Saturday, August 27, 2016

Book Club: No Other Gods Week 1 & 2

Clearly, I made promises I couldn't deliver. I promised a book club entry at the end of each week, but that just did not happen last week. Something called life took its place. Nonetheless, I am enjoying this study again. Yes, I am on my third rotation; however, the Lord's Word is applicable time and again. We are teachable at knew moments in life, so the study continues to be relevant to my life.

Some of the major highlights from this study:


  • When it comes to worship, I try to create a diagram in my head where God is at the center and my life floats around it, much like the solar system. However, with idols of the heart this is not how my reality often plays out. The idols take center stage where the Lord should be - these idols that occupy my thoughts are body image, perfectionism, marriage, being a mother etc. I have realized over the past two weeks just how much of my thoughts are geared toward these idols in some form or fashion. It may be a stretch in some cases by 9 times out of 10 an idol/functional god is what is behind my actions. Minter uses a definition of functional god several times; the part that caught my attention is that a functional god is what "motivates us." Wow!
  • I don't know about you but some of the Christian lingo still stumps me. What exactly does it mean to "put your identity in Christ"? Do you remember this being tossed around so often, yet no one really explained what it meant? This little phrase became quite the burden for me because I felt like I was constantly striving to PUT MY IDENTITY in CHRIST. After working through one of the lessons, the Lord showed me that my identity is already in Christ. That's where I stand. It's not something I have to go out and seek, but it's who I am already declared (1 Peter 2:9 and Deuteronomy 7). It's nothing we have to obtain because at our justification we are declared HIS - our identity is stamped at that moment. This Christian lingo that was tossed around all those years easily led to my confusion between justification and sanctification. I don't earn my identity. It's there.
  • Need, Want, Silence of God and Fear are some of the motivators that push us to turn to idols. Sarah's need for a child. The Israelites want of a god. Our fear of "missing out" leads to uncategorical amounts of people-pleasing. For me, I was able to write out some of my idols and trace the "fear inducers". It's scary seeing all of your fears listed on paper, but it showed me how much of my life has been led by fears that further lead to a preoccupation of my heart that is not on Christ. Thankfully, the Word has so much to say about fear. God knew we would be fearful people (and why not? we live apart from him), and thus He provides much comfort in fear.
If you aren't doing this study yet, I highly suggest you take it off the book shelf and begin today. There are many studies out there for women; however, I truly believe Minter has a grasp on the Word of God and directing women to the Word FIRST rather than using the Bible as a secondary help. In all of this, sanctification is hard and touches places of the heart that we want to steel away. But our God is faithful to remove those walls, so He can occupy! 

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Show and Tell Tuesdays: Advice to my High School Self


I'm running late to the party, but today I am linking up with Momfessionals for Show and Tell Tuesday. Today is all about giving advice to our high school self. In the spirit of school starting back at West Point a week ago, it's time to give advice to that younger Erin.

Before we begin, let's take a glimpse into high school Erin's life -- It was filled with Backstreet Boys, shopping at Goody's, sticking to the studying thing, no partying and crush after crush after crush. Without further ado, here's my advice...

STOP worrying about your weight. You are not fat. Life's too short to obsess
about the calories. It's short to pinch your waists for a roll. You're beautiful.

DON'T allow the opinions of others to shape your opinion of yourself.

DO straighten your hair in layers. This requires pinning up your hair and going from 
the bottom layer to the top layer.

UNDERSTAND that you will never marry a Backstreet Boy, though this does keep your attention
away from falling for the bad fellas.

That first year or so where you thought you were being cool by eating from the vending machines 
is not cool. Cafeteria food is actually fantastic. Hello, fried chicken!

DO NOT wear a Gilligan hat and knee high socks with your jean shorts.. EVER.

DO continue to pursue the Lord in every way you currently are doing. 
(High school was when I began taking my faith more seriously and what that looked like
in relation to others.)

Oh those high school years! I thought I was so wise during those years. And now I know differently. 
Class of 2002.. I'm out.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Day I Threw Away My AntiDepressants

Today I decided would be the day I would throw away my antidepressants. I was running on the treadmill while watching an episode of Teen Mom where Caitlynn confessed she did not want to live a life confined to her medicines. I've been off my antidepressant for a little over a year, after having weaned myself from several months of the medication. And just like that, I marched upstairs and threw away the remainder of my pills I'd stowed away in the back of my medicine bin.

In February 2015, I began taking antidepressants to relieve the extreme conditions I was experiencing while taking birth control. Birth control medications are not for me. After only a few weeks on the pill, my body and mind went from one extreme to the other. No longer was the cheerful Erin present. But the fearful, not wanting to leave the house, crying at work every day Erin made her appearance. After researching hormones and the effects of birth control, I'd determined the pill was the actual cause of my dramatic mood swings and inability to function period. The medication was pulling my hormones all over the place - crying, anger, fearful, anxiousness. I was a wreck, people. And so the relationship with birth control ended quicker than a Bachelor in Paradise couple.

I decided to approach the subject of antidepressants after speaking to many friends who had also experienced problems with hormones. They too had decided to take an antidepressant that would level them out mentally, as the hormones from either birth control or post-partem worked out of their system. Let me be clear - I never approached antidepressants as the answer to my situation. I never wanted it to solve the heart issues that surfaced and were more extreme during this time. The antidepressants were strictly to regulate my brain, so that for once I could go to work and potentially not cry throughout the day.

I was so hesitant to take the first pill, but I knew my body was not normal at this time. I found it hard to stay at my desk and work because the tears wouldn't stop coming. I'd escape to prayer room to catch a moment and breath. Allison at work would cover for me more than I should have ever been allowed. I'd cry to Jeremy and my sweet mom when I got off work. I didn't want anyone to know I was struggling. And so, I began my six month period of taking antidepressants. 

I share this to inform those who are in a situation where it just seems like there is no end, that antidepressants can and do often help. They are never meant to be a permanent solution and in fact their abilities wear off after about a year. Because my mental state (no I wasn't crazy people) was always on edge, I didn't get much sleep (which is when serotonin builds back up in the body). I need the SSRI to keep the serotonin in me, so that I could move forward and past the bout I'd had with birth control. There is such a stigma in the Christian world with antidepressants, because people do often turn to them so quickly; however, they can be beneficial in small doses as I've mentioned above. When we are sick, we take medicine. When my head is pounding, there is ibuprofen. I needed leveling. Beyond that, I went to Christian counselors, my small group leaders, and most importantly Jeremy to work out those heart issues all along the way. For anxiousness, fear and depression they can very well be heart issues that need to be worked through rather than breezing past. 

After four months I decided the time was nigh, and I need to begin weaning myself off the meds. I did this strategically and over the course of a little over two months. It should not be taken lightly. I write today to inform those who are in the battle of the mind that you aren't alone. Hormones can change a lot of our mind. Antidepressants are NOT THE answer, but they can help calm those storms to think clearly.

Jesus is the ultimate answer. He is good. He is faithful. He will calm the greater storm. 

Today I threw away my antidepressants, and there is relief. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Since I said Goodbye to Full Time Work

It's been a year since I packed my boxes and shed a few tears walking out of my office at the Biblical Recorder. I was on to new adventures I told myself. I was on to becoming a wife to the Mr. It didn't take much packing or preparation. In fact, I only had one box. I never was one to really bring a lot into the office. My staff surrounded me with a few celebrations bidding me farewell. Though I walked out of that door a year ago, I've never looked back.

Very early on in my relationship with Jeremy, we discussed my desire to be a full time wife and mother. I didn't exactly know that he would be the one I'd be the wife to at that time. Hello, it was literally probably two weeks in to the whole escapade. But I wanted to be honest when the discussion topic found its way into our conversations. On the day I left the BR and full time work behind, I remembered the desires I was heading toward. That's why I've never looked back.

Since saying goodbye to full time work, the transition wasn't always easy. It still isn't some days; however, those days are few and far between. I wanted to make my own money. I wanted to contribute to the income. What would it look like for me to stay at home and serve my family? Would I feel valued? Would I contribute anything to the home? I felt selfish for wanting to purchase a top or dress with our money. The lies of satan are FIERCE when it comes to making the decision to leave full time work in the corporate sense to full time work in the home. I vividly remember mopping the floor and thinking "this is all I do." Now I would say - "You're darn right! That's what I do.. I want a clean house." I recently read an article about the home and it being a place of relaxation from the world. This is my task- to comfort us when the world is crazy. And we all know it's just that-- crazy. Sweetly Jeremy was always encouraging and brought me "back to earth" and grounded me as we navigated the newlywed waters during the first several months. Truth is, I love being in this home. I love this being my full time job. Because let's be real, maintaining a home is not easy.

On the other side saying goodbye to full time work, the transition was easy. I didn't want to punch a clock. I wanted to create a schedule of my own. I wanted time to create in the kitchen and be involved in Bible study during the day with ladies instead of at night when Jeremy is home. We actually have a few commitments at night. But I seriously wanted - sleep, working out and Bible reading to be on my schedule and not crunched in. Praise!

I've enjoyed saying goodbye to full time work. I've enjoyed navigating the waters of becoming a wife. Now that I've gotten a semi-handle on things I've started working part time. This has just been for enjoyment and meeting new people and not to add to the income as a main focus. My friend Torri said I should do something I love if I don't have to work, and that is exactly what I've started doing. The History-lover is satisfied. The semi extrovert is satisfied.

Since I've said goodbye to full time work, all is well. Thank you Jeremy for being my provider here on earth and allowing me to fulfill my desires of being a homemaker and thus saying goodbye to full time work.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What's Trending

In an attempt to make it to the 8 o'clock hour for What's Trending and PopStart on the Today Show, I always read my Bible, work out and then park it on the couch as soon as Matt Lauer begins talking at 8. Hello, Today Show! So today's blog post is all about the things trending in my own life. I find myself in the zone with TV shows, music, books etc. and will inevitably be hooked for months. Side note: I realize most of these things are not currently the trend, but I've finally caught up with the cool kids. Whew!

Books

Okay, okay.. Yes I've been working on John Adams for quite some time. I sure did take it with me to get my oil changed today and just kept it classy while waiting. Andi's book is one I'll ride the bike at the gym while reading .. because ... well, if you're going to read trash, you might as well get some benefit going. 

 


Music

Flo-rida "Welcome to my House"
Should you see me riding down the road or "over the mountain", this.is.my.jam.

TV

I am a TV- lover. Though I don't often sit still enough to watch, there's nothing like watching a good TV show.. train wreck.. sports competition. Jeremy and I have been hooked on the Olympics. At this point, I think these folks are my friends. If you've never watched "The Middle", do yourself a favor and turn it to Hallmark anytime after 9 during the week? If this isn't typical America, I'm just not sure what is.




Snacks

 Seeing as how I had some Saltines left over from the sickness that was, I decided to make these Homemade Skor bars from Andrea at Momfessionals. I made them when Amanda and I lived together. I'm sure I didn't make them exactly right then, but we obviously didn't throw them away. These don't look like much, but let's just say I'm having to practice a good amount of what we like to call restraint. Jeremy isn't hatin' on them either.

Click here to get the recipe and try it for yourself!  Yummy! You WILL NOT be disappointed.



Also - Don't forget Erin's Book Club is currently doing "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter!
And that's what's trending folks!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Jersey Shore!

This past weekend Jeremy and I headed to the Jersey Shore! Some friends from West Point informed me of lodgings on various naval bases across the nation for vacations. We found a sweet little deal in Jersey, and I was needing some beach time. The South Carolina girl was needing some sand and sun! 

We began our trip on Friday night with a stop at Chickfila, of course! Chicken sandwiches to begin the vacation.  Our little hotel was the cutest thing - right smack in the middle of the naval base. We watched the Olympics and ran the next morning. During our run, the "Star Spangled Banner" began playing; we stopped mid-run to observe the national anthem. I couldn't have been more proud to be standing in that moment, though the immediate stop caused a few breathing problems. #militarylife

Our next stop Saturday morning was the Jersey Shore - specifically Sea Girt! 

Jersey Shore!
#sandsunsurf #noSnooki #noproblems


We were able to get a good picture, but we have even better tan lines.
#atleastwedon'tlookorangelikeSnooki


For good measure... When you try to take that picture using the selfie timer, and this is what you get.
#lololololololol


It wouldn't be a stop at the Jersey Shore without going to Jersey Mike's. Helloooo! Haven't seen this place in a while!  It just so happened there was a Whole Foods next door, so we took on a few cupcakes for balance. 
#oilandvinegarplease #everythingbutMikesway #MountainDewbcits104outside


We ended our little vacation by heading home to grill out and watch the Olympics. Our little quick 24-hr getaway was the best and just in time before school started back. These little trips greatly remind me of why Jeremy is my best friend and partner in marriage - We love to discover new places/adventure. We love to relax. We love to eat. We love to run. We love doing things together.

In case you were wondering, my beach read was Andi Dorfman's "It's Not Okay". In a word: Fantastic.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Erin's Book Club: No Other Gods

Two blog posts in one day is just pure madness! BUT I've had this little tab on my menu bar for some time, and I've never actually followed through. Here is the follow through. The time has come.

Over the last several days, I've found myself reading Psalm 34 on repeat. I've even been singing the words to this Psalm over and over. While reading, I've been greatly challenged in my relationship with the Lord. The Holy Spirit has graciously been revealing to me the nature of my relationship with the Lord - ever growing.. ever pruning. Connect this to a conversation I had with Jeremy about what our relationship with the Lord is to look like: It is not to look like a "get out of hell free card," but rather it should be one of submission and delight in our Lord. Ashamedly I'll admit my relationship has at times looked more like that former rather than the latter. And yet, He continues to be gracious and call me to follow Him.

The call to follow Him is continuous, arduous, a blessing, a gift. It is a call of tasting and seeing that He is good. I was reminded of a Kelly Minter study I did several years ago before I met Jeremy called No Other Gods. This was such a challenging study as many of my own mini gods were revealed. Tough stuff. When the rich young ruler asked to follow Jesus, He gently showed him all of the idols that were in the way of truly following Him. These gods we create in the idol factories of our heart prevent true satisfaction in the Lord. To follow Him and delight in Him, we must deny these gods.

This brings me to the first Book Club. I've decided to embark on the No Other Gods study again. Join along. Run to Lifeway and grab the book. Each Saturday I will post a week end review. We can all do this together!


Also! Friends, if you live in the Raleigh area, Kelly Minter is doing a conference Sept 16-17! Check out her website for details!