Saturday, March 24, 2012

Posted by Erin Posted on 8:56 AM | No comments

It's Here

Somebody get me a 13.1 bumper sticker! Friends, it is real. This time tomorrow I will be running the Dallas Rock n Roll half marathon. I am excited. I am nervous. I am in denial that it is already time. My friends and I are about to jump in the car and drive to Dallas where we will pick up our race packets, go meet with As Our Own staff and other runners, have dinner with BCF runners, and then check into the hotel for a few hours of sleep (hopefully) before waking up eeeeeeeeearly to run 13.1 miles.

It will be hard. I will be sore. I will have several arguments in my head as I hit walls. But I will also celebrate each mile knowing that each step is a step for freedom. It is a step of freedom for me...from the lies I so easily believe about what I can and cannot do and be. But, even better, it is a step for freedom for little girls who have been or are at risk to be trafficked. I pray that it is a step for freedom for the men who are enslaved by the lies that they need what those girls "offer". And for every other person in every other facet of trafficking.

Thank you so much to those of you who have prayed and given. Our team goal was $15,000 and we are currently at $13,240. Pretty dang close. It has been such a joy to see friends and strangers give so generously to a ministry that I love so dearly. I cannot explain to you how much of an honor it is to run under the name of As Our Own and even more so the name of Christ. Aside from His strength, I could not do this. There are lots of things I can "get through" on my own strength...granted it won't be awesome, but I can do it. But this is not one of those things. I would not ever have even dreamed of doing anything like this were it not for the work of Christ and the way He has tied up my heart with little girls in India.

If you want to read more about Parul, the little one we are specifically running for, you can go here. (You can also donate there if you are so lead. ) My memory of this little girl is her silliness. When we were talking about Simon's name being changed to Peter, Mitch had the girls turn their name tags over and write a "nickname" on the back. It was supposed to be a characteristic of them. Jesus saw that Peter would be a rock. The girls were supposed to think along these lines. What is something about you that God might call you? She had one of the house parents write her nickname on her tag. I asked what it meant and he told me it basically translated to "giggles". I loved it. It was the perfect name. She loved to laugh. She always had a smile on her face. I love that girl! Her face is my phone wallpaper. I cannot wait to run for Parul. I cannot hug her sweet neck right now so I will love her the way I can. I will make decisions for her good even when they mean my discomfort.

I will run. For Parul. For As Our Own. For Freedom. For the glory of God.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:06 PM | No comments

Chosen Series: Part 7

At this very moment I am sitting in Mugwalls, a coffee shop in College Station,TX. This is one of the most familiar towns and even one of the most familiar coffee shops in my life. I spent five straight years in this college town. And many hours were spent "studying" in this coffee shop. Well, it wasn't Mugwalls back then. It was Coffee Station, but nevertheless, it is familiar: the bar, the stairs, the neighboring businesses. I know them. I know how this place feels. I know how to drive the roads of this town without wondering if I know where I'm going. I don't have to think about traffic. Even before college I spent a good part of my life in this town visiting family. College Station is in me. I don't have to think too hard about anything here. And yet, I still do some of my best thinking here. It's comfortable. And in this familiar place, I find my mind wandering back to Peter. He apparently had a thing for the familiar too. Don't we all?

Can we all just agree that Peter was sometimes as idiot? That's why we relate to him so well, isn't it? He said some stupid things. He jumped into conversations the way a sky-diving instructor jumps from a plane. Only Peter is not that skilled. He's a beginner sky-diver. A beginner who forgot to strap on a chute before jumping. SPLAT! Flat on his face. Yep. Peter was a messy person to befriend. Jesus felt the sting of Peter's messiness time and time again. But I would imagine that out of all those time-agains, one stood out as the ultimate sting. 

After the Last Supper, Jesus was giving the disciples a glimpse of the future. He told them that they would all be scattered, that they would all fall away. And Peter, who clearly knew more about what's to come than the Messiah, declares, probably with more than a tinge of indignanation, "Even if the rest of them fall away, I will NEVER do that." And so Jesus, again turns to speak directly to Peter. He tells him, "Actually, Peter, you will deny me tonight. Not just once, but three times. Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny knowing me three times." Peter responds more emphatically than before, "NEVAH!!!! I will die with you if I must, but I will never deny you!"

I wonder what Jesus' response was? Did He just pat Peter on the shoulder and say, "Alright, friend." ?  Did Jesus change the subject, maybe start talking about birds or flowers? Or perhaps He launched into a parable as He had done so often. Who knows, but you can bet His heart was aching and wishing that the space between Peter's heart and his actions wasn't so vast.

The next thing we know, we are in the garden with Jesus and Peter, James, and John. Jesus asks them to stay up and pray as He goes off a little further to talk to His Father. Maybe with the echoes of the last conversation still ringing in His mind, Jesus asked that if there was any other way for us to be restored to right relationship with God...if possible, could He not have to endure the sting of this night? Usually, I think of this as a prayer to avoid the cross, to avoid the weight of the sin of the world. And, if that was what He meant...all He meant, than that would still be more than significant. Clearly. But, in this moment, I can't help but think that Jesus was not just thinking of you and me and all the rest of mankind, although certainly He had to have been. I think, perhaps, He was also thinking of the friendships He had spent 3 years building. I wonder if there were memories flashing through His mind as He prayed. Calling the 12. Their faces when he broke that first piece of bread and it grew back into a full loaf. That stormy night on the boat when they woke Him from a nap and were so terrified. The moment when he first saw them "get it". When Peter declared that he knew Jesus was the Messiah. When Peter walked on water. When the 12 were so frustrated by not being able to cast out the demons and wanted so much to do it right. Moments of growth, of fear, hard conversations and crazy man moments of laughter.  Was He remembering in advance? The "memory" that had not yet happened? Was He seeing Peter around the fire telling the girl so fiercely that he did not know Jesus? I am heartbroken just thinking about it. 

And so, Jesus prays, "Father, if there is any other way, let this cup pass." Then He stands up and walks back to where the three friends were left to pray. Jesus finds His deepest friends sleeping. He speaks to Peter, "You are sleeping? It hasn't even been an hour. Watch and pray so that you do not fall into temptation." He goes back to pray again and then returns to find the three sleeping again. This time it's just awkward. We are told in one account of this story that His time in prayer was so intense that He was sweating blood. Could Peter and the other two see the blood on Jesus' forehead? What do you say to your best friend, and your Lord, when He is sweating blood and you can't seem to stay awake to pray for Him as He asked? It happens a third time, but there is not another chance waiting in the wings. I wonder if they'd had one more try at it, if the three would have found a way to stay awake. I wonder how many times I waited too long to be willing to do whatever it takes... But this time, it is TIME. Jesus is arrested. As if to prove he can actually be a good friend, Peter draws his sword and cuts off a guard's ear.  Again, jumping before he puts on the chute. The guards (after the ear has been miraculously restored by Jesus) lead Jesus away and everyone runs. 

And of course, we all know what happens, right? Just as Jesus said, Peter denied knowing Christ three times...the very same night he had sworn he would NEVER disown Jesus. And Mark 14 says that, as the rooster crowed for the second time, Peter remembered Jesus' words and Peter broke down and cried. 
Have you ever done that? I mean, have you ever realized that you screwed up so royally that there is no imaginable way to salvage the relationship? Maybe you stabbed a friend in the back. Maybe you broke the trust your parents had freely given. Maybe you had an affair and made a mess of your marriage. I don't know. But, most of us probably have some moment where we thought, I can't undo what I have done. And I know for me, there is some stuff that hasn't surfaced...not yet anyways. But there are things that I know...or at least I believe, that if people knew, if that friend knew, if that family member knew, if that church leader knew, that I would never be able to get back the kind of relationship we have now. Imagine the weight of that moment for Peter. He had been so sure, so proud, so emphatic about his loyalty and just a few moments later, he couldn't even stay away to pray for his friend and Messiah. And then, on top of that, he told who knows how many people, that he didn't even KNOW Jesus. 

And the shame crept in. There was no undoing this. There was no going back. Jesus was hanging on a cross, so Peter couldn't even say he was sorry. He couldn't prove his regret. And even if he could, there was no way Jesus could ever love him like before. But oh, my friends, there is a beautiful moment ahead for Peter.

We will pause here for a couple of reasons. One, this post is going to get ridiculously long if I don't stop here. And two, I think it is important for us to sit with this for awhile. I so often sprint through the fields of sorrow so that I can blend in with the crowd of comfort. But let's reflect on the heaviness of this moment. Don't rush past it, friends. Lamentations 3:25-31 says it best:

"The Lord is good for those who wait for Him,
      to the soul who seeks Him.
      It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
      It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

  Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him.
      Let him put his mouth in the dust-
      there may yet be hope.
      Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
      and let him be filled with insults.

  The Lord will not cast off forever."



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Questions for today:
1. What is your familiar? It could be a place or a habit or activity, or maybe a person...what is yours?
2. Have you ever, like Peter, been broken by the realization that you cannot undo a mistake? What did you fear in that moment?
3. Are you like me in that you find yourself rushing through the painful parts of life, rushing through conviction? What are some practical ways we can fight this tendency?

Happy Journey!
Erin

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Posted by Erin Posted on 3:45 PM | 1 comment

Becoming a Half-Marathoner

My blog world,

I wanted to share with you a great big scary challenge I have taken on. In a week and a half, I will be running the Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon. That's right 13.1 miles. I freak out a little every time I think about it. If you have known me for any good amount of time, you know that running is not my idea of a fun past-time. For some of you, running comes easy and is actually something that refreshes and recharges you, but for others of us, well...that just isn't the case. So then, why sign up for a half-marathon? I'm so glad you asked. As many of you know, in December 2010 I went to India for a couple of weeks to work with a ministry called As Our Own. They are working against human trafficking in India through rescue, aftercare, and prevention. 

They rescue girls who are born into brothels or are is situations which make them vulnerable to traffickers. These girls are brought into the As Our Own family and cared for as a parent cares for his child. They do not age out of the program since you can't age out of your family. They are in great schools, most making straight A's to the shock of the community ("The daughters of prostitutes are excelling in school?!?!"). They are given music lessons and dance and the little ones put on a Christmas play which their moms (the ones working in the brothels) get to come see. 

The prevention arm is about raising up the church in India to step into the gap and be the church God has called her to be. AOO has a Bible college where they are training young men to pastor the churches in India. They also partner with churches in the villages.

Back to the half marathon...AOO is in the middle of the I Will Run campaign. 10 races. 10 cities. 10 girls. I love this ministry. I love the girls that they have rescued. There was one in particular that I fell in love with during my time there. Her name is Parul and she just happens to be the little girl who is connected to the Dallas race. I was a little bit giddy when I found this out. There are over 100 people running in this particular race for As Our Own. We are running to raise awareness but we are also running to raise funds. Honestly, being aware of the problem isn't going to do much to actually set girls free. Here is a bit about the funds needed:

$696 provides 3 meals a day for 1 year for 1 girl.
$672 provides a home for 1 year for 1 girl.
$720 allows a girl to school for 9 months.

So my personal goal is $750. I currently have raised $200 and have just 10 days left.I will be running with a team of people from my church Bayou City Fellowship. There are 30 of us running. Our team goal is $15,000 and we are currently at $6,200.  It would bless me immensely if you consider giving. This run will not be easy for me. It has already stretched me. There has been achy muscles, more time required than I ever imagined, and even some tears of frustration over running. To be quite honest, I'm really intimidated by the reality of race day. But, if Parul and other little girls will know hope as a result of this, if they get to fall asleep feeling safe and loved, if they get to see what Jesus offers, than all of that is worth it. You can read more about Parul's story and my story on the donation page which is here.

Thank you for considering giving. And thank you in advance for your prayers. If you have questions about the race or As Our Own, please do not hesitate to ask. It is one of my greatest honors and joys to get to talk about what God is doing in the lives of those precious girls.

-Erin

 "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." -Eric Little
(I believe that God has a purpose for Parul and so, even though I am not fast, at least for this one race, I will feel God's pleasure when I run.)