Tuesday, October 18, 2016

You don't have control

Dear friends, I am not one who loves an ER nor a hospital nor a doctor's office, dentist office.. any kind of office dealing with my health. However, I have found myself at the ER no less than 3 times over the past couple of months for various reasons. Here's the thing: I don't want to confront the fact that my health may not be above par. I don't want any information to come across my path that would later suggest surgery or something tragically wrong with my body. The fear of illness is real. And yet, in I marched Sunday afternoon.

Early Saturday morning I woke up to some serious pain on my left side. I failed to awake Jeremy because I'm still in the mindset of "handling this on my own." Sunday afternoon the pain had subsided enough for me to go to work, yet right in the middle of a good cadet story I began to experience the pain again. When one prays for wisdom from the Lord about a health situation, all roads lead to the hospital. I truly believe the Lord brings me to my knees in pain in a health situation, so that I can turn no other way. And so, on Sunday afternoon I marched into the ER begging for an ultrasound machine to check the left side of my body. I needed an ultrasound machine because I knew there was possibly a cyst and needed an internal exam to check all of that.

I'm a baby. Drawing blood - I cry. Giving a pelvic exam - I cry. No husband because I asked him to stay home until further notice - I cry. Have no fear, Jeremy made it into the ER at just the right time. But while I'm sitting there with all uncertainties floating through my head - believe me, at that time anything and everything will cross your mind including possibility of surgery, possibility of infertility, the possibility of fainting/awkwardness/continual needles, etc-, I was very much so reminded of my lack of control by the paramedic who was ordered to draw my blood. He literally said, "You don't have control." And with that, I shut my mouth and no further questions were asked about drawing blood.

I'm confident the Lord was teaching me in that moment about control and fear. I am a big worryer. I want control. I would have probably volunteered to perform all blood work and exams myself had they let me. But that wasn't the case. In that moment I had to relinquish control to those who excelled in the medical field far more than I ever will - Let's be honest, I don't know where most organs are in my body. God reminded me that I have to trust Him - Not only in this situation, but in life in general. I don't have to ask a million questions because that's not my role in life. My place is to submit to the One who is in control and let it be. Let His will be done. That evening, my lack of trust and desire for control played itself out in my questioning the nurses every move. That evening, however, I learned more about myself and the need for me to submit to the Lord in all areas of my life. He is the good Shepherd and will take care of me. I have to trust that and hold on to it with everything I have. The One who does have control can see all that is ahead of me. And that's where I need to rest easy.

Now, I did eventually have an ultrasound to find that I did have cyst. This cyst is larger than normal but is not abnormal and should disappear within the next couple of weeks. I learned in Health class yesterday (aka my visit with the doctor) that women develop a cyst in their ovaries once a month. It's just a fact of life they don't teach us in high school health class. Moving forward- everything looks to be healing appropriately.

The humor of the entire visit was when the doctor sent me to use the restroom after one of my exams. Seeing as how I was wearing ballet flats that day and was prepped for all exams, I was no longer wearing those shoes and was barefooted. I looked over my shoulder as I headed out the door and said to Jeremy,  "I feel like Britney Spears going into the bathroom without my shoes on." And surely, if Britney can survive 2007, I can survive this pain - Because for me, my God is in control.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Year One of Forever Like That

I've been married for a year. What the heck? Those were the first words I wrote in my journal this morning. I had an entirely different post prepared for today, but I decided to scratch it and write this.

The night before our wedding I wept/ cried uncontrollably as I flipped through a journal of prayers I'd been writing for at least seven years for my future husband. As I prepared to write a note to Jeremy on the first page, I couldn't believe the specific ways in which the Lord had heard my prayers and granted my requests in Jeremy. More than being thankful for Jeremy, I was in awe of how our God, my God is so in tune to our needs and worthy of my worship at every moment. The next day proved to be a day of the Lord's faithfulness.

David's Bridal has a neat tradition of allowing the bride to ring the magic bell once she has found THE dress. I was told to make a wish during that time for my wedding day and for our marriage. I'm now okay sharing that wish: I wanted Christ to be the center of our wedding day and marriage. With waters rising, roads flooding, electricity absentee, I can truly say the Lord was the center of our day. It didn't matter to me that any of these complications were happening - I can't even begin to describe the peace from the Lord that calmed my heart. It was the peace the surpasses all understanding. I was going to get married, and that was that. The day was beautiful - rain and all - Christ was the center: "Your God is my God."

I commented to Jeremy on Saturday night as we headed to our anniversary dinner just how fearful I was as I traveled through our town by myself during those first few weeks of being in the North. My white knuckles from the intense grip on the steering wheel proved the level of uncertainty. The intense grip somewhat symbolized my entire view of life at that moment. Here I was - new to married life, new to Army life, and new to the North. How was I going to do this? It could have been the perfect storm. I'd never been one to deal well with transition; seventh grade is the testimony to that. Yet, there were only a few minor breakdowns. Through it all the Lord proved to be my strength during this first year. When the enemy whispered I was not a good enough wife, I took up my armor. When the disagreements came, the Holy Spirit reminded me of our union in Christ and the covenant of marriage .When I couldn't stop laughing at Jeremy, the Lord reminded me of the great joy of marriage. Through this past year, the fear dissipated. The knuckles aren't white any more.

In the middle of all of this, the Lord has taught me much about His timing. I remember going to sleep one night and going through the random list of wonderful young men I'd hoped to spark a relationship with. Time and again it didn't work out. Oh believe me, I had the bags of tricks. I knew my way to the gym. And yet, none of those worked out. I'd come to believe I would never get married. I'd come to terms with God's plan and His absolute intervention in my dating life should He see fit for me to marry. I knew I needed to be available to that, but I also knew my life was in the now. And now, I am married to the one the Lord had for me from the beginning. He knew I needed someone who could teach me His Word and challenge me. He knew I needed one who didn't mind my emotional side. He knew I even needed one who wasn't afraid to eat a cheeseburger and greasy fries followed by a slice of cake without any qualms. He knew I needed Jeremy. It has taken so long for me to see the continual hand of the Sovereign God in our relationship, engagement and marriage. But His hand in my life is good. He is good. And that is the promise I am clinging to after this first year: The Lord's timing is perfect! His gifts are good and perfect! James 1:17

Was there some magical formula for my knight to enter the picture? No. I don't believe so. I believe it was a surrender of the will. The will that I'd held on to for so long - the one that demanded a husband and couldn't see it any other way; the will that demanded he look and act a certain way; the will that wanted what I wanted rather than what the Lord wanted. In surrender the Lord brought me Jeremy.

Fast forward to a year later. We've traveled and shared so many adventures- Woodstock, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Disney World, the Jersey Shore, NYC. We've argued. We've laughed. We've made our way through most of One Tree Hill. We disagree. We are snippy with each other every now and then. We finish each other's sentences. We jam out together and have dance parties on the occasion. We love to eat and run and run and eat.  We sing. We crack up at inside jokes.  We do what married people do. We are each other's best friend. And Christ is at the center of it all. He holds us together. This has been year one of forever like that.

I wanna love you, forever I do.
I wanna spend all of my days with you.
I'll carry your burdens and be the wind at your back.
I wanna spend my forever-forever like that.

To Jeremy, You make me laugh. 
You make me smile. 
You frustrate me. You are my teacher.
You challenge me. 
You get on my nerves every now and again. 
You are corny. You are my comforter. You are my protector. 
You are the one I get to share the bed with every single night. 
If it's the Lord's will, you will one day be my baby daddy. 
You are my friend.
You are my husband. 
I love you. 
Thank you for this year and this glimpse of heaven.
Happy Anniversary!

PS- The part about the cheeseburgers and fries and cakes was written last Wednesday. I just realized when I read this post over again that indeed.. we had burgers, fries and cake yesterday. Not even planned. It's just what we do.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Confessional Friday: It's Baaacccckkk

Happy Friday! Fall is upon us in every way - that mostly nearly means copious amounts of candy corn and peanut butter M&Ms. There is never a time in my year when I want these more except for when Fall is in full swing. In true Leslie fashion from A Blonde Ambition, I'm continuing the air those confessions in prep for the weekend. Grab a Coke..  Grab the link below, and let's get on with it! It's time to confess, shall we?

1) I confess I began taking a new vitamin a couple of weeks ago - recommended by Amanda. I read the bottle closely to see "dietary supplement" on the side. I proceeded to call Amanda and ask if she skipped meals since this vitamin was a supplement.  Ummm... yes. I did. It took me a moment but I figured it all out. 

2) I confess I finally sat down on the couch to watch When Harry Met Sally - a good favorite since my trip to Prague. Halfway through the movie I'm thinking --- " I didn't realize her name was Sally?"

3) I confess I am hook, line and sinker on this new NBC show, This is Us. 

4) I confess my favorite thing about Fall is the candy corn.. all of it... the pumpkins especially where I begin my adventure by eating the stem first. Every. Single. Time.

5) I confess that I'm not sure where the year went since we've said our I'dos. I'm certain I blinked and it went by and here we are... No longer newlyweds.

6) I confess I've been a mini tornado Erin whipping through the house this morning - cleaning, running, putting things away. It's 10:00, and I'm ready to collapse - yet quite pleased with myself.

Now, I think I can head into the weekend with all of that off my shoulders! Join the party. Grab the logo and link up!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Meanwhile back at the Ranch: Harry Show and Blog News

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I'm just over here twiddling my thumbs as I wait for the plumber to arrive. There are things to clean and clothes to be washed, but when folks are coming in the door to work on the WATER one has to stop. My stopping has landed me here in blog world, where I've failed to keep pace. I don't keep pace in most avenues of life specifically running, but here I am. The blog posts are piling up and I need to do some hacking away at all my ideas. Here we go!

Several weeks ago, I got an email from the fine folks at the Harry Connick Jr Show asking me to sign up for tickets to be a part of the audience. Knowing I love a good show and entertainment, I signed myself and 3 others up to receive tickets. The request was quickly met as Harry has a new show, and people just don't know about it right now. Off we went barreling down the Palisades Parkway with visions of front row seats and pictures with Harry dancing in our heads.

We wanted a nice little spot on TV, so we informed the audience helpers of our Army wife status. This particular day Harry was all about the nurses and educators of the world.

 Now as for my honest opinions and observations about the show: 
1) This show is struggling and I realize it's a baby. Harry has great personality but it's for concerts not daytime TV.

2) We might possibly be groupies for these shows, and let's be honest we kinda are. We were able to recognize crew that was once used at Meredith's show. Ummm... yeah. We've done this too much.

3) There were some oiled up lifeguards advertising a free trip to Mexico. Harry kept commenting on their looks, and I'm all like - "Did y'all find these guys in the Subway 3 hours ago?"

4) Harry tried to do a Facebook Live chat with his guests and Facebook users. Hello.. the reason no one is commenting is because your show is not live, Harry. 

5) I completely forgot Harry was the bad guy on Will & Grace. Once he reminded the audience of that guest role, I was stuck in 2003 and wasn't coming back.

6) I was glad we could take pictures in the studio. The show airs on October 7th. I can't be held responsible for any facial expressions that may reflect my attitude about the lifeguards, some Harry cheesiness, or audience craziness. 

Y'all. This is what we call crazy eyes.. Not for Jane but for me.

BLOG NEWS: I was an avid follower of A Blonde Ambition blog that regularly featured Confessional Friday. Leslie S. passed away last year due to a heart condition. I emailed her sister in law to ask if the blog world could keep up the tradition of Confessional Friday going to pay tribute to Leslie and keep the laughs going - Friday is in sight! She gladly approved the continuation of the Confessions and I'll start the link up THIS Friday. Look, I get it.. there may  not be anyone to link up. But I loved this link up and will continue on! In the words of Leslie, "Be Blessed Lovelies!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Discipline of the Mind

My dad used to walk around and say every now and then, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop". Found in Proverbs 16.

I'm a thinker aka I think a lot. Jeremy says that I must have the inability to turn my mind off. Even when I go to sleep, I am oftentimes turning a million things over in my head at one time. When I have a day off from work with nothing on the schedule, my mind will find itself heading down a path of a nice little spiral. The proverb my daddy occasionally quotes rings true in this instance. Just like an overachiever kindergartner who is bored on the first day of school, the mind has to be filled in with new things. The kindergartener has to be given new material to store inside his mind - to learn, to grow, to be challenged. I have to put new ideas and teachings into my own mind in order to be challenged and grow also. By not reading and studying the Word of God, I am prohibiting my mind from being renewed into the mind of Christ.

I am currently reading Barbara Hughes's Disciplines of a Godly Woman. This quote from the chapter about the discipline of the mind precisely explains what I've mentioned above (Work with me here because she is quoting from someone else ha):
"In a book called Recovering the Christian Mind, Harry Blamers points out that while Christians may worship and pray as Christians, they are suffering from religious anorexia, a loss of appetite for growth in Christ. God has given us this amazing instrument-- the mind. We mustn't take it for granted. We need to program it wisely- never leaving it unguarded, unthinking, and undisciplined."

Isn't that powerful!? Wow! I am so challenged by this section of the book and think of several things to pull from this. Spiritual anorexia -- I've only learned about the starvation that occurs as a result of physical anorexia; however, the visual image of us starving ourselves spiritually by not studying the Word of God faithfully or shutting out harmful activities to our mind is absolutely powerful. Secondly, I think of my high school computer programming class and the hours I poured over trying to figure out the basics of C++. I didn't get very far. But in order to get a program to work on the computer, one must be pretty savvy with writing these codes/"commands" that will make this machine operate. In the same way, we have to program our minds to function properly. What does properly actually look like? Properly means the mind of Christ. This was the intended state of our minds before the fall of man. By His grace, the Lord is renewing and transforming our minds to that intended state. Romans 12:2 gives a better picture of this - Though the Holy Spirit is the agent behind that renewing, we can participate in be obedient as well. Guarding our heart doesn't just look like protecting it from the fellas that enter our lives, but it is applicable to EVERY part of our lives for those who are followers of Christ.

The writer of the Proverb knew the devil's schemes and plots when a mind is not being challenged towards growth in Christ. That idle mind can open a space for worry, doubt, fear and ongoing "what if" scenarios. I don't perfectly have the mind of Christ - far from it. But the Lord has been gracious to show me some of the trash that I allow into my mind and how it effects me. The Bible does not call us to completely turn the TV off and never watch again, but it does give fair warning about guarding what enters our mind and causes disruption. For me, I've had to cut out a few television shows that leave me down and out! I'm talking overwhelmed and nervous. I can't watch them anymore because I've noticed how much they effect me. It might look differently for you. Yet the only way any of us can discipline the mind is by reading and studying the Word of God - His Truth is what should permeate our thoughts. May we not be spiritually anorexic women, but seek to live godly lives as women seeking the mind of Christ. May we guard, protect and discipline our minds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I am the True Vine: Kelly Minter Conference/ Raleigh Weekend

If you've heard it once, then you've probably heard it a thousand times how much I enjoy Kelly Minter and her Bible studies. I began her studies several summers ago after seeing a few bloggers write about the Ruth study. We gathered a small group of girls in an apartment and began studying the book of Ruth. Snacks and dinner were involved, but I greatly appreciated the conversation centering around the Truth of God's Word. This past weekend Kelly Minter spoke at the church I attended while I was in Raleigh, Bay Leaf. While Jeremy was slaving away at his PhD exam, I made it a fun trip with the girls. Friday morning came early, and by early I'm talking 4:30 - Translation: I don't see that time of day unless I'm waking up to use the restroom. But I did manage to capture this beauty while at the airport. See that sunrise. See that skyline. 

The weekend was jam-packed with seeing all the friends in Raleigh. Y'all - my campus pastor said the best friends you make are those you make in seminary. I can't agree more. The time I spent in Raleigh for all of a solid 8 years - I spent kicking and screaming and wanting God to move me. My heart is fond of this little area now, as I am realizing these are the women I've prayed with; laughed with; cried a dozen tears or more; studied His Word with; and have been in small group with over the years. He is faithful to provide friends at a time I never thought I would have any. 

Though I didn't take pictures too much, I was able to spend some time with Amanda during the day and quite a few folks that night. Jen took us to Nashers, a new sandwich place and I'm still dreaming about the sandwich I ate. The conference began on Friday night. I may have fangirled it and took a picture of Kelly while she was teaching and insisted on taking one with her afterward. 

Yep. I made the beeline and brought my friends along with me. 

The conference/teaching focused on John 15 and bearing fruit. We can be gifted to bear fruit physical but are definitely given the task to bear fruit spiritually. The fruit the believer bears cannot be done apart from Christ - This is where emphasis on John 15:1 comes in - "I am the TRUE vine, and my Father is the vinedresser." Christians are the branches, and we must attach ourselves to the vine for nourishment. Kelly gave an excellent word picture for my brain - Branches need the nourishment of the vine. We can attempt to attach ourselves to many vines hoping to find that nourishment or fulfillment - new clothes, new kitchens, husband, children, a clean house - The list could go on and on. Eventually, we will come up empty handed because these things are not going to provide the nourishment we need to grow. Jesus says, "I AM THE TRUE VINE." He is the truest of vines where we will experience fulfillment. He has come to earth to be the light in the midst of darkness. He reveals the Father to us and gives us life in His ways. Y'all I can't even begin to wrap my mind fully around this, but it's great! Only in Christ are we fulfilled, nourished, satisfied. He is the only vine who will gives us exactly what we need and sustain us. No worrying necessary. How beautiful!

Oh y'all it was a joy of my heart to gather with these two girls and pray together. We were in a small group together when I attended IDC and spent much time in prayer together. 

It wouldn't be a trip to Raleigh without seeing this red head. After the conference ended, some friends grabbed Mexi-cannnn and I shopped it up with Leah. However, I was able to make it just in time for this sassy lady's bday party. This corner of the Wake Forest world will always feel like home, even though I only lived there 8 months. However, over the course of the 8 years, I found myself there frequently - perched on a kitchen stool gabbing away to the one in the middle. This home has brought many new friends into my life, including Lane. We shared a lunch together around Mrs. Bush's table and have been friends ever since. I also finally got to meet that sweet Abby Grace. 

After a morning breakfast with Kelly and Heidi, I found myself in a familiar seat. I love a window seat. This time I was heading to New York out of RDU - not for a brief weekend, but for home with my husband. Those previous rides were filled with uncertainty due to the fact that I did a poor job of fully trusting the Lord during my relationship with Jeremy. However, this ride back was sweet - I was going home! No longer the home in Raleigh. But the home is New York. His faithfulness endures. 

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide... 
John 15:16

Monday, September 19, 2016

Wicked Watchin'

The last week and a half has been Broadway Week in NYC. This means some of the greatest shows on Broadway offer BOGO tickets. Now that I know all about some BOGO, I quickly grabbed some tickets for Jeremy and I to venture into the city. Neither of us had seen Wicked and decided this would be the show for us. After church on Sunday, we headed into the city. This might have been one of the smoothest trips into the city, though we were running a little behind and sweating our ETA. WICKED WAS FANTASTIC! Having not been a fan of the Wizard of Oz, the show stole my heart. I'll take this plot line any day! I'm pretty sure there were several occasions where I realized I was staring at the play with my mouth wide open. I had to force my mouth shut haha. 

Living so close to the city, Jeremy and I are trying to take advantage of the opportunities available to us. I am continuously reminded of this first year of marriage and all the wonderful opportunities we've been able to have while here in New York!