Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What Plan do You Follow?

Wow everyone! I haven't posted in SO LONG. I apologize for that!!

I hope everyone is having a phenomenal summer so far, with many more great times to come. Chad and I have been busy setting up community events for the office and we have also been able to go to Florida on a vacation with my family. The summer has been great to us!

One of the highlights to this point was the chance to visit a local orphanage and visit with the kids for a little while. Tonight, we get to continue that by going to a meeting with local orphan care teams... and Friday we will have the chance to go back to the orphanage we previously visited. I have no idea how God wants me/us to be involved with this... but please, keep us in your prayers. I know I/we have something to offer these children-- and potentially others much further away-- please pray that I listen and get placed where I need to be, whatever that role might be.

With my lack of writing lately, I am sure everyone can see how important a routine is. For a couple days, I was simply taking a break from writing because I don't think that every thought that comes into my head is worthy of reading... then, it turned into a break in my routine... and you can all see how long it has taken me to get back to it. I won't, "punish," everyone with a long post-- there is no way to catch up on everything without making it way too long to read-- but, I will be getting the routine more scheduled. Writing really does a lot for me-- and as long as one other person benefits from it, it is well worth the effort!

During my devotions this morning, I was really inspired to start writing again... so, here I am. I actually went through a few today because they were so great.. and I want to share the points from one of them with you.

"The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in Him with all my heart. He helps me and my heart is filled with joy." Psalm 28:7

The devotion was centered around that verse... and the premise of the whole thing was a simple question: Whose plan do you follow for your life... yours or God's?

The question seems oddly simple, but I am sure that once you reflect on it, you will find many times where you have questioned God's plan for you... or maybe you have followed your own path thinking that you could handle it on your own. I know I have done that before... and I know I will mess up and do that again.

Reflect on the pieces of your life that you need to let go of-- stop trying to control-- and then see what happens when you finally give the control over to the One who deserves it in the first place!

See, I told you I wouldn't make that too long...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Body-Weight Workout. (You'll love it!)

Just to start off... my legs are absolutely killing me today! Chad has started doing a, "Herschel Walker," inspired body-weight workout a couple of times a week. This weekend, I decided to do some of it with him. You really wouldn't think it would be that hard-- it's just your body-weight as resistance... but man, it made me sore (and I love it)! If anyone is looking for an effective workout you can do in your home (with virtually no equipment), try it out!

It consists of: squats, calf raises (that's what got me), crunches and push-ups. Chad did sets of 60-- I did sets of 30. Do the exercises in a circuit. I repeated the circuit 3 times... I have no idea how many he did, but it was a lot more than me. Squat with nothing but your body-weight... use stairs or another raised surface for calf raises (be sure to go all the way down and extend as high on your toes as you can)... do push-ups or modified push-ups depending on your skill-level... and then do your crunches (either on the floor or on a stability ball for a greater range of motion). This workout is great for everyone... You can do it at your home, by yourself and with no equipment! Try it and tell me what you think.

Summer is Here... and I Love It!

Summer is my favorite time of year. It is a time where, to me, the world seems to slow down and become slightly less hectic. No, that isn't always the reality of the situation... but I love the weather and the beauty surrounding me so much that the tasks and schedules don't seem to bother me. It is virtually impossible to stress me out during the summer. And the reality lately is that things are probably more hectic in the summer, not less!
In addition to the daily responsibilities, summer also brings about family vacations and other reasons to enjoy the great outdoors. Summer makes me want to cookout and go to the pool and attend as many concerts as possible. Summer makes me want to have sand between my toes and nothing but water in the horizon. But, the beauty of summer also soothes me and makes all the demands seem very easily manageable. More than anything, I would assume that's a mindset thing. Sunshine makes me happy... Summer makes me mentally slow down and be thankful. Summer is a relaxing time for me.

This summer Chad and I have the daily responsibilities of the office. We are going on vacation with my family next month. I am hoping to take a weekend trip with some of my girlfriends. I am taking a class. And, I am completely excited about every single aspect of it.

Summer also brings about a time where people are more conscious of their bodies... So, with that being said, I am going to bring back some of the fitness and nutrition tips you will find in the earlier entries (new tips, same concept).

A great exercise for the summer is swimming laps. I usually don't get in the pool with a set number of laps to swim, but just swim and enjoy it. It's a great workout and you can make it fun! Plus, swimming is easy on your joints and you get to enjoy the coolness of the pool in contrast to the heat outside! An added bonus is the vitamin d you will be able to get from the sun at the same time!

Another way to get some activity into your daily routine is to recruit a friend to enjoy the great outdoors with. Go for a hike... go for a jog.... take the dog on a walk... take the kids to the park... pack a healthy picnic lunch and hike to the perfect spot to enjoy it. The point-- exercise doesn't have to be (and shouldn't be) something that you dread. Find something that works for you and make the most of it!

Staying hydrated will be increasingly important as you spend more time in the heat-- so remember to increase your water intake (which will also help you be healthier)!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Living Inside Out.

This weekend was wonderful. It started on Saturday morning with attending the Women of Purpose event at Sarah's church. It was great to hear the ladies speak and to get to know some of the ladies Sarah attends church with (Sarah's husband is a pastor at a church in Pineville and I love going to some of the events)! They have a really active Women's Ministry-- events, book clubs and stuff like that-- I really enjoy it!

The Women of Purpose event was from 10:30 to 1:30; after that, Chad and I went to the SC Strawberry Festival for a little while. There were a lot of people out there and a few interesting vendors... We didn't stay long, but it was nice to enjoy some time outside with no real agenda!

After the SC Strawberry Festival, we headed to a church in Lancaster for a cookout. One of our patients had invited us to join him and his family at a cookout their church was having... it was nice and I am glad we went! Everyone sat around talking and eating and then headed in for a brief message from the pastor and then sang worship songs! We were there from 5 til a little after 8...and by that point, I was exhausted! Of course, the playoffs are on... so we still had to watch some basketball when we got home!

Sunday I was lazy and we went to the 11am service instead of the 9am service we typically attend. It was phenomenal... Very powerful message and I encourage all of you to listen on the website or listen to the podcast. You won't be sorry! www.tc521.org.

After church, we of course called our moms to wish them a Happy Mother's Day. The rest of the day was spent in the backyard reading and relaxing. It was a beautiful day and I couldn't think of a better way to spend it! Then, you guessed it, more basketball (and I must say it, way to go Hawks!!)!

It was a great weekend... and exactly what I needed!

Oh and ps-- a way to entertain yourself and start Monday morning on a funny note-- turn on the voice recorder of your phone and record yourself singing the next song to come on the radio. Then play it back. This morning I got an interesting, "remix," of, "Tim McGraw," by Taylor Swift.
One of the reasons I enjoy the Women of Purpose events is because it gives me a chance to meet and speak to other women. The book clubs are great because it gives you a chance to tell others, who have read the same book, your thoughts as well as to hear their thoughts and opinions. There is a strength in knowing that you aren't the only person to deal with the issues women talk about when they get together. It's not a self-help kind of thing-- more like a chance to see how others are putting their lives in God's Hands and to see the huge difference a relationship with Him makes! (and by relationship, I mean a close, intimate relationship-- not merely knowing what the Bible says in your HEAD, but believing it and knowing it with all your HEART. Trust me-- huge difference.)

A reason the cookout on Saturday was so great was it gave us a chance to see the songs and stories that inspire people we have never met. We have found our perfect church home in Transformation Church... and the people at the cookout have found their perfect church home in their church. They were welcoming and inviting... and I whole-heartedly enjoyed the time we spent in fellowship with them; but, Transformation is still a perfect fit for me! I don't really know how to put into words what I am trying to say-- words wouldn't do it justice anyway. I grew up in my parents's church... have visited friends churches... have found my perfect church home... and continue to experience other churches when invited. If you haven't found a church that feels like home to you and always leaves you wanting more fellowship and more ways to be involved, please don't stop looking! There are many wonderful churches in this world... but trust me friend, you will know when you are home! Find the church where you can most effectively discover and live your purpose-- by letting God live through you!
I LOVE reading books after Chad. It doesn't happen much-- he has a unique ability to start a book, read a couple chapters, put it down and then never pick it up again. I am not going to call that a gift because I really don't understand how he is able to do that-- but, it is for sure an ability that he possesses. Right now, he is reading, "Hero," "The Traveler's Gift," and, "The Shack." I have read part of, "Hero," and what I have read is great-- but, when I started it I was in the middle of, "Purpose Driven Life," and wanted to finish one before starting with the other. You all know how I feel about, "The Shack." If you don't, it is the best book I have ever read... I am so excited Chad is reading it and I can't wait until he gets to the, "meat," of the story so we can discuss it together! "The Traveler's Gift," is another great book that I am looking forward to discussing with him!

But anyway-- back to the point-- I love reading a book after Chad. Right now I am reading, "Waking the Dead." Chad has read it (and by that I mean he has read a few chapters of it-- never finished). But, the chapters that he did read are full of highlights and notes. I love that! I can read a book, and if he has read it before me, I can also key in on the facts that he found eyeopening and worth making note of. For me, it is a great way to read a book. It is a, "pre-made," discussion, made by Chad and consisting of the things I know for a fact he was inspired by!

If you don't already do so, share books with someone important to you. Talk about them. It's a great way to discover things you might have missed as well as see deep into the heart of the person you are sharing with!
If you have paid close attention to the last few posts, I am sure you have seen some of the challenges spread out through them. I am sure you have also noticed that that fitness and nutrition sections have been missing. Once you have established a fitness and nutrition plan, it isn't that difficult to stick to (it just requires discipline). However, matters of the heart go much deeper. Relationships require more attention than fitness and nutrition do. Being healthy is important-- it allows you do live out your purpose. Taking care of your body is also important...your body is a temple to God.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; your were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

With that being said, I hope you have all been sticking to your fitness and nutrition routines...and even more than that, I hope you have been sticking to them for the RIGHT reasons. The purpose of exercising and feedings your body correctly isn't to conform to the image the world tells you is right... it is to honor God and have a healthy lifestyle so you are better able to fulfill your purpose. I can't tell you what that purpose is... that comes only from God. Develop that relationship and start letting Him transform you.

A key point that really hit home to me yesterday was, "living inside out." Don't focus on changing yourself... focus on growing closer to God and letting HIM transform you!

Live inside out!
I'm going to end this here-- Chad prefers the post similar to the length of the Mother's Day one...and I could go on and on with my thoughts for a while.

Reflect on your relationships. Where are you spending most of your time? If time equates importance, what is the most important thing in your life?

Make a list of all the things you love and all the things that are important to you. The list is just for you, so don't worry about prioritizing... just get it in writing! When you are feeling down, refer to the list of the things you love and remember everything you have to be thankful for.

And most importantly, develop your relationship with God.... and let Him live through you. Have a relationship that makes others hungry for what you have... be a MISSIONARY in everything you do, no matter where you are!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

To my Mom and my Granny...

I was blessed enough to have not one, but two, very strong women living in the house where I grew up... my mom and my Granny. On Mother's Day, even though I am not at home with my mom and my Granny has left this world to join God in Heaven, I feel like it is important to take a second to recognize them for the influences they have had on my life.

My mom has always believed in me and has always pushed me to be the best person that I can be. Even though I have grown up and moved away from home, I know that she is never more than a phone call away (and when I am sick or if I am sad, even though it is a four and a half hour drive, she always offers to come take care of me). Even today when I was on the phone with my mom, she let me know that she believes in me.

My Granny is (and probably always will be) the strongest woman I have ever known. She was born in 1912-- carried the mail with horse and buggy-- and saw more change in her life than I can imagine; and she embraced it all! She outlived both of her children, her husband, many friends and even a great-grandchild. Even when she was sick, if you asked her how she was, the most negative thing you would ever hear come out of her mouth was, "I've been better, but not too bad." She worried for and took care of everyone, but didn't want anyone to have to worry about her. There was a great peace about her and she always knew she would be okay; life in this world was only a small part of the journey and she seemed to understand that better than most. I miss her everyday but will always cherish all the lessons she taught me!

I'm not going to get too sappy or to drag it out too far... but, if you haven't already, take a minute to let the women in your life know you appreciate them (you don't have to be a biological mother to have, "motherly love," for someone)!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Change is a Good Thing (if you don't believe me, check out my 6th grade interview...)

Today, I have spent a lot of time thinking about change... It's the one year anniversary of the day I loaded my car, drove to Kennesaw State University to turn in my thesis and then, instead of staying in Kennesaw or going to see my family in Calhoun, I started the drive to Fort Mill, SC. It was a drive that I was used to making--and had made a lot--the difference was, this time I was moving! Yes, I have lived in the Carolinas for exactly a year!

A lot has changed, even since being here. We were in an apartment for the first few weeks and then closed on our house... We lived in Charlotte, NC for the first couple of weeks and now we are in Fort Mill. I have gone from not knowing anyone to having a few close friends and a lot of acquaintances here... We have found a church that is the perfect fit for us... We have seen the good and the bad that we each have to offer and have grown closer because of it... We have taken trips to see our families... We have taken trips to go to conferences and football games and to the beach...We have gone to concerts, cooked dinner, gone out...and an endless list of day to day activities. Now, when we go to Georgia (even though I will always be a Georgia girl); I get the feeling of being home when we are back in South Carolina... Yep, a year can change a lot!

And I will tell you, change is good! Yes, I miss my friends and family on a daily basis-- but, being in a new place will force you to a) continue to go through the motions or b) find the person you are meant to be. And trust me, finding the person you are meant to be is by far the best choice!! I honestly don't know if, at this point, I would have taken the time to look deep within myself and seek a closer relationship with God and ways to fulfill my purpose if I had always stayed in the places where I was the most comfortable. This past year has done wonders for me and I am so excited about the journey I am on! No, I don't know exactly where life will take me-- but I know that the journey is going to be purposeful (notice, I didn't say that the journey would always be comfortable...).

Life is full of challenges... I choose to let the challenges make me stronger. Life is full of choices... I choose to always do my best to glorify God. Your attitude is a choice-- choose to be happy! Your mindset is a choice--choose to encourage others and yourself! Life is a journey, my friend... We will never have all the answers! Make a choice to trust God and His will for you!

When I was so stressed and sad about being in a place where I really didn't know anyone-- I made a choice to let myself get down and cry about it... and then, I did what should have been done all along! Without reason (or so I thought), I looked up Transformation Church on my phone, listened to a couple sermons... and let God in the drivers seat of my life (where He belonged the whole time). It makes a difference! Rephrase that--- It makes all the difference in the world!

Maybe some of that hits home to you-- maybe it doesn't. Just remember-- be thankful in your circumstances and put your faith and trust in God... if you're thankful no matter what, nothing will get you down!

Speaking of change... The other night, Chad and I were watching a basketball game. My phone started to vibrate, so naturally I picked it up to look at it... and then I started laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes. Chad gets so involved in basketball games that he rarely notices what is going on around him (totally zones out), and he even noticed that I was laughing at my phone like a crazy person.
What had happened-- one of my lifelong friends had sent me a picture in a text message. He was looking through old assignments we had done in school and found a project from the sixth grade (I was 12). I remember it well-- we had to interview classmates and then write a story about them. The picture he had sent me was my page in that assignment book. Seeing myself at 12-- and the things that I talked about in a peer interview was hilarious! I sent the picture to my mom, my sister, Steffi and Keshia. Lindsey (my sister) laughed hysterically (just like I did). My mom thought it was cute and said that most of what it said was still true. Steffi had a good laugh and said that nothing had changed-- and I then had to point out that I no longer wear LimitedToo. Keshia said that we had a lot in common even back then.
Anyway, it made me laugh-- and even though it is embarrassing, I am going to share the picture with you. I think it is great to have an actual glimpse into where we were so we can appreciate where we are and where we are going! Yes, I could think of a few things that were important to me in 6th grade-- but actually seeing an assignment spoken by me and written by a peer really puts, "growing up," in a whole new light!

Enjoy... and try not to laugh too hard!

Sadly, it would not attach... So, I am going to type it out for you:

"Erin seems pretty normal for a twelve year old girl. Erin collects b. babies, carousel horses and cherished teddies. Erin loves to swim, which falls in her favorite season, Summer. Before going swimming, Erin loves to go shopping at her favorite store, Limited Too for her favorite color lime green bathing suit. Erin also likes to go horseback riding, which she does well: she also does back dives well. She loves babysitting and she even taught her sister how to do cartwheels. She is very proud of all these things. While staying busy with all her activities Erin works up an appetite. So after a hard day of work Erin loves to go eat Mexican. "Even though I am American, Mexican food rocks," she says. After learning about Erin, you decide. One of a kind?"

**Remember, this was written by a 6th grade student about me when I was in 6th grade... I am not putting this on here because of the literary content-- but, I thought it was a great way to show how things change!!

Whats the same--
1. Summer is still my favorite season.
2. I still love to swim.
3. I still love riding horses.
4. Mexican food and sushi are my favorites.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Slow Down and Be Thankful

First of all, I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and that your Monday is off to a wonderful start.

I know I mention this a lot-- but, I strongly encourage each and every one of you to go to www.tc521.org, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link that says, "Resources," and listen to the current series. For the past 7 weeks, we have been on a series," OMG, Who is God and why does it matter?" All the messages have been great-- and I strongly encourage you to listen to them! As Pastor Derwin says, "The greatest thought we will ever have is what we think about God." That thought will influence everything else about our lives... and this sermon series has been exactly what I have needed to hear every week! I am sure that God will speak to you and work in your life through the words of Pastor Derwin.

Yesterday, we looked at God as Creator and how huge He is... Pastor Derwin did a great job taking the message upward, inward and outward (love God completely, love ourselves correctly and love others compassionately). He showed a few pictures... and I want to share a couple of them with you....

The first picture is of the X-Structure in the Whirlpool Galaxy... 37 million light years away from Earth. The second is of Laminin-- a structure in our cells that holds our bodies together (I am sure there is a very scientific explanation to the exact role of Laminin-- but, that's not the point and I don't have the most scientific mind...).

If you are like I was yesterday when he showed this pictures-- You are amazed! As far away as the most powerful telescope can see, you see the image of a cross. In the very center of our being and what holds us together, you see the image of a cross. WOW. Reflect on that for a minute... and really, listen to Pastor Derwin's message on the website (he also has a podcast). He does a much better job explaining than me... but, it is too amazing for me not to share!

Today's challenge is to slow down and take the time to be thankful. Make a list... what 10 things are you the most thankful for? Are they all big things or do you take the time to be thankful for the ability to take a breath and to simply exist? After you listen to the lesson, I bet you take the time to be thankful more often... We are incredibly blessed each and every second of everyday... and we can thank our wonderful, huge, amazing God for that!

Personal Story:
I have always loved stars. To the point that when I was 18, I had a star tattooed on my foot. Yes, I have a tattoo. I like it-- but, sometimes I am self conscious about it because I don't know what people might have to say about it... Yesterday, I went back and thought about my fascination with stars and can look at my tattoo in a new light. Yes, some people are completely against tattoos-- but, now if someone asks me about it, I know I can use it as a way to share something amazing that I am thankful for. Maybe, in an offbeat kind of way, being thankful for the stars will open someones eyes to all the wonders in this world that our Great God gives us daily...
(**I am not advocating for everyone/anyone to go get a tattoo-- Simply saying that it's awesome to learn how to use different things as a way to share God's grace with others... Nobody would expect a response like that when talking about a star tattoo!!)

I am thankful for:

  1. God sending His son so that I may be forgiven and have eternal life with Him. Grace that I absolutely do not deserve.
  2. The ability to have a close, intimate relationship with God. And for that relationship, all I have to do is trust Him and give my life to Him!
  3. The beauty of the world around me and the exactness it takes for us to exist (listen to the message)
  4. The love and support of a wonderful family.
  5. The love and support of a wonderful man placed in my life by God... at the perfect time!
  6. The knowledge that I am a continual work in progress... and the desire to fulfill the purpose God has for me (even if I am not exactly sure what that might be).
  7. The ability to communicate and hopefully lead others to their most important relationship-- the one they are meant to have with God!
  8. The wonderful people placed in my life--- friends, seemingly random encounters and everything in between.
  9. Honestly, the stressful times in my life where turning to God is the only thing that could get me through. Sometimes it takes the tough times to open our eyes.
  10. And I am thankful for you taking the time to read this and hope that your relationship and desire to know God and fulfill your unique purpose is continually growing. 
"He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name." Psalms 147:4

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalms 139:14