.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

sistahs, friendship, oh...and four favorites.


  2 sweet friends of mine in college - can't remember if i took it, but credit is due to esther martin photography's camera!

    Under a blanket of bright and twinkling stars, we ran to the big baseball field on our college campus. Past the dugout and bleachers, we unloaded our armfuls of blankets and 2 sleeping bags onto the green, damp turf and sat side by side in the darkness. This is where our best prayer times took place. Our most secret heart-to-hearts. The moon sometimes shining brightly above, our hands sometimes warmed by red Starbucks cups - we talked about God and our dreams, years-ago stories and mistakes made, boys we liked and questions we had. It was our spot. Come to think of it, we had the run of two whole dorm rooms and a hidden lounge, but the prayers and stories shared there in our spot were our favorite, ones of the sweetest and most precious kind.

   There's nothing like girlfriends. You know who they are. Sisterhood is beautiful, and rare. And when you've got the real thing - cherish it. Last weekend, I helped throw a bridal shower for my first college roommate. A small gathering of women who met and bonded through uniquely sharing life in a college dorm and a Bible study, and since those days have taken very different roads of life - college girls turned mamas, pastor's wives, secretaries, artists, nannies, writers. Through the ebb and flow of life, the "we haven't talked in a year!" followed by warm hugs, the ups and downs and miscommunications, hurt feelings - the intricacies of real, true, messy friendships. And the oh so sweet reconciliations, explanations, and "I forgive you"s of understanding and forgiveness that come through knowing Christ in our relationships. I sat beneath strings of lights in the decorated living room, listening to laughter and watching heartfelt smiles, taking me back in my mind to our freshman year of  late night "study parties" which turned into laughing til we cried bonding moments. How we agonized over which boy to ask to the Sadie Hawkins school event. And wondered what we would someday become. The sweet and just-right words shared and hands squeezed when "he" didn't turn out to be Prince Charming after all. And the day to day of life, living side by side for a season of time that melded our hearts in a special way.

photo credit: The Master's College SLS, 2010

  It's hiding under quilts watching rainy day chick flicks, mugs of tea in hand. Late night phone calls when you're crying and can't stop. Spontaneous beach trips. And throwing a bridal shower for a long-awaited wedding, sipping sherbert punch and passing newborn babies.....which brings us to my favorite things from this last week:

{bridal showers & friends}



{Coconut Oil - my new obsession}

 All week, I've been dying to tell you all about it. Thanks to my sweet friend Nichole over at Reserved Are The Depths Of My Heart, I decided to pick up some Coconut Oil and try it out, see what all the hype is about. And let me tell ya - if you only buy one more beauty or health product ever again....this would be the ONE.
You can even use it for cooking. And...it's very inexpensive. It maintains cholesterol levels, has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. Slather it on your skin and hair to prevent and heal dryness.
Plus...it smells incredible...sort of reminds me of the heavenly smell of surfboard wax, which I must admit I used to buy in high school just because of the scent.  (Imagine you're sitting on a tropical white sandy beach somewhere far away, under frayed palm tree leaves in the warm sun sipping your favorite drink....that's how it smells.)
   It has immediately soared to my top favorite things list, right up there with Chai tea and the color pink.  I may just dedicate a whole post to it someday. Go buy some at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, ok? Okay, done with my rant.
All of that to say: praise the Lord for coconuts!!
 Go buy some, sistah.
Best $5 you'll ever spend.

{Being a winner. A giveaway winner, that is}

Gotta admit, I'm kind of on this crazy winning streak. (as Erin from Captivated By Grace knows :) Receieved 2 special packages within 2 days. The gorgeous necklace above, crafted by the amazing and sweet Ashley over at Women Walking Upright and this breathtaking print from JBW Photography (check out his Etsy here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/JBWPhoto)
...ahh my dreams of visiting the Empire State Building in NYC.



{a big burger & fries}

Never underestimate it's worth. In a normal diet of salads, lots of smoothies, pastas and chicken. And a week of faithful daily Pilates workouts... this hits the spot. Just sayin'.



***

Friday iPhone Photo Drop


{from instagram, to follow search: erin_sweetnessitself}



Embrace the sisterhood in your life this weekend. Call your old college roomie. Write a quick handwritten note to your best friend. Take your sister to coffee. Or like me last night - sit fireside with your grandma, eating popcorn and listening to family stories.

Happy weekend! To you and you and you.

XO

Erin

"...no eye has seen a God like you,
who works for those who wait for Him."
-Isaiah 64:4

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

mind your heart.



"Guard your heart
above all else
for it determines the course of your life."
-Proverbs 4:23


  I opened my Bible this morning, and found this verse was my daily reading.

  And then, it was in a book I read later. And in a quote on Pinterest I stumbled upon. And in a tweet by a friend. So mid-afternoon, I stopped and said - "Okay, Lord...I'm listening!" Actually, the topic of guarding my heart has been on my heart lately (redundant much?!) And I pulled out an old book which reminded,

"We must police our hearts with
faithful,
silent regularity."

And went on to tell a story that I'd like to share with you...

"An elderly, quiet forest dweller once lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. Many years ago, the town council had hired this old gentleman as Keeper of the Spring to maintain the purity of the pools of water in the mountain crevices. The overflow from these pools ran down the mountainside and fed the lovely spring which flowed through the town. With faithful, silent regularity, the Keeper of the Spring patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches from the pools, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water.
By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal-clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants sparkled.
Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual meeting. One evening the town council met for its budget, one man's eye caught the salary paid the obscure Keeper of the Spring. 'Who is this old man?' he asked indignantly. 'Why do we keep paying him year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know, this man does us no good. He isn't necessary any longer!' By a unanimous vote, the council dispensed with the old man's services.
For several weeks, nothing changed. But by early autumn, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon, someone noticed a slight yellow-ish brown tint in the spring. A few days later, the water had darkened even more. Within a week, a slimy film covered sections of the spring. The mill wheels moved slowly; some finally ground to a halt. Businesses located near the water closed. The swans migrated to fresher waters far away, and tourists no longer visited the town. Eventually, the clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.
The shortsighted town council enjoyed the beauty of the spring but underestimated the importance of guarding its source. We can make the same mistake in our lives. Like the Keeper of the Spring who maintained the purity of the water, you and I are the Keepers of Our Hearts. We need to consistently evaluate the little things that contaminate us. As God reveals our wrong attitudes, longings, and desires, we must remove them from our hearts."
-by Joshua Harris, book here.


This story is such a reminder for me. Guarding what comes into our eyes and ears can seem meaningless. "What's wrong with watching this one music video?" or flipping through channels and stopping on that one funny show - it won't hurt just one time, right? Logging onto this website or watching that movie? But I am finding that all the things we put into our heart and mind, one by one, truly do change and alter how we think, act, and what we believe.
 
 Sometimes, I find myself getting "lax" in what I watch, listen to, read. Slowly but surely, the things we watch and listen to can undermine what we truly believe. They allow little whispers into our once-steady minds that say, "It's okay just this once..." and "Don't be over the top..." and instead of remembering truth and what God says in the Bible, we are influenced in our thinking by what the culture says - the lies of the Enemy that ultimately will kill, steal, and destroy what God wants for us - His best.


  As hard as it can sometimes be, I want to be more faithful in guarding what comes into my heart and mind. Being careful about what I watch, listen to, look at, and read. Forgetting what other people say is "okay" to watch, "fine" to listen to...and listen to what the Lord lays on my heart - what He convicts me of.


"May the words of my mouth
and the meditations of my heart
be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord."
-Psalm 19:14



Remember that...

 "God is greater than our hearts, and knows everything."
-1 John 3:20.



  What a comfort to know, even when we fail and fall - He is greater and with mercy and grace, gives us the strength to guard our hearts and fill them with what pleases Him.

May this be our prayer:

"Teach my Your way, O Lord
and I will walk in Your truth.
Give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear Your name."
-Psalm 86:11


in everything you do...

mind your heart!

for What I Wednesday:

Photobucket

what i wore:

Jeans: Joe's    Jacket: Express   Scarf: Forever21
Earrings: Express   Headband: homemade by moi!   Top: thrifted  
 



Stay strong, loves!

XO

Erin



Monday, January 23, 2012

rainy days & mondays

..."always get me down."


  Feeling down? As Karen Carpenter sang, "Talking to myself and feeling old. Sometimes I'd like to quit. Nothing ever seems to fit. Hanging around, nothing to do but frown - rainy days and Mondays always get me down."

 These lyrics describe my heart on certain days. The days you just don't feel like getting out of bed and going to work. The days your mind is racing with anxiety and you feel overwhelmed. The days when your hope seems to fade, and "nothing works out for me but everyone else has it good."

Today is (in usually sunny southern California) a rainy day and a Monday. And as cozy and lovely as rainy days can be, and as much as I do love rain...I found myself feeling down this morning.
 When I was in college, I found myself needing to be reminded of truths often yet I was so busy, my mind was so full, and I was constantly getting distracted by a thousand things. One winter day, I decided to write a scripture on my hand as a reminder to focus on truth. And as tacky as some may think this is, it was a truly effective and wonderful way to keep scripture right in front of me (literally!) at all times.

 I find myself doing this even now.

 No matter what is going on in our lives, we can remind ourselves of truth. When I'm feeling down, I'm encouraged by...

"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You."
-Psalm 39:2

"God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.
God will help her when morning dawns."
-Psalm 46:5

"Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked...
for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught."
-Proverbs 3:25-26

"God is always permitting what He hates
so that He can accomplish what He loves."
-Joni Erickson Tada

"Rejoice in hope,
be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer."
-Romans 12:12

"..My whole being clings to You,
Your right hand holds me."
-Psalm 63:8

"Nothing binds me to my Lord like a strong belief
in His changeless love."
-Spurgeon

"Blessed is he who waits for Him.
Who expects and looks and longs for Him."
-Isaiah 30:15

"When we are most broken,
Christ is most beautiful."
-Britt Merrick

"The Lord will fight for you.
You need only to be still."
-Exodus 14:14

"As a child of God, you will never face
a circumstance, challenge, temptation, failure or burden
that exceeds His grace."
-Nancy Leigh DeMoss

"When God hears our prayers,
He explodes into action."
-John Piper

"The Lord is my Shepherd.
I shall not be in want."
 -Psalm 23


Just remember, dolls - whether it's a rainy day, or a Monday...

He loves us.


XO

Erin

PS - check out my new friend Chantal's amazing blog. I was inspired over the weekend by her heart and her "feeling down" page. She is an incredible sister in Christ with a precious heart: www.bevirtue.com


Friday, January 20, 2012

{four favorites}



  Sometimes, I find a song that just has something about it. Makes me smile. Makes me feel good. And then ... it's: ready or not, song - you're gonna have the life sucked out of you. On replay! Lately I've been playing Tim McGraw's "Where The Green Grass Grows" - seriously,  of all the songs that could be inspiring.....how random can you get?! (I think it's that part of me that just wants to marry a farmer and live off the land - can I get a heck yeah, girls?!) Hey - I don't ask questions or try to explain it. If it inspires me to create, to be better, to work harder, smile more...it goes! (And I ride that pony into the ground.)

It's not always a song. It can be a photograph. Or a piece of art.  That perfectly fitting pair of jeans. A certain recipe that I make over and over, because it just has "it". You can't really define "it", can you? It's there or it's not. But I think it boils down to inspiration.

And when I find inspiration in something, this girl milks it.

Besides old country songs, this week's inspirations...

{tea every night}

french vanilla decaf + soy milk (vanilla flavored)

+

a little honey

+

a tiny spoonful of brown sugar.




{starting each morning like this - coffee & Jesus}

my new commitment: before i check my email, facebook, twitter, or blogger comments. before i make phone calls, work out, do laundry or put make-up on. i read & pray. i've always liked to think this was how i lived. but now, i really do it. try it - focuses your mind on what is important and puts you in the right perspective for the entire day.

{a daily Greens Complexion Smoothie}

i can't help but share the recipe. in 4 days, my skin & hair are glowing (not kidding!)

Greens Complexion Smoothie

1 cup frozen berries
1 large banana
1/4 cup Bolthouse carrot juice
1/2 cup fresh kale, spinach, collard greens or frozen spinach

blend, add more juice if you desire.
and sip every morning to your heart's content.
so healthy, yet you can't taste the greens at all - the fruit covers it up!

*i found the recipe here!


{My nightly read}

Go buy it - Katie is amazing. Check out her website.
 you will laugh, cry, & you just might be inspired to do something big for God.


***


What inspires you this weekend?


Be blessed, loves.

(and when you find your "it" ... milk it. here's to living life once!)

XO

Erin

***


Friday iPhone Photo Drop


{from instagram, to follow search: erin_sweetnessitself}


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's Hip Interview

Hey y'all!

Just wanted to let you know  - I'm featured today over at Not Hip Enough To Blog! I talked about "Pursuing Purity" & am so thankful and privileged to be feature by sweet Ali on her amazing and encouraging blog :)

Check out the link:  {HERE}

Blessings!!

XO

Erin




Tuesday, January 17, 2012

the best is yet to come

  and babe, won't it be fine.

{Who doesn't love to hear good old  Mr. Sinatra belt that out
while dining at an Italian restaurant?
Actually, I'm one of the young ones who listen to 
more than a few of his songs on my iTunes...)

  I've been thinking about time lately. How it keeps moving faster, and we don't know what to do about it. Actually, I began thinking about it a couple months ago. On a warm autumn day, I sat with my sweet dad on the porch, watching the two lovable family dogs run free in the grass and leaves in the front yard. The chocolate lab came over to the big Adirondack chair I sat in. I took his face in my hands and pet his little ears, when it struck me - "Ummm Dad?" I asked. "What are all these white hairs on Joshie's face?" Dad smiled, "He's getting old, Erin." Shocked, I looked at his once pure-chocolate colored fur and said, resolved - "No he's not! He's, like, 5!" Dad shook his head and laughed, "No..he's ten. We got these guys about ten years ago, remember? These boys are getting old." He said it laughingly, and as I looked up at him and then down at my dog, I realized - I've been distracted. I've been away at college for years. I've been busy living life on my own. I've been busy working. I've been going a hundred miles an hour, for so long. Suddenly, it hit me - not only have our dogs gotten older...we all have.  Tears came pouring down my face. A total "Marley and Me" moment! (give me a sad dog movie, and I lose it) I sat there that afternoon completely overwhelmed by change. And life. And growing up. And growing old. And I hated it. It was so hard for me to take.
 Since that afternoon, I've found myself getting caught up in the past.
Getting caught up in the "if only's"
Thinking -
"I wish we could go back to that sweet time"
if only...i had majored in something else in college.
if only...that relationship had not ended.
if only...I had been more brave.
if only...I had pursued that one dream.
if only... i had chosen that job.
if only...i had not made that mistake.

Do you ever do that?

   Even today, as I was searching for something in the storage barn on my parent's land, I found some old keepsakes of mine...and oh the flood of memories they brought back! Being a hopeless romantic, a sentimental and emotional heart - I am a Class A keepsake treasurer (dangerously teetering on the edge of hoarder, yet it's confined to the storage barn for now and hasn't taken over any living space as of yet - don't worry, I've got it under control, I really do!) Surprised at how much I carefully saved from my childhood, I couldn't get over the things I stumbled upon. They spoke much of who I was then...

Little girl things.
  As I sifted through dusty boxes full of long untouched childhood treasures, it was almost a weird feeling of - "Oh, I can't touch that. I can't take this. It belongs to her." And then in the very second I began thinking that, I reminded myself - "Uh..her is you." Almost as if I don't know "her" anymore. I am so different now. That little girl is now a woman.

The little girl with all the dreams. The one who smiled and played and laughed alot.



The plans I used to make. Dreams I keep secret...ones I've had in my heart since day one.
Sweet times of innocent play. Unfulfilled hopes.
They were all there - represented in the things filling those boxes.
 
Memories of playing Barbies for countless hours with my best friend sister.
(and the days of thinking that driving around in a hot pink convertible
with a tan, ripped shirtless man wearing pink flowered shorts was totally normal)

On a side note, what happened to this POOR GIRL!?
I literally gasped when I pulled her out of the box. I think she fell victim t0 a haircut gone wrong! (Either that, or we had about 30 Barbie dolls and 2 Kens, and we were in the process of chopping her hair off and drawing on a beard so she fit the part of the husband...and then realized she could never pass as a Ken and dropped it. Who knows..)


Dozens of journals. Full of hopes, stories, dreams, and mostly...prayers. Oh the faith of a child. I prayed about everything when I was a little girl. Brought tears to my eyes to read.
And convicted my grown-up heart of pride and lack of faith.  
  Walking down "memory lane" can be sweet. A reminder of where we've come from. The good that's happened. The ways we've grown. Changed for the better. The trials we have walked through, faced and conquered. The things accomplished.

  But, in a sense...I've been left feeling a little sentimental and sad. Wishing things didn't change so fast. Longing for happy days in the past. Those moments when you wish you could somehow go back, and redo some things you chose, ways you responded, words you should have spoken.

Yet, the Lord has been teaching me, through these thoughts and memories, that the past is the past. And as wonderful or hard as it may have been for you and me, we have to push forward.

"...Forgetting what is behind
and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me
 heavenward in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 3:13-14 

Jesus has given us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11) Perhaps our childhood dreams have not come true. Perhaps there are unfulfilled promises. Start today, with me - taking each day as a gift, not wasting a moment. For soon, these will be memories too. Doing all we can now, for Christ. And taking risks, stepping out in faith and praying - hoping still for the dreams He placed in our little girl hearts.

Yes,  there is always another bend in the road.
Let's move ahead. Thankful for the past, looking toward the brightness ahead.
Striving to give Him our past...the things that ended, perhaps in a way we find disappointing.
But trusting Him with the things that have happened. And with the things that will happen.

Trusting that we have a future.
There is always hope.
Always something good ahead.
And if not here on this earth,
I know for a fact that we who know Jesus... we have the ultimate HOPE ahead:

 Heaven. Eternity

FOREVER.

And if you don't know Him? {email me!}


Oh how wonderful our future is.

So with that in your heart - carpe diem, sistah!

Seize today. Make it count. 
Just go out and love, love, love.

And oh...please dream, too.
Those little girl dreams in your heart that you've almost forgotten.
Go up to the attic or out to to the barn...and dig out your keepsake box.
And laugh & cry with me.


"as for me, I will always have hope.
I will praise You more & more."
-Psalm 71:14

XO

Erin

Friday, January 13, 2012

Plain.

   She put on the blue and white ruffled "Cinderella" dress and her dimpled cheeks burst into a smile. Her dark eyes danced as she happily squealed,  "Ewin, I'm a bootiful pwincess!!" and spun around in a circle. The 2 year old little doll I babysat beamed with delight as she spun around the house and giggled at the very idea of being a princess. As she smiled and twirled, I spun her around in a circle, and realized - her delight in being a "beautiful princess" was the very same desire in my heart, and yours. Women, even at the youngest of ages, have within them an innate longing to be special...beautiful...and loved.


  Two autumns ago, the Lord took me through a season in my life when I lost almost everything I found my identity in. All my life, I held onto certain things that made me "Erin".  Who was I, you ask? Oh, I would have happily and confidently named off more than a few things that (I thought) made me who I was. 
  I was a student, a Resident Assistant in my dorm at college. A worship leader and singer, a youth leader at my church. A pastor's daughter, a girlfriend. I had a job, I had my own apartment.

   And then suddenly.... things took a different turn than I had planned or anticipated. A very different turn. And not just a few things. ALL of the things. All of the things that made me ME (in my eyes) were dropping out of my life, one by one... like flies. It was similar to the sensation of cupping sand in your hands...and feeling it slowly, but ever so surely, run out. And you can do nothing but watch.
And suddenly there I stood... just me. I was no longer Erin the student, Erin the pastor's kid, Erin the girlfriend, Erin the worship leader. I was just Erin.... and it scared me. I felt panicked at the thought, honestly. A million questions swirled around in my mind in the dark of night as I lay in my bed. I felt like I was losing it. And all the while, the Lord was whispering...

"I love you, I made you. You are MINE."

And in that dark season, He taught me something.
Something that made the loneliness worth it. The loss worth it. The pain oh so worth it.

He showed me ... I am not defined or made valuable by things I do or things I have.
My worth lies in one thing and one thing alone: I am extravagantly loved by God.


Ya know, girls....

you are not just the things you do, the clothes you wear, the job you have.
you are worth much more.
ALL of who you are.
And He loves every part of you.....


...the woman you are on the outside. How people see you.
Strangers you pass by, your colleagues.
The blonde, brunette. The one with pretty eyes.
The nurse, the secretary, the teacher, the student.
Athletic. Homeschooler. Singer.
Tall. Short. Pretty. Cute.


...the woman your friends know.

A deeper part of you, but certainly not the whole you.
 The one with that fabulous smile.
The really good mom. The faithful friend. The nursery worker. The one who has money.
The listener. The fabulous party thrower. The one who's always late.
The coffee drinker.


...the woman your sister and your best friend know. the one your mom knows,
the one your husband knows.

the dreamer. the over-acheiver. the shy one.
the pushover. the doubter. the avoider. the leader. the bossy one. the flirt.
the closet writer. the extrovert. the disorganized disaster. the insecure one.


...and then, there is that secret part of youthe part no one knows.
No one...but you and God.
the abused little girl. the broken-hearted one. the one who wants to run away.
your worst fear, the one you're afraid to even utter.
the way he used you so unfairly.
the way you hate your body.
the people who judge you...but they have no clue what you've been through.
the anger that boils your blood over what he did.
the eating disorder that has terrorized you since age 16.
the secret thing you did, the awful thing...you wish you could forget.
the regret you have over that one choice. that one decision. that changed everything.
the hurt so deep, the words spoken, the accusations made...that haunt you.
the secret wish you made when you blew out that candle on your last birthday
  ... the one that was really a prayer for a better life.

The way you look. The way you feel. The fat days. The acne flare-ups.
Even when you have no makeup on, when your hair is piled on top of your head and looks like a "rat's nest" (my commonly used term for hair days that leave something to be desired!)

He loves you.

Your insecurities about how you look in men's eyes. Your flabby abs.
The wrinkles on your forehead. The natural color of your hair.
The way you laugh.
The way you feel out of place at parties.
The way you blast "Party In The USA" and sing with Miley Cyrus into your hair brush.
The mornings you sit and talk to Him, the prayers you pray.
The craziest dreams you have. The ones you can't imagine actually coming true.
The mistakes you made and cried over. The reasons your friends disowned you.
The days you feel plain.

He loves you.

He loves all of who you are.

Darlin', don't listen to the lies anymore.

Those voices that do not speak truth ...

the

"you're ugly, you're worthless
and no one will ever love you.
you're not the type of girl the guys like.
you're awkward. you're fat. you're boring.
you have nothing good to say.
and your dreams will not come true."



read these lyrics. i love them:

You are a jewel

You're a treasure

You are one of a kind

And you shine just as bright as

the stars in the sky

You're a rare kind of wonder

Created just right

So keep your head up

no matter the pain

There's nothing about you that's plain.
you can listen to the song : here

You are beautiful.


To Him.


happy weekend!
{embrace who He says you are.}

XO

Erin



// all the credit to my lovely mom for inspiring this post//


***


Friday iPhone Photo Drop
{from instagram, to follow search: erin_sweetnessitself}

ShareThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...