Crossing a Bridge

I’ve shared some, but not much, of our journey through medical school and residency. This little old blog actually started the same month The Hubby started medical school, back when Big J was a toddler and Little J was a newborn!

In some aspects, the past six years have FLOWN by, but I know that there were months, weeks, and even days that felt incredibly long and hard along the way. All in all, it has been challenging for all of us, but nearly as hard as I imagined it could be. For that, I am so very thankful.

And I’m here to share another reason for us to be thankful: last month, The Hubby signed a contract for an outpatient internal medicine clinic position to start when he finishes residency next summer! We took about three months to pray and really weigh all of our options and God led us clearly to this one. We are so very excited and grateful and all the emotions!

I feel like we are now on a bridge. Yes, we are physically still on one side of the bridge, living in the same house, same city, same everything, but in our hearts, we’ve stepped out on to this bridge that will take us to the next place He has for us. This one decision means so many things will change for us next summer – new town, new home, new job, new friends – and we are crossing a bridge over these next nine months to prepare ourselves and our boys for the other side.


On the Bridge

The town we will be moving to has this fabulous old pedestrian bridge. The Hubby and I stood on that bridge discussing the future the last time we visited before making our decision. The bridge felt significant to me, so I snapped a bunch of pictures, and when we got home, I discovered this quote…

Bridge Builder Long
“I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.” ~spoken by Aslan in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

I can’t tell you right now if the next nine months will feel long or short. But change is going to happen and God is asking me to not be afraid of it – the house selling and house buying and saying goodbye to everything familiar. Change is the river we must cross, but He will build our bridge and will lead us across it.

Through this process, God has used so many water and river images to guide and calm me, so I’m not surprised this bridge is firmly imprinted on my mind. It’s actually a comfort now as I know we’ve taken the first step and the only way to go is forward!

Yes, change is unsettling, but we are so thrilled with the direction He is moving us. We’re crossing the bridge and looking forward to many new and wonderful things for our family!

 

What bridge are you crossing right now?

 

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What It Looks Like to Run Wild

I received the products mentioned in this post for review. I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I might be a dreamer, but I also tend to play it safe. I worry about getting things “wrong” or stirring things up. I shy away from activities or dreams that might complicate my life. I go through seasons of pushing and challenging myself, only to fall back in to safe mode where things are more comfortable.

I’ve seen this cycle play out in my training as a runner. When I sign up for a race and have a goal in mind, I am willing to push myself and get a little crazy in the hopes of achieving the desired result. But once the race is over, I slip back to my comfort zone, sometimes even missing workout days and other days just barely making it through with very little effort.

I know this pattern in life and running is not God’s plan for me. The “safe” zone is not where my growth happens or where my faith becomes greater. This almost always happens in the messy places that make me a little uncomfortable. It happens when I do what God recently spoke to me:

Run wild, Erin.

Run Wild 1

He speaks to me a lot while I’m running and in running metaphors, but these words are more about my everyday living than my workouts. I first heard them in a song by For King and Country

There’s no time left to waste
Yeah, you can make your great escape
We’re made to RUN WILD

The song is from the album of the same name, Run Wild Live Free Love Strong, and all of it is moving me to a place of messy forward motion. I may not be the most tidy person at home, but I’ve tried to keep my journey with God nice and neat. This “tidy” faith is more frustrating than freeing. Taking on this call from God to run wild after Him is scary but full to the brim with freedom.

Run Wild 2

I’ve noticed that my tendency towards safety has kept me from encouraging wild faith and trust in God in my family. I use the words “careful” and “nice” a lot. My boys are naturally wild in their behavior, but I have done nothing to show them how God can use their wild spirits to change the world for Him.

Run Wild 4

I need the words RUN WILD before me every day as a reminder. I’ve started chasing some wild dreams and loosened my grip on the small, tidy faith I once held so tightly. Most days feel a little out my control, but I know I my life is completely in His hands. He made me to run wild. He made my guys to run wild. I’m moving out of the safe zone and running wildly with the purpose of changing this world to the glory of His name.

Run wild
Live free
Love strong
You and me

Those words I need in front of my face? There’s no better way to have them on display in my home than with the new Letterpress Blocks from DaySpring! The fun thing with these blocks is the the “Build Your Own Word” site where you can drag and drop letters and symbols before you decide what to buy! Seriously, I spent so much time playing with the mixing and matching of letters and fonts, as well as designing different words and phrases! The actual blocks work well sitting on a ledge or hanging on a wall – however you want to use them keep those important words in view!

Run Wild Giveaway

Thanks to my dear friends at DaySpring, I have a $50 coupon code to use towards a Letterpress Blocks order to giveaway today! Just leave a comment below by Friday, October 17th at 9 p.m. CST telling me the word or phrase you would make with the Letterpress Blocks!

What would your Letterpress Blocks word or phrase be?

 

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How God is Using My Love for Sports

Even as an upper elementary age girl, I was a fan of Sportscenter. Yep, I’m a girl who loves her Sportscenter. Whether it’s early morning or late night, I count on getting my sports news fix each day and Sportscenter is just the best place for that. Plus, they’re usually pretty funny.

Football is my favorite, but I’ve always been drawn to the world of sports in general. While most people are idolizing sports stars, I love the stories. I love the human interest. I love the lessons we can learn from the very public stage of college and professional sports.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that God put this love of sports in me and then gave me three boys. I know not all boys are interested in sports, but mine are, and we’ve had many great life and faith discussions that began with a watching a football game or tennis match together.

*****

I’m over at The MOB Society today sharing a new series I’ll be posting every Tuesday to connect boy moms with their sons through sports and faith! Come on over to read more!

LockerRoomLessons

 

What sports do your children like to watch? Do you like watching sports?

 

If you’re a boy mom, I’d love for you to get connected with The MOB Society on Facebook and Twitter! You can also sign up the BoyRaiser newsletter in the top sidebar of the MOB Society website!

 

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Interrupted: Annoyed, Flustered, Blessed?

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson! I received a copy of this book to review, but was not compensated in any other way for this post. All opinions are 100% my own!

I’ve treated many of the life changes in the course of our time as a family as interruptions. Job changes, moves – each has been a blessing, but I regret to say, at the actual time of each interruption, I treated them more as the world treats interruptions – annoyed, flustered, not thrilled.

Hatmaker_Jennifer_Author_photoI greatly enjoyed reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker, but it did ruffle my inner feathers a bit. I know that was her intention. Or His intention, actually. And when I saw the title of her book, Interrupted, I’ll admit that it got all up in my business…before I even read it.

Who wants to be interrupted? Interruptions mess with our current plan, the flow we’re in, our vision for life. Notice how I did not mention God in that previous sentence at all? Interruptions usually frustrate us because they aren’t part of the plan as we see it.

It’s been a struggle for me to see God in the interruptions as they happen. I pout and complain and lament the fact that I was comfortable and happy with the way things were. But I’ve learned God doesn’t want me to be comfortable. And I’m learning to see Him at work, even blessing me, through a change in plans I didn’t see coming.

“It dawned on me that Jesus was asking me not to do more of the same but to engage a different charge altogether.” (p. 18)

God had already begun the process of interrupting my life right now before I started reading Interrupted, but the book has definitely been a catalyst for rethinking the way He keeps us on our toes. I really thought one thing was the “next thing,” but He took that plan, shook it up, and something entirely different came out.

“The problem with Christian segregation is that God asked us to be on mission with Him, sent us to some group of people somewhere, and wants us to minister to them in a way that meets their needs by speaking their language.” (p. 202)

He has asked me to serve + minister to a certain people group. It looks nothing like Jen’s calling. But it is still uncomfortable for me to step out fully into this mission. I need Him to take on this interruption. He wants us to NEED Him to fulfill our calling.

interrupted_page-136

Interrupted is actually the prequel to 7, which I read first. Jen has a way of tackling really hard, really important subjects with equal parts honesty, grace, and humor. The humor makes it all a little easier to swallow. Without it, I may have found her books too heavy, but as they stand, I have learned so much about loving Jesus and loving the world through Jen’s words.

And now I’ve learned how important interruptions are in my life. Interruptions are actually blessings because they are God showing me He loves me and has a specific plan for me He doesn’t want me to miss. I just need to be interrupted to see it.

I would love to hear about a blessed interruption in your life! Leave a comment telling me one and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Interrupted! Giveaway will close Wednesday August 20th at 9PM CST!

P.S. Have you been watching the Hatmakers on My Big Family Renovation on HGTV?! It is THE. BEST. New episodes: Thursdays, 10PM CST. Catch the reruns if you’re not caught up – trust me.

 

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Let My Private Life Be the Proof Of Your Love

I’m surrounded by men and women making a big difference in this world. Rescuing women and children from human trafficking. Running maternity homes in Kenya. Creating sustainable income for men + women living in poverty. They have taken God’s call in Isaiah 61 and acted on it. Their lives are proof of the love of Christ.

As I have read their stories, shared their stories with you, tried to find “my” place and way to help, I have also been swept away by thoughts that I needed to prove my love for Christ for all to see. Yes, my heart to serve is there, but so is my people-pleasing side and that desire to have my good deeds known.

Yep, confession time today. I want to help those in need and I’ve wanted people to notice.

God started to break that in me this weekend. I was suffering from choice paralysis. I had a good ugly cry on a friend’s shoulder, wanting to just forget all the suffering and need I had heard about and start over. I asked Him to tell me exactly where He wanted me serving. And He did, but He wasn’t done there.

After returning home, my church held a worship + prayer night, and God spoke. At a prayer station were the words of “The Proof of Your Love” by For King and Country. Being one of my favorite songs of the past year, I glazed over the words at first and headed back to my seat. I started to write something in my journal and this came out instead…

Let my PRIVATE life be the proof of Your love.

Just a few days earlier, I had felt a gut punch in the ballroom of a blogging conference because I didn’t know WHO to serve. Now I was feeling it because God was telling me HOW to serve.

Private Life

It’s not that serving in the public arena isn’t important. I know you hear my heart there. The sharing of causes and the blogging trips and all of that is needed and important. People need to know of needs and how they can help. That is why I love to tell you about organizations like Compassion and fashionABLE and so on.

But Jesus wants my attitude, my behavior, my actions that only He and maybe my family sees to be the REAL proof of His love. If my life in private, in the walls of my home, doesn’t reflect His love, the rest is just a show.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4

This is what He is speaking to my heart: “If you’re struggling to show my love in private – in your heart, in your home – let’s focus there first.”

The truth is, for me, it can be a lot easier to love those I am NOT in constant contact with every day. I am a very social, outgoing person who loves connecting with lots of people. But I end up giving the best of me to online communities, charities, even this blog, TRYING hard to prove my love for Christ in a very visible way. Then my husband and children get my leftovers, which usually means tired, irritable, less-than-joyful Erin. God is calling me to reverse that.

And now for three steps on how to make this happen…

Oh wait, I don’t have all the answers. I’m just processing this word He spoke. I think it looks like intentional time, being present, continuing to soak in His Word and listen expectantly for His voice, but there is no three-step process because He works differently in all of us. But I do want us all to let this sink in and motivate us to love better in our everyday, not always looking for places to love that people will notice.

I’m convicted today, but also hopeful. I hope you’ll join me in making our private lives the proof of His love first and then letting Him shine outward from there.

 

A more lighthearted side note: We get to see For King and Country in concert this weekend! I’ll be singing this song at the top of my lungs with them, knowing just what it means for me!

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Two Songs: When God Speaks Through the Mundane

He climbed up into his big boy bed – a new, unfamiliar, but also exciting place for him. The sheets had trains and there were no bars holding him in. The freedom was fun, but I could sense his uneasiness as we tucked him for his first night on that wooden captain’s bed. All seemed fine until, just seconds, after we closed the door, the crying began.

“I scared,” he said. These were words I had never heard from his less than two-year-old mouth, but I wasn’t totally surprised. Growing up and trying new things can be scary.

As I tried to calm him, he suddenly asked, “Mommy sing?” This former music teacher’s heart skipped a beat at the sweetness of his request. I always wanted to be the mom who sang her children sweet lullabies before bed. And I did when they were babies, but the older two boys didn’t seem to need or want the signing as part of their bedtime routine. I was thrilled to comply with his desire for a bedtime song from Mommy.

I started with the song that was playing right after he was born, “How He Loves Us” by David Crowder. That became the song he wanted every night. Until Frozen came out. Then, you guessed it, “Let It Go” was requested on repeat. And then came the night where he asked for both songs. Convinced it was a stalling tactic, I sang the chorus of each and called it good.

A chorus of “Let It Go,” the chorus and bridge of “How He Loves Us” – that became our routine every night. After a while, the sweetness of it wore off for me. I began to see singing these two songs as mundane, ordinary, even tedious and annoying.

But after a long day of kid-wrangling and house-cleaning and food/clothing/homeschool battles, I melted into that wooden rocking chair in the corner of his room at 7:30pm as usual. As I started to sing, tears fell and I felt like the Lord was making me hyper-aware of the words I was singing. The words I had sung dozens of times. They were speaking to me in that dark nursery.

Two Songs

The annoying routine suddenly became a sweet message from the Lord…

Let go of the hard stuff from the day. Give it to Me and shut the door on all of it. There are no grudges to be held. No pity parties to be thrown. Just let it go.

And do you know how much I love you? No, do you REALLY know? Even if you lost it with the kids or forgot to change the laundry or burnt dinner…I’m still head-over-heels for you, My child. You don’t have time to keep thinking about all that crummy stuff from the day because I love you and want you to move forward in that love!

I barely made it through my two-chorus standard that night as I choked back sobs. These two songs weren’t picked by my son. They were picked by my Jesus to speak to me just when I need it most – as the day ends and the perceived failures of the day pile heavy on my shoulders. He cared enough to speak through those moments I thought were just a means to getting my son to sleep.

Two songs. Songs I gladly sing now when he asks. Songs I can still barely make it through without the tears flowing because He speaks freshly these reminders into my heart every time.

Let it go and remember how much I love you.

 

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The New Awana: Story, Pillars, Website!

Awana logoI was so honored to be a part of Awana’s internal launch back in April and I gave you a few insights into all the “secret” info we were learning, but I’ve been dying to let you in on all the details…and today is that day!

While at Awana Headquarters, I was blown away by the heart behind Awana. In the past, I may have never heard that passion and vision had I not visited their offices, but Awana is changing all that by sharing more stories, launching a new website, and centering everything around three central pillars.

Awana prayer

The three pillars are Awana are what have had me all fired up {in a good way} – I passionately believe in each of these pillars and love how Awana is moving forward with these as the focus…

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 7.04.58 AM

Reach Kids | Equip Leaders | Change the World

  • Awana reaches kids for Christ through fun, relational Scripture-rich experiences that lead them to know, love, and serve Him.
  • Awana equips church leaders and parents to reach and disciple kids who impact their generation with the gospel.
  • God is at work changing the world through the evangelism and long-term discipleship ministry of Awana.

When I heard this quote at the internal launch, I knew Awana was serious about making an impact for Jesus, not just for their own organization:

“It’s not about planting more clubs, it’s about reaching more kids.” -Kevin White

To share more stories and to keep everything aligned around these three pillars, Awana has launched a brand new website today! It is not just a store to buy resources for clubs, but a place to find out how lives are changing for Jesus, to find training for leaders and inspiration for parents, and a valuable resource for all involved in Awana!

A few highlights I’m excited about…

  • The “Reach Kids” page includes a parents and families section with a blog and free ebook downloads!
  • The mission of Awana is to read every child, everywhere, so I love the Global Outreach page, where you can learn about sponsoring a child or engaging your church to help the global reach of Awana.
  • The stories featured on the “Change the World” page make me all weepy. Story is powerful and I’m so glad Awana is telling more stories about the impact God has made through their program!

Take a look at this video to get your very own website tour and then go look around at the website for yourself!

To keep up with Awana as they move in this awesome direction, make sure you subscribe to their blog here. You can also connect with Awana on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

Which of the three new Awana pillars is most exciting to you?

 

P.S. My friend Tricia is traveling with Awana to Kenya this weekend to see their international clubs and global outreach in action! Please pray for her and the whole group as they travel and bring back more stories! Thank you!

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Spiritual Mothers + Messengers

I knew there was a reason I wasn’t able to write about the #SheSharesTruth topic of spiritual mothering yet. It’s because what He had on my heart for it was just perfectly in line with the Five Minute Friday word: messenger. So I’m combining the two…

It’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Messenger

And the #SheSharesTruth topic…

How is spiritual mothering already taking place in your community? Has a godly woman influenced you in your growth in the Gospel, or has mentoring a young believer impacted your life? How would you like to see Titus 2 shape your relationships moving forward?

*****

And go…

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. ~Titus 2:4-5

The call in Titus 2 to us as women is very clear. Older women are to teach the younger women, and not just older as in years, but further along the path, if even just by a little bit.

I have seen so many women floundering with no one leading or encouraging them in the ways of Christian womanhood. And I’ve heard lots of excuses from women why they aren’t being these mentors to younger women: work, too busy, not “good enough,” nobody wants to hear from me. Yes, they do, and knowing and experiencing all this makes me want to be a spiritual mother even more when the time is right.

Spiritual Mothers

We need messengers, ladies. Women who aren’t there just to say, “Cherish this time.” We need honest messengers of hope and Truth, women who have raised families well in the name of the Lord, not perfectly, but with His grace. Women who know the struggles of the daily motherhood grind and looked to the Lord to sustain them.

My heart is burdened to tell the next generation of women and moms that it is all worth it, but it is NOT easy and that is all the more reason we need Jesus. I love all the things Titus mentions – marriage and home and family – but I could not do a single one without the Spirit guiding me and giving me fresh strength when I’m all out.

I’m grateful for the honest spiritual mothers that have brought these messages to me – not sugarcoated with “You can do it!”, but rather messages full of understanding and the reminder to always look to Jesus to guide me and get me through one day at a time.

Wherever you are in your journey, FIND those messengers and BE those messengers, sisters. Spiritual mothering is a holy call.

Stop.

*****

Read the beautiful words of my fellow writers over at Five Minute Friday and She Reads Truth today!

How has spiritual mothering been important to you? If you don’t have a spiritual mother, what would you hope to gain from one?

 

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#SheSharesTruth: The End of Nehemiah

I just finished reading the book of Nehemiah. Scratch that. I’ve read the book of Nehemiah before. It wasn’t very memorable. This time I studied it. 17 days of in-depth slow reading, study note devouring, journaling, praying. It won’t be a book I soon forget now.

The Nehemiah study was from She Reads Truth and the lessons I learned from it were numerous. Lessons on prayer and faith and leadership and boldness. But I’m going to start at the end today.

shesharestruth

A little back story of Nehemiah before I get to the end in case you’re unfamiliar {spoiler alert!}:

Nehemiah was working as the king’s cup bearer in Babylon when he heard the wall protecting Jerusalem had been destroyed and his people were unprotected. After much prayer, Nehemiah asks the king’s permission to go rebuild the wall. The king grants his request and Nehemiah heads back to Jerusalem for 12 years to head up the wall rebuilding project. He is a wise, God-fearing leader and, with his direction, the people of Jerusalem are once again protected. They rededicate themselves and their holy city to God.

But then…

Nehemiah leaves to go back to his duties with the king and the people backslide. They start intermarrying with pagans, breaking the commandments laid out by God, living in disobedience. The book of Nehemiah ends with him rebuking many in Jerusalem for breaking the covenant they JUST renewed.

Not the happy ending I was expecting and not the results Nehemiah had prayed for either.

So here is today’s question: Why does the book of Nehemiah end the way it does? What does God want us to see here about Himself and the Church?

During my reading of Nehemiah, God was speaking to me about my “building project” – my family. Day after day, the words in Nehemiah were convicting, inspiring, encouraging to me as a wife and mother. So in this ending, I saw another lesson for me as a mother.

Nehemiah did everything God asked him to do. He was in constant prayer. He was one of the wisest leaders in all of the Bible. And still the people fell away from their renewed commitment of faith.

I am not a perfect mother or wife or homemaker, but even if I follow everything God asks me to do, pray all day long and wisely steward the time and resources of our family, I can’t control the outcome. My children have free will. They are sinners just like me. My faithfulness and wise leadership don’t guarantee their obedience.

This might be a discouraging lesson, but I think it is also meant to take some of the pressure off for me as a mom. Nehemiah has taught me to pray, trust, and act on God’s will and leave the rest in His hands. Just like Nehemiah, I can only do what I can do. The bad choices of those under my leadership, including my kiddos, does not make me a failure.

Breathe that in, ladies. We are not failures because of our children’s choices.

Nehemiah went through a similar process to mothering: years of caring for the people, building up the wall to protect them, praying fervently, and then the big letdown of their disobedience. But in his wisdom, Nehemiah continued to stand for what is right and pray to his Heavenly Father.

Why does Nehemiah end with this big bummer? To remind me to keep on seeking His will, doing the next right thing, and praying hard for those in my care, no matter what those around me choose. And I will never give up on that. I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.

Nehemiah 63

 

I’m linking up with the #shesharestruth community today – read the thoughts of other women on this ending of Nehemiah over at the She Reads Truth site!

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Close {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Close {which I read wrong and went with close as in shut, not close as in nearness – whoops!}

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And go…

There’s a door I’ve been hovering around lately. When the door first opened, I stepped fully in, with great joy and anticipation. But the longer the door has remained open, the more I have creeped back towards it, trying to get out.

Close

Through the door is where God asked me to go, but it’s hard in there. And with one foot in and one foot out, I’ve been trying really hard to close that door this year. I made up my own mind that the door would be better off closed.

He has different plans. No matter how hard I’ve tried to slam that door and walk away, God keeps gently opening it again and again, asking me to walk fully through with Him. My stubbornness makes me dig in my heels. But He has plans for me.

And even though the other side of the door is hard, He knows that is where I will grow the most. The hard produces the most fruit in us. If I close that door, the growth stunts. There will be no fruit-bearing.

I want that door closed, but He knows better, and I’m starting to see the holy in leaving it open. So I’m taking His hand, letting Him lead me all the way through, and closing the door on my own plans in exchange for the best He has for me.

Stop.

*****

Go read more fabulous posts about being close {the right topic!} at Lisa-Jo’s place today!

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