Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Revelations at the Well - Part 2

Jesus went out of His way to meet the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. I felt His intentional pursuit of me this year much like His intentional journey to seek out the Samaritan woman.

Can we pause for a minute to acknowledge what a privilege it is that the Lord of Lords would seek us out to share His love, wisdom and joy?

Little by little His word revealed to me things I'd never fully known about my walk as a daughter of God.  Through the power of the Spirit, God took His word from my head to my heart to the work of my hands.

Here's what He taught me at the well this year:

Cultivating the art of abiding looks a lot like coming back to the well over and over as He becomes our wellspring. It's the Vine and the Gardener tending to our hearts with unrelenting love and compassion. Abiding is knowing when to confess you're feeling dry; that you're out of step with the Spirit and in need of pruning. It's the hard but good stuff of surrender at His feet. It's daily dying to self and living for the Vine and Gardener. Abiding is the safe place of confession, the gentle reminder of His promise that we are already clean, and the reassuring guidance that in our surrender our eyes can move from our desired fruit to the Father who bears all things with us and for us. Abiding is knowing abundance comes from Him alone, and worshiping every step of the way as we lean into this cultivating.


*

Sometimes our idols aren’t morally evil, but even a good thing can become a God thing and that’s a bad thing. My pastor breathed out this message from podium Sunday, but what everyone else didn’t know is that God sent the Spirit in him to testify to the Spirit in me this very word. It’s one of the revelations God is bringing home for me in 2017.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6

It's taken almost a full year for me to understand these words from Jesus deep in my bones and to repent of making good things God things. God persisted with whispers of this lesson as I began to hunger and thirst for an earthly answer to the onset of chronic pain. Pursuing health of our earthly bodies is not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing to be mindful of caring for ourselves. But as one month of sickness became two which became six rolled into appointment after appointment with no answers, my desire to care for my body became a hunger and thirst for an earthly answer.  It became deep seeded worry and stress on my schedule and my mind. Meanwhile, little by little, without even noticing my mind hungered and thirsted for earthly things more than the heavenly.

God sprung forth with this revelation as the doctor presented a diagnosis in November. All at once it made sense. I'd spent months fretting over worst case scenarios feeling unsatisfied in a way I'd never experienced. I felt like Paul when scales fell from his eyes. Suddenly, I understood fully how our hunger and thirst for righteousness alone could ever fully satisfy. He took the knowledge of Matthew 5:6 from my head to my heart through my year of suffering at the well.

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He is not just the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), He is my Good Shepherd.

This revelation deserves it's own post though. More to come in Part 3.

**

See Part 1 of Revelations at the Well here.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Revelations at the Well - Part 1

For a gal who delights in choosing a word of the year, 2017 threw me for a loop. My word each year helps me keep eyes focused on the call of the Lord for that year. It helps me to seek Him and to complete the good works He prepared in advance.

As He has in the last four years, God gave me a word for the 2017: well.

For reference, here's a rundown of my words from the last few years:
2016: wholehearted
2015: surrendered
2014: intentional
2013: inspired

But 2017 was different.

The word "Well" didn't seem to fit in with this pattern. But our God isn't one we can understand fully, so I went where He was leading. This word was laid on my heart after a study of John 4. Here we see Jesus' encounter with a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob. This encounter was shifting things in my heart. The way Jesus engaged her, the words he spoke to her, the grace He provided to her swept me away with a fresh hope and peace. So, "Well" it would be for 2017.

Being the researcher I am, I delved into a word study on well both through the lens of the Gospel and the lens of culture. Scripture most often portrays well as a source, a supply or fount. In culture we define well as close attention, proper manner, skill. I sought out for these definitions to collide with one another in 2017.

Winding down these last few weeks of 2017 I can share that God flipped any expectations I had for this year on it's head early on. It started in March with what I thought was a stomach bug, and may have been partially, but this sickness took on a life of its own claiming much of my year.

Praise God for doctors who lean in with you when things are unclear but pain is very real. The months of March to November were spent pursuing the source of the pain and any potential treatments. This journey plagued my year.

My year of "Well" turned out to be a year of suffering.

It took a year I expected to be mundane, really, and made it one that would transform my heart in new and unexpected ways. God would teach me a whole new thing about his definition of Well that no word study could've ever revealed.

And, it's in this space of 2017 where my hope and doubts intersected with God's wisdom and mercy to remind me that He is making all things new in glorious ways.

As I wrap up 2017, I hope to come back here to reflect on the revelations I've had with Jesus as I had my own encounter with Him at the well and how it's shifted everything.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fruitful Friday: Week 1

One of the sweet spots in 2016 was counting the fruit each night with my boys. As I leaned into asking God what gives with 2017, He reminded me of the joy we had in counting the fruit in the meaningful mundane. So, in the spirit of reclaiming joy in this season I'm going to start sharing fruit from the week.



My 2018 Powersheets and Simplified Planner are both here! Usually I wrap these up and tuck them under the Christmas tree counting them as gifts from Brandon, but this year I plan to get them messy well before 2018 arrives and I'm not sad about it!

My Dad is stateside and made a short but sweet appearance this week. 

Jackson has a belt test tonight for his orange/black-stripe belt. I love watching him grow in his skills and enjoyment at karate. 

One of the toughest transitions in our new home has been no workshop (garage) leaving no home for our many, many tools. That all changed this week when our new workshop was delivered! Think shed but residential looking. Brandon has worked diligently this week to make the shed look at home in our backyard and I'm so thankful. I cannot wait for him to get back in the rhythm of taking on projects and the joy it brings to him. 

I actually wrote! One of the things I intended to do more of this year was writing for myself. Honestly? I hadn't gotten around to this out of fear. Writing has always brought me joy but it's often the first thing to go when life gets chaotic. No more! Reclaiming joy in this season means writing for myself again.

God gifted me with discernment on my year of well. This is the best fruit of the whole week if not the month, if not the year! Praying for continued revelation as I behold His faithfulness. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Hurried Hearts and Reclaiming Joy

My heart feels hurried. I wish I could claim it was just a season, but if we're being honest with one another this has been a forever kind of hurry. Perhaps you know this hurried feeling.

The hurried heart weighs on our spirit.

The hurried heart is robbed of joy in the ordinary every day.

The hurried heart misses the opportunity to see the glory of God in the mess of the mundane.

I'm no stranger to the hurried heart.

Here's the Word God's speaking over my hurried heart this week:

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:15


We stand at a crossroad every morning to decide what kind of Sower will we be.

Will we move out hastily allowing our seed to fall along the path being swooped up by the enemy? Will we grab the seed only in our need and want never allowing it to take root? Will we allow it to fall among the thorns being choked up and suffocated? Or will we intentionally see that our seeds are sown in good soil.

It's time we take back what the enemy has stolen, and reclaim the joy of sowing seeds in good soil.

It's a process, though, to be Sowers of seeds in good soil. There's a cultivating that takes place in the little by little tending of our hearts. It takes slowing down and settling into what He has for us.

Here's what I know: we've got to be intentional to ask His seed to fall on good soil in our life and to receive it well. Are we confident enough to ask that? Are we courageous enough to ask the Lord to bless us with a harvest yielding a hundredfold? 

Here's the crossroad of my season: To pray for harvest in a season of grief, loss and illness requires more faith. Seasons of praying for ongoing harvest is easier. It just is. But God uses our seasons of suffering to grow our dependence on Him. In my suffering He is sending seeds (His Word) deeper into the soil of my soul shooting out roots that can withstand the harsh winds of hard seasons.

Coming out of the harvest of 2016 into the sowing, suffering season of 2017 has been tough on my heart and tested my ability to persevere. Meanwhile God has begun to whisper a message He sowed into my Spirit years ago: get back to wholehearted joy even in this hard season. 

Did you know the olive trees in the Holy Land need both the harsh East wind and the refreshing West wind in order to be fruitful? Similarly, it takes both the gentleness of the West wind and the harshness of the East winds for us to flourish in the way He intended. It takes both calm and chaotic seasons for us to bear fruit. We cannot have the hundredfold harvest without the suffering. 

So, I'm digging in. I'm seeking His wisdom and revelation on this year of well (my word of the year). I'm counting the fruit of 2017, as meager as it may feel at first blush. Most importantly, I'm rejoicing that His seeds on good soil produce a persevering crop despite harsh winds. 

Here's to a God who hushes hurried hearts, reclaiming our joy and seeds in good soil.

***
Around October each year God begins to prick at my heart lessons from my Word of the year. Most years this discernment is an overflow of the harvest. In this year hard stuff, God is calling me deeper to hear His still, small voice. He has me leaning in, looking to a past season where I wrote out my wholehearted joy and unpacking how it parallels to this hard year.

Here's what I'm asking myself and how you can join me in reflecting on your year: What has He been teaching you through the seasons of 2017? How has He blessed you? What revelation has God meant for your year, for your growth as a believer?

Start a conversation with God about your year now. Don't wait until December winds down to begin reflecting on your year; He wants to grant us discernment and that takes time for us, friends.

Beth Moore said in a study, "the soil of every season is fertile ground." Let's believe that with her as we go deeper still with Him.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Rounding Out My Twenties

As I close out this decade of my life, it's been a joy to reflect on some of the big moments that shaped these years and everything in between. This decade has been such a sweet and hard journey. God has grown and transformed me in unimaginable ways. Each moment, good and bad, of the last ten years have been covered by His grace.

So here we go. In my last 10 years...


I got married to my best friend 2008. What a gift this has been. Our story isn't like most and we hit a hard season early on. Looking back God gets the glory for how He used that hard season to lay a firm foundation for the future of our relationship.


Graduated from college with a journalism degree 2009.


Added Baxter to the fam in Fall 2009.

Moved to my hometown in 2010 after finding out our family of two was growing by one.


Became a mom, March 23, 2011. Hands down one of the best days of my life - definitely of my twenties.


Bought our first home September 23, 2011. Our little home at 510 is where we'd reside until July 2017 when God made a way for us to move into a bigger place and new school zone.

Started my first post-grad job when we moved to Columbia. This job was for a season and prepared my heart for the job God had waiting. March 26, 2012 I began at La Firm B. Much of who I am has been wrung out and built up through this job. This month I'm staring down the last few weeks with one of my bossmen. Embracing the change that's ahead!

We travelled. Not as much as teenage Erin would've wanted, but still enough to get in some good memories.


To Cancun for our honeymoon.


To Vegas for an almost done with college getaway.


To Middle Tennessee more than anywhere else to see our fam. Photo above from Christmas at Opryland December 2016.



To Edisto for family beach trips.



To Disney World -twice! 2009 for Mom's birthday and 2016 for Jackson's 5th Birthday.




To D.C a few times - to celebrate Jimmy's life and ceremony at Arlington and for two inaugural balls.


To Chicago for BlogHer 2013.


To Orlando for Chi Omega's National Convention in Summer of 2014.



To Asheville for anniversary trips.


To Pawley's Island for Girl's Beach Week.


To NYC for a belated anniversary and early 30th birthday celebration.


I dedicated my life to Christ August 24, 2014. Every milestone memory above and every mundane moment in between are all the hand of God in the last ten years of my life. Even when I ran from Him in my early twenties, He pursued me. He drew me back to Himself moment by moment, day by day, year by year over the last decade.

We've celebrated birthdays. We've mourned the loss of a dear friend (Jimmy) and of some of our beloved grandparents (MeeMaw and Doc). We've laughed and cried. We've argued and made up. We've made the most of what we had and tried our best to steward it well.

What a joy the last decade has been. God has gently revealed to me who I am in Him. He's broken strongholds and pulled away chains that hindered me for so many years. He's literally taken me from darkness to light. And I know He's not done with me yet.

Here's to the next decade. May it be abundant in God's refining grace, hope and joy.