Author: Erin

About Erin

Erin is a native Texan and has wandered her way through many twists and turns into the world of student ministry. The promise of possibility makes her heart beat a little faster, as she loves to dream of what could be. However, she believes that dreaming with a team of people is far better than dreaming alone. She will tell you that injustice breaks her heart, music stirs her heart, and laughing so hard that there is no more sound blesses her heart.

Framework:2019

Believe it or not, I chose a word and verse for 2019 back in November of 2018. Never mind that I am just now writing it down here. As you may have picked up, 2018 was a skydiving kind of experience. Well, at least, as I imagine a skydiving kind of experience gone wrong. I have not ever jumped out of a plane, nor do I plan to.

Here’s how I imagine it to be: excitement, anticipation as you make your plans, go through the training, board the plane and climb into the skies. Complete fear courses through your veins as you find it is your turn to jump. You make your way to the door cautiously and then, because you can’t bring yourself to throw yourself out of a perfectly good plane, you tell the instructor to push. Exhilaration. Overwhelming joy consumes you as you soar through the air. It is better than you ever imagined. But then, your chute won’t open. Panic sets in just long enough to be the worst thing you have ever experienced. Then, thud. It’s over. You are over.

Super dramatic, huh? I know. It’s overkill. Still, 2018 felt much like that. Somehow I survived and was taken into the ICU of my community. Friends kept breathing life back into me. Praise God.

If you remember, my word for 2018 was “cultivate”. A funny choice for a perpetual plant-killer. Nonetheless, cultivate I did. And kill all the things, I did. Or so I thought.

You can imagine how well receive it was when the Lord started whispering my 2019 word to me.

Suddenly.

My initial reaction was, “Excuse me? You think I’m going to believe you for “suddenly” when the slow work of cultivate yielded nothing but heartache? You are out of your sovereign mind.”

He stopped whispering and instead went with he billboard route. Suddenly was literally popping up everywhere. Ev.Er.Y.WHERE.

And about that time, the literal plants in my home, the ones I was certain were goners, started springing to life. I hadn’t killed them. I’d done everything I knew to do and when I thought my efforts were in vain, they SUDDENLY yielded results. So, suddenly it is. I don’t know what will happen with the rest of this year, but I do know that places of my soul that I was certain had died in 2018 have been springing back to life.

And my verse? Well this one came much more quietly that my verses of the past. It is Psalm 112:7.

She is not afraid of bad news;
her heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

So there you have it. A very tardy post about the framework set for 2019. My eyes are open, watching for the suddenlies and my heart is firm, knowing that even when life hurts, the Lord is trustworthy.

Watermarks: 2018

It is May 2019 and I have just sat down to write my reflection of 2018. Though we are not quite halfway through this year, the last year feels like a completely different era. One which, I quite frankly, would be happy to not remember aside from the very unavoidable reality that it has shaped who I am becoming. This is true of every memory, of course, but it lays particularly heavy on the memory of 2018.

It would be easy to just skip over this post and my 2019 Framework post since it is so late in coming. However, if only for the sake of tracing the work of God for myself, it seems valuable. Better late than never. I’m tempted to tell more of the story since we are months removed from the events of 2018, but I won’t. I will reserve this post for reflection on the past. The present and future are reserved for another time.

As in past years, 2018 was given a framework:  a word and verse to shape my perspective throughout the year.  My word was “CULTIVATE” and my verse, Psalm 37:23-24.

I entered the year with a hopeful bewilderment over the word CULTIVATE. I am known to some (mostly the unkindly realistic voices in my head) as the Botanical Butcher, mass murderer of all plant-life. Still, I knew this was the framework through which I would observe and engage in 2018.  And Psalm 37!  He delights in every detail! He directs my steps! What a promise!

I would surely see life emerge from the dust in 2018. I was sure of it. And I was so very right and so very wrong.

The first half of 2018 was delightful. I was settled into my new teaching job and experiencing such joy and inspiration in the classroom. I was settled into community and watching the boundaries of that community expand. Cultivation was happening intentionally. It did not come without struggle, but was so rooted in joy that the struggle felt more than worth it. Opportunity to invest in others and myself abounded. People spoke life over me. Doors opened for me to write and lead and teach.

Yes.

I had told the Lord that I would say yes to every opportunity to grow in my writing and teaching. I was doing the work, cultivating the seeds.

Then a man entered the picture. He seemed to be the fulfillment of long-awaited promises and recently refreshed hope. He felt like a best friend. And I continued to cultivate. I did my best to invest in that relationship with the same intention as the other opportunities of life. And he supported me in my other pursuits. He wanted to know what I know, to learn from and with me. And I wanted to learn from him, from his story, his life, his faith. There were struggles that concerned me but I was listening to The Lord and hearing Him more clearly than ever. Plus, He delights in every detail. He directs our steps. I believed. I trusted. I invested.

Much of the cultivation of 2018 led to visible fruit. Journeying with the women of my church through The Exodus Gospel was by far the highlight of 2018. It was hard work. There was dirt under my nails and blisters on my hands from the tilling and planting and patiently tending. And it bore the sweetest fruit of new friendships, communal growth, and Kingdom impact.

Then there was the cultivation that did not produce, despite the promising beginnings. The man left. From words of devotion to complete disregard in a matter of moments. I was heartbroken. This is the first romantic heartbreak for me, and it is debilitating. Without going into too much detail, the likes of which are reserved for those who walked with me through it, the second half of 2018 was marked by pain. Every glimpse of healing was bowled over by storms grief, which came barreling through without notice, destroying again and again the garden I’d so carefully cultivated.

Long story short, cultivation did not yield the fruit I’d expected. The life I was so sure I’d see rising from the dust instead seemed to wither away. The Botanical Butcher at her finest. Of course, things are not always as they seem. There may be a seed sleeping beneath the surface waiting to spring forth in new life in the right season. We shall see.

Oh, and it turns out that the promise of Psalm 37:23-24 I would be resting in was not the delight or direction, but rather the determined grip of a God who holds onto our hands when we stumble.

(Stay tuned for Framework:2019. Surely it shall be posted before the year is halfway gone.)

The Beauty and The Fear

This seemed like an appropriate time to repost this gem from 2013, in a world that existed prior to Bedrocks and Borderlands. The past two days we have been experiencing the Houston Ice-capades of 2018 and I couldn’t help but revisit the wisdom the last real winter taught me.


Houston winters are fickle at best. One day you are traipsing around in sandals and shorts and the next morning, you are searching the deep dark corners of the wardrobe for your winter coat, the one you bought for that one trip up north.

Today is of the latter variety. Last night the thunder rolled in. Trees crackled and snapped all night. And I awoke to icicles adorning every branch and poorly placed power line in my backyard. As I drove, ever so cautiously, to work on the outskirts of this fine city, I began to notice the trees. From the highway, being eye to eye with the treetops in the distance, their adornment was stunning. It was as though they were wearing the most beautiful gown, hand-beaded by the most sought after designer. Their leaves and branches shimmered as the weight of the ice enhanced every curve and crevice of their magnificent figures. Beautiful.

But as I exited the highway and turned off onto the road that takes me daily to my work, I had a new perspective. I was no longer standing among the trees as though they were my peers. Rather, I was beneath their branches, and I felt small. Most days, I drive that road in awe. It is easily the best part of my commute. The way the sun streams through the branches…I am transported to a land of magic and fairy tales and legends of heroes defeating evil, my own personal Terabithia.  But today, those trees were not the guards ushering in life. Today, those trees were bent, heavy with the burden of slowness. This slowness is seen in the ice that weighs them down. It is only water, the very thing that they need to grow and stand tall. But last night, as temperatures dropped, those molecules of water slowed down and changed. Some trees held the weight well, took the change in stride. But, many others were bent so low that I feared that they might come crashing onto me in a moments notice. Others had already met that fate, limbs were strewn about the ground, evidence of a burden too heavy. And honestly, a drive usually marked by warmth and light, was marked today by heaviness and a little fear.

And I see myself in those trees. I see those of us who are shepherding others in those trees. Sometimes, we get into the groove of the normalcy of life, it’s bright and warm and full of the hope of a faraway land. We feel strong, like we could conquer anything in this light, and others see it too, this magical strength, this ushering in of life. But then, sometimes overnight, things suddenly slow. The things that have nourished us transform ever so slightly, molecules rearranged, and we bend under the heaviness. And bending is fine, we were made to bend. Our knees bend to absorb the shock of force when we jump or run. But if our knees are not strong enough, if the trees are not strong enough, too much force and weight will break them. And if we -leaders, parents- are not strong enough, too much of this slow burden will break us. Of course, strength doesn’t come from oneself. It never does, not with trees or people. Strength for those trees is developed over years, from the first sprout of the seed-the depth of the reach of roots and the nourishing quality of the soil they are planted in. Many trees can grow tall without ever growing strong. And you and I can as well. We can reach great heights but if our roots never reached great depths, or if we are not nourished by the soil of Truth and Life, we will be broken by the heaviness of the burden. And if that is our state, if we are not standing in a strength of faith having been built up over the years, we are a danger to those beneath us.

But, when we have grown up with the strength of The Lord soaking into our every fiber, when our strength comes from the Source, then everything looks different. We may bend, but when our view is from the heavens downward, the bending of the branches gleams with a beauty of the intricate work of the most glorious Designer, the Strong Creator, Elohim. He sometimes pours His light through our branches and He sometimes adorns them with the slowness of burdens. When He is our strength, the threat of danger is over shadowed by the careful work of His detailed and purposeful delight and design.

May we be leaders who soak in the gifts of The Light and the days that warm us so that we might stand when the tiny molecules of our plans are rearranged and become heavy.