnants of the wall, seeing buildings still standing with bullet holes in them was a chance of a lifetime and one of the highlights of my trip.

We also got to tour a museum that the Germans have erected in the basement of the old Nazi headquarters. This museum, which they call "Germany's Open Wound" describes the rise of Nazi-ism, the atrocities committed by the Nazi party, and its subsequent fall. To walk through the basement of a building once walked by Adolph Hitler himself was quite eerie. The Germans, in my limited experience, desire to openly talk about and acquiesce to the world the history of what they've done. They firmly believe that by talking about it, it will never happen again. There is still a lot of shame there as well. To a person, each German I talked to who discussed this part of their history with me had this sense to them.
While in some ways the world is a better place without the wall and all that it stood for, today also serves as a reminder that when it comes to truly having freedom, we still have a long way to go. May the "walls" in North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, China, Afghanistan, and Iran suffer the same fate as the Berlin Wall.
Blessings,
Erin

Friday, November 06, 2009

Politics

A political candidate's character can be determined based purely on what he or she believes regarding the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves.

Friday, October 30, 2009

One Thing I was Created to Do


Littered all throughout the Bible, nay, THE whole Bible is a testimony that God does not do things "randomly." There is nothing about His ways that speak to someone who just lets things happen, or sort of throws stuff out there not knowing what will happen. God is a God who is thoughtful, strategic and purposeful in ALL He does. Even the life, death and resurrection of Jesus were a part of God's plan, but that is for another post.

Yet for most of my life I thought God saw me as a failure; never quite measuring up. I was convinced that He'd made some huge mistake with me. A number of years ago, my theology on this was challenged and I had to admit that God had SPECIFICALLY designed me, thought of me, knew me before I was born and had plans and purposes for me. There are lots of verses about this. Jeremiah and Psalm 139 both talk about this concept. We call this our "original design." Sometimes life, my flesh, the enemy, and injustices conspire to prevent me from walking fully in who I was created to be and what I was created to do.

I had an opportunity this week to walk in something I was created to do that I had kind of forgotten about. You know, the gifts and talents and the specific things that were instilled in us still take some exercising...and I got to exercise a muscle this week that I had not done in quite some time. It felt SO. GOOD.

A number of years ago, we put on a women's conference called "Am I Beautiful?" I got to speak at this conference. We have done this same conference a couple of other times, but I have never been asked to be a part of it after the first time. This last month, we have been doing a version of this conference at the University of Puget Sound for a couple of hours each Wednesday night. This time, I was asked to speak again. So, the last night of the conference, this past Wednesday, I got to speak. This conference has been pretty impactful on these women: setting them free from the bondage of this world's standards of beauty ad into a pursuit of TRUE beauty.

The leader of the conference had heard me speak before at the original conference, but none of the other gals on the team had been at the original conference. Actually, truth be known, none of them had ever heard me speak before in any capacity. To say that they were skeptical might be a little harsh, but I am certain there were some doubts.

As I was waiting for worship to end on Wednesday, I was not nervous at all. I heard a still small voice say "This is what you were created for." And I had a peace that surpasses all understanding. I rose, took my place at the podium and spoke. It felt so good.

At the end of the evening, I had this moment where I just felt like there was a part of my spirit that was saying, "Oh, yeah! Remember how you LOVE this? Remember how this is so FUN?! Remember??!!" It was like I had rediscovered a part of me that I had forgotten about. I had rediscovered a muscle that had not been used in a long time. And it felt good!

The most fun part of all of it was opening some eyes, including mine again. "I had no idea!" "You are such a TEACHER."

I AM created to be a teacher! I can't wait until I can do this full time!
Erin

It's Official...

When you drive around the city that you live in, or when you interact with those in the emerging generation, or even when you just watch television, what are the issues that come to mind for t his current generation? Drug use? Promiscuity? Irresponsibility?

What if we had an opportunity to change the lives of those youth?

That’s been my pursuit, since I graduated from college. I’ve personally taught hundreds of children in public and private schools and ministered to many more in my spare time. But instead of feeling satisfied, this only showed me that the need is so much greater than I ever realized. I have become convinced that Jesus is the only hope for this generation, and I can’t believe anything else. I have a two-fold opportunity in front of me to impact our world and I would love if you would pray about partnering with me in affecting the lives of these kids for the better?

For the past ten years, I’ve been ministering as much as possible, while “keeping my day job.” I have traveled abroad praying for and ministering to missionaries as well as volunteering at an inner-city ministry here in Tacoma. I have been both global and local. I have an opportunity to continue to do both local and global ministry full time.

Sozo is a ministry that is pursuing the poorest, most under-privileged population in Tacoma. Through Sozo I have met a twelve year old girl who’s older brother is in jail, older sister lives at home with her year-old baby and whose mom is no where to be found. The pressures and temptations that this girl faces at nine are unimaginable.

I also know of another girl, she’s sixteen years old and her family founded the largest gang here in Tacoma. She has been in and out of our juvenile detention center here in Tacoma. Yet, in the last few years her life has been radically changed by the love of Christ. She is now completely out of the gang her family started, has been clean for months now and has even been regularly evangelizing and discipling members still in the gang life she’s left behind.

But now, the Lord has impressed us with the need to reach even younger kids before they experience the injustices that Lala, TT and Destiny are facing. This is why there is a newer ministry to the younger brothers and sisters of these teens called Sozo Kids. The goal is the same: get kids out of the life they have been accustomed to and into life eternal. This ministry meets on Friday nights and is a place for elementary-aged kids to come and be loved on, hear truth, and understand just who Jesus is. I have been serving in this ministry on Friday nights for the last seven months.

Simultaneously several of the young adults from Sozo are at a spot where there is a need for them to begin giving THEIR lives away. Some of these teens/young adults have turned around and now serve at Kids Sozo, but there are others who are destined for more.

We are starting a new ministry in which small groups of these young-adult women will begin taking short-term missions. We know that Jesus will lift them out of self-focus into the revelation that they have a purpose…that they are not worthless, but can be ambassadors of Christ with eternal fruit.

Our first trip is tentatively planned for May. We are taking a small group of women to Nakuru, Kenya to serve in an orphanage for 8-10 days. Imagine the affect on these young women to be able to see the world through a different lens! Imagine what these women could do armed with the knowledge and experiences gained serving the truly poorest of the poor? They could be wrecking balls for the Lord!

For the last few years my church has also had an opportunity to train and equip young adults here in Tacoma at a 10-12 week school called “Catalyst.” Young adults from all over the US and the world have come to Tacoma to learn and grow in their relationship with Christ and then be sent back to their home towns to apply all that they have learned. I will also be involved with this school through teaching, as well as taking some of these young adults with me to minister at Kids Sozo here in Tacoma.

But while my roots are planted in Tacoma, my heart’s also been captured by something bigger. For the last two months, I’ve been volunteering my professional abilities to an organization named Call2All. Over the past several years, I’ve traveled to places like Korea, Germany, Norway, and England to minister and pray for missionaries, and my heart was gripped by the incredible need to see a generation of believers rise up and be sent out to reap a harvest of new believers. If you haven’t heard about Call2all, please take a moment to read about it here: www.call2all.org. Their vision to bring cooperation between all the parts of the Body of Christ to finish the Great Commission so resonated in my heart that I had to donate my time over these past months, to help move this forward.

So after these years of teaching and administration, I have become convinced that I need to give all my time and effort to the work the Lord has pressed on my heart. Jesus said, “GO!” and it is time for me to go! I am going to continue to “GO!” into Tacoma, but I believe it is time for me to give and be ministering full-time. What a unique opportunity to minister both locally as well as globally!

So, what does all of this mean? I am currently working on building a base of friends to partner with me. By this I mean spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and if you are led, physically through giving monetarily or services. I will need about $2,000 for the trip to Kenya, am hoping to raise $2,000 per month monthly support to be free to work with Kids Sozo and at elementary schools here as well as continuing to work with organizations like Call2All. You have been important to my life, and are someone I know shares my passions and so I am asking you to partner with me in what the Lord has asked me to do in this city and in the world that we could advance the kingdom together! I never thought I’d be writing a support letter, but “…the love of Christ compels [me]…” and I know I must obey the Lord by giving everything I have to seeing this generation come to know the living Jesus, who can make them new!

Would you consider being one of my partners? I would love to meet with you personally one-on-one or chat with you over the phone to share the vision of what I feel the Lord is calling me to do. If you feel led to give already , you can send monthly donations to City Central 1414 S. Adams, Tacoma, WA 98405. All donations are tax-deductible.

I look forward to being in contact with you! And, THANK YOU for all of your support for me! May the Lord BLESS you abundantly!

Erin

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bob Sorge Weekend

Bob Sorge, an author of many books and connected with the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, was in town this weekend and spoke three different times at our church. All three of his sermons were amazing, but the last two were particularly impactful for me. I wanted to type up my notes and thoughts so that I would not forget the treasures imparted to me from this last weekend.

Sometimes there are men and women who have been through so much with the Lord that they have a kind of authority and understanding when they speak that makes you feel as though you had never read or heard what they are teaching. Two years ago John Dawson was in town and I described walking away from that weekend as though I had "dined on a spiritual Thanksgiving Dinner." Mark Anderson was the same way last spring and now, I include Bob Sorge in this description.

Bob was until 17 years ago a pastor and worship leader at a church in upstate New York. A botched vocal chord surgery left him able to speak just barely above a whisper. And, when he does speak, it is in constant pain.

You can imagine for a man whose whole life has surrounded his ability to speak and sing, how devastating this must have been for him. He describes the intervening years as the lowest points in his life. But, from those low points, there's a depth of wisdom about the ways of the Lord that you can only glean by going through what he describes as a "crucible." Many a weaker man or woman when faced with the reality that being a Christian is not only not the prosperity gospel they believe it is but discover instead that it is actually a gospel that just might ask you to be crushed (and at minimum will ask you to pick up a cross) chose instead walk away from the Lord.

This was the topic of the weekend and I felt like Bob Sorge had taken a scalpel and opened up my chest to dissect and reveal the inner-most workings of my heart the last few years.

There is a lot to say about what he had to say, and I'll try to get some thoughts on what he had to say up later.

I will end with this for now. If you have EVER gone through a lamenting season with the Lord in which you found yourself wondering "Why?" over and over; if you have ever felt like you had done nothing to deserve what was happening to you, but yet were going through a trial of epic proportions, you need to read Bob's book "Pain, Perplexity, and Promotion." It has been a life-changer for me. I am almost done with it, and that book, along with the gems from this weekend equal an Erin in a lot of peace right now. I am still in the midst of most of my circumstances, but for the first time in almost two years I am at peace. And that, my friends, is a gift I wouldn't trade for anything.

Blessings,
Erin

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Update on my Missionary Journey Part 2

In addition to helping with Call2All, I will also be helping with Catalyst Training school here in Tacoma starting in September.

Catalyst Promo from City Central Missions Base on Vimeo.

Here is some information about the school.

Erin

Update on my Missionary Journey



This is what I am fund raising for.....I am working with this organization, right now in administration, but possibly for other things in the future.

Stay tuned to my blog for further information about my journey into becoming a full-time missionary....lots of fun stories are on their way.

Erin

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Fast is Over

So, my fast officially ended on Saturday and here's the update on how I did:

1. Sugar. Made it allllmost the whole 40 days. My mother's love language is food and when my brother and sister-in-law were here last week, there was tons of it. The food spread included three pies, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and orange rolls. I did eat some of this but not nearly as much as I would have before. So, victory in not being addicted any more!

2. Diet Coke. See above for the food temptations. :) However, I will say this, I only had a couple during the week last week and have not had any now in four days. Again, addiction broken.

3. TV...well, this one didn't last even close to 40 days. But, I will say this...I read a lot more during the 40 days than I had before.

So, all in all, if I were rating my 40 days I'd give me an 8/10 for the sugar and diet coke and a 5/10 for the TV. I am considering continuing the sugar fast, just because I felt so good during the 33 days I stayed away from it. I even managed to lose a few pounds.

Erin

Monday, October 19, 2009

Get in the Game


I played softball a lot growing up. A lot. Like every weekend, or almost every weekend for most of my teen years and even into my college days at Pacific Lutheran University. I played on some pretty good teams. My summer league team in ninth grade took 6th (I think) in the national tournament we played in. My high school team went to the playoffs every year and took fourth (I think) my senior year. I personally won a couple of awards during my years playing and even played a year in college for a perennial national championship competitive team.

As you can imagine, playing a sport at this caliber required a lot of physical effort, a lot of mental preparation and even some emotional transformation. I was a lean, mean, softball machine. I ran, I threw, I hit, and I learned the game. I was a softball warrior. I had been trained and transformed from an every-day girl into a competitive flinty-eyed "baller." I lterally gave my life over to my coaches, followed their instructions and allowed them to transform me into this new person.

Are you getting a mental picture here?

Wouldn't it, then have been foolish of me, after all of this work, after all of this training, and after all of this transformation for me to say "No" to the coach if he asked me to play in the game? What was all of that for if not for game-time? How stupid would it have been of me to go through all of the only to chose to sit on the bench during game time? I think, rightly so, you'd call me foolish!

Yet, isn't that what so many of us are doing?

How can I be radically changed and transformed by the power of Christ, how can I be set free from the bondage of sin, become a new creation and say "No" to the Lord when He asks me to get in the game? What is the point of all of the training and restoration if not to DO SOMETHING with it? What was all of that effort and time for if not for game-time?

I see it time and time again. Our pews have become our softball benches and by and large the bride of Christ is a bench warmer! How can this be? How can we really and truly claim to be transformed and then when called on to action just sit there? Sunday mornings don't cut it any more. There is a whole world out there dying. Can we hear them? Do we see the signs? Do we understand the times we live in? Yet we sit in our comfortable little buildings protecting our precious time and energy claiming to be doing something by just showing up for a service once a week. Poppycock I say.

Our lives were meant to be in the game. In the game! Let's get in and make some plays. The final score is already settled...and we have a chance to be a part of that. What a precious gift that is.

Play ball!
Erin

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I *Love* My Nephew


My brother, sister-in-law and nephew just flew out today after being in town for a week. I am enamored with my nephew. He's 16-months and just adorable. I call him my little peanut. He's only 20 lbs, and while height-weight proportionate, is at the low end of the curve size-wise. What he lacks in stature, he makes up for in personality.

He was walking right about a year of age, which is pretty normal, but he has very advanced verbal skills, reasoning, and fine-motor skills.

It's his verbal skills that just killed me this week. He calls me Eh-IN (emphasis on the last syllable) and knows tons and tons of words.

Some of the fun highlights this week:
1. Him picking up the my brother's name is Kyle and saying it over and over again since we were all laughing every time he said it. Sometimes he'd just start saying it just to say it.
2. He loves my parents cat and would meow at the cat and run around the house holding on to his tail. He would say "TAY-el" for tail and called Ceasar "She-zer."
3. He loves buttons and pushes any he can get to. This includes the TV ("Tee-VEE") and computer ("Pew-TER"). He loved to sit on my lap and help me check my email.
4. Once he saw my dad leaving with a briefcase and he ran after him carrying his own briefcase. He cried when my dad left and then again later when I left.
5. He loves his pacifier ("Pa-CEE") and even once identified "Passie" in a photo as another person in that photo.
6. He loves watching what anyone is doing and several times wanted "Up Pease" to help cook or see what you're doing on the counter. He "helped" me make cookies one day this way.
7. His favorite game is a version of hide and go seek but all you have to do is hide around the corner and jump out at him when he comes walking by looking for you. Or, if you are hiding from him and he finds you to let him tackle you. He would laugh uproariously at this and it never got old.
8. At some point on the trip he figured out how to smile on cue and would smile for the camera. However, he's been watching "Your baby can read" and some of the kids smile while doing silly things with their arms. He took this up when you would say smile too. It made for some classic pictures.
9. He's a bit of a snacker and his favorite things to snack on are whatever you are eating. He would come up to me and say "Bite?" and want a bite of whatever I was eating. Or "'Nack?" meaning snack.

I am sure I have more: splashing in the water at the pumpkin patch, visits to the Zoo and Northwest Trek and him falling asleep in my arms while on the tram (so sweet), or even just sitting at the table while he was eating but not paying attention to him so he would yell my name until I looked at him. Oh, I love the little dude and I miss him already. I just hope he remembers me when I come out there in December for Christmas.

Lord, can I have one of my own please?
Erin

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

You Gotta Kiss Some Frogs?

I have been encouraged in the last year or so by people to try online dating. The money to pay for a subscription has been a major factor in why I have not done this. However, today I got a three day trial offer from a major online dating site, so I thought I would take advantage of it.

I have used this site in the past when I have had money, so all I had to do was edit my profile a bit, and voila, I was ready to go. Sometimes this site has gotten "action" even when I have not logged on in a long time. So, when I logged on today, I had an email from another member from a few weeks ago waiting for me.

This is what it said: "Hi want to have a baby? We live in the same area."

When I incredulously responded that this person could not be serious, this was the next response that I got: "In looking at your profile pictures you'd probably have an ugly baby anyway. You have a weird looking body."

When I told him that I had reported him and to quit emailing me, he responded that he had reported me! To which I asked if he was 3 and promptly blocked him.

Sigh. Is it any wonder I am still single.
Erin

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

God is....

Add ImageI heard a sermon a long time ago by Graeme Cooke. I love his sermons. This particular sermon Graeme talks about how the lens we see God through determines every action we take. For him, he sees God as the "kindest person he knows." Since he knows God and sees all that happens to him through the lens of the kindness of God, it colors everything he says, does and believes.

It is in moments or seasons of being in the dessert/valley/fire/(insert metaphor of your own liking here) that our true lens reveals itself. And, I have to say, my lens is not pretty.

There is so much I have gone into about the rough season I have been in, and much I have not talked about as it is too personal to talk about. Sometimes we go through these seasons as a result of our own sin, sometimes we go through them because of something that others have done to us, and sometimes these seasons come straight from the hand of God himself to mold and shape us into His character. The only way to do this, it seems, is through hardship. We can prolong these seasons by our actions and reactions. For example, the Israelites were specifically led into the desert by the Lord....their length of stay was largely determined by their attitude and actions once they got there.

So, I have now been in this season of pruning for some time, and my view of God, my God-view, much like my world-view, is the lens that I am seeing everything happen through. Will I still see God's loving-kindness to me at the end of the day? Will I still believe that He has nothing but the best for me when it all seems to have gone and I have nothing left? What will I chose to believe when the promised land seems so far off. I sometimes wonder how Joseph made it through those years in prison, or how Abraham waited so long for Isaac to be born, or even David who was crowned king and chased around Israel by the current king before taking the throne made it through those times not only not bitter at God, but was called a man after God's own heart.

What is it about these men, or even some of the women of the Bible (Hannah, Ruth, Esther), that they had that I don't? How was it with little written Word, Jesus not born yet, and no gift of the Holy Spirit, how did these men have the kind of faith that carried them through? And how can I get a greater dose of that for myself? Faith is a gift....how can we get more?

I know one thing for sure, the lenses I am wearing are the wrong ones.

Blessings,
Erin

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Random Tidbits

Here are a few random tidbits from my life the last few weeks:

1. I am playing softball in a recreation league. This has been really fun and I can't remember the last time I put on cleats and hit the field. Ironically, last Friday I partially tore my rotator cuff. This is ironic because I played softball on an all-star team in high school, at Pacific Lutheran University and never once hurt myself beyond a few sprained fingers and bruises. So, to hurt myself at this juncture feels pretty ironic.

2. I went to two weddings last weekend. Whew. Whirlwind! Both weddings were great, but do you ever attend a wedding where it is CLEAR that these two are meant to be together. I mean, obviously no one gets married thinking that they aren't meant to be together. But every once in a while you get to attend a wedding where the divine appointments, the circumstances, how out of the way the Lord went to get these people together equals something just a little special. I went to one like that this weekend. The combined greatness of these two individuals is just, well, wow.

3. Gulp. I am going to start working towards being a full time missionary. Gulp. There it is for all the "world" (or my six readers) to see. I officially started the prep work for this today. The plan (and I use that word loosely) is to continue at my job with the zoo and gradually reduce my hours there as I increase my support base. While I am busy making partners (rather than just looking for money), I will be involved in ministry locally: helping with an inner-city kids partnership with Youth For Christ and Metro Parks. Once I am at full support, I will be freed up to go on missions trips (with a variety of organizations such as Call2All, YWAM, and a couple of other groups I am making contact with) and when in Tacoma, minister full time here. OR, there is even the possibility of selling my house etc. and joining a missions organization full time.

I am adopting the Campus Crusade model for partner development. I REALLY like their method because they are clear that they "love people and use their money rather than loving people's money and using them." I am sure I will be posting more of this as it develops! Stay tuned!

Blessings,
Erin

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Annual Autumn Angst

It seems Autumn is coming whether I want it to or not. The leaves around here are just starting to change colors, there is a distinct crispness to the air, my car is covered with dew most mornings, football and the fair both started, and there is just that particular "Fall smell" to the air.

I actually love Autumn. What I don't like about it is that it leads to Winter. Sometimes I think I must have at least a touch of S.A.D. Every year right after Christmas/New Year's I would just rather skip right past January and February to the end of March when the days start to become a little longer and warmer and lots of flowers start poking their heads up out of the ground. April and May are just divine in their glory of color. I adore Spring for this. Summer, well, most people love Summer and I am no different....warm, long days, lots of free outdoor activities at my disposal. Summer is my favorite season. But Winter, oh, the days of Winter.

So, now that Fall is starting to make itself known, I am in full prep-for-winter mode. I have in the last few days: put up the storm/insulation panels on the two windows on my house that are not upgraded, started the yard clean-up to winterize for the year, began the transition from Spring/Summer clothes into Fall/Winter, and added some insulation to my attic crawl space that has been missing for the five+ years I've lived here.

In spite of all of my attempts to hold on to Summer, it appears nearly over. I can be in denial, or I can just accept it and prepare.

Meanwhile, bring on the apple cider, soup and corn bread.

Blessings,
Erin

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Killing the Flesh

Do you ever get the feeling that things in life control you instead of you having self control over them? This is how I've been feeling about a few things lately. So, I decided a little over a week ago to fast from a few things for 40 days. There's some symbolism to the 40-days, but the main goal really, it's to exercise self control (which is a fruit of the spirit) and have mastery over my flesh. Here are the things I am fasting from right now:

1. Sugar. More specifically, desserts. I found myself in the last few months craving sugar. I mean REALLY craving it. Craving it to the point where I would seek it out. At one point, in looking back at my day I realized just how much of it I had eaten *without even thinking about it.* I mean, mindless eating. And truthfully, when I do food diaries, this is the main thing that stumbles me. I eat really well otherwise. Having done Weight Watchers for so long, the healthy eating habits are pretty ingrained: lots of whole grains, no processed food, lean meats, low fat dairy, no white breads/carbs, and fruits and veggies (well, I could really eat more of these). If I took out the sugary things I have been eating lately, my diet as a whole is really pretty good. So, starting a week ago Monday, I decided I needed to go cold turkey from sugar. This has been really tough. Overall, the cravings have subsided. But, there are still days when it crops up and more than anything, fasting from it has forced me to pay attention to what's going in my mouth and so I am not mindlessly just eating. This is a good thing. I feel better and healthier without it.

2. Diet Coke. Not caffeine, but just Diet Coke (though I could probably stand to fast from caffeine too). Many of my friends know just how much I like Diet Coke. I craved (and still am craving) this all the time. This was my drink of choice throughout the day at work (I can buy a huge cup-full for only a quarter) and probably pretty close to daily on weekends. Again, I would crave this and seek it out. I have been known to drive to the corner store just to buy a "DC." So, I am fasting from this as well. This one has been so much harder than the sugar to break. I am still in full-on craving mode for this. Being at work and not walking up to the cafe to buy my daily DC has been tough. I think the amount of control that this had over me is pretty telling based on how hard it has been to not drink this.

3. TV. Now, I actually do not watch much TV. I have never been one to miss something because of a show, or mark the time of the evening based on what's on. I really only have one show that I watch regularly (Lost). I just felt like I was always complaining about not having enough time to read (which I love to do) and even if I was doing something else like cooking dinner, or if I just had 20 minutes to kill I would flip it on. It was more that it was becoming the background noise to my life and filling up time that could have been been spent (even only 20 minutes) doing something else. It was my brainless activity of choice. This one has been easier to break other than the really random times I used to watch, like for half an hour before bed, or while eating dinner. What has been more of a killer to me is the fact that the Seahawks just started their season. Many Sundays I will be working, so I might have to miss the games anyway, but the fact that I am fasting from it has been a bit of a killer.

Fasting is a sure way to reveal your flesh. I have fasted from food for a day many times, and that is a lot easier than 40 days of stuff that you *can* live without. I have never done more than a one day fast from all food, so I suppose when you add days to that it's harder to do.

Only 30 days to go.

Blessings,
Erin

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Smart Women Finish Last?

I came across this blog post the other day. It got me thinking, as to whether the sentiments in it are true or not. Anyone willing to read it and comment?
Erin

Monday, September 14, 2009

$0.90

I have now decided that I am officially poor. I have exactly $0.90 in my account and do not get paid again until the 22nd. I have somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 of a tank of gas, no bread, just ate my last bowl of oatmeal and sniffed the leftover pasta salad in my fridge before packing it in my lunch today, praying against all food poisoning.

I am not alone in my poverty. There are, in fact, lots of folks around the world who have it way worse than I do. I *will* get paid, albeit not much, on the 22nd and have some money for food and gas after some bills are paid. There are others who won't. Yes, I have had to severely cut back on all the "fun" stuff in life, and even the basics (like food) are being stretched but at the end of the day, I have a roof over my head, a heated house, a car to drive, I have an amazing family, a job that is fun (even if low-paying), and a God who is good....and I could go on and on.

For all of those things, I need to remember how good I really do have it. Let's just hope I don't run out of gas!

Blessings,
Erin

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dear God, Save Me from Your Followers

There is a bumper sticker on cars that I see around town sometimes. It says, "Dear God, Save Me From Your Followers." I have also seen one that says "I love Jesus. It's His Followers I Can't Stand."

Both of these bumper stickers point to something that is becoming more and more common. People are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the church; probably more accurately, the people IN church. Sometimes I read these bumper stickers and I honestly really can't blame people for the sentiments expressed in them. Those of us who claim to follow Jesus quite often the worst examples of His followers around.

I had a long conversation with a non-believer the other day and this was his main problem with the church. He pointed out the hypocrisy which has become rampant in the church: people saying one thing or claiming that they are better than others and than turning around and behaving in a very un-Jesus-like way.

What he sees are men and women claiming to everyone who will listen that they know the right way to behave or believe on an issue and then turning around and doing something that completely negates their witness. We are increasingly seen as judging those outside the church unto correction and as prideful in our salvation. Many of us seem to have no problem telling those who are not saved all of the things they are doing wrong. Unfortunately, this is often the only image that non-believers see.

I am certainly not saying that Christians should be perfect. In fact, the Bible *clearly* states that we are ALL a work in progress, and that following Christ is like running a race that does not end until we have died. We are all at different spots in that journey. Some of us are like spiritual "babies," still drinking milk and crawling instead of eating solid food. Others are older in the faith and have moved on to the "solids" of the faith.

Some churches have responded by declining to judge at all. This is also not right. We ARE clearly to judge those who are within the church. We are to be "iron sharpening iron." We are to discern right from wrong, wheat from chaff, and light from darkness for our own lives and those we are in authority within the church over. Jesus clearly told those who would follow him to "go and sin no more."

What I find lacking is the discipleship and mentoring of those who are spiritually immature in the faith by those who are further along in the journey. I see a severe lack of men and women who have been walking, talking and eating "meat," parenting those who are crawling and babbling like fools.

No mature adult would ever see a baby in need and not be moved to meet the needs of that baby. Yet, increasingly in the church we are doing that with our spiritual babies! How can this go on any longer and produce any kind of fruit? Children who are left without discipline, guidance, correction, and direction become wildly aimless adults who are unable to function. So it is within the church. The next generation of believers cannot be expected to "grow up" on their own and become a productive follower of Christ. There are whole generations of believers who are still drinking spiritual milk.

I sometimes wonder, is any of the stuff that comes out of our mouths how God really feels about things? Are we called to judge those outside the church? What should we do with those of us who are in the church and clearly in error? Even if we do know how God feels/thinks about an issue, are we authorized to speak on His behalf on that issue at that moment? We should have the fear of God in us when we say we are speaking in His behalf. We are not called to be silent, by any stretch, but we should be praying about what we're saying before we say it; making sure that when we speak, we speak the truth in love and to those we are supposed to!

So I wonder, where are the mature and wise Believers amongst us raising a generation of Believers who learn to walk the walk before they talk? Are we so caught up in "me, me, me" secular humanism that we don't want to be corrected or to offend anyone with our correction any longer? The church seems to have lost its ability to point out that which is not truth in each other. We have become this comedy of errors: half of us as judge and jury over everything (as though we some how BECAME God Himself at salvation) and the other half of us believing that love means accepting everything, even within the church.

Anyone who has been on the Christian journey for a length of time knows that we are NOT any better than anyone else and the second we start claiming we are, we have forgotten what it means to be saved. Those who are saved should be rescuing those who are not, not throwing rocks at them. It is not until we are on dry land that we begin our journey to become more like Christ. Rescuing is not enough, we also have to dust people off and walk along side of them on their journey.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13
I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."

James 1:26
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.

James 3:2-12
For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.

Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

Blessings,
Erin

For additional thoughts on this topic see my friend Suzanna's latest blog: www.ojandsuz.com

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Change the World

No one ever changed the world by caring more about what others' think than what the Lord thinks.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Clean Up On Aisle Four

If you should ever see me in line at the grocery store....run screaming in the opposite direction. It is Murphy's Law that I *always* find the. slowest. line. ever. to check out in. What is funny about this is that even when I change my tactics for picking a line, I still chose wrong.

Tonight's latest example of this was that I found the shortest line, AND the woman directly in front of me only had maybe half a cart full of items. Score, right? Wrong. I neglected to look to see what the person in front of *her* had in their cart. This was a big mistake in my method.

The first woman's cart was literally overflowing with food. In fact, now that I think about it, the store was pretty packed for a Tuesday night. I wonder if it's because it is the first of the month and everyone got paid. I digress. This woman's cart was so full that by the time she pulled away her bags were piled on top of each other precariously enough that I wondered if half of her groceries might fall out of the cart. This would have been nothing, except this woman also had a million coupons. Again, no big deal except that some of her coupons did not ring through, requiring the checker to look through her already bagged stuff in vain. Eventually he printed copy of her receipt so far to look over. Finally, all of her stuff was bagged in reusable bags. I actually love, love, love reusable bags and use mine as often as possible. However, they do take longer to bag than the traditional plastic bags do.

All of this to say that I watched people in lines around me, who had gotten in line *after* me, go through their lanes and walk out of the store before I even started getting checked out. My luck with lines would have meant that had I left my lane to go to another, THAT lane would have then been the slowest.

Since I had a lot of time to stand there and think, I thought "why don't grocery stores have slow lanes? I mean they have "express" lanes. Why not "slow" lanes too? These would be for people with a lot of groceries, a lot of coupons, etc." Not sure any grocery store will take me up on that idea, but it could work.

Clean up on aisle four!
Erin

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Folow-Up to An Earlier Post

At the risk of being told I "only post others' opinions," I found both of these articles interesting. If I post others' articles it is because I (for the most part) like what they have to say and feel that it is unnecessary to reinvent the wheel by restating what is well-put, even the parts I might not fully agree with. I don't always agree 100% with the authors of my posts, but if I feel there is enough of an agreement to overlook the parts I don't agree with, I will generally post the whole thing.

I thought these were both good. Read at your own risk.

http://www.onetruthministries.com/potter_vs_lord_rings.htm

http://www.decentfilms.com/sections/articles/magic.html
Erin

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Life According to Hummingbirds


Some of you may or may not know this, but I am a huge bird-watcher. I blame it on my dad. Growing up he was always pointing out one bird or another. Like any good teen, I paid no attention. It seems, though, that some of his influence has rubbed off on my in spite of my best intentions. I too find myself pointing out random birds to friends. I have even been known to go out with binoculars in hand SPECIFICALLY to look for birds. And, the piece de resistance is that I also supply my very own bird feeders once I bought my house.

This year for the first time I decided to put up hummingbird feeders. I had never done this before, but when I saw one hovering like a helicopter over some flowers in my yard I decided to go for it. I have had this feeder up for more than a year with limited activity, but for some reason within the last few weeks, the activity at the one I have has significantly picked up.

What I find really funny about this particular feeder is that there are no less than four hummingbirds all vying for this feeder. I had no idea hummingbirds were this territorial. Seriously. One of them perches on a branch in a tree in my neighbor's yard lying in wait lest another nefarious hummingbird decide to partake of HIS feeder.

The war over this feeder has me a bit fascinated. So, tonight, I decided to watch the drama unfold. I grabbed a lawn chair and parked myself close enough to the feeder to see everything, but far enough away so that I would not be in the way. This was actually closer than you might think. (As a side note, I don't think hummingbirds have that great of eyesight as they either didn't notice me at all, or were to preoccupied to care.)

At any rate, the one particular hummingbird who has decided that this feeder is HIS was perched up in the tree, and I could literally see two other hummingbirds in other trees waiting for his back to be turned to make their move. The dive-bombing and squabbling (yes, hummingbirds squabble) and flying at each other and around the yard commenced. One of the other males was a little more bold than the other and worked really hard to get the other away and for a good half an hour I watched these three males argue over the feeder.

At one point, the "alpha" male after chasing off the other two males perched right next to the feeder singing in the glee of victory. This lasted about ten seconds before another male came back again to try to get a taste in.

It was interesting to watch the tactics of one of the males. He would fly around a tree, and dip down so that the hummingbird in the tree could not see him until he was already at the feeder. Sometimes this tactic would work and the alpha would not notice for a bit, allowing him to get in a few sips.

You may remember at the beginning of this post I mentioned that there were four hummingbirds, yet I have only talked about three. That's because the fourth hummingbird is a female who has a very different tactic for getting some nectar.

She sits up in a branch of a tree and waits for the other three males to be so preoccupied chasing each other around and THEN she makes her move. While the other three are off fighting and flying all over tarnation in an effort to prevent the others from drinking from the feeder, she then moves in and drinks her fill.

I think there's a bigger lesson here....not quite sure what it is yet. :0)
Erin

Transitions

(I realized the other day that a LOT of my blog posts are about things I am struggling with. I realized that I am not very good at posting victories or just general every-day things. A casual reader of my blog, without knowing me in "real life" might get the idea that I am a bit of a whiner. I don't think that that's fully true [though we all have moments of whining], I do know how much easier it is to complain about things that are hard vs. being grateful for things that go well or for victories. So, with this in mind, I am going to post some good revelations I have had regarding friendship stuff in the last month or so, since that has been a little bit of a theme in the last few weeks.)

I have a good friend who went through natural childbirth without any painkillers or drugs. She talks about "transition" labor and how painful it was. This is the final stage of labor leading up to actually pushing. She says that most women who start out wanting to go through natural childbirth but who end up having an epidural change their minds during transition labor. She says that transition labor is the most painful part of childbirth.

I feel like this is a pretty good description of how seasons of life that are transitional feel. I am in a bit of a transition season with friendships for many reasons:

1. I am in a unique place in life that not a lot of people are in: an older, single woman. So, most women my age are married. A lot of women that were my single friends have gotten married, some even have children. This changes friendships, even if that change is just something as simple as not having as much time available.

2. Several of my closest friends have moved away. I have very close friends in Washington DC, LA, San Francisco/Berkley, Honolulu, and South Africa to name a few. While I am still regularly in touch with these women, they are not physically available to spend time with.

3. The church I attend has a big youth focus. I love this about us, but it offers a different kind of fellowship opportunity when the women are significantly younger than me. There are both good and bad things about this.

In addition to all of this, I have my own areas of growth that contribute to this season of friendship I am in. One area in particular is not initiating enough. I also especially feel that I have an idea in my head about who and what friendship looks like. So, I need to break out of the box, so to speak. I am starting to initiate with women who are not necessarily at the same stage or place in life as I am.

While transition seasons are painful as things shift and change, I just have to keep in mind that from transition labor comes a birth of something new. And that gives me hope.

Blessings,
Erin