Monday, September 29, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 9:45 PM | 1 comment

Becoming a Poet (all my life)

I wrote this poem for a class my last semester of school. It is a certain style of poetry that requires the lines to end with the same 6 words rotating. The Beauty of the Broken was a thought that had been swimming around in my mind for awhile and it was this assignment that allowed it to come to fruition. I wanted to share it with you because I have again been thinking a lot about how Christ is often reflected better in our broken pieces than in our healthy habits. It is a strange thing that broken glass reflects light so differently than a flawless sheet of glass. I hope that you are encouraged and blessed by this.

The Beauty of the Broken
erin r. woods
April 2006

We call lust, love
and ridicule the lonely.
We call war, hope
and overlook the hurting.
We call pride, beauty
and in it all we are broken.

So Your flesh was broken,
blood poured out in love.
The day You suffered the deepest lonely,
Where then was hope?
As on the cross you hung, hurting,
It seemed Evil had conquered Beauty.

But you rose victorious in beauty.
You left the father of lies broken,
the evil one destroyed by love.
You established a family for the lonely.
This is our hope,
that you came triumphantly through the hurting.

Now you hold the hurting
in the embrace of beauty.
You take the beaten and the broken
and cover them with perfect love.
You seek out the lost and the lonely
and all those living without hope.

It is in You that I found hope
and comfort for the hurting.
You came to me when I had no beauty
and my heart had been broken.
You looked on me with love
and assured me you understood lonely.

You offer life to the lonely.
You are our everlasting hope.
You hold out your hand to the hurting.
You redefine beauty
and restore the broken
by your unfailing love.

You are the Love of the lonely.
You are the Hope of the hurting.
You are the Beauty of the broken.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 2:50 AM | 3 comments

Becoming Broken and Whole

It is the greatest paradox of life that in order to become whole, one must be completely broken.

I was going to wait until next month to write this entry. It is a reflection on the last year of my life. August 14th will be exactly a year that I have been searching for a job and filling my months with random short-term sources of income. Would I ever have imagined this year? Of course not. Would I ever have planned or hoped for twelve months of uncertainty. Heck no. Do I want this season to come to a close? You bet your britches. But still, I am so inexplicably thankful for these past months.

I have hurt like never before. I have felt forgotten and abandoned. I have wondered if walking with God is worth it. I have been angry with the Lord and been bold enough to let Him know it. I have screamed and cried and melted into a pile of emotional goo before the throne of my King. And in His goodness, He has let me punch the air. He has quietly sat as my dreams for a smooth transition from college to career shattered. He seemed to do nothing as the hopes I had for life after college were dashed against the rocks of reality. And I have learned that there is purpose in the silence of God.

Through most of this year, about 8 months, I have been reading a book by Larry Crabb called "Shattered Dreams". (Yes, it is ridiculous that it has taken me 8 months to read this 200 page book but I needed that much time to really digest it.) It has been a hard read, a slap in the face, but it has been so good. It is full of hard truth, the kind that we all need, usually when we least want it. I want to share some of my favorite quotes from the book.

(in regards to Jesus telling the disciples that we should be like children)-"He was recommending brokenness-something we live to avoid." (Ouch)

"We are not defined by the things we suffer."

(In heaven)"Pain will have no purpose so it will not be allowed. Our appetites will be straightened out. We will not desire the good above the best."

"Church is too often a place of pretense and therefore a place without hope. When brokenness is disdained, where the real story is never told, the power of God is not felt. Where brokenness is invited and received with grace, the gospel comes alive with hope."

"When the deepest desire we feel is for something other than God, a spirit of entitlement develops. We see ourselves as needing something we don't have, and we believe we should have. ...Prayer becomes demand when desire becomes our tyrant."

"Discovering our desire for God introduces us to a whole new world of hurt. When we realize how badly we want him, he seemingly disappears.But it's a hopeful hurt. It doesn't feel exactly good, but it does feel clean. Through our tears we can actually sing 'Great is Thy Faithfulness' and 'It is Well with My Soul'. We can even sing 'I Love You Lord' not without an ache in our hearts, but somehow through the ache."

"There are times in life when it would be easier to not believe in God at all than to believe in Him and wonder where He is."

(In regards to responding when life causes you to doubt...He offers 3 options, this being the best of the three) "Scream and holler until the terror of life so weighs you down that you discover solid ground beneath your feet. The solid ground is not doctrine. It is not merely truth to believe. It is not recommitment and trying harder to to believe and do right. It is Him. It is our awareness of a Christ whose passion to bless is so strong that His restraint becomes not a cause for complaint, but a sacred and appealing mystery."

"God's restraint has purpose. When He appears to be doing nothing, He is doing something we've not yet learned to value and therefore cannot see."

"I wish you brokenness because I wish you joy."

"In our day of feel-good Christianity, we have come up with a wrong view of our spiritual journey. We think of suffering as something abnormal, as evidence that we lack faith. We work so hard to escape suffering that we fail to realize what good things might be happening in us as we suffer. But that's wrong. That's more Buddhist than Christian."

"The problem is with our blessing-based, happiness-centered understanding of goodness. It is too small. And with our small idea of goodness, we dream small dreams , and small dreams lead to small prayers."

God does what is best for us. He insists that even in our pain, he is doing us good. It is probably the hardest thing to believe. I believe God loves me. I believe He is a just God, He is wise and kind and creator. But to believe that He is doing what is best for me, when ever fiber of my soul shrinks from the aching of my dreams crumbling...that is nearly impossible. Except that it is in the shattering of our small dreams that our highest dream is stirred. Eventually that kicking and screaming and being angry with God subsides and what is left is a desire to walk with God, to know Him before anything else. The pain doesn't necessarily vanish and circumstances are not magically restored. But now, as I cry and as I ache, I have an incredible peace.

It is funny to me that a month into this season of job searching, I was freaking out. I was frantic about finding a job. Now, almost a year later, although I still want to find a job, I can rest. I do not worry about income. No freaking out. I still have a day here and there when I allow anxiety to creep in, but for the most part, I rest in knowing that my highest dream cannot shatter. I can know God intimately and one day I will see him face to face.

There is one last quote from a letter in the book. I want to end with this because I think this sums up the whole thing. This guy gets it:

""Faith, as I am growing to understand it more, is about looking beyond my circumstances to a person. To have faith in better circumstances, even in God creating better circumstances, is not true faith. I want to be the kind of man who can watch every dream go down in flames and still yearn to be intimately involved in kingdom living, intimately involved with my friend the King, and still be willing to take another risk just because it delights Him for me to do so. And my flesh shivers to think about it."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 1:27 PM | No comments

Becoming a Volunteer Coordinator

You may or may not know that I recently interviewed for a teaching position at an early education center. Well, today I received a letter in the mail informing me that, while they appreciate my interest in the position, they have decided to hire a different candidate...Rejection notices are so personal.

So, I will not be teaching and herding 10 toddlers around every day for the next year. I, still, don't know what I will be doing for the next year. I do, however, know what I will be doing for the next two months. And that is fabulous (not as fabulously comforting as knowing a year, but fabulous all the same).

What will I be doing? I'm so glad you asked.

Stephen Smith, my middle school pastor, the husband of Star, the frontman of the Smithband-which led worship at Breakaway, my guitar teacher, is now the worship pastor at HFBC. His assistant, Sarah, is leaving to do missions in Brazil. His new assistant, Dean-na, as the super-woman behind Breakaway, is arriving at the end of July. Between Sarah and Dean-na, there are about three weeks. Stephen asked me to fill in. Then, when I met with him to discuss that, he also asked me to be the volunteer coordinator for the hard hat crew as we move back into the newly remodeled worship center.

So, I am an assistant AND a volunteer coordinator, for a little while at least. It will be a busy couple of months, which,let's be honest, will be a nice change. Perhaps this will open other doors. Perhaps not. But the Lord is continuing to provide, not in the way I would choose it to be, but "In his heart a man makes his plans, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." I will strive to trust God for today, because today I have all I need. Tomorrow will worry about itself.

If you are a member of HFBC, I expect you to help with hard hat crew...but I know you were already planning on it.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 11:17 PM | 3 comments

Becoming Joyful

Joyful and happy are so very different. Why can't we get that? We say it all the time..."Happy is based on circumstance. Joy is based on knowing and believing Christ."

We say that, and then in the very same breath we tell the person who is crying to suck it up because they should be joyful. I think our, or at least my, understanding of joy needs to be broadened.

I had a very sweet friend tell me once that I was always sad. She challenged me to be more joyful. I certainly think there is weight in what she share with me, which went a little deeper than just that. But at the same time, she was someone I felt like I didn't have to be fake with. If I was not having a good day then I told her that. In the same year, I had other friends tell me how contagious my joy was. So, what I am to do with that? One friend says," You are always joyful and you trust the Lord. It's such an encouragement." And another friend says, "You are always so sad. You need to take joy in the Lord and trust Him."

Do you know how confusing that can be? Very. But I think I sort of understand...a very tiny bit.

See, in this season I have been both discouraged and encouraged. My circumstances are some of the most discouraging I have ever faced. But I have been more encouraged by the Lord in these times as well. There are days, weeks, even months when I feel...emotionally...defeated, sad, forgotten. But spiritually, I feel satisfied, joyful, victorious. Most of the time the defeated probably shows though more than the victorious. I think that is because it is my flesh that is feeling defeated and it is my flesh that fights against everything spiritual. I know that needs to change. My spirit...rather, the Holy Spirit should be controlling my countenance. My eyes should shine with hope and joy even as I cry. I think more and more that is happening. I believe that we have seasons like this so that those things can happen. But it takes time. It takes change. And God doesn't always make those changes in us over night.

So next time you see someone who seems to lack joy, maybe ask them first. It could be that they do have joy and are just having a hard time expressing it through the hurt.

I don't think that is what my friend was doing. I appreciate that conversation because I know she wants me to look more like Christ which means she really loves me. And I certainly have grown because of her words.


I think it's silly to act like trials aren't painful. They are. And we are promised to have them. I don't think Paul went around talking about how great his life was. He probably told people when that thorn in his flesh was acting up and hurting. He probably had days in prison when all he could do was weep. But that doesn't mean that Paul wasn't joyful.

Down below, I typed out 1 Peter 1:6-9. I love this passage. I love that it says "if necessary". Our trials, our hard seasons, our tears....they have a purpose. If they don't have a purpose, they don't happen. It's ok to admit that those trials are hard and painful. But even in that pain we rejoice because in God's mercy He has saved us and given us a living hope.

1 Peter 1:6-9

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in the praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 3:58 PM | 2 comments

Becoming a Truth-walker

First of all, I feel compelled to clarify my last post a little bit. I think it may have come across to some that I believe if a job is not what I want to do, if it is hard, that I don't think I am supposed to be doing it. That is not at all what I mean. What I mean to communicate is that the place where faith and logic come together is lost on me. I do not plan to avoid jobs simply because they are difficult or boring or uncomfortable or whatever terrible adjective we should use. I know that even what I feel called to do, in my case being young-women's ministry, will be very difficult and sometimes boring, and most often uncomfortable. Every job is all of those things at one point or another. So, it's not an avoidance that is my issue. It is instead trying to figure out where I need to be for now, and the balance of action and waiting. Moments when I begin to ravenously search for a job usually occur because I am in a place of not trusting. I am thinking, "Well, I need income and You are not providing it God, so I will just have to take things into my own hands and go find a job myself." Regardless of the fact that faith also requires action, in those moments, my action is sinful because it is doubting God's promises and character. So there you have it. Hopefully that clears things up.

As for this Truth-walker business. As I am sure you have realized through conversations and posts, I have been struggling to walk in faith. I know things in my head but have trouble living out those truths. I have had several days, and more and more as this season continues, where I become consumed by my circumstances and emotions. I have a tendency to walk in the "truth" of what I can see and feel.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, as we split into our prayer groups at GS practice, Roger encouraged us to pray according to the Truth that we are victorious. Our group sort of forgot to do that I guess. But as I left and went about the rest of the night I continued to think about that. About praying over our circumstances as though we are already victorious...because we are. So I thought about that all week. I am unemployed, but I am victorious. I live with my parents, but I am victorious. My life looks nothing like how I thought it would...or how I think it should, but I am victorious. Then, as I discussed with a friend some struggles that she was facing, and sharing my own struggles, the Lord brought to mind an illustration. If you know me at all, you know that I am a total illustration person. I always have an illustration for everything. I can't help it.

Here is the illustration that came to mind...I have these three note cards in my head. Written on one is my circumstances. On another is my I feel about life. And written on the third is Truth. They are stacked on top of each other and which ever is on top is what I see first and what I am walking in. It affects how I see the other two. Usually, the circumstance or feelings card is on top. So I usually live from there, seeing mostly my circumstances or emotion and then truth is an afterthought. The last couple of weeks though, I have switched the cards around in my head so that the first card I see is Truth. I see who God is and who I am in Christ and that affects the way I view my circumstances and feelings. I can walk in Truth. Truth really can be what we see first. As another friend put it, this illustration is just the living out of taking every thought captive. There are certainly times when the cards get mixed up and I see one of the other cards first. In those moments, I have to consciously switch my cards around and put them in the right order. I have to be deliberate in how I am thinking.

It is amazing how much more alive I have felt these last couple of weeks. I have taken initiative in somethings and just enjoyed life in general. I've become a Truth-Walker. It will be a daily challenge, I know. But I have a mental image to help me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 4:54 PM | 1 comment

Becoming Disheartened

One of the points of Sunday's sermon was when you can't see clearly what to do, take the next logical step of faith.

What the heck does that mean? I know that there is some way that logic and faith meet, but I cannot figure it out. It must be due to some incorrect definition of one or the other or both.

Logical: natural or sensible given the circumstances

I know that isn't the only definition of logical, but it is the one that I associate with the word most often. Logic implies sensibility. Even in studying proofs in logic class in college, there were rules, steps...this leads to this. So how do you make a logical step of faith. I look at scripture and see that faith is crazy. It doesn't seem logical. Abraham let Lot take the best land...that's not logical, that's faith. Isaiah walked around naked for THREE years...certainly not logical. Can you imagine? That required abandoning logic and trusting the God was going to use the craziness. Even Christ wasn't logical. He never reasoned his way through life. He didn't ever say, "Peter, don't be silly, you can't walk on water. Only God can." or "Wait. I don't have to die on the cross, I'm God. I'm sinless." The things He did and Abraham and Isaiah and David and on and on...the things they did were actions of faith not logic. Right? Please help me understand if I missing something.

Logically, I need a job. Logically, I will have to settle for the right now job instead of the right job. So, I pick myself up by the bootstraps and decide to apply for jobs in this field or that field. I work through the logistics of it. I even pray through it...most of the time without a clear response, just silence. And as soon as I pull up the application to begin the process of the logical step, all I can do is cry because I feel like I am not acting in faith. I feel like I am saying to God, "Well you aren't taking care of it so I have to do something! What else am I suppose to do! I know I wasn't made for this job but life requires income which requires a job which requires going out and getting a job." So I don't fill out the application because I can't fit it in with faith.

Needless to say, I am finding myself quite discouraged. I know truth. I know He keeps promises. I know that i am not waiting for nothing. I know this season has a purpose and it is good. But the vision doesn't seem quite as clear when you are looking through tear-filled eyes. things get blurry and hope gets watered-down.

And then of course you open your home page and something like this pops up:

"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay."
Habakkuk 2:3

God, heal my unbelief. Teach me how faith and logic coincide. I want to understand. I want to know you more.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 9:15 PM | 1 comment

Becoming Wine?

In order to make fine wine, grapes must be harvested at the precise time, preferably when physiologically ripe. A combination of science and old-fashioned tasting usually go into determining when to harvest, with consultants, winemakers, vineyard managers, and proprietors all having their say. Harvesting can be done mechanically or by hand. However, many estates prefer to hand harvest, as mechanical harvesters can often be too tough on the grapes and the vineyard. Once the grapes arrive at the winery, reputable winemakers will sort the grape bunches, culling out rotten or under ripe fruit before crushing.

Crushing the whole clusters of fresh ripe grapes is traditionally the next step in the wine making process. Having said all this, it is important to note that not all wine begins life in a crusher. Sometimes, winemakers choose to allow fermentation to begin inside uncrushed whole grape clusters, allowing the natural weight of the grapes and the onset of fermentation to burst the skins of the grapes before pressing the uncrushed clusters.

Fermentation is indeed the magic at play in the making of wine. Fermentation can require anywhere from ten days to a month or more.

Once fermentation is completed, the clarification process begins. Winemakers have the option of racking or siphoning their wines from one tank or barrel to the next in the hope of leaving the precipitates and solids called pomace in the bottom of the fermenting tank. Filtering and fining may also be done at this stage. Filtration can be done with everything from a course filter that catches only large solids to a sterile filter pad that strips wine of all life. Fining occurs when substances are added to a wine to clarify them. Often, winemakers will add egg whites, clay, or other compounds to wine that will help precipitate dead yeast cells and other solids out of a wine. These substances adhere to the unwanted solids and force them to the bottom of the tank.

The final stage of the wine making process involves the aging and bottling of wine. After clarification, the winemaker has the choice of bottling a wine immediately, which is the case for Beaujolais Nouveau, or he or she can give a wine additional aging as in the case of Grand Cru Bordeaux and great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Further aging can be done in bottle, stainless steel or ceramic tanks, large wooden ovals, or small barrels, commonly called barriques. The choices and techniques employed in this final stage of the process are nearly endless, as are the end results. However, the common result in all cases is wine. Enjoy!


You are probably wondering why the heck I am sharing the wine-making process with you. Well, here is the reason. I have been trying to figure out how to put into words the deep aching, longing, and yet peace of purpose I have felt in these last 9...yes, 9 months of unemployment. I have had trouble being able to express how or what it is that actually hurts but the other day it hit me. It's my soul. My soul hurts! And then I thought, " But how? What kind of hurt is this, because it's not like a cut or a bruise. It's not like my soul got slapped or pushed or made fun of." But those are the only kinds of hurt I know how to express. And then it came, the expression of this ache. Are you ready? Here it is. I feel like my soul is being rung out like a rag. Every drop of dirty water being squeezed out of me. I even have those moments where it seems the ringing is over. You know when you ring out a rag and then untwist it only to then twist the other direction and squeeze harder? That is how it feels. God twists me one way and all the filthy me stuff drips out. Then He unwraps my aching soul and lets me breath. Then before I know it, He is twisting me the other way and harder than before. Some more filthy me trickles out. This is happening over and over.

As I was considering this, my mind wandered to grapes becoming wine. I wondered how many times does that press come down on them before all the juice is drained out of them. Then I thought. I feel like a grape. So I looked up the wine-making process to see how much like a grape I am.

Grapes have to be the right time. And only certain grapes are used.

I was brought into the Family of God at the right time. I was chosen to be a part of what He is doing, to be His child who He would use for His glory.

Crushing the whole clusters of fresh ripe grapes is traditionally the next step in the wine making process. Having said all this, it is important to note that not all wine begins life in a crusher. Sometimes, winemakers choose to allow fermentation to begin inside uncrushed whole grape clusters, allowing the natural weight of the grapes and the onset of fermentation to burst the skins of the grapes before pressing the uncrushed clusters.
Personally, I think God usually prefers the pre-crushing fermentation thing. I think He lets us grow and learn to walk with Him and start to see how He wants to use us. He begins to place His vision for our lives in our hearts and then it happens...the crushing. The Holy Spirit moves over us again and again pressing as much me-filth as possible from our souls.

Fermentation is indeed the magic at play in the making of wine. Fermentation can require anywhere from ten days to a month or more.
Then God lets us process what has happened. He lets up on the pressing and continues to define His call on our lives. He lets us rest and meditate on His Truth and promises. Even this can be hard but a different hard than the crushing. This is a hard that requires being still and patient. Being ok with just being here and knowing God.

Winemakers have the option of racking or siphoning their wines from one tank or barrel to the next in the hope of leaving the precipitates and solids called pomace in the bottom of the fermenting tank. Filtering and fining may also be done at this stage.Fining occurs when substances are added to a wine to clarify them. Often, winemakers will add egg whites, clay, or other compounds to wine that will help precipitate dead yeast cells and other solids out of a wine. These substances adhere to the unwanted solids and force them to the bottom of the tank.
Then after we have had time to sit and process and be still, He takes us through a different kind of me-filth cleansing. He runs us through the filtering of the Holy Spirit and Scripture and Relationship. the chunks of me that had tried to stick around get stuck in the strainer.

After clarification, the winemaker has the choice of bottling a wine immediately, or he can give a wine additional aging. Further aging can be done in bottle, stainless steel or ceramic tanks, large wooden ovals, or small barrels, commonly called barriques. The choices and techniques employed in this final stage of the process are nearly endless, as are the end results. However, the common result in all cases is wine. Enjoy!
You would think at this point we'd be ready to be sent out to fulfill our calling. Well, some might be. God may stop here sometimes. And, sometimes he may choose to let us go through the aging process. And I agree, that just like with wine, this can happen in various ways. Different circumstances, different people. But the end result is always wine...

And who knows what that wine will be used for. Maybe a great romance or the celebration of a amazing success.

The difference between me and a grape is that a grape goes through this process only once and the steps happen separately. As believers, we go through this process over and over. The me-filth has to be constantly pressed out and the God-stuff has to ferment and age. And the steps can happen separately or all at once. But I think God is using all of us grapes to make a wonderful wine.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:14 PM | 3 comments

Becoming a Waiter

This week I have been really struggling to trust the Lord. On paper, I can write out that God is faithful, he is provider, he loves me, he is good, etc. But I am having trouble living every day in that truth. Tonight I even thought, "He keeps telling me to wait. I can see exactly where the door is but all he says is 'wait'."

As soon as the thought was completed in my mind, I felt the Holy Spirit poking me..."That sounds familiar, Erin. Kind of like something you taught the youth this summer."

Well heck. It's true. I did a Sunday morning lesson on what to do in seasons where we are just walking in circles in the desert waiting for the Lord to let us move on. The two chunks of scripture that the lesson was based on were Deut. 11:8-12 and Jer. 29:4-14.

First read Deut.

8 "You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess, 9 and that you may live long in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey.
10 For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables.
11 But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven,
12 a land that the LORD your God cares for. The eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
Deuteronomy 11:8-12

From this passage, I made 3 points.
1)God is faithful. Trust him. (This came from investigating the "therefore". Moses had just reminded them of all that God had done for them. He was saying, "You have SEEN that God takes care of us. Therefore we can keep the commands because we knoe they are good for us, because God always does what's good for us.)
2)God’s plan isn’t dependent on our faithfulness, but our enjoyment of his plan is.(-verse 8 and verse 10 say the land that you ARE crossing over to possess. Whether or not the Israelites will get to possess the land is not the issue. They are going to possess it. It is the quality of life they experience there that is dependent on their obedience. It says keep the commands that I give you so that you may be strong and live long in the land which I have promised.
-The Lord was going to bring them out of the desert. But he wanted them to not be weak and depressed when they crossed into the promised land. He wanted them to be strong so they could enjoy life in this place. But the obedience that would give that strength had to start in the desert. )
3)God sees where he is taking us from beginning to end. (This one is pretty self-explanitory)

So, after discussing these three points, I gave an illustration with the help of Tom Cruise in Minority Report. If you haven't seen it, go watch it. There is a scene where Tom Cruise is running through the mall along with Agatha (a precognitive...she can see the future basically). The feds are after them because Tom has been breaking all sorts of laws in order to prove his innocence....yeah. But so, they are running and Agatha keeps making Tom stop to pick things up, notice things, etc. She makes him turn around and take a black umbrella. She points out people left and right. "That lady recognizes you. That man is about to drop his suitcase." Then when they are in the middle of the most open area of the mall and the feds are on their way, Agatha stops. "Wait", she says. Tom tries to get her to keep going, telling her they can't stop there. "Wait." Tom looks at the exit door clearly thinking, "Agatha, the door is right there. I can see it. Let's just go." Instead, he asks, "What are we waiting for?" Her response is "See the man with the balloons? Wait. Wait. Wait...."

So, They wait, and right as the feds are scanning the area from the second floor, the balloon man gets stopped by a little girl. The bunch of balloons hides Tom and Agatha from sight. Then they run and get through the door and there is a blind beggar. Agatha tells Tom to drop some money. The beggar crawls to find it and when the feds bust through the door, they trip over the beggar. When Agatha and Tom get outside it is pouring down rain and that black umbrella that she made Tom stop for earlier was the thing that kept them from being spotted amidst the crowd of umbrellas in the street.

So the point of this illustration...most of the time God doesn't tell us what we are waiting for. Even when he does it sounds ridiculous. (the man with the balloons???) We get really antsy because we can see the door. We know that's where we are headed and we can see that it would be so easy to get there from here. But just like Tom had to trust Agatha, because she knew what was going on when he didn't, we have to trust God. Most of the time all he will do is quietly keep saying, "Wait. Wait. Wait..."

Then what do we do while we are waiting? So glad you asked.

Read Jer. 29:4-14

4 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.
6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
 10 "For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,
14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Jeremiah 29:4-7,10-14

He tells his people that they will be in exile for 70 years. They know He’s going to get them out but He tells them not to sit around and wait to be rescued.
He says invest where you are.
Seek the shalom/peace of the place you are in.
Get plugged in somewhere. Invest in other peoples lives….friends, at church, school activities.

So that is the lesson I taught to jr high and high school students 8 months ago in Austin,TX. I was reminded of it (gradually) last night and tonight. Thanks, Beth Moore, for talking about the Refiner's fire. And thanks, Roger, for reading Romans 15:4. Both last night and tonight were full of hard moments of my doubts meeting truths.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 3:14 PM | 4 comments

Becoming Pieces

Brokenness is a terribly, painfully, wonderful, beautful thing. Now, I say that on the fringe of becoming broken. I am not in the middle of brokenness ( at least not as I have known it to feel in the past). I am however about to be broken. I say this with such confidence because of how things are lining up. First, I was asked to speak at a girls' conference about finding satisfaction in Christ. How to speak about that when you don't know how to do that to begin with is extremely humbling. Preparing that lesson was a huge lesson for myself. So that was the tip of the "get ready to be broken" iceberg. Next, I picked up a book that was suggested to me called , "Shattered Dreams". It is wonderfully frightening to pick up a book with that sort of title. I am on chapter 8 and every word I read pierces my heart. The reality that, in order to show us that our deepest dream is knowing Him, The Lord will shatter our other dreams, is not a fun reality. And then there is the Beth Moore bible study. I have gone to the church that host that bible study for all my life and have never once even considered going to the bible study. I love Beth. She is an amazing teacher, but I tend to avoid anything with that much hype. However, before the beginning of this semester, 5 people asked me if I was going to go. Since no one has ever asked me if I was going or not, I felt that the Lord was saying, "Erin, get over yourself, you are not too cool for hype. you need to go." So I am going. She is doing a study called "Breaking Free". Doesn't that sound fun. Breaking....Breaking free....not being free, not becoming free, not flying no....BREAKING.

And alongside all of those terrible, wonderful things, my heart is aching more and more to be in ministry. I am aching for girls in churches that don't have a girls' minister. Girls that, if they get their heart broken or get taken advantage of or are lonely, can't talk to anyone on their youth staff because they are all men. It breaks my heart. And I am seeing doors open for me to walk towards girls ministry, which is super exciting.

So, that, my friends is why I can say so confidently that I am on the fringe of being broken.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 12:54 AM | No comments

Becoming Infected