Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Post Op Update

I'll be the first to admit that I went to all the wrong places looking for any information I could find on cyst removal. Think message boards with uneducated folks sharing their experiences. That's where I was for the week leading up to surgery and for a time after surgery. Every little ache, pain and discomfort I experienced, my fingers could not type it in Google fast enough. This is where things always go south, my friends. I'd heard of how people do this, and I became her. Google had an answer for all- by the time all was said and done, I'd figured out that I had appendicitis and another cyst just 48 hours after surgery was completed. Why yes, yes I did.

My doctor wanted me to schedule my first post-op appointment with him a month in to recovery. Last week Jeremy and I went to my regularly scheduled appointment, and guess what? There was not a sign of appendicitis (clearly that would have been an urgent matter and not waiting a month) nor another cyst as far as we know. The doctor did not perform another ultrasound, but based on the type of cyst I had, it takes a bit of time for those to redevelop. 

Can I tell you something? I still heard the doctors words. I heard every word he said. And I came home and cried my eyeballs out the next day. What if the cyst does come back one day? What if this prevents me from getting pregnant? What if my tubes are found to have endometriosis? What if I get pregnant and miscarry? The "What-ifs" continued to mount. It was one thing after the next. A spiral, if you will. And here's where I landed, thankful to land on a solid ground (though it most cases that would hurt). 

Tears of repentance are a beautiful thing. It is the Lord's grace that brings repentance. These fears had consumed me. Jeremy would lovingly point out my fears and my need to trust the Lord, but I didn't want to hear any of that. I wanted to pout. I wanted to worry. I wanted to fret. The Lord is gracious to use the husband and friends who speak Truth to lead us to where He needs us -- fully submitted to Him. 

The Lord is good. He has placed highly trained professionals in my life who didn't blink, wrinkle their brow or panic at any point during this cyst debacle. There was no "rushing" to the ER. There was no stat tests. There was simply precautionary measurements taken to insure optimum fertility. And the rest is in the hands of God. This is where I sit today. I am trusting the Lord, though terrified, knowing that He is good. All things are in His time, and He has taken care of us thus far.

On Sunday afternoon here in the Empire State, I witnessed two little miracles - It was a high of 68, and I was able to run outside on our bridge for the first time since surgery. I'd done a little shuffle on the treadmill Thursday, but I was running at a slow pace. On Sunday, I ran with my arms wide open just praising the Lord. I did not think I would see that day for quite some time. 

I find Jeremy's class motto to be aptly appropriate for this season of my life, yet I will change it a little. The class motto was chosen from George W Bush's speech post 9/11 attacks: Never falter, Never quit.

Except this is my hope - He [our God] never falters; He [my God] never quits. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

This Valentine's Day

Three years ago today I barreled home in my SUV to make it in time for a steak dinner provided by my parents for Valentine's Day. After years in junior high and high school of never receiving the heart-shaped ballon or Valentine-gram, the day of love was never one to be a favorite. Thankfully, the Lord showed me in 2014 how to love others around me, rather than focusing on myself and the lack of a romantic relationship.

However, that evening of driving down Interstate-95 is not lost. The three hour long drive had proved time again to allow the appropriate amount of silence to speak to my God. And what happened to be on my mind this evening -- my future husband (wherever he might have been). I didn't know who he would be at that time, though I was certain I could have presented God with a least that I deemed appropriate. Yet, God had greater plans. That evening the Lord laid it on my heart to pray for the man I would marry and what he would be doing that very evening - whether he was alone or with a gal who would not end of being his wife. I prayed for protection and his growth in the Lord to one day be my spiritual leader.

I've shared this story many times on this blog, but it gets me every single time. What I did not know at this point in my life- I did not know Jeremy Stache. I did not know he had recently proposed to his girlfriend at the time. I did not know she began to second-guess her decision to marry him that very night due to job opportunities that opened up for him. What I know now: God orchestrated every piece and part of our story to bring us together. God put it on my heart to pray for Jeremy's protection that evening and whatever he was going through - though I did not know of a Jeremy Stache until months later. God planned our meeting for just the right time and used these moments to shape us for today - together. In marriage.

Jeremy, on this Valentine's Day I am most thankful for the spiritual leader you are and your ever-pointing me to Christ, though I sometimes kick and scream at your direction. You are patient. You are kind. You are humble and selfless. You are the definition of love her on earth. I love you.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Why Christian Women Shouldn't See 50 Shades

Call me a rule follower. Call me innocent. Call me ignorant. Call me what you will, but when someone says, "You shouldn't do this or that," I'm one to generally fall in line and obey. When I understood the content of the first installment of books and subsequent movie for 50 Shades of Grey, I knew enough to know it wasn't something I needed to dabble in. I had heard it enough times that Christian women should not go watch this movie much less read the book, and thus that was enough for me. Until now.

On this side of marriage. Now it wants me to stand my ground and tell others why we shouldn't go see this movie.

Though I've never delved into that realm of wanting to know anything about the book, I did find myself looking through more of the plot yesterday and was nauseous. I was nauseous because of the damage soft porn and pornography in general causes to marriages.

It is well known in the Christian community of the prevalence of porn among men; however, movies of this nature offer an option for women. According to a study done by SAGU in 2015, a Christian university, 17% of women in their study population claimed an addiction to pornography. The study also showed 1 in 3 visitors to a pornography website are women. You can read the full article here.

What are the implications?
The multi-million dollar pornography industry creates a dissatisfaction in marriages by allowing men and women to have their sexual fantasies met by means other than their spouse. There are multiple levels in which I could address this; however, I want to look at the emotional/mental aspect. A woman or man who entertains a situation in a hard/soft porn website/book/movie allows thoughts to enter into their mind that are far above the reality of normal sex. Because these expectations far exceed the God-honoring sex sanctioned between a husband and wife, the partner entertaining such situations withdraws from the other and withholds the love and intimacy that are part of the core of sustaining a marriage.

More importantly it leads to a dishonoring of the marriage bed. In Hebrews 13:4, the writer of the letter proclaims: Let marriage be held in honor among all, and the let the marriage bed be undefiled.
The marriage bed is for the man and woman. It is for them to enjoy between the two of them. This is the way God designed it.

This industry and its many components are the "foxes" Solomon wrote about that attempt to sneak in and damage the joy to be experienced between a man and a woman - the intimacy ordained by God between them alone.

In closing, I am reminded of Proverbs 4:23 that admonishes us to guard our hearts. I always thought of this verse in the sense of dating and not giving my heart away to various young men. Yet, it is greatly applicable beyond that thought process - particularly here. Those in Christ are to ever be guarding what enters their minds and hearts. What enters into the heart and mind will steer our course. What may seem harmless will in fact harm over the longer course. Christian woman, guard your heart while you guard your eyes.

Treasure your mind.
Treasure your heart.
Treasure the man in front of you.
Treasure the man who will one day be yours, if the Lord wills.
Treasure your God.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jealousy

It happens most notably when I'm scrolling through Instagram. I'll see a picture and want to like it, but there's a tinge in my heart. Not a tinge of excitement, but a little bit of jealousy. It creeps over me, and sometimes (certainly not all of the time) I feel as if I'm missing out on something. Why don't I have her hair? Or that dress? Or that awesome experience? How can I make my makeup like that?

The guarding of the heart in this area of life is not for the faint of heart.

It requires armor. It requires a will for joy. It requires persistence in contentment.

And yet, at the end of it all God permits jealousy.

He what? This is a hard one for me to swallow. But I believe the Lord permits jealousy in our lives for our greater sanctification. Jealousy breeds discontentment; and as one working our their salvation with the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit, there is much putting off the old qualities of man and putting on that which brings life. Thus, we are to put off jealousy and discontentment and put on kindness, humility, compassion and contentment.

This morning I intentionally turned back a few chapters in Exodus to work through a different passage than where I actually ended up landing. I wanted to focus on the glory shining on Moses's face after the Lord passed by Him in the cleft of the rock. Yet, I didn't start in the right place. It is all about the context and so back a chapter I went. There it was: "-- for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God --" (Exodus 34:14). God is jealous.

But how can God be jealous, when I'm a little jealous of so-so? God can't be jealous because He is God! Just keep reading, Erin. Don't stop to think about that. Get to the veil. Keep going. But the Lord had me stuck there for a moment. He knew I'd been dealing with jealousy in my heart. He knew I needed a teachable moment, and it was found in the verses I'd never intended to read that morning.

Yes, our God is a jealous God. He is jealous for us -- the entirety of us. When I'm scrolling the social media outlet of choice and the tinge overcomes me, it's the same tinge He feels, except His jealousy is times infinity and a holy jealousy. When I'm looking at what everyone else has and wanting what they've got rather than being contented, He's doing the same. He sees me chasing after the things of the world for satisfaction rather than Him, and He is jealous.

Our God is jealous for our attention and desires and delights that find themselves resting in anything but Him. He wants us to look to Him and be satisfied. It's not in the busy schedule, the numerous commitments at church, the children, the career, the growing salary or husband; It's Him. He is our ultimate!

Though my jealousy may come from wanting the things that are not good for me in the moment, His jealousy comes from wanting the one He has created to be completely devoted to Him. And that... that is a good jealousy.

His jealousy is right. His jealousy is pure. His jealousy is for our good. Yes, our God is a jealous God.


And as we read the title to this post, we collectively thought of the Gin Blossoms.


Monday, February 6, 2017

He's Just That Into You

Each week I have the opportunity of serving a meal to a group of forty to fifty female cadets as part of a Christian ladies luncheon during their normal lunch hour. The ladies file in, grab their meal from the buffet, and then head to an assembly room for a brief message that focuses on principles of the Christian faith and their walk with the Lord. This past week as I was eyeing the salad bowl and debating in my mind whether or not I should add more lettuce and such to the bowl, I heard it. And then the debate in my mind switched gears - Should I say something? Do I interrupt? These girls don't know me.. do I have any weight in this conversation? An iron in the fire?  But the talk continued:

Female 1: I went home and bought it. It's a legit book. Stuff like that happens.
Female 2: Have you seen the movie?
Female 3 (who came into conversation late): Are you talking about "He's Just Not That Into You."
Female 1: Yes, It's so good. And that's how guys are.

I couldn't take it any longer and had to interrupt. I, myself, had owned the book at one point in life. I knew what it contained and easily convinced myself to throw the thing away knowing there was nothing biblical within the confines of the front and back cover.

These books - He's Just Not That Into You, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Feminist Mystique, just to name a few- are all steering women away from a dating/courtship that fosters the femininity of a woman and the masculinity of a man. These ladies who long to be in relationship wanted any nugget of information they could receive about the opposite sex and how to "reel" them in or know whether or not they the man was even worth casting a line towards.

As the remainder of our conversation unfolded, I had the opportunity to point these ladies back to the plans of the Lord for their lives, rather than them searching amongst a book written by a man who is not a believer for all the answers to their relationship woes. I needed to point them instead to the One who had written the very story of their lives.

And so, I will share with you. Dear one, if you are single, The Lord knows the plans He has for you. He knew you before you were even a thought in your parents' mind; He knew you before time began. How grand for us to even imagine! Some may venture to ask, "Does He truly give us the desire for marriage, or do we create that one on our own?" I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, marriage is a desire given to us by the Lord. We are already self-centered individuals as singles; therefore, it would be uncharacteristic for a selfish human being to desire to unite with another self-centered human being in matrimony, apart from the Lord's intervention. He plants the desire for marriage within our hearts because it is through the institution of marriage that He will show the world a picture of the gospel. Thus that desire for marriage originates from Him for His purpose of sharing His gospel.

Though this desire for marriage be present, it may not be on our own timetable. It may be years from now. Sigh. I know. I never wanted that either. As the twenty-four year old looked at me seemingly believing I did not understand her desire for marriage, I could only reply with a response of my age when I was married. I married Jeremy six months after I turned 31 and ten years after I thought I would be married. Though some may be older and still single, I use this example to firmly declare the timing is not our own.

"Erase my desire, Lord!," you may say. Yet as the clay cannot speak back to the potter, why would we fight against the One who has given such desires. If He has given, we must receive and trust that He will fulfill.

There is One who is in to you. He is completely into you - so into you that He gave His Son as your ransom. He put His wrath towards His one and only Son that you might live - live and be free, and live unto Him. Dear sister, because of this, rest assured that He has wonderful plans for your life - possibly a husband and family of your own, possibly a ministry you've wanted to pour in to, possibly a home in another country to share more of Him - whatever it be, He has you. He has your plans and will reveal them in His perfect timing. He has your future -- because He's just that into you.

An aside: I loved reading Passion and Purity and Quest for Love by Elisabeth Elliot during the season of singleness.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January Book Review



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Oh how I love to read! This year I've challenged myself to read 60 books in 2017. What am I thinking?? Life seems busier now than it was when I worked 2 jobs sans a husband, but somehow I managed to accomplish 50 books then. I'm upping the ante/ raising the stakes and shooting for the stars of 60 books! And so, I begin again. I'll spread the wealth each month with my monthly book reviews. Add them to your Beach Reads List... Oprah has nothing on this book club.




Ok, so I started reading First Women shortly after Christmas, but it took me a while, and I finished in the New Year. That counts, right? This book was everything my history-lovin heart wanted it to be. Now I'm hooked on all things Presidents' wives. The book explored the lives of the first ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama and everyone in between. Y'all - the drama is real! I was hooked to find out who didn't like who - who snubbed who- who were actual friends; it's all there. The only thing I didn't particularly care for is the layout of the book. Chapters were based on subject matters, rather than one chapter per First Lady. That made it a little more difficult to keep up with especially when trying to navigate the actual marriages and affairs. Whew! This is a must read.


There was a girl who walked into the bookstore and saw this pink and gold cover and just knew - This is the book for me. So I did what any girl would do and marched myself up to the counter. Grace Not Perfection is the book that has challenged me to just slow it down. I want everything to be in order and perfectly aligned. I don't even know what it means to rest, know what I mean? I wrote a little about this book here. With grace, we can thrive. If God has shown me such grace, then I certainly need to show myself grace as well as others that same grace. 



Bulletproof is for all the Teen Mom fans! I have watched this show from the beginning. Call it a guilty pleasure? But I am a fan - well maybe not of Farrah. I'm proud of these girls for keeping their babies and wanting to be parents, despite the circumstances. Maci wrote about it all - from before Bentley was born to the potential struggle of having her second and surprise of her third child. I seriously found myself going to Hulu to watch old episodes of the show as I read through the book. If you've ever watched the show, this is the book for you.



Look, I was honest in my About Me section that I loved a train-wrecked celeb bio, and well, this one was just that. Y'all. Hiding from Reality is about Taylor Armstrong who was a regular cast member of Real Housewives: Beverly Hills. The show definitely showcased some of her troubled relationship with husband, Russell. But this book just laid it all out in the open. Beyond just the normal celebrity aspect, the book also showed insight into the regular cycle of domestic abuse. I know Taylor wanted to share her story to help other women recognize their own trappings of abuse, and I think she handled it in an appropriate manner, for the most part. 




Now - it's Inauguration Day. You could find me curled up under my electric blanket reading this gem. How appropriate! The Residence is written by the same author as First Women. Once I knew it was out there, I just had to have it. Honestly, I liked this book better, if that's even possible. Especially, with it's timely arrival by Jan 20th, I was so invested as everything unfolded on TV. Though there were many moments that made me want to know just a bit more, the White House backstory on September 11, 2001 was enough to bring tears to my eyes. This book is once you must grab! Buy it. Read it. Share with a friend. It's just that good.



Restless. I could just end there. I'm going to say this. I was a little skeptical about this book. I'm not in love with women Christian authors sometimes. To be fair. I hadn't heard much about Jennie Allen. I've been living under a rock for sure. But this book has challenged me so much. The end of this book resulted in an hour long discussion with Jeremy the other night about all the Lord had showed me while working through this book. We are a restless generation ladies. We need to rest in Him and the gifts and places and people He has given us - bringing glory to Him. I plan to write an entire post about all I learned - but for now .. I think this will do!

Alright. This ends January reading! On to February.. I mean, we are already there.
Any books I should put on my list? Let me know!

Friday, January 27, 2017

#prayersforAmelia

Today I write for Amelia.

Amelia and I were able to meet during our time at Southeastern. We were both in hot pursuit of degrees that would allow us to grow in the Lord and share our love for Him with others. Our mutual friend, Jonathan, connected us one Wednesday evening. And now, I know it was a meeting coordinated by the Lord.


Amelia and were not able to hang out in person as much due to the fact that she moved home, so we became quick long distance friends. Our friendship grew by leaps and bounds as we made weekly appointments to talk over the phone. Much of our conversations include and continue to include prayer requests and what the Lord is teaching us -- this is the stuff Christian friendships are founded upon. This is the good stuff the apostle John meant when he said his joy was made complete.

My sweet friend has been experiencing quite a few health problems over the past couple of years. It was truly a blessing of the Lord she was able to be apart of our wedding. For that I am thankful. I'm writing this post to ask for your prayers for this sweet friend of mine. In the near future she will need to make some decisions about the next steps for her health. Please pray the Lord would give Amelia, her family and the doctors much wisdom as they determine the options available for her.

I'm always encouraged by the story of Moses, Aaron and Hur on top of the mountain while Joshua was fighting the Amalekites below. As long as Moses's arms were raised, Joshua was victorious. But Moses's arms got tired. He needed help for the victory. Aaron and Hur came alongside and held Moses's arms up in the air when he was tired, so the Israelites could win the battle. We are Aaron and Hur for Amelia. We are going before the Lord and holding up her arms when Amelia can't do it for herself. We are her friends fighting for her. Join me in praying for Amelia.

Amelia's friend, Becky, wrote a blog encouraging prayers for our friend. You can read her blog here. Please feel free to share with others either blog.