life beyond the well…


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The Best Thing I Heard Yesterday

“Today, I am here to be the best that I can be. To lift up our community, to be the best that we can be. To make each second count. To make new mistakes and learn from them. To support my teammates in our mission to make the world a better place. I am proud of my hard work, but I am humble. I still have a lot of work to do. Above all, I am grateful for those who have made my life better. I am ready to get to work.”

Yesterday, my school welcomed our 5th grade scholars for new student orientation.  I’m always excited to meet these students.  The beginning of the year, especially at for students attending a new school creates such positive feelings and I love the excitement and anticipation of things to come.  The “Back to School” time is one of my favorite times of the year.

We did a small group activity with students to help them understand the meaning of our school pledge. As we worked on the second half of the pledge, my group began to discuss people who have made their life better and I heard a sweet voice say this:

“I’m grateful to God because He has made my life better.”

This simple, reflective testimony made my heart smile.  It’s going to be a great year.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!


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8 months.

“Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated

Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive”

I talk to him frequently now.  That wasn’t always the case. After years of being caught in the crossfire as he battled addictions of various kinds, I made the decision to let go of the weight prior to getting married.  As I was on the brink of beginning my new life, I knew that it was important to deal with the issues that plagued me and to make clean breaks where necessary.

It was a tough decision, but when you watch someone you know struggle and wallow in the depths of addiction for years, I knew that my behavior had to change.  I could no longer be a partial enabler to destructive behavior.

So, I made my break.

It hurt.

I cried.  I prayed.  I believed.

I cried.  I prayed.  I believed.

I had gotten to the point where my prayer was not for our relationship to be reconciled, but for him to be delivered and come to know Jesus.  What good is reconciliation on this end, if we spend eternity apart?

And then, last November just days prior to leaving on an anniversary getaway with Preacherman, I got a phone call.  The phone call that you don’t want to get.  The phone call that changes everything.

Something had happened to him.  There wasn’t a definitive answer as to what.  But after a few more phone calls, it became clear that we needed to be there.

And so we went.  Uncertain of what we might see.  Unsure of what we might hear.  We went in faith, believing that this would be the point of no return; from whence his life would be changed.

When you hit bottom, it’s a long way up.

But he’s climbing.  God answered our prayers that this time would be different.  And when I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago, a few days shy of his birthday, he told me that he’s been clean for 8 months.

8 months and counting.  After battling some form of addiction for the last 17 years, 8 months clean is amazing.  God has done a wonderful, transformative work; not just in his life, but in our relationship.

I included Kari Jobe’s “Forever” lyrics at the top because I have yet to identify a better description of what has taken place in his life.  Through the power of God, death has been defeated in his life.

I have enjoyed many things in this life, but nothing compares to watching someone go from death to life. To God be the glory for the things He has done.


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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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Book Review: Living Well Spending Less

I saw this book floating around on Facebook for a while, and I can admit that I was intrigued.  And then, when I had the opportunity to review it, I was excited.

I consider myself to be a reformed shopaholic.  Or maybe, a reformed saleaholic.  I’ve never met a sale that I didn’t like.  It’s how I go to Target with a list that only has 3 things on it, and leave with 7 items.  I know that I’m not alone there.  So, I snagged this book hoping to acquire a few more strategies to deal with my “saleaholism”.

Living Well Spending Less is not just about budgeting and money saving strategies.  It helps to deal with issues of the heart that contribute to spending.  The author, Ruth Soukup describes living well as being more about who we are than what we have.  I appreciate the candidness and transparency with which she shared her own struggles with spending and how it affected her family and marriage.  But more than that, I appreciated the thoughtful words of wisdom and applicable advice (i.e.: she doesn’t just tell you to budget, but provides different suggestions on how to do so).

This book reads well and I would definitely recommend it to anyone- especially those of you who are interested in improving your finances.  You’ll enjoy it!

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are mine.


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Today.

“Today, I am here to be the best that I can be. To lift up our community, to be the best that we can be. To make each second count. To make new mistakes and learn from them. To support my teammates in our mission to make the world a better place. I am proud of my hard work, but I am humble. I still have a lot of work to do. Above all, I am grateful for those who have made my life better. I am ready to get to work.”

Every morning, our students recite our school pledge, listed above. I’ve heard it so many times that I am also able to recite it. I have it posted in my office above my desk as one of many motivating reminders when I struggle to find or remember the meaning and purpose of what I do and who I serve.

Working with children is hard. Period. My office is nestled in a space where I have the joy of hearing our elementary students and our middle school students.  I never know from day to day what I might hear.  Sometimes it’s the joyful exuberance of second graders.  Other times it’s the patient instruction of our band directors. You just never know.

Earlier this week, I heard an exchange between a teacher and a student.  Apparently the student had engaged in some form of inappropriate behavior, and the teacher was insisting that the student apologize. The more that the teacher insisted on an apology, the more the student refused. Their voices escalated, and then I heard both the teacher and the student storm down the hall.

But it was what I heard later that really caught my attention.

Maybe 20-30 minutes later, I heard the same teacher and student having an exchange.  But in this case, the teacher was apologizing to the student for the way in which he spoke to him. While I couldn’t hear the entire exchange, I did hear the teacher say, “I apologize for speaking to you that way. I should not have done that…”

Teachers make mistakes too, ya’ll.  But what I love is that this teacher owned it, and showed his student the respect that we all deserve.  Even the smallest of us deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

I won’t say that my school always gets it right. But I will say that each day the students AND adults in the building commit to that pledge, and our community is better because of it.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!


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Updates: Higher Definition Church

So, the last time I really talked about Higher Definition Church, was in this post, when we were 5 days away from launch…and that was 7 or 8 weeks ago.

We launched!

It was awesome.

Seriously, we successfully launched the church on March 15, 2015, and have been moving forward since.  Preacherman and I are so excited about how God is working in us and through us.  Every Sunday since launch, we have had people accept Jesus or rededicate their life to Him.  To God be the glory for things He has done.

A couple of things- you can access the podcasts to each of the messages through Preacherman’s website.  I encourage you to check it out, and share with others.  Because I love you so much, I’ve linked the messages below.  They’re good. For real, for real.

And- would you pray for us? It is our true desire to leave a footprint for the Kingdom in Jacksonville.  Pray for God’s guidance, for people to join us in this endeavor, for our families, for the families of those who have already partnered with us.  Pray for the city of Jacksonville- that hearts will continue to be open and receptive to the work that we have been led to do here.

Finally- connect with us! You can catch us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

I am so grateful for your love, encouragement, and support…and when you’re in Jacksonville, I look forward to you joining us at church!

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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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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The Danger in Disconnection

The other night, I was fixing dinner and I heard the timer “ding” on our George Foreman grill.  Excited that the grill had “preheated”, I went and placed the salmon burgers on the grill, but I was a little concerned that nothing seemed to be happening.  Under closer inspection, I discovered that the power cord was disconnected from the outlet.

While I chuckled at my dinner mistake, I later began to reflect on the danger in disconnection.  You see, there have been times in my life, where I’ve been disconnected from my power source.  I’ve been far from God, not really close to people who were trying to live a way that pleased God, and I was just doing my own thing.  Go to work. Do school work. Hang out with friends. Repeat.

But there was a point that I realized that something wasn’t right.  While I was going through the motions, I didn’t feel any real sense of purpose.  To go back to my cooking scenario, I was on the grill, but nothing was happening.  I wasn’t being prepared for the point of completion.

As believers, our ultimate source of power is God.  He is our strength and our hope.  And when we get disconnected from Him and His people, we began to lose a sense of who we are and what our real purpose is in life. We begin to handle things in our own strength, instead of trusting and depending on Him.  And then, when we don’t get the results we desire because WE didn’t do things the right way- we blame God.

I can’t blame the power source because the grill was disconnected.  It was my responsibility to make sure the grill was connected so that the food could be cooked–to completion.  In the same way, it is our responsibility to ensure that we remain connected to God so that He can work in us to completion.

I encourage you to do what it takes to stay connected.  Dedicate time in your schedule to reading the word, to spending time with Him in prayer and worship.  Don’t let the things of this world distract you to a point of disconnection.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!

 


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The Path of Resistance

Working with students (and their families) is something that brings me great joy.  There’s nothing like working alongside people to help them reach their goals, or to put them on the path to reaching their goals.  In some ways, I like to think that part of my responsibility with my work is to create opportunity–to help them navigate paths and open doors that lead to many opportunities.

What I find challenging in this work is that more and more, I’m faced with students (and parents) who believe that opportunities come without resistance.  That things should be easy and without challenge–and that if there IS any sign of opposition then the opportunity must not be for them.

That frustrates me.  And it makes me sad.

The idea that things must always be easy and without challenge is a lie that is fed to us to keep us from reaching our full potential. The second that things get difficult, we’re ready to quit- and when we quit, we lose the opportunity to become more than we are in that moment.

I’ve heard Pastor Steven Furtick say it like this: “What has not been tested cannot be trusted.”  I’ve heard Preacherman say it like this: “There is no victory without opposition.”

In my own life, I’ve found that resistance is a sign that I’m on the right track.  It’s a sign that I’m pushing for a higher level, an increased capacity. And the result is that, I get stronger. I get better. My faith increases and deepens. But that doesn’t make it easy.  When you start working out and you exercise and strengthen your muscles, you feel a pain and tension.  But if you (when you) keep going, the pain and tension goes away, leaving you stronger and equipped to handle more.

Lord, help us to embrace resistance, knowing that as You call us, You equip us. Help us to trust Romans 8:28- that in ALL things You work for the good of those who love You and are called according to your purpose. -Amen

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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5 Days Away…

…from the launch of

HD LOGO BLUE LONG

Wow.

To God be the glory.

We are so excited.  Please partner with us in prayer this week as we prepare for the launch.  We are believing God for an awesome worship experience; that lives will be touched and changed and we will begin to have an impact for the Kingdom in Jacksonville.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!

 

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