life beyond the well…


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Weekly Word- B

Happy Wednesday! As I shared last week, I’m trying a new way to memorize scripture this year by finding a verse each week that starts with a different letter of the alphabet.  With 52 weeks in a year, I should go through the alphabet twice; and my hope is that this will challenge me to grow in my knowledge of God’s word (as opposed to relying on the same scriptures all the time.  Here’s the word for this week:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32

When we recall the grace and mercy that God has so freely extended to us, and the magnitude of his forgiveness of our sins, we should be willing to extend that same forgiveness to others.

To be clear, forgiveness is difficult and messy. Forgiveness is a process.  Forgiveness does not mean that we excuse someone’s behavior, but it does mean that we stop holding grudges, and we actively pursue God’s healing so that we (and they) can be made whole.

In order to get where God is calling us, there are things that we must leave behind. Who do you need to forgive so that you can truly move forward?  I’m praying that in 2018, your heart won’t be burdened by previous hurts and wrongs, and that God’s strength and power will enable you to forgive and move forward.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!

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Welcome Home Baby Ethan!

 

On Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 6:36pm I gave birth to the most amazingly handsome baby boy- Ethan Micah Almond.  We welcomed him home on Tuesday, May 17 and have been on a glorious rollercoaster ever since!

To say that Preacherman, our little, and I are excited would be quite the understatement!  We’ve been excited throughout the entire process of my pregnancy, so meeting Baby Ethan in person has filled my heart with joy.

And yes, that’s why I’ve been quiet for most of the year.

Well, not exactly.  I mean, things got busy, I got (more and more) pregnant, and I had to make a decision to keep the main thing the main thing- which meant focusing and prioritizing my life so that we could all be fully prepared to welcome this beautiful gift of God that we have the joy of guiding through life.

God really used this pregnancy as a time to speak to me about me- my heart, my desires, my fears, my limitations.  I can’t wait to share more of that with you in the coming days/weeks/months.

Until then- please continue to keep us all in your prayers as we begin to navigate this new phase of life!

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!

 


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Hope for Hubbard: A Love Initiative

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians 13:13

Since the end of last year, I’ve been feeling pressed to find a way to demonstrate love to a group of people in Jacksonville.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do, and while I had some ideas, none of them “stuck”.  It wasn’t until the new year (literally, the beginning of this year) that I had clarity on what to do and how to move forward.

Which brings me to Hope for Hubbard: A Love Initiative.

My big goal: to increase the faith and hope of the women of Hubbard House by showing love on Valentine’s Day.

From their website:

The mission of Hubbard House is Every Relationship Violence-Free. Our priorities include providing safety for victims and their children, empowering victims, and social change through education and advocacy. Every woman, man, and child who comes to Hubbard House finds support, counseling, and education as they begin the difficult and dangerous transition to safety and peace. Victims of domestic violence and their children are not charged for the life-saving services they receive at Hubbard House.

Here’s what I want to do:

For Valentine’s Day 2016, I want to provide each of the 75 women who are currently finding shelter at Hubbard House with a token of love–specifically a silver or gold wishing bracelet from Stella & Dot along with an encouraging note.

AND I NEED YOUR HELP TO DO IT!

Will you partner with me to help increase the faith and hope of these women by purchasing a bracelet?

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Order the silver or gold wishing bracelet.
  • Include a note of encouragement in your order in the gift section (to be shared with the recipient).
  • Have your order mailed to me at the following address:
    • Erin Almond
    • KIPP Jacksonville Schools
    • 1440 McDuff Avenue North
    • Jacksonville, FL 32254
  • Believe God with me that this gift of love will plant seeds that increase the faith and hope of these women.

Are you in?  I sure hope so!

Please feel free to comment with your email address if you have any questions and I will reach out to you directly!

Thank you in advance for helping me show love to others this Valentine’s Day!

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!


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Note to Self: On Vacation.

Dear Erin,

You need that vacation.  You need that time to unplug, to veg out, to read books endlessly, to watch HGTV on repeat, to laugh and love Preacherman, to live without being tied to your Outlook Calendar and the endless demands that create a home in the dungeon known as your work email account.

You need it. And it doesn’t make you weak to acknowledge that. You are a better woman, a better wife, a better steppie, a better friend, a better employee when you have taken the time to recharge your battery and make sure that you are overflowing with the things that really make your heart full.

You are not your work. Your work is what you do, it is not who you are. And while what you do is important, who you are matters more.  Are you taking the time to develop who you are so that you can be the best you for the people who need you and are there for you before 8am and after 5pm?  Are you making sure that you’ve put aside some time in your schedule for the things that you enjoy? What are you reading for pleasure? When was the last time you decorated your planner? Have you downloaded the many ideas in your brain into your blog?

Take the vacation. Self-care is not selfish, it’s necessary. Reflect, rest, rejuvenate- and then when it’s time to go back to life as usual, you’ll return as a better, stronger, healthier you.

Those people that you do life with deserve to have the best you.  And you deserve to be the best you.

Love,

You

 


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Worth the Wait.

I married Preacherman at 29- which was about 4-5 years longer than I wanted to be single.  In my perfect life plan, I would have been married at 24 or 25, with babies coming along around ages 27-28.  I’d have finished having babies by 32 (at the absolute latest).  And we’d live happily ever after.

So, based on my own perfect life plan, I’m a little behind.  And while I generally hate being behind on things, I’m okay with it, because it has been worth the wait.

I love that I know and see so many young women who desire to be Godly wives; who spend their time committed to their church, and pursuing God so that they can be who God has called them to be.  And while I know from my own experience that waiting to be found can be a struggle, let me encourage you- IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

I know that you get tired of hearing it. I know that while you’re happy for your friend, you’re not excited about adding another bridesmaid dress to your closet. I know the excitement of welcoming your friend’s newborn into the world, while wondering if you’ll ever have that life for yourself.  But please know, that it IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

There’s nothing wrong with you for waiting.  But don’t wallow.  Enjoy your single time.  Travel. Shop. Save money. Start your business. Finish that degree. Follow the dreams that God has placed in your heart while you’re waiting- because when you get married, it’s not the same.  Marriage requires a consideration that isn’t necessary when you’re single–a consideration of another’s thoughts, dreams, purposes, and plans, and you have to proceed with prayer and caution.

I wish that I could say that I waited patiently to be found by Preacherman. If only that were the case. There were times where I would be content with my singleness, and there were times where I tried to force relationships that I knew weren’t for me.  But once I truly committed myself to my singleness, and becoming the best person that I could be, things (slowly) fell into place.

Please know, you are worth the wait- and it’s better to be alone than in bad company. My prayer is that you are able to enjoy this season for the blessing it is and understand the purpose it serves in your life and for the husband and family that you will soon have.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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Wait, it’s December?

Y’all, I CANNOT get over how fast 2014 has flown by.  How is it December 1? I still feel like there’s so much left in this year- so much that I’m still believing God to do; so much that I have left to do.

Preacherman and I just wrapped up one of the best Novembers on record.  We celebrated our anniversary, went to a Lecrae concert, headed to North Carolina for Homecoming at UNC, enjoyed time with family and friends, worshipped with friends at Hungry Church, ate entirely too much for Thanksgiving…and reveled in how much God has blessed us with this amazing life.

We’re starting December in Birmingham, Alabama, attending a conference on church-planting.  We are so excited to be launching Higher Definition Church in 2015, and there is MUCH work to be done.  Nevertheless, we are working, praying, fasting, and believing.  There are truly great things to come!

This December won’t be any less busy than November- but I am excited for this season that we are in.  Though we often feel stretched and pulled, those times force us to lean in to God, to trust where He has us and where He is taking us.  This journey, this life, is such an incredible gift.

Anyone else surprised that it’s December?  What are you grateful for in this season?

Peace and Blessings!


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Celebrating TWO

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Dear Preacherman,

It’s been two years.  Why is the time going by so fast?  At this rate, we will have to live to at least our 120 years, so that I can feel that I will have had sufficient time with you.

You are amazing; more than I bargained for, beyond what I imagined, the answer to my prayers.  Thank you for your love and your faithfulness, your leadership and your kindness, your relentless drive to pursue and fulfill God’s purpose for your life. You are absolutely one of the best people that I know and I am so glad to call you mine.

In these short two years of marriage, we have changed jobs and addresses; gained and lost weight, traveled to quite a few states, partially eaten our way around Jacksonville, figured out how to make salmon in a way that rivals Vin Rouge, gone to our first professional football game (and made it on the big screen), and shared more laughs than I can remember, nor that I ever want to forget.

Year three is sure to be an exciting one for #TeamAlmond and I’m while I’m excited about the things to come, I’m even more grateful that I get to face them all with you. Love you to the moon and back, Boss.

E5


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Green is for Grandma

I hated the color green as I was growing up, and it was all her fault.  She loved it in the most ridiculous, passionate way.  She had green EVERYTHING.

Green sweaters.

Green dresses.

Green pants.

Green church suits.

Green church shoes (to match the green church suits).

Green LEATHER outfits (yes, outfits- as in more than one).

I should also mention that it didn’t matter which SHADE of green it was.  If it was in the green family, it was good as gold. I didn’t much mind the green for her. I mean, you like what you like.  But what I DID mind was the fact that she spread the green to us by way of our GREEN summer camp shirts.  You see, for a huge chunk of my childhood, my grandparents ran the Harriet Tubman Summer Day Camp in the basement of their church.  And we had camp shirts that we had to wear–and our camp shirts were green. AND, since my grandparents ran the camp, that meant there was no shortage of green shirts for me to wear. I could never ruin my shirt. I could never lose it. I couldn’t forget it. There was always a green shirt for me.

But now, things are different. They’ve changed. And I’ve grown and changed, the color green has become less of a subject of my distaste and more of a comfortable and familiar association with someone who I loved deeply, and who deeply loved me.

Now when I see the color green, I am reminded of faith, family, strength, dignity, purpose- all things that she embodied. I am reminded of the value and necessity of education. I am reminded of the responsibility of serving others and lifting as you climb, lest no person be left behind.

Green is for Grandma.

In honor of my grandmother, Mrs. Mildred Eleanor Roberts-Davis

August 20, 1935 – July 8, 2006

 


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Friends for the Duration

I was completely surprised to realize that this post from almost six years ago has been one of the most popular posts I’ve written.  I figured it was time to do an update, and I did, explaining my thoughts about friendship and how life causes things to change.

But I also hinted at the fact that there ARE people in your marathon of a life, who will be with you for the duration. How do you know if people are with you for the duration of your marathon? I guess “you just know”.  But if I had to quantify it, reflecting on the people in my life who I know are with me for duration, here’s what I think:

  • They like the “old” you, but they love the “new” you.
  • There’s no conversations that are off limits- good/bad/ugly, you can (AND DO) talk about it all without judgement.
  • They make you better-they don’t let you get too comfortable or complacent.

Looking at this closer, here’s what I mean:

They like the “old” you, but they love the “new” you: One of the best things about my friends who are with me for the duration, is that they have fond memories of me from “way back when”.  But, even with those fond memories, they really LOVE me as I am now.  They have accepted that I have grown and changed, but their friendship and love towards me HAS NOT changed.

No topics are off limits, and it’s judgement free: I appreciate having the freedom in my friendships to be my complete self: good/bad/ugly, and know that I’m not judged for who I am, how I’m feeling, or what I just said.  They know that AT MY CORE, I’m not the person I may sound like I am on the phone or via FaceTime, and they provide a safe space for me to vent my concerns or frustrations without fear of judgement.  Also, it’s a safe space for me to ask any/all questions without fear of judgement.

They make you better: So, while they don’t judge me for what I say or what I ask, they respectfully push back and challenge my thinking and my behavior to help make me the best version of me that I can be. They let me whine, but they don’t let me wallow. I can complain, but I’m challenged to not be complacent. And often times, they provide direct feedback on HOW to be better.  Not just saying “you need to do better” (I mean, that DOES happen), but “have you tried this?” Or connecting me with actual resources to be better and to make better decisions.

I realize that I have been incredibly blessed to have a strong circle of people who are running the marathon with me, and it’s not something that I take for granted. I pray that you have the same “circle of love” in your life.

But how about you? I’d love to hear how you determine who’s with you for the duration.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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The Orange String

This morning as I was finished getting dressed, and was preparing to gather my things to leave, I noticed a string hanging from the last button of my blazer.  While this normally wouldn’t stop me, I paused because the string was orange.  My blazer (and pants) are tan.  There’s no reason for any stitching on these garments to be orange, especially in this one place.

I started to pull the string, thinking that it would just be a stray from another item in my closet.  But as I started to pull, I realized that it was attached to the button.  Under closer inspection, I saw that in some kind of way, this orange string had been used to tighten the button to the blazer.

And once I saw that, I immediately knew the culprit was: my aunt.  You see, as Preacherman and I were preparing to completely uproot our lives in Durham and move to Jax, my aunts came to our home nearly EVERYDAY for two weeks, to help pack, clean, organize, and reorganize our belongings. They did this while we were away at a conference for our new jobs, while we were back, but working the final days at our old jobs. But not only did they help pack, clean, organize, and reorganize; they fixed stuff.  Stuff like this button, which I don’t even recall being loose.

I’m thankful for the orange string, which slowed me down this morning, and allowed me to reflect on God’s love for me through family.  Both Preacherman and I have been incredibly blessed to have our families love us beyond the miles, and having these little reminders just makes the distance seem that much shorter.  I’m grateful for the gift of family that God provides us, and I’m thankful for my family.

Where have you been reminded of God’s gift of love for you through your family?

Be Encouraged! Peace and Blessings!