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Friday, December 30, 2011

this one's for the girls.

Who ever had a broken heart.


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                      "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
                          and saves those
                                 who are crushed in spirit."
                                -Psalm 34:18


  I kind of had this "ah-ha" moment the other night. About a guy I dated. And broke up with. And when I did, I didn't understand why the Lord allowed our relationship to end. More than losing the guy, it was mostly a loss of my dream to get married and have a family....losing that relationship made it all seem so much further away. I didn't understand why the Lord took "him" away. But now, boy am I glad He did. At the time, it seemed like the Lord was asking me to cut off my right arm...it seemed unbelievable, mean, heartless... senseless even. Yet, time has passed...and I am thankful.

He knows better than I do. Ha. Would would have thought, right?! The God of Universe knew when I was kicking and screaming "NO!!" that what He was doing was best. Well, He did. And I am a more humbled (and might I add, happy) version of myself because of it.

True, painful, searing heartache...the kind of keeps you up late at night sobbing, that sucks the wind and the life out of you, the kind that makes you not care (about life, or eating, or living another day).

Now, brokenhearted does not just refer to break ups with a boyfriend. Or a husband. Your heart break could be different. And very possibly, quite a great deal WORSE. Loss of a loved one. Loss of a child. It is loss that I am referring to. Loss in general. Loss of something so close to your heart you can't breathe because it's gone.
I'm just (in this post) focusing on break-ups because it is something close to my heart lately, something I recently experienced, and something that I think (to some degree or another) all of us women can relate to.

I get the "what if he comes back"s and the "maybe the Lord will change his heart"s. I get the "but I loved him"s and the "I miss his family." I get the memories that come back at the most random times...
When you are driving to work and you're behind a car that matches his, it's even the same color...and memories flood back. When "your song" comes on the radio at the most unexpected time, and tears instantly flood your eyes. When you can't go into certain restaurants because that was "our place". Or when you're at the mall and you spot some guy walking who looks just like him, and your breath catches in your chest...because it's not him. He's gone.


I get it. And though I've long been called "mellow dramatic" at times, I love hard. I love long. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I care much, and with that comes something that hurts: loss. We girls who love hard also grieve hard. Which means we cry hard, we miss hard, and we struggle hard.


"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
-Job 1:21

Cry it out, darlin'. And know... from a fellow once-heartbroken sister, that you're gonna be okay. Trust me...I really thought I was not gonna be okay. And I am. You're headed for a better life.

I remember thinking that I would rather have severe physical pain than continue to experience the emotional trauma I was going through due to a breakup.
You give a little piece of your heart away, a piece you can never get back.
And that hurts. Alot.

In a way, I know there's nothing I can say (or anyone else) that can make it all better. No amount of break-up CD mixes from your girlfriends, chocolate bars, sad movies to cry to, or the well-meaning "it's OK, he wasn't that great of a guy anyway" that can make you feel better. Only God can. The Lord. Your King. Who knows your heart better than you do... who loves you more than "he" ever did. Who cries with you, and wipes away your tears.

I also know, time heals wounds. It really, really does. Time can be your best friend. Don't rush it. One step at a time, girlfriend. Even though it doesn't feel like it, you're gonna smile again. (I promise!)

I find this comforting, when the Lord allows things I don't understand. He is in control of people's hearts. Yes, people have free choice, but He softens. He hardens. He is in charge.

“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.”
–Proverbs 21:1
  I also know, suffering and loss make us stronger. And more compassionate. It makes us depend on the Lord more. I read this the other day and think it's true:
So if you're in the depths of despair
and you feel like you'll never get out.
Know this...

Someday, girl - it's going to be okay.
You're headed for a better life.
please,
remember:

you are beautiful, 
you are special,
and
you
are
 FABULOUS,
baby!

***
New Series: Friday iPhone Photo Drop
{idea inspired by Kelle Hampton}
from my Instagram.
{to follow, search: erin_sweetnessitself}

XO
Erin

*photos by photographer Joshua Telle and... moi! ;)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

look back & laugh.

I hope ya'll had a lovely Christmas :)  Mine was full of family, friends, laughter, and sweet cookies! Even though I've been sick in bed the last couple days, Christmas has been a great time to enjoy and reflect on life and the coming year.

Was so encouraged  by one of my favorite devotional books, "Morning and Evening" by Charles Spurgeon. It's full of truths from Scripture, gems I daily find so inspiring. (Check it out online here.) I read this today,

"There are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God,
and your heart be kept warm with holy love.
He goes not amiss who goes in the company of God."

What a sweet reminder! As daughters of the Lord, He promises to walk beside us and deliver us out of all the trials we face, as we trust Him. He will keep our hearts warm with His love. Honestly, reflecting over the past year of my life (the hardest yet) I am comforted by the truth that the Lord is faithful and His plan is perfect!
A mentor of mine a few years ago told me something, as I sat on her couch and cried my eyes out over some silly drama I was facing at the time (a boy drama, no doubt.. funny how years later, you can't remember them, haha) and she said, "Erin, someday, you'll look back on all this craziness, and you'll laugh." Through tears, I smiled.
It's true, though.
And though I haven't lived enough of life to see all that happens as time moves on, I do know that God changes our hearts, helps us to see what His plan was, and helps us to understand the pain and even loss we have been through.

So, girls... chin up. You're gonna laugh someday. And if it's too hard & you can't laugh today...no matter what's going on, at least we can be brave, and smile.

Smiling....

On my way to a Christmas play with the family...
do ya like the nude heels/tights look?

...Christmas morning cup of coffee.


...Christmas celebration with family.

...special pink presents!

...and my attempt at a little Lily Pulitzer-themed Christmas tree (a South Palm Beach Christmas in California!)

Christmas morning laughs with my sistah {wearin' the spa headbands mom gave us}!
and Candlelight and Christmas china

Remember, dolls... no matter what the world tells you, our God is GOOD.

The LORD is faithful
 to all his promises and loving toward all he has made."
(Psalm 145:13)

XO
Erin

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nothing Is Impossible

Merry Christmas!


Before heading off to present-opening, hot chocolate drinking and family gathered around a candle-lit table, I'm reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. The Savior's birth, coming to earth, taking on human flesh, ultimately giving His life on the Cross for sinful human souls.

As I read the Gospel story, the birth of Christ, I was struck by the faith of Mary. When she was told by the angel that she, a virgin, was expecting a baby who would be the Son of God and Savior of the world, she must have been overwhelmed. It sounded crazy. Can you imagine? I was thinking about her and the faith she had in the Lord.

“'How will this be,'
Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?'
The angel answered,
'The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 
 For nothing is impossible with God.'
'I am the Lord’s servant,' Mary answered.
'May your word to me be fulfilled.'
Then the angel left her."
-Luke 1:34-38

Lord, give me half the faith Mary had... that childlike faith that knows the Lord, trusts Him, and submits to Him as a servant...trusting that whatever He says is best.

And believing that nothing is impossible with our God.

That's big.
That's the Gospel.
And what a precious day Christmas is.
Not because of the glittery ornaments, presents,
delicious dinner, or sweet carols to sing.

It's because of HIM.

Happy birthday, Jesus!

And you... you my dear, enjoy your day.

XO
Erin

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Unanswered Prayer


There's an old country song that says, "I thank God for unanswered prayer".
This week, I've been thinking about the prayers I've prayed that never "came true".
 The things I begged the Lord for, never to be seen.
The things that never made sense.
Perhaps, rather than unanswered prayers,
they were prayers to which the answer was,
"not yet"
and sometimes even...
"no".

In these moments, the wrestling with His will and ways,
yes we know and believe He is sovereign...

"'...I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord,
'plans to prosper and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
(Jeremiah 29:11)

But I know that in the midst of the struggle, in not getting what we desire...
when God's timing is not our timing...
we can become discouraged and lose faith and trust in our God.
We don't understand.
This past year, I've been there. Honestly, I didn't understand His ways.
But I said, "Lord, I give this all to you. My brokenness. These broken pieces.
My little Plan A that did not work out.
The mistakes, even, that I've made.
The things you gave me and then took away.
And I trust You."

And you know what?
It hit me the other day -
I AM SO THANKFUL I GAVE IT TO HIM.
I'm so thankful for the prayers I prayed to which He answered,
 "no."
He has ever so slowly changed my heart, taken certain things out of my heart.
Changed my desires.

When I was a little girl, my favorite Scripture was:

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."
(Psalm 37:4)

I was sure that He would give me the whole laundry list of what I desired, if I lived for Him.
I am learning to see this, though, in a more mature light. Rather than HIM making my desires come true. I believe now, that I am to give my heart to Him as I delight in Him...
and He will give me the desires that HE has for me.
My sweet Mom explained this truth to me time and time again..
and in my stubbornness it took hard lessons to learn.

I am learning that His ways are higher than mine.
And you know what?
I am thankful.
At the end of a difficult year.
Thankful for the "No's".
Thankful for ended relationships, not ending up marrying certain guys I thought were perfect for me throughout the years.
Thankful for seasons even of a broken heart, for humbled I was in those times.

And thankful that

 I do not know what my future holds,

but I know who holds my future.

{photo credit: cris mendoza}

It's exciting, loves. Isn't it?
And, at times. a little scary.
But we have HIM. And He is enough.

May we learn to be women who emulate the Proverbs 31 woman in Scripture:

"She is clothed in strength and dignity,
and
she can laugh at the days to come."
-Proverbs 31:25

Let's keep praying. For His will. For the desires of our hearts to match HIS.
And see what exciting things He does.

And even when it seems like unanswered prayer...
we may be thankful for it later.

Tell me, in what ways have you seen God's plan is best?
Are you thankful for "unanswered" prayers and "No's?"
Happy Christmas week! :)

XO
Erin

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Am I Gonna Believe?

I've been thinking about belief this weekend.
Believing that God is going to do what He says He will.
Believing in His word.
Believing against all odds that dreams can come true.
And not believing lies that we are told.
Those lies that tear us down, steal our dreams,
keep us from running and pushing further ...
because we are afraid.
I watched "The Help" this weekend for the 2nd time, {if you haven't seen it, please go rent! Totally worth it} It's the kind of movie that has you laughing, then crying at quick and sudden intervals. And I love that. (Cause I'm a cryer)
One scene hit me as I watched it this time, one that encompasses what I've been feeling and thinking about believing...
Constantine (Maid): “What you doin, hiding out here, girl?”
Skeeter: “ I just couldn’t tell Mama I didn’t get asked to the dance...all the boys say I’m ugly. And Mama was the 3rd runner up in the Miss South Carolina pageant.
Constantine: “You quit feelin’ sorry for yourself. Now that’s ugly. Ugliness is something that goes up inside you. It’s mean and hurts, like ‘dem boys. Now you not one of 'dem, is you?"
Skeeter: shakes her head.
Constantine: “Well I didn’t think so, hunny. Every day, every day you not dead in the ground, when you wake up in the mornin’, you gonna have to make some decisions.
You gotta ask yourself this question – am I gonna believe all ‘dem bad things them fools say about me today? Am I gonna believe all ‘dem bad things dem fools say about me today?? Alright?”
You gonna do something big with your life. You wait and see. “


I was reminded....to do exactly what wise Constantine advised.
Will you do it with me?
To get up every morning and choose to believe who we REALLY are.
To choose not to believe the lies them fools say about us.
This weekend and the week before have been crazy... alot of believing and trying to push ahead was done (and not just for my favorite Broncos winning!). Working on dreams and plans. Getting up after falling down, fighting discouragement in a tough economy. And though life is not always perfect, striving to enjoy and love in every little step I can...
...in decorating doorways with a pink and white "balloon curtain" for my mom's birthday.
inspiration found on Pinterest
...in a 3 generation fancy lunch to celebrate.
...and an afternoon browsing lovely kitchen treasures at Williams-Sonoma after.
...impromptu on-the-go make-up sessions & sister chats on the hilltops of Los Angeles.

...in lovin' old-fashioned Coca Cola in a glass bottle.

...and breathtaking sunsets that make me wonder, "How can you say there is no God?"
{the Getty Center, Los Angeles}

..and full moons on crisp nights.
at my parent's church in Bel Air

...capped off with a snowy-covered morning I awakened to.

Don't give up the faith. Don't give up on your dreams. Whatever they may be.
Even if people tell you it's silly or stupid.
Take one step at a time.
Make a list of little things you can do this week to accomplish your dream.
Then, (as Nike says!) just do it, girl! Go for it.

Dream big. And yes, believe.
XO
Erin

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wait For Me

There's a song I know well.
It begins,

 "Darling,
did you know that I dream about you?
Waiting for the look in your eyes when we meet for the first time. Darling,
did you know that I pray about you? Praying that you will hold on.... Keep your loving eyes only for me.
Cause I am waiting for, praying for you, Darling.
Wait for me too..."

{you can find the song on my playlist below}
It's about waiting.
(Something we girls don't really like to do. It's definitely not fun.)
Written by a beautiful girl who dreamed of her future husband, whoever he may be.
The "one" she asked God to bring into her life, at the perfect time.
The one she saved her purity for.
Her name is Rebecca & she is one of my role models.
Well over 10 years after writing and singing this song,
she married the handsome man of her dreams.
And she was a virgin.
(and so was he)
{photo via Rebecca St. James' Facebook page
edited by me}
I am still waiting for MY man.
I have worn a purity ring since I was 13.
I have prayed for him every day since then.
And I haven't met him yet.
I don't share this with you to rub it in your face. I know this is a message many people don't even want to hear. I share because it is one of the CLOSEST passions to my heart.
TLC's new show "The Virgin Diaries" has alot of people talking, and watching. Yes, I've seen the YouTube video kiss (and yes, it was awkward!) I've not watched alot of the show, and I don't know the hearts of those involved or those producing it. Yet, something about parading virginity around like it is a freak-show type novelty, a "Hoarders: Buried Alive" sort of ridiculous and weird wonder, a sampling of a small portion of society who we can all watch, mock, and laugh at.... is a sad testimony to where we are in our culture. Sad (to me) because 95% of people out there do not understand the value and beauty of purity. 

Purity is beautiful.
Valuable.
Precious.
A gift.
In the Bible, God says:

"Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.
God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex."
{Hebrews 13:4, The Message}

and

"...Keep yourself pure."
{1  Timothy 5:22}

Marriage and sex are sacred. Not something to be mocked. I'm not trying to make a big deal out of this TV show, or blow it out of proportion. Sadness hit me, though, as I viewed this new show and saw many people's responses to it - joking, laughing, tearing down purity.


Making purity look like the most "un-cool", awkward, dorky thing one can embrace.
When in God's eyes, it is PRECIOUS, special, and the best way we can walk.

"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."
{Hebrews 13:4}


I fear The Virgin Diaries takes such a small & (shall we say) unique group of people who do have these convictions or lifestyle, which misrepresents a greater portion of us who have committed to virginity and purity. Causing people to have a narrow, misrepresented view of those who are saving sex for marriage.


What kind of message is this sending to our young people? 
Purity is a hard road, and one not without mistakes along the way. 
But our God is a God of second chances, new beginnings, fresh starts.


So what if a couple wants to save their first kiss for their wedding day? They should be applauded and encouraged! Not laughed at. Not every couple has those convictions and that's okay, I'm not saying that everyone should save their first kiss for their wedding day. But I can tell you this - I know some very normal couples who have chosen to save their first kiss for their wedding day (and everything else after that!) and they tell me - it was beautiful, sweet, special, precious, not awkward and WORTH IT. What a far cry from STDs, unwanted pregnancies, divorces, and broken relationships that can come from sex before marriage.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, my heart.
I pray it encourages you, wherever you may be.
Half-way down the long road of waiting, struggling with
 "is it worth it? am I the only one?"
YOU'RE NOT.
Not only is Jesus on our side, but thousands of other young people are too. (And you never know, maybe you're "Darling" is out there, standing ..waiting with you) If you are a married lady, may you encourage the young ones in your life to wait. And maybe you have some words of wisdom for us single gals... How did you know your prince charming was "the one"?

Bottom line?

Love, sex, romance, relationships, marriage, purity... a precious gift from God. Not to be mocked or made fun of, but treasured as the precious gift it is.

"Do not let anyone look down on your because you are young,
but set an example for the believers
in speech, in love, in faith and in purity."
{1 Timothy 4:12}

Love is PATIENT
{1 Cor. 13:4}


and I know it will be worth the wait.

stay strong, dolls!

XO
Erin

*photo credit: my friend, Rachel White, edited by me. Unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Nothing Fancy

There's a song I love by Dave Barnes, a romantic song, that says,
 "There's nothing fancy 'bout the way I love you.
Simple as the stars in the sky, the blue in the sea.
Nothing fancy 'bout the way I love you.
...But I love you as hard as I can."
I was reminded this week that small things done with great love can mean the world. Love doesn't have to be fancy. It's in the every day love. Kissing a baby, smiling as a stranger passes by, sending a hand-written card in the mail to remind someone you pray for them, flowers sent to someone you love for no particular reason at all (guys who may read, take note! girls love this.) even opening a door for someone else to walk through first.
How simple yet monumental in a person's life can little things done with great love be.
{reading this to myself every day....}
 
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 Love never fails."
-1 Corinthians 13:1-8

 photo credit: joshua telle
It happened to me this week. A hundred little ways that the Lord showed me His love for me through a person in my life. In a package I got from my kindred spirit, sent to me for my birthday all the way from across the US. In the thoughtful email I got from my sister one day, making me smile widely. In a chat with my mom, who listens ever so intently and selflessly. In sharing a cappucino with a friend, crying and laughing through life. In the homemade raspberry crepes my dear friend carefully made for me as I've been sick.
Do you realize, we all have the power to share the love of Christ with others? Even just one person. I want to be more faithful in carrying the Gospel to everyone I meet, sometimes simply through practical acts of love and kindness. For these can add up to be the biggest, after all.

To love!

Happy weekend.
XO
Erin

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