My New BFF (Shh…it’s a Secret!)

A couple of months ago, my small group started a new study. We chose ‘Pulling the Thread’ by Jen Hatmaker, who, if you don’t already know about her, is HYSTERICAL and wise and witty and so full of Jesus that I really want to be her when I grow up, even though we’re close enough in age that it’s not feasible.

I was first introduced to Jen last year at the inaugural IF:Gathering. I had no idea who she was (or that she was such a superstar getting ready to have her own TV show on HGTV [we don’t have cable, satellite, or anything beyond the five basic channels; yes, we live under a rock]), but when she spoke and taught that day, my spirit lifted and responded in a huge way. I still remember taking notes like a crazy woman during her session and writing in ALL CAPS (because I’m awesome like that), “Love Jesus, Love People.” And that, to me, really sums up Jen and her heart for the world. Not to mention she makes you feel like you are totally her real-life friend and she wants nothing more than to make you laugh and commiserate over parenting mishaps and bad fashion making a repeat appearance (hello, ’80s and ’90s, I’m looking at you.).

So you could say I developed somewhat of a little crush on Jen after the IF:Gathering and then hearing her speak this year was no exception. Truth coming with every word spoken, love radiating earnestly and sincerely and you just knew she meant every single thing she said.

Cut to a couple of weeks ago, when I saw that Jen was forming a launch team for her next book, ‘For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards’ and that she wanted the launch team (and subsequent endorsements) to be formed of people like yours truly, I threw caution and reality to the wind and filled out an application. Seriously, I took five minutes out of my afternoon and sent it off without ever thinking I had a chance in Hades to be accepted. Because, people, they asked if I have an Instagram account. Umm, you do remember me sharing that I do not own a smartphone yet, correct? And my Pinterest account is pretty much nothing but recipes and how to cut boys’ hair and clothes I will never, ever be able to wear because, hello, I’m pregnant for the fifth time in six years and whatever elasticity I once had has vanished. Twitter? I have one, but again, not lighting up the interwebs. Blog? …………crickets chirping……….. You can see why I didn’t think much of my chances to be a part of this.

But then. THEN! A few, very short days later, I got home after my small group (where, yes, we were still discussing ‘Pulling the Thread’) and checked my email. My darling Matt was still awake, so thankfully my squeal of excitement didn’t wake him as I saw that I was one of the people chosen! Not sure exactly what the powers that be were thinking, but you know what? I’m so not complaining. From what I have read of this book so far, it is excellent and amazing and so full of truth and I really, really wish I could put a copy into each of your (all five of you) hands so you can read for yourself. But until I can do that, you can go here to pre-order it for yourself (it releases on August 18th). Seriously, you won’t be disappointed. And over the next couple of months, I will be talking and sharing more about what God is using this book to do in my life and heart. (If you’re impatient like me, you can also just do yourself a favor and pick up ‘7’ and ‘Interrupted,’ too.)

So, yup, I have a new BFF. I figure it’s safe to say that because, you know, she totally knows about me now and we’re on a first name basis, and I am helping her promote her new book, so to my way of thinking, this is just a natural conclusion. (Except, not really, but let’s let me have my little fantasy for a bit, m’kay?)

Blessings and love,

Erin

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On Chocolate Cake

I make a really, really good chocolate cake. I’m not bragging; it’s just that good. I made one last night and frosted it with chocolate sour cream frosting (oh, so rich, but oh, so good) and Matt and I pretty much devoured two huge slices with glasses of milk in about two minutes. Sometimes, I’m just not sure life could get better than my cute husband and chocolate cake.

Today, though, as I was talking with a friend before service, she asked me what God has been teaching me lately. And, to be quite honest, I didn’t have an answer at the ready. There has been a lot going on in my heart and much that I have been mulling over since the IF:Gathering and with this surprise pregnancy, and I believe wholeheartedly that the Lord has been a huge part of all of those things and has been using them to speak to me, but it was challenging to put into words.

Since finding out last fall that I am pregnant again, I have gone through what I can only describe as a grieving process. My first reaction to seeing that positive test result was an avalanche of tears and crying out to God with, “This is not what I want. I can’t be pregnant again. I can’t do this again.” Four babies in five years has been a roller coaster with amazing highs, but to be perfectly frank, some really deep lows with the challenges that come with having so many small people in that short amount of time. I spent the first few weeks alternately crying and avoiding the presence of a new baby even as I was coping with the worst case of morning sickness I have ever experienced. Bursting into tears at the derailment of my plans and what I thought was the direction God was taking our family. Putting up a wall so thick inside me that it only started crumbling two weeks ago, 5 1/2 months into this pregnancy.

I had begun reading Jennie Allen’s ‘Anything’ long before I found out I am pregnant, and the words she wrote and shared resonated deep within my spirit. I realized that I was in a season of wanting to say yes to anything, anything, God had for me. Anything He wanted me to do, anywhere He wanted me to go, anything He wanted me to say, yes, I was His girl.

And then it dawned on me one night before bed, as I was crying to Matt about my fears that five children six and under will be the death of me and that I won’t have the emotional capacity to love and care for each of them fully any longer that this is my anything. This IS what God is saying, “Erin, will you follow me? Will you trust that I AM in control? Because you’re right. YOU can’t do this. You never could. But I can. And I will. I already have. Will you say yes to this anything I have for you?”

I realize it sounds incredibly callous and cold to talk about grieving over something that is a miracle and joyous. But it really put me through the wringer and I know God has used it to show me deep in my secret places where I still need to surrender and release to Him.

Then came the IF:Gathering. Whew. I still can’t fully put into words what God did in my heart through that weekend. If last year’s inaugural gathering wrecked me, this year’s lifted me off my face and planted me right at the front of the crossfire. There were so many amazing moments and such truth spoken that I can’t pinpoint any one highlight as the apex for me (although, Christine Caine….every time I listen to you speak and preach it’s like a slap in the face and I want to ask you for another. You are a force for truth and Jesus with which to be reckoned. You too, Jen Hatmaker. Oh, and Rebekah Lyons. And Jennie. Oh, let’s just say everyone. Sheesh.), but I remember coming away from it with a clear sense of God saying that just because what I thought He was bringing me into prior to this pregnancy (a broader scope of ministry, more time to invest in people and love them) isn’t happening yet, what He is bringing me into is just as vital. And to keep persevering. Be persistent in loving the people around me. Be persistent in leaning hard into Jesus when the days are long and the minutes longer. Be persistent in having the hard conversations with Matt about where we are and where we want to be and where we see disconnect between us and our joint walk with Christ. Be persistent in loving my little people when the last thing I want to do is clean up for the umpteenth time. And no, it may not be grand, and it may go unseen much of the time by those with human eyes, but it does NOT go unseen or unnoticed by the One who matters most.

What does that have to do with chocolate cake? Besides that I really just wanted to tell you that I made a chocolate cake and that it’s delicious, I think what it has to do with this post is that I think I now have an answer for my friend. That God is teaching me that what He has for me may be hard, it may be messy, it may not be glamorous….but it is by far more satisfying, more filling, and more delicious than the best of treats. His way is sweeter, and when it tastes bitter in my mouth, I can cling to the truth that He knows what He is about.

Blessings and love,

Erin