Sunday, August 30, 2015

we are all a ruins without You

Photo credit here.


It's funny how we think when we get older, we'll have it all together.

This week marks my last days of being 21, before I gain another year of wisdom (supposedly) on Saturday. Yet, I can't help but feel like a child sometimes.

It was oddly comforting to talk to my mom and sister today and realize that neither of them feel as if they "have it all together" either. I'm starting to realize that we women are, in a way, forced to become very strong people early on. We are tasked with supporting men and being their sounding boards, and bearing children and raising families. These are such beautiful, God-honoring and difficult tasks. There is pain in them. There is also nurture. But all of these insecurities and fears and hurts I hear from even very young women (especially when I was a camp counselor) are building in my mind to this over-arching realization that we women are all tender, fragile, pained. You think that that bikini model on a men's magazine cover has it all together? She's probably obsessing over the size of her thighs. 

My friend Sophie has a phrase on her blog side menu that comes to mind:

Don't measure beauty in mirrors or pounds. 

This post is all over the place, which is kind of symbolic of my current mental state, but I just wanted to say: We are all a mess. Not a one of us is perfect. We are women, and we are created by the Lord as divinely loved, wholly beautiful creatures. Praise God for grace.

Friday, August 28, 2015

this is the place i call home, your eyes & your arms, i seek



I haven't done a Film Friday post in a long time, and I figured it was time to change that.

I've often come across this photo while digging through my box of old film photographs. I know for certain that my father, sister and I are on the couch in the den of our second house, my childhood home. It was there that I learned to ride a bike, to climb a tree, to write stories.

Whenever I see this, I always wonder what made us laugh so much. My mom must have seen us cracking up and grabbed the camera.

Somebody else lives in that house now. It's weird how time, and life with it, moves very quickly.

Monday, August 24, 2015

my imperfection & His perfect love

In a moment of chaos today, God quieted my heart and made me still.

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." ~ Romans 5:8

I want to know His love more. I want to be in love with His perspective, and how He sees people. He is giving me glimpses into how I should live -- a life of love, bearing with the faults and flaws of folks. To see them as Christ sees them -- just lost, but only one restored relationship away from being new. From being free.

My life isn't for me. When I threw a stick in the fire during the last campfire dedication service at my favorite summer camp, I didn't know what my decision would practically look like. All I knew was that God was calling me to dedicate this next year of my life (my junior year of college) to Him. And to put myself on the altar and give up the selfishness I bathe myself in daily.

Today He showed me this verse:

"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." ~ Galatians 5:13

I've been using my freedom for the wrong thing. I can't expect a life lived for self to satisfy me. I am to be poured out for others. As a selfish person, I initially thought this would be The Worst Thing Ever, but the more selfless moments I have, the better I feel. If I am supposed to point others back to Christ, I have to live as He lived -- and He gave up Himself entirely.

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." ~ Galatians 2:20

Sufjan Stevens wrote a song about this, and it is the most beautiful thing.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

am I myself, or am I dreaming?



Lately it feels like my life has been put into a blender and I am just along for the ride.

Coming back from Bible college & camp has been hard, although it's sort of been great, and beautiful. I really can't complain -- I should be bursting with thanksgiving, probably. But I'm not bursting with much anymore. I'm just kind of exhausted. I'm less physically drained than I have been, but more spiritually and emotionally absent. Vacant. Feeling like I'm not sure who I am, or who I want to be, and how I want to move forward.

My sister & mom & I sat down for a nice little lunch at a cute Parisian cafe today, and that was nice. It provided a little relaxation and respite in the midst of what feels like a hurricane of constant confusion. There is so much joy in this life, but I feel robbed of the energy to experience it.

I wish this post was more uplifting, but I'm just sifting through my own soul right now and seeing what's there. Just kind of waiting to see what God is going to do, trying to get back in step with Him.

Also, my third year of college at my favorite little downtown university begins tomorrow. Alrighty then.

Click here for the current song of my soul.(I feel like Switchfoot's Vice Verses album is my spirit animal right now. Seriously good songs. Haven't heard them in long time. Hello, old friends.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Brin

So it's finally starting to hit me that this wonderful chica on the right is going to be MARRIED in less than two months.

I've been away at camp so long that I've been sort of oblivious to what is going on in everyone else's life, and what is going on in Brin's is pretty freakin' massive. Marriage. Love. True love. As her best friend and maid of honor, I'm getting super excited...and a tad emotional. I'm so glad that she won't be moving away once she gets hitched, but rather is planning to stay local, move in with her soon-to-be-husband, Joe, and work in the area.

Brin and I have been close ever since we met in Sunday School more than ten years ago, and have been through a lot of crazy adventures (and heartbreak) together. I can't wait to see what is in store for her next! And even though she's going to be married, I will still kidnap her so we can go be goons together. #theadventuresofBrian&Eric

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

the mall depresses me 2.0

I've been doing some thinking about trends today.

After perusing seventy-odd shops (or at least it feels like it) for new clothes for college, I feel like all I have done is stare at the same seven garments over and over and over again.

Everyone's about the seventies now. So cool!
Everyone wants black & white stripes. Tell me more!

This is bizarre to me both because 1) This is the stuff my sister & I normally wear, so it's just odd to see all the black and paisley prints become a trend. 2) I have decided that I hate the nature of trends. The whole point is to shoot something new (ahem, recycled) to the front of the fashion lines to make us scurry like mad to the store to purchase something we likely already own. To quote a very cynical Solomon, "nothing is new under the sun."

So it makes shopping for clothes very difficult. I am sure this is something y'all face on a daily basis; I am just now hitting my breaking point with it because I usually buy things from thrift stores or other second hand shops. Which has proved to be a remarkably romantic avenue by comparison. The idea that I *might* find a garment at a thrift store for a decent price, that comes pre-worn, soft and with its own story and feel, seems infinitely more attractive then purchasing the same-old stuff that I can find at Literally Any Store Within Shouting Distance.

Except maybe Hot Topic.
They've always kind of done their own thing.

Seeing as this is probably as close to a rant post as I'll ever make, I might as well address (pun wholly intended) the issue of body image and perfection that these malls and stores place on women. From such a very young age! It's impossible to buy pants, people. Has anyone else found this? It feels as if everything is built for one (very thin and bony) body type. Goodness. If I had a dollar for every sweet camper I've counseled this summer over their dislike of their body (whether the girl was white or black, tall or fat, thin or curvy), I would likely be able to purchase a pair of those ridiculous jeans. Why can't we just be ourselves, yo?

#Everyone'sahipster
#Cynical
#Jaded
#Hashtaggin'fordayz

"To all perfection I see a limit, but Your commands are boundless." ~ Psalm 119:96

Your comments are always appreciated.

Monday, August 17, 2015

"I want people to feel the joy I feel."

I don't brag on God enough. I really don't. But I'm about to.
So if you have time, or even if you don't, read this, yo:

There was this girl named Carrie.

She came to the summer camp I worked at during Week 6 of camp, closed off and angry at God for things that had happened in her life. Being a missionary's kid, Carrie was familiar with the Gospel and how she could be saved, but because of her circumstances and past interactions with Christians who seemed fake and insincere, she wanted nothing to do with the Lord.

Carrie was very bright and sweet and a really cool camper, so it broke my heart to see that she was so hardened to what God had to say to her. One of the struggles of being a camp counselor this summer has been watching the unsaved campers leave. Although it's not up to me to "save" anybody {mad props to 1st Corinthians 3:7}, I do have a small window of time to influence campers while they are in my care. And so sometimes to see them leave unsaved is to feel like you failed them somehow.

Once again, only God can change a heart.
But it's still discouraging.

So, we were all very burdened for Carrie. My co-counselor and I were praying, my Unit Leader was praying, my entire Unit was praying, my friends were praying, my parents back home were praying. Everyone and their mother was prayin'. Like legit, I don't even know how many people were praying for Carrie.

Campfire Night came around, but Carrie still wasn't saved. We had had some good conversations. Nothing. We prayed some more. There were really wonderful rallies and services. Nada. We prayed some more. And it was with tears that we watched Carrie leave camp unsaved that week, still hardened to the Gospel.

And yet, as in all things, a glimmer of hope.

I kept getting these feelings that someday Carrie would get saved and God would use her in massive ways. She was a very bright and ambitious girl - a future leader. I thought that if only the Lord could harness her leadership, He would use her in incredible ways for His glory.

Fast forward a few weeks. Carrie and I were still keeping in touch every now and then through Facebook. It was encouraging to get little messages from her saying that she was feeling more responsive to God and that He had used her week at camp to open her up to reading the Bible. So we kept praying. To hear her become more and more receptive was such a beautiful thing.

A few nights ago, I decided to send Carrie a message, since we hadn't talked in a little while. Imagine my shock when she responded that she'd been doing better, since she had just gotten saved! Only a few minutes earlier she had sat down and prayed in her heart to accept Christ as her Savior. It was insane! To hear her testimony of how God took her out of a very dark and depressing past and to see her joy only in the first few moments of being saved was incredible. It encouraged me so much to see that raw, real joy of the Lord shining through her already.

"Just now I kind of realized that God loves me and He saved me a lot of times from death, so I need to trust Him. I also realized that so many people in the world have trusted Him and big change has happened in their life. So who am I to say that He can't do that to me?" -- Carrie 
In short, never give up on people, because God doesn't. And never give up on God. I feel so blessed to have been a part of witnessing firsthand the life change that can happen when Christ gets a hold of a heart. He is still in the business of radically transforming people's lives.

If you're not sure where you stand on all this Jesus stuff, click here.

the great vanilla latte quest

There is a time in every young woman's life when she must go on a quest.
A quest for the most glorious vanilla latte the world has ever seen.

In an effort to find a homegrown gem among the Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts brews of the world, my sister and I tested out three cups of coffee from three different local coffeehouses on the beach. We rated the latte and its establishment on criteria like staff friendliness, latte flavor and even potential romantic encounters. The results? A LATTE FUN.

Coffeehouse #1
Gypsy style

This gypsy-themed coffee house meant well, it really did. Its name implied the perfect hipster hang out for after class, a place where one could comfortably grab a latte and recline into the plush layers of the shadowy, dark-curtained establishment while an indie record played somewhere in the background.



The gypsy cafe.
Oh, what it could have been!



Mood: 4.8 (not enough people in there, yo)
Latte: 7.3 (tame like a kitten; super sweet)
Friendliness: 5
Location: 6
Study spot: 6
Romance: 4 (there was that one old man reading a newspaper)
Warmth: 4
Music: 2 (maroon 5 & the script)
Price: 7



Coffeehouse #2
Paris style



There is something quite beautiful about a little cafe diner on the beach on a rainy day. Usually it's more bustling on busier afternoons, but it was surprisingly vacant.

Mood: 8.5
Latte: 7 (strong, needed more flavor, but in a cute cup) 
Friendliness: 9
Location: 7
Study Spot: 5 (more of a diner type feel)
Romance: 8 (ow ow!)
Warmth: 6.5
Music: 9 (The Beatles & Pink Floyd) 
Price: 9

Coffeehouse #3
Beachy Bohemian style


Kaylie and I had been to this coffeehouse once before, and it had left us with a less than favorable impression. It was a little dirty, and cluttered inside. There's a cute little courtyard outside, but it was messy, with some dirty dishes and coffee cups left strewn about. Nevertheless, we thought we'd give it a second try. Kaylie walked away a fan; I'm still uncertain. Maybe we'll come back a third time on a cool, breezy night when the courtyard lights are set up and there's live music.

Mood: 6 (a little messy)
Latte: 8 ("It's the most robust" - Kaylie)
Friendliness: 8
Location: 8.5
Study spot: 8
Romance: 6
Warmth: 8.3
Music: 7 (OK Go & some others)
Price: 5 (but still cheaper than Starbucks)

Which coffeehouse would you sip a vanilla latte from? 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

bizarre advenutres on planet human: a prayer

God,
I'm confused.
I'm tired.

I spend each day distracted, and even though it's only been a week or so since camp ended & I graduated from Bible college, I still feel like I should be in a different spot then I am. And where I am is processing. Thinking. Not sure who I want to be going ahead into this next phase of my life, and yet knowing exactly what I am called to do.

I have been so out of the Word. It was great to catch up with sweet friends today. I am so blessed for the people You have placed into my life to sharpen me, and for the simple pleasures of Village Inn and Sunday naps and searching with my sister for the perfect vanilla latte.

But I find myself so discouraged and unmotivated to do anything in particular. I say all this to say that I need You, God, and I was stupid to think I'd need less of You coming back into "regular" life. I don't know what else to pray. Let Your will be done. Clearly something needs to change!

Amen.

Friday, August 14, 2015

the times, they are a-changin'

I've been thinking about change a lot lately.

I've been spending the time home from Bible college exhausted in so many different ways, thinking about the person that I am and how sometimes I want to change myself. Odd how my reaction to so much change in my life at present is to change everything about me, but that's just how I'm coping, I guess. I think about going out and changing my hair and clothing style and maybe getting a nose ring. And change this blog, and throw everything in my room away.

And I think my identity crisis is just a response to so much craziness in my life right now, and the wildness of being away from home for a year and a half, and then being shuttled right back to my little purple room of "normalcy". So it's almost like Bible college never happened. Which obviously isn't true.

But there is no "normal" for me right now. And soon enough, my junior year of college will be starting. And I'll be 22. And I'm ready for that. I'm ready to be mature. And yet, could I just stay a kid forever?


humans



People are so interesting.

Do you ever just sit in a public place and watch them do their thing? Do you ever just marvel at the oddness, the diversity, the love and the frustration of humanity?

These thoughts typically assail me when I'm at the mall. I make it a point not to visit the mall too often, because every time I go, I think I'll come away with new clothes, but most of the time I leave empty handed and saddened by the faces I see there. I don't know about you, but to me, the mall seems like a place where people go to die. Maybe that's dramatic, but if you really look around, malls are pretty sad places. (Broken Bells may or may not have written a song about this.)

Anyways! I just stopped by to say that I'm saddened by the world, but delighted to be falling more and more in love with just...people. As a writer, I'm very good at observing people, but in the past I have failed at having compassion for them. Christ is starting to make me really feel for folks, to love them despite knowing nothing about them. And that is a beautiful thing.

I still hate the mall, though.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

enjoy the silence

No.
I mean it.
Legitimately, enjoy the silence.

Walking side by side with someone who only knows how to fill the silent air with words can be such a burden. My friend Sophie wrote a wonderful post on having a quiet spirit, and what that looks like. Turns out it looks a lot like the character of Christ. And it made me think of this song, specifically these lyrics:

"But if the silence takes you, then I hope it takes me, too." 

Why aren't we ok with silence?
#musings
#ponderings

Save me from myself



Coming home from Bible college has had its ups and downs.

Ups?
A fridge full of food, a laundry machine that is decidedly not coin operated, a purple room all to myself, my sweet parents, peaceful, still mornings & my bed, among other things.

Downs?
Selfishness.

[C O N T E X T]

Every Wednesday night during camp season, we have Campfire Night. Campfire Night is {weather permitting} an evening of worship under the stars, where campers & staff alike sing songs of praise to the Lord, listen to student testimonies of God's faithfulness, and hear a brief Bible message.

Afterwards, campers are invited to throw a stick in the fire, symbolizing either their decision to trust Christ as Savior, or their commitment to re-dedicate their lives to Him. It was at one such campfire service four summers back that God broke down my heart and urged me to dedicate my entire life to Him. These campfire services are incredible times of heart change where the staff usually sees God work the most. In short, they are what camp is all about.

Flash forward to Week 8 of camp. During the very last Campfire Night of the summer, I felt God burdening my heart about something that needed to change in my life. Yet I was reluctant, even anxious to give it up. And that something was...selfishness.

During my past two summers at Word of Life camp [6 summers total: 4 as a camper; 2 as staff], God has been specifically convicting me about the sheer amount of selfishness I have in my life. And even though I responded to the Lord that night by throwing my stick in the fire {albeit reluctantly, at the last possible moment}, I am still a super selfish person. I struggle with putting myself first every moment.

To be blatant, Erin Marie is a very self-centered person. She is prideful, constantly obsessing over her looks and body image, and thinking about her future husband or just guys in general, or clothes, and what people think of her. At least that has been the struggle these past few days: leaving camp, and failing to fight, in His strength, all the insecure, selfish, prideful heart issues that first began to fester here at home.

I was going to write this blog post in the morning, but nah. I'm coming to God with it tonight, asking Him to mold me into someone selfless, someone new. Someone who serves others without thinking of themselves.

My new manifesto:

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me -- the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace." ~ Acts 20:24

For the musical version of this post, click here. Kudos to you, Jon Foreman.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

nothing happens by chance

Through little coincidences & eye-opening moments, God is showing me that He indeed CAN do anything. Even when I doubt Him, in the smallest of ways and the most dainty of details He is showing me that nothing is too great & nothing is too impossible for Him.

I trust You with this. Even though I have no clue what color Your brushstrokes will take, I know it will be a masterpiece.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen." ~ Ephesians 3:20-21 

+ So many posts on the way. I promise. Or do I?

Monday, August 10, 2015

we made it

I began this blog with the sole goal of documenting my year at Bible college, and now I am {shockingly} graduated from the program. 18 months of glory, including one summer as a staff member, a whole year spent studying the Bible, and a second summer as a camp counselor, has now finished. A chapter has closed in my life today and I don't really know how to process it all. My sister and cousin and I have completed our time with the Bible Institute, and that feels crazy to write.

I have like a million stories and posts and pictures to share with you guys, but for right now, rest.

p.s. Like the redesign? That's a thing.