Friday, May 27, 2016

deserts & desserts

I do not own this photograph.




Hey, guys.

This is just a miniature update from Erinland to let you all know that life is grand, and God is on the move. Without going too much in-depth, I wanted to let anyone that has been feeling discouraged lately in their walk with the Lord know that our God is faithful, and brings people out of dry spiritual spells. 
I know, because He is bringing me out of mine.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." 
~ Isaiah 43:19

I'm the type of person that likes to spend a lot of time alone.  I don't really open up to folks that easily, but it has been such a blessing these past 2 weeks to see God nudging me into community. I'm halfway through a 4 week Bible study on prayer that a sweet woman from my church is leading, and it's helping me grow closer to God again. For anyone that feels isolated, alone, or faltering, know that having accountability in a small group can really help.

WHAT HELPS MY SPIRITUAL GROWTH: A LIST

+ Small groups & accountability
+ Walking beside the shore as the sun sets: a real-life painting
+ Listening to uplifting music
+ Encouraging others
+ Praying about whatever, whenever (no shame)
+ Seeking God really early in the morning (starting my day this way is crucial)


The first week of this study was not easy or successful for me. But as others have been praying for me, I have started to slowly form a new habit of prolonged prayer. Knowing that other young women from my church are pushing themselves to spend some sit-down time with God in prayer and in reading the Word has helped me do the same. I'm also rebuilding my relationship with the Lord. It has felt somewhat deteriorated in the past few months, so to begin again is great.

It's awesome to know that God meets us wherever we are.

Peace & Love, 
Er

Friday, May 20, 2016

oh hey, i exist.




Hello.....
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Major props to you, my young padawan, if you know what the above lines are a reference to.
Other than, you know, my inexplicable absence on this blog for nearly all of May.



It's not that I didn't have anything to say, but . . . I didn't have anything to say.
Have you ever felt exhausted in a good way, blessed with the business of life, yet robbed of words?

I guess with so much going on, it's good to be still.



"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
~ Exodus 14:14



Now, without further ado, I give you:

ERIN'S LIST OF THINGS SHE WANTED TO TELL YOU 
IN THE PAST MONTH THAT NEVER GOT PUT INTO POST-FORM
& MAY NEVER, EVER BE EXPOUNDED UPON AGAIN:

+ I saw The Amazing Tour is Not on Fire and did not enjoy it. #notforme
+ A sweet girl from my office took head shots of me (see the above pic), so that's a thing. Even typing out "head shots" seems hilariously pretentious to me, as during the photography session, I conveyed giggly rays of awkwardness, as evidenced below:





+ I flew to Texas for the first time and met my niece, Teagan Lee, and got to visit with my brother and family. So much more could be said on the topic of that trip. SO MUCH 
I finished my junior year of college with all A's! Such a blessing. It has been a great semester.
It's also mad frightening to think that I am now a senior in college.



+ I have been working on designing flyers and such for my job. It's incredible how the Lord brought about just the right job at just the right time -- and I get paid to design!!! I literally could not love my job more. Allow God to provide; He knows what's best.
+ I got my first Real Paycheck, put gas in my car, and bought myself a haircut. #adult



Entering adulthood doesn't mean I'm going to stop using gifs, however. 

+ I'm learning that my struggle with body image is actually a selfish thing, an all-about-me thing. It stunts my growth in God and doesn't allow me to focus on others. By drowning in the sea of self, I miss out on the whole point of my life: loving God, and loving people. Check out this rad post by Hannah for more on that topic.
+ For the past 3 nights, I have ended my day by taking an hour long walk on the beach.
The sea is silky, the sunset is glorious, and God is good.

+ What about you? 
Please send me all relevant life updates and virtual fist bumps in the comments below.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

the reason i threw my magazines into the wastebasket

I really need to be writing my English exam right now (it's the dreaded Exam Week, y'all #how #why #saveme), but something is on my heart so I'm going to pause and share it:


Body image.


Before you roll your eyes and dismiss me as Just Another Young Woman Blogging About Inner Beauty, hear me out. Interestingly enough, what I want to tell you comes from a conversation I had with my Dad.


That's right, folks. This little guy is my father. Good old Pops.
Also, if you're thinking that this photo explains a lot about 
my particular eccentricities, that's because it does.

I DIGRESS.


You may or may not know that body image is something I struggle with, and have combated for what feels like a while now. I'm not going to say much about that other than it's a very self-centered kind of sin, one that makes me focus only on myself and my perceived flaws. It's a good tactic of the devil's to keep me always obsessed with self. 


How could I possibly find my true worth in Christ if I'm always worried about my weight? How can I change the world if my biggest goal in life is to be thin?


The Story: The other day I was eating lunch whilst perusing a stack of Teen Vogue magazines.

The Bit of Backstory: I used to really like Teen Vogue, not because I have any actual interest in high-end fashion (please) but because I love photography, design, and the cover stories were amusing enough. But when I went away to Bible college, I felt the Lord pulling on my heart to rip them up. I treasure my magazines, so that was tough, but with God's strength, I did it. I realized that the images I was putting in front of my eyes were harmful, damaging to me. They were helping me set unattainable standards for myself without my half-realizing it.

Sound familiar?

Anyways, over the past month, I picked up a copy (or four) of the magazine from the library discount store. I wanted something to read, as I no longer have any magazine subscriptions, and I apparently love to re-learn hard lessons. *sigh*

My Dad noticed me reading them the other day, albeit a bit skeptically.
And then today, he asked me to show him the issue with Emma Roberts he had noticed earlier.


Here are some images from that issue:



Note: I'm not skinny-shaming (oh gosh) or hating on anybody who naturally has this body type; I just know that for a 22 year old woman with my own frame, it is wildly unattainable.

My father, in all his "old-man" glory, is so full of wisdom. I'm so grateful to God that I have a Dad who is willing to call me out and speak truth into my life. We had an honest conversation about how unhealthy it is to look at these magazines day in and day out. Vogue is bad enough, he said. Teen Vogue literally showcases images of children made to look like adults. 


And it's true. It's a double offense: not only do very young teen models working in the fashion industry become subjected to sexualization, but the older women looking at these images think there is something wrong with their own bodies because they don't look anything like the people pictured.

This is sad.
And it leads to an unrealistic (and binding) game of comparison.


"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."   ~ Proverbs 14:30


I've been praying lately that I would be a woman who celebrates others' victories, not envies them. If you're like me and struggle with comparing yourself, you may find it hard to be happy for others. So often, we feel like we don't measure up. But, we all fall short. We're all imperfect. And there will always be someone skinnier, prettier, or more talented at watercolor painting than you. But if you put all your stock in being the "best" at something, where will your worth be when you're no longer on top?


"My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."
~ Psalm 139: 15-16


My magazines now sit in a crumpled heap at the bottom of my purple wire wastebasket.
I'm not saying I won't have to re-learn this lesson again in the future (my track record says I will), but I'm grateful God used my father to address this issue with me tonight.

One more thing: I casually mentioned to my Dad that I picked up the magazine from the 25 cent pile at the library. It hardly cost me anything; it was practically free. But then he turned to me and said,


"It's not free. It's never free."


And you know, anyone trapped in the lifestyle of comparison, they're not living free, either.


"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
~ John 8:36


+ Props to you if you read all of this. I mean it. Also: please notice the distinct lack of gifs in this post. 
I showed restraint. That's what I'm talking about, people.