Monday, November 29, 2010

Tangled

Yes, this post will involve a shout out to a (very well made and funny) Disney movie: Tangled. Because, you see, I saw it this weekend.

Twice. (it was good, kay?)

But something kept me smiling that really had nothing to do with the movie. Because, you see, as I sat there watching the two characters fall in love in the course of 1.5 hours and actually realize that they were, in fact “MFEO” (made for each other) while singing a song that they both happen to know (and be totally perfect for the moment) together (yes, much of that sencence was sarcasm…), I sat and listened to the lyrics of said “love song”:

And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

And it truly actually broke my heart…because, what was wanting to burst out of me was this:

And at last I see the Light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the Light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see You

I smiled because all I kept hearing in my head was me singing this…to the One who has wooed me and rejoiced over me and called me His beloved. And it truly broke my heart to think that this song was written by someone who saw that the truest form of love was between a man and a woman. And it was being heard by many people who would hear that and wish that they, too, would be able to feel that same feeling towards another and have a “magical” moment much like dear Rapunzel and Flinn.

And my heart soared because I knew that I had already experienced that love. My eyes shone when I heard those lyrics because I knew exactly what she was singing about.

And my heart hurt for those who have never been told of the Father’s love for us. And my countenance fell when I thought of those who felt alone or unable to feel that love because they hadn’t found “the one." And my eyes drooped when I knew that I was not exempt from sharing that Love with others.

“For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" Romans 10:13-15

If you have never heard it before, Jesus loves you. He loves you more that the movies can portray and will love you beyond this life. We, having sinned in these lives of ours, were separated from Him, who is Light, because darkness cannot commune with light. But He made a way for us to once again be brought to Him. He came down to this world and lived a sinless life. He died a sinners death. He rose again and conquered death on the third day, therefore taking our place and giving us a way to be at peace with Him.

The bible says that we are to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that He was raised from the dead and we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). Confess to the Lord that you are a sinner, ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Accept His free gift and sing along to Him as you recognize that He is the truest Light you will ever see…

And at last I see the Light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the Light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see You

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nothing

Before writing posts each day, I stop and ask myself “how has the Lord shown me His love today?” Many days, specific things come to mind. Many times it has to do with the people He has brought into my life, with an unexpected blessing of the day, with a lesson taught or a lesson learned…He is always blatantly showing me His love.

But, what about those days when I am mostly just me-focused and striving to get through the day? What about those days when it’s all I can do to not think about hitting the pillow at the end of the day, forgetting my quiet time? Or, the days where all my focus goes into filling hours or minutes up with unnecessary movies, TV, music, or reading?

Yea…yesterday was kind of like that. I stopped at the end of the day and realized just how self-focused and non-God-centered I really was. I worked all day—but was I doing it for the Lord? I even dressed up in order to instill some “holiday cheer” into our day-after-Christmas work environment—but did I do that to honor the Lord? I made two batches of cookies last night—but was it to please man or God? I had a smile on my face, a skip in my step, and a joke on my tongue all day—but again, I ask: did I smile because I knew the Lord? Did I skip knowing how much He loved me? Was my attitude one of jovial bliss because He showed Himself to me?

Or, was I smiling because it is expected? Did I skip to bring focus to myself? Did I cook and clean and wear a silly outfit to please those around me? Was I working out of obligation? Did I maintain a good attitude merely to be a good example?

When my day is me-centered first, others-centered second, and Christ-centered third it is an awful lot harder for His love to ring out loud, true, and clear.

Which is why you didn’t get a post yesterday.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A work in progress.

“The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of your hands.” Psalm 138:8

Can you say this with conviction? With known promise?

Do you believe that you are a perfect work in progress?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Purposeful

What if we lived our lives with a purpose? One single purpose:

“He has shown you, Oh man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you? But to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly in His ways.” Micah 6:8

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…” Mark 12:30

When you wake up in the morning, what are you purposing to do?

When you are driving to work, what purpose do you have in your car?

When you are talking with friends, eating lunch, going to church, taking a walk…to what purpose?

The greek word purpose that we see in this verse as well as a variation of it in this verse is defined as

1) to place before, to set forth

a) to set forth to be looked at, expose to view

b) to expose to public view

2) to set before one's self, propose to one's self

a) to purpose, determine

In all you do, in all you say today, what are you setting forth to be looked at? What are you exposing to view publicly in your actions?

Do your actions scream “I am a child of the living God”? Or do they say “me, me, me”?

Do you live your life with His purpose, setting the Lord before yourself or somewhere between you and your other priorities?

What if we chose to live that purposeful life? What if we saw our actions, thoughts, relationships, even jobs as a way to set the LORD forth to be looked at? What if we used every opportunity to expose HIM into full public view? How would that look in your life?

I know for me, this means being less neutral in my actions and more purposeful in what I am choosing to spend my time doing.

And again I ask, how would that look in your life? I would love to know how to pray for you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What child, you say?

Christmas time is (almost) upon us.

One thing I am thankful for is the way this time of year gives us every reason to bring our conversations, thoughts, and hearts back to our Savior.

“O come, o come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel.” The Lord Jesus came to ransom (save) Israel (His beloved) from their captivity (sin).

“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…” He was born more lowly than us in order to be servant of all.

Oh, star of wonder…guide us to thy perfect Light.” Even the heavens spoke of His coming. His perfect light that shines outward and pierces the darkness in each of our hearts can be heard even with our eyes.

“What child is this who lay to rest in Mary’s arms while sleeping?” It is Christ…our King. The one who came to this earth, led a perfect life, died on the cross a death that He didn’t deserve but one that every sinner does.

We are that sinner. We are the ones who deserve death for the things we have done. We are the ones who cannot live a perfect life and, therefore, cannot live in communion with a perfect God.

He is that Savior. He is Christ the King. He is the payment for our sin that we may be found perfect in God’s eyes. He is the one that was to come to this earth to bring to us a way to heaven.

“…and a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

He loves me enough to give me a time each year where many songs, many traditions, many events have the opportunity to be about Him.

He loves me enough that He reminds me, year after year, what it took to love me.

What child is it, you ask and sing? Only the most important one you will ever know.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bring forth and bud!

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11

I am always reminded of this verse when the rain comes down so hard it drowns out any other sounds around me. Or, also, in those times that you take one miniscule step outside and you are dripping wet for the rest of the day.

It’s during those times that I can smile knowing that God is at work, causing the soil to be nourished and the trees and flowers and grains to sprout that they can flourish, bud, and provide food for us.

And, because God loves us, we can look at this verse and be made aware of how, in times of storms that come flooding our lives on occasion, we can smile knowing that God is at work in us…causing us to take root and our soil to be nourished with Him and allowing us to sprout in due time that we may flourish, bud, and serve those around us.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

tantrums, tears, etc.

(friday’s post…whoops)

Acting like a five year old is to metaphorically throw your arms in the air and flail them around, all the while screaming or pouting (you choose) and doing a little stomp dance with your feet. It is an attempt to get your own way, in your own time, and at your own leisure.

It is the epitome of selfishness and pride, thinking you are the only one that matters.

Acting like a five year old as a daughter of God is to then be gently and firmly chided for your actions and coming to the Lord with tears of remorse and sorrow knowing that what you did was wrong. It is finding comfort in His arms and asking His forgiveness.

It is receiving from Him the gifts that He seeks to pour out on us even in those times that we know (without a shadow of a doubt) that we don’t deserve them.

It is the epitome of love and grace, knowing that you are the only one that matters to Him.

What a beautiful God we serve.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sometimes it requires less…

Sometimes, the Lord loves me enough that He has to break my legs to get me to remain where I am…in His arms.

Sometimes, He has to remove things from my life because He loves me enough that He doesn’t want those things fighting for my attention.

Sometimes, I don’t like the process and I want to keep walking on my broken legs or looking for those removed items.

Sometimes, it hurts.

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My friend told me this today: “Erika, He loves you and that’s why. That’s all you need to know. You can struggle or you can surrender. You can hate it or you can enjoy it. Regardless, you’re in a good place right now and He’s not done…”

Thanks, friend, I needed to hear that.

She also told me that being and resting in the Lord is often harder than doing and acting for the Lord.

It requires time, patience, vulnerability, focus. It requires a dying of my natural tendencies to be around people.

It requires me.

And it starts with knowing that He loves me enough to want to spend that time with me.

Just me. And Him.

Wow, what love.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jacob didn’t deserve it

Think of it as a Hollywood film ad: (cue suspenseful music)

 

Two brothers. One birthright.

One the rightful heir, the other an undeserving second choice.

Who wins?

 

Sometimes, I feel like Esau. I deserved that >insert what I think I deserved here< and it was taken from me. I was the rightful and justifiable recipient of that >amazing thing< and someone else got to enjoy it instead of me.

And then, I remember, I am one of God’s chosen. He knew me before I was born. He rightfully chose me to be His since before time began.

I am Jacob.

Undeserving, selfish, conniving, heal-catching Jacob. I didn’t deserve salvation and He handed it to me, free of (my) charge. I am never justified or rightfully considered a recipient of anything good and beautiful, except that God chose to give me every good and perfect give (James 1:17).

The more I think about it, the more I realize that Jacob, in all his second-hand, fleshly-spirited, deceitful glory…got exactly what God wanted to give him and it had absolutely nothing to do with who he was. If it were about Jacob’s actions, there would have been consequences. If it were about getting what we deserve, Esau would have been the heir to his fathers land.

But it isn’t, is it? It is about God and about His sacrifice. It is about His life laid down for us that we could spend eternity with Him. It is about recognizing that there is nothing we can do in this life to deserve the beautiful birthright that is laid up as treasures in heaven for us.

It is about winning…

…by grace alone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Temple Toning

Our body is the temple of the Living God. Don’t believe me? Read 1 Corinthians 3:12-23. Believe that. And so, as that is the case, how are you keeping your temple toned these days?

The human body consists of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual: the body, mind, and soul.

SOUL: Who is first in your life? How are you able to receive God’s love for you…and how are you returning that love to the One who deserves it? Have you given your soul to the One who created it, that you can spend eternity with Him?

MIND: are you daily challenging yourself to know God more? Are you disciplining your mind and your thought life to dwell on Him, meditate on His word, and seek Him more than any other being or thing around you?

and, finally…

BODY: are we, as the temple of the Lord, treating our physical body in such a way that reflects our love for the One who created it? Are you eating right? Are you exercising? Are you aware of and cautious towards those things that may affect your body in an ungodly way?

Today, I am aware that the Lord loves me enough that He created me: body, mind, and soul. His love for me is reflected in the way He spent time creating me (Psalm 139:13-18) and I want to be able to praise and worship Him with every inch of my being and that includes every aspect of my body.

Lord, thank you for making me who I am. Give me strength and pour your grace out on me as I strive to honor you with this temple you have given me. Amen

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

flexibility is my friend.

Those in my life know that I can be a pretty stubborn person.

They also know that I don’t do well with sudden change…that I am not in control of.

But when it comes to those around me in need of some quality fellowship…I hope I am known as the friend that will drop everything to be there.

And I would, once again, like to welcome flexibility to be a part of my life…one of my inner circle friends…and to always keep me bending so that I will not break.

Because it is in those moments of being flexible that I am out of control of the situation…and HE is in complete control. Those are the times I am at my best: where I have decreased that He may increase.

Dear Father, become more and more. I ask You to make me less and less. Mold me, bend me, break me…to be more like you: flexible. Amen.

The fruit of the Spirit.

It is not contrived and it is not forced. It comes from abiding. From dwelling and waiting. A tree doesn’t fall asleep one night and the next morning there is a fresh, new, and ready to eat apple hanging on its branches.

Fruit takes time to be nurtured, to grow, to survive storms and heat. Fruit eventually reaches that moment of fruition where it is in full bloom and ready to be shared.

And that comes from abiding.

Dwelling.

Being.

Today in church, we were in Galatians 5 and the Lord was pounding home the emphasis that I am to abide in Him and He will take care of the rest.

In the middle of that, I looked down at my bracelet. On it is a little birdie sitting on a branch and underneath it says “…dwell”. I bought it and had it made as a reminder for me to “dwell in His land and feed on His faithfulness” as Psalm 37:3-7 speaks of.

And again, I was reminded of how not only does the Lord ask us to sit, wait, dwell…BE with Him, He also reminds us of it when we forget.

So, for today, I will dwell.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Silence.

Silence is deafening and peaceful. It is welcoming and painful. It can be cut through with a knife or swallowed by the spoonful. Sometimes, silence is necessary. Sometimes, it is unwanted. Often times, we could use more of it. Rarely, it is asked for.

The bible tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I like to translate this in my mind as “shut up and you will be able to hear so much more than your own presumptuous thoughts.”

I have been silent on my blog for over a month. On purpose? Yes. Acknowledged? Of course. Significant? Not really.

You see…when I first started this blog I asked for accountability in allowing this blog to only glorify my Lord and not myself. And as I think about sharing things on this blog, I am called to filter it through the question of “who is this glorifying: you or Him?” When that answer didn’t satisfy my conviction, I chose to stay silent. It was painful and refreshing.

I want to share with you the ways the Lord has blessed me. I want to write down the ways that He charms me and loves me. I want to attempt to put into words the ways He seeks me out each and every day.

And it’s not always going to be a Holywood film. It’s not (ever) going to be a Christian romance novel. It probably will seem mundane and insignificant to you. But to me, it proves that I am still His Beloved. It reminds me that He cares enough to walk with me down the street and see a flower along the path.

I read this blog a few days ago. She talks about the In-Between times…those times that aren’t important enough to be written down or insignificant enough to be shown in a film. The times where we are simply “abiding in Christ” as John 15 talks about…and I completely resounded with it. I am an in-betweener right now and the Lord has called me to see the beautiful significance of abiding, surviving, waiting, and holding on.

And so, from now until the end of the year, I am challenging myself to take time each day to reflect on the Lord’s love for me. To chronicle those insignificant times of surviving so that I can thrive by abiding in Him.

To give words to the silence.

Will you join me?

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Incomparable.

It is a feeling so deeply set into my heart that, if I tried to rip it out, it would take some of me with it.

It is a love so strangely connected with my subconscious that I don’t know if I could think clearly without it affecting me.

It is a lifestyle so incomparable to any other way of living that, if I tried to live without it, I wouldn’t be able to make one foot go in front of the other.

It is a desire so embedded into my prayers that it drives me to act, live, think, and move without any additional thought.

It is a conviction so strongly felt I can’t help but share it with those around me.

It is my relationship with Jesus Christ, Lord of all heaven and earth, Savior of sinners, Healer of souls, Forgiver of sins, Lover of even the worst of us. And it is His free gift of salvation “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10

This relationship with Christ is the impetus that drives me to do the thing that I do. It is the force that beckons me to be completely submitted to His loving care. It is standard of life that I choose to live by…simply because I have experienced His grace, through faith, and I know that I am saved from a life of slavery to the sin that I do not want to do.

Oh, how great a God we serve!

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He has done, is doing, and will do great things in this country. My time is slowing (and oh-so-rapidly!) coming to an end. I am so humbled that the Lord would use me here…so blessed that the Lord would reveal Himself to me here…so in awe at the Lord’s heart for the people here.

I’m in love with the city of Glasgow and I don’t care who knows it.*

(*I would like to state that this love comes only and purely through the LOVE I was given by a Savior who embodies love…I love Him because He first loved me and I have love for this city because of His love for me.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let Glasgow Flourish…

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This is the motto of Glasgow, as you can see in the photo I took above (these are on many of the bus stops, etc. around town). But, as I learned this week, the true and full motto is this: “Let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of Thy Word and the praise of Thy Name.” What a beautiful reminder to the believers here in Glasgow!! (**keep this in mind as you scroll through the rest of the blog. especially when you see the pictures of an art exhibit i found).

The believers here are being nourished and are growing in the Lord. They are truly desiring the Lord to go forth in this city and I can see the Lord working through them. The CU strongly steps forth in evangelism and getting the Lord’s name out and also very strongly encourages each person that is involved to also be involved in their home church as well. The beautiful thing is the way they are a family. I see them serving together and serving each other and I am so encouraged by the amount of churches represented in the CU that come together under one banner to preach ONE Jesus and ONE Gospel every week.

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My time in Glasgow has come to a stop and I am now starting a new week in a town called Motherwell just about 20 minutes out of Glasgow. I hope to help out with one more Toasty Bar (thats a really odd name for us americans that just means a place where they hand out free grilled cheese sandwiches) and enjoy the fellowship of so many awesome brothers a sisters one last time.

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This is a banner that the Lord prompted Amy to put up one day to promote a thing called “Alpha Course” that the CU is putting on. It is basically a study of the basics of Christianity that begins with asking people what they think the meaning of life is. We definitely got some “worldly” answers…as well as some guys who thought they were funny…but in the end, it prompted some really awesome conversations about the True Meaning of life…Jesus Christ!

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I was blessed to be able to go to a museum in Glasgow called Kelvin Grove (I think). It was beautiful and the organ you can see in this picture was in the main hall. The Lord orchestrated it so brilliantly that I was there when a gentleman did a small concert on it…what an amazing noise it was!!!

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Walking into the oldest Cathedral in Scotland, there was a beautiful stand with a rather large bible on it. What a reminder that He exists not in buildings but in our hearts. This building (below) was beautiful but lifeless and the Lord knew I needed that reminder of Who our Great Shepherd is.

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This is the front of Toasty Bar. You can see to the left and in the center the white t-shirts we all wear in order to keep a safe and prayerful eye out for each other. This is the “queue” to the right that was always pretty full from 11pm until we run out of toasties.

DSC01308My favorite lunch so far…it was from a place called MYO: Make Your Own where you can make your own jacket (baked potato), toasty (grilled sando), salad, sandwich, or pizza. Also, FYI: if you want a drip coffee here, you ask for a FILTERED coffee, and apparently…drinking sparkling water is just as weird in Scotland as it is in America. And here I thought I would fit it…

Below are three pictures from an exhibit in the Gallery of Modern Arts. This museum (all museums in Glasgow are free, by the way) is in the center of Glasgow and has exhibits of very influential artists. These three pictures are from one exhibit that was a response to another, more popular, exhibit downstairs. The one downstairs is a depiction of today’s youth and very clearly struck my heart. To see the video camera scan so deliberately across a line of youth and watch their reaction to each other, the camera, and to life around them in general truly struck a chord in my heart. The Lord allowed me a glimpse into the emptiness that life is without Him and my heart broke for these kids of “tomorrow” (as the exhibit was called). Below are some responses done by Glaswegian pre-teens and teenagers.

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Please keep Glasgow in your prayers. Pray specifically for the youth and Uni students and for salvation from the trapped and lost world they are in.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

“The Lord bless you and keep you;…

the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

I have been blessed to have so many people praying for me while here in Glasgow. Even more blessed to know that the Spirit is showing them specific things to pray for and then actually doing them through me and the team at Strathclyde University. The verse above is one that was shared with me at least five different times this week. What a reminder that it is the Lord doing all this in me.

If I sit here long enough, I will have quite an essay or book written so instead, I will continue as I did from my last post with sharing a prayer with you and asking you to be lifting this work up as He shows you. (*pictures below)

Dear Heavenly Father,

What beautiful work you are doing through these students. God, I look around and into each set of eyes I have been serving with and I see passion. I see conviction, light, joy, peace…I see these young students on fire for the Lord and not willing to step down or be quiet about the Truth that they know to be Real and Awesome. You.

You, LORD, are the reason that each student is out here this week and You, LORD, are not just the impetus but the Life that is propelling them forth to share your ageless gospel of redemption.

My God, I thank you for the ways you have chosen to use me. Thank you, too, for keeping me humble and keeping me out of the spotlight. Even in those times that I have thought that I had anything to do with what happened, you remind me that I “have been crucified in Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20). You keep me out of the way and, for that, I am thankful.

Lord, I want to lift up those that I spoke with last night at Toasty Bar:

  • Chris: I pray that he would come back, as he said he would. I pray, Lord, that the preconceptions of church and God that he has would be blasted out of the way as You show him who You want to be in his life.
  • Jenn: I pray, Lord, that as she starts her first year here at Uni that she would be active in finding a church. I pray that You would impress it upon her heart to come to “church search” on Sunday and find a place where she will hear of Your gospel weekly. Lord, You know if she is saved or not. I pray that You would do the work in her to bring fruit out of her life.
  • Aidan: Lord, I am so confident that You desire him to know you. Last night, he agreed with a prayer that, if You were real, You would make yourself known to him. I believe 110% that You are trying to get his attention and, if he were to truly seek after Truth, he would find You. Lord, open his eyes to Your Truth and give him ears to hear your calling for him.
  • For the many other people who heard truth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ last night. You tell us that we are without excuse and that all of creation proclaims Your Name. They heard Your Name last night, Father, and I pray that as those seeds are looking for fertile soil, God, that it would be found and that You would allow them to sprout and grow.

and, with that, Lord, I want to thank You. I want to praise You. I want to continue to share You with those that I meet here and ask that You would continue to give me strength and wisdom to know when to talk and when to stay quiet.

Father, please be preparing the other speakers and event coordinators this week as well. May Your Spirit compel them to speak only truth—and boldly.

I pray, too, for preparation for what You would have for me in Motherwell starting Saturday.

In Your amazing and awesome name,

AMEN!

DSC01084My first view of Scotland…but when I saw it, it was at night with an epically gothic yellow glow to it. I knew I had arrived…=)

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My ride…haha, kidding!!

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Setting up for a day of outreach near the Student Union

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This long queue is for getting into the student union on Tuesday nights…its called “Twelve Hour Tuesday” when the (4 or more?) bars withIN the student union (I didn’t type that wrong) give drinks for really cheap. The CU sets up their free toastie bar just to the left of this picture from 10pm-2am every week.

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I could get used to seeing buildings like this every day…=)

Oh, how beautiful are the feet of His saints!!

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Lord, you are so good to me. I praise You for the loving and warm reminder of the things you are doing all around the world. From my friends in South Africa…

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And all that the Lord is doing with them there to those here in Edinburgh. From those that the Lord has sent to spread the gospel from here to {Sierra Leone, Liberia, Papua New Guinea} and from {Japan, Korea, Germany, America} to here. Your Gospel is going forth. How truly beautiful are the feet of those who are preaching Good News as it says in Romans 10.

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Father, I am reminded of a simple song that the kids in Africa used to sing: “all over the world, the Lord is moving. He met a blind man, and He sent him free (and He set him free). I remember today, the Lord was moving…” And, my sweet and precious Jesus, You moved and are moving here today. I praise You for giving me eyes to see your work going forth all over this beautiful country and beyond!

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And, today, of all days, Father, You were here, meeting me. You took me on a beautiful date today—our day together—and let Your Spirit guide me all over. You even blessed me with some familiar faces and places…because You know just what will make me smile.

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And, most importantly, Lord, You were here. You were with me, among my thoughts, words, and sights. You were guiding me and showing me just how great a God I serve.

Thank you for this beautiful day here in Edinburgh. I look forward to what You have in store for me in Glasgow. Praise You forever, Jesus. I love you,

Amen.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Refreshing

Arrived in London on Thursday at 11:15am. Tobi picked me up from the airport and all I told her was “just don’t let me fall asleep until after 9pm” and, she didn’t! What a beautifully refreshing time with Tobi. We walked, took the tube, rode on buses…and all the while were able to talk and spend time catching up…being refreshed by the Spirit in each other.

Romans 1:11-12 says: “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established
that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”  As we spent time doing so many amazing  things, i truly felt this mutual encouragement in our time together.

Here are a few pictures of our time:

DSC00902 Lunch!

My new best friend…DSC00908

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He wanted to be my new best friend, too, but I told him that was already a taken position.

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Mom, I waited and waited for the Pope, but he apparently had other (more important?!?) things to be doing than waving at a bunch of crazies on the streets. I might have intentionally walked behind some news anchors videoing the ordeal though…didja see me on tv?? =)

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All this hullabaloo (thats my new word) for the Pope.

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OK!! I now officially understand why the Lord had me in cars with people who generally brake a LOT later than I do. Driving on a two decker bus, there were times when the car in front of us COMPLETELY disappeared and we still hadn’t completely stopped yet. I’m glad that (you know who you are) helped prepare me for that!!

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My lovely and rather smashing personal London tour guide. I wanted to pay her, she was so good! (Yes, Tobi, I’m tooting your horn for you…).

***this update brought to you by a late train to Edinburgh that has free wi-fi. What else do you do when the DRIVER of the train is running late and you have to wait for him? I offered to take over but for some reason that didn’t fly well with anyone else…?"***

Thursday, September 16, 2010

consider it done.

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Legs shook.

Tears streamed.

Smile gleamed.

Bridge crossed.

I enjoyed my time of prep here at a Pastors/Leaders/Workers Conference as we went through the book/calling of Nehemiah. Have you ever studied this man’s calling before? I would encourage you to spend a few days/hours/or years with him. The Lord is meeting me at every step while I am here and I am so thankful.

I leave for Scotland in 1 day. I know I have said this before, but it seems surreal. I have waited over 7 years for this day. It is just around the corner.

And I wouldn’t have been able to get there without crossing some bridges along the way.

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until next time,

e

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Scotland 9/7

I’m almost there!

The Lord has blessed me with a place to stay. He has specifically chosen to not give me particulars on what I am to do while I am there but He has been gracious enough to give me a vague outline.

This in and of itself proves to me even more how much the Lord loves me…He chooses to bless us even when He doesn’t have to.

I know that I have told many of you that I am going to be updating my blog about my trip. Don’t worry, I intend to do that. I probably won’t be writing huge long expositions on my days in Scotland (do you really care about what I eat or how much coffee I drank that day??) but I would love to be able to share a few stories with you and, as the Lord permits, what He is showing me.

Also, as an aside, if you are reading this on Facebook, you can always go to my blog by clicking here to stay caught up…and leave me a comment every once in a while (ok ok…so I know that sounds just so silly, but it’s nice to know that I am actually writing to SOMEONE and not just the internet at large…) =)

So, with that being said…the countdown begins! I’ll try to blog one more pre-trip update before I leave on the 16th and then…it’s all fun and games until someone gets back from Scotland! =)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it…

I grew up with terms and phrases such as “worry wart", “stop worrying”, “don’t worry about it”, and “you don’t know if that’s going to happen” being a rather common part of my life.

I worried. I couldn’t go to sleep because I was too busy forming an escape route in case of a fire (ok, don’t laugh, I know I’m not the only one…). I constantly asked questions and was aware of my surroundings out of fear that something could go wrong.  Granted, I was (in a matter of speaking) a normal child, but I have always fretted and wondered about things I didn’t need to. From worrying if my friends were having fun to worrying if we were going to get somewhere in time…I definitely had the gold medal in worry!

Well, worry quickly translates to fear when it isn’t confronted or given over to the Lord. What keeps you up wondering at night begins to keep you from taking a step forward the next day…

Fast forward to the present, I told you in this post how the Lord confronted my fears last year. I spoke of the Lord teaching me a lot about fears of unknown territories, fears of uncontrollable circumstances, and fears of unforeseen changes.

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I am heading to a Pastor’s/Leader’s/Worker’s Conference next Monday. At that conference there are beautiful trails and paths to take that lead you through some of the most beautiful and glorious views of our Lord’s creation.

There is one path in particular that is forever engrained in my mind. This path cuts back and forth between creeks and paths, down into lush greenery and past a few summer camps. At one point, your eyes look down the path and fall upon one large suspension bridge.

Wooden boards line it, suspension coming out from all different angles form beautiful arches holding it in place over a deep ravine. It sways back and forth under the pressure of the feet that cross it—sometimes even slightly rocking as those same feet desire to “test its strength.’

To continue the trail, you have to cross it.To cross it, you have to step onto it. To step onto it, you have to propel your mind, body, and emotions to go forward.

You know, for me, it’s a lot harder than you think. Crossing bridges is akin to many peoples fear of spiders, snakes, heights, etc. Bridges and Erika have never really gotten along.

Last year, this bridge and Erika were not friends.

But, this year, I am going to cross that bridge when I get to it.

And then, as I am brought to the edge of a real or proverbial bridge in my future, I will cross that one too.

And I am going to continue this trail that the Lord has laid out for me by propelling my feet to step out onto these bridges towards the rest of the beautiful trail before me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Broken or New?

Walking along the shoreline with the waves spilling its hidden treasures next to my feet, I find myself dismissing shell after shell in search for that one perfect unbroken one.

This tan and peach clam shell is chipped.

That grey mussel shell is crushed.

The part of that sand dollar sticking up is beautiful but when lifted from its place in the sand, the other half is missing.

These shells that are washed up on the shore have been battered by tide, feet, birds, weather…life. The journey they took to get to the place of being noticed couldn’t have been fun and couldn’t have been completely protected.

I walked down the beach looking at these shells hoping to find one that was un-chipped, un-scathed, un-blemished. Whole. New. Perfect.

But I was only looking half-heartedly because what pressed down on my mind more – my whole reason that I was on the beach – was the internal argument I was having with the Lord.

Why can’t life have less stress in it? Why do I always have something that has to be dealt with? Lord, I wish that I could go back to the days when I didn’t have so many things to stress and worry about. I wish I could have a life that made more sense. I just want to rewind. I want to go back to those times when I hadn’t gone through what I’ve been through. I don’t want to have to deal with all this. I don’t want to have to go through everything in my past…

And as I sat there in the sand contemplating these questions, ruminating on these complaints, and asking the Lord to guide me and let me see Him in all of this, I finally reached down and grasped a shell in my hand.

This shell had seen better days. It was once a part of a bigger, whole, beautiful shell down in its comfortable sea bed. This shell had taken quite a long journey from below sea level to above the waves to beyond the shore and into the sandy dunes where it now lay nestled between other rocks, shells, and remnants of shells.

This shell had been broken, chipped, split, washed ashore, battered, grated, and sanded down throughout the years. It was now just barely the size of a quarter with as many rough edges and rounded ones. And with all of its journey…it’s brokenness and change…it was still a shell. More than that…

…it was a whole shell. And not the kind of whole that would make it beautiful and worth keeping to anyone looking for “that one perfect shell.” It was whole in a different way.

Because this shell was unique. It was beautiful and different and unlike any other shell. It was exactly what it was meant to be because of the journey it was taken on. And what it looked like right then and there – the product of what it had gone through – was exactly as perfect as it should be.

It was washed ashore – because somewhere along the path, it had to let go and move forward from its comfortable home below the waves.

It was broken – broken because it endured crashing waves.

It was cracked – cracked because it had to let go of things that were keeping it from moving more freely.

It was chipped – chipped because of the rocks and shells that rubbed against it along the path.

It was grated and battered – by the other rough edges it came across.

It was in the sand –  because that was where its path led it.

And as I kept turning this shell over and over in my hand, I realized how much like this shell I am.

And how, in the Lord’s eyes, I am still beautiful and whole and perfectly-exactly who I am meant to be today. I don’t have to wish my life back to a child-like status. I don’t have to question why I have dealt with waves and chips and scratches and brokenness. I don’t have to wonder if I am exactly who I am meant to be…

Rev 21:5 - Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
2Cr 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

We may never again be that person we were 1 year ago – 5 years ago – or 25 years ago. But that doesn’t mean we are broken and need fixing. It just means we are new. We are changed. We are different.

And, if you have surrendered your life to Christ and asked Him to be your personal Lord and Savior, you are exactly who the Lord has meant for you to be. He is in the process of changing and making new…not in the process of making us merely look “as good as new.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

A point to ponder…

…when desiring to serve the Lord, the greatest action we can take is to stand…

~> He will fight our battles for us – lay your weapons down and trust His strength.

~> He will keep watch over us – lay your head down and rest.

~> He will take care of all our hopes, needs, cares – lay down your fears, wishes, and wants and let Him speak His will into your heart.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:11-13

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

Father God, thank you for your care for me. I release to You my desires, my hurt, my worry, my wonder, even my happiness. Thank you for clothing me for the battle and then asking me to simply stand as you fight for me. You will never leave me, nor forsake me. You will always be with me and I know that I can trust in that. Thank you, Lord, for your sacrifice on the cross that paid the debt for my sin. Thank you, Lord, for showing me what true unconditional love is by your death and resurrection on the cross. My life is yours: lead me down the roads you wish, take me through the peaks and valleys, guide me down every path as your vision is infinitely better than mine. I love you, Jesus, AMEN

Friday, July 30, 2010

Scotland

Yes! Im still going!

I am set to leave on one of those really big metal things that some how stay in the sky without being attached to strings….or, in English, an airplane…on September 16th.

I will return on October 3rd.

If you want to know more about my trip, you can read my testimony starting here.

Or, you can read the last update here and here, too.

If you want to be a part of my prayer updates, please send me a personal email or leave a comment with your email address and I will put you on the list! (my email is erikamarie82@gmail.com) even if I have/had no idea that you read my blog but you want to pray for me…trust me…i’ll take all the prayer I can get! =)

I will still post updates on here from time to time, but for the most part, as per my first post, this blog will mainly be about heart updates and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Quick Snippet

I would just like to take this time to remind myself that I am not the one in control.

Earlier today, I had a conversation with a most beautiful and precious friend of mine…who seemed to have it in her mind that I actually enjoy bouncing from here and there…always changing and always looking for something “new” to do, be, try…etc.

I had to quickly squelch that assumption because, you see, I don’t. You may look at my life and see a rapidity of change and a hectic and rather dizzying amount of movement within the confines of my life and think that I am perfectly content in this.

And, while I am content, I was not always the most willing of followers on this path.

As I attempted to explain to her that, no, this is not “just who I am” and, yes, I would rather settle down and enjoy a slower paced life…the only conclusion I came to was that the “dream” I wanted is simply not what the Lord has for me right now.

You see, for the past 10 years, I have bounced around to and from many adventures that have led me to: Mexico, Cape Cod, Bakersfield, Africa, Romania, Texas, Morro Bay, and…Disneyland (ok, I know that last one doesn’t count…but…if you know me at all…you know I had to put it). I have held well over a dozen jobs, lived in well over a dozen houses, lived with (or tortured, depending on who you talk to…) well over a dozen roomates…

Each adventure has had its necessary impressions on my heart and life in order to get me here.

today.

now.

And, as I sat and soberly realized that I would, in fact, rather be settled into one place and know where I am going to be 5, 10, and 20 years from now…I excitedly smile because, guess what?

I am not the one writing this book.

He is. The Author and Finisher of our faith. The One who searches our heart and desires to bring us beauty for ashes…every good and perfect gift…a hope and a future.

I pray that if you are questioning God’s timing in your life or His will verses your desires that you will find comfort in knowing that we serve a God who is almighty and all encompassing…let Him comfort you and whisper His love to you tonight.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shaken

I had never eaten a plum that I have personally picked fresh from a tree until this week. Below is the story of that rather enlightening day…

In order to get the beautifully ripe-red fruit from the tree and into my mouth, i was told the following (very specific and scientifically profound) instructions:

“…just give the tree a good shake.”

So, with the anticipated taste of a plum on my lips, I walked outside and gave the tree a good shake.

thump, thump, thump.

It was that simply. I shook the tree and it rained down dozens of beautifully ready to eat plums (luckily, I had enough brain waves working to stand in a place that the plums wouldn’t fall on my head).

I looked up, laughing a little, and saw that there was one very beautiful piece of fruit still on the tree so, I shook it some more.

Nothing.

Hmm, I thought, I guess I will have to get this one with a stick. So, I grabbed a stick and poked away at the plum until it fell down. The tree admitted defeat and I decided to enjoy my victory by biting down into the fruits of my labor…

…which, i promptly spit out…it wasn’t ripe!

As I got the bad taste of un-ripened fruit out of my mouth by biting into another one, I started thinking about the lessons that can be taken from this experience.

  • First, fruit is meant to be grown on a tree. And much like trees, we are meant to produce fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace… This fruit can then be given to provide nourishment for others around us.
  • Fruit is ultimately meant to spread more life. I have been told many times: it takes death to produce more life. Fruit has to die so the seed can be taken, buried, and allowed to grow again. This fruit cannot spread life unless it is first removed from its life source.
  • Sometimes, the tree has fruit that is ripe enough to come off the tree, but it just needs a little shaking. The Lord does this in our lives as well.
  • Other times, the tree has fruit that looks ripe and ready to offer nourishment and life to others, but looks are deceiving and it’s not until the nourishment is tasted that we realize that fruition was not met yet.

“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3

"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

We are all called to be trees that produce the fruit of the Spirit. Sometimes, He allows shaking that we would be a part of spreading His eternal life. Other times, He still has us growing and allowing our fruit to get ready and ripe before it is used to encourage and nourish others.

We are all called to produce. We are all called to share True Life with those around us. And, most importantly, we are called to let Him do that work for us. He is the Life Giver, the only One from Whom comes the only Life worth living for…

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jesus Wept.

John 11:35.

Recently, I have had a hard time keeping my tears in. The smallest thing tips off my emotions and a tear will fill my eyes in a moments notice.

They aren’t all the same tears, though. They are tears of change, frustration, happiness, confusion, joy, uncertainty, overwhelming desires and hopes, pain, mourning, excitement…

When I was young, my mom called them “Crocodile Tears” because they would fill my eyes so fast and before I knew it one large tear drop would escape my eye and fall dramatically down my face, scarring the person watching and deceiving me as it gave away the emotions it held and portrayed.

Those crocodile tears never left. Some times more than others, they come falling down my face and I have had days where I have embraced them and days, much like today, where I have shamed them.

Do you ever get tired of crying? I do. I have recently found myself trying to hold them in, willing them to stay at bay during this season. And as they come…unchecked, unwanted, and unwelcome, I found myself apologizing within me today…

“I’m sorry, Lord, that I am not strong enough. I’m sorry that I can’t hold it together. I am ashamed that something that petty could cause so many tears.”

And He gently reminded me of John 11:35…Jesus wept.

We serve a God who is unafraid to weep. We serve a God who will see us through every tear, every cry, every sorrow, every joy…

He gives ear to my cry and will not be silent at my tears. He puts my tears into His bottle. And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; For the LORD has spoken.

I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God…my cry entered His ears because His ears are open to my cry. the LORD hears…and will deliver me out of all my troubles. He will hear their cry and save them.

When the Lord saw, He had compassion and said, "Do not weep."

there is a time to weep, And a time to laugh. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh…so rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep for those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.

*Psa 39:12-Psa 56:8-Isa 25:8-2 sam 22:7-Psa 34:15-Psa 34:17-Psa 145:19,-Luk 7:13-Rom 12:15-Psa 126:5-Ecc 3:4-Luk 6:21*

I needed to be reminded today that it is OK to shed tears and it is alright to let Him comfort me when I need it.

I don’t have to apologize to My Dad when I need a hug.

I just need to ask for it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Enjoying every moment…

Do you ever have those times where you KNOW what you’re supposed to do but have the hardest time submitting your own desires to do it?

Or, do you ever feel like something really exciting is just about to happen but you don’t have the faith enough to let yourself get excited because the reality of it is so far displaced from your reality?

What about those moments when you feel certain that things are being laid out before you and you are missing one huge link to the puzzle and it becomes something akin to visiting a dentist’s office to trust that everything is going to work out…without pursuing that missing link?

Have you ever set a goal or a fleece before the Lord and, saying you are trusting Him to provide, continually try to reach or achieve that goal on your own?

Has He ever totally blown you away by smacking your hand and at the same time proving to you hands down that He really is in control and that you really have nothing to do with achieving said goal?

Yea…me to.

I don’t know that I have openly shared on here the financial part of my calling to Scotland. But the long and short of it is that I personally do not and will not have the finances to fund this trip. Because of this, the Lord put it on my heart and asked me to step out in faith by sending support letters out to those around me.

Being the *oh so humble and never at all prideful about money* (read: sarcasm) person that I am, this was hard for me to do. Throughout it all though, I knew He was calling me and He continually reminded me that He would provide. All I could say was “if He wants me to go, then He will get me there…”

So, I set a goal (or “fleece” if you will…) of $1,000 in order to get my plane ticket (they are running around $900 right now). And on May 30th, I handed out my support letters.

And then the days started ticking by. And then I started worrying. And then I started taking matters into my own hands trying to figure out how I could get to $1,000 on my own. I had, as of Wednesday, received about 1/2 of that amount.

In planning for my garage sale this weekend, I kept thinking “ok, if I can make the remaining amount then I will be able to get my plane ticket! That’s manageable!

Hmm…then I went to the mail box and with a simply labeled envelope, I hear the Lord tell me “Erika, I said I would provide this for you…I don’t need your help.”

And my fleece was answered and the Lord, once again, made Himself known in so mighty a way that I cannot deny His presence.

And I was yet again humbled in thinking about how very much He loves me and how very much He desires to pour out His every good and perfect gift from above (James 1:17)

“The Lord will perfect that which concerns me. Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Psalm 138:8

Monday, June 21, 2010

I have a secret…

…wanna know it?

come closer…closer…ah! too close, a little to close…(ok, that was a shameless quote from Aladdin…)

So, here is my secret. But first, I don’t know if you can handle it, so if you aren’t willing to remain in strict confidence on this, please, don’t read more.

Ok?

….ok. Now…here’s the thing.

Ready?

(we don’t know the future.)

I know, shocker, right?!?!?!?! Can you even believe it? WE DON’T KNOW THE FUTURE!!!! Now, this is something some people don’t know yet.

Because, everywhere I look (although, I don’t have to look farther than my own mirror) I see people preparing for the future that they think will happen. I see people seeking out answers for their future. I even see people, in essence, living in their future.

Again, my own mirror.

The bible tells us this, though: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.” (Matt 6:34)

Did you hear that? Tomorrow will worry about its own things. Chill out. Stop worrying about it!!

….but, want to hear another secret?

Thought so. Ok, here it is:

I know what we ARE to spend our time thinking about! I know what we DO know! I even know where YOU can find that, too! (I hope you’re as excited as I am. Because, proverbially speaking, I am jumping up and down in my chair).

Want to know? Yea? So you’re telling me that, since you don’t know the future and you are told not to worry about it, you want to know WHAT you’re to be busying your time with?

cool, I thought so…I’ll tell ya. Actually, I won’t tell ya…I’ll let Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior, Abba, Kinsman Redeemer, Comforter, Teacher, and Director tell you from His Love Letter:

Matthew 6:27-34

“Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, [will He] not much more [clothe] you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.”

 

Friday, June 11, 2010

what i’m doing when i get where i’m going

I have been thinking a lot about these verses in Matthew 6…

“But seek first the kingdom of God
and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about its own things.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Matthew 6:33-34

As I have been trying to make plans: in and out of relation to Scotland, the Lord has gently reminded me that that is NOT my job. My part of the bargain is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

I shouldn’t be worrying about  tomorrow.
Or the next day.
Or September.

On September 19th, as the Lord provides financially and directs spiritually, I fully intend on flying to Scotland. Once I get there, I know what I WANT to do, but I don’t know, nor has the Lord shown me, what He wants me to do.

Here is what I do know:

First, this trip is a two week (read: short term!) evangelism, outreach, and scouting trip. What does that mean? This means that the Lord has put it on my heart to bring His gospel and His salvation to His beloved in Scotland. He has also given me a desire to see how I, as just one person, could come up alongside His body of believers in Scotland: where is the need? how can it be fulfilled? what is my role in all of that?

One thing that I would love for you to come alongside me in prayer about is a certain outreach that the Lord has brought to my attention. There is a university in the middle of Glasgow that has what is called “Fresher Week” (think WOW week at Poly). This year, it is being held from September 20th through 24th and I am praying about coming alongside a Christian University Union in the evenings doing outreach and evangelism. Pray the Lord directs communication with this group as well as lays it on others hearts the desire to not only tell people that they are Christians but to also share the Gospel as the ONLY way to salvation.

Another opportunity that may arise is a chance to take a train to Edinburgh for a few days to meet the church body there as well as seek out some divine appointments the Lord may have for me. Pray that the Lord would first provide the additional funds for this as well as the direction on traveling alone or with another person during this time.

Second, this trip is one of obedience to the Lord’s calling and direction. He never told me that He would give me an hour by hour outline of my time there. He just told me to go. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m going.

As many of you know me fairly well, you know that underneath my craziness and spontaneity, I enjoy a good hearty schedule with a healthy side of time management and foresight. In this instance, every time I try to open the doors for that to happen, the Lord has firmly shut them. I am learning to not just be OK with this, but to thrive it it. Pray that the Lord’s overwhelming peace would surpass my desire to know and understand and that I would seek to merely please Him in my actions of trust and dependence on Him.

Third, this trip is for His glory. Regardless of what happens on this trip, it is submitted to Him. The Lord knows why He has beckoned me to meet Him there and what that means-for me and for those around me.

Whether that means Him breaking my heart and sending me back there for a longer stay or just simply going this once and coming back with more of a fervor to serve the Lord here in Morro Bay for a long time to come…I want to remain open and available for the Lord to use this vessel for His glory.

In the meantime, I am going to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness…and leave the rest up to Him! What able hands our Father in heaven has…I am so grateful to be able to cast all my cares upon Him.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

how i got where i am

In March, I had the pleasure of house/plant-sitting for some friends. I needed some time away and in this, I was able to seek refuge each night and even spend a few days just simply seeking and being with the Lord.

At the time, I was desperately desiring to hear the Lord's voice and wanting to know His will for the next season of my life. I didn't know what that looked like, but I had pretty big ideas of what I wanted it to look like...obviously (if you haven't figured it out yet with the Lord) He had other plans!

What I was expecting was the Lord's clear direction.
What I found was the Lord's clear voice.
What I was wanting was answers to my questions.
What I was given was an answer to a question I hadn't thought to ask yet.

I woke up one morning and the first thing on my mind was a date: September 19th.

I didn't know what it meant...how I was supposed to take it...what I was supposed to do with it. But it wouldn't go away. All day it kept coming up…September 19th.

So I began praying.

And for 3 weeks, all I did was pray and ask the Lord what it meant: was I supposed to be abstaining from something as a fast until that time? Was that a date that something was going to happen? Was it a date for someone else? A date I needed to do something?
I asked these questions almost daily but also knew that, in the Lord's time, He would make His plan known. That also came in an unexpected way.

I was out on a walk with a friend of mine who has known of my heart for Scotland for quite a while. She had asked me about my time away and what the Lord had shown me. As I was sharing some different things with her, I began to explain to her this enigmatic date I was given.

Without the blink of an eye, she gently responded to my wonderings and musings with a simple sentence:
"Erika, maybe that's the date you're supposed to go to Scotland."

I sat gawking at her for probably a lot longer than she was comfortable with as I slowly began processing this new piece of the puzzle. It didn't make any more sense than the date I was given but just as with that, I knew the Lord was planning and directing each of these steps.

We committed this to prayer immediately and asked the Lord to confirm His perfect plan through His scripture and His ways.

...the next day, one of only two Scottish friends that I have showed up, unannounced, on my doorstep. She wanted to surprise us and flew all the way out here from Scotland to do just that. I didn't want to jump to conclusions, but was elated with the realization that this could definitely be another piece of a puzzle that had quickly become more grand than I had ever dreamed up.

The final pieces to the puzzle came with talking with my Pastors and waiting patiently for the Lord to confirm this calling with scripture. He gave my Pastors some very wise and encouraging things to say as they kept reminding me to commit it to Him and to wait for Him to make the plans.

I kept praying.

Finally, about 5 weeks after the Lord giving me a date, He confirmed His calling with His word. This scripture has meant so much to me through the past 7 years of my life. The first time I was given in was when I had to walk away from being a nanny.

Since then, He has used this scripture to remind me that He desire to call us out from those wintery and hard seasons in life into a spring time that brings forth bud and blossom, fruit and joy.

My beloved spoke, and said to me:

"Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth;

The time of singing has come,

And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

The fig tree puts forth her green figs,

And the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell.

Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away!

Song of Songs 2:10-13


This time around, however, the Lord called me into His will and to Himself by giving me one more verse:

"O my dove,

in the clefts of the rock,

In the secret places of the cliff,

Let me see your face,

Let me hear your voice;

For your voice is sweet,

And your face is lovely."

Song of Songs 2:14

With this verse, I felt the Lord telling me, calling me, biding me to come away…to Him. To meet Him in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliffs…to find Him in and follow Him to Scotland…

scotland cliffs

I pray the Lord continues to speak to you with His word.  It is living, powerful, sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) and He is waiting for you to pick it up with the expectation that He WILL speak to you through it, guide you from it, show you His heart in it.

He loves you that much.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

the fullness of joy (#7)

**this is the 7th and final part of my testimony. thank you for reading**

8 years ago, I came back to the Lord.
7 years ago, my heart broke for Scotland.
5 years ago, I was reminded of His life.
3 years ago, I was given new direction.

Last year, refining came by way of fears and trust.

Psalm 16:11 says "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Last year, I began to deal with griping fear. The kind that paralyzes you, suffocates you, surrounds you to the point of being incapable of battling it.

I can't explain what spurred it on, but it came full force and ran from physical fears (of bridges, heights, mice, etc) to spiritual and internal fears (of losing loved ones, doing the wrong thing, making the wrong choice).

In the midst of a panic attack at a conference last year, I asked for those closest to me to pray. One verse that had been coming up over and over again throughout the conference was 2 Timothy 1:6: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." As they prayed, I clung to that verse.
I began dwelling on the idea that the opposite of fear are these things: power, love, and a sound mind. I needed that love. It led me to 1 John 4:18 that says "there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,..." and as I prayed for the Lord to show me how to dwell in perfect love, He sweetly ushered me to Psalm 16:11...and His presence.

I have been asking the Lord since then to continually remind me of His joy and love that casts out fear by letting me remain in His presence.

Circumstances will come up: leaving a job position you love, letting the Lord change the way you minister in church, friends coming and going, heartache, change, pain, confusion. All of these things, in the eyes of the world do not equal "joy" or happiness. But as we navigate our way through the downs and the outs of life, what does equal joy is dwelling in His presence throughout it, holding His hand and letting Him take you through.

Saying "Lord, I don't understand, I don't get it, but I know this is what You have asked of me right now and I'm going to trust You."

And then doing it.

I always find that doing it is the hardest part because the fullness of joy doesn't involve action, it involves dwelling. Dwelling in His presence. Stopping long enough to stay in His presence and not navigate our way through a messy map of emotions and circumstances and lies from the enemy.

In the midst of this year, and of finding His path of life and seeking to understand that His presence is where He wants me, He gave me a verse that held promise in it.

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians  5:24

I assumed He was promising to release me of my fears and I was thankful for that. I wouldn't have to worry about whether or not I would lose someone or something or have to deal with pain and hurt. Right? Well, it wasn't long after thought that when some of my worst fears became a reality in my life.

I don't need to repeat them and I don't need to give them more spotlight than they need. They are dealt with and over. But they were real and they happened and I cried out to the Lord, confused about these circumstances in light of 1 Thessalonians 5:24 and Psalm 16:11. He reminded me, hourly, daily, weekly...that He was there and He was in control.

I had to say to Him again "Lord, I don't understand, I don't get it, but I know this is what You have asked of me right now and I'm going to trust You."

I kept reminding myself that He has called me into His presence. I kept trying to run but His Spirit always brought me back. And I knew that I could find comfort there. I could find that power, love, and a sound mind that He has given us.

And joy. I knew that in His presence, I could find joy. Just like He told me I would.

7 years ago, He told me I needed to know what true joy was before I could minister in a place like Scotland.

5 years ago, He began to show me how to cling to Him in undesirable circumstances.

3 years ago, He striped me of my worldly identities so that I could be found complete in Him.

1 year ago, His love proved itself conquering over my fears. I found that His presence is where I need to be, regardless of circumstance or emotion.

3 months ago, He reminded me of His promise that He made 7 years back as He opened wide the doors for ministry in Scotland and laid the ground work for a short term trip there.

He called me, He is faithful, He will do it.

Friends, this is the 7th post of my testimony and I don't have much else to say. I have brought you up to the present time with one important factor that I want to share with you: everything that has happened in my life has been designed and orchestrated by the Lord.
I can't ask to change it, even if I want to, because I have joyfully submitted my life to His very capable hands. If this is something that you would desire: to joyfully surrender yourself to the Only One capable of directing you, then all you have to do is ask. He is willing and waiting for you to say YES to Him. He will do everything else.