Friday, October 30, 2009
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!
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
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.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
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.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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.
Monday, October 19, 2009
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.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
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?
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
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.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
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.