Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where He Leads Me I will Follow

Trust God, Erica. Just trust God.
My friend's words still linger in my ear, having been weeks since he said it.
Trust God.
Will I? Will I really?
Simple concept, we hear it all the time as Christians. It's what we teach in Sunday School amidst the squirming, giggling little kids. Knowing it so well in my head, you'd think I would know it in my heart by now. But that is simply not the case.
God lead me through the fire last year. I felt it's heat, more than once. And he proved faithful. There is something consuming about realizing the fact that God really is in control...and I'm not. And this whole time there was one lesson I absolutely overlooked.
Nothing is in my control.
My heart was breaking, my Dad kept having flare ups with MS and all I wanted for Christmas - or for the rest of my life at that point - was for him to get well. And I remember what I said, "I just feel helpless. It's crazy. I mean, I can't do anything."
I can handle sickness in my own body, feeling pain at the most inconvenient times, being humiliated about my condition, wanting to die to be relieved of the pain, being bed ridden - been there, done that. I can take persecution and being laughed at, mocked, rejected, judged wrongfully, overlooked, treated like I'm invisible. But when someone I love is in those kind of circumstances, it takes all I can do to not lash out in anger and dynamically "fix" the problem. Maybe it's the fact that I'm female... Or maybe I'm still stuck thinking I know best...?
All I know right now is what I've learned, that which I seem to forget every single aching day of my life(!)...I cannot control anything. (Except my own choices.)
And when I've fought doubting God and can't fight anymore, finally collapsing onto my knees only to question him, "What are you doing!?!" he always answers the same.
"I Am God."
As long as I can remember, he is God, and his thoughts are higher than my thoughts, his way are higher than my ways. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, it's never entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for them that love him. If it is his will, whatever I desire, no man will be able to separate me from that. But if it is not his will, my wrong choices, and going after it anyway, could get me what I want; but it could also ruin my future, and perhaps others' futures also.
He says "I Am God." and it seems like such a vague answer. But it's everywhere in his book. "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted amoung the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10
Who made me? Who put the earth together and holds it together as we speak? Who made the blind and the lame? And who makes them whole? Who can take a wicked heart and make it white as snow? Who gives out wisdom freely to all who ask in faith and doesn't take back? Who gives and takes away as he will? Who saves all who trust in him? Who has always been the one who helped me go forward when I felt pushed back or too weak to continue? Who has given me test upon test and taught me that the only way through life is to hold onto him? Who
has always been there when my whole world was shifting? Who has been on my side, so compassionate, when no one else was? Who put the moon and the sun in place and sends the rain and the drought? Who helps me see beauty in the ugliest of places? Who gives so much grace? What's his name and what is his Son's name? His name is God. And Jesus is his Son. And as long as he reminds my feeble heart of all he has done for me, and who he is, I will trust him. There's no other way.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Year's End

I can't believe that almost a year ago we started 2011! It has been a very long year. But it was over so quickly! I think what I have learned this whole year is that I have to know myself.
Know thyself, the Greek aphorism.
None of us ever arrive - on this earth. And I'm still growing into the woman of God I will be one day... and when I've reached that point, I will still be growing more into a woman of God. I'm learning that my way of thinking is in fact upside down, and in turn, the Lord has been flipping my world upside down so that I may finally see right side up! I've learned more about life and death. Have you ever felt like you were dying inside? Ever felt like a martyr at heart? Let me tell you - God is there too. He hasn't left me this whole long year. He's helped me, he is my Great Helper. The lifter up of my head. I have not fallen to the ground once without him. He is there.
Peace on earth, joy to the world, and praise God in the fires of life. So true - Isaiah 24:15

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Commitment, n. The act of committing; a sending to prison; a putting into prison; imprisonment.
(Webster's 1828 Dictionary)

"Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ..." Philemon 1

Make it a personal commitment:

____________, a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day." from 2 Timothy 1

Monday, November 7, 2011

This is my gospel. My good news, freely given. And if I don't let it touch me, and change me every single day for the rest of my life, there may be one person along my way who will miss hearing what Jesus did for them.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All's Grace

Photography is on my life's front-page column right now. Truly, life is not much in itself, we are all like vapors that appear one moment and are gone the next. Taking each picture is a preserving moment, as each moment passes. This year has been *the most* eventful year of my life (emphasis on "the most"), and will close being probably the most tried, the most difficult, and also the most joyous. The one year in all nineteen that I've lived with the most experience in "real life".

"Welcome to the real world."

I've been told that probably twenty times so far. Go figure...

So among photography, stencil- and free-hand painting old furniture, a twisted ankle... and I'll be brave enough to mention they were only one-inch heels! yeah... I won't run in heels ever again (yeah right). So anyway, among these things, plus helping out with a revival at another church in Brownfield, my passion for working with and just plain riding horses still lives and thrives, and music is an ever present joy, life is busy. I never got to Ukraine. Some things in life are just not meant to be, I reckon.

So as life goes on and tests, trials and tribulatons are literally one after the other, exhaustment has threatened my path.... but as the Bible says in 2 Corinthains 4: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed..."

I know we all reach our stride, we all reach our climax, we all reach the milestones in life, we all have our own story to share... but I am fascinated and awe-struck, still amazed and stuck on this one thing, how faithful our God is and how strong He is when our strength is gone.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

They say you never know what you've got until it's gone. I have found that what you have may not always be gone for good, but while it's gone, you realize what you had and that it might just have meant the whole world to you. And you desperately want it back. My brother recently went on a trip with our cousin. Just for a while. But it was so hard for me to be without him for that short amount of time. He is almost like my second! Seeing him walk through that door tonight was like sunshine shining through the clouds... or like sparkling rain during a drought. There's other loved ones that have been gone for a while. I'm seeing that, as more time goes by, all I can remember are the good times, and how much they meant to me, instead of all the times they made my blood boil cause I was so angry or they just made me cry! When it's that love that Christ works in you, it makes all other memories fade away except the ones that help you appreciate them more. Knowing what you've had, and now that it's gone... makes me wonder why I got so mad or why I allowed some things to hurt me so much. And then when you get back into routine and life starts to become normal again, it's easy to let frustration take hold again when you may not agree. Then all I have to do is remember how much I learned to appreciate them and how much more glad I am that they're here, rather than far away. It's thankfulness. It changes the whole perspective. A thankful heart. We are given so much that we take for granted, me especially. Take it from someone who knew the power of thankfulness and left it for a season. I have been blessed! I am so blessed. We never know how long we have. Life is too short to complain or take all we've been given for granted. I've got to praise Him as long as I breathe.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Living my whole life feeling I am owed something doesn't get me anywhere. It doesn't make me strong, or pure, or honest, or cheerful. That kind of thinking will make me bitter, leaving me ultimately unfulfilled and unthankful, always expecting something more from all the people in my life. And my expectations will only leave me disappointed.

I will care for others, and let God take care of me.
Well folks, I have been away far too long! And I have come back with a single thought to share with y'all.

How could I expect to willingly die for Someone who I won't even live for?

Romans 12:1
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

All That Thrills My Soul.

There is a dark state we can find ourselves in when God feels far away. But where did he go? He said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." So I must have been the one to leave. There's something potentially tragic about treating God like a wish-granter rather than seeing him for who he is, an all-glorious King. Demanding things of our Creator is destructive to that relationship. Who wants to be ordered around when they've already given us everything? In the darkest night, we shouldn't remind God of his promises, but look up to him and trust him to carry us through. When we receive a blessing, we don't ask why it was sent. Aren't all things made beautiful in his time? But certain times can truly be distressing. We can ultimately despair. It is in that time of trouble that we must attach ourselves to the Lord's presence. For who can cheer the heart like Jesus? We've gotta seek his face during the dreary days and the long, cold nights. He is there to hold you through those times. Walking by faith is all we can do, and he will surely never let us down.

All that thrills my soul is Jesus.

He is more than life to me.

And the fairest of ten thousand

In my blessed Lord I see.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Iced Lavender

So, as I was boiling water to make lavender tea, I was remebering when my family and I went to the lavender show last summer in our little antique town. You could smell the enticing scent of lavender-everything before you even got close to the door. I remember all the wonderful scents and vast shades of purple as we walked in. There were lavender bunches tied with brown raffia, young and sprouting lavender in planting pots, lavender soap and popery, lavender-flavored honey and scented candles... And before the long and well-stocked table was a smaller one with lavender lemonade and cookies with purple icing! I was in awe, I never knew lavender had so much potential! I definitely wouldn't make dandelion cookies or iced plantain tea and hand it to you just like that! The couple who grow the lavender live just a couple streets away from us and keep lavender plants growing all around their house. The man that talked to me and my brother was such an influential person, I can still see his face as he told us how good God had been to them and how he and his wife have taught their whole family to love the benefits of lavender, as well as the beauty!

After my reminiscing, I decided to make my own version of lavender lemonade. Oh... no lemons. Well, we have pink oranges. So after I had strained the lavender water and let it cool, I juiced a pink orange and added that, stirred in some Stevia (natural sweetener - WAY healthier than sugar or Splenda!), and when I tasted it... not exactly how I imagined, so I poured in a little cranberry juice. Stiiiiirrrrrrred again and iced that glass - WOW - Mama Miá!!! And it was filling as an afternoon snack, I won't need to eat for hours now! But that's just me.

Lavender can be used to stop inflammation from minor burns and the oil has been used for centuries as a beauty product. As a tea, vapor rub, or oil inhalation, it is effective to treat colds, flu, pneumonia, and many brocnhial and throat issues. It's also a hard core decorative, and did you know that the color purple is believed to awaken creative thinking?

So here's what you do for one glass:

After you've boiled about 1 cup of water, turn the heat off, sprinkle 1-1/2 teaspoon of lavender flowers into that water and make sure you leave the pan on the stove to let it steep. While that's infusing, juice one orange/lemon and add to that... um... let's say a tablespoon of crandberry juice. Can you tell I do NOT use measuring spoons!? lol, Now your lavender water should be cooled sufficiently. Strain the lavender flowers from the water and mix your fruit juice with the water. Now, if you use sugar, add to at your own discretion. I put two packets of Stevia in mine. If you put that many packets of Splenda, it'll probably be too sweet. Ice, do not forget the ice, and voilá!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I can remember some pretty warm days in January where I'd go out into the field and take pictures of my sister in a summer dress. Well, the last couple weeks have been snowy and slushy... and icy. You can see the first snowflakes on my Mom's rosemary bush. Yep, it is time down in the South to get cozy and warm by the fire (or infront of the tv with a thick blanket). I got so spoiled this year with the mild winter weather - not many snow-ball fights for me this year! I used to be a little snow bunny, but my little sister has taken over that roll! I did go slide on the frozen pavement one day! And I might go out again if it freezes again, but there's nothing worse than being wet and cold.

There's a lot to be thankful for this year. I'm going on a mission trip to Ukraine in May.... possibly April.... with my missionary friend that I've been with so many times! I'll be gone for a whole month and will come back to welcome home others who have also been gone. We'll be going mainly to the orphanage in the town my friend will soon be moving into permanently to continue her ministry. These kids in the orphanage are sent out at sixteen years old onto the streets, some finding comfort in drugs and alcohol, and few living a life where they feel loved and wanted. When we go to Ukraine, we'll be ministering to those kids, and encouraging them to find the very best and we'll be witnessing to them. My Russian-speaking skills are still pretty basic (lol) but I can say "Jesus loves you"! I'll mainly be there for the expirience and the opportunity to serve hundreds of kids living across the ocean! And I know I'll learn lessons that will last me my whole life, and I'll be so greatful to have learned them.
So, as I'm working hard to pay for the plane tickets and passport.... and ALL the other stuff, we're trying to stay warm down here! God is soooooooo good to give us all this moisture. Spring and summer should be beautifully green!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Changes... lol, Apparently

Don't worry, this is still that southern girl's blog. lol... I decided to use that new template designer and now I'm obsessed it!! I might change it three or four times before something sticks. On the other hand... I just love this one. Like sunset colors.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Let the Blood of Calvary Speak For Me

When the harvest has been gathered
And all my work is done
When the last mile has been traveled
And I've sung my final song
When I'm called to give an answer
At Heaven's judgement seat
Then let the blood of Calvary speak for me
May He write me down as righteous
Where no righteousness has been
Shielding me from wrath and judgement
As it covers all my sin
There's no work that I've accomplished
Nor my goodness I would plead
Just let the blood of Calvary speak for me
There may be some friends who'd witness
And speak a word so kind
But their voices would seem so feeble
At such an awesome time
But there's a voice that calls for mercy
Ringing through eternity
Just let the blood of Calvary speak for me